FanFic - Michael/Maria
"Desert Ice"
Part 2
by chrysophyta
Disclaimer: I have only borrowed the Roswell characters for this story. I returned them safely and tucked them into their beds. They are the property of Jason Katims and the WB, etc. No infringement intended. Only extraneous characters are mine.
Summary: Isabel has a secret, and Maria discovers a new threat.
Category: Michael/Maria
Rating: PG-13
Authors Note: This takes place after "Destiny" and started as a what if question. for Ailis
When Maria came down the stairs, Michael was opening and closing each cupboard in the kitchen. He yanked out a can of chicken and stars and plunked it on the counter. "A little harder, Michael, you didn't break it. Yet." Michael didn't turn around. "We don't get sick. It just doesn't happen. So I want to know what the hell is wrong?" "You got sick," Maria said. She opened the refrigerator and sifted through containers of humus, bean sprouts, and tofu. Nothing good. "Do you want some lunch or something?" Maria pulled out the bread and strawberry jam. "That was different." He was leaning against the counter, arms folded across his chest. His I'm-about-to-be-a-stupid-jerk-stance. "You know, maybe she didn't eat any breakfast, low blood sugar or something. Sometimes I get a little nauseous if I don't eat anything, especially if I'm having my--" she looked at him, then down again, "well, you know." She set out four slices of bread. Maria didn't know how Isabel's body worked. It's not like they had some talk over lunch about pamprin and tampons. Maria just assumed Isabel’s body worked like hers. "You don't get it," Michael said. "Are you trying to make me mad?" He was completely ruining the playing hooky vibe she was working on. "You know, sometimes things aren't as complicated as you make them. People get sick. They throw up. It's not a crisis." Michael sighed heavily, and said reluctantly, "We're not people." Maria stopped. There were distances between them that could never be closed. The refrigerator kicked on and amplified the silence. They both shifted their feet. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all. "Do you have any raspberry?" Michael finally said. "In the back," she said. "The hot sauce is in the door." She plopped down at the table. At least this was better than Spanish. Donde esta Maria? Maria es en la cocina, she thought and bit into her sandwich. "She said Tess was a liar," Michael said. He stood across the table, as though he couldn't quite decide if he wanted to sit down or not. "This is new?" Maria said with her mouth full. The bread stuck to the roof of her mouth. "This is serious," Michael snapped. "It could be nothing. Isabel is really the only one who knows what's going on here. So I suggest you settle down and eat your sandwich." Maria heard him sigh, but Michael was settling into the prospect of waiting. Interesting developments were happening today, Maria thought. She wasn't in school. Michael was in her kitchen. She smiled. But then Michael asked, "So, what were doing at the Flying Donut, anyway?" Isabel waited in the stairwell. She didn't want to answer any questions. Michael wouldn't be placated with a lie. And she couldn't tell him. How could she? How could she even begin to explain? To him. To Max. To her mother. She could hear Michael and Maria in the living room. Their voices rising in argument and then falling, hushed. "I merely suggested," Maria was saying, "that you take up a hobby. I mean, what do you do all day, since you are never at school." "Hockey highlights," Michael mumbled in response. Isabel heard an announcer describing a winning shot. "You can only search for your destiny for so many hours in a day. You could take up the guitar. Or get a dog." Isabel tried to step quickly to the door, but the floor creaked at her first step. Before Isabel could even make it to the door, Michael was in the kitchen. "Isabel?" Isabel's hand paused over the doorknob. "You're leaving?" Maria said from behind Michael. "I should go home," Isabel said. "But," Michael said. He shoved his hands in his pockets. "We have chicken and stars." Isabel paused. She knew he just wanted to know that she was okay. "I'll drive you," he said, taking long strides across the kitchen. "Michael--" Isabel started. She couldn’t be close to him, not in the Jeep, not in this room. "Let her go," Maria said. Michael stopped. Isabel pulled at Maria's T-shirt. "I still have--" Maria waved her hand. "My mom goes every spring. It's this big Alien Paraphernalia Trade Show, Little Green Men Expo. She used to take me with her. We’d hang out in the booth for like, twelve hours, but it was great because we’d eat junk food all day." She kept talking. She couldn’t seem to stop herself. "We’d eat pretzels and nachos and popcorn. And then at night we’d go to one of those all you can eat buffets. You know, lobster and steak for two-fifty." They were both staring at her. "So you can keep the T-shirt." Michael stared through the kitchen window, deliberately not looking at Isabel. Isabel wanted to cross the kitchen and hug him. He would deny it, but he looked like he needed someone to hold on to him tightly. It just couldn’t be her. "So I'll see you later, then," Isabel said quietly and then slipped out the door. Isabel sat in the jeep. She couldn't seem to catch her breath. The sun was hot and low, and the air was stifling. She leaned her forehead against the steering wheel, feeling the vibration of the engine. Tess was the key. Isabel would get the truth out of her if she had to throw that pixie across the room. Maria was changing into her uniform, and she could hear Michael pacing outside her bedroom door. "I don't like this," Michael said. She watched the shadows of his shoes under the door, back and forth. "She's probably just embarrassed," Maria said. But that sounded hollow even to her. Maria could smell old, stale grease on her uniform. She rubbed a few drops of lavender on the collar and slipped it on. She didn't want to go to work. She'd lose all that she had gained this afternoon. Get a grip on yourself, DeLuca, she thought. He just ate a sandwich and watched some ESPN. This wasn't some giant leap towards intimacy. This was how she got into trouble. Michael was worried about Isabel. Period. Maria just happened to be there. There's no hidden meaning. She pushed back her antennae. They bobbed as she put on her shoes. Pacing stopped in the center of her door. "When's your mom coming home?" "She's out at Hondo for the night." To other guys, like Toby Thompson, this would've been an invitation to seduction. Michael was no doubt relieved that he would only have to deal with one DeLuca. "You staying with Liz?" he asked. She swung open the door. Michael stood in the middle of the doorway. She looked up at him. She could see the finger trails in his hair, the ends curled up. She said quietly, "I'll be here." He reached out towards her then stopped. He touched the edge of her collar. The pads of his fingers, rough, burned from the grill, rubbed against the polyester. "You missed a button," he said. "Oh," was all she could say. "Isabel," Michael said. Maria blinked and pulled back. "No, I'm Maria. Ma-Ri-A." "She's hiding something," Michael said. Maria pulled back and re-buttoned her uniform. Michael said, "I just meant--" "No," Maria said, walking down the steps. "I think you're right. But she'll tell you when she's ready." She stopped, turned. He still stood in front of her bedroom door. "Come on, I'll drive you home." Isabel knocked on the front door of Tess’s house. It was in a sub division on the outside of town, what constituted Roswell suburbs. The grass was dying. It was a stark contrast to the green lawns of the neighbors. It was the only difference between this house and the rest. Isabel pounded on the door. All the anger and fear and frustration flowed from her fist. Over and over. Pound, pound, pound. The door disintegrated into a pile of dust. The door's hinges hung for a moment before falling with a clink. Isabel uncurled her hand and blinked at her palm, as though she could discern the source of that power. She flexed her fingers. She stepped across the threshold but instantly knew that the house was empty. A reverberating stillness surrounded her. Boxes were still stacked in the hall and the living room as though Tess had been perpetually moving in. Or, Isabel thought, it had only been her cover. Isabel shivered. She perfunctorily walked through the house. She trailed her fingers across the dusty furniture and boxes. She looked around hoping to find out something about Tess. But there was nothing. Nothing at all. She ran her fingers over the clothes hanging in the closet. Spandex tops that looked like shriveled arms. Isabel had never paid much attention to Tess. She had just been attached to Max, always peering over his shoulder, as though she were trying to wedge her way into the frame of a photograph. When was the last time she had seen Tess? Had it been that afternoon in the cave? Everything had changed that afternoon. Isabel was tired of monumental revelations. Finally, after drifting in and out of each room, Isabel sat on the couch. She would wait.
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