FanFic - Michael/Maria
"Persephone's Footfalls"
Part 4
by Elizabeth
Disclaimer: Roswell, the characters, and situations are owned by the WB. No infringement intended.
Summary: What if Michael and Maria had met in a very different Roswell? M&M, Maria POV, *VERY* Alt. Universe.
Category: Michael/Maria
Rating: R
*I am Maria DeLuca. I am human. I want to go home. Roswell is my home.*

I have to remember who I am. I recite the words, the phrases that I hope will define me, as I sit around during the day, waiting. At night, when I lie on the bed in the room I have been given and try not to think about what I could do, what I am pretty sure that I want to do, I close my eyes and picture the words, watch them wave in front of my eyes.

Michael and I rode in silence all the way back from the desert, the quiet between us taking on a life of its own. I wanted to think 'I can't believe what happened,' but I couldn't find the purchase I needed to lie to myself. When we got back, Max was waiting for us.

"How did it go?" he asked Michael, and I could hear the eagerness in his voice.

"It went ok," Michael said. He looked off to the side when he spoke, and I wondered if Max could tell that Michael was lying. "He said I should contact him again in a few days."

"Why?" Max's face fell when he spoke, and I knew I should say something. *I'm sorry Max, Michael lied. He never contacted Jim.* Not only would it get me out of whatever situation I was hurtling towards, it would get me home sooner.

"He has to get permission from the government before he can do anything." I heard the words come out of my mouth and...I wish I could say I was surprised by what I said. But I wasn't.

Max looked over at me. So did Michael. I don't know what Max said, I couldn't tell you if he looked surprised, or sad, or angry at what I said.

Michael is not an expressive man. I have been long now? A week, maybe two - I'm not sure. My lack of interest in the passage of time should alarm me. It does not. But I know that Michael rarely smiles or frowns. He rants, he gets frustrated, he argues - but his face is always a mask - his expression smooth, or at most, derisive.

But when I lied, he looked shocked. His mouth fell open. He should have looked comical. He didn't. He blinked, so rapidly that I thought of hummingbirds - the way the air around them sings from the rapid beating of their wings - and then he looked away from me. "Yeah," he told Max. "Some sort of thing about clearing the request. Just a few days."

Max looked at me for a long time - so long that I grew uncomfortable under his stare and turned away from it. Then he sighed and when I turned back, he was looking at Michael. I watched as they stared at each other - both of their faces flat and impassive, their expressions revealing very little of what they were thinking.

"A few days?" he finally said, and Michael shrugged, nodded.

Isabel came over to where we were all standing. Her face was puzzled, and she spoke hesitantly. "Max? Is everything...?"

"Yes. Fine. We just have to wait a few days. In the meantime, could you watch Maria?"

Isabel's face twisted into an unhappy grimace. The feeling was mutual - I had no desire to spend time with her either. "Why?"

Max didn't say anything. He just looked over at her. Isabel shrugged, and said "Fine." She gestured at me, said, "Come on, let's go." So I left with Isabel, and I decided I'd think about everything later. It's always easy to put things off till later - so easy.

That night, the first night after Michael kissed me, there was a frost. Frosts are rare in New Mexico, even in the winter, but everything froze that night. I woke up in the middle of the night and looked at my window. It was covered with a white film, and I went and pressed my hand against the glass, watched as my palm left an impression on the window.

The next morning, there was a thin white blanket on the ground - a sheen of ice crystals that disappeared as soon as the sun moved into the sky. But it was cold inside the rocks, and I noticed that there were a lot of worried faces.

I wanted to wonder why - I knew that it had something to do with why I was there, and I was sure that it was important. But I couldn't find the will to think about it. I would try - would make myself search out faces when I walked down hallways with Isabel marching along ahead of me, would peer into doorways looking for hints of something as we passed. In the end though, I only thought of Michael. Wondering what he was doing, wondering if I would see him.


That is what shapes my days. Michael. What he has said, what I have said, what we have done. I know this path, these thoughts, are not what I should focus on, but I cannot seem to find anything else.

Isabel is my shadow now, although it would be more accurate to say that I am her shadow. She comes and gets me in the morning and I follow her all through the day. She has no interest in reading my mind, no real interest in talking to me. She sees me as a burden, and she is not afraid to tell me so.

I am supposed to stay away from Michael. Nothing has been said, of course - I think that for the aliens, even admitting that one of them wanted to spend any time with a human is something that is simply too absurd to be believed. But after Isabel became my escort, I noticed that I saw Michael very little. Glimpses here and there, a quick look as we walked by him or he came to ask her a question.

Maybe I'm imaging things; maybe the other aliens haven't noticed anything. Maybe there is a part of me that knows I should stay away from Michael and stares, aghast, at what I do, what we do. Either way, I have not stayed away from him.

The first day I spent with Isabel was boring - so boring and so quiet. There was no silence between Michael and me - if we weren't arguing, we were just absorbing each other's thoughts. The intrusiveness of him being in my mind became natural, and I missed it. I miss it. That's a frightening thought.

Anyway, during that first endless day with Isabel, I was actually looking forward to going back to the little room that is mine for now, was looking forward to getting away from Isabel's silences and careful, sharp questions. She asked questions that hurt: "Why hasn't anyone come looking for you?"

I even knew the answers to the questions she asked: Jim would want a peaceful resolution to all of this, not conflict. He wouldn't have let anyone look for me - he would have insisted that my disappearance be treated like anyone else's. But the implication in Isabel's voice made me wonder, and I didn't like that.

So that night - when I saw Michael in the hallway, I smiled. I smiled at him because I was happy to see him. That's a frightening thought too.

He looked surprised when I smiled, but just for a moment. Then he came over to me and touched my arm, stopped me. I looked at Isabel, who was striding down the hall ahead of me, intent on whatever it was she was thinking about.

She turned around after a second, of course, and told me to hurry up, but that moment, as brief as it was - and it was only Michael's hand touching my arm - made everything seem a little brighter.

In retrospect, I suppose I should have known what I was starting on the path to then. But it was so easy to rationalize it all, to tell myself that I was just doing what it took to get through the day. And to some extent, it's true. But the other part, the worst part, the truer part, is that whatever is between Michael and me has nothing to do with rationalization.

If this, any of it, ever comes to light - I think about that sometimes, as I sit silently with Isabel - how will I explain what I've done? The escalation, the walk down this path, it has been an easy thing, a pleasurable thing. My grandfather always says that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I always wondered what that meant, but now I think I understand. Does 'good' for you always mean good for someone else?

Finally my first day with Isabel was creeping towards an end. I had just finished waiting in line for a plateful of whatever mush they were serving that passed for food and I turned to walk out to where Isabel was sitting. The aliens all eat together, in a communal dining room that reminds me of our school cafeteria, or the so-called dining room on the base. I had to pass through a crowd of aliens - they were standing around talking about something - and Michael was on the edge of the crowd.

To get by, I had to walk past him. I turned as I did - I didn't need to turn, not really, but I did anyway - and I felt our bodies brush together - the bump of my shoulder into his chest, the slide of his hips against mine, the sudden hot surge of his thoughts. I did all of it gladly, with no small amount of joy. It was over in a second, but I replayed the moment endlessly.

After that, it was easy to graduate to telling Isabel that I was going to get water, or go to the bathroom, or even to just wander off for a moment. She didn't have me on her mind all the time; she had no interest in watching me closely. She knew I had nowhere to go, so it was easy to slip away.

The first time I did this - which was the second time Michael kissed me - I wouldn't let myself admit that I was trying to find him, that I wanted to be with him. It was a quick thing - a hand grabbed mine, spun me into a corner, the brief sensation of his mouth on mine, then my bemused glance as he wandered down the hall without looking back.

After the fourth - or was it the fifth? - time I did this, I stopped lying to myself and instead started pretending that whatever it was I was doing would have no impact on the rest of my life. It was just a series of moments, and that was all. That was all it could be. I had created an absolute to define a situation that existed without any boundaries, and I knew that. But I kept on pretending anyway.


Isabel is more forthcoming about what life is like for them, the aliens, than Michael had been. He knows that I am cataloging what I see, wondering how it could help Mom, Jim - everyone in Roswell. Isabel probably knows too, but she doesn't see me, or any other human, as much of a threat.

To tell you the truth, Isabel scares me more than any of the other aliens. She has no qualms about using her powers in front of me - summoning light where there isn't any, changing the shape of a rock, holding up CDs and listening to them - and she always looks at me as if I am an amusing anecdote - a joke of sorts, something that is almost funny, but not quite worth even a laugh.

In fact, the only thing that seems to agitate her is Kyle. And I only know this because she mentioned him by name twice. She never refers to humans by name - she is forever calling me 'you' or 'Valenti's daughter' - except for Kyle.

The first time she mentioned him was the day I'd passed Michael as I was getting food. I'd gone over and sat down next to her, my mind eagerly reviewing what I'd just done, and she said, "So, what happened to Kyle's mother?"

I choked on the water I was drinking and stared at her. "Why do you want to know?" I'm sure I sounded incredulous.

She looked down and fingered the edge of her plate briefly. "He... mentioned her."

I answered her as best I could - Kyle never really talked about his mother, and Jim had only mentioned the vaguest of details to me. When I was done, Isabel sighed.

That sigh - that was one of the few times I ever saw her as a someone around my age. She looked young and a little confused, and maybe even a little worried. But then she noticed I was looking at her, and her face cleared. She told me to hurry up and finish eating and it was as if that moment had never happened.

The second time she mentioned Kyle was today. It was morning, and I was still half-asleep. Isabel likes to get up early, so that means I get up early too, and I am not a morning person. We were sitting outside, on a ledge of rock that overlooked the desert, and she was looking off at the sky.

I was thinking about yesterday. Yesterday, Michael told Isabel that he needed to talk to me about Jim. I was sure that Isabel would know he was lying - even I could tell he was lying, but she shrugged and said, "Whatever gets her out of here quicker."

Michael nodded and gestured for me to follow him. We ended up in one of the endless series of hallways that branch off to nowhere. There are a lot of those around here. From what I can figure out, there were more aliens once, a lot more, and once they were gone (left? died? I don't know), the hallways they lived in just became unused, quiet.

I let him touch me in that quiet hallway, and I touched him. I worked my hands under his shirt, let him slide his hands over my skin. I could hear him breathing, I could hear myself breathing, and the sound of it was enough to make my skin prickle.

We separated because I had to go, because he could sense that Isabel was looking for me. So I left him, and went back to the endless round of waiting that is my life now.


This morning, after I managed to force my thoughts away from Michael, I started wondering why everything that goes on here seems to involve waiting. All of the aliens seem to be waiting - they stand around as if they are not sure what they are doing, as if they are not sure what is going to happen.

Then I started wondering why all the aliens look so worried, and why things had been extra quiet and extra tense since the night of the frost. I knew that there was something important that I needed to figure out, but I just couldn't put all the pieces together. I don't like puzzles; I have never liked them.

One of the few things Kyle and I have ever agreed on is our complete lack of interest in puzzles. Mom and Jim love them. Right after the wedding, when we were all 'adjusting,' Mom insisted that Kyle and I help them put a puzzle together as a 'family' thing. It was one of those horrible ten thousand piece puzzles that looks like a bad calendar picture when it's all put together. I think it was of trees or something, but I really can't remember. What I do remember is how I sat at the kitchen table, bored out of my mind, and thinking that if I ever had children, I wouldn't buy them any puzzles, ever.

Kyle looked as bored as I did and he was bending a piece of the puzzle back and forth between his fingers. The piece was getting all bent of shape and creased, and there was no way it would ever fit with whatever pieces it was supposed to. Jim looked over at Kyle and asked him what he was doing. "How is that piece ever going to fit now?"

I reached over and grabbed the piece out of Kyle's hand and placed it on the table. Then I picked up the puzzle piece I was supposed to be finding a mate for, and pushed it next to Kyle's. I had to bang my fist on the pieces to get them to fit together - they obviously weren't meant to join, but I didn't care - and when I was done Mom was looking at me as if I was crazy and Jim looked even more exasperated.

But Kyle started laughing and said, "There, it fits now," and I started laughing too and, after a moment, even Jim smiled. And after that, Kyle and I weren't forced to work on any more family puzzles.

The memory made me smile. I miss everyone so much - I miss Jim coming home and asking everyone how their day was and actually listening to the replies. I miss talking to Liz. I miss teasing Alex about his band. I miss the way my mother always has time to nag me about doing my homework. I even miss Kyle. I knew that whatever was going on with the aliens was something I needed to understand, and I hoped it would remind me of what I was missing. It would give me something to focus on, something to think about. Something that wasn't Michael-related.

I was actually pretty proud of myself. I was doing something; I wasn't just floating along, acting on my usually misguided impulses. I looked over at Isabel, trying to decide how I could get her to tell me what was going on.

There was a group of aliens working over on the rock ledge next to us. They seemed to be digging a series of trenches, but I wasn't really sure. Michael was with them, and I could practically hear my hastily formed ideas fade away as I looked at him. Wouldn't it be easier to just focus on the one thing that was bringing me happiness?

The thought paralyzed me. It was one thing to delude myself and pretend that everything I had done was just a series of events that had no connections - it was another thing entirely to realize that I was happy about it, with it. My terror at my own thoughts made me abandon any attempt at subtlety. "What are they doing?"

"Checking to make sure that our irrigation system is working." Isabel was looking over at the ledge too, and her voice was distracted.

That made sense to me. There's certainly not a lot of water in the desert, and how else would you get things to grow except by using irrigation? I suppose that growing things in the desert must take a lot of work - I can't even begin to imagine how much. And there'd been a horrible drought this past summer. Everyone in town had to ration water, which was a real pain. My mom's garden had pretty much died - all the plants had withered and baked in the sun.

The memory of my mother's garden - all those dead plants, their leaves black from the sun - that solved the puzzle for me. That one little piece, that one little memory. "You need food" I breathed, and Isabel turned to look at me.

It all made sense. The way the aliens are very stingy with water and with food - it's because they don't have much. And what better way to get what they needed than by bargaining with something or someone that those in power loved? No wonder Max and Isabel were so mad when they found out I wasn't Jim's daughter.

Isabel didn't say anything in response, but then, she really didn't need to. I turned my attention back to the knot of people working over on the ridge across from us. Michael was talking to someone, nodding at whatever it was they said, and I noticed that Max was there and was walking over towards Michael. I wanted to ask what was going on, but I knew Isabel would never answer that question. So I just contented myself with watching and wondering.

Max motioned to Michael and Michael walked over towards him. They spoke for a moment - Max's gestures were controlled and tense, and Michael...he just stood there. After a moment, Max made an abrupt movement, waving his hand in a gesture of dismissal, and I saw Michael stiffen. He pointed down at the ground, and then up at the sky, and then he started to walk away.

Max said something as Michael walked away - something that made Michael pause and turn around. He made a hesitant half-start in Max's direction - and for a moment, something in his expression looked almost penitent.

"Kyle messed everything up," Isabel said and I turned to look at her, surprised.


"If he hadn't..." she trailed off and glared at me. "Stay here. I'll be back in a minute."

She stormed off and I turned back, anxious to see if Michael and Max were still talking. But Michael was gone and Max was just standing alone near the edge of the ridge, looking out at the desert. After a moment, he turned and went back inside the rocks.

Isabel was gone for a while, but when she came back, she seemed almost cheerful. I could hear her humming a little as she looked out at the sky, and I settled back to pretend that I wasn't thinking about Michael, wondering what he'd done and where he'd gone.


And now he is back. Michael is back. He walks by where Isabel and I are sitting and his gaze sweeps over mine. I ball my hands into fists so Isabel will not see my fingers shaking.

"I'm going to get some water," I say. "I'll be back."

Isabel glances at me, and for a moment, I am sure she knows everything, and that she even understands, because her gaze is almost pitying. But her face quickly drops into her usual bored expression and she sighs. "Fine. Bring me some too, and make sure it's cold."

I walk down the hall slowly, wondering if the aliens I pass can see what I am thinking. Would they be horrified if they knew? Probably. What would Jim say? What would my mother say?

That last thought causes me to falter a little. Jim and my mother; they would be horrified too. For all the work my mother has done, all the things she's said, she and Jim and everyone else in Roswell just want peace. Not integration. Not what I'm doing, not what I've done.

I can sense him now. We are not supposed to spend time together. He is no longer ricocheting around in my mind for hours every day. And yet I am still aware of him in a way that I've been aware of no one else. There are signal towers outside Roswell - put up to monitor the aliens, to watch the skies, to keep an eye on the town. If you go to them, you can hear them working - a low humming noise that spreads out into the sky.

I'm like those towers. I am sure that my feelings for Michael - my confusion, my want - must be a beacon. I know he hears it, because his eyes meet mine as he starts down the hallway towards me.

I am still walking. I pass someone - an alien - whose eyes slide away from mine, who moves away from me. And yet I still walk forward. I am still an oddity to these people, to all of them.

Except for one. I can not look at him now. If - oh, how I long for this 'if,' though know it will never be, but I still dream of it - If he was a boy, just a human boy, and we were at school - my eyes would dart towards his, then away. I would whisper to Liz, and she and I would laugh. I would walk by him, and his eyes might meet mine. A promise. There would be none of this worry, this urgency.

Hurry, it will all end soon, you have to store up these memories. Hurry, don't think about this, how you are acting against everything you've learned. Hurry, because he is near me now, and his arm is reaching out towards me.

Hurry, because my hand clasps his willingly. Hurry, let the rush of his thoughts fall over me. If we were normal, if this were normal, his thoughts would be a mystery to me - I would torture myself by wondering if he liked me, if he noticed me.

But I see his thoughts and he sees mine. We cannot pretend as humans do, as perhaps aliens can do. We have established something that isn't supposed to be. Hurry, before I lose my nerve and scurry back to the safety of Isabel's mocking gaze.

He pulls me into a room. It could be a storage room, it could be anything. It is empty and bare, and I hear myself trying to justify what I am doing - look around, see if you find anything useful, Maria - remember what you've learned in school? - but I can't look around. My eyes are closed because I am waiting for him to kiss me, I want him to kiss me.

Hurry. That is what we are both thinking. Hurry because I have to go back to Isabel and to waiting. Hurry because he has sworn to Max that he has no interest in me other than making sure that Valenti bargains for me. Hurry because every moment is precious and has to be filled.

He saw Jim today. I see Michael waiting for Jim, talking to him, just briefly. I reach out eagerly for the memory of what Michael has seen - will I go home soon?

"Wait" he whispers to me. "Just let me touch you first."

As if I would say no. That thought - my assent, so freely given - will that trouble me later? Maybe. But I don't care now, my arms have opened and I am welcoming him.

I thought that perhaps Michael would be very polished and seductive - sliding my shoes off, opening the buttons on my shirt with one hand, whispering things into my mind. But he isn't, he has never been. It's as if both of us have been put into a world that we can't quite deal with and it has made us clumsier than usual.

He can't unbutton my shirt and my hands get tangled in his t-shirt when I try to pull it over his head. We both end up tugging our clothes off in between kisses.

I end up leaning back against the wall, which is cold, cold enough to startle me. I shut my eyes quickly as I look around, down, get a glimpse of myself. It isn't real if I don't see it.

His hands rest on my stomach and slide up, over my breasts. I can hear him, inside my head, whispering my name. *Maria.*

We kiss again and all I see is a jumble of images, of feelings. There is no breath in me at all, it is all gone, pushed out of me. Is this what it is like for aliens, all the time, every time? If it is, I can't imagine how they manage to get anything done. I would want to spend all my time like this.

There is his response - no, it isn't like this, that's why no one believed me when they saw me thinking about how I could see what he thought. This is new. Different. Better.

His mouth moves down my neck, across the top of my chest. My feet fumble for purchase, I feel the faint stab of rock against my bare skin. He catches me before I fall and lays me down gently on the cold floor. It should bother me - the rocks, the cold, what I am doing, but all I can sense, all I can feel is his mouth on my stomach, his wonder at what we have discovered, and the excitement we both feel.

Everything inside me is liquefied - as if my insides, myself had all been reduced to a slow boil of something that I can feel pressing against me - behind the backs of my knees, rolling inside my stomach, trapped behind my eyelids. I know I must be making noises, I can feel his reaction to my voice, which is broken and uttering his name, but all I hear is me waiting as his mouth moves lower.

And then his mouth touches a spot that makes my mind go blank and I don't see or hear anything but a white noise, a blanketing sound of pleasure that I feel everywhere. It is better than anything I have ever felt before and I open my eyes, no longer caring that I am not supposed to see this as real. I absorb the sight of Michael's head between my legs, an abstract concept rendered real by the feel of his cheek as it rubs against my thigh.

It's wrong. We have both heard that so often - no contact, no contact - that it is there, rasping against the back of our memories. He should have taken me today, when he went to see Jim, he should have let me go. There is no reason for me to stay, everything is set. But he doesn't want me to go.

I don't want him to stop. I don't want to leave.

It's that last admission that sends me into a place where I can't think in terms of my thoughts and Michael's thoughts anymore, to a place where I am not sure where he ends and I begin.

It is almost unpleasant to come back, to realize that I haven't managed to transcend where I am and make everything possible. I say his name because I want to make sure that he is still here, that I didn't just imagine all this, that I am not going to wake up in the dank room that is my current home with a hot ache between my thighs.

I realize that his mouth is still between my legs at the same time he lifts his head up. I feel a blush start on my face and move down my body, see it as it passes over my chest and down my stomach. He smiles at me, and I feel disoriented, dazed.

He rises up, kisses me, and the pressure of his mouth is enough to remind me that I am still Maria DeLuca, and that I am still human. His mind opens fully to me; he passes his memory of his meeting with Jim over for me to see. I watch - I see Jim's worry for me, I hear the love in his voice when he tells Michael to "tell Maria that we miss her."

Yes, it will all end tomorrow. Whatever the aliens want and have bargained for will arrive, and I will be sent back to Roswell. Michael and I have no future; I knew that all along. This just makes it final, makes it clear.

I run my hands down his back and then up over his chest. His skin is soft, yet I can feel the knots of the muscles that cover his ribcage. That is Michael - a contradiction; a living, breathing, talking paradox that has pushed me into a strange world of our own creation, one where the fact that I am human and he is alien does not seem to matter.

But this - this moment, the few we've had before this - this is all we will ever have. These will be memories I unfold in the future, sensations that will probably not seem real to me, and I will have to hold on to them.

We will have to leave this room soon - this moment will end, as all the others have - but for just one shining second, this one last moment, I will allow myself the ultimate luxury. I will believe, just for now, that the fact that he and I are together is the one thing that matters.

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