FanFic - Michael/Maria
Part 1
by Gyro
Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters but Jason Katims Productions has put them inside my head.
Summary: Post “ Destiny”; the aliens return to find their real destiny and what I would like to happen, really.
Category: Michael/Maria
Rating: PG
Authors Note: Would really welcome feedback. My first attempt. This is for enthusiasts who want a long read.
Michael lounged in the back of the BMW with a brooding look on his face which might have been taken for petulance by those who did not know him. In front of him Isabel was engaged in lively, if somewhat nervous, chatter with her brother Max who was driving.

“Do you think that it’ll all be the same?” she was saying in rushed gusts, “That Alex’ll still be there? That Liz and Maria’ll still be working at the Crashdown? Will it be the same?”

Red sandstone stony outcrops flew past the window and Michael detached himself from the conversation with some pain, trying to get some comfort from an environment which struck a chord deep within him. After all, he had been nurtured by this barren land in his early years, before Max and Isabel had claimed him for civilization…if that’s what life with Hank could have been called. Although it had been a year since he had seen this place, the desert, at least, had not changed.

He dragged his attention back to the couple in front and noted, with some surprise, that Max’s hands were gripping the steering wheel so tightly that the knuckles gleamed whitely and that Maxwell, like himself, took refuge in silence, showing the same reluctance speak about what was ahead, even as Isabel seemed to want to do.

And now the future was uncertain. The future, it seemed to Michael, had always been uncertain for him. There was a time when he yearned for nothing better than to escape Roswell, New Mexico, for a better life which involved finding and knowing himself. It seemed ironical that, after all that had happened, he was drawn back here, drawn by an impulse and a desire that he still only dimly understood, to finish what had been started here.

It had been Max’s idea. To come back. Part of Michael had yearned to be forced, propelled towards this place, but part of him was frightened to attempt it. He had never feared the future before: always welcomed it as something new which had to be better than what he had known. For Isabel and Max it was different. Liz had voluntarily walked away from Max, the supreme gesture of love, consigning him to destiny. Alex had voluntarily let go,too - a rational, self-sacrificial gesture which was typical of Alex. For him, Michael, it was very different. He had had a blonde angel who had gone through hell for him, shown her pain again and again, bounced back with the same Maria-kind of resilience and loyalty, whatever atrocities he had committed. And he had, at the end, walked away, deliberately ignoring her pain, her needs, her desires. He had told himself, and her, that ‘maybe I love you too much’: true in a way but, none-the-less a total copout. So where would Maria be now? And how would she feel about him now? He feared knowledge of the truth; it might be better to nurture his illusions and cling on to the knowledge that he had been loved… and had loved… and lost it all.

As he was thinking, worrying if the truth be known, Max pulled into a gas station and stopped by the tank. Isabel threw herself out of the car and made straight for the amenities to freshen up before their arrival. Max fiddled with the pump, grunted instructions to the attendant and then leaned wearily against the side of the car. Michael unwound himself from the back and reluctantly forced himself to talk to his friend.

“The closer we get the more I reckon this was an insane idea, Maxwell. No-one can go back to find what was lost. Not even us. I reckon that what’s happened to us over the last nine months must prove that.” He laughed bitterly at his own cynicism.

Max turned to look at him out of world-weary eyes which also showed great wisdom and tranquillity. “I always set great store by hope, Michael. That’s the only thing that kept us going all those years. I feel that Liz will still be there… to be my friend, if nothing else.”

Michael was astounded. “You’re going back in the hope of… friendship? Maxwell, you’re totally mad! If your ‘soulmate’ has bonded elsewhere so…? What do you next? “

Max looked at him quizzically, a faint smile teasing round his mouth. “And you? You’re not just along for the ride, you know. What do you hope to get out of it, then? God knows, Michael, you’d be the first to admit that your relationship was rocky - to say the least. Why are you here, with me, if not in the same, vain hope?”

Michael could not look at Max. He turned away, keeping the grimace, the sudden pain, as a private thing. He schooled his face into the usual impassiveness with a tautness round his mouth before he turned back to his friend and his thoughts came out as a rush. “God, I reckon I’m the expert at moving on, you know? I gotta get her out of my system or in the scheme of things. It’s the not-knowing which gets to ya. I gotta admit I treated her badly; I’m sorry for it.”

He paused, looked away at the rocky outcrops listing over the gas station before he collected himself enough to look Max frankly in the eye. “I reckon I’m big enough now to say sorry, ya know? If nothing else, I’d like to say sorry and…maybe, see that she’s happy. If she’s not, then who knows. Maybe I, too, can afford the luxury of hope.”

Isabel reappeared at that point and flounced her way back to the car, make-up now immaculate, green sheath dress and leather boots gleaming to compliment the torrent of flowing blonde hair.

Max smiled sadly. “The luxury of hope. That’s a very big idea for you, Michael.”

“Did Michael say that? I don’t believe it.” Isabel caught the tail-end of the conversation and, as usual, took the opportunity for a wise-crack. Michael winced and something made him think of that time when the dreamscape had replaced his Maria with Isabel and that he had welcomed that change. Imagined happiness with this sophisticated life-partner whose speciality had been to criticize and carp at his expense rather than to give and nurture. Only one girl had been big enough in spirit to do that. And he had let her go. Worse, he had pushed her away.

“How far now?” he said abruptly and turned to enter the car without responding to Isabel’s sharp comment.

“Ten k’s. Not long. Where do we go first? The Crashdown?” Max tried to drop this casually, for discussion. They all knew that this was to be the first destination, even before finding a bed for the night.

Michael could not bear to reply, to voice his desire. He felt faintly sick that he was so close now to finding his dream, or losing it forever. Isabel, ever inclined to talk, filled in the gap.

“Seems pointless to waste time, doesn’t it? We have the evening ahead of us afterwards. If they’re not there, we could try The Nite Star.”

*Maybe Maria will be singing* was Michael’s first thought. *She never knew that I heard her sing. I never told her she was good. I never told her anything…* He was filled with fear.

The Crashdown was still the same, perhaps more tawdry and small-town than they remembered. The neon spaceship still glared stridently into the street, the same street in a town which seemed unaltered. They stood in a line, like old times and stared through the windows. But time moves on. The waitresses were unremembered sophomores from Roswell High, younger and less memorable than the ones they’d known.

Max could not contain his disappointment. “I’d hoped that we’d come back and they’d be here. That nothing would have changed. Never seen those two before, have you?”

Isabel was peering along the booths and at the bar seats at the counter. It was Friday night and the restaurant was doing desultory business. It was not difficult to see that Alex was not there.

“God, what do we do now?” The disappointment was evident in her voice.

Michael could not trust himself to speak; his disappointment was so intense. Max plugged the gap. “I’ll go in and see if Mr. Parker can tell us anything.” He propelled himself towards the door while the other two continued to lean against the cold glass of the window, almost willing things to be different.

They watched, in a trance, while Max talked to the waitresses who shook their heads and showed some eagerness to serve him. In seconds, Max was back in the street. He seemed dazed.

“The Parkers have gone. Sold up six months ago. Moved…I don’t know where…the girls don’t know…Liz, too.”

This was a nightmare that they had not wanted to envisage. That things would not be the same. *It was all too good to be true,* thought Michael bitterly, *too good and too easy…to think that I’d look through that window and she’d be there, with bobbing antennae, kidding around with some strange guy, joshing with Jose…that she’d come to me, like during the heat wave.* He cursed himself for being a fool.

“Let’s try the Nite Star,” said Michael abruptly and lunged off down the street on foot, uncaring whether the others followed him or not. *Let’s find out about the others…no, about Maria,* was what he wanted to say but Michael had, at last, learned the virtue of tact and of other people’s feelings.

Uncharacteristically, Max caught up with him, leaving Isabel to pant some paces behind them. He could feel Max tramping along as if he were staggering with some unbearable weight.

“So what do we do now?” Michael turned to him, instinctively, knowing that a lack of success lay ahead of them at The Nite Star, too.

Max shook his head, too dazed and disappointed to reply initially. “I guess…I guess…that if we don’t get news of them here that we try Sheriff Valenti, or Kyle. They should have some news..something to help us.”

It was nine-o’clock when they found themselves in front of Valenti’s house. Lights were burning and the sheriff’s jeep stood in the driveway. Michael found himself hoping, even praying, that, finally, they would pick up a trail of hope. Even Isabel’s composure was crumpling now. They stood there in the porch, helpless, until Michael found the courage to bang forcefully on the front door.

It seemed that aeons passed before light footsteps approached the door and the sounds of dead bolts drawing brought them alive. The woman who stood in the doorway shocked Michael. It was Amy de Luca. She saw him first and gave a gasp like a drowning woman.

“Mi…Michael? My God! What are YOU doing here? So long! Didn’t think you’d ever come back!” She had the grace to look ashamed, then confused, then something else which Michael could not clearly understand. “Max! Isabel!” Slowly she registered the full import of the group huddled before the porch.

Michael was equally aghast. Maria’s mother was not the first person he had wanted to recognize on his return to Roswell. In time, maybe, but not the first.

“Mrs. de Luca. I’m looking for Maria…and Liz…and Alex. Have we come at a bad time? We’ve tried the usual places and we’ve just arrived in town. I’m hoping….”

His voice faltered as he noted a kind of crumpled look which flashed across her face. She turned away, visibly upset, and talked to someone in the house. “You’ll never guess who’s here…” she faltered, as Valenti came up behind her, a baby in his arms.

“Ask them in, Amy. Don’t dither on the doorstep. Come in.” The sheriff, if not exactly welcoming, was at least cordial.

In a daze, Amy de Luca took the baby from her husband, and rushed inside the house, leaving her husband to usher the trio towards the living room. Michael got the feeling that she did not want to speak to them. He could not squash a feeling of unease.

Valenti gestured towards the couches and chivalrously sat them down. His heartiness struck a false note which all of them recognized. “Well, this is a surprise. Come on in. There’s not much you can do tonight at this time. Amy’ll make some coffee. Sit down. Sit down. So you’re back.“ There was a weary resignation in the way that Valenti said those last words which did not comfort any of them. *O.K. sheriff,* thought Michael, *so you’re not thrilled to see us. It figures.*

Dutifully they seated themselves, Isabel with a slight gasp of relief, before Max blurted the question that had been hanging on his lips. “I’m looking for Liz but they told me at the Crashdown that the Parkers have moved away. I’m hoping for some information…where I could look…and Isabel and Michael…they’re wanting to see Maria and Alex.”

Valenti looked uncomfortable.

He spoke slowly and with deliberation. “Well, some things I can help you with…and some I can’t. As I said, there’s nothing you can do now. Wait for coffee and then we’ll talk.”

Max was pleading. “Please, sheriff, we gotta know now. We’ve come a long way..” *If only you knew how far* Michael thought with grim irony.

Amy de Luca came through from the kitchen and placed the baby tenderly in Valenti’s arms. “I’m just bringing the coffee,” she mumbled incoherently, before rushing out again. *Why won’t she look at me?* thought Michael, *is it because of Maria? I’m a bum? Maria’s got someone else?* He tortured himself.

Valenti kept his face riveted on the baby who was sleeping peacefully in his arms. She was a pretty thing, with blonde curls.

*She looks like Maria* he thought inconsequentially, *so much like Maria.*

He could not control himself. He had to ask. “Are you and Mrs. de Luca…sheriff?”

Valenti smiled with pride and contentment. “Ya mean…hitched? Yep, son. You guessed it. Amy and I got married seven months ago.” He conveyed the information with a kind of humble pride. Michael’s mind registered the timeframe and he looked even more intently at the months ago.

Max felt pressured to repeat his questions and with some caution the sheriff tried to frame replies.

“The girls at the Crashdown are right, son. The Parkers moved away six months ago. Just sold up. Ya know the Crashdown was just the centre of too much bad talk: the shooting an’ all that followed. Business just kind a dried up, slowly but surely. And once the Convention finished… well, I guess that Mr. Parker just didn’t feel the same way about the place. They moved to Florida I heard.”

“Do you have any address…any information which would help me?” Max was openly pleading and Michael noted his use of a pronoun. Suddenly this was a personal mission for Max.

“No I don’t,son. But I guess I could get my deputy to work on that one tomorrow at the office.”

Max sighed audibly with relief. There was hope.

Michael found his voice. Even to himself he sounded aggressive. “And Alex? And Maria?”

Almost on cue with the mention of her daughter’s name Mrs. de Luca, now Valenti, deposited the coffee tray and started to pour with self-conscious enthusiasm. She cut in before her husband had the chance to frame another laconic reply.

“Alex is still here,” she gushed, ”not for long, though. He leaves for college in the fall. Going to Vermont, I think. Clever boy. Got a scholarship an’ all. I doubt that he’ll return to Roswell except for vacation. He’ll go on to bigger things. Into computers. Gave up his band..when Maria..” she stopped suddenly and gulped.

“When Maria…?” Michael spoke slowly and quietly but with deadly intention. His chest felt squeezed in anticipation of a reply. *I deserve it*, he told himself, *I deserve the bad news.*

She looked at him then and her eyes slowly filled with tears. “When Maria went away.” She paused. “And I don’t want you to ask me where she’s gone, Michael.” There was steel in her voice at this point. “That won’t do you or her any good at all. Just leave it all alone. She’s happy now.” The idea of Maria’s happiness seemed to conflict with the way that her eyes suddenly filled with tears as she framed the words. Michael had a dreadful sense of foreboding. He found that he could not speak, could not look at any of them. He looked anywhere but at the humans, the aliens. His eyes skimmed over a room filled with bland modern furniture relieved only by Amy’s bizarre new-age trendiness. No sign of Maria here. The void in his chest was a physical ache.

Valenti coughed discreetly to fill the gap. Michael was dumbfounded with pain at her words. Was she not going to allow him a second chance?

“It’d be different now, Mrs. de Luca…I mean, Mrs. Valenti. I promise you…it would be different.”

Valenti dropped words consciously into the stunned silence. Even Isabel showed shock and horror. Valenti spoke slowly as if he was reading the rights to a particularly difficult offender. “It can’t be different, Michael. Believe me. Just leave it be. Move on…that’s not a new idea for you, surely?”

Max rose to his feet. Michael knew he was trying to help; for some mad reason this hurt him even more. This meeting was more difficult than any of them had imagined, more painful than any of them had dreamed. On behalf of all of them, Max decided that they should cut their losses.

“I reckon we’re all tired, sheriff. Thanks for the coffee but we should really move on…at least to find a motel for the night. Is The Alien Encounter still operating on Elm Street?” Michael dimly registered that only Isabel had drunk the coffee and that she had probably done that because one had to act normally, act human, and she had had little part in this conversation.

The sheriff nodded, with some eagerness, as they all rose to their feet.

Michael could not help himself. He approached the sheriff and looked down at the baby. “Is this Maria’s sister, sheriff? She looks so like Maria…so like Maria.” His voice faltered – he despised himself for that - and Maria’s mother turned away as if she could not face this uncharacteristic display of emotion. Before he could stop himself, he touched the baby’s hand and held it in his own. The baby gave no sign.

And then it came. The flash. Unprompted and unwelcome. A vision of Maria, holding the girl-child and laughing down into its eyes. Cooing endearments and burying her sparkling eyes in the baby’s hair. Holding it tenderly and with some degree of possession. She was crooning its name: Michaela…Michaela...Michaela. The flash gave Michael a physical blow; it was unheralded and unwelcome. He had often dreamed of Maria, of the fights and of his emotional inadequacy, of his careless rejection. Often he had tried to conjure her into his dreams and she had refused to come. Now she was there but not there. He felt desolate.

“She’s a lovely baby. You’re very lucky. Enjoy her.” Michael looked frankly and sincerely at Maria’s mother, Amy de Luca, the free spirit who he knew Maria had mothered, even as she had mothered him. “Will you…will you at least tell Maria that I wish her well…that I came to see her…that I realize…maybe it’s for the best…I mean…what you said…Leaving it alone. I always wanted Maria to be happy, you know? I guess that I was too bound up to do a good job myself, though…I’m real sorry about that Mrs. de Luca.” He did not take his eyes away from her as he forced himself to pronounce truth…difficult for him at any time but particularly now. He wanted her to believe him but he knew she did not. She would not tell him about Maria.

He removed his hand from the baby slowly, with reluctance, and then strode for the door, not wanting to prolong this meeting. He left the conventional civilities to Max and Isabel. They did them so well and he…well, he had never done the civilized thing.

They drove the car straight to The Alien Encounter and booked in. Too many disappointments for one night. Isabel was weepy and distraught; she was the one with least reason for being so. Tomorrow she would find Alex and at least one of them might grab a dream.

Michael stripped off to the waist in the privacy of his room and looked dispassionately at the scar which ran down his chest towards the stomach. It was an ugly thing but tonight it seemed to represent an operation to tear out his heart. He had discovered that he did have one – a heart - and it was a painful discovery to know that part of him, at least, was human. Where was Maria? Who would tell him? Dare he pursue this hope any further? What chances of winning her back, convincing her he’d changed, that she had made him a whole man, despite the scar? He wanted to groan aloud; control was no longer an issue.

*Don’t try to sleep. Find Alex.* He felt demonic and entirely human in his pursuit of desire as, on a sudden decision, he pulled on a clean shirt and grabbed for his jacket. He headed for the door, oblivious to the time, the lateness of the hour, the darkness. It seemed to him that he had spent his whole life in the darkness, wandering the streets of Roswell, lying on the bonnet of Max’s jeep, camping out in the park, outside her house, anything to escape Hank and the brutality of life in the trailer. *Is this really all that home is going to mean to me?* he thought bitterly as he strode out into the desert night. It was worse now, he realized, this mindless wandering with not even Maria’s window as an objective to sooth his soul.

Alex’s house was in darkness when he arrived but he knew the room and felt insanely boyish, taken back in time, as he aimed the pebbles with precision towards the glass. They bounced and pinged with heightened clarity so that it seemed to Michael that he would wake the whole neighbourhood before he alerted Alex.

It seemed an eternity before a tousled head appeared at the window. Once, another face had appeared at a bedroom window: one filled with compassion and love and naked truth. Once she had taken him in and loved him in the purest way, no questions asked. He had never said thank you for that. His heart lurched as he saw Alex’s face and his look of incredulity. It was a different Alex: gone was the naivety, the trusting human asking to be manipulated, moulded, accepted. This Alex was perceptibly older, suspicious, less friendly.

The window banged open and Alex barked “My God! Michael! Am I dreaming? And Max? and…Isabel?”

Michael forced himself to respond naturally, laconically, in character. “We’re all here, Alex. Looking for you and…the others. We arrived late…they’ve turned in…we were going to find you tomorrow…I just couldn’t wait.”

Alex was forcing his arms into a parka, a dark and almost sinister silhouette against the dim light of the window. Michael could sense his hesitancy before he forced open the window and plunged through it to fall heavily on the wet grass. He pumped Michael’s hand up and down and would not let him go. “You’re back.” he said in amazement, the boyish grin still evident, “You’re back. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.” He was questioning himself, not really accepting this quasi-alien with spiked hair who was patrolling feverishly up and down in front of his house. “Are you real? Am I in a dream trance? Are you in my head or what?”

Michael uttered a short and bitter laugh. “It’s real, sure enough. But Roswell, ya know, this doesn’t seem real to me anymore. So many changes…Liz gone…Maria…Maria…gone. I’m hoping you have…something. Alex…” he paused, “for god’s sake, tell me about Maria.”

Alex gave him a sharp look before abruptly dropping his hand. “So you know about Maria, huh?” He avoided Michael’s eyes, pushed a thin hand through hair which was longer and shaggier than Michael remembered. *He’s not the wimp I remembered* Michael thought with sudden shock. This was another unnerving revelation which made him uneasy.

Michael forced himself to speak and hoped that he sounded the same old Michael – careless and uncaring. “She’s gone away. Mrs. de Luca – I mean, Mrs. Valenti – she told me to drop it…leave Maria alone…she’s happy, she said…gone away…don’t know where…hoping you can tell me…gotta see her, at least…owe her that…” His voice trailed off. *Please god, don’t let him think I care too much.*

There was something wrong with Alex’s body language: he dropped his head before staring into Michael’s eyes, intent on capturing his gaze. He reached into the parka for a packet of cigarettes and used the time for silence: groping for the cigarettes, fumbling for the lighter and then the complicated business of lighting the cigarette in the slight breeze. The zippo refused to co-operate but Michael knew that Alex was glad of it. “Then.. you don’t know. I’m sorry, Michael, but they didn’t tell you. They should have…not for me to tell you, really. Don’t know how at any rate.”

Alex turned away from him to cup his hands around the cigarette and he dragged furiously to light up.

“Tell me what, Alex?” Unconsciously, Michael had grabbed Alex’s collar and was inadvertently strangling him. Alex wriggled away. “Tell me, Alex. Do you know that I’m going out of my mind? I’ve waited so long for this time, so long…it seems like I’ve been waiting for this since the moment we left. She’s been here,” he gestured to his heart, “and here,“ gesturing his head, “and that’s the only thing that’s kept me sane and whole. I’ve prayed to God to let me get back here to make it up to her,ya know? And now, nothing but mysteries…vagueness Where is she? Tell me, please.” *Oh god, he was begging, begging this human whom they had all overlooked.* He had a flash of the moment when they left to get Max, with Alex holding his Maria and Liz, protectively, a small human gesture while they strode away to do big things to save Max. Alex was never to be taken seriously, even then.

Alex reached out to hold his arms with great gentleness. His cigarette glowed like a blood-red laser point somewhere beyond Michael’s elbow. Michael could smell the powerful nicotine which was uncharacteristically Alex. “Listen, Michael. This is going to be painful. There’s such a lot that’s happened they probably figured it was better not to tell you anything. Better to leave it and let you walk away. You were good at that once, remember?” Alex could not keep the note of bitterness out of his voice. This human had no reason to love aliens. The disillusion was almost a tangible thing.

“Not now, Alex. Believe me. I’ve come back for Maria and this is it…no more running, unless she comes with me.” Michael despised himself for pleading, hated the sound of his own voice, hated what he had become. He wanted to be the old careless human capable only of anger against the world and kicking against his fate.

“Maria is beyond running now, Michael. Do you get my drift. How can I say it?” Alex’s voice broke and tears formed in his eyes. Michael could see them clearly in the streetlight. “Maria has gone away, Michael, and to a place where you cannot find her. There was…an accident…her Jetta…a complete write-off, burned out…nothing left..I can’t tell you the details…too horrible..Roswell was shocked…her mother broken up…the baby abandoned.” Alex turned away, unable to say more and tossed the cigarette into his mother’s flower bed. The red glow curved in an arc of flight and disappeared when it hit the ground.

“Whaddya mean? The baby abandoned? The baby is Maria’s sister. Right?” It seemed to Michael that it took great effort to ask those questions, as if he was suffering from some lung disease which made coherent speech impossible. He was a lung cancer-sufferer struggling for breath. Maria…the Jetta… the baby…which idea must he assimilate first? He could understand nothing.

“So they didn’t tell you that either, huh? The baby was Maria’s. That’s what broke the whole town, ya know? Her baby not a month old when it happened. And she loved it, too. Called it Michaela. Don’t have to be a genius to work that one out, do we, Michael?“ Alex was busy lighting another cigarette, his head down, his hands shaking, his voice a whisper of sound.

“Who was the father?” Michael asked slowly. *That night,* he thought simultaneously with a sensation of physical pain in his chest, Surely not that one night? She never said anything. I should have known…maybe I’m just wishing…let it be mine.*

Alex stared at him with some animosity now. “I don’t know how you can ask that, Michael. All I can tell you is that there was no-one after you left, buddie. Kyle tried; god knows how many tried…” Michael knew instinctively that Alex counted himself among that number, “but she kinda withdrew into herself and when she found out she was pregnant she dropped outa school and we had to make the effort to keep in touch, look after her. She needed us, ya know, but was too proud to say so.” He dragged on the cigarette furiously and looked with some longing at his bedroom window. Alex did not want to be there. *He doesn’t want to tell me, see me, think of before. He was glad we left,* Michael knew his chaotic thoughts were not the result of random emotion but of intuition. He felt the truth.

Alex was warbling on, hurriedly, apologetically,and Michael wanted to laugh, not because anything Alex was saying was funny but because he felt overcome with a kind of hysteria. “Then Liz left and that kinda broke her too. But I was there..for her…I was there for her…I even offered to marry her – don’t laugh – I couldn’t have replaced you – I know that – but she needed an anchor. I wanted to be that anchor. She could have come with me to Vermont. We would have struggled…but I would have worked to make her happy.” His tears prevented him from continuing. The hand clutching the cigarette was trembling with a kind of deep human emotion that Michael envied. At that point he felt that he hated Alex.

Michael sagged against the tree trunk behind him. The flash. Michaela. Michaela. His baby. The pain in his chest was far worse than anything before, far worse than any wound during the war. His mouth was dry and numb. He could not speak. “They…never…said…anything,” he gasped through the pain.

Alex smeared a hand across his face to wipe the tears from his cheek. He moved his hand to hold Michael’s face and found it clammy, cold. “I can understand that,“ he said slowly, “after all, the Valentis have adopted the baby and they wouldn’t want you muscling in to stake a claim. Makes sense just to hope you’d go away. Leave them to their grief and with Michaela. Maria’s mom would go mad without that baby. They love it to death. And Valenti. He’s a good man..he worships them both. ..What are you going to do?” There was a sharp note of interrogation in his tone. Alex hugged the parka to him, his face inscrutable in the dark, but his voice unmistakably cool.

The pain had spread down to Michael’s groin and he feared that he was going to collapse. He despised himself for the weakness of the moment…he, Michael, the soldier of his people, the killer who had committed so much violence, the one alien who had shunned feeling, warmth, love. Reduced to this. He slid down the tree to crumple against the bole of it, to feel the wet grass, cold ground beneath his body. Cold ground and the cold ground. He wanted to join her; he wanted to die, too. The killing had bounced back fatefully to punish him…he was still a dead man.

He forced himself to his feet,panting with the effort. His breath was expunged coldly, in wisps of white mist, like the breath of the dead. It hung there in the night air, ephemeral, unreal, mocking him.

“Isabel…you’ll find her at the Alien Encounter. She’ll be waiting for you. You deserve her, Alex.” He groaned this information, turning away and rejecting this human boy who had expressed his simple love for Maria with such simple honesty. Alex wanted Maria…not Isabel…Alex mourned Maria, his guardian angel, his comforter, his friend.

Michael turned abruptly, neglecting farewells, gratitude, those human virtues that had never marked him out. He plunged back into the darkness leaving human pain behind him but carrying with him a pain which was alien for him. He bled, but bled alone.

Index | Part 2
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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