|"Riding Waves of Doubt"
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine (obviously)
so please don’t sue me okay?
Summary: Everything up to "Sexual Healing" has happened, but without Maria. This takes place between that episode and "Crazy".
Songs: "Little Heaven" by Toad the Wet Sprocket (from "In Light Syrup" and also the movie soundtrack, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and "Slingshots" by Morley ("Felicity" soundtrack).
|It’s been almost two months since I last saw him. I’ve tried not to think about him. I’ve tried not to wonder if he found who he was looking for, if he and she and Max and Isabel were out in the desert somewhere
celebrating or phoning home or waiting for Nasedo.
Since then I’ve had a total of five dreams. Four were of Max and one was of him. I don’t remember the Max ones very well (I’ve probably blocked them out of my memory as best as I could) except that they were similar to the first one I’d had.
The one of Michael had been different. The colors hadn’t been as bright, the contrasts in them not as extreme, and I had been able to hear – in the desert with Max there was always silence. I felt different, more in control.
I was making the conscious decision to walk up those steps and push open the door.
It was dark inside. It was a small apartment, the walls were blurry and there was a vague outline of a kitchen counter to my right, and a brown couch to my left with a sheet hung over a window. The early morning sun shone through it making the light purple patterns glow. There was music softly playing somewhere, and he was standing in the room alone. He turned to look at me, surprised and not surprised, as the front door gently clicked shut behind me. He came to me slowly. I could feel what he was feeling, his confusion, his fear, his worry. I could feel him want to touch me.
*Opened my eyes,
He stopped a breath away from me and we could see the sparks now like little Fourth of July sparklers between us all around us lighting up the room.
*Not for the end of days,
not for vision understood
He reached out to me first.
*Breathe in waves of doubt*
His hands cupping my face.
*Bitter in your mouth*
Tilting it up for a kiss.
*You will exhale cinnamon clouds*
I couldn’t breath and we held each other I felt like I was falling even as he lifted me up I could hear him whisper my name could feel the warmth of his bare skin against mine and I closed my eyes as the sparks floated lazily through the air like fireflies.
*When it is quiet and still
My fingers were in his hair and his were tracing delicate circles on my back as he kissed a line of fire from one shoulder to the other.
*Ride these waves of doubt*
The gentle glide of our tongues against each other as he lifted his lips from the hollow of my throat and brought them to mine.
*Bitter in your mouth*
I held him so close I didn’t know where his body ended and mine began.
*You will exhale cinnamon clouds
We knelt down on the floor facing each other and I pulled his shirt off over his head He slid the straps of my top off of my shoulders and I wasn’t afraid I wasn’t self conscious because I knew this was a dream and in my dreams he thought I was beautiful As beautiful as I thought he was.
We sank down to the floor his body deliciously heavy on top of mine.
*Riding waves of doubt*
I let him touch me.
*Turns me inside out*
I let him love me.
*And I will exhale a primal shout*
And I loved him.
*Ooh little heaven, little heaven
I awoke trembling, still feeling him. My room was empty and cold, filled with the soft sound of my breathing. It had felt so real. I had heard him breathe, had heard his heart racing beneath my fingers, had felt every touch, every kiss, the gentle pressure of his body against mine in the darkness lit by stars of fire raining down from the ceiling.
I held my shaking hands to my face and tried to forget.
About a week after I had dreamt about Michael my mother got a phone call. We had been hanging out on a Thursday night having our usual Must See TV date eating takeout and arguing whether or not Goran Visnjic was sexier that George Clooney (me for yes, and she for no) - basically having a nice moment of normalcy when the phone rang. I picked it up and handed it to her without answering since no one ever calls me and when she paused to listen after saying hello her face paled.
My grandmother hasn’t called us since I was a baby.
I’ve never met her. I don’t even know what her voice sounds like. Mom got up from the couch almost spilling a carton of noodles and went to her bedroom. She shut the door quietly behind her. I was tempted to run into the kitchen and listen in on the phone in there.
Grandma Elizabeth was calling from Roswell. What were the chances? My stomach twisted in anticipation – maybe fate and destiny didn’t hate me after all. Maybe my grandma had forgiven my mom for running away and getting pregnant at sixteen, maybe she wanted us to visit. Maybe she wanted to see me. I’ve always been curious about what my grandparents were like since mom never talked about them.
Maybe we would visit and I would see Michael. Maybe he would forget he hated me for a minute and introduce me to Max and Isabel. Maybe he would smile at me and tell me that they hadn’t found the missing alien and that as long as I was around I might as well fill in for her.
My mom came back into the room, her knuckles pressed against her lips, holding the cordless to her chest. I felt all my excitement at the prospect of seeing him again disappear. Something bad had happened. She sat down next to me, her eyes wet.
"Your grandpa’s sick honey – he’s been sick for a while and your grandma can’t take care of him by herself anymore. She wants us to come up and help until she can get him into a home." I watched as she took a deep shaky breath and put my arms around her, holding her as she finally let herself cry.
I didn’t know what to say.
"It’ll be okay mom" was all I could come up with.
"Is it okay Maria? Will you be really mad at me if we leave here and live with them for a while?"
I bit my lip, my eyes tearing up. My mom never cries. I knew this was important to her.
"Whatever you want to do mom…"
"Are you sure…honey won’t you miss your friends…?"
"What friends?" That just made her cry harder and I felt guilty. "I was kidding mom…" I said forcing a laugh and hugging her a little tighter. "I have friends…we can write each other and visit – it’s not a big deal."
"You’ll have to go to a new school…"
"Mom. It’s okay. I don’t mind. I’ve always wanted to meet Grandma and Grandpa. Besides…" I said trying to make her smile "Now I can quit working at the Starbucks."
"Yuck." She murmured smiling crookedly.
"Yuck." I agreed resting my forehead against hers.
I walked along the sidewalk not really sure where I was going. I just had to get out of the house. It was too tense in there. Grandma seemed nice enough, but we both could tell she was still upset with mom (God I hope nothing like that ever happens between us. I mean we fight all the time, but we always forgive each other) and Grandpa didn’t recognize her. He kept calling me Amy and asking me who my "friend" was.
She’s trying to pretend like it doesn’t bother her, that she understands it’s because he’s not well but I hear her at night in the bathroom, crying and running the sink to cover it up. My mom’s not a sad person, it’s not in her nature to be…so it’s…it’s just really hard seeing her like this and not being able to help.
We’re going to get our own house or at least an apartment near my grandparent’s. Mom’s going to take over grandma’s shop that sells alien souvenirs and other touristy stuff, and I’m looking for a job around town – if you can even call it that. There’s not much here. I keep expecting a pack of tumbleweeds to come rolling down the street at any moment. It’s still pretty early though - I guess people just aren’t out and about yet.
I approached the UFO Center and briefly thought about stopping in and checking if they had anything available, then decided against it when I peeked in the window and made out a life size diorama of a surgeon cutting into a prone alien body strapped down on a gurney. I shivered and backed away from it.
There was a café across the street though that looked kinda cool. It had half a spaceship sticking out of it. The Crashdown Café. I smiled at it. I don’t think there is any chance I’ll ever be able to get a job around here that doesn’t have something to do with aliens. I crossed the street and saw that there was a sign in the window with a little alien drawn on it wearing an apron and holding a tray of food. It said "Waitress Needed".
Waitress found. I pushed open the door and took the sign from the window. The place was pretty empty, with a few customers scattered around at tables and booths, and the only employee I could identify was sitting at the counter leaning over a textbook. I went up to her holding onto the sign and said, "Hi, are you still looking for a waitress?"
The girl looked up from her textbook and smiled.
"Yes! That sign has been up for ages and no one’s come by yet. I’m Liz." She held out her hand and I shook it a little surprised at how professional she was. She seemed to be the same age as me. "My dad owns the place – he’s out now but you can fill out an application in the back if you want…"
"Sounds great." I followed her behind the counter into a little room just off the kitchen.
"Are you new in town?" she asked as she dug around in a filing cabinet looking for the paper.
"Yeah – my mom and I just moved here to be with my grandparents – Elizabeth and George Deluca?"
"Oh the Delucas!" Liz smiled and pulled out the paper. "I know your grandma – she used to come in every once in a while with your grandpa – they really like our Will Smith Burgers. How are they doing?" She blew lightly on the paper and sneezed at the cloud of dust. "We don’t get a lot of applicants" she explained laughing as she handed it to me.
I grinned and took it from her.
"My grandma’s alright – grandpa’s not doing too well though."
Her face clouded and the corner of her lip drooped down slightly. "I’m sorry to hear that." She said honestly "I’m sure he’s glad you’re here though."
I smiled thinking of the way his eyes had lit up when we walked in. He didn’t know I was his granddaughter, but it made him happy thinking he was seeing my mom.
Liz had left me alone in the back room to fill out the application. I was actually getting excited about working there. I had asked her how she liked it and she said it was pretty cool and that the only drawback was the uniforms. I laughed and told her I thought the apron and antennas were cute.
Liz seemed really nice. Maybe we’d end up being friends. I allowed myself to fantasize briefly about hanging out at the mall or studying or eating ice cream and gossiping about boys like I’d always wanted to do with a girlfriend back in Marathon.
Maybe I could ask her about Michael, Max and Isabel. Maybe she knew them. Maybe they were friends.
When I was done and went back out to the café the place was packed. I caught Liz’s eye as she went by with a tray of dirty dishes and said, "Don’t you have anyone helping you today?"
"Well Agnes is supposed to, but she’s kind of the reason we put up the sign for help in the first place. She takes these like never-ending breaks and a lot of them so usually it’s just me and sometimes my friend Alex helps out when things get busy like this…"
"I could start now" I offered "I mean I know your dad’s not here to check this out" I said waving my application, "but it looks like you could use some help."
"Are you sure wouldn’t mind?"
"I’ve got nothing else to do - besides, you’re swamped" Liz flashed me a grateful smile and told me she’d get me an apron and an order book as soon as she dropped off the dishes.
The lunch shift was horrendous. Things finally slowed down around two thirty and Liz went to the storage room to make sure we had enough chicken filets left for the rest of the week. I was wiping down the counter after some obnoxious kid had knocked over his shake when someone sat down in front of me. I looked up into a pair of bright blue eyes. There was a dark haired guy sitting in front of me balancing a menu on the palm of his hand and smiling at me.
"Hi" he said, "You’re new aren’t you?"
I smiled back. "Yeah, I just started today."
"Cool – I’m Alex, I’m a friend of Liz’s" he held out his hand and I shook it.
"Maria," I said. He was cute.
"You’ll probably see me a lot around here – I *live* off this food…"
"Can I get you anything?"
"Suuuure…I’ll have a orange soda."
I nodded and gave the counter a final swipe before grabbing a cup and filling it at the soda machine.
"Are you looking for Liz?"
"Yeah I have to ask her a question – we have this huge geography test on Monday, and Liz is pretty good with that stuff."
I set the soda down in front of him. "She’s in the back doing some inventory, but she’ll be out again in a minute."
"I can wait." he said taking a sip. "So did you just move here?"
"Yeah – my mom and I – we have family here."
"Well, welcome to Roswell. What do you think so far? Pretty boring huh?"
I laughed. "I’m from Marathon which is a lot like Roswell – just less alien stuff. So I guess I feel like I know the place already…"
"Really? You’re from Marathon?" He sounded surprised.
"Cool – hey do you sing?"
I laughed at his abrupt change of subject. "In the shower and when I’m alone in my car with the radio – why?"
"I’m in this band…" he said pulling out a rumpled flier from his pocket. "…called The Whits – My last name’s Whitman, so it’s Wits with a "Wh"…"
"Cute." I said and he grinned.
"Yeah I thought so. Our lead singer got mono so we’re looking for a replacement so if you’re interested in auditioning for us let me know. See I’m trying to start an alternative-garage-band movement in Roswell…"
I listened as he explained why this was an earth shattering idea, laughing, and finding myself agreeing with him. Alex was really cool. I really think I’m going to like living here.
"Hey Alex" Liz came up beside me behind the counter.
"You’ve met Maria?"
"Yup – was just explaining to her how cool it would be if Roswell became the next Seattle…"
"Has he asked you to audition for him yet?" Liz grinned turning to me, "I think he’s getting desperate – he asked *me* yesterday, and he *knows* I can’t sing…"
"I’m leaving no stone unturned…" he agreed. "Oh Liz, I have to ask you a question about that *geography test* we have on Monday…" Liz frowned at him a moment smiling and he gave her a pointed look, "I have a question about Czechoslovakia…" Liz’s eyes widened a fraction.
"Oh, yeah, sure." She turned to me "Maria thank you so much for helping me out today, but you can go home if you want – my dad’ll be here for the dinner shift and things’ll be pretty slow till then anyway. I’ll give you my number and we can figure out your hours and stuff tonight or you can just come by early tomorrow and we’ll get all organized – I’ll probably even be able to scrounge up one of these lovely green smock things for you by then!"
She smiled brightly but it looked a little strained.
"Okay," I said, "Sounds good – I’ll just go in back and get my stuff…"
I left the counter and went back into the employee lounge. That was really weird. I’d just been told in not so many words to get lost. I decided not to take it personally – they just had something important to talk about. I was about to push open the door when I heard Alex say, "So Isabel isn’t pregnant…"
"Oh thank God…"
"Yeah, Nasedo dream walked and told her it was only to uh "set things in motion" to get them to see how things are supposed to be…"
"How is she…?"
"Well she’s relieved…but she said Michael seemed…sad…"
Michael? Michael and Isabel.
"Yeah…in the dream…she said she’d never seen him that happy…"
"Alex…Michael is not in love with Isabel…and Isabel…she cares for you…she told you that didn’t she?"
"Yeah…but…what if Nasedo is telling the truth? What if all this is just a part of their destinies and we…we have nothing to do with them…?"
"I don’t believe that Alex." They were both quiet for a moment. I felt so guilty for eavesdropping but I couldn’t help it. I don’t think I could have moved away from the door if I wanted to. I was frozen.
"What about Max? Has he been having any more dreams?"
"Every once in a while he’ll have one…and I’m not jealous or anything…I mean we don’t even know if this girl is really real or if Nasedo is just trying to keep Max and I apart…Michael didn’t find her where Nasedo said she was…Max loves me and I love him – nothing’s going to change that, not Nasedo, not some girl that may or may not exist…You choose your own destiny – I really believe that. I’ll always choose Max…and I think…I think he’ll choose me…"
I couldn’t listen to this anymore. I pushed open the door trying to look as not guilty and clueless as possible as I buttoned up my jacket.
"I had the hardest time figuring out where your bathroom is…" I laughed. "I kept walking into closets and storage rooms."
"Oh yeah…" Liz giggled, a little breathlessly. Her soft brown eyes were shining. "I forgot to tell you it’s down that weird little hallway…" I smiled at her.
"Well, I guess I better get going…see you tomorrow…?"
"Yup, and if you come by earlier we can have breakfast together? We make the best Flying Saucer pancakes in New Mexico…"
"Nice meetin’ ya Maria" Alex grinned "I’ll probably see you here tomorrow."
I laughed. "Nice to meet you too…" I waved and pushed open the door of the café and stumbled down the sidewalk, feeling sick.
Isabel had a pregnancy scare…with Michael…they had had sex…they were together…"like a sister" my ass…This is stupid…I can’t be jealous…I’ve no right to be…Michael hates me…why can’t I forget about him…God I only knew him for two days…why can’t I forget…why do I want to see him so bad…why did I have that dream…that amazing dream that felt so real…that made me feel understood…wanted…loved…it was just a dream…just a stupid dream like the stupid Max dreams…they don’t mean anything-
"Oh my God…" I rammed into someone coming down the sidewalk, and the impact sent both of us tumbling to the ground. I opened my eyes to see who I was lying on top of. I was staring into his eyes. Beautiful endless brown eyes that widened when they met mine. I couldn’t breathe. It was him. It was really him. Max.
I scrambled to my feet backing away from him. I almost tripped over my purse and he caught me.
His fingers were wrapped around my wrist and his bare skin on mine was all it took. A rush of images – images from the dreams that I had tried to block out - came rushing over me, making me dizzy. We jumped away from each other and I knew by the shocked look in his eyes that he had seen them too. We were both shaken. We were both *shaking*.
"It’s you…" God, I was not about to go through this again. I opened my mouth to deny what he was thinking, but I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t just scream "I’m not an alien!" and run away from him. I couldn’t deny that I had had the same dreams he had had. I couldn’t deny that I felt *connected* when he touched me and that some part of me was screaming "yes" and another "no" just as loudly. I leaned towards him so no one would hear, and I knew he wanted to run just as much as I did.
"I’m not her…I’m not. It’s impossible." I started to back away again, and when he reached out to stop me, I ran.
I didn’t stop running until I got to my grandparents' house. I went around to the back and collapsed in a trembling heap on the porch steps. I knew I would run into one of them sooner or later. I knew Max would know my face if it was true what Michael had said about him dreaming about me.
I just didn’t know that that would happen if he touched me - that I would see his dreams, would see that they were the same as mine, that I would *feel* what I felt, what *he* felt during them…lust colored by revulsion and the desperate knowledge that we couldn’t control ourselves.
I didn’t meet Liz for breakfast the next morning. She had called last night, and we had worked out the hours then. I didn’t want to go back to the Crashdown any sooner than I had too since I’m pretty sure that’s where Max had been heading when we had "run" into each other. It would be pointless to quit the job (even though I know I’ll see them there since they’re obviously friends with Liz and Alex). If I didn’t see them at the Crashdown I’d see them at school anyway.
It was unavoidable.
I was nervous about seeing Max again, and the more I thought about it I was scared of seeing Michael.
There were so many questions…my head was spinning with them and I couldn’t think straight. It didn’t make any sense that Max and I were dreaming about each other, that Nasedo had given Michael my address…that Nasedo even knew anything about me…
I didn’t know the answers to those questions they’d be asking the next time I saw them. The only thing I did know was that I was not one of them. I was not an alien, and the only reason I was in Roswell was because my grandmother needed my mom and I – not because destiny and fate had conspired, not because the stars wanted it. Not because I wanted it.
I was almost done with the dinner shift when they walked into the Crashdown. Max, Isabel and Michael. I felt them before I saw them. The air changed. It became electric. I gave my last table their check, and caught Liz’s arm as she was on her way to their table.
"Do you mind if I leave a little early? My shift’s up in five minutes but I don’t have the car tonight and I hate walking home when it’s so dark…"
Lame excuse I know, but Liz just smiled and patted my hand.
"No problem. I’ll see you tomorrow…"
I all but ran to the lounge to change out of my uniform. I had felt Michael staring at me the whole time I had been talking to Liz, and I felt his eyes follow me now as I made my way to the back of the café.
I untied my apron and threw it into my locker and quickly started unbuttoning my uniform. I kicked out of it and jammed it in along with the apron and antennas. It would be wrinkled as hell tomorrow but I had to get out of here. I squirmed into my jeans and had just zipped them up when I heard the door swing open.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
Where the *fuck* was my shirt?
"Getting dressed…" I said trying to keep my voice steady as I finally found my T-shirt and pulled it on over my head. I turned around to face him, and realized as soon as I did that it was a bad idea. He was standing in front of the door with his hands in his pockets glaring at me. He didn’t sound as angry as I thought he would. And his eyes…oh my God…those eyes that had looked at me like I was the only thing in the world, those eyes that had memorized every inch of my body before tracing it with his fingers in my dream…they were studying me like he wanted to take me apart to see how I worked. I swallowed as I felt my knees start to tremble. He looked away from me suddenly and squinted out of the diamond shaped window into the café.
"They don’t know that I found you before in Marathon. I lied to them. You better do the same tonight."
"Tonight?" I was having trouble breathing.
"Yeah. We’re going to the desert - all of us. We’re meeting Nasedo there."
"Michael…I *told* you…I’m not one of you…"
He came further into the room, not stopping until he was inches away from me, and when I stepped back my shoulder blades were pressing against Liz’s locker. He had me trapped just like he had in my room that first night when he made me see them in the cave.
"Have you ever asked your mom about your dad? Where he came from? Who he was?"
What the hell?
"Michael-" I began warningly.
"Maybe you should", he cut me off. His eyes were so cold. "Get your stuff and let’s go."
"Who the hell do you think you are ordering me around like this? I’m not in Roswell because of *you* or Max or Isabel or Nasedo. I’m here because I have to be – because I have a *family* that needs me – so you can just knock off all this intimidation crap – I don’t want to have anything to do with you or anyone else involved with you. I’m not a fucking alien. I am a fucking waitress and I am done with my shift. I am going home!"
He was really scaring me – this whole *mess* was really scaring me…I can’t believe I had spent so much time thinking about this moment, thinking about *him*…
I tried to step around him but he blocked me.
"I let you go home before. I’m not doing it again. I *can’t*…*Maria*…" I’ve never heard him say my name before. "Nothing bad will happen to you – I promise…we’re just trying to figure this all out. Nasedo’s coming back tonight, because of *you*…whether you’re one of us or not you’re involved and there’s nothing any of us can do about it so *please*…just stop arguing with me for *once*…and just come with me."
I stared into his eyes and they pleaded with mine. He looked as scared as I was.
Why can’t I say "no"?
Why can’t I *ever* say "no" to him?
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