FanFic - Michael/Maria
"Riding Waves of Doubt"
Part 5
by Katjen
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine (obviously) so please don’t sue me okay?
Category: Michael/Maria
Rating: PG-13
Authors Note: 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).

I followed him up the stairs to his apartment. I told him I had to use his bathroom, but really I was just curious. I wanted to see where he lived, what his place was like. It was only fair – he had wandered around in *my* house like it was nobody’s business.

Mostly though I just didn’t want to sit outside in the dark all alone, because then I would start thinking and I was desperately trying *not* to think. I didn’t want to think about the possibility that my dad was…not human.

He unlocked the door and the second I stepped inside I felt…strange. Like I’d been here before even though I knew that was impossible. I followed him through the living room and down a little hall. He gestured to the left at the bathroom and went into the other room across from it. I closed the door behind me and took a deep breath trying to get rid of that nagging feeling. I stared into the mirror. I was a mess. I looked…haunted. I ran my fingers through my hair trying to stop it from sticking up all over the place like his always did. He didn’t have a comb in here.

Why wasn’t I surprised.

I took a deep breath and opened the door. I heard him rummaging around in the other room and his muffled curses. I decided I’d just wait for him in the living room and continued on down the hall.

The first thing I saw was the window. Or rather, I saw what was over the window. It was a tapestry with light purple designs on it that glowed just a little bit from the street lamp outside. I had a flash suddenly of what it looked like with the sun shining through it. I could see the purple designs so bright and vibrant, I could see little sparkles swimming in front of it lighting up the parts of the room the sunlight couldn’t reach. I knew what that looked like because I’d seen it before. I’d seen it in my dream…that amazing dream…

"What’s wrong?"

"Huh? What?"

"You were like hyperventilating…"

"I was…I was looking at that…" I pointed at the window, my hand shaking just a little.

"Oh yeah. Isabel."

"She gave it to you?"



"So what are you?"

"What am I."

"Yeah, you and Isabel." I was not looking at the window anymore. I was looking at the couch. I knew that too. I swallowed thickly. I knew that that couch would be there, and I knew that if I looked across the room there’d be a counter and that it would separate the kitchen from the living room.

I forced myself to keep talking. It’s this bizarre habit I have where whenever I’m starting to freak out I just start talking and talking and asking questions even though I don’t want to know the answers to what I’m asking.

"Are you two together?"

Case in point.

I was now looking at the floor in front of the door. I knew what that carpet would feel like under my skin, my back.




"Oh. Because I thought, you know, you guys were worried about her being pregnant."

"Where’d you hear about that?"

"I umm overheard Liz and Alex the other day…so you two had sex huh?" Shut up Maria, just shut up.

He was silent, and when I finally looked up at him away from the floor he was staring at me, frowning.

"No…we didn’t…do that. We dreamt we did it and we didn’t know…we thought…but she wasn’t. It doesn’t work like that with us. Probably one of the only times Nasedo has told us something helpful…"

"No kidding." I forced a laugh and then said quietly, "Dreams suck."

"Yeah…" I looked into his eyes, wondering if he knew…"Not all of them though…"

"Yeah…" I whispered. "Michael?"


"You didn’t answer my question before…"

"What question?"

"If you…if you really thought I was like you…why did you let me go…?"

"Well you didn’t answer my question either…"

"Which one?"

"Why didn’t you tell me you *weren’t* like me before I dragged you all over the place…"

"I asked you first."


"So answer my question and I’ll answer yours."

He took a deep breath and started unfolding the sleeping bag he was holding and then started refolding it again. "The dreams."

"The dreams."

"Yeah the ones Max was having about you and the ones I knew you were having about him…They’re like the ones Isabel and I were having about each other…"


"…*Are*…stop interrupting."




"Anyway when uh Nasedo told us she couldn’t get pregnant from a dream…he told us that the dreams were just supposed to ah…guide us or whatever…I dunno…they were trying to tell us that we’re supposed to be with each other. But Isabel and I don’t feel that way about each other." He said quickly. "I figured that that’s what was happening with Max’s dreams…that they were saying that you two were meant to be together…" He was trying to get around giving me a straight answer, and I wasn’t about to let that happen.

"Michael if you believed that why did you let me go?"

He held the sleeping bag to his chest and swallowed.

He wouldn’t look at me.

"Because I didn’t want it to be true. I didn’t want you to be with him. I thought if I let you go and…pretended like I’d never seen you…everything would go back to the way it was – Max with Liz, Isabel with Alex…and you *not* with him."


"Yeah, so I answered your stupid question. Your turn – Why’d you lie?"

I closed my eyes for a moment thinking about what he said, trying to keep my breathing steady, my heart under control, my knees from shaking. I opened my eyes and noticed a tape player sitting on the counter behind him. I slowly walked toward it, toward him.

"I lied to you…"

"Why…" I touched the play button on the tape player. I pressed down. I knew what song would be there. It would be our song.

"Because I wanted to be with you."

I looked at him. His lips parted with a sudden intake of breath.

"That was real…?"

"You tell me…"

"I didn’t do it…not on purpose…I’m sorry…I-"

I brought a finger to his lips, silencing him.

"I probably helped you out a little…"

*Opened my eyes,
the fire had come*

I reached for him first, because I knew he was scared. I touched his face and he let me slide my fingers into his crazy hair.

*Not for the end of days,
not for the faithless ones*

When my hands cupped his face I felt the sparks again. I didn’t need to see them, I knew they were there.

*Not for vision understood
burns because it has to burn
change'll happen whether we
are still or moving*

He slowly leaned down, stopping a breath away from a kiss, his bottom lip just brushing my upper lip.

*Breathe in waves of doubt*

His fingers gently tilting up my chin.

*Bitter in your mouth*

He kissed me and it was better than a dream. It was real.

*You will exhale cinnamon clouds*

*When it is quiet and still
I can feel older here
Change what I can and pray
the hope will not disappear
when we are not denying anything
nothing is an enemy
delicately balancing
the perfect world*

*Ride these waves of doubt
Bitter in your mouth
You will exhale cinnamon clouds
ooh little heaven, little heaven
ooh little heaven, little heaven*

*Riding waves of doubt
Turns me inside out
And I will exhale a primal shout*

We fell into each other. There was no more fear, no more worry. I had come for him. He was here for me. We trembled in each other’s arms, and he touched me, his eyes found mine and nothing needed to be said. We understood each other in a way that went beyond words.

I touched him, I held him. I loved him and he whispered my name.

*Ooh little heaven, little heaven
Ooh little heaven, little heaven*

*I understand
the fire will come…
ooh little heaven, little heaven
not for the strength of will
or passion of anyone…
ooh little heaven, little heaven*

*I understand
the fire will come…
ooh little heaven, little heaven
not for the end of days
not for the faithless ones…*


We were lying on the floor together tangled up in the sleeping bag we had shared in the woods. He was sleeping, and I felt his chest rise and fall under my cheek. Looking at him like this…vulnerable…trusting me enough to fall asleep in my arms…I knew he’d never trusted anyone like this before…enough to give himself, to show himself for who he really was. He was beautiful.

I lifted my head and kissed the underside of his jaw. He smiled softly and rolled onto his stomach, an arm sneaking around my waist and pulling me closer. He opened his eyes.

"I slept…" he sounded surprised, and I laughed, brushing his hair off his forehead.

"Don’t you usually?"


"What, after sex or just in general?"

He was *blushing*…After what we just did he was getting all embarrassed on me…

"Sometimes I have nightmares."


"All the time."

"What about…?" He was quiet and I immediately regretted asking him. I ran my hand through his hair and said softly, "It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me…"

"You just…you don’t need to hear that stuff…I don’t want to give it to you…I want to give you what’s good…" He echoed my caresses, his finger lightly tracing my ear. "I didn’t have one last night…and I didn’t have one when we were out in the woods…"

"You slept *then*? That was so uncomfortable…"

"Tell me about it. You promised you weren’t a kicker…" he pretended to glare at me then said quietly, "I think it was because you were there. I…um I thought about you a lot…y’know after…I couldn’t stop thinking…I went camping a couple weeks ago and it wasn’t the same. I spent the whole night looking up at the sky and…missing you next to me. I couldn’t understand why I felt like that. I barely knew you. It was two days…less than that…" I smiled hearing him say what I had thought so many times myself.

"I know…I felt like that too."

"Everything reminded me of you…I even made Isabel make me a tape of that song because it reminded me of you. I mean all I have are Metallica CDs y’know and I love them but all I wanted to do was listen to that song…"

We were quiet for a while, looking at each other, touching each other. I was amazed at how good he felt under my hands, my lips, amazed at the contented noises he made as I ran my fingers up and down his back and kissed the back of his neck. I noticed that there was a shadow on his shoulder that didn’t make sense, and I leaned over him to get a better look. It was a tattoo. It was a star. I smiled at it.

"Where did this come from…"

"Birthday present."

"Birthday present. From who?"


"Who’s Hank?"

"He was my foster father."

"Your foster father gave you a tattoo for your birthday?"

"Yeah. It wasn’t really my birthday though. I dunno…for some reason he thought it was and he came back to the trailer and hauled me off to the tattoo place and he told me to pick something before he kicked my ass so I did."


"No…It’s not a big deal…forget about it."

*Not a big deal?*

"*Forget* about it?! He *forced* you-"

"I can get rid of it if I want to, or, you know, Max can…I’m not good at that stuff but I never asked him. It kinda grew on me. I don’t mind it…"

I looked at him, amazed at the lack of emotion in his eyes even though I knew he was remembering what Hank had done to him, and I knew it had hurt then - I could feel it in his body, the muscles were tense under his skin. Maybe he had metal boxes that he put bad memories in too.

"It’s over. I’m fine."


"I don’t want to talk about it anymore."

"Okay…" I whispered and he pulled me down, closer to him, and buried his face in my neck. I kissed the curve of his shoulder, feeling his pulse against my lips. I wasn’t going to push him. He didn’t want to talk about it. I changed the subject because I knew it was what he wanted.

"Michael…do you believe in destiny?"

"If you’re asking me if I think you’re destined to be with Max – God, no – you’d end up killing him because he wouldn’t fight back with you…" he joked, and I smirked into his shoulder then said, "Seriously though…do you?"

"I don’t know…" he mumbled, "I don’t…I don’t like the idea of my life being planned out without any say so from me…"

"Yeah…you’re right…" I didn’t like that idea much either.

Destiny…I’d always thought it was a kind of romantic concept in a way…but I guess only as long as it coincided with what I wanted….

"So do you?"

"I don’t know…maybe I mean fate? I don’t know…I just can’t help wondering if some things are meant to be…like me being here in Roswell…No matter how much I thought of you…wanted you…I don’t think I would have gotten here if it wasn’t for my grandmother calling us. She and my mom haven’t spoken to each other in *years*. She wouldn’t accept a phone call or a Christmas card, let alone *help* from us, and then…she called…and here I am. With you…"

He had been kissing my neck before and he stopped.

"What is it?"

He pulled back slightly and sat up, turning his back on me. He was quiet for a moment, thinking, and then said carefully, "What if this isn’t our destiny? I mean if there is a destiny."

"What do you mean…?"

"What if you postponed it by not coming with me that day like you said – that even though you did that you still got here eventually…what if we’re doing that again? What if we’re doing it now by doing *this*…"

"By doing what?"

"By being together…what if Max *is* who you’re supposed to be with…what if I’m supposed to be with Isabel and we’re just delaying the inevitable…"

"I thought you didn’t like the idea of destiny planning out your life."

"Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist…that it hasn’t already decided -"

"Do you *want* to be with Isabel?"


"Then it’s not your destiny."

"How do you know?" I stared at him.

"What are you really saying with all this?"

"I’m not *saying* anything…I’m just considering all the possibilities. Besides, you brought it up."

"No – I brought up destiny or fate or whatever the hell it is bringing me here to *you* not to Max. Michael…you don’t think…you don’t think I’m supposed to be with you…"

"You dreamt about him…"

"I dreamt about you…" He looked at me. I could see him shutting down.

"That was my fault."

"Listen you idiot I *dreamt* dreamt about you! Rock, desert, stars, freaky red designs on the sand, the whole thing."

"If we were meant to be together how come I didn’t have one about you." I stared at him stunned. I hadn’t thought…

"You didn’t?"

"No. I didn’t." I swallowed.

"I don’t care."

"The dreams mean *something* – why else would we all have them?"

"Michael we still don’t even know if I’m like you guys…"

"Would you stop *saying* that. You know you are, I know you are, we all know you are. It’s impossible for you *not* to be. There is no way in hell you could have seen what you saw – the map, the constellation, the rock - all of it, if you weren’t, so stop deluding yourself! Why are you so afraid to admit it to yourself – why are you afraid to be an alien?"

"Michael if I am I’m still not! I’m only *half*! Half human, half alien! I’m a *freak* is what I am – I’m not an alien, I’m not a human being, I’m a *thing*. How am I supposed to admit *that* to myself?! That I don’t belong with you or with them…"

I kicked off the sleeping bag that was tangled around my legs and reached for my clothes. I wasn’t going to cry. I was too sad and too angry to do anything but yank on my shirt and search for my pants. I picked his up and threw them at him. Mine were underneath. I put them on. He wasn’t saying a word. I wasn’t looking at him.


I ignored him and picked up my jacket. He grabbed my ankle when I walked past him. I looked down. He was holding the ring out to me – the ring he had given me last night after we had made love. He had wordlessly taken it off his finger, and gently took my hand in his, then stared into my eyes as he slipped it onto mine. It had fallen off a second later because it didn’t fit, not even on my thumb, but we had just laughed and tried it again. When it had fallen off the third time we had left it where it lay between us and he had reached for me, murmuring into my ear that he’d fix it later, before covering my body with his once again.

He held it out to me now. I don’t know if he really wanted me to take it. After what he’d said…he hadn’t denied my accusation about him not believing we were supposed to be with each other. How could he expect me to take it…how could I take it…

If he didn’t believe in us how could I?

"If you don’t believe we’re supposed to be together…if you think you belong with Isabel and me with Max…why did we do this? Why did we…make love? Or was it just sex to you…"

"No, Maria…it wasn’t just…"

"Every time I had a dream about you I could feel how worried you were, how scared you were about wanting me. Why did you feel that way?"

He wouldn’t answer me.

"It was because you thought this was wrong wasn’t it? You thought we were wrong together and you slept with me anyway…" I laughed bitterly. "I don’t know what to do with that…"

"Maria…" he said it again, still holding out the ring, and I looked him straight in the eye.

"It doesn’t fit." I tried to walk away, but he wouldn’t let go.

"We’ll make it fit."

"Give it to Isabel."

His fingers slid away from my ankle, and I walked away.


I walked home in the rain I hadn’t realized was falling until I was completely soaked and shivering. I was almost grateful for it – it made it easier to pretend I wasn’t crying. It was early, maybe five in the morning. I was going to be in trouble if she had noticed I was gone all night, and facing my mom’s questions was just more than I could handle right now. I snuck in through the back of the house and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw her curled up on the couch fast asleep. That meant she had gotten home late last night and had decided to camp out on the couch instead of waking me since we were sharing a room. She’s done that at least twice since we’ve been here. She still had her clothes on from her date last night.

I went to my room and took off my clothes. I pulled on my mom’s kimono and went to the bathroom down the hall and turned on the shower. I stared at myself in the mirror as steam began to cloud my reflection, and took off the kimono. I was glowing. Delicate swaths of sliver were swept across my bare skin in feathery fingerprints, over my shoulders, breasts, stomach, and hips. They were his touches.

*Go away*

I closed my eyes, concentrating, and when I opened them again they were gone.


When I was done in the shower I went back to my room and laid down on the bed. My throat hurt, and my eyes were still burning. I missed him. I wish he would have come after me, followed me out in the rain…we could have had a Breakfast At Tiffany’s moment…gazing at each other through the downpour, then holding each other and kissing all the hurt, the doubts, the fears away. Too bad this is real life and if you want the kind of love they have in the movies you have to pay $7.50 for it and experience it second hand.

Too bad this is real life and you don’t always get your Prince Charming (even when he isn’t a prince and isn’t exactly charming). Real life is just cruel enough where the one you fall in love with is an alien who’s scruffy and moody and sexy and beautiful with a soul full of stars and a heart that won’t let itself be happy… Real life is cruel enough where the one you’re in love with isn’t in love with you.

"’Ria? What are you doing up so early?" My mom wandered in from the hall and slumped down tiredly in the butterfly chair across from the bed.

I shrugged, still lying on my back. "I couldn’t stay asleep so I decided to just get up and get it over with…" I lied, "So what did you do last night?" I could hear her try and smile even though I knew she was suffering a major hangover. She must have really liked this guy.

"I went out for drinks with Jim Valenti."

"How do I know that name?"

"He’s the Sheriff…"

"*Another* one? What is it with you and cops?"

She giggled then groaned and pressed her hands to her forehead.

"It’s funny…I actually had a really big crush on him when I was a kid…I almost got up the nerve to ask him out once…"

I sat up and looked at her. The idea of my mom being nervous around a guy is astounding - She’s beautiful, and I’ve seen pictures of her when she was my age. A part of me was always so jealous of how cool and confident she always looked. She could have had anyone she wanted in high school – she *still* could. Jim Valenti must really be something if she had to "get up the nerve".

"Why didn’t you?"

"Ask him out?"


"I met your father."

Oh. "Oh."

"What did you do last night?"

"Nothing special." I whispered. "Mom?"


"What was he like?"

"Who? Jim?"

"No…dad…" She was quiet for a moment. I guess she was surprised. I’ve never asked her about him before. I always assumed it would upset her and so I made up what he was like in my head for myself when I was a kid. He was tall, blond (because my hair had to come from somewhere), and he was smart. He liked to sing and play the guitar. He would have taught me. He liked his coffee black with a lot of sugar, and he had a weakness for anything cinnamon. He liked to go camping, he loved the stars. And he loved my mother.

It was all bullshit. I knew it even when I was thinking that stuff, making it all up.

I looked at her again. She didn’t seem upset, she was thinking.

"I don’t really remember that much." She said finally.

"What do you mean you don’t remember?"

"Well…his name was Nick. I knew him for a week. We had sex and when I found out I was pregnant he convinced me to run away with him. That’s pretty much it. Oh, that and he wouldn’t let me go to the hospital when I was in labor…bastard…after I had you he left."

"That’s it?"

"That’s it."

"You didn’t…love each other? Not even a little?"

"Honey we barely knew each other…the whole thing was just weird…"

I shivered. "How was it weird?"

"I don’t know…the way he made me feel. The second our eyes met I wanted him. I didn’t care about anything else, and when he left…nothing. I didn’t feel anything for him. I was pissed that he left for your sake, not mine…then I got over it. He probably wouldn’t have been a good father. There was something so cold about him, even when we were together. I looked at you and I loved you, and I knew I would be fine – that we both would be fine as long as we were together. We didn’t need him. We still don’t. If I can survive having a baby when I was one I can survive anything, and if you can survive me as your mother than you’ll do just fine too."

I smiled at her and then stopped when I remembered what she had said. "What do you mean he wouldn’t let you go to the hospital?"

"He wouldn’t let me leave the friggin’ cabin we were staying at. At first I was pissed off – y’know obviously since if we didn’t get to the hospital I didn’t get any drugs to make it easier, but he just *looked* at me and I found myself saying okay even though on the inside I felt like ripping his head off." She shrugged.

"Like I said – weird."

"Yeah…" I whispered.


No hospital. Of course he wouldn’t want a hospital. He didn’t know what I would look like. If I would look human or…not. How would he know if I was human on the inside? I’ve never had to go to the hospital. I’ve never been sick. Ever. Did he make that happen so I would never have to set foot into a hospital? So no one would ever have the opportunity to see if I *was* different on the inside? It made sense.

I wasn’t human. I couldn’t have been, unless all of this was one huge ridiculous coincidence and I think we’ve already established I don’t believe in those.

I wandered down the halls of West Roswell high weirded out by the fact that after everything I’ve been through, after everything I’ve learned about myself I still had to deal with a new school. After my weekend the last thing I needed to deal with were teachers who forced you to stand in front of a class and introduce yourself like anyone really cared one way or another where you were from and what brought you to Roswell to a bunch of catatonic students at eight a.m. on a Monday morning.

I couldn’t find anything, I didn’t recognize anybody, and all I could think about was the fact that I was most likely part alien, and that I had lost my virginity to a boy I’d technically known for less than a week, which meant I’d beaten my mother’s record for fastest-losing-of-virginity-to-a-near-stranger. It’s such a stupid phrase anyway. I didn’t lose my virginity – I know exactly where it went.

A door beside me opened suddenly and I felt warm fingers wrap themselves around my wrist and pull me inside a dark room. I knew who it was before I saw him. The familiar sparks I felt where his fingers were told me. He didn’t let go once the door clicked shut behind us and the loud buzz of the hallway dimmed to a soft murmur. I raised my head to look him in the eye determined to show him that I didn’t care about anything that had ever happened between us, determined to show him that I hadn’t thought a bit about what we had done, what we had said or not said to each other.

His fingers loosened their grip around my wrist and moved up my arm until his hand rested on my shoulder, slipping under the collar of my shirt, his thumb gently sliding back and forth along my collarbone.

His eyes were dark like I remembered from last night or maybe it was just the shadows from the small cramped room he had dragged me into. He stared at me, his mouth opening and closing several times in that way he had that meant he had something to say but didn’t know where to start. He stepped in closer owning up to the fact that he does what he means instead of saying it. He lowered his head slowly, giving me a chance to push him away, continuing the stroking of my collarbone, before traveling up my neck and cupping the side of my face. So slowly he was giving me every opportunity to get away and I think he knew I wouldn’t take it. I was aching to be kissed by him and he was aching to give me what I wanted. His lips brushed mine, then were a slow crush that stole my breath and urged me to open my mouth against his. I did and his hands were against my back, pressing my body tightly against his as my fingers tangled themselves in his wild hair. He kissed me breathless and held me up as my knees threatened to give out on me. And then I remembered that he didn’t really want this, that deep down inside he didn’t believe it was right, meant to be. I pulled away and he let me go, realizing that he had made a mistake. I didn’t know what to say to him except, "I’m half alien."

He nodded after a moment, and tried to reach out to me again. He touched the collar of my shirt, traced the edge of it and I didn’t pull away because I suppose some part of me is emotionally masochistic and likes to torture myself.

"You walked out on me yesterday…"

"You didn’t really give me a choice."

It was either stay and feel like "the other woman" or leave and retain some self-respect.

"I thought that that was the reason you left – because you believe there *are* choices."

"I do. I left because you *chose* Isabel."

His hand dropped away from me and shoved itself frustrated into his pocket.

"I didn’t choose Isabel! I didn’t fucking choose her when we were…together…and I’m not fucking choosing her now."

"Then say it."

"Say what?"

"Say "If I found out that I’m supposed to be with Isabel, I’d choose you anyway."" He stared at me his throat working furiously as he tried to keep down the truth I did but didn’t want to hear. "You didn’t come after me when I left…" I said quietly.

"I didn’t think you wanted me to."

"I did then." I turned away from him and opened the door. "I don’t now." I stepped outside and let it shut behind me, refusing to cry and ignoring the pain in my chest that threatened to tear it open.

Across the hall was Liz. She was staring at the door behind me and I glanced back at it. It said "Eraser Room" on a little plaque beneath the window. I looked back at her, now confused on top of everything else, and her eyes met mine. She looked horrified by me, and I realized that Max had told her. He had told her I was an evil meddling half-breed that had come to Roswell to steal her love away from her. I turned and ran down the hall blinded by the tears that I couldn’t hold back anymore.


I ran into the bathroom and turned on the water faucet, grateful that no one was around, and wet a paper towel. I held it to my eyes and the door swung open.

"Hey…" Liz. She had followed me. I took a deep breath and tossed the towel away, facing her reflection in the mirror in front of me.

"Max told you who I am?"

"He said…he said you’re like them…and that you’ve been dreaming about each other…"

"He told you it doesn’t mean anything right?" She nodded slowly.

"That’s what he said but-"

"No Liz, please no "buts"…We aren’t having the dreams on purpose. I didn’t come to Roswell for Max, to tear you two apart. I could never even do that if I wanted to. I don’t know Max…I don’t feel those kinds of feelings for him…even in the dreams…It all feels so forced…please Liz you have to believe me…"

"I believe you Maria…I do…and I believe Max when he says he can’t control what’s happening and that you two aren’t…aren’t…together…but they *do* mean something…they have too…" She paused and stepped in a little closer to me. "Did you know that Max saved my life?"

I shook my head. I’ve barely spoken to Max.

"He healed me. I was shot and he healed me. I was dying. We’ve all been through so much with each other since that day in September, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that everything means *something*…especially visions no matter how unwanted they are. Max and I…we have something special. We love each other, and nothing will ever change that…but when I saw you leave the eraser room…I thought…I thought you and Max…" she laughed shakily "I realized that some part of me knew that I couldn’t stand in the way of this if you two are meant to be…it would be selfish…no matter how much I love him…"

I felt tears spring to my eyes again as I watched Liz trying not to cry and I reached out to her and we hugged each other in the empty girl’s room.

Why is everyone willing to put their hearts aside?

Why are they willing to let go what they feel is right for something no one wants? Maybe I’m just selfish. I don’t know.

Liz stepped back and pushed her hair out of her eyes and smiled crookedly.

"I want us to be friends Liz…I really like you and Alex…I don’t want you to think that I want all this…"

"I know you don’t," she said softly. "Whatever happens, none of it is your fault – we all believe that, even Max. I was surprised that it was Michael you were in there with…I hope he wasn’t trying to intimidate you…he can be pretty…um intense…"

"Tell me about it…"


Liz and I both had the same lunch period and she led me outside onto the grass where she and everyone else usually ate. I was nervous. My hand clenched around the brown paper bag I was holding that held the lunch I wasn’t going to eat as they came into view. Alex, Isabel, and Max. No Michael. Okay maybe I could manage to choke down something without him around making me dizzy. But then again Max was there and I didn’t know if that weird vertigo thing would happen if I looked at him or if that only happened when we touched, in which case I wouldn’t have to worry because we were never going to touch, ever.

Ever, ever, ever.

I sat down across from Isabel and she smiled at me. Liz sat down beside Max and I looked at him. There was no question about how he felt about her. He wasn’t the type to let destiny stand in his way, and I felt bad for feeling jealous of Liz. Max looked up from her and caught my eye. He nodded and gave me a little half smile, and I felt the knot in my stomach loosen considerably as Alex began to good-naturedly harass me about auditioning for his band again.

I know I’m probably jinxing myself by thinking this, but maybe everything will be okay. They weren’t ignoring me, they weren’t being hostile. They were being nice. Welcoming. I felt…accepted almost.

I opened my lunch bag and took out my strawberry yogurt and a packet of sugar. Isabel gasped as I started pouring it in and mixing the two together, and I blushed as I realized she probably thought it was totally disgusting. I looked up at her and saw that she had yogurt too, and lying beside it were two empty sugar packets.

"I love that too!"

I grinned at her and took out a handful of the cinnamon hearts and handed them to her. "Try it with these…they’re my favorite…"

She took them and sprinkled them into the yogurt, shaking her head, smiling, and took a bite.

Alex laughed at the expression on her face.

"You have *got* to try this Max…after Alex!" She lunged at him, and he fell back still laughing. I laughed myself, watching Isabel pin down Alex effortlessly, even though it was pretty obvious he wanted to be caught and had probably helped her out. I turned back to Max and Liz. He had his chin resting on the top of her head, and they were both grinning. I smiled at them and held my yogurt out to Max. He picked up a spoon and took a bite, and I saw the first real smile I’d ever seen from him (well the first one directed at me anyway).

"That is *really* good…"

I laughed. "Sweet and Spicy." I said, and he smiled again wrapping his arms around Liz as she snuggled contentedly against him.

"Sweet and Spicy." He echoed and we all laughed as Alex moaned that Isabel was trying to give him diabetes as she attacked him again with a spoon heaping with pink sugary yogurt. They had something just as special as Max and Liz did. Alex made Isabel remember that it was okay to have fun every once in a while, that it was okay to let her guard down, and she...she just made him glow. I've never seen anybody being force fed cinnamon/strawberry yogurt with extra sugar looking that happy.


We’ve gotten good at faking normalcy. To everyone on the outside we just look like a group of friends going through the motions of being teenagers. We hang out together, we study together, we eat lunch together.

We avoid the desert. We don’t bring up Nasedo or the dreams. We don’t even acknowledge when we have them, but we can always tell. The one of us who has lain awake all night looks tired, haggard. Scared. Max comes in with dark circles under his eyes and Isabel comes in with her hair uncombed and no make-up. Most of the time I’ll throw on whatever clothes are closest to the bed and ditch the make-up thing too. I don’t know about Michael. I rarely see him, which is an amazing feat considering he works at the Crashdown too.

The only conversation I’ve had with him since our little run-in in the eraser room almost three weeks ago occurred there. We were arguing over an order I still maintain *he* messed up, but it was obvious we weren’t fighting about whether the customer wanted a Will Smith or a Sigourney Weaver. We were arguing because we were frustrated. Because I think we missed each other. And it was dangerous to do that, to argue, because, fighting, as bizarre as it sounds, is our version of foreplay and the madder we got at each other the more I wanted to grab him and do it between a plate of Kielbasa and the deep fryer. If Liz hadn’t have walked in…

But she did. And we haven’t been alone together since.

We haven’t spoken to each other since.

Everyone blamed it on him not trusting me – because I was new, or because he was angry that Nasedo still had not shown himself. No one knew the truth, that we were avoiding each other because we wanted each other too much. Because he was trying to prepare for the day when it became official, when Nasedo flat out told us that he and Isabel, myself and Max, were supposed to be together and any chance we might have had would be lost forever because he wasn’t brave enough or stupid enough to tell destiny and Nasedo to go to hell.

Aside from my non-relationship with Michael everything else was great. Max and I were finally starting to feel comfortable around each other. Liz and Isabel became the sisters I’d never had and had always longed for, and Alex and I completely bonded one day after school when he drove me home and discovered I knew all the words to Boston’s "More Than a Feeling", and was more than willing to scream sing it along with him.

Even my mom was happy. Things with Jim were going well, and my grandfather’s condition seemed fairly stable. Even grandma seemed to be lightening up.

Still…I couldn’t forget about Michael and what I felt for him and it was making me miserable. No matter how wonderful everything else was, there was always that yearning, and on top of that no matter how much we all tried not to think about it, the dreams were still hanging over all of us like a storm cloud threatening to burst open and wash everything away.


I flopped down on the couch in the employee lounge. Liz and I had made a study date tonight for this horrible English test we have on Friday and I was really early. She wasn’t done for another half an hour. I laid down on the couch and closed my eyes figuring I might as well take a nap since last night I had had a Max dream and hadn’t slept very well afterwards. It was the first one in a while though. At least they were getting more sporadic.

I squirmed my way into a more comfortable position and closed my eyes.

I don’t know how long I slept before it happened. I had a dream but it wasn’t of Max. Everything was silver, black, gray, white, jagged and cold. There was a shadow in the shape of a man, watching me as I watched black and white pictures flash through the sky of the colorless desert. I saw what Michael and Isabel dreamt about. I saw a baby, I saw them happy, I saw them in love. I saw Max and myself in the same way, and I tried to force myself to wake up. The shadow reached out to me to stop me from leaving and when he touched me I saw something else. I saw the inside of a white room from the perspective of someone lying on their back. I tried to move and found I was strapped down. There were people in masks hovering over me, waving sharp things over my body that blurred as the vision moved on to something else. I was no longer being held down. I was holding something, someone. A little girl with blond curls soaked with blood. She was dead. The image blurred again and I saw my mother at sixteen, sitting with a group of her friends in the bed of a pick up, hooting at a police car as it drove past. She looked at me, coolly giving me a once over, then looked away. After a second she looked back. Stared. Smiled. The shadow man yanked his hand away from mine. He was angry. I wasn’t supposed to have seen all that.

"Puhlman Ranch. Midnight." He growled at me in a voice thick with annoyance and barely concealed surprise that I had seen something he had been trying to keep hidden. He stalked off into the silver desert and when he disappeared into the horizon all that was left of the cold colorless dream was sucked into his retreating back and I shook myself awake rather than face the black hole he had left behind.


I tore myself out of the dream with a gasp and nearly fell off the couch and into Michael who was kneeling beside it. He stared down at me, concern etched across his features, and he reached out to brush my hair out of my eyes either forgetting or ignoring our unspoken rule that we weren’t supposed to touch each other. "Are you okay?…You were having a-"

"Nightmare." I whispered and sat up. A wave of dizziness hit me and I slid off the couch and into his arms.

"You’re shaking…" he murmured and held me tighter. My heart was racing, I couldn’t breathe. All the things I had felt in the dream, all the terror, the pain, the anger, came flooding through me and I didn’t know how to stop it. I was sobbing, I felt like I was going to be sick.

"God…what was it…?"

I pulled away from him, feeling the tide of borrowed emotions pull back and recede until I was okay, until I was myself again. I wiped the tears from my eyes, still practically lying in his lap. I took a deep breath and started to get to my feet. He helped me and I took my hand back as soon as we were both up before the sparks became too much to ignore.

"What happened to you? What did you see?"

I shook my head. I didn’t know how to describe it. I needed to be alone to think about it, to sort it all out so I lied.


"Bull shit. That was not *nothing*." He stepped in closer, trapping me like always so I was forced to deal with him.

"It was a dream okay? But it was…different. There weren’t any colors and it was so cold…there was a man…a shadow. He said to go to the Ranch at Midnight."

He frowned at me and I shivered, still chilled. "It was Nasedo wasn’t it?" I whispered, and after a moment he nodded.

"He’s never dream walked with anyone but Isabel before…she said that it’s…strange when he does. Empty, cold."

I nodded and whispered a shaky "yes".

He stared at me, still so close. I reached out to him. I put my arms around him because the dream had scared me, because the parts of it I hadn’t told him about *terrified* me and I needed someone. I needed to pretend everything would be okay. I would have wanted the same from anyone right now. Michael just happened to be the only one here.

I’m such a liar.

*Love me when nobody else can see
Touch my soul, then treat me like I am a stranger
This is not the way I want to feel…
Should have known a love this strong
Would bring some danger…
But if it's all in my head
I'll find a way to make it end
It's magic…
And it's tragic
Slingshots, whisper, my teardrops, an answer
What am I to you?*

"He showed me what you and Isabel dream about…he showed me the baby…" he stiffened but I didn’t let go. "You looked so happy…" I murmured into his chest, hoping he realized it wasn't an accusation, as he buried his face in the curve of my neck.

*Slingshots, you forgot, my kisses, don't miss this
What am I to you?*

"I hate this…" he whispered. "I hate pretending that I don’t see you…that I don’t…"

"I know…I hate it too."

*Shame - how you got me
Ripping words off my lips to keep from asking
I fall when you call…
Press my ear against the phone to hear your lips move
I guess it's all in my head
And in time I’ll make amends*

*It's magic…*

"What do you want?"

*…but it's so tragic*

"I want you to hold me…"

*I want you so bad*

"I can do that…"

*What's wrong with me baby*

"I want you to kiss me…"

*I want you so bad*

A kiss slow and deep everything I needed, his breathless whisper, "I can do that too…", my last request, "I want you to say it…" and him pulling back like I knew he would.

*What's wrong with you baby?*

"It’s not that simple…"

I swallowed painfully and nodded, thinking, *It should be.*

*Love me when nobody else can see
Touch my soul and treat me like a stranger
This is not the way I like to feel
I should have known a love this strong would bring
some danger
Slingshots, whisper, my teardrops, an answer
What am I to you?
Slingshots, you forgot, my kisses, don't miss this
What am I to you?
Slingshots, you forgot, my kisses, don't miss this
What am I to you?*

"We should call the others. He wants us to be there in an hour."

*Beads fall from a delicate string
My love is too strong to want you in the way we've
been taught to take*

I reached out and clicked off the radio as Michael picked up the phone and dialed Max and Isabel’s number. He listened for a moment, silently, looking at me. He hung up.

"They aren’t there…"

"Try Is’s cell phone."

He dialed again. I couldn’t stop shaking. He had to reach them. We couldn’t meet Nasedo by ourselves. He’d be angry if we did and I had no desire to see this guy pissed. I breathed a sigh of relief when he got through.

"Hey…Nasedo paid Maria a visit. Did he dream walk you too? No she’s not okay, she’s freaked …Midnight…yeah. I know. Do you think we should…? Well we don’t know what this is about, you really want to put them in danger? Isabel I’m not…" he sighed and ran a hand through his hair frustrated. "Fine. Whatever you want, just get here. We don’t have much time. Yeah, I’ll tell Liz." He hung up, and leaned against the wall folding his arms in front of his chest. "He contacted her too a few minutes ago. She was just on her way to pick up Max from Alex’s. She wants to bring him…and Max wants to bring Liz."

I nodded. And we were both quiet until he stepped away from the wall, towards me.

"We’re not finished."

"With what?"

"Talking. I didn’t get to tell you what I mea-"

The door swung open and Liz came in untying her apron. She smiled at Michael

"Hey I thought you went home…" She frowned at the expression on his face and followed his gaze to mine. "What happened?"

"Nasedo." He said. "He wants us to meet him in less than an hour. Max and Isabel and Alex should be here soon." Liz nodded, her jaw set, and hung her apron up on the hook. She took her jacket out of her locker and pulled it on. The look on her face said that she had been expecting this, waiting for it. Too bad I had conveniently forgotten that just because Nasedo skipped out on us the last time didn’t mean he wouldn’t want a rematch. I wasn’t prepared at all.

Before I hadn’t been scared of meeting him. I’d been kind of excited, curious. But after seeing what I wasn’t supposed to see…I wanted to run and hide.

"Are you okay Maria?"

"Yeah…I’m fine…I want this too be over with."

Liz sat down beside me on the couch. "Me too", she murmured.

Michael went to the door and looked out the window into the café, looking for the jeep out front and said gruffly, "Yeah well I have a feeling it will be. Tonight."

Part 4 | Index | Part 6
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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