Disclaimer: Roswell, the characters, and situations are owned by the WB. No infringement intended.
|Liz carefully glanced at Maria standing next to her, brushing her teeth. But the moment she saw her friend's sulky expression she turned her gaze elsewhere. Maria had been in a bad mood for hours, so Liz was assuming that her talk with Michael hadn't gone too well. While Liz had had a great time,
just beholding Max's beauty as she watched him sleep, Maria had been asking her every five minutes if they could switch back. And when they had reached the gas station where everyone was to get ready for the night, and the buses bunks were being rigged up, Maria had just grabbed her bag, pushed past
Michael and run inside.
Liz washed her face and braided her hair (knowing that if she didn't her hair would be a spray-free Michael-do in the morning). Then she nervously turned to Maria who was washing her face (rather fiercely, Liz thought). "Uh, Maria." she began. Her friend didn't answer, she just kept washing. So Liz decided to continue. "I'm really sorry if you're having a bad time." Now Maria turned to face her friend. "Bad time?" she said, dripping with sarcasm. "I'm not having a bad time. I'm having an excellent time! This is the biggest hoot of my life so far! I'm having a ball! I feel like dancing!" "Okay, I get the picture," Liz said, trying to calm her friend down. "I just wanted to apologize for letting you sit with Michael. I thought you would be able to work things out." This softened Maria's tone. "Look, it isn't your fault that Michael's a big schmuck," she said. "To tell you the truth, I thought we'd be able to work things out, too. But, as usual, he went all egg-heady and screwed it all up." She gathered together her belongings and closed her bag. "Now, all I want is a good night's sleep, and when I wake up in the morning I want to be standing on the parking lot of the hotel, perky and peachy-keen, ready for two days of activities." With those words she started making her way out of the crowded bathroom.
When she returned to the bus, Maria immediately claimed the best bunk for her and Liz. Grinning, she climbed up and situated herself in a horizontal position. Now, as long as the disgusting filthball named Michael could just stay out of her face, maybe this trip could start getting good. 'Cause so far it had been sort of crappy, she reckoned. Twice when she'd been sitting next to Michael a sudden wave of homesickness had washed over her, and she'd wanted to be at home, drinking tea with her mother, or pigging out in front of the TV. That was why she'd been pestering Liz about switching back. Not that she thought her friend knew of her occasional homesickness, but it would've been nice to talk to someone who would understand, and not having to be trapped beside someone who just couldn't care less.
Maria felt how she started to doze off. Just as she was entering the fluffy stage of sleeping where you start hearing things that belong in your dream world, she was awoken by someone climbing into the bunk next to her. "Liz?" she whispered, confused. The body of the person next to her was a bit too big to belong to Liz. "Maybe because it isn't Liz," she thought and a chill spread up her spine. Who was lying next to her? Was she going to be assaulted? Was she going to die? Her panic was gradually increasing when suddenly warm breath filled her ear as someone whispered "Liz asked me if we could switch bunks. I hope you don't mind."
Michael. Maria had a sudden rush of motions. Michael? No! She had to get him out of here, she had to sleep somewhere else. Oh, but how cozy this really was. How could Liz do this to her?! After all she'd told her before! And how could Michael feel so soft and cuddly that she just wanted to grab hold of him and never let go. Oh, she wanted to go home. She wanted to grab hold of Michael's hand. She wanted to.
The commotion in her mind suddenly came to an end as she felt Michael's fingertips against her hair. And he started stroking her hair. Very carefully, very tenderly, very assuring. She swallowed hard and felt the tears well up in her eyes. But she blinked them away and just concentrated on the dazzling feeling she had when his fingers touched her. He kept stroking her hair, and she managed to think that he must be lying in a very uncomfortable position, seeing as the bunk was rather narrow, before she closed her eyes and allowed herself to fall asleep.
Maria woke up in the sky.
At least she thought she did, 'til she realized that there was something between her and the landscape racing past them outside. She understood that she was pushed up against the window of the bus. As she slowly came to life she remembered the happenings of the night before. And she sensed Michael behind her. As she stirred she felt him move. In his sleep he slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her closer. She froze, but then let herself relax in his arms. She carefully checked her watch. 6:45. In the morning. She realized that this probably was the earliest hour she would ever be awake and decided to make the most of it.
The landscape was beautiful. She had missed the sunrise, but it didn't matter, 'cause the weather was gorgeous. She smiled to herself, just enjoying the view and the feel of Michael's body close to hers. Then she suddenly felt someone tickling her feet. She managed to stifle a laugh as she peeked down to see who it was. She was met by Liz's grinning face. Maria grinned back at her and saw that her friend was just as cuddly with Max as she was with Michael. Liz gave her the thumbs up sign before lying down again. Maria returned to watching the view.
This kind of reminded her of the time Michael had kidnapped her in her own car and taken her off on that mad road trip, where they'd ended up at that cheesy motel. She smiled at the memory. Back then she'd been scared and excited at the same time. scared because a teeny tiny part of her was worried that he was some kind of lunatic, excited because she always, on some level, had found him fascinating. And good-looking. It was fair to say that there had been times when she had had crushes on him. Who wouldn't have? she thought. He was amazingly attractive, and with that mysterious, brooding thing that all girls fall for.
Back then, at the motel, she had felt so silly and naive when he said the whole "Not if you were the last woman on earth"-thing. It had made her feel two inches tall. But then she had gotten her payback, and it had felt good. She had been back in control.
At the Crashdown, the night Max and Liz had went out to see River Dog, she had felt pleased, almost proud, when Isabel had complained about their "flirting". Could she, simple Maria Deluca, really make a guy like Michael act all flirtatious? She hadn't believed it at first, but then he had kissed her, as a distraction he'd said. That hadn't stopped her from replaying it a zillion times in her head, though.
Her feelings for Michael had become more intense. More and more like she wanted to talk to him, laugh with him, not just get a few passionate minutes in the eraser room every other day. She could see it made him nervous. She could imagine how disappointed he must be over the fact that she wasn't content with just the physical connection. But she couldn't help it. She wanted to know everything about him, how he felt, how *she* made him feel.
Her thoughts were lead away from the subject of Michael for a moment when she noticed that they were driving in on the parking lot of the hotel. A big sign told them that this wasn't just any hotel, this was "the hotel with the biggest panorama view of the desert in the whole state". Sounds like a major tourist attractor, Maria thought to herself. She felt slightly nauseous when she saw that the hotel staff already had started preparing for all the activities. A big softball field had been set up a hundred feet away. Maria tried to recall any possible time she could've played softball, and found that the one single time she'd played it two people had ended up in hospital.
She closed her eyes and sighed.
Liz peeked in at Maria who was checking out the free soaps and shampoos. "Uh, Maria?" she said. Maria didn't look up, she was intrigued by all the little packages and bottles. "Look at this, Liz," she said. "We get like four bottles of shampoo! That's two each! Plus there's this shower cap, but I was gonna ask you if maybe I can have it, 'cause I think I can make like a funny hat or something. And there's this scrubbing thing that looks like a duck, although with a slightly deformed head." Maria took a break in her blabbering, studying the scrubbing device thoroughly.
"Maria, about the rooms." Liz began. But she didn't have time to continue, because Maria, who knew what Liz was getting at, interrupted her. "Oh no no no no no," she said, facing her friend. "No way that I'm switching again, no way that I'm letting you share with Max. No, you are staying right here in this room with me where I can control you and your. lust."
Maria walked out of the bathroom and over to the bed, where her bag was lying open. Liz followed her. "Oh, you're one to talk!" she said. "Where were you sleeping tonight, if I might ask? 'Cause I'm pretty certain I saw you lying there next to a certain member of the corresponding gender!"
"Yes, and who do I have to thank for that?" Maria shot back. "It wasn't like I was all "Please, Mr. Moody, come lie next to me!". I have memories of being tricked into the whole situation." "Well, this morning you hardly seemed to mind," Liz said, raising her eyebrows. Maria turned to her, eyes narrowed. "I. was making. the best of it," she said, knowing that every word was a lie. She hadn't minded at all, well maybe a bit in the beginning, but after that it had been great. Liz just shook her head at her and went over to her own bed to unpack her things.
There was a knock at the door and Alex entered. He had his hand in front of his eyes. "Okay, so are any of you naked?" he said. "Yeah, we both are, 'cause we figured you'd be coming by," Maria said, not looking up. Alex separated two of his fingers and peeked out. Seeing as everybody was dressed, he removed his hand. "Just trying to be on the safe side," he said. "Wouldn't want to make things, ya know. weird."
He walked over to the dresser and leaned against it. "So." he began. None of the girls took any major notice in him, so he decided to keep on talking. "So the word is sort of out," he continued. "About what?" Liz said, only half-listening.
"About your sleeping arrangements last night."
Maria and Liz both froze. They slowly straightened up and turned to face Alex. "Care to clarify?" Maria said. "Well," Alex said. "It wasn't like you were in a locked room." "Well, it wasn't like we were having crazy sex, either!" Liz exclaimed. "What, are the teacher's all angry?" "I wouldn't say angry, more like "disappointed"." He said, making quotation marks with his fingers. "Oh, and they said that they would be trying to keep you away from the guys during the rest of the trip."
Liz and Maria both gasped. "What?!" Liz exclaimed. "Okay," Maria said, shaking her head. "Has it even occurred to them that we've passed the age of eleven?". Alex just shrugged. "I can, like, deliver messages for them if you want," he said. "Okay, just go tell them what you told us," Liz said. Then she blushed. "And tell Max I miss him."
Alex rolled his eyes and started walking towards the door. "I'll just leave now before I puke all over your carpet," he said. "See ya." The girls waved at him as he exited the room. Two seconds later the door opened again and he poked his head in. "Uh, Maria?" he said. "Me and the guys thought we should practice, so we said around five, is that okay?" Maria, still disappointed over the whole teacher incident, just waved her hand at him. "Whatever," she said. "You'll miss the softball," he said, knowing it would cheer her up. And he was right. With a bright smile she answered him: "I'll be there, with a smile on my face." He nodded and smiled before closing the door again.
When Maria showed up in the music room, the guys had already started rehearsing. Used to her usual lateness, they all just greeted her with a subtle wave. She sat down and waited 'til they'd finished the number they were working on. When they were done she walked up to them.
"Sounds good," she said. They nodded as thanks. Then Alex scratched himself behind the ear. "Uh, so we learned the songs you wanted to play," he said. "Oh great!" she said, pleased. "Which ones are we doing tonight?" "Well," Alex said. "We thought we'd start with the one Chris suggested, you know, and then." But he was interrupted by Maria. "Uh, hang on," she said, sounding skeptical. "Which is this song that Chris suggested?" She looked at them, one at a time. All of them, except Chris, looked a bit nervous.
"It's a. it's a Smashing Pumpkins song," Markos said. "A good one," he added, trying to soften Maria's reaction. But it didn't help much. Anyone could see she was about to have an outburst.
"Smashing Pumpkins?" she said between clinched teeth. "I. I HATE the Smashing Pumpkins!" Alex was quick to save the day. "But look, Maria," he said. "It's only one song. And besides, it wouldn't be fair if Chris couldn't pick songs he wanted to play every now and then." Maria spun around, glaring at him. "Okay, did I mention how much I *loathe* the Smashing Pumpkins?" she hissed.
"Stop being such a primadonna," Chris said, irritated. "It's just one song. And you really don't have a say in all of this, seeing as you're forcing us to play your stupid Sheryl Crow." "He's sort of right, Maria," Alex said. "We're playing an awful lot of your songs." Maria glared even more at him. "Maybe because we don't want the audience to become suicidal after our performance," she sneered.
"Umm, I like both Sheryl Crow and the Smashing Pumpkins," Markos said, trying to be diplomatic. "I don't want to play your depresso music!" Maria exclaimed. "Well, we don't want to play your chick-pop either," Chris shot back.
The argument was getting fiercer, and would with no doubt have led to a fight between all of the band members, if the door wouldn't have opened at that very moment. Maria, ready to fire back at Chris, spun around to see who had interrupted her attack.
The sight that met her almost made her lose her breath. Before her stood one of the most good-looking beings she had ever seen. He looked like he was older, maybe eighteen. He was just about Alex's height, with dark hair. His blue eyes almost penetrated the air and were even more attention-drawing with the long, dark lashes and the black, rather trimmed eyebrows. And his clothes! Maria looked at his outfit in awe. A simple black T-shirt, tight enough to show his subtle but noticeable muscles and an average pair of worker jeans. Not that this was clothing out of the ordinary, but he wore them with more style than Julia Roberts would've worn a Versace evening gown at the Academy Awards. Around his wrist he wore a number of bracelets.
When the second it took for Maria to note all of this was over, her brain went into a state of confusion. Who was this person? What was he doing here? And most importantly, was she drooling? She was thankful when Alex, as the first person, acted. He went up to the visitor, shook his hand and smiled. "Hi, how you doing?" he said. The gorgeous being smiled back, showing a set of perfect teeth. "Fine, thanks." His voice was like honey, Maria thought, and was suddenly certain that he was a singer.
Alex turned towards the rest of the band. "Uh, everyone, this is a friend of mine," he said. "From LA". Maria swallowed hard. He was from LA. He was from California. Oh man. "Okay," Nicky said. "And does your friend have a name.?". Alex understood the hint. "Oh, right, sorry," he said. "Okay, everyone, this is Fran Vivas, Fran, this is Chris, Nicky, Markos, and our singer, Maria."
As the perfect creature from LA looked at her and smiled, Maria couldn't do anything other than freeze. So she just stood there, like a statue, until he questioningly raised a perfect eyebrow. "Uh, Maria's just sort of nervous about the show tonight," Alex said, excusing his friend. He turned to the others. "So everyone, Fran is the guy I told you about, the one who'll be singing and playing with us tonight and tomorrow night." At this, Maria spoke. Or, more like croaked. "Uh. hrm. you never told me," she managed to get out. She immediately regretted it, as everyone, including Fran Vivas, turned around to look at her.
"What?" he said to Alex, obviously surprised. "You never told her we were singing together?" Alex looked a bit ashamed. "I, uh, I sort of forgot," he stammered, before turning to Maria. "You and Fran will be singing the Sheryl Crow song together tonight, you'll just sing the way you were supposed to sing, and Fran will be doing some harmonizing and stuff."
Maria just nodded. There was a pause before Alex took command. "Okay," he said. "How about we start with that song, so that the two of you can work out anything that has to be worked out." Fran nodded and walked over to one of the microphones. As he grabbed it, Maria caught sight of a tattoo on his upper arm. She shivered. Was this guy for real? He turned to her. "Ready?" he asked. She nodded again, walking over to the second microphone. As she removed it from it's holder, Fran leaned in and spoke to her, lowly. "Alex has told me so much about you. I can't wait to hear what you can do with that voice." Maria laughed nervously. "Now I feel sorta pressured," she said. Fran just patted her back. "I'm sure you'll do just fine," he said.
Maria was in awe. In just a few minutes, this guy had said more nice and comforting things to her than Michael had in all the time they'd been together. She smiled as the music started playing. Maybe she would do just fine without Michael.
|Part 1 | Index | Part 3
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours