|"These Broken Wings "
Disclaimer: Yes, a new long rant for you to read! (happy radish dance
ensues) I got bored with the other one. So, hmm... Let's see. (steps up to
the podium and taps lightly on the microphone) Is this thing on? Okay. In
case you haven't figured it out, I don't own anything Roswellian. (sniffles)
But hey, Mr. Katims, if you read this and you want to give a slightly
offbeat 21 year old a job working on your show, I'm your girl! Well, it was
worth a shot, huh? (smile) Please don't sue me. I just like writing Roswell
stories 'cause the characters are cool and I love them. You should all be
flattered. Really. (nods convincingly and then wanders offstage)
Summary: Maria's 8th grade crush on Doug Sohn isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
Authors Note: This story was dreamt up after wondering why exactly Doug Sohn was such an amateur. And why Michael was the real thing, as was said by Maria in 'The Balance'.
|Bright and early the next morning, Maria dragged herself to her locker and
opened it blearily. She gasped and quickly slammed the door shut. What had
happened? She inched the door open again and gazed inside. Her books were
stacked neatly on the top shelf. And her papers were in an organized pile at
the bottom of her locker.
She just stood like that, staring vacantly into her locker for what felt like the longest time. Then Michael Guerin came sauntering by. "Hey, Frogface, looks like a miracle occurred, huh?" He smirked at her as he gestured to her tidy locker.
"It's too early in the morning, Electromagnetic Hair Boy," she growled as he casually walked on.
Michael hid himself just around the corner so he could see. He watched, expressionlessly, as she discovered the rose. Total pandemonium, just like he had figured. She squealed and jumped up and down, doing her little happy dance in front of her locker. The same happy dance she had done for as long as he had known her. And he let himself smile for just a second.
And then he saw that jerk Doug Sohn walk up to her and he watched, frozen, as she threw her arms around him in an exuberant hug. He sighed and kicked at the wall angrily, cursing to himself.
And then they were walking past him together. "Thank you so much for the rose! It's beautiful," she was saying to a confused looking Doug. She never even noticed that he was there.
Michael didn't feel so well all of a sudden. He took off for the bathroom. Maybe he could kick in the stalls or burn some paper towels with his powers or something to make himself feel better.
Maria smiled happily at Doug as they walked together towards homeroom. She couldn't believe it. A rose in her locker... It was probably the most romantic thing that had ever happened to her. It was almost as good as when Liz used to get those flowers on her desk every Wednesday in fifth grade. And it was definite proof that he liked her.
She clutched the rose and squealed, grinning blindingly at him. "That is just so awesome of you. Where did you get it from anyway? It doesn't look like you bought it. Looks like one of those wild roses. God, I think wild roses are so much more beautiful than the ones in the stores, don't you? Yeah, obviously, you do. So, how did you get it? How did you put in my locker?"
Doug squirmed a little. Probably embarassed about it. I mean, it was 8th grade after all. He was probably worried he'd be teased about it, 'cause most 8th grade boys had absolutely no maturity at all. Except for Doug. He was different. Her opinion of him shot up about a million points.
"Oh... I just... Found it. You know." He shrugged and smiled mysteriously. "It made me think of you and stuff."
"Yeah? So I'm like a wild rose, huh?" She laughed and bumped him with her hip.
"Yeah... Right," Doug replied with a grin. "So, you going to Nora's party?"
"Oh! Yeah, I think so... Nora's been my friend for like, forever. Why?"
"Well, you know, I'm going too..."
Maria's heart skipped a beat. Was he implying what she thought he was implying? "Oh, cool! Maybe I'll see you there, then." She smiled warmly at him.
"Yeah, maybe you will," Doug answered with a shy smile. "Bye, Maria."
"Bye, Doug," Maria answered airily as she floated into her homeroom.
She never even noticed how Doug's face quickly darkened into a scowl. A rose, Doug thought to himself, snorting. Yeah, like he'd ever give her a rose.
Maria looked around Nora's basement, stifling a yawn. There was almost total silence. You could practically hear the termites chewing through the walls as everybody sat in little clusters, talking quietly and chomping on junk food.
Nora was fretting to herself over by the bar, so Maria went over to talk to her. "Hey, Nora," she said, putting a comforting hand on her friend's trembling shoulders. "Why don't you put some music on or something? Get the place shakin' down tonight!" She grinned.
Nora smiled a strained smile and managed to say, "Yeah, that's a good idea. Thanks, Maria. For everything."
Maria grinned her best pixie grin at Nora. "Hey, no problemo. I kinda enjoyed telling off that Barbie wannabe Maggie. Been wanting to for years. Now go, scoot! Andale! Play that funky music."
And that got a little smile out of Nora, which made Maria glad beyond relief. She winked at Liz from across the room and cupped her hands over her mouth to make an impromptu megaphone. "Okay, is everybody ready for the music and dancing?" she yelled out gleefully.
Finally, things started to come alive when Nora put on a dance mix tape. Everybody was laughing, talking, dancing, and really having a good time. Maria watched Nora carefully, practically feeling her friend's sigh of relief. And when a cute boy came up to Nora and asked her to dance, Maria was absolutely elated. Nora was a very pretty girl, even though she was really shy. And she definitely deserved to have a break.
But just then, trouble arrived in the form of Gracie Cohen, Isabel Evans, and of course, Maggie Sherman herself. Tagging along behind them were Kyle Valenti and his two annoying jock friends who shared a brain, Tommy and Paulie. And someone else, too. Doug Sohn? She raised her eyebrows in surprise. She couldn't believe Doug was hanging out with Kyle and his two goons. Oh well, Liz said that Kyle was an okay guy, so maybe... She didn't know.
Doug spotted Maria and smiled his best lady killer smile. She looked absolutely perfect tonight. He briefly wondered how far he could get with her before he leaned down and whispered something into Gracie's ear. Gracie laughed shrilly and nodded her understanding. She knew what the plan was. And Maria DeLuca deserved it, for the way she had treated poor Maggie. Gracie Cohen always looked after her own.
Maria fidgeted nervously as Doug approached her. "Hey, Maria," he said.
"Doug, hi," Maria replied, unearthing another sunny smile for him.
Just then, the music died and Gracie, standing by the stereo, announced, "Hey, everybody. Maggie knew this wasn't gonna be a real party. Guess she was right." She smirked at the crowd. "There's a little game that people play at real parties. It's called Three Minutes in Heaven." She paused dramatically as a collective gasp ran through the crowd of 8th graders. A make-out game?
"So," Maggie picked up, glaring directly at Maria. "If anybody's too babyish to stick around, leave now. You'll be the laughingstock of the 8th grade."
Maria fumed silently to herself as she caught Nora's scared looking eyes. The poor girl was once again near tears. And it was all her fault, really. Because she had goaded Maggie into coming with her friends. God, at that moment Maria just hated Maggie, Gracie. All of them.
Then Isabel explained the rules in a detached sounding voice. "Each couple that we pick has to go into that closet over there for three minutes of pure heaven."
"Whatever that means to you," Maggie chimed in with a toss of her snotty head.
"And the first lucky couple is... Doug Sohn and Maria DeLuca!" Gracie announced, not even bothering to hide her glee.
Maria's heart sped up. Three minutes, in a closet? Alone, with Doug? "Ohmigosh," she muttered. Where was her cedar oil when she needed it?
Doug just smiled reassuringly at her and took her hand, pulling her into the closet while everybody else cheered and hollered. This was the moment of truth for him. Had he picked a good one? He was about to find out, he thought to himself as he shut the door behind them.
Maria looked around in the darkness and then fumbled towards the lightswitch, turning it on so she could see Doug. "Okay, so... How does this game work exactly?" she asked uncertainly.
"Simple." Doug grinned, still clinging on to his sweet guy act. "We kiss."
Maria blushed. "And... and that's all it is, right? Just... kissing? Nothing else?"
"I'll be a perfect gentleman," Doug lied.
She sighed and closed her eyes. "Okay."
And Doug leaned in and kissed her roughly, which she didn't mind so much at first. But then he forced his tongue into her mouth and she felt confused. She didn't think kissing was supposed to be like this. She didn't know how, but she felt like there was another kiss buried somewhere that she was comparing to this one. A sweet, gentle kiss from long ago. But it could have just been a dream, or a wish.
She felt like screaming in disgust. This wasn't right. A sloppy, wet, tongue kiss with Doug panting frantically right in her face. This wasn't what it was supposed to feel like at all. Where was the spark? Where was the magic? She supposed she felt some sort of primal thrill, but it just wasn't special. She felt like he was just using her. Doug's hands were everywhere, roaming her body. She couldn't believe what was happening to her. What had happened to Doug Sohn, the shy boy who had given her the beautiful wild rose?
And when his hands wound themselves into her curls, that was the last straw. She twisted away angrily. That was way over the line. Her curls belonged to someone else. "Don't touch my hair!" she cried, tears standing out in her eyes.
"What? Why not?" Doug was confused, and very disappointed. Guess he picked the wrong one after all.
"I don't know," Maria answered softly. Though she did know why, somewhere. "I just don't want you to, okay?"
And she got up in a huff, just as Gracie called out in her sickenly sweet voice through the closet door, "Your three minutes are up."
She opened up the door, desperate to get away from Doug and from the revulsion, the wrongness, that was winding its path through her body. She didn't care what she looked like, she just had to get away. So she fled. She fled up the stairs and found herself alone in Nora's bedroom.
Maria raised her head. She had no idea how long it had been since she'd flung herself desperately on Nora's four-poster bed. There were noises coming from the hallway. She inched open the door so she could see.
Alex was standing in the bathroom doorway, looking scared. Kyle, Tommy, Paulie, and Doug surrounded him. Maria couldn't believe her eyes. When had Doug turned into such a jerk? And how had she been fooled so easily?
"Hey, Whitman, where's your chessboard tonight?" Kyle Valenti sneered at Alex.
"Yeah, Whitman, it always impresses the ladies when you take that geeky thing out and start to show off with it," Tommy chimed in.
"Nahh, the best is when he carries around his dorky little guitar," Doug answered with a mean laugh.
"Leave him alone!" Maria yelled, running towards them, fists held out. "Now! I mean it!" She glared at the four boys, enraged.
Tommy and Paulie flinched back. Even Kyle looked scared. And Alex grinned. Hurricane DeLuca was back for a brief reappearance. But Doug... Doug just went on teasing Alex and completely ignoring her. And Maria was disgusted. Nobody talked to her friends like that.
"Stop it, Doug!" she screamed.
"Why do you care? Whitman's just a total dork anyway," Doug scoffed.
"No, he's not. He's my friend, one of my best friends! We've been friends since 4th grade, and he's much more of a man than you'll ever be."
Doug was stunned. She actually hung around with Whitman and admitted it openly? What had he ever wanted this girl for? "I doubt that," he returned arrogantly.
"You're not who I thought you were at all," Maria growled at him.
Doug just smirked at her. "Thanks," he said flippantly.
"That wasn't a compliment," Maria spat out, a deadly light coming into her eyes.
Tommy, Paulie, and Kyle started to slowly back away. They knew that when Maria DeLuca got that look on her face, she meant business.
And she did. Hurricane DeLuca unleashed her full force on Doug Sohn, a whirling, spinning mass of blonde curls and white fire. She kicked and punched him, sobbing, until Alex had to pull her away. And then she collapsed into her best friend's arms and looked down at the boy she had only yesterday been so sure was the right one for her.
A few miles away, Maria's real soulmate was fretfully lying on a sleeping bag in Max Evans' bedroom when Isabel waltzed in from the party she had gone to that night. Nora's, Michael recalled. He never went to any parties. Parties pretty much always sucked.
Isabel plopped herself down on Max's bed. Max was downstairs watching some movie on tv. Why Michael didn't join him, Isabel would never know. Michael was weird like that sometimes. "Aren't you going to ask me how it was?"
"You'll tell me anyway so why should I bother?" Michael returned moodily. He was still thinking about the mistake he had made with the rose.
"We played Three Minutes in Heaven," Isabel informed him. "It was Gracie's dumb idea. But anyway, guess who Maria DeLuca got stuck in the closet with?"
"Doug Sohn," Michael answered with a sigh.
"How did you know that?" Isabel asked, surprised.
"Michael, you know... Whatever you guys had, it was a long time ago and I'm sure--"
Michael closed his eyes so she wouldn't see how hurt he was. He hated to shut her out, but it just wasn't any of her business. "Good night, Izzy."
"Michael," Isabel tried again, pleading with him.
"I said, good night, Izzy." Michael's voice was cold.
Isabel rolled her eyes. "Fine. Good night, Michael." She stalked out of the room.
Michael peeked carefully out of one eye, making sure she really was gone before he sat up and began hunting for Max's yearbook from last year. He had to know. He had to know what Maria really felt.
He didn't dreamwalk that well, but he could. Sometimes. Izzy had helped him out a lot. So he paged through the yearbook until he found her picture, and then he stared longingly down at her 7th grader face, tracing it with his fingers. He'd wait until a little later to start. Because she probably wasn't asleep yet. But soon.
Michael looked around in surprise. He was in a mostly dark, empty room. And, there, in the center, a spotlight illuminated her. Maria. His knees weakened. It reminded him of that day on the bus together, when they had gone on that camping trip with their class. The day of Mr. Raddish's infamous breakdown. The sunlight all over her hair. Beautiful. Later, when he got back to the trailer, he had drawn that scene in colored pencil, because it wouldn't have looked right in plain old black and white. She always looked better in color. More alive, somehow.
But then he saw that she wasn't alone. She was absorbed in a conversation with... Doug. Michael felt a twist of jealousy rage through his body. But there was no spotlight shining down on him. He was shadowed. Dark. And he actually got a little satisfaction from that.
He watched enviously as Doug leaned in to kiss Maria, pawing all over her. Little horndog probably had his tongue in her mouth too. She didn't seem to mind until he wound his fingers into her hair. And then she pulled away abruptly. "Don't touch my hair!" she cried angrily.
"What? Why not?" Doug looked genuinely confused.
When this had really happened, when they were in the closet together, she hadn't been able to tell him why not. But this was an uninhibited dream. "Only Michael can touch my hair like that," she admitted.
"Michael who?" Doug asked sneeringly.
"You know, Cheesehead Guerin," she answered with a soft smile as she thought of the spiky-haired and sullen boy who had dared to try and tame her wild curls and even wilder spirit. "So just... Go away, Doug."
And Doug stepped back, fading away into the darkness. There was a brief flash of light. And Michael's dream double stood there for a moment, a spotlight gleaming down on him too. Wearing a tux for some strange reason, and smiling dashingly at her. Their vibrating lights hummed towards each other for a moment as she gazed longingly at him.
"Not yet," she whispered sadly as the dream Michael also faded away into nothingness.
And then she was alone again. She looked around, and then slowly crossed the gloomy room, heading towards a small door he hadn't seen before.
Michael watched, fascinated, as she pushed it open and walked through. A voice, Maria's voice, somberly intoned, "All that is forgotten stays behind this door until it's ready to come out. If it ever is ready."
He followed, a little afraid, as images assaulted him from every side. Every forgotten thing from her life flashed through his mind in an instant as he stepped through the threshhold, from Maria's birth right up to the History facts for the quiz she had taken yesterday morning.
Another room. A room filled with laughter and innocence. A room filled with tears, hatred, and fear. Loneliness assaulted him. And there were people. People he'd never seen. And some people he had. Liz, six years old, wearing a dress with a cupcake pattern for some reason. Alex, a black eye already starting to appear on his worried face, watching in stunned silence as Maria punched out Rodney Hodgkins for calling him a chessboy. A young Maria looking sadly out of her bedroom window, waiting for a limousine to pull up and wondering why one never did. Dozens of images. Dozens of faces, rushing through the years.
And then, time seemed to slow down for a moment as visions of himself began to appear. Michael, huddling alone on the bleachers. Michael, covered in paint and laughing euphorically. Smirking mischievously. Tossing M&M's. Tugging her curls. Holding her hand in the circle they had gathered together in before the disastrous school play began. Taunting her endlessly.
Michael, holding out a silvery-colored pencil to a stunned Maria. Michael sitting on a swing at the playground, hunched over his sketchpad, a soft look on his face. Michael daring to kiss her under the moonlight in a dry empty desert. Michael, gently placing an arrowhead in her hand. Michael touching her hair, whispering her name.
Her name floated through his mind like a gentle feather in the harshest wind. And he couldn't stand it anymore. A startled cry of anguish tore itself out of his throat as he remembered right along with her. Everything. Everything he had tried so hard to forget. Everything he hadn't wanted to remember in the first place. It was all here. Sealed up in this room.
She looked up, startled. And he knew that she had finally seen him from the way her eyes dramatically widened. "Michael!" she cried, running to him.
"Maria," he gasped as the visions finally stopped. "You... you forgot."
"No! I never forgot. Not really," Maria whispered, staring imploringly at him. "I just... I was scared. Of what I felt for you. What I... still feel." Tears coursed down her cheeks.
"Don't cry," he shushed her gently. He could be gentle here. Because she'd forget again. Everything in here was forgotten. Maybe forever. "It kills me when I see you cry. Right here," he pointed to his still-human heart as he swallowed, "and... And everywhere."
"We're going to forget again, aren't we?" Maria asked suddenly, a few stray tears still leaking out of her eyes.
"I think so, yeah." He reached out and squeezed her hand. As much to receive strength as to give it. "'Cause I'm scared, too." Not just of how he felt for her. But of telling her who he really was. He was scared she'd think he was... a monster.
Here, in her dream, everything that held him back was gone. And he saw what he could be to her, if he let go of himself long enough. What she could be to him. But it wasn't their time yet. He knew that. And she did too.
Shelves lined the walls of this little forgotten pocket of a room. Shelves crammed full of memories, wishes, and dreams. He spied something sitting on one beside him and carefully grabbed it and held on tight to it. His eyes gleamed and he looked at her. "Hold out your hand," he said.
She shot him a confused yet somehow knowing look and wordlessly did what he asked, stretching out her hand in front of her.
"Wait... Close your eyes, too." He smirked at her.
She rolled her eyes and whacked him playfully. He sighed as the old familiar thrill coursed through him. Along with the old familiar pain. Then she finally complied again and closed her eyes.
He watched her for a second, an undeniably warm feeling invading his body. He allowed it to take over, giddily. Then he slid what he had taken into her hand.
Whatever it was, it was small, hard, and cool. A rock, maybe? She peeked her eyes open a little, and then opened them all the way and laughed while he looked on. His darkened heart always felt a little lighter when Maria laughed.
"The arrowhead!" she exclaimed with a grin, looking at him. She still had it somewhere. The real one. And the pencil he had given her too. She had never even used that pencil. It was still perfectly unsharpened.
"For my favorite Cheesehead," he replied, his usual wiseass smirk fixed on his oddly handsome face.
"Your only Cheesehead, I hope," she answered, smacking him on the shoulder.
"Ow! Radishface!" He hit her back. Hard. On a reflex. "Uhh... Are we too old for this now?" He looked at her uncertainly.
"No... Still too young," she answered softly. She felt tears come to her eyes again and she gazed down at the floor.
"Hey." He tipped her chin up with one hand and stared into her crying eyes with his own deeply wounded ones. "Why are you so upset?"
"Because this isn't real," she told him sadly. "It's just a stupid dream and I'm gonna wake up in my bed after it's over and feel even worse."
"Maria, it's not... It's not like that. You're not even gonna remember. We're here, remember? It's different here, because we can really talk. And be free. Besides... we're not ready. You know we're not. You said--"
"I know what I said," she cut in. And then, after a brief pause, she continued, "I didn't realize you could say so much at once."
"Yeah, well... It's different here. Can't you feel it?"
"Yeah... Like I can actually say what I really want to say and not be afraid."
"Not have to cover it up," he said quietly, looking at her admirably. She really did understand.
"Right," she replied, swiping at her leaking eyes. "I can be myself with you. I've always felt like that. Someday I'll be able to tell you that for real."
"Me, too," he whispered hoarsely, his voice throbbing with emotion.
He reached out then and daringly brought his hands into her hair for the second time. She sighed happily as his fingers stroked carefully through her curls. It felt right when he did that.
Deja vu. She reached out her hand and landed it on top of his head as they stared powerfully at each other. The only vaguely recalled memories of Michael's soft spiky hair under her fingers suddenly came to the surface again as she wove her hands through his hair.
And then he leaned in and kissed her. Really kissed her, the way Doug had kissed her in Nora's basement closet. Using his tongue. But this time, she actually liked it. And she felt that familiar Michael spark surge through her body as he tenderly, reverently, toyed with her curls. Her own hands plunged urgently through his hair as the kiss went on and on.
He paused for a moment, to catch his breath. And he confessed, "I gave you the rose." He waited just long enough for her eyes to widen in pleasant surprise before he leaned in and kissed her all over again.
And just like that, Michael's kiss left Doug's behind in the dust. And she knew that she and Michael would somehow find a way back to each other, even if she was meant to forget. Maybe the amnesia was for a reason.
When they finally fell apart, Michael gasped as he stared at her. He gulped. He had never felt anything like that before in his life. In fact, he'd never done anything like that either. And he knew he wouldn't want to with any other girl. Ever.
He'd wake up someday and remember. And when he did, she had better watch out. Because when that happened, he'd never run from her again. She'd tame him, and he'd let her. He was just waiting to be set free.
"It's time to go," he finally managed to get out between swallows of air.
"I know," she whispered bravely.
No more words needed to be said. They just looked at each other. Silently. Speaking volumes with their eyes. Vibrating together. He thought that he might have been crying. Or maybe she was crying. Maybe they both were. Over the sudden discovery and quick painless loss of something they were destined to find again someday.
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