FanFic - Other
"Thirty Miles"
Part 3
by Lisa
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. I don't own Roswell. These are Jason Katims' and Melinda Metz's wonderful characters but I am enjoying playing with them so don't sue me.
Summary: Consider this to be after "Crazy" but before "Tess, Lies, and Videotape." The gang is presented with the opportunity to slip into Area 51 but once inside they are separated from one another. As they cross 30 miles of desert in pursuit of a mysterious beacon each couple draws closer together.
Category: Other
Rating: PG-13
"You're hurt!" Isabel discovered.

"Huh?" Alex wiped the sweat from his brow. Since the sun had come up it had become increasingly hot.

"You're limping."

"Oh, I... uh... twisted my ankle when I slid into the canyon last night. It's nothing really."

She crossed her arms, "Does it hurt?"

"Well, yeah. But nothing I can't handle.

"Is this some sort of macho male posturing thing? Alex, I thought you were above that." Isabel knelt and he felt her hand grasp his ankle. Warmth seemed to spread through him as he watched her blonde hair slip from her shoulders and obscure her face from his sight. He felt her fingers slide against the bare skin of his calf then downward to his ankle and the warmth seemed to increase. Silence grew between them as she massaged the front and then the side of his injury before she sat back on her heels and looked up at him. He had no idea what to say as she stood fluidly and touched his brow. "You have a scratch here too."

Alex was speechless. Isabel was so beautiful and otherworldly. Not other worldly as in the literally otherworldly sense--though of course she was that too- she was just so different, that feminine kind of different. That thing that guys like him could never figure out. She gave this satisfied, mysterious smile that made his gut clench and made him want to reach out to hold her. But, elusive as always, she stepped away.

"Thank you," he said past the constriction in his throat.

She gave a graceful shrug and said, "No problem," and, as if in silent agreement, they fell into step beside one another. "And, um, thank you for sticking with me last night. I would have hated to be alone," she told him.

"Well that's me. One step up from being alone." At her blank look he said, "Joke. I was just joking."

She looked unconvinced but didn't press the issue. He kind of liked that about her. It was strange because most guys he knew were always talking about how the girls they dated talked too much, but Isabel. . . Isabel always seemed to keep so much inside. Like she had this secret mysterious knowledge-- which he supposed in some ways she did-- that always kept her this mystical, magical creature of mystery. . . Ugh! He had it bad. There was no way to deny it. Isabel was the girl who invaded his fantasies. The girl that made him feel shaky inside and whose smile could make him feel ten feet tall. . .and it was all just so impossible. No way would he ever stand a chance with her.

He was that "friend" sort of guy. Non threatening, non mysterious, non earth shaking, not a guy who could hope to be anything other than a buddy to the girl his classmates compared to Elle McPhereson--and they only knew the half of it! Then again if the only thing he could be was a friend, he'd be the best damn friend he could possibly be. He would get her out of this mess, and he would do everything he possibly could to see that everyone else got out as well.

They kept walking and slowly Alex began to realize that they had been staring at the chain link fence for a long time. It was difficult to see chain link in the desert, which was probably why they had used it.

"Where's the gap?" Isabel asked.

Alex looked to the left then to the right. The fence seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see. "I'm not sure."

Isabel took two steps in one direction then stopped and faced the other. "Which way is the right way?"

Alex glanced up at the position of the sun. "Roswell should be that way."

"But the gap in the fence? The jeep?" she asked.

"I'm not sure."

"Great, just great." She approached the fence. "What do we do now?"

"Can't you" He waved his hands. "You know."

She shook her head and sighed. "No. It's electrical."

"You can't do anything with electricity?"

She paced along the fence. "No. It messes things up in some way. I'm not sure how."

Alex frowned then nodded. "I guess that makes sense. Electricity travels at light speed so it's not really here, you know."

She looked at him curiously. "No, I don't know. What are you saying?"

"It's E equals M C squared." At her blank look he tried to explain. "Think of the speed of light as a fixed number -actually it is a fixed number. Now think about where we're standing right now. We're moving through space. The earth is moving through the galaxy at a certain speed. The galaxy is moving through the universe at a certain speed-"

"I understand that part," she told him. "But I still don't understand…"

"Time is relative. You've heard that before, right?"

"Of course I have."

"Well time is relative to how fast and how far you're going, and since we're all moving with the Earth--"

"We live in Earth time," she realized.

"Right," he said excitedly. "Well, not exactly but close. The solar system and the galaxy are also moving but it's the same principle."

"What does this have to do with the fence?"

"If time is related to how fast you are going and the speed of light is the absolute limit of how fast you can go. . ." He grimaced. "I'm boring you aren't I?"

"No, I. . . um. . ."

He shrugged. "Don't worry about it."

"Alex, you were making a point. I'd kind of like knowing what it was."

"The faster you travel, the less you pass through space and time. When something travels at the absolute max-at light speed--it isn't traveling through space or time. It simply is…and isn't. It's that whole 'light is both a particle and a wave' thing."

Isabel frowned in some confusion. "So you're saying since electricity is a form of light…"

"It's probably far more difficult to change its structure than it is to change ketchup into mustard -- Why are you looking at me like that?" He asked abruptly.

"Like what?"

"Okay, I know I'm a geek, Isabel. I've known that for a long time. Geek, dork, nerd, Melvin, whatever the word for it is this week-- since I'm a geek I'm not really up on the latest catch phrases. But I don't like being looked at like I'm some sort of weird life form. . . ." His voice trailed off then he muttered, "Sorry, no offense."

She approached him. "I'm not looking at you like some geek," she told him. "I was looking at you like. . . like you're amazing."

He didn't know how to take that. "Amazing like amazingly weird?"

She laughed. "No amazing like smart, compassionate, considerate, honest, kind--"

"That's me. A regular cub scout."

"--and courageous."

That brought him up short. Courageous? Him?

"You shouldn't look so completely stunned you know," she told him. "It can't be that much of a shock to you."

He shoved his hands into his pockets and shook his head. "Give me a few moments to deal with this sort of praise. I mean, dependable and level headed I've been called, but courageous? What have I ever done that could make you think that?"

"You do stuff all the time."

He scratched his head and tried to think of what. It was Michael who had rushed out to meet Toplosky. It was Max who rushed out to save Michael... more than once. Half the time Alex felt lucky to even hold onto sidekick status, what had he ever done that could make someone as amazing as Isabel call him courageous?

"I know you think geek status knocks you a few rungs down the high school social ladder," she said softly. "You don't sit at the so-called 'popular' table at lunch."

"Yeah, I've noticed that."

"But it's not real, you know."

"Looks pretty real to me."

"No, I mean..." She sighed and pushed her hand through her hair. "You know what earns you a seat at the popular table? Saying the right things. Saying the things that people want to hear. Wearing the right clothes, joining the right extra-curricular activities. Fitting in. Blending. But you..."

"I don't blend."

"You aren't afraid to be who you are, Alex. You're smart and you show it. You make your own decisions and you stick by them. You do what you think is right and don't just follow the crowd. That's courage. I wish I had it."

"Isabel, you're the most fearless girl I've ever met."

She sniffed. "Yeah, right. I'm terrified all the time. You have the courage not to fit in while I... It's all an act you know. I wear the right clothes and do the expected thing because I'm scared not to. Inside I don't fit in. I don't blend."

She laughed and it wasn't an amused sound. "I don't come close to blending. I'm off the chart in the non-blending category and all these people who see me as perfect and popular, they aren't seeing me. They're seeing some act....some act that I've perfected and if I ever let it down..."

She looked at him and he was shocked to see her look vulnerable and helpless. "You put your real self out there," she told him. "People like you for who you really are while I'm... I'm terrified that if people saw the real me they'd realize that I don't belong. I don't fit in at all."

* * *

Max reached down for Liz and pulled her up the rock face. They were a third of the way up a small cliff and Liz asked breathlessly, "Do you still see him?" Max looked up at the hiking boot hanging off a ledge above them then back at her.

"Yeah, there's a small cave up there."

"Why do you think he hasn't answered us?" she asked. They had called out to him several times. Max looked at her and she could tell he was thinking the same awful thoughts she was. Maybe whoever it was couldn't answer and to make matters worse they still didn't know who it was.

"It's not much further," Max assured her. "You okay?"

"I'm fine. But I'll be happy to sit once we reach that cave."

Max nodded then started climbing the rock again. He found footholds and Liz followed closely behind him. They inched their way up the cliff as the sun sunk ever lower on the horizon. In an hour it would be dark and they needed to reach the cave before then.

"Just a few more feet," Max told her. "We're almost there." He stopped climbing.


"It's Colonel Jack."

"Is he...?"

"It's about time you made it up here, boy," the old man drawled.

Liz peeked over the ledge and saw Max begin to move the Colonel away from the edge.

"What took you so long?" the Colonel demanded.

"It took some time to find you, sir," Max answered respectfully as he helped Liz up the ledge.

The Colonel looked her over and nodded. "And where are the others?"

"We don't know," Liz told him softly. "We hid after the soldiers came we came out we couldn't find the rest of the group."

His eyes narrowed. "You think the 'copters got 'em?"

"I hope not," Max said gruffly.

The old man seemed to lose most of his steam and started shaking his head. "My mistake. I never should have brought you kids out here. Wasn't right."

Max knelt beside him. "Sir, you didn't bring us out were. We volunteered--"

"Bullhockey. I could'da told you no. I should have. I knew it all along. It's dangerous out here. Dangerous if the military catches us, dangerous if we're trapped in the desert. Never should have allowed you to do this."

Liz, who had been curious all along about why he had allowed them to tag along asked, "Then why did you?"

He looked at her with tired, cloudy eyes. "It's been a long time since I've been a leader. A long time since someone looked at me with any respect. You talk about spaceships and aliens and people start looking at you like you're a freak. You get drummed out of the military because of it and no one wants to listen to you. You become that crazy old coot on the other side of town."

Max looked at the old man with surprise. "You wanted us along because we--"

"You kids listened to me. You took me seriously. I guess I just let it go to my head, but I shouldn't have let you come out here...and now I don't think I can help you find your way back."

"But why?" Liz asked as she sat cross legged beside Max.

"The desert is no place for an old man on his last legs, it might just take the legs right out from under him.. Kids, I'm not in the best of shape here."

Liz's glance locked with Max's.

Colonel Jack pulled himself to a sitting position. "I'm too old for this sh...uh...crap," he muttered. "We're stuck in the desert, miles from anywhere with no way to call for help. Lots of bad things happen in the desert. Snakes, scorpions, sunstroke. Do you know what can happen when someone gets sunstroke?"

Max frowned. "You have--"

"Not me, boy!" the old man snapped. He took a breath and started again. "I'm worried about your friends. Sunstroke can kill."

Liz glanced anxiously out of the mouth of the cave as the sun lowered toward the horizon. The others were out there--somewhere-- and she and Max had no way to find them.

* * *

"I don't understand. I don't think we're any closer." Michael turned from the beacon to glance at Maria. "How far do you think we've walked?"

"A million miles give or take a dozen."

"More like twenty-five--maybe thirty." He looked towards the beacon "--but it doesn't seem any closer."

Maria squinted trying to see Michael more clearly. The heat made her vision sort of fuzzy. "Maybe it's just a trick of the light or the desert or something."

"Maybe, but, damn, it will take another day to reach it at this rate."

Maria swallowed. Another day? How was she going to make it another day? She closed her eyes and gathered strength. She wasn't going to complain. Not one word. She could persevere as well as the next pioneer. She was strong. She had the right stuff. "We'll keep hiking. We'll make it eventually."

Michael frowned. "Doesn't look like we have a choice."

He started walking and Maria followed while telling herself over and over that she could make it. She could do it. She wouldn't let Michael down. Besides the sun was going down and soon it would be cooler. God, when would it be cooler?

"Maybe we should have looked for the others," Michael conjectured. "That's what Max would have done. He wouldn't have just walked off by himself."

"You're not exactly by yourself ," she told him. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm with you."

"Max is going to have a fit."


He glanced at her. "If you knew that, why didn't you stop me?"

"Have Max's fits ever stopped you?"

"Good point."

"Besides, it's what you want." She looked at his back and said quietly, "It's all you want."

With his gaze fixed on the beacon he mentioned, "You know what you were talking about before? About being in Roswell?"

She nodded.

"You wouldn't have to--stay in Roswell that is." He glanced quickly at her before turning back to the horizon. "You know that night at the nookie motel you were saying that. . .Well Roswell didn't sound like the be all and end all for you either. No one said you had to stay there forever."

She didn't answer.

"Maria, what do you think?" He turned and noted her flushed, dazed expression. "Maria? You don't look too good."

"I'm fine."

"You're slurring your words."

"I said I'm fine. I'm just tired. What do you expect after eighteen hours of walking?" She staggered a little.

Michael frowned. "Maybe you should sit down."

She shook her head. "I said I was fine It will be dark soon so it will cool down, and stopping would only slow us down--"

"Quiet," he said in an authoritative voice and for once she didn't seem to have the energy to argue with him. "This way," he decided.

"That's the wrong way. The beacon is in the other direction."

He caught her hand and drew her behind him. "Shade is this way."

"No!" She again pulled away and faced him unsteadily. "I won't stand between you and finding what you want. I won't."

"Maria, be serious."

"I am serious. You want this. I know you do and I can't. I. . . I. . ." She swayed on her feet.


"I...uh... think I need to sit down..." She collapsed at his feet.

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