FanFic - Other
"Thirty Miles"
Part 5
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
He had never before noticed how the sky resembled a desert. Stars were spread sparsely against an expanse of emptiness. Michael lowered his eyes to see the scattering of rock and scrub as the desert stretched to the horizon

Love can be a desert.

Michael frowned. Where the hell had that thought come from? When did he start to ponder things like deserts much less something fictional like love? Love was a delusion, sentimental bull for those who didn't have the balls to face the real world in all its awful glory.

Love can be a desert.

It must be a line from some book or play he had read. One of the few "not of this earth" talents where Michael actually excelled was that he had a photographic memory. If he read it, he could remember it. He remembered shocking Maria with that talent. She hadn't believed he had actually read Ulysses so he had surprised her by quoting it. However, the funny thing about a photographic memory was that it wasn't like other kinds of memory. It wasn't like remembering the taste of chocolate or what you did for breakfast. It was more disembodied than that, more elusive. He could remember the page from a book verbatim but not remember the book itself. Or in this case he could remember a line but not the story or poem it came from.

Love can be a desert.

He rolled his eyes and admitted that his memory of the line probably had something to do with the fact that he sat alone in the middle of a desert while Maria lay deathly still in his arms. She was cooler, but she wasn't waking up. She wasn't better. In fact she looked worse. If you were dehydrated or had heat stoke did you pass out? Or did you slip into a coma? He didn't know.

He was frustrated by his ignorance and by his arrogance. He had never stopped to wonder about what might happen. He wasn't immune to heat. He broke a sweat, but his tolerance for heat was far greater than Maria's. After all she was human. She was fragile. He should have been more careful. He might be reckless with his own life, but risking Maria's was something else entirely.

Okay so he had risked her life more than once. She had risked her own life more than once, but there had always been the hope of intervention or rescue. This time hope was running out. It had been more than twenty four hours since he had seen signs of another human…or any other life form for that matter. He was alone though he could still see the periodic flashes of the beacon that appeared as far away as ever.

He should know what to do for her, he railed at himself. He should know but he didn't.

Talk to me, Maria. He thought, just talk to me.

That was what she was great at. She filled the air with ideas or jokes, or just about anything. She filled him with something other than his own brooding thoughts. She allowed him to escape the shadows long enough to think straight, and he needed that…so why couldn't he help her when she needed him most?

She started to shiver. The pre-dawn darkness brought a bone chilling cold. He touched her cheek and her skin was icy to the touch. Maria. . .

She started to shake more violently. His gut clenched in sudden, terrifying anxiety. She wasn't shivering from the cold. She was convulsing.

"Maria!" He called out as his hands framed her face. "Maria!"

Her convulsions increased. She was dying. The thought pierced him in a blinding flash of pain and disorientation.


* * *

Max was aware of Liz at his back. He wasn't sure what he would do without her, but he was acutely aware that she shouldn't be here. She shouldn't be lost in the middle of the desert. She shouldn't be on a suspect list for some supersecret government agency. She shouldn't be in danger, and she was because of him. Isabel and Michael were right when they told him that he never should have revealed himself to Liz--though not for the reasons that Michael and Isabel thought. Max wasn't blind. He knew the fear inside of his sister and his friend was the vulnerability involved in exposing yourself to someone. But deep down Max didn't believe that Michael and Isabel truly feared the revelation of their alien nature so much as the human fear of acceptance, or rather of the lack of acceptance. The irony being that his revelation to Liz and subsequently to Maria and Alex, had brought nothing but acceptance.

He glanced back at Liz. Her long dark hair falling down her back in a silky swathe. Her dark eyes set in an expression on intense concentration and determination. She had never been anything but supportive. Liz, Maria, and Alex had accepted the truth and reacted with an amazing amount of loyalty.

All of his life Max had felt acutely alone. There was only himself and Isabel. Later Michael had returned to them, but still, they were alone. Isolated. Separate from everyone because no one knew the truth. And now?

Again he looked at Liz's lovely face. And now they weren't alone. He, Isabel, and Michael had friends. . .had more than friends. Liz, Maria, and Alex knew the truth and still accepted them--still cared for them. These friends were willing to risk their lives for them. That was the reason why Max should never have revealed the truth. Liz, Maria, and Alex were so selfless and giving in their loyalty. They shouldn't have to risk their lives, not for them. Any regrets he might have about revealing the truth had nothing to do with himself, his sister, or Michael. There was no way to deny that they were better off for having allowed Liz, Maria and Alex into their lives.

His gaze dwelled on Liz. Max couldn't imagine having gone on like before, never having gotten close Liz. Never touching her or talking with her or even sitting with her in silence. He couldn't imagine what was between them never having existed. No, he was better off in a million ways for having revealed the truth. Max's fear was for Liz and the two other humans who had given so much with so little being returned. Three innocent people who offered nothing but caring and loyalty were in danger because they had the misfortune to care about Michael, Isabel, and himself. He, Michael, and Isabel had no choice about the chaos of their lives but they never, ever should have dragged Liz, Maria, and Alex into it. If Max had any regrets about his revelation it was what that revelation had and was doing to three people who had shown him nothing but kindness.

"I never should have dragged you kids out here," the colonel muttered.

"It wasn't your choice," Liz responded. "We volunteered."

"It was my choice, missy. I'm the adult here. I should have said no, and if anything has happened to your friends it's on my head." The colonel stopped. "You see that flashing light in the distance? Whatever it might be, it's not worth someone's life."

Neither Max nor Liz argued with the old man. Deep down Max agreed with the colonel.

"It was all just arrogance on my part," the old man continued as he raked his hand through his thinning hair. "Maybe I shouldn't say arrogance. It was my insecurity. You want to know the truth? Sure it made me angry when Uncle Sam kicked me out because of the things I said I saw, but it wasn't until I started to wonder if they were right that I became obsessed with coming back."

Max frowned. "Right? About what?"

"That I'm crazy." He started pacing. "Was there really a space ship that crashed out here or do I believe it because some part of me needs to believe it? Why would some creature cross a billion miles of space to land in the middle of the desert?"

"I don't think anyone's ever come up with an answer to that one."

The old man's cloudy eyes met Max's. "Maybe because there isn't a reason? Maybe I didn't see anything. Maybe I'm just nuts. Maybe it was a mistake or a mental breakdown. I don't guess it matters. I shouldn't have dragged you kids out here. I won't be around long. I've had my life, but you kids have yours ahead of you. You shouldn't risk them on a pointless search for a truth that might never have existed to begin with."

Compassion lit Liz's eyes. Max could see that and he knew that she felt for the old man and his doubts. . .doubts that in some measure Max could answer. The crash was real. Max didn't have answers for why they were here or anything else, but he could confirm that it was all real but he wouldn't. Both he and Liz knew he wouldn't and that explained the sadness in her eyes.

Max turned away, "If we're betting that the others went in the direction of the beacon we should continue walking that way." His eyes locked with the colonel's. "Finding the others is what we want, right?" Without waiting for an answer Max took Liz's hand and they went in search of his sister and their friends.

* * *

"Do you really think this will work?" Isabel asked anxiously.

"Hope so," Alex muttered as he concentrated on what he was doing. "It's sort of making a circuit. If we ground the electricity-"

Isabel interrupted. "I don't need details. Will it short circuit the fence?"

He looked up at her. "Your guess is as good as mine."

"Then we're in trouble." She sat down in the dirt beside him and watched him work the belt buckle, the key chain, and the other pieces of metal they had cobbled together out of their backpacks. She hoped Alex knew what he was doing because she sure didn't.

Why had they come on this misadventure anyway? Yeah, sure, she knew there would be no way to hold Michael back. But he wasn't here right now and to herself she could admit that she hated it. She wished with everything in her that they were back home in Roswell. That she was home and Max was in his room with Liz so that she would know that Max was safe that Michael was safe and not off risking his life dragging Maria behind him because Maria always went with him no matter what sort of hair brained quest he was following. Isabel wished that she could sit out on the back patio and just listen to Alex explain things like physics and astronomy that she had never found interesting before but somehow his explanations inspired her to wonder about where she came from and what her people understood of the universe. . .but not enough to convince her to risk hers and everyone she cared about lives to find out.

"Almost finished," Alex said.

Suddenly fear gripped Isabel. "It's going to be okay, isn't it? I mean, you aren't going to be electrocuted or anything? This isn't dangerous is it?"

"No, of course not," he told her then ducked his head. "Not much."

She grabbed his hand. "Alex. . ."

"We don't have a choice."

She frowned but realized he spoke the truth. He started to make the connection.

"Wait!" she told him. His eyes met hers and she took a deep breath. She leaned toward him, slowly, hesitantly. Only three inches separated them, then two, then one, then. . . Their lips touched. Soft at first and then more firmly. Isabel moved away slowly then laid her head on his shoulder. She felt his breath against her cheek. "For luck," she said softly as she hugged him then sat back on her heels. "For luck," he repeated in a daze then blinked. "Alright then, step back. No point in both of us-"

"If you're in danger, I'm in danger."

"That doesn't make sense. If I'm hurt you can help me, it doesn't work the other way around. So!"

Seeing his logic, Isabel stepped back. He leaned over and made the connection. She saw a small arc of electrical light, then out of nowhere a huge bolt of electricity split the night. She screamed as a surging stream of energy arced from the fence over the horizon. It was blinding and painful and all she could think was, "Alex!"

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