FanFic - Other
"Thirty Miles"
Part 6
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
Energy surged through the air raising the hairs on Isabel's arm. It was a column of light that streaked then scattered and finally coalesced into a glowing ball that stretched and expanded. Alex blinked and looked into the face of an angel only it wasn't an angel. It was Isabel. Then Isabel ran to his side, but it wasn't the same Isabel. He closed his eyes and shook his head. He must be stunned from the electrical shock. There couldn't be two Isabels.

"Alex," she said breathlessly as she grabbed his arm.

"He's okay," Isabel said softly-the other Isabel.

Alex sat up as Isabel gripped his arm. "Who are you?" he asked.

The glowing, almost angelic Isabel smiled. "You just asked who I am didn't you, Alex? I'm Isabel. The same Isabel--and before you ask how that's possible, I have to tell you that I don't really know. I think it has something to do with light. You explained once how light doesn't exist within time. Somehow it's independent of time. Light simply is. The orbs must use that-the whole light/time thing because I'm speaking to you from the future and I know you can hear me because I remember hearing me. I remember sitting in the middle of the desert listening to this message. And no, I can't hear you. I'm not there with you. It's only a message in the light or by the orb or something.. "

Isabel--the real Isabel of the present--stood and approached the holographic Isabel. She passed her hand through her own image that wavered, de-rezzed and coalesced.

"You just passed your hand through me, didn't you? I mean, I just passed my hand through me. How weird." Angelic Isabel smiled. "I can't believe I'm standing here doing this. I'm talking to myself and I remember hearing all of this a long time ago." She turned her head as if listening to someone. "Right." She said to someone the present Isabel and Alex couldn't hear. "Look, I've got to be quick. You've got to go to Valenti. I know you don't want to, but you've got to. Maria is in trouble. You've got to find some transportation so that she can be taken out of the desert. And um… the jeep was towed a day or two ago so even after you break through the fence-and you did short circuit it Alex - you still wouldn't find it. Once you're through the fence, you have to go south to highway 285. It will take you all day to reach it, but Valenti is doing traffic patrol there. Flag him down and bring him to the break in the fence. He'll help you. As hard as that is to believe it's true. Okay?"

She looked at them expectantly as if she really expected to hear an answer and almost against their will Alex and the present Isabel said, "Okay."

"Right" Future Isabel seemed reluctant to go. "I know you're wondering about the future. About what happens after this and I. . . I can't tell you. I'm not entirely sure I want to tell you. So many things have happened. So much has changed. . .

"Isabel--" she laughed but it was a sad, bittersweet sound "-me, you're scared of letting anyone near you, of letting anyone care about you. You know something? It's not really your choice. Love-like light-simply is. You can't direct it. You can't command it, and it's all too rare so even if you find it, there are no guarantees that you can keep it. One minute it's there and the next it can be taken away from you. But that's not a reason to run away from it. It's a reason to cherish each moment you have."

The otherworldly Isabel then turned, "And Alex. . ." A tear seemed to slip from her eye. "Alex, I. . .I don't know what to say. I don't know what to tell you. I never have, and I'm sorry because you deserve the words. You deserve so much and I wish I could tell you" She looked directly at him with her dark, soulful eyes, " . . .I wish I could tell you everything. I wish I could open up and spill out everything I feel, that I could share it with you. But all I can do is trust that somehow you understand. Somehow you've always known my heart better than I have myself. Alex, I. . . " the otherworldly light sputtered, then disappeared as a light streaked across the sky and over the horizon.

Alex stared after it for a long silent moment then he felt Isabel take his hand and bring him back to the present. He looked at her. He felt her hand in his. She squeezed his hand and he squeezed back. There were no words between them, just a silent unspoken moment. He leaned over and briefly touched his lips to hers. The he stepped back and she lifted her hand. A light seemed to emanate from inside her as an opening appeared in the fence. They silently stepped through to the other side.

* * *

Like a bolt of lightening the light returned. Max and Liz had been stunned when the beacon had suddenly surged then shot across the desert only to return now and hover above them.

Max glanced at the colonel who appeared poleaxed by the spectacle. The light became a ball that slowly descended, growing larger as it came lower. It wavered then. . . Max squinted. It formed an image. It formed. . . him. He approached the light induced figure. Was it a mirror of some kind?

"It's no mirror," his image answered.

"Holy-" the colonel broke off his expletive and approached the holographic figure. He looked from the image of Max to the real Max. "That's you, boy."

"Colonel," the holographic image turned toward the military man. "I can't explain everything. But. . . well, just know that what makes this possible is alien technology. You aren't crazy. You did see what you thought you saw. It wasn't your imagination. I. . . uh. . ." the holographic Max turned toward the real Max. "I found this orb. "

Liz caught Max's arm and whispered. "The orb must be able to do this. Topolsky said it was a communicator. Do you think it can communicate across time?"

Max's eyes widened in shock. "I guess it must."

She smiled up at him. "You're giving the colonel what he wanted. You're reassuring him that all he saw was real and you're doing it without having to reveal yourself. You just 'happened' to find an alien artifact." She turned bright, happy eyes toward the colonel and the holographic image of Max-her Max-making this wonderful, generous gesture to this desperate old man. "Have I ever told you that you're wonderful?" she said happily.

"I think you might have mentioned it once or twice."

Liz reached up and brought his head down to hers. "Your wonderful," and she stood on her tiptoes to fit her mouth to his. She felt his arm wrap around her waist and the warm security of his embrace surround her.

"I still don't get how this orb thing lets you talk to me," the colonel said to the holo-Max.

"I don't have all the answers, sir," the image said. "I just know it does."

"But how did you know when or how to--"

"It's like a circuit," Holo-Max explained. "We needed a complete circuit for the orb-the beacon--to connect and for me to appear at this precise moment in time. We also knew that Alex and Isabel would be short circuiting the electrical fence at this moment. " Max's image faced the real Max and Liz. "Alex and Isabel are fine. They're going for help but. . ."

The couple separated and turned toward the image. "But what?" Max asked.

"Maria is in trouble. She's dying. "

"No," Liz cried in a strangled gasp.

"You've got to hurry." The holo-image faced Max alone. "You have to reach her soon or it will be too late."

Max blinked. "Of course, but…"

"That way," his mirror image directed. "See those boulders, Maria and Michael are over there."

Max started in that direction.

"Wait!" the Colonel shouted. "Take my backpack. It has a first aid kit, water, and salt tablets. If she's dehydrated she'll need those."

Max nodded.

His image said to him, "I don't have long and. . . and for all those reasons you see in time travel sci-fi movies I can't tell you about what happens after this. I can't warn you. But. . . well maybe I can tell you something. Duty isn't everything, Max. Sometimes it's not even the right thing. To say something is your duty or your destiny means that you aren't thinking for yourself. You aren't following your head or your heart, and you need both those things. No one is whole without their heart. Remember that. No matter what, remember that."

His image paused then looked at Liz. "And Liz, everything I've ever told you is true. I've loved you from the first moment I saw you. It may not make sense, but it's true. It's like I have always loved you. Always, and no matter who tells you that isn't possible, don't believe it. Do you hear me? Don't believe it."

"I hear you," she murmured.

"And I love you." His image disappeared in an effervescent burst of light.

The real Max caught her hand and nodded to the colonel. "Catch up with us when you can." With Liz by his side they plunged into the darkness.

* * *

When he was a kid, Michael had been afraid of the dark, but he had never feared it like the dark that engulfed him now.

"Maria!" he screamed hoarsely but there was no response. She had stopped shaking. Now she didn't move at all. She didn't breathe. She. . . she. . . No! She couldn't be dead. She simply couldn't. Someone with so much life, so much heart. . . Someone with Maria's heart couldn't just die. Not here. Not now. Not alone.

He fell forward. His head on her chest. "Maria. . ."

"Sit up," a voice inside him commanded. "Sit up and do something, damnit. You can't just let her die."

Michael slowly pulled away as he became aware that the voice wasn't coming from inside him. .. but it was his voice. He turned and saw himself.

"I don't have time to explain," the other him said. "Just shut up and do what I say. Unbutton her shirt and place your hand-"

"Now is not the time to feel her up," Michael snapped and knew that he must have blown a fuse. He was talking to himself and to make matters worse, he was talking back.

"Do it!" his other self insisted.

Michael carefully unbuttoned her white shirt, exposing a pale peach satin bra. His hand shook as he laid it near her breast. Who was he fooling? He couldn't heal her. He'd never known how. He never would, he knew it. He had always known he didn't share Max's talent for healing. He desperately wanted to help Maria. Everything inside him screamed that he help her but he couldn't he just couldn't.

"Cut the crap," his other self snarled. "You can brood some other time. Now Maria needs you and if you let her down you're every bit the scum you think you are."

"I can't heal, alright!" Michael yelled. "I can't!"

His other self knelt beside him. "You've seen ER right? You know when they do the thing with the paddles? The shock to the heart? You can't heal her, but you can damn well save her. Now do it."

"I can't control my talents."

"Now isn't the time for performance anxiety just do it."


"You know how. Inside you know how."

"I. . ."

"Time is running out!" His other self yelled, stood, and started pacing. "Think, Michael, think. Hold your hand over her heart and feel the beat of your own. Can you feel your heart? Can you feel it pumping? Think about that. Concentrate on it. Visualize it. Now, can you feel it beneath your hand? Can you feel Maria's heart beating just like your own?"

He concentrated. Michael started to sweat but still he couldn't detect the faintest rhythm of a heart beat.

"Believe in it," his other self told him then shook his head. "No, I don't think it matters whether you believe or not. Feel. Let yourself feel for once. Don't fight it. Don't disbelieve it. Just feel it."

Still nothing.

"She's going to die, damnit!" his mirror image railed.

No, she couldn't. She couldn't die. If she left him here alone…if she left him, he would be alone. He would be swallowed up by the darkness inside him. "Maria!"

And something-light seemed to flow out of him. It exploded out of him, a flash of power that terrified him and made her limp body arch with the force of a preternatural blow. Then as suddenly as it appeared, the light was gone. . .and Michael could feel the faint but steady beat of Maria's heart. If he was quiet enough he could almost hear it. Closing his eyes he concentrated on the comforting thrum of her pulse beneath the palm of his hand.

"It's over now," his other self said softly.

Michael looked up in surprise.

"Yes, I'm real," his other self answered. "I won't waste time with explanations. Max or Liz will explain it to you later. But I am real. I'm you. Oh, and I'm also the beacon you've been following. Rather Allanis Morrissette ironic that the beacon you followed only leads to yourself, huh?" He knelt beside Maria and gave a crooked smile. "She can put it into some cosmic/kharmic context for you."

"She's going to be okay then?"

His alternative self nodded. "Max will be here soon."

Michael, the present Michael, brushed his fingers across Maria's cheek and whispered shakily, "Good."

Both Michaels hovered at Maria's side staring anxiously at her face. "You've got the line wrong, you know," his future self explained.

"The line?"

"The one about love being a desert. It doesn't mean what you think it does."

"I don't remember where it's from."

Before he could finish his explanation his future self quoted, "And therefore if to love can be a desert--" His future self gazed at him " - I am not all unworthy."

His holographic image touched Maria's face. A gilding of effervescent light washed her skin. "Cheeks as pale as these you see-" Again his other self faced him "-and trembling knees that fail to bear the burden of a heavy heart-"

The present Michael shook his head. "Shut up. I don't need to hear this. Poetry? When did I ever read poetry?" He looked down at the girl lying in his arms. "Just shut up, okay. Maria needs to rest."

His other self was impervious and quoted, "Why avert these things?" Again he touched Maria and again the otherworldly glow skimmed her skin. Some possessive part of the present Michael wanted to shove his future self away from her even as his future self continued murmuring to the silent Maria, "I am not of thy worth nor of thy place. And yet, because of thee, I obtain a vindicating grace. To live on still in love, and yet in vain. To bless thee, yet renounce thee to thy face. . ."

His words trailed into silence as his ghostly image gazed at Maria with a mixture of pain and longing. Something inside Michael caught as the ghostly, older version of himself kissed Maria then shimmered and disappeared.

Michael became acutely aware of the warm weight of Maria in his arms, and looked down into her face. He tenderly caressed her cheek. "Please," he whispered, "wake up. I can't be without you." And his lips touched hers.

He heard a rustling and looked up to see Max and Liz rush toward him just as he felt Maria stir in his arms. . .

* * *

From the Journal of Liz Parker:

I'm not sure if I have ever been as glad to see Roswell as I was the other week when we finally made it out of the desert. I ran crying into Alex's arms when we crossed the breech in the fence to find Alex, Isabel, and Sheriff Valenti waiting. What was truly amazing was that for once the sheriff didn't seem determined to interrogate us about what we were up to. . . at least not when he realized how sick Maria had been. Maybe that has something to do with the sheriff dating Maria's mother. Well, whatever the reason, I was grateful and so was Mrs. Deluca when the sheriff brought Maria home.

Even after Max healed Maria, she was weak. She's fine now, though she has been sort of grumpy lately saying that Michael is always hovering around her and treating her like a broken doll. She complains, but I think deep down she likes it. I've never seen Michael be that attentive. He held her hand the whole time we were saying good-bye to the colonel.

The colonel left to go home to Texas yesterday. He told Milton that he had found all that he had needed to find in the desert, which frustrated Milton to no end because the colonel wouldn't explain what was he had found. I hope some part of it was piece. Oh, and Milton. . .seems that Milton was the only one caught by the guys in the helicopters. He was questioned but the military concluded what Maria had concluded-Milton is just your run of the mill alien conspiracy nut.

And tonight? Tonight I'm going to the planetarium with Max, Alex, and Isabel. Alex wanted to ask Isabel out on a real date but he confessed to me that even after he and Isabel had gotten close in the desert he didn't want to press his luck. So to 'keep it casual' Max and I are going along too. I don't know if Alex is aware that not even Isabel is fooling herself any longer with the "we're only friends" routine. I can't help believing that soon she'll open up to Alex.

Actually, despite my fears of what might happen-and what did happen-in the desert, I think only good came out of it in the end. I looked back in my journal and read all the stuff I wrote about secrets. I guess I still believe that people keep secrets, but I think the saddest ones are the one's we keep from ourselves or from the ones we love. And maybe-just maybe, the four of us have a few less secrets today than before we walked those thirty miles. . .

Part 5 | Index
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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