|"Time and Place"
Disclaimer: The characters, situations, and places included in this story are the property of the producers of Roswell. No
infringement is intended.
Summary: Tess and Sheriff Valenti have a heart-to-heart talk about love.
Authors Note: Feedback Please!!!
|Tess sat on the back stoop of the house in the warm darkness. Her eyes were filled with tears. She'd grown accustomed to life
in Roswell, in the Valenti house, but she still felt uncertain. For the first time in her life, her goals were unclear. Growing up,
she'd only had two objectives: stay alive, and find Max. She and Nasedo and done a good job keeping her alive-they had
dodged FBI agents, alien assassins, and child welfare workers (Nasedo had not always been the most attentive parent).
And, finally, she'd found Max. Her once and future king. Her destiny. Everything she'd ever dreamed about- a home, a family. But he not only didn't remember, he didn't care.
And he still didn't care, even after Liz Parker had pushed him away. Liz had gone so far as to sleep with someone else, and Max still wouldn't let go. Tess didn't believe for a minute that Liz and Kyle's liaison had "just happened"-she knew too well that Liz's feelings for Max would never allow that. No, Liz had decided that it had to happen, to push Max into Tess's arms. Liz was pushing as hard as Tess was for Max to be with Tess, and yet-
A single tear broke free from her eye. "And yet, he still doesn't want me." The tear was one of frustration more than sadness. Tess could, vaguely, remember being blissfully happy with the man Max had been. She knew that she'd been sent to earth because he needed her in order to be the strong, wise leader he had been. But she couldn't make him understand. She couldn't make him feel it. And if she was honest with herself, she had to admit that she was beginning not to feel it anymore herself.
She knew she had to keep trying, that Nasedo would never have accepted this from her. But Nasedo was dead. He'd left her. And as long as she kept forcing this issue, the only "family" she had on earth- Max, Isabel, and Michael- would never fully accept her. She felt so alone. Another tear escaped.
"Tess? What are you doing out there?" It was Sheriff Valenti, peering out the back door.
"Nothing," she lied, her voice steady with practice. It was the single sniffle that blew her cover.
Valenti was immediately concerned. His normally sassy little houseguest looked so dejected. He opened the door. "What is it?" His mind immediately jumped to alien invasions, FBI investigations, Michael being arrested again.
With a sigh, Tess answered, "You wouldn't understand."
Valenti tried not to smile. She may have been an alien princess raised by a shapeshifter, but just then she sounded exactly like every human teenager he'd ever known. "Maybe not," he replied. "But if you want to talk about it anyway, I'm happy to listen." He sat down on the step beside her and waited.
"Oh, fine." She took a deep breath. "It's Max. Max and me. Or, Max and Liz... I don't know. I'm so confused. He doesn't understand. He doesn't remember anything. What it was like when we were together..." her voice trailed off and she looked at Valenti with a question in her eyes.
He realized she wasn't sure how much he knew. "I know. I know you were married. Or whoever they made you from- they were married. I also know how you think this should play out here."
"It isn't just my opinion!" Her frustration was evident in her voice, although she was still speaking softly. "It is how we were made. He needs me to be strong. We were a team- a single unit. And now he doesn't even know me. And the longer he waits, the less of a connection I feel. Not just to him, but to all of them. And to our mission." She sighed again. "They all act as though I'm trying to punish him, to force him into something that is going to make him unhappy. Like I'm the homewrecker. But this isn't about Liz at all. I just want him to be strong, and whole. She can't give him what I can- what I did. Our love was supposed to last." She still spoke softly, but there was a hurt in her eyes that made Valenti's heart ache.
He had to look away. His voice gentle, he said, "You know, Tess, when I was 18 I joined the army. I met a girl where I was stationed - she was a nurse. I fell in love with Holly the minute I laid eyes on her. She was smart and kind and so funny. Blonde hair and blue eyes, like you. She was the only good thing about those years." He paused. Tess wasn't sure where this was going, but the odd quality in his voice had gotten her attention.
Eventually he continued, still lost in thought. "But then my hitch was up, and it was time to say good-bye. Damn, that was hard. She waved good-bye to me as the bus pulled away..." he stopped again. Tess was touched by the sadness on his face. After a long moment, he looked her in the eye. "It was hard to say good-bye, but it was the right thing to do. We both had our own lives, our own plans. Trying to be together would have only hurt us both." His looked away again. "My point, Tess, is that sometimes...well, sometimes love is only meant for a certain time and place. That doesn't mean it isn't real, or that it doesn't last. It just isn't meant to leave that moment. It always exists just as it was so you can remember it and cherish it and learn from it. I'm not the same person I was when I knew Holly, but our love will always be a part of me. Do you get what I'm saying here?" His voice had lost the haunted quality. It had resumed its usual authoritarian tone.
Tess nodded, slowly. "You're saying I should let Max go."
"I can't make that decision for you. But I am saying that letting him go isn't a denial of the love you had. It isn't a betrayal of your mission, either. I don't know, Tess." He shook his head. "Maybe you're right. Maybe whoever made you kids did hard wire you two to be together. If so, Max will come around. But maybe-maybe you're meant to be something different this time around. I think Max still needs your strength, even if it's in a different way now." Tess didn't answer right away. Valenti didn't know if his words had helped at all. He wanted so much to be able to take this burden from her tiny shoulders, but he knew better.
Finally she spoke again. "What you said about love- only meant for a time and place. Is that always true? What about the other kind, the kind that lasts forever? Isn't that real, too?"
He considered it carefully. Finally, he answered slowly. "I think it exists. But it is very, very rare. I've never found it. But...but you don't give up on it. It's scary, but you keep trying." He half smiled as an image of Amy DeLuca suddenly flashed through his brain. He noticed that Tess had seen the smile, and he was suddenly embarrassed. He wasn't used to talking this openly about matters of the heart. "So, um, do you feel any better now?" he asked gruffly.
Tess nodded again. "Yeah. I mean, I still don't know what I'm going to do...but I feel better. Thanks for being here." On an impulse, Tess rested her head against his shoulder and gave him a squeeze around his back. Valenti wrapped his arm around her shoulder tenderly and hugged her back. For a long moment they stayed like that. Valenti suddenly realized that Tess had probably not had a lot of hugs in her life. He felt like he hadn't, either.
Tess smiled weakly at Valenti as she pulled away. "I guess I'd better get to that history assignment," she said, standing up to go into the house.
"Tess." She turned back to face him. "You know, there is a love that lasts forever. The love of a father for his kids."
For the second time that night, Tess' blue eyes filled with tears.
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