|"When They Awoke"
Disclaimer: Congratulations to Melinda Metz, Jason Katims and the people at the WB who've come up with something so good
I'm sick with envy.
Summary: Just what it looks like. This is an account of that night in 1989 when Max, Isabel and Michael woke from the pods, and the way they grew into the young adults we know and love. This is a story that has haunted me and emotionally imprinted itself upon me as the series told it, and Iıve done the rest. Hope you like it.
Authors Note: I donıt know if Iıve got all the information right, and thereıs still bits weıve not been told at all - where was Michael for the three years between 1989 and 1991, exactly? When did Tess awake, and why was she so much later than the others? - but Iıve taken notes and done my best. This is a story I felt deserved to be told in its entirety, a story far too strong to be referred to only in conversations between the characters. So here we go.
|If Diane is to remember one thing about that night, it is that every star in the heavens is shining down upon the cold desert like a
hundred thousand fireflies and the full moon is watching this small, lonely planet like Godıs eye. The silence impresses upon her
its enormity and power - the desert beckons the unwary to its chill embrace. It is a night of dreams and a night of horrors;
something in this emptiness reminds her of a bad suspense movie, maybe The Howling - she almost says this to her husband but
something decides her against it.
The darkness this far from the comforting sprawl of lights nestling over the distant town is something real enough to touch - the headlights cut through this silky black like a yellow blade, penetrating the desertıs blackness for only a few milky, weakening feet. Mica gleams in the alkali dust blowing gently across the road. They have driven miles and those twin beams have illuminated nothing but this endless dusty road stretching on towards the horizon, towards home - but now they fall on two new silhouettes in the dark.
Diane does not believe what she is seeing. Not at first. Philip nearly hits them in his shock, the two tiny figures standing side by side in the road, their hands linked in a childıs way of comfort; two small children, a boy and a girl. Both silent and unmoving as the Jeep slows and its tyres slowly crunch to a halt. Both naked as the day they were born.
Diane expects them to run away as she opens the passenger door. She expects them to run and hide, and expects noise of some kind - she does not know what, but something - she does not expect and is not prepared for this. For them to stand, their thin, pale arms around each other, their frail, bone-white bodies trembling gently in the chill silence, not a sound escaping their lips as Diane approaches, and drops to her knees, her eyes level with theirs. Twin pairs of huge, dark eyes glimmer in the headlights, watchful as owls, blank and frightened as trapped mice. They are shivering with cold. She would assume them brother and sister, if only from the way they hold each other and the unspoken trust implicit in their movements and their body language, but they look so different; though they share those big dark eyes, the boy is dark as dark can be, wild black hair and skin tinted olive beneath his pastiness. The girl is porcelain-fine, her hair smooth and golden, her skin like milk. Diane is speaking to them but they do not respond; those blank, watchful eyes follow her where she moves, they watch her lips as she speaks with fascination...but they do not appear to hear her, or understand her. She wonders if they perhaps do not understand English, or if they are perhaps deaf. She snaps her fingers, and when their skittish eyes dart to her hand she is satisfied they hear her. And now, for the first time, she has time to wonder how they came to be here.
Philip has fetched their coats from the Jeep, and he proceeds to wrap the boy in his own, the girl in Dianeıs. They neither acknowledge nor run from him. Diane does not believe them to be any older than six years old, physically at least, but they are painfully thin for their age. Both are dirty from desert-dust and she notices blisters on their feet. How long have they been walking, alone, cold, in the dark? Who could have left these two, tiny children out here alone? They are so helpless, so young, so frightened. And so beautiful. Their eyes seem to swallow her whole.
She holds out her hands, encouraging them to her. Philip has taken a step back, allowing her to earn their trust, and she hears him wandering away from the road, calling out into the dark, listening for a reply that does not come. The girl looks hard at Dianeıs hand, as if she understands, or is close to it...then, gradually, the pretty little girl extends her own hand, so small and fine and white, and takes Dianeıs first two fingers in her tiny fist.
The boy is holding back. Fear dances in his huge liquid eyes like the stars in the brilliant sky; he is uncertain, terrified, but the girlıs example has affected him. Flinching, he reaches out...and takes Dianeıs other hand in his own.
She leads them slowly to the Jeep, afraid they will bolt, afraid they will run away and be lost once more in this cruel desert, and once again, the girl appears to be no longer afraid, climbing into the back seat of the Jeep with speechless concentration. The boy balks at this huge monster, so much bigger than he is, making light from its front and sound from its innards, and he stumbles back from it, his hands pawing at his face like that could somehow make it go away, and for a moment Diane thinks he will scream - but he only makes a small, exquisitely pathetic mewing sound in his throat, like a frightened kitten. She knows now that he has never seen a car before - she does not realise, however, that he has never seen light before. She fears very much in that second that he will bolt, his terror is that extreme. So she goes to him softly and places her hands on his thin shoulders, easing him to her, and the monster that has frightened him so badly. It breaks her heart to scare this poor child so much, to force him to climb in with his sister when he is so afraid, but she must. She cannot let him run from them. Into that darkness.
She feels more easy when the doors are shut, and Philip has locked them and driven on. She wonders again how they came to be here, alone in the dark expanse of desert, motherless, fatherless. Had they been abandoned? Survived an accident, and wandered up to the road in a daze? Nothing would explain why they were naked beneath those coats, why they understood none of her words or smiles, why they did not speak, why they acted as if everything were new to them. Amnesia this complete was hard to believe. And what kind of person could leave these small, helpless children out here alone? They are so perfect, so small. She keeps coming back to that. They are so impossibly small.
The girl is intent upon them, watching the subtle movements Philip makes as he drives. The lights winking on the dashboard intrigue her. When Diane turns, the girl meets her eyes without fear. She does not smile, but Diane senses that she wants to - that she will, in time.
As they drive, Diane tries not to think about what may come next. She is already dreading the next day, the things which will need to be done when the night is over; she dreads most having to turn them over to parents who may only abandon them again. Or worse; finding that these children had survived some terrible accident while their family had not. They were, after all, displaying all the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
But naked? What kind of accident could possibly account for that? She tries not to consider the implications of it, the reasons why these traumatised children may be lost this way...but with so many sick freaks in the world, who knew..?
She cannot take her eyes off them as the Jeep swallows the miles into town. She tries not to stare, but she cannot help it. The thought is an uncomfortable one, only adds credence to her unpleasant theory, but these are easily the most beautiful children she has ever seen. As she looks the girl is absorbed, busily investigating Dianeıs coat pockets. The boy is near catatonic, staring out into the night. He is unmoving but there is a bright, bird-like intelligence in the deep pools of his huge dark eyes. He is looking for something. She sees his grim concentration and wonders, sadly, if he will ever find what he is looking for. She doubts it very much.
The journey is long and Diane fumbles in the bag at her feet for the thermos of tea she has carried with her all day, pouring a little into the plastic cup. It has been sitting all day and is not too hot for their tender young mouths. Diane has identified the delightfully abrupt little girl with the gap in her front teeth as her best shot, and hands her the yellow cup carefully. Attracted by the bright colour, she accepts it, sniffs it, eyes Diane warily over the scuffed rim; then she drinks, a tentative sip that quickly becomes a thirsty slurp. The boy refuses the cup when his companion offers it, but the little girl presses it against his hand, nods, encouraging him. Diane watches the silent communication between them speechlessly, a little awed by the intensity of their empathic connection. Despite their dramatically different colourings, Diane concludes they must be brother and sister. She would even guess twins. The depth of their pantomime is simply too strong.
The girl impatiently nudges again, her lips pressed together in an expression Diane will one day come to know as her daughterıs exasperated look; a look most often directed at the boy Diane will one day call her son. The boy responds now as he always will; he surrenders to the unnegotiable force of her, and takes the cup in his small, trembling fingers, and drinks. Diane does not let them see, but she is pleased. Pleased they are willing to trust her. Philip drives and the lights of the town draw near under a blanket of stars far brighter than they will ever be. Diane does not understand the significance of it, or why she should remember; but Aries is strong over Roswell that night. The five brilliant stars in their imperfect Vı are like a flock of celestial geese in the night sky.
The children are sleepy as the Jeep turns into the driveway, the tyres crunching faintly on the blacktop. Their heads have lulled together and their eyelids look as though tiny weights have been hung from them. The girl yawns pointedly, and her cartoon-like exaggeration makes Diane smile. She has never seen children this well-behaved before, has often viewed her friendsı children with quiet despair of ever having her own, but she feels differently, looking at these two. Not quite maternal, not yet; but she is hopelessly charmed by them, no doubt.
They follow her and her silent, watchful husband into the house, and though their eyes fill with terror at the bright lights and strange surroundings she no longer fears they will run. The little girlıs bright curiosity, peering into this corner and that, is enough to convince her. Philip wants to call the Sheriff now, and report this bizarre affair; Diane calmly persuades him to wait until the children have had some sleep, and time to settle. Nothing, she says, will have changed in the morning; not realising, as she speaks, how wrong she is.
They feed the children slices of apple and cookies, bring them warm milk and dress them in t-shirts four times their size. Whatever fear these two may have displayed is all but gone, their disorientation settled; but still their reactions to the house are baffling. It would be easy to believe, watching them, that they had never seen a house before.
She puts them to bed in one of the spare rooms, and is troubled by their lack of understanding as she tucks them in. She will check on them, frequently, as the night wears on. She is startled by her protectiveness over them, at the stir of feelings she has never suspected of herself, and the idea of facing the coming day, of giving them up, is an evil taste in her mouth. But she is afraid to face the idea already forming in the back of her mind, certain Philip will never agree. That he will not understand.
She convinces her husband to get some sleep, before it is fully light, and he goes, reluctantly. She knows she will not sleep even if she tries. Her head is reeling from the sudden swell of plans forming there, unreal plans, ridiculous...yet she is serious about them, all the same.
She creeps into the spare room in the hour before dawn, eased by the sounds of sleep from within. Their steady breathing, breaking the silence. She stands in the doorway, watching them, seeing instantly that the girl is asleep, tousled blonde hair tangled on the pillow around her head, her little body rising and falling deeply. And at first she thinks they are both asleep; but then she sees the boy stir, and his eyes open and stare straight into hers. He does not respond when she offers the forlorn child a smile. He will never fully learn to smile. And now, terrifyingly silent in the darkness, he is crying. His eyes are huge in his wan little face, like lamps in the dark. His tears trace twin lines down his frail, dirt-streaked cheeks. She feels for both of these waifs but in this moment she is overcome with a wave of love especially for this boy with no name. A sense of maternity she has never felt before. The devastation in this speechless, uncomprehending child, in eyes so wide and black they draw her in, is like ice in her heart. She stoops down, level with his questioning gaze, and reaches out to stroke his hair, gently. She is both stunned and pleased when he lets her. By the time the sun begins to creep in the window, he, too, is asleep.
Philip wakes and comes in as she is stepping back; now that she is sure the children are asleep, the asks her husband the question that she has been afraid to ask. He kisses her, and tells her they will try.
The moment she has feared is as painful as she has thought it would be, and more. The Sheriff, notified in the early morning, has contacted the proper authorities. The children are being taken away. They have not been reported missing; nobody knows who they are. Still, they have no names, and Diane thinks this is perhaps the most exquisitely sad thing of all.
The people from Westlake orphanage are nice enough, at least today, and are grateful to the Evansı for their thoughtful care of the children overnight. Diane does not tell them that she wishes and intends for it to be longer, not now; things are confused enough, without the complicated legal requirements of adoption being dragged through the mud at the same time. Knowing it is terribly selfish of her, and feeling helplessly wicked for even thinking it, Diane hopes their parents are not found. That she will have the opportunity she so desperately wants.
The children scream as they are taken outside, and the little girl she has secretly decided to name Isabel kicks and struggles like a cat before they bundle her into the car and shut the door on her. The little boy she still has no name for slips away from the woman holding him by the hand and ducks back to where Diane and Philip are watching, standing helplessly on the front path. Diane can feel her heart break as he comes back to her. He does not take her hand, as she expects him to do, but only stands in front of her, oddly calm in the midst of his sisterıs screaming from the car behind. His eyes meet Dianeıs, for just a moment, and she can swear - swear - that he understands what is happening. That they will be coming back, one day.
As the car pulls away down the road, she can see two small, pleading faces looking back at her through the glass.
It has been days since Philip Evans called with a strange report of two lost children out in the desert, and Sheriff Valenti canıt dismiss the undeniable connection - he has never been a man that believes in coincidences. The rancher has no idea what is going through the Sheriffıs head as he watches the small boy that has been brought in, that ideas are already beginning to form in his curious mindıs eye. The boy was found wandering on this fellowıs ranch, naked, dirty, unable to speak or to understand a word spoken to him. But this one is not like the two found days ago; he is not submissive and silent and innocent as they were. The rancherıs hands are scratched and there is the clear evidence of a bite on his hand, a small, perfect ring of indentations whiting the skin around tiny dots of blood. This boy did not come quietly, was only wild and unresponsive, and had to be taken by force to prevent him from injuring himself. Beyond that, doing what he has referred to as his public dutyı, this rancher wants nothing more to do with him. The Sheriff has called Westlake orphanage, but has been informed that they are full - he will have to be transferred if no evidence of family can be found. The Sheriff, a father himself and not too hardened by his job to empathise with such cases, finds it a pity - he is convinced of the connection between these three, and that they would be happy if they were housed together. As he regards the dirty, scowling little boy wrapped indifferently in a travel rug, he realises that he is perhaps the same age as his own son. It brings home the poignancy of the situation anew.
The rancher, having given his statement in monosyllabic words that reflected little or no interest in what was to come next, focused only on the facts of the incident, has left the station, and the Sheriff is left alone to watch over the boy until the welfare people arrive. It is an unpleasant part of his job, these occasions when children are involved, it always has been - but this is the most extreme case he has heard of in his whole career as a lawman. Not one or two but three small children, apparently abandoned outside town, in bizarre conditions, dumb and nameless. They are a complete mystery.
The boy is watching him with wary, untamed eyes, clear feral brown like a lion, and Sheriff Valenti attempts to smile, to set him at ease. He has tried giving the kid coke from the vending machine in the corridor, but all the boy gave as a response was a violent, spluttering cough as the bubbles got up his nose, and, with a low growl, threw the plastic cup across the room. There is a testimonial cola stain dripping down one white plastered wall, pooling on the floor beneath.
Valenti has left him to himself, after that. The boy continues to scowl fiercely for a few minutes more; then, little by little, he quiets, and the scowl lifts a little, and the low rumble in his throat like a rabid dog subsides. Valenti is surprised at the awful sadness in the boyıs face, now that the aggression has left him. He hopes the welfare people can find this boyıs family, or a family that can offer him a chance to grow out of his defenses. He really does.
His breath quickens as he reaches the place. He is close now. The culmination of half a century, years of waiting, learning, searching...years lost in the cause of his people, years lost to war. If he had a heart like the humans he had lived among all this time, it would be pounding now. The effect of his respiration, the rise and fall of his lungs, is only illusionary, has grown from his time pretending to be one of them...he has no reason to breathe this way, exhausted, anticipating, anxious; but it is a habit hard to leave behind.
The mountain stands out against the twilight sky, stark and cold, a black knife-blade cutting the horizon in two; every nerve in his body is tingling as he feels their presence. He can feel them, close by. It will not be long now.
The climb would tire a human but Nesado, as he was once named, is unhindered by such trivial emotions and needs. He reaches the place where he can enter. The rock responds to his touch with a faint crackle of energy, like electricity, and he is in.
He sees instantly that something is badly wrong. It is too dark in this cave, too dark by far. Four incubation pods, each giving off their own halo of light, should have lit this place far more than he is seeing now. Nesado is incapable of fear but the anticipation he has been sensing as he travelled here by night has given way to a creeping dread and sense of foreboding. He does not understand these humansı need to pray in times of trouble, or he would be praying now. Praying none of his charges have died by some horrible accident, that the pods arrived on earth undamaged. He walks further in, following what dim glow of light there is, until he sees, clearly, what has happened.
Only one pod remains lit. It is pulsing faintly, the membrane around it shimmering at the movement from inside. The warm, womb-like swell of sound from it is comforting, but muted, alone in the cave, one where four should be. The other three, he sees with some relief, have not ceased their functions through the deaths of the children inside; the children are gone. He does not know which of them has remained, which have been lost, and although a human would no doubt experience feelings of guilt for the thoughts Nesado now has, he does not. He sees the importance in all of these children but he has always been prepared, should it ever come to it, to sacrifice the three for the sake of the King. And although he should feel ashamed to think this way he hopes, more than he has hoped for anything in a long time, that it is the King who has remained behind. He stands and stares in mute concentration for a time, absorbing the scene, the three which have gone. The pods have hatched and stand dark and silent, empty husks like discarded egg shells.
Nesado approaches the one pod still holding its cargo, and peers through the quivering fleshy gestation fluid at the small face sleeping inside. Blonde curls float around her face. It is hard to believe, seeing her now, that she was once their queen. She looks like nothing more than a doll in human form in there. Then the King is gone. The King, his sister, his second-in-command, all gone.
He rests his open palm on the handprint glowing on the dark wall beside her. The pod shudders, once, like a crashing train; inside, the fluid bubbles and churns. It looks as though it is boiling, colours and shapes darting in the roil like pebbles in a fast-moving stream, dragged under by the current, surfacing in brief flashes. The skin of the pod breaks, and a tiny hand reaches through, feeling its way around the hole it has made, widening it in gradual degrees. Matted, gluey blonde hair bursts through, followed by a head, neck, body. She tumbles through the torn membrane and onto the floor at his feet.
Nesado helps her to her feet, traces the fluid from her face with his fingers so that she can see. She is shivering with the sudden transition; from the warmth of her pod, her womb, to the cold, chill night. Her tiny hands wrap instinctively around her arms, hugging herself, her flesh mottled by goosebumps. It is with some pleasure that Nesado sees the bewilderment in her face as she looks frantically about her, searching for something, and the obvious panic and pain in it as she sees nothing but walls and silence and him.
She is looking because she has been programmed to look. It is her role in life. It is what she was made for. And even now, so young, she is conscious of her need.
³Youıre looking for him,² Nesado purrs, taking the little girlıs arm in his hand. ³Good. Thatıs good.²
He leads her from the cave and into the cold black expanse outside, into her first waking night, assured that things are as they should be, after all.
|Index | Part 2
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours