Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own any of the characters of Roswell, the honor is held by Jason
Katims, Melinda Metz, the WB and anyone else who has their hands on a copyright. And as I
always, I profit nada for the following story.
Summary: 2-3 weeks post “destiny” – everything that has happened up to then happened – everything afterward does not. Michael and Isabel disclose their true feelings for each other.
Category: Unconventional Couples
Authors Note: this is the 1st installment in the “Take My Hand” series. It is followed by “Dreams Shattered”
Friday June 30th 2000
“Who would have ever thought that finally learning our purpose on this planet would be what tore us apart? I still can’t believe it. It feels like some terrible nightmare that I am stuck in and if I just let it play out it will come to an end I will wake up safe in my room and find myself just a normal high school kid whose biggest concern is what to wear out on Friday night, or what to do over summer vacation. But I never wake up, and the nightmare just continues its course, slowly drowning all of us because we cannot reach out to anyone for help, and everyone that was once there for me is struggling as well.
We had worked so long and so hard to keep our true identities a secret, to lead a “normal” life, and Max changed everything that one insane second in the Crashdown. Then we had to regroup, enlarge the group that is, and it took some work. Michael had the hardest time of it but Maria, as nutty as she can be, seemed to ground him some. Gave him something to focus on besides being the outsider. The loner who couldn’t afford to let anyone in and who pretended he didn’t need to. And I have to admit that despite our initial misgivings toward each other I was coming around to accepting her, but now…sometimes I wish the non-hybrids had never “infiltrated” our group. Our pretend lives were going just fine for me. I was halfway through high school, was popular, could date any boy I wanted…sure I couldn’t let them get close to me, to know my real self, but that’s not what they wanted anyway. They wanted the illusion and I let them have it. Besides, I didn’t need them I had Max and Michael. We were all in this together. At least we used to be. I thought that I would always have them…and now I have no one.
Isabel Evans - alone.
I guess I shouldn’t wallow in my self-pity too much. I got off the easiest when our worlds came crashing down that day in the desert. I had just started letting them in. Alex had gotten the farthest, but I had still put him off and held him at arms length. Never calling our dates actual “dates,” deluding myself into thinking that I really wanted him when all I wanted was not to be alone, wanted to feel safe, like I always had with Max and with Michael. Like they had with Maria and Liz. But who was I kidding? I couldn’t let him in, and it wasn’t fair to him. God, his face the day after the desert. The day after Liz walked away. The day that everything changed again – for the worse.
Alex tried to hide it, tried to be supportive and convince me that he could give me space and would always be there for me, but I could tell. I could see it in his face. That look. Like I had betrayed him. I killed our friendship that day. I see him around sometimes but he never acknowledges me and I don’t blame him. I’m not sure I would want him to…there’s no point in it. I stopped going to the Crashdown. The last time I went, alone of course, Alex was there talking quietly in the corner with Maria, being a friend to her, trying to help her understand why their lives have suddenly turned to shit all because of their involvement with the “hybrid freaks.” Alex didn’t even look at me. Maria glanced over in my direction a few times, more so to warn me to stay away from Alex than anything else. When I met her eyes she quickly turned away. I could see it though. The pain and the anger all mixed together in the dark circles around her bloodshot eyes. I’m sure when she looked at me all she could think was “ice-princess,” and she would have been right, but on the outside only. I’m sure I looked perfect and together as always. After all I have an image to project. When all else fails go with what you know, and I know how to look the part even if I cannot figure out how to keep it together on the inside. So my summer so far has consisted of being alone, while pretending that I am not. Mostly I end up taking walks that lead nowhere and usually I end up in the same place: the pod chamber. It’s like returning to the site of some great tragedy or some terrible loss like a train wreck. You close your eyes and try not to look but it’s still there. The image of it forever burned into the recesses of your mind. It reminds me of a tomb. The place where are former selves were re-born and in the same instant the place where we lost our lives as we had once known them. It was the last place that anything made sense.
I have been helping Mom out around the house a lot lately. I know that she is worried about us. Especially Max. She hasn’t asked, but I know she is dying to know what happened between us. Why suddenly her two children who used to be closer than anything are never seen in the same room together, why there is never any talking in the house unless she is speaking to one of us alone or Dad is home.
Max. He is dying on the inside. I can feel it even though we do not talk about it. My poor Max. Emotionally torn to shreds the same instant that he finds out that the weight of our world is literally on his shoulders. It’s not that we had a fight or are mad at each other, it just hurts to see anything that reminds us of that day. I tried to talk to him a few times, especially after Liz left for Florida and didn’t tell him. But there was nothing I could do. What does one say to repair a broken heart? What could I possibly do to fill the void in his soul left when half of it walked away? I know that he has a lot on his mind and he needs to work it out on his own, to replay every detail of these past weeks and analyze everything down to the tiniest word or movement. To take all of the blame on himself and figure out where he went wrong, but most of all how to figure out what he needs to do to get Liz back. That’s my brother: the ever-cautious Max. I visit him in his dreams sometimes. I do it partly because I miss him and partly to check on him. I never interfere and I know that he knows that I am there though he does not acknowledge me. At first his dreams were the same thing over and over like a broken movie reel: Liz walking away in the desert. He would chase after her and never quite reach her. He would get close, so close he could reach out and touch her if he tried, but she would always stay just out of reach or disappear completely like an illusion or a figment of his imagination. I stopped visiting him for a while then. It was too hard to feel that pain over and over. Recently his dreams have changed. Liz is still there of course, but always on the outside. Lately they’ve taken on the semblance of a more normal life and most recently Maria has appeared. I think that he has been going to the Crashdown and spending time with her, as a substitute for Liz. I’m glad that he has found someone to help, although I must confess at first it hurt that it wasn’t me, but I understand. Maria is Liz’s best friend; if Liz calls anyone from Florida it will be Maria. Okay, so he’s not getting over Liz, but at least it’s a change from locking himself in his room all day and not speaking with anyone.
No one has heard from Tess. She is alone in that house now that Nasedo is gone to assume Pierce’s identity, and Max has rejected her. I sometimes wonder how she feels, but I have not gone over there and haven’t dared to try and enter her dreams. I keep thinking of that mindwarp power that she used on Max when she first arrived and on me at the compound when we were with Nasedo and Michael trying to save Max from Pierce. We all feel awkward around her. She knew all along and she is the only one of us willing to embrace our destiny, and who truly believes it at this point. But then again it’s all she has ever known.
Then there is Michael. He made Max stop and let Liz leave that day that everything was revealed. I don’t know if Max blames him for Liz leaving town or not. They really are not on speaking terms. The few times they have been in the same room together since then it just ended up in a fight and one of then stormed out, usually Michael. Their fighting puts me in the middle, and how can they expect me to choose sides? How can I possibly choose one over the other? They have been my world ever since we emerged from the pods.
I am worried about Michael. No one has seen him. I know that he tends to avoid the Crashdown because of Maria. I think that part of him wishes that Maria had been there that day in the pod chamber when we found out; wishes that she had walked away from him instead of him having to push her away and her clinging even tighter and trying to hang on to the faint hope that things will work out. I think it hurts him more that he let her in at all. If he hadn’t he wouldn’t have to worry about anyone but himself. Then he could go on being Michael the soldier oblivious to others as always and not worried by it in the least.
I wonder what he thinks about “our destiny.” We haven’t talked about it and I think that at the time he was just glad to know that he had a future that meant something, even if it was tied to a past he didn’t know.
I have no idea what is going on with Michael. I went over to his apartment a few days ago and it was dark and empty, it looked as if he hadn’t been there in days. Maybe he’s out in the desert. Part of me thinks that he is out at the reservation despite his last experience there. I think that there is a connection with RiverDog that he has – that he wishes he had with Nasedo. Nasedo not being a father figure to Michael was a big disappointment for him I know. I had never seen him as excited as he was the night that we went to library and burned that symbol to try and signal Nasedo. My poor Michael, I have tried to visit his dreams to check on him like I do with Max, but he either never sleeps or is purposely blocking me out. I just wish we knew if he was safe…."
A noise at the window caused Isabel to lookup from her writing and lose her train of thought. At first she thought that it was just the wind, or a passing car until she heard it again. She crossed the room and slid the window open only to see Michael beckoning her silently from below. She glanced at the clock as she grabbed her black leather jacket and headed out the door -1:52 AM - typical Michael, awake when everyone else in the world was sleeping soundly.
Isabel opened her room door and waited – listening. She heard nothing but noticed on the way down the stairs that there was light coming from under Max’s door, which was nothing new these days.
She crept through the kitchen and grabbed the keys off the counter before sneaking out the back door and hurrying around to the front to meet Michael. It seemed to take hours to get there, as she had to move slowly through the house in order not to be discovered. The last thing she wanted was to have to explain where she was headed at this time of night. He was standing in the same place where she had first seen him, but leaning against a tree with his head back and eyes closed – waiting for her. She touched his arm lightly to let him know that she was ready and they walked over to the Jeep. Isabel handed Michael the keys and climbed in the passenger side. Neither of them spoke as Michael put the jeep neutral and rolled out of the driveway, quickly throwing it into first, starting the engine, and leaving the street before anyone could see them.
Nothing was said between them and as Michael turned onto the highway heading out of Roswell, Isabel glanced over at Michael and was relieved to see that he looked calm and not intense and troubled like he normally was when he was on a mission or searching for something. She didn’t know why it made her glad to see him this way but she said nothing and instead looked up through the open top of the Jeep at the moon and stars as they made their way out into the quiet of the desert.
Michael pulled off of the road a ways out of town and drove straight out into the desert. Isabel was not worried, she was just glad to know that he was okay and reaching out to someone. Secretly, she was pleased that Michael had come to her. Despite the fact that she still did not know where they were headed or what Michael wanted and especially in light of the fact that Max had sought out Maria for solace instead of her. Thinking of Max she decided to check on him while they drove. She closed her eyes and pictured him in her mind trying to enter his dreams. She heard muffled talking and saw faintly colored lights and stopped trying as she realized that he was not asleep yet but most likely still up staring blankly at the TV as he had been doing most nights. She usually heard the TV still on in his room in the morning when she got up.
She opened her eyes as she felt the jeep slowing, and noticed that straight ahead in front of the jeep was the largest and most beautiful tree she had ever seen. There it was directly in front of her - a mass of branches and leaves swaying gently in the desert breeze and coated in moonlight and yet she still could not believe that it was real. She looked to her left and noticed that Michael was gone. She undid her seatbelt, climbed out of the jeep and approached the enormous tree. She walked up to it and ran her hand along its ancient trunk, feeling the rough coolness of the bark under her fingers. It was real.
She turned and looked at the scenery around her and gasped when she realized that there was nothing else around. Absolutely nothing but sand and moonlight for miles. There was just this tree. Huge and green and comforting in its cool stillness. She didn’t see Michael anywhere, so she began walking around the base of the tree to the other side and there she found him sitting on the ground, leaning against the vast trunk of the great tree with his head down, his legs drawn up, and his arms draped across his knees. She walked past him and sat beside him leaning back against the bark.
Isabel looked up into the branches overhead and watched them swaying gently in the desert night and marveled at the way the moonlight made everything seem to have a life of its own. Michael was still not saying anything and she knew better than to try and make him speak when he wasn’t ready, so she just sat there next to him in complete silence, staring out into the silver expanse of nothingness bathed in moonlight that the desert became at night.
She had not remembered to grab her watch and now wished she had for she could not tell how long they had been gone nor how long they sat in silence. She was just about to get up and check the clock in the jeep when Michael grabbed her hand. Isabel looked over at him and was startled to see him no longer staring at the ground but looking her straight in the eye. Not sure what to do or say, she intertwined her fingers with his and said “Hey Michael.” The sound of her voice startled her and sounded strange amongst the tranquil silence of their surroundings and, if she hadn’t known better, she would have expected an echo.
In response, Michael squeezed her hand, now wrapped up in his, and sighed. Isabel knew that there was a reason that they were here and that eventually Michael would let her in, but the wait was becoming tedious. She opened her mouth to ask him if he was alright – a question which she knew would irritate him but she wanted some form of response from him besides silence – when he looked out into the desert and said, “I’ve never brought anyone here before.” Isabel was not sure what to say and was glad when he continued.
“I found this place a while ago, back when I was still trapped in hell living in that shithole with Hank. After a particularly fun evening of shouting and throwing shit, when he had consumed enough alcohol he should have been in a coma and had passed out, I stole his car and took off. I didn’t know where I was going I just left. It was a clear night with a full moon and I could see for miles. I drove out of town for a while and contemplated not coming back. Just taking off and leaving it all behind, but I knew that I couldn’t. I couldn’t just leave Max and you behind. Not like that. After driving for a while with no destination ahead I turned off the road at this spot. I had never been here before and the way was fairly even and free of rocks and shit, which was good since I was in Hank’s piece of crap car. I turned off the headlights and drove by moonlight for a while and I saw this tree in the distance. So I headed for it and all the while it kept growing larger and larger as I approached it and I thought that for sure I was hallucinating or it was night-time mirage or I was just plain losing it. But it was real. I stopped and walked up to it and did exactly what you first did. I had to touch it to see if it was really there. It just didn’t make sense. Here is this massive tree out it the middle of the desert with nothing else growing around it, and no obvious water supply. Absolutely nothing to sustain it and yet it survives and flourishes. I spent the entire night out here that night. I slept right here on this side of the tree, and woke in time to see the sun come up. It was the first time in my life that I realized that it didn’t matter that I was alone and had no answers to what I was, because things like this exist in this world. Things that have no rational reason or explanation, and I felt safe. For once in my entire life since we left the pods as children I felt safe. I just kept thinking to myself, this tree has no right to be here and yet it exists and that is exactly how I felt. So now whenever I get caught up in things or lose focus I come out here and spend some time and feel connected to something again. I have been coming out here a lot since that day at the chamber….”
Michael stopped talking and Isabel was too caught up in what Michael had just shared to react immediately. She had always known that he felt left out compared to her and Max when it came to having family but had never realized just how much it affected him. Until now. But before she could collect her thoughts to speak Michael said, “I don’t know why but I just thought that you could use some time out here as well. All of us could but I knew that there was no way Max would accept anything from me.”
Isabel could hear the hurt in Michael’s voice and watched as he struggled to continue but she interrupted him. “Michael. It’s beautiful and it is exactly what I needed. I needed to feel connected to something again. It’s like everything we were was fractured in half that day and we are all walking around broken but too stubborn and scared to ask for help. I’ve been worried about you. I went by your place a few days ago and it looked deserted and I was worried that you had left us for good. I was thinking that you might have headed out to the reservation for a while, but I am glad to see that you have somewhere to go, somewhere safe.”
Isabel looked over at Michael who would not look at her and she hesitated before starting the conversation they both knew needed to be had but were both dreading. She took a deep breath and felt Michael squeeze her hand again although he was still staring out into the desert.
“Michael, I wanted to ask you something.”
She waited, received no response, so she continued.
“Have you thought about what was revealed that day? I mean, what it means, is it true – are we…”
“Meant to be together?”
Michael finished the sentence for her and they both stared out at the horizon. Both silent and unsure of what to say. He spoke again first, “I honestly don’t know Iz. I mean if you had asked me a year ago would I ever consider you anything more than my sister I would have laughed at the question. You and Max are the only real family I have ever had. But then Tess appeared and then Nasedo and then all of sudden the alien thing was reality. We really are different. It wasn’t just my imagination or wishful thinking. It was reality. Then when we activated the orbs that day and your mother appeared and told us of the past. I just knew. I knew it was the truth, I could feel it. The trouble is, I was so unprepared for it. I expected Max to be the leader, he has always been the one we look to. But I didn’t expect the whole Tess being his bride thing and I dunno, I just always thought that I was your brother and that I just hadn’t stayed together with you guys on the side of the road when we came out of the pods and so you and Max were found and adopted and I was left behind for going out on my own as usual. But now, I don’t know. Maybe it was meant to be this way, so that I wouldn’t be your brother. There is so much information that we were not given, so much we need to figure out. All of us. And here we are all fighting and avoiding each other and now there is the possibility of enemies out there. Real enemies Iz, non-human enemies. And if they decided to strike now, if Nasedo is right and we might have lead them to us with those communicators, we are in trouble.”
Michael stopped talking and Isabel didn’t know what to say. She had tried to listen to everything he said. Michael shared so rarely she knew she should be cherishing this moment, but it was when he said ‘I knew it was the truth’ that he lost her and she had felt her breath catch in her throat and her chest constrict. ‘So he had felt it too,’ she thought. Isabel had tried to block that day completely out of her mind; had tried to erase the memory of what she felt when she heard her mother say, ‘My daughter, the man you were betrothed to, and your brother's second-in-command.’ But she couldn’t, she just ended up remembering those dreams that her and Michael had had. The ones that they thought were only a result of Tess’s mind warping them, and it only made the ache she felt inside worse. She tried to stop dwelling on them but she knew she didn’t want to forget them. Deep down inside her that was the trouble. She had tried to forget, to move on, but she didn’t want to. She wanted it to be true.
She had tried to let it work with Alex but it wasn’t anything more than friendship with him. It was Michael, gruff, rumpled, and grouchy Michael that she wanted. But he was so close to her. She dared not hope that there was a chance. She knew he only thought of her as a sister, and besides there was Maria to consider. Yes, he had pushed her away, but that was under the pretext of not wanting to be attached to anyone, to be the lone warrior. Did she really think that she should expect him to give her a chance?
Isabel was so lost in her thoughts that she did not notice Michael watching her. He couldn’t read the look on her face but hoped that it wasn’t disgust. At least she hadn’t let go of his hand, if anything she was squeezing it tighter now than before. Michael couldn’t stand the quiet any longer and softly said, “Iz…” Isabel turned and looked at him. ‘Were those tears in her eyes?? Oh God,’ he thought, ‘I’ve done it, I’ve freaked her out and made her cry. I could have handled anything but making Isabel cry.’
For her part, Isabel was trying desperately to regain her composure before speaking but at this point all she could manage to get out was “Michael...” before dissolving into a mess of tears and sobbing.
Michael, completely unprepared for such a response, wasn’t sure what to do, or what exactly he had done to Isabel. He quickly let go of her hand, leaned over, and cradled her in his arms while she cried. He had no idea what was going on but just held onto her and gently rocked back and forth under the protection afforded by the branches of the old tree. Isabel cried out everything she had kept hidden inside since that day they had learned the truth while Michael whispered “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry Iz”over and over.
When things quieted back down, and Isabel regained enough self-control to speak, she softly said, “I’m sorry Michael, I didn’t mean to lose it. It’s just that I couldn’t believe it when you said that you knew what my mother had said was true. I felt the exact same way, but you didn’t seem to react, and never said anything about it, and then we had the whole Liz and Max and Tess thing to deal with immediately. And then telling Alex and Maria and I just thought that she meant so much to you, like Liz does to Max that there was no reason for me to even try to bring it up. So I didn’t, and we all went our separate ways this summer, and Max lost it and I knew that he was rebelling as hard as he could against being with Tess and I understood and didn’t blame him. But I also knew that that meant that there was no way he would understand the way I was feeling about you. I couldn’t go to Tess, and Alex and Maria are out of the question so I just kept it to myself. I held onto it, I replayed those dreams. Remember those dreams?? I never felt so safe and so complete in my entire life as I did in those dreams. I was afraid to tell you, I was afraid to push you away and lose you like I’m afraid I’ve lost Max and I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t bear being alone. Do you how many times I have wanted to tell my mom? I knew she couldn’t understand and that it would not be fair to tell her everything, but I thought about asking for her advice just about my feelings for you but then I was afraid that she would say something to Max or worse wouldn’t understand and then I would have alienated her and would have been entirely alone, and I just couldn’t risk it. I would rather be your sister than not be in your life at all. I’m sorry for dropping all of this on you like this Michael but it’s all I think about. I think that I might be losing it I think about it so much. I tried to reach you. I tried to dream walk you to see what you were thinking and see if you were alright but I couldn’t get inside…”
“I know.” Michael softly whispered, interrupting her, “I felt you and tried my hardest to block you out.”
“You what? Why Michael?”
He didn’t answer her immediately. He was still holding onto her and slowly rocking back and forth. Isabel had her head resting on his shoulder and he could feel her breathing, feel her exhale against his neck and he couldn’t think. He needed to think. Needed to process what she just admitted. Needed to pinch himself to see if was awake or not.
Isabel didn’t say anything either. She knew him well enough to know that he would answer, in his own time. She closed her eyes and soaked in the moment. She was here in this beautiful place with Michael – her Michael – a place that he had never shared with anyone else but her. She was in his arms and they were being honest and talking about “it.” The “it” that she had so dreaded talking about for fear that her answer would drive him away.
In the quiet, Michael had been trying to think about how to answer her. Why had he blocked her out? He couldn’t concentrate. He didn’t want to risk screwing this up. He was here with her and they were okay – for the moment. He knew that she wouldn’t push him, wouldn’t speak or try and change the subject until he answered. He liked that she knew him so well; knew how he worked. That was something that Maria had never figured out. When he was quiet and tried to shut her out she just kept talking and pushing and didn’t know how to let him think. Isabel knew and she waited for him.
After a while, Michael answered her. “I didn’t know what to do. I had pushed Maria away. Told her it was over, and I meant it. I didn’t want her to get hurt and I still don’t. She cares about me and she shouldn’t. Then there was this gigantic destiny hanging over me and there was you. And I wanted to go to you and tell you that I knew. I knew it was the truth but I couldn’t. I was afraid Iz. Afraid that you would shut me down, or think I was just trying make a point to Maria to push her further away. You have always been so headstrong and independent, a lot like me and I didn’t think that there was anyway that you would let me in. Or let me take care of you, even as a brother. I saw the way you were rebelling against Max and I didn’t want that. So that first night, about a week after that day, when I felt you trying to reach me, I made myself wake up. I didn’t know what you wanted, I knew you were checking on me, but I didn’t want to chance you finding out how I felt and resenting me. So I blocked you out. And whenever I felt you try. I made myself wake up, and eventually you stopped trying.”
Isabel sighed, she was glad that she was the reason and it wasn’t Maria. She knew that it wasn’t fair to feel that way but she did. She then knew that there was something else, something she needed to know. She only hoped that he would answer her. He had said so much to her tonight, she didn’t want him to put the walls back up just yet and be the Michael that everyone else knew.
“In a weird way, I’m glad you blocked me out. If it meant that I could find out how you felt here in this place, with you and not just on my own in your head. But Michael, there is something else that I have to ask you, and I will understand if you don’t want to tell me but I at least need to ask. Okay?”
Michael knew what was coming and nodded his approval.
Isabel took a deep breath and asked it quickly, partly because it hurt her to think about it and partly because she just wanted to get it over with.
“Did you love her? I mean, are you in love with her still?” She then held her breath waiting for him to say something – anything – just so that she could breathe again.
|Index | Part 2
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