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”
|Isabel gasped as she startled awake. “Max?” she whispered. It took her eyes a second to adjust
to her surroundings and then it took a few more for her to remember where she was.
“Michael, wake up! We have to go now!”
Michael, still sound asleep, stirred and made various grumblings in protest to being shaken madly by some person who should just leave him alone to sleep. He then rolled over and was starting to drift off again when Isabel leaned over and yelled in his ear, “MICHAEL!!”
In response, Michael bolted straight up nearly slamming heads with Isabel. “Wha – What is it?” It took a few seconds for him to recall just where he was and when he saw Isabel standing over him the reality of what had happened last night suddenly hit in him in the light of day. Part of him was embarrassed, he had said so much to Isabel; things that he had never told anyone before. He shyly smiled and glanced up at her but her the look on her face pulled him immediately out of his reverie.
“What is it Iz? What’s wrong?”
He stood up and took a step toward her, entering his Michael-the-protector mode. Isabel was trying to remain calm, but various scenarios were already starting to play themselves out in her head about what could be happening with Max.
“Max was in my dream. I don’t know what he wanted but he was there. He yelled my name. I’m afraid something has happened to him. We have to go now.”
Michael had the jeep up and running and in a matter of seconds he and Isabel were headed back to Roswell. Although he was reluctant to leave this place, he was even more unenthusiastic about what might await them ahead.
As they hit the edge of town Isabel grabbed Michael’s hand and motioned for him to pull over at the gas station. “I want to call home first and see if Max is there. It will give us an idea of what we could be walking into.”
Michael turned off the engine and replied, “Good idea. I’ll go get us some coffee.” He smiled as he walked into the store. This was the gas station where he stole Maria’s mother’s Jetta, with her in it, and started on that road trip that eventually led them to Nasedo and their past and led him back to Isabel. He watched her talking on the phone, carefully studying her expression, as he walked toward her with the coffee. She was finishing her conversation as he handed her the cup.
“Okay, thanks Max. No really, I mean it. Thanks. We’ll be there in about half an hour.”
She hung up the phone and he asked, “So what was all that about? Everything okay?”
Isabel took a sip of the steaming liquid and smiled at him. At least that was a good sign. “Everything is fine. Max wanted to let me know that our parents were up unusually early this morning and just happened to notice that both the jeep and myself were missing. They scared Max half to death when they woke him up to interrogate him as to my possible whereabouts. The first thing he thought was that something had happened to me, an alien-related something. He had to make up a cover story on the spot that would convince mom and dad and buy him enough time to try and reach me. He told me how hard it was for him to try and dream-walk me, oh and Michael…he saw the tree and he saw you too. I didn’t say anything about it hoping he will just think that it was a part of a dream, but I did tell him that I was with you. I told him that we were up late talking and must have fallen asleep.”
As he listened to her relating the details of her conversation with Max, Michael was relieved that she hadn’t said anything to him about what had happened between them last night. He needed time to process it all himself, to relive it, to have the memory of it all to himself for awhile, and besides they hadn’t even spoken of it yet this morning and he knew they still needed to decide what they were or were not going to tell the others. As his mind processed all this something Isabel had said suddenly struck him as odd.
“Wait, why did you say we would be there in half an hour? We are only 10 minutes away from your house – tops.”
“Oh, I forgot to tell you. Max’s cover story for why I was missing so early this morning was that I had planned on surprising them by making breakfast for everyone before they got up. He mentioned to our parents that I had most likely just run to the market for something and would be back soon. He didn’t know what he was going to do if he couldn’t find me in a reasonable amount of time, and is relieved that he didn’t have to face that situation. But to cover the amount of time it’s been since mom and dad noticed me gone and now, we decided to say that the jeep had a flat on my way back and that I called you to help me fix it. It should alleviate any awkward questioning on the part of my parents as to why you are awake at this hour on a Saturday and showing up with their previously unaccounted for daughter. Pretty clever huh?”
As they headed back toward the jeep a question occurred to Michael. “But wait a minute, why would you call me? Why not Max or your dad?”
“My aren’t we the worrier this morning,” she smiled as she continued to sip from her cup, “Well, first off you live much closer to the market than we do and second why would I call and wake up the very people I am trying to surprise and third Max and I haven’t been on the best terms lately. So there you go. It all fits together and you get a free breakfast out of the deal without really having to change a tire.”
Despite the plan, he was none the less worried about the prospect of facing Max after the night they had just had. “Iz, speaking of Maxwell. Despite your current speaking terms, he is the only one at the house who knows that I was with you last night. What are we going to tell him about…”
“About us?” Isabel interrupted him. Michael smiled shyly and looked at the ground. He liked the sound of her saying that word ‘us.’ He looked up when he felt her staring at him. She was smiling bemusedly at him and his stomach tightened. What was with him today? He knew he’d need to get a grip if he was to survive the rest of the morning.
“I don’t know what you are thinking, but being that I have been the one living in the same house with him these past weeks, I don’t think that we should tell him anything just yet. He’s still reeling from Liz leaving and is having a hard time coping with that on top of the whole ‘king’ situation. I know it’s been hard on him and I haven’t made it any easier. I’m embarrassed to admit it. I think we should focus on getting through today. We still have a lot to talk about, just between us, without having to worry about everyone else just yet. Don’t you think so?”
“Yeah, I definitely think we should play it safe this morning. I was worried that we would end up dropping all this on him right now, when we haven’t even had time to sort through it. I don’t want to hurt Max and strain our friendship any more than it already is. But things are complicated with us – you know that better than anyone Iz.”
He stopped when he noticed her giving him that look. The one he and Max dubbed “The Isabel” – the one that she usually reserved for when they were being insufferable or when she wanted her way, and he knew exactly what she wanted and continued before she had a chance to speak, “Okay, okay, I promise I will try and be on my best behavior this morning. But it doesn’t mean that everything is suddenly forgiven between Max and I. There was a lot that was said between us that day that just being civil isn’t going to erase. I know you want things to return to normal, but we’ve always butted heads, even before we knew the truth. Everything just has more significance now. Okay?”
She raised her eyebrow at him and kissed him on the cheek before climbing back into the jeep. Michael sighed. Could his day get any better? He remembered the tire and walked around to the rear of the jeep, used his powers to change the tire to the spare, then hopped into the driver’s seat and pointed them towards the market. All the while silently hoping that everything would go as smoothly this morning as Isabel seemed to think it would.
Max smiled despite himself as he opened the front door for his sister and Michael as their arms were laden down with groceries. It felt good to smile. It had been so long since he had smiled and actually meant it. Not just faking it for the sake of his parents when he would pass them in the hall. For an instant it almost felt like his life had returned to normal. Almost.
The thought crept up on him, freshly tearing open all the same wounds. He had to stop doing this to himself. She left. She walked away from him. He had turned his back on his destiny right there in front of them all. There in the pod chamber where his life as he knew it, as he believed it, had both begun and ended. Right there, in front of Tess, he turned to Liz and bared his soul and she left. Although somehow he always knew she would. When he heard those words ‘your young bride,’ he knew she would let him go. It was her nature and he loved her even more for it. He knew she didn’t do it because of Tess, she did it for him. And just as he knew what she would do, he knew that he would go after her. He would never be able to accept Tess. Not as his wife, not like Liz. Tess. It wasn’t her fault, but he didn’t want to even think about her. He forced himself to stop thinking about it and walked into the kitchen.
Isabel and Michael were already there and he wanted to see his sister in the role of her life convincing their parents of her surprise breakfast disaster. He entered the kitchen and leaned against the doorway listening to her recounting her perilous trip to the market and how Michael had come to her rescue.
Michael. Max looked over at him. He was unloading the bags and watching Isabel as she spoke. What was it about Michael? Max had to think for a second. That tree. He was there with Isabel, asleep. Max had been surprised when he recognized Michael in the dream. And that tree? Was it real? Isabel had said that they stayed up talking all night and had lost track of time but she didn’t say where they were. He had assumed at Michael’s place, but then again he had called there first and there was no answer despite the number of times he had let it ring. Definitely long enough that one of them should have woken up and found the phone. There was something that wasn’t making sense. He was about to approach Michael and suggest that they have a little talk despite the certainty that it would end up in a fight. Max felt it was worth it to find out what was going on, especially as he watched Michael watching his sister. And why did they both seem so calm? Max decided against it though when Michael offered to help his mom and Isabel cook and instead went over to the table and sat next to his dad who was reading the morning paper.
Breakfast went smoothly enough. It seemed to Max that their parents had bought the whole breakfast charade and they both appeared relieved to see their two children actually at the same table together. Max helped to clear the dishes with his dad since the others had cooked. Damned house rules! And could only watch as Isabel and Michael left the table and disappeared through the living room doorway.
With Max out of earshot for the moment and her parents in the kitchen, Isabel took the opportunity to remind Michael that the less they told Max about last night at the moment the better. Michael brought up the possibility that Max might ask either one of them what they were talking about last night. Isabel considered this for a moment. She didn’t want to lie to Max but telling the truth was not an option they had at the moment. She and Michael decided that if by chance he did ask them before they had worked out what they planned to do, that they should just tell him that they were discussing what had happened in the aftermath of that day in the chamber. Both of them were hoping that there was no way he would want to go into anything that happened that day and would drop the inquiry. Besides, that is technically what they were talking about so Max wouldn’t feel like they lied to him once he found out the details later on.
Isabel was ready to change the subject, she didn’t want to think about the possibility of hurting Max any more than he already had been. Michael was starting to yawn and she could tell that he was getting antsy and was ready to get out of there. He really had been on his best behavior during breakfast. He had offered to help cook and he even sat across from Max and was very polite and non-confrontational. Very non-Michael. Isabel had had to continually pinch herself hard on the leg to keep from grinning like an idiot at him across the table. She had purposely focused on talking to her mother who was next to Michael or her father at the head of the table so that she would not get caught staring at him by Max. A few times she did sneak a glance at him out of the corner of her eye, and had to quickly look down at her food when he met her gaze to keep from laughing out loud. She could feel Michael struggling as well, but he was much better at hiding his feelings. He’d had much more practice. Max was quiet during most of the meal, but that was really nothing new these days.
Max entered the hallway where Isabel and Michael were finishing their conversation and Michael excused himself to say good-bye to their parents, leaving Max and Isabel alone. Isabel walked over to the mirror in the hall and pretended to be fixing her hair. Did she really look this bad?? Sleeping on the ground did not flatter her. She could feel Max eyeing her suspiciously but ignored him. Fortunately, Michael was back in a second or two not giving Max anytime to start a conversation with her. Michael said good-bye to Max and was just about to open the door to leave when Max pulled the keys to the jeep out of his pocket and offered to drive him home.
“Sure. Thanks Maxwell.”
Isabel flashed a warning look to Michael as Max walked out the door. “Good-bye Michael and thank you.” She saw a grin pass across his face as he replied, “No problem Isabel” and he walked outside.
Michael watched as Isabel shut the door and noticed that Max had caught him doing so. Michael pretended to sneeze to cover the fact the he was still staring at the door.
“Uh yeah thanks man.”
Michael headed toward the jeep and left Max staring after him. He stood there for a second, watching as Michael climbed in the passenger side. He then walked around to the driver’s side noticing the left rear tire that Michael had changed to the spare. “You guys thought of everything didn’t you,” he said as he started the engine.
Michael had been avoiding looking at Max and so his comment caught him off guard, and immediately put him on the defensive, wondering what Max getting at. “What?” He tried to remain calm and show no emotion in his voice.
“The tire. You guys even put on the spare. Good thinking.”
He was relieved that Max was talking about the tire, “Oh, yeah. Thanks Maxwell. Look could we get going, I am really exhausted.” Michael did not want to spend any more time not moving in the direction of his apartment. The less time that they had to talk the better. It would be hard to avoid any questions from Max if they started talking. Michael hoped that he could just pretend to be asleep for the majority of the trip and that Max would leave him alone.
“Don’t let me forget to change the tire back when we get to your place. I’ll just tell my parents I had the flat repaired while I was out.”
“Sure thing Max.” Michael replied, resting his head back against the seat and closing his eyes as Max backed out of the driveway. He really did not want to be alone with Max at this moment. In fact, this is the last place in the world he would have chosen to be. He wished he was still in the desert at the tree with Isabel. All that had happened last night still had not sunk in and all he wanted was some time alone to let it. He also needed to talk to Isabel. They needed to figure things out and needed some definite answers before Max started questioning them. Really questioning them. And despite the recent problems in the group he didn’t want to have to sneak around to be with Isabel behind everyone else’s backs. He wanted everything out in the open as soon as possible in order to avoid inflicting any more pain than was necessary on anyone. God knows they had had enough of that lately. They all had, everyone was hurting because of them. There were a lot of people to consider now. Things no longer involved he and Max and Isabel, there was the group to think about and it still took some getting used to on his part. He knew that it was something that had to be done but he couldn’t focus on that right now. He couldn’t concentrate. He was pulled out of his deliberation by the distant sound of Max’s voice.
Max had been saying Michael’s name for at least a minute straight. When he received no response, not even a flinch, he figured he was still party to the silent treatment despite this morning’s civility. While he never expected them to be back on good terms instantly (there was too much that was said and left unsaid between them these past weeks for that) he still didn’t expect to be ignored. So he kept repeating Michael’s name over and over as he drove, hoping that any second he would reach Michael’s annoyance threshold and force him to respond, even if it was in anger.
“What?? Did you say something Max?” Michael opened his eyes and looked over at Max who was now turning onto Michael’s street. ‘Just a little farther and I’m safe’ he thought.
Max hesitated before speaking, even when things were good between them Michael was quick to lose his temper and with the way things were now he knew that he would have to choose his words carefully. “I was just asking how Isabel is doing. We haven’t been on the best terms lately and I’m worried about her. I wanted to make sure she is alright.” Max hoped that the concerned sibling approach would give him some ground with Michael, allow him room to answer but also a way out, just in case. He wanted to see what Michael would say, and had already decided to check on Isabel when he returned home.
Michael knew Max well enough to know that he wasn’t just asking about Isabel. He knew that he was allowing him the chance to discuss the state of things between them as well. Michael took a deep breath before answering, he knew that he had to be careful with what he said but also make sure it was the truth. If not for Max then at least for Isabel’s sake.
“She’s actually doing better Max. We both are. It was nice to have an actual conversation with someone without having to pretend to be happy or interested, you know?”
Michael stopped talking, hoping that by being vague he could close the subject. Max was quiet while Michael spoke. He had pulled up in front of Michael’s place and stopped the jeep. He was resting his hands on the steering wheel and staring out ahead into space just listening. He knew Michael was being honest but also knew that it wasn’t everything. An awkward silence hung between them and Max decided it best to let it go for now.
“That’s good to know. Thanks Michael.”
“Alright. See you later Maxwell.”
Max watched him walk to his door and got out to fix the tire as Michael went inside.
Michael was glad when he walked into his apartment and heard Max pulling away in the jeep. He felt emotionally drained, which was a nice change from his normal state of holding everything inside until he felt as if he would explode from the pressure. He thought about taking a nap, but he wasn't really tired and besides he couldn't have sat still if he wanted to. What he really wanted to do was continue his conversation with Isabel. There were still a lot of things they needed to discuss not to mention some major decisions to be made and Michael was anxious to get it over with. He decided to call Isabel and see if she could come over later to work some of this out and started frantically searching for the phone when he realized he'd need to reach her before Max returned home. He finally found the phone on the floor by his bed under a pile of clothing and he quickly dialed the Evans' household. Michael held his breath as it rang, hoping that Iz would be the one to answer. He let out his breath when a female voice answered but it wasn't Isabel it was her mom. Michael panicked not knowing what to say. Diane had said hello a second time when Michael finally blurted out "Is Isabel home?" Diane didn't seem to recognize his voice, or if she did she didn't say anything and asked to him to hold on a second. While he waited he tried out various ways of asking Isabel to come over and was afraid that everything would sound rehearsed and that his voice would betray the sudden shyness he felt around her since last night.
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