|"Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear"
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters.
Summary: Tess. UC-ish. Mild slash. Season two through to ARCC
Category: Unconventional Couples
Authors Note: The name of the story is a disclaimer that could be found on the side-view mirrors of some cars. Thanks: To Elizabeth for being so patient with me, for all the advice, and for being such an amazing beta-editor. To Mala, because her brilliant "Agni Pariksha" was an inspiration for the ending.
|"The little Prince went to look at the roses again…
…"You are lovely, but you're empty," he went on. "One couldn't die for you. Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, sine she's the one I've watered. Since she's the one I put under glass. Since she's the one I sheltered behind a screen. Since she's the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three for butterflies). Since she's the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she's my rose."
-- Antoine De Saint-Exupery, "The Little Prince."
She doesn't remember much of their ride to her so-called home. She doesn't remember Maria saying goodbye, or thanking her. Although she was quite sure that Maria said both.
She remembered feeling really good for the next couple of days, though. She didn't get to see Maria or any of them; she didn't want to seem too eager, and so she just stayed home. To hell with Max and his "acting normal" rule. Tess read some of Kyle's books, but mostly flicked through his magazines. She found them fascinating. She even talked to Kyle a few times, though he never initiated it.
But she didn't mind starting up a conversation. It was nice, just to talk, and they never talked about Liz. They never got around to trimming that lamp of hers either. It just didn't come up. They laughed together though, and that was something she hadn't done in a long time.
A few times she almost called Maria. But Tess figured Maria was in school during the day, and in the evening Kyle was around and she didn't want to chance somebody overhearing her conversation.
It was then that she started to hate the phone. She couldn't help but feel it pulling at her like a magnet, but there was always something that stopped her from dialling the number. And when it rang on its own…well, it never *just* rang. Nobody ever called her unless something was wrong.
In the end, she was right about that.
It was Max who called her, and she felt strange because her heart didn't leap at the sound of his voice. There wasn't more than a millisecond between his 'hello' and the rest of the rapid stream of words announcing another nightmare of reality crashing upon her life. But there had been a time when that millisecond would have earned its place on the top of the memory pile with a little tag of 'good' attached to it.
She almost forgot to take her car, she almost ran to the Crashdown. Max told her about the humans disappearing and all she could think was that she'd never picked up the phone, she'd never dialled the number, she'd never said that…she didn't know what she wanted to say, but hello would've been a good start.
Tess stormed into the café and told Courtney that it was all her fault. And then Maria walked in and barely looked at her and went straight into Michael's arms. Isabel started giving Tess orders, and when they all stood in the washroom she wasn't sure that she wanted to hide them. She wasn't sure that she didn't want to be found.
But then she smelled the woody scent again, and that was something she wanted to hold on to. She thought of mirrors again. When one looked in a mirror all they could see was themselves. And she made Nicholas see a mirror.
Later, when one of the skins attacked Maria and she cried out Tess's name, Tess didn't hesitate. For the first time in her life she was sure, right at that very second, that she wanted Maria to be safe. Nobody had cried out for her before. When Max said her name it always sounded more like a sigh than anything else. When Liz said her name all Tess could hear was a hissing sound.
She was almost positive that when Liz wrote about Tess in the journal -- because Liz was just a kind of girl who would keep a journal -- she capitalised 'T' and either put three asterisks beside iit or put a million 'S's at the end, 'Tesssssssssssss'.
After all Tess was the snake who came to ruin Liz's perfect little life.
When Maria screamed "Tess" -- of course, Tess was the only one around, but that was one of those things that Tess chose not to dwell on -- it sounded likke desperation, like need, like a call.
Tess answered, and she never regretted it once.
And she never regretted the inferno of her mindwarp that took the skins; she didn't hesitate then either.
But none of it made much of a difference. Even though it seemed that Maria's crusade to get Michael calmed down a bit, Tess wasn't the one she turned to.
Tess went to New York. They all assumed, no doubt, that she left with Max. They all thought with was the reason, they would never know that it was from.
And maybe they were right; in the end, she wanted to come back to Roswell after all.
But at least it was also something she knew she wanted.
"And when the time to leave was near:
"Ah!" the fox said. "I shall weep."
"It's your own fault," the little prince said. "I never wanted to do you any harm, but you insisted that I tame you…"
"Yes, of course," the fox said.
"But you're going to weep!" said the little prince.
"Yes, or course," the fox said.
"Then you get nothing out of it?"
"I get something," the fox said, "because of the colour of the wheat."
-- Antoine De Saint-Exupery, "The Little Prince."
Tess sits in Michael's apartment, inhaling the light scent of woody air-freshener that lingers in the air, and listens to Max explaining what he needs to do to feel better. For the first time in many years she remembers that she has never seen the forest of ageless Eucalyptuses.
They were following another lead in their search for the Royal Three and Nasedo thought that stopping to see a bunch of trees was stupid. He was packing their bags and she was standing in front of the mirror in the room of some motel, saw the reflection of the picture print on the opposite wall. It had a little sign 'Come and enjoy the miracle of the ancient forest' at the bottom. The sun was coming through the window and everything was lit up. She pictured herself standing between the trees, looking up to see the rays filtering through the leaves. She didn't even argue with Nasedo--she just got dressed and they left. All she saw was another highway, but she'd known that somewhere, just a few miles off thhe road, there was a forest that smelled nice and looked beautiful in the midday sun, and they were driving further and further away from it.
Tess thinks of that memory and surprisingly, it doesn't hurt. It is a good memory after all. All of them are good in the end.
Maybe because they are hers. And maybe because she can share them with somebody one day.
Michael is working on something that looks like a bumper. Tess thinks that it will make Maria happy. She smiles, imagining Maria's face when she sees the present, imagines that it will make her happy even if Maria only sees a reflection of herself in the shining metal. Sun is dancing on the bumper's surface now but it's not polished yet, and Michael can't see himself. Maybe he can see Maria, though, she thinks.
She realises that this is the first time Max has asked for her opinion on something. She knows that he doesn't really care about what any of them say, but yet she is still included now. She thinks that even if she isn't a friend to any of them there is a 'yet' lingering there. It's a definite possibility and it feels good.
Tess thinks that she might call Amy and that will make Jim happy. She can feel a smile stretching her cheeks and it doesn't ache to keep it on her face. She thinks that she might make tonight a Christmas story, even if she doesn't believe in Christmas. She thinks of the jokes she can exchange with Kyle about him a Buddhist and her an alien having a Christmas dinner.
She thinks that the name of the holiday doesn't even matter, because she can make her own choices. She can even make the choices that will make people around her happy.
And that it might -- just might -- make her feel happy too. The second trip to the grocery store might not be something that she will remember hhating, and even turkey smells nice when it's cooked.
"People have forgotten this truth," the fox said. "But you mustn't forget it. You become responsible forever for what you've tamed. You're responsible for your rose…"
"I'm responsible for my rose…," the little prince repeated, in order to remember." -- Antoine De Saint-Exupery, "The Little Prince."
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