|"People of the Dust"
by Rae Vertudez
Disclaimer: I do not own the television show "Roswell." If I did, I wouldpity the cast and crew because of the horrible wrath to which I would mostlikely subject them.
Summary: Eleven years have passed since the four aliens set off to fulfilltheir destiny. Michael, Max, and Isabel return to discover that the ones theyleft behind have fulfilled their own.
Category: Unconventional Couples
Authors Note: Massive props to the Radish Twins and the Radish List fortheir patience and understanding; I may have been gone, but thank you for notmaking me forgotten. =) Radish Power! Mr. Raddish lives! Hugs all around forE. Amos, Sam Bermise, Lah-nee, A-man-DUH, Allison Anteater, and Phil;tangerines are the life for me, and "'01, baby!" Thanks, Dr. R. How YOUdoin', Josh? ;) Thank you to the writers and producers of various televisionshows for finally getting a clue and listening to my pleas, i.e. Pacey andJoey's union, Doug and Carol's reunion, and Monica and Chandler's engagement.It's been a wonderful season; thanks for me making me laugh, cry, and hollerat my TV set. Thank you to various "Roswell" fanfiction authors whose workinspired me to end my hiatus, get off my butt, and start writing again,namely Elizabeth (the brilliant and beautiful "Persephone's Footfalls"),Katjen (the awesome "Riding Waves of Doubt [I Tremble for My Beloved]"), andKara and Emily (RE forever! ::echo:: Ever... ever... ever...). Undyinggratitude is sent out to everyone who has sent me feedback on my work, everysingle one of you. Each letter brought the much-needed smiles, support, andinspiration I've needed to continue writing. Love you all, and peace out.
|Broken hearts heal in time. Someone once said something along the lines
of that, but I can't remember whom. I never seem to remember things like
that. My mind often fails me. It has an endless capacity for completely
useless and random information, but it never seems to grasp things very
tightly. Important sayings, that is. I can recite every line from Sleepless
in Seattle, but I can't tell you who said, "God is dead." Not immediately
anyway. I'd play the alphabet game for hours trying to figure out, biting my
upper lip thoughtfully, slumping into my office chair, totally and utterly
consumed until I found the answer, the name, the place, the time, or
whatever. You know the alphabet game, don't you? When you can't remember
something, you start with the letter A. You think of all the words that start
with the letter A that are related to what you are trying to recall, and move
on to the next letter when you've exhausted it. Sometimes it works, sometimes
it doesn't. But I'm digressing. Where was I? Oh, yes. Broken hearts heal in
time. Most people laugh at that. Most people disagree and say a broken heart
can never be mended, that the scars live on but learn to fade with the
Most people are full of shit.
I mean, come on, my family is living proof. No, no, we're not living proof that most people are full of shit. Living proof that broken hearts heal in time. But, I'm getting really, really ahead of myself. I mean I already gave you the moral of this whole story. I have this tendency to let my mind wander to the point of no return. And look, I'm digressing again.
Enough small talk, I'm just going to begin now before I start telling you about my intimacy issues and why I can't seem to concentrate on anything unless I'm chewing on a pencil. I'll start in the beginning. Oh, wait, if I start from the very beginning, it'll take eons. And mind you, this is *without* the commercial breaks. So I'm just going to skip ahead a couple years. The prologue is pretty simple. The basic gist of the first few chapters is this: boy meets girl, boy and girl hate each other, boy's best friend and girl's best friend hook up, resulting in the boy and girl having to spend more time with each other, boy and girl hook up, boy and girl fall in love, boy leaves girl to pursue his destiny with another girl. Yeah, just peachy, isn't it? Your typical romantic-comedy- tragedy. Except there's that part I left out about the boy being an alien. As was the boy's best friend. And his sister. Who also happens to be the girl the boy ran off with. Actually, they all ran off together with another alien girl who was fated to be with the boy's best friend. Are you following? Maybe it wasn't so simple after all. I have to admit, it took me awhile to make sense of it all, too. It's Jerry Springer with an X-Files twist, what can I say. Except Mulder never ran off with Scully's sister.
But now that all the basic information is covered, I can start.
Sometimes, Maria de Luca would get this look on her face. It was hard to describe, but that one expression would captivate my interest for years. She'd be in the middle of completing something, like washing the dishes or fiddling with piano as she wrote a new song, and suddenly she'd freeze into position like some great and beautiful ice sculpture. Her lips would be pressed firmly together, and her naturally large blue eyes would grow even greater in size. Standing before the sink or sitting on the piano bench, for one spectacular moment, she would become a porcelain doll. It was astounding. She looked so afraid... she could *sense* something coming. But about a nanosecond later, she would snap out of the haze and move on with her life. It came and went as fast as lightening. Even she did not notice those moments of psychic phenomenon. But I always did, and I'd always brace myself for the oncoming.
There was, however, one instance that she was aware of her gift of intuition. It had been dreary day, I remember... it had rained all morning, but gray clouds still filled the sky and refused to leave their new home. They dominated the space above with such a steadfastness that it was difficult even to locate the rainbow that was supposed to be worth all the suffering the rain had brought. A slight mist hovered above the street pavements, and the lawns of all the suburban homes could have easily passed for sees of green. You could smell the scent of stale rain everywhere. You could even smell it on your clothes, in your hair, on your skin.
She had been roaming the halls of her home, her bare feet slapping against the adobe tile, her head snapping back and forth as she glanced into room after room, searching for her misplaced daughter. "Jordan!" she called out with as much anger and frustration as possible. She knew it was perfectly hopeless to act annoyed, for the moment her little red-haired girl would step out in front of her, bat those emerald eyes, and smile her father's smile, all would instantly be forgiven and forgotten. But nonetheless, she yelled. "Jordan!" she called out into an empty guest room. "Get your dead little behind out here!"
And then it happened.
Years later, when I tried to tell her of those seconds of clairvoyance, she would always laugh it away with jokes about having a "sixth sense," but there'd be a glint of remembrance in her eyes. And I'd know she'd be recalling that one moment in time, when in that hallway her limbs had frozen and her she felt a cold chill run up against her back, when her subconscious jumped into the near future and all she could sense was an overwhelming sense of sorrow.
She broke out of the trance quickly and tried to place it in the back of her mind. She shook it off, forcing her feet forward. "Jordan!" she yelled, turning a corner. "You know that mommy doesn't it like it when you play hide-and-seek without telling her first! Come out n-OW!"
Maria was facedown of the hard floor. She twisted her head around to see the object of her demise: a small toy car. Typical.
She heard the pattering of small feet and looked up to see a despondent little girl, her head peeking from behind a halfway-closed door. "Mommy, you okay?" Jordan said quietly.
Maria gently pushed herself upward to examine her leg. A purplish contusion was beginning to form just above her right knee. "I'm all right," she told her, smiling at her reassuringly. "Just a small boo-boo. See?"
Jordan came towards her tentatively, and eventually kneeled before her mother. "Lemme kiss it and make it all better," the four-year-old said, planting a small peck on the bruise.
Maria's smile grew wider as she pulled her into a hug. "Thank you," she said, tousling her auburn ringlets. "But you know what would make me feel even better?"
Maria leaned forward so that their foreheads touched. "If you promised to never, ever, ever hide from Mommy ever again."
Maria extended her pinky finger. "Pinky swear?"
Their pinkies linked, and the small child grinned up at her. "Pinky swear."
Maria kissed the entwined fingers with a loud smack and brought herself and Jordan up to their feet in one fluid motion. "Okay, Jordy," she said, leading the child to her bedroom. "Time for your nap."
Jordan pouted and tried to tug her hand away. "But Mo-o-o-o-o-o-o-my-y-y-y-y-y-y," she whined, dragging out the vowels.
"Uh, uh, uh," Maria replied. "What did you promise Daddy?"
The young girl let out an exaggerated puff of air, sending her bangs upward momentarily. "I promised Daddy that I'd be good and do what you said," she sighed. "And that if I did, he'd come home sooner."
"Righty-o, Munchkin," Maria said, sweeping Jordy into her arms and carrying her into the cluttered room, careful not step on any of the scattered books or toys. "And Daddy never goes back on his word. So you can't go back on yours." She gingerly placed the child on the twin bed and tucked her beneath the flannel blanket.
"When *is* Daddy coming back?" asked Jordan as Maria sat down on the edge of the bed beside her.
"The day after tomorrow," she answered, smoothing out a wrinkle in the bedspread. "And then he'll be all ours."
"I miss him," confessed Jordy.
"Me, too, kid," Maria admitted. "A whole bunch. But let's not try to think about that too much because it'll just make the days go by longer, okay?"
The child nodded, unusually silent.
"Okay," Maria reaffirmed. "So, how about that lullaby?"
"Later? When I go to sleep tonight?"
"Will do," she smiled, kissing her on the forehead once again and adjusting the blanket further before standing up to close the curtains. "Sweet dreams," she told the child before disappearing behind her door.
Outside her bedroom and alone in the hallway, Maria released a shaky breath. She hated acknowledging that she needed people. She felt weak. Even after the countless times her husband had taken her into his arms after she had confessed the very fact and whispered into her ear, "What's so bad about needing people?" In his tight embrace, needing people didn't seem so bad at all. It was when he was away that she felt so goddamn stupid and pathetic. Thank god he was so patient with her. Thank god he understood. She wasn't the only one who had lost somebody. After all, Liz had lost Max, and he had lost...
"You *know* what's bad about needing people," she would often say to him in reply, her head buried in his chest and her voice muffled. "People leave. People suck."
And he would chuckle at that, and respond, "Not *all* people suck. Some people stay."
And then they would laugh together, and hold each other, and try their best not to think about the people who lad left them behind, literally in the dust. The dust of Roswell, a place full of memories and secrets that longed to be buried, never to be resurrected. The dust of the forgotten.
There lies a common bond between The Forgotten. They never have to explain their actions to one another. They simply know. They speak in half-sentences, one-word answers, never needing to disclose the full truth, the entire story. They simply know.
"Do you sometimes wonder...?" Maria would ask him every once in a while.
"Sometimes," he'd answer simply. And that was that. He never had to ask her The Question. He knew that on occasion, she would lie awake in their bed, wondering, what if-ing. What if they had stayed. What if they didn't believe in their destiny. None of this would have happened. None of it. She wouldn't have slacked off the rest of her high school years, only to end up barely being able to graduate with her class. She wouldn't have quit classes at community college after one single semester and run off to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. She wouldn't have done the unmentionable things she did in order to jumpstart her music career. She wouldn't have recorded the hit records, won the awards, schmoozed with rich and famous. She wouldn't have married him, she wouldn't have had Jordan. None of her present world would have existed, not in the slightest.
He tried not to think about her thinking that. He also tried not to play the what-if game with himself.
Maria walked around their Spanish-style home in a daze, subconsciously gathering Jordan's things about the house into a wicker toy bin. She somehow found herself in his office, staring at his computer. About an hour after he had left for the airport the day prior, she had discovered that he had typed in an entire computer screen full of LOVE YOU LOVE YOU LOVE YOU LOVE YOU LOVE YOU. It always made her smile, his little messages. The morning after they first made love, she was the first in the shower, and underneath the powerful rush of hot water, she worried that it all had been one gigantic, inerasable mistake. But stepping out onto the cold bathroom tile, water dripping from her skin, terrycloth towel wrapped tightly around her body, she saw the message he had scrawled in the fog of the mirror. "Morning, DeLuca =)" was the modest message. The second she read it, all her doubts and anxieties disappeared.
Their first date was to a Grammys ceremony, believe it or not. It technically wasn't even a date, seeing how they regarded other as nothing more than friends and Maria's original escort had cancelled on her the morning of the awards. He had stepped in without a hesitation. They were living in the same city now, after he had been transferred to the LA branch of the software company, and were spending more time together then they did in high school even. They had dinner together every night, shared vacations, went rollerblading every Sunday afternoon. They were comfortable with each other, secure, safe. Every now and then, she would look at him and see the striking, incredibly kind and compassionate man he had grown to become, and she would have to force her eyes away out of fear of the emotions that would arise. But that night, she could not tear them away. That night, the two of them had decided against attending the after parties and headed for his quaint apartment. They sat together in his backyard patio, sharing a lawn chair, both their shoes off, his jacket discarded and his top shirt buttons undone, her hair taken down and her jewelry put away. Her head lay on his chest, and he was stroking her fine blonde hair. They sat in a comfortable silence, and she never felt more at peace. She looked up at him, and studied every nuance of his slim face in the shadows of twilight. The point of noise. The jut of his chin. The warmth of his eyes. He caught her staring at him, and he smiled. Just smiled. Said nothing at all. He just knew. And suddenly they were sharing the most tender of kisses.
The morning after, the morning she had read that simple message on the foggy bathroom mirror, they got married. Two years later, they had Jordan. Beautiful Jordan.
The sound of the doorbell jolted Maria out of her reverie, her arms dropping the bin in her hands and its contents spilling out onto the floor of the home office. "Shit," she muttered, trying to scoop up all the toys off the ground into one armful. The doorbell rang again, and fearing another would wake her daughter, she placed what she had managed to gather back into the bin, and hurried to the foyer of the home.
She pulled open the heavy oak door only a small crack. "Look, I don't know how you got past the front gate and I don't care, but whatever product you're hawking, I don't need," she told the unwanted visitor as forcefully but as softly as possible. "Or whatever organized religion you're selling... well, that, too, I've been doing fine without for the past twenty-nine years." Maria began to push the door closed. "Goodbye, good day, good luck."
"Wait!" the man said, beginning to force the door the opposite direction.
"Listen, buddy," she said to person on the other side of the entryway. "I am about a millisecond away from calling security and--"
"*Maria*," she heard the man plead.
Her heart stopped. She knew that voice.
Slowly she began to open the door, inch by inch, a long squeak accompanying it. Finally they stood face to face, nothing but a doorsill separating the two. He looked older. Of course he did, it had been eleven years, but... his face seemed worn, so battered. A few wrinkles underlined his eyes, which had become even more closed off and guarded. His skin was darkly tanned, his hair lighter and tinted with blonde. He was taller, more sturdy...it was him though. It was definitely him.
"Mi-Michael..." she gasped, not completely certain that the words had escaped her mouth.
He nodded slightly. "It's me," he whispered gruffly.
She thought he might have expected her to take him into his arms right then and there. But she didn't budge. She held onto the edge of the door, partially covered by it, like a life preserver. "How are-- how are things back... back home?" she stammered.
"The war's over," he said plainly, with no emotion in his voice. His voice softened at his next words. "We came back to tie up some loose ends."
She didn't know how to reply to that; she just continued to stare at him blankly.
"Do you think I could come in for a minute?" Michael asked after another awkward pause.
It took a moment for the question to register, and when it did, the nothingness in her expression was replaced with sheer panic. "No!" she said abruptly, surprising both him and herself with the tone of her voice. She tried to even it out with a long breath. "No," she said more calmly. "You can't. My daughter's inside taking a nap and-"
He couldn't conceal his astonishment. "Your... your daughter?"
Oh, god. He didn't know.
"How did you find me?" she asked him. "I mean, if you tracked me down, how could you have missed the fact that I'm... that I'm married?" He moved backward slightly, and at that point in time, the word seemed foreign to her as well.
"We went back to Roswell. Talked to Valenti," he replied, still trying to digest the information, still trying to decide how he should react. "He told me that you were in LA, but he didn't mention..." He let his voice trail off. "As soon as I got the address, I sort of just went for it."
"He didn't know. We don't really keep in close touch with him. But you could have talked to Liz's parents, or even the Evanses," Maria said. "They knew. I mean, did Max and Is even go see their mom and dad?"
"We have to keep a low profile," Michael answered sharply, as if that were a sufficient answer, and she winced slightly at his bluntness. And suddenly they had fallen into their old routine: her making lame attempts to understand, him dodging the question.
She licked her dry lips and sighed tiredly. "What do you want, Michael?" There was a coldness in his expression now, but still she forged on. "Because we've been standing here for nearly five minutes and I still have no idea what you want with me now. If you came to say you're sorry for leaving, it's unnecessary."
Silence filled the air once again, and Maria became acutely aware of the prickling she felt on her skin, certain it was not a result of the moisture that still hung in the air. There had always been a dangerous electricity between her and Michael, most powerful when surrounded by the quiet. Standing before each other, only a foot apart, not saying a word, she was fifteen years old again, being drawn closer and closer to the edge of bottomless abyss. Those familiar emotions rushing back into her veins, she knew exactly what he had come for. He had come to take her away. Realizing this, her expression changed to a softer one, as did his. He slowly inched his way towards her, and she could swear she could already feel his skin on hers.
"Her name's Jordan," she suddenly blurted out, as if the mention of her name would quench all these unearthly and impractical desires that were coursing through her body. She quickly added, "My daughter, that's her name."
She thought she saw a glint of something in his eye, but he still was unfazed. Maria took another shaky breath and tried again.
"Jordan Whitman," she said her little girl's full name.
He stopped dead in his tracks, the look on his face a single question mark. "As in..."
Maria simply nodded her head. And though it was completely unnecessary, she held up her left hand with the palm facing towards her to show him wedding ring.
He didn't even look at it. His eyes were set firmly upon her face, his gaze unshakable. He was trying to search for something, a reason, an explanation.
"So I guess this changes everything," Maria said vacantly, desperately trying to sort her emotions. Was she regretful of her actions? Angry that he had expected so much from her when he had disappointed her? Happy that he had come back? Furious that he had the nerve to? He stared at her, needing to know what she was thinking. But he failed miserably. Even she didn't know what she was thinking, what she was feeling. What else could one expect after more than a decade of suppressing violent emotions and cheerless memories, only to have all of them emerge in one confusing jumble a single instant. Her head felt like gelatin. She needed to sit down. She still clung to door for dear life; it was the only thing that kept her standing upright.
He looked away when he knew it was hopeless. His gaze wandered toward the pebbled ground. For a moment, Maria wondered if this was it. If this were the end of the reunion she had played in her head constantly those first few lonely years. But suddenly his head snapped up again. "It changes nothing," he told her. "We still need to talk."
Her eyebrows knit in confusion. "We are talking."
"I'd prefer it if you weren't hiding behind a door," he replied dryly.
The corners of her mouth turned up slightly. Taking it as a sign that she was slowly letting the wall down, he reached into his pocket and held out to her a folded piece of paper. "This is where I'm staying."
She gazed at the piece of paper, her body frozen.
Hand slightly trembling, she took it from him. She began to say apologetically, "I would invite you in so we could talk here, it's just..."
"You don't want to your daughter to wake up to find a strange man in the house," he completed, slighting tensing. "I understand."
Minutes later after his departure, she still stood in the empty foyer, leaning against the closed door. She began to sink down to the cold adobe floor, and she soon was clutching her knees to her chest and crying softly. The tears flew freely; she didn't bother to stop them. It had been a while since she had allowed herself to cry. But it seemed more appropriate now than ever. You know that feeling you get when you have absolutely no idea what lies in the future? High school seniors get that feeling as they near the end of their final year. New parents often struggle momentarily with a similar emotion as they prepare for the birth of their first child. You feel as if your old life is breaking away, and all you can really do is mourn its death.
Maria could help but think back to the night after the Michael, Max, and Isabel had left. For twenty-four hours, she had refused to cry. She hated how she felt afterwards. Empty. Tired. Exposed. She outright rejected the very thought of shedding a tear. So instead she wandered around the small town aimlessly, hoping to walk off everything she denied feeling. Around midnight, she ended up at the Parker residence, finding Liz alone out on the terrace that lay beyond her bedroom window. She was standing before a small metal wastebasket, tearing pages out of a book and throwing it into the fire she had started within it.
"Hey, you need a permit for that," Maria joked, climbing through the open window.
Liz smiled weakly and ripped out another page.
"What are you burning there?" she asked gently, joining her side.
"My journal," Liz replied, her voice scratched and weary. She threw another paper into the flames. "Back to front."
"You can't burn your journal," Maria said. "You're supposed to keep those things forever and cherish the memories you recorded. Otherwise you'll forget them all."
Liz said nothing for a moment. "That's kind of... that's kind of the point." She coughed in an attempt to clear her clogged throat, and fed another page, the second-to-last.
"You look about almost done," Maria noted lamely.
Liz ripped out the final page, which was the first to be written. Instead of immediately throwing it into the basket, she stopped to examine the opening words. "September 23rd. Journal entry one," she read out loud. "I'm Liz Parker and five days ago I died." She paused a moment and turned to her friend. "Can I tell you something?"
"When I wrote this entry, I was really happy," Liz confessed, staring down at the lone sheet in her hand. "I was so happy that my life, my stupid, boring life was finally becoming extraordinary. But now..." She stopped to choke back a sob. " But now I read those words and I can't even remember the person who was writing them. And I don't know if that's a good or bad thing."
"So what now?" Maria asked, her voice beginning to crack.
"I get a new journal," whispered Liz brokenly into the still night air. She crumpled the page and tossed it into the hungry fire, along with the leather cover, the orange blaze consuming both. "I start over."
That's when Maria started to cry. Because she had no idea how she would go about starting over. The future seemed so blank.
So there the two girls stood, huddled together, contemplating the rebirth, their tears feeding the fire.
|Index | Part 2
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours