FANFIC: A World Not Forgotten

ROSWELL

Summary:  At the end of Departure, what if Michael had let go of the granolith at the last second, while the rest of the four had continued to Antar after all?  AU future fic, alternating between Maria and Michael’s POVs.  Tess also emerges as a prominent character.

A/N: I wrote this around 2002 when I was 14.  I’m pretty embarrassed about it all around, but there are some parts that I still like, even if the characterization is completely off.  I had totally written the song that Michael hears Maria singing, but I can’t find it anymore. This story is complete.

Disclaimer: I do not own Roswell or its characters.

Place: Roswell, New Mexico
Time: September 2008

1. (MARIA) I find you, I lose you

Have you ever looked out the window while it’s raining?  Not really looked at anything, but just stared off into space until all you could see was a blur of lines going down?  I have.  And if you do it just long enough, it almost seems like the rain is going in slow motion.  If you think about it even more, you begin to wonder.  Is the rain really going in slow motion?  Is the whole world really on hold?  Or are have you become so disconnected from the rest of the world that you’re moving at a completely different pace?

I used to hate living in Roswell, NM.  Everything was so dull.  I mean, I loved my mom and Liz and Alex and all, but sometimes I just felt like going somewhere else for a day or two.  By myself.  Just escape.  I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

Michael Guerin.  He had always been a loner.  He never talked to anybody but his friend Max and Max’s sister, Isabel.  It was a trio nobody could break apart.  But it wasn’t a trio anyone could enter either.

Until the day Liz was shot.  Max, having been in love with her since he first saw her in elementary school, couldn’t bear to see something like that happen to her, so he sort of…healed her.  And since Liz figured out his cells weren’t human when they were examining cheek cells in Biology, he finally had to tell her the truth.  He was an alien and so were Isabel and Michael.  That would explain why they never let anyone in.  But it certainly didn’t explain why Michael kissed me.

Liz promised Max she wouldn’t tell anyone his secret, but soon realized she had to tell someone.  Since we had been best friends for practically forever, I guess I lucked out and got pulled into the whole thing.  So many things were happening at once.

Michael stole my car, along with me in it, and drove to Texas, looking for this dome thing he’d seen in a dream.  It was all pretty crazy.  After that, Max and Liz had to go see this guy called Riverdog.  And he kissed me.  (Not Max, but Michael.)

I was confused.  I mean, here was this guy who’d just told me he hated me (I’d told him I hated him too) and here we were kissing each other.  And I was enjoying it.  How, I asked myself, could things get any weirder?  I didn’t really want an answer, but I guess I got one anyway.

Eventually, we got closer.  Tess, the fourth alien, showed up and told us all about their destiny.  She was destined to be with Max and Michael with Isabel.  Nasedo jumped in to offer advice.  Everybody was getting suspicious and it was all because of  Liz and me.  Alex eventually found out, but there was still Topolsky and Valenti and Pierce.  I think Topolsky could have been an ally, but she died in a mental hospital.  Valenti decided we were on the right side and joined us.  Michael figured out he had the power to kill people when he flung Pierce against a wall and killed him.  Michael told me he loved me too much to be with me.  Then with a simple hug and “Goodbye” he was gone.

…Why do people have to go
this dark night’s now all I know
why does everything have to change
I’m trapped in a world that’s oh so strange
Oh why does everything have to change
I’m trapped in a world that’s oh so strange
Now I’m on both sides of the same wall–
And I need my room to breathe…

I didn’t know whether to be sad or mad or happy or annoyed.  It was so sudden.  He had told me he loved me.  But he’d also said Goodbye.  I felt like crying, but no tears were forming.  It’s probably a good thing because I wouldn’t have known if they were tears of joy or tears of pain.

It’s the weirdest sensation though.  When you feel like you’re crying inside but you’re not really on the outside.  It’s like you’re torn between two things, or on both sides of a wall.  In other words, confusing.

The summer passed, and he ignored me.  I knew he missed me, but I also knew he thought we couldn’t be together.  Maybe we couldn’t.

Then came the skins.  They were aliens too.  But they were on the opposite side of the war.  They killed Nasedo. Isabel killed the first one, Whitaker, on her (Isabel’s) birthday.  But then there was Courtney.  She was always flirting with Michael, and it was just disgusting.  One day I found Michael at her house.  She was in a towel.

I told myself I would never forgive Michael for that.  Somehow I did.  Courtney did end up killing herself to protect the them and the granilith, which was a pretty loyal gesture on her part, but that doesn’t mean I liked her.

After that, Michael seemed like a different person sometimes.  I wasn’t sure if I liked it.  I mean, I missed the old Michael, but in a way he was still there.  He paid for me to sing in Las Vegas.  He took dancing lessons just so he could dance with me at the Prom.  He was there for me when Alex was killed.  (We later found out the killer was Tess.)  He watched out for me when Liz and I were trying to figure out what had been up with Alex.  He let me see him.  He was Michael.  I spent the most amazing night of my life with him.  And then he left.  Back to Antar.  Out of Roswell, just like he’d always wanted.  Just like I’d always wanted.  But I’d forgotten when I was with him.  Apparently he couldn’t have said the same.

…One minute we’re standing together
The rest of the world is on hold
How did I get here, in one second
a hundred miles away
with a million people between us…
 

I just wanted to leave.  But Liz told me I was running away from my problems.  I could tell she missed Max too.  She was staying in Roswell, hoping he would be back some day.  I told myself Michael wouldn’t be coming back.  But I think my heart always knew he would.

Then Billy came to Roswell.  He was just a guy I’d met (and kissed) in this songwriting workshop 4 years before.  I didn’t think much about him afterwards.  But then he came and reminded me of my dream.  And a might-have-been romance.  Except I knew then that it never could have been.  I asked him to leave.  Even so, I’ll remember him forever–maybe even love him in a way–for leading me back to my dream at a time when I just couldn’t see it anymore.

Seven years have passed now.  Michael never came back.  Sometimes I would feel like he was watching me, but that was impossible.  He was never there when I turned around.  I tell myself I’m completely over him, but if that’s the truth, how can I still remember every single moment I’ve had with him?  It’s like it’s all etched in my mind forever.

“I’m so sorry; I wasn’t looking where I was going!” I exclaimed to the person I just bumped into.

“Maria…”

I looked up.  “Michael?”  No wonder I had felt weird when he bumped into me.  What was I supposed to do?  There were about a hundred things I wanted to say to him at once, but I couldn’t talk.  Here I was, finally in front of this guy I hadn’t seen in seven years and all I could do was stand there.

“We have to talk,” he told me.  “Can we go to the Crashdown or something?”

“The Crashdown is not in business anymore,” I informed him. “It was shut down last year.  Long story.  But Liz had to move away.”

“Oh.  Sorry.  But it’s probably just as well.”

“What do you mean?” I wanted to know.

“Maria, Max is not here with me.  Neither is Isabel.  They all got killed.  Even Tess.”  He looked upset.

“How did you–Oh my god!  I had to be at work five minutes ago…I really have to go.”  I started running in the direction I had been going in when we bumped into each other.

All the way to work my head was filled with questions.  How could he leave me and just come back like this? How could I be telling myself this?  Antar was his home planet.  Ever since he came out of his pod, he’d been searching for a way home.  He had the right to go.  That’s why I’d let him go.  Why was I being a hypocrite?  Why was I talking to myself??!!

…Now you’re lost
but I guess I am too
Together we can find a way
and maybe live once again…

Michael was waiting for me when I got home.  He really freaked me out.

“How did you know where I live?!” I demanded.

Michael shrugged.  “I looked in the phone book,” he replied.

“Didn’t it occur to you that maybe I don’t want you in my house?   That maybe I’m married?  That maybe I have a family that would have freaked out?!”  I was yelling.

“Um, yeah.  But I sort of checked first,” he said.

“Oh.”  I paused and looked at him carefully.  “I’m not listed in the phone book, Michael.”

Michael look ready to run.  “Maybe I should go…”

“No!”  I grabbed his arm.  “If you’re just going to break into my home, you might as well stay.”

He sat back down.  “What did you want to know before?” he asked.

“Um…I wanted to know how you survived if everyone else was killed?”

He hesitated.  “You want to know the truth?”

“Uh, yeah,” I said, wondering what in the world he was going to tell me.

“Promise you won’t get mad?” he asked, hopefully.

I nodded, a little confused.

“I didn’t actually go…to Antar,” he confessed.

I crossed my arms over my chest.  “Where’d you go then?” I asked.

“I didn’t go anywhere,” he said miserably.

“What?!  Why?”  I jumped up from the sofa.

“I got scared at the last minute and stayed behind,” he told me.  “I’m really sorry.  I was going to tell you…”

So that was why I’d always felt him there.  I thought I was going crazy, but he really HAD been watching me.  “Is this how you knew where I lived?” I asked shrilly.

He didn’t answer.

“Why didn’t you ever TELL me?” I was practically screaming.  Calm down, I told myself.

“I was just…stupid, okay?  I did something stupid.  Haven’t you ever done anything stupid?”

“Well, yeah.  Obviously,” I answered.

“I’m sorry, Maria.  I’m really sorry.”  He paused for a few seconds.  “When that…guy showed up, I just didn’t know what to do.”

“What guy?” I asked, knowing perfectly well he was talking about Billy.

Michael quickly changed the subject.  “I like your house.”

“Um…thanks.  Did you ever PLAN on telling me?  Or were you just going to follow me around everywhere I went and scare the crap out of me?”

Michael blushed.  “Yeah.  Actually, I’ve been planning on telling you for a couple months now.  I just couldn’t think of the right way to do it.  I don’t think there IS a right way.”

He was telling the truth.  I didn’t know what to say.

“Why didn’t you know about the Crashdown?” I wanted to know.

He looked at his feet.  “I knew.”

“So, how do you know that the rest of them died?”

“I could sense it,” he replied, a little distractedly.  He was looking at me kind of strangely.

“That’s nice.”  I was beginning to feel a little nervous.  “I…I want you out of this house NOW!” I yelled, pointing to the front door.  Why am I doing this?

Michael broke out of his trance and looked a little uneasy.  “Um, okay.  If that’s what you really want.”  He started walking toward the door.

No, that’s not what I really want!, I screamed silently.  “Bye,” I said aloud.

And he was gone.  What have I done?

“I love you, Michael,” I whispered to the empty house.  “I love you.”

2. (MICHAEL) I’m (not) okay

I never should have gone to her house, I thought as I walked back to my apartment.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  I kicked a stray pebble angrily and listened to it falling into a nearby sewer.  It started to rain.  The night I’ll always remember–it was raining then.   I sighed.

Somewhere in my life I had made a huge mistake.  I knew exactly when, but I never wanted to admit it to myself.  I think about it all the time.  Why didn’t I say something?  When we were about to leave, I almost told Max I couldn’t go.  Almost.  I can’t figure out why I didn’t.  I was dying inside, but I just stood there with all of them and pretended everything was fine.  The clock was ticking down.  At the last second, I pulled my hand away.

Why didn’t I tell Maria?  That’s the big question that haunts me to this day.  I’m still not really sure of the answer.

“WHY?!” I screamed out loud.  “Somebody please tell me why!”  Silence.  I kicked another pebble, not caring where it landed.  The sky was completely dark, all the stars had disappeared, and the streets were completely deserted.  I had never felt so alone.

When I finally got back to my apartment, I went straight to the couch.  I was so tired, I didn’t even have anymore time to think about what a mess my life was in.  In a couple seconds, I was asleep.

In my dream, I was back at Maria’s house.  “I…I want you out of this house NOW!!” she yelled.

I was hurt, but I couldn’t let her know it.  “Um, okay.  If that’s what you really want,” I said uncertainly.  No, no, I chastised myself.  Ugh, I sound like an idiot!  I started heading toward the door.  Too slowly.  You have to act like you’re in control!

I looked back at Maria.  She seemed to be fighting some sort of battle in her head.  “No, that’s not what I really want!” she screamed.

“Um.  What do you really want?” I asked tentatively.

Maria shook her head and blinked back tears.  “I don’t know.”  She wouldn’t look at me.

I walked up to her quietly and touched her shoulder.  She turned around and I kissed her.  That’s when I noticed something was wrong.  We weren’t in Maria’s house, we were at the Crashdown.  Maria’s hair was short.  My own hair was spiked up.  I was dreaming…dreaming of our first kiss.  Why…

I woke up.  The Crashdown doesn’t even exist anymore, I reminded myself.  I sat up and noticed it was still 12:02AM.  I walked to the refrigerator to see if there was something to eat.

There were three knocks at the door.  Who would be knocking at midnight?  I walked over to the door and opened it.  Maria?  Was there something wrong with my vision?

“Michael, I need to talk to you,” she said quietly.

“Whaa?” I found myself saying.

“Michael, I’m really here.  Can I please come in?”

I moved aside, feeling kind of dazed.  She sat down on the couch and I joined her.  “How did you find me?” I asked.

“I followed you,” she answered looking down at the couch as if it was the most fascinating thing she’d ever seen.

“Oh.”  That meant she had seen me.  Heard me yelling nonsensical things.  Well, if she wasn’t going to mention it, I definitely wasn’t going to.

“I want to apologize.  For kicking you out of my house.  I really didn’t know what I was saying.”

“It was nothing,” I lied.

“Good.  So, um, if you don’t mind my asking, why were you yelling ‘WHY?’ in the middle of the street?”

Because I’m losing my mind.  I cleared my throat and totally changed the subject.  “Why didn’t you ever get married?” I asked brightly.  Um, Why did I just say that?

Maria blinked.  “I’m thirsty,” she said weakly.  “Do you have a Snapple?”

“Yeah sure.”  Glad to have an excuse to get up, I went and got her a Snapple.  I got one for myself too.  We drank them in silence.

“I should probably go,” Maria said, looking like she didn’t want to leave.  She stood up.

I stood up too.  “You shouldn’t go walking around alone at midnight,” I told her.

She managed a little smile.  “I know.”  And with that, she walked out.

“Wait!” I ran after her and grabbed her arm.

“What?” she turned around, a hopeful look in her eyes.

“Maria, do you, uh, remember our first kiss?”  It was the stupidest-sounding thing that had ever come out of my mouth.

Maria looked confused for a few seconds.  She looked like she was about to cry.  “No.”

I felt like I was back in the pod chamber, getting ready to leave for Antar.  I was dying all over again, and I didn’t know what to do.

“Michael, I’d really like to go home,” Maria whispered, blinking back tears.  She was staring at my hand, which still had not loosened up on her arm.

I let go.  “Okay.”

3. (MARIA) heal me

“Michael, I’d really like to go home,” I whispered, silently begging him to let go of my arm.  Iwon’tcry Iwon’tcry Iwon’tcry.  Why was he doing this?  Couldn’t he tell I was dying inside?

Michael looked at me blankly.  He slowly released his death grip on my arm.  “Okay.”

Okay?!  Did he really say that?  I stood there for a couple more seconds, staring at the pink mark on my arm that was slowly disappearing.  Then I looked at him one last time, turned around, and left.

What was I thinking?, I thought all the way home.  I’d said ‘no’ when I meant ‘yes’, I’d said I wanted to go home when I really didn’t…  When could I stop lying to him?

I knew the answer.  I had known it all along.

Never.

The word stung.  But I knew it was true.  As long as I was anywhere near Michael, anything I wanted to say came out just the opposite.

What’s wrong with me?

As soon as I opened the front door I knew something was wrong.  The lights dimmed.  I heard footsteps.  Someone had broken in!  I looked frantically around the house.

“Maria.”  A voice behind me.  A voice I could not recognize.  Even so, it was familiar.  Turn around, don’t turn around, turn around, don’t turn around.  I slowly turned around, afraid of who I would see.

Topolsky?!  “You’re dead!” I blurted out, not thinking.

“Shh!  Maria, listen to me very carefully,” Topolsky said quietly.  “You need to get out of this house right now!  You’re in great danger.  Michael’s in great danger.”

For whatever reason, I believed her.  “Where can I go?”

“Anywhere.  It doesn’t matter.  Just go!”  She gave me a push and I was out of the house, stumbling blindly into the night.  I ran crazily down the streets, not able to think.  Did I know where I was going?  No.  I ran and ran.  “You’re in great danger.  Michael’s in great danger.”  The words echoed inside my mind.  It’s my fault, I thought.  I hurt him.

Never.

I couldn’t get the word out of my head.

I started running in the direction of his apartment.  The last thing I can remember is something or someone hitting me in the back.  Then I blacked out.

I woke up with Michael staring down at me.  I was dizzy.

“What happened?” I asked, my voice hoarse.

“I don’t know,” Michael admitted.  “I found you lying on the street.  You were bleeding everywhere, Maria.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“Who did this to you?”

I twisted my neck around so I could see my back.  There was a silver handprint where I’d been hit.  I ran my finger over the palm of the handprint.  It was the strangest feeling.

I started to smile.  “You healed me?” I asked him.  If he healed me, then he saw me.

He knows I lied.

Michael looked horrified.  “What was I supposed to do?  Was I supposed to leave you there to die a bloody death?  Because if I was–”

“No, it’s really okay,” I assured him.

He relaxed.  “Do you feel…okay?”

I nodded.  “Can…Can you walk me home?”  I looked at him; my eyes daring him to say no.  To back away once again.

Michael helped me to my feet, his eyes never leaving mine.  “Yes.”

We walked to my house in silence.  Side by side.

Michael stopped at my front door, looking lost.  “Stay safe,” he said finally, and started heading back to his apartment.

“Wait!” I cried out.  I was not going to lose him again.  Not going to lie to him.  “It’s not safe out there!”

He turned around and looked at me.

“Stay.  Stay here.  I owe it to you for kicking you out earlier.”

Michael hesitated for a minute.  Then he shrugged and walked back to me.  “If you really want me to,” he whispered in my ear.  And we both walked in.

4. (MICHAEL) truth? truce?

I could see her whole life when I healed her.  The past seven years.

She’d had faith in me.  She knew I would return to her.

She sensed me when I had been watching her.  But I ducked out of view.  Afraid of facing her.

She’d think of me every time she sang.  She’d remember the time in Las Vegas when I paid for her to sing and she’d smile.  Remember the time she was singing with Alex’s band and I wasn’t there.  And then she’d cry.

But what stood out the most were the past few hours.

She’d told me to get out of her house when she really wanted me to stay.  She lied to me about not remembering our first kiss.  She’d lied when she told me she wanted to go home.

“I love you, Michael.  I love you.”

And she still loved me.

I felt trapped.  I wanted to know all this, but I didn’t want to see it from flashes.  I wanted her to tell me.  I was happy, but at the same time I was hurt.

“I’m going to go get a drink; is that okay?” I asked Maria, who nodded and asked me to get something for her too.

I walked into Maria’s kitchen, not really paying attention to anything.  That’s when I saw the refrigerator door was open, and someone wearing a blue skirt was frantically searching through the bottom drawer.

“Who’s there?” I asked, keeping my voice low so Maria wouldn’t hear.

The girl closed the door, stood up and turned to face me. “Oh hi, Michael,” Tess said, casual as can be, and indicated a large grocery sack that was sitting on the floor next to her feet.  “I’m just doing some weekly shopping.  Want to help?”

“Tess,” I stated, trying to keep calm, “What are you doing here?”

Tess peered into her grocery bag and returned, “I could ask you the same thing.  Last time I checked this was Maria’s house.”

“And that would totally explain why you’re here because you were such good friends in the years back.  Especially since, last I remember, you were headed for Antar like the rest of them.”

Tess opened the fridge once again and started rearranging jars.  “I’m here,” she told me, glancing down at a list in her hand, “for my weekly shopping.  I told you that already.  You, on the other hand, haven’t given a good reason.”

I don’t need a reason,” I stated firmly.  “I, unlike you, am Maria’s friend, and I don’t think she’d be very happy if she knew you were here.”

Tess turned back to me.  “It seems like the only person I’m upsetting is you,” she commented, closing the door.  “Besides.  Friends don’t spy on their friends and keep them believing that they’ve gone to another planet when they’re really still here.”

“I want you out of this house right now!” I yelled, forgetting to keep my voice down.

Tess folded up the top of her bag and picked it up.  “I think I’m just about done here anyway.”  She was starting to leave out the back door but I blocked her path.

“You never went to Antar did you?  You just stayed here and never told anyone…”

Tess pushed me out of the way.  “Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?” She stated coolly and opened the door, ready to leave.

“This isn’t over,” I assured her.

She shook her head.  “No, it isn’t.”

I grabbed the sack.  “And this isn’t yours.”

She slammed the door and ran.

I reached into the bag, which was full of random things, and replaced everything.  The only thing strange was a small key, left at the bottom of the bag.  I opened the refrigerator, got out two Snapples, and walked back into the other room.

Maria was sitting on the couch, watching TV.  She looked up when I entered the room.  “What took you so long?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I replied hastily, handing her the drink.

She looked concerned as she opened the bottle and took a drink.  “Are you okay?  You’re acting really strange.  Even for you.”

I gulped at the Snapple noisily, trying to figure out what to say.  No, I’m not okay.  Tess is alive.  Tess was here.  She never left Earth.  “Yes.  I just need to ask you a question.”

“What?”

“Is this your key?” I asked, holding up the key.  Please tell me it is…

Maria gave me a weird look.  “No,” she said slowly.  “I’ve never seen it before in my life.”  She paused.  “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yes,” I lied again, “but I’m tired.”

“Maria looked around.  “Well, the other couch is a mess, but you can just move that stuff over and sleep there.  If you want.”

I looked at the couch for a long time.  I’m tired.  I can sleep here tonight worry about it tomorrow.  “No,” I said decidedly.  “We’re both going to my apartment.  It’s not safe here.”

5. (MARIA) confessions

I knew he didn’t want me to ask questions.  I could tell by the way he was looking at me.  He was silently begging me just to listen to him, to trust him.  So I did.

It was a quiet walk back to his apartment.  At this rate, I thought bitterly, all we’ll be doing all night is walking from his apartment to my house and vice versa.  But I didn’t really care.  After all, I was so tired, I could barely keep myself from collapsing in the street.

As we unlocked the door to his apartment, Michael cleared his throat and said he probably owed me an explanation.

I nodded weakly, although at that point I couldn’t have cared less.  All I wanted to do was fall on the sofa, or even the floor, and sleep until noon.

Michael obviously felt the same way.  He suppressed a yawn and said, “I’ll just give you the short version:  Tess never left Earth.  I found her in your kitchen looking through your refrigerator.  When I kicked her out, she left everything, including this key.”

I was barely listening.  “Tess was inside my house?!” I screamed.  Topolsky warned me…

Michael looked slightly taken back.  “Yes…,” he replied.  “That’s why it’s not safe.”  He cast another strange look in my direction and shook his head.

He doesn’t know, I realized.  I never got to tell him.  “Michael…Tess killed Alex.”  I felt like it was happening all over again.  I wanted to cry.

“Tess WHAT?!” Michael screamed twice as loud as I had earlier.

“Michael…don’t you have other people in this apartment who might like to sleep?”  I didn’t want him making this any worse than it already was.

“Right,” he said looking around guiltily.  “Why would she do that?”

“She mind warped him so he would decode that stupid book, and then she kept doing it until there was nothing left and it killed him.  Kyle was there, but she mind warped him too…she mind warped a lot of people, Michael.  It was almost like a common everyday thing for her; like it didn’t even matter to her anymore, you know?  Every time anyone gave her trouble…”

“She mind warped me too,” Michael seemed to realize as he stared into space.  “So I wouldn’t know she hadn’t left.”  He turned to look at me again.  “How long have you known this?”

“Since the morning Max and Isabel left.  We tried to tell you, but you were already in the pod chamber; you couldn’t hear us pounding on the door.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s my fault.  If we’d figured it out just a few minutes earlier, Max and Isabel would still be alive now.”  The guilt was eating away at me.  It’s my fault Michael’s lost everyone.  It’s my fault Liz has lost Max…

            “No, it’s my fault.  I knew I didn’t want to leave.  I should have told Max and Isabel and gotten out of there.  Then I would have found out, Tess would be gone, we would stay on Earth.  We would all be living completely different lives.  We would all be living.”  He sounded like he was about to cry and I felt bad for lying to him earlier.

“Michael?” I asked sleepily.

“What?”

“I have a confession to make.”

He looked at me warily.  “What?”

“That key Tess left behind?  I have seen it before because it was one of the many things she left…over at Kyle’s house.  I saw it and I thought it was important…I took it and kept it in the fridge…so no one’d find it by accident, but I guess Tess was spying on me…She’s probably been waiting years to get it back…”

“Why do you think she hasn’t gotten it sooner?” Michael wanted to know.

I shrugged.  “Who knows?”

There was a long silence.

“I don’t think I can stay awake any longer,” Michael mumbled.  “I think I’ve been like half asleep.”

“Me too…”

“I saw everything when I healed you…”

“I know.”  I felt like there was something else I should say.  I had been hit with a sudden feeling that something was horribly wrong.  “Michael…”

“What…?”

But then it was gone just as quickly as it had come.  I shook it off like a bad dream.  “Forget it.”

We slept, knowing when we woke up everything would still be the same, but hoping anyway that all our problems would have disappeared.  I should have known we were wrong, that everything wouldn’t be the same at all…

6. (MICHAEL) she made us forget

The minute I opened my eyes I could sense something was wrong.  There was a weird empty feeling in my head as I sat up and looked around.  I almost fainted.  There was a girl I’d never seen before sleeping peacefully next to me on the couch.

I stood up immediately and looked around the rest of my apartment feeling completely disoriented.  Think, think, think.  What happened here yesterday night?  I searched my memory frantically trying to remember something, anything.  There was nothing.  My mind was pretty much blank.  I saw the pod chamber.  I remembered coming out of the pod…

But the rest of my life…where had it gone?  I stumbled to the bathroom, looking into the mirror.  I must’ve been at least 16…17 years old.  What’s going on?  Why can’t I remember?

I walked back over to the sleeping girl and stood over her, wondering what to do next.  I yelled, “Wake up!  What are you doing in my…”  I trailed off when she opened her eyes.  Familiar eyes…

“Where am I?” she demanded.  “Who are you?  Why am I here?”

But I barely heard her.  Suddenly everything in my life started coming back to me in short, abrupt flashes.  Max, Isabel, my “brother and sister.”  Hank, the only father figure I’d had when I was younger.  Maria.  I saw us together.  Through her eyes, through my eyes; it was all the same. I had cared about her; I’d loved her.  So why didn’t I remember?

She stared back at me, a confused look on her face.  I knew she was getting the same flashes.  “Michael?”  She sounded scared.

I nodded.  “Maria?”

She nodded.

There was a long moment of silence.  “What’s going on?” she asked, near tears.

“I don’t know,” I admitted.  I dug around in my pockets for anything that could tell me anything and came up with a key.  FLASH< Kyle.  Alex.  Tess.  I saw them all.  I saw Tess kill Alex.  Her attempt to mindwarp him again and again until he crumpled to the floor, unable to take anymore.  Tess in Maria’s refrigerator, moving random containers around.  Me, getting out drinks for Maria and me.  Snapples that had been in the refrigerator… >END FLASH

I was pulled back into reality.  I grabbed Maria’s arm, sending all the flashes, making sure she remembered everything.

It was a lot to take in all at once, but she just swallowed and said what I’d been thinking.  “Tess put something in the drinks?”

“She must have.”  I grimaced.  “I was stupid; I didn’t think.  I’m sorry.”

“What do we do now?” Maria wanted to know.  “She apparently knows where I live and everything about me.  We know nothing about her.”

“We must know something,” I said, not willing to lose to Tess.

We sat and thought in silence for what seemed like an eternity, but neither of us had any clue where Tess might be staying or what she’d been doing the last seven years.

“Let’s face it, Michael.  Whatever she’s trying to do, whatever her plan is, it’s obviously working.  We have nothing on her.”

But I refused to believe we’d been beaten.  Maria was right; Tess had clearly thought this out pretty thoroughly.  “Did the Valentis clean everything out?” I asked.

Maria nodded her head.  “But even if they hadn’t, that was her past.  I mean, she couldn’t have known where she’d be now.  She couldn’t have anticipated that you’d stay and she’d stay too…”

“We don’t know that.  Everything we do, Tess seems to be a few steps ahead.  It’s really getting annoying.”

Maria started to reply, but was interrupted by a loud knock at the door.  I had a strange feeling it was Tess.

Maria and I both got up and she flung the door open.  Standing in the doorway was a very innocent-looking Tess.

“Tess!” Maria exclaimed as if they were old friends.  “What a pleasant surprise!  We were just talking about you.”

7. (MARIA) pretending it’s safe

Tess looked at us, dumbfounded.  “Wait a minute, do you two know each other?”  She looked directly at Michael.  “Why are you a hiding strange woman in your room?”  She stuck her head a little further into the room and looked around.

“Tess.  I think you should meet Maria,” Michael announced gleefully.  “That’s M-A-R-I-A.  She is one of Alex’s best friends.  A-L-E-X, of course.  I believe you killed him once, not too long ago.”

At this point, Tess seemed to decide that her innocent act wasn’t exactly working, so she just looked at us both for a very long time and said, “Look, I don’t know how either of you remembers each other or knows who I am, and I’m sure you just think you’re so smart and you have me all figured out now, but you’re wrong.  Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll just take my key and leave.”  She looked pointedly from Michael to me and back to Michael again.

Michael, who had slipped the key back into his pocket before answering the door, looked straight at her and replied, still gleeful, “What key?”

Tess stared at Michael for a long moment.  “Very funny.  I don’t see why you won’t give it back.  The key holds no purpose for you; you have no idea what it unlocks.  But I don’t expect you to waste your precious time worrying about me…I’ll find the key, Michael.  Goodbye.”  She slammed the door.

Michael was beginning to look concerned.  “I don’t want you anywhere near Tess again,” he told me.  “She could mindwarp you at any time.  I might be able to resist, but it’s not safe for you.  Next time she shows up, run.”

I was more than a little ticked off by his suggestion.  “No.  She killed Alex, Michael.  Do you expect me to just let that go?”

“Maria, please.  We don’t know what she’ll do for that key, because in case you didn’t notice, she really wants it.”

“Why don’t we just give it to her?” I grumbled, beginning to get annoyed.  “It’s not like we’ll ever figure out what it’s for.”

“Because it’s the only thing we have against her.  We need it,” Michael argued.

“Great.  All we have against the evil alien who killed one of my best friends is an old, rusted key.  I mean, have you ever thought that maybe this is all just an act to get us distracted?  Maybe she doesn’t need the key at all.”

“You are really beginning to irritate me with all this negativity,” Michael warned.

“And you’re irrtating me with your refusal to consider that something I say might actually be true!” I shot back.

“We’re giving Tess exactly what she wants,” Michael seemed to realize.  “She wants us to hate each other.  Because she knows she won’t have a chance if we’re working together.”

He was right, of course.  I hate it when he’s right.

“Still,” Michael countered, “You need to go home.  Lock all doors and windows.  I’ll look for Tess.”

I was offended.  “What happened to working together?” I wanted to know.

“It’s too dangerous right now.  You need to be safe.”

“Locks aren’t going to keep an alien out,” I pointed out, but Michael ignored me.

“You’ll be fine.  Trust me.  I’ll create a force field around the house.”

I hesitated.  “Promise me you won’t get yourself killed?”

“I promise,” Michael agreed.

“What do you promise?” I asked.

“I promise I won’t get myself killed,” Michael replied seriously.  “Let’s go.  It’s all going to be fine.”

“Okay,” I finally agreed.  I almost believed him.  Almost.

8. (MICHAEL) words are swirling in my mind

So Maria and I walked back to her house for about the tenth time in the last 24 hours.  I could tell she didn’t believe me when I’d said everything was going to be fine.  To be truthful, I wasn’t sure I believed it myself.

I checked around the house; there didn’t seem to be anyone hiding there, so I left, creating a force field as promised.

As soon as I stepped back onto the street, I had to admit that I had no clue where to start looking. For just a moment, I considered to just forget it, and let Tess come to me.  Unfortunately, the last couple of times that had happened, she had managed to get away and nothing had been solved.

I walked down the street, trying to concentrate, but all I could hear was Tess’ voice in my head.

“Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll just take my key and leave.”

There was something about what she had said that bothered me.  I couldn’t figure out what.  Think, Michael, think.  My head was starting to hurt.  I turned the corner and absentmindedly reached into my pocket to touch the key, make sure it was still there.  It was.

“Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll just take my key and leave.”

“Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll just take my key and leave.”

“Shut up!” I yelled suddenly, trying to silence her voice inside my head.  Several people walking down the street turned their heads to stare.  They must have thought I was crazy.  Any more of this and they would have been right.  I walked past all of them, ignoring their stares.

“She killed Alex, Michael.  Do you expect me to just let that go?”

She practically killed Max and Isabel, too.  Forcing them to leave Earth and go to Antar when she herself stayed here.  Was I supposed to just let that go?  No.  I couldn’t.

The key holds no purpose for you; you don’t know what it unlocks.”

It was true; I had no idea what the key was for.  But did Tess know?  What could possibly be that important?  Another ship, maybe?  I tried to remember what else Maria had said.

“Locks aren’t going to keep an alien out.”

Locks.  Alien.  Out.  It was all there.  Why hadn’t I seen it before? Why would Tess possibly need a key?  She could unlock locks with her powers.

The key holds no purpose for you,” Tess had said.  But it held no purpose for her either.  I couldn’t believe this.  Maria had been right.  Tess didn’t need this key.  But then why had she kept it all these years?  What kind of game was she trying to play?  What was her plan?  How long had she had it?  Nothing made any sense.

            I had two options.  I could go and try to find Tess, or go back to Maria.  As it turned out, I didn’t have to decide.  At that moment, someone tapped me on the back.  I turned around.

“Surprise!” Tess yelled brightly.  Then she lowered her voice.  “Maria wants to see you.”

“You were over there?” I asked, scared.

“Don’t worry, I didn’t mindwarp her,” Tess replied, as if that would reassure me.

“I know you don’t need the key,” I told her, completely changing the subject.  “You’re an alien.  Locks don’t hold aliens back.”

Tess looked at me carefully.  “Not this lock.”

I stared right back at her.  “I don’t believe you.”

“Well, it’s true!” Tess yelled defiantly.  “Don’t call me a liar!”

“That’s really funny,” I told her.  “You’ve done nothing but lie since you came to Roswell.”

Tess didn’t try to deny it.  She just smiled at me and said sweetly, “Just hand over the key, Michael, and I’ll be on my way.”

I reached for my pocket.  Slowly.  “Suppose your little story about the key is true?”

She took a step forward.

I took a step back, my hand now in my pocket.

“If your story is really true…”  I held the key up.  She jumped up and tried to take it away from me, but I held it out of her reach.

“This isn’t funny anymore!” she protested, making another attempt at getting the key.  “I’m sorry for everything I did.  I need this key!”

I stopped short.  Was she telling the truth?  Was she really sorry?  I looked into her cold, blue eyes.  I saw nothing.  Nothing but betrayal, hatred, manipulation.  She had never cared about me or Max or Isabel.  She cared about nobody but herself.

            Then I took a step forward, still looking at her eyes, looking for anything that would tell me I was wrong about her.  I didn’t see it.

I could still hear Maria.  “She killed Alex, Michael!”

So I took a deep breath.  And I threw the key as hard as I could, not caring where it went, not caring where it landed.

9. (MARIA) breaking down Tess

As soon as Michael left, Tess jumped out of the attic.  I wasn’t too surprised.

“Nice Attic, Maria,” Tess managed to get out as she caught her breath.  “I approve.”

“I don’t,” I told her coldly.  “What exactly are you doing in my house?  Again?”

Tess didn’t answer.

I started to walk in a circle around her, trying to figure out what she was thinking at that moment and how she would react to what I was about to tell her. “I know all about you, Tess.  Your Plan. Everything.”

She didn’t even flinch.

“I found this piece of paper just a minute ago, and I was reading it…”

Tess continued to look straight ahead as if I hadn’t said anything.

“…You accidentally dropped it next to my refrigerator the other day…Remember that?” I asked, looking closely at the expression on her face.  It never changed.  “The first thing on here I find very interesting…”  That’s when I saw it.  A sign of fear in her eyes as she tried to remember what was number one her list.  I didn’t really have the list; I had just made a wild guess that she had made one.  “How could you do it, Tess?  How could you mindwarp Michael?  Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised, seeing as how you’ve done it before.  Probably dozens of times…”  I stopped and stared into her eyes again.  The fear was gone.  I continued.  “Did you really think mindwarping would keep me from ever knowing Michael hadn’t gone?”

Tess looked away.  “No.”

Her answer surprised me and I was silent for a few minutes.  “What does the key unlock, Tess?” I asked softly.

Tess suddenly turned around to look at me.  “I didn’t have to mindwarp him, Maria.  He didn’t want to tell you.  It had nothing to do with me.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Well, don’t then!” Tess yelled.  “I know you think everything I say is all part of some big plan, Maria, but it isn’t!  I’m not telling you this because I want you to believe me.  I’m just telling you because it’s the truth, and you’re accusing me of something I didn’t do!  I mean, sure, I didn’t want him to tell you…”

“Well, if that’s really true Tess, tell me why.  Tell me why he wouldn’t tell me he’d never left.”

She looked away again.  “I don’t know.”

She was lying.  “Yes, you do.”

Tess sighed.  “He loved you too much, okay?  There, you made me say it.  What else do you want me to admit while I’m at it?  How much Max loved Liz?  Or how Isabel felt about Alex?”

“I don’t understand.”

“When Max and Isabel left, I mindwarped Michael so he wouldn’t see me.  I wanted him to think I’d gone with them.  And then I followed him out of the chamber and the first thing he did was go to your house.  He was going to tell you.”

“Well, why didn’t he then?” I demanded.

“Don’t you remember what you were doing that morning?  You were writing a new song, and he heard you singing it.”  I remembered.  “He listened to the whole song.  And then he just left.”

I felt like crying.  “You never told me what the key unlocks,” I said, changing the subject.

“It doesn’t unlock anything.”

“So I was right all along.”

“Hardly.  It’s the key to a spaceship.”

“What spaceship?”

“It’s in Utah.”

“Tess, were you going to just take Michael with you when you left?”  I needed to know.

“I wanted to.  That’s the reason I didn’t leave with Max and Isabel…because they would have gotten mad if all of them weren’t there.  And…Michael’s the king now, you know, so–”

“What are you talking about?”

“He can heal now.  When Max died–”

“So you’re the one who tried to kill me?” I asked incredulously.

“I didn’t try to kill you,” Tess said, annoyed.  “You just passed out.”

“So, what if Michael couldn’t heal?  Would you have just left me out in the street to get run over or something?”

Tess looked at her feet.  “I would have taken you to a hospital,” she said quietly.  There was a pause.  “I was just trying to protect my son,” she muttered, as if she’d said it a dozen times in the past.

“That’s what I forgot,” I realized.  “I thought you said something about how he couldn’t survive on Earth?”

“Stop it.”

“A mindwarp?  That’s how you deal with every single problem you come across, isn’t it?  ‘You know, it’s all okay, because I can always mindwarp the other person and they won’t know the difference.’  You make me sick.”  I looked at Tess right then and was immediately sorry.

Because then I saw Tess do something I thought she’d never do.  I saw her start to cry.

10. (MICHAEL) home

“I can’t believe you just did that!” Tess yelled.  “How could you just throw the key away like that?  You know I’ll never find it again, don’t you?”

I smiled brightly even though I was beginning to feel nauseated.  “I know.  That’s why I threw it.”

Tess let out a frustrated sigh.  “God.  You are such a jerk, you know that?”  She turned to look in the direction of where I’d thrown the key.  “You know, you could have just given me the key, and then I would have left you alone, but no, that wasn’t enough for you.”

I ignored her last comment.  “Great.  The killer’s calling me a jerk.”

Tess looked like she was about to deny she was a killer.  Instead, she just looked up at me and said, “You know, Michael, this really isn’t funny.”

“I’m not laughing,” I pointed out.

Tess turned around and stared at the sky.  “You could have just given me the key, and I would have left you alone,” she repeated.

“Well, you really didn’t give me the opportunity,” I told her.  “You could have told me what the key unlocked, maybe.  Come to think of it, you still haven’t.

Tess turned slowly back around.  “I needed the key to activated the ship.  I searched for seven years, and when I finally find it…”  She shook her head.  “I really can’t believe this, Michael.  Seven years.  For nothing.”

“Michael!”

I turned around to see Maria running towards us.  Tess looked away.

“Maria, you shouldn’t be here.”

Maria made no move to leave.  “She wants the key, Michael.”

“I took care of that.”  I glanced at Tess who refused to look at us.

“You gave it to her?” Maria asked incredulously.

“No, I kind of lost it,” I told Maria.

“You threw it as far away from me as you could, Michael, and you know it,” Tess said, but she didn’t look at me.

“Well, yeah.  Same thing.”

Maria grabbed my arm.  “Michael!”

“What?”  I pulled out of her grasp.

“Michael, I saw her cry.”

I looked at Tess.  “No way.”

“Yes.  If you’d just given her the key…”

“I didn’t know what it was for!”  I yelled.  “Don’t go blaming this on me!”

Maria sighed.  “I’m not trying to.”

Suddenly Tess turned around angrily.  “It’s no use to argue about it anymore.  It’s done with!  I need the key if I ever want to go home, and face it, that’s not going to happen.”  She had tears on her cheeks.

“Your home is here,” I told her, even though I didn’t believe it.  For whatever reason, I felt sorry for her.

“Don’t lie to me.  This may be your home, and Max’s home, and Isabel’s home, but it’s not mine.”

Maria spoke up.  “You mentioned before that Michael loved me and Max loved Liz and Isabel loved Alex…but what about you?  You must have found something here.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  Tess wiped the tears away and stared into space.

“Yes, you do.”

I had no idea what Maria was trying to get at, but I hoped she knew what she was doing.

“Okay, maybe I did.  Maybe when I was here I actually had a real family.  You know, Valenti and Kyle.  They actually cared about me, gave me a home, not like Nasedo.  But it doesn’t matter.  They’ll never love me now.”  This time she didn’t bother wiping the tears away.  She just stood there, looking at nothing for a few minutes.  Then she looked at us.  “I should go now.  I don’t know where, but I’m not staying in Roswell, that’s for sure.”  She hesitated for a second.  “I really am sorry, you know.  I don’t care whether you believe me or not, but I’m sorry.”

“Sorry doesn’t exactly cover the damage you’ve done,” I pointed out.

“I know that.  I’m not looking for forgiveness or anything.  I just wanted to let you know.”  She walked away, in the opposite direction of where ever the key was now, and Maria and I watched as she turned the corner and disappeared.

11. (MARIA) time begins again

A minute went by.  Two minutes.  Three.  I turned to Michael and cleared my throat.  “Do you think she meant it?”

But Michael hadn’t heard me at all.  He was staring at the sky, completely transfixed.

“Michael?”  I tentatively touched his arm, and he didn’t pull away.

“The stars reappeared again,” Michael stated, half to himself.  He was still looking up at the sky.

“I didn’t realize they’d gone anywhere,” I said, slightly amused.

Michael turned to me with a thoughtful expression on his face.  “You know, in a way, I don’t think they did ever leave.”

“Wait…I’m seriously confused.  What are you talking about?”

Michael shook his head.  “Nothing.”

“Oh.”

Another silence followed.  Then, “Maria?”

“What?”

“I think she meant it,” Michael said slowly.

“Really?”  This was a shock to me.

“Really.”

I sighed and started walking down the street.  Michael followed.  “You know what?  I think so too.”

Michael then changed the subject.  “You remember when I told you that everything was going to be okay?”

I nodded.

“I meant it.”

“I didn’t exactly completely believe you,” I confessed.

“Well, I don’t blame you.  But now…I think actually think…I think everything’s going to be even better…than okay…”

And walking around with Michael outside the now-deserted Crashdown Café, a new song already forming in my mind, I couldn’t have agreed more.

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