Disclaimer: I don’t own Roswell. It’s that simple.
AN: Anyone who knows me will probably be shocked that I’m writing outside the BtVS fandom, and no, this will not be a crossover. I’ve had this idea for a while and parts of the next chapter written and the whole thing planned out. RL’s getting hectic, but I feel that if I don’t post this, I’ll never work on it and I think it’s too good an idea not to. But that could just be vanity…. Let me know what you think. Give props to illyriagoddess/illyria13 for encouraging me to write outside my comfort zone.
It happened by inches. The slow decay of everything, a staunchly trickling wound that bled but didn’t bleed, that was painful but didn’t hurt, it was ecstasy and oblivion and nothing in between. It was the fierceness of newly forgotten life, the gentlest caresses of the malevolent tempest; it was the deep blackness of the full moon at midnight, when everyone watched and no one saw. Vacuously true fragments that lacked overall logic, or maybe that was her and she just didn’t know it yet. Blind, blind, they were all blind. Like children and lambs playing with lions and sorcery, they stumbled even when they flew and plummeted when they walked.
But, regardless, it happened by inches.
She saw the sun rising, the black and dark blue ichors of the nighttime sky pushing against the rebirthing yellow and red slashes of morning. It should have been beautiful, a powerful and vibrant reminder of the life and promise ahead for one such as her; it wasn’t. She was dead flesh and shame, held together by the slimmest gossamer wisps of duty. The marionette that her god demanded she be: lovely and pleasant and compliant. Look, look for so long, then sometimes just a touch and shatter. Remake, rebuild, something better, something new and old and never really different. Except each time he cares a little less about the pieces he doesn’t want. Let them lay where they fall, unnoticed and unmissed by all save one. Forget them, he’ll say, and she’ll nod, not speaking, eyes on things that aren’t there and maybe never have been, a grave-less funeral attended only by the deathless corpse. The beating of her heart resounded in her ears, mocking and broken and lying. Lying like the sunrise in the mirror, like the love in her god, like the words on her friends’ lips. Lies, lies, always lies, always lying. There was nothing glorious in this morning, only the bruising irony life had given her.
It was barely perceptible at first. She certainly hadn’t recognized it, a lost comeback for some quip, a laughter that was a little less loud, a silence that stretched a second to long. Gradually, the banter dwindled, the laughter went away, and the silence grew and spoke for itself. Even if the marks were healed and the trauma covered, her body began to move at a slower and slower pace. Then one day, an old woman stood among them, youth haphazardly covering the scores and wrinkles of age. Longer and longer her hair and nails grew and then broke, running wildly over once pretty features. Tan and glowing skin transformed into the unmarred cream of ancient velum, tribute and tragedy to a god far fallen. How could they not have seen her winding down, like a clock without springs, each day becoming less and less true?
He was killing her by inches, and she let him. And they never noticed.
Until, one day, someone did. It was innocent and completely unrelated, but someone saw. And someone asked.
“What’s going on with you, Parker? You walk around in something I hesitate to call a fog because it’s too lively! Coma patients have more action than you!”
Spontaneous and cracking giggles burst from the girl’s mouth, snapping into being like the breaking of bones and leaving like thunder. One pale and dirty hand came up to cover the bottom of her face, a weathered defense against the world. Hearing her laugh should have made him feel better, but the little hairs on the back of his neck were standing on end, tap dancing on his instincts, alien and human alike. It wasn’t a good sound; if one of Degas’ paintings could laugh, that was what Michael imagined it’d be like. Before he could do anything more, his subject straightened up, near waist-length hair covering her face, and moved away.
“Thanks, Michael. I needed that.”
It wasn’t the brevity or content that froze Michael Guerin in his tracks. The simple, unconcealed sincerity of her response scared him down to his core, consuming and basic. By the time he’d emerged from his paralysis, the antennae clad girl had walked away, a quietly swinging door the only testament that she had ever been there until that, too, vanished into the cold, desert night.
Liz didn’t know what she’d been waiting for. Why all of a sudden it was okay for her to do what she had to, like she had been given permission, like someone understood. Michael’s unprecedented query had lifted the final shackle that was holding her down. She wished it made her feel lighter, freer. But it didn’t; she didn’t feel much of anything anymore. Which, considering what was coming, was probably for the best, even the thick skin she’d developed over the past months would eventually crumble underneath the flood she was walking into.
There was no point at which she could say it began, no linear path that lead her back to the origin. It had been as they were, spastic, fluctuating, on, off, here, there, neverwhere and anywhere. Philosophy could argue that if there had been no beginning then there could be no end. How could one stop what had never begun to start? But that was them to the hilt, a conundrum, an enigma, an impossibility.
It was guileless at first, as much an innocent as these things can be, truly an accident perhaps, or lucky misfortune. With the bruises came the tears and healing, as if it was his body and not hers. There was begging and promising, a lie so forgivable and a truth so fathomless. So she smiled and absolved, thinking he was right and there were reasons. There were always reasons, the next time and the time after that. Until there was no time, only forever and hadn’t it always been this way? Still she forgave, until the words had no meaning, until he stopped asking and just assumed. Because it was them, their game, smashing her into bits and putting her back together again, just like Humpty-Dumpty only the king didn’t need all of his horses or all of his men to fix her; she would never leave. And he was right.
He was a king in waiting, the power of healing hands and a cruel heart. He was leader and law-giver, and everyone knew it. He had a queen and they would have a baby and rule a world. He was a boy, insecure and unfettered; a law-breaker for whom there was no laws. He was the stepmother’s apple, sweet and tempting poison bound by family and desire. No one else saw him like she did, drifting in and out of his sphere of influence, affected and effecting, knowledgeable and unknowing, so joyful and so unaware of what lived beneath that charming smile. They were bound to him by destiny and blood, and free of him by the same. To choose, because they had choice. He had her too, wholly, completely and without reservation if that’s what he wanted. She belonged to him; he was her god, her creator, the master of her body and the conqueror of her soul. He encompassed all she was by his word and his will.
“You can’t do this, Liz. You don’t get to turn away from me! I saved you. I own you! You’re mine, Elizabeth Parker. You owe me!”
The cadence of his voice changed; it was sibilant and loud, harsh and low. His meaning never faltered, a pledge that I could never forget. And didn’t he have a point? He had risked his life, the life of his family and planet, to save mine. Maybe I really did die that day, just another senseless statistic of blood swept along checkered tiles. Whatever Max woke up, resplendent silver on fevered flesh, maybe it wasn’t me, just a facsimile, a toy, an automation, a corporeal extension of his abilities.
And maybe not.
Michael had been the last one to get a call. Nancy and Jeff Parker hadn’t seen or heard from their daughter in over a day and a half. Having tried Maria, Alex, the Valenti’s, and the Evans’, all with no idea, they’d phoned him. His stuttered negative brought a cry from the device in his hand before the line went dead. The Parkers would call the police now, entering a whole lot of scary variables to the situation. The Special Unit. The Skins. And that’s just our enemies, not the run of the mill human creeps out there. He was furious, at himself and her. He’d seen something that last time when they spoke. Hell, he’d actually been seeing things for awhile but had chosen to wait until the night before last to approach her during clean-up. Why had he let her walk away? His thoughts went back to his conversation with Maria yesterday when he’d asked her if anyone had talked to Liz lately. Her reply that the missing girl had pulled away from everyone did nothing to assure him and re-enforced the idea that something was very wrong. Deciding to keep a closer eye out and approach Parker again, Michael had felt that everything was under control. Nice to know the universe had yet to add omniscience to his list of powers.
Instead of continuing his internal chastisement, he decided to go out. The others were probably searching the pod chamber and the reservation now; the police were undoubtedly at the Parker residence going over Liz’s room and things. There was really nothing for him to do, besides get in the way of the police or possibly blow up at his family. So he walked. He walked lost in his thoughts and unafraid for anything that wasn’t Liz. He walked until he reached the shutdown and darkened husk of his school, staring at the completely different picture it made in the dark. For a moment his fingers tingled to have paper and pencils to capture the abhorrent and enthralling spell the place cast, but only for a moment.
Michael left the street to slowly walk towards the vacant building, moving silently out of unconscious instinct and not conscious decision. Not glancing around, the alien moved passed the entrance and benches, beyond the picnic table the group like to sit at. Only stopping when he reached what was cemented in his mind as Liz’s tree, he allowed himself to collapse beneath its open arms.
He can’t remember if he cried or not or why. Time blurred as the dust of the desert covered him like a blanket, and the stars were his lighthouses in the storm. It wasn’t as if she was dead or they knew she had been taken. As darker outcomes howled from just outside his vision, he wished he could believe that. But this felt different, like birthing death and beginning ends. It was an omen and a goodbye, a promise and a hello; he couldn’t pin it down. Turning over and tilting his head up to view space from between the fingers of the earth, a spinning, white object caught his attention.
Powers or not, Michael knew it was too important to risk. So, he climbed the old tree, eyes on the rolled up piece of paper that tugged on its string as the wind blew. His prize in his grasp, he leant into the support of the tree and carefully unrolled the paper. With only the moon and stars and the alien glow of his skin, he read.
It seems wrong to even think about writing ‘dear’ at a time like this. But a lot of things are wrong, right now, so I guess one more won’t topple the mass. I knew that if anyone found this it would be you. Already I can hear your comments about how stupid it was for me to leave a letter out in the open and why you would be the one to find it. I’m sure you know by now that I’m not in Roswell anymore; I hesitate to say missing or gone because I haven’t been here in awhile. Tonight, a huge sandstorm is supposed to brush by the outside of the town, if the wind wasn’t a good enough indication. Anyway, my knot wouldn’t have held under that kind of pressure, so no chance of anyone finding it after tonight. As to why you, it’s simple, Michael. You and only you asked. Or maybe it was faith, and I’ve forgotten what that is.
There’s a lot I could say, more that I probably should, but little that I am going to. This first, I think. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Michael. For putting you in this position, for not coming to you, for all the pain this is going to cause you. I’m sorry that I can’t tell you that I’m being a coward or brave for leaving, that I’m leaving for the group’s benefit or my own. Maybe both, maybe none, maybe it doesn’t matter. I’m already gone.
Ever since that day at the Crash, my skin doesn’t feel right. It’s too tight and too loose and too sensitive and too numb. I think I died that day, Michael, and I don’t think I ever got back up. With everything that’s happened, I think overwhelmed might be an understatement.
Ever since Tess showed up, Max hasn’t been right. I don’t know if it was me or her or his destiny, but he’s not Max anymore, or maybe he’s more himself now then he’s ever been. I don’t know if I loved him or he loved me, but I thought giving him up was the best decision. He didn’t agree, forcibly. After much contemplation, he saw that he had to be with Tess, for the good of everyone, but that didn’t mean he had to stop being with me. I was weak, Michael; I couldn’t say no. Or I said it too softly, too unconvincingly, too much like little Liz Parker to be believed.
That’s something for the books, isn’t it? Perfect Parker being someone’s mistress, a side dish, a real crimson dyed in the wool scarlet woman. Or is it died? I know that I’m the source of a lot of the group’s problems, if I hadn’t been healed…
Is it healing or hurting that brought us here? Is it helping or impairing that leaves us so cold?
But all that’s wishing and fairytales and they never bought any man a drink. I tried to be responsible and walk away once before, but Max found out. Let’s just say that healing hands can become fists when provoked. That story doesn’t have a happy ending. I was too afraid to try again, which is pretty ironic considering when he was finished with me and I lie there, unable to move, I couldn’t have cared less. Leave, don’t leave, help, hurt, love, hate, standing, falling, or faking. It was just me, my blood and the endless sands. He didn’t leave me there, of course; you already knew that. I had to be alive to write this letter. He told me that I owed him and you guys, that things wouldn’t be this bad if he hadn’t healed me. Maybe it’s the truth.
You must be panicking right now. Stop. None of this was your fault, or Isabel’s or any of the others. The only people that are to blame for this mess are Max and I. Of anyone, even more than my parents, I thought you deserved to hear my reasons because you looked out for me and you are the one that I most consider family. I’m not going to kill myself. At least not the way you’re thinking.
That day with Max and me in the desert, I realized something. I didn’t want to be here. Not in this body, not in this world, not in this life. But you guys risked everything to save me, Max’s selfish decision or not. I can’t just throw that away. So, here’s my reasoning.
A life for a life.
A life risked for a life gained.
Ava said I’d develop powers eventually. She was right. I do have some now. Kyle and anyone else healed by an alien will too. We know the FBI has been getting closer and closer; the Special Unit tracking the teens at the high school. I’m running, Michael, and I’m taking them with me. I have a plan. And a backup plan for when that one inevitably goes to shit. Cursing, another first for little Lizzie. I know you’ll want to find me and beat some sense into my head, but please don’t. Not only because I know the danger, accept and even want it, but because of you. Let me give this to you, to all of us. Let me fight this battle.
I’m going to win. You taught me that, Michael. I’m not a soldier, but this is a war I’m not going to lose.
Thank you, Michael. For being you.
Blade may cut through flesh
Blade may cut through bone
But against an army of my enemies
Death shall make me stone.
Michael was frozen. It was goodbye and well wished doom. She was gone, and he couldn’t do a damn thing about it. Not without leaving his family unprotected and he wouldn’t do that. So, here he was trapped by a fucking destiny that he wasn’t sure he wanted or believed in. And somewhere out there, a broken girl played a dangerous game with monsters and hoped to save the damn world.
And it was all Max’s fault.
It was time to pay little brother, the little king, a long overdue visit.
The howling desert winds hid his hoarse cry of betrayal and rage quite well.