Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pairing: Xander/Isabel, Michael/Liz
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things Roswell belong Melinda Metz, Jason Katims, et al.
Distribution: The normal places.
Author’s Notes: Takes place after BtVS S7. Takes place after Roswell S3. The pod squad is on the run. The notable difference I am making is this – Isabel never met Jesse, you can figure out for yourselves how that changes Roswell canon. Other changes will become more apparent as time goes by.
Summary: On the run, tired and worn down, the group is given a second chance at leading a more stable life. But only if they can open up to an interesting group of strangers. What’s so great about normal, anyway?
She watched her brother drive away, not knowing if she’d ever see him again. Sun beating down on the back of her neck, she swallowed down the grief in her throat, forcing herself not to cry. There’d been too many tears in the last year. Too much crying and wishing that things were different when there was no way to change anything about the situation they found themselves in.
The battered, beat up van disappeared around the first bend in the road –
And he was gone.
Despite the warmth of the day, her arms were flecked with goosebumps. Grief filled her very soul, welling up from deep within her to spill through her heart and body. It consumed her mind, tainting every thought that dared to run through her head during those initial moments after she lost sight of the van. Nothing was good or right in the world. Not then. Maybe not ever again.
Max was gone. He’d left, not that she could blame him. Things in their group had gone from bad to worse.
And there was really no one to blame.
Oh, he wanted to blame Michael and Liz. Just like Maria wanted to do the same. But it wasn’t their fault anymore than it was hers or Max’s or even Maria’s. The life that they had been leading, running from town to town, always trying to stay one step ahead of the FBI, had taken its toll on not just group dynamics, but their relationships as well. So now they were two groups instead of one.
Her, Michael and Liz staying here, in Cleveland.
Max, Maria and Kyle taking their chances somewhere else. Don’t call us, we’ll call you, was the last thing she’d heard. Not from Max, but from Kyle. Max hadn’t spoken to her. Sticking by Liz and Michael was a betrayal in his eyes. She’d always be his sister, of that she had no doubt –
But that didn’t mean that he had to speak to her.
Her eyes stung with tears; large, bitter drops that threatened to pour down her cheeks at any minute. She’d applied no makeup that morning, knowing that this moment was coming even though she tried her best to not think about it. All the way up to the second they’d gotten in the van, the doors slamming shut, she’d been trying to deny that they were leaving, that Max was ignoring her and Maria was a wreck. She’d been trying to avoid thinking about how torn Kyle looked, as he tried to decide where he was needed more – with Liz or with Maria.
He’d chosen Maria in the end…because Liz had Michael to keep her strong, and Maria had no one.
“I’m sorry, Is.”
The blonde turned to look at Michael. Her other brother. The only brother she had left, she corrected herself silently. She offered him a wan smile. “It’s not your fault.”
“Yes it is,” he shook his head and she could feel the self-recrimination pouring off of him in waves. “If Liz and I had just –“
“Just what?” Isabel argued. “Denied yourself the chance to be happy? You weren’t with Maria and Liz wasn’t with my brother anymore. It’s not your fault or hers or mine or…anyone’s. It just…happened. Everyone had broken up, this shouldn’t have made a difference.”
But it had.
She turned away from him but didn’t shrug away when he put a comforting hand on her shoulder. In fact, she leaned into it, needing the reassurance that his touch represented as she stared at the empty road outside of the motel, half-wishing that the van would reappear and Max and the others would come pouring out of it, regretting splitting up.
Useless wish…hopeless dream.
It wasn’t Michael’s fault. Or Liz’s. And she didn’t blame them for it in the least.
If only thinking it through rationally could stop the bitterness that she was feeling. Because that’s what she still felt. Bitter. Aching and cold, her heart was filled with the stuff.
“Are you still going to that interview?”
Isabel nodded absently after thinking about it for only a second. She’d made the interview two days ago, back before all hell had broken loose and ties had been severed, but the events of recent days didn’t change a thing. Now more than ever, she needed a job.
“Liz starts tonight.”
A waitressing position, Isabel reminded herself. Yet another thing that had been lined up back when they had all assumed they would be staying here just for a month or two before they moved on again.
“And I’ll be going with her, to try to get work as a bouncer or something.”
She nodded again as the pieces fell into place in her head like some deformed jigsaw puzzle. They were going to make this work, somehow. Even if it hurt right at that very second, it would get easier. The bar was right down the street from the motel – at least Liz wouldn’t have far to walk. She, on the other hand, assuming she got the job she was interviewing for, was stuck with the joys of public transportation now that the van was gone. Maybe once they’d saved up some money, gotten an apartment…maybe then they could look for a cheap, used car. “Sounds good.”
Silence enveloped the two of them as they stood at the roadside, wrapping them in its chilly silkiness. For the first time in her life, Isabel didn’t know what to say to make things better. She couldn’t make a list or plan things through because there were too many uncertainties.
But she could try, she told herself firmly. Starting with getting her own life organized, she could slowly try to get their lives back into shape. It was like learning to walk again – all she had to do was put one foot in front of the other, and eventually she’d be running marathons, even if only figuratively.
She turned, offering him the tiniest of smiles. “Liz okay?”
He nodded. “Or…she will be. Maxwell said some cruel things.”
“He’s hurting, Michael.”
“That doesn’t give him the right –“
“I know,” she held up her hands. “Believe me, I know.” She sighed. “I should get ready for the interview.”
He nodded, glancing over his shoulder at the dingy motel. It was better than the back of a van, she told herself, and definitely better than living on the streets. But that wasn’t saying too much, either. “Where’s it at again?”
“The W.C.o.A. Home for Girls.”