If there is anything worse in this world than being miserable, it’s being miserable while everyone around you is insanely happy. It’s like having lemon juice squeezed into an open cut; it not only hurts, it’s malicious. For weeks that unimaginable hell had been my life. Max and Liz, Maria and Michael, all of the time, hugging, kissing, all over each other seemingly every moment of everyday. And then there was Alex. He was there every time I turned around, with his dippy smile, furtive gaze and fidgeting hands, looking at me expectantly. He wanted what they had and he wanted it with me. I couldn’t really fault him for that, I wanted what they had too and if you did the addition the two of us together would have been a logical product. But there was just one problem; I didn’t want what they had with him. I’d never been in love before, and I usually scorned it when I saw it in others yet I knew it was inevitable and I knew that when I found it I’d know and I would grudgingly except it, because I’m like that. And I was right—though I should note that I usually am.
We were sitting in the quad, Alex and I, talking about, well Alex and I. MaxandLiz and MariaandMichael—and that is how you have to say it, in one breath—were off sucking face which left Alex and I alone, at least for a while.
"Yeah. But, um…listen, Isabel. I’ve been thinking," Alex was saying to me from across the table. That’s one of the problems with Alex, he’s always thinking, always, it dulls your instincts and drowns out your heart and your common sense, and it leads you to believe that you want things you don’t need. He was thinking about us, and there wasn’t and could never be an us, not really. We could play house, we could dress up and read our lines, but it would never be real. It would always be an off Broadway production. "I mean, face sucking aside, it’d be kind of nice to have someone…someone to hang out with, one on one. You know, someone who you understand, and you share common bonds with," he went on. Common bonds with, I had thought to myself. Now that was amusing. We didn’t even share a common genetic code! Then again if we were using the others as our template I really had no grounds to be amused. "I mean, like a friend, but…"
"Can I join you?"
The question came from our side; the voice was feminine and sweet. I turned my head to the side and looked up to see a halo of golden ringlets and a tentative smile. She was new to the school, I knew because I didn’t recognize her and I would have remembered a face like that.
"Actually we’re in the m…middle of something," Alex responded haltingly seemingly unnerved by her sudden presence. I on the other hand was glad for the distraction and didn’t want her to go away.
"You’re the new girl, right?" I asked entering the conversation before Alex could further alienate her.
"If you’re busy, I could…" she left the sentence hanging and allowed her gaze to flitter around the quad. ‘I could go’ was what she was saying but not saying. And she was saying but not saying it because words make things so much more final and if she had said the words she would have had to leave, but she didn’t want to leave, I could tell she didn’t and I didn’t want her leave.
"No. Have a seat. Join us. Sit down," I said smiling at her friendly, which was unusual enough for me. It was probably overkill, but I wanted to make sure she got the message.
"Thanks," she replied softly sitting down. "I’m Tess."
Tess, I liked it, short and sweet. Kind of like her.
"Isabel. This is Alex," I responded gesturing towards Alex who was now stewing but trying not to appear as if he was.
"Hi," Tess said turning her attention to him for the first time since I spoke.
"Hi," Alex responded gamely giving a little wave. "So, welcome to Roswell." I had to give him credit he was being a real sport about it all.
"I always hate the first day at a new school," Tess said her attention focused mostly on me, but shooting over to Alex briefly near the end of her sentence.
"Done this before?" I asked completely unnecessarily. She obviously had done it before, but it was a way to further the conversation.
"Only about a hundred times," she responded good-naturedly. "Everyone’s always so nice," she continued in a tone that was difficult to identify.
"Is that a bad thing?" This inquiry came from Alex.
"Well," Tess said drawing out the word and turning her attention fully towards me, "the girls are usually nice because they want to find out if I want to jump their boyfriends’ bones. You must get that a lot." I had to assume that was directed at me.
"Yeah. How about the girls who hang out with you to meet a better class of guys?"
"Or the guys who say they understand you and really just want to be your friend, but all they really want is fifteen minutes alone with you in the janitor’s closet," she added with a sarcastic half smile on her face.
"We have an eraser room," I told her clandestinely. I managed not to look over at Alex after she said that, but I have to admit that the comment stuck out in my mind particularly clearly because of the conversation we had been having before Tess’ arrival.
"Thanks for the warning," she replied glancing up at me before returning to the sugar packet whose contents she was pouring into a cup of yogurt.
"Oh my god. I do that too," I exclaimed excitedly.
"Good," Tess responded decisively. "I can’t stand people who use fake sugar," she paused for a moment after that then added, "Nothing can ever be too sweet, don’t you think?" as her eyes captured mine.
I held her gaze for a moment after she said that, studying her trying to figure out if she had any idea how suggestive that last comment was. For all I knew she could have taken it directly out of porn movie. I could almost see an ice-cream parlor attendant sucking on her finger uttering that line as she gazed seductively at someone in front of her.
"Let me see your schedule. I wonder if we have any classes together," was what I said in response. I decided that I really didn’t want to know if she was making a play on me or not. At least not right then.
"I don’t know," she said glancing at the schedule. "I’ve got English."
"Phys. Ed. together," I pointed out to her. She looked up at me and smiled and I felt myself returning it. Suddenly the day wasn’t looking like a total disaster anymore.
I ended up spending the rest of the school day with Tess—which wasn’t really saying much considering the rest of the school was gym class—and it was good. I found her to be genuinely good company. I didn’t merely force myself to tolerate her I actually liked her. We had what I think I’ll call ‘an instant rapport’ with each other. I found that I could talk to her and, with the exception of Max and Michael, and occasionally those other three, which was a very rare thing indeed. This would probably seem surprising to the other people at school, because whereas Max had chosen—or been forced—into the background, I ran with the in crowd. Being tall, buxom and blond there really wasn’t any other choice for me. My friends—no, I can’t really in good conscience call them that—the people that I spent time around were shallow. They thought about nothing, cared about shoes, and were concerned only with themselves. I both loved and loathed them all for this. You see, they’re safe; they would neither ask to many questions nor think too much about the answers. This is what I required and because of it they had never been real friends, and would never be real friends. I’m different and in Roswell, like everywhere else if you’re different then you’re alone. That was the proposition as I understood it, and I had always thought that it sucked. And then came Tess, who I liked and could speak with easily, and who I was beginning to feel I could possibly think about being able to trust. And I wanted that, I wanted to trust her.
I invited her over to my house after school that day.
I could hear Max and Michael in the kitchen as we approached. They were talking about love. It was aggravatingly predictable and I planned on ignoring them but for some unfathomable reason Tess seemed to take interest in the conversation.
"How do you know women so well?" she asked as we walked into the room. Her question seemed to shut them up faster than any arrangements of threats ever had. "Don’t let me stop you. This is fascinating." It was her tone that really sold that line, all scientific curiosity. I loved it.
"Who are you?" Max asked looking at her wide-eyed as if he couldn’t comprehend how she had gotten there.
"She’s my friend," I responded moving further into the kitchen.
"How come we’ve never met her before?" This question was voiced with a suspicion that only Michael could muster. He was acting as if he had just found a scorpion in his pocket, but then again it was Michael so I felt I had no real right to act surprised. That didn’t mean I couldn’t be indignant however.
"God, Michael. Could you be any more rude?"
"Actually, it’s kind of refreshing," Tess said speaking up and neatly diffusing what was likely to become a full out bitch fest. "I’m Tess."
"This is my brother Max and our friend Michael," I responded pointing to each of them respectively. I didn’t trust them to speak again in her presence.
"Nice to meet you," Tess replied in a friendly tone.
"Here," I said turning away from the fridge and handing her two pops. "You go, I’ll meet you back in my room."
"Don’t forget the extra sugar," she called out behind her as she made her way out of the room. I nodded then turned my attention to ‘the boys’.
"Ok. What's wrong with you guys?" I started, laying into them immediately. "She just moved here. I'm helping her catch up."
"She looked pretty caught up to me," Michael responded in his usually tone: brash and blunt. "Topolsky was a plant when she showed up at school. This girl could be, too."
I rolled my eyes. "She's a transfer student, Michael."
"She's a stranger, Isabel," Max responded softly. I turned to look at him, I was completely irritated with this conversation and especially bugged by his comment. I don’t know why it angered me so much since what he was completely true, I had after all only met her that day, but I found myself being insulted on her behalf. Being angered that they would call her virtue into question. After all, what had she ever done to them?
"Well, it's not like I'm going to fall in love with her, tell her our secrets and compromise our very existence. I thought we were supposed to be acting normal, right? Heck of a job you two just did." And with that I turned and walked out of the room.
It had been a week since Tess had first approached Alex and I in the quad. It had been a week since we had barely averted another disaster with Topolsky, Valenti and the government—which I have to say we weren’t entirely certain we had actually averted. It had been a week where I had been content. And it had been a week of being fond of someone who wasn’t related to me in one way or another. It had, all in all, been a pretty good week.
The term ‘kindred spirits’ often popped into my mind as a way to describe the rapid friendship that had formed between Tess and I. I found that I was comfortable around her in a way that I hadn’t been with anyone other Max and Michael and the feeling was as alien to me as I am to this planet.
Tess and I were on my bed that night a week later. We were having a sleep over and were barefoot in our pajamas. I was sitting near the end of the bed with my legs dangling over the edge and she was sitting in the center of the bed with her legs drawn up. Her feet and an open bottle of nail polish were resting by my hand.
"You have very elegant feet," I commented reaching out and tracing the line of her foot.
She laughed softly and pulled her foot away jiggling the bed and causing me to scramble to make sure none of the nail polish spilt.
"Sorry," she said looking down at me, a sheepish grin spreading across her lips. "You really think so?" she asked once I had settled back into my former position. I looked back down at her feet then and nodded slowly. She had small feet, delicate, just like her. They were graceful, yet cute…once again, just like her.
"No one’s ever told you that before?" I asked looking up at her through my eyelashes.
She was quiet for a moment, her eyes drifted away from mine and I could tell that she was thinking. We remained that way for a few seconds, me gazing up at her and her deep in thought, but then her eyes flittered back to me and a mysterious smile appeared on her face. If the Mona Lisa had seen this expression she would have eaten her liver, it was that lovely.
"Once," she finally said, her voice a whisper. "His name was Nick Stewart, we were on a class trip. He was trying to get me in his bed."
"I’ve already got you in my bed, so I must be telling the truth," I responded before turning my attention back to her feet.
We were silent for a while after that, as I diligently applied the sparkly liquid to her toes and she diligently stared at the top of my head. This had become our routine since the first day we met, and I still didn’t have any idea whether we were joking or not. It was never talked about, and after a comment was made a grace period was given. We would say something to each other that could be taken one way or another and then we would sit in silence for a moment and reflect on how we wanted the comment to be taken before eventually deciding that we didn’t want to know.
I had been concentrating on the task at hand so much that I nearly jumped out of my skin when I felt her place her hand on my cheek. Or at least I think that’s why I almost jumped out of my skin. I looked up at her. She wasn’t smiling; in fact she looked downright serious. Her blue eyes were almost clear and her gaze was unwavering.
"I’ll do you next," was all she said. I blinked at her dumbly a few times then nodded my agreement.
"I can’t help but feel we’re forgetting something," she said contemplatively a moment later. The silence had begun to become oppressive when she said this and I looked up at her gratefully.
"The homework," I responded grinning.
"Right," she said nodding along gamely. "The hip bones connected to the…" she paused and looked down at me. "What is it connected to Is?"
"You should have started with an easier bone," I replied capping the nail polish bottle.
"You don’t know do you?" she asked grinning happily.
"Of course I do," I replied looking at her seriously. "But since you don’t know maybe we should actually…I don’t know…study?"
"You don’t know," she said again. "If ever, of ever a wiz there was, Isabel Evans is not because, because, because, because, because…" she started to sing. I glared at her when I figured out where this was going but it didn’t deter her. Thankfully there was a knock at the door that shut her up before…well, before nothing. I would have endured it, but I wouldn’t have liked it so I was glad that there was a knock at the door.
"Come in," I called out. A moment later the door opened and Max poked his head in. His gaze traveled from me to Tess where it lay for a second before drifting back over my way.
"Can I talk to you for a minute? In the hall."
"I’ll be back in a sec. You’d do well to edify yourself while I’m gone," I said gesturing towards the books that were at the foot of my bed but hadn’t been looked at since they were dumped there.
"Right," she said drawing out the word as long as humanly possible. "I’ll make a note of the page for you."
Once we were out in the hallway Max shut the door behind us then proceeded to stare at me in a most annoying fashion.
"What?" I asked a little peevishly. He had been acting very strange lately and I didn’t like being on the receiving end of it. He was staring at people blankly all the time, he had set himself on fire at school, and he was generally just acting like a spaz.
"Why’s she here?" he asked.
"Yeah, I could see that. I didn’t know you were taking Show Tunes 101."
"My god Max, was that sarcasm? Has the world gone mad?" I asked bringing my hands up to my face to show my utter and complete shock.
"I don’t think you should spend so much time around her," he said a moment later choosing to ignore my comment. "She’s always around."
"Don’t even think about preaching to me," I said my eyes narrowing. "At least I haven’t been out all night fogging up the windows with her."
"Can we please keep this civil?" he asked holding up his hands.
"Why is that you and Michael think that you can dictate who I’m friends with, and I stress the word ‘friends’ with, but the two of you can ‘befriend’—and I hope you noted the heavily sarcastic tone I used there—whoever you want to?"
"Isabel, all I’m saying is that we don’t know anything about her."
"What did we know about Liz Parker before you sucked a bullet out of her gut and exposed us to her band of merry men?"
"That’s not fair," Max, protested.
"No, it’s not. Life isn’t fair. Having to hide isn’t fair. Being alone, and afraid twenty-four seven isn’t fair. Something aren’t fair Max, they just are," I responded.
"I think she’s dangerous. There’s something about her Is, there’s something off about her. I don’t like her," he said talking a step towards we. I took a step back.
"I like her Max. For the first time in sixteen years I’ve got a friend who didn’t come out of a pod, and I’m not going to stop seeing her because you’ve got some antacid build up that giving you ‘feelings’."
"It’s not just a feeling," Max said reaching out to me desperately.
"Then what is it? Has she done something? Said something?"
"But nothing. Listen, I can’t do this now," I said moving around him and back towards my door.
"Later," I called back to him and then I disappeared back inside of my room.
Tess was sitting on the bed in virtually the same position I had left her only now there was an open textbook beside her. I had to smile at that. She always seemed to be able to make me do that.
"Is everything alright?" Tess asked as I moved over to the bed.
"Yeah," I responded, but I knew that I sounded distracted.
She patted the spot on the bed beside her.
"Come on," she said urging me to sit down. "It’s my turn," she continued holding up the nail polish bottle.
If you live in Roswell you’re familiar with the desert. Some people merely learn how to tolerate it, while others learn to hate it, and then others still, like me, come to love it. It becomes a second home. When people who have never been there think of the desert they think of it as being a barren wasteland that’s devoid of life and ungodly. But they don’t know, there’s life in the desert, there’s magic there. It’s where people lose and find themselves.
I had started to spend a lot of time out there after that last night Tess had spent over at my house. I had a special place that I had found when I was younger that I liked to go to when I needed to think, or wanted to be alone. I had told Max and Michael where it was, as a precaution, but I had never taken them there and they had never gone on their own. We all had our places like that, and we respected each other not to trespass no matter how intrigued by them we were.
I had begun to have these conflicting dreams—or maybe they were nightmares—in the days following the night Tess had spent at our house. It wasn’t merely the two dreams that I was having that left me so utterly without a clue, but the fact that they were so radically different in nature. To be sure they were unsettling, however I felt that I could have dealt with them if they came one at a time, but that was not the case and as a result I felt my head being yanked in opposite directions. I was drawing and quartering myself.
One night I would see Michael and myself. We would be in a park, or maybe a backyard, and we would be holding hands. In front of us was a swing set with a child sitting on it and we’d be pushing her and turn at each other and smile. It was the picture of domestic bliss, and it shocked me because it felt familiar. It was almost as if I was getting a glimpse into the way things could be. I would wake up from these dreams unsettled. They felt forced, but also comforting and it always left me with an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Like I was being forced to want something that I didn’t want or need.
And then, then one night I would dream of Tess. A meadow, a bed, a beach, a carpet, anywhere and everywhere I saw us together. There would be no sappy love songs and soft lens shots of these images like in the ones with Michael. These were all about pulsing music, throbbing beats and thundering hearts. These were all about passion. I would see her smile at me, that slightly mischievous smile with a little bit of the girl next door in it that I absolutely loved because it was so very naughty. And then I would feel her lips on mine, gently at first then more firmly. I would open my mouth to her and she would enter me and we would push ourselves together and my hands would start to roam her body. I could feel her all around me, all over me and I would deepen the kiss before wrenching my lips away from hers and moving down to the soft skin of her neck. She tasted so good that I would lose myself in her over and over again. It was all that I wanted to be with her and she always opened herself to me taking me in, holding me close.
When I would awake from these dreams I always turned around expecting her to be there. I could always feel her until the moment I opened my eyes and saw for a fact that she wasn’t there. These dreams unsettled me to, but in a different way. These ones made me feel unsettled because they came to me so easily, so naturally. When I was holding her, and touching her, it felt right, and when I woke up it felt like something was missing. I didn’t want to want her, but I did.
The beginning and end of Phys. Ed. became a nightmare for me after the dreams started. She would insist on changing right beside me, so close to me in fact that our skin almost touched. A few times I was certain that I could feel the heat radiating from her body. Every day, this would happen. The change room could be completely empty and still she would stand beside me and peel off her clothes piece by piece. And I would watch as expanse after expanse of alabaster skin was revealed, while I pretended that I wasn’t watching.
That’s what I was doing one day when I was startled out of my activities by a hand on my shoulder. Her hand I noticed not so absently.
"Isabel," she said softly. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah?" My response came out sounding more like a question however.
"Sure sounds like it," she said watching me carefully.
"I was just thinking." Our eyes never left each other as I spoke to her. "What are you doing later?"
"Whatever you’re about to suggest," she answered winking at me before pulling her shirt over her head.
"You shouldn’t agree to things so easily," I told her as I sat down and began to tie my shoes, "I could’ve been offering to introduce you to the high stakes world of Columbian drug dealing."
"Is that what you were going to suggest?" she asked quirking an eyebrow.
"Then so what?" she replied saucily.
"Now I’m not so sure I want to take you," I said in a most solemn tone.
"Take me where?" Now she was interested.
"It’s a surprise."
She straightened her back so that she was standing in front of me again. "I love surprises."
"Then you’ll love this."
And with that we both headed out into the gym.
The sun was just beginning to set as I led Tess to my secret lair. The view was particularly spectacular at that time of the day with the pale orange glow of the fading sun casting its glare over the desert sand. I don’t know what had possessed me to invite her there, only that at the time it seemed right, and that over the course of the rest of the day I wasn’t able to think of a reason that I shouldn’t follow through with it.
"Are you sure you know the way back?" Tess inquired as we made our way up the rocks.
"Oh, I’m sure I can find my way back," I told her smiling. "Come on, we’re almost there," I continued grabbing her hand and leading her forward.
A large ledge extended from the rock face. It was shaped almost like a hand and walking out into it I always felt so small, but also secure. It was like as long as I was standing there nobody could ever hurt me. At the very edge of it, near the ‘fingers’ was a small pool of water with a straggly tree at its edge. The tree was wilted and brown and always looked like it was on the edge of death, but it always survived, it had been there as long as I had been going there and I was sure that it would remain after I left.
"God, it’s beautiful up here," Tess exclaimed moving towards the ‘fingers’ and peaking through.
"So you like it?" I asked coming up behind her, stopping just short of touching her.
"I love it." I could hear the smile spreading across her face. We stood there for a moment in silence just looking out at the landscape until I noticed a small shudder run through her body. I suddenly realized that the temperature had dropped considerably since we had left the Crashdown and I noted that while I was in long sleeves Tess was only wearing a tank top. I frowned at myself; I should have thought to tell her to bring something warmer.
"Are you cold?" I asked as another shiver ran through body.
There was a momentary pause, and then she nodded her head and said, "A little bit, yeah."
"I’m such a putz, I should have told you to bring something warmer. I tend not to feel the cold and forget about it," I said as I started think about something I could do to warm her up. It would have been relatively easy if I could’ve used my powers, but I couldn’t so I was left having to think like a human. Finally, I stepped forward and wrapped my arms around her drawing her into me. I’d always heard that body heat was the most effective way to warm someone up.
As my arms wrapped around her I heard her intake of breath and felt her stiffen in my arms.
"Sorry," I said starting to pull back. "I was just trying too…"
"No, it’s alright," she said cutting me off. "I was just surprised."
I nodded and moved back towards her wrapping my arms around her once again. I was telling her the truth when I told her I just wanted to warm her up; the truth also was that I enjoyed the feeling of her in my arms. I decided to keep that little tidbit to myself however.
"This is going to sound strange," Tess started to say.
"It couldn’t be stranger than anything I’ve heard. Especially lately," I responded absently.
"That’s good then. I guess." Her eyes never left the horizon as she spoke. "Do you think that dreams are the subconscious trying to tell the conscious something? Like, you know, maybe we don’t want to admit something to ourselves even though it’s true so the only place we can admit it is when we’re asleep?"
The sun had gone down completely by then leaving us in the dark.
"I think," I started slowly, "that sometimes a dream is just a dream. But," and here my mind started to wander to the dreams I had been having lately, "I also think that sometimes they can be more. That sometimes maybe we need a little push to realize something and dreams can do that."
I felt her nod, but she didn’t respond to me verbally.
"What’s the matter? Not sleeping well…Or sleeping too well?" I teasingly asked a moment later.
"Can I take the 5th?" she asked turning to face me slightly as a chuckle ran through her body. "Maybe a bit of both," she continued despite her former comment.
"What are you dreaming about?" As I asked the question I became increasingly aware of the knot in my stomach and the dampness of my palms. I had discovered that any physical contact with her turned me into a nervous wreck, and we were pretty physical at the moment.
She was quiet for a second, then in a voice so soft I almost didn’t hear her, she said, "You."
I think that my heart actually stopped beating when that word came out of her mouth. In fact I think that my entire body ceased to function entirely after she uttered that syllable.
"What kind of dreams?" I asked her removing my arms from around her waist and placing my hands on her shoulders so that I could turn her around to face me. "What kind of dreams?" I repeated when she didn’t respond.
She had dropped her head down and was looking at the ground in between us when she answered me. "Romantic," was all she said. It was all she needed to say.
"Romantic?" I repeated my voice barely a whisper. I was really just repeating it to myself in a befuddled wonder, but she answered the question regardless of how I had intended it to come out.
"I can feel you. I see your hands on my body, and mine on yours. And your lips. I can feel your warmth surrounding me, and I want you," she went on her position not changing an inch.
I was numb. My hands dropped from her shoulders. I was shocked, excited, completely thrilled and terrified. She felt the same way I did. The comments, the looks, the touches, they meant the same things to her that they meant to me. She wanted me. It was all becoming so real. When I was alone, at night, thinking about her it could be put back in its place when the sun rose and nobody was the wiser. It was my little secret, and it didn’t have to change anything. But it wasn’t just my secret, it was her secret too, and now it was out in the open and I had to decide if I was ready to let it mean what I wanted it to mean.
"You hate me," she said taking a step back from my stupefied form.
I looked up at her wide-eyed. For the first time in life I wasn't in control of my own emotions.
"No," I said softly reaching out for her. "I just…" I stopped talking there and dropped my gaze from hers. I couldn’t think of what I wanted to say. My mind wasn’t working fast enough.
"I shouldn’t have said anything. I should go," she said starting to retreat again.
"You don’t know how to get back," I said walking towards her.
"I think maybe I’d prefer to get lost out there," she replied with a twisted smile as she continued to back up.
"Don’t go," I pleaded with her. "I’m glad you told me," I said catching up to her and placing my hands on her shoulders once again. "I feel…there’s all of these things in my head, it’s so confusing," I told her as my brows scrunched together. She looked at me with an odd expression, almost guiltily but said nothing. "And, I feel things…for you…"
"You don’t have to…"
"I know," I said cutting her off. "And I’m not. I…oh fuck it," I finally muttered under my breath before I quickly leaned forward and brushed her lips against mine. It was the most incredible sensation. I felt as though a lightening bolt had zapped me. Her lips were so incredibly soft and sweet. It broke my heart. I never wanted to leave them.
I dropped my hands down to her waist and moved forward so that our bodies were pressed against each other. I groaned at the contact and my lips parted allowing her to enter me. I felt her hand on my neck drawing my head down pushing us together and I surrendered to her will. I was unnaturally aware of everything that was Tess, her smell, her taste, her warmth, and the feel of her skin. I felt as if I was melting into her.
"Isabel?" she breathed out softly after we parted.
"Hmmm," I responded staring at her dreamily. I was beyond coherent thought.
"I want to do that again."
I smiled and leaned back in. There was nothing I would rather do.
The next day at school I was on a complete high, I wasn’t even sure that I was walking cause my feet didn’t feel like they were touching the ground. Tess and I had spent hours out in the desert that night, and we hadn’t even just spent the whole time making out! It had been magical, and I started to feel bad for making fun of Max and his lovey dovey declarations about love because I now felt like making a few of them myself. She was all that I could think about, and I couldn’t seem to find anything wrong with that proposition. Things couldn’t have been better, at least until Max and Michael cornered—or should I say ‘countered’—me at the Crashdown and all of the drama began all over again.
Max and Michael didn’t trust Tess. Max and Liz were having problems. Valenti was onto us after Michael ran off and lost the orb before Topolsky disappeared. We had to check Tess out, which meant that I was picked to go over to her house and spy on her and her father so that I could get the goods then spill the beans to everyone. Then a bug was found in Michael’s apartment, and then the conspiracy theories started yet again. And then after that I was forced to tell them about how the otherwise dorkily normal Mr. Harding freaked out about some box I had almost picked up, but that was interrupted by Max and Liz having some more problems. Yeah! After that everyone but me decided that it was a good idea to spy on Tess, so Liz was drafted to go on over to the Harding residence and plant a camera there so our spy games could begin. Liz then investigated the box I had been forbidden to go near earlier and revealed it to contain photos of Max, Max and you guessed it Max before she was startled by Mr. Harding and broke a vase and disturbed the camera. Next Michael was ready to charge in there, and I was confused, but then we got a cryptic message from Liz that made all discussion futile and we headed on over Tess’.
In the end we saved Liz, and I found out that Tess and Max had kissed leaving me depressed and heartbroken as we all returned to the warehouse just in time to see Tess use her powers to restore the vase Liz had broken earlier in the evening.
Sufficed to say, it was the day from hell, and once the crisis was over things only got worse.
I was a non-verbal, uncommunicative, wreck for the rest of the night. I essentially spent the entire night watching the monitor, pacing the warehouse and trying to avoid Alex who wanted to ‘comfort’ and reassure me. I felt like I was dying inside. My palms were sweating, my heart was racing, and my head was throbbing like someone was using it as a conga drum. It felt like my organs were slowly being ripped out one by one. I hadn’t known that it was possible to be in that much pain and still survive. I had trusted her. My god, I had confided in her like no other person in my life and she had turned around and ripped me a new asshole. God it hurt so much, and there was nobody that I could go to, nobody that I could trust. I had to admit though; she had managed to fuck all of us with the professionalism of a French whore.
We all gathered together at an abandoned Carnival sight the next afternoon. We sat on a crippled carnival ride and discussed Tess in a committee. "I don’t think she knows we’re on to her," Liz said. "She’s the fourth alien, we should trust her," was Michael’s opinion. Max said that she was a killer, and while she may be an alien she was not like us. And I said to them, "I don’t think that anyone, or anything that would pretend to be a teenage girl in order to seduce Max is on our side," while on the inside I was screaming "she broke my heart and I didn’t even know I had given it to her! She broke me."
She manipulated Max into dreaming of her, into wanting her and then she took him, all within twenty-four hours of doing the same thing to me. Only how much easier a target was I? I was an idiot, she used me and I didn’t even see it coming. At least Max had been suspicious, had felt that something was wrong. I had defended her! I had fought for her, and I didn’t just ‘want’ her, or give in, or resign myself, or accept the inevitable, I welcomed her with arms wide open. I had fallen in loved with her. She didn’t even need to manipulate me; I would have gone to her anyway.
We hadn’t decided earlier if we were going to trust her or not. We still didn’t have enough information to know whether or not she would harm us, so once again the job of acquiring information on her fell to me. I was actually grateful for the assignment though; it gave me something to think about besides how much she had hurt me.
I was standing across from the secretary in the office having designed my plan to start stage two of operation "T.E.S.S".
"I need her file because I’m with the Sunshine Committee," I told the secretary. "You know, it’s kind of like the Welcome Wagon for students. It helps them get along and fit into a new place better.
"I’ve been here eight years and I’ve never heard of a Sunshine Committee," she responded, her face as still as stone. This one had verve; I wasn’t in the mood for verve.
"I know," I related in a disappointed tone. "Isn’t that terrible? A few of us thought it was time to start one up. You can never have too much sunshine, don’t you think?"
She didn’t really seem convinced by the argument, but SHE didn’t need to be convinced she only needed to leave her office so that I could get on her computer and she did just that. The mission had been accomplished.
I didn’t feel any better.
I came home later on to find Tess and my mother bonding over old photo albums in the kitchen. When Tess saw me she commented on how lucky I was to have such a wonderful family and so many happy memories. She was right, I did have a wonderful family and many happy memories, but I didn’t want to hear it from her because it just reminded that I was constantly lying to one half of that wonderful family, and that none of my recent memories were making me feel too happy. As I walked further into the room I had to force my step not to falter and my face not to crack. Annoyingly she followed my progress the whole time looking up at me with sparkling eyes. It nearly undid me, nearly toppled me to the ground because I still wanted her. Despite it all, I still wanted her and that frustrated me more than anything else in the world. I moved over to the counter and picked up a glass, I was going to act like everything was normal. No one was going to be the wiser; no one was going to know that I was having a nervous breakdown.
When my mother left a few minutes later to run some errands, Tess smiled at me coyly but looked at me brazenly and walked over to me. Twenty-four hours before I would have melted upon seeing an expression like that cross her beautiful features, but then and there it was like a slap across the face. As she got closer to me, I felt my hand begin to shake and was only dimly aware of the fact that the glass I had picked up had fallen from my hand and was plummeting towards the ground. I wanted to move away from her but my feet seemed to have taken root, so I did the next best thing and dropped to the floor where I began to pick up the glass shards. She lowered herself down to and began to help me clean up the mess. She looked at me furtively a few times as we cleaned up. I had seen that look on her face before and I knew that she wanted to say something but was holding herself back. Before I would have asked her, gently placing my hand on her shoulder to encourage. This time I said nothing.
When we were finished I stood up without a word and moved into the living room. The kitchen suddenly seemed cramped. She followed me, I could feel her presence trailing along behind. Once we had completed the journey she moved to stand in front of me and she placed her hand on my neck. I knew that she intended to kiss me like she had the night the before and my stomach flipped involuntarily. I turned my head to the side at the last possible second causing her lips to land on my cheek instead.
She took a step back and regarded me keenly, trying to look into my eyes but I avoided her gaze.
"Isabel?" she questioned softly, her eyes searching my face. I didn’t answer her. I didn’t think that it was possible for me to have at that moment. "I’m sorry about yesterday…I know my dad can be weird sometimes."
My eyes flickered to her for a moment, completely of their own violation, and then flittered away again. I couldn’t look at her. I felt like I was going to be ill—or at least I assumed that was what feeling like you were going to be ill felt like since I had never been sick before. It was impossible for me to know what the look on my face revealed, because the emotions flooding through me were too haphazard to make any sense out of, but the look obviously revealed something because it prompted Tess to say, "You know," her hand moved back to my cheek caressing it gently as she said this, "I’ve never felt as close to anyone as I feel to you. With you I feel like we share something…something special. I don’t think I could bare it if you hated me for it."
Liz was right. She had no idea that we knew about her, or more importantly she had no idea that I knew what she had done. She thought I was freaking out about the whole ‘gay’ thing. I pulled away from her after she said that and took a step back from her finally having managed to pull myself together. She reached out for me, I jerked back.
"Don’t," I said, my voice a low rumble. "Don’t touch me."
"Isabel?" Her eyes were searching my face, searching. She wouldn’t find what she was looking for. She had destroyed it.
"I know," was all I said in response to her. I was trying very hard to control myself, not only my anger but also my pain. The phrase, ‘Never let them see you bleed’ was racing around in my skull. Never let the enemy know that they’ve broken you because if you do then they’ve really won.
Her eyes clouded over momentarily and she regarded me shrewdly. Her eyes were still open, still searching mine, but she was also assessing the situation now. We both knew that she had secrets, she just didn’t know which ones I knew and she was trying to figure it out.
"Know what?" she inquired carefully.
"You kissed Max. You kissed my brother," I shot at her abrasively. That wasn’t what I had intended to say to her, or how I intended to say it to her, but that’s what came out. "You kissed him," I added so softly almost I didn’t the comment.
"I…" she paused there, seemingly searching around in her head for a way to weasel out of the truth. "It’s not what you think," she finally said lamely.
"What I think doesn’t matter, it’s what is that counts, and you KISSED him," I responded taking another step back. I didn’t even want to be in the same room her. She hadn’t denied it. I think that some part of me had wanted to believe that it was all a misunderstanding, or a lie, or a hallucination or anything other than what it was, but I knew now that it had happened. That it was real, and it felt like someone had landed a direct hit to my solar plexus.
"It’s complicated," she said stepping towards me. I thought that I detected desperation in her voice. "It’s a complex situation. It’s full of…complexities."
"No, it’s not very complex at all. I know what you are and I know what you did."
"What I am," Tess said to herself softly before looking into my eyes again. She knew not to pretend like she didn’t know what I was talking about. She collapsed down onto the couch.
"You can go now," I said gesturing towards the door. "We’re on to your little game. All of us, and Max and I aren’t going to fall for your tricks anymore," I went on looking her directly in the eyes for the first time that day. "And if you try to hurt any of our friends, we will find you and we will hurt you. No matter what form you’re in."
"What form? You think I’m Nasedo?" she asked looking up at me surprised.
"No, we know you’re Nasedo. We’ve seen you," I told her backing up again.
"You haven’t seen me change shape, because I can’t. If you’ve seen that it wasn’t me," she related in a most earnest tone. She was looking directly at me, pleading with those bright blue eyes for me to believe her.
"If you’re not Nasedo then you know who is, which really isn’t any better. I don’t think we’re about to trust a murderer or his trusty side-kick."
"He’s not a murderer," she replied resolutely.
"So you do know Nasedo."
"So do you."
"You met him yesterday, he told you to call him Ed," she responded standing up and moving towards me again. Nasedo was her father. "He’s not your enemy. He’s been assigned to us for our protection, and to teach us. He got to me first."
"Us? What us?"
"You, me, Max and Michael."
I was silent after she said this trying to process it all and decide whether or not I wanted to believe some of it or none of it. If what she was saying was the truth then it could answer a lot of questions for the three of us. We would finally be able to figure out where we were from, and why we were here. Not to mention we would be able to learn how to better control our powers. But that was if she was telling the truth, and while I had no reason to doubt the validity of what she was saying, I had no reason to believe it either. She was likely a terrific liar. We had to be.
"I’m beginning to think that I probably should have taken a different approach," she said breaking me out of my revere. She was moving towards we slowly, hesitantly as if she was trying to prevent me from bolting. "But I didn’t, and I can’t change that now. What I can tell you is that I haven’t lied to you, not once since we met and I’m not lying now." She reached out for me and placed her hand on my shoulder.
"This doesn’t change anything…between us," I replied as I removed her hand from my shoulder and moved around to the other side of the room. "You still kissed Max." I couldn’t keep some of the pain out of my voice as I said this and she turned around to look at me sadly. "I won’t be your puppet," I told her hardening my gaze.
"You don’t understand," she said looking at me intently. "I had no choice."
"No choice?" My voice was incredulous and outraged as I said this, because I was…well, incredulous and outraged. "How could you have no choice? You planted images in his head, and when they took effect you took him. How could you have no choice in that?"
"So you don’t know?" she asked curiously. "The whole story, do you?"
"I know you’ve manipulated us. Do I need to know more?"
"Yeah, you do. Max is my destiny, it’s been foretold. I didn’t chose him, it’s just the way it is," she responded looking down at the carpet. "The images I gave him, I had to do it, I had to try and make him come to me. It was fate."
"This has all happened before. You, Max, Michael, and me. We were before and have been created to be again. I’ve been guided here, been given images of the past and told what’s to be. And Max and I are suppose to be together."
"So where does seducing me fit into your neat little future with Max?" I asked harshly.
"It doesn’t," she said softly. "It wasn’t supposed to happen, it wasn’t suppose to be."
"You gave me images, just like you gave Max images. You made me want you," I replied though I wasn’t nearly as certain as my tone was supposed to convey.
"You dreamed about me?" She raised her head when she asked this and looked directly at me with a surprised expression on her face.
"You know I did. You sent them."
"No, I didn’t," she replied looking up at me once again. "I gave you the images of Michael, nothing more."
"Michael? Why?" My head was really beginning to hurt. This conversation was beyond exasperating, it was becoming painful to try and follow it.
"That’s what the book says. You and Michael, me and Max," she answered shaking her head. ‘That’s how it’s always been. Before I came to Roswell you were all just shadows of memory, an abstract idea, but I certain of what was to be. Trust me, I was more shocked than anyone when I started dreaming about you. I didn’t understand where it fit in to the grand scheme of things. I still don’t. I only know that what I feel for you is more real than anything I was suppose to feel for Max, and strong enough to make me risk the only thing that’s ever been certain in my life. I’m not suppose to want you Isabel, but I do and I can’t stop…believe me I tried."
"Why should I believe you?" I asked cursing internally as my voice cracked revealing my weakness.
"Because you want to. Because you feel it too. Because the heart always knows and in your heart you want me…you need me, as much as I need you." She was walking slowly towards me as she spoke and by the time she finished she was standing directly in front of me our, bodies almost touching. She placed her hands on my waist then drew them around encircling me, drawing me into an embrace. I couldn’t find it in me to resist. She rested her head on my shoulder and pulled me tighter. Once again I didn’t resist. When she didn’t feel me pull away she gently lowered her lips to the skin of neck and placed a series of soft butterfly kisses on the open skin working her way to my jaw line and then eventually my lips. When I felt the soft warmth of her lips against my own I was powerless to stop my response. I lowered my head pressing our lips together firmly, passionately meeting her eager tongue. My arms slipped around her waste and I drew her even closer to me as I inhaled her scent. I was lost. I always had been.
"What about destiny?" I asked when we separated.
"I was never really fond of the idea anyway," she said smiling before burying her face in the crook of my neck and shoulder.
"This is going to get a lot more complicated isn’t it?"
"Oh yeah," she replied nibbling at my neck again.
"Because I’m going to have to show you all the book."
"The book?" I asked distractedly. Her mouth was doing all sorts of wonderful things to me, but was making it extremely difficult to concentrate.
"The one that tells us who we are and why we’re here," she said pulling back and looking at me seriously.
"Oh, that book," I replied dryly.
"Yeah, that book," she agreed before bringing her lips to mine once again.
I felt Tess’s hand creep under my shirt and moaned into our kiss. This had to stop, there were things that we had to do and it wasn’t each other.
"We have to go talk to them," I said as her hand slid further up my shirt and lightly brushed the underside of my breast. My breath hitched and I felt a shudder run through my body.
"Are you sure you want to go anywhere…but down?" she asked grinning rakishly as she made firmer contact with my breast causing my eyes flicker shut as my body to arch into her hands.
"We can’t," I said softly as my head dropped down to her shoulder. I was completely at her mercy, my body was only listening to the orders that she was giving it, and it liked it! Who thought that your own body could betray you like that? It just wasn’t fair…but it was a lot of fun.
I turned my head to the side and extended my tongue licking her neck. I was certain that I would never get enough of touching her, or tasting her, or hearing her. I was certain that I would never get tired of her period. I was about to say something else to her when I heard footsteps in the hallway just outside my door.
"Isabel?" It was Max.
We both lifted our heads and turned to look at the door. The knob was beginning to turn. Tess and I immediately began to try disentangle ourselves from each other, but we only succeeded in getting more entangled than we had been originally. Then just as the door was about to open I managed to roll out of the bed and into a standing position. As I stood up and began to run a hand through my hair, I heard a thud and realized that Tess had rolled right onto the floor. As I tried to smoother the grin that was threatening to spread across my face Max walked into the room.
"Mom said that you were up here," he said staring me suspiciously.
"And here I am."
"With Tess," he added. He was still staring at me intently. I looked down and realized that my shirt was partly unbuttoned and that the hem of it was tucked up under my bra exposing my abdomen. Tess must have pushed it up there when she was feeling me up and it didn’t fall back down when I moved. I quickly settled the shirt back into its normal position.
"She forgot her sweater here. She’s looking for it," I told him.
"Where is she?" He was looked around the room.
"Hi," she said sticking her head out from behind the bed and giving him a little wave.
He turned his attention away from her and looked back over at me sharply. I smiled and gave him a helpless shrug. A moment later Tess removed herself from the floor and walked over to us stopping so that she was standing next to me.
"Didn’t find it?" I asked turning to face her. She shook her head.
Before I could respond to that however, Michael popped out of nowhere and walked into my room.
"What is this an open house?" I muttered under my breath.
"What’s she doing here?" Michael asked staring at Tess.
"She came by to pick up her sweater," Max answered turning to face him.
"I don’t see a sweater," Michael pointed out.
"I couldn’t find it," she responded tossing her hands up in the air.
After that the four of us stood there for a moment in an awkward silence. Michael was eyeing me, Max was eyeballing Tess, and Tess and I were looking everywhere but at each other.
"Ah," I said finally injecting into the silence. Suddenly all eyes were on me. "I think that we need to talk." Michael looked pointedly at Tess when I said that, and she consequently turned to look at me. "All of us," I added, and then I pushed between Max and Michael and headed out into the hallway.
The conversation that ensued once we were all seated in the kitchen was absolutely no fun whatsoever. Max and Michael sat in a stony silence as I told them what happened after I returned home from school—sans the romantic sub-plot of course. I related to them how I came home to find Tess sitting with mom and how one thing led to another and we got into a conversation where many things were revealed. When I finished Max stared at me for a moment then silently stood up and began to pace the room. Michael remained seated but leaned back in his chair and proceeded to shoot ice daggers at me from across the table.
"I can’t believe you did this without talking to us," Max said finally turning to face me again.
I opened my mouth but then promptly shut it. He was right, I had let my emotions dictate my actions and I had not only tipped our hand to her, I had given her written instructions and a diagram. If she HAD turned out to be our enemy I could have seriously put our lives in danger. But love made people and aliens alike do strange things, and it made me do that. I just couldn’t tell them that, so I sat silently as they judged me.
"It wasn’t her fault," Tess said speaking for the first time since we left my room. All three of us turned to face her. "I…I made her think that I knew more than I really did. She was trying to protect you," she went on in a rush.
"Tess," I whispered.
"No…it’s okay. I want to start over with a clean slate." She held my eyes as she said this telling me not to contradict her. I knew what she was doing. They already didn’t like her, so if they didn’t like her a little bit more it really wouldn’t make a difference. But, if they knew how things had really happened it would have damaged my relationship with them and she was trying to protect me from that.
"It’s gonna take a lot more than that Blondie," Michael responded glaring at her. "Are you alright?" This was directed at me.
"I’m fine. Really."
"Why should we trust you anymore today than we did yesterday?" Max asked moving back towards the table. He didn’t sit down though; instead he merely braced his palms on the table and leaned over menacingly.
"Because I’m telling the truth?" Tess asked gazing back at him guilelessly.
"That’s not much of an answer sister," Michael interjected.
"Do you think you can try to pretend that you were taught some manners?" I asked looking at Michael intently.
"I can prove I’m one of you." Max and Michael turned and gaped at her after she said this. "You just have to give me your hand," she continued looking at Max.
"Go ahead. It’s quite a show," I told him encouragingly.
He silently nodded his acquiescence and Tess reached over placing her hand over his. Tess had showed me the same images she was about show Max before we had ‘retired’ to my bedroom earlier. He would see all of us emerging from our egg shaped pods, covered in an embryonic like substance. Max, Michael and I all came out but Tess was still in hers. She appeared to still be asleep. Michael then moved over to the cave wall and waved his hand causing a silver handprint to appear. He placed his hand on the print resulting in the wall opening allowing sunlight to pour in. Michael then exited the cave. Max and I began to walk away too, but we paused before we made it to the exit and turned around to look at Tess. We stayed there for a moment, the two of us, and then we reluctantly joined Michael outside.
Tess removed her hand from over Max’s when she was done. He remained hunched over like that for a moment then he removed his hands from the table and straightened up. He turned to look at me after that and we held each other’s eyes for a long moment before he finally turned to face Michael. I wondered what he was thinking in the seconds we were connected. I wondered if it was the same thing I was thinking after I had seen the images. I wondered if he would begin to think about the possibility of Tess and I being more than we appeared to be.
"She’s telling the truth, she’s one of us," Max was saying to Michael when I returned my attention to the proceedings in our kitchen.
"So, what now?" Michael asked once deciding that he didn’t have a chance arguing against the three of us, and not really wanting to anyway.
"We should go to Pohlam Ranch," I answered right away. "Let’s see what this book has to say."
Michael and Max headed out of the house before Tess and I. Before Tess could step out into the daylight as well I stopped her by placing a hand on her shoulder and gently turning her around to face me.
"The book may say that the past isn’t through with us," I said leaning in close to her. "But I’m through with the past," and with that I closed the distance between the two of us and pressed our lips together.
When we parted she let her hands linger on my waist and looked at me seriously.
"It’s about time I started taking control of my own destiny. And there’s no place I’d rather start than here…with you." And with that she brought her pillow soft lips down to mine in a sensuously deep kiss that made my knees shake and my heart threaten to beat right out of my chest.
When we pulled apart I looked into her deep blue eyes and I was lost in her sparkling irises and dark black pupils. For when I looked into those shimmering orbs I saw forever, and I realized that I had found my ‘ever after’.
At Puhlam Ranch we discovered the cave our pods had been hidden in, and the book Tess had told us all about. The book was made of tablets connected together by five rings. It reminded me of some sort of ancient text or spell book. It was engraved in a language that none of us understood, but fortunately—or unfortunately as the case certainly could have been—it did contain pictures of us, individually and paired together. I was originally shocked, and more than a little bit disturbed, by the pictures, I couldn’t understand how they could have carved our exact images into the book so long ago. "Because we were designed," was Michael’s solemn response. He always knew how to give someone a real pick-me-up. However, despite the fact that Max and I were none to thrilled with the idea, it soon became very clear to us that we had indeed been engineered, not born.
In the book we did indeed seem to be paired up—just like Tess had said—but I didn’t want to believe it. I’m certain that both Max and Tess didn’t want to believe it either because the three of us failed to comment on what was sitting right in front of our faces. Michael apparently had no such qualms, and pointed out—loudly—that we all had been paired up, that it was our destiny. Max protested immediately proclaiming that he belonged with Liz.
"This is how it is, whether you want to believe it or not Maximillion," Michael responded taking a step closer to me. I’m not sure whether it was unconscious or not only that Tess seemed to notice the move and mirrored it.
"Just because it’s in the book, doesn’t mean that it has to be," Max responded. I would have spoken up in agreement but I was too busy studying the book. An idea was beginning to form in the back of brain, but it wasn’t complete, I couldn’t quite grasp it.
"Face the facts Max. We’re not like normal people and we don’t have normal futures. We’re here," Michael said tapping the surface of the tablets, "and this is how it’s got to be."
"Not necessarily," I said slowly. All eyes turned to me. I was really beginning to dislike being the center of attention. "What if we’re reading it wrong?"
"What do you mean?" Max asked stepping closer to the book. He was obviously as taken with the idea of not having a pre-destined mate as I was.
"This book, the writings and the engravings…they’re not human," I said turning to look at them all.
"Well that explains it," Michael chirped annoyingly.
"What I mean is that we’ve been raised by humans, and while we’re alien we think and perceive things like humans do. We could be perceiving this all wrong. What if our people don’t read from left to right, but from right to left. Or even from top to bottom. Just because it looks like Michael and I, and Max and Tess it doesn’t mean that’s right. It could easily be read this way." I stopped speaking then and moved my hand over the book where I moved my fingers in columns instead of rows so that Tess and I were paired together and Michael and Max were.
"That’s insane!" Michael exclaimed right away, but there wasn’t as much conviction in it as there usually was. He was thinking about it, I knew he was.
"Is it? We don’t know and there’s no one to tell us differently. Who knows, these might not even *be* pairings. Someone could have just thought that this was the prettiest arrangement, or it might be set up according to birthdays or social class. Who we’re standing next to could be completely random and meaningless to the big picture," I retorted. I actually liked my theory a lot, and from the nods I was receiving from Max and Tess they were equally as enamored with it.
"What about the dreams?" Michael asked pointedly. For some supremely irritating reason he seemed really intent on proving that our initial interpretation of the scene was the right one.
"I sent those, to you," Tess speaking for the first time. "I based what I sent on what I interpreted from what I had seen of the book, but Isabel’s right…it could be all wrong. Everything I sent you, told you could be completely, unequivocally, and utterly wrong. I could have been wrong all over the place," she continued happily.
"What’s wrong with you? Two days ago you were all over this destiny crap," Michael responded with a scowl as he turned to face Tess.
"Two days ago, that was the only way I knew how to think. Things are different now. And I like having a choice," she responded without hesitation.
"But what if how we first thought it was is how it’s really supposed to be?" Michael asked looked around at all of us.
"If it’s really destiny then it’ll find a way. I mean that’s the whole idea behind destiny isn’t it? We shouldn’t have to force it, or schedule it…it should just be. So, if what we originally thought isn’t our destiny then…well, then none of us have to do anything or anyone that we don’t want to," I replied before reaching over and closing the book, "and to me, that’s okay."
And that was the end of the discussion. Max picked up the book and cradled it under his arm, and after one last look at the cave and our pods we headed for the exit and emerged into the real world once again.
There was a giddiness in all of us as we made our way from the cave. A sense of freedom and excitement that I don’t think any of us had felt for quite some time. Maybe it was a high, maybe endorphins, maybe pheromones, it didn’t really matter what it was. For at least a little while we were on top of the world, and we were going to enjoy it. When we hit town we ended up splitting up. Max and Michael went of one way—presumably in search of Liz and Maria to relate the good news—and Tess and I went the other way.
"Why’s it so dark in here?" Tess asked as we entered my house. It had just started to get dark outside.
"Because nobody’s home," I answered.
"Funny," Tess responded leaning into me slightly.
"According to Cosmopolitan humor is the number one chick magnet," I whispered into her ear. She didn’t respond verbally, instead she merely turned around so that we were facing each other and brought her lips up to mine. "You know," I started as we pulled apart, "I’m now ninety-nine point nine percent certain that your lips are the eighth wonder of the world."
"Isabel," she breathed out resting her head against my shoulder.
"I know," I said shaking my despondently. "I’m almost as bad as Max."
"I think it’s cute," Tess said resolutely as she placed a soft kiss on my neck.
"It’s nice when people think idiocy is endearing," I responded before leaning down and brining our lips together once more. "There’s something I want to show you," I continued reaching out for her hand afterwards.
"It wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you."
"You never said it was a surprise."
"Well it is," I said leading through the dark house.
"Where is it?" she asked curiously.
"In my room."
"Oh, it’s *that* kind of surprise," she replied wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.
I just smiled at her and led her up the stairs and into my bedroom. We were quiet as we made our way through the house, but it was a comfortable silence. It was probably the first time we had really had to ourselves since we confessed our feelings for each other out in the desert, and we were revealing in it. That was one of the things that I loved most about being with Tess, everything was comfortable. From the first moment we met everything from our conversations to our silences had come easily and comfortably. It was a glorious feeling to be completely at ease with someone.
Once we entered my room I led her over to the bed and told her to sit down. I knew that she was wondering what I had planned, was perhaps even nervous about it, but she sat down without protest. She knew that I would never hurt, that I would never do anything that she didn’t want me and that’s why she was able to trust my request.
"Close your eyes," I instructed softly.
"I can’t see anything anyway," she commented softly. I could tell that she was smiling. When Tess smiled it didn’t just change her face, when she smiled you could hear it in her voice and see it in her eyes.
I didn’t bother to respond, I was certain that she had closed them. I moved over to my desk and picked up an empty glass that was sitting there. I wrapped both my palms around it and closed my eyes concentrating on what I was doing. When I was satisfied with the end result I walked back over to the bed and kneeled down. Once I was on my knees I picked up Tess’s hand and placed the object I had just forged into her palm.
"You can open your eyes now," I said softly.
As soon as her eyes were open she looked down at the object that I had just placed in her hand.
"It’s beautiful," she breathed out softly as she traced the contours with her free hand. I had transformed the simple drinking glass into a glass rose.
"I was inspired," I responded dropping my head down slightly.
"Thank you," she said reaching out with her hand and tilting my face back up so that she could see my features.
"That should be my line," I told her honestly. I didn’t turn away this time, didn’t try to hide the depth of feeling that I held for her as it washed over me like a rolling thunder.
"For what?" she asked genuinely confused.
"For this," I said taking her hand into mine. "For making me feel. For helping me to finally ‘get it’."
We stared into each others eyes for what seemed like an eternity after that. I watched as her eyes roamed my face as she tried to etch my image into her mind and I sought to carve a niche in my mind and soul that would be hers alone. I watched as her eyes clouded over with emotion and her mouth opened as if she were about to say something, but nothing came out. Instead she leaned forward and brought our lips together in a heated kiss that seemed to reach down into my very being and brand the name "Tess" on my onto my heart. I saw all my tomorrow’s scroll across the backs of my eyelids as she pressed her lips against mine.
When we parted I saw that my hands had found their way to her hips. I moved them slowly around the area, trying to memorize the feeling of her body under my hands, before I looked up into her face again.
"Touch me." The words were spoken so softly they almost didn’t reach my ears. But they did, and there was nothing that I wanted to do more at that moment.
My hands immediately began to lift up that tank top that she was wearing exposing her mid-rift to my heated gaze. After simply staring at the expanse of porcelain skin for a moment I leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on the newly exposed skin. I lost myself there, kissing, licking and nuzzling against her stomach. As I continued to make love to her stomach my hands moved back to her shirt and began to push it up again and with a little bit of help from Tess finally off of her. Once her shirt was removed I felt her place her hands in my hair before gently moving my head from her stomach.
"I…" I started to say, but she silenced me by placing a finger on my lips and smiling.
"You’re overdressed," was all she said as she urged me to stand up—which I did without protest.
Once I was upright she reached out for me tenderly and slowly, carefully began to unbutton my shirt. I watched her hands as they went to work, they were trembling slightly, but I was certain had our positions been reversed my hands would probably have been useless. When all of the buttons were undone she reached up and slowly pushed the fabric off of my shoulders.
I reached out for her once my shirt had fallen to the ground and pulled her into a passionate kiss. It was no soft brushing of lips, or tentative exploration like before, this time I brought my lips down to hers hungrily, if I’m completely honest even desperately. Her lips were full and soft and they tasted so sweet. She arched up into me, pushing her body against mine feverishly. As I deepened the kiss I felt her moan into it. At this my heart beat seemed to triple in speed. She pulled away from me when the need for air became too much for us to ignore any longer and took my hand in hers leading me to the bed.
Once our clothes had been removed and lay strewn across my bedroom floor Tess and I lay on my bed side by side. She leaned forward then and brought our lips together softly at first and then with an increasing hunger as her hand returned to my body and began to stroke my stomach. I moaned softly and leaned into her drawing my own hand up her body and pulling her closer to me.
I was so lost in her kisses that I didn’t even realize that she had turned me over onto my back until I felt her straddle my waist. My breath hitched in my throat as I gazed up her. She was absolutely beautiful. My heart was pounding in my chest and my insides were burning with desire for her. I reached out for her and wrapped my arms around her waist bringing her lips back down to mine. As we kissed I could feel her warmth nestled against me heightening my desire for her. It was as if I could feel her everywhere.
She planted a trail of kisses down to my collarbone as her hands traced downwards as well leaving a path of fire in their wake. As she attached her lips to my pulse point and began to suck on the skin lightly her hands trailed up and cupped my breasts, before tenderly circling my erect nipples. I groaned and arched my back up into her tantalizing hands as she continued to work. I couldn’t believe the sensations she was causing in my body, it was the most exquisite torture. I wanted her to move on, to touch other areas that were begging for her touch, but I didn’t want her to move, I didn’t want her stop because what she was doing felt so wonderful. Every time she touched me it was a revelation. It was as if her hands were wired directly to groin, bringing pleasure—extreme pleasure—wherever they ventured. She could do no wrong.
She slowly began to kiss her way down my chest. My body wouldn’t be still as she explored it and as she made her way down towards my breasts I exercised my leg in between her own. As her mouth finally found it’s way to my breast and replaced her hands by closing over my nipple, I felt her press down against my thigh, the wetness that greeted me a testament to her own arousal. This gave rise to another heat surge that was accompanied by my own increase of moisture. My head was swimming, I was delirious. I couldn’t tell what was up or down, or left or right. In fact I was having a very hard time telling where I ended and she began.
If I had had any control over my body to begin with I had lost it by then and I found that my hands were trailing up her back where they finally tangled in her hair holding her head exactly where it was. My breath was coming in ragged gasps as called out her name.
"Tess," it came out a breathless whisper, husky and low. "Tess," I moaned again. It sounded desperate. I was.
Without a word her hand slowly began to trail down my stomach once again, but this time with a definite purpose. She stopped her exploration around my hip bone where she let her hand linger for a moment as she moved her lips over to attack my other breast. She let her hand play there at my waist for while, teasingly drawing little patterns on the skin and it was all I could not to reach out and direct her hand to swollen, pulsing area where it was desperately needed. Didn’t she understand that she had more body to touch?
Her hand slowly began to resume it’s course downwards. Every new expanse of skin that her fingers touched was meet an answering intake of breath and arching of my back. As her hand continued to move down at the maddening slow pace she had set and my moans became more frequent she began to kiss her way back up my chest; to my collar bone, then my jaw line where she settled for a moment.
Finally, after a seeming eternity, her hand found the source of all my desire. As she slipped inside of me she brought her lips to mine and our mouths meet in a frenzied kiss that swallowed my moan and stole my breath away. She continued to kiss me as my body began to move in time with her hand and my heart threatened to pound out of my chest. I shut my eyes tightly as we moved together and I arched into her desperately. A kaleidoscope of colours exploded behind my eye lids as I continued move against her franticly. And then the dam broke and I arched up one final time as I gasped and my body began to shake uncontrollably as wave after wave of intense pleasure rolled over me like tidal waves finally allowed to crash against the shore.
I experienced freedom for the first time that night. I knew what it was to be truly happy. It was like coming home. I made love to her after that, slowly and passionately just as she had done for me, and then we had collapsed into each others arms totally spent and blissfully happy. I finally ‘got’ what post-coital euphoria was all about. We clung to each other talking and laughing and kissing and revealing in each others love.
She fell asleep in my arms with a soft smile on her face. She was without a doubt the most beautiful creature I had ever laid eyes on. I was completely in love with her, I never wanted her to be out of my arms. I wanted always to be near her, I wanted to become familiar with every inch of her body, I wanted to swim in her arteries and veins. I had spent the whole night holding her, gazing at her and I knew now that morning and hence school had come, I was going to be paying for it dearly.
"Just come down stairs with me," I said running a hand through my hair as I looked at her with sleepy confusion.
"What’ll your mom say?" Tess asked as she opened the window.
"What she always says when she sees you. ‘Tess, how delightful! How are you?’" I responded. "After all," I went on grinning mischievously, "it’s not like you’re a boy, she doesn’t have to worry about any ‘funny stuff’ going on."
Tess smiled at that, but then her face turned more serious as she regarded me.
"That’s why I can’t go down there," she said unblinkingly.
"I do declare, that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever," I pointed out as I got out of the bed.
"It makes a lot of sense," she responded in a rather distracted tone. I noticed that her eyes were roaming my newly revealed nude form and I smiled. "Because I can’t keep my eyes or hands off of you, and I don’t think your mother would find me nearly as ‘delightful’ as she does now if she find’s out that I had my way with you."
"Repeatedly," I added watching as a faint blush crept up her neck. God, she was gorgeous. "But you’re right, that does seem to rile the parental units, doesn’t it?" I continued in a melancholy voice.
"I’ll see you at school," she said walking towards me and bringing me into a deep kiss.
"Not if you keep doing that," I replied as I reached out for her. She slapped my hand away and I pouted.
"That’s so cute," she whispered as a smile spread across her face and she brought a hand up to her mouth.
"It is not," I said sulkily. I must still have been pouting—which I feel the need to mention I don’t think I had ever done in my life prior to this conversation—because her smile only grew.
"I’ve got to go," she said finally taking a step back and turning towards the window.
"Are you going to miss me?"
"Not until you’re at least half way down the tree."
She turned around and smiled at me for a moment, then she was gone.
I guess I could say I was whistling Dixie—though I’m not exactly sure what that means or why anyone would want to say it—as I made my way downstairs and into the kitchen after Tess had left. I was doing this because I was obscenely happy and full of energy. This was my first mistake. You see, I’m not a morning person, not even close. Max once described me as being ‘crotchety’ even. So when I arrived in the kitchen whistling show tunes everyone immediately began to regard me suspiciously. This was when I made my next fatale mistake, I smiled at them and said "Good morning," in a cheerful tone. Max dropped his fork and dad looked outside possibly to see if pigs were flying.
"Who were talking to?" Max asked choosing to by pass a friendly greeting.
"Talking to?" Dad asked turning to look at me sharply. I glared at Max.
"Someone was in her room," Max responded immediately. His attention was focused solely on me. "Is that a hickey?" My hand flew to my neck. This was a big mistake, this was a very, very big mistake. No one ever puts their hand to their neck unless there’s a possibility that there might indeed be a hickey there. I cursed internally. The game had begun.
"I…" was all I managed to get out before mom and dad began to bombard Max and I with questions.
"Was it a boy?"
"Was it a boy? Where’s my hunting riffle? Oh god, my baby!"
"Isabel?!" Mom asked turning to look at me expectantly.
"Oh my god!" I exclaimed incredulously while glaring ice daggers at Max. "No one was in my room." They didn’t look convinced. "No one was in my room!" I repeated emphatically.
"Then who were you talking to?" Max again. I was going to kill him!
"Tess," I replied staring at him.
"I thought you said no one was in your room?"
"On the phone," I practically spat back at him.
"I didn’t hear it ring."
"I called her," I said leaning forward. Our faces were only inches apart. "Who do you think you are? My keeper?!"
"So there was no boy?" Dad asked.
"Mom," I whined.
"There was no boy," she said placing a hand on my dad’s shoulder. He visibly relaxed.
"I don’t think that HE," I said pointing at Max menacingly, "should be able to question my virtue. After all, I’ve never parked in the jeep all night with my girlfriend then had the audacity to blame the fogged up windows on condensation!"
This caused a momentary silence to form, then all hell broke loose again.
"You used the…you know…what we got when we went to the pharmacy, right?" Dad asked uncomfortably a moment later. I stared at him wide-eyed.
"Wait a minute, you mean he’s ALLOWED to have sex?…And I’m not?"
‘It’s different for boys…" Dad started to say, but I cut him off looking at our mother.
"Mom! You can’t possibly endorse this male chauvinist, patriarchal, fascist propaganda!" I exclaimed looking at expectantly.
Things only went downhill from that moment and I was once again, not a morning person. It was oddly comforting.
Nothing gold can last. Not all that glitters is gold. For every silver lining there’s a dark cloud. I’m now convinced that the philosophers behind these saying are the powers that be in Roswell. It’s almost as if there’s too perfect a symmetry in this town. Without fail there will be an equal and opposite reaction to every action—usually involving probes of some kind and government agents, not to mention earth shattering revelations. It actually sucks very hard!
The school year’s now over. It’s only been a few weeks since the day we had gone to the cave, but it seemed like much, much longer. Since that day, so long and barely any time ago, Max had been kidnapped and tortured by a government agent, and the rest of us had had to form a last minute SWAT team to infiltrate a top secret government installation. Nasedo had gone missing temporarily, and the Valenti’s—yes, both of them—now knew what we were. Once Nasedo returned we learned that he wasn’t our superior—as we had all believed up to that point—but that apparently Max was our fearless leader. We then decided that we should try and activate the communicator’s which led Max and I to our first glimpse of our real mother and all of us to hearing about a future that none of us wanted to hear about. Tess and Max, Michael and I, that’s what she said, and I’m pretty sure afterwards we all wished we had just gone for pizza instead.
After that Liz walked out on Max refusing to stand in the way of his destiny, and had been avoiding him and running from him ever since, and Michael and Maria had broken up as well and were spending all of their time actively avoiding each other while subconsciously trying to ‘run into’ each other. Despite this, Michael began to actively pursue me, and Max began to seek out Tess on occasion—even if it was grudgingly. As for Tess and I, we were forced time and time again to turn them down—which was particularly hard on me since Michael actually did seem to be genuinely interested in forming a relationship, and I was about as interested in that as I was in acquiring the bubonic plague—because Tess and I were still together, though nobody knew it but us. Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we learn how to deceive.
In a somewhat desperate effort we’ve begun to try and translate ‘the book’. Tess was the first to be able to make anything out of it but even what she could read was beyond rudimentary. The rest of us have been even worse at it, but it is coming along even if extremely slowly. It’s not just that we want to debunk this destiny crap, ‘mom’ wasn’t really forthcoming with the details about the bigger picture and we still have no idea who our enemies are, why they’re our enemies, what they can do, or really even what WE can do. It’s not really a favorable position to be in, and we’re painfully aware of that fact.
Also, my mother, our fake real mother—how’s that for a tongue twister—Diane, took an active interest in Tess after she realized that I had made a real friend. She had never worried about me like she did with Max when it came to making friends, because while I’m somewhat detached I’ve always had people around—at least until lately—but with Tess she could tell that things were different, that it was special. While I was touched that she cared to care her interest in Tess eventually led her to learn that Tess was living on her own. The official story—which is really just a fancy way of saying ‘the story that I nervously stammered at her while looking like a deer caught in headlights’—is that her father is out of town on business for the summer.
I think that Max is beginning to get suspicious although I’m certain he’s not exactly sure what he’s getting suspicious about. I doubt he’ll be surprised when he does figure out what’s going on between the two of us. He’s already commented numerous times about how close Tess and I are, and how I seem different when I’m around her, ‘like somebody turned on a light switch inside of you’ is what he said. He’ll actually probably be happy that Tess and I have basically decided that destiny can screw itself because it’ll give him an excuse to go to Liz. I’ve already stood in the way of his destiny so there’s no reason that Liz can’t help me out now.
"Is?" Tess’s voice broke me out of my musings. "Where’d you go?"
"I was just thinking," I responded before tightening my hold on her and placing a delicate kiss on her shoulder. We were back at my—now our—spot in the desert sitting on the ledge looking out at the horizon. She was sitting in between my legs and I had my arms wrapped around her protectively.
"Thinking with a capital T?" she asked shifting a little so that she could see my face. I smiled then leaned my head down nuzzling her neck before mumbling ‘uh huh’ or something equally as inane.
"Do you think the boys will accept an explanation of ‘what the hell, things just happen’ when they see the light?" I asked in a semi-serious tone.
"They better ‘cause that’s what their getting," Tess responded turning around in my arms so that we were now facing each other. "If they don’t accept it at first, they’ll just have to learn to accept it…cause if Michael looks at your ass like it’s wrapped in Christmas paper one more time, I think we’re gonna have to have a rumble."
I smiled. "You know my ass is gift wrapped for you alone," I said before leaning forward and gently bringing our lips together in a lovingly kiss.
When we separated she rested her forehead against mine and whispered, "You say the sweetest things."
I smiled at her and reached out for her pulling her back into my embrace with a content smile. I knew that the challenges that we had overcome to get to this point were by no means the end of it. A whole slew of hurdles lay ahead of us only a few of which I would be able to conceive of, but I also knew that as long as I had Tess I would be able to get through it, that we would be able to get through it together. For months, we had all been consumed with our futures: what they hold, what they mean, who’ll be there. For me that was over. I didn’t have all the answers, but I knew enough.
I know that what lies ahead of me is unknown, unwritten and completely dependant on my will because I say it is, and I know that no book or hologram can tell me otherwise. I know that there’s only one thing that’s for certain in my future and that’s my love for Tess. And I know that the rest of it is up for grabs, but that that’s alright, because I know that whatever twists and turns come our way, we’ll still have this place and we’ll still have each other. We’ll still have our Camelot.