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Leaving The Dream
Reply to CallaPosted to the RoswellSlash mailing list September 16, 2002
TITLE: Leaving the Dream
ARCHIVE: Yes, to list archive
PAIRING: Max/Michael, Isabel/Maria
SPOILERS: It's Too Late And It's Too Bad, Cry My Name
SUMMARY: Alternative slashy ending for ITLaITB. Max is ready to wake up. Maria has lost everyone.
NOTES: Australian spelling and punctuation.
DISCLAIMER: None of these characters belong to me. Written for love, not profit.
FEEDBACK: This is really, really, not my usual style, so any feedback is particularly appreciated.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thanks to Aunty Mib for beta.
When Tess returned to the place beneath the stars, thinking to find Max - certain that he was ready to begin waking from this Earthly dream - she felt a sinking hollowness inside her to see that he was not there.
* * *
After she'd left Michael, brushing past him with tears thick inside her, Maria went to the only place she could think of to go. She and Isabel hadn't spoken lately, what with the rift between aliens and humans that had been caused by Liz's words. Maria hoped they wouldn't have to talk about that subject. Fact was, she didn't feel especially much like having to take Liz's side right now.
She'd lost everyone. Alex - though it wasn't really his fault, she did believe that. Michael, just now, and it was his fault. And Liz, even Liz had abandoned her. It hurt - everything hurt so much and she needed them, needed at least one of them to help her deal with all the other pain. She thought bitterly that perhaps it wasn't completely Liz's or Michael's fault, that perhaps they were both doing what they had to. But that didn't change the fact that they had left her, both of them, had rejected her.
And it didn't help with the pain.
So Maria went to Isabel, even though she knew Isabel was leaving too, but at least she had been upfront about it. Honest about it. At least Isabel was here now, could be counted on to be really here, to do something to make Maria feel a little bit better. Just enough so that she could face the world again.
* * *
"Everyone's left me", were Max's first words when he burst into Michael's apartment. Michael looked up from where he sat on the couch as Max paced past him then back again. He met Max's eyes - dark and intense - and shrugged, spreading his hands.
"Liz. Isabel", snapped Max. "Isabel!", he repeated, glaring at Michael as if it were somehow his fault.
"Hey man, I tried", started Michael, but Max wasn't listening. He'd stopped pacing and stood still, gazing past Michael. Max said in a wistful voice,
"And Tess. But it was me who left her".
Michael felt the words strike him, along with the now-familiar twinge of what-if, the cold shiver that might be Destiny's invisible hand. He avoided thinking about Maria, saying only, "Yeah, I...", but Max still wasn't listening.
"She said", and now he did turn to look down at Michael, "I was ready to wake up".
He made as if to move closer to Michael, to lean down over him, but instead remained standing where he was, his fists clenching by his sides. Michael found that he couldn't look away.
"She said it was a dream, Michael. All this. It's a dream!" Max was excited now, the intensity resurfacing in his voice and in his eyes. "I've been wrong, all this time. Like I said to you, I've been afraid. Afraid to wake up".
Michael sighed and leaned further back into the couch, lifting his eyebrows. Waiting, cause that was all there was to do when Max got like this.
Max finally seemed to have got to the point, the vitally important point. "I'm ready to wake up, Michael".
* * *
Maria knocked. She tried not to think of Michael standing in her doorway with that lost expression on his face, his eyes showing the hurt that he was trying to hide. Because that thought lead to other thoughts of him - like his admission that he would leave her someday, and the offer of "now" that she just couldn't bear to take. It would only hurt more and more with time, and already the good things about being with him weren't worth the pain. It was already too late.
Isabel opened the door. Maria said, surprising herself, "I broke up with Michael". She drew a breath and quickly went on. "And I've been trying to get the collage done for Alex and Liz won't help, just keeps going on and on about... and I just don't know what to do". She heard her voice, high and cracking on the last, rushed words; felt it like the spreading cracks within her heart.
Isabel said something in a gentle, concerned voice, and let her in, led her up the stairs. Into her room, then hugged her suddenly, held her for a moment, then just as abruptly let her go. Made her sit down.
She looked up self-consciously at Isabel then, and saw for the first time that she looked to be in a pretty bad way herself. Maria said, "Oh", an exhalation that was almost a sigh, and bit back her observation. It was unlikely to be appreciated.
They sat there for a moment, looking at each other. Isabel said, "Tell me everything", and though her hands were tense and anxious in her lap, her voice was patient.
Maria blurted most of it out - all entangled and back-to-front as she kept remembering something else, some other point. She was jumping around, from Michael to Liz and Alex then back, and knew that maybe she wasn't making much sense, but Isabel sat beside her and nodded and didn't interrupt.
It was hard to find the words about Michael, maybe because out of everything that was the most confusing - the part where her own feelings were most in conflict - or maybe because she was aware that this was Isabel. She couldn't talk to her about Michael in the same way she would have spoken to Liz.
She said, again, " I knew he'd leave". Trying hard not to cry. "I just knew it... everybody leaves, and when he said that yes he would I just... it wasn't enough". She looked up to meet Isabel's eyes on the last words because she wanted someone else to understand - wanted proof that it made sense, this thing that she didn't completely understand herself.
She remembered, again, about Isabel, and hurriedly said, "Oh my God I didn't mean you, it's okay that you're leaving. No, wait, I don't mean that I don't care, I think that it's okay for you to do what you want to..." She trailed off when she saw Isabel close her eyes, and felt something sharp stab inside her.
"I'm not leaving", Isabel said, her eyes still shut.
"What?" Maria held back from saying more, hearing something like anger in Isabel's voice.
"Max won't let me", and there was anger, and a scornful sharpness that made Maria flinch inwardly even though it wasn't directed at her, and there was resignation in Isabel's tone as well.
* * *
Michael stared back at Max, waiting for an explanation, trying not to remember Maria and the truth he hadn't known, hadn't wanted her to know. You'll leave. Trying not to think, even now, that he would, he would leave everyone someday. Except Max. He'd tried leaving Max once, and found that he couldn't, and that frightened him more than anything else ever had. It also seemed too deep a truth to hold in his mind right now, with the intense way that Max was looking at him in this moment.
"It isn't her, though", Max was saying, and Michael realised that he hadn't been following Max's thread, because the words made absolutely no sense. "It's you", and Michael blinked, startled, but that seemed to be okay because Max sat down beside him and rested a hand on his shoulder. "You're the link. My link. To back home, to what I really was. Who we really are". Max gazed searchingly at him, and Michael, still lost, didn't feel as though this was the moment to admit to that. He stayed silent.
"I want...", Max said, and dropped his eyes, the self-assurance of a moment ago gone. "It's you, Michael".
Michael, though he still didn't understand, felt the importance of what was happening. It was as though there was a deep current flowing between them, linking their past and their future inexorably to this moment. He placed his own hand over Max's where it rested on his shoulder.
Max looked up at him, hesitantly, and said, "I want... to wake up".
Michael heard the tone in his voice - heard it more than the words - and that, along with the look in Max's eyes, carried all the meaning he needed to finally understand where Max's strange words were leading them both. He remembered the last time he had heard such longing, such choked-out need in Max's voice. Vegas. Remembering what had happened there, Michael could do nothing but surrender, give himself up to Max as perhaps he had already done, long ago. Unsure of himself, he trusted Max, chose to trust him. Perhaps he had always known that this moment would come; perhaps he had prepared himself for it, consciously or unconsciously. What he had certainly never known was how bitter-sweet it would be; that he would get what he'd so long wanted at the price of turning his back on what he'd come to value.
Still, he leaned forward, closing the last remaining distance between them, and Max's lips felt like home.
* * *
They'd talked, and sympathised with each other, and finally come to a sort of comfortable silence, in spite of the various losses and heart-wrenching grief they each felt. Maria had done most of the talking, but piece by piece Isabel's story had come out. They'd each stood, at times, and paced the room in anger, then returned to sit near each other, sharing the pain. They'd talked, at last, about Alex.
Now Maria mostly felt tired, as though she'd worn the sharp edges off all her recent problems, and they'd settled together into one big shapeless weight, blurry and heavy inside her. She didn't want to go home, though, unsure of why except that it just seemed better here, better than anywhere else was likely to be.
Isabel's hand came down to rest upon hers where it lay on the bedspread. Maria looked across and smiled a little, even as she felt the tears prickling close again behind her eyes. Isabel said, quietly, "I'm not going anywhere, Maria". Maria heard it as a promise; saw that her eyes were serious. And although Maria could see that Isabel was afraid, she also saw Isabel's smile.
Maria seemed to become lighter, the whole world seemed to, at that smile.
* * *
And, as if on a single breath, the single revelation, recognition, "You".
And so the souls of the King and his Second met again for the first time, while the bodies that had been made for them lay intertwined, and though their eyes closed at last in sleep the vision of each other remained, was all that they saw.
His sister left them again, left them for her own love, while the woman that had been chosen for his bride cried alone in the dark.
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