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Elegy

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Added to the Roswell Slash Archive January 20, 2001

elegy by cat neil
http://members.tripod.co.uk/catherine_neil/strawberryfields.html
catherine_neil@hotmail.com
disclaimer: whatever I did, I didn't do it.
author's note: I've got doubts about this. I think it could be better. This whole deathfic thing is really hard. I'm bracing myself for flames. (that's not an invitation, by the way). Anyway, please tell me what you think...maybe I can make it better.
pov: Max



"Say goodbye, Max."

"I can't."

-independence day

It doesn't matter what happened. The whole thing was stupid, ridiculous. Compared to some of the things we'd had to face before, it was a gallingly pointless way to die.

We were in the desert. Doesn't everything always begin and end in the desert? We were in the desert, under an unforgiving sun, and I saw the gun first.

"Which one of you is it?" He screamed. That man with the hard blue eyes who thought an alien had killed his wife or child or something...we never even found out exactly what happened to him. We just knew he had looked for the aliens in Roswell, and he had narrowed it down to us two. Michael and I.

He didn't realise that it was both of us- that we were both aliens. And he didn't realise that neither of us was the one he wanted. Neither of us had done anything.

There are details, of course. Specific twists and turns of fate that led the three of us to be there in the desert. But who really cares? Michael is dead. What do the details matter now?

"You. You killed her." The hard blue eyes closed in on me. He had decided. He had decided it was me. I watched his hand close around something inside his jacket, and I caught the glint of the sun on metal.

I caught my breath, and stumbled back. "No- I- no..."

The gun slid out of the jacket, and pointed towards me.

I started seeing a new destiny at that moment. I started seeing lives unfold without me, I started seeing the slide show of my life, I started bracing myself for death...

But then Michael stepped in and changed everything.

"It wasn't him. It was me."

My heart stopped. And then started again. I looked at Michael. He had stepped forward, and was meeting the hard blue eyes with an unflinching gaze, his face strangely calm.

The gun wavered in mid- air.

"What?"

"It wasn't him, it was me. I killed her."

Michael didn't even know what he was confessing to, but he stood there and did it.

I finally found my voice. "Michael- what? No-"

Michael glanced at me, a strange look in his dark eyes, his lips slightly parted. "Only one of us is getting out of this, Maximillian. And it's going to be you." He said it so only I could hear. Then he looked back at the gun. And if he was afraid, it didn't show.

The hard blue eyes seemed uncertain, so Michael spoke again. "I killed her. It was me."

"Michael- no!" That was all I could manage to say.

"Shut up, Max." He said calmly. "It has to be me. So shut up."

"No." I just couldn't think of anything else to say. "No, Michael."

There was a pause, in which a thousand decisions were made that determined the outcome of everything. Michael must have decided not to move. I must have decided not to step in front of him. And the hard blue eyes must have decided that Michael was telling the truth.

A single gunshot shattered the silence of the desert. A single bullet ripped through the air and tore into Michael's chest and he fell.

I was by his side in an instant, but it was still an instant too late.

He was still alive, his eyes wide. I put my hand on the wound to heal it, aware of nothing but my friend who was about to die. But Michael was aware of something else, and gasping with pain, he pushed my hand away.

"No, Max- you can't."

He must have seen my face flood with confusion.

"He'll see. He'll know. He'll kill you."

"I don't care!"

"Don't touch me, Max. You'll kill us both."

It was the 'both' that did it. He was right. It was too late to sacrifice my life for his- the decisions had been made. I couldn't heal him with the blue eyes watching. It would kill us both.

"I won't let you die Michael." I said, hearing my own voice was thick with panic, knowing that those were just words, that there was nothing I could do.

"You have to."

"I can't."

His eyes closed, and I shook him and grabbed him and held him and let his almost-human blood soak my shirt.

"I won't let you die."

"Second in command, Maxwell. This is what I do. I protect- I protect the first."

"No. No. I won't let you die."

Michael had no more words, and we both knew I had made my decision.

"I won't let you die, Michael." I choked again, pointlessly, holding onto him until I felt his body relax and go limp, until I felt his sharp breaths stop coming.

Until I let him die.

*****

And these days, there is nothing but his ghost, lingering between us and watching us with fierce eyes. Watching us talk and cry and laugh without him. I can always feel him. His presence is like icy fingers walking down the back of my neck.

Sometimes I come close to forgetting. That shadow briefly slips out of my peripheral vision. Just for a second, as Liz smiles at me or touches my hand...and then his memory hits me, hard and sudden, like a gust of cold wind in my face or a fist in my stomach.

I can't forget. I don't want to forget. I need to keep at least his memory alive- I owe him that much.

And I won't forget, because his ghost is in the hallways, in the quiet lamp lit streets. A constant shadow in the back of my mind, waiting for some kind of resolution better than that single gunshot shattering the silence of the desert.

Michael is gone and I am not the same. I'm consumed by waves of anger and grief and soft-focus memories that won't disentangle themselves from my life.

I am alive. And Michael isn't. And I think I might hate him for that.

A beautiful girl delicately disrupts my anger with her lips working softly across my skin...but he is still there. Just beneath. And I can't focus.

Liz would never be so blunt as to tell me just to get over it, but I see the thought ripple through her as I pull away from her kisses again because I'm thinking about Michael. Liz has been nothing but sweet wide-eyed concern and I love her for it... and sometimes she almost brings me peace. But not quite. And I don't know how much longer her concern will last. I won't blame her if she gives up on me. She is giving me everything and I can't give her anything anymore. Liz is beautiful, with clear skin and soft brown eyes and soft brown hair. But Michael is gone, and her beauty melts into the sky; it is there, but I hardly see it. I just see his dark eyes and parted lips. I see his ghost over her shoulder. Or I sense him. I sense he is near and it is that which makes my skin tingle, not the trail of kisses Liz plants on my neck.

I saved Liz. I couldn't save Michael.

I'm trying to move on. I am. But I take one step forward and two steps back, and he is walking next to me. Always by my side. Second in command. Uninvited, I hear his sarcastic interjections in all my conversations, all my thoughts.

Maybe I'm going crazy. Or maybe Michael really isn't quite gone.

I saw him once. I was asleep, dreaming about the desert and the glint of the sun on metal and then...a gunshot. And that's when I woke. That's when I always wake. But this time I woke suddenly and violently and I saw him. I swear I saw him- just for a second. He was standing by the window, bathed in moonlight, arms crossed, just watching me. Just standing in my room like he used to all those nights when he used to come here to hide, before his emancipation. I blinked and he was gone but still my instinct was to roll out the sleeping bag and tell him to stay. Still drugged with sleep I stumbled out of bed to the place where he had been standing and choked out a plea into the empty air for him to come back. Wherever he was, I just told him to come back...standing in the dark and crying to no one until Isabel heard and came in and shook me back to waking reality. And then we clung to each other and cried for our missing third, our best friend...

But Isabel doesn't see him. Isabel thinks that he's gone. I know that he's still here.

Isabel and Maria and Tess... they are all shattered, broken, overwhelmed by losing him. But it's different for me. They don't owe their lives to Michael's death like I do. Their lives are still their own. And they weren't the ones who knelt over him and let him die, who made the decision not to heal him. They didn't have to make that decision, and so they don't understand.

And so they don't have his ghost walking down the corridor behind them, slamming doors and causing gentle, cold breezes against their skin.

I know he's there. I sometimes feel his gaze on the back of my neck. And I turn, but never fast enough to catch him. I turn and he is always gone, leaving only the sense of his presence, the memory. But I know that he has been there. Watching me.

*****

"You know we don't blame you, Max."

Maria has been sent to talk to me. A last resort, I guess....Maria hasn't said much to me since it happened. Unlike the others, she hasn't endlessly reassured me that I did the right thing. Until now. Because I think they're all getting tired of me. I think I'm making it worse for them.

"I know."

Maria's eyes are low, and slightly red, and her voice sounds a little shaky. But she's been like that for months.

"So... you can lose that permanent guilt in your eyes."

"I know."

There is an awkward silence. We don't talk to each other much, Maria and I. I don't really know her. She's always been Liz's friend. Michael's girlfriend. And we can't give each other much comfort- we're both too lost in our own grief.

She gets to the point, the reason she has been sent.

"You need to move on, Max. It's time to move on."

I close my eyes. I'm sick of being told this. I wish I could. I wish it were that easy.

"I can't just- I can't just forget him, Maria."

"We're not asking you to forget him. God, that's not what we're saying. Just...you need to make some peace with yourself. He's gone, Max, and I think- I think you need to accept that."

"I can't."

She finally meets my eye. "Why not?" She whispers desperately.

"Because he's still here, Maria! Can't you feel him? He's still here. He won't leave, and he won't rest and- God- I don't know why, but he won't fucking rest!"

"BECAUSE YOU WON'T LET HIM!" Her voice breaks as she shouts at me. "It's not him, Max, it's you! You won't let him go. That's why he's still here. Because you won't let him rest."

*****

She's right, of course. That's why Michael hasn't gone. That's why I see him in the corner of my room. That's why every gust of wind, every flickering light seems personalised, seems to come from him.

Because I can't let him go.

Our relationship was- combustible, to say the least. And most of the time, we didn't even like each other.

But that doesn't matter. Michael stepped in front of a gun and confessed to a murder he knew nothing about- for me. Michael was my best friend, my brother, my second in command...

And I let him die.

And that's why I know I will always feel those fierce eyes watching me, I will always hear those footsteps echoing my own.

Because I won't let him rest.

I can't let him go.

the end

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