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Reply to CheyennePosted to the RoswellSlash mailing list February 12, 2001
Title: Tempus Morit
Author: Cheyenne McKay
Pairing: Liz/Ava, mention of Liz/Isabel
Rating: PG-13 for language and same-sex relationships.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Warner Brothers, Jason Katims and Melinda Metz (she had them first, Katims...). If they were mine, this would have played out in Max/City. Bloom is mine.
Spoilers: Mild for Max/City and very mild for other stories I've written, none of which have been posted here. At least, not yet. Depends on the reaction I get from this one.
Feedback: Always appreciated. Don't make me beg. Constructive is my favorite kind, a general "you rock" is always a joyous occasion. A general "you suck" will be of no help to me, will not stop me, and will generally be ignored. Flames will be laughed at, posted around the 'Net and openly mocked.
Distribution: You want it, I'm flattered, just tell me where you're posting it first. Common courtesy and all.
Author's notes: This is a (very small) chunk in a series but can also be read as a "stand-alone". Thanks to rozzy285 for reading the first draft. Thanks to Want Take Have for kicking me in the ass to get me posting this.
Liz-Elisa Marisol Parker-startled awake at the scream coming from her basement guest room. Ava...
Worried her parents would wake, Liz hurried down two flights of stairs, hastily tying on a robe as she did. By the time she reached the bottom of the last flight she was fully dressed. The scream sounded again, both primal and pathetic. The tiny girl-no more than sixteen-called Ava was sitting up in bed, arms wrapped around her knees, crying. Liz felt a sudden, equally primal urge to hold her, protect her. The tough young woman who slept on a pillow of Roswell's answer to The Village Voice, who had piercings in places Liz didn't want to guess, had been replaced by a frightened, lonely child hugging a concerned-looking kitten to her chest.
"I-I saw it. Zan...the accident...the way his body just lay there in the street..."
"Hey..." Liz sat beside her, hesitating before putting an arm around her. The kitten Ava held leapt from her arms and skittered across the room. "It was just a dream...it was just a dream, a bad dream."
"I could've stopped it. I should've known..." Liz silently withdrew her arm and laid her hand on Ava's back.
"I can't talk about it..." Liz sighed and rubbed her thumb in small circles on Ava's drawn shoulders.
"I miss him so bad, Liz."
"I know." Ava shook her head.
"No, you don't know. Even if you didn't have Kyle or Max, Michael and Isabel, they still care about you, y'know? You got family, real family. Lonnie, she don't care one way or another about me-she plays tougher than she is, I think. But Rath, he hates me. I dunno why. Zan? Am I between him and Lonnie? I'unno...I never asked...I can't ask him or..." Liz tensed, dreading what would come next. Ava fell silent for a moment.
"He fucks me, Liz. Not like Zan did. He does it when hitting me ain't good enough." Her voice caught. "It hurts, Liz." The ache in Liz's chest spread and began to burn. "He ain't like Max, or that dolt Alex, or even Michael. He's mean, Liz, just pure meanness in him. He's like an animal, some animal ain't nobody ever gone near enough to know. Lonnie doesn't take his shit. She hits back. She's...she's pretty strong, ya know?" Ava shifted so that she faced away from Liz, leaning heavily back against her hands. "Lonnie ain't the nicest girl, I know, but..." Ava dropped her head, her chin touching her chest. "She's all I got now."
"That's not true." Liz spoke too quickly. No turning back now. No turning away from this beaten, frightened animal. "Ava, you've found the others now. Tess and Isabel and Michael...and Max. They look like them, but...they're good people. And Maria, and Alex...and me. Even Kyle, and Sherriff Valenti, he's, half of his life is keeping Max and Michael and Izzy and Tess safe, and that means you, too." Liz clamped her jaw shut. Shut up, Parker. The kid doesn't want...she wants reassurance she can trust. You can't give her that. I don't know if anyone can.
"I ain't exactly like them." Ava snorted.
"Not exactly, no, but...Ava, what can I say to you? To make you understand that no matter how alone you were, you're not now? You're safe in Roswell." Ava remained silent. After a few minutes, Liz ran her hand along the small of Ava's back. "So who's your friend?"
"I dunno. She was in a Dumpster in the alley I was sleeping in. I saw her in the windowsill after you left...guess she followed me." Ava's posture grew defensive and she turned to look squarely at Liz. "We can leave anytime."
"No...both of you are welcome. Does she have a name?" Ava smiled, and for once it touched her shimmering blue eyes. She held out her hand and the curious kitten trotted across the cement floor to sniff, lick and nuzzle her fingers. Ava giggled, almost silently. Liz felt her chest warm, this time with a gentle glow.
"Bloom. I call her Bloom."
"It's a nice name." Liz smiled as the tiny calico animal jumped back onto the bed and curled up on the pillow. "She's not afraid at all, is she?"
"She was a little bit...she was scared to death of me. But when she realized that I was warm, well..." Ava smiled slightly. "And she just decided to trust me enough to sleep under my legs. All I did was sit quiet and she trusted me. And she trusts you for sure. She walked right past you."
"If she can trust you, she can trust who you trust." Liz paused. "Cats are smart animals, you know."
"Yeah, I know. She ran away from a couple of punk kids who tried to pick her up. I would've, too. They were too loud, moved too fast. She was a smart girl to run." Liz nodded, scratching between the kitten's speckled ears. Ava reached over to stroke her short, tangled fur and quietly spoke.
"I miss Lonnie. I know it's weird...but...she was the only thing keeping me safe after Zan died. Without her, Rath woulda killed me. I know I ain't good, Liz, but I don't know why he hates me like this."
"It's not weird." Liz ran her fingers through the smaller girl's garishly-dyed hair, resting her hand at the base of her neck and massaging the tight muscles there. "Lonnie, she seems like she could be okay."
"She is. I..."
"Nothing." Liz nodded to Ava's back and continued to stroke her hair. Slowly, her thin shoulders relaxed and her head rose slightly. Ava turned suddenly. "Isabel, she's...she's different than the other three, isn't she?"
Liz smiled faintly in the darkness.
"Isabel is very special."
"No, that ain't what I meant." Ava shrugged and sighed. "I dunno. Forget it." She turned back around as Liz massaged her shoulders. "Feels good." Her voice was quiet, subdued.
"It's supposed to." Ava arched her back and groaned softly. What in the world has she been carrying on these shoulders?
"Lonnie, she don't like to see people get hurt, not when they done nothin'. She feels bad when Rath...when he does, well..."
"She gets mad at him. Real protective, ya know? Lika a den mama coyote." She laughed, quickly and harshly. "Some nights...she'd get into bed..." Ava snorted slightly on the word "bed." "She'd lie down with me, and..." Ava quieted for moment. "She'd...hold me. It was...nice, like. She'd clean me up after Rath was gone, and she'd just take me to lie down. She was warm." Liz slipped her arms around Ava. "Girls, they're different than guys, ain't they...even Zan, he touched me different. Lonnie, she's...the way she'd hold me, it was...I mean, Zan, he loved me, but he was muscular straight across. Lonnie's strong but she's still so..soft."
"I know. Isabel...this one time, I was in the hospital...Max stayed with me, he held my hand...he and Isabel sort of alternated. One night though, I was hurting...really hurting. Isabel stayed around and snuck back into my room. She got into my bed and held me for hours. I don't think we spoke at all. She just had me lean against her and held me for half the night, until I finally fell asleep." Liz's eyes were adjusted now to the lack of light, and she saw Ava bob her head in a slight nod. She turned to Liz, visibly holding back tears.
"I miss them so much." And her tiny body collapsed against Liz's, grasping at her desperately as sobs racked her. Liz wrapped her arms around her, rubbing her back and making comforting noises. She rocked her and stroked her hair, hugging her tightly to her chest. The calico kitten lifted her tiny head, looking worriedly at Ava.
"Oh, Ava...I know you're hurting...I know...but it's okay, it's gonna be okay. I'm here now. I'm here. We're all here, and we won't hurt you. You're not alone. You'll never be alone. Never again."
"Don't let go. Please, don't let go." Bloom jumped from her pillow, circled Ava and Liz once, then lay down across Ava's foot, licking her stockinged toes in abject sympathy.
"I won't. I promise, Ava, you're going to be okay." Ava pressed her face into Liz's shoulder, her fingers tightly gripping Liz's nightshirt. Liz continued to rub her back, resting her cheek on her hair. When her sobs dissipated, Liz pulled back slightly, cupping her chin in her hands, wiping the tears from her face with the flat of her hand. She leaned in, fully intended to kiss Ava's forehead. She was genuinely startled when their lips met, jumping back slightly before leaning back into the warm caress. Ava's eyes suddenly opened wide and she pulled away, startling the cat into running for the safety of the bed linens.
"Oh, Christ, Liz, I'm sorry...I'm not...I know you're not...I..."
"Shh." Liz smiled gently at her, brushing he hair from her forehead. "It's alright, I promise you." She hesitated. "Actually, Ava, I am. Isabel and I."
"I thought...but I didn't know...I'm sorry."
"It's okay. More than okay. It was...well...it was nice."
"Lonnie and me, we'd...it wasn't like it was with the guys. Usually after Rath...it was the only way she could think to make me forget how bad it hurt." She paused. "I'm sorry if I hurt you and Isabel." Liz put her arms around the tiny girl once more.
"No...honestly, I don't think we're going to last much longer romantically; not with Max between us. He resents us both, I think. I took his sister, she took his girlfriend. It's really starting to weight us down."
"Naw...I mean, I'll always love Isabel. But maybe it's time I moved on. I think she knows it, too. And I think I knew before she did that she's getting quite the crush on Tess."
"Well, she's a good-looking chick." Ava winked and Liz laughed.
"She is indeed." Liz pulled Ava against her chest, allowing her to relax against her body.
"Liz? Do you think if...you think there's any way I could stay in Roswell? I don't want to leave. Not to go back with Rath and Lonnie. I can't stay where I got no future and no real family. Isabel, Max, Tess, Michael, they're the ones who're like me and Zan."
"Well, sure, there must be someplace you could stay...but what about Lonnie?"
"Rath, he won't hurt her. And she likes me okay, but she don't love me. She'll do awright." She fell silent for a moment, leaning into Liz's soft chest. Bloom reappeared, butting her head against Liz's thigh before sitting again at Ava's feet. "And Liz?"
"I like you."
"I like you, too."
"No, I mean...I-"
"So do I." Liz sighed and Ava rested her chin on her shoulder. "I've got choices to make. We do. The three of us do."
"Three of us?"
"Ava...it could be that new-friendship euphoria they talk about on Ally McBeal, but...you're...I...I like you. I like you a lot. And I thought I felt something from the moment we met-"
"You did. I felt it too."
"Do you want it?." Liz took a deep breath, tugging what courage she had around her in protection. "Like I do?"
"I don't wanna forget Zan." Ava rubbed the underside of the kitten's black-and-white chin, biting down on her lip.
"I don't want you to forget him, Ava. And I want to stay friends with Isabel. And with Max."
"It ain't gonna be easy, is it?"
"No, probably not." Ava smiled faintly and picked up the kitten, now purring loudly.
"That's okay. My life really isn't very often." She kissed Liz's throat lightly and nestled her head in the crook of her shoulder. "It's really not supposed to be. Our protector told us that once." She whispered something into Liz's neck, cuddling Bloom to her chest.
"I said, that's what you are. My protector." Liz just smiled and held Ava a little bit closer.
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