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Blood Ties

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Sent to the RoswellSlash mailing list December 10, 2000

Title: "Blood Ties" (1/1)
Author: Mere (machajwai@yahoo.com)
Content: Non-explicit slash, angst, AU-ish. PG.
Distribution: Just ask me first. Otherwise, it'll be up at http://merefic.port5.com/
Disclaimer: I don't own Isabel, or Tess, or Nasedo, or Max, or Roswell, or anything, really. Spoilers: All of the first season and second season through 'Surprise' - includes the Skins, Vilandra and her betrayal, but NOT the dupes or Nicholas or Kivar.
Author's Note: Props to Whirling Girl and her mad beta skills!



Weak, he said she was, special but fragile and lost without her memory. She did remember the other time - vividly and not often - but when she told him that he didn't believe her. He thought she was making it up to please him, and she would have made it up if she had thought it would please him, so she was never even sure in her own mind of what she remembered. Nasedo said Max was strong and decisive and she let his stories take root. Her own stories were not important now, as she was not important, except as the one who would show Max the way.

She had to be protected, he said, and he did protect her. He taught her how to shield herself with the visions she could plant in others' minds, and how to keep herself from the human contact which would only make her weaker. She learned these lessons readily. There were stories that came to her at night - not often - about betrayal of her own kind in the other time, stories that frightened her. She wanted them to not be true, was sure they were not true, and did not know what was wrong with her that she could make up such things.

She hated Nasedo sometimes - exploded and screamed and threw fits - and this too he said was the human influence on her, making her stupid with questions and fear. The changes she went through, the bleeding, the loneliness, were to be endured. The past was a muddle she could not understand, and she learned to think only of what needed to be done and to shut off the visions, the hatred she could feel deep below the surface.

She learned to survive. She tried to remember what Nasedo taught her. She knew to keep apart from humans when in school, and stay out of their way whenever possible. She had to wait for the day when Max would listen to her and remember how he had been strong and would be strong again. She had to wait for Max to protect her and love her as he had done in the time before.

She thought she had to make herself beautiful and bright and good for Max, though Nasedo said that it didn't matter at all and it was her ridiculous human education that made her think it did. He said, you have to remember and you have to survive. That is all.

She made herself all of those things anyway, and it didn't matter, because she met Max and he remembered nothing. He was quiet and lost, and Nasedo said that he had been dulled by the humans and she needed to wake him up. And she tried so hard her head hurt from it, but she was plagued by visions all night of the other time, of a warrior who was so strong and brilliant, so dangerous, and she remembered and remembered Max quiet and despairing and could not conjure up Nasedo's story which she had cherished for so long.

So she created it.

It was surprisingly easy to convince the three of them, easy to put those words into pictures. There were flaws in her version as there were flaws in herself, but not large ones - romance novel passion, a woman she had seen on a soap opera, elements from all of those cheesy sci-fi movies. (She had watched too much television during those long summers, perhaps, but what else was there for a lonely girl to do?) And in any case Max and Isabel watched in rapt credulous fascination, and Michael did not know how to voice his doubts, and no one challenged any of it.

She began to make things up, adding details that Nasedo had never told her.

Because Isabel would come to see her - alone, now, in Nasedo's house - and Isabel was full of questions about the time before. She wanted to know if she and Michael had really loved each other, and why Tess had been so much later to emerge from the pods, and a million things about their real mother and family. What could Tess answer, except that of course Michael had loved her? It was impossible to imagine not loving Isabel who lit up every room and was never afraid. And that she was late because her pod had been damaged a little in the crash, and that Isabel's mother cried over her children like mothers did in TV movies? The truth was mixed up in there somehow.

She was dreaming every night now, for hours. With no school there was even less to distract her. Everything seemed to come into focus but faded when she woke up, dreams about a tiny little blond doll, a baby girl dead and frozen. Dreams about screaming and screaming and not being saved. The old dream-stink of betrayal.

Isabel's questions slowed and stopped coming, but the time they spent together only increased. Max avoided her. Tess didn't want to see him, either, but Isabel fumed about her brother's avoidance tactics and yelled at him for acting so rudely to her friend. Threatened to make him deal with the issue if he didn't do it on his own. Defended Tess.

Girly things, going to the mall, buying perfumes and lotion that smelled like fruit. Dancing in Tess's big empty living room, spinning each other around to music Isabel didn't need a stereo to make. Sitting in Diane's sunny kitchen, Max lurking in his room upstairs.

It was easy to forget again. Forget what Max was supposed to be and forget Michael completely, forget Nasedo and all of the things he had said, and let her world shrink again to herself and Isabel, let her days be brighter and her nights dark and full. It all began to blend, hours laughing with Isabel, hours screaming for her. Screaming a different name.

It was easy to forget the structure with which her life had been organized, but without it nothing seemed to make the sense it had. She was still able to pretend - she had always been good at that, at least - but inside her was chaos, pulling in different directions, dizzy with too many versions of reality. The Isabel that existed now made it all seem exhilarating, but when she left - which she always did - when she left, other people came and talked without emotion about a war and all of the dead. It was a lab, it was a battlefield and she screamed for Vilandra and Vilandra never came.

Sometimes they examined her. Sometimes they ripped open the one pod that wasn't empty and pulled out the girl who had been damaged by the crash, the little princess who was dead and blue, pulled her out roughly and with cold satisfaction. She watched silently. One of them turned to her and it was Nasedo, though not in a body she recognized, and he asked her if she was ready and she said she was, and then after that...nothing.

Whiteness. The same voices. Ten years, they were all saying, before it begins to deteriorate. Wipe her clean. She can't know anything.

Sometimes she felt as if her whole being was falling out of her body, seeping out into the sheets. Sometimes she rubbed herself with peach apple lotion because the smell reminded her that Isabel was coming in the morning, and because she was so cold in the house by herself. Crazier and crazier, she thought, as she sat in bed and shivered. Holding Isabel's hand tighter when she did come.

Isabel didn't ask about Tess's strange behavior in the mornings, but it was clear that she noticed. Held Tess in her arms like it was perfectly normal, told her jokes and gossip. Dragged her to the Crashdown and complained about the service. Invited her over to the Evans' for dinner so much that Diane started to wonder about where Tess's dad was.

And the more she touched Isabel, the colder nights got when she left, and the louder the voices became. They were talking about Max, now, with undisguised hatred and contempt and confidence. There was some plan - some technical thing - those words made no sense at all. But they would win and she was one of them, apart but still one of them. Important and special and desperate. Desperate most of all.

One morning she didn't get up, sat in her bed staring at the clock, waiting for Isabel, listening to somebody say in a hushed voice that Vilandra was dead. They had found her, and Tess would live, but the battle had many casualties and there had been a mistake and Vilandra was dead, Vilandra would not come, and this time there was no screaming, just the ticking of the clock and her own fast breathing.

Time was running out, they were saying. She can't remember anything. They'll look into her mind. She has to believe what she says, has to have no knowledge of the deception. Vilandra will recognize her, anyway. She just has to infiltrate the three survivors, make them trust her, and Vilandra will do what she did before. Vilandra will know who she is.

But why did everyone else know? Why didn't she? How was she supposed to be strong and brave when they had taked away her memories, her everything - who she was - and that poor little dead girl, who never even had a chance -

Tess closed her eyes because she couldn't stand to look at the ugliness of herself, could not stand to leave this dusty bed. Where was Isabel? Why wasn't she here yet? The panic was rising in her throat, and the clock was ticking, and her whole body hurt.

They would kill her. They had been right, and she had lied, and now she would be the next to go, because an enemy was an enemy no matter how weak. Her powers could not protect her. She didn't have the will to leave, and Nasedo would turn her away for sure. And even if none of that was true - she could not go without Vilandra. Not this time, not after she had followed her so far.

And why didn't Isabel know? She should know - even if her final judgement was the same - she should know before she made the right choice this time, she should stand beside her brother with the full understanding of what she was doing.

And then there were warm hands on her shoulders and Tess opened her eyes to see Isabel's brown, so close to her face, worried and sad and wild. And she knew, then, that Isabel did remember. That Isabel had remembered maybe all along, and Isabel's warm breath was on her, and she was rocking herback and forth and they were both crying like human girls, and the gritty dust and salt hurt Tess's face which was burning up anyway, and she whispered a name which was not Isabel, and Isabel said that it would all be all right, now, that she would protect her, that she would not let Max hurt Tess.

And her skin was itching and peeling and smelling sweet as peaches, and Isabel held her together in those strong arms and whispered in her ear, and her lovely face was fierce.

And Tess knew that - after all - she would do what she had been taught. She would survive.

END

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