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Strange Effects

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Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list February 27, 2001

Author: Minnie
Rating: PG
Category: UC - Liz/Tess, Horror
Setting: After the "hug" sequence in How the Other Half Lives
Dedication: Thanks, Helen, for beta-ing this for me
Feedback: Constructive feedback is appreciated.
Author's Note: That hug in HOTHL just screamed "Fic, fic, fic!" to me so I had to write one. Liz POV
Archive Date: 2/24/01



Soft. She was soft. That's what surprised me the most when I found her in my arms. Somehow I never thought of Tess as being soft. Harsh and sometimes cold, but not soft. Her arms were tender, as though they could melt anything.

***

I drew back at the same time Tess did, our quick two-second hug ending before it even began. But within the span of those two seconds, something in me started to change.

***

In the back seat of Max's jeep, I stared at Max's head then at Alex's. I smiled, remembering the exuberant joy in Alex's voice as he and Kyle got out of the cave. I recalled Max extending a hand to help Alex up. Then came the hug with Tess. We were caught up in the exhilaration of the moment and somehow turned to each other with joy. That worried me. Why did I turn to Tess? Why I did feel softness when I turned to her?

***

Tess sat beside me in the back. I threw her a glance that quickly turned into a stare. Our eyes met, unblinking. The question of "Why?" hung in the air.

***

Softness lay upon the edges of Tess' gaze, a strange phenomenon that made her eyes seem beautiful. I stared in wonder, then shrank from it, not knowing how to handle it. Tess' eyes seemed to harden just then, wiping out all residues of tenderness.

This was the Tess I knew: the harsh one, the one who threatened to take what was mine. But what about the soft one, the one who hugged me earlier? Was that Tess too? Did I really know who Tess was?

***

The jeep crawled to a stop in front of the Crashdown. Quickly saying my goodbyes, I took a last look at Tess and then bounded for the front door, almost trying to escape the questions that still hounded me. I ran up the steps, into my room and sank into the tub.

***

Light from glowing blue crystals stayed the darkness in the cave. My eyes searched the cave's interior and found no one. Slowly I moved towards the center of the cave, looking for any cracks or exits in the walls.

The blue crystals glowed brighter, their eyes gleaming with some kind of anticipation. The shallow air barely circulated and my breath came only in short gasps. The air inside was dying. Panic burst within me.

"No!" I cried, breaking off into a run and going up to a wall where blue crystals formed in a circular pattern. It looked like an opening, the same one Alex and Kyle had used to enter and exit the cave earlier.

I banged on the hard surface continuously, trying to dislodge the rock crystals but they remained firm. After several minutes passed with no progress, I dropped my hands and realized I was trapped.

***

My voice was hoarse from screaming. No one answered my calls for help. Silence punctuated the cave until a slight sound broke it.

My eyes widened as I saw crystals multiplying, growing, forming into a massive wall-like structure that stretched from floor to ceiling, suffocating everything in its path. The crystalline wall was moving towards me.

***

Wildly, I searched about for a way out Walls. Walls. More walls. Nothing. I opened my mouth to scream once more but the sound died. Who was there to hear my screams anyway?

I backed up, plastering myself against the farthest wall, waiting helplessly. The glowing blue structure ate up so much ground as it approached me. When it was within 10 feet, I sank onto the cave floor, dropping down in resignation. There was no escape. I was going to die.

***

I pulled up my knees, hugging them tightly to my chest. As I rested my head on top of my knees, jumbled, last-minute thoughts passed through. Max digging a hole in the ground, trying to help Alex and Kyle. Alex and Kyle being released from the cave. Tess and I hugging. Me discovering Tess' softness. "Tess," the word slipped out with a sigh. Why was I thinking about her at a time like this?

***

A hand reached out to me, tapping my shoulder So lost was I in my final thoughts that I barely felt it. "Liz," a voice called my name. I raised my head up at the sound, disbelief forming in my eyes. Tess stood in front of me.

"What--what are you doing here? How did-- ?" I asked choppily. Remembering the danger, I got up quickly, then looked behind Tess to see the crystals continuing their relentless forward assault. Dropping my questions, I signaled to Tess that we needed to escape.

***

Tess gave no answer, merely standing firm in her spot. The crystal wall was mere inches away from her back. Panicked, I tried to run and drag her with me but she locked my arms solidly in hers. "Hold onto me, Liz. Hold onto me," she commanded softly.

"No," I cried out, trying to wrench away. But Tess hung stubbornly to my arms, willing me to stay put. The crystals started to creep over us. In anger and slight desperation, I closed my eyes and grabbed onto Tess for dear life.

***

It was like enveloping a cloud. No jagged edges, no stiff borders, just delicate wisps of skin. The feeling comforted me. If I was going to die, then it was better to do wrapped in a tender cocoon.

***

The sound of the crystals forming around us was deafening. Tess put her arms around me, as though to soothe me. The softness I had felt was back in full force, pressing against my flesh. I accepted it with no qualms or questions this time, merely straining myself closer to her.

***

The marching sound of the crystals suddenly stopped. I held my breath, then opened my eyes slowly. The crystals had disappeared.

***

I found myself outside the cave, somewhere in the woods and still in Tess' embrace. "What happened?" I asked, pulling away from her. Just as the question left my tongue, the answer came.

***

I woke up with a start. Water reacted, sloshing around the bathtub at my jerky movements. I had drifted off to sleep in tub and that brought me dreams of near-death and Tess. It also brought answers.

***

The crystals were Tess. Or, at least, they were what I thought she was. Harsh. Alien. Threatening. They ... she ... suffocated me, scared me and made me want to run away.

***

Two seconds, two whole seconds and those thoughts of mine were changed. Soft. Human. Helpful. These were also Tess.

***

I finally stopped fearing and running away. Instead, I embraced and accepted. And with acceptance, fear and all its walls came tumbling down.

***

Before the walls tumbled, I looked at Tess as merely an alien threat. I wasn't inclined to look past that image to see the whole picture, to see who Tess really was beyond that point.

Despite Tess' proclamations to the contrary, she had feelings. She felt joy, pain, love and loss. These feelings softened her, made her human. It was that humanity that drove her to seek company of our little group and to help out whenever the group needed her.

My refusal to see that part of her trapped me, closed me off in a prison of my own making. It made me forget who I really was: someone who could see past all the 'alien' stuff and get to the heart of the matter. Or the person. It was rather ironic that Tess, this strange mix of human and alien, made me realize that.

***

I sank back into the tub, reveling in the water. It was soft. Just like Tess.

THE END

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