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A Different Kind of Fire

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Posted to the Roswell Slash list November 17, 2000

Title: A Different Kind of Fire (1/1)
Author: Northlight
Summary: Maria is hurting, and Isabel is there to offer her support.
Type: An itsy, bitsy, almost unnoticeable Maria/Isabel.
Distribution: List archives if they want. If you already have any of my other fics, go right ahead. If not, ask -- I always say yes.
Disclaimer: WB and 20thC Fox.
Date: Nov. 27, 1999

Despite Maria's best efforts to muffle her sobs into her trembling hands, her soft cries still reverberated through the woman's restroom. Isabel hesitated at the door, seriously considering leaving the other young woman to her own misery. Any woman involved with Michael Guerin was a fool if she didn't realize that she wouldn't come out of the relationship unscorched.

But those _sobs_...

Isabel sighed and resolutely kicked aside the doorstop to the bathroom. She quickly pressed the door shut and bolted the door. Bad enough that she was about to play the part of buddy to Maria DeLuca... but perish the thought that any of her other... friends, significantly higher up the social ladder than Maria, should witness their interaction.

She walked further into the bathroom, her eyes immediately narrowing in on the last stall. Tucked away in the furthest corner of the room, the light overhead having long blown out, the stall had borne witness to the cries of numerous broken hearted women who had sought refuge in it's narrow confines.

Maria's sobs had stopped upon hearing the door shut, but Isabel could still hear her ragged breathing -- uneven breaths of air drawn in as she fought to hold back her tears until she was alone once more. "Maria!" Isabel snapped. She heard the other girl yelp as she jumped in surprise, her elbow smashing into the stall's metal wall. "Get out here, now. I'd rather not speak to the door," Isabel continued, slightly more gentle in tone.

Maria's voice wavered when she replied. "I'm not coming out just to see you _smirk_ at me, Isabel Evans! I know what you thought about me, and I know... I know that all of you are probably out there laughing at me for... for--"

"Being suckered by Michael?" Isabel answered calmly. "No one is laughing, Maria. I admit, I wasn't very pleased to discover that you and Michael were involved in... well, whatever it was you two did. But I am far from ready to laugh at your pain. For whatever reason, I know you cared about him." Standing before the stall Maria was hiding in, arms crossed beneath across her chest, Isabel waited. She scowled slightly when she noted that rather than calming Maria down, her words had served to ignite another round of broken sobs.

Unfurling her arms, one elegant hand passed across the latch to the door which Maria had closed herself behind. Isabel nudged the door open, careful not to catch the other young woman with it. Her nose wrinkled slightly when she saw that Maria's back was against the wall, her head resting against her drawn up knees. Thankfully enough, she still had enough sense not to be _sitting_ on the bathroom floor, Isabel thought.

Maria's head rose only when Isabel's hand landed on her trembling shoulder. Her eyes were red rimmed, dark blurs mascara smudged around her eyes where she had futilely scrubbed at tearing eyes with hands and tissue. Her nose was runny, and her lips were dry, the gloss that usually coated them worn free as her teeth had clamped down upon her lower lip. "You should really try to avoid crying in public, Maria," Isabel stated.

"I know," she muttered wearily. "Why do you think I'm sitting in here?" Isabel extended her hand, and Maria stared at it blankly for a long moment before cautiously reaching out to grasp it. Isabel tugged Maria up and out of the stall, herding her towards the mirror.

Isabel motioned for Maria to take a seat upon the ledge running across the mirror-lined wall. As she wordlessly scrambled up, Isabel fished a handkerchief out from her bag. She ran it beneath cool water, wringing it out thoroughly before approaching Maria. Isabel grasped Maria's chin, intent on scrubbing away the smeared makeup with the cloth she had just wet.

The cloth whispered against Maria's flesh, a smooth, repetitive motion as Isabel washed away the traces of the tears which had driven Maria into hiding. "Why are you suddenly being so nice to me?" Maria asked, and it was a little girl's voice, vulnerable and hurting.

Isabel's hand stilled and she lifted her eyes until they met Maria's. "I'm not a monster, Maria. I do care that you're hurting. I just don't see why you choose to do so over Michael."

Maria's lower lip trembled. "I thought he _liked_ me. Oh God, I _wanted_ him to, so very badly." Tears stood out in her eyes.

"Hey, no more crying!" Isabel chided. "I just finished getting you all cleaned up." She let her hands drop from Maria's face, her head tilting to the side slightly as she studied Maria's miserable expression. "Michael does like you, Maria. It's just that--"

"I'm not good enough, am I? Mr. Alien Freak thinks I'm not good enough for him, does he?" Maria's voice was angry and bitter, her shaking hands unconsciously curling into fists at her side.

Isabel blinked. "Not good enough? Where in the world did you get an idea like that, Maria?"

Maria tore her gaze away from Isabel's, staring at her lap. "Seems pretty self-evident. Condescending bastard treats me like I'm a ditz without a brain cell in my head, ignores me, insults me, strings me along and then ditches me because the only thing that I'm good for is a few kisses!" Her voice broke on the last words, and her clenched fist pounded against the counter on which she was perched.

Isabel winced slightly at the undisguised pain in Maria's words. "That isn't you. Michael has problems with intimacy... that whole no attachments rule of his. I think he cared so much that he didn't know what to do--"

Maria cut her off. "He wouldn't have left if it were you he was pawing at," she said, watching for Isabel's reaction from the corner of her eyes. "He _likes_ you, you know? Me, I'm just a distraction... and I took it. He held me and I pretended that I was something to him. I tried to believe that I _mattered_."

She had always joked about being beautiful, about being desired. There was no way that Maria would believe her if she denied recognizing that Michael probably did harbour at least some attraction towards her. "You do matter, Maria."

"Ri-i-ight. So much so that he ditched me at the first possible opportunity." Her arms were wound tightly around her waist in a hunched, defensive posture. "And if he came in here right this moment... I don't know that I'd punch him instead of kiss him."

Isabel's hand was warm and soft against Maria's knee. Her eyes were sympathetic when she once again took hold of Maria's chin, forcing her head up. "You deserve better than that."

Maria flushed. "I haven't exactly had any better offers present themselves to me."

Isabel's perfectly formed eyebrows arched. "Maybe you just haven't been looking hard enough." Her breath came out in a soft hiss, and Isabel backed away, shaking her head slightly. She mustered up a small smile for Maria's benefit when she noted Maria's confusion at her sudden withdraw. "Better now?"

"I -- I suppose so," Maria answered uncertainly.

A brush and tube of lip gloss found their way out of Isabel's bag and into Maria's hands. "Good. Now freshen up and get back out there."

She turned towards the door, looking over her shoulder before she slid the bolt free. "And Maria? Don't worry about me and Michael. Out of the two of you, I think he's the one who should be worried." And with that, she was gone.

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