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Everything Changes, Part Three

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Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list February 25, 2001

Title: And Everything Changes (3/?)
Author: Northlight
email: temporary_blue@yahoo.ca
Summary: Some changes are harder to deal with than others.
Rating: Around a mild PG13.
Distribution: If you already have any of my other fics, go right ahead. If not, ask -- I always say yes. Also at "http://www.geocities.com/northlight12/ros.html"
Disclaimer: WB and 20thC Fox.
Date: April 14, Nov. 16, 2000; Feb. 22, 25, 2001.



Alex Whitman bore no illusions about his position in Roswell High's social hierarchy. Band notwithstanding, he was what would most kindly be dubbed a 'dweeb.' That rarely bothered him. He was content with his life, his after school activities, and those friends he did possess. He might have had occasion to bemoan his less than stellar social standing had the longtime object of his affection been avoiding him for that reason.

Isabel Evans, one of the school's social luminaries, was a friend. Perhaps it had taken a revelation of immense significance to set her on such a road, but Alex harboured no suspicions that the young woman suffered to be seen in his presence only to humour him. Secret or not, he doubted that Isabel would have tolerated his company had she not wanted to.

Once, Isabel had been an unreachable fantasy. Now that she had found a place for him in her life, Alex had been exposed to all of the softer qualities he had always suspected she possessed. Alex had never been in love before, but he didn't doubt that it could be far removed from the wild pounding of his heart when he thought of Isabel, or the sensation of giddy joy that split open within him every time she smiled at him.

Even when her lips remained set, she carried a smile about her often now. Happiness seemed to radiate from the young woman, shimmering outwards along the length of her entire body from whatever images found home within her mind. Alex wanted to believe that those smiles, blindly intense despite the restraint that held them in place, were for him. He wanted to believe that his persistence, the appreciation he laid around her, had chipped away at her belief that she needed to hold herself remote from emotional entanglements.

"Isabel!" Alex called out as he found the blonde among the milling students gradually drawing closer to the school's front entrance. His feet sunk into the damp earth slightly as Alex abandoned the walkway. His arm raised, swaying in the air to catch Isabel's attention.

She pulled away from the crowd, easily winding between the small clusters of people grouped together. "Alex," Isabel acknowledged him with a smile.

'Suave, Whitman, _suave_,' Alex commanded himself. His hands found their way into his jean's pockets, hiding the fine tremors that had claimed them. "I was thinking that maybe we could do something this weekend? You know, the two of us, out on the town, letting off some steam?"

Isabel's lips tightened slightly. "Alex..."

"Look, Isabel, I like you. I'd like the chance to get to know you better. Give me that much at least, please," Alex cut through the blonde's pained denial of his offer.

"I really don't think that's a good idea," Isabel finally drew out. "I'm sorry, Alex. Believe me, you're a great guy but my life is already overflowing as is. I have a lot of things to deal with right now and I just _can't_."

The warning bell shrilled, spurring the dwindling crowds around them forward. Alex ignored the students hurrying past them, his eyes focused on Isabel's face. He couldn't quite find the strength to summon a smile. "Hey, I get it. Whenever things calm down, I'll be here." He could almost have sworn he saw her flinch.

***

Max Evans was no fool. He had spent most of his life living with a healthy, if less obvious than Michael's, dose of suspicion. Max liked to think that he knew people. He was quiet and he observed his surroundings and the people that filled them with the knowledge that only his awareness and cunning kept he and his family alive and in one healthy piece.

Maria DeLuca was hiding something. There had been an edge to her voice as they spoke that morning. She had watched him from thoughtfully narrowed eyes, had caught her glossed lower lip beneath her teeth and nibbled as she considered him. Carefully, ever so casually, Maria had shifted Liz out of their rather halting conversation. Slowly, with deliberate ease, words had transformed. And Max had found himself the center of their discussion.

That wasn't quite it. He ran their words through his mind, picking out previously unoticed threads. He had been there, and Maria's questions had been sharp and probing, picking him apart to better serve Liz's interests. That had been expected, appreciated, really. Maria loved Liz. Having a definite case of Liz-adoration, Max could understand why anyone would be willing to do their best to save Liz from hurt.

Isabel. Yes, Isabel had been there, a constant undercurrent occasionally brought to the surface by an offhanded question or comment from Maria. The young woman he had been talking to would lean forward slightly, elbows on the table, face cupped in her hands. Her head had cocked, face set in concentration. There had been a smile hovering about her, and Maria had occasionally nodded along with Max's responses.

Interest in Michael he could have understood. But Isabel? She and Maria hadn't interacted much, the two of them, without others around and between them. Max remembered Maria being intimidated by Isabel, could remember Isabel's disdain for Maria and her utmost certainty that Maria would crack under pressure and spill their secret to the world. Maria hadn't been worried or fearful when they spoke. She had been... hungry. The word clicked, right.

He set school to the side, siting straight and alert in class as his mind picked over his conclusions. The bell trilled for lunch break, and Max hurried to his feet with the rest of his classmates as the teacher called out their homework over the sound of slamming binders and chairs scrapping backwards.

Their mother always made them a lunch. He and Isabel arrived at their usual table early while the rest of their friends passed through the lunch-line. Max smiled at Isabel as he sat and kept his thoughts firmly to himself. He opened his paper lunchbag and found his sandwich. He bit into it, watching Isabel as he chewed. She looked different, Max was stunned to note. It wasn't anything obvious, but there had been a time he and his sister were so in tune that he would have seen the slightest shift in her.

She felt his stare and looked away from the cafeteria doors. "Max? What is it?"

Max swallowed and took a sip from his water bottle. "Nothing. You look happy."

Isabel laughed. "Is that so surprising, Max?"

He shrugged and spoke with difficulty. "You haven't had much to be happy about recently."

Her head dipped, blonde hair settling around her face, shielding her from his gaze. "No, I suppose none of us have. But things are calming down, they're getting better." Isabel looked back up and met Max's eyes squarely. "I was angry at you Max. I'll admit it. I didn't want anyone else to know about us. But..." she paused, seeking out the proper words, "it's nice to have people who know, who like us despite what we are. For the first time in my life, I feel that I can trust someone beyond you and Michael with the truth."

"Hey, guys!" Liz chirped, advancing on the table, plastic orange tray balanced with the ease of long practice. She lowered her lashes and smiled at Max. He shifted, making room for her beside him and smiled back.

Maria was sitting beside Isabel. They were both smiling behind still lips.

~end part 3~

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