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Tilt

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Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list July 15, 2002

Title: Tilt
Author: Sara
Rating: R
Pairing: Liz/Tess
Summary: People grow up, things change. Love isn't forever, but it might as well be.
Feedback: Brings me joy. addictedkitten@yahoo.com
Disclaimer: Roswell isn't mine. Damn.
Distribution: My site (geocities.com/addictedkitten), RSA, GP. Otherwise, ask.



        Seven years after she died in an explosion, Tess Harding walked into the diner where I waitressed and sat down in a booth by the window.

        I didn't gasp, or drop the tray I was holding, or faint dead away. I didn't express any sort of shock. I didn't say a word for a full minute and a half, until I turned to Joe the manager/fry cook and asked if I could take the rest of the day off. He said sure, it's a slow day, go ahead. Across the room, I saw Tess order a cup of coffee from Jamie, the busboy. I went to the back room, took off my apron, and walked back out.

        She looked a little different than I remembered. Older, obviously. Her hair was longer, stick-straight and the same bright blond it had always been. A light green tank top showed off her tanned shoulders. She was prettier than I remembered, too.

        I slid into the booth across from her. "Hey, Tess."

        She looked up at me, frowned for the barest second, then dropped her menu.

        I waited.

        "Liz." She stopped, stared at me. "Are you going to kill me?"

        "No."

        "Okay." Tess looked at me, clearly unsure.

        I smiled and began playing with the sugar packets. "So, how have you been? You're less dead than I expected."

        "Yeah, that was-"

        "A mindwarp?"

        "No. I really did blow up the military base." She raised an eyebrow. "I just didn't go down with it."

        I nodded. "That doesn't surprise me."

        "Yeah. Not a lot seems to. Liz, why are we making small talk?"

        "What do you want me to say? Hey Tess, how's it going? Killed anyone lately? Should I call all my friends? Warn the local military scientists?"

        She looked surprised, and actually almost smiled. "The straightforward approach is always nice. And no, also. I haven't killed anybody in awhile. Trying to keep a low profile, you know."

        "Right. So what have you been doing then?"

        "Actually, I've-" She paused, and looked at me warily. "So why aren't you trying to kill me?"

        I rolled my eyes. "I don't actually want you dead, Tess. I voted no, remember? Helped you escape and everything?"

        "Well, yeah, but. You thought I was going to die. And now here I am, right in front of you, and you want to know what I've been up to. Call me crazy, but I'm finding the whole situation a little surreal."

        "That's understandable."

        Jamie brought over the coffee pot. I turned over my cup.

        Tess and I reached for the Tabasco at the same time, our hands brushing. Her skin was cool against mine. I realized I was almost sweating.

        I watched her as she stirred in Tabasco and sugar, and wondered what to say.

        "I've been living around here for awhile," she started. "I wanted to get lost somewhere, and Los Angeles seemed like the place to be. I go from job to job. Easy stuff, where I can work alone. When I get tired of that, I- well, I have ways of making sure that I don't run out of money." She wiggled her fingers at me. "A zap here, a zap there. You'd be amazed at how easy it is to manipulate people around here."

        I raised an eyebrow.

        She smiled. "Or maybe you wouldn't. I have a little place on La Brea. There's a little garden in the back. And I have a dog."

        "Let me guess. His name is Zan?" I asked archly.

        She laughed, a little reluctantly. "Spot, actually. But only because I thought it would be weird to name my pet after my son. How is Zan doing?"

        "Max gave him up for adoption after you left," I said, almost apologetically.

        "I figured." She sighed. "I just-"

        "You don't have to explain," I cut her off.

        "Okay." She looked hesitant. "If I tell you something, will you promise not to throw me across the room?"

        "Alright."

        "I missed you. And everybody. It's been kind of a drag being alone like this."

        I nodded. "Yeah. I can see how it would be."

        "What about you and Max? Living happily ever after?" If there was any sarcasm in her voice, I couldn't hear it.

        "No." She looked surprised. "We got married after graduation, but. You know, we were young. Thought it would be forever." I shrugged. "Guess not. We divorced a few years ago."

        "And now?"

        "I'm living with Kyle, actually. He's a bartender at the little place down on Third and San Vincente. Maria works there, too. She's the in-house entertainment. And I'm doing night school and working here to help pay the bills."

        "So, you and Kyle?"

        "Yeah. It's nice."

        She looked genuinely happy to hear that. "And everyone else?"

        "Um. Let's see. Michael, Maria, and Isabel all live together. They have this great apartment on Melrose. Really nice. I'm not entirely sure what they are to each other, in terms of relationships. Sometimes it's like they're all just friends that happen to live together. Other times- well, I try not to think about why Michael has such a large bed."

        "Huh," Tess said, clearly thrown. "And Max?"

        "He works at a local gym. I'm not exactly sure what he does there, but he seems to enjoy it well enough. He's living with a guy named Lance." I looked at Tess. "They're a cute couple."

        "Max. Has a boyfriend?"

        "Yeah. He moved in a few months after I moved out. That was fun." I rolled my eyes. "So, that's everyone. Anything else you want to know?"

        Tess drank the last few drops of coffee in her cup, and sat it back on the table. "You wanna go somewhere?"

        "Yeah, okay."

        I signaled to Jamie that I would pay for the coffee later. Tess and I stepped outside, into the heavy California heat.

        "So, your place or mine?"

*

        My place was closer. When I went to unlock the door, my hands shook. The keys dropped to the floor as soon as we were inside, and her hands were suddenly around my waist, her lips on mine.

        At some point, it seems like one of us should have asked the other what in the hell we were doing. I didn't ask, because I didn't really want to think about it. She didn't ask, and I doubt it even would have occurred to her to do so.

        Her kisses were soft.

        Mine were not.

        We fumbled our way to the bedroom, me bumping into the couch and her colliding with the doorframe before we finally made it to the bed. Her small hands unbuttoned my shirt easily as I worked on her belt, and it seemed like hours, or maybe seconds, before we were tumbling onto the bed, skin to skin. A matched set of summery yellow undergarments prevented me from seeing her fully, but we pulled those off quickly enough and I kissed her again, everywhere I could reach. She straddled me, blond hair tickling my bare skin, and she seemed impossibly bright there above me, glowing in the sunlight. Skin still pale, even here where the sun was unavoidable. She didn't even have tan lines, just uninterrupted pale peach skin, contrasting with the olive dark tan of my body.

        I gasped when she moved lower, kissing my stomach, leaving slightly sticky pink lip-prints from her gloss. She seemed determined to kiss every freckle in the vicinity until I made an impatient noise and slid further up the bed, rumpling the white comforter as I encouraged her head to move lower. With a giggle, she obeyed, finally hitting just the right spot. I jerked up against her, and those pale hands came up, fingers tracing over my hipbones as she held me down. When I moaned her name, she worked faster until I was shuddering on the edge, fingers clenched in the sheets as she place one light kiss on my inner thigh. I exhaled harshly and came, going limp as it seemed like every care I ever had disappeared.

        She grinned and pressed a few more kisses to my stomach before crawling up the bed and kissing me leisurely until I had sufficiently recovered. Once I felt more comfortable about moving my limbs, I rolled over to kneel between her thighs, laying a few reverent kisses there before going down. I ran my hands up her sides, brushing over her breasts as she gasped beneath me. When she came, she said my name. I felt a quiet sense of triumph.

        Our heavy breaths mingled with the hum of the air conditioner as we came down. The distant sounds of traffic outside served as background music as the sun began lowering in the sky. I stared at the gray and violet clouds through the window while Tess placed sleepy kisses on my back. I hoped that she hadn't left any marks.

        "Do you love Kyle?" she asked, apropos of nothing.

        "Yes, I do."

        "Then why did you do this with me?"

        I hesitated, thinking it over before answering. "I still love Max," I said. "I love Isabel, too."

        "You love Isabel?" she said.

        "I do. I loved you, once. In the end, Tess, all that we have left are those that we love. And that's all we need. I have Kyle, and I love him, and he loves me back. If that changes someday, I'll deal with it." I turned to face her. "We're not going to do this again. At least, not for awhile."

        "I know." She paused. "You loved me?"

        "Of course I did." I leaned forward and kissed her gently on the forehead. "I still do, maybe. But now's not the time."

        She nodded. "Yeah." With a sigh, she rolled out of bed and started searching for her clothes. I joined her, dressing silently.

        We kissed goodbye at the door, one last long kiss.

        Halfway out the door, she stopped. "Someday though, right?" she asked.

        I smiled. "You know where I live."

        I watched until she rounded the corner and left my sight.

        Smiling, I went to fix the bed.

        End 7/15/02

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