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On Not Being Tess
Reply to Sobia HelenPosted to the RoswellSlash mailing list October 15, 2003
Title: On Not Being Tess
Author: Sobia Helen
Disclaimer: Not mine. Thank God.
Distribution: Roswell Slash Archive. Everyone else, ask first.
Summary: Ava is not Tess, but she would like to be.
Note: Liz POV.
She found Ava sitting outside the little cabin they were all staying in, staring at the sky. She knew she would find her here. The aliens, it seemed to her sometimes, were all fond of stargazing. She debated leaving her alone, but decided against it. A better opportunity to talk to her was not likely to come along, and there were questions in her mind that needed answers only Ava could provide.
She stepped outside the cabin now, closing the door behind her. Taking a seat besides Ava, she asked the question that had been on her mind ever since Ava had joined them, "The other woman you told me of?"
Ava finally looked at her, acknowledging her presence, and so Liz continued, "The one Zan was waiting for? It was Tess, wasn't it?"
Ava smiled slowly, "Took you long enough to figure it out."
Liz felt her heart sink. She didn't know why this knowledge should affect her so. She had never known Zan, never even knew of him when he was alive.
Ava felt the change in Liz's mood, and added, "I'm not completely sure, actually. But he always said that I was...wrong." She looked down at her hands, which played with the sand by her feet. "It used to hurt, at first. But then I sort of accepted that he would never love me like I wanted him to."
Liz realized that her next words would form a bond between Ava and herself that she did not even share with Maria, but she said them anyway, "I know what you mean."
There, it was out in the open. Now someone else besides her knew that Max and she weren't the perfect match everyone thought them to be. There was apprehension and liberation both in that realization.
Ava dusted her hands on the hem of her skirt, and looked back up at Liz, "Something wrong with you and Max?"
There was no going back now, so she just shook her head in confusion. "I don't know. Before...I never noticed all these things that were always there. But I never had to live with him before. It's just not like it used to be. And now..." she trailed off, not knowing how to put her thoughts in words.
Ava did it for her, "You wonder if it's to do with Tess?" She paused before continuing, "Of course, it does. Everything always comes back to Tess."
Liz sensed bitterness in her voice, but did not understand what Ava meant by that. "What do you mean?"
Ava seemed to think before replying, "Zan called me Tess once...when we were together. He knew of her before any of us did."
Liz still didn't see why that had anything to do with Max or herself, but her curiosity had been aroused, so she asked, "Tess knew Zan?"
"I don't know. I don't think so. But he knew of her."
"How?" she asked.
"We always knew where the others were. Zan and Rath used to check on them sometimes."
And Max, Isabel, and Michael had never known. Liz felt a chill ran down her back at that confession. She wondered if they were being watched right now. They had not had any encounter with the alien hunters since they rescued Ava from one of their bases. That had been nearly two months ago.
Ava continued when Liz did not say anything, "My powers...they were never as good as the others', and never like Tess's. I was always a liability. Still am, I guess."
"Ava, that's not true," Liz contradicted. Ava had been anything but that, so it surprised Liz that she would think that. Their living conditions had definitely taken a turn for the better since Ava had joined them. The Roswell aliens were weary of using their powers, especially for personal gain. Their new companion, however, had no such reservations. Ava had used her powers to get them this far away from civilization safely, and had changed dollar bills into hundreds to purchase the remote and deserted cabin they now inhabited. Max, who discouraged Michael and Isabel from using their powers, did not stop Ava from doing the same. And Liz doubted that his approval would've affected Ava's decision much. She was like Tess in that, and Liz wondered if that's what Max found so appealing in them.
"You don't have to lie, Liz," Ava said now. "I know you are worried about me and Max."
"Do I have a reason to be?" She asked in return. Ava had let her hair grow out since joining them, and gotten rid of the piercings and the highlights. It had been Isabel's idea, to help Ava blend in better. While it had the desired outcome, it also had the side effect of Ava looking exactly like Tess now. And that worried Liz.
Ava laughed now, and Liz stared at her, taken aback. "I might look like Tess, Liz, but I ain't her."
Liz continued to stare at Ava with a questioning look, and Ava explained, "Max only talks to me about our past lives, and I think he wants to know about Tess. Not me."
Again, Liz detected a hint of bitterness in Ava's voice, and felt their bond deepening. These were the things she would never talk about with Maria. Maria who was perfectly happy with the knowledge that she had Michael, and never worried about his bond with Isabel. And she had never been close with Isabel to begin with. Ava, on the other hand, she felt drawn to. The knowledge that Ava was a virtual stranger also made her confessions easier.
"I used to think that when Tess...died, things would go back to the way they used to be." Liz said now. She laughed, "Of course, I also thought that about Tess leaving, but nothing really changed. Not when she left, and certainly not now."
Ava smiled, and leaned closer to her, "Sometimes...when Zan went on one of his trips to check on Tess, I used to wait up for him, and think of ways of killing Tess."
Despite the topic of their conversation, Liz felt herself relaxing. It was good to finally get all of this out, and so she said, "Yeah, me too. When she first showed up, and Max was all over her, I just wanted her to..."
"What?" Ava prompted.
"Well," Liz continued, "I knew that Max loved me, then. But he never responded to me like that."
Ava raised an eyebrow, and Liz suspected that she knew exactly what she meant, but Liz indulged her, "I mean, sexually."
Ava nodded, "Zan always wanted sex when he got back from one of those trips. And I hated myself for giving into him. Because it wasn't me he wanted to fuck."
The bitterness was back, and she could feel the light-heartedness of seconds past fading slowly. So she reached out and laid her hand on top of Ava's, squeezing it lightly, and felt Ava return the gesture. Again, a chill ran down her back, but for different reasons.
"I feel like that sometimes," Liz admitted.
"Take what you feel and double that." Ava replied. "It wasn't even physical, you know. I look like Tess. But it never mattered to them."
Liz looked up at her, "Them?"
"Zan and Rath," Ava clarified.
Ava didn't answer her question, and said instead, "I used to think, at first, that Lonnie would understand why I hated Tess. But I don't think she knew. Or she would've killed Tess. But killed me first."
Liz smirked, "Isabel was infatuated with Tess. She wanted her as much as Max did, if not more."
This was news to Ava, "Really? Lonnie only ever wanted Rath. She never let it be known, though. I used to feel bad for her."
"I used to feel bad for *Tess*." Liz admitted.
She shrugged in response, and said, "She was so...obsessed with Destiny, and Max already loved someone else."
Ava smirked, "Or so you thought."
"Or so I thought," she agreed, though she never doubted that Max did love her in his own way, even if he didn't love her exclusively. "But you know, it was kind of sad. And in the moments when I didn't hate her, I almost wanted to be her friend."
"Just friends?" Ava asked, and Liz was suddenly very aware of Ava's hand in hers.
She let go of it now, "It wasn't like that."
"It's always like that with her." Ava insisted, and Liz was annoyed by it. In all the time she had known Tess, she could only remember a single incidence when that thought had even crossed her mind. It had been in Arizona, when they waited outside in the car for Max and Isabel to go check things out. Tess asked her about Kyle, and Liz had confirmed the rumors that they were together. Tess surprised her by believing her story. After all, how could Tess not have known that Kyle was totally crushing over Tess? And then she had let her mind wander and muse over why exactly did everyone want Tess. That had been her downfall, and she had found herself wondering what it'd be like to kiss Tess.
Ava smiled at her knowingly, and Liz felt herself getting angry, so she tried changing the subject, "When I told Max about her death, he just looked at me with this expression of utter disbelief and dismay. Like I had just broken his most valuable possession into little pieces while I was supposed to be taking care of it."
"I know how that goes."
"He tried to cover it up later, but it was never enough," said Liz.
"You think she's really dead?" Ava asked.
"I've never thought about it, but I think so. She felt bad for what she had done...and she never did get to be with Max." Liz replied.
"Served that bitch right." Ava said.
It took a moment for Liz to realize that Ava didn't mean that Tess was deserving of her fate because of what she had done to Alex, but because of what she had done to them.
Liz found herself defending Tess in that regard, "You can't really blame her for that..." "Like you don't. Great Queen Tess, she never had to work for anyone's affection." Ava said.
"Except for Max's," Liz reminded her.
"But she always had Max. She just never knew it."
"Which is worse. I don't know if I should be glad or not."
"Meaning?" asked Ava.
"I feel trapped," Liz confessed, "Max would never let this end, but it already has."
"You love him still?"
"Not like I used to. I'm still in love with the idea of him, with what we could've had. You?"
"Yeah. I don't think I loved Zan either. Not after I realized who he really wanted. And I know he never loved me. Still, I wonder what Tess had that I don't."
"Don't we all?" Liz said, and then looked closely at Ava, adding, "But nothing I could see."
"Is that good or bad?" Ava asked.
"Both, I guess. But Tess was beautiful." Liz admitted with reluctance.
Ava smiled, "Is that a compliment?"
"Yes. Yes, it is," replied Liz.
"It's not you, Liz. It's them...all of them, and me. We don't see what's right in front of us, always wanting what we can't have. All those programmed memories have messed up our heads."
"Yours, too?" Liz asked.
"Mine most of all, probably."
"You're not like her, Ava." She insisted.
Ava smiled, "And that's the problem apparently."
Despite her smile, she looked so dejected that Liz had an urge to hug her. She settled for something subtler, but perhaps more meaningful. She brushed the blonde ringlets away from Ava's face, and touched her cheek lightly, "No, it's not."
Ava looked up at her, and laid her own hand atop Liz's. A light shone out from Liz's bedroom window, inside the cabin. She took her hand back, and started
to get up now, "Max is up. I should go."
Ava nodded, turning her face back towards the sky. The stars had started to fade with the first light of dawn. "You going to tell him?"
Liz gazed at Ava, and nodded, "Yes, soon."
She turned away from Ava, and walked back inside the cabin, knowing fully well that what she had with Max had to end before she could start something new.
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