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Just Breathe (And Remember)

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Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list January 25, 2002

Title: Just Breathe (And Remember)
Author: trixie
Disclaimer: Jason Katims, Melinda Metz and UPN own Roswell
Rating: NC 17
Summary: Isabel comes back to Roswell, for Max and Liz's wedding, where she finds old feelings that she thought were buried, are resurfacing...
Category: Liz/Isabel. Shades of Max/Isabel. If these couples squick you out, don't read this.
Feedback: Yes, please.
Distribution: RSA, Guilty Pleasures, my sites- all others please ask

        Roswell still smelled the same.

        After all these years.

        Isabel inhaled deeply, smelling the hint of sweat, the drench of heat, dust, hamburger grease and salty rain. Picking up her bags, she stepped onto the concrete behind the restaurant and breathed. That was something she always did when life got hard. She breathed. It used to make her lungs hurt, and swell- sometimes she thought they would burst and break her ribs, but now... it was easier. And it calmed her down in moments like these.

        The door to the Crashdown swung open easily, the hinges well oiled, as they'd always been in the past. It amused her sometimes, how things never changed. Mostly it just pissed her off. Sweeping her hair off her shoulders, she walked into the kitchen, glancing at the cook out of the corner of her eye and seeing the ghost of Michael, standing there. Past-Michael, with the surly glares and the unkempt hair. Until Maria had cleaned him up, that was.

        Strangely, she was looking forward to seeing Michael and Maria the most. They were coming down from New York for the weekend- she had called them to find out- and weren't looking forward to it any more than she was. However, she suspected it was for very different reasons than her own. When they'd left Roswell behind, they'd left it behind. Cold turkey. No turning back, no coming home.

        When Isabel had left it behind, she'd left something in her stead. One night, and a little bit of her heart.

        It smelled like whipped cream milkshakes and coffee by the counter, and she ignored the tightening in her stomach at the sight of the old turquoise uniforms hugging youthful breasts and bellies, smiling at the waitress who asked for her order- all olive skin and dewy eyes.

        "Just a coke, thanks," she murmured, setting down her bags and checking her make-up with an absent precision. She had to present a good face. Be smiley. Be merry. Be everything she wasn't feeling inside. After all, wasn't that what she did every day? PR execs lived and breathed bullshit.

        Just pretend you're on the job, she thought to herself, picking up a piece of tinsel from the garland strung around the seats, and worrying it between two slim fingers. It shouldn't be too hard. She knew she could do it.

        "Isabel?" an uncertain, yet familiar voice said from behind her.

        Turning, she smiled, relieved. "Hey Kyle."

        He tipped his Sheriff's hat, sitting down on the stool beside her and accepting the cup of coffee given to him by the waitress. "How are you?"

        She nodded. "I'm fine, actually. Doing fine. How are you? I see you've taken over the job, huh?"

        He grinned, and sipped the aromatic brew with ease. "Someone had to. Besides, it's sort of fun. Being Sheriff. Having all the power."

        "And what a powerful job it is," Isabel laughed slightly. "How's your father?"

        "He's good," Kyle replied. "Currently putting in a pool. It should take him all year."

        "It's nice that he has something to keep him busy."

        "Yeah," he answered, and gazed at her thoughtfully. "We haven't seen you around here in a while."

        Isabel felt a shiver go down her spine. Out of everyone, she suspected that Kyle was the only one who knew about that night. He'd always been naturally perceptive, and she had sometimes caught him glancing at her speculatively when he thought she wasn't looking. "And you wouldn't have—but I'm here for the wedding."

        "Ah right," he nodded and then added sarcastically, "The one we've all been waiting for, right?"

        "I haven't been waiting for it," she said brittly. "But I suppose they have. Max and Liz waited a long time to tie the knot, that's for sure."

        "Anticipation makes the heart grow fonder," he opined, and she tilted her head in the haughty way she dimly remembered perfecting in High School.

        "That's 'absence', Kyle. At least get your clichés straight."

        "Touché. Look, are you coming to the party tonight? Because I have to get back to work."

        "I'll be there," she said softly.

        He looked back at her in a gesture that reminded her eerily of his father, and smiled. "Looking forward to it, Ms. Evans."

        "Get out of here!" she called, and laughed, but inside, she felt herself wither a little more. The past was a constant burden, and she didn't want- didn't *need* these little reminders of what had been. What could never be.


        Isabel accepted a flute of champagne from a passing waiter, sipping it absently, as she glanced around at the lights decorating the Crashdown.

        The Parkers have really gone all out, she thought bitterly, and looked at where Michael and Maria sat in a corner booth, feeding quarters into the mini jukebox and laughing uproariously at every selection. She felt vaguely jealous whenever she was around them as if they had something- *something* that she should have, but didn't. They waved to her to come over, but she ignored them, turning to lean against the wall, facing the door.

        As luck would have it, Max and Liz chose that moment to come through the doors. Isabel tried to draw in breath, but it was as if the air was punched from her lungs.

        Breathe, she reminded herself. Just breathe.

        Max wore a suit, casual and navy, with the top buttons of the snowy white shirt undone. He looked older, but not wiser. His hair hung in tendrils over his collar and he was laughing, as everyone clapped.

        Isabel's stomach hurt. Forcing herself to look, she took in Liz. It had been five years, and she was still beautiful. Dark hair, darker eyes. Red, ripe mouth, which she caught between white teeth as someone said something to her. A long violet dress, which fell in folds around her knees.

        Isabel remembered those knees. The curve behind them, silken underneath her mouth. The way they felt under her hands when she pulled them apart. Silly to remember knees. But she did.

        She remembered everything, and that was what kept her up at nights with aching temples and sweaty dreams that seemed to play even when she was wide awake.

        She was going to panic. For one horrifying moment she believed she was going to throw up. It had been crazy to come back, crazy. Too many memories, too many dreams still lying in sick splashes underneath Max's boots. But hadn't he always been the one who squashed her future, took away her freedom, burned her skin to ashes in his quest to be the *perfect* leader?

        Now he had Liz. I fucking hate him. I'm going to throw up.

        Isabel knew the exact moment when Liz saw her. She could *feel* herself blushing, and remembered the blush that painted Liz's cheeks that night so long ago. The pink that had crept down to her belly until she appeared one with the rose of the dawning sky. She could feel that pink beneath the pads of her fingers.

        Her belly clenching, she looked up.

        Hazel clashed with brown.

        Liz lost some of her colour, her brilliant skin fading into the shock of white. Isabel itched for a cigarette as they stared at each other over the din of the party, and she remembered it all. Kisses like hot, wet silk, lips as tart as raspberries, taste of dust and butter- she had sand in her hair for days—and it was *worth* it. Worth risking everything. Worth her brother's rage, worth his jealousy, worth leaving... because she had that one night in the desert with Liz, and it was *everything*.

        What could she do now?

        Hi Liz. Hi Max. Yeah, here I am, back for the wedding. Oh, no, it's great, Liz. I'm so glad you're getting married to my brother. So glad, in fact, that when I got the invitation, I had to stare at the wall of my bedroom for hours so I wouldn't cry. I don't have either of you anymore, and isn't that just a bitch?


        She smiled at Max, instead, just faintly, and he came forward, his eyes expectant, happy- innocent. His arms enveloped her and she relaxed against his chest, closing her eyes for a bare moment as she smelled home.lightsweat.alien.soap. Max.

        He was her brother and she hated him. For marrying Liz. For taking so many things away. For never *feeling* for her- what she had- and still, felt for him.

        But she still loved him and he was still home, no matter how she searched for another. When she was in his embrace, she was sixteen again and there was nothing that could tear them apart. But it was so much less, *simple* now. Arms couldn't heal years of old wounds, and Liz was standing behind them-betweenthem- and their life *together* was over. But she could still hold him and remember.

        "How are you, Is?" he asked and she smiled at him.

        "I'm fine. But I should be the one asking you that."

        "Why? Because you haven't called or written in over two years?" he inquired without rancour and she winced.

        "I'm sorry," she offered weakly and he shrugged.

        "It doesn't matter now. Have you talked to Mom and Dad?"

        "I went over to see them today," she replied vaguely. "They seem fine."

        "They are," he nodded. "Happy that I'm settling down, I guess."

        Isabel felt a queer ache lacerate through her chest and she swallowed, trying to form some kind of grin for her brother's sake. "I'm glad you're happy, Max."

        "I am," he told her. "Liz and I finally... got it right."

        Of course, they did, she thought bitterly. They always did. There was nothing that could stop them- no outside forces- not the government. Not Tess. Not herself. Why had she been so stupid as to imagine anything could break them apart? They were a living fairy tale, and Cinderella and her Prince always lived happily ever after.

        But not without a few bumps in the road.

        Max's fingers brushed her cheek, and she imagined she could feel the faint under-currents of power beneath his skin burning into her flesh. The alien in him was weakening, and she knew it was because of Liz. His happiness with Liz and being human and his fucking fairy tale.

        "Have you?" he asked.

        "Have I what?"

        "Have you got it right, with anyone?"

        She bit her lip sharply. Yes. With your fiancee, in the desert, five years ago. I still remember what she tastes like, Max. Peaches and dust and that buttered popcorn scent that always clung to the waitresses at the Crashdown. I always wanted to ask Michael if Maria had the same taste. She tasted right, Max. Liz and I... we were right. "No, not yet," she answered. "Work is busy, and I don't get out much."

        That was a lie. She went out every night.

        Every night to the clubs of New York City- which were teeming with life and sweat and sex- and she found someone. A man, a woman- it didn't matter. Usually they had dark hair and dark eyes and it could be Max, or Liz, when she closed her eyes- sometimes it was both. She fucked them and felt their come fill her mouth and she tasted it and she *remembered* the desert, she *remembered* long nights spent beside her brother, she *remembered* those girlish moans, she *remembered* feeling his cheek against hers before bed. She remembered Liz, she remembered Max, and she hated them both as she screamed against stranger's shoulders and let their fingers inside.

        "Are you ok, Is?" he asked her, his eyes searching, and she yearned so much to tell him. Tell him everything. There had been nights when she'd stumbled home, with a bruised mouth, smelling of alcohol and sweat and come, falling into bed with the phone underneath her hands, thinking of calling him. Of calling her. Of putting an end to the misery that had wrought her life since that night.

        Breathe. Just breathe.

        "I'm fine," she said lightly. "Don't worry so much, Max. You'll get pre-maturely wrinkled."

        "Aliens don't wrinkle," he whispered teasingly, and she laughed, without humour.

        "Shouldn't say that word. The sheriff might hear," she nodded towards Kyle.

        Max chuckled, and touched her shoulder. "I missed you, Isabel. I wish it hadn't taken the wedding to get you to come home."

        She shook her head. "You know this just isn't home for me. Not anymore."

        "I don't know why."

        "Too much—" she stopped. "Too much has happened."

        His brow creased. "What do you mean? Everything has worked out for the best. We don't have to worry about anything anymore. Everything's secure- you know that. Tess is dead, and—"

        She stopped listening, and concentrated on remembering when he had been so crazily in love with Tess that he had slept with her and risked losing his life- his family- his *Liz*- just for that one moment of passion. Now the words slipped so easily off his tongue- "Tess is dead"- as if she were just a person they used to know. As if she weren't their kin, their blood- his wife--- as if she weren't the sister of Vilandra, the Queen of a Planet they used to think was home. But god, why was she surprised? It was like Max to shush away things he didn't care to recall, and she didn't know what it was about it now that disturbed her so. He had always been like this, and he had always been her brother- and she had always loved him. Nothing had changed.

        "Quit hogging the groom, Issy," Michael said from behind her, and looped a casual arm around her shoulders. She glanced up at him coolly.

        "You're welcome to him."

        "Now, now, children, don't fight," Maria laughed, and grabbed Max into her thin arms, her blonde hair shining as she held him and kissed his cheek, leaving a red imprint behind. "How's it feel to be almost hitched, Max? Scared yet?"

        He smiled down at her. "Not yet."

        "He will be," Michael put in. "When the magic's gone and it's just him and Liz with two screaming kids."

        "Are we pregnant already?" Max asked and Isabel's mind screamed--- pleasegoddon'tletlizbepregant---pleasegod— She could endure anything but a baby. A baby that she knew would call her Aunt Isabel and who would have Max's eyes and Liz's teeth and who would gurgle and spit and say first words and it was just too.damned.much. She didn't want to be here. It had been crazy to come and expect things to be all right.

        Breathe. Just breathe.

        "Let's hope not," Maria smiled. "You guys have to enjoy the honeymoon period first. It's the best part."

        "The best," Michael confirmed, catching her around the waist, and making Maria shriek with laughter. Isabel's smile felt as if it was painted on, and she raised her drink to her lips, the ice clinking as the champagne slipped into her mouth.

        "What's all this noise about?" a laughing voice said from behind them and Isabel heard it and she felt the bile rise in her throat, choking her as she turned around slowly, only to see Max pressing a soft kiss to the lips of his soon to be wife.

        Maria grinned. "Just counseling Max not to have kids right away."

        "Aren't I the one that gets to make that decision?" Liz smiled gently.

        "Absolutely your decision," Max nodded. "Your uterus, your decision."

        "Max Evans just said 'uterus'," Maria deadpanned. "My life is complete."

        "I think I need another drink," Michael added and Liz giggled.

        Isabel wanted a cigarette as Liz's eyes slid to hers and held on. "Hi Isabel," she said slowly, obviously uncertain, as she brushed the hair away from her face.

        I could kill you, bitch. I could kill you for making me this way.

        "Hi Liz," Isabel replied without inflection. "How are you?"

        "Fine," she answered. "I'm doing fine. How's New York?"

        "It's fine."

        "This conversation is so exciting," Maria opined. "I think you girls need some alcohol."

        "Or at least a thesaurus," Michael grinned.

        "Hey," Liz laughed, affecting an injured air and tilting her head. "My conversational skills are just fine, thank you."

        "There's that 'fine' again," Max chuckled, his hand on her back.

        "Pathetic excuse for a comeback, Lizzie," Maria teased her.

        "Right up there with 'shut up' in the worst ever," Michael finished, and took a tray of champagne from a passing waiter, handing them out to everyone.

        Isabel looked at them all through hooded eyes and envied them for their casual laughter, their happy countenances. She needed to smoke. She needed to die. "I'm going outside," she told them suddenly, quickly. "For a smoke. See you a little later."

        Ignoring their surprised faces, she grabbed her purse from the tiny cloakroom off the kitchen and stepped outside into the back ally where she leaned against the knotty brick and lit a cigarette with shaking hands. The matches burned her fingers, but finally the tip burned orange and the end fit between her red, red lips, staining her lungs black as soot. That was ok. She had lost her lungs, her heart- her body, so long ago. Sometimes she thought if she drove out to the desert, to that place underneath the overhanging rock, her seventeen year old body would still be there- contorted in pleasure, cleaved against the dark haired girl, breathless as Liz's rich wetness drenched her tongue. And then other times she thought if she drove out there, she'd find a skeleton, baking in the afternoon sun.

        Drawing the smoke shakily to her mouth once more, she inhaled deeply and leaned her head against the ally wall, her hair falling from the precarious twist she kept it in and cascading over her shoulders. She had grown it out again after her breakup with Jesse. Grown it out and dyed it back to blonde. There was no need to look like the girl who had taken a chance with Liz on that sweaty night so long ago.

        Picking up her flute of champagne, she lifted it to her lips and sipped slowly, then faster, the burn of the bubbles making her cough. It sent a glow down her throat and belly and she remembered Liz's tongue, and Max's hands on her back, and she still thought she might throw up.

        The door opened, and Liz stepped out from the shadows, her dress slightly rumpled and Isabel stared at her, not knowing what to say. They hadn't spoken more than two words together to each other since that night and she saw no reason for that to change.

        "Hi," Liz greeted her ineffectually, and Isabel grinned sardonically, not responding.

        Liz looked at her for a moment and then reached out, taking the cigarette and bringing it to her own mouth. "Max hates when I smoke," she explained. "I had to quit because of him."

        What could she say to that? I don't fucking care, Liz. You made your own grave with Max. Lie in it. So she didn't answer, and just rolled her eyes to the waning sun. It hurt to look at for long, that burning flame of faint yellow and orange, and she looked past it, to the stars that only she could see. They would come out soon, and every single one would have Tess' face. Maybe Max didn't remember the alien that had changed their lives, but she did.

        Still mourned her, the truth be told.

        But she never told anyone - it was a betrayal to Alex, and she knew it.

        Liz regarded her seriously. "You're not going to talk to me, are you?"

        "Why should I?" Isabel inquired, absently, dreamily, the Roswell sky and smell working its will with her as it always had. She knew she never should have come back. Crazy.

        "I don't know," Liz replied. "We shared... something once, Isabel. I didn't think--- when I heard you might come back, I didn't think you would hate me."

        "I don't hate you, Liz," Isabel lied, and bit down on her lip. Hard. She tasted copper and ash and inexplicably felt tears fill her eyes. "You're marrying my brother. I'm happy for you both."

        "You're lying," Liz pointed out, and Isabel nodded.

        "Of course I am."

        "Why are you? Why bother?"

        She stared at her, at the slightness of her frame, at the way her nipples were pressing against the thin fabric of the dress ... and she felt that heat wave through her belly, felt that *Liz* reaction, that she hated. God, she hated it. Why didn't Liz ever wear a bra? Why did she have to move with that simple grace? Why did she have to take Isabel's brother away when she'd promised she wouldn't?

        ((I could never even do that))

        Big difference between "couldn't", and "wouldn't". Isabel had learned all about that difference... and she hated Liz for that too. For making her learn.

        "Because there's nothing left to say," she answered her, and watched as Liz's mouth twisted in frustration. "No truths left."

        "There's always a couple," Liz countered and Isabel shook her head.

        "There's nothing left, Liz."

        "I don't believe that."

        Isabel stared at her with hollow eyes and dropped the cigarette, crushing it beneath one stiletto heel. "You're getting married."

        "Does that mean I don't remember?"

        "That's your burden to carry," Isabel snapped, turning away. "Not mine." She stopped short, when she felt Liz's hand on her elbow, those tiny fingers pressing into her flesh with such a strong insistence, given the tiny body they were attached to.

        "I want you to remember too."


        "Don't what?"

        "Don't force me—"

        Liz laughed derisively, and gripped her arm harder. "How can I force you to remember something you don't want to? I'm not that strong, Isabel."

        "You were always stronger than me," Isabel returned, strangely frightened, and yet exhilarated. She could feel her flesh tightening, the air charging, as she drew in hot breaths and hated. Hated Liz.

        Breathe. God. Breathe.

        "You have Max," the blonde continued. "What more do you want? There's nothing--- nothing left..."

        "I have Max?" Liz laughed again, bitterly, sharply. "I've never had Max, Isabel. You know that. If anyone ever did- it was Tess. Or you. We stopped being happy a long time ago."

        "Why are you telling me this?" Isabel asked softly, and she could hear the other girl's intake of breath.

        "Maybe because I want you to suffer too."

        "You think I don't?"

        "I think you live as far away from Roswell as possible," Liz breathed in Isabel's ear, hot and sticky and sweet. "I think you left when things were bad. How's Jesse, by the way?"

        "Bitch," Isabel shot back. "You know we got divorced."

        "I heard that, yes," Liz said, undeterred, leaning in closer. "But I wasn't sure if it was true."

        "Of course it is." She tried to pull away but the dark haired girl held fast to her arms. She could feel the soft swell of Liz's breasts against her naked back, and wished that she hadn't worn such a skimpy dress. Wished she could break free and run. "He found out and left me. Isn't that what always happens? Someone cheats and the other one can't forgive. He couldn't forgive me."

        "I wonder if Max would forgive me?" Liz wondered out loud and Isabel shuddered.

        "He wouldn't."

        "You're right."

        They stayed still for long moments, until Isabel sighed and melted back into Liz's arms, her head falling back on the other girl's shoulder. "I don't want this."

        "Why are you still here, then?" Liz asked quietly, and Isabel shrugged.

        "I don't know. God... I didn't come back for this."

        Liz turned her around, and Isabel felt her hands sliding down the sides of her dress. "Yes you did," Liz whispered, and her lips were so close Isabel could taste her breath. "You said it yourself. There's nothing left but this."

        Isabel kissed her, then, and knew it was wrong. Their lips met in a sloppy, desperate kiss, and both breathed out, moaning involuntarily. Isabel's hands tangled in dark as night hair, and she spun her around, slamming Liz against the brick, wishing the fragile body would break. But it didn't. Liz groaned and grappled with the hooks of her dress, and Isabel felt the sweaty air against her skin as the slip of fabric fell down around her toes, lying unnoticed until she stepped out of it seconds later.

        Isabel whimpered as she looked down at Liz's lips closing around her nipples, Liz's tongue flicking against the rosy peaks, Liz's hands palming the heavy globes—Liz. Her hands held Isabel's breasts together as she suckled and gasped, her mouth wet and ripe, swollen with longing and bruised with remembrances and kisses.

        Pulling her up, Isabel captured her lips with her own mouth, tearing off the wisp of silk that was Liz's dress, and hooking her thumbs into the thong underwear and yanking them down, baring the satiny triangle of hair to the night. Kneeling, Isabel kept her hands firmly under Liz's knees and held her legs apart, sliding her tongue down the hot, wet, pink that had haunted her dreams for too, too long.

        Liz moaned loudly, hoarsely, and slid to the ground, her hair falling around her head like a dark halo as Isabel moved with her, lying on her stomach in the dirty ally, her head buried between Liz's thighs as she tasted her, and tasted her musk and sweat and fear. Dimly, she could hear Liz trying not to scream, the sounds coming out of her throat, bit off cries-- she could imagine her with her fist in her mouth, skin bleeding from sharp teeth- and Isabel regretted that they weren't in the desert where she had heard Liz Parker scream for the first time in her life so long ago. She wanted to hear that scream again.

        Between Liz's thighs was hot, and rich, and dripping with wetness. Isabel kept her tongue inside for every moment, stretching her with long fingers, and felt her trembling-- tiny jerks of her thighs that betrayed her ever growing desire. Pressing down on the dark haired girl's belly with firm hands, Isabel thrust her tongue as deep as it would go, and finally, heard Liz scream- and come—saltiness flooding Isabel's mouth which she swallowed, ignoring the heaviness between her own legs. God, she—she wanted Liz like this every night—wanted this abandon instead of the emptiness of the clubs—and knew it could never be. Knew it couldn't ever, ever be.

        Closing her eyes, Isabel felt Liz's sweat-soaked hands on her face, felt the kiss, and the fingers between her thighs. She lay back against the street, staring up at the emerging stars as Liz thrust three fingers so deep inside she thought she would split in two—and still- she wanted *more*... "Please..." she whispered, her whole body trembling and could see Liz's smile.

        "Of course... of course, Issy..."

        And then Liz's tongue was *there* and Isabel cried out, arcing off the ground like a bow held taut, and she saw different stars- waxy blue stars that shimmered and fattened before her gleaming eyes.

        "Liz!" she screamed out, just once, as she came, and heard the sounds as Liz drank her come with a sloppy hunger the girl had never shown in all her years growing up with a scientific precision in everything she did.

        Isabel had learned that a long time ago. Contradictory to the rest of the things in her life, Liz liked sex to be messy.

        So did Isabel.

        She didn't close her eyes this time when she felt Liz's palms on her face. She kissed her, once, and curved her arms around the slight body of the other girl, wondering if she could let go this time- wondering if she could possibly go back to the city that *never* slept, and *never* sleep for the dreams of Liz.

        "What now?" Liz asked dreamily, and lay her silken head on Isabel's shoulder.

        "You come home with me?" Isabel asked, half in jest, but Liz nodded.

        "I wonder how I'll explain this to my family."


        "And just run away?"


        Liz nodded again. "Ok. Isabel—do you love me?"

        Isabel thought for a moment. She thought of all the lies she could tell- and then settled for the truth. "I do."

        "I love you too."

        As the stars rose in the sky, Isabel thought how Roswell still smelled the same, how she was still running away, how even after so long, she still hated and loved Max simultaneously, and how Liz didn't taste any different, but yet—yet, now she had love- she had that *something* and maybe it wasn't fate or destiny or a fairytale- but she knew, if she let it, it could be everything.


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