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Reply to Whiteotter

Added to the Roswell Slash Archive January 14, 2001

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Author: Whiteotter
Category: Liz/Tess



The world should look different, I thought.

I'd climbed out of the canyon, running away from them and the inescapable truth I'd heard in the cave, and now I was alone in the desert, walking five miles back to town. My steps were clumsy, kicking up dust that mingled with the sobs in my throat, choking my breath. I was - amazed, somehow, that I could walk, that I was breathing.

It's just the four of us now.

I knew this was meant to be -

My teeth pierced the soft flesh of my lip and I dug my fingernails against the palm of my hand, feeling the skin swell and break under the crescent-shaped cuts. The pain helped, cutting through their voices, bringing me back to where I was.

In the desert. Without Max, without any of them, bleeding, crying. Alone.

I opened my eyes and stared down at the soft swirls of dust circling my feet.

I'm not going to die. Step.

I'm not going to die. Step.

Not from this.

It was all the defiance I could muster.

***************

My parents were outraged that I'd been gone for so long - terrified, they said, didn't I know they'd called the sheriff? - but they backed off when they realized they'd been yelling at me for several minutes and I hadn't said anything.

I was numb. I didn't even argue. I just stared at the table in front of me, suddenly aware of how many flecks there were in firmica.

Maybe I should count them.

No. Too much effort.

I heard a choking sound and looked up. My mother was crying.

Don't cry, Mom, I thought. Why would you cry?

"Liz," She said. Her voice sounded far away. "Liz, say something. Please. Liz -"

-It's just the four of us now.

- I knew this was meant to be -

I watched the fear expand over her features, how she dissolved into tears.

Was that how I'd looked when I'd heard them?

"Baby," Her voice cracked. She reached out to me. "Honey, say something..."

I couldn't feel a thing. Her voice was a whisper on a storm.

And I couldn't think of a thing to say.

***********************

I stared at my fingertips touching the quilt on my bed.

He'd been talking for hours. It was reassuring, in a way, the droning of his voice, the way he kept talking, even though I didn't say anything back. Like it wasn't necessary for me to do anything. Focusing on the droning helped me not to think about Max and Tess.

I stared at the quilt. One blue patch, one yellow, one red, each edge sewn with thread the same color as each square. It was a simple pattern. Square patches, primary colors. Simple.

My life used to be like that. Direct. Obvious. Date in high school, get good grades, go to college, marry, settle down, have kids...

- It's just the four of us now.

- I knew this was meant to be -

The squares blurred and reformed into large, blossoming circles, the colors bleeding out towards each other, drowning the white squares between them.

I used to know how to live my life.

And now that it was gone, I had no idea what I was supposed to do next.

Breathe.

Step. Another step.

That was about as far as I could get.

Hot drops splashed onto the quilt, clearing my vision and marring the pattern, darkening the colors in small splotches. I'd ruined the pattern -

No, a voice in my head said. Not ruined. You just changed it.

The room sounded - strange. I raised my head after telling myself twice.

He was gone. The doctor my parents had called. I picked up the sound of low voices outside the door, and felt my mind pick up the words.

Shock. Trauma.

"Maybe we should take her down to Florida," My mother whispered, her voice cracked and broken. She sounded desperate.

Florida. Aunt Ann lived there. My godparent, my favorite aunt. I hadn't been there in years.

"Maybe that would help," The doctor said, his voice less droning, filled with pity.

I looked back at the quilt, at the wet splashes that discolored the fabric, destroyed the pattern.

Wherever they took me, it wouldn't matter.

********************

It was nearly midnight. I was lying in bed, watching the ceiling.

My suitcase was by the door, ready for tomorrow. My mother had packed it. I'd been able to do a few more things - I'd eaten half a bowl of cereal and watched some TV yesterday - but I'd just stood in front of my closet, staring at my clothes, until my mom came in, all soft whispers and gentle movements. She guided me over to the edge of the bed, asking me to sit, returning to the closet and picking out piece after piece, asking me if I wanted to take this, didn't I think this looked nice on me, did I want to take this skirt?

I just watched her move. Every once in a while I nodded dumbly, feeling I should do something, and she'd beam a smile, coming over to kiss me and handling whatever piece of clothing I'd approved as if it was gold.

I shouldn't worry her, I thought, lying in my bed, staring at the ceiling. The phone rang ten times a day since I'd come back, and each time my mother spoke in a hushed, strained tone into the receiver.

No, you can't talk to her. No, she's not well. No. Don't call anymore.

I knew it was Max.

- It's just the four of us now.

- I knew this was meant to be -

The first time my mom told me he was on the line I'd nearly screamed. Instead I just shook my head and started crying. She didn't bring the phone to me after that.

I shouldn't worry her. I just didn't know what to do.

The shadows on my ceiling flickered and a shape appeared.

Someone was on the rooftop.

I watched the shadow spreading slowly over my quilt, across my body. I can't, Max, I thought, I can't, don't ask me to, I can't -

It was a shock to realize the shape was too small for Max.

My eyes widened when I recognized the curls. I turned my head to the window.

She was standing there, watching me.

Tess.

Her head tilted when I looked at her and she raised her hand to touch the glass. "Hi," She whispered. Her breath fogged the window on the outside, and I watched it evaporate.

Tess was outside my window.

Why?

She stood there staring at me, her hand on the window, until I felt like I had to do something.

What was I supposed to do?

What do you want to do?

I laid silent for a few seconds and then my hands slid up underneath my grandmother's quilt, finding the edges, clutching the hem of the fabric and I was pushing it down my body, away from me, clearing a path to stand up.

To move to the window. To open it.

I did.

She was right in front of me. The girl that had destroyed my life, everything I loved. I was going to Florida, I thought numbly, because of my life here was over.

I hated her.

"Hi," She said again in that strange tone, that accent that almost wasn't there. "I heard you weren't feeling well."

I stared at her.

"I, uh -" She glanced inside my room. "Can I come in?"

My hand was on the window.

Close it. Lock it.

I felt myself nod.

She smiled weakly and placed her hands to pull herself through. I stepped back to make room for her.

Why did I do that?

She found her footing and stood up. "Thanks," she whispered, her gaze flickering over my room, over my belongings. It settled on my telescope.

"Wow," She breathed, crossing over to it. "Is this yours?"

I didn't say anything.

"This is great," She whispered, her fingers fluttering over the dials. Her forehead crinkled. "I don't understand any of it, you know, maybe we could -"

"Why are you here," I whispered.

She looked up at me, shocked.

I was surprised myself. Those were the first words I'd said in days.

Her lips formed into a pout. "I, uh - Nasedo's gone, and I -" She shrugged weakly. Her voice was a whisper. "I can't sleep."

Can't sleep. She'd uprooted my life, everyone's life, all of us, and she couldn't sleep.

"Good," I whispered.

She flinched slightly. Good again.

She looked back at the telescope, her fingertips light on it. "He doesn't want me," she said.

I didn't say anything.

"Can you -" She swallowed, hard, blinking twice. "Can you imagine what it's like?" She asked in a small voice.

"Isabel's his sister, Michael's his second, and I'm -" I caught a flash of white from her lips. She was biting her lip. "- I'm - his, I guess. Like a care package," She said, her voice sounding bitter. "Like an afterthought."

"I'm supposed to be with him," She said, her head shaking. "That's what Nasedo always told me, and I thought when I found him, it would -"

She paused. "He doesn't want me," She whispered, looking over at me. "He just wants you, Liz."

I didn't say anything. If she said his name I would scream.

"He thinks he's being nice," She whispered. "But he doesn't want me anywhere near him. He doesn't even want to talk about what's coming, about the others -"

"Stop it," I whispered.

She looked at me, afraid. "I'm sorry," She whispered. "It wasn't supposed to be like this. Nasedo told me for years that I was - that we were -" Her voice faltered and broke. "I'm sorry," She repeated, shaking her head.

Her shoulders started to shake. Her hand dropped from the telescope and her hands were doves over her face, eradicating the tears, slipping over flushed cheeks.

"I don't know what I'm supposed to do now," She whispered.

My heart lurched.

- I used to know how to live my life. And now that it was gone, I had no idea what I was supposed to do next -

I wanted to say something. My mouth opened and nothing came out.

She was crying harder.

I tried again to say something to hurt her. To comfort her. To have some effect on what was happening.

She was crying. I had to do something.

It was almost involuntary. I did the only thing I could think of.

I took a step.

She didn't notice.

I took another.

She glanced over at me, her eyes traveling up my body to my face, blinking in confusion. Her eyes were shining with tears and she raised her hand, lowering her face to wipe them away -

"Don't," I whispered.

Her eyes flew up to mine. Her mouth opened in surprise. "Why?"

I tried to answer her but nothing came out. I took another step. I could reach her now and I stood there, caught in the crossroads.

Hit her. Help her.

I felt my hand rise up, slowly, to her face, settling on her cheek. My thumb moved over the surface of her skin, clearing away the tears, leaving her skin damp. She stared at me numbly, trembling under my touch.

Her eyes were blue. I'd never seen eyes that color blue. Sky-blue eyes, ringed with cobalt, shocking, striking eyes. Her lashes were dark and clumped together from her tears, making her more beautiful -

My hand froze. Where did that come from?

My hand dropped.

"Did you do that?" I breathed, my voice hoarse. "Did you make me think that?"

Her eyes widened. "Do what?" She asked. "Did I - I didn't do anything, Liz, I -"

I didn't believe her. She was a liar. She was manipulating me, giving me visions, just like Max -

No. She wasn't.

I don't know how I knew she was telling me the truth.

I just did.

I stared at her face, at her perfect eyes, the slant of her cheek, the perfect color of her mouth -

"Liz," She whispered, "Are you alright?"

I closed my mouth. Shook my head.

I used to know how to live my life, I thought, my heart breaking. Date, get a good job, get married to a nice man, start a family...

Marry a man -

Wasn't that what she thought she was supposed to do? Be with Max? Repeat the same life over?

Tess and I were more alike than I realized.

She took a step toward me. I almost backed up. "Liz," She whispered. "Wait -"

Her hand reached out, settling on my face. I can't,I thought. This isn't what I want -

I didn't move. She stepped closer to me. I could feel her breath on my skin.

She was so small, smaller even than me, her tiny hand resting gently on my face. I tried to take in her touch, the color of her eyes, the soft curl of her hair -

We couldn't look more different, I thought.

And we both felt exactly the same.

She whispered my name and my eyes dropped from her eyes to the curve of her lips, parted slightly, whispering my name, pink and soft. I breathed in sharply and caught the faint smell of raspberry lip gloss.

Her hand was moving, sliding back slowly, carefully, her fingertips circling behind my neck and I felt the goosebumps coming up under her touch, rising up against the palm of her skin.

I don't want this, I thought, the voice frantic. My heart was pounding.

No.

I never wanted this before.

Her breathing was shallow. I felt her other hand on mine, tracing soft swirls over my skin, gliding up my arm, the inside of my elbow, the slope of my shoulders, her fingers stopping when they found my hair -

Don't, I thought. Don't stop.

Her eyes were locked onto her hand as it wound itself into my hair, the soft hair sliding through her fingers. I gasped a little when she touched the small of my neck and she stopped, turning her head to look at me, slowly. My eyes went from her eyes to her lips and back again.

I don't know how to do this.

Yes, you do.

It's just a kiss.

And all kisses start the same. Someone has to lean in first.

I felt my body move forward slowly, waiting for her to step back, stop me, to say we can't, I won't, what are we doing?

She didn't.

I leaned in to her mouth, my lips parting slightly at the thought of her mouth, how she would taste, what it would feel like -

Her eyes slipped down to my mouth, almost touching hers now. Her eyes closed and she pulled me in, closing the last inch, and -

She was soft, her lips parting slightly, warmth and softness and slow, her lips gentle and sure across mine, her hands in my hair, on my neck, sliding over my shoulders, tasting like raspberries and honey and the faint tell-tale scent of tobasco sauce, something sweet and forbidden, her tongue langorous and soft -

I don't know when we stopped. She whispered my name and pulled me tighter to her, her body pressing against me softly but deliberately and her mouth was on me again, more intense this time -

I didn't know what was going to happen next.

I just knew I wasn't going to stop.

*********************

She liked the color pink, which wasn't surprising - hot pink, shocking and bright, unconventional, sexual, undeniably feminine, the color and hope and promise of sex and desire. I undid the clasp of her bra in the dark of my room, for a second empathic to the clumsy, fumbling fingers of millions of boys and who knew how many girls who felt like this, thinking please don't and then please don't stop, hands sliding over curves and hollows that were familiar and exotic all at once, thinking this is what I would want, is it what she wants, fumbling with zippers, buttons, clasps and hooks to clear the fabric off our bodies, fingertips hesitant at first and then bolder when stop was left unsaid and bodies arched against each other and then our fingertips were fearless, slipping into each other's mouths, over hips, between legs, our mouths seeking out each other in the dark, wanting the the soft sucking wetness of a kiss, our flesh heated and warmed by desire and I want this, I thought, my fingers slipping through the curl of her hair and into the warm, pink of her lips that had been warm and waiting for days, soft moans whispered against me, the whispers of oh and please and yes and I heard myself saying the same thing against her mouth, her hands, her fingertips and I wasn't going to stop, I didn't want to stop and neither of us were ever, ever going to stop.

***********************

"Twenty-one... twenty-two...here we are, Liz," My mother said, lifting my carry-on into the overhead compartment above our heads. "Here, honey, take the window seat."

"Okay," I said, sliding past her to the window, sitting down and looking out the oval window. The sun was almost down.

"You look a little better," She said softly.

"Yeah," I said, looking out at the swath of pink that stretched across the desert sky.

"I do feel better, Mom."

"I think this trip will be really good for both of us," She said. I felt her hand close over mine. "Give us a little of a fresh start."

I smiled faintly against the window. "Yeah, Mom," I said quietly. "I hope so."


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