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Refraction

Reply to Whiteotter

Added to the Roswell Slash Archive January 14, 2001
Refraction
Author: Whiteotter
Summary: Tess/Liz, follow-up to „Pink¾




I opened the drawer and let my hands slide over the silky fabrics. The faint scent of artificial softener floated in the air.

Stupid. Her skin was soft already.

I rifled through her clothes a little longer and then my hands paused. The voice in the back of my head was once again swearing up and down that I shouldn't be doing this. That it was an invasion of privacy. That she'd hate it.

I ignored it.

I lifted my hands from the drawer slowly, careful not to bump the edges, my hands floating down to gently push the drawer. It didn't betray me as it closed, keeping our pact silent, and a smirk of satisfaction flickered across my lips before I could suppress it.

I turned around and looked at the quilt on her bed, the placement of the colored patches forming the boundaries for the simple, white squares, forming the simple pattern.

It was handmade, I thought, letting my fingers fall to the edge of the fabric and raising it to inspect the heirloom more closely in the moonlight. You could tell by the irregularity of the stitches, the way an edge had been folded over or pulled taut to make up for a missed calculation, the way the pieces of cloth looked as if they'd been worn and loved to the edge of extinction long before they were ever cut out and pieced together to make a blanket -

The edge of extinction.

I blinked, the words breaking through my thoughts. My fingers released the quilt and I watched it drift down to settle on the bed.

I could never get far away from it. My reason for existing. My mission. For most of the people on this planet, those concepts usually mean totally different things.

But not me. Not for any of us. Our purpose was simple.

Learn.

Kill.

Kill them all, every last one, until you can do it without thinking, without remorse, without hesitation.

And then, leave.

They were coming for us. I knew it. I could feel it. Even if Max refused to believe it, it was only a matter of time.

The voice in the back of my head surfaced again, breaking through my thoughts. Why are you here, it whispered.

I closed my eyes and my vision went black, shutting out the quilt and the traditional pattern. I breathed deeply before opening my eyes and walking past the bed to the bathroom, turning the knob quietly, trying to judge when it would creak, pushing gently but firmly when it opened.

She didn't have much. Some lipstick, mascara, a few jars of eyeshadow, all in a clear plastic case on the shelf. Subdued earth tones, mostly. Nothing I would wear, I thought. Not surprising, considering we looked nothing alike.

Bottles of shampoo and conditioner rested on the edge of her shower. I picked up the shampoo and pressed the top until it opened, releasing the sickly-sweet scent of flowers and musk. It smelled like her and nothing like her, I thought, pleased at the contradiction. I closed my eyes and breathed in the flowerly scent, imagining it seeping into her skin, wondering how her body chemistry would absorb it and change it, making it musky or faint, how it would taste if my lips opened over her skin and -

I opened my eyes wide, shutting the top quickly, my hand dropping under the sudden weight of the bottle.

I put it back on the edge of the tub, turning it so the label was facing outwards, as I'd found it. I doubted she'd notice - she'd been gone for months, now, down to Florida, as Max kept reminding me - but there was no point in getting sloppy. I straightened, tossing my head a bit as I did, and paused when I caught my reflection in the mirror.

I was perfection.

They must have had that in mind when they created me, I thought, when they engineered my swollen, pouty lips, my eyes that looked almost shockingly blue against pale skin, skin that never wrinkled, never blemished...

I squinted and pursed my lips. They did their research well. I was every red-blooded American boy's wet dream. Max wasn't your average American boy, of course, technically speaking...but the point was still valid. They didn't want any mistakes.

They didn't want him to get distracted.

What were the odds that things would play out the way they did? Who wouldn't give everything they had for one glance, for a faint hope of a kiss, for the promise that one day they might push past all the cumbersome fabrics that were surely coarse against the silk that was my skin and slip into the uncharted and forbidden hollows of me...

Destiny, despite people's faith to the contrary, has a healthy sense of irony.

I stared at my face, wondering for the hundreth time if I had the nerve to scar it somehow.

It wasn't that I wanted to hurt myself.

I just had this urge to set myself apart. To make my face mine.

I wondered whose genes were spliced with mine to create a super-hybrid. Maybe they manipulated the DNA structure to make me look this perfect, I thought, turning my face and looking at the sleek slope of my cheekbones. I looked almost...cruel.

I wondered how they did that.

Maybe it's your own doing, the voice in my head whispered suddenly.

I resisted the urge to close my eyes and let my eyes wander from my reflection to the back of the bathroom door, settling on a faded drapery of thick terrycloth material. It must have been white, once. Now it was a light gray, worn in places from the years she'd worn it. I felt my heartbeat speed up.

Easy, I thought. Slow and easy...

I turned around, keeping my eyes on the robe as I let my hands drift up to my jacket, pulling the fabric down and shrugging it off of my shoulders, letting it pool around me on the cold tile floor. I pulled at the hem of my shirt and the clingy fabric resisted at first; I had to tug, my fingers clenched around the soft material, to peel it away up from my waist and over my shoulders. I let it fall on top of the jacket, a bright slash of artificial pink against the smooth, black leather.

It was a ritual now, I thought, my mind blocking out my movements and oddly calm. It's just what I did when I came here. It didn't mean anything.

My hands found the front of my black jeans, the fingers moving slowly over the buttons. One. Two. Three. Four...

I pushed the material down, over the curve of my hips, the fine hairs on my legs rising in protest at the cold as I stepped out of the jeans. I kicked off my shoes and added them to the pile.

It doesn't mean anything.

The clasp on front of my bra unhooked easily and I shrugged the silky material off my shoulders, feeling the newly-exposed skin shiver and tighten. It was the middle of summer in New Mexico. It wasn't cold.

I just couldn't wait.

My hands moved swiftly to remove the last bit of fabric and I tossed the matching panties to the pile on her floor. I stood naked in her room, my body aching with cold and vulnerability, staring at the robe on the back of her bathroom door...

You don't have to do this.

My fingertips fluttered up, brushing against the faded material, the thick, soft texture comforting and gentle to the touch...

A lump welled up in my throat and I closed my eyes. It happened every time, that involuntary response clutching at my throat, my heart constricting in my chest and I didn't know why...

It makes no sense, I thought. Let it go, go home.

Why are you here?

I opened my eyes and my fingers closed around the robe, lifting it off the hook, opening the faded material and pulling it around my body, my slender arms sliding through the armholes. I fought the immediate chill of the material, concentrating on the slow fade to warmth, feeling the robe trap my body heat, creating a buffer zone of warmth around me...

You don't need this.

I gathered the material in my hands and pressed it to my face, breathing in the scent of her that still clung to it after all these months, shampoo and perfume and last-minute touch-ups. I pulled the belt tight through the loops, opening the bathroom door before I slipped my hands into the warm pockets, walking gingerly to her bed and climbing up on it, curling into a comma on her bed.

My eyes settled on the quilt pattern. Four colored squares to one white square. I let one of my hands come up and trace the edges where they met.

We were the four. The Royal Four, Nasedo called us. We were everything. Once and future leaders, martyrs of our homeland, savior to our birthplace and to this planet. I traced the edges of the white square.

Why did our lives revolve around her, this human, this girl? She had no powers, no mission, no real understanding of us. She wasn't one of us.

Who was Liz Parker? She was nothing. Nobody.

And yet...

I frowned, pursing my lips against the conflict. She was just a human. She wasn't perfect. Not even close. Her looks were - common, to tell the truth. She wasn't anything to go crazy about.

My fingertip was tracing the edges of the white square for the fourth time when I paused, staring at the quilt.

Four colored squares.

One white one in the center.

I felt the voice whispering something near the nape of my neck. I blinked and tried to focus on the quilt, on the imperfect, irregular little stitches that pulled the different fabrics together...

What if the colored squares weren't what defined the pattern?

What if it was the white square, the pale slip of nothingness that was the core of the pattern, that established the boundaries and the links between the colored scraps of material...

I blinked. That couldn't be it.

The three of them were all enamoured of her in some way, that was true. Max was in love with her. Michael was kind to her. Isabel respected her. But I wasn't connected to her at all. I didn't have anything to do with -

Why are you here?

I blinked at the question.

I don't know. I can't sleep. It doesn't mean anything.

It doesn't mean I -

My hand froze.

It doesn't mean I care. It doesn't.

It doesn't -

Oh, God...

I closed my eyes and images flashed in front of the blackness covering my eyes. My palm warming the lock on her window. My hands opening the top drawer of her dresser, my fingertips tracing the pattern of her quilt, the smell from her shampoo bottle, my reflection staring back at me -

I'd been coming here every night. For weeks. Ever since she'd left for Florida. And I never had a reason why...

Until now.

Why are you here? The voice demanded, insistent. Cruel.

The laughter started at the nape of my neck, crawling its way forward into my consciousness.

I opened my eyes, pushing my body off the bed, shrugging the robe off my skin as if it was poison. Maybe it was. I pushed the door of the bathroom open, thinking get your things, get them on, hurry, hurry, hurry -

I couldn't come back. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't training, I was just coming here night after night, my hands slipping into her silks, her scent faded a little more every time I slipped through her window and let my hands glide softly over her things -

It's curiousity, I thought savagely, fumbling with the edges of my jeans. That's all. You're just trying to find out what Max sees in her -

The excuses were bitter and warm on my tongue. I choked back a sob and tried to focus - Learn. Kill. Kill until there's no one left. Leave. I could almost hear Nasedo's voice dictating my life's mission to me.

Liz Parker wasn't part of that equation.

I stared at the dark material in my hands and watched the thin lines of my jeans blur together, bleeding into a mass of black in my hands. I jerked my hands back and let my clothes spill from my arms, tumbling to the floor in crumpled, uneven heaps.

I knelt down on the tile of the bathroom floor and let the tears fall over my cheeks.

Why are you here, the voice whispered.

I know why.

Don't make me say it.

Don't make me say it.

I tasted blood in my mouth. I breathed in quickly and blinked the tears out of my eyes, staring up at the ceiling. Think. Plan it out. Think -

I'd talk to Max again. I'd make him listen to me. We had to be together. We had to. Maybe we could find comfort in each other. We could get lost in each other, find some sort of peace. Maybe then we could both sleep, concentrate on our mission...

He'll just be thinking of her, a nasty voice in my mind whispered.

That was fine with me.

It seemed fitting that for once, we'd both be thinking the same thing.

END


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