Title: Riding Waves of Doubt
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine (obviously) so please don't sue me okay:)?
Note: Everything up to "Sexual Healing" has happened, but without Maria. This takes place between that episode and "Crazy".
Songs: "Little Heaven" by Toad the Wet Sprocket (from "In Light Syrup" and also the movie soundtrack, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and "Slingshots" by Morley ("Felicity" soundtrack).
I suppose I've always felt a little different, like maybe I was always walking a little faster or slower than everyone else. I don't know, out of synch anyway. I thought it was normal to feel not normal, to feel out of place, like I don't belong. I never expected this, never really believed it was true that I didn't belong. But at the same time, if I'm honest with myself I can't say I'm surprised. Yeah, I screamed at him, told him he was nuts, but it was the human thing to do, and I wanted to be human so that's what I did. It pissed him offbut then he's always pissed off.
I hate him.
I hate the fact that he thinks he knows who I am, that he thinks my life here is stupid (and normally I'd agree with him but I refuse to now just on principal).
I hate his stupid hair and his infuriating smirk.
I hate the way he roped me into this, convinced me to go with him, convinced me into leaving my little shit town for his, just because his friend was having dreams about me, just because it was my destiny, just because I was an alien.
I am an alien.
And he's taking me to Roswell, New Mexico.
It doesn't get any more ludicrous than this.
The first time I saw him was at work. I worked at a Starbucks (insert cringe here) against my better judgement, not to mention my morals, but we needed the money. Everyday the same people would come in. Yuppies in suits trying to decide between a mochachino, or a frappachino (both of which fall under the general category of crappachino), or kids from my high school would pull up outside, tumbling out of their jeep Cherokees in hordes, laughing, having fun. I was jealous of them. They all looked straight out of a Gap add. This is what happy, healthy, normal teenagers look like.
I wasn't one of them. I wasn't one of the popular kids whose transcripts were overflowing with activities and clubs and awards. I wasn't one of the drama kids, I wasn't one of the "science geeks", I was just me. Maria. Weird Maria with no friends and a bar hopping mother who was rarely there. A part of me was just waiting for an excuse to leave, and then there it was in the form of a scruffy guy with gravity defying hair outside the window looking in, his eyes scanning the interior of the coffee shop, scanning the faces of the customers and then settling on mine.
Our eyes met and I couldn't breathe, I couldn't think. I didn't know what I was feeling, why I felt like I'd seen him before, why I felt like I knew what his voice sounded like, what his touch felt like.
He stepped inside almost warily, his hands shoved into his pockets, shoulders hunched, careful not to touch the décor or brush up against any of the customers crowding around the ridiculously small tables and thin counters. He came up to the register and stared at me. I stared back until Brittany Bitch Boss, came up behind me and rammed an elbow into my back.
I stuttered a "can I help you" tearing my eyes away long enough to send said Bitch Boss a glare, and when I looked back at him he was blinking at the charts over my head looking completely baffled.
"Umm I'll have a coffee?" I smiled at that.
"UhThe regular kind. The one with coffee beans, and lots of caffeine." I stared at him. He was still confused. It looked like his fists were going to come bursting out of the bottoms of his pockets at any moment. I gave him a reassuring smile and told him I'd take care of it.
I felt his eyes on my back the whole time I was making the coffee, and it was exciting. I'd never been "checked out" before. I started wondering if I would see him at school, if he would be in any of my classes. If he would sit down next to me during lunch and ask me out. If. If. If.
I turned around and smiled. He blinked at me and handed me three crumpled dollar bills. I let my fingers brush his as I took the money and something happened. It was as if a thousand electric charges were shooting up my arm and into my brain, and once they were there they exploded into pictures – two faces I felt like I should know, an impossibly endless sky overflowing with millions of white stars, golden sand decorated with strange terra cotta colored designs that were just on the edge of my understanding, a jagged rock formation piercing the cloudless blinding blue sky.
I dropped the money, yanking my hand back as though I'd been burned. He blinked at me again, then reached out and took the coffee from my other hand, careful not to touch me. He backed away from the counter, nodding to himself, and turned and walked away.
I didn't sleep that night. Every time I closed my eyes I saw him there – but not as I saw him in the coffee shop. I saw him in a desert with two others I didn't but did recognize, holding hands and staring up at that electric blue sky at a cluster of stars arranged in a "V". And then I started having these flashes – memory flashes of things I had spent most of my life trying to forget about. Like the fire in second grade. After that had happened I had pictured that afternoon in my mind – the fire, the screaming, the blare of the alarm, the looks of horror and fear thrown at me, the questions I didn't have answers for, everything - and then I had pictured a metal box around it, locking it in. I flung it into the abyss of my mind hoping never to remember it again, and I hadn't until now. The memory wasn't as fuzzy as it should have been considering I hadn't thought of it in nine years.
I was sitting by myself in the corner of the classroom next to the bookshelf that held all the books for "free reading hour". I had gotten into a fight with Pam Prendergast. She had been saying stuff about my mom and I. How we were trailer trash and a whole other bunch of stuff I had always secretly worried might be true. Still I couldn't just take it. I couldn't just let her say all those nasty things and not do anything. I mean who did she think she was? With a name like Prendergast you'd think she wouldn't be so high and mighty. Anyway, I slapped her and got sent to the "time out" corner strategically positioned next to the bookshelf to insure further torture. I always thought it was cruel and unnecessary to have "time out" right next to a stack of books and not be allowed to touch them no matter how bored (and as a result repentant) you got. I was so angry that I had been the one forced to apologize, that I had been the one that had to spend "free reading hour", the only part of school I actually enjoyed, sitting alone, bookless.
And then I started imagining the books with little poofs of smoke coming out from their middle pages, followed by long slender flames that licked their way from inside out until they covered the cover. One by one, down the line of books on the shelves – poofflame. I thought I was imagining it - that it was just some twisted bitter fantasy I was having where if I couldn't enjoy the books no one else could either. And then the fire alarm went off, and the kids in my class started screaming and running.
I sat there as the fire left the bookcase and started traveling up the side of the wall, until my teacher Mrs. Kendall, grabbed me by the arm and dragged me out of the classroom, screaming "Where did you get matches?! Why did you do that?!" I didn't say a word, but in my head I was screaming "I didn't mean it! I didn't mean it!". The sprinkler system went off and stopped the fire before it got out of control. I was sent to a psychiatrist, and never said a word about the fire. I couldn't remember what had happened. By the time I was in that man's office and he was asking me all those questions about my "anger", I had already locked the memory in a metal box and sent it hurling into the abyss with all the other weird/bad things I'd ever done.
But now all of a sudden, just because I'd touched some strange guy with hair that I don't even want to start discussing, I was remembering all thisstuff. Like the time I got freaked out during a thunder storm and made all the lights in the house turn on without touching them. Or the time I broke my mom's favorite coffee cup and wished to God I could just wave my hand over it and fix it. I was so desperate I actually did wave my hand over it, and when I opened my eyes it was in one piece again. Metal box, abyss.
The second time I saw him was during lunch at school. I had just tossed a handful of cinnamon candy hearts into my mouth (I wonder if you can o.d. on those. If so I'll probably be the first to do it, I am sooooo addicted) and he plopped down beside me, each leg on either side of the bench, an elbow grinding itself nervously into the wooden graffitied table.
"We have to talk." He was looking at me again, studying me, and suddenly I wanted to be anywhere else but there.
"I don't know you." I said, hoping he would get that I wasn't interested anymore and just leave.
No such luck.
"Yeah you do. And I know you. You don't have to pretend you're notYou don't have to pretend with me. I know what you are." He scanned the crowd making sure no one was listening, then turned back to me. His eyes were brown with little flecks of amber in them. "I'm like you." Pause.
"What do you mean you're "like me"?" He frowned, scanned.
"I'm y'know not from around here"
"Well duh, I know that – I would have seen you before. Marathon's not exactly a big town." He was silent for a moment, looking into my eyes in that unnerving way he had that made me feel completely exposed, vulnerable. Naked.
"Stop messing with me."
"Stop messing with me!" I growled starting to get mad.
"You can't not know"
"And you can't be any creepier. Leave me alone okay?" He was making me nervous. I couldn't look at him without seeing that odd star formation, without feeling desert sand under my bare feet, without feeling warm hands in each of mine...
He was staring at me again.
"The visions are real, what you saw when we touched - the stars, that's the Aries constellation, that rock is just outside of Roswell at a place called Puhlman Ranch, and those people..." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled picture and showed it to me. He pointed at the girl, "Isabel", and then the boy, "Max". He watched my face as he said Max's name, like I was supposed to smack my head "I should have had a V8" style and exclaim "Right, Max.
I didn't know what to say. They were the same people I saw out in the desert with weird-hair boy in my dream.
"What's your name?" He blinked at me. He does that a lot.
He said he was coming at eight. He said he knew where I lived. I was still trying to decide whether or not I would let him into the house if he actually did show up. He scared me. His intensity scared me. The fact that he just expected me to say yes, just expected me to climb onto the back of his motorcycle and ride off with him, leaving everything - my life, my mother - behind I couldn't just leave her. Despite the occasional screaming matches about how she wasn't satisfied with what I was doing with my life and I wasn't satisfied with what she was doing with hers, we actually, for the most part, got along with each other really well (when she was sober anyway). I mean she's my mom. I love her and she needs me. She's been walked out on all her life – first my father, then boyfriend after boyfriend. It would kill her if I did it too,
but the visions The stars had a name. The rock was a real place. They had names. Isabel, Max. Michael. And they tasted familiar, the sounds of them on my tongue.
How was this happening? How was I seeing all these things, these people I swore I never knew existed before? How was I remembering events from my childhood, events that I had locked up and hid so deep inside me How was I seriously considering leaving my home, my mom forfor what? A guy? Is that what it all boiled down to? A feeling that I belonged where he was, that I knew him, that some part of me needed him, wanted him more than anything I have ever wanted or needed my entire life
This was nuts. I just met this guy. I had barely said more than ten sentences to him.
I couldn't go with him when he asked me.
My mother followed a guy and looked what happened to her – a single mom at sixteen, barely able to sustain a job and pay rent, cut off from all her friends and family in Roswell.
"the rock, it's just outside of Roswell"
My mother was born there.
That's where she met my father.
I shivered. This was getting too weird. Psychotic even.
I decided I was going crazy. That made more sense.
I shrieked and threw the teddy bear I had been cradling to my chest at him. It bounced harmlessly off his shoulder and onto the floor.
"Sorry." He didn't sound sorry.
"How'd you get in here?!"
"I used the door."
"ButI locked it." A shrug, a narrowing of the eyes, and his hand scratching the back of his head.
"Yeah, I unlocked it."
"Waitaminit you broke into my house?"
"You knew I was coming!" he argued.
"So use the doorbell like a normal person!" He smirked suddenly and that just made me angrier.
"What's so funny?"
"I'm not a normal person and neither are you. That's the whole point of this, so grab your bag or whatever the hell you wanna take with you and lets get outta here – not too much stuff though, we'll be on a bike."
"You think I'm just going to leave with you?"
"You said you'd meet me tonight!"
""Meeting" and "leaving" do not mean the same thing – look it up!" I tossed the mini dictionary from my desk onto the bed next to him and he glared at me.
"Why else do you think I wanted to meet you? What, you thought I was asking you out on a date or sumthin'? Don't flatter yourself."
"You are such a jerk!"
"You're an alien."
Huh? No. Yes. Waitaminit.
He shook his head, confused.
"How the hell can you not know this? Didn't you realize something was different about you when you started getting your powers?"
I took a deep breath, and swallowed. How did he know No. This was not happening. I wouldn't let it.
"What powers?" He came towards me slowly and I backed away until the chair at my desk pressed against the small of my back, and I had nowhere else to go. He stopped an inch away from me, so close I could feel his breath, light against my cheek, and reached out to take my hand. I intended to yank it away, to push him away but I couldn't move. The second his skin was against mine, those sparks that I'd felt the first time I'd touched him came flooding through my body. Then the flashes started – the fire – the lights – the coffee cup – the cat with the broken leg I'd healed behind the Starbucks when I had been taking out the trash a few months ago.
"Those powers" he whispered and dropped my hand.
"How did you do that? How are you making me remember?!"
"Because you have to remember. It's important. We all have to be together now. All the dreams we've been having, all the visions, they've been leading us to you. I have to bring you back – because you're one of us."
My mind was spinning, swirling with stars and sand, strange designs and fires, lightening, shards of glass, Isabel, Max, him, him, him.
"What are you doing to me" I murmured as he took my face in his hands and closed his eyes.
"I'm showing you who you are."
I felt a strange warmth coming from his hands, sinking into my skin where he was touching me. The sparks were gentler now, not as insistent, urging me to open my eyes and see what he was trying to show me instead of forcing me.
I saw him and the two others. So young, maybe seven years old, their skins slick and shiny, strands like gossamer hanging from their arms and legs, their hair. They were in a cave. It was dark and cold. They were confused, scared, but they had each other so they knew they would be alright. He showed me the dark haired boy, Max, touching something. A large rounded
a pod. It shone in the darkness of the cave like a jewel. There were three other pods, but they were different from the one Max was touching – they had lost their luster once they had been opened. They came from the pods. Max. Isabel. Michael. They were born from them. Max rubbed some of the gossamer away and looked inside of the one that hadn't opened yet. There was a little girl there inside of it, a girl with gold hair, sleeping like snow white in her glass coffin
No, no it can't be.
Don't deny thisdon't deny what you are
I saw Michael bring his hand up against the cave wall, saw him press it against the silver handprint. There was a noise, a loud scary noise of rock scraping against rock, and then there was the sun pushing its way into the cave and blinding them. Michael left the cave first and after a moment Isabel and Max followed.
Suddenly I was in the desert, surrounded by those designs that I almost understood. I was standing in front of one – four boxes with a lima bean design in them, connected in an "x" to each other. I was standing beside Max, could feel his hand in mine, but I was across from Michael, and I was looking into his eyes.
The others disappeared. The map disappeared and it was just us alone in the desert under the black sky filled with more stars than I ever thought possible. We were still facing each other. I reached out to him, he reached out to me. Our fingertips just grazed each other andand it was over. I could feel him pulling away from me almost frantically. I could feel his confusion, his worry. He stepped away from me, and I felt the loss of warmth so acutely it almost brought tears to my eyes.
"Get your stuff together" he said thickly and then turned and left me alone in my room.
I looked down at my hand. It was a human hand. The skin wasn't silver or green, there were five fingers on each one. I could see the pale blue veins stretching over my wrists, could see the tendon, could feel the bones of my knuckles. It was my mother's hand.
This was a human hand.
I looked into the mirror. I looked human. I looked like every other teenage girl in Marathon, Texas. I just didn't know if I felt like one anymore. He had done something to me. I felt different, like I had just woken up from a long sleep. I felt refreshed, alive. Wide awake. And it pissed me off. As if my life wasn't complicated enough. As if I didn't have enough insecurities already without worrying if I was some other freaking life form all together.
But I couldn't be an alien. I couldn't. Aliens don't exist except in Hollywood and deluded little tourist traps like Roswell, New Mexico. I went outside to where he was waiting, leaning against his motorcycle, his arms crossed over his chest and told him just that.
The rest of what happened is kind of a blur. I was screaming at him and he yelled back. I tried to run back into the house and he grabbed my arm and dropped it as soon as the sparky things started up. I started to leave again, but he stopped me with his eyes.
They were begging me to come with him.
I knew then I couldn't say no.
Whether it was my destiny or just him that was making me start to believe I'm not sure. It doesn't really matter right now. I'm leaving with him. Tonight.
I broke away from his gaze and ran into the house. I went to my room and quickly shoved some clean clothes into my backpack and grabbed my savings from under my mattress. I thought about leaving a note for my mom, but what could I say? "Just found out I'm an alien, goin' to Roswell, love Ria"? I don't think so.
It would be a while before she noticed I was gone anyway. We sometimes went for days without seeing each because her hours were so messed up. Besides this wasn't permanent, my little vacation with porcupine head. Maybe I'd be back before she even knew I was gone.
I ran outside and climbed onto the back of his bike, wrapping my arms around his waist. He didn't say a word and neither did I.