Transitions Author's Notes: This was written in response to EmilyLuvsRoswell's challenge to write a fic
based on the promo for the 2nd season. I don't think this was quite what she had in mind,
but this is what my mind created. It's a series of short little vignettes, based on some
aspect of the promo. The overall title is "Transitions," although each vignette is
individually entitled. Thanks to everyone who sent me feedback,
because otherwise, I would have left the first piece to stand on its own.

Author's Notes #2: Shoutouts to Isis and everybody else who left me feedback on the
boards. It really means a lot. Oh, and to clarify, I am by no means unspoiled, but
because the story is based on the promo, I'm not being really specific on the spoilers.
Also, the story is told from Maria's POV, so anything that happened to the others when
they were alone, she wouldn't know about. And there is no Grant. Grant does not
exist for me. Alex and Isabel. Maria and Michael. Max and Liz. That's the way
it was and the way it will always be! *stands firm in self-delusion*

@-}- @-}- @-}- @-}-

"Teflon Babe"

He changed his hair. He changed his life, I get that. But how
could he change his hair? I know I made so many cracks about the spikes,
but now that they're gone, I miss them. I miss *him.*

He came into the Crashdown the other day, wearing this gray shirt
that actually looked decent with his pants. Isabel must be dressing him
now. None of the Czechs had really frequented the Crashdown since that
day. The day when we all found out the truth. The day we learned to curse Destiny.

Liz ran away to Florida, desperate to remove herself from the temptation
of Max. He had come in once and asked about Liz's whereabouts, an intense
expression on his face. I had almost felt guilty telling him that she had fled
across the country. Almost. It was hard to feel sympathy for the man, alien,
whatever, that had caused my best friend to rip out her heart. Not to mention
what his sister did to Alex.

Alex reacted the opposite of Liz. Liz had freaked, plumetted into
severe depression. Alex almost seemed to go into denial. He was convinced
that Isabel was only acting out of duty and that eventually she would
come back to him. And as for me? Hey, I'm Teflon.

Actually, I'm still fixitating on the hair. And, truth be told, he was sending
out these little vibes when he came in. There was no one else to serve him so I just dragged
out the persona I know would irritate him the most: pleasant but emotionally dead.
I didn't respond to any of his barbs and I didn't make any of my own, despite
how BADLY I wanted to comment on the hair. After awhile, he gave up trying to
provoke a reaction in me. But he kept watching me. I caught him once with this
look in his eyes...sort of needy longing. Suddenly, I remembered that day, and
his words came flooding back. "Maybe because I love you too much." He finally
admitted he loved me and then he walked away. Walked away from us, from *me.*
Yet when he looked at me like that, it was all I could do to keep the Teflon
from melting away. But I did.

I couldn't risk being hurt again. I hadn't been sure I'd recover from that
day. I watched my mother try to recover from being left by my father. I swore
that I would never let a man have that kind of power over me. I know what you're
thinking, it's not like I didn't let him have that kind of power before.
Especially when we got started. But I did get better. And this is my final
stand. Not going back, no way. I'm not renewing my pass into Michael-Land.
Even if they revamped the main attraction. I'm Teflon. That's all I need.
That's all I want.

Really.

@-}- @-}- @-}- @-}-

"Controlling the Explosions"

He learned how to blow up rocks. To blast them into tiny pieces, without
taking the surrounding landscape with them. Talk about a fascinating topic for
the obligatory essay on "What I Did Over the Summer." The odd thing is, though,
I'm proud of him. Well, it's not odd that I'm proud of him. I've always believed in him, even
when the others had trouble. It's odd that I'm proud of him because he learned
how to blow up rocks. I mean, a grenade would probably do the job just as well
and would most likely be a bit more handy on a battlefield. Nevertheless, I'm
proud of him.

I think it's because I know how much he always wanted to control his powers.
He always envied Max because he had the perfect life. The charmed existence. I
mean, really, if one little thing had gone differently, if Kyle had been a little
sharper on the uptake, if Valenti had really been evil, if I had broken down when
I went to his office that first time, well, things would be different. But Max
managed to keep things going smoothly. I'm sure Michael believes that he would
have mucked the whole thing up. That day, he told Max, "I kill people, you heal
them. You're good, and I'm bad." Dammit. It's been three months. When am I going
to be able to forget?

But, anyway, that's why. Why he wants to control his powers, I mean. He wants to be
good too. Well that, and the fact that he wants to live up to expectations. He
wants to be the hero, or at least, the second-in-command. He doesn't want to let
Max down. So he learned how to blow up rocks. Yay.

I have to admit that when I heard about it, I was a little disappointed. I
kinda had this idea that I helped him focus. Like when we were at Atherson's and
I told him to try again, and he saw the hidden door. I did that. Me. But he walked
away from me and learned to control his powers all on his own. Without me.

Actually, it was Alex who took the news the hardest. And that was a surprise. I mean,
really, why would the fact that Michael learned new demolitation skills upset him?
I guess it might have been a sign for him. You know, a flash that this isn't just
going to go away. They're not going to go tidily kick the crap out of some Enemy
and then come back to us. This is real. This is their lives. This is permenant.
He didn't get that before. Now he's joined Liz in the Land of the Depressed. I'm
going through grief relief like you wouldn't believe.

See, this is exactly why I refuse to consider the possibility of getting
back with Michael. Max and Isabel aren't even really directly doing anything and
my best friends are so lifeless, it hurts to watch. We all know Michael's more than
capable of directly hurting me. Perhaps not intentionally, but definitely directly.
So no matter how much I miss him, no matter how often the image of him in a tuxedo
invades my dreams, no matter how much I want to run my hands through his hair, just
to change that stupid hairstyle, I'm not considering it. He can go off and continue
to blow up rocks, while I stay here. Safe. Alone.

@-}- @-}- @-}- @-}-

"Icicles Melting (Refreeze)"

I finally made a decision. If Michael can mess with the forces of nature, so
can I. I asked Isabel to grow out my hair. Not all at once, of course, but a little
each week. By the time the month's over, it'll be past my shoulders. Now when I'm
ignoring him, I can flip my hair. How cool is that gonna be?

Something's up though, with Isabel. She was always an Ice Queen, but lately
she seems to be cracking a little. Alex's noticed it too. I think he might have
the small hope it's because of him, but deep down, I'm pretty sure he knows better.
It's alien-related, all the way.

She's being nice to me and Liz. That's really the big clue. Obviously. Both
of us feel a little weird about it. Liz, because Isabel reminds her of Max and me,
because, well, I think that's rather obvious. Still, I care about her. She is my
friend. Even if her destiny causes me to lose the one person I've ever loved.

My feelings aside, though, she really has made an effort to stay friendly,
even with Alex. I think what really surprises me is that she's doing it, even
though Tess is so vehemently against it. Tess is probably just afraid that if
Isabel doesn't think of us as lower beings, she might tell destiny to take a flying
leap off a short pier. I'd get her back if she did.

But she won't. Isabel won't turn away, because Max and Michael won't. The
Czechs have to come first. They always come first. Us humans, we don't matter.
Only what they want matters. Isabel didn't mind being friends with us, just as
long as it doesn't conflict with her doings with the others.

But c'mon, it's really for the best. The Czechs have given us enough problems.
I mean, sure, it's handy to have someone who can get rid of nasty sauce stains or
even the hairstyle score, but in the long run, it'll be much safer. It *is* destiny,
after all. Am I not the New Age chick, the one who believes that everything happens
for a reason? And now the Czechs know the reason for their existence. Who are we puny
humans to mess with that? No matter how stupid the whole thing is.

@-}- @-}- @-}- @-}-

"Goodbye Illusion, Hello Reality"

Max came running into the Crashdown during closing, sans shirt, his
chest smeared with blood. His blood. There was a clatter as the mop slipped from
my fingers and I could hear Liz gasp beside me. There was a frozen moment as
he slumped into his knees. Then Liz was rushing towards him and I was violently
fighting the impluse to run out into the night, to find Michael.

The Enemy had come. It was actually happening. Okay, logically, I knew that
a war was going on. Really, a whole other alien race simply referred to as "The
Enemy"? That was a tip-off. Yet, I don't know. It seemed sort of surreal. Now,
it's actually happening. It's *real.* That was really Max's blood on the floor.
I know. I cleaned it up.

Nasedo managed to make it to Michael's apartment, bloody. Max opened the door
and Nasedo collapsed in his arms. Max futiley tried to stop the blood with his shirt,
adding a little juice, but it was too late. All the older man managed to gasp out
was, "They're among us now," before going to that great galaxy in the sky. Then
Isabel called on her cell phone, frantic. She had found Tess in the pod chamber,
wounded. Michael went for her, and Max came here to warn us. He was so frantic,
he ran out without a shirt, and ended up being attacked. The wound on his chest
was a bright red handprint. Max is hurt. Nasedo is dead. And Michael's out there
somewhere. Chasing after Isabel.

I shouldn't feel hurt. It makes sense. Liz was guaranteed to be here and I
was a wild card. Max would want to be with Liz. She was the one who walked away,
not him. It made sense for Michael to help Isabel and Tess. I know. I *know.* But
God, what if something happens to him? I've never been the religious type, issues
with men y'know, but I'm praying now with every thing in me. He has to be all right.
He has to be.

Everything's going to change now. Really change. Beyond a dorky hairstyle.
It's war now. Michael's in danger. Again. Worse than Hank. I have to be strong.
If I was ever Hurricane DeLuca, now's the time to resurrect her. I must be
strong, I will be strong. Michael's gonna need me. Maybe I won't let myself
love him, but I'll be damned if I let him down. Watch out, evil alien race.
Maria DeLuca's pissed.

@-}- @-}- @-}- @-}-

"Cleansing Fire"

They dealt with Nasedo's body today. I was actually a bit relieved I didn't
have to be there. Apparently, Nasedo, uh, withered. Skin went poof and there was
the bones. Straight out of Buffy. Except this skeleton wasn't quite human. Well,
neither was the Master's exactly, but at least it *looked* human. Max had to do
some switcheroo to change the skeleton's DNA. Then Michael used his new rock-exploding
power to reduce the bones to dust. Then they had a little bonfire. Better safe
than sorry, I suppose.

We're standing on the edge of a cliff now. Straight drop down and nowhere
else to go. Things are definitely scary. Luckily Valenti's on our side. He's
letting us know of any strangers coming into town and Alex's got a 'Net alarm
system set up, to let us know if anyone tries cracking our records. Liz and
I are definitely on edge, and we're thinking about what we can do to contribute.
It's a little easier for her though.

She and Max are sort of back together. Kinda like they were back during
the whole Heatwave thing. The "We-like-each-other, but-we're-not-risking-anything"
mode. The one different thing, they're keeping a lid on the soulful looks.
'Cause of Tess, y'know. Tess and Kyle have this whole awkward thing going.
Kyle and I have a better relationship than they do. Our parents are actually
dating now. For real. Between that and enemy aliens stalking us, I'd be getting
an ulcer if it wasn't for my cypress.

Isabel and Alex are playing the friends game again. Yup, back to being
a slowly moving glacier. He's not happy, of course, but at least she's not
back to icing him all the time. As for me and Michael...we're talking. Real
conversation. He's admitted how scared he is. That he's afraid of not being
strong enough. He admitted it. Well, I had to practically bash it out of him,
but once he opened up, we talked.

That's probably what's changed the most between us. Michael and I,
we've always had the passion. Flames, heat, whatever you want to call it,
we had it in spades. But we never just talked. We communicated through
touch. A casual arm around my shoulder, my hand on his face, it was
enough. But now?

We've all been through the fires. Our lives have changed forever.
What we wanted, what we dreamed of the future, hell, whether or not we
have a future, it's all up in the air now. But, you know, I think it'll
be okay. After all, we're together again. The six-sorry, seven of us.
Wait, it's nine if you count Kyle and the Sheriff. Our little band's
growing, huh? But anyways, nothing's gonna take us down. If we can
work through destiny, we can kick some evil alien ass. Between the
Czechs' voodoo, Liz's & Alex's brains, and the Valentis' rifle abilities,
we've got a full arsenal. As for me? Hey, I'm Teflon Babe.

@-}- @-}- @-}- @-}-

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