For hours they had talked, held each other close until the air around them grew warm, and they both knew that the sun was soon coming. And with it, morning and the reckoning. Michael would have preferred to stay there, hiding in the darkness as long as he had her in his arms. But even the thought of the way they were right now brought back thoughts of Max's argument. Max slipping into his mind while he held his naked new bride in bed disgusted him, but also firmed his belief that he was doing the right thing. He was literally and metaphorically keeping Maria out of the light. It was time to be the man that he was, or alien rather.
"We can't hide from the light forever," he said. "Morning's going to come whether we want it or not."
"You sound like you're having doubts about this, Michael."
"No. No, I'm not. I'm going to do this." He slipped off the bed and picked up the discarded clothes. "Let's go watch the sun rise in the desert. We'll beat Max and Isabel to the meeting place."
Maria forced her lips to curve into a calm smile as she donned her clothes. "You're saying that we should face the rising sun," Maria joked to ease the tension in her own frame, but her effort failed.
He took her hand and this time, he took the wheel as they drove out of town into the dark expanse of the desert.
"There it is," she exclaimed in awe.
Together they watched the sun throw color to the sand, melting the blanket that covered the desert and exposing the starkness to reality. From a distance she could see the cave. It was the one that Max had told Michael their secret was in.
Maria had the strongest urge to storm over there and destroy the place. Maybe then Max would give up his quest. Maybe then Michael would get to stay.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
She looked up at his concerned brown eyes and nodded ever so slowly. "We'll get through this."
He was about to assure her that she will be fine when he left, but the blank, frozen look in her eyes stopped him. He turned to see Max and Isabel walking towards them. Isabel must have abandoned Jesse's car some kilometers away, so that no one would find a connection to the cave and to her disappearance. "They're here," he muttered.
Maria's eyes caught and held Max's. She waited for a flicker of emotion in his eyes. She waited for anything to tell her that he was sorry he was fucking up her existence. But Max's face held the same silent nothingness it had held since she met him. He was as always a leader. Yes, she had to remember that. Max was a leader—responsible, dependable… distant.
When the siblings neared Michael and Maria, Isabel broke into a run and stopped in front of her, wrapping Maria in a tight embrace. "How are you?" Isabel asked when she pulled away and regained her composure.
Maria's smile faltered for a moment, before she asked in answer, "How is your husband?"
"It's time." Three pairs of eyes slammed into Max's at his cool words. Maria took a deep breath and extricated her hand from Isabel's grip.
"All right, Max. I'll just say goodbye, okay?"
Max nodded, and Maria turned to Michael. He picked up her hand and touched his lips softly to the ring on her finger. He closed his eyes, not moving until she drew her hand away and took his head in her grasp and pulled him down for a long kiss.
"You know what I said about you having me for a night and the morning after?" he said quietly. She nodded. "I lied. I'll be yours for far longer than that, Blondie."
Maria grinned brightly up at him, trying bravely to outshine with a smile the brilliance of the tears dancing in her eyes. "Like maybe forever, Guerin?" she teased.
"Longer," he answered, "Mrs. Guerin."
He had spoken in such a low volume, but with such quiet intensity that even the others heard. Both Isabel and Max looked at them stunned. Max took Michael by the upper arm and told him, "We're leaving and you make sure you leave a mess behind?" Michael's jaw tightened. "We'll speak of this on the way home."
Michael's entire body tensed for assault, but Maria's hand at his back calmed him. And then Isabel approached Maria and said, "I'm sorry for everything, for all the pain knowing us caused you." Her eyes were so sincere when she said this. Maria could well imagine that in Isabel's mind, images of a dead Alex, a hurting Liz, a broken Maria hovered. But more importantly, because Isabel was a woman in love, she was speaking to Maria in a way that she was speaking to Jesse in her mind.
"I'm not," was Maria's simple reply. "Take care of him, Isabel. And if… be happy with him."
With one last kiss, the three walk towards the cave. Maria entered her car and called out, "I'll wait for you, Spaceboy!"
"Maria, I might not be coming back! You should…"
She shook her head. "I'll always be waiting, Michael." And then she starts the engine and speeds away, not wanting to hear anyone else say that she should not hope for anything.
Halfway back to Roswell, a tiny white light shoots across the sky, unseen because of the brightness of the sun. Nobody saw it, and no one suspected about what happened in the desert. Maria drove on, hell bent for town, tears raining heedlessly down her face.