Title: When Dreams Change
Spoilers: All of Roswell is up for grabs, AU after Departure
Category: Polar, AU, Post-Departure
Pairings: Polar, other pairings to be revealed in story.
Summary: What could have happened after departure if Liz had kept her backbone and of course if the story went polar. This includes aliens, Antar, destiny, and the Granolith.
Warning: Occasional violence, language, and sexual content.
Disclaimer: The characters of Roswell belong to Jason Katims, Melinda Metz, WB, and UPN. They are not mine and no infringement is intended.
~ A Beginning ~
One of the millions of images streaming through its consciousness caught the being's attention and it paused, concentrating more fully on the events playing out. The lines of possibility had shifted and new avenues were opening up, leading to a different set of futures, a better set of futures. Focusing the bulk of its intelligence, it set its attention on the strings of images flowing forward from the event.
It never ceased to amaze the being that, while the events it ever so delicately nudged along, the circumstances it painstakingly pulled the strings to achieve, only occasionally produced desirable outcomes; it was the events it had no hand in and, in fact, had no inkling of that truly changed the face of possibility.
The beings of the worlds it cared for were constantly making choices, choices it could not always predict. Sometimes those choices led to disaster, some not, and many times it was forced to watch as they suffered things it would rather have prevented. But by necessity it had to care for more than individual lives, its charge was far greater than that and the happiness, or even survival, of every person it watched was at times sacrificed.
However there were times when it could achieve both, when the lives it saw go from infancy to adulthood could be made a part of the larger plan, where both happiness and success could be attained. Those were its favorite moments and the people it was now watching were of special importance to it, so seeing that it could guide them towards a brighter future for themselves and their worlds was a great gift.
A gift it intended to use to full advantage.
Chapter One ~ Seeking Normal
Liz shoved clothes haphazardly into her bag, hardly able to see through the haze of tears clouding her vision. He let her go. He let the bitch who killed her best friend go. She still could not believe it. Max let her fly off in the one bargaining chip they had with his child, giving their enemies exactly what they wanted.
Suddenly she stopped moving, startled by a harsh noise, and then realized it was her own laugh. He actually thought she would forgive him. Forgive him for sleeping with the enemy, forgive him for being too stupid to use a condom, forgive him for letting a murderer go.
How could she forgive him when she could not even forgive herself? If she had used her head instead of her heart when Future Max appeared in her bedroom, then all of this could have been avoided. If she had asked questions instead of blindly following, then maybe Alex would be alive and Max would not have a son in the hands of the enemy.
But she had not and so she had stood there watching Tess disappear as he wrapped his arms around her and told her it was going to be all right, that they would get his son back and their lives could go back to normal.
Normal. That word did not exist anymore. Her willingness to forgo normal had cost Alex his life, had cost the Sheriff his reputation, had cost all of them so much and for what? The love of an alien hybrid who lost his virginity to someone else. This time the bitter chuckle that escaped her lips did not surprise her.
Well it was time normal got a chance. She was doing something completely human, completely typical, the epitome of teenage rebellion; she was running away. If she stayed here, she would not be able to keep herself from falling back into the abyss.
Liz still cared about Maria, Kyle, the Sheriff, even Michael, Isabel, and yes, Max, but somehow they would end up in the same place as last year; together but not together, afraid of their own shadows, and waiting for the bomb to fall. She could not do it anymore, she would not.
Tess was gone. The Granolith was gone. She had sacrificed her own happiness for the last time; her love, her future, her wedding; all given up for a traitorous murdering bitch. The possible future could no longer be changed by her presence in Roswell, nor could she bring herself to care if it did.
They did not need her. Max did not need her, as he had proven time and time again. As for the others, they still had each other, they still had hope; hers was buried in the Roswell cemetery, the victim of a misguided attempt to change the future. The first, and she was determined that he would be the last, casualty of the war her life had become.
So, she packed only the necessities. A bare minimum of clothes, toiletries, and the entire content of her savings account, still withdrawn from her almost flight to Sweden. A few pictures were taken and, of course, her journal, a record of the string of disasters and mistakes that had changed her from a Harvard hopeful to a teenage runaway and conspiracy theorist.
The journal was a record of the good times as well, the happy memories that made the last two years worth it, if barely. As Michael said when he returned it all those months ago, the journal showed just who she used to be, and as she was not sure she could recognize herself any longer, maybe it would help her learn who she was now.
On the bed next to her bag sat a pile of envelopes. A letter from her aunt lay on top of the pile; it contained an open-ended bus ticket so she could visit again this summer, or travel, her choice. That one was going with her, the rest were her goodbyes, the thickest one for her parents, then one for Maria, one for Kyle and the Sheriff, and one for Michael and Isabel.
Max's envelope had no letter; she had not been able to bring herself to pen one, her emotions too conflicted to be written out in black and white. So it contained only his class ring, the pocketknife he had returned to her when he left for New York, and a picture of Max and Alex, sitting together at the Crashdown and laughing. She had taken it last year, the week before Tess came into their lives.
Tears welled in her eyes once more as she stared at her best friend's smiling face, so happy and full of life, a future of possibilities still lying ahead of him.
It was a poignant reminder of how she had gotten to this point, and why she was leaving. Biting her lip so hard it split, she resolutely slipped the photo into the envelope, her tongue darting out to catch the bitter tasting drops of blood as her resolve firmed and strengthened, now harder than diamonds.
This was the end. This was a beginning.
She slid out her window without so much as a lingering glance at the life she was leaving behind. When her hand touched the edge of her balcony, she thought for a moment she saw Max standing behind her, then she shook her head as the vision faded and quickly descended the ladder. She refused to see any other paranoid delusions or glimpses of future happiness she would never find. If she never saw so much as one more flash, it would be too soon.
She had managed to foist the others off with the claimed need for some alone time, and her parents were out of town for the weekend, but it was only a matter of time before one of her nosy, though well-meaning, friends decided she needed company.
Maria had left her Jetta in the Crashdown parking lot as she had once again lost her keys, and hitched a ride in the Sheriff's car with the others. Liz felt a faint flicker of guilt as she pulled the 'lost' keys out of her jacket pocket, but she intended to leave it fully gassed at the bus station, and her letter to her friend had both an apology and the locker combination at the station where her keys would be.
Even with the stop at the gas station the drive was short; Roswell was not exactly a hotbed of activity after midnight. There was a bus heading east at 1:15 and she got there with twenty minutes to spare, enough time to lock up Maria's keys and find an isolated seat in the back, not hard on a bus with one other passenger.
As the bus rolled out onto the street she closed her eyes, not to sleep, but to block out the sight of the city that had claimed her innocence. The city she could no longer call home.
Maria was the first to realize that Liz had left, Michael was the second, so informed by the piercing shriek his girlfriend let out when she found the pile of letters the next morning. Her bout of hysterics lasted well into the afternoon and the arrival of the others to convene in the back of the Crashdown after lunch did not slow her meltdown.
After escorting the rest of the group to the backroom and calming her down somewhat, Michael returned to the front door of the restaurant to relock it and post the 'Sorry, We're Closed Early' sign, and found himself lingering, reluctant to return to what would inevitably be an afternoon full of tears, outrage, and half-baked plans to bring her back.
He did not understand why everyone was so surprised. The Liz they used to know left a long time ago. The Liz whose journal he had stolen, who had watched Max with the equivalent of cartoon hearts in her eyes, who had tried to help everyone no matter the cost to herself…that Liz had all but disappeared since they learned about their destiny. And when Alex died so did the last bit of her that was left.
Michael did not blame her for leaving. He loved Max like a brother but the other boy had been in denial for a long time. Liz changed for a reason and Max never bothered to find out the real truth behind it. Then he got Tess pregnant and let her go even after they knew she murdered Alex. No, Michael was not at all surprised she had left. (He would have left too.) In fact, he believed that the only reason she had not left sooner was her determination to learn the truth and protect the others from Alex's murderer.
The Sheriff popped his head into the room and interrupted his introspection, "You coming, son?"
Michael nodded, already weary. The shit was about to hit the fan and if it were not for Maria he would be tempted to leave them to it.
As he expected, the meeting lasted past dark; Isabel and Kyle largely remaining quiet while Max tried to talk the Sheriff into mounting a search party that very night. Maria alternated between sobbing into his chest, afraid that something would happen to her best friend, and raging that how dare Liz leave now, after everything. Michael diplomatically decided not to point out that 'everything' was exactly why she had left, and instead did his best to comfort her and keep the peace, even fetching drinks and food from the kitchen when it was clear that the meeting was going well past dinnertime.
It had been a surprise to find Isabel's and his name on an envelope, knowing that Liz and the two of them had never been close, largely due to their own hostility towards her. Isabel had read it rather quickly and without comment, though he did catch a glimpse of what looked like tears sparkling in her eyes as she passed it over. He on the other hand tucked it in his back pocket, wanting to wait for the privacy of his own apartment before reading it himself.
After several more crying bouts and Max's stormy departure when the Sheriff pointed out that as Liz was seventeen it was up to her parents to authorize any search if they so chose, Isabel and he, who had borrowed her dad's car for the day, dropped Maria off at her house. Maria's mother surprised him with a grateful hug that he returned a little awkwardly with a faint smile and a promise to be there first thing in the morning so they could pick up the Jetta.
Isabel dropped him off at his apartment, her silence only broken for a soft "Goodbye," and a long look that conveyed all of her worries and fears, a look he returned with as encouraging a smile as he could manage after the intensity of the past hours.
Then he retreated upstairs, locking the door behind him with a sigh of relief as the tension from the long day flowed out of him. He had not really had a moment to think ever since saying goodbye to Maria, after what he thought was their first and last night together. It had been an exceptionally long forty-eight hours and it was most likely going to get worse before it got better.
When he collapsed on the couch, the crackling sounds of paper being crunched reminded him of the unread letter in his jeans. He pulled the small envelope out of his pocket and began to read, not sure what to expect.
Dear Michael and Isabel,
I know that despite, or maybe because, of the circumstances that brought us together we've never been close. I was just the friend of a friend and I know that you both have a right to resent me for being the trigger for the chaos that these past two years have brought to your lives.
Nevertheless, I want you to know that I think of you both as family, and, despite everything that being a part of your secret has cost all of us, I know that it was worth it. You both hide from the world, Isabel with your ice queen façade and Michael with your tough guy act, but you let us see through that, see the real you, and it was beautiful.
Isabel, Alex really loved you, the inner you, and I know he died happy because you let him in, because you were starting to love him back. I don't intend to ever return but I know that with your powers you could probably find me and if you ever need me, even just for someone to talk to about Alex or girl stuff, not for any big alien crisis, you're always welcome in my dreams.
Michael, the rebel, you've made Maria happier than I've ever seen her, even when you're driving her crazy, and I know you'll keep her sane through this crisis as well. Max may be the leader, but you are the protector of us all and I know I can leave because you'll keep everyone safe.
Tell everyone not to worry about me, I'll be okay. When Max saved my life two years ago I couldn't believe how lucky I was but now I don't even know if my life was worth the pain and suffering to all of you. I need to find myself again, to find a reason to live.
You've always pretended to be the least human of all of us but I know that's only to hide how deeply you really feel things, so I think you'll understand why I must do this. I know that my parents can never know the whys of the past few years but please keep an eye on them for me.
Take care of yourself too. Don't let Max or Maria or anyone else walk over you, you're better than that. I wish you and Isabel all the happiness in the world and maybe our paths will cross again one day.
Michael blinked - damned watery eyes. (Maybe Maria was right; he did need to dust his apartment.) He had never bothered to thank Liz for helping them so many times over the past few years, most recently for figuring out just who Tess was really loyal to before the three of them ended up executed back on Antar. In fact, he did not think anyone, even Max, had ever told her how grateful they were.
Looking back, he had to respect the fact that she had never really complained about all the shit they put her through. Not when Valenti was interrogating her and Kyle was hounding her every step. Or the many times she got in trouble for being out late or not coming home at all. Not when her life had been put in danger or Nasedo had kidnapped her. Even when he had stolen her journal, she had forgiven him completely, never telling Max what he had done.
The full weight of the events of the past few days was starting to settle in and he wondered just how many repercussions Liz's leaving would have, both in their lives and in the community at large. She had been the one to keep Maria calm, Max grounded, and was frequently the only reason their lies to the adults and parents in their lives worked at all. The next few weeks were going to be trying for everyone and he only hoped all of them came through it unscathed.
Liz was counting on him to keep everyone safe and that was exactly what he was going to do. There were not going to be any more Alex's on his conscience and he only hoped that Liz kept herself equally safe as she escaped into the world outside of Roswell.
As his eyes fell onto the letter once more, he carefully folded it up and tucked it back into the envelope, carrying it into the bedroom with him and sliding it into the metal box under his bed where he kept his most important sketches and the few alien artifacts in his possession.
Kicking off his shoes he collapsed onto the bed fully clothed, staring at the darkened ceiling when his eyes refused to close. The day had been exhausting, but the millions of thoughts bouncing around inside his skull were more than enough to keep him awake.
They still had parents to deal with, both Max and Isabel's and now Liz's. The jeep would eventually be found and Tess's disappearance needed to be explained. He could only hope that Max was not out doing something stupid to make the situation any worse than it already was, but knew better than to count on anything else.
Eventually he drifted into a troubled sleep, disturbed by dreams he could not quite remember in the morning, but left a vague sense of loss and loneliness that lingered all into the next day.