|Primary Characters:||Michael, Maria, Max, Isabel, Liz, Kyle, Ava, Sean Laurie|
|Description:||Laurie shows up, and Sean is smitten. Michael has a hard time dealing with it. Another newcomer arrives. Michael and Isabel has a hard time trusting her, but Kyle has been waiting a long time for her to come into his life.|
The phone was ringing, and Maria really didn’t want to get up. Of course, it might be Liz or her mom. And she really shouldn’t be in bed at this time of the afternoon, but she and Michael had been – That signal really was annoying.
It was her turn really. Michael always had to take it, especially if it was early in the morning. But it felt so good just lying like this. It would feel even better if Michael didn’t get up. Maybe they should just forget about it. Whoever it was could call again later.
“Do you want to get that?”
“Want me to do it?”
“No. But I guess -“
Michael looked as hot as ever, especially right now, when he wasn’t wearing anything. Maria could lie like this all day, watching his ass.
“Yeah. It’s me. Laurie? Hang on a sec.”
When Michael turned to face Maria he looked as if her mother had accidentally walked in to catch them. Oh, for crying out loud. Laurie. It had to be that crazy rich girl Michael insisted was his granddaughter or something like that. Well, not really, but a relative of a sort. Of course, Maria could understand his desperate need to hold on to whatever family he had.
He hurriedly grabbed his shorts and put them on, but couldn’t find his t shirt and was looking really cute and helpless. Though Maria really wanted to keep on staring at his muscular back, she felt sorry for him and tossed the shirt to him. If that was what it took for him to talk to his relative.
“Yes. It’s ok. No, I wasn’t doing anything important. Just – uh – studying. Don’t worry about it, I can do that any time. So how are you?”
So they’d been – uh – studying. Well, in a way, maybe they had. Maria smiled contentedly as she reviewed the past hour or so. Yes, they’d certainly learned a thing or two she didn’t think any college taught. But she really ought to look at those text books. Just because Liz and Isabel aced every test, and Alex too, didn’t mean they were the only ones who wanted a degree. Being married and madly in love was no excuse.
She didn’t bother listening to her husband’s conversation. Instead, she began to look around for her own clothes. They’d been playing hookie for far too long.
Michael had a slightly confused look on his face as he hung up. This could lead to trouble, but on the other hand, he was glad Laurie wanted to come and see him. Somehow, they were family and it was nice that she still thought of him that way.
“Yes? Nothing’s wrong, I hope? That girl seemed to be -“
Nothing but trouble, was what she had intended to say, but quickly realized that Michael probably wouldn’t agree, and the last thing she wanted was another fight. They hadn’t had a big one since before they were married. She liked it to stay that way.
Michael probably guessed at her feelings and seemed reluctant to draw her out, so he ignored her last words, and chose to focus on the question.
“No, nothing’s wrong. She’s coming here. To visit.”
“Here? To us? You mean she’s going to stay with us?”
Of course. How could Michael say no to a girl he regarded as some kind of younger sister?
“I see. Well, I guess there’s enough room here. Ok. What’s the occasion?”
“Nothing, I think. She just wanted to get away for a while and to see me again. I want her to meet the others.”
“Oh. Well, I guess that’s ok.”
She knew she had to make the best of things, for Michael’s sake. He wasn’t like other guys, and quite frankly she didn’t want any other guy. Michael was all she’d ever wanted, and if putting up his wacky almost relative was the price she had to pay, she’d do it gladly.
Liz was looking around the Crashdown. No sign of Kyle. For a while, she and Max had hardly noticed that Kyle was no longer hanging out with them. She frowned worriedly. Poor Kyle. They hadn’t even noticed he was gone. Well, hardly anyway. And poor Kyle needed them. After what Tess had done to him, it was no wonder he felt insecure around other people. She decided to ask Max if he’d seen him around. Maria and Michael didn’t seem to have a clue where Kyle was.
“Max? Have you heard from Kyle lately?”
There was a dreamy look on Max’ face, in part due to the visions he and Liz had just shared.
“Oh. No. Not today. Hm. He hasn’t been around for a long time, has he?”
“No. I feel terrible. Do you think I should call and ask him how he is?”
“Yes. Maybe. Come to think of it, he hasn’t been around much since that thing with Sean.”
“What you did was wonderful, Max. Maria would have been devastated if anything had happened to Sean.”
Amy more likely. Maria seemed to have her hands full with Michael, and anyway, she’d never been all that fond of Sean.
“Not really. How about if we go over to Kyle’s place after you’ve finished your shift?”
“Yes. Oh. A customer. I’ll be right back.”
About then, Kyle had just attended a lecture and was returning home. He and Sean would be meeting at the gym to work out. Later that evening they’d watch a movie together. Sean mostly wanted to go someplace they might meet girls, but Kyle didn’t feel ready for that. At times he worried that Sean might after all misconstrue his behavior, but so far, Sean had seemed happy to just do guy things.
He was meeting Sean at the Crashdown so Kyle didn’t bother going home first. It had been a while since lunch and they could have a snack first and talk to the others. Even though Kyle had given up on Liz as a girlfriend, he still liked to talk to her sometimes, and Max too. Maybe some of the others would be around as well.
When he walked in, he couldn’t see Sean anywhere, so he just sat down and ordered a sandwich and a glass of mineral water. Liz took his order so he knew he’d get some extra salad with the sandwich without having to ask.
“Hi. Max and I were just talking about you.”
That smile. Kyle nearly had a relapse, then remembered and returned the smile.
“We were wondering where you were. We haven’t seen you for ages.”
“Oh. Well, I’m hanging out with Sean right now. He’s actually quite ok.”
A pretty shade of pink spread across Liz’ face. For a second, Kyle was wondering what went on in Liz’ mind. Had she once been hoping for some kind of foursome? At that thought, Kyle felt his own face color slightly and hoped Liz wouldn’t notice. If his dad knew half of what he’d already done – or rather not done but – Either way, if his dad knew it would be hell.
“Yes. I know. Maria -“
But as both Liz and Kyle knew, Maria and Sean had never been the best of friends.
“I’ll get you that sandwich. It won’t be a minute. Oh. Maria and Michael will be here soon. They’ve got a visitor.”
A visitor? But Liz was already gone, and Kyle wasn’t particularly interested anyway.
About five minutes later, as he was eating his sandwich, the door opened and Michael and Maria walked in. Alone. No visitor. He noted that there was still no sign of Sean. Oh, well. He could easily work out on his own and as for the movie –
The two newcomers went over to the counter to chat with Liz for a while and to say hello to Max who was sitting at a nearby table. Kyle could see Liz pointing to him and when Maria saw him, she smiled and waved. Kyle waved back. Maria was ok. A lot of fun. Even Michael wasn’t as obnoxious as he’d always thought. He hardly had time to finish that thought before his friends came over to his table.
“Is it ok if we sit down?”
“No problem. Liz said something about a visitor.”
Michael’s face tensed up a bit and Kyle was guessing he’d said the wrong thing without knowing it.
It was Maria who replied, since for some reason Michael kept staring out the window.
“Yes. Laurie DuPree. Some kind of relative of Michael. Don’t ask how. I have no idea.”
“That rich girl?”
“That’s right. She’s staying with us. But she walked into Sean about 15 minutes ago, and she sort of got stuck. Michael’s really pissed off and -“
She was giggling as if this was a cool joke, but Kyle could tell Michael wasn’t too thrilled about the whole thing. He wondered why. Sean wasn’t such a bad guy and Michael wasn’t Laurie’s father or brother for that matter. At least that explained Sean’s failure to show up. Kyle smiled sadly. He seemed to be the only guy in the world who was having trouble meeting girls.
“I’m not pissed off. I don’t own her.”
“Right. Let’s have something to drink at least. Sit down, Michael, you’re making a fool of yourself.”
For a second, Kyle thought Michael was going to transform himself into the old Michael Guerin, then the sulky boy seemed to make an effort to pull himself together. Maria really had changed him completely.
“Ok. What would you like? I’ll go and order.”
Kyle was actually quite impressed. A few years ago, that kind of thing would have had Michael running away, and Maria throwing a temper tantrum. Now they were both acting a bit more civilized, at least in public.
It was close to an hour later, when Kyle had long since made up his mind to go, that Laurie finally entered, accompanied by a very distracted looking Sean. Apparently, she’d already been quite a hit in Roswell, at least as far as one of them was concerned.
Kyle thought she was pretty, but nothing special. She also seemed nice enough, and not at all the way Kyle imagined someone coming from a wealthy family would be.
As he had guessed already, that more or less was the last he saw of Sean for a long time. Fair enough. If he’d been the one that much in love, Kyle didn’t think he would have had much time to spend with another guy, especially one that he’d only lately had begun to hang out with. But this really was the final straw. Out of his entire circle of friends, Kyle knew he was the only one still living in Roswell who didn’t date. Partially, that was his own fault, but knowing that didn’t make it any easier to bear.
Worst of all were the doubts he could see creeping into his dad’s eyes. Kyle could almost see the thoughts moving about in his old man’s head. Is Kyle gay? If he is, will I be able to handle it? Of course, it’s ok to be gay, but still – if it’s possible, let it be someone else, not my kid. Yes, that would be the way his dad’s mind would be working.
And he really didn’t know what to tell his dad. No, I’m not gay. But I’m kind of scared of women since one of them raped me. Not that Tess really qualified as a woman strictly speaking. A she-devil in the shape of a sexy woman raped me and now I’m scared of dating. Or – more suited for Roswell. Dad, a female alien raped me and now I can’t go out with human women either.
He could tell his dad that he wasn’t gay, but since his dad hadn’t asked him that would look kind of suspicious and might in the end lead to his dad believing he actually meant the opposite.
Of course, it was also perfectly possible that all this agonizing was caused by a misunderstanding. His dad might simply be concerned that his son seemed unhappy.
Whatever the reason, it didn’t help. Still, the nightmares had stopped. He wasn’t afraid of entering the house on his own. In fact, due to his dad’s involvement with Amy, quite the opposite. And for a while, he’d had Liz. Liz and Max. For an even shorter while, he’d been hanging out with Sean. But now he was on his own again. This time without meditation or bhuddism to help him.
Maybe this was the way his life was supposed to be. Though he didn’t believe in karma anymore, the thought that maybe once in an earlier life, he’d committed some unspeakable crime and was now in fact only getting what he deserved. But he didn’t believe in that stuff.
And right when his defences were at their lowest, he found his thoughts sneaking back to Tess. The way she’d been from the start, before she’d revealed herself to be the devil in disguise. How it had felt to be that much in love. Why couldn’t it be that way again? He knew Tess wasn’t coming back, and he was deeply grateful for that. But, just like he’d told Sean, there were other women in the world. And one of them was – Ava.
When the girl had shown up briefly, only to disappear again, he hadn’t seen much of her, heard even less and since then, nothing. All he knew was that she could have been Tess’ identical twin, at least physically. Her personality he didn’t know anything about, except for one thing. Liz had liked her. The two girls had connected briefly, and that meant that maybe Ava was nothing like Tess. On the other hand, for a long time, they’d all believed Tess wasn’t the way she really was.
In any case, Ava wasn’t here, and Kyle had no reason to believe that he’d ever see her again. Not his problem. Whoever the blonde in the dream or vision was, he’d find out in due course. At least he knew one thing about her. He could trust her. In that dream, he’d known that she was no danger to him. In fact, quite the opposite. He’d felt safe with her. Just like an ordinary guy. The way he’d felt before Tess – before any of it had happened.
Maria was tired. Most of all, she wanted to go to bed. The only thing preventing her from doing that was Laurie. In fact, Maria didn’t see any problem in going to bed while Laurie was still out. She was with Sean, for crying out loud. Not some cannibalistic alien. Ok, Sean wasn’t the world’s nicest guy. At times, he could be a real jerk, but at least he was totally safe. He wasn’t a threat to any girl’s safety.
But just because she knew that didn’t mean that Michael would see things from her point of view. For some reason, he’d stopped short of actually picking a fight with Sean over Laurie. Apparently even Michael saw the absurdity of acting as if he really was Laurie’s father or grandfather or whatever it was he thought he was.
“For heaven’s sake, would you stop pacing around like that? She’s ok. Sean’s no monster, as you well know.”
“I know that. But she’s new here. He shouldn’t be keeping her out this late. And you know she hasn’t been well. I’m just concerned about her, that’s all.”
“I know that’s all, silly. If I was jealous, you’d know it right away. But you have no reason to worry. Sean’s ok.”
“I know. It’s just that -“
“Michael, it’s really sweet of you to worry, but there’s no reason. Come on. Let’s go to bed. You know what, I think it’s quite nice that she’s staying out late. When was the last time you and I could – go to bed early?”
She knew she almost had him from the way his face relaxed into a smile. Yes. Just to move things along a bit, she stretched and breathed deeply to give him a good view of her chest. The top she wore didn’t leave much to the imagination. She added a yawn, to prove that she really was tired. Surely that would do it? He could never resist her when she was like this. Now he moved closer. Yes.
“If you’re tired, why don’t you go on ahead?”
He pulled her into his arms and kissed her.
Maria didn’t waste the opportunity and began to slide a little closer and started rubbing herself against him suggestively. Now he was going to –
Unfortunately, just then the sound of a car outside announced that Laurie had at long last arrived. Presumably Sean was bringing her home.
So much for the great seduction scene. As always, Michael hurriedly moved away from her as if she’d burned him. This really was intolerable. They were married. This was their house. If Laurie didn’t like to see them like this, she could spend the night at Sean’s. In fact, why didn’t she? That would be really considerate of her.
When Laurie entered, Sean was right behind her. That made Maria wonder if perhaps the same thing, only the other way around, had been on Laurie’s mind. Somehow, that didn’t feel too appealing. Having Sean in the house when she was in bed with her husband, would be almost as bad as having mom around. And though Maria felt she was open minded and liberated in many ways, she failed to see how Sean could be considered attractive. That girl Laurie had to have a weird taste in men.
“Hi. I hope you didn’t stay up just because of me.”
Michael mumbled something incoherent.
Sean was still hanging around, and it seemed he felt obliged to mollify them. Of course, he knew Maria.
“Hi, Maria, Michael. Sorry to keep Laurie up so late.”
“No problem. I hope you guys had a great time.”
“Yeah, we did.”
Laurie giggled happily. Apparently they’d had a really good time. Maria hoped that this wouldn’t lead to any consequences that would get Michael even more worked up. At times she did feel he took this relative business a bit too far. As if she’d feel responsible if Sean got some girl pregnant. Yeah, right.
“I didn’t know it would be so much fun living here. You guys are so lucky.”
Michael couldn’t help smiling. Of course Laurie would think Roswell was fun. No mean guardians keeping her from having fun. Maybe he had been too stuffy about the whole thing. He was beginning to feel a bit foolish. Maria was right. He wasn’t Laurie’s grandfather or her father either. Not even her brother. He had to start thinking more of her as a distant relative, or some sort of cousin.
“I’m glad you like it here.”
“Thanks for letting me stay here. It’s really cool. Well, I guess I’ll go to bed now. Sean – thanks for a wonderful evening.”
“Let’s do it again tomorrow night.”
“I’d love to. If Michael and Maria don’t mind? If you guys have plans -“
Maria certainly wouldn’t mind and she decided to forestall Michael just in case. Wasn’t it great that Laurie was having a good time – outside their house?
“No. We don’t have any particular plans. Just the usual. Go ahead.”
Sean shot Maria a grateful glance. She really could be nice when she wanted to. Their fights and disagreements probably only had to do with being kids. Now that they were both grown up there was no reason why they shouldn’t be friends.
Laurie smiled gratefully at her hosts, then turned a rather more intense gaze onto Sean, who suddenly looked very young and very much in love. After a few seconds, she appeared to realize how silly they both looked standing around like that, and she turned and hurried towards the guest room.
When the door had closed behind her, an awkward silence settled on the room. Maria was the first to break it.
“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a bit tired, so I’ll just go to bed now. Nice seeing you again, Sean. Good night.”
“Good night, Maria. Nice seeing you too.”
Her door shut with a very final sound. Sean was beginning to look furtively around for a way of retreating without being impolite. He’d suddenly realized that Michael probably didn’t like his friendship with Laurie very much.
“Well – I guess I should get going.”
“Uh, yes. Listen, Sean – Can we talk?”
“If you don’t mind.”
“Ok. No problem.”
They sat down again, but the oppressive silence continued. It looked as if Michael didn’t know quite how to raise the topic that was on his mind.
Sean was fidgeting nervously, not because he felt intimidated by Michael, but simply because the situation felt awkward. Besides, even though Max and Kyle had turned out to be cool, Sean didn’t know Michael all that well.
What Sean remembered of Maria’s boyfriend – now husband – was that he was hostile, aggressive and constantly glowering at the world. Sean could relate to that, especially since he knew what Michael’s background was, one not so different from Sean’s own, but it didn’t make coexisting with the guy any easier.
“Look. I realize I’ve been acting a bit like a jerk. It’s just that I’m a bit protective of Laurie. I don’t know how much you know about her background -“
Michael looked at Sean as if to determine how much he could tell him about their alien ancestry. He knew Max had felt it necessary to confide in Sean. Having listened to Max’ explanation, he had grudgingly agreed that under the circumstances there had been nothing else he could do.
But this – it felt violating to know that their DNA had been used in various experiments. Like they were nothing more than lab rats – not that Michael in any way approved of using anything living in horrible tests. In the end, he decided it would be too complicated to go into details.
“Then you know she’s been through a rough time lately.”
“Yes. Michael – I wouldn’t hurt her. Whatever you think about me, I’m not that kind of guy.”
“You know, I don’t really think it would make much difference whoever you are. I just worry about Laurie.”
“You don’t have to, but I can understand that you do.”
Michael felt foolish. He wasn’t officially related to Laurie. They hadn’t known each other for that long. How could he tell Sean – who might have had a difficult childhood, but despite that knew who he was, and knew who his family was – how immensely important it was to him to feel as if he belonged? With Max and Isabel. With Laurie. With Maria, since they were now married. No one who didn’t have his background could possibly understand. He decided to try anyway.
Now that Sean was so deeply involved, through his knowledge of their secret, and by apparently having these feelings for Laurie, he might as well try to explain.
“I don’t know how much you know about me and where I’m coming from.”
“I thought you were an alien too, like the others?”
“Yes. If we are aliens. But I meant here. In Roswell. What I’m trying to tell you is that I don’t have much family. Max and Isabel. That’s it. Of course, now I have Maria too. That’s why Laurie is so important to me. Even if we didn’t happen to be relatives by accident, like everyone else. Some creatures – probably extra-terrestrials – came here and for whatever reasons used human DNA and created new lifeforms. Mostly human, but the point is, no one asked us. They just used us like – lab rats.”
Sean hadn’t thought of it quite like that before. Put that way, Michael certainly had a point. Sean knew that whatever differences had existed between him and Maria, he knew he’d do anything to help her if she was in trouble. Amy too. Family was the most important thing.
“I didn’t realize that. Sure. You’re right. And since Maria and I are family doesn’t that make you and me sort of related too?”
That was clever of him. Michael hadn’t expected that sort of thing from Sean. But in a way, that too was right. He felt trapped by his own logic, but acknowledged that Sean did have a point. And he’d already seen how wrong he’d been to overprotect Laurie, despite the troubles she’d had in her life.
She wouldn’t thank him if he put a stop to her fun just out of a misguided wish to protect her from harm. Sean wasn’t harmful. Their enemies were. Looking at things from a different perspective, Sean probably was to be preferred over any newcomer who might be an enemy in disguise.
“You’re right. I never thought about it like that. Anyway, what I’m trying to tell you is that I don’t have the right to stop Laurie from seeing anyone. And since it’s you, at least I know you. Like you said, you’re family too. But that doesn’t mean that you can treat her any way you like and dump her afterwards. If you do -“
“You don’t have to say that. I’m not that kind of guy. Besides – I may not have known Laurie for long, but I get the feeling this is something really special. Like that destiny Kyle told me about.”
“Destiny? Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. I don’t believe in any destinies. Only what I can understand. Like love and loyalty and friendship.”
That certainly didn’t sound like the Michael Sean had thought he knew. Perhaps he wasn’t the only one growing up.
“Ok. No destiny. But I definitely think this is love.”
“That’s fine. Well, it’s late. I won’t keep you any longer. But I think it was good that we got to have this talk.”
“Yeah, me too. Good night, Michael.”
Michael didn’t get up right away. Destiny? Kyle certainly had bonded with Sean over the past weeks or so. But since Sean was part of the gang now, that should be ok. Better to stick to people you knew, rather than constantly having to check out backgrounds and worrying about enemy infiltration. They might not do the alien thing anymore, but Michael still felt his responsibility for the group’s security.
“Michael? Are you coming or not? What are you and Sean up to this late?”
Michael smiled affectionately. Maria would never accept anything in silence. If she wanted something, she’d let him know. How lucky he was to have her. If Sean was anything like her, then Laurie would be lucky to have him too.
Liz was lying in her bed. Max had just left her and she still had a smile playing on her lips, as she drifted off to sleep. If only she didn’t have any bad dreams –
A knock on her window woke her up and she sat up, eyes wide with startled surprise. If this wasn’t Max – But surely it would be Max – or Kyle. Not like in that horrible nightmare she’d had a few months ago.
Just in case, she put on a sweater over her far too revealing top. Holding her breath, she tiptoed over to the window to find out who was outside. When she caught sight of the blonde head out there, she recoiled in sudden terror. Not Isabel. Tess. What could she do? Would Max sense her fear and come back to rescue her?
“Liz? It’s me. Ava. Can I come in?”
Ava. Well, judging by the clothes, this was not Tess, but her double, Ava. But Tess had used her shape-shifting ability to appear like someone else before. Like when she caught Kyle. Still, the girl outside looked anything but threatening.
Slowly, Liz calmed down and decided to let her in. If this was Tess, she argued, nothing she did could stop her anyway. So she opened the window and stepped aside to let her visitor climb inside.
“I’m sorry to disturb you so late. I just didn’t want to be seen. Rath and Lonnie aren’t still in Roswell, I hope?”
“No. Not anymore.”
Liz frowned as she recalled what those two had done to Max. Just like Tess, they had only come to do harm.
Ava studied Liz thoughtfully. Whatever that face implied, she wasn’t surprised. Living with those two had never been easy, and she knew she’d always feared them, even though in a way, her safety had depended on them. That was why living on her own, had felt far preferable. She could take care of herself. No ordinary homeless or drug addict was a threat to her.
“What about – Tess?”
“What do you know about Tess?”
“Nothing. I just felt that she wasn’t as harmless as she tried to seem. And when she was in New York, I know there was something going on between her and the others. Lonnie and Rath.”
Ava didn’t look very communicative, but something about the way she looked made Liz think of something unpleasant. Tess in cahoots with Rath and Lonnie sounded decidedly like bad news.
Reading Liz’ inquiring look, Ava decided to speak up, before she got to the point.
“Don’t ask. You wouldn’t want to know.”
No. Maybe not. Whatever it was, it would probably be just like Tess.
“I guess you’re wondering why I’m showing up like this -“
“You’re welcome here, you know that. Please stay as long as you like. I’m sure it’s safe.”
Ava looked at Liz as if to gauge her sincerity. Trusting someone was very new to Ava, and though she knew that this human girl couldn’t possible pose any threat to her physical safety, how could she know if she could trust her goodwill? But something told her she could. This girl had been the first person ever, with the exception of – no, no point in thinking about him – to ever show her any kindness. Yes, she would trust her.
The other four – well, three, since Tess clearly was far more like Rath and Lonnie – seemed to have had such easy and comfortable lives. Ava wished she had been the one to be welcomed like that traitorous Tess. And she wouldn’t have betrayed them.
As if reading her mind, Liz continued.
“You could stay for good. Here in Roswell. I’ve been thinking. Don’t you think it’s possible that you and Tess were exchanged somehow at birth? You know, when you stepped out of those pod things. Or that those pods were mixed up? I don’t know, something like that. Tess seems to have been a lot more like Rath and Lonnie.”
“Yes. I have thought about it. It makes sense. Why else would I have been more like Isabel and Max and Michael?”
“In that case, you’re the one who belongs here. Not Tess. I mean, not with Max. With all of us. Here in Roswell.”
Again, Ava stared at Liz, hoping she could trust this offer. Finally, she decided to accept. She’d had enough of loneliness. A hesitant smile spread across her pale features.
“Thanks. I’d like that. Are you sure the others won’t mind though?”
That’s what Liz would like to know. She was the only one who had whole heartedly accepted Ava the last time. Max too, but unfortunately, since Tess had revealed her true personality, Liz was afraid that Max’ reaction would be different this time. As for Kyle – In fact, she was afraid that though Alex might be his usual sweet self, none of the others might be too thrilled to see someone this much like Tess. But that was so unfair. She’d have to make them all see that it wasn’t Ava’s fault that she so closely resembled Tess in looks.
“I’ll talk to them. Of course you belong here with us. It’s not fair that you should have to live on the street. In the meantime, you can stay here with me. In the guest room. It’s no trouble at all.”
Ava desperately wanted to believe this, so for the time being, she decided to accept Liz’ offer. Maybe later, she could get a job. Whatever Tess had been doing, she could probably do as well. Apart from selling out her friends, of course. Or sleeping with Rath and Lonnie.
First though, she might have to go to school. She’d never done that. One of her secret shames was that she barely knew how to read or write. Her so called family had always laughed at those skills as ridiculous and unnecessary. It wasn’t as if they needed to work to make money. Preying off humans had been their main source of income.
“Thanks. I – really appreciate this. No one’s ever been this nice to me before.”
Suddenly, she felt the way she had when she’d just stepped out of the pod. Helpless, lonely, scared. And someone was actually standing here offering friendship and support. Not like the last time. But Ava had learned long ago that tears never did her any good.
So she fought down the feeling of vulnerability and swallowed her pride and let Liz fix up the guest room which was on the same floor as her own room. Ava was hoping Liz’ parents wouldn’t have a problem with her presence in their house.
Not until now did she stop to consider how she would explain her appearance. Would she – though this really turned her stomach – pretend to be Tess? Not in front of Max and the others, but as far as other people were concerned.
Liz was actually thinking the same thing. She had to call Max and the others and explain. But not until tomorrow. Ava could have one night in a real bed and in clean clothes before they needed to do anything else.
Fortunately, she and Ava appeared to wear the same size of clothes. If Ava appreciated her taste in clothes. But a t-shirt to sleep in couldn’t really be considered a fashion statement and they’d deal with the rest tomorrow.
“There. Do you think you’ll be ok here? If you need anything else – There’s a spare tooth brush in the bathroom and -“
Ava blushed. As a child, she’d had to steal toothbrushes and toothpaste in department stores, because Rath and Lonnie laughed at hygienic conventions. She knew that compared to the Roswellians she looked really scruffy.
“Yes, yes. It will be fine. Thanks. You’re very nice.”
“Why don’t we get some sleep now and I’ll talk to the others in the morning?”
“Yes. Ok. Thanks.”
She was feeling like an idiot, standing around saying thank you all the time. But she was really tired. She hadn’t been sure of her welcome, even here. Abruptly, she left Liz and closed the door behind her. At least now, the girl wouldn’t see her tears, that threatened to overflow.
Liz was wondering why Ava looked so odd, but decided that they were both tired and needed their sleep.
The first thing Liz did as soon as she woke up in the morning was call Max. She knew that everything depended on his reaction. To begin with, that wasn’t promising, however.
“What? How can you be so sure it’s really her? What if it’s really Tess in disguise?”
“It’s Ava. I know her. Tess couldn’t keep up the illusion for long. Ava’s actually very nice. Tess was always so -“
Maybe it was best not to dwell on her reaction to Max’ supposed wife. That whole thing had caused enough pain as it was.
“I’ll be right over.”
“Ok. But please don’t be angry with her. She’s had a really tough time since she left Roswell.”
Max frowned. If this really was Ava, he had to agree with Liz. That girl probably was a lot nicer than Tess had ever been. But it was a big if. Tess had already returned once and caused Kyle a lot of suffering, and if she was here now, they couldn’t count on her weakness after giving birth. This time, she’d be as strong as ever.
When he arrived, he had to admit that Ava looked very harmless as she was sitting at the breakfast table, wearing one of Liz’ t-shirts, having breakfast.
“Hello. Liz told me you were back.”
Ava sensed that she was on probation but no matter how bitter it felt, she couldn’t deny that they had a right to be careful about who they let into their circle. She knew as well as they did, how great the danger was.
“Yes. I – got tired of being on the run. But I can understand if you guys don’t want me here. I know what I look like. Liz told me Tess isn’t here anymore. I guess that means she’s exposed herself.”
A warning signal was sounding at the back of Max’ mind. What did she know about Tess?
“What do you know about Tess?”
Ava hesitated. She didn’t know anything. But she had sensed Tess’ real nature, just like she’d always known about Rath and Lonnie. And nothing the other two did escaped her. Those visions exploded in all directions. Would it really help her case if she told Max that the girl he had currently been involved with had not only been plotting something behind his back, but had actually slept with two other people?
“I don’t know what she was planning, but I could tell she wasn’t as sweet as she seemed. You’re wondering why I didn’t warn you, right?”
Max hadn’t had time to wonder anything, but he already had a bad feeling. Anything connected to Tess was bad news.
“She’s so strong. Just like Rath and Lonnie. I was scared.”
Her simple honesty touched him. It didn’t seem possible that this was all an act. And being scared – now he sensed that she’d always been scared. What would it be like growing up scared? Like Michael. Something about Michael and Tess was trying to get his attention. What if – what if Ava really was Michael’s twin, not Tess? That would make a lot more sense.
“I understand. I didn’t mean to blame you for anything. None of what Tess has done is your fault. Ava – I agree with Liz. You belong here with us. Please stay. We need you. You need us.”
When he heard himself say it, he knew it was true. Now all they needed to do was to make Michael and Isabel and Kyle and the others accept her. Kyle. Max realized that of all of them, Kyle would be the one who would have the hardest time accepting Ava. His first impulse was to call Kyle right away, but he had a feeling that maybe it would be better if Liz told him.
“Liz – do you think you could call Kyle and explain? I’ll call Izz and Alex.”
“Alright. Do you want me to tell Michael and Maria?”
Max hesitated. Liz had more connection with Maria, but all things considered, it might be better if he tackled Michael himself.
“No. I’ll go and see Michael. But it might be best if you talked to Sean. Michael can inform Laurie – if she decides to stick around. I’m not sure how serious she and Sean are.”
Liz wasn’t either, but she found that for Sean’s sake she was hoping that they were serious. If only Kyle wasn’t alone – Struck by a sudden thought, she looked at Ava, thinking that maybe, just maybe –
Ava looked shy over all this attention. She was well aware of all the disruption she was causing in their well-ordered lives. Was it really worth it? Did she have the right to intrude on them like this? But if they were willing to accept her, the opportunity was too good to miss. She might never be able to open up like they seemed to do, but not being lonely anymore suddenly seemed irresistible.
Immediately when she heard the name Kyle mentioned, she sensed something. She got the impression that somehow he’d been connected with Tess. Interesting. As far as she knew, it had been Max who had been involved with Tess, not this Kyle, who was little more than a name to her. But she guessed that she’d find out soon enough. If only Kyle wouldn’t hate her. She’d had enough of being an outcast.
Liz smiled reassuringly. No need to worry Ava unnecessarily.
“We’ll just need to talk to everyone. What would you like to do today? Do you have all the stuff you need? Clothes and so on.”
“I don’t know. I’ll be ok.”
“If you do need something, just ask.”
“Alright. There’s just one thing. Maybe we need to think about how to explain me. Since I look like her. Or will do, once I’ve fixed my hair a bit.”
“Yes. I thought about that too. If you don’t mind, maybe it would be best if you just pretended to be Tess. We might say that you’ve decided to go with your second name. Just for other people.”
Ava thought about it for a while. She’d known all along that she didn’t have much choice. And just because people thought she was Tess didn’t mean they’d hate her. Presumably only the inner circle knew whatever it was that Tess had been guilty of. Hopefully, the others would tell her more later. If they trusted her.
“Yes. I see. Alright. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I could watch some tv or help out at the café. Would that be ok?”
“Sure it would. But not today. I don’t have time to show you around.”
“If that’s ok with you? I won’t be going anywhere. I’ll just call Kyle and Sean.”
“Of course it’s fine. It’s great. We didn’t have any tv where I lived.”
So Ava sat down on the couch in front of the tv, and relaxed. Or tried to. She still felt as if she was under evaluation. Understandable or not, that didn’t feel very comfortable. Still, she didn’t blame anyone for being careful, and she knew Liz and now Max had been kinder to her than anyone ever before. It would be ok, she told herself. From now on, she’d have a home. Maybe friends.
Liz went downstairs to make the call so she could talk in private. She decided to call Kyle first. The phone kept ringing for so long she was afraid he would still be asleep. But he picked up, sounding slightly breathless.
“Kyle? It’s me. Liz. I have something to tell you. Something important. Kyle – Ava’s back. I asked her to stay.”
“At your place?”
Kyle sounded guarded. Liz couldn’t quite read his tone. Was he upset? Or just surprised?
“Here in Roswell. Kyle, I know she looks a lot like Tess but -“
“Yes, of course. I know that. It’s not her fault.”
Liz hesitated. Was this the return of the old Kyle from right after the Tess incident? Or was he going to accept the new situation?
“So you’re ok about it?”
“Why shouldn’t I be? Besides, it’s not up to me. Anyone can come and live in Roswell without having to ask me for permission.”
“Liz, it’s ok. Honestly. I know they’re not the same person.”
“Would you like to come over and meet her?”
There was a long drawn out pause, in which Liz had time to wonder how Kyle really felt about seeing someone looking exactly like Tess.
Kyle was thinking that if he didn’t agree, Liz would worry about him, and that felt humiliating. He asked himself what he really wanted and realized that he needed time to get used to things.
“Yes, ok. Later. This evening?”
“Oh. Yes, of course. I’ll look forward to seeing you.”
By comparison, the call to Sean was much easier. Once she got in touch with him. He was out all day, apparently with Laurie. But he didn’t seem to react badly to the new development. Of course, he had no idea of the full truth. Liz didn’t have the right to tell him anything about that. That was for Kyle to decide. And Max.
In the meantime, Max went to see Michael and Maria. He was hoping they wouldn’t still be in bed, but if they were, he knew that Michael would understand. Once he’d explained. Though lately, Max knew that Michael hadn’t been particularly interested in doing the alien business anymore. But this was different.
He considered merely letting himself in, but decided that this wasn’t nearly urgent enough. Besides, he’d feel really foolish if he walked in on something intimate. That started him thinking about maybe living with Liz. Asking her to move in with him. Or maybe, getting a place of their own.
He rang the doorbell, and waited. It was a while until Michael came to open the door, and Max thought he could tell that his brother had only recently got up. He still hadn’t shaved and he was only wearing jeans and not much more. Max felt bad about disturbing him this early. If he’d thought ahead a little, he might have been able to contain himself and waited a while longer. Ava wasn’t going anywhere.
“Hey. What’s up?”
“A new development. Michael, I’m sorry to disturb you this early, but it’s something I thought you might like to know.”
“No. Nothing’s wrong, but something’s come up.”
“Shouldn’t Maria know about this too?”
“Well, come on in. She’s in the shower, I think, but she’ll be out in a second. Want some breakfast?”
“No thanks. I’m fine. Is Laurie around?”
“I don’t think so. She and Sean are kind of -“
“Are they getting serious, do you think?”
Michael sighed. Yes, it did look as if the Sean-Laurie relationship was progressing very rapidly. He had a feeling Laurie had spent the night at Sean’s place. Either that, or she had left really early.
“Yes. It looks that way.”
“Ok. Then you’ll have to tell her later. If they’re going to stick around, they’ll need to know. Just to avoid confusion.”
“Can you give me a clue?”
Max looked up, but before he had time to reply, Maria arrived, breathless and with hair dripping wet. She was only wearing a very tiny top and her panties so far, and though Max hated himself for it, he suddenly recalled, in vivid detail how it had felt to be kissed by her.
Excruciatingly, Maria noticed his reaction and shot him a provocative smile. Worse, Michael too, noticed, and for a second or two, Max feared a violent outburst. Then Michael too smiled, in a way that looked decidedly possessive. That smile seemed to be saying, look all you want, bro, but that’s as far as it goes.
“What are you doing here so early, Max?”
Even her voice seemed to be dripping with innuendo. Max felt like an idiot.
“I have something to tell you. Ava’s back.”
“What? How can you be so sure it’s her? Where is she?”
Michael looked as if he wanted to kill someone. Of course, how could he possibly forget that Tess that once had very nearly killed Maria? Would have killed her, if Michael hadn’t risked his own life to save her. But this wasn’t Tess. Ava had nothing to do with what Tess had done.
“Calm down. She’s back at Liz’ place, and it really is Ava. Trust me. She’s had a rough time and we said we want her to stay.”
“You can’t be serious. The last time, Tess was here she didn’t look like herself either. Not at first.”
“I know, but it’s out of the question that this can be Tess. She’d never be so – different.”
Maria looked interested now, and she seemed to have forgotten about the embarrassing incident.
“In what way?”
“She’s completely different. There’s none of Tess’ arrogance and – Just get over there and meet her and you’ll see for yourself. And do you really think Tess would be sitting around patiently while she rebuilt our trust in her?”
“If it was important enough to her. Whatever it is she’s after.”
“Yes, alright. But I just know this isn’t Tess. Her eyes are different.”
“Well, it looks like she’s got you all convinced anyway. What does Liz say?”
Maria seemed to put more stock in her friend’s judgment, than in his.
“She’s convinced it’s Ava as well.”
“You think that just because Liz says so, it’s Ava, and not Tess?”
Michael opened his mouth to begin to argue with Maria, then thought better of it and shut up.
“I guess we’ll find out. We’re going over there, aren’t we, darling?”
“Yes, alright. Of course we’ll take a look at her.”
“Thanks. I’ll have to go over to Izz and Alex so I’ll get going. Meet you back at Liz’ place later?”
Isabel reacted exactly the same way Michael did, but in the end, she promised to check out the newcomer in person. Alex didn’t say much, but since he hadn’t been around when his double had been killed, he hadn’t experienced the worst of Tess’ betrayal anyway.
There were times when Max wondered if Alex had much of a life outside his and Isabel’s home. But he knew that was unfair. There was the band, and he knew that Alex spent a lot of time in front of his computer. But of course, for all of them work and their studies took up most of their time.
Isabel and Alex followed Max back to the Crashdown, and prepared to subject poor Ava to a thorough scrutiny.
Max tried his best to smooth the way a little, but he couldn’t do anything about the confrontation that played itself out.
Once they got back, they found Michael already staring belligerently at Ava, who had dozed off in front of the tv, and woke up, looking like a startled kid. Max couldn’t understand how Michael had the heart to bully her like this.
But of course, Michael still felt responsible for their safety. And Tess, if she was here in disguise, would be able to cause so much disruption, his reaction might be warranted. At least Max told himself that.
“How can I know you’re not Tess? She can shapeshift, and you can too, can’t you?”
“Yes. But I’ve never been very good at it. And I’m far too tired to do it now.”
Liz had returned from making her call, and was now standing protectively between Michael and Ava. Max thought it was impressive. His lover, with no more powers than any human, was trying to hold back Michael’s alien or whatever kind of force. In another way, Max realized that Michael would hold back. He would never harm another innocent human.
Ava seemed to be trying hard to bear the suspicion and hostility aimed at her.
“I don’t know what I can do to prove I’m me. Do whatever you want. Ask me anything you like.”
“That doesn’t mean anything. If I know the answer to the question, then Tess would too.”
“I’m sorry. All I can say is I’m Ava. Not her.”
Michael opened his mouth to continue his interrogation, but was interrupted by Isabel’s arrival.
“I’ll handle this, Michael.”
For a second, Max thought Michael would begin to argue with Izz, causing a total meltdown. But his brother swallowed his anger, impressing Max further, and stepped aside.
“So you’re Ava?”
“Yes. I am.”
“We’ll see about that.”
To Max’ horror, Isabel raised her hands and used her powers. He watched Ava fall back against the back of the couch.
Liz was moving up to Isabel to put an arm on her shoulder, and Max knew that with Isabel in this mood, she might just shove Liz aside, using her own physical strength. Max couldn’t guess how much that was compared to Liz, but he knew he didn’t want his lover shoved around, even by his twin.
“Izz – calm down.”
He moved over to stand between Isabel and Liz, hoping his presence would have a soothing influence on his sister, before things really went out of hand. At least Michael hadn’t wanted to use his powers on a girl, unless he knew for a fact she was an enemy. This ruthlessness in Isabel disturbed him, but at the moment, there wasn’t anything he could do.
“Shut up, Max. You of all people ought to know how much damage she can cause us. Let me handle this my way. Don’t try to interfere. That goes for you too, Liz.”
And before anyone could do a thing to stop her, Isabel moved over to slap Ava, not just once but three or four times. Max wanted to yell at Izz to stop, but he knew that cruel or not, this was a good test. Tess would never accept that kind of treatment. The question was, would Ava? She had no reason to trust or like them. Now they’d all ganged up on her and treated her as badly as her own lot in New York.
Ava’s eyes filled with tears and she looked up at Isabel, seemingly totally intimidated. With a sick feeling, Max realized that Ava probably was used to being treated like this. By Lonnie and Rath. And he couldn’t blame her for crying. He knew what those two were capable of.
“Why are you doing this? I haven’t done anything to you. If you don’t want me here, I’ll go.”
Liz sat down on the couch and put her arms around Ava to comfort her.
Isabel stared down at the scene, as if not sure what to believe.
So far, Alex hadn’t said a word. It was almost as if he’d turned into a mute extension of his wife.
To Max’ astonishment, Isabel really seemed to listen to her husband.
“Please. Don’t do this. Can’t you see that it is Ava, not Tess?”
“Ok. I guess – maybe I went too far.”
Ava was still crying, but not resisting Liz’ attempts at calming her down.
“This was a mistake. They hate me. I’ll just go.”
“No. Don’t go. Isabel said she was sorry. Didn’t you?”
Incredible. Knowing what powers Isabel had at her command, Liz still didn’t hesitate to confront her.
Isabel looked at Liz as if she was a spider she’d found in the shower, but amazingly, she seemed to relent.
“Yes. I’m sorry. But if you had been Tess, we’d have known by now.”
“Alright. I understand.”
Max wanted to regain control over the situation and drew himself up to face Isabel, but really, he was addressing Michael too.
“Then we’re all agreed? Ava stays. No one will give her a hard time anymore? Izz?”
“I said ok. Yes. She can stay.”
“Yes. Fine. Ava -“
“I didn’t mean to give you such a hard time. But I had to know. You don’t know what Tess did to us -“
“No. How could I know if you won’t tell me?”
They all realized that if Ava was going to stay, and it seemed she was, she’d have to be fully informed.
“Yes. I’ll tell you all about it. At least – the part of it that involves me.”
“You can tell her about what she – thought she did to me.”
“Alright, I will.”
Ava had a feeling that there was something they still weren’t telling her. Was that to do with Kyle? And where was Kyle anyway? As far as she could tell, most of their friends were here. Not that guy called Sean and someone called Laurie, but apparently, they didn’t count.
But Kyle did. And he must have had good reason to hate Tess. Why was she feeling so guilty over something she hadn’t done? But somehow, she felt sorry for this guy, she’d hardly even seen. And maybe he was the one –
By now, Ava had stopped crying, and was feeling a little better. If only this was the worst of it. Maybe now they’d begin to accept her. She didn’t need to be best friends with everyone. Alex seemed to be nice. The girl who had come in with Michael – Maria? – hadn’t said anything. Even if Sean and Laurie didn’t like her, at least Max and Liz did.
Before Max had time to talk to Ava, the door opened again, and Sean and Laurie walked in. They probably needed to know about Tess as well, if only so they wouldn’t walk into some trap of hers, without having been warned.
But Max certainly didn’t look forward to telling them about the baby, or about what she had almost done to Alex. Or for that matter, how she’d nearly killed Maria. At least, he didn’t have to tell her about Rath and Lonnie. Not yet anyway. Something told him she wouldn’t be all that surprised.
After he’d finished telling them about Tess, Sean and Laurie remained silent. They probably felt they needed to think about it before it all sunk in.
Ava’s eyes widened in horror.
“I’m sorry, Max. It must feel terrible not to know if the baby’s alright. And don’t blame yourself. How could you know she’d be like that? You live here in Roswell, maybe you don’t know how good your lives have been. But you’ve been safe. You’ve gone to school. You’ve had families, friends – Someone like Tess would have had an easy time fooling you all. And just like Rath and Lonnie, she doesn’t seem to care how many people she kills. I don’t know if you’ll believe me, but I’ve never killed anyone. But I don’t know about healing either. Not much. Sometimes – I’ve tried to heal myself. But I’m not very good.”
“I can teach you.”
Max sounded worn out and sad. This day had been exhausting. But at least they now were four again. They needed someone else with powers. And she needed them. He had a feeling Ava could tell them much about her life that would horrify them too.
“Isabel. Michael -“
Isabel seemed surprised to be addressed by Ava, but she looked as if she was willing to listen.
“I understand now. Why you felt you had to test me. It’s ok. I’ll help.”
“If she returns, I’ll do what I can. I don’t have her powers, but I think I have as much as you do. Together we might be able to hold her back.”
This never seemed to have occurred to Isabel before. Ava’s own powers. If she was right and they were equals, the situation could easily have gotten out of hand, if Ava too had a temper. But her offer of help seemed genuine. It would be useful. With the four of them together, they just might be strong enough to face the enemy. At least one at a time.
Sean was beginning to see what his friends had had to deal with. It was amazing. This went far beyond the alien thing. Now that he realized the gravity of the situation, he felt even more proud that they had dared to confide in him. Knowing what they all stood to lose. He promised himself that he’d do whatever he could to help. That might not be much, but he’d definitely take things seriously from now on.
Laurie was actually glad, despite the danger, to finally know something about what she was a part of. In fact, having watched Isabel use her powers, she wished she’d had some of that too. But even though she didn’t, she’d do her part.
Now Maria insisted on doing a big makeover for Ava.
“Come on. You can’t look like that. I’ll do something about your hair and the makeup too. I mean, if you want to fit in.”
“No problem. It will be fun. Liz? Laurie? Would you like to help? In fact, no offense, but you could use some help yourself.”
Laurie didn’t seem to be offended. Her mind was still dwelling on what she’d just learned. Even so, she declined Maria’s offer.
Maria even tried to enlist Isabel’s help, since she knew that Isabel was expert at makeup and hairdos. Isabel, however, wouldn’t be involved, and insisted on taking Alex and going home, now that the situation was resolved.
Secretly, Maria preferred to do this on her own. She didn’t exactly dislike Isabel, but they were far from good friends.
So the girls disappeared, and Sean and Laurie decided to go as well. That left Max and Michael. But they didn’t mind waiting. They had a lot to discuss. Official alien business, for the first time in months.
To Ava’s relief, she now looked not so much like Tess, as Tess trying to look like Maria. But that was ok. Ava had never really chosen her own style. Lonnie had simply assumed that she would want to look the same way she did.
Now she was wondering what story she’d have to tell, to explain her return. She decided to ask Liz, since no one had mentioned anything so far.
Liz still looked concerned after Isabel’s outburst, but was willing to put her mind to the new problem. Of course, Maria was always willing to offer her opinion about anything.
“What did you say – when Tess left?”
“At first we didn’t say anything. Then Valenti – that’s Kyle’s dad, told people that Tess had run away. And I think he hinted something about drugs.”
Terrific. Not that she was totally inexperienced when it came to drug use. It just wasn’t the same drugs an ordinary human would use.
“Ok. But now I’m tired of living on the street and I’ve come back.”
Maria had more to say on the subject.
“Tess lived with Kyle and his dad. Maybe -“
Liz, who knew better than anyone, how Kyle felt about the whole thing with Tess, had objections.
“No. Ava can stay here.”
“But you and Tess were never friends. What will your parents say?”
That was a good question. Liz knew that anything remotely related to drugs would cause a severe negative reaction in her parents.
“Do you have a better suggestion?”
No. No one did. So for the time being, Liz insisted on Ava staying with her. They might have to change that arrangement later, but so far, her parents hadn’t said anything. Perhaps that was because they’d never heard the full story about Tess and drugs or not, she’d been a member of the Valenti household for a while.
Kyle didn’t think anyone had thought to inform his dad, so he decided to talk to him on his own. After all, his dad had taken Tess into his home and just like the others, he’d been shocked and upset by her deceit.
Fortunately, Kyle was able to catch his dad before he left for work.
“Dad – do you have a minute?”
“Sure, son. What is it?”
“Remember Ava? One of the – aliens from New York.”
“The girl Liz befriended? Yes. What about her?”
Kyle could tell his dad was thinking the same thing everyone else was. Was this really Ava and not Tess in disguise? But if the others were convinced it was Ava, Kyle didn’t think it could be Tess again. Isabel would certainly know somehow.
“Are they sure it’s really her?”
“Apparently. Max and Liz think so anyway, and by now, I’m sure Michael and Isabel will have checked her out as well. Or they will before long.”
“I see. Well, then, I suppose it’s alright. If she’s to be trusted. How do we know that she is?”
“Liz says she wasn’t like the others. And if Liz thinks so, that’s good enough for me.”
“Maybe. But -“
“I think we can trust the others to test her. They should know, right?”
“I suppose so. I’m late for work, but I’d like to meet her and sound her out myself. Even if I don’t have any powers. Are you going over there?”
Valenti could tell that Kyle wasn’t too thrilled about this new development, and that was understandable. Hadn’t Tess lied and cheated her way into his home, pretending to be a harmless, helpless little girl? Would this new girl, who apparently looked exactly like her, do the same?
“If you like, we could go over there together. Where is she anyway? With Liz?”
“Yes. I’m not sure when I’ll go though.”
“If you’re still here when I get back, then I’ll take you there. Ok?”
Kyle had to keep telling himself that his dad might know how he’d felt about Tess, but there was no way he could know what had happened when she returned. As far as his dad knew, she’d held him hostage to get the other three aliens to meet her. That was bad enough. But like Liz had pointed out, Ava wasn’t Tess. It wasn’t fair to blame her for what Tess had done. But knowing that didn’t make it any easier to face her.
Suddenly, he couldn’t take it anymore. He had to see her now. Waiting around like this was intolerable.
So before long, he found himself outside Liz’ place, knocking on the door. He knew he didn’t have to do that. The door was open. He could just walk in. It was just that the delay gave him time to prepare himself for the meeting. He was stunned to realize that part of him was actually looking forward to seeing her. Not Tess. Someone who looked like her but wasn’t.
He knew Ava wouldn’t be opening the door. That would be Liz, he guessed. But he was wrong. Max let him in, casting him a long concerned look.
Kyle looked away, to avoid that knowing gaze. Max was terrific, but it was extremely uncomfortable, knowing that he knew. That he’d seen him right after Tess had –
“She’s a lot different from Tess.”
He knew he sounded unfriendly, but he couldn’t help it. Why couldn’t everyone just stop feeling sorry for him? Didn’t they realize that by overprotecting him, and showing this exaggerated concern over his feelings, they made him feel like a victim? All he wanted was to forget and move on.
Max led him upstairs, and anxiously, Kyle looked around. All he could see was Michael, restlessly pacing around the room.
“Where is she?”
“In there with the other girls. Liz and Maria. The others left some time ago.”
Michael seemed to be indicating the bathroom. What was going on? Was Ava sick or something?
“They’re doing some makeover thing. Don’t ask me. Maria said she’d make Ava look more like Tess.”
Great. Just what he needed. As if an exact Tess clone would make things easier.
“I can’t stand it anymore. If Maria isn’t done yet, I’ll go home. She can call me when she wants me to pick her up.”
“It’s ok. I’ll stick around. I can drop her off later.”
But before Michael had time to leave, Liz emerged from the bathroom, followed by Maria.
“Are you finished now?”
“Yes. Ava’s just a little shy.”
Personally, Liz thought Ava would have preferred a less Maria-fied look. Something more like her, with the clothes to match. But she realized that the Roswellians who still remembered Tess would have a hard time buying that change in image. Maybe looking like Maria was a step in the right direction.
Now the door opened again, and Ava shyly stuck her head out. She felt foolish, looking like this, but Maria had insisted that she looked great. She’d even forced Liz to go and get a few garments she’d given her, that Liz had refused to wear. Ava had looked a little as if she might refuse as well, but Maria wouldn’t accept any excuses.
“There. What do you think? Much better.”
Ava looked as if she would prefer to turn right around and hide in the bathroom, but appeared to change her mind. She caught sight of the new guy. That had to be Kyle. She hardly remembered him from her first visit, but who else would it be? And there was something about him that reminded her of –
“Hello. I guess you’re Kyle.”
Kyle was stunned. This might have been Tess, in a different universe. Most of all, though, it looked as if Maria had taken a great deal of trouble turning Ava into her. Even the clothes looked familiar. In any case, Kyle didn’t feel threatened by this apparition.
“Yes. And you’re Ava. Hi. Welcome to Roswell.”
He had to remind himself that though she wasn’t Tess, she still had powers. Pretty or not, there was no way he’d go off somewhere with her on his own. But with the others nearby, he felt relatively safe. What was the matter with him? He wasn’t scared of the others anymore. Not even Isabel.
The way she was staring at him was beginning to unnerve him. What was going on? She appeared to be fascinated with him. He stared back at her, confusion stamped all over his face. She caught the look and blushed. Not at all like Tess. If she blushed, it was in anger, not consternation.
Kyle noticed that the others were withdrawing, apparently to let him get used to Ava in peace. Fantastic. Gentle therapy for the nervous wreck. But he might as well get this over with.
“Sorry. It’s just that -“
She looked around, as if worrying what the others might overhear, and that sent a shiver down his spine. What did she want from him?
To his astonishment, he heard his own voice saying things he hadn’t planned to say.
“If you’d like to talk, we could go up on the roof. If that’s ok with you, Liz?”
He raised his voice so his hostess could hear him. If she couldn’t already. Liz looked at him as she’d never really seen him before. Of course. Here he was, acting like a rabbit in front of a snake, but like an idiot, he not only wanted to see her, but see her alone.
“Ye-es, I suppose so.”
When he looked at Ava again, she seemed to be as nervous as he was. Not at all the way he’d have expected her to react. Somehow, that felt reassuring. She wasn’t at all like Tess, no matter how she looked.
Up on the roof, Ava didn’t seem to be in a hurry to hear what he wanted to tell her. Kyle wasn’t all that eager to begin either. They remained standing in silence side by side, looking out across the street.
Eventually, Ava seemed to find the silence awkward and turned to face him.
“I suppose you’re wondering why I showed up like this?”
In fact, he hadn’t had time to wonder about that at all, but now that she mentioned it, he did find it a bit curious.
“You see, I had a sort of – dream or vision.”
Kyle’s eyes widened in astonishment. This wasn’t possible. He had to be imagining things.
“Yes. I don’t know if you’ve heard of other visions that we sometimes have -“
Oh, yes. Eventually, he had realized that all the others had them. Occasionally, he’d had them too, but he wasn’t going to tell Ava that. How could he explain that for some reason those visions had jumped from Max and Liz to him? He certainly didn’t want to explain why that had happened.
But it was odd that he’d never had them with Tess. She must have held them back. All the more reason to suspect how she really felt about him. He felt a hot flush spread across his face, and wondered what Ava would make of his reaction.
“Yes. I’ve heard of those.”
“This was different though. More like a dream, but a lot more real. So I guess in a way, it was like a vision. But not the same kind as – those. Anyway, I think it was in the future. I was with a guy. We had a daughter, but we were sending her away, so she would be safe.”
It sounded all too familiar. Kyle felt as if he was dreaming now. The hot flush deepened, but this time, he wasn’t ashamed, just excited and expectant.
“I know how this sounds – but I think maybe you were the guy. In my dream.”
“I had the dream too.”
Oh, great. What if this was another of their alien tricks? Mind reading? No. He’d never heard of anything like that. Dream walking, but not mind reading.
“I didn’t know who the girl was, but now I’m thinking that I was afraid that it was Tess. So I didn’t want to know. But I think it must have been you.”
There. He’d told her. But he’d also exposed his fear of Tess. She’d want to know why, even if she didn’t ask.
Ava was looking at him, with a sort of intensity, that wasn’t menacing, but endearing. Kyle felt himself falling for her, without any reservations.
“I guess you’re wondering why I’m so uptight about Tess.”
“No. They told me about her. Nothing to do with you, but what I heard is definitely reason enough to want to stay away from her.”
“You might as well know right away, that Tess and I were – kind of involved. Just for a while. And when she returned -“
What was he thinking? He couldn’t tell her that. Not anyone, but especially not Ava.
“I see. I thought it was Max.”
“Yes. She was involved with him too.”
“Oh. Well, I can understand how you feel. She sounds just like Lonnie.”
There was a haunted look in Ava’s eyes that led Kyle to believe that she’d had a difficult time growing up in New York, with those three. He had never guessed that they would have so much in common. In a way it felt good. They were starting out equal.
Smiling hesitatingly, they moved a little closer and continued talking. Getting to know each other. Dreams and visions might bring aliens and humans together, but it would take normal human interaction to become friends, or more.
Everyone else might have been taken in, but Isabel wasn’t that easily convinced. She would make up her own mind about the newcomer. When she and Alex went to bed that night, she gave him strict instructions not to disturb her, while she was dream walking.
“Izz – you still don’t believe it’s Ava, do you?”
“It never hurts to make sure.”
Alex didn’t look enthusiastic, and though Isabel never made excuses for herself, this was Alex, her love, her husband. She had to try and make things clear for him. If he had any questions, she would explain the best she could.
“Isn’t that spying?”
“Yes. I suppose it is. But it’s necessary.”
“Is it? I know you sometimes look into Max’ and Michael’s dreams. There’s no reason for that, is it? Do you spy on me too?”
“First of all, I don’t dream walk in Max’ and Michael’s dreams anymore. Honestly. Second, I don’t need to ‘spy’, as you so charmingly put it, on you. We have the visions, remember? I know everything about you, and you know everything about me. That’s what this is about. Our love. Our marriage. I thought you wanted that?”
“I do. I just don’t see how it can be fair to spy on other people.”
“If Ava’s who she says she is, then this is the last time. If she’s really Tess – well, I guess it’s the last time too. But then I’ll need to do something about it.”
Alex still looked unhappy, and Isabel couldn’t resist kissing the frown away. By the time she was done, a smile was spreading across his face, and she knew she’d convinced him.
Despite her show of determination, she wasn’t looking forward to what she had to do. If Ava was Tess, then a violent confrontation would follow. Even if the girl was who she claimed to be, it might not be all that much fun to look into her dreams. Isabel still remembered the glimpse into the sick mind of Lonnie. It still made her nauseous, just thinking about it.
But like she’d told Alex, it had to be done. She did her best to clear her mind, then plunged right in. If she kept putting it off, the deep dream sleep would be wasted, and she’d have to put the night’s exercise off until the next evening.
At first, she got a hint of who Ava was dreaming about, always assuming this was Ava. How mushy. And how fast that insipid little girl was moving. Kyle. Interesting. But Isabel had to admit that if this really was Ava, Kyle deserved to find someone. Even Sean and Laurie had each other now, and that only left Kyle. Unless he still was involved in that weird threesome with Liz and Max. Max might be her twin, but at times, Isabel had a hard time following his reasoning. If she’d had that sort of choice, she’d have picked someone else. Maybe Sean.
Now Ava’s dreams changed and turned darker. She was back in New York. Tess was there, but she was someone outside of the girl whose dreams Isabel was spying on. This was her proof. All she needed. Isabel prepared to get out, filled with relief.
But sickening as the images were, this was something she needed to know. Rath and Lonnie and Tess. Ugh. How come she wasn’t surprised? But this, she already knew about, from looking inside Lonnie’s mind. What she wanted to know was about what kind of traitorous deal Tess had made with the two New York aliens.
Unfortunately, Ava didn’t seem to know. The other two had apparently never taken her into their confidence. All Isabel got was that there had been some kind of deal. And she could guess it was aimed against them. The Roswell aliens.
Satisfied that there wasn’t anything more useful to learn, Isabel was about to retreat, when she saw Ava’s mind slipping further back in time. A younger Ava. Four ridiculously dressed New Yorkers, having – ugh – a foursome. And this time, Isabel could sense Ava’s fear and revulsion. She hated it.
Forcibly, Isabel withdrew from Ava’s dreams, which had turned into a full scale nightmare. Struck by guilt, Isabel returned, to steer the new girl’s mind away from the painful memories. Back to Kyle. Oh, for crying out loud. Well, that was what the girl wanted, after all.
Isabel sternly told herself to be a lot nicer to Ava from now on. It couldn’t have been easy living her life. How horrible. Isabel was shaken. Her life might have been spent trying to deny her powers, her special origin. But other than that, she’d had a protected childhood. A wonderful childhood. She’d never had to be scared of anything. And poor Ava – Even though she seemed to be a whole lot like Liz – Isabel swore to herself that she was going to do her best to make things easier for her, as she settled into a normal life in Roswell.
And if Ava and Kyle got together – well, that was even better. All of them paired up. One alien, one human. It was only too fitting. As if it was their destiny, somehow. A destiny of their own making, not one imposed on them from above.
Ava knew that Isabel had been inside her dreams for a while. She ought to have known that Isabel wouldn’t be convinced so easily. But despite what Isabel might think, Ava wasn’t afraid of her. Isabel might look like Lonnie, but she wasn’t. If she needed to make sure, that was fine, as long as Ava was now welcome.
But she certainly didn’t need to be nudged towards dreams about Kyle. That was where her dreams tended to stray, as they had ever since she’d first encountered him in that vision. Even if she didn’t know it was Kyle back then. How odd that it should be a human, not one of her own. But it felt good. No powers to intimidate her. Of course, that worked both ways. She had powers. And somehow, she sensed that that was what scared him. But she wasn’t in a hurry. She could wait until Kyle had learned to trust her. That would give her time to learn to trust him as well. This time, it wouldn’t be like before.
And Ava drifted deeper, into a dreamless sleep. She’d come home. And at home, Kyle had been waiting. Just like she’d been waiting all her life for him. She wondered what it would be like to wake up not feeling scared. Because deep down, there was no doubt in her mind, from now on, she wouldn’t be scared anymore. And she’d make sure Kyle wasn’t either.