|Primary Characters:||Michael, Kyle, Max, Isabel, Liz, Alex|
|Description:||Humans and aliens alike witness an event that might or might not be their future, and try to make sense of it.|
There was a sense of urgency in the air, which seemed to be emphasized by the late hour. It was pitch black, and for once really cold. Isabel held her daughter in her arms, looking into her tiny face as if wanting to commit every inch of it to memory. Who knew when next she’d see her again? Alex was standing beside her, his arm around her shoulder, lending her support as always. She blinked away a few tears and turned to her lover.
“I’m ready to go. Is everything packed?”
“Yes. Isabel -“
“No. Not now. I know we have to do this. How could we keep her safe here in Roswell?”
“I know. Shall we? The car is out front.”
“Ok. I’ll be right there.”
“I’ll take the bags out.”
In the doorway, he turned and looked back at his lover and their child. He was filled with a fierce pride. This beautiful, strong, intelligent woman who was more special than anyone in the entire world, had chosen him, Alex, over every other man. And she had wanted to bear their child.
He had expected her to grieve over the loss of her degree, but there had never been a word of complaint. His own career had been put on hold as well, but that was a sacrifice he was happy to make. In fact, it was no sacrifice at all. Wherever Isabel was, his world began and ended.
Outside, he hurriedly filled the trunk of the car with everything their baby daughter would need in her new life. They were meeting his parents and mr and mrs Evans at the airport. Valenti had called in a favor from one of his old friends, and the plane would take off in the middle of the night, unscheduled and unrecorded in any log.
This had to be kept a secret. There were too many dangers in the world, threatening this special baby. Alex had to remind himself that all babies were special, at least if you asked their parents.
From the house next door, he could now see his friend, and Isabel’s twin brother, Max Evans, carrying a similar load of luggage. Alex nodded in recognition and was rewarded with a brief smile. Behind Max, Alex caught a glimpse of his old friend Liz, a small bundle in her arms. She too, smiled and nodded, but her attention was focused on her baby, as was understandable.
Max turned and faced his lover, a concerned look on his face.
“Are you sure it won’t be too cold for her? Maybe I should go back and get another fleece blanket.”
“No. She’s well bundled up. Don’t worry about it. She’ll be fine.”
At least Liz hoped so. How would their daughter manage, growing up without her parents? But she knew that her own parents, as well as the Evans’ would take good care of her baby. After all, they’d done an excellent job raising Max, hadn’t they? And there were no people in the world she would trust her child with, other than her own parents.
It would be ok. The threat was too great to let their little girl grown up in Roswell, as she had and Max too. King or not, Max was a wonderful man and the only man she’d ever want as her child’s father. And in the days to come, she knew she could depend on him. As he could depend on her in everything.
Again, Max turned and watched his lover carry their baby daughter out to the car. He hurriedly opened the door to them, and took the baby out of Liz’ arms as she made herself comfortable in the backseat. When she had settled down, he handed her the child and shut the door. How incredibly lucky he was to have her. Finally, safe by his side.
In many ways it felt as if his life had begun on the day he brought Liz back to life. He’d be lost without her. Now he got into the drivers’ seat and started the engine. After a silent prayer that the car would start, to whatever deity would listen, he heard the reassuring noise of the engine purring. Time to go.
They made it out to the airport outside of town, with time to spare. It looked eerie with most of the lights not yet turned on. Normally, an airport is a busy place. Now it was almost spooky in its stillness. It was as if a nuclear or other holocaust had wiped out all signs of humanity and their petty hopes and plans.
Max parked next to Alex’ and Isabel’s car, and began getting the luggage out again. He and Isabel exchanged a look, but didn’t say anything for the moment. Time enough later. When they’d done what they’d come to do.
On his way inside, Max stopped once again to look around for Michael, just like he knew Liz and Alex would be anxiously searching for Maria. The sound of a car pulling up behind him, made him turn around again.
Yes, that was Maria’s old jeep, still hanging in there. Now he could see Michael getting out, and he too was laden with all the things Maria wanted to send along with their daughter as she began her journey into the hostile world.
“Hang on, Michael. The luggage goes over there. Valenti told me last night.”
“Oh. Thanks, bro. So you and Liz made it in time?”
“You have no idea. We didn’t go to bed at all. Too much to do.”
“I think I do. Our place has been like a madhouse ever since we decided.”
“I know what you mean.”
Michael doubted that Max could have any idea. Maria’s temperament was something else entirely, than Liz’ calm and cool attitude to most things. Still, he imagined that any parent would be going through the same thing he and Maria were right now. If their situation hadn’t been as risky as it was, there was no way he and Maria would ever agree to part with their daughter.
As Michael sensed his lover’s approach, he turned and faced her, to give her another reassuring look. They were doing the right thing, he knew they were. Painful as the separation would be, it was the only thing that might give their child a chance to grow up and live like every other kid in the world.
Maria returned his look with a smile. Her eyes didn’t give any hint of the pain she must be suffering on the inside. She was a fighter, his passionate girl, as she had proven to him over and over again, since he’d finally seen sense and let her into his life. Without her, he wouldn’t be alive. Everything began and ended with her.
With the luggage deposited, he and Max joined the others inside. They met Alex returning from the same errand and the three men walked over to the waiting area where their lovers were already seated, with their daughters in their arms.
Who would have thought this possible, only a few years earlier? Despite their unique experiences and the unusual powers of some of them, they had just been kids, ordinary high school kids. Now – But it was best not to look too closely at their lives. At least they were all extremely lucky to have each other.
The doors opened again, admitting Amy de Luca and Jim Valenti, hand in hand as a couple of kids. Maria made a face and looked away. Michael smothered a smile. Maybe it was just as well that he didn’t have any parents.
He could understand that Maria found it intolerably embarrassing to watch her mother and Kyle’s dad acting like that. As if the thought of Kyle had conjured him up, there he was, two steps behind his blonde lover. This time, Kyle was the one carrying the baby, leaving the blonde to handle the shoulder bag and a few other odds and ends.
Michael waved to his friend, and Kyle smiled and nodded. Soon they were all seated together. It wouldn’t be long now. If only the Parkers and the other parents would show up. Perhaps a long life together accumulated belongings. Either way, it seemed to take the remaining parents, or rather grandparents, unusually long to arrive.
Kyle too, caught sight of his father and his girlfriend and made a face, just like the one Maria had made earlier. Sure, he was happy that his dad had finally found love, but Kyle had been under the impression that the hormones simmered down at least a little as you grew older. Looking at his dad, and Amy de Luca, he had to conclude that it wasn’t the case at all.
To avoid studying his dad too closely, he looked down on his baby daughter and smiled warmly at the child. He really had been incredibly lucky. To think that a few years ago, he’d have feared fatherhood so much, he’d never even dared to stay in a relationship. Now he couldn’t imagine the world without his child.
Did she take after her mother, or her father? Perhaps a bit of both. Kyle rather fancied he saw traces of his own mother there. Don’t be scared, he whispered soundlessly to his daughter. My dad used to be the sheriff, he’ll take good care of you. And Amy’s a great mother. You’ll be ok.
And one day she’ll be back, to fight the fight that her dad wasn’t strong enough to fight for her. It was fortunate that her mother was, though it was a bit humiliating to have those constant reminders of who was the strong one in the relationship. Before Kyle had met the aliens he had never thought he’d encounter a situation he couldn’t handle with the use of his muscles.
As time went by, he learned to rely equally on his mind, but even there, he knew his lover’s powers were superior to his. But that too, he had learned to accept. In a way it was kind of sexy to have a strong woman by his side. Not being able to protect his own child was another matter, though. That was still painful to dwell on, so Kyle decided to try and forget about it for the time being.
Now the next one of the remaining couples arrived. The Parkers. It had been a difficult decision to make for Liz’ parents, turning over the Crashdown to their daughter.
She was destined for a university degree, but the income from the cafe would always come in handy. And it would provide a fixture for their uncertain lives. Right behind them, the Whitmans finally showed up. They too, would be going along to raise their grand-daughter in their son’s place.
Another nerve-wrecking wait, until finally the Evans’ arrived. It was obvious that they’d had an argument on the way, and Max could tell that his mom had won. He was glad. Having both his parents help look after his daughter made the separation a little easier. He didn’t know any parents that were better.
No. That wasn’t quite true. All his friends had good parents, except for his brother Michael. How he wished that Michael had dared to trust him and Isabel and come along with them. If he had, he might have been raised by the Evans’ as well, and would never have had to suffer the abuse Hank had subjected him to.
Since everyone was now present and accounted for, Valenti got up to speak to his friend. He returned moments later, announcing that the flight was ready. They all got up and walked over to their gate. The moment of goodbye had come.
Maria couldn’t drown out a few loud sobs. She’d never see her child again. Yes, she would. They had thought this over again and again, and had decided this was for the best. It was. She was just being silly. Still, she experienced an almost physical pain when she reluctantly turned her daughter over to her mother.
Amy first embraced both daughter and grand-daughter. Out of the corner of her eye, Maria saw her old friend Kyle placing his daughter in his dad’s arms. If the occasion hadn’t been such a serious one, she would have giggled a little at how Kyle and Valenti were trying not to hug each other in front of the other men.
She shrugged. If Kyle wasn’t going to hug his dad when didn’t know when he’d next see him, that was his business. Seeing the last of her mother and daughter caused more tears to run down her face, and she reached for Michael to drown out some of the pain.
Liz reluctantly put her daughter into her mother’s arms. Her dad moved in and hugged her before letting go to follow his wife and grand-daughter. Now Liz couldn’t stop her own tears. She wasn’t going to be able bear it, and she was about to run after her parents.
Feeling Max’ arms around her shoulders helped a little. She pressed a hand to her mouth, to silence her sobs. Maria might think nothing of crying in public, but Liz couldn’t let herself go like that.
Alex hugged his parents goodbye, and stepped back to offer Isabel his support. She was just placing their baby in her mother’s arms. Mr Evans hurriedly hugged his daughter and walked away. Now Alex felt himself being pulled into Isabel’s arms. At least they had each other. No matter what was to come, they’d face it together.
It was over. Through the large windows, they could see their parents climbing the stairs up to the plane. It was so small. How could they go all the way to New Zealand in that? Isabel had to remind herself that they would change planes later.
They were only going as far as Los Angeles. Valenti had assured her that no one except the barest of skeleton crews had been involved in this takeoff. And no one except his friend knew the truth. At least the part that Valenti had confided in him.
All they felt was an emptiness. In the years to come, they would only contact their parents, and their parents would only contact them in case of an emergency. It had been decided that it was the only way to keep their children safe, until the day they could return to begin their instruction in how to use their powers. If the danger wasn’t over by then. That was a slim hope, and no one really believed in that.
As if by an unspoken agreement, everyone drove back to the Crashdown. No one wanted to face this emotional time alone. There might not be much to say or do, but they were in this together. No one else could relate to what they were all going through.
And sitting around in the old cafe would bring back memories from simpler and happier days. Long before the shadow of an intergalactic war hung over them. Or at least before they knew about it.
It was as if they’d only yesterday learned to gradually come to terms with their relationships, and parenthood. Now they were cut loose again, and it felt as if the years that had gone by had never happened.
Teenagers again, worrying about dating and facial treatments, or football scores and tickets to concerts. But there was so much more to their existence than carefree fun like that. Now it would be easier to defend themselves from their enemies. Less to lose.
Wasn’t she at the Crashdown? Why was she lying alone in her bed? Where was Max? Liz shook her head, trying to think and make sense of the change of scene. Only a dream? But it had been so real.
She reached out her hand and grabbed her alarm clock. It was only 5.30. But what she really needed was to know the date. Though she was still struggling against her sleepiness, she got up and put on a dressing gown. Downstairs, her father had already brought in the paper and was getting ready for work.
“Good morning, honey. Up so early?”
“Uh. Yes. Can I see the paper, please?”
“Of course. I need to get going anyway.”
While her father was finishing his cup of coffee, Liz stared at the date on top of the paper. She was so absorbed in that, she failed to notice how his father looked at her in confusion.
“Is anything wrong?”
“What? No. Nothing. I’m still really sleepy. Perhaps I should get back to bed after all.”
“You do that. This is supposed to be your vacation. Enjoy it. Your next shift isn’t until tomorrow afternoon, right? Get some rest while you can.”
“Yes, I think I will. Have a nice day, dad.”
“Thanks. Sleep well.”
No time had passed. All the years that she had remembered in that dream were gone. It was still the same summer it had been when she went to bed last night. How odd. That dream had seemed so real. Almost like a vision. A vision? Liz frowned in concentration.
Despite what she’d told her father, she was by now wide awake. The thought of a vision wasn’t as strange as it might have sounded a year ago. After making the acquaintance of the aliens of Roswell, she’d learned never to discount anything as too weird. She’d have to call Maria and discuss this with her.
Reaching for the phone, Liz never stopped to consider the fact that her best friend was barely lucid before 7 in the morning, after having a bit of breakfast and some time to collect her senses. As she heard the number dialling, she went over the images from her dream in her mind. She wanted to commit them to memory. It was such a wonderful, if also sad dream, that she never wanted to forget it.
“Maria, I’ve got something to tell you.”
There were a few unintelligible sounds on the other end of the line, which told Liz that Maria was waking up, and hopefully processing her words.
“Liz? Do you know what time it is?”
“Yes. It’s ten to six. In the morning.”
“I know it’s the morning, silly. Why are you calling me at this hour? Michael and I were together until really late last night, since mom was over at Valenti’s and -“
“Don’t tell me about what you and Michael did, please.”
“But we just -“
“Listen, I had this strange dream about -“
Here Liz hesitated a little. How was she going to explain what she’d dreamed? A long drawn out pause at the other end of the line preceded Maria’s reply.
“About having a daughter with Max?”
What? Was she still dreaming? This couldn’t be real. Maria was telling her exactly what her dream had been about.
Again there was an awed pause.
Liz could almost imagine how Maria’s eyes widened in shock over what she’d just said.
“Did you say that Max and I had a daughter?”
“Yes. Because, in this dream I had, that’s what had happened. But that’s not all -“
“You and Michael had a daughter too?”
“How do we know these things? You can’t have the same dream as someone else, can you?”
They must have both come to the same conclusion at the same time, because the next word was also the same.
“Liz? You don’t think -“
Did she? From what she had understood, Isabel could walk into other people’s dreams, but she couldn’t make them happen. Or could she? Wasn’t that was Tess did? Mindwarped people into thinking whatever she wanted them to think. Surely she couldn’t be attacking again? But why shouldn’t she?
Both girls almost worked themselves into a panic, before remembering that nothing in that dream would have pleased Tess. So it couldn’t have been her doing. And why would Isabel make them dream this? Still, there was no harm in asking.
“No. But we can ask. In fact, I’m going to. Let’s meet down at the Crashdown. Or wait – How about your place? Is your mom going to be over at Valenti’s again?”
The bitterness in Maria’s voice was tangible.
“Are you kidding? Of course she is. That’s so disgusting. I’m totally grossed out. I guess there’s no chance that they’re not -“
Liz had to steer Maria’s mind back to the matter at hand. Her mother’s embarrassing habits would have to wait.
“Come on. Can I come over?”
“Why not? If you don’t want me over at your place?”
Liz considered this for a moment. Yes, Maria was right, of course. If they wanted to talk to the others, they’d either have to drive around town in Maria’s jeep, or ask them over to the Crashdown. It would save time for everyone, if they would all just get over there.
If they wanted to. Kyle had been keeping to himself lately, and Liz knew that Max was avoiding her because he was still feeling awkward over the entire Tess thing. As she was.
Isabel and Alex were of course just as much in love as Amy de Luca and Valenti, and hadn’t been seen for days. Personally, Liz thought they were staying inside their new apartment, making out round the clock. And she couldn’t blame them. Why not take advantage of what little comforts they could before the enemy struck again?
“Ok. You’re right. Get over here as fast as you can. My parents won’t be around. They’re at work. So you can just come over. And if you could bring Michael that would be great. In fact, why don’t you ask him to call Max and Isabel too, and see if they’d like to come over. Isabel will probably bring Alex if she’s coming, and as you know he’s not going to be here, unless she is.”
Everyone knew that Isabel’s protectiveness of Alex was getting close to obsessive. Not that she could blame her for that either. Although Max didn’t seem to have a problem with leaving her alone. But she knew she was being unfair and decided to concentrate on the mystery of the dream.
“And Maria – Will you call Kyle or do you want me to do it?”
“You do it. You’re the only one he’s really close to these days.”
“Ok. See you soon.”
“I’ll be right over.”
After hanging up, Liz jumped out of bed and grabbed the nearest t-shirt and skirt and put them on. Next stop was the bathroom. When she was done in there, she remembered that she’d promised to call Kyle. There was something not right about Kyle lately. He must have taken the Tess situation extremely hard.
To her relief, Kyle was the one who picked up the phone. Valenti spoke in a dreamy, vague voice these days and even though he wasn’t her dad, it still embarrassed Liz a little.
“Liz? Is anything wrong?”
“No. Not exactly. There’s just something I wanted to discuss with the whole gang.”
Now she could hear him withdrawing from her, mentally, if not physically. He was still there, though.
“Something’s come up and I thought we should talk about it.”
“Anything to do with Tess?”
Hurriedly, she reassured him. Poor Kyle. It really seemed as if he was scared of the blonde alien girl. And who wouldn’t be? Her powers were scary to say the least.
“No. Nothing at all. It’s something else.”
“I don’t know. There’s football practice later today.”
Liz knew that, just as she knew that Kyle wasn’t participating anymore. And he knew she knew that, so she was surprised that he used that pretext. It wasn’t exactly lying but she didn’t think it was in accordance with the teachings of Buddha either.
Kyle sighed. What was the point of hiding away at home? He didn’t feel safe there either. Tess wouldn’t let the locked door keep her out. He almost wished she’d been a vampire, instead of an alien. Then he’d put up some crucifixes and garlic and keep her out for good. Unless the fact that she’d been welcome before made it impossible to keep her out. Of course it was. Maybe he should get his own place. But Roswell was a small town. Tess, with her powers would have no problem tracking him down if she wanted to.
And unlike his other human friends, he didn’t have a big strong alien to protect him. Of course he knew they’d all do their best to protect him. Max had saved his life more than once, so obviously he could trust the rest of them.
But he had his pride. How could he force his company on the others, when they were all so obviously in love? Though he knew that Liz and Max weren’t officially back together again, he didn’t think it could be more than a matter of time before they were.
“Good. See you soon.”
Kyle didn’t sound enthusiastic and Liz understood. It was just important to have all of them present. What if they had all shared the same dream?
To Liz’ surprise all her friends were there, when she went down into the cafe. Even Alex and Isabel.
“Hey, guys. It was nice of you to show up this early.”
“Of course we had to come. Is anything wrong, Liz?”
Max looked at her rather oddly, and Liz was wondering if something really was wrong, and he could tell her about it.
“Well, I don’t know if it’s wrong or not, but I had this dream, and it turns out that Maria had it too.”
There. She’d said it. It wouldn’t have surprised her if everyone else started laughing at her now. Not Alex. He was too sweet to laugh at anyone. But the rest of them? To her astonishment, even Isabel and Michael kept their scepticism to themselves. Max looked at her again, thoughtfully.
“What kind of dream?”
Suddenly, Liz felt her face go all red. How could she tell Max that they had been lovers, and that she had in fact given birth to their child? But she had to tell him something.
Pleadingly she stared at Maria, but her friend was leaning her head on Michael’s shoulder, yawning. If she didn’t get to the point soon, it looked as if Maria would doze off again, right in the café.
“Maria and Michael had just had a baby.”
Liz was angry with herself for treating her best friend like this. Now Maria would have to face that embarrassment. So she hurriedly went on.
“And – well, Max -“
Again, she was surprised. Max started talking.
“We’d had a baby too?”
It was unbelievable that she hadn’t heard a contemptuous sound from Isabel or Michael yet. Kyle might be too embarrassed to say anything.
“I see. It seems I shared your dream. Anyone else?”
Good. Now Max had turned the question over to the others. And for the third time, or was it the fourth time someone surprised Liz again. Michael had a stunned look on his face, and he was the next person to reply.
“Actually – uh – I had it too.”
Now Isabel and Alex spoke at once in a really sweet way. But they seemed unaware of the effect their words had on everyone.
“Yes, we had it too. We were sending our daughter away with our parents.”
“To New Zealand so they could be safe.”
That was Michael’s input. They really had been dreaming the same dream. Now Liz remembered her original fears.
“Uh – don’t take this the wrong way, but do you know anything about this?”
“What? I thought I just told you that Alex and I had the same dream. We were just talking about it, when Michael called.”
She paused to consider the implication of Liz’ question and her mouth pursed slightly when she realized what she was being accused of.
“You thought I put that dream in your heads? Why would I do that? Even if I could, which I can’t. Actually, I dreamwalked a little at the end of the dream, to check on what Alex was dreaming.”
Alex didn’t seem at all bothered by this statement. Apparently, in his eyes, Isabel could do nothing wrong. But Liz and Maria exchanged looks filled with horror.
They too, had spoken at once.
“No. I peeked into Max’s dream too. Sorry about that. And – Ok. Michael’s too. But the rest of you, no. I wouldn’t do that to you.”
For the time being, neither Max nor Michael were inclined to feel provoked by Isabel’s breach of good manners.
“Oh. Well, they’re telling the truth. They were having the same dream.”
That was what Liz had been suspecting all along. The question was why had they had this dream? And was it a dream or something more?
“So what do you all think? Is it just a strange coincidence or was it something else? And who’s behind it? Tess?”
Isabel frowned in concentration. She had assumed Liz’ question was for her, though of course she realized that anyone was welcome to put in their two cents’ worth.
“I have no idea. But was there anything in there that would serve her purposes? I don’t think so. Frankly, I have no idea. Max? Michael? Anyone?”
Her twin brother shook his head and her other brother did the same.
Now Kyle spoke up, startling everyone else. No one had wanted to ask him, since his girl, or whoever she’d been, was the traitorous bitch who was behind so much of their suffering.
“I’d like to ask something else. Does anyone have a clue as to who – I mean -“
He broke off in embarrassment. Why would he find this dream so embarrassing really? There hadn’t been anything sexual in it, or anything else that might be described as awkward.
“Who was that girl? The one that apparently – had given birth to my kid.”
That wasn’t so hard, was it? There. He’d said it out loud. Kyle Valenti as a dad. Pity the child. Fourth generation of alien-spotting Roswellians, but at least her dad wouldn’t carry on the other family tradition and become a sheriff. Not in a million years.
“I thought you’d know? In my dream -“
Max was reluctant to mention this, because he knew the pressure Kyle was under since Tess had betrayed them all.
“You and that girl seemed to be as much in love as -“
He didn’t finish the sentence. How could he sit here and tell everyone how much he loved Liz? Though, on the other hand, it might be a good idea. Almost as scary as singing outside her window at night.
“You don’t know?”
“No. I’m assuming it wasn’t your lovely bride, Evans, since as you know, I hate her guts. That’s bad for karma, but I can’t -“
Too late he remembered Isabel’s aversion to anything remotely Buddhist.
“Sorry, Isabel. I know you don’t -“
“That’s ok. I’m sure Buddha will overlook this temporary lapse. In fact, if he’d known Tess, I’m sure he’d hate her too. Sorry, Max.”
“Why? I think we all hate her. That’s no one’s fault but her own.”
“What about Ava? Could it have been Ava?”
Kyle stared at Liz. Could it? He had no idea. For some reason, the girl’s face had been vague. And though he searched his vivid memories of the dream, he didn’t have a clue as to who she was.
“I guess that’s possible.”
He didn’t sound too enthusiastic. Obviously, he felt that Ava was far too much like Tess to really appeal to him.
Now Isabel was struck by a thought that she felt was of the utmost importance. At least to her.
“Alex, what do you remember about our baby? Who did she take after?”
“You. It was all you.”
“That’s not how I remember her. The hair was darker, like yours. And she had your nose.”
“Really? Poor little thing.”
“How can you say such a thing?”
And to Alex’ acute embarrassment, she leaned over and kissed the tip of his nose.
Squirming uncomfortably, Alex was only too aware of the presence of the other guys.
“Isabel, please. The other guys -“
“Oh, ok. I’m in a really good mood today.”
And before anyone could do anything to stop her, she kissed Max’ nose and then Michael’s. That last kiss earned her a dark look from Maria.
“What? If you had two such cute little brothers wouldn’t you kiss their noses once in a while?”
That silenced Maria for a while and made Max and Michael cringe in embarrassment. It was great that Isabel was back to normal again, and her happiness made her brothers happy too. But this was a bit much.
Ignoring Isabel, Maria turned to her boyfriend.
“Who do you think our daughter took after?”
“I have no idea. All babies look the same to me. Besides, I’m glad it was just a dream. Becoming a dad would scare me out of my mind.”
“It’s a bit too late for that.”
And to Michael’s horror, Maria placed a hand on her abdomen, smiling smugly. What? This couldn’t be happening. He strained his senses outward. There was no way she could be – Could she?
To make sure, he too placed his hand on Maria’s abdomen. Nothing. As he caught her look, he realized that once again, he’d been had. Maria had won again. That didn’t bother him as much as it used to. Life wasn’t a competition.
“If no one has anything more to add, I really need to get going. Band practice.”
Isabel got up to join Alex.
“Ok. Let’s go.”
“Please, Izz. It’s just band practice.”
“Well, the other guys might get jealous and that could ruin the entire session.”
“Tough. Remember, I did agree to compromise about the handcuffs.”
Alex’ face turned a dark brick red. He turned towards the other guys, a pleading look in his eyes.
“She’s just kidding. Izz, please, tell them you’re just kidding.”
“Am I? I don’t remember. The point is, you don’t have to be cuffed to me all the time. In return, you agreed that I wouldn’t let you go anywhere alone.”
The other guys carefully avoided laughing, or even smiling. After all, it was understandable that Isabel didn’t want to let Alex out of her sight, after coming so close to losing him.
“Ok. I suppose it’s ok if you tag along. But what if the other guys want their girlfriends to come to our practice sessions?”
“So? That’s not my problem.”
“Oh, ok. Well, see you later, guys.”
The others didn’t move. Michael and Maria were displaying makeout withdrawal symptoms, and Kyle didn’t really want to face either his dad’s sickening love affair played out in front of his eyes, or being on his own. He might not see Tess’ face hovering over him all the time, but he still felt safer with Max and Michael around.
Not that Max seemed to be aware of his presence anymore. His friend was staring into the eyes of his other friend, Liz. With a sigh, Kyle was painfully reminded that he was the only one left out of all this love and romance.
Max wished he could find the right words to say to Liz. He kept thinking that if he could just say or do the right thing he and Liz would get back what they’d had before Tess had been inflicted on them. This dream or vision had filled him with warm feeling of anticipation. If there was any truth in it, could he hope for a change in the precariousness of their relationship?
“I – Do you think this might be a vision of the future?”
“Uh – well – if you don’t have any idea, how could I?”
“Yes. I guess you’re right. But if -“
“Would you -“
Liz hardly listened to the exact words Max was saying. It was more his tone that drew her in. Without her noticing how it had happened, she had moved a little closer to her ex-boyfriend. Maybe Maria’s and Michael’s behavior was infectious, or else her pain had been subdued.
“I thought -“
But seconds before she did something she’d later regret, she pulled back. Max took a deep breath and tried to reconcile himself with the disappointment. But soon maybe –
“Anyway, can I get you guys anything?”
“I thought you weren’t working today?”
“That’s ok. Why don’t we go upstairs? I could get us a few shakes or whatever you guys want?”
Kyle was startled out of his somber thoughts, to realize that he was being included. Normally, he would never have wanted to impose. After all, two’s company, and three’s a crowd. This time, however, he could sense the awkwardness in the atmosphere between Liz and Max and he knew his company would be appreciated. And he really didn’t want to be alone.
“Ok. I’d like that.”
“Yes. Me too.”
At least they were all still talking. Whatever else Tess had to answer for, she hadn’t been able to break up their friendship. They were still as close as ever. If they didn’t let anything tear them apart, they would be ok, at least they all hoped so.
There was still a life to live, whatever might or might not have been their destiny in the past. And despite everything, the dream or vision had given them hope. They were far from defeated yet. As long as they didn’t give up hope.