|Primary Characters:||Pretty much everyone|
|Description:||Michael and Ava are having bad dreams. It seems they’re about the same event buried in their past. Once they dare to look more closely at their memories, they find out something important.|
Liz woke up, vaguely concerned. She’d thought she’d heard something – Straining her ears, she tried to detect where the slight noise had come from. Or had it just been a dream? There it was again. Someone was whimpering in fear. There was only one person that could be.
Though she’d thought about it a lot, she still hadn’t gotten round to moving in with Max. It was as if she kept expecting something to go wrong again. Which was a good enough reason to do it right away. Who knew what might happen?
She got up, crossed the room to the other bed and cautiously leaned over the girl who was lying there, moving restlessly, as if she was having a bad dream.
Liz knew that when it came to the aliens, dreams weren’t always just dreams so she felt a stirring of concern. Of course, knowing what poor Ava had had to go through in the past, it might simply be a nightmare.
In the pale light coming in through her window, Liz could see that Ava’s cheeks were damp. The blonde girl was crying.
Filled with sympathy, Liz decided to wake Ava up.
“Hey. Wake up. It’s just a dream. You’re safe here. It’s ok. Come on. Just wake up.”
The girl went on whimpering and sobbing. Whatever it was she was seeing inside her mind, it had to be painful or terrifying. Unfortunately, Liz could imagine all kinds of reason for that. Her experience of life with the Roswell aliens had taught her that.
“Ava. Wake up.”
Still no reaction. Liz put her hand lightly on Ava’s shoulder and shook her gently. This time, the reaction was far too violent. For a second, Liz almost feared Ava would attack her, using her powers. But Ava didn’t attack. Instead, she slumped down again, looking so distressed, Liz’ heart went out to her.
“What’s wrong? Was it a bad dream?”
Ava nodded, but wouldn’t meet her eyes.
“No, I’m sorry. Sorry I woke you up.”
“Don’t worry about that. It’s almost six anyway. I was going to get up in just a little while. Are you ok?”
“Yes. Excuse me. I’ll just -“
Ava glanced towards the bathroom.
Helplessly, Liz watched her friend disappear inside, closing the door behind her. Liz could hear water running, and before long, Ava was out again, looking a little more herself.
“You can go in now if you like.”
“Ok. If you want, you can go downstairs and have breakfast. Mom and dad won’t mind if you use some of the hot sauce or the extra sugar. Just don’t let them see you use it on anything on out of the ordinary, from their point of view.”
“It’s ok. If they’re already there, I’ll just -“
Ava gestured with her hand.
Liz nodded, but she was still concerned about her friend. Though Ava never looked very cheerful, today, there was something more somber than usual about her. She was wondering if she ought to talk to Max about it, or even Isabel and Michael. Maybe Max could do something about her painful memories, even if she didn’t think so.
In any case, she’d try talking some more about it, with Ava herself. Maybe she’d open up more later.
She’d better hurry now. It was time to go to her morning lecture. Commuting like this, really made her days longer than ever. Now she could only help out at the Crashdown during the weekends and not that often either. The only times she could really take on a full work load, would be during the summer vacation and sometimes around Christmas.
Fortunately, Ava had been eager to help out. It confused most of the other people in Roswell, because Tess hadn’t been too keen on working. At least not an honest day’s work. Scheming and plotting against her own people had been more her thing.
On the other hand, since Ava was supposed to be Tess who had run away and done drugs, before returning remorseful and humble, it could indicate a wish to reform. At least that was the general idea.
Liz didn’t return until close to eight in the evening and though she sat down to dinner with her parents and Ava, there wasn’t any time for her to sit and chat. She had far too much to do with her homework and a project which was due in only a little over a week.
By the time she finally managed to go to bed, Ava was already half asleep. The two girls merely said goodnight, and Liz too, fell into bed, exhausted.
The dream returned again, which it had done, for as long as Ava could remember. At first, she’d be warm and safe, somwhere dark. Others, like herself, had been nearby. It had been a good place. Then suddenly, a bright light had shone into her eyes. A shadow had fallen across her and with that, the peace and the comfort shattered. She never really remembered much more than that.
Whatever had happened, had been too painful or frightening to bear. Her mind shied away from it, and usually she’d wake up at that point. Even so, she thought she’d recognized someone or some of the people who were with her. It was almost as if she could name them, inside her mind. If she could just hold on to the memory for long enough, she’d remember. But she didn’t want to focus on that dream. It was just too terrifying.
This time, like almost all the others, she woke up screaming, or at least making some kind of sound. She didn’t know how many times Rath and Lonnie had made fun of her over that. They’d called her a baby and hinted that she was likely to wet her bed as well. Ava was used to their bullying, but that accusation had stung. Besides, somewhere in that dream she knew she’d been wet, possibly all over. Naked too, but she wasn’t sure about that. If the others had known about that –
Again, Liz was standing over her, looking so concerned, Ava almost burst into tears again. She wasn’t used to being treated so kindly. Part of her wanted to confide in her friend, but another part knew that if she did, she’d be forced to relive those memories – if they were true memories – and she couldn’t bear that. On the other hand – she didn’t want to shut her new friends out of her life. They’d accepted her and let her be a part of their lives, when they didn’t have any obligation to do so.
In any case, Liz sat down on the side of her bed and watched her, a concerned look on her face.
“Hey – why don’t you tell me about it? It’s only a little after four, and besides, I don’t have any lectures before lunch today. I know I always feel better if I talk to someone about anything that’s bothering me.”
“I know. I mean, I realize it might be like that, but I’ve never had anyone to talk to – or – just one person. But I didn’t want to – act like a baby. I guess – I was trying to act cool with him.”
Liz nodded. She might have done that too, if she’d gotten to know Max earlier.
“I can understand that. So, won’t you try to talk about it? Is it something to do with – Rath and Lonnie?”
“Not really. Just that when I had this dream in the past, they’d make fun of me.”
Liz’ eyes widened. So the same dream had kept recurring over a long period of time? She was wondering what that could mean.
“I see. You’ve had the same dream before? Many times?”
“For as long as I can remember.”
“Ok. What is it about?”
“I don’t know. I’m in a safe place, where it’s dark. There are others with me, but I can’t see them. They’re – like me. I feel safe with them. Then – there’s a sharp light and a big shadow falls across me and suddenly I know there’s a danger. I get really scared.”
“That’s just it. I don’t know. Something happens. Something that makes me want to run away and hide, but I have no idea what it is. It’s just fragments. There are others there with me, but some of them – aren’t quite as safe as the ones I told you about first. That’s all I know.”
“Others? You mean aliens, like you? I mean, special, future humans?”
“People like me, yes.”
“Do you think they could be Rath and Lonnie and -“
Ava looked so tense, Liz was afraid she’d go into shock. She was beginning to regret pushing her. Maybe it would have been better if she’d let Ava take her time. But it was too late to reconsider now.
“Hey – it’s over now, anyway. You’re not with them anymore. Max and Michael and Isabel are here. They’ll never let the others get close to us.”
“I know. Yes, I think it is Rath and the others.”
“Do you think – it was in that place in the desert? With all those pods? Where you and everyone else were born?”
Again, Liz felt she’d gone too far, but at least Ava looked as if she was trying to think carefully. In the end, she nodded.
“I’m not sure, but I think so.”
“So this could be a memory from when you were born? The darkness, inside that pod. Sharp light coming from outside or some kind of light source?”
Ava nodded, uneasily. It was clear that from the moment that light had shone in her face, she’d been terrified.
Of course, Liz was fully aware that Ava might not be reliving a real memory inside her mind. It might all be symbolic somehow, but – it all seemed to fit in. That shadow though – could it be someone grown up, standing in front of them? Like – Nasedo – maybe?
Liz decided not to ask Ava about that. At least not just yet. She’d need time to adjust to the memories, if she could. Liz had an idea that such an early childhood trauma might never fully heal. She felt helpless. When Ava had come to visit them the first time, Liz had instantly felt sorry for her. The second time, she’d been determined to do something concrete to help her, not just be friendly to her the short time she was in Roswell.
“Do you think maybe we ought to discuss this with the others? Max might -“
Ava looked straight at Liz, in a way that slightly startled her friend. The look in her eyes was suddenly less traumatized and more normal.
“Maybe. If you think it might help.”
Ava knew that Liz was totally in love with Max. It showed everytime they were together. At other times, like now, it was only too plain to see, when she was talking about her boyfriend.
Ava forced herself to consider Liz’ suggestion. In a way, it might be a relief to finally share the memories with someone who might understand. Already, she was feeling a little better, just by telllng Liz. Liz was really smart, and her questions had helped her focus properly, without having to shy away from the terror.
Like this, while she was fully awake, Ava felt less threatened by the dream. The lights were on and Liz was here with her.
“Yes. Let’s tell them about it. What time is it?”
Liz glanced at her clock radio on her bedside table. Almost five. They could go back to sleep for a few hours. She didn’t have to get up until nine or so today. Ava looked as if she was feeling better. It was worth a try. Unless of course Ava wanted to call Max and the others right now.
“Almost five. Do you want to go back to sleep or do you want me to call Max?”
“No, that’s ok. Let’s try to sleep some more. I usually don’t get the dream more than once every night.”
“Ok. We’ll talk more later, then. But wake me if you need me, ok?”
“I’ll be fine.”
Later that day, Liz called Max and Max called Isabel and Michael and in the evening, everyone – even Sean and Laurie – who were looking as if they had mixed feelings about being included in the official alien business – met at Isabel’s and Alex’ place.
Liz had given Max a brief outline of the situation, but by the time they were all crowded into the living room, it was clear that at least the three aliens were eager to know more. After an inquiring glance at Ava, who looked as if she’d changed her mind about the whole thing – Liz decided to explain, as far as she could, before letting the others ask Ava themselves.
Ava kept her eyes fixed on the floor at her feet, looking so tense, Kyle almost reached out and touched her. In the end, he settled for gazing worriedly at her from time to time.
When Liz had finished, Isabel and Max began talking at the same time. Isabel stared imperiously at Max and he faltered, giving her a chance to have her say first.
“Are you sure that’s a true memory? Couldn’t it just be – I don’t know – symbolic?”
Moving her hands nervously, Ava finally faced the other girl, an agonized look in her eyes. Isabel chose to ignore that, even if she had noticed.
“No. I don’t know, but I – think this happened some time. When I was born from one of those pods, maybe?”
“Yeah, obviously, but – don’t you remember anything else? Anything that might be helpful?”
“I don’t think so.”
Now Max broke in, a concerned look on his face.
“Do you remember anything about your early days? What’s your first memory? You know how we told you that Izz and I were walking in the desert, holding each other’s hands? Do you have any recollection at all how you ended up in New York?”
“No. Not like that. I think – the first memory I have is being with – them, in New York.”
“Ok. It’s ok. Don’t worry about it.”
Isabel made a slight impatient noise, then made eye contact with Ava again.
“Do you think I could dreamwalk and see the dream for myself? Like tonight? Would you mind?”
Ava considered the question. Anything to do with the dream made her uneasy, but somehow, she felt a little bit reassured by the thought of having Isabel share it. Of being there, inside her mind, when the dream came.
“No. I – think I’d like that. If you can – make me feel less scared -“
A look of pity entered Isabel’s eyes. Apparently, the dream was really horrible, at least Ava must feel that way. And she thought she could help, a little. By steering Ava’s mind away from the traumatic memory. Judging by her attitude towards Kyle, that would be a good choice. Some silly, insipid little meeting between them. A walk, for instance. Or maybe sitting at the Crashdown, having a snack. Exactly the sort of lame thing those two would do.
“I’ll do my best.”
Max looked around the room. Sean and Laurie clearly didn’t know what to make of this. He didn’t blame them. It was puzzling. Why didn’t he and Isabel have a dream like that? What was the difference between them and Ava? He glanced at Michael, and was surprised to find that his – brother – looked almost as tense as Ava. Had he and Maria had a fight, or was this somehow connected to Ava’s story? Just in case, he tried to sense how Michael was feeling, but it was useless. When Michael didn’t want to be read, it would take someone stronger than Max to penetrate his protective armor.
On their way home, Maria too, noticed Michael’s silence and the odd expression on his face. Since they were only about half a block away from home, she decided to wait until they were inside before trying to figure out what was bothering him.
As soon as she’d closed the door behind them, she opened her mouth to ask Michael, but he just brushed past her and up the stairs, without even looking at her.
“Excuse me? I’m not even here, am I? Michael? What’s going on?”
No reply. She hurried up the stairs after him and caught up with him going into the bathroom.
“Michael. What are you so upset about?”
Slowly, he turned and faced her. His face was so white, Maria was wondering if he was going to be sick. The eyes were – dark somehow, like when he was in a bad mood or really sad. Her irritation died almost as soon as it had started.
“Michael? Are you ok?”
He seemed to make an effort to pull himself together, but he wasn’t fooling her. She might not have their fancy alien powers, but she knew Michael. When he was in this kind of mood, something was wrong.
“Yes. It’s nothing. I’ll just -“
He indicated the bathroom. Maria let him go. It would be no use trying to talk to him now. Maybe when he’d worked out whatever was bothering him, it might be possible to get something out of him. In the meantime, she got herself a late snack, then began to get undressed.
By the time Michael returned, she was already in bed, but with the light on. He undressed, then got into bed beside her, all without saying a word. It was reminding of her of the old days. The old Michael.
She was going to say goodnight, but changed her mind and merely turned out her light and stretched out, her back to Michael.
After a few minutes, she was fast asleep.
Michael found that he had a much harder time of dozing off. In the end, he couldn’t take it any longer. He got up, quietly, so he wouldn’t wake Maria, got dressed again and slipped out.
Reluctantly, he began to walk in the direction of Liz’ house. He climbed up to her window, then knocked, as quietly as he could, hoping that Ava would hear him. Nothing. He knocked again, a little louder this time. Just as he was about to knock again, Liz’ face showed up behind the glass pane. She looked concerned, but when she saw who it was, she opened the window.
“Michael? Is anything wrong?”
“No. Can I just talk to Ava for a while?”
She looked surprised, but stepped aside and let him in. He noticed that she was wearing a rather large t-shirt. Nothing that Maria would like to be seen in, but then Liz obviously wasn’t sleeping with her boyfriend. Just sharing a room with another girl.
The blonde girl was already awake and now she got up. She was wearing an almost identical t-shirt.
“Is it ok if I talk to you for just a moment?”
“What about out here? On the roof? Do you have anything you could put on?”
“No, it’ll be fine. Liz – I’ll just – I won’t be long.”
“Ok. I’ll go back to bed.”
Michael hardly noticed Liz retreating. He climbed out again and sat down in a corner. Ava followed him and sat down as well, looking tense and nervous.
“That dream – I think I may have had it too. Or – I still get it from time to time.”
“Do you remember more of it?”
“Not really. I think – you might have been there. Or Tess. And then – you were gone.”
Ava stared at Michael, trying to reach into her memories. All the others had been there, but was there anyone she knew in particular? Could she put a name to her perceptions?
In the end, she almost shook her head. It was useless. She was too terrified to be able to remember anything else.
“Ok. I don’t remember you especially. Just that everyone was there, I think.”
Micheal too was trying to take apart the fragments of memories he still had. It was all more or less the same as what Ava had told Liz. Being safe and warm in the darkness, then a sharp light banishing the comforting darkness and something else. Like a shadow falling across him. As if something was searching for something? And whatever it was, it had passed by him closely.
“I – just wanted to check if you remembered more. And – of course – to tell you about it. Max and Izz don’t have that memory, at least I don’t think so. They’ve never mentioned it to me.”
“Why didn’t you say anything? Tonight?”
“I don’t know. It’s something I’ve tried to forget, just as much as – other things from my childhood.”
“Oh. Well, I don’t think Isabel has any memory like that. Not Max either. I think they would have told us. Don’t you?”
“Yeah, probably. Look, I’m going to go back now. Thanks for talking to me.”
Before Ava had time to reply, he was gone. On her way back inside, Ava felt more confused than ever. Michael had had the same dream. What could that mean? She was hoping Isabel might be able to find out more. The thought of Isabel reminded Ava that she ought to be in bed, asleep. Isabel wouldn’t like being kept waiting.
She streched out on her side, trying to relax. Using all her willpower, somehow she was able to force herself to sleep.
Isabel made a face. That girl sure took her time getting to sleep. And what had Michael been doing over there? She had better take a little peek inside his head too. He wouldn’t mind, at least she didn’t think so. Besides, if he did, tough. This might concern all of them. Their safety might even depend on it.
Isabel actually saw Ava sitting on the roof, talking to Michael, briefly, but she wasn’t really interested in that, so she waited impatiently until Ava’s dream returned. Forcing herself all the way inside it, Isabel did her best to see all there was to see.
Ava inside the pod. It had to be. And someone next to her. Rath? No. Not Rath. Michael.
Of course. She might have guessed. Tess was just too much like those New York aliens. A perfect match. She would have been Rath’s sister. Which made their sexual habits even more disgusting than she already thought they were. All of them. Imagine having sex with another girl, just because some guy wanted it.
If one of her dates had asked that of her, he might have found himself drinking a laxative or – Michael’s old trick came to mind – a painful, insistent rash. Or she could have sent him a dream of himself in bed with another guy. Poetic justice.
Ok. Ava and Michael were twins. What else? She strained her senses outward and saw the bright light explode into the two unborn children’s eyes. It nearly blinded them, but moments afterwards, a shadow fell across them.
Isabel left Ava’s fear and forced herself to see what it was. She wasn’t scared of a memory. There was something familiar about that tall figure – as if she knew it from somewhere – Was it a person? Someone she’d met before? Oh. Could that be possible? Well, why not?
She might as well make sure, by going into Michael’s mind too, if he still had the dream. But it seemed Ava’s story had stirred things up for him and Isabel dreamwalked straight into his version of the dream. It was almost identical. The only difference was that if possible, little Michael had been even more terrified than Ava.
It occurred to Isabel that maybe this was the explanation of why Michael had been too scared to join her and Max when they were walking away from the cave and into the desert. The occurrence had spooked him so badly that he couldn’t trust even them. That was sad.
She’d better keep her promise and steer Ava away from the dream, but first she might as well do the same for Michael. Staging a meeting with Maria really didn’t sit well with her, so in the end, she pushed Michael towards another childhood memory, of the three of them together. A good memory, at least she thought Michael might think so too.
She returned to Ava and pushed her towards a goofily smiling Kyle. Want a date with Bhudda boy? Coming right up. Soft drinks and sandwiches optional. She left Ava sitting at a table in the Crashdown, sipping a soda, gazing into Kyle’s eyes. That should do it.
When she woke up, Alex had gone to sleep. It rather annoyed her, but since Ava had kept her waiting for so long, it wasn’t surprising. Besides, Alex looked so sweet lying like that, she couldn’t help kissing him lightly on the neck. He stirred a little, but didn’t wake up. Oh, well, couldn’t be helped. She might as well get some sleep herself. Tomorrow she had an early lecture.
In the morning, Isabel recalled the night’s dreamwalking and what she’d learned and she considered calling Max right away to tell him, but changed her mind. Time enough in the afternoon. If she remembered correctly, they’d all be free from around three that afternoon.
This time, they all crowded into Maria’s place. She had prepared some pies for them, or more likely Maria’s mother had. Grudgingly, Isabel admitted that they were actually quite ok. A little bland, but ok. She noted with satisfaction that sugar and bottles of hot sauce were on the table.
They ate while they chatted about other matters. Isabel wasn’t going to talk with her mouth full of food, and they could all just wait until they’d finished the meal. This was quite nice, she admitted. Almost like old times, except with a lot more people.
Isabel noticed that Ava kept looking at Kyle out of the corner of her eye and – oh, for crying out loud – Kyle did the same. Sometimes, their gazes met and they both looked away, cheeks burning. Couldn’t someone put those two out of their misery? Why didn’t they go on a date? But that wasn’t her problem.
When everyone had finished, Isabel made sure she had their attention.
“I found out two things last night.”
Max stared at her, eyes wide. He was taking this alien business awfully seriously. Oh, well. She might as well go on.
“Ava and Michael are from the same pod. They’re twins. You are twins, Ava, Michael.”
Those two exchanged glances. They didn’t look too surprised. In fact, Isabel could have sworn that at least Michael looked relieved. No, Ava too.
“That was one. The other one was a lot bigger, but actually, I don’t know why I was surprised. It makes sense, sort of. You know that shadow? The one that fell across you? That was Nasedo. He must have broken you out of the pod, Ava and – evaluated you. Then when he wasn’t happy about you, he must have pulled Tess out too, and he picked her. Lucky you. Then when those three woke up, they must have assumed you were one of them. Not so lucky, I guess. Well, that was all I could find out. What do you say? Do you think it makes sense?”
The silence in that room told Isabel that her news had really astonished them. When you thought about it, why should it surprise anyone? Nasedo had clearly taken Tess. Tess was a lot more like Rath and Lonnie and – In any case, it had all been pretty obvious, but they had just failed to pick up on it.
“Well? Michael? Ava?”
Ava hesitated, then actually smiled. Isabel could hardly remember seeing that girl smile. Not as if she meant it anyway.
“I – I’m glad. All this time, I’ve felt that I didn’t belong with them. Then when I met you – here in Roswell – I kept thinking how much I wished I could have lived here. Grown up here with you. So, this is good news.”
Michael finally pulled himself together and he too smiled.
Isabel sniffed. This was turning out to be one of those silly, Hallmark days.
“Me too. Ever since we found out what Tess was like – in fact – I’m sorry, Max – I never really liked her. I hated the idea that she and I were twins. Like you and Izz. Ava – you’re a lot more like us. So, I’m glad too. Thanks, Izz.”
Max still looked as if he had something on his mind. He’d better hurry. Alex had band practice tonight and she intended to get him and herself there on time.
“What about this thing with Nasedo? Does it tell us anything more than we already knew?”
Isabel considered. Not really. It merely confirmed what they already knew. She couldn’t imagine that even if Ava had remembered more of how the New York three had taken her there, it would help much. There was nothing about that she really wanted to know. Those three – four if you counted Tess – weren’t anything to do with them.
“I don’t think so. Anyone?”
No one had anything else to say, so Isabel got up and nodded towards the door.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, Alex and I have to be going. See you later.”
Alex hurried after his wife. leaving the others still sitting at the table, pensive looks on their faces. In the end, Sean and Laurie got up.
“We’d better get going too. Tomorrow, we have a meeting with my lawyer. I’m finally going to get access to all my money. We can get a house now or at least an apartment.”
Everyone congratulated Laurie and Maria began to gather up the dishes. Liz got up to help, and so did Ava and Kyle. That was far too many helpers so Maria ordered Ava and Kyle to stay. Liz followed her into the kitchen.
Ava felt she needed to think about what all this was going to mean to her. Now that she knew Michael was her twin, she wanted to get to know him better. If he was in a sociable mood. She’d found that he frequently wasn’t.
“I’d better go too.”
She left so quickly, it was a while before anyone reacted. Kyle shot up and went after her. Michael and Max exchanged a glance, but didn’t comment.
Max was wondering how Michael felt about the whole thing. He had seemed to accept the news and Max thought he was pleased, but it was always hard to tell with Michael.
“What do you think?”
“Oh. It’s fine. Like I said, rather Ava than Tess.”
“Yes. Well, at least this was good news.”
“Yeah. Well, I think I’d better go and help Maria. Why don’t you go and grab Liz? When was the last time you guys went out or had some time alone together?”
“Too long ago. Ok. See you later, then.”
Max realized that Michael probably wanted to get rid of him, and that was fine with him. Since Michael’s marriage, he’d opened up a lot more and Max was grateful to Maria for that. Besides, he and Liz always had such bad luck. It was time they got together seriously. Isabel and Michael were already married. Maybe it was time for them to do the same?
Kyle caught up with Ava before she’d managed to get too far. She glanced anxiously behind her but when she saw it was him, she actually smiled. Kyle returned the smile and almost forgot what he’d intended to say.
“Oh, it’s you. Hi.”
“Hi. I was – wondering how you’re feeling? With this news and – well, how are you settling in and so on?”
She had been in Roswell for almost four months this time, so her settling in wasn’t really the issue, but she was grateful to Kyle for making up any excuse to talk to her. There was something about him that she found reassuring, but in another way – attractive. No powers, just – an ordinary guy. Her twin – Michael – was married to an ordinary girl and Max and Isabel were involved with humans too. Why shouldn’t she –
“It’s ok. I – like I told everyone in there, I’m glad it was Michael, not Rath.”
“Yes, I can understand that. Tess -“
He broke off, not knowing what to say. He didn’t like to be reminded of her.
Ava knew that. He’d confided in her about the reason for his fear and loathing for the blonde girl. She didn’t blame him. That was exactly like the things Rath and Lonnie liked to do, but she didn’t want to remember any of that. Instead, she kept walking with Kyle, ending up outside the Crashdown.
It was closed, but she could see mr and mrs Parker clearing up in there. They saw her too and waved at her.
Mr Parker came to open the door.
“There you are, Tess. Is Liz coming soon?”
“She was helping Maria in the kitchen, but I felt I needed to get going.”
“Hello, Kyle. You must be pleased to have Tess back again.”
Kyle tensed up at the mention of that name, but knowing Liz’ parents believed Ava to be Tess, he forced himself to smile.
“Yes. It’s great to have her back.”
“Did you want something from the kitchen?”
“No, Maria had pies for us. So I’ll just go on -“
“Of course. Nice to see you again, Kyle.”
They went up the stairs and sat down on the roof. Kyle thought back to all the times he’d been there with Liz, but in retrospect, he suddenly realized that he hadn’t been as much in love with Liz as he’d thought he’d been. Not in Tess either. Ava – he had no idea what was so different about her, but it was something. He knew that Ava wasn’t as strong as Tess but he still felt safe with her around. As if she might be able to protect him, if Tess did show up again.
She made a face.
“It’s just that – I hate being called by her name. I shouldn’t be so sensitive. It’s just a word. Never mind.”
He nodded as if in agreement. In fact, he was agreeing with Ava. Tess and even the mention of her name could still make him feel a chill go down his spine. LIterally. Once he’d been close to dying, when he’d been hit by the Alien Hunter’s bullet, but that memory didn’t fill him with anything like the same dread.
But now they were alone together. Presumably, Ava would be able to sense Tess’ approach from afar and so would Max, Michael and Isabel. He decided to ask, just in case. If it did something to allay his fears, he’d be all for it.
“I was wondering – you can sort of sense when one of them is around, right?”
He didn’t need to specify who ‘them’ was.
“It depends. If I wasn’t paying attention, they might be getting quite close and if they were masking their thoughts – and had shapeshifted -“
That was not what he wanted to hear, and maybe his face conveyed his feelings to Ava, because she hurriedly went on.
“But I am paying attention. I’ve been so used to the way they are, the sort of aura they project – I think I’ll be able to tell. Besides, they’d never be able to completely imitate – say – Max or Michael. I mean Rath wouldn’t. Not to me, or Isabel or one of the others. There would be things that would give them away.”
Kyle recalled that time when Rath and Lonnie had used their shapeshifting talents to abduct and abuse Max, but then Max hadn’t been expecting that attack. He would be more wary now, Kyle thought.
With an enormous effort, he managed to drag his mind away from all those traumatic events in the past. Somehow, he was able to think of something to talk to her about. Stuff he assumed girls were interested in. She certainly found a lot to discuss with him.
By the time Liz returned, they were sitting so close together, Liz had no trouble guessing what they’d been up to moments before her arrival. No problem, as far as she was concerned. It couldn’t happen to two nicer people.
When she appeared, Kyle shot up, looking almost – guilty. Liz really didn’t want him to feel that way on her account. She would only be too happy if he was able to move on. It had been a long time since Kyle had been seeing anyone.
Kyle left and the girls went to bed without saying too much about the evening’s discoveries. In the morning, Ava surprised Liz by wanting to pay Michael a visit. Since he wasn’t going to college, at least not yet and he worked the evening shifts this week, that shouldn’t be much of a problem. But Liz was late as it was, so she didn’t have time to stay around and chat.
Ava set out on foot. Since she’d arrived in Roswell, the second time, she’d done her best to learn to know her way around.
She rang the doorbell, and the door opened so quickly she was afraid someone had been standing in there keeping an eye out for her. But when she took in Maria’s appearance, she realized that Michael’s wife was just late for a lecture.
“Ava? I mean – Tess – I mean – sorry, I have to go. Talk to Michael. Bye.”
Ava glanced cautiously into the house, but couldn’t see Michael anywhere. Her twin brother. That took some getting used to. Since Maria had left, with the door standing ajar, Ava decided, after a moment’s consideration, to step inside and close the door.
Awkwardly, she waited around, not sure if she ought to sit down, go and look for Michael or simply leave the visit until later. She didn’t know any of the Roswell aliens so well yet. Apart from Liz and Kyle, she hadn’t made any close friends yet, even if she thought Alex was a nice guy and Max seemed to be too.
She heard someone coming down the stairs and looked up. Michael had clearly come straight from the shower, his hair dripping wet and a towel wrapped around his waist. He was using another towel to dry himself off.
Ava’s discomfort increased. She knew she ought to have called ahead. It had just seemed like a nice idea, to take a walk and try to get to know her new brother better. And here she was, in his house, at this awkward time.
Michael caught sight of her and for a second, he looked almost as uncomfortable as she was feeling. He recovered fast and kept going, almost as if he hadn’t reacted at all.
“Hi. What’s up?”
“Oh. I – I was hoping we could -“
Michael’s conscience struck him and he recalled Maria’s admonitions about being polite to guests. Growing up the way he had, he hadn’t really had reason to learn about how to treat guests. Hank had almost never had any, but when he had, he’d usually been worse than ever.
“Hey. Sit down. Can I – get you anything? Did you have breakfast?”
“Uh – yes.”
“Well, I’m going to have some orange juice – one of my specials – and you’re welcome to have one too, if you like.”
Michael went into the kitchen, opened the fridge door and got the orange juice and the hot sauce. He put the bottles on the table, then pulled a large bowl of sugar closer. After he’d found two clean glasses standing upside down on the sink, he poured some juice and hot sauce into one of them, then added generous amounts of sugar.
Ava nodded, when he held out the other glass to her. She accepted a little of the special mix, but continued sitting on the edge of her chair. Maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea, after all. Who knew if Michael wanted to get to know his new sister? Guys probably didn’t really care about things like that. Except she’d seen how close Max and Isabel were. On the other hand, those two had grown up together. She and Michael hadn’t met until their late teens.
Michael finished his drink and faced her.
“You know what? I don’t know if you heard, but I grew up with a foster father. A guy named Hank. He was a creep. Beat me up and – anyway, Nasedo killed him and I was grateful for that, but – Nasedo was just as much of a bastard as he was. He pulled you out of the pod, then dumped you on the floor. So those New York psychos got their hands on you. And I – he’d spooked me so badly I didn’t dare to go with Max and Isabel when they started to walk away. So there I was, living with Hank, and you with those three. It’s all Nasedo’s fault. Of course, Tess and Nicholas and Rath and Lonnie have played a part in it too.”
“I know. Do you ever think about what things could have been like if everything had been different? If you’d joined Max and Isabel and ended up in a nice home? Or – if you and I had been born together, so we would have walked out of there together?”
“Sure. I used to do that all the time. When I saw what a great life Max and Isabel had, I always wished someone nice could have come for me too. But – I guess I waited too long. And I was so scared I probably wasn’t cute enough. What about you?”
“Yes. Always. I used to see families in the park or on the subway or wherever. They looked so happy and – normal. I wished I could have had parents.”
“If you’d ended up with Hank, you wouldn’t have felt that way.”
“Did you ever consider -“
“Using your powers? To scare him? Not to hurt him.”
“I thought about doing it. Everytime he beat me and called me a little freak. But I was even more scared of all that weird stuff inside me. I wanted to be a normal kid. Not some -“
“He was wrong. You’re not a freak. He was.”
“Yeah, yeah. Anyway, that’s all in the past. But I do wish we’d been able to walk out of there together. You and me. Max and Isabel – they did their best for me, but – they had each other. They were my friends, but – I guess I could have used a sister.”
Ava was beginning to relax a little. Maybe coming here hadn’t been such a mistake after all. She smiled briefly. Michael returned the smile. It seemed he’d had almost the same type of childhood she had. They might not have had each other when they were growing up, but they’d met now. There was still time to get to know each other.
It appeared Michael felt the same way, because he relaxed a bit too and began to talk more freely. After a while, he excused himself and went upstairs to get dressed. When he returned, he suggested going for a walk together.
He was glad Ava had come by. When he’d met Laurie, he’d felt protective of her, partly because he felt sorry for her, but most of all because she was family. All the family he’d thought he had, except for Max and Isabel. Now he had Maria, and Amy, and – though he didn’t really want to go that far – Sean, but he still missed having what Max and Isabel had.
It shouldn’t have made a difference, but for whatever reason, he was really glad to have found Ava. He didn’t think he’d ever have been able to accept Tess, but Ava was different, even if she was a little too much like Liz. It would be nice to get to know his sister. Having a family, just like everyone else, made him feel a little more normal.
So they went off for their walk and Michael showed her all his favorite places around Roswell, then walked her back to the Crashdown, before going to work. It occurred to him that they’d really missed out on something, growing up, just the three of them. With Ava here, they would be able to stand a chance against their enemies, but that wasn’t all. They were family. That was something those cold-blooded aliens would never understand. When they attacked, the Roswell aliens would be ready.