The Searchers
AURA # 1

By: Brian Grassie, aka AlexEvans
Disclaimer: based on Roswell, I don't own the characters etc.
Summary: An alternate Roswell. Alex, Maria and Liz search for the reason they have been left on Earth. They may not like what awaits them at the end of their search.
Archive: Please! Just let me know first.

This is my first time posting on this board... please feedback. *happy*

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September 10, 1999
Roswell High, Roswell, New Mexico

I sat outside the school, enjoying the warm weather on the first day of school. I upended my bottle of Tabasco sauce over my sub, watched as a single drop gathered and fell. Gingerly, I lifted the sub and took a small bite. Inedibly bland. Gah. I waited for Liz and Maria to arrive. One of the disadvantages of grade 11 was that our divergent interests and talents were keeping us apart far too much of the day. I watched- okay, stared at, I can't help it- Isabel Evans, as she walked out of the school, smoothly discarding her friends and heading towards her brother. The Ice Princess. But I can't help but feel there's more to her than that. That she might be as beautiful on the inside as on the outside. After all, I am not who I appear to be either. I sighed. It would be so easy to find out. But I don't dare. Because, not knowing, I can dream. Isabel turned towards me, caught me staring at her. She smiled slightly. I looked away, embarrassed. Fortunately, Liz and Maria arrived with their lunches, sitting down across from me.

Liz followed my gaze. "The Ice Princess, Alex? Please don't let yourself in for this." I looked across the table at her. She was studying Max. I took the opportunity to snatch her Tabasco and spice up my sub, running my hand across it to reheat it.

Maria grabbed the Tabasco from me, added a big splash to her cherry cola. "Would you two quit staring at the Evans like you're planning to abduct them and think about something serious for a minute?" She shook her head at our expressions. "Okay, stupid joke. But remember we're different."

Liz nodded. "The Sighting last night appears to be just another hoax. Like all the others. We're alone here."

Maria wasn't ready to give up. "Lets go take a look for ourselves. Check out the crop circles. We can't give up searching, we have no better clues than this."

Liz looked at me. I just shrugged. "All right," Liz decided. "We'll go. But we can't stay out as late this time. You can borrow your mom's Jetta, Maria?"

***

Isabel turned her head, caught Alex looking at her. She gave him a smile as he looked away. Now why don't I have friends like that? Shy, wistful, even rather cute. Why do I always have to be the Ice Princess? She sighed. Alone in a crowd is still alone. But I have Max. Tess and Michael too, of course. What friendship could be more improbable than the four of us? "So, Max, how have your classes gone? Have you seen Michael or Tess yet?"

"Pretty good, and here they come now."

Michael Guerin and Tess Valenti walked over to join them. "Hey," said Michael. "Do you how long it took me to to remember I hate school? Until my alarm went off in my ear this morning."

***

Finally last period arrived. History. Computers were my skill, but history was fun. Besides, it was last. Computer class came right before Chem, which took all the fun out of it. In history I had even snagged the perfect seat. Close enough to the front to get the teacher's attention if I had a question, or an answer. Who cares what the people who think that being smart makes me a geek think? Far enough back that I could keep quiet if I felt like that. And one seat behind, and one to the left, of Isabel Evans. I just had to turn my head a tiny bit, as if I was looking at the teacher while he talked, and I could watch her. As the assignment was handed out, I saw her immediately jotting down her answers. So did the teacher.

"Take a bit more time, Miss Evans. The Ancient Mesopotamians and Egyptians have been gone long enough that a few more minutes won't matter."

Isabel looked up defiantly. "I'm doing fine."

The teacher picked up her sheet, ran his pencil lightly down the page. His frown eased. "Very good, Isabel." He returned her paper. "But if this was a test, the stuff I can't read would hurt your mark." She nodded. Mr. Collins raised his voice to address the class. "This type of short answer question will be part of each of your tests. If you write your answers exactly as if you were writing a test, I can help you to improve. I don't just give you good marks. But I make it possible for all of you to earn them."

I turned back to my answer sheet, began answering the questions, racing the clock. Finally, one of them stumped me. I looked around. Mr. Collins had just stepped out the door to speak to a passing teacher. None of the students I knew to be good at this were seated near me. I decided to test a hunch. "Isabel." She turned in her seat. "Mr. Collins and the text give different names for this Pharaoh. Which is right, or did I mishear him?"

Isabel looked around as if nervous about spoiling her image. Nobody was paying any attention to us. "Both are possibly right. Something about different translations from cuneiform script. So you can use either Cheops or Kofu."

"Thanks." I looked at Isabel with new respect. I knew there was more to her than looks. There just had to be. I quickly finished my work, so I could return to my thoughts. Stop doing this to yourself Alex, you don't have a chance any ways. Even if you were her species. If you ever get anywhere with a girl it will be because she doesn't know what you are. Unless its Maria. But as much as I like her, I simply can't think of her that way. She's my sister almost as much as Liz is. Biologically, they could both be my sisters. Or neither. I just wish we knew something about all this.

***

After school I put in a shift at the Crashdown, dawning antennas and immersing myself in cooking Alien-themed food for Liz and Maria to deliver to the guests. Fortunately, since Liz and I took turns doing up the schedule, all three of us were off at the same time, so after 3 hours we were able to head out to check on the crop circles.

Liz drove the Jetta very carefully towards the farm where the sighting had been reported. I leaned forward from the back. "What's that light?" It was white, stunningly bright. Suddenly it began to move off, disappearing up and East. We exchanged glances. We had been resigned to a futile search, that we continued only because to stop investigating these rumors was to admit defeat and give up hope. Actually seeing a UFO was a lot more than we had bargained for.

Liz frowned. "That's the Evan's jeep." She pulled up behind. The jeep was sitting in the middle of the road, no lights on, not even its four way flashers. We got out and approached.

"Scorch marks." Maria prodded the burnt piece of wood with her foot. It collapsed into ashes.

A feeling of dread began to build inside me. "Something's really wrong."

Liz pushed ahead. "If Max was in the jeep-" I yanked open the front driver's side door and reached under the seat. I held up the purse. "Isabel. She must be around here somewhere." I tossed the purse back under the seat. "We've got to look around. Find her."

We entered the fields. Crop circles, all right. Perfectly circular. In the center of the largest of the center most circle were yellow glowing sigils. We approached. "I know these from somewhere. I've seen them." Visions raced through my mind. Ships speeding through the void. A green sky. Two moons, blue and yellow, racing each other across the sky. We knelt down above the symbols.

"A message," Maria breathed. "To us. It has to be. They don't know we can't read it."

We heard someone approaching through the cornstalks from the opposite of the direction we had come from.. We retreated to the far side of the circle, bunched together in fear. Liz raised her hand. "Flashlights off, now!" she hissed.

Someone staggered out of the corn, looking around wildly. I looked closely, then turned my flashlight on and rushed out. "Alex, wait," Liz called after me.

"Isabel?" I shouted.

"Alex? What's going on? The last thing I remember I was driving home, then there was a bright flash of light, and then I was standing here." She trembled.

I pulled Isabel into my arms. "You'll be all right." I closed my eyes, felt her deep violet aura. She was troubled, more scared than I had ever thought it possible to be. But not physically harmed. But not unchanged either, there was something subtle, something I couldn't quite put my finger on. "You are all right."

Liz and Maria rejoined us, flashlights back on.

Isabel looked at them. "You must think I'm crazy. I was abducted by aliens. It isn't possible."

"We believe you, Isabel," I attempted to reassure her. How can I convince her of that without telling her why?

"Don't pretend Alex, it doesn't help."

Liz interrupted. "We saw enough just on the way here to make us believers."

"Plus you look scared as hell," Maria added tactlessly.

Isabel nodded, hugged me back for a moment, then pushed away from me. "Don't tell anyone?"

Liz patted her on the shoulder. "Don't take the chance. You don't want people thinking your a loon, and you can't convince them. The cover-up is too good."

"What if they come back for me?"

"I don't think they will." I groped for the correct words. "They grabbed you for at most a couple minutes, your car was still quite warm when we arrived. I think you were rejected."

We walked with Isabel back to our cars. Isabel tried to start the jeep. "Dead battery." Maria got the jumpers out of the Jetta and we began to set it up. "I think one of the connectors is broken," Maria whispered.

"Just go through the motions. Fake it. I'll start the engine, I need cover." Maria nodded.

"Someone's coming." Liz shielded her eyes against the headlights as another car pulled up beside us. Valenti.

"What are you doing out here?" he asked.

Isabel looked at him, obviously torn. "My car just stopped. Stalled out, dead battery. I saw a bright light. I hurriedly stepped forward to take the cables from Maria, putting myself where Isabel could see me but not the Sheriff, and shook my head. Isabel caught my eye, gave me the slightest nod. "Just car trouble."

Valenti came closer, peered at her closely. "What else?"

Isabel looked back at him like a deer caught in a cars headlights. I looked at Liz and Maria. Neither seemed to have any idea what to do. I stepped forward. "Excuse me Sheriff, we're trying to jump start her jeep, and I'm embarrassed to admit I have no idea what I'm doing. Could you give me a hand?"

The Sheriff reached out and took the cables from me, noticing the broken connector. "This is broken. You'll electrocute yourself if you try to use this. I'll do it. Once you explain what you're doing out here. You didn't just happen to stop next to the crop circles. Are they your doing?"

Liz stepped forward. "Just because we're teenagers doesn't mean we're vandals. If you're looking for a hoaxer, try whoever owns that farm."

"What are you doing here then?" Valenti would not be distracted by appeals for help or by defiance. I saw Maria leaning against the Jetta, eyes shut, brow furrowed in concentration. But the Sheriff seemed imperturbable.

Isabel reached for my hand, held it tightly. Anger grew in me. She didn't deserve this, and I didn't dare let the Sheriff learn what had happened. Sooner or later any knowledge about Aliens could lead back to us. Especially since we were here. I pushed my anger away. I had to think. "My web site." Valenti looked at me. "I'm creating a web site about the Roswell incident, stuff about all the lore and the famous hoaxes and stuff. My friends" I waved towards Liz and Maria "are helping me do some primary research." Maybe I should... I just might learn something, and it would be good to practice my html.

"Miss Evans.." Valenti focused his attention on her once more. "Why are you here?"

"Helping Alex. It sounded like fun."

Valenti snorted. "Don't give me that garbage. I have a daughter at the high school, I know the basics of what goes on there. I know you aren't in the same crowds. Besides, you've been frightened or scared, and when I first got here you were telling me what sounded like the start to a classic abduction story."

"She" I started in.

Valenti interrupted "I didn't ask you, Mr. Parker."

Isabel released my hand and stepped forward. "My jeep stopped. I was alone in the dark, with no top on the jeep, and then I saw a car coming, and I'd frightened myself with too many stories. That's all. Sheriff, I want to go home."

"I think you'd better come with me. After all, I can't be sure you weren't one of the vandals behind these crop circles."

Isabel snapped. After whatever she'd just gone through the Sheriff didn't seem as scary as he once had. "No Sheriff, you have no evidence and both my parents are lawyers. Leave us alone!"

"I can arrest you all for trespassing." No one answered him. Isabel stared defiantly. Valenti rested his hand on the Jetta's hood, then headed for the jeep. I backed away from him, putting my hand on the jeep. Still warm, which means Isabel's story won't hold up. I reached out, slowing the molecules in the surface of the hood. Just enough, I don't want to overdo it. Valenti reached past me, touched the jeep, nodded. "Goodnight all. If you decide to tell me what really happened out here, you know where to find me." He headed back to his cruiser.

"Sheriff? My jeep?" Isabel's voice quavered.

He turned. "I don't appreciate being lied to, nor threatened. Don't use their cables, you'll get electrocuted. I guess you'd better get a ride home with them, leave your jeep." Valenti locked his cruiser and walked through the corn. We could hear him moving towards the crop circles.

"He's bluffing. I know electronics well enough, these will work fine. They're just like computer cables, only bigger." I retrieved the jumper cables where Valenti had dumped them on the ground.

"Alex, don't risk it!" Isabel stepped in my path. "My parents might kill me for leaving the jeep out here, but it won't be literally. You aren't going near my jeep again with those."

"I know what I'm doing!" I realized I wasn't going to convince her. "Okay, we'll drive you home."

I sat in back with Isabel. She remained angry and scared. "I can't believe it. Something happened to me, I don't even know what. None of my friends will believe me. If I tell my parents or my brother they will think I'm nuts."

I tried to find the right thing to say. "Isabel, I know we haven't been close. But if you ever need to talk, I'll be there for you. Anytime."

Maria glared at me in the rear-view mirror. Liz turned in her seat. "We're all here if you need us, Isabel. We've all seen things tonight."

Isabel nodded. "Thank you. God, I finally encounter Aliens, and they just stop my car in the middle of nowhere and snatch me. I hate them, I hate Aliens!"

I turned away, stared out the window. Of course she does. Those words hurt me so much and she doesn't even know it. I realized that over the course of the night, things had changed between us. We were friendly in class today. She's never really been mean, just distant before that. But tonight she reached out to me for support. Maybe just because no-one else was there- but she could have decided to trust Valenti, gone to him for protection. She trusted me instead. And somehow, sometime tonight, while I saw her scared and vulnerable and then saw her stand up to Valenti, my feelings changed too. This
morning I had a crush on her. Now I'm in love. I can never let her learn the truth about me. I couldn't stand it if she hated me.


***

Isabel collapsed into her brother's arms. "Max, just hold me a minute." He complied wordlessly. Finally, Isabel pulled away. "Our parents are still out?"

"Yes. Isabel, what happened. Where's the jeep, why did those kids drop you off?" Suspicion and protectiveness flared. "Did Alex do something to you?"

Isabel shook her head. "He and his sister and Maria picked me up. The jeep stalled out." She looked into his eyes. She dared not sound crazy, she needed him, and he would tell their parents if she said she'd been abducted. He would do what he thought was right, whatever she said. "Valenti- Valenti scared me. I stalled out near to some crop circles or something, Valenti was accusing me of doing it as vandalism, a hoax."

"I'm sorry Isabel."

"I'm going to my room. Don't tell our parents anything except that the jeep stalled and I had to get a ride home with some friends. Please, Max," she implored him.

"Okay, Isabel. If you ever want to tell me more, you can." He watched her go, spoke under his breath. "I won't tell our parents anything now. But something happened out there. If you're getting into trouble with Valenti and then lying to me, something is wrong. I'm going to find out what. I'll talk to this Alex. Then, once I know what happened, I'll talk to our parents. I'm not going to let my sister get hurt somehow, come home scared and crying, and do nothing."

***

We drove Isabel home first, letting her out and waiting until her brother opened the door to greet her before driving on.

"She can never know the truth. She'd hate me. I mean, she'd hate us." I saw sympathy in Liz's eyes at least. "But- if it has to come out- I want to be the one to tell her. It might. She knows we exist, now. If they come for her again, I say we fight."

Maria pulled to the side of the road. "Fight our own kind? Those we've searched for our whole lives? To protect a human we barely know?"

I wasn't in a mood to respect her hopes. "Our own kind? 'Am I not human to? Joke, and do I not laugh? Prick me, do I not bleed?' Be beautiful, and smart, and strong, and need me, and do I not love." I hadn't meant to say so much.

Maria shivered. "It can't be. We've searched so long, so hard, only to find the kitschiest stories of flying saucers and abductions are true? Is that what our parents our?"

Liz's voice was unnaturally harsh. "We don't know that. There's got to be some other explanation. Or maybe there's at least two types of Alien out there. Our parents and the abductors. Or maybe Alex is right, we are more human than anything else. We don't know. Don't give up on finding answers. Don't give up on finding parents, or relatives, or someone of our own kind who will be like us. We have to be more careful than ever, but we won't give up the search."