|posted on 18-Feb-2002 4:12:11 AM|
|Title: Eight Miles High|
Rating: PG 13
Summary: This is primarily an M&M fic, but it does involve other characters and relationships later on, and it's got an action plot. Please read and give us your feed back, we would really, really appreciate it, because it's the only reason we'll carry on writing. Thanks.
I don’t know when it all started. No one can really pinpoint the moment their life gets complicated, can they? All I know is that nothing will ever be the same again. Never can I look at someone in the eye and tell them what’s been eating at my soul and will continue to for as long as I’m intended to be on this earth. Never again am I to speak to someone without an endless stream of lies spilling out of my mouth. Never am I to live a normal life.
I probably have the ability to unyieldingly pull the world to its knees and have everyone under my power, but have no knowledge of how to control this power. All my life I’ve lived amongst the world of the hunters. I guess you could say I’m now the hunted.
So here I am. Leaving the only sanctuary I’ve ever known for all my twelve years, about to enter into a world I wasn’t meant for. Away from the outskirts of Roswell that has always seemed so safe to me. My life is anything but safe now.
I can still see the prehistoric dinosaur bone lying on top of my chest. Maria gave me that. That was how we had met, her saving me from the prospect of being annihilated by The Nitwit of All Nitwits himself. Billy Cromwell. Grabbing the bone from the museum exhibition amidst shocked gasps, she had slammed him against the wall and threatened him with it, promising that if he came near me again, he’ll be eating his brain for breakfast. Like he ever had one.
I still remember her as that loudmouth six-year-old, the queen of the jungle gym, able to get across from one end to the other in five seconds flat.
Dad’s calling from downstairs. I guess this is it. I’m to go down with my suitcases and move out of this house after taking one last glimpse. I’m supposed to say goodbye to Maria, Liz and Alex and pretend to be happy about it, pretend that I’ll see them again when I know that I never will. I’m to look them straight in the eye and lie.
There’s no other choice. I guess you could say that now I have something to hide.
*Four Years Later*
“So what do you guys want?” I could almost feel the bitterness sliding its vile skin into my voice as I leaned over the stone bench, squeezing into the limited space in the company of half-empty glasses of milkshake, notepads strangely plagued with tiny teeth-marks in the corners, trays of mutilated food scraps no doubt the work of college rogues badly in need of a hobby, and used napkins sprawled over with messages like ‘call me at 329-6580, you know you want to, Brad’. This accumulation, the result of the end of an afternoon shift, served as a barrier between Michael and I in case one of us started shooting darts from our eyes.
It’s a good thing looks can’t kill, or we would’ve had two casualties lolling on the floor of the Crash Down Café who had died extremely painful deaths.
Max raised his eyebrows, hazel eyes clouding over as they went through one of their rare moments when all the reasoning in the lifetime of this chosen leader were completely at lost. “Um…chocolate milkshake,” his voice heavy with wariness sounded while his eyes stayed glued gazing pensively at the menu as if the meaning of life could be found in the piece of green cardboard embedded with spaghetti remnants from when Adam met Eve.
I sighed, then reached over and flipped the menu the right way up. “You Czechoslovakians specialise in reading up-side down?” Max blushed a deep shade of crimson, mumbling something incoherently which I’m sure were along the lines of “Thanks Maria.” Poor kid. Unlike some members of a certain alien species, I did feel bad about this situation Michael and I were putting the others through. Or rather, what Michael’s putting us through, for this whole thing’s completely out of my reach. Reasoning just won’t work with the pig-headed creature. Wouldn’t know sense if it fell out of the sky and introduced itself.
“Alex?” I turned my meaningful gaze towards my life-long accomplice, searching for sign of guidance.
“Yeah, I’ll have a chicken burger.” No help there. I turned around to Guerin.
“Michael, I know you might find this hard to believe, but I do have better things to do with my life then wait around for you. You ordering or no?” I snapped impatiently. No one was going to make a lovesick puppy out of me, kneeling amongst the flowerbeds, picking the petals off snow-white daisies singing the never ending songs of, “He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me……” No siree. No one’s going to treat Maria De Luca that way.
Michael stared back at me defiantly from the opposite end of the bench. “Ghmph.” Do my ears deceive me?
“Excuse me, was that a grunt? Did you just grunt at me?!?!” I can’t believe it. Refusing to exchange a civil word wasn’t good enough for the creep, but now he’s taken to making animal noises at me? His eyes danced under their steely exterior. He was enjoying this.
“Yeah, I’ll have a chicken burger too.” The pea brain tilted his head, thinking, every word drawn out, as though having us hanging on his every breath. “No, I’ll have a slice of chocolate cake……. actually, I feel like waffles with Tabasco topping on this joyful occasion.” I hope you choke on it. “I’ll tell you what,” his eyes gleamed with the evil that I was now convinced dwelled deep inside him. “Why don’t you surprise me? Add a little credibility in your life.”
I flounced around and briskly stormed to the back room, nose stuck in the air in my feeble attempt to give off ‘I’m an independent women of the 21st century, to hell with men’ vibes. I only wished the ends of my hair weren’t in one of their ‘Off With the Pixies’ modes, the horrible split ends levitating after a flat out day waitressing. The door swung shut behind me, closing off the stream of light that was the last of the autumn afternoon. Silently cursing, I aggressively scrubbed the tomato sauce stain off my green uniform, which only succeeded in spreading the red blotch further. I watched, amused, as the round stain proceeded in rearranging itself to form our beloved Michael’s head. “Take that, you creep!” I scrubbed violently, throwing punches at Michael, fully aware of how immature the whole concept of this was. I did not even want to think about what Liz would say.
Unconsciously, I edged myself towards the door, its oval shaped glass pathing way for my eyes to look through to the café, its familiar tables and chairs covered with dust and unseen stains, automatically sending through my body a pang of discomfort, this kind of waitressing radar I never knew I had.
This job was really getting to me.
Past the heads of faceless people that I saw everyday in this small, restricted town of ours, my eyes spotted Michael, head bent over the turquoise tablecloth. My eyes narrowed, studying the specimen in the opposite side of that room: Michael Guerin, the root of all my problems, sitting there, wallowing in his own melancholy state, the tall, mysterious dark figure. A man of mystery. The corners of my lips slowly curved up. His dark caramel eyes peeped from under the shock of black hair, a ghost of smile creating a small crevice near his mouth.
I blinked. What was happening to me? The jerk had broken up with me for the second time this month! I had fallen right into his devious trap, hook, line and sinker. Only Michael has the power to make me feel this way, to make my head spin like this, so sure yet uncertain at the same time, taking hold of all rational sense and pulping it into oblivion.
I slipped through the door back into the café before my pain-stakenly irrational thoughts strayed any further. More backbreaking work would do me good. The cracks between the tiles were stained a slight tinge of red. Only I ever noticed them, for if anyone else knew the cause of them, it would be deadly. I could still see Liz’s face twist in horror as she staggered from the bullet wound, streaming blood staining her dress, slipping to the floor on that very spot, her face deadly ashen. It was like she was the only thing existing in my world for even that tiny moment that had seemed like eternity. The rest - Max, Michael, the screaming- has seemed so far away, like there was a glassy surface disconnecting me from the rest of the world, blocking their feeble voices that were so insignificant at that moment that could’ve potentially altered my life forever.
Alex’s shout slashed through my thoughts. Fully knowing the million to one probability of it being something other then one of his trivial ramblings he so kindly reserves for me regarding a certain fickle blond alien, I whirled around expectantly, ready for the predicaments of someone else’s love-life for a change.
It was then that my eyes rested on what had caught everyone’s attention.
The rush of air halfway down my throat stoped dead in its tracks as I froze. His tall, brawny figure was silhouetted against the doorway, catching the tenuous light of the fading sun, giving a gallant, almost heroic look about him. His shaggy, straw-coloured hair was brushed delicately back, the contours of his face slightly altering as the dimples set into his pale cheeks. The streaming light created a soft hallow around his head.
I must have stood there for hours before I breathed the next words from my mouth in a voice so unlike my own.
Well, well, well. If it isn’t Jason White.
I remained on the front bench, taking in the sight before me. It reminded me of one of those soppy reunion scenes from a corny black and white movie, the two long lost lovers joyously prancing towards one another in slow motion, violin music blaring from the dusty TV speakers as they embrace in each other’s arms, the wind dramatically blowing back the maiden’s golden hair, accenting her delicate cheekbones. That’s the only way I can explain it. Except in this case, there’s a third party.
Alex let out a high-pitched yelp and jumped eagerly up and down, reminiscent of a human jack-in-a-box. Maria was frozen to the spot, gapping like a stunned mullet. The whole café had been thrown into a boisterous frenzy. He’d always had this effect on people.
I stood back, appraising the new arrival. A huge grin enveloped his face as he walked around, greeting everyone with the easy, angelic air of a prophet.
“Hey, Alex man. Good to see you,” the arrival smiled at the Jack-in-a-box. Seemed right at home, the town hero. No idea what exactly he did, though. Was there one day and gone the next, completely cleared out without warning or trace.
If I didn’t know better, I would’ve said he and his father had committed some sort of crime.
“Uh……Jason?” Alas, she speaks! Apparently Ms De Luca has recovered her dignity. A strange sliver descended down my spine as I watched the two openly checking each other out. Even from back here, you could see her positively drooling, running the tip of her tongue enticingly around her lips, a lion sensing the prey.
“Long time no see,” rasped Jason’s voice, suddenly possessing the utterly fake masculine drawl that only us guys are able to pick out. From the looks of things, it made Maria weak at the knees. On the next bench Max eyed me cautiously, stiffening up the way he always does when sensing I’m on the verge of doing something stupid.
Maria giggled and flashed him an alluring smile, shamefully flirting. “I guess,” those exquisite lashes of hers batted like there was no tomorrow, “we have some catching up to do, don’t we?” They eyed each other up and down.
Someone hold my head while I gag.
Conveniently failing to notice Max rapidly poking my back, I slipped off the stool and stepped forward. “Something wrong with your eyes, Maria?” She turned around, suddenly dropping the smile and regarding me coolly. I stiffened. It’s like an animal instinct of mine, I guess. When I sense hostility, I return it without thinking. I guess that’s how things always end up so badly between Maria and I. We both have inbuilt defences.
Prince charming turned around, noticing me for the first time. “Hey! Michael, right? Forth grade, short little dude always cowering in the front corner? Officially known as ‘The Guy with the Purple Socks’?” he laughed. “You were never much of a social butterfly, were you?”
My eyes never left Maria, her glare hitting me a thousand knives. Stepping back, wounded, I gave Jason a curt nod. “Yeah, well I never really felt the urge to make a public spectacle of myself on a daily basis like you did.”
His smile faltered. “Hey, I was just joking around, man.”
“Well, I’ll appreciate it if you keep your jokes to yourself,” I snapped.
“You know what, I’ll be back in a minute,” Maria quickly cut in, sensing the positively sizzling tension in the air. “I’ve just gotta grab my coat, then I’ll take the rest of the day off so you and I can do that catching up.” She sleekly escaped out of the room before I could get a chance to see her face. Without thinking, I followed her.
Maria stopped at the lockers, her hand halting mid-air for a split second at the sound of the locker door behind me. I took a few steps forward and observed the way the delicate muscles on her back stiffened, so slightly but not enough as to escape my notice. Her silhouette was partly dimmed by the gathering darkness of the locker-room, but I could sense her every movement.
“You know, an ounce of civility every once in a while doesn’t kill, you should try it sometime.” Her voice slashed through my thoughts, unexpected. It took me a while to realize that she was speaking, let alone register the meaning of the words.
“What? You’ve got to be kidding. That guy out there is a total phoney. All I want to know now is what he wants after all these years and when he’s leaving.”
“I don’t have time for this,” she grabbed her coat and pushed past me to the door, her lavender scent so sweet that I stood there devouring it a moment longer then necessary before chiding myself. I couldn’t let her get away again.
“Look,” I grabbed her arm, “I don’t trust this guy. What, you think that he suddenly shows up out of the blue just to say hi to a few buddies as he’s passing through town? Maria, grow up. He wants something.”
“No Michael, you grow up! And stop being such a jerk! All these years of alien tracking and high-flying adventures are really starting to get to you. Not everyone out there is dangerous, not everyone is out to get you,” she paused. “Look, Jason’s back, I haven’t seen him for years, and for your information, I do think that he’s passing through town just to say hello. Can’t you be happy for me? Can’t you just let me lead a normal life that doesn’t include people trying to kill me every corner I turn?” She took a deep breath. “Listen, can you leave me in peace at least for today? Don’t ruin this for me. And let go of my arm, you creep!“ She added, yanking her arm away and folding them, glaring at me challengingly, as if daring a snappy comeback.
“Wait a second, I thought I was a jerk. So I’m a creep now, am I?”
“Yes, you are a creep, you creep! And you and I both know this isn’t about Jason. Don’t turn this into one of your ego trips. Just because you happen to share a gene pool with ET, that doesn’t mean that you can go trample on people’s feelings, especially mine. Get your priorities straight Michael, I thought I meant something to you. Or at least I hoped I did, but you know, I’m not sure anymore.” A smirk fell across her face. “But then again, when has Michael Guerin cared about anyone but himself?” She turned away, and a pleading, tormented shadow falling across her eyes, but it vanished as quickly as it had appeared, leaving me to wonder whether I had imagined it. A spark of fury now hardened her eyes like a tough shell, impenetrable for even me who had once thought I knew everything there was to know about her.
I stood there, shocked, my mind racing a million miles per hour and stone-frozen all at once. Taking advantage of my motionless state, Maria sleekly escaped through the door and out into the café. I stayed in the locker-room draped over the chair as if having a hangover, fully knowing the danger of leaving things like this, but realized that that had never stopped me before.
I. Blew. It. The three indisputable words replayed themselves over and over in my mind like a broken record, threatening to ultimately push me towards the brink of insanity. My head screamed for me to follow her, but something inside couldn’t bring myself to, for my body simply wouldn’t obey, questioning the wisdom of my brain that hasn’t really kept the best track record in these situations.
Time seemed to wind itself into an immeasurable web, for I don’t know how long I must have stood there before finally biting the bullet. After what felt like a bucket of water splashing across my face, I charged through the door before I could change my mind and lose my nerve, only to be disappointed at find both Maria and Jason gone. I strolled over to the empty booth where Jason had been, all the while incessantly rewinding what Maria had said in my desperate attempt to translate it simply as one of those ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you” deals, but knowing in the back of mind that this wasn’t the case today.
Before turning to go, I spotted something green peeping under the table and reached over to pick it up, frowning as I stared down at the familiar object. It was Jason’s backpack. Resentment sprang forth only to be rapidly drowned out by curiosity. Glancing quickly behind me and feeling somewhat guilty at these furtive dealings but pushing it aside, I snapped open the Velcro and looked in, all the while feeling as if a thousand reproving stares were boring into my back.
“Wallet…..tic tacs……Celine Dion CD……” I snorted. “Real danger man, this one…bus tickets…….” I spotted a strange metallic ball, frowning as I tossed it around and around my palm. It was so strange and oddly unsettling, yet somehow I couldn’t pry my eyes away or deprive my hands from this unearthly object.
I staggered back, my head airy, only to feel like the weight of a bowling ball a split second later. Strange opaque dots slowly filled out before me until only the centre of my blurry vision was left, a thousand flashes going through my mind of the past, present, future, and of a place that was not of this galaxy. Then slowly the flashes, colours, and voices that seemed so far away united to form joined a dark stream, flowing with such warm, beautiful tranquillity that I reached out and joined it, relishing in it’s beauty.
Slowly all the senses were hushed, finally dying out into an empty darkness.