Disclaimer: Not mine!
Summery: Continuation of "Lucky" and "Hurt." The POV switches between Michael and Maria. You should be able to figure it out without trouble. :-)
Feedback: Pretty please with a cherry on top?
I stepped off the bus, and immediatly knew I was home. Home. Yes, Roswell was my home, as much as I've tried to deny it these past ten years. For once, no one hounded me for my autograph. To the residents of Roswell, I would always just be ditzy Maria. I headed to the Crashdown. Where else? My mother had moved out to California to be near me years ago, and somehow, I knew I would find Liz and Alex there. It took me less time than I remembered to get to ther resteraunt. I wasn't afraid. The hard part had been deciding to come here. I swung through the doors without a moment's hesitation. They saw me immediatly.
Liz had been sitting down. She stood up now. "Maria?" she gasped.
I grinned. "I'm back." Liz and Alex looked different. Sadder, older. But then, what did I expect? I probably looked the same.
She rushed at me, Alex not far behind. "You're back! Maria... we've watched your whole career. We were afraid you'd forget about us!"
I sighed. "I know. Things haven't gone at all like we expected them to, havae they? But tell me all of your news." I studied them, drinking in their familiar faces. "Now don't tell me you guys are married!"
Alex shook his head. "We talked about it, but...." A flash of sadness crossed Liz's face. "It wouldn't have been real. It would just be escaping.... but we want to hear bout you! You're the star!"
"Oh, come one! I don't think one thing I've done in last ten years hasn't been picked up by the media!"
Liz nodded. "We've followed your career," she said again. "Ever since you were on that show on MTV." she paused. "You're not happy, are you?"
I looked at her. "Are you?" my gaze turned to Alex. "Or you?"
All defenses fell. "How could we be?" Liz asked. "Maria..." I could tell she was struggling with what she was going to say next. "Did you ever see them? Or... I don't know... any trace of them."
I shook my head. "No, never. And I looked. Every concert, every town I was on. I looked at every piece of fanmail, wishing, hoping...." I felt tears springing to my eyes.
Alex put a hand on my arm. "It's okay, Maria."
I tried to manage a grin. "How about you guys? Did you ever hear from them?"
Liz shook her head. "No. Not a trace. Not even their parents have heard anything."
I sighed. "This is all just an act, you know. Pretending to be happy and content, and it doesn't even work. You've seen the reports. 'Maria DeLuca, the unhappiest star in Hollywood. Drugs? Abusive past?' " my voice was bitter.
Liz bit her lip. "We should have tried to get in touch."
"No. I should have called you. It's just so hard." I looked around the resteraunt. "There are so many memories here."
"You can make new ones," Alex suggested softly. I shook my head.
"This is just a visit, Alex. I can't stop singing. As long as I'm in the public eye, he knows where I am. He knows that I'm alright. At least one of us should have that comfort."
"Then why did you come back?"
"Because this is where they'll come, if they decide to see us. I know what it's like to be away from Roswell. They'll come back." I bit my lip. "I hope."
The minute I stepped out of the car, I knew I was home. Roswell hadn't changed. Not at all. Every building, every person I saw brought forth a memory I thought I had forgotten. I turned to Max and Iz.
"You guys will want to see your parents."
"You can come with us. You too, Tess," Max offered.
I shook my head. "No, Maxwell. You two need to go on your own."
Isabel looked concerned. "Are you sure?"
Tess nodded. "It's okay, Iz. We'll talk to them later." Iz nodded, and she and Max departed down the street.
I turned to see Tess looking around in wonderment. "This is home," she whispered in an amazed voice. "I was only here for a month yet..."
I smiled. "Roswell has a way of getting under your skin, doesn't it?"
"Why didn't we come back here, Michael? What were we running from?"
I sighed. "I'm not sure anymore."
Tess looked at me preceptivly. She was one of the few who had managed to get through my stonewall. My sister, my only flesh and blood. "You're thinking of her, aren't you?"
"I hurt her, Tess. I never wanted to do that."
Tess looked downwards. "And I didn't help, did I? Blabbing on about destiny."
I tried to smile. "No, it wasn't your fault. It was all you had. You never knew what humans were like. Not like we did."
Tess looked sad. "Worse than that, I didn't even try." she paused. "You haven't ever been happy, not really. Have you?" "None of us have been, not even you."
I couldn't look her in the eyes. I didn't want her to see the tears gathering there. "This was our home. More than that, *they* were out home. Why didn't we see that?"
"We're back now."
"Yes. At least that part of my life is back on track."
"She could come back." I didn't even let myself hope. "No. Why would she want to come back here? She's a star." I changed the subject abruptly. "Come on. Let's see the rest of the town." Tess was used to be abruptness. There were some things that I couldn't talk to her about. There was only one person who could get past all my layers and she was lost to me forever. I was so intent on my thoughts, that I didn't even notice the three people walking towards us, until I had smacked into one of them. I opened my mouth to apologize, and then saw... her.
I stared at him. It had been so long, too long, and now he was standing in front of me.
"Michael?" I whispered, somehow afraid to speak too loud. Before I knew it, I was in his arms, drawn there by some force neither of us could resist, and his lips were on mine, in a touch I had never been able to forget. But we both realized where we were, and how long it had been, and we broke apart.
"Wait, Michael-- you can't just come back here and expect to waltz back into my life!" I said, inexplicably upset.
"Me! You kissed back. You can't deny it."
I bit my lip. He was right, but there was no way I was going to let him know that. "So? Do you think one kiss will solve everything? You left!"
"Oh, like you stayed here and waited for me!"
"Waited for you!" I shrieked. "What century do you think this is?"
Michael folded his arms across his chest. "Oh, that's right. You're little Miss Superstar now."
My jaw dropped. "Yeah, that's it. I've just had the perfect life, haven't I?" I blinked as I felt tears start to gather in my eyes.
"At least you haven't had to run from evil aliens!"
"At least you haven't had to be in the public eye having every single thing you do and say scrutinized!"
Michael opened his mouth to respond, but before he could, a small, blonde women stepped between us. "Slow down, Michael. Neither one of you knows where the other has been. Why don't you go and talk somewhere, instead of shouting in the middle of the street?"
I stared. Tess? Who would have thought she'd be so reasonable? She looked the same, and yet... somehow looked kinder. The change was further evident when she turned to Liz and Alex. "Max and Iz are talking to their parents, but if you like, we could go back to the hotel and wait for them."
Of course, they went with her, and Michael and I were left alone. By unspoken agreement we began walking to the park. I kept taking small glances at him, occasionally catching him doing the same. I was almost afraid he would disappear We arrived at the park, selected a bench, and sat, careful to keep our distance. Finally, I spoke. "Michael." I sighed. Apologizing had never been easy for me. "I'm sorry. I don't know where you've been or... anything really. I'm sorry," I said again.
Michael ran a hand through his hair-- still spikey after all these years. "I know, but I guess I don't know what you've been through either. I thought you had the perfect life. Well, no, that's not really true. I knew you weren't alright. And I knew it was my fault."
I shook my head, but he didn't let me speak. "I left you. Maybe I had to, but I don't think so. I guess... I'm sorry, too." Michael almost grimiced. Apologizing didn't come easy to him, either.
"It's okay." We let the silence linger between us for a while longer. Not a cold silence, as it had been before, but a warm, friendly silence. Michael was the first to speak this time.
"Maria, I want to tell you about what happened. We can't go back to the way it was, but maybe we can make something better."
I turned to him, and tensed, not at all sure what to expect.
I looked at her, saw the acceptance in her eyes, and began to talk. It wasn't easy, but I knew she wanted, needed, to know my story. I told her of how we had saved our planet, and how our people had turned away from us. I spoke of the joy-filled anguish I had felt when she became a star, and I saw her face everywhere. Lastly, I told about the years of waundering, of trying to make a new home. When I had finished, I could do nothing but wait. Wait for her reaction, and hope for the best.
Maria was as caring as I remembered. She gathered me in her arms in a touch so familiar, and murmured, "I'm sorry, Michael. I'm so sorry."
"It's okay. You couldn't have done anything." I could never let Maria take the blame for my mistake.
Maria abruptly released me. We were both so unsure of how to act, how to respond to each other.
"Where do we go from here?"
"You'll go back to your career, and I'll stay here. Roswell's my home." I spoke the words casually, even as my heart was longing to be with Maria forever, no matter what.
Maria shook her head. "Michael, my career means nothing. It's not what I really want. It doesn't make me happy."
"I know." At her questioning gaze, I continued. "Come on, Maria, everyone knows how unhappy you are."
"So you see how I can just give it up?"
"Would you be any happier if you gave up your career?" I demanded. The Maria DeLuca I knew would never be content without her music.
Maria opened her mouth, and then shut it, looking unsure.
"What?" I asked brusquely.
"I would be... if I were with you," she said, almost in a whisper.
"I can't ask you to do that."
Maria looked frustrated. "Well, why can't we have both?"
"What?" I asked, startled.
"Well, why not?" she demanded. "Your enemy is gone-- you don't have to hide anymore."
"Is being taken care of by Nasedo," she finished.
I swung around to stare at her. "Still?"
She nodded. "He comes by here every once in a while. To see if we've heard from you. Or at least, that's what he says."
I stared at her. I had never expected him to keep a watch. To him, they were only humans.
"We could do it, Michael. We could be happy."
I racked my brain for another problem, and then stopped. Why throw away a chance for happiness? I did the only thing logical in the situation. I sank to my knees, and took her hand.
"Maria DeLuca, will you marry me?"
She drew me to my feet, and smiled. "Yes."
And our lips met in a real kiss, full of tenderness and depth. As we kissed, I saw flashes. Only they weren't flashes of the past. Somehow, strangely, I saw the future. Our future. I saw us at the Oscars, the Grammys, Maria singing and acting, with me beside her all the way. And finally, I saw us old, and still together, still happy, still in love.