Locked Inside Her Head (AA, Implied Mi/I, TEEN) 1/1 06.05

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Locked Inside Her Head (AA, Implied Mi/I, TEEN) 1/1 06.05

Post by StarGazing101 » Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:49 am


Title: Locked Inside Her Head
Author: StarGazing101
Disclaimer: I own nothing, got it?
Rating: TEEN
Summary: Isabel's deteriorating mental state causes Michael to reminisce on the events that brought her to that point. Slightly AU. Implied Michael/Isabel, with mentions of conventional couples. Character death.

<center>Locked Inside Her Head</center>

The sky was a deep indigo and the night air was cool as Michael sat on the balcony of the apartment he owned, a cigarette in one hand and a novel in his lap. He sat hunched over, the ashes from the stick in his hand blowing upon the pages of his book. When his stomach growled irritably, he gave a raspy sigh and shut the book loudly, taking a drag from his cig and blowing a cloud of smoke in its wake. He stood from his seat, put the cigarette out in the ashtray, and opened the Arcadia door, stealthily stepping inside and into the kitchen, where he saw from beyond the stove Isabel on the couch with her knees huddled against her body.

She didn’t turn around or acknowledge his presence from where she watched CNN, one hand by her mouth where she chewed on her thumb nail. Her hair was long, blonde and disheveled, the ends a curly mess at the back from not having brushed it for several days. Never in a million years would Michael have believed she would go a day without any cosmetic routine, but since their journeys and near-death-experiences, each encounter took another piece of her. He didn’t know how much longer she would last, though the signs had been there for the last few years that her psyche was unraveling.

The last six years had taken a toll on both of them, and neither spoke of the days that brought them to this point in their lives. Michael chopped vegetables from his place behind the counter, glancing up once in a while to see Isabel tilt her head to one side, sometimes entangling her fingers in her hair at the turmoil she saw on the television, and a sorrowful moan would emanate from her throat. Their television constantly stayed on a news or political station. They were always keeping an eye out for any sign of strange activity and if they would have to run, find a new place of residence or sleep in the piece of shit truck they owned.

“Hey, you want bell peppers in this?” he asked, setting the knife on the cutting board, wiping his hands with a dish towel. Isabel shook her head, not bothering to face him. “Okay,” he said gently. If he sounded resentful or raised his voice, she became antsy. He had learnt with time to keep himself in check when it came to her.

When they had moved to this small town – a town so tiny that everyone knew each and every little thing that went on – he had been skeptical as to how well he and Isabel could adjust. On their fourth day there, they had stopped in the park for some fresh air, where an older man noticed that Michael was reading quite a reputable novel, to which Michael replied shortly that he liked to read. The man had said he meant no offense, just that the small school in the town could use an English teacher.

Michael had been very taken aback by the idea that they would hire someone like him to teach a bunch of brats how to properly construct a sentence without him having a degree, but the man had said that the school was desperate for anyone that could help these kids graduate and pass their standardized tests. Knowing that he needed to find a job so to support himself and Isabel, he went in for interview and was given the job, and that the man who he had spoken to was the vice principal of the high school.

Everyday Isabel would bring him lunch and eat with him, bringing with her some arts and crafts project, a book, or some strange conspiracy theory she had concocted and written down on a pad of paper. He would read her ramblings, commenting nonchalantly that he neither agreed nor disagreed, at times hurting her feelings, other times confusion coming upon her beautiful face. Afterward, they would sit quietly and consume their meal. He often would lock his classroom and turn out the lights so that students would not know that he was inside. He didn’t mind helping them, but lunch was his time, and he didn’t want his students questioning Isabel or making ill-advised remarks about her behavior.

It was one day at the end of lunch after Isabel had left and he had unlocked his classroom that one of his colleagues stepped inside and handed him something from the meeting he had intentionally missed.

“Here’s the transcript,” the woman said, glancing around his classroom, which had no motivational posters or decorations. Just plain walls, shelves filled with textbooks, a cabinet of classics, and a desk with a few random brain teaser type toys. She picked one up and played with it, then commented, “Your classroom’s really empty.”

“What’s it to you?” he replied steadfastly, not removing his eyes the book he read.

“Oh, nothing; I just think it would get boring being in a classroom with no posters or anything. It just seems so . . . neutral.” The woman sat on top of one of the desks, and crossed her ankles and anchored her hands to either side of herself.

“No distractions,” he responded simply, wishing she would leave. She was interrupting his peace, and the next set of hellions was due to arrive in five minutes. “Don’t you have somewhere else to be?”

“The other teachers weren’t kidding when they said you weren’t friendly.” He only continued to stare at her. He concluded that she must have been a year or two younger than him, most likely a long-term substitute. “So who’s that woman who was just here? I see her come by a lot.”

Michael only blinked at the pestering teacher. This wasn’t the first time he’d been asked about Isabel and her daily presence in his classroom, but he never bothered to answer these questions. As long as Isabel wore the visitor badge and no inappropriate behavior went on, it was none of his coworkers business who she was. It could have been his protectiveness over her that made him like this, but if he answered they would eventually start questioning of Isabel’s oddities and perception – or lack thereof – and attempting to explain your wife was gradually losing her grip on reality was not something he liked to discuss.

He answered harshly, “My wife, and now that you have your damn answer, you can tell all the other nosy assholes to stay out of my personal business. Go away.”

She jumped off from the desk, patting the wrinkles out of her slacks, surprised at how harsh his voice was and how cold his eyes were. “I’m sorry if I hit a nerve,” she started, walking toward the door. “It was just an innocent question. You don’t wear a ring,” she had observed, ready to leave.

“Get the hell out,” he said tiredly, sick of the fact that anyone who possessed a private life was constantly interrogated and deemed unfriendly. He muttered a few choice curses beneath his breath and was relieved when the bell rang lunch’s end.

Coming home that evening, he set his things by the door and bolted the locks. He looked around before he found Isabel in their bedroom, working on an unfinished painting of hers. She glanced briefly at him and went back to her activity. He noted that she smelt of her Japanese cherry blossom body spray she always used and that she had showered and put a brush through her hair, a wet spot on her lower back where her ends dripped. She wore a pair of his sweatpants and a tank top. He could see the small star tattoo that she had illegally got when she was 15, after being convinced by some friends of hers to do so. Michael remembered helping her care for it, putting antiseptic on it and sunscreen so to keep it looking fresh and new. He had been angry at first, but kept her little secret. Her shirt was cropped up a bit and he could see the other one she had got on her lower back, a dark floral decoration with the initials A.C.W. etched into the design.

Michael had held her hand as she cried whilst the needles inked her skin, leaving the area raw, red and swollen, but she never regretted it. Before she had slowly begun to descend into her Psychosis, she had confessed to him that every piece of her belonged to Alex, that it was only right that a reminder of that be on her body. He had not liked the implication, but she had said that he didn’t understand, that until the love of his life was ripped right out from under him that he would never understand. Unfortunately, that came a few months later when Nicholas had cornered Maria in an alley behind the hardware store. Her body had been unrecognizable, and he was so despondent, so filled with rage, that he burned the inside of his apartment. Isabel had picked him up that night and took him to the parlor, sitting there with him as the guy in the shop tattooed Maria’s name into his chest. It became their ritual.

It was over the span of 18 months that Nicholas had destroyed their lives, seizing and killing each person from their group. It was at the graduation that he made his last strike. Isabel had helped him to get his grades up so he could walk with who was left in their group, and though Alex, Maria, Tess, and Kyle’s father were no longer with them, Michael hoped that wherever Maria was – as well as the others - that his efforts made her proud of him. It was after Kyle’s name was announced to receive his diploma that the lights went out in the auditorium and a fire came tearing down the aisles. Michael could see Isabel’s silhouette run to the double doors at the back of the room, but her powers did not release them.

Everyone was coughing, and as he and Max attempted to help Isabel, bodies were beginning to strewn the floors and the aroma of charred flesh touched their nostrils. Students in gowns were engulfed in flames, which the aliens attempted to free them of, but many were all ready suffering from third-degree burns and wishing for death. After 45 minutes of being trapped in the burning building, the pillars that held it up began to give way as the fire burned through them. Max’s lungs had begun to scream from the smoke that occupied their space and he dropped to the floor. Michael watched as others did the same, like flies sprayed with repellent, and noticed that Isabel had begun to cough and that her face was red as the flames which surrounded them. Not finding anyone else, and knowing that Max would tell him to save whoever he could, the only one who still stood was Isabel.

Michael snatched her up and ran across the floor, his lungs lurching for air and his skin filled with excess heat. He tripped over multiple bodies, stumbling to the floor and staring horror struck at the dead eyes of Liz Parker, whose beautiful face was no longer so. Swallowing the vomit that had risen into his throat, he found the strength to stand and ran at the speed of an out-of-control train, determined to save the young woman he had draped over his shoulder.

He made it to the stage and sat Isabel up so to jump onto it from the floor. He begged her to get up, but realized that her eyes were drooping and that she wasn’t going to last much longer, that portions of her skin had second-degree burns. His own flesh was blistering from the heat accumulating in the building, but he needed to save her. To save one person so that he would not be the only one left.

Michael gathered newfound strength and helped Isabel to stand against him, making it backstage before the flames could catch up to them. He tried multiple exits, but none of them would budge, and just as he was about to give up and try and beat the doors down, he noticed an obscure chain link dangling from the back of the stage and ran for it, Isabel attached to his side.

“Come on Iz, you gotta stay awake for me,” he pleaded, releasing her so to pull on the chain, praying that it would lead to safety. Isabel dropped to her knees next to him, almost causing him to fall over, but his urgency to get them out of this alive held him upright. “Stay conscious Iz! Alex would want you too,” he said once again, hoping that the mention of the man she loved would help her muster some strength.

As Michael went one hand over the other, he noticed a natural light coming from the way back of the auditorium, almost tempted to laugh that the school’s building of fine arts had a garage-like door attached. He felt Isabel grab at his leg, and he threw her over his shoulder once again and crawled out of the burning building, running far away from the school before anyone could see them. He hijacked a car and hightailed it out of the parking lot, taking Isabel to the Mesaliko Indian reservation so River Dog could treat her injuries.

For the next two weeks, it was all the national news covered was the mysterious fire at Roswell High’s Class of 2002 Graduation Ceremony, hundreds of lives taken with no survivors to tell the tale - or so they thought. Michael sat in a diner in Albuquerque, an empty plate in front of him and a Snapple in hand, watching the coverage for the millionth time in a week, people commenting on it from beside him. His left arm was bandaged, still healing from burns he had sustained and part of his face was peeling, and many would ask what happened, and he would just respond that he had bad sunburn, and nothing more.

Michael had shaken himself from the memory, noting that Isabel stared at him, perplexed. He made a gesture for her to turn around and to continue painting, watching her silently for the next hour whilst she did a barren landscape. She did not finish, becoming bored by the task and went to the bathroom to clean up, where he could see her reflection in the mirror, an everyday reminder of what the two had gone through.

Though much of Isabel’s pristine skin had remained in tact thanks to remedies of the Mesaliko tribe, she had gone partially blind in her right eye, which was now glazed over and light blue in color rather than its usual resilient brown. He watched her as one hand reached up and gently circled her under eye, a frown on her face at the scarring around it. The only other part of her body that had been injured was her legs, which had more scar tissue than actual skin. She made it a habit never to wear anything that revealed this fact to others.

A jarring noise brought Michael from out of his subconscious, where he observed that Isabel had closed the cupboard from getting a glass from above where he stood. He proceeded to chop vegetables, placing the red bell peppers to one corner of the cutting board for himself. He glanced at her, noticing her face scrunched in distaste, which he couldn’t help but to laugh. She only blinked at him and went to the refrigerator to pour a glass of juice. She sipped from her drink and faced him, giving him a small smile and went to sit at the table, where she tinkered with a puzzle she had been piecing together for the last few days.

Michael knew he would never quite understand what exactly was going through her head. Her Psychosis was currently at a stand still, and though at times she seemed relatively normal, it was days when she spoke to air that concerned him in particular, as if she lived in an alternate reality.

Once in a while the young man would come home to find her laughing, tears streaming down her face and her cheeks flushed with happiness. When he would ask what was so funny, she would respond by saying that Alex had told her a really funny joke and would repeat it for him, to whom he replied with a nervous laugh and pretended as if he did not just hear what he thought he heard. The days she would come to lunch with her legal pad often instantly put him on the offensive. It either meant that she had a new theory for him to mull over or that a conversation took place, many times accompanied with two very different handwritings.

Her mental health had not been stable since a few years after the fire, but those times when she was lucid were heaven, he would admit. Michael was able to hold a conversation and keep her attention - act as if nothing was wrong, but the next morning she would revert to her usual self - distant, uncommunicative, and detached from reality. He worried that she would worsen to the point that she couldn’t be alone, but it had been four years and she had yet to hurt herself. There was one time he asked her point blank how she managed at their apartment during the day while he was at work – her answer was always Alex, and most recently, Max.

When he heard a giggle from her, he gazed up from where he slanted the cutting board and slid its contents into the frying pan, though not before putting his corner of bell peppers into a small Tupperware container.

“Something funny?” he queried, having gotten used to her random bursts.

“Oh, Max was walking down the hallway and he just tripped over Dexter. He tried to get up and ended up falling back on his ass,” she laughed again, and Michael looked to the corridor where he noticed that their tabby cat whose tail was bushed out, acted as if he’d just been assaulted. “Aw, com’ere Dex,” she cooed to the cat, who jogged to where her fingers snapped near the floor. She grinned at Michael, scratching behind the cat’s ears who she held in her arms.

The only thing Michael could do was nervously laugh once more, preferring not to see the proof that her alternate reality might not be so imaginary after all.
Last edited by StarGazing101 on Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:23 pm, edited 5 times in total.