CATEGORY: UC, M/T
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The characters of Roswell belong to Jason Katims, Melinda Metz, WB, and UPN. They are not mine and no infringement is intended.
This is a one-shot alternate version of prom night in Season 2, episode 16, "Heart of Mine." It's a Max and Tess story, but is friendly to Liz and all characters.
The gym was full of metallic balloons, tacky streamers, high school kids who couldn’t dance properly, chaperones on the lookout for students who might slip vodka into the punch or sneak off to have sex in the eraser room. And the gym was full of emotions that conflicted with one another – confusion about how one felt about one’s date, mystic intimacy and unexplained anger and quiet tenderness and also the sort of hatred you only find when you’re under twenty.
There was naïve, young love, of course, and in its wake a certain amount of heartbreak looming; there was scheming and plotting and Machiavellian elements to rule the school.
There were mean girls, wallflowers, jocks, geeks, loners. There were the beautiful people, and among them were those hoping to be crowned king and queen of the prom.
Only a few knew it, and the rest would not believe it, but in this crowd of high school students was an actual royal family.
A king, queen, princess, and a general who came of such noble stock that he too was in line for the throne. But the general population (of the school, the town, the country for that matter) knew nothing of these titles nor their import, because the kingdom in question was not one written about in our history books. This king’s throne room was too far away. And then – of course – these royal four were in hiding.
Max smiled awkwardly at his date as the slow song began to play.
Liz didn’t immediately reach out to put her arms around his neck; he also hesitated. He didn’t know why. It wasn’t like he’d never held her in his arms before.
She was the only girl he’d ever imagined having sex with. The only girl he’d ever felt completely comfortable with. And he did love her. She was comforting, sweet, good.
Yes, Liz was good.
Liz was a pretty girl with brown hair and honest eyes. She seemed spunky and sweet at the same time. After they’d broken up last year, Max had spent months fighting to win her back. Now she’d allowed him to escort her to the prom. He might actually have a real shot with her, again. (Have “them” back the way they were.) Even if Max and Liz had come to the prom “as friends,” perhaps they could leave as “them.” Maybe they’d even sleep together for the first time. This was the prom for god’s sakes. It was inherently magical.
But looking down at Liz, taking in her slinky black dress, and her expression filled with both hope and trepidation, Max wondered what he he’d been fighting so hard for.
Instead of wrapping his arms around her waist and moving in to allow her to wrap her arms around his neck – which just seemed like it would push their bodies together too closely – Max maneuvered into the classical dance pose. With his right hand on her hip, and his left hand grasping her right hand, Max led Liz in a makeshift waltz.
He stared over her shoulder instead of into her eyes.
He wondered if Elizabeth Parker was actually the love of his life, or merely an ex-girlfriend who happened to be a symbol of the life he wanted.
Or had wanted.
Most days he still wanted that life. Newspapers and coffee in the morning. Nights spent studying late in the college library. Frat parties on the weekends. Watching her get drunk on the few occasions she allowed herself to unwind and throw back inhibitions. Sundays spent in bed as she recovered from a nasty hangover, followed by Gatorade, aspirin, and later on, chicken soup. Quizzing each other on biochem and astrophysics, respectively. Internships. Graduating from college with respectable GPA’s, which would get them accepted to respectable graduate schools. Respectable careers. Respectable business suits. Accolades.
And then, newspapers and coffee in the mornings.
Good sex – not astoundingly great, but good was good.
Sweetness given and received.
The feeling of general safety and contentment.
Max Evans still longed for that life with the girl he loved. But he wasn’t sure if that normal life was possible for him. Even more, he wasn’t sure if he wanted it. Not anymore. Not wanting normal – that’s what scared him the most.
Being denied a normal life would suck. It would royally suck.
But if he just didn’t want that life? Then he’d become a radically different person from the person he’d been two years ago, from the person he’d always thought he was.
Maybe Max didn’t even know himself anymore.
(Maybe Liz could never hope to know this new Max Evans. Maybe she wouldn’t want to try.)
Max realized that despite his attempts, he hadn’t been leading Liz in actual dance steps. They’d been moving and swaying without a purpose. Glancing down at her, he saw her staring at him with that expression of tempered hope.
Well, he could at least dance properly. Maybe that would be enough to assuage his guilt. He began to waltz, trying to remember the lessons they’d taken last year. She’d been trying to win a scholarship from the dance studio.
Liz giggled and tried to follow his tentative waltz.
He glanced down into her brown eyes.
His pace quickened.
After a couple minutes Liz stumbled, but he held onto her.
“Max,” she murmured, “What are you doing?”
“What do you mean?”
“I think we’ll crash into someone if you don’t stop the funny dance steps.”
“They’re not funny. It’s a waltz.”
She frowned again and said nothing more as she tried to follow his lead.
Now that she’d pointed it out, Max realized he had been changing up the steps. Maybe they weren’t waltzing anymore.
Yet, he was sure that these were actual steps to an actual dance.
Yes, they must be. The instructor had taught them a wide variety of dancing styles. This must be something. The Merengue or the Tango or… well, it didn’t matter. They were dancing, she was not falling over, and that’s all that mattered. Even if they didn’t end the night in bed, he could still dance all night with her. That had to mean something.
Then – a flash.
For just a moment he wasn’t in this room. Liz was nowhere to be found. Instead he was dancing with another small woman, slight build, blond hair with flecks of blue and green throughout her moonlit strands.
They were in a ballroom, and she was matching his steps perfectly. Everyone around them was dressed in evening wear that seemed less flashy than high school prom wear. These people weren’t wearing cheap anything. Their clothes were reminiscent of the kind of clothes rich people wear in old movies when they attend balls or coronations. (Now, it wasn’t the same as anything he’d seen in Earth movies. This was distinctly alien. Even the materials were more foreign than anything he’d seen. And the people looked … he couldn’t put his finger on it, but they looked odd).
He was remembering a ball on Antar.
And the woman in his arms was Ava.
Then, as quickly as it had come, the flash was gone. Max was shocked back to reality, to the present, to a sea of cheap prom dresses, cheaper rented tuxedos, and that scent of desperation always present at school dances.
“Max?” Liz said, sounding worried. “Are you okay?”
He paid Liz no attention. Instead he searched the room for someone else. He knew she was here, the girl who bore a resemblance to the blond who’d lived on Antar so many years before.
Ava – his wife in that past life he’d heard so much about.
Ava – the woman he’d been running from since he found out she existed, since he learned about his royal title and his so-called destiny.
Max seldom had flashes of his past life. He’d never seen Ava’s face so clearly.
“You’ve got this funny look,” Liz was saying.
“Your eyes. You’ve got this funny look.”
Over Liz’s shoulder, Max could see a blond girl sitting at a table, drinking punch. Tess Harding. She was dressed impeccably in a long blue dress. In the flash he’d just gotten, Ava had also worn blue. It was almost the same shade, though the Antarian material Ava was wearing was like nothing he’d ever seen. It was like fabric woven from clouds.
“What do you mean?” Max said to Liz now, looking down at her. He smiled a fake smile.
“You’re somewhere else,” she said. “And I don’t know where you came up with these dance steps!” she laughed, then stumbled. Then she actually fell.
“I, uh,” Max said, pulling her back up to standing. “Maybe you’re right. . . .
“Tell me about that internship,” he said as they returned to their table. All of their friends had abandoned this table long ago, to dance or make out or do whatever they came to the prom to do.
“What?” Liz asked.
“At Las Cruces. This summer. Aren’t you applying for something?”
She grinned. “I didn’t know you were paying attention when I was telling you about that.”
“Of course I was,” he said kindly. “I’m excited for you to have that kind of future.” And he meant it.
She kissed him on the cheek. He did not lean in for a real kiss.
“Tell me everything,” he said instead.
Smiling almost shyly, Liz explained about the coveted internships available in the biochemistry lab at the University of New Mexico, Las Cruces. There were two or three spots reserved for high school students. Of course she knew everything about the program’s supervising professor. She’d read every single one of this articles.
“You know,” Liz said. “You could apply too.”
Max smiled sadly. He’d been thinking the same thing. It was the sort of opportunity he’d dreamed of too. “They’d never let me in, not the way my grades have taken a nosedive this year.”
Liz considered this a moment and then brightened. “Maybe if you wrote a killer essay. I mean, your grades are not that bad, right. You’ve got a 3.4 or something don’t you?”
“3.18,” Max said with a laugh.
“That’s good enough to be considered, if your essay is phenomenal. And you’d need two recommendations. Do any of the teachers still like you?”
“There must be somebody,” she said. And then she was off and running with the idea, her hands flailing excitedly as she spoke. They could do it together, she was saying. This would be their perfect summer. And the deadline was still a week away.
Max thought it must be a sign from the universe, that they were talking about it right now. Maybe they could be together after all. Everything had been quiet on the alien front for a while. Max almost believed the dream. But then he glanced up and saw Tess staring at him. Wasn’t she supposed to come to this dance with Kyle?
Where the hell was Kyle?
Why would he leave his date alone like this? Max noticed how her pale blue dress accentuated the subtle curves of her petite body. Tess smiled at him. He smiled at her and raised a hand to wave. Liz wasn’t paying attention to their little exchange. She’d found a pen in her purse and was furiously making a list on a series of napkins.
“This is your to-do list for the weekend,” Liz said.
“I really can’t do this,” Max said.
“That’s silly. You just have to apply yourself. I mean, you want to get into a good college, right?”
“Honestly, sweetheart?” Max said, standing up. “I have no idea. No fucking idea what I’ll be doing next week, let alone for college.” He kissed the stunned girl on the cheek and walked away from her.
An hour later, he was standing outside with Michael, getting some air.
Michael had actually pulled Max aside and demanded they “get some air.” To Maria, Michael had said, “Guy time.”
“Dude,” he said now to Max. “I’ve been having the weirdest flashes.”
“Well tonight, it was mainly visual. I was dancing with Maria, badly, and then all of a sudden it was like I was in this other place. Grand ballroom. I was dancing with a woman – it wasn’t Isabel, or Vilandra. I’m sure of it. Just some random woman that we used to know.”
“In the other life?”
“Yeah. And I was wearing a military outfit, like a dress uniform that an officer wears.”
“Was I there with Ava?”
“Do you remember what color her dress was?”
“Blue. It was a weird dress though. Would you think I was crazy if I told you that it looked like it was made out of clouds?”
Max felt like he might pass out. He started talking in a rush. “Michael, I had a flash of that same night.
“Look, we must have attended hundreds of events like that. I was the king, right. You were my second-in-command, and I’m not sure how I know this, but I also remember something about your family. Your family was important. Nobility I guess. You were third in line for the throne.”
“If you died, and Ava died, and Vilandra too?” Michael whispered.
“Yeah. So here’s the thing. Assuming both our flashes were of the same night – Why would we both have this flash of memory of one random night?”
“Something must have happened that night.”
Max nodded. “I need to talk to Tess.”
“I haven’t seen her in a while. That was the other reason I wanted to talk to you. We need to be careful. She was here with Kyle, but I think they had a fight. I don’t like the idea of anybody wandering off alone. You know?”
Max nodded. “Always good to be cautious. Do you know where Isabel is?”
Michael nodded. “She’s inside dancing with Alex. She seems really happy. I’ll go get her though, if you want. I told her not to go anywhere until I got back.”
“Thanks,” Max said. He didn’t know what was more off-putting though – Michael having flashes too, or Michael being Mr. Responsible.
Michael nodded. “Look man, I need to tell you about these other flashes.”
Max said, “How many have you had?” trying to keep the fear out of his voice.
“I don’t know. A bunch.”
“It’s been going on for a few days.”
“And you’re just bringing this to my attention now?”
“Maxwell, do you want to hear about them or not?” After a pause in which they stared down each other, Michael went on. “They’re really bloody. I think I’m remembering that war on Antar, the one that broke out before we died.
“Do you remember anyone ever telling us who died first? Like was it you or me or Isabel or Tess?” Michael asked.
Max shook his head. He wondered why he’d never asked.
“Well, if these flashes can be trusted, I was the last to go. I survived a few days longer than you and the girls. Finally, I was injured and brought back to the castle – they were trying to save me because I was now the king, and it would be better than nothing to have me. If I were to survive, then our forces would be able to keep fighting. But I was too badly injured, and as I was dying your mother spoke to me. The closer I got to dying, the more confusing the flashes get.
“But I think she told me, the other me, of her plan to clone us, to reincarnate us, to do whatever it is that she did so that I’m him and I’m also me. You know?”
Max did not know. He did not know anything.
He was dumbfounded. None of them had ever gotten such a clear vision of their previous lives, not even Tess. What Michael was describing went way beyond anything they’d ever experienced.
As Michael continued to talk, Max was seized by a singular thought. Why now? Why were these visions coming now?
Max finally found Tess in the physics classroom, sitting alone at a desk. She was studying a star chart. “Are you looking for something?” he asked.
Tess glanced over her shoulder and smiled gently. She looked exhausted. “Just our planet.” She laughed. Pointing at an area of the galaxy, she said, “I think it’s there, somewhere in that cluster of stars.”
Max sat beside her, his eyes staring at the place she’d chosen. It was like he could see beyond the images of the page – see the real stars, and tunnel his way through the image, as if he were traveling there. Home.
Was he going crazy?
Max had to laugh. Tess was right about the location of their planet. Somehow he was sure that she was right. “That is it,” he said. “How is it possible that we both know that? Did Nasedo tell you?”
“Yes. But when he did, it was like memorizing something for school. This is different. I just know.”
He was sitting so close to her.
She smelled good.
No perfume, just a scent of flowery soap and something else. Her own scent – everyone had one, didn’t they? And, Max had recently realized there was a slight difference in the scent of aliens and that of humans. Whatever he was smelling, it made Tess seem achingly familiar.
Max had spent a lot of time trying not to kiss this girl. But this night propelled him towards her, and now all he could think of was her lips. They looked soft, barely coated in pink lipstick.
Maybe he was just tired of staying away from Tess.
His eyes were open as he leaned in. So were hers. He could see her surprise as his lips met hers.
But Tess pushed him away. “Why are you doing this?” she snapped.
Tess looked pissed. Like fireballs about to come out of her eyes pissed. “Is this about me, Max?” she asked, her voice rising with each word. “Or is it about Liz?”
“No!” he said but she waved her hand dismissively and he felt the ability to speak leave him.
“Because if she’s rejected you again,” Tess was saying, almost yelling, “And you’re coming to me because you have nothing else left. Then … well … you can just go to hell.”
He shook his head. “This has nothing to do with Liz. I’ve … uh, been having flashes. Memories.”
Tess nodded, taking a shaky breath. She looked relieved as she returned to a vaguely normal speaking voice. “Interesting. It’s been happening to me too.”
“I think we all have,” Max said. “I still need to talk to Isabel. But, well, Michael just came to tell me about his. He’s been having a ridiculous quantity of flashes. And we both remembered this same ball we attended. All of us. You were wearing a blue gown. A sort of cloud material.”
Tess smiled. “I remember that night. I think Isabel does too. We had a strange moment in the ladies’ room earlier. I think she, or Vilandra, met Khivar at that ball. Their very first meeting.”
“The beginning of the end,” Max said.
Max was getting chills. Then he remembered a question he’d had about the dress. “You know your dress tonight is almost the same color as the one in my memory.”
She glanced down at her dress, looking confused. “Is it?”
“Did you match the color on purpose?” he asked. He had to ask. He didn’t believe in coincidences where Tess was concerned. She seldom passed up an opportunity for manipulation.
“No,” she said, glaring at him, her face turning to stone.
Tess Harding looked like she might cry. That was something he hadn't seen before. When she spoke the words were laced with bitterness and anger. “I’ve been waiting for you to want me for so long. And now you say something like this. What’s the point – you’ll probably just change your mind tomorrow.”
Tess stood and walked to the door.
He almost let her go.
But then he was running towards her. He pushed her up against the wall, kissing her with more passion than he’d ever felt for Liz or anyone else.
They went at it like animals, or like people who had been starving for each other for too long.
He kissed her everywhere. Tess wept, but held onto him.
So many images flashed before him – of Zan and Ava in that other life. Their first kiss. Key moments of their courtship. Their wedding day.
He pulled back after a while and said to her, “You know I really loved you. Or he loved Ava. It wasn’t an arranged marriage.”
She nodded. “I always thought it was a love match. But I had to wonder – royalty and politics and everything.”
Suddenly he couldn’t wait. He had to have her. He knew that this wasn’t the proper place to make love to his reincarnated wife for the first time, not the right place to consummate their reincarnated marriage. But alien instincts were taking over.
He closed the classroom door, fusing the lock with his powers.
Max looked at Tess, who seemed oddly fragile.
“This isn’t going to pass,” Max said. “These feelings are real. I’m ready to wake up.”
She smiled weakly.
And so the reincarnated king and queen of a far off planet lay down on the cold tile floor. They hung onto each other as if their lives depended on it. Then, without saying anything, without verbally agreeing to anything, they agreed to go with the tide.
As he unzipped his pants and she raised up her dress, he looked at her.
Tess was no longer crying.
She looked hypnotized. Not by him. Perhaps by the memory of his former self, or of their former life. Then he climbed on top of her. As their lovemaking began, she let out a slow cry.
A mixture of pain and pleasure, relief and resignation.
He kissed her, and she pulled him towards her. She kissed him back. Right before he came, he felt something click inside him.
Like he’d found his home.
Tess woke up naked on the classroom floor, not feeling particularly rested. Oh, she could see the morning sunlight coming through the windows – it was mid morning, she guessed by the height the sun would need be to cast this particular light with its particular angles and luminescence. She’d slept all night, but it was a night full of dreams.
Dreams that she wanted to remember.
Scenes of that other life, the one that had always seemed more important than this one.
Until this moment. History was repeating itself, and so she was, in a way, catching up to the memories, to her life as a queen. She felt like there was something important she ought to remember, something to do with her life with Zan the first time around. But it was just a hazy idea.
And beside her was another idea made flesh – Max/Zan sprawled out on the floor beside her, naked as well, except for black socks. Her marriage had been consummated.
He was ready to wake up, he’d said.
So what now?
She sat up and began to pull her blue dress over her head when she was distracted by something on her wrist. She held her arm up to the light, squinting in confusion. Yes, there were marks on her left wrist, marks that had never been there before. It was like a tattoo. A band of green and gold flowers wrapped around her wrist. Tess started shaking. What was happening to her? Did every Antarian girl get tattooed with flowers when she lost her virginity?
Trying to decide what to do, she finished getting dressed. She considered sneaking out on Max. That would of course be the worst thing to do. But she was terrified of the marks on her arm; she had this feeling they meant something, that they were intended to mark this day as important, a turning point in not only her life but in many lives.
Tess had rarely wished to be ordinary.
But now she wished passionately to be just some stupid high school girl who had given up her virginity to her loser boyfriend. If she was that girl she really could sneak off, break up with him over the phone, and spend the rest of the year trying to avoid him in the halls.
But she was not that girl.
Nonetheless, Tess stalled. Telling herself that she wanted to look nice when Max woke up, she put herself together as meticulously as she could. She used her powers to flatten the wrinkles in her dress. She strapped on her heels, gathered up her jewelry and put on earrings, necklace, and bracelet. She found her purse on the other side of Max. Reaching carefully, she retrieved the purse, found her comb and her compact. She combed her hair, unsnagging the tangles, then touched up her makeup. When she looked as good as she was going to look, she woke up her… husband. Was he her husband now?
Max started at her hand on his shoulder, shooting straight up and almost knocking into her. “What the –” he said, and then a look of understanding dawned on his face. “For a second there I thought it was a dream. What we did.”
Tess sighed. “Whatever you want to believe, Maxwell,” she muttered with disdain.
How dare he try to make believe last night hadn’t happened? Of course she’d had similar thoughts, but that didn’t give him the right to treat her like –
“No!” he almost shouted. “No, darling. I’m glad it’s real. I’m so glad it’s real.”
She sucked in a short breath. “Really?”
“I remember you. When we made love, it was like it was the first time, and it was also like we’d done it many times. I’ve never felt so easily intimate with anyone. Having sex was… natural. Yes, that’s the word. And all night long I dreamt of you, the other you. I used to think that I hated Zan, that he was stealing something from me. Probably my youth.”
“You think differently now?”
Max nodded. “He can’t do anything to me. I am him.”
“A nice girl who belongs to a fantasy life I’m never going to lead.” After a moment, Max leaned in to kiss Tess gently. She let him. It was a chaste, simple kiss. Closed mouth to closed mouth. He had kissed her just like this each morning in their other life. She realized that his wrist had the same markings as hers.
Pointing to the markings on his wrist, and then to her own, Tess said, “I almost forgot to ask you if you had any idea about these.”
“Jesus,” Max said. “How freaking weird is that? Can’t be a coincidence.”
He reached out for her wrist and gingerly touched the golden flower etched on it. Tess was jolted back in time. This flash of memory – it was a memory of their wedding, when flowers had been draped all over them and a high tech tattoo artist had imprinted a matching set of green and gold flowers on each of their wrists.
She looked up to see his face, solemn now. “Did you see that?” Max asked her.
“So,” he said after a pause, “This isn’t the first time.”
“Could they have been encoded with our DNA?”
“But why weren’t they always there?”
“Because we hadn’t consummated the marriage yet,” she said softly.
As they left the school, Max felt like he was being enveloped by words like fate and destiny and duty.
He’d expected to wake up regretful. Yet, he felt no regret, and that unsettled him.
The ease with which he held the door open for her and smiled at her as they left the building – that ease unsettled him too. What did it all mean? Was he even in control of himself anymore? He’d meant what he’d said about no longer hating Zan. Zan was him. This was true. But what it meant, and what his future held, and what kind of choices he ought to make . . . Max had no idea. Destiny was never straightforward.