Eve of Destruction

Author: Bennie
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I own nothing Roswell.
Character Focus: Liz POV; bitter M/L
Spoilers: Nah … this is sort of a mix between an AU futurefic and story elements up to Harvest
Dedication: For Zoë, who keeps pelting me with songs that are just so darn suggestive … and more to the point, who encourages me in releasing my Dreamer angst constructively. Oh, and all you wonderful people who gave me such great feedback for H.C.W.!
Author's Note: I´m not sure where I was going with this, exactly. I just listened to the song and this is what came out. I don´t know whether to apologize or what …

The Eastern world, it is explodin´

I remember waking up in the desert with you holding me. For one split second, you were all I could see in the morning light, the clear sunlight peeking over the horizon.

And then your Destiny came between us.

Isn´t that just how it goes?

Violence flarin´, bullets loadin´
You´re old enough to kill, but not for votin´

The other day I was looking through a drawer and I saw a picture of us, from when we were dating. I was leaning over to laugh at Maria about something, and whoever took the picture – I think it was Alex – caught this incredible look on your face. You were looking at me with this amazing tenderness, and for a moment you looked like the boy you were never allowed to be.

I dropped the picture when I heard you shout, and ran downstairs to find you facing off against a Skin. You held out your hand and suddenly the air was filled with ashes, as you used your power to destroy.

I remember how you looked at me then, with eyes filled with pain and fear and something else. Triumph. Then the light slowly faded and you were just you again, as you fetched a broom and dustpan to clean up the mess.

When you came back you found me behind the cash register, loading my dad´s gun. As the cartridge clicked into place I looked up and you were watching me. If I´d had a camera then, I could have captured exactly what you were feeling: sadness, that I had seen that part of you, pride that I was already preparing for the next battle, and regret that even with a gun, I really stood no chance against a Skin.

But I began to carry it anyway.

You don´t believe in war, well what´s that gun you're totin´
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin´

In another lifetime you let me see inside you. I was charmed, not just by how you saw me but by the gentleness of your soul. I knew, instinctively, that you were a healer by nature, that you wanted nothing more than to live in peace.

It seems incredible to me that someone so full of love can kill so easily. I lie awake nights pondering the different sides of you, remembering how it felt to fight the currents of a dark and freezing river at your side, to save you as you once saved me.

I never told you, but the water was so cold that for one moment when we hit I thought I was going to die. My heart gave this great ‘thump’ and suddenly I couldn't make my arms and legs move, couldn´t push myself to the surface. I even imagined my body floating along the river, bumping against rocks in the dark, and eventually disappearing beneath the surface, never to be seen again.

But then I felt your hand in mine and I knew I couldn´t give up, because I had to get you to safety.

But you tell me, over and over and over again, my friend
You don´t believe we´re on the eve of destruction

Did I ever tell you why I finally decided to go to Florida? I don´t recall.

But I do remember the moment I realized what I had to do.

You were sitting in the corner booth – that one, over there – ignoring a plate of cold fries. I felt the weight of your gaze, felt the churning emotions that tore at you until you punished yourself by coming here. Suddenly you stood up and walked up to me, pulling at my arm until I looked into your eyes, blazing with desperate hope.

"I don´t care about destiny," you said, your voice deepening with passion. "I don´t need to be with Tess to be a leader. But I … I need you."

I just shook my head and left, waiting until I was out the door before brushing away hot tears. And I had a vision of what the next two months would be like, you following me persistently, unable to understand how I could walk away from you. And I wouldn't be able to explain it to you because I didn't know how either.

I just knew I had to.

Don´t you understand, what I´m trying to say
Can't you feel the fears I´m feeling today?

The back of my neck prickles when you're around, did you know that? it´s like you emit some kind of electrical field that only I can feel.

But in the larger scheme of things … what are a few tingles? I have these dreams, dreams that are really memories I will never have, not now. Dreams where you choose me, choose love, and something goes horribly wrong because of it. I always wake up in a cold sweat and shaking.

Once my parents came home to find me asleep on the couch. They were terrified to find me gasping and crying and shivering. My mom told me later that I looked right at her and said "it´s all over, we failed, we failed" but I don´t remember. I never woke up.

They want me to see a doctor. They think I´m suffering from night terrors. It´s all I can do not to laugh at them. Night terrors? Bad dreams? No shit.

If only that was all I had to worry about.

If the button´s pushed, there´s no running away
There´ll be no one to save, with the world in a grave

Sometimes I find myself thinking of a TV show I used to watch called The Outer Limits. See, every week they had a different story, but you never knew how it was going to turn out. Sometimes there was a happy ending but just as often there wasn't. And I was always sick with tension waiting to find out, unable to concentrate on anything else until I found out.

Anyway, this one episode there was this kid – just a kid – and he´s on a spaceship, on a military mission during this interplanetary war. Something goes wrong, and aliens intercept the ship. But he finds it in himself to become this total hero, overcoming incredible odds to evade them and make it to the control room to unleash a weapon of mass destruction on their home world. Right at the end, he stands in this room, and they´re right outside the door, pounding on it, and he presses the button. The weapon is released, and he turns to the door bravely, knowing that even though he dies here, he has won. He has won the war, saved humankind.

But the men who pour into the room are human. And turning, he focuses on the planet just outside the ship, the one targeted by the doomsday weapon.

It was Earth.

This is my nightmare. But it will not be my reality: I will not be the doomsday weapon that destroys my world.

Take a look around you, boy
It´s bound to scare you, boy

Roswell has never looked smaller. I look around and I can feel the weight of hidden danger everywhere, as far as the eye can see … farther, even.

There is no escape, and I think you know that. It´s why you don´t insist that I leave, go somewhere safe. Because Michael was right: there is no safe anymore.

And now, now as I admit how frightened I am, you look at me and I want to scream at you not to look at me because I´m not the one who's going to attack you. You need to look away from me, because that's where the danger will come from, and that's what you have to face.

But you tell me, over and over and over again, my friend
You don´t believe we're on the eve of destruction

Instead I try not to drown in your eyes as you comfort me the best way you know how, which isn´t good enough because you aren´t holding me in your arms making me forget about everything and everyone else. You haven´t touched me like that since the night you found me in bed with Kyle.

Despite everything, your optimism still gets to me, you know that? The way you can speak to me in that low rumble, that sexy voice of quiet assurance that just exudes confidence.

Even if your eyes tell a different story.

Yeah, my blood´s so mad, feels like coagulatin´

I wish I could be so sanguine. Huh, did I just say "sanguine"? I remember learning that for a vocab test only, what, two years ago? It´s a very contrary word, you know. "Sanguine" means calm and cheerful; "sanguinary" means accompanied by blood … I always wondered how the one could be the root of the other.

And then I was cleaning up the storage room one day when a mirror fell on me from a shelf overhead. The shards cut me up pretty badly on my face and hands, but the worst was a long gash that started somewhere around my elbow and ended at my palm. Somehow I made it downstairs, but no one was there because the diner wasn't open yet. So I collapsed in a booth, watching the blood well up in my palm and leak onto the tabletop. I must have been light–headed because it seemed really funny. "Drip! Drip! Drip!" I sang, trying to follow the rhythm of plump red tears falling.

But my blood wasn't sad, it was angry. It didn´t like me anymore, I didn´t like me anymore, and I felt sorry for it because it wanted to escape, but I knew there was no escape, just … a dirty floor where it would dry up and lose that wonderful brightness.

Michael was opening that day and he found me not long after, dizzy and swooning in a puddle of my own gore. He never told me exactly how much blood I lost, but I remember the look in his eyes and the way all the colour drained from his face when I looked up at him. Giggling.

I think it was the only time I´d ever seen Michael Guerin truly scared.

I´m sittin´ here, just … contemplatin´
I can´t twist the truth, it knows no regulation

Now I look at my hand and there´s no scar. I flex my arm and there´s no pain, no stiffness. Because Michael didn´t take me to the hospital. He reached out his hands and healed me himself.

Oh, it wasn´t simple and graceful the way breakthrough moments in movies are. He reached out and just held my hand for a moment and I could feel the fear coursing through him, fear that all he was good for was violence, that he might hurt me rather than help.

I patted him clumsily with my other hand. "It´s okay, Michael," I tried to reassure him. I knew that he meant well. But it came out sounding more like "sokay migull," because I was having trouble forming words, and I think I just ended up scaring him more.

I think he´s incredibly brave, you know. He looked at me, took a deep breath and dove right in, placing both hands around my arm and willing the flesh to close. To this day I can close my eyes and see his large hands spanning the length of my small arm from wrist to elbow.

I don´t know if he made a connection, but ever since then, Michael doesn´t give me any grief. He doesn´t bother posturing around me anymore, or arguing. We work together in companionable silence and every now and then I catch him looking at me with this inscrutable expression. He knows me now, but it doesn't bother me. Whatever he knows, it´s just the truth. No point in denying it.

Hand full of senators don´t pass legislation

It still freaks me out that I worked for a Skin. There I was, trying to create a new life for myself and just got sucked right back in. Sometimes I think that, more than anything else, I´m angry at her for not being someone I could look up to, someone who could show me how one person could make a difference in this world, even if you weren't an alien.

But the Congresswoman won´t be recording my phone calls anymore. Isabel dusted her, protecting Tess. I wonder … do I wish that she had gotten there too late to save the little wench? But no – I´ll sleep a lot better if I don´t answer. I´ve sacrificed too much to keep her here; I will not backslide now. I have priorities.

And marches alone can´t bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin´

It´s strange. In a way, we´ve never been more cohesive as a group. We work together efficiently and without question, following your lead if you´re available or one of the others if you aren´t.

But us humans – we're second–class citizens. I can see it in the way the four of you automatically surround us, ready to protect us. Like shepherds guarding the sheep from the wolves.

We share a bond but we are not equals. I don´t know what we are, but I´m not sure I´d even call us friends anymore. Any of us. We don´t enjoy the company of others anymore. We´re together because there´s safety in numbers, not because we´re having fun. I haven´t shared a bowl of ice cream with Maria in I don´t know how long, or dallied at the counter while Alex worked his way through a stack of pancakes. Isabel has shut me out altogether, excusing herself if the conversation threatens to become personal.

And I never have gotten along with Tess, although sometimes … sometimes I think that maybe she understands me better than anyone else could. And I worry that maybe, just maybe, I understand her too.

Kyle – well, Kyle I can take, because he can do silence almost as well as Michael. Thank Buddha for both of them.

You don´t even see me anymore, I think. You remember who I used to be, and you remember the dreams we shared, but sometimes when you look at me your eyes grow slightly unfocused, as if it hurts you too much to see me. Not just look at me, but really see me. I don´t think the tattoo even registered. Kyle and I went out one night and had them done, a snake biting its tail on his arm and a small crimson rose shedding petals on my back.

I have been marked by destiny and knowledge and pain. You can see it if my shirt rides up even a little. It stopped hurting a long time ago, but I can still feel its power.

This whole crazy world is just too frustratin´

I don´t understand how our lives ended up here. And sometimes in the evenings when my parents are out of town, I drive out to the desert and scream, just to remember what my voice sounds like when I´m not taking orders.

Sometimes I find Michael already out there on his bike. Waiting. A lot of time we just sit there and think about things.

We always end up huddling protectively against the cold, and I can´t help but compare the warmth of his chest to the memory of yours.

It doesn´t compare, but in some ways, it´s better. Michael doesn´t mess around; if he wants to tell me something, he does. It´s that simple. I don´t waste energy with useless speculation, fighting the aggravation of not knowing. When the whole world is in chaos there's something very comforting about simplicity.

You tell me, over and over and over again, my friend
You don´t believe, we're on the eve of destruction

I once called you an eternal optimist and my voice must have sounded funny because everyone looked at me. That night, in the desert, Michael asked me what I meant by it, and I couldn't answer him. How could I explain that I had seen a Max that will never exist, a Max that can watch his life, his people and his family die around him and still fight to fix it? To find a way to cheat death and still smile as he danced with me?

I couldn´t. Tell, I mean.

You once yelled at me on a deserted street in some godforsaken haven for evil aliens, upset that I was keeping a secret from you. "We don´t secrets from each other," you said.

Don´t we? Hasn't our entire relationship been based on keeping secrets? Some of them we´ve shared, but others … you never really liked revealing yourself to me, not really. You would never have told me about kissing Tess if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

Think of all the hate there is in Regina
Then take a look around, to Selma Alabama
You may leave here for four days in space
But when you return it´s the same old place

Sometimes the four of you disappear for a few days. Do you think that, by not telling us about your missions, that you´re protecting us? Protecting me? Do you think of us at all?

The first time, Maria came to me terrified that you all were dead. Or had found a way home. Or both. We waited through the night for some word, some indication that you were okay. Then the next day, the Sheriff came into the diner and nodded. You know, that nod that means he's thinking about ´private´ business? Then he said, "great news, isn't it?" Smiled warmly, took his coffee, and walked back to his car.

And I knew that something had happened, something "Czech", and he just assumed that we knew. That I knew, because he seems to think we're close or something.

Of course, when you came back I didn´t ask. And you didn´t tell. And when I told you how I had figured out the location of a Skin stronghold by using Brody´s computers to track its electromagnetic emissions, you patted my arm. Like I was a favourite pet that had performed a really cute trick. I looked up, right into Michael's eyes. He raised one eyebrow, and I pulled my hand away.

I could have told Valenti the truth, but I didn´t want to burst his bubble. His little illusion of us as a team. He´s not part of the team and he never will be, but I won´t tell him. He´s a dear man and a good ally, and I don´t want to see the look in his eyes when he realizes this.

I see that look enough in my own reflection.

The poundin´ of the drums the fright and disgrace
You can bury your dead, but don´t leave a trace

Sometimes I´m amazed I haven´t just dropped dead from fear. You know?

I jump every time a car backfires in the street. I search the face of every customer, whether I´ve known them all my life or if they're just passing through. I´ve embarrassed myself several times on the street when another pedestrian would get too close. My personal space is all I have left to shield me, and I maintain it very seriously.

My parents don´t understand why I don´t like to hug or be around them anymore. Dad thinks I´m angry because he once accused me of using drugs, or that I´m embarrassed to be working in a cheesy diner again. Mom thinks I´m having sex. I want to scream at her sometimes, to explain that no one – no one – is going to be violating her little girl anytime soon, if ever.

I´ve seen death. I´ve met it and turned away, and I´ve seen what happens to others who aren't so lucky.

(Lucky. Hah.)

After death … what good is sex? Maria had sex and told me it left a residue on her soul. I can barely tolerate the taint already darkening mine; I don´t want any more.

And I will not risk bringing a new life into my hell.

Hate your next–door neighbour but don´t forget to say Grace

It´s so easy to hate sometimes, to give in to the bitterness, to just … give up. Usually something pulls me out of it, but every time I feel that sinking sensation, I wonder if this is it. Then I´ll see a beautiful sunrise, watch the old woman down the street lovingly tend her garden, or return a wallet to a customer who smiles gratefully. And I´ll think: maybe there's something here after all. Something worth waiting for.

Something to be thankful for. However small, however insignificant.

I treasure these moments.

And tell me, over and over and over and over again, my friend
You don´t believe, we're on the eve of destruction

Still, I don´t have your talent for denial. Now, sarcasm – sarcasm I can do. I take every possible opportunity to remind you how much your ´friendship´ means to me.

And you smile and accept my words as your due. You return the sentiment and sometimes I even believe that you mean it. Again I have wonder if you ever actually look at me when we talk. Because I think we're having two different conversations.

No, no, you don´t believe

Denial. it´s a powerful force. I think I may have to take a lesson from our fearless leader, because for all your worrying, to you it´s a given that you will walk away from the next battle. I think that somewhere in that powerful head of yours, you still dream of a life ´after´. Of a picket fence, a minivan in the driveway, and a basketball hoop over the garage.

You refuse to admit defeat and in a way I admire you for it. I even respond to your optimism, your steadfast assurances that we can get through whatever they throw at us.

But at the same time, I know it´s a lie. I know, you see.

I know.

We're on the eve of destruction

The End

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