Lilah – is Maria that easy to dupe, hmm? Investigator Maria? Honest Maria?
Nibbles2 – thank you. Now, the hardest part will begin, for those two.
This is why we wrote this story. You will see that Michael isn’t on his own, contrary to the show, when he has such critical problems. And it’s a great pleasure for us to write this unusual Michael, it allows us to make him interact with brandnew characters. We hope you’ll like where this is going but don’t worry, you won’t have to wait for to long for the answer to your question.But I wonder what he will tell her when she'll remember more clearly that something strange did happen
Ashleyt – Amazing how Isabel turned out without Michael around, huh ? since she had nobody to really take care of, she focused much more on herself, her fears, her feelings. She is more selfish. Michael, in the show, had a “tell it like it is” attitude and Isabel probably heard a lot from him, on various subjects. But without him around, nobody every told her a few home truths, and she didn’t have anybody to worry about.
Isabel walked through the front door and stopped in the kitchen to speak to her mother before going upstairs to get ready for dinner. Once in her own bedroom, she sat down on her bed and considered what she had learned in the time she had spent with Alex. The program he had used to attempt decoding the letter hadn’t worked, but instead of giving up he had simply moved on to another idea.
“You stayed out quite a while,” Max said, leaning in her open doorway. “I was sure you’d be home before me.”
“I had something to do and it took longer than I thought it would.”
“Y’know, Liz called Alex a while ago.” He watched her, studying her reaction. “He hasn’t discovered anything yet.”
“No? How surprising.”
Max rolled his eyes at her sarcastic tone. “I guess maybe I owe you an apology; I had this feelin’ that you might go back over there and hassle him about it.”
“Yes, Max, because I have nothing better to do with my day than hang out with Alex Whitman while he tries to decode some letter.” She shook her head and stood up, walking to her closet and ignoring him.
“Yeah, well, Liz seemed pretty confident that Alex would’ve been all over the place if he had spent the afternoon with you, so I’m sorry I jumped to conclusions.”
“You don’t know as much as you like to think you know,” Isabel said, her voice muffled from the confines of her closet. She wondered why Alex hadn’t said anything to Liz about her spending the afternoon at his house, hanging over his shoulder, insisting on having him explain everything he was doing. He had been surprisingly patient as he answered her demanding questions, never once speaking to her like she wasn’t smart enough to understand what he was explaining.
“Anyway, I’m gonna go wash up for dinner; I’ll see you downstairs.”
“Yeah, whatever,” she muttered once she heard his door close.
She was going to have to come up with a reasonable explanation for why she wasn’t going to be home tomorrow afternoon. She had already made plans to meet Alex after his parents left to spend the day with friends but she had no intention of letting Max know where she was going.
Maria ran a towel through her hair, wincing when it brushed against her right shoulder. She walked over to the mirror over her dresser and turned so she could see the light bruising where she had taken the brunt of her weight and Michael’s when he had tackled her earlier.
She still wasn’t sure why he had reacted so strongly to a slight shower of dirt and rocks that hadn’t been large enough to really do any damage. She also couldn’t shake the image of the bright flash she was certain she had seen, but since Michael said he hadn’t seen anything, she had only her own belief that something had happened to cause the flash of light.
Pulling a shirt out of her closet, she slipped it over her head, careful as she pulled it down over her right shoulder, and went to the kitchen for a drink. She was thankful that a long soak in a hot bath had helped ease the soreness from the afternoon’s activities, making walking a little less painful than she had expected.
After getting a glass of lemonade from the kitchen, she paused in the living room doorway to watch her mother as she flipped through a stack of old magazines.
“What’re you looking for, Mom?” she asked, moving further into the room and sitting in an armchair.
“I was thinking about what you were telling me earlier about the wild horses Michael showed you, and I’m certain I remember reading an article about them.” She dropped the magazine on the floor beside her, adding it to the stack already there as she reached for the next one. “They’re supposed to be protected, but the truth is they’re not nearly as protected as they should be.”
Maria leaned over and picked up one of the magazines, browsing through it for a few minutes before closing it again. She was just about to drop it back on the stack on the floor when the name of the magazine caught her eye: Magnum Photos. She stared at it, remembering the conversation that had followed after Michael’s grandfather had called him Magnum.
You’re only fooling yourself if you believe that, Magnum.”
Maria tilted her head to the side and looked at Michael curiously. “Magnum? Like the guy on the TV show?”
Michael couldn’t help the grin that slipped onto his face. “No, nothin’ like that.”
She studied him, intrigued by the teasing glint in his dark eyes. “But you’re not gonna tell me, are you?”
“Stick around and figure it out if you think you can.”
No, it couldn’t be that easy… could it? A large smile spread across her face. She was soooo going to use that piece of information at some point in the near future. Anything to solve the Magnum mystery. She rolled her eyes. Leave it to Michael to act all secretive over a simple nickname. What could possibly be so important about being called Magnum that he couldn’t explain it to her? Now, if it was a middle name as ridiculous as the one her mother had given to her – she shuddered just thinking about it – she would understand it, but Magnum was a powerful and beautiful nickname, so why all the secrecy?
Her mother’s victorious yell brought her back to reality. “Here it is!” Amy shifted away from the precarious stack of magazines she had created and sat on the floor, satisfied with herself. “I knew I still had it.” She flipped through the pages until she came to the photograph of Santana’s herd at the center of the magazine. “It’s just horrifying what those people did to them.”
“What was their punishment?” Maria asked, accepting the magazine when her mother handed it to her.
Amy looked at her daughter, knowing that she wasn’t going to like her answer. “They were fined… five hundred dollars each, I think.”
“That’s all?” Maria asked, scandalized. Fine world they were living in! She scanned through the article briefly before she closed the magazine. “Can I keep this so I can read it later?”
“Sure, honey, take it with you,” Amy answered, happy to see her daughter taking an interest in the preservation of the wild horses.
Maria looked at her mother, hesitant to ask about what had been bothering her since she had come back from her date with Michael. Her mother was very involved in the Native American community, so maybe she could give her an answer. “Mom, do you think it’s right that the people on the Rez have to rely on tourism to make money?”
Amy turned around to look at her daughter, impressed once again that she was showing an interest in the Native American culture and its social issues. “Well, that’s an issue that has a lot of people on the Rez divided because while there are many who encourage the tourism because it does bring revenue in, there are just as many who feel that it’s taking away from the heart of their people.”
“Michael hates it.” She propped her elbow on the arm of the chair and rested her chin in her hand. “It really bothers him that tourists are all over the Rez and that so many families rely on them for income.”
Amy smiled. It was obvious that Maria had taken into consideration what Michael had told her about tourism and the Native American reservations, and she was starting to wonder if it was such a good idea for tourists to invade the home of such proud people. “Well, he’s not alone in feeling that way. A lot of them feel like they’ve been reduced to nothing more than being a living tourist attraction, and I don’t really blame them for feeling that way. But I also know that right now there isn’t another option out there and until there is, things will probably stay this way.”
“Yeah. I just hate that he feels like that.” She sighed deeply. “I mean, we have tourists crawling all over the place all year round and I never really thought about it because it’s how Roswell makes most of its money, but looking at it from Michael’s point of view, it kinda makes you stop and think, ya know? It doesn’t bother me that there are different people in town every single day, but they come here to see so-called proof that aliens really exist. So, it’s not like they’re actually taking anything away from us, but it’s completely different on the Rez. They’re intruding on a way of life and paying money to do it.”
She paused to take a drink of her lemonade. “I can understand why it’s become a necessity, but it’s just sad that they’re having to give up a piece of themselves to make a living.”
“I’m sure there’s a solution out there, Maria, it just hasn’t been found yet.” Amy stood and replaced the stack of magazines on a shelf. “Michael’s parents are very nice; they spent most of the afternoon at the booths. His sister seemed to be very sweet too.” She smiled. “I was watching you with Michael, Maggie, and her friends while I was finishing up this evening and you really looked like you were enjoying yourself.”
“I was.” She smiled. “Maggie and her friends, they’re really great.”
“And we’ve reached the don’t-ask-don’t-tell part of the evening.” Maria stood up and rolled her eyes. “I’ll see you in the morning, Mom.”
Amy smiled. “Good night, honey.”
Maggie grabbed a DVD off of the entertainment center and loaded it into the player before tossing the remote on the couch and going to the kitchen to pull the popcorn out of the microwave. She opened the bag and dumped it into a large bowl then grabbed a can of soda and hurried back into the living room before the previews were over.
It was rare that her parents had the opportunity to go out together on a Saturday night and on those oh-so-rare occasions she actually got the television in the den all to herself. Most of the time, she lost the battle for the larger television because her dad and brother dominated it with football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and any other sport that they deemed necessary to their existence and she got stuck with the small television in the living room.
Her parents wouldn’t be home until late and Michael had gone for a walk, leaving her all alone to watch the movie she wanted to watch and she didn’t even have to fight him for viewers’ rights tonight! Normally, on those rare evenings when there wasn’t a sporting event on, she and Michael fought over who got to pick the movie until one of their parents took the decision out of their hands and picked for them – and it was never a movie that either of them wanted to see.
She flipped the lights off and settled down on the couch with her popcorn, soda, and remote. “Not tonight though,” she muttered, wiggling around until she was comfortably ensconced in the overstuffed cushions. “Tonight it’s all mine.”
She glanced up half an hour later when the front door shut and Michael paused in the doorway, his arms coming up to cross over his chest as he stared at the movie playing on the screen. She grabbed the remote and paused the player before he could comment and ruin the whole mood she had going on.
“Why’d you pause it?” Michael asked, crossing the room and slouching down beside her.
“Because you’re not going to be staying long.” She frowned when he placed a can of soda on the coffee table and held a bottle of Tabasco sauce in front of her face. Before she could form a protest, he doused her popcorn with the hot sauce and took the bowl from her. He took a handful of it and crammed it in his mouth, chewing thoughtfully for a few seconds before shaking his head. “Not enough butter.”
“That’s real attractive, Michael. Be sure to show that to Maria next time you see her.” She rolled her eyes. “That’ll really impress her.”
Michael was getting ready to shrug and make a smart remark when she suddenly smiled and he leaned away from her warily. “What?”
“Or maybe you don’t need to impress her.” She grinned like she knew something no one else knew. “After all, her mom likes you.” She tried not to laugh and ended up snorting instead. “I mean, she hugged you and everything.”
This time she didn’t try to stop the laughter. “You should’ve seen your face! You looked like you wanted the earth to open up and swallow you whole!” She fell over sideways, laughing, the sound muffled because her face was buried in the cushions.
“I’m so glad you enjoy my suffering and it provides you with amusement,” he grumbled before shoving another handful of popcorn into his mouth.
“Oh, come on,” Maggie said once she had brought herself under control once more. “She was just so excited that you make her little girl smile. Too bad she didn’t see the smile you put on her face this afternoon.” She bit back a giggle and shook her head. “That was a pretty hot kiss, Michael.”
“Yeah.” He picked at a loose thread on his jeans before motioning at the television. “We gonna watch this or not?”
Maggie shifted sideways to scrutinize his expression. She knew he had been quieter than usual during dinner but she had thought that he was just lost in thought after spending the day with Maria. Now, she wasn’t so sure. This wasn’t how he normally responded to her teasing; they usually went back and forth for a while before he either gave in and let her win or he ended it by tickling her mercilessly. “Are you okay?”
“I thought we were gonna watch the movie.”
“Michael, the day you willingly sit down to watch Pretty In Pink is the day it’s all over.” She shook her head and shoved him. “Something’s obviously bothering you, so tell me what it is.”
She propped her arm on the back of the couch and rested her chin on her forearm. “Did Maria say something when she called you earlier?” She sat up straighter. “She didn’t break up with you or anything, did she?”
Michael smiled briefly at his sister’s indignant tone. “No.” He sighed and lowered his head to stare at his hands. “Not yet anyway.”
“What do you mean, not yet?” she asked carefully. “Michael?” She stared at him, her worry increasing with every moment of silence that passed. “Michael, what’d she see?”
She followed his gaze to his right hand where it was constantly in motion, clenching and unclenching. Her eyes widened and she shook her head in denial. “Michael, did you do something in front of her?”
“She would’ve gotten hurt, Maggie… I had no choice.” He glanced at her, maintaining eye contact for just the briefest part of a second.
“How much did she see?” She knew he didn’t show his deepest emotions, preferring to keep them hidden deep inside, but there were rare moments when she could see right through him, and at this moment she could tell he was afraid.
“I’m not really sure if she saw anything or not,” Michael admitted.
Maggie’s fears only increased with his hesitant answer. “But, there’s a chance that she saw you use your powers?”
He nodded. “There’s a chance, yeah.”
Maggie swore. This was bad, really bad. Up until now no one had ever discovered her brother’s powers. Living in a secluded part of the Rez, Michael had been taught to use and control his powers early on by River Dog, and he had never made a mistake with them, not even at school. “What’re you gonna tell her if she says she did?”
Michael remained silent for a minute, considering his options. “I don’t know. Maybe she didn’t see anything, Maggie. I mean, she was acting perfectly normal before she left, and then later when I talked to her on the phone.” He shrugged and a small smile lifted one corner of his mouth. “Well, normal for Maria, anyway.”
Right. Maggie was relieved… a little. There was a chance that Michael’s identity was safe. “Is there any other way to explain what she saw?”
“The only thing she saw was a flash of light, and she explained it on her own; she said maybe she hit her head.”
Maggie jumped on that. “Did she?”
Michael shook his head. He was well aware that he had cradled her head with his left hand to keep her from doing that very thing and he had the bruised, skinned knuckles to prove it.
Maggie watched him for several minutes. “You think she’ll remember, don’t you?”
“What am I gonna tell her if she does?” he asked quietly.
“Because you know you can’t tell her the truth, Michael,” Maggie said insistently. She had to make him realize that. It was crucial.
“What if that’s – “
“No!” Maggie screamed at him. She tried to control herself as she fought to bring her breathing under control. How was she going to explain her opposition to Maria being told the truth without hurting her brother? “Michael, I like Maria, you know I do, but if you told her and she didn’t take it well… You know what could happen!”
“Do you think she’d look at me differently? Run away screaming into the night? Turn me in to the authorities?” He couldn’t fault his sister because he had the exact same doubts and fears, but part of him wanted to believe that Maria wouldn’t react badly if the truth came out.
Maggie sighed. It was easy to see that Michael was just as worried as she was, and she didn’t want to add to his fears by throwing fuel on the fire. But at the same time she had to make him understand that he had to be more careful, that it was too soon to tell Maria the truth. “No, I’m not saying that, I’m just saying that it’s too dangerous for you to even consider telling her that you’re not exactly from around here.” She reached over to place her hand on his arm, frowning when he jerked away from the contact.
Michael grimaced and pulled his sleeve back as he held his arm up. “It’s still a little tender; I scraped it up pretty good while we were out today.” He stood up and stretched. “I think I’m gonna go on to bed. Do me a favor, will ya? Don’t worry Mom an’ Dad with this, okay?”
Maggie nodded. “Promise me you won’t tell her the truth, Michael.”
“I’ve never broken a promise to you, Maggie.”
“Then don’t ask me to make one now that I may not be able to keep,” Michael said firmly.
She called him before he could leave the room. “At least promise me you’ll talk to Grandpa tomorrow. Please?”
Michael nodded. “I’ll talk to him, Maggie.” He leaned over to drop a kiss on her dark head. “Don’t worry about it, okay? I promise I’ll talk to him.”
“Tomorrow,” she insisted.
“First thing, brat.”
Maggie watched him go and knew without a doubt that he would do what he said he would do. Michael had never once broken a promise and it worried her that he hadn’t given her his word that he wouldn’t tell Maria the truth. Her brother really liked Maria; she knew it even though he wouldn’t come right out and admit it, and she didn’t want to see him get hurt. What if he told the truth and Maria turned on him? What if –
“Stop thinkin’ so hard and watch that stupid movie,” Michael insisted from the doorway.
“I’m going with you to see Grandpa”, Maggie stated decisively.
“Maggie – “
She interrupted him before he had the opportunity to undermine her plans. “No, I’m going with you, Michael.”
He decided not to argue with her. She was worried about him and she wouldn’t let it go until she talked to their grandfather, trusting him to find a solution to the problem.
“Fine.” He walked through the house to his bedroom, leaving the light off and pacing back and forth in front of his window. He couldn’t discount his sister’s fears and he couldn’t put them to rest until he knew what action to take and what affect it would have. He braced his hands on either side of the window and stared at the mountains in the distance, the same mountains he has spent the day looking at with Maria.
He spent the entire night staring into the desert as the moon cut a path across the sand until it finally disappeared over the horizon and the sun began its climb into the early morning sky. He was still no closer to an answer when he heard his mother beginning to make preparations for breakfast.