Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)155 - 8/24/19 - Complete

This is the place to post stories that significantly alter the show's canon or mythology such as prequels, backgrounds for the characters that differ from on the show, fics where different characters are alien, and alternative family relationships. These fics must contain aliens or alien storylines as part of their plot.

Moderators: Anniepoo98, Rowedog, ISLANDGIRL5, Itzstacie, truelovepooh, FSU/MSW-94, Hunter, Island Breeze, Forum Moderators

User avatar
ArchAngel1973
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 373
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:02 pm

Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child-M/M(CC-Teen)Pt31-7/19

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sat Jul 19, 2008 11:19 am

Lilah – In the show, Alex had finally decided to confront Liz. Here, Liz has to deal with Maria confronting her but also Maria’s boyfriend. Liz is just surprised by how bad things are between Maria and her, for Maria’s boyfriend to treat her like that.

Flamehair – Liz’s day isn’t over, poor girl. But don’t worry, there’s light at the end of that day.

Ken r – It’s a good point. Michael has never known any other aliens and feels alone and Maria has been driven away by her friends and feels alone. It’s like what has happened in the show with Alex. But things often have to go bad, before they get better.

Spacegirl23 – Michael is protective of the ones he loves, including in this fic. You’ll see other examples of that, even when Maria isn’t involved.

Cjsl8ne – This story shows what the show could have been, if Alex hadn’t been brought into the secret when he had been, but much later.

April – Liz was letting her jealousy over Michael replacing her in Maria’s life win. Very human feeling.

Stinebiene – Isabel will do something to make you realize that she cares about Alex but is in denial big time about it.


Part 31

Isabel reached over Alex’s shoulder to point at something on the computer screen, one perfectly manicured nail tapping repeatedly to draw his attention to one of the sites. “Try that one,” she said.

“Okay, just hold on a second.” He chuckled at her impatient tone and finished scribbling some notes down on his notebook. “We need to make sure we keep detailed information, no matter how useless it seems, that way if we need it later we can always come back to it.”

“It says here that his last known residence was in Cleveland; how is that information gonna help us? We have no way to…” She trailed off when he held a hand up, stopping the flow of words.

“It’s a proven method of research.” He set the notebook aside and clicked on the website she had been pointing at. “Trust me, Isabel; you just never know when this information could come in handy.” He turned his head when someone knocked on his door and he minimized the screen when he saw Liz standing there, her expression too controlled. “Liz?” He stood and crossed the room, his hands coming to rest on her shoulders when she didn’t move. “Liz, what’s wrong?”

She was trying to keep her voice under control even though it was killing her to do so. “I had to go get pies at Maria’s… my dad asked me to go over there…” She used the heel of her hand to brush away a tear that escaped. “Maria wasn’t supposed to be home… she said so last night, Alex.”

“C’mon over here and sit down,” he urged, wrapping his right arm around her shoulders and walking her over to the bed. He crouched down in front of her and looked up into her miserable eyes. “Tell me what happened.”

“She’s got a boyfriend… some guy from the Reservation.” She drew in a shaky breath and her throat tightened up again.

Alex’s breath momentarily froze in his throat. “What?” A boyfriend? Maria had a boyfriend that he didn’t know about? His mind shifted back to the discussion he’d had with Liz at the Crashdown not so long ago when they had discussed the possibility of Maria reaching a point where she wouldn’t be able to forgive them. Could Liz be right? Maria doesn’t have a… she hasn’t said anything – “

“She can’t, Alex! Don’t you see? We’ve pushed her so far away that she can’t even tell us she’s got a new guy in her life.”

“Wait… this guy… he was over at Maria’s house? You met him?” Alex couldn’t believe Maria was dating someone and he didn’t know about it. It was his self-appointed job to check out any guy that either of his girls was dating. He felt a pang of regret when he realized that there was no way for them to know what Maria was doing because they had shut her out completely. He studied Liz’s face, seeing the lines of stress around her eyes and he knew there was more to the story. “There’s somethin’ about him you didn’t like?”

Liz nodded. “He’s completely different from any of the guys she’s ever dated, Alex. He’s big, he’s rude, and he’s loud. And he knew all about the way we’ve treated her… because he made sure to tell me to my face how hurt she is and how she’s having a hard time dealing with what we’ve done to her.”

He frowned. “And Maria just let him talk to you like that?”

“She was in her room getting ready to leave with him; she didn’t come in until he was finished saying what he had to say.” Liz rubbed the sides of her neck where it hurt from continually holding her emotions in check.

Alex suddenly felt exhausted and he rubbed his eyes, trying to erase the surreal feeling that had come over him. “You got a bad feelin’ about him?”

“I think he’s dangerous.” Her conscience prompted her to be honest. “I got the feeling that he does care about her, a lot, but I still think he’s dangerous.”

Alex stood and started pacing. He couldn’t look at Liz, knowing that his own guilt was being reflected right back at him. How was he supposed to help her, comfort her, when he couldn’t even forgive himself for what they had done to their friend? They had known that she wouldn’t react well to their perceived defection; she had no way to know that the secret they were protecting was… He shook his head at his own thoughts. There was no excuse for what they had done; they knew she could be trusted with the secret but they had sacrificed her friendship, thrown it away as if it hadn’t meant anything to them.

What if Liz was right and the guy was dangerous? What if Maria got hurt because she had gone to someone else hoping to fill the void left in her life that her friends had previously filled?

Isabel watched them and felt just the briefest moment of guilt before she shook her head in denial of her feelings.

“We could’ve told her… she wouldn’t have told anyone,” Liz whispered.

“I know.”

Isabel stood up, her figure imposing and her features set in ice as she stared at Liz. “Max risked everything when he healed you; if it hadn’t been for him, you would’ve bled to death on the floor of the restaurant.” She shook her head. “He asked you not to say anything, to keep the secret, but you ran out and told Alex. The least you could do is to respect his wishes and avoid telling anyone else about us. You got a second chance at life, and you knew going in that it was going to come with a price. And if Maria had to be the price you paid for getting that second chance and learning the secret then so be it.” She shook her head. “There are people who would be willing to kill for this secret so telling Motormouth DeLuca is out of the question. My own parents don’t even know the truth!”

“You don’t know Maria, Isabel,” Liz argued tearfully. “She’s the most trustworthy person in the world.”

“So you’re saying that my parents aren’t? My mother who gave up a job that she loved to take me and Max in, to teach us things that most kids know when they’re two or three years old? No, if my own mother doesn’t know, Maria doesn’t get to know.”

“Why haven’t you told your parents?” Alex asked.

“Because Max won’t agree; he doesn’t think it’s safe to tell them. I wanted to tell them, but he refused. We made a promise years ago, when we first realized that we weren’t like everyone else that we’d never tell anyone and he broke that promise when he told you. Oh, he told me how you could be trusted and you wouldn’t tell anyone… and within a matter of hours you told Alex, which proves my point that none of you can be trusted. I can’t make you keep your mouths shut, I can’t keep you from telling that weird girl about our secret, so just know that if you say one word to her about it, I’ll leave Roswell. It’ll break my heart because I’ll leave everyone I love behind, and I’ll leave with or without my brother, but I won’t wait around for that motormouth to say something to the wrong people so the FBI or the government can come in and catch us.” Isabel’s voice was filled with anger and it only climbed higher as she reached the end of her impassioned speech. She meant every word of it and her gaze was hard as she looked at each of them in turn.

“I think I’d better go, Alex.” Liz gave him a quick hug and ran from the room.

He let her go, knowing that for now there was nothing he could do to ease her pain or her guilt. He turned to face Isabel and for just a moment he saw the flash of fear in her dark eyes but she was quick to cover it up. “Could you have been any more heartless if you had tried?” he snapped. “This is not easy for her to deal with… it’s not easy for either of us. Do you realize that we threw away a friendship that we’ve had our entire lives to be the guardians of your secret? A secret that Maria could’ve kept if you’d just given her half a chance!”

“You can’t bring someone else in!” Isabel shouted. “You don’t know what kind of risk you’d be taking. I know you think she can be trusted – “

“No, Isabel, I don’t think she can be trusted, I know she can be trusted. There’s a world of difference between those two words. Maybe you can stand there and blithely suggest that the friendship of someone like Maria is nothing more than collateral damage in this little science fiction we’re all suddenly in, but she’s a hell of a lot more than that. She’s got feelings and emotions and she gets hurt just like anybody else, and that includes you.”

He walked up to her and his gaze was unwavering as he delivered his next question. “Do you understand what it means to have a friend whose loyalty to you comes without price? Without obligation? Without any consideration of whether or not you would do the same for them if circumstances required, because they know if they needed you, you’d be there? That’s Maria, and she could’ve been your friend too if you’d let her. But you won’t, will you?” He backed away and shook his head. “Because you don’t know how to let someone get that close; you’ve never trusted anyone enough to let them be your friend.”

“I have plenty of friends,” she insisted.

“Yeah? Friends like Lisa and Mandy? The same two who you know started the rumors that were going around this mornin’? Who were probably on the phone before we had even made it to my car yesterday, telling your other friends about how the mighty Isabel Evans has fallen to the bottom of the social chain. I’ve got news for you, Isabel; Maria would’ve never done that.”

“You don’t get to judge my friends.”

“But you get to judge mine? Huh-uh, that’s not the way it works. How many of your friends would come runnin’ if you were sick? Or if you had been hurt? Huh? How many of those mindless drones would be right by your side?”

“I don’t get sick. And if I did get hurt, Max can heal – ”

Alex was quickly reaching the breaking point; dealing with Isabel and her attitude was something that he had never anticipated would be so difficult. “That is not the point, Isabel! God, why are you bein’ so damned difficult about this? I can tell you right now, no matter what we’ve done to Maria, how badly we’ve treated her, if somethin’ happened to Liz or myself, she’d be knockin’ people down to get to us. It doesn’t matter that we’ve crushed her by lyin’, keepin’ secrets, and treatin’ her like crap; she would be there if we needed her. That’s just the kinda person she is.”

“Well… she can’t know about us,” she stated as she sat down at the desk.

“I know it’s gotta be a difficult position for you to be in, hidin’ who you are from everyone including your family, but that’s no excuse for actin’ like a royal bitch. Liz came here needing someone to understand what she’s goin’ through, not a reminder that you think losin’ Maria is inconsequential. I know you must live in constant fear that the wrong person will discover the truth about you and Max, but you’ve got two people on your side now that want to help you and you keep fightin’ us. I know you resent Liz for getting shot, your brother for healin’ her, me for knowin’ the truth, and Maria for no reason that I can think of.” He leaned over the chair she was sitting in, his hands braced on the arms of the chair as he met her startled gaze. “Get over it. You could very easily be stuck on planet earth for the rest of your life, and it’s gonna be an awful long and lonely existence if you don’t let people in. You’ve always had to keep people out to protect yourself and I respect that, but now you’ve got two people who know the truth and are still right here, willin’ to be your friend. Stop pushin’ us away, Isabel.”

She stared after him when he stalked out of the room, obviously needing a minute or two to calm down. She had spent her entire life keeping people at a distance… he didn’t know what he was asking her to do. She reached up to scratch her face when she felt something tickle her cheek, surprised when she realized it was a tear. She turned back to the computer and stared at the dark screen as she chewed on her thumbnail and waited for him to come back.

She suddenly pushed away from the desk and stood up, grabbing her jacket and stalking out of the room. What was she doing? She was Isabel Evans and no one talked to her like he had just done. Why had she allowed it? Why hadn’t she jumped right back in his face and told him where he could go?

Because deep down she knew he was right and it made her ask questions she wasn’t sure she wanted the answers to. She couldn’t go home because she was fairly certain that was where Liz would have gone so now she wasn’t even able to retreat to her own refuge. She fled his house, getting into her car and driving aimlessly, doing her best to ignore the fact that Alex Whitman was making her face things she preferred to avoid. She finally ended up at the stone quarry with only her tumultuous thoughts for company.

*****

“How did you manage to get your hands on Linda’s jeep?” Maria asked, watching Michael as he drove. Black jeans and a crisp white shirt made him appear even taller than he really was, and the buckskin jacket embroidered with intricate Native American designs accentuated his broad shoulders. The arrowhead necklace that he normally wore had been replaced with a handcrafted choker made of four rows of fine bone, and dark brown and tan beads, all threaded together by thin strips of leather. A sterling silver bracelet with different animals cut out of it encircled his right wrist and he wore three different silver rings on his fingers.

“We have yet to reach an arrangement that is agreeable to both sides.” He shrugged one shoulder. “She’ll get what she wants one way or the other.”

An arrangement? One that Michael didn’t know about? She shook her head, knowing how dangerous it was to agree to that kind of deal. It always came back to bite you on the ass! Maybe she should warn him about the risks associated with that kind of deal… maybe later. “Okay, we’ve been driving for fifteen minutes and you haven’t said anything.”

“I just said somethin’,” he disagreed.

Maria rolled her eyes. “You know what I’m talking about, Michael.”

“I was tough on her but after what she’s done to you, she deserved it and I’m not gonna apologize for a damn thing I said to her.”

She smiled at his belligerent tone. “I wasn’t going to ask you to. I just wanted to know what was said.”

“I told her what I think about the way you’ve been treated.”

Maria watched his right hand as it clenched on the gearshift, his knuckles turning white under the pressure he was exerting. She reached over and pried his fingers away from the gearshift, her thumbs automatically searching for the pressure points in his palm that would force the tension from his hand.

“She did say that even though you weren’t talkin’ to each other, she still cares about you; she was apparently very worried about me bein’ a danger to you.”

She snorted at the notion that he posed any sort of threat to her and she shook her head when he looked at her sharply. “No, it’s just ironic that she thinks you’re dangerous, when the truth is that I’ve never felt safer than I do when I’m with you.”

Michael glanced away from the road long enough to search her steady gaze, seeing the truth behind her words, and as suddenly as the tension had settled over him, it left him.

She looked down when Michael’s much larger hand turned over, his fingers sliding through hers before his hand closed once more. He was slowly becoming more accustomed to simple touches like this; at first he had been stiff and she was certain it was due to the fact that displays of affection with anyone outside of his family were basically nonexistent. But now his hand, wrapped so comfortably around hers was relaxed and the action had occurred without a second thought on his part.

Maria settled back, her gaze sweeping over the scenery as it flew by and she thought back to that first drive out to the Reservation with her mother not so long ago. She hadn’t had a clue that the trip was going to lead to Michael’s presence in her life; at the time it had simply been a way to get away from Roswell and the constant reminder that she had lost her two best friends without an explanation. It was nice to know that even though things had changed so drastically Liz still worried about her, she thought, and for the first time a thought connected to the other girl came and went without the usual feeling of hurt.

User avatar
ArchAngel1973
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 373
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:02 pm

Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child-M/M(CC-Teen)Pt32-7/26

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sat Jul 26, 2008 6:10 pm

Stinebiene – Isabel is certainly harsh. And you are right, she is selfish. Alex is the first one to give her a reality check.

PML – It’s incredibly ironic that Liz and Alex don’t want to tell Maria (mainly because of Isabel and her threats), when she is already involved.

Ashleyt – Alex is incredibly courageous to tell Isabel some home truths. Nobody before him dared to do that.

Flamehair – Thanks. Glad that you are still reading and still loving the story.

OliveMcKay – thank you for those great compliments. It’s nice to know that you find that our story has substance thanks to the Native American angle.


Part 32

Quiet knocking drew Max's attention and he unlocked his window and pushed it open, frowning when he saw the state Liz was in. Tears were running down her cheeks, pouring from her red-rimmed eyes. He helped her inside, ignoring the window in his haste to pull her into his arms and he winced at the cold that permeated her skin. She was shaking but he couldn't tell if it was from the cold or from the emotions she was trying so hard to control.

"Liz, can you tell me what's wrong?" He knew she had been scheduled to work the closing shift so he hadn't expected to see her until the next day. "Did somethin' happen to your parents?" He felt her shake her head negatively. "Alex?" Another negative shake of her head. He sighed deeply, knowing that only left one other person. "Maria?"

The girl's name, spoken in his gentle voice, was all Liz needed to hear to release the floodgates that had been holding her emotions back and she crumpled against Max. He staggered back a couple of steps when her weight sagged against him unexpectedly and he sat down on his bed, cradling her to him as she sobbed uncontrollably.

Liz clung to him as the pain rolled through her in unrelenting waves. Maria’s boyfriend had verbally flayed her and then Isabel had rubbed salt into the newly opened wounds with her dispassionate dismissal of Maria. She didn't know how much longer she could keep this charade going; she was being pulled in two different directions and it was tearing her apart.

The only way to fix it was to either tell Maria the truth or let her go. Based on what her boyfriend had said, it would be better to just let Maria go, to stop trying to hold onto her. They were being selfish, trying to hold onto Maria while keeping her at a distance and if his statements were true, Maria was suffering a lot worse than they were.

It wasn't supposed to happen this way, she thought hysterically. She wasn't supposed to have to sacrifice friendship for love, Maria for Max. That wasn't the way it worked.

Max held her close, hurting inside for the obvious pain that she was in, pain that he couldn't fix despite his ability to heal. For so long, he and Isabel had been the only ones to know the secret and even though he had wanted Liz to know after he had healed her, he had never suspected that the price would be this high. For the first time in his life, he had someone he could talk to about anything and everything and he regretted drawing her into his life where keeping secrets and lying were required on a daily basis. He rocked her gently, silently apologizing for putting her in a situation where she had been forced to choose between him and Maria. It was a choice she never should've had to make, but she had made it for him.

For years he had watched her, always from a distance, afraid to approach her. She had always appeared to be happy and carefree, surrounded by her friends and enjoying life. His life was shrouded in secrets, his past a blank slate that he had no conscious memory of, and no matter how much he had wanted to step into the sunlight around her he had been terrified that the darkness that surrounded so much of his existence would taint the bright light that surrounded her. Now he knew that his fears were not unfounded; he had been right in his belief that simply being who he was would hurt her.

“She has a new boyfriend,” Liz said finally, her voice rough from crying. “My dad needed me to run over to pick up some pies from her mom and I figured it wouldn’t really be a big deal because last night, she said she was spending the weekend with her boyfriend and his family.”

“She was there when you got to her house?” Max asked, his tone sympathetic.

“Yeah, but he answered the door.”

His eyebrows lifted in surprise at the dislike he could easily hear in her voice. “The boyfriend?”

“I know what Alex and I did to Maria was wrong, but he didn’t need to point it out the way he did. The whole time he was telling me how much she’s been hurt and what terrible friends we are, he was doing his best to be as intimidating as possible.”

Max felt his heart skip a beat. He hadn’t… he tried to keep his voice normal. “Did he threaten you?”

Easily reading the fear and anger Max was trying to hide at the perceived threat, Liz rushed to calm him down. “No, no, it was more like he was warning me to stay away from her.” She dried her eyes and wiped her nose with the tissue he handed her. “I went to talk to Alex afterwards, and Isabel pointed out that we just needed to accept that losing Maria is something that we need to – “

“What?!” This time, Max couldn’t contain the loud exclamation. How dare Isabel say that to Liz? She was trustworthy, she had chosen them over Maria’s friendship, and his sister was treating that act as if it was collateral damage of no importance! It mattered to Liz…

Liz allowed a tear to escape as she moved closer to him, taking comfort from his presence. “I just couldn’t take anymore after that, Max.” She sighed and leaned back against him. “I want to tell Maria and I know she could handle it – I’ve never lied to you about my feelings on that subject, but at the same time I know we can’t tell her.”

“No,” he agreed quietly, his mind on Isabel. “Especially not when she’s got a bunch of new people she’s hangin’ around with.” He shook his head. “I know it’s not fair because I’m the one who dragged you into this madness – “

“Max, you saved my life.” She paused, sitting up to look into his sad eyes. “I know you never expected any of this to happen. Maybe it’s time for me to let Maria go because as long as I hold onto her and this secret, we’re both gonna keep getting hurt. If I let her go now maybe one day it’ll be safe enough to tell her why the secrets and the lies started and we’ll be able to rebuild our friendship.”

Max watched Liz as she struggled with the heartbreaking dilemma. She was in a difficult position and the decision she was contemplating was obviously breaking her heart. He wished he could help her in some way, but he knew his hands were tied. “That’s a difficult decision.”

“I’m scared that if I keep trying to hold onto her, we’ll eventually have an argument where we say things that can never be taken back, and I’ll lose any chance of one day fixing things with her.” Her face was the living image of desolation. She didn’t want to be torn like this, hurting her friend without meaning to or wanting to, but at the same time, she was afraid of what Isabel could to her, Alex, and Maria, if she ever revealed the truth. The consequences could be disastrous if Isabel kept her word, not only for them, but for her own family as well; they would be devastated if she took off. Liz had a sinking feeling that she hadn’t been joking about vanishing and leaving everyone she loved behind, but God only knew what she could do to Maria before that.

“I’m sorry about what Isabel said,” he apologized before she could ask if he thought she would be able to tell Maria one day. “She shouldn’t have said those things.” And I will be talking to her about it, he added silently.

“Don’t be. You can’t control the way she feels, Max.” She sighed regretfully and stood up. “I should get back to the Crashdown; I kinda ran out after dropping the pies off and my dad’s probably swamped right about now.” She straightened her uniform before leaning over to kiss him. “Thank you for listening.”

His hands cradled her head and his fingers slid into her hair, gently massaging her scalp in an attempt to soothe her pain away. “I just wish I could do somethin’ to fix this for you, Liz.”

“I know.” She met his serious gaze and smiled. “And if there was a way for you to fix it, I know you would.”

Max sat on the windowsill after she had left, wondering when his sister had become so closed off and cold. Maybe he couldn’t fix the situation with Maria, but he could at least try to do something about Isabel’s attitude.

*****

Maria looked away from the desert flying by when she shifted in the bucket seat to face Michael. “Tell me about the ceremony,” she said.

“It’s very intense.” He shrugged. “It was banned for more than half a century; up until nineteen-seventy-eight when the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed.”

“It was banned by the government?” The American government? No way! What about freedom of religion? It was the cornerstone, the very foundation, which this country was built on. Maria had a difficult time wrapping her mind around that information. Her mom had to know about that; maybe she had a book or a magazine that discussed the subject in more depth… hmmm, she’d have to ask about that.

He snorted. “Who else? Of course, now that we’re allowed to have the ceremony again, it’s so expensive that there are a lot of people who can’t afford it.”

“How much is expensive?”

“It can cost as much as ten thousand dollars.”

“For one ceremony?” Maria was shocked at the obscene amount of money he had mentioned. “How is that possible?”

“The ceremony’s a rite of passage for girls; it symbolizes the transition from girl to woman. The girl’s family is responsible for providing the food for everyone who attends, they have to pay the medicine man that presides over the ceremony, and there are other people involved who have to be paid. But, a lot of the cost comes from obtaining some of the items needed for the ceremony. Take the eagle feathers for example; the feathers in the ceremony have to come from an eagle, there is no substitute, you can’t just use feathers from another bird. But, the feathers are difficult to come by because the family has to go through a nightmare of government bureaucracy and red tape just to get their hands on them. The ceremony used to last four full days and nights but now it’s been trimmed down to make it a little more affordable for those who do decide that they want to experience it.”

Maria was shocked that Native Americans had to endure such difficulties to practice their religion. “Wow, I had no idea the government was so involved.”

“They are.” Michael made an irritated gesture with his hand, unable to control his anger on the subject. “They insist on having police at any ceremony to monitor everyone, make sure no one gets out of hand. It’s not quite as bad as it could be with that rule because at least we’ve got tribal police, but the fact that the government requires us to be monitored is bull. They have no respect for the people or the ceremonies that are a sacred and honored tradition; their only concern is keepin’ us in our place.”

Okay, Michael was more than angry about that and she could understand why. It was like being put under a microscope and studied. “Did your family have the ceremony for Maggie?”

“Um-hmm.” He shook his head. “When I said it was intense, I wasn’t kiddin’, Maria. I seriously don’t know how she did it; the ceremony is… it’s incredible but it pushes the limits of physical endurance. By the time Sunday mornin’ rolls around, you won’t believe that Kai’s still standin’.”

Kai, Kai, Kai… Maria’s mind was scrambling around, trying to remember who she was. “Kai’s your cousin?”

“Yeah.”

“So, does your whole family come out for the ceremony?” Maria was starting to feel slightly uncomfortable. All of Michael’s family, all Native Americans, gathering for one of their private, religious ceremonies, and here she was, a White girl… a stranger… would they accept her presence?

“Everybody tries to make it, and from what my mom was sayin’ last night it sounded like everyone’s gonna be there.” He shrugged one shoulder. “Most of ‘em live on the Rez but there are a few who live outside of Ruidoso. I do have one uncle who lives in Santa Fe with his wife and daughter, but they’re the only ones who live that far out. Well, his daughter lives in Austin now since that’s where she’s goin’ to college.”

“Did his job take him to Santa Fe?”

Michael thought about his uncle and the complications in his life. What a shame it had turned out the way it had. He hadn’t deserved the backlash he was getting from his own family. He felt Maria’s eyes on him and he glanced at her as he answered. “Yes and no. He was married but he and my aunt divorced about eight years ago when he found out he had a daughter from a previous relationship. My aunt wasn’t willin’ to let his daughter be a part of his life and she didn’t want him involved with the kid so their marriage eventually fell apart.”

Ouch! That was bad. Maybe that was what had happened with her own father. Maybe he had met another woman and she didn’t want Maria around? It wasn’t that farfetched; the story Michael had told about his uncle proved it. “Did they have any children together?”

“Yup, my cousin, Dakota, and he’s about two years younger than his half-sister, Shyanne. My uncle took a job in Santa Fe so he could spend time with his daughter and he ended up marryin’ her mother a couple years later. Dakota only went to see my uncle one time; once he found out that his dad was involved with a White woman, he refused to see him again. Ever since then he’s had a problem with Whites and his mom hasn’t done anything to change his attitude,” he said, bitterness coloring his voice. “I’ll point him out when we get there so you can avoid him. We played together when we were kids, but after what happened with his dad, I became another enemy because my skin’s the wrong color.”

Maria couldn’t believe how easily he said the words. “Were you accepted when your parents brought you home?”

Michael thought about that for a moment. He had been young when Catherine and John had brought him home so he didn’t really remember everything that had happened at that time in his life. “For the most part; there were a few people who had a problem with my parents raising a White kid, but I only remember one time that someone actually said somethin’ derogatory about me in front of my parents.” He chuckled. “My mom came unglued and I think if Dad hadn’t been there, it would’ve gotten physical. There are still people who think my parents made a big mistake, that Whites have no place on the Rez, but they’ve never made it known publicly.”

Maria snorted. “They’re probably scared of your mom.”

“If they’re smart they are,” he agreed.

Maria’s thoughts shifted back to Shyanne, Michael’s half-Native American, half-White cousin. How did she feel? Did she relate more with the Native American culture or did she identify more with traditional American culture? Did she have a hard time spending time on the Rez since she lived in a big city? “Will your uncle bring his wife and daughter to the ceremony?”

“Yeah. He’s Kai’s favorite uncle and she’d be really hurt if he didn’t show.”

“And your aunt and cousin will be there too?” Maria silently admitted that she wasn’t in any hurry to meet them; from what Michael had said they would probably protest her presence at the ceremony.

Michael glanced at her from the corner of his eye. He could read her expression just like an open book, and he could tell she was worried about his cousin. “Um-hmm. Dakota won’t start anything at the ceremony; that’d be disrespectful. He’ll wait until Sunday when the family’s all together at Aunt Skye’s house before he makes his move.”

His choice of words caught her attention. “You already know what he’s gonna do?”

“He’ll come after me and try to start a fight but, everyone knows to expect it and they do their best to keep us separated.” Michael checked his watch as he shrugged one shoulder. “I’d rather have him come after me than go after Shyanne though. I’d understand his anger if his dad had just walked out on them, or if he’d left Dakota’s mom for this other woman, y’know? I still wouldn’t understand his hatred of the entire White race, but his anger would be a little more understandable. His parents were divorced before his dad got involved with Shyanne’s mother again and Uncle Randolph tried to save his relationship with Dakota, but… nothin’ he did worked.”

Maria looked around, confused when Michael turned into the fairgrounds that were deserted at this time of the year. “The ceremony isn’t being held on the Rez?”

Michael’s grip on the steering wheel tightened, his knuckles turning white from the pressure. “Nope. The government likes to tell us where we can hold our ceremonies; our so-called religious freedom is subject to their interpretation of what is acceptable and where it can take place.” Once again, his voice was tinged with bitterness.

“How can they call that freedom?” She frowned. “If they’re telling you which of your ceremonies you’re allowed to celebrate and where you can hold them… that’s not freedom, it’s a dictatorship.”

Michael parked at the end of a long row of cars and smirked at her indignant tone. “Welcome to Native American life.”

“I just don’t understand how the government can do that,” she said as they walked to the area that had been selected for the ceremony.

“Don’t try to; it doesn’t – “

“Mikey G!”

“Aw, crap,” he muttered under his breath. My ribs aren’t ready for this, he thought.

Maria’s eyebrows lifted in surprise when a large figure darted between some of the cars, running towards them. The guy was a little shorter than Michael but he was built like a linebacker and he wasn’t slowing down as he neared them. She could hear Michael’s breath being forced out of his lungs when the guy grabbed him in a bear hug and lifted him up off of the ground.

“Okay, Joey,” Michael wheezed breathlessly, “You can put me down now. Joey, down, now.” He grabbed a handful of Joey’s jacket to avoid falling when he was abruptly released. “Maria, this’s my cousin Joey.” He maintained his grip on the jacket to keep his cousin still. “Joey, this’s – “

“I know who she is; Uncle John said you got a girlfriend now. I’m not stupid, y’know,” he muttered petulantly.

Michael laughed heartily. “No, no, you’re not. Are you supposed to be out here?”

“Huh?”

“Does your dad know where you are?”

Joey hung his head and dug the toe of his shoe into the loose dirt. “No.”

“We should probably let him know then, huh?” He reached up and turned Joey’s head to the right, frowning when he saw the scrapes on his cheek and temple. “What happened?”

Maria watched Michael as he demanded an explanation in a gentle tone. His cousin had to be around sixteen or seventeen years old, but it was obvious that his mental age wasn’t in that same range.

“Tell me who did this, Joey.”

She heard anger creep into his tone and knew it was directed at whoever had hurt the
other boy but she could tell that Joey wasn’t able to tell the difference. She placed a hand on Michael’s shoulder and shook her head when he looked at her, relieved when he got the message.

“It’s okay, buddy, don’t worry about it.”

“Are you mad?” Joey asked quietly.

“Not at you, Joey.”

His mood brightened at his cousin’s assurance and Joey turned to Maria with a big smile. “I was gonna hug you but everybody says I hug too hard and I don’t think Mikey G would like it if I did that.”

Maria couldn’t help smiling in response to his open expression and his honesty. “You just don’t know your own strength, do you?”

“I’m real strong,” he said proudly.

“I believe you. Maybe I should call you Mighty Joe.”

His dark eyes lit up in recognition of the movie reference. “Like the movie, huh? The one with the big gorilla!” he exclaimed excitedly. “Yeah, I’m strong like him. You can call me that.”

Maria pretended to consider it. “I don’t know,” she said doubtfully. “Do you think you could be really gentle like he was with his friend?”

“Cuz it would’ve been bad if he’d squeezed her too hard, huh?”

She nodded. “It would’ve been very bad,” she agreed.

“So, I shouldn’t pick you up and squeeze you real hard like I did with Mikey G?”

Maria smirked at the boy’s nickname for his cousin. “No, definitely not.”

“Okay.”

Michael watched in disbelief as his cousin hugged Maria with exaggerated gentleness.

“Like that?” Joey asked eagerly.

Maria smiled up at him and nodded. “Exactly like that.”

“And I can be Mighty Joe now?”

“You think you can always be gentle like that?” She rubbed his arm when he bit his bottom lip uncertainly. “Except with Mikey G.” She smiled at her boyfriend. “He needs gorilla hugs, don’t you think?”

“Okay, I can do that.”

“Then you, my friend, are now Mighty Joe.”

“Cool! I’m gonna go tell everybody you’re here.”

Michael shook his head and watched Joey run ahead of them as they started walking again. “We’ve been tryin’ to get him to be a little less… enthusiastic for a couple of years now; since he got so big, really.”

“How old is he?”

“He’ll be seventeen in a few months. Mentally and emotionally his age range is around five or six years old. His mother was an alcoholic and he was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.” He shook his head. “His dad was an alcoholic too, but when Joey was born and he realized that his son would never have a normal life because of his parents’ lifestyle, he straightened up.”

God, that was so sad! Maria gaze followed Joey as he ran around ahead of them, laughing all by himself; he seemed to be happy. “What about his mom?”

Michael’s expression became closed off. “She died when Joey was three; alcohol-related, of course.” He snorted. “Her own kid wasn’t even enough to make her stop drinkin’.”

Maria’s hand settled on his back, trying to comfort him as she rubbed small circles against his tense muscles. He seemed to love his cousin and it was obvious he was having a hard time accepting that Joey’s mother had turned her back on her own son. “Well, that was her choice, and she’s the one who’s missing out because of it. He’s very sweet, and while I’m sure it’s challenging at times, his dad must be very proud of him.”

“Yeah.” He cleared his throat. “Thanks, by the way. Y’know, for stoppin’ me when I was askin’ him about the scrapes on his face… sometimes I lose sight of his limitations. It just pisses me off that he gets messed with like that.”

“He gets picked on a lot?”

Michael crossed his arms over his chest, his mind on Joey and the difficulties he faced in school. “He’s an easy target because he won’t defend himself. He might crush you with a hug, but he’d never hurt anyone intentionally. His classes are at the high school and some of the guys like to rough up the kids in Joey’s classes. Last time his face looked like that one of the guys had shoved his head into his locker.”

“That’s terrible!” Maria could feel herself getting angrier by the second. The thought of someone as sweet as Joey being used as a punching bag by a bunch of guys just because he was different was unbelievable. Why did they think they had a right to beat up on someone just because they didn’t fit into what society accepted as ‘normal’? Joey was as sweet as a lamb and because he was a little different those dumbasses made him a target and hurt him. What kind of people knowingly and intentionally hurt someone with a handicap? She looked at Michael when he started speaking again.

“He wouldn’t tell anyone what had happened, but a few days later I heard a couple of guys talkin’ about it and with a little persuasion they gave me the guy’s name.” He shrugged. “I hear he’s developed a fear of lockers… refuses to use one for anything, and no one seems to know why.”

Ha! Now she was recognizing her Michael! She had known he wouldn’t stand by without doing anything when someone he cared about was being hurt. “What’d you do to him?”

Michael smirked, quite proud of himself. “Guys locker room has full-size lockers, and since he was so damned fond of them I locked him in one for an hour while the rest of us were in class.”

“Well, he got off easy in my opinion.”

“Yeah, but if I’d done what I really wanted to do word would’ve gotten around and Joey would’ve felt like it was his fault, so…” He shrugged. “I settled for somethin’ a little more subtle.”

Subtle! Maria almost burst out laughing at that thought. Subtlety and Michael were two words which just didn’t go together. But for Joey, he had made a huge effort and gone against his nature to find a way to protect him, and to avenge him. Maybe those guys had finally understood the warning once it was handed out Michael-style and they would leave Joey alone.

User avatar
ArchAngel1973
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 373
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:02 pm

Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child-M/M(CC-Teen)Pt33-8/2

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sat Aug 02, 2008 12:47 pm

Ken r – Yes, we tried to explain the real Native American’s lives. It’s not a bed of roses and alcoholism, racism, violence, and disease, is a concrete part of their lives.

Ashleyt – Unfortunately, alcoholism is common on the reservations. So Joey’s case and his mother aren’t farfetched, unfortunately.

Flamehair – yes, this is a side of the Native American life that not many persons know.

OliveMcKay – Yes, love vs friendship. This is Liz’s burden. Alex’s too, but Liz and Maria being girls, having shared everything up until now, it’s much more difficult for Liz and Maria right now.

Starcrazed – Glad that you like Alex. He isn’t a main character, more part of the B plot, but it’s nice that his characterization pleases you.

April – yes, Native Americans don’t have it easy, in a lot of ways, so we wanted to show that.

Lilah – A Michael lover, huh? Well, this story is mainly about him, even if it’s candy. So we are doing something right if this brand new Michael is still lovable.

Cjsl8ne – Alex is slowly working his magic on Isabel. She always had her own stonewall and Alex has always been the first one to break them.

Skynet – thanks for the review.


Part 33


Isabel locked the front door behind her and paused a moment to get her bearings in the dark. Before she had taken more than a few steps, the overhead light in the hallway came on and she blinked at the sudden brightness that assaulted her eyes. For a moment, she was worried that she had been caught coming in after curfew but then she remembered that her parents had planned to be out of town until Sunday afternoon.

“Isn’t it a little late for you to be comin’ in?”

She turned her head to look at her brother where he stood in the living room doorway. “Isn’t it a little creepy for you to be lurking in the dark?”

Max ignored her annoyed tone because he knew she was trying to make him mad so he would lose his train of thought. “It’s late; did you just leave Alex’s house?”

Isabel frowned, clearly displeased with Max’s indiscreet questions. “Not that it’s any of your business, but I wasn’t with Alex.”

“Uh-huh. So, you didn’t tell Liz that her friendship with Maria is an acceptable loss… a fair exchange for knowin’ our secret?”

Isabel slammed her purse down on the nearest piece of furniture and turned to face her brother fully, intending to make things clear since he was having a problem understanding. “I’m getting tired of defending myself on this subject. You weren’t there, listening to the two of them talk; at this rate it’s only a matter of time before they tell that motormouth what they’ve been hiding, and once that happens you can kiss your comfortable life good-bye because we’ll be on the run for the rest of our lives.”

“Right now, you’re a bigger threat than they are,” Max snapped. “This attitude you’ve got is only putting more stress on a situation that’s already tense.”

How dare he dictate to her?! Why were they in this situation in the first place? Oh, yeah, because Max had decided to play God with Liz Parker! “It’s called damage control, Max, and it’s your fault we’re even in a situation where it’s needed. You’re the one who ran out and spilled your guts to Liz Parker. Oh, wait, that was right after your stupid decision to heal her in a public location that could’ve easily exposed both of us!” she shouted.

“She would’ve died!”

“Well, you’ve got your way then, haven’t you? Mom and Dad don’t know the truth about us, but Liz Parker, the love of your life, your soul mate, the object of your pathetic life-long crush does.” She didn’t even try to stop the bitterness that colored her voice. She was beyond caring at that moment; all she wanted was the solitude offered by the four walls of her bedroom.

Max sighed. It always came back to that. The pact that they had made a long time ago, about not telling anyone. But this had been a question of life and death. He couldn’t just let Liz die, not when he was there and he could stop it. Why couldn’t he make her see that? Maybe it was fate for him to save her that day. “She was dyin’, Isabel.”

She nodded and turned her head to meet his gaze directly. “And what if, instead of Liz, it had been Alex? Or Maria? Would you have taken that risk?” She shook her head when he averted his gaze. “No, you wouldn’t have. The truth is, you risked a secret that isn’t yours alone and you did it because you’re in love with her. Because deep down you wanted her to know the truth and love you anyway. So, how convenient for you that she’s the one who was shot and it’s worked out so well for you.”

“Yeah, Isabel, it’s worked out so well,” he snarled. “You wanna stand there and mock my feelings go right ahead, but don’t believe for one minute that it’s been easy or it’s worked out well because it hasn’t. Most of the time, we’re both so weighed down by guilt that we can’t really enjoy the fact that we’re together. We’ve both betrayed someone we care about for the chance to be together and we pay the price for it every damn day.”

She stared after him when he shook his head and left the room, taken aback by the quiet intensity of his speech; Max internalized everything, so by the time he finally spoke up he ended up shouting and emotional. She had never known him to be so in control when he was pushed to reveal his deepest feelings.

Going to her room she shut the door and threw herself down on her bed. Well, she mused silently, she had managed to run off everyone who bothered to talk to her in less than thirty-six hours. That had to be some kind of record.

Her friends all thought she had defected to the other side, essentially falling off of the socially acceptable scale, her brother was pissed at her, she was certain Liz didn’t like her anyway so she didn’t count, and Alex was pissed at her too. Although he was probably the only one who would still be speaking to her tomorrow. She was still trying to decide how she felt about that when she finally fell asleep.

*****

They paused at the edge of the clearing where the ceremony was going to take place and Maria stared at the people standing around in groups talking. There had to be close to a hundred people scattered around the area and she only recognized a couple of them.

“Um, Michael, how many people are in your family?” she asked, feeling nervous as her gaze scanned over them.

He glanced at Maria, sensing that something was off with her. He could feel the tension in her and as he turned his head to follow her gaze, he realized that she was probably feeling a little overwhelmed. He knew from their conversations that it was just her and her mom, and outside of work and school, she had only had a couple of friends that she really spent any time with.

“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “Forty-one, forty-two, somethin’ like that. I’m not related to everyone here; a lot of them are here to show their support for Kai.”

A new voice spoke up, interrupting them. “Well, look who finally got here.”

They turned to look at the owner of the voice and Michael grinned at the other man. “Hey, you made it!” he exclaimed. “What happened with the big test? I thought they wouldn’t let you reschedule it?”

“They didn’t, but I wasn’t gonna miss my sister’s ceremony because the instructor and the university wouldn’t let me take it a day early,” the newcomer answered with a big smile on his face, obviously happy to see Michael. “I can take it when I get back on Tuesday but there’ll be a late penalty.” He shrugged. “It’s okay… that’ll all change one day.”

He was probably a member of that large family Michael had mentioned, Maria thought. She observed the two guy together, noticing how easy things seem to be between them.

“Besides, I got an email from a couple different people and they all seemed to be suffering from the same delusion.”

“What?” Huh-uh, Michael thought, here it comes.

“Seems to be some rumor goin’ around that you’ve got a girlfriend.” He grinned at Maria. “So, I had to come down and meet this woman I’ve been hearin’ about.” He ignored Michael’s growled response and held his hand out to the young woman. “You must be Maria.” He bumped Michael’s shoulder with his own. “I’m Grumpy’s cousin, Yancey. I thought I’d offer to introduce you around since Uncle John wanted to talk to Michael when you guys arrived.” He pushed against Michael’s shoulder and motioned for Maria to walk with him. “I’ll take good care of her,” he assured his cousin. “Allow me to introduce her around with some semblance of politeness; I’m much better at it than you are.”

Michael glanced at Maria for confirmation; he wasn’t worried that his cousin would behave inappropriately or anything, and he knew Yancey would handle the introductions better than he would, but he didn’t want her to feel like he was just abandoning her.

“I’ll be fine, Michael,” she assured him with a smile. “Go find out what your dad needs. Just… hurry up.”

“Okay.”

“So, Maria, how do you feel about politics?”

Michael rolled his eyes and headed off in the opposite direction to find his father.

*****

Eddie was looking for Michael when he spotted Maria surrounded by quite a few of her boyfriend’s cousins. It was easy to see that she was out of her element, unused to being around such a large, boisterous group.

“Damn it.”

He turned his head when Michael came up from behind him. “You left her alone with that pack of wolves?” he asked.

“I thought Yancey would just keep her occupied with whatever political stuff he’s involved with at school and then introduce her around. I hadn’t counted on them descending on her like a pack of hungry wolves,” he muttered, using Eddie’s description of his cousins since is seemed appropriate.

“You’re kidding, right?” Eddie shook his head. “The first time you bring a girl around and you didn’t think they’d all be curious? How long has she been cornered?”

Michael winced. “Almost forty-five minutes. But it’s not my fault, Eddie; I had to go find out what my dad wanted. I swear, my parents don’t think I have any self-control. This whole week, every time I turn around they’re reminding me that we’re here for Kai’s ceremony and if Maria and I disappear for more than a couple of minutes, they’ll come lookin’ for us.” He glared at Eddie when he laughed. “What’s so damn funny?”

“I was lookin’ for you to tell you that your mother’s not takin’ any chances that you an’ Maria are gonna get an opportunity to sneak away. When I got here a couple of hours ago, she was talkin’ to your aunts and uncles… explaining the situation and instructing them to keep an eye on the two of you.”

Michael made a face. “My mom obviously has issues.”

Eddie snorted. “That’s most mother’s, Michael; trust me, it’s not just yours.” He nodded at Maria. “You’d better go rescue your girl. I’ll catch up with you later.”

*****

Maria’s gaze bounced around the group of people surrounding her, wondering how Michael managed to keep track of their names. There were nine of them and if she had understood correctly there was more around that she hadn’t met.

She felt like a new species that had been discovered and put out on display. They constantly talked over each other and they jumped from one topic to the next with no noticeable transition. She was having a difficult time following their conversations and she had given up trying to remember who was related to whom.

“Don’t you guys have anything better to do?”

She felt her nerves begin to calm down when she heard Michael’s familiar growl and a moment later he shouldered his way through the group, which suddenly didn’t feel quite so intimidating.

“C’mon, Grumpy, try to be nice for once.”

“Why?” He motioned for Yancey to move and dropped into the seat as soon as it was vacated. “Not all of us float around on a cloud of perpetual happiness, Jacey.”

The girl rolled her eyes at him, apparently not at all bothered by his words or his tone. “Someone has to balance the scales, and since you’re grouchy all the time I have to be happy all the time. You should be thanking me for keeping the universe in order.”

Another question popped up and as soon as it was vocalized Michael frowned.

“How much did you pay her to go out with you?”

Michael was turning to glare at Yancey’s younger brother, Austin, who had dared to ask the unexpected question when the sound of Maria trying to stifle her laughter caught his attention.

Silence fell over the group as they waited to see how their cousin was going to react to his girlfriend laughing at him in front of his family.

“You think that’s funny?” he grumbled, trying to maintain his grouchy expression.

Maria tried not to laugh, she really tried, but the look on his face was too much and she just lost it.

“I want my money back.”

She laughed even harder at his response, and briefly wondered if his cousins actually believed that he had paid her to go out with him. She finally decided that they were messing with him when he waved them away and they left after extracting a promise from him that they would get together later.

He slouched down in his chair, shifting his arm slightly when her hand slid into his. He could feel the tension bleeding out of her as she relaxed beside him and he couldn’t help but be drawn in by her good mood.

*****

Catherine observed the group of teenagers after her son joined them, her right hand poised above her forehead to block out the worst of the early evening sun. She turned her head when her older brother, Matthew joined her, a scowl on his weathered face.

“You’ve got something on your mind, Matthew, so just say it and get it over with.”

“You let him invite an outsider to my daughter’s ceremony?”

“It’s perfectly acceptable for him to invite someone that means a great deal to him.” She shook her head. “Is it because she’s an outsider or because she’s White?” Catherine asked, refusing to hide behind a polite façade. Matthew had been against the decision she and John had made to raise Michael as their own, but as a rule he kept his feelings about Whites to himself. She knew he didn’t hate White people, he was just highly suspicious of them. At nineteen, he had been the victim of a racially motivated attack that had left him partially paralyzed for more than a year afterwards. Twenty-four years later he was still dependant on a cane because of the damage he had sustained to his left knee.

“You do know that Michael asked Kai if it would be all right with her before he invited his girlfriend, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” he admitted grudgingly. “She mentioned it.”

“Matthew.” A sweet, feminine voice broke the awkward moment between the two siblings.

He shifted when his wife, Misty, joined them, hoping she hadn’t overheard his conversation with his sister.

“Why don’t you go talk to Kai and see if you can calm her down,” Misty suggested.

A gentle smile softened his features at the mention of his daughter. “Is she getting nervous?”

“Just a little, but I’m sure you’ll be able to settle her nerves.”

Catherine watched her brother as he made his way to the area where his daughter was preparing for the ceremony, his slow gait impaired by the old injury.

“He’ll be fine after a while, Catherine,” Misty assured her sister-in-law. She had heard her husband’s comments and she knew the other woman was annoyed. Under normal circumstances Catherine would’ve simply ignored his words, knowing they weren’t meant to harm, but the fact that her son had been mentioned had brought all of her maternal instincts to the surface. “You know he just needs some time to adjust to Michael’s girlfriend being here; he wasn’t expecting her to be White.”

“And that’s an excuse for his behavior?” Catherine was getting tired of defending Michael’s girlfriend’s presence.

Misty sighed and attempted to explain her husband’s feelings. “Catherine, you know how he gets, and if it weren’t for the fact that this involves your son, you’d be defending Matt, too.”

“That is not the point.”

Misty shook her head. “That is exactly the point. Y’know he’ll relax and be himself after a while. When we leave the Rez, he has time to mentally prepare himself for running into Whites, but it takes a little longer when they show up here on the Rez unexpectedly.”

Catherine knew that but she wasn’t really in the mood to be patient or understanding. Things were changing for her, too, and she had to adapt. She didn’t want to face more problems with her family. “It’s just that she’s really the first girlfriend Michael’s ever had, Misty, and she means enough to him that he invited her out for this.”

Misty laughed quietly. “She makes you nervous,” she observed. “Your baby boy’s all grown up with a serious girlfriend, and you want him to be happy but at the same time you’re worried that she’s taking him away from you.”

“Could you sound any happier about that?” Catherine asked, glaring at her.

“As I recall you gave me a very long lecture about how boys grow up, have girlfriends, go away to college, and make their own lives when Yancey got involved with his first serious girlfriend.”

“Yes, well, as much as it pains me to admit it, I obviously didn’t know what I was talking about at the time.”

Laughter followed Catherine’s abrupt departure and Misty watched her go, feeling that this was going to be a very interesting weekend.

User avatar
ArchAngel1973
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 373
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:02 pm

Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child-M/M(CC-Teen)Pt34-8/9

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sat Aug 09, 2008 10:40 am

Ken r – Racial issues will be part of this story and will more fully be explored in the next parts.

Flamehair – The ceremony isn’t easy for the girls who participate in it.

Cassie – Oh, Michael’s parents are really protective. But Michael is close to 18 in this story, so… problems, or not?

April – We thought that it would be completely unexpected if Michael had a large family. (Yancey is a great name, huh?)

Cjsl8ne – Here, Michael has some very big advantages, and his large family has helped his social development quite a bit. You liked Max standing up to Isabel, huh? Don’t count her out, she’s a work in progress.


Part 34

Maria watched Michael’s cousins as they walked away after being dismissed, their voices running together as they talked over each other.

“It didn’t occur to me that they’d gang up on you like that otherwise I would’ve…” He shrugged. “Well, I don’t know what I would’ve done if I’d been expectin’ it because it might’ve been worse if you’d had to endure the parental threats.”

Maria laughed, knowing without explanation why his parents had been making threats. “It wasn’t that bad; I just couldn’t keep track of their names or what they were talking about.”

“Yeah, well, that’ll get easier with time.”

Maria opened her mouth to speak, but quickly closed it again, hesitating as she considered whether or not to bring up a subject that she felt could be perilous. What if she was mistaken? What if it was all just a big misunderstanding? “I don’t think your uncle approves of my presence at the ceremony.”

Michael looked at her. “What? Which one?”

She had to stop and think about it. Michael had so many uncles! “Yancey’s father? I don’t remember his name, but he didn’t look very happy about me being here.”

“Oh, Uncle Matt.” He shook his head. “Don’t worry about him; he’s suspicious of all White people. He didn’t approve of my parents’ decision to raise me at first, and it took time before he accepted me.”

“Why?” Maria was surprised. Why would anyone refuse to help raise an orphan? Or at least, support other family members who chose to take on that responsibility.

Michael sighed, knowing that to answer her question he would have to reveal a part of his family’s history that wasn’t quite so happy. “He was attacked and beaten by a group of White guys when he was nineteen; he was beaten so badly that my grandmother didn’t even recognize him at the hospital. My mom said his anger could’ve easily turned into hate once he regained consciousness and started to recover, but the Great Spirit intervened and redirected his path.”

“Really?” Maria was intrigued. “How?”

“Uncle Matt was in a wheelchair for fourteen or fifteen months because he was partially paralyzed and at first he refused to cooperate with the hospital staff, which of course, is predominantly White. He was angry and bitter, and he refused to believe them when they said there was a good chance he would walk again.” He paused when a pair of chubby little hands came from behind him to cover his eyes.

Maria shifted in her chair, fascinated by the dark-haired little girl who ducked her head down and giggled quietly. Michael reached back and caught her under the arms, lifting her up effortlessly and expertly flipping her over his shoulder before carefully settling her in his lap.

“This is my cousin, Shysie.” He grinned when the little girl scrambled around so that her back was to Maria. “She’s five, and she’s very shy around anyone she doesn’t know.” He shrugged and continued with his story once Shysie settled back against his chest, both of her hands wrapping around his right one. “Anyway, the hospital hired a new physical therapist who was assigned to Uncle Matt’s case and they practically hated each other on sight. He refused to work with her for a month or so because she’s half-White and he didn’t trust her; she didn’t tell him she was also half-Apache until she had finally earned his trust.”

“When was that?”

“The day he walked on his own again.” He nodded at his uncle who was standing with a light-skinned woman. “That’s also the day he asked her to go out with him.”

Ah, a story that ended the way she liked them to – happily! “How long have they been married?”

“Twenty-two years now. He doesn’t go off the Rez very often because ever since the beating he took, he’s not comfortable around Whites. But, don’t worry because he’ll warm up to you once he’s gotten used to you bein’ around. He didn’t come near me until I had been livin’ with my family for almost a year. He’s a lot better than he used to be and as long as you don’t sneak up on him or anything you’ll be fine.” He glanced up when he heard someone call his name and he smirked when he saw his sister coming towards them, weighed down by two large black canvas bags.

“I’m not your personal pack mule, y’know,” she griped, carefully setting the bags down beside his chair.

“I didn’t ask you to haul my equipment out here.”

“No, but Mom did; apparently she thinks you need to be busy doing something besides talking to Maria. She said you needed to get set up before the Crowndancers arrive.”

“All right.” He leaned forward and grabbed one of the bags, unzipping it and pulling out a small toolkit that he handed to Shysie. “I’ll be back in a few minutes, Maria,” he said, putting his cousin down as he stood and grabbed the bags his sister had been complaining about.

“She’ll follow him around all weekend,” Maggie said, taking her brother’s chair and watching as he walked about fifty yards out before stopping and sitting on the ground. The five-year-old watched every move he made, her gaze intent upon his hands when he spoke and gestured at the same time.

Maria’s eyes widened when she realized that the gestures weren’t meaningless or random; there was an order to them. “She’s deaf,” she mused aloud.

“Since she was three.”

She looked at Maggie. “She was able to hear for the first three years of her life?” Maggie’s expression suddenly turned sad and she knew there was another story behind Shysie’s handicap, one that wasn’t going to be pretty.

“Um-hmm. Her parents were alcoholics and they just couldn’t keep it together, not even for Shy’s sake. Her mom was my mom’s sister and she tried so hard to help my aunt and uncle, but I don’t think they really wanted to be helped. Shy stayed with us off and on, anytime her parents started getting outta control, which was pretty often.” She rolled her eyes. “They drank a lot, but when my uncle started to experiment with drugs, my aunt drew the line. She got rid of his drugs one day when he wasn’t home and he lost it when he found out.” She sighed sadly. “He went into a rage and killed her, and then he went after Shy; she suffered massive head trauma and if the cops had been even a minute later, she would’ve been killed as well. My uncle’s serving life without parole and Shy lives with Uncle Aaron and Aunt Sarah now.”

My God, that was terrible! Maria hadn’t expected such a horrible story; that was the kind of thing she had only ever heard in the news. She shook her head as she looked at Shysie and Michael; they appeared to be very close. Maybe it was because they were both different in their own way. She had noticed the same thing when she had met Joey; Michael had been very comfortable in the other boy’s presence too. “So she lost her hearing because of the head trauma?”

“Yeah. Michael took it hard; when Shy used to stay with us, he was always grumbling about her getting into his things and making too much noise, but he just didn’t want anyone to know he liked having her underfoot. He stayed at the hospital as much as Mom and Dad would allow, and I think it’s a good thing the cops arrested my uncle and took him away before Michael found out about what he’d done. He refused to learn to sign at first because he was sure the doctor’s were wrong and he was mad at himself for a long time because he couldn’t help her.”

Understanding dawned on Maria. He had those amazing powers – abilities, his voice whispered – but none that could help someone he loved. “Because healing isn’t one of his abilities.”

“Right.”

Maria watched him as he finished assembling his equipment, pausing here and there to exchange a few words with the little girl who had remained beside him throughout the entire process.

“Do you sign, Maggie?”

The girl smiled. “Yeah, most of my cousins and I have learned it, for Shy’s sake. And of course, Uncle Aaron and Aunt Sarah do, too. We help each other in the family, y’know? And besides, it wasn’t all that hard.”

Maria looked at Maggie and couldn’t help the feeling of envy that washed over her. Having a large family, one that would be there for you, help you, never give up on you when you have problems… it must be so great. Oh, she didn’t regret living with her mother, but they had no contact with the rest of their family. Maybe it was for the best, though. Who knew what kind of relatives she had? “Why do all of your cousins call him ‘Grumpy’?”

Maggie snorted. “You’re kidding, right?” She rolled her eyes as she stood up. “You must be in love if you can overlook the fact that he’s grumpy most of the time.”

“You’ve gotta be talkin’ about Michael,” Eddie commented as he joined them.

“See?” Maggie grinned. “I’m gonna go find my seat before the ceremony starts.”

“Do you know anything about photography, Eddie?”

“Not much, no. Why?”

Maria frowned. “Well, I’m going on the assumption that the ceremony takes place in the center where those poles are set up, so wouldn’t Michael get a better photo opportunity if he were in front instead of at an angle?”

“Probably,” Eddie chuckled, “but he’d piss a lot of people off in the process. In this ceremony, the girl must always face east and nothin’ should come between her and the sun. The four poles set up in the center are placed so that they line up with the four directions and they’re decorated with special artifacts.” He leaned in closer to her and pointed. “See the eagle feathers hung above the entrance that faces east? Their presence indicates a sacred purpose and the area with the four poles recreates the place where Changing Woman actually became a woman.”

“What’re the blankets in the center for?” she asked curiously.

“The blankets are covered with a deer hide, and near the front there’s a turquoise stone with an eagle feather tied to that’s been attached to the hide. They’re for part of the ceremony that will actually seem physically impossible. The ceremony will begin shortly and Kai will be at the center, the medicine man and the singers will stand behind her, and when they sing they’ll keep their hands over their mouths to prevent malicious spirits from sneaking in and creating mischief. The Crowndancers should be here any time now to purify the area before the ceremony begins.”

Maria tried to remember what her mother had taught her about Native American customs, but it had been a while since she had talked about them. “Crowndancers?”

“They’re impersonating the Mountain Spirits and it’s their job to rid the area of any evil spirits before the ceremony begins. After that, as the sun begins to set the medicine man will set out the items she will use during the ceremony and her sponsor will prepare her. Then, there’ll be prayers, and once the sun has set she’ll begin dancing; this’ll last for hours and then most of us will retire for the night.”

“Does everyone stay for the entire ceremony?” This was going to last much longer than she had thought. They had to be exhausted by the end of the weekend.

“Yeah, for the most part. There’ll be a few who’ll probably leave when things wind down tonight; folks with small children and some of the older folks who can’t quite take sleepin’ on the ground in a tent any longer, but they’ll be back in the mornin’ at daybreak.” His sharp gaze watched her as she looked around at the people who were beginning to settle down for the long evening ahead. She was observing the activity going on around them, but she seemed to be drawn to those she had been introduced to. “Can I give you a little bit of advice?” he asked.

Maria turned to look at him. “Sure.”

“They’re people just like you.” He waved his hand, the motion encompassing everyone at the ceremony. “Don’t let them intimidate you or make you uncomfortable; Michael invited you and that gives you the right to be here.”

“His family is just so…” She trailed off, at a loss for words.

“Big? Loud?” He laughed. “Yeah, they take some getting used to, that’s for sure. It was just me and my mom for a while after my dad died, so I know how you feel, bein’ surrounded by such a large family. They can be overwhelming but once they accept you, things’ll smooth out.”

Maria chewed on her thumbnail. “Do you think they’ll accept me?”

“Respect our people, respect our customs, and treat him right.” He smiled reassuringly. “They’ll accept you, Maria; it’ll take time for some of them, but I think they can see how the two of you feel about each other. Just be patient and let them accept you when they’re ready.”

*****

John sat down in one of the folding lawn chairs and stretched his legs out, relieved to be off of his feet. Due to an unusually large order made by one of the factory’s customers they had been working double shifts for the past week and he was exhausted. He closed his eyes to rest them for a few minutes, hoping he could stay awake until the ceremony concluded for the night.

“You and Catherine are just determined to turn the Rez White, aren’t you?”

He seriously considered just pretending to be asleep but experience told him his brother’s disapproving ex-wife wasn’t going to go anywhere until she’d had her say. “What can I do for you, Dawn?”

“You can explain why you keep bringing Whites onto the Rez. Don’t you think they’ve taken enough from us?”

He glanced around for a few seconds. “We’re not on the Rez.”

“You know what I’m talking about,” Dawn snapped, not amused by his flippant remark.

John’s gaze was impassive as he looked at her. She had been an attractive woman with a mostly kind heart at one time, but bitterness had turned her into a mere shell of the woman she used to be. “Maybe you need to stop worryin’ about what my wife and I are doin’ and worry about the example you’re settin’ for your son,” he suggested.

“What?” Dawn was ready to snap. Here he was, acting smug while he was slowly corrupting their family and the entire Rez and he was accusing her of being a bad parent?

“Do you really want him crippled like this? He’s turned into a racist and one day he’s gonna hurt or kill someone over it.”

“You can thank your brother for that – “

John’s response was quick and to the point. He wasn’t going to let that witch sit there and blame his brother for the situation she and her son were in. “Randolph didn’t turn you or Dakota into racists; you did that on your own. You turned that boy against his father and then you turned him against Whites. My brother’s no saint but he never cheated on you, he never treated you badly, and he’s not the one who filed for divorce.”

Dawn refused to budge, clinging to her convictions. “He made his choice.”

John shook his head. It was an argument that he wouldn’t win anyway so he attempted to redirect the conversation. “How’s Dakota doin’ in school?”

She wasn’t gonna let him change the subject. Whites were only causing problems and he had to open his eyes about them sooner or later. “Stop bringing Whites to the Rez, John.”

John’s voice rose slightly in response to her statement. His son was a part of their family, just like Dakota or Joey. He wasn’t gonna let Dawn treat his boy like an outsider who didn’t belong there. Michael and the family that he would build in the future would always be members of their family, nothing she or anyone else said would ever change that. “I’m not gonna interfere in my son’s relationship, Dawn, and the way things are goin’, you might as well get used to seein’ her around.”

Dawn was gritting her teeth as she faced her obtuse ex-brother-in-law. “I’m not the only one who doesn’t appreciate the way you welcome Whites onto the Rez. I’m not the only one who didn’t approve of Michael – ”

“That’s fine,” he interrupted. “Catherine and I never asked for your approval or permission because we didn’t need it then and we certainly don’t need it now. I’m not makin’ any apologies to you or anyone else for the decision we made to raise Michael as our own.”

“Take a walk, Dawn,” Catherine advised as she sat down on John’s right side. “The ceremony’s starting and it would be inappropriate to cause a scene.”

Dawn whirled around to face her worst nightmare: Catherine. The two women exchanged icy glares, each daring the other to say the word that would turn the entire situation into a full-blown argument. “I’m not causing a scene.”

“No, but if you say one more word about our son, I will cause a scene. So take your racist attitude and go sit somewhere else.” Catherine didn’t mince words or bother with pleasantries because it would only be a wasted effort. Dawn had never approved of Michael becoming part of their family but she hadn’t become so vocal about it until she had found out about the child her husband had fathered with a White woman.

“Why do you let her get under your skin like that?” John asked after Dawn left them alone. “She does it to get a rise out of us and you fall for it every time.” He shook his head as he reached over to take her hand. “He’s not a little boy anymore, Cath; you don’t have to come chargin’ in like an avenging angel every time someone says somethin’ about him.”

“He’ll always be my little boy,” she insisted stubbornly. “And I will not just sit back and let people make snide comments about him.”

“I’m just sayin’ you should pick your battles, and that’s one that isn’t worth fightin’. We’re not gonna change the way she feels about Whites by arguin’ with her.”

Catherine groaned. “Well, it doesn’t help any that he invited his girlfriend.”

John watched her carefully, wondering if she was regretting Maria being there for the ceremony. It had been important to their son so they had agreed, but it looked like Catherine was having second thoughts. “And you’ve been defending his decision since we got here.”

“Just because I defend his right to make that decision doesn’t mean that I agree with it.”

He easily read between the lines. Years of being married to the complicated, and at times, infuriating, woman, allowed him to read his wife’s hidden feelings. “You don’t agree with it because it means Maria’s important enough to him that he wants to introduce her to his whole family – “

“Hush,” Catherine interrupted, “the ceremony’s starting.”

“You said the Great Spirit would bring someone – “

“Do not bring the Great Spirit into this, Jonathan. Now, hush.”

John’s gaze turned to the Crowndancers as they made their first appearance, performing their ritualistic dance to purify the site and banish any evil spirits that were foolish enough to be hanging around. As he watched the men dance, their faces covered with colorful masks that represented the Mountain Spirits, his mind wandered to his wife.

Catherine was having a difficult time dealing with Michael’s new relationship and despite her claims to the contrary, he knew she wasn’t completely happy about Maria’s sudden presence in their son’s life. She wanted Michael to be happy and she had always said that she wanted him to find a nice girl who could love him and accept him for who he was, but she had obviously never considered that if and when that happened, she would no longer be the most important woman in his life. She had held that place for nearly twelve years without challenge and in less than a month, she had realized that Maria was going to be the one to replace her in Michael’s life.

On top of that, she was dealing with the fact that both of their children would be graduating and leaving for college before long. His gaze wandered over to Maggie where she was sitting with some of her cousins, talking and laughing quietly so they wouldn’t disturb the ceremony. He shifted to look at Michael who had apparently finished taking pictures for a while because he was sitting with Maria once more. His gaze dropped down to the little girl in his son’s lap; Shysie worshipped the ground Michael walked on and she rarely left his side when the family got together. He smiled at the picture his son made as he sat there, Shysie in his lap and Maria next to him; it wasn’t that difficult to imagine them as a family.

His head jerked around when Catherine elbowed him in the ribs and he realized that the medicine man had stepped forward to begin offering prayers. He settled into his chair more fully, getting comfortable for the evening ahead.

*****

Michael looked up a couple of hours later when someone tapped on his shoulder and he nodded when Shysie’s adoptive mother, Sarah, motioned at the little girl who had been asleep for a while.

“She’ll be looking for you first thing in the morning,” she whispered as he shifted Shysie into her arms.

He shrugged. “She knows where to find me.”

“Are you sure you don’t mind?” She nodded meaningfully at Maria who was fully engrossed in the ceremony.

“My family’s important to me, Aunt Sarah, that hasn’t changed just because I’ve got a girlfriend. She understands that.”

“She’ll be looking for you at breakfast.”

Michael shrugged again before sitting back down. “Like I said, she knows where to find me.”

Maria leaned in closer to Michael after his aunt left so she could ask a question that had been on her mind for a while. “Michael, where does everyone sleep?”

“Tents. You’ll be bunkin’ with Maggie and a few of the older girls; the guys bunk together too, and the younger kids stay with their parents. You should be okay though; the girls are pretty easy to get along with, but if any of them give you any trouble just let me know.”

“I can take care of myself, y’know,” Maria said, touched – and slightly amused – that he wanted her to know she could come to him if his cousins got out of hand and he would take care of it.

Michael shrugged. “I’m just sayin’.”

She looked away to keep from laughing at his offended expression. “Well, I appreciate it, and if it becomes necessary I will let you know.”

Michael’s response was cut short when Maggie joined them and sat on Maria’s other side. She nodded at her brother before turning her attention to his girlfriend.

“Hey, I’m gonna call it a night pretty soon so I thought I’d ask if you wanted to do the same? That way you can get in first and not have to worry about getting in the tent after everyone else’s already there because that can be kinda uncomfortable, bein’ the new kid on the block and all.”

Maria nodded. “Okay.”

“Cool, I’ll swing by in a little bit to get you.”

User avatar
ArchAngel1973
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 373
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:02 pm

Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child-M/M(CC-Teen)Pt35-8/25

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:15 pm

Previously posted on 8/16/08...


Part 35

Maria settled down on the sleeping bag next to Maggie’s and smiled at the other girl. “Thanks. Y’know, for suggesting this; I think you’re right about it being a little easier this way.”

“Sure, no problem.” Maggie set the lantern in the center of the floor of the large tent and slid into her own sleeping bag. “Generally no one means any harm, but our family’s one of those where everybody’s always sticking their noses into everybody else’s business, so any advantage is a good advantage.”

Maria laughed. “I guess you’ve got a good point; I’ve never really thought about it.”

“Large families are cool because even though they’re far from perfect, it’s a support system that just can’t be beat.” She looked up when the flap at the opening was pushed aside and Jacey ducked inside and dove into the nearest sleeping bag.

“It’s cold out there,” she hissed as she curled up and tucked the bag close around her. “I thought it was supposed to stay at least in the fifties tonight.”

“Where’d you get that idea?” Maggie asked. “It’s easily gonna drop into the forties and with the way that wind’s blowing it’ll probably feel even colder.”

“That makes me feel much better, Maggie, thank you.”

Jacey’s disgusted expression caused Maggie to laugh. Her cousin was behaving like a city girl! “Careful, Jace, you’re tipping the scales of the universe in Grumpy’s direction.”

“Well, we can’t have that,” Jacey giggled. She sat up and high-fived the girl who had just entered and sat down next to her. “You met Maria earlier didn’t you, Shawnee?”

“Yeah.” She raised one eyebrow as her gaze settled on Jacey’s huddled-up form. “Are you cold?”

“Ya think?” No, really, who wouldn’t be comfortable when it was so friggin’ cold outside? Jacey was definitely not in a good mood. She hated freezing her ass off in a tent, in the middle of the desert. If it weren’t for Kai she wouldn’t be doing this!

“Unzip your bag.” As soon as the bag was unzipped she zipped their sleeping bags together and slid in, jumping when one of Jacey’s bare feet brushed against hers. “Good grief, Jace, you feel like a block of ice.”

“Like you never get cold.”

Shawnee smirked. “Not often.”

Jacey made a face. No need to know more, but she knew it was coming. “Yeah, well, the rest of us don’t have a six-foot-three Marine to keep our beds warm.”

“Too bad for you.” Shawnee winked. “I’d definitely recommend getting one.”

“Do we wanna know what you guys are talking about?”

They looked up when three more girls piled into the tent, taking up the remaining sleeping bags and Shawnee leaned over to zip the tent flap closed against the wind.

“We were talking about Shawnee’s fiancé,” Jacey answered before introducing the newcomer’s to their cousin’s girlfriend. The two sisters, Summer and Sierra were quick to strike up a conversation with Maria, but Shyanne, as usual, hung back and contributed to the conversation only when someone spoke directly to her.

“Okay, I love Michael, but you’ve gotta tell me what in the world drew you to the bear because…” Summer trailed off when Maria giggled. “What?”

“You call him the bear?” She wondered if Michael knew about the nickname his cousins used for him.

“You’ve been going out with him for a while now,” Sierra spoke up, her tone one of disbelief. “You must know what his personality’s like.”

Maria laughed. Yeah, she knew her Spaceboy quite well. He was tough on the outside but he was a big teddy bear on the inside. “His bark’s a lot worse than his bite.”

“Well,” Shawnee yawned as she slid further down in the sleeping bag, “you’re either very brave or very insane; I just haven’t decided which category you fall into yet.” She used her elbow to nudge Jacey between her shoulder blades. “No snoring, no cuddling, and no drooling, got it? Do any of those things and you’ll spend the night sleeping outside.”

Jacey groaned. Tonight was gonna be a long one, she could feel it! “How’d you manage to keep a Marine with rules like that?”

“First, he’s been trained to sleep without making a sound. Second, if he drools – and I’m not saying that he does – well, his unit did capture a known terrorist recently, so since he’s a war hero I suppose I can overlook that. And third, he can cuddle all he wants because… well, that’s none of your business. All you need to know is you’re not my type.”

Jacey snorted into her pillow. “I am so calling him when he gets stateside just so I can ask him if he knows what he’s getting himself into when he marries you.”

“Okay, seriously, what attracted you to the bear?” Summer asked, bringing the topic back to what she felt was the most important information to be gathered.

“His intensity, his eyes, his voice, the way he growls when he’s aggravated or annoyed about something…” She nodded. “Which, admittedly, is fairly often, but that’s just part of what makes him who he is.”

Summer and Sierra exchanged a look before nodding and speaking at the same time. “Girl’s gotta be in love.”

“The list goes on and on and you guys probably don’t really wanna know everything about him that I find attractive.” Maria smirked, knowing that Maggie being there was probably the only thing preventing her from listing any more of Michael’s… hmmm, attributes.

“I’m gonna have to agree with that statement,” Maggie laughed. She leaned over to turn the lantern off before snuggling into her sleeping bag. “That’s probably a lot more than I really want to know about my brother.” She sighed sleepily. “I’m going to bed and I’ll see you guys in the morning.”

Maria curled up on her left side and closed her eyes, but her thoughts were too active to let her sleep. It had been a day filled with new information about Michael, his family, and the traditions that meant so much to all of them. He was tied to his community in a way that was completely new to her, his connection to the people stronger than she had expected. She knew, of course, that he was close to his immediate family, but the depth of the bond he shared with all of them was so strong it was almost a tangible thing. She was still processing everything that she had seen and learned that day when she heard a zipper rasp loudly in the silence and she shivered when a cold rush of air blew inside the tent before the flap was closed once more.

*****

The camp had been quiet for a while when the sound of a zipper sliding open caused Catherine’s eyes to snap open. When she heard the sound again, just minutes later, she reached out and shook her husband’s shoulder.

“John, wake up!”

“C’mon, Cath, we’ve only got a few hours before – “

“How can you sleep?”

“Because I’m tired?” He tried to roll over to go back to sleep but she wouldn’t let go of his shoulder.

“You need to go check on Michael and Maria.”

John sighed tiredly, the sound tinged with impatience. “Catherine, would you just let it go? What do you really think they’re gonna get up to? Good grief, woman, it’s cold out there.” He gave up on rolling over and settled down on his back. “It’s forty degrees and the wind certainly isn’t makin’ it any warmer out there.”

Catherine’s glare was cold enough to rival the wind outside. “What is your point?”

John rolled his eyes to the heavens, praying for help from above. “My point is that your baby boy’s virtue is safe tonight; no guy is gonna willingly expose the family jewels when it’s this cold outside. Besides, when they decide to take their relationship to that level, I doubt they’ll want to be surrounded by his family or out in the cold.”

“How can you be so unconcerned about this?”

“Because you’re concerned enough for both of us. We raised Michael right and we need to trust him to make the right decisions.” He came up on one elbow and leaned down to kiss her. “Now, get some sleep.”

Catherine huffed indignantly when John rolled over and went right back to sleep. She couldn’t believe he was accepting their son’s relationship so easily or that he wasn’t losing any sleep over it. She unzipped the sleeping bag and was shifting to get up when John’s hand clamped around her wrist.

“Don’t do this, Catherine. You need to find a way to deal with this, but following them around isn’t the way to do it. All you’re gonna do is send him the message that you don’t trust him and you’ll lose him over it. He’s always gonna be your little boy, Cath, but at some point, you’re gonna have to let him go so he can become the man he’s gonna be. Now, promise me you’re gonna stay right here and leave the boy alone tonight.”

“Fine.”

“Catherine,” he growled softly.

He was not going to budge on this. Catherine could see it in his set expression and hear it in his tone, and she knew she had lost any chance of getting her way this time. “I promise. There, now do you feel better?”

“I’d feel better if you’d stop worryin’ about this and let me get some sleep.”

“I’m sorry, honey; I know you’re exhausted.” She lay back down beside him and tried to force her thoughts away from her son and his girlfriend. “Go back to sleep, John.”

“You’re gonna be fine now?”

“Until morning anyway.”

John chuckled. “That’s okay, I’ll be a little more ready to deal with this after I’ve had some sleep.”

*****

Maria crept out of the tent and secured the flap before following after the quiet girl who had been gone for close to fifteen minutes. The full moon overhead provided enough light to show the girl standing at the edge of the camp, her posture rigid as she stared out into the desert. She coughed quietly as she got closer to let the other girl know she wasn’t alone.

“No reception?” she asked, motioning at the cell phone clutched in Shyanne’s white-knuckled grip.

“Not a single bar.”

“You were calling a friend?”

Shyanne sniffled and turned her head to dry her damp eyes. “My best friend.” She cleared her throat. “My fiancé, Nick, actually. He wanted to be here but I wouldn’t let him come.”

Maria leaned back against a large boulder and pulled her jacket tighter around herself. “Why?”

“No one here besides my parents even knows about him and I figured they wouldn’t want him here anymore than they want me or my mom here, so…”

“You’re part of their family, Shyanne.” Was there a problem with her boyfriend? Had she mentioned a girlfriend, Maria couldn’t understood, but a boyfriend? Had he just been released from jail or something?

Shyanne hesitated before answering. How much had Michael told Maria about her and her parents? “Well, you may have noticed that I wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms.”

“You don’t strike me as the type of person to let that bother you.”

Shyanne chuckled. “On my own turf it wouldn’t bother me, but here, I’m so far away from everything I know…” She shrugged. “What about you?”

Maria gave it a thought but after a few seconds she shook her head and admitted honestly that it didn’t really bother her. They didn’t know her, so their reaction to her was normal. “I think my situation’s a little different; I’m dating Michael, I’m not related to him.”

“Michael isn’t my problem. He’s been very nice, and so have some of the others, but mostly I just feel like I don’t belong here… with them.”

Maria straightened up, her full attention on Shyanne now. Why would she say that? She was half-Native American; she had come to an important ceremony, so why did she feel so set apart from them? When Shyanne didn’t offer more information she changed the subject. “Where does your fiancé live?”

“We have an apartment off-campus in Austin.”

“You should talk to your aunt about inviting him to the barbeque on Sunday.”

Shyanne looked at her, considering her words. “You think so?”

“They’re people just like you, Shyanne, and in this case they’re also your family. And the next time they start talking about Shawnee’s fiancé, open your mouth and tell them about Nick. A little bit of common ground’s a good place to start.”

“Nick, he’s Australian, and the first time he met my dad he thought he was an aborigine. My dad gave him hell over that for months.”

Maria laughed. “Well, at least he shouldn’t make that mistake again.”

“It wasn’t meant as a racial slur or anything, that’s just what the natives are called where he’s from. Dad has a great sense of humor though; it didn’t offend him when Nick called him an aborigine.”

Maria laughed. Men were like a different species, sometimes. “Guys don’t always think before they speak. Your cousin Austin actually asked Michael how much he paid me to go out with him.”

Their laughter was cut short when the wind picked up, sending an icy blast of air across skin that was already chilled.

“And on that note, maybe we should call it a night.”

They ran back to the tent and hurried to get inside so they could bundle up in their sleeping bags.

“Hey, where’d you guys go?” Maggie asked sleepily.

“I was trying to make a call,” Shyanne admitted when Maria nudged her.

“Reception’s crap out here,” Sierra mumbled.

“Yeah, there’re only like two places you can get a decent signal around here,” Summer said.

“D’you guys mind?” Shawnee grumbled. “I’d like to take advantage of the peace and quiet.”

“We’ll show you where to get a good signal in the morning, Shyanne,” Maggie offered.

“Thank God,” Shawnee huffed when silence fell over them. Sleep was once more within her grasp when a loud snore was generated from Jacey’s side of the sleeping bag followed by laughter from her tent-mates.

*****

Eddie was already outside drinking a cup of coffee when Michael crawled out of the tent early the next morning.

“You overslept,” he said. “Catherine said to tell you to get a move on or the cornbread’ll all be gone.”

“Overslept,” Michael growled. “It’s still nighttime. How you oversleep when it’s not even time to get up yet?”

“Go do what you’ve gotta do to get ready.” His gaze raked over the younger man. “You certainly don’t want Maria to see you like this.” He chuckled when Michael snarled at him before stalking off.

The stars were beginning to disappear when they walked into the area of camp that had been designated as the ‘kitchen’ area.

“Well, if it isn’t my favorite little ray of sunshine,” Jacey called out as they passed by the picnic table she was sitting at with her tent-mates.

Michael ignored them when they followed up with a cheery chorus of good morning, sunshine in happy, sing-songy voices. “Mornin’, Mom,” he mumbled in greeting, accepting the plate she held out to him. “No cornbread?”

“You know better than that.” Catherine smiled at his disappointed tone and reached up to pat his cheek. “Good morning, sweetie.” She picked up a potholder to lift the lid off of a cast iron pan that she had just removed from the open fire and then used the spatula to cut a sizable piece that she slid onto his waiting plate. “The hot sauce is on that table behind you and if you’ll hold on just a minute, I’ll have Shysie’s plate ready too.”

“She’s already up?” he asked in disbelief.

“Of course.”

He was sliding the bottle of hot sauce into his shirt pocket when the little girl in question tugged on his shirttail. He set his plate down and crouched down to her level to converse with her until her plate was ready.

A few minutes later he set their plates down on the girls’ table and picked Shysie up to sit her on the bench. He accepted the small bottle of milk she held out to him and he peeled the tab off of it, shaking it and popping the top off before setting it on the table in front of her. He sat down and picked up the bottle of orange juice Shysie had carried to the table for him, glancing around suspiciously when he realized his girlfriend wasn’t sitting at the table with the rest of them.

“Where’s Maria?”

“Making a phone call,” Shyanne answered. “I think she was calling her mom.”

“You have such a sunny disposition,” Jacey said, shaking her head when he grunted in response to Shyanne’s answer.

“Nobody likes you, y’know,” he growled.

“Nobody likes you either, but in your case it’s completely justified,” she fired right back.

Maria stood back, watching them as they traded insults back and forth. There was no heat behind their words and they seemed to enjoy it just as much as their audience. Their personalities were complete opposites but that only seemed to fuel the fire of their sparring matches.

User avatar
ArchAngel1973
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 373
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:02 pm

Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child-M/M(CC-Teen)Pt36-8/25

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:20 pm

Previously posted on 8/23/08...


Part 36

Eddie loped across the open area between the parking lot and where the ceremony was being held and hurried to take the seat next to Maria. The chair on her right side was empty and a quick glance to his right showed Michael busy setting his camera equipment up again.

“How’re you doin’ this mornin’?” he asked, smiling when Maria tried to hide a yawn.

“Still trying to wake up,” she admitted. “I never get up this early at home.”

“I’ll let you in on a little secret… my girlfriend doesn’t either.” He held his cell phone up before leaning to the side to slide it into his pocket. “She gave me an earful for callin’ this early and wakin’ her up.”

Maria laughed and shook her head. “I’m glad I’m not the only one who isn’t an early riser; everyone I’ve seen this morning seems to be used to the early hours. Although Michael didn’t look terribly alert at breakfast.”

“Just one more reason why he’s been nicknamed ‘the bear’. He’s not normally up this early and he’s not that fond of pre-dawn either.”

“That’s because it’s still nighttime,” Michael growled as he sat down on Maria’s right side.

“What happened to your sidekick?” Eddie asked, noticing that Shysie wasn’t with him.

“She’s a smart kid; she went back to sleep after breakfast.” He slouched down in his seat and rubbed his eyes. “She’s with her parents.”

“Is the ceremony getting ready to start again?”

Eddie turned his head, following Maria’s gaze to the sudden flurry of activity taking place in front of them before glancing at the faint pink and purple streaks that were decorating the early morning sky. “Yeah.”

“Is the ceremony for more than one girl?” she asked, noticing that there were two girls standing at the center.

“Well, that’s not unheard of to cut down on costs, but no, the second girl is a friend of Kai’s. She’s allowed to have a friend who’s already been through her own ceremony to dance with her and to provide support. As they dance, the medicine man and singers will remain behind them, and he’ll lead the singers in chants that’ll be sung in groups of four. This will go on for several hours and she’ll continue dancing, staring into the sun the whole time.”

“Does she get to rest at all?”

“Not really. The next part of the ceremony is the part that I told you will seem to be impossible. Have you ever heard our Creation story?”

Maria’s gaze moved from the dancing girls to Eddie. “No.”

“According to our beliefs, Changing Woman came into existence here, in what is known as the Glittering World, or, the fourth world. Her parents, First Man and First Woman came here from the First World, traveling here through a magic reed. First Man was created from a meeting of white and black clouds in the East, while First Woman was created from a meeting of yellow and blue clouds in the West. Spider Woman who was responsible for teaching the women to weave accompanied them from the First World. Their first order of business was to build a sweat house where they sang the Blessing Song and after being instructed by Talking God, they built the first house and met there to begin arranging the world.” He smiled. “Following me so far?”

“Yes, keep going.” Maria was fascinated by their colorful mythology.

“At this point they had to name their sacred boundaries; the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff are the boundary in the West and represent the Abalone and Coral stones. The Eastern boundary is represented by Mt. Blanco, in Colorado, and it also represents the White Shell stone. Now, East of Grants, New Mexico you’ve got Mt. Taylor, which represents the Southern boundary and the Turquoise stone. Last, you’ve got the Northern boundary, also in Colorado, Mt. Hesperus, the representation for the Black Jet stone. Once the mountains were placed in their proper locations, the Holy People placed the sun and moon in the sky.

But, while they were carefully putting the stars in the sky, the trickster, or Coyote, came along and quickly became impatient with the way things were progressing. So, he picked up the blanket where the stars lay and flung it out, scattering them across the sky. Despite Coyote’s interference the Holy People continued to create things necessary to everyday life… trees, clouds, rain… anything that they deemed necessary. After some time had passed evil monsters appeared and immediately began to kill the new Earth People. The miraculous birth of Changing Woman would bring about change because after marrying and becoming impregnated by the Sun she would give birth to twin sons; Monster Slayer and Child-Born-of-Water. Their father, the Sun, gave them lightening bolts, weapons that would allow them to fight the monsters. Once the monsters had been defeated the Holy People created the four clans and each made their own contributions to help the tribes grow and prosper.”

“What happened to Changing Woman?” Maria asked. “That can’t be the end of her story.”

“No, of course not. Being married to the Sun, the only way that Changing Woman was able to spend her evenings with him was to live on an island in the western sea. The island was made of rock crystal and her home made of the four sacred stones, but as the days are long she eventually became lonely and so she created four clans from flakes of her skin. Eventually her clans learned that there were other humans in the East and that they shared a common heritage, and they wanted to go and meet them so they sought permission from Changing Woman. She allowed them to leave, and they traveled for many, many nights to reach the four clans where they joined together to live. Legend has it that at the end of her life Changing Woman walked toward the Sun and met her younger self and became young again.”

“So, the next part of the ceremony represents which part of the Creation story?”

“For the next part of the ceremony, Kai will sit cross-legged on the deer hide, at the center of the four sacred directions, and she’ll have to hold her hands at a specified height and in a specific manner while swaying from North to South, touching Mother Earth each time.”

“Wow, that doesn’t seem like it’s even physically possible.”

“No, it doesn’t. And on top of that, it can last for hours; she doesn’t stop until the medicine man and singers have finished singin’ the last chant. As always, throughout the ceremony she faces east and the next part represents the moment when Changing Woman was penetrated by the Sun, thus, changing her into a woman.”

“So, it represents her first period?”

“Yeah. Once that part is over, she receives a massage.”

“That must be a relief.” She turned her head when Michael shifted and she smiled at the little girl that was sleepily climbing up to sit in his lap.

“You would think so, wouldn’t you?” Eddie chuckled when her curious gaze swung back to him. “The massage is done by having someone step on strained or sore muscles to get her ready for the next challenge. But Kai isn’t allowed to simply lie there while the massage takes place; she has to keep her head up, facing the sun, and she has to maintain this position while a series of chants are sung. Once that’s finished, she’ll dance again and then she must run around a cane that the medicine man will place a distance from her before runnin’ back to her original position. Each time she reaches her starting point, the medicine man’ll move the cane further East and she’ll be required to run farther and faster. Once she’s done that four times, she’ll run around the cane in the other three sacred directions, and then she’ll begin dancing again.”

Maria shook her head, shocked at how long, painful and tiring this ceremony was for young girls. Where did they find the courage, the strength, to still stand up by the end of the weekend? She was feeling tired just by hearing what was about to happen to them, today. “Girls must go through a lot of training for this.”

“Kai’s been trainin’ for this for more than a year,” Michael said, joining in the conversation. He was impressed by what his cousin was accomplishing.

Eddie’s voice interrupted Michael’s thoughts and he turned towards his friend, watching him as he continued his little history lesson for Maria. “Now, see the baskets lined up to the East from Kai’s position?”

Maria stretched to see what Eddie was talking about. Huh, yeah, she could see them. She groaned her answer while sitting back. “Um-hmm.”

“Well, they’re filled with coins, candy, and other small things that represent blessings; most girls who’ve gone through the ceremony say that it’s a pretty scary part. Because in the next stage, the medicine man pours the baskets’ contents over the girl’s head and everyone gathers around and makes a grab for the blessings.”

Maria looked at the long line of hand-woven baskets stretching out in the distance. “All of the baskets?”

“All of them. When they’ve all been emptied, she’ll begin dancing again while everyone lines up to bless her; it begins with the medicine man sprinkling a powder called good-medicine over her head and blessing the girl. Then there are prayers while the good-medicine is sprinkled over her sponsor, the medicine man, and finally the eagle feather attached to the deer hide. As you can imagine with so many people present, it’ll take a while for that part to be completed. It’s believed that during and immediately after the ceremony, the girl is filled with the healing powers of Changing Woman.”

“Really? That’s so fascinating.” Maria was amazed by everything that the girls went through during the ceremony. “Have you ever seen any of the girls actually heal someone?”

“I’ve seen things happen that I can’t explain,” Eddie admitted. “I’ve seen the sick touched by girls possessing Changing Woman’s power become well again, so I certainly don’t discount the possibility that after completing the ceremony, they have the ability to heal people for a short length of time.”

“So, it only lasts for a little while?”

“Yeah, it’s only temporary. After the blessings have all been made, it’ll be late afternoon or early evening and then everyone will go back to camp while the clean-up crew readies the area for the part of the ceremony that takes place at night.”

“The girls must be so exhausted by the time the ceremony ends.” Maria settled back in her chair to watch the ceremony. She squinted against the sun’s early rays as it began its climb into the sky and she wondered how anyone was able to stare directly into the sun for hours on end; it just didn’t seem possible.

*****

Nina Blackhawk leaned against the counter beside the cash register and watched Amy count the same product for the third time. She had been born and raised in Seattle, the only child her Choctaw mother had given birth to. She had never met her father and her mother had said very little about him; she only knew he was Choctaw like her mother, but the woman had taken any other information to her grave. She had worked with Amy for close to ten years and they had been friends even longer. They had met during a protest march in Washington, D.C. and they had connected immediately, working together over the years to plan events and bonding over life’s challenges.

She had moved to Roswell after Amy had told her about her plan to open the shop and while helping her get the place up and running Nina had realized that an opportunity had
presented itself. Now, she owned the little shop next door that catered to tourists with a curiosity about mysticism.

They helped each other out with their businesses and anything else that came up. She had no children of her own, but she had watched Maria countless times over the years when Amy had gone out of town for conventions or on buying trips, immensely enjoying the young girl’s quirky behavior. The teenager was smart like her mother and she had inherited her father’s artistic gene, but she had definitely gotten the best of both of them.

She watched Amy as she frowned, pen poised above the inventory list on the clipboard she held for a full minute before she pulled the same product container out again.

“How many times are you gonna count the contents of that box?” Nina asked finally.

“As many times as it takes apparently.” Amy stared at the clipboard for several minutes before sighing loudly and shaking her head. “I’ve just got so much on my mind that I can’t seem to focus on anything.”

“Is everything okay with Maria? You weren’t lying when you told her you were fine with this weekend, were you?”

“No. Maria’s an intelligent young woman and I trust her to make the right decisions.” She rolled her eyes and chuckled. “Besides, Michael’s mother isn’t gonna let them get up to anything.”

“What do you think of him?”

She crossed the room and dropped the clipboard on the counter by the register before reaching for one of the stools that she had added when Maria and her friends had started hanging around the shop a few years ago. “She’s dated off and on but she’s never really gotten serious about any of the guys. Michael’s different though; he listens to her, he doesn’t just blow off things that she feels are important, and he challenges her.”

“I’d like to meet him.”

“You will. I don’t know when, but you will.”

“Okay, so if it’s not Maria that’s got you so distracted, what is it?” She pulled out the other stool and sat down, waiting patiently for her friend to decide what she wanted to say.

“I told you I’ve been seeing someone.”

“He wants to meet your daughter,” Nina guessed.

“Among other things.” Amy sighed. “It’s not that I don’t want them to meet, I just really need to figure some things out first.”

“That sounds pretty serious.”

Amy hadn’t allowed any man to get too close since she and Maria’s dad had gone their separate ways, so Nina knew how significant Amy’s admission was.

“I’ve been thinking about taking a trip to Sedona, maybe spending a few days at the institute so I can try to clear my head.”

“Well, the institute’s a good place to do that. So, what’s holding you back? You know the director; give her a call and tell her it’s important and that you need some time to meditate and work some things out. Y’know she’ll get you in.”

“I know.” She tapped her pen against the clipboard.

“Maria will be fine if you take off for a few days,” she assured her friend. “And if you’ve been as distracted at home as you’ve been here today, I think she’ll understand.”

“She’s been having such a hard time recently with the whole Liz and Alex thing…”

“You know it’s not the same thing, Amy. You’re not deserting her; you’re taking off for a few days to get your thoughts together. I can keep an eye on the shop and check in on her, and if she needs anything I’m only a phone call away.” She reached out to pluck the pen from Amy’s fingers. “Why don’t you go make that call while I get started on the inventory?”

*****

Alex walked beside Liz as they left the movie theater, his thoughts on his silent friend. Neither of them had paid much attention to the movie, each of them lost in their own thoughts. He wished he knew what to say to help Liz deal with the situation because then maybe he’d be able to deal with it himself.

“I think maybe it’s time to let Maria go, Alex,” Liz said finally.

“What?”

“I think trying to hold onto her is only causing more pain for all of us and if we keep going on this way, we’re eventually gonna destroy any future chance we might have of fixing our friendship with her.”

He sighed roughly. “You’re probably right. I wish we could convince them that she can be trusted.”

“That won’t happen anytime soon. New friends, a new boyfriend… Max was pretty clear that her new relationships make her an even bigger risk than she was before. I know what we’re doing to her isn’t fair; I knew that before her boyfriend shared his opinion with me, but if he can be believed, she’s having a harder time dealing with this than I thought she was.”

“Boy, you really don’t like him, do you?” Given her reaction to him, Alex was curious about the guy that Maria was dating, but the fact that Liz was still smarting from his comments from the night before had him concerned. It wasn’t normal for her to dislike people based on a first impression; Liz was usually an even-tempered individual, so for her to dislike the guy immediately made him wonder what he was like.

“No, I don’t like him. I’m telling you, Alex, he’s nothing like the guys Maria normally goes out with; I can’t imagine what they have in common.”

“I’m sure if Maria’s mom agreed to her spendin’ the weekend with this guy and his family, he must be okay. Right? I mean, Amy’s pretty laid-back and all, but she wouldn’t let Maria go out with someone who was dangerous.”

“He’s a jerk.” She sighed. “I just don’t see her with him; I can’t imagine what she sees in him. And since when is Maria interested in Native American stuff anyway?” She stopped walking and turned around to face her companion. “Did you know she cut her hours back at the Crashdown because she’s working part-time for her mom?”

Alex thought back over the past few weeks. “Well, she hasn’t been around as much lately, but no, I didn’t know that.”

“Y’know, she said this guy she’s dating is Native American, but he didn’t look like it to me.” She shook her head. “Do you know he said that we don’t have any right to worry about Maria anymore? And he accused us of exploiting her weaknesses.”

Alex looked up at the restaurant Liz’s family owned and paused a moment to gather his thoughts before he spoke. He chuckled finally, the sound bitter. “That’s exactly what we did to her, Liz. Maybe it wasn’t intentional, at least not at first, but it is what we did. We moved on, we abandoned her, without giving her a reason or an explanation; we cut her out of our lives. Can we really blame her for movin’ on and findin’ someone who thinks she’s important? Someone who’s gonna stand between us and her and protect her?”

“You’re defending him?” Liz couldn’t believe that Alex would side with a guy he had never even met before.

Alex hesitated, struggling to find the right words. “No, maybe… I don’t know. I’m just sayin’ that we’re the ones who pushed her away, we knew how she’d react to bein’ cut out of our lives that way and we did it anyway.”

“We didn’t have a choice.”

Alex shook his head sadly. “There’s always a choice, Liz; we just have to find a way to live with ours.”

User avatar
ArchAngel1973
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 373
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:02 pm

Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child-M/M(CC-Teen)Pt37-8/30

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sat Aug 30, 2008 9:19 am

Araxie HRH – Liz and Alex feel guilty, for not being more courageous, for not standing up to Isabel. But, in their defense, Isabel has been threatening them and has messed with their dreams, to show them that she was serious about them not saying a word to Maria. And now, keeping her in the dark is eating them up inside. It’s not an easy position to be in, and it’s not easy, either, to stand up to a scary alien with powers who could hurt them and Maria.

April – Yes, the creation story is real. And yes, Liz is jealous because Michael is replacing her in Maria’s life. He is not only her boyfriend, but her friend as well, which used to be Liz’s place in Maria’s life.

Ashleyt – Thanks for the compliment about Michael’s family. We hesitated before creating such a large family, because it meant more work for us, fleshing them out, but we decided that it was an original angle to explore so we went for it.

Flamehair – Shy unfortunately went through what many kids have to go through. Drugs are causing families to be destroyed and dramas to happen.

MercedesBenz – Thanks for the review.

DeDe PR – No doubt that Isabel’s threats and hostile behavior are the reason why Alex and Liz didn’t tell Maria the truth. They counted on time to appease Isabel, but it’s taking much more time than they had expected and now Maria has a new life, which complicates things even more.


Part 37

Michael pulled three bottles of water out of the cooler, shaking off the small pieces of ice that were clinging to them before opening one and handing it to Shysie. His gaze moved over the area as they walked back to their seats and he noticed that Eddie had disappeared and in his absence, Michael’s cousin Shadow had taken the empty chair on Maria’s left side.

Shadow was a year younger than Michael, an aspiring writer, and an expert at chasing girls. That last thought would have had him hurrying back to his seat if Maria had looked the least bit interested in whatever he was saying, but she was only expressing polite interest and nothing more.

“Tellin’ lies, Shadow?” he asked as he took his seat once more.

Maria smiled gratefully when Michael handed her a bottle of water, parched from hours of sitting in the sun. It was early afternoon, barely past two o’clock, and several of his cousins had come by to talk for a few minutes here and there before going back to their chosen seats. She was glad that the cousin he had warned her about, Dakota, had chosen to stay away, though she had seen him watching her several times throughout the morning.

“Me?” The young man grinned, showing off a set of braces that glinted brightly in the sunlight. “Never. I may stretch the truth, or embellish it, but I never outright lie.”

Right, Michael thought, and he was human! “What’d I tell you about blindin’ people?”

Shadow knew his cousin well enough to know that he wasn’t in a bad mood, so he went on teasing him. “See? Now, Michael’s a very colorful individual,” Shadow said, obviously carrying on from a previous conversation. “I’ve actually modeled one of the characters in my novel after him.” He frowned at his cousin. “Although if he continues with his current behavior, I may have to reduce him to bein’ a background character.”

Michael didn’t seem to be terribly concerned about the threat, and Maria got the feeling that it wasn’t the first time Shadow had mentioned it.

“A threat which he will not carry out,” Michael said, watching Shysie as she settled down on the ground with a coloring book and a handful of crayons. “He’s been makin’ the same threat for two years and if he ever actually followed through with it, I’d stop takin’ the photos for his newspaper articles.”

Maria turned back to Shadow. “You write for the school paper?”

He nodded. “Yeah, since junior high.”

“Me too.”

Michael listened to them as they compared journalism stories, not really paying much attention to them as his gaze swept over the area. He sat up a little straighter when he saw Dakota standing apart from everyone else, his calculating gaze locked on Maria. He turned his head and looked directly at Michael, and a slow, feral grin turned his mouth up at the corners.

*****

Alex walked through the park across from his street, his mind working over the possibilities the encrypted letter represented. He was still trying to find a code talker who lived a reasonable distance from them while working on a believable cover story to use if he found one. He was certain that the letter had been written by a human being even though there had been no return address on the envelope. The only thing he had to go on was the postmark that identified Marathon, Texas as its place of origin.

He had researched the small town and discovered that the population was under 600, but nothing about the area had suggested anything paranormal. Nothing about the town had stood out; nothing had happened there that drew media attention to it and he hadn’t found a single interesting piece of information. He was starting to wonder if the letter had been mailed from that location to mislead anyone who might try to trace it.

His thoughts eventually turned to Isabel and the things he had said to her the night before. He knew she had spent her whole life hiding who she really was, not trusting anyone enough to reveal that part of herself, but that didn’t give her the right to dismiss their feelings so callously. He hadn’t been surprised to find her gone when he had come back and he was curious to see how long she would stay mad at him for being honest with her.

“Well, look who stopped by.”

He grimaced internally when he heard Brad Patterson’s taunting voice, and despite the voice of self-preservation screaming at him to run in the opposite direction, he turned to face the captain of the football team.

I should’ve run, he thought when he saw Patrick Thompson and Ken Bishop flanking Brad. Just like on the football field, where you saw one of them you were sure to see all three. They were part of the elite group and they thought they owned the school.

“I’ve been hearin’ rumors about you, Whitman.” Brad shook his head and sighed loudly. “People are sayin’ you’ve forgotten your place.”

“What place would that be?”

Brad laced his hands together and cracked his knuckles before folding his arms across his chest. “The place where you don’t speak to people like Isabel Evans.”

“So, the three of you are here to what? Kick my ass for steppin’ outta line and – “ He had heard the expression ‘seeing stars’ but he could honestly say it was the first time he had experienced it first-hand. He hadn’t seen Brad move so he could only assume it was one of the others that had punched him. He wasn’t much of a fighter but that was amazingly easy to overlook when your arms were pinned behind your back by one guy while the other two took turns using your body as a punching bag.

*****

Maria’s gaze followed Kai’s movements as she swayed from North to South, riveted by the myriad of emotions that chased across the girl’s face. She couldn’t imagine going through such a rigorous rite of passage; her own celebration of impending womanhood had been quite different and nowhere near as physically demanding.

Despite the fact that her mother felt it was something that should be celebrated, Maria had been less than thrilled about the new development in her life. But Amy had insisted on a special dinner topped off with champagne to mark her only daughter’s introduction to womanhood. She had been certain her mother had finally lost her mind because she couldn’t think of a single reason to celebrate her first period. Besides, wasn’t a period supposed to signify the end of something? She had briefly wondered if it had been given its name by a man. If they were going to name it after a punctuation mark, why not call it an ellipse? The stupid dot, dot, dot at least indicated that it would be ongoing.

Maria paused in her mental ramblings and turned to look at Michael. “Have you ever drunk a bottle of Magnum?”

He looked up from the sketch he had been working on when she blurted the question out. “What?”

“Have you ever drunk a bottle of Magnum?” she repeated.

Oh, she was trying to figure out his nickname again. “I doubt it since I don’t know what it is.”

“It’s a famous brand of champagne.”

“Huh-uh.”

“Well, you don’t know what you’re missing.” She closed her eyes for a moment, remembering the taste. “It’s absolutely divine.”

“Uh-huh, and when did you drink it?”

Maria mentally kicked herself; no way was she sharing that story! “Nevermind. So, what’re you doing?”

“Nothin’ important.” He flipped the cover over the page he had been sketching on and looked at her. “I’m getting the feelin’ that you don’t wanna tell me about your…” He paused, casting about for the word she had used. “Absolutely divine champagne experience.”

“I don’t think you really wanna hear it.”

“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?”

Maria smirked. “Let’s just say it’s one of those woman things and leave it at that.”

He stared at her for a few moments as he considered the implications of that statement. Woman things could mean too many things he just didn’t wanna know. He shuddered comically and waved one hand in defeat. “Fair enough.”

*****

Catherine stood back, away from everyone else, pretending to watch the ceremony while in reality she was watching her son and his girlfriend. The two of them had been left alone for too long and now Michael was comfortably slouched down next to Maria, watching her as she studied his sketches. Body language spoke volumes where he was concerned and the fact that he was not only relaxed, but also leaning in towards the girl without the slightest bit of hesitation, said more than simple words could ever convey.

“Is it a problem because you do like her or because you don’t like her?”

She turned her head and smiled briefly in greeting when she realized John’s older sister had joined her. “What?”

Skye ran a hand through her long black hair and then motioned at her oldest son where he sat with his wife and children. “I wasn’t too concerned when Colton first started dating but I knew from the first moment he mentioned Rebecca that she was different.”

“How?”

“Out of four children, Colt’s the most like his father; serious, reserved, and quiet.” She chuckled when she thought back on her first meeting with the man she had eventually married. “The first time I met Kade, I was sure he was the rudest, most stuck-up man I had ever met.”

Catherine laughed quietly. “I remember that. The entire Rez heard about him. I think I was about eleven or twelve years old when you met him; I was doing homework with John when you came home fussing about the ‘rude, obnoxious, know-it-all doctor’ you had run into.”

“Didn’t paint a very flattering picture of him, did I?” She smiled and shook her head. “Anyway, that’s not my point; the point I’m trying to make is that with me – once we got together – he was completely different. Kade’s just very quiet and reserved and a lot of people don’t get past their first impression of him, and Colt is just like his father. So, when he started talking about this girl he’d met and I saw how animated he was, I knew it was all over, that he’d finally found someone who understood him, who could look beyond what the rest of the world saw to see how amazing he really is. And I was happy for him.” She paused. “Until I realized that she was going to take my place in his life.”

“That’s not an easy thing to accept,” Catherine admitted.

“No, it’s not. I mean, you spend your life teaching them, raising them, taking care of them when they’re sick, comforting them when they’re hurt or scared, encouraging them, listening to their dreams and their fears, and then one day here comes this girl who’s known him for a fraction of that time and she’s taking him away from you.”

Catherine felt relief wash over her at the realization that someone understood her feelings. “Exactly! Why doesn’t John understand that?”

“For the very same reason that you won’t understand why he starts acting like a fool when Maggie starts dating seriously. Believe me, Catherine, I understand your need to protect your son and considering the circumstances that led to Michael becoming part of your family, I can only imagine that it’s even stronger where he’s concerned.”

“But?” Catherine asked warily.

Skye smiled at her sister-in-law’s perception. “But, I get the feeling that there’s more that you’re worried about than her taking your place in his life.”

Catherine debated whether or not to say anything for all of thirty seconds. “She’s encouraging him to find his biological family,” she blurted out in a rush of words.

Skye shook her head, confused. “Okay,” she said slowly. “I don’t understand; that’s not exactly a new development and you’ve never shown any opposition to it before. Isn’t it a good thing that she supports him – “ She broke off when she saw Catherine’s crestfallen expression.

“I’ve never opposed it because I know it’s important to him, but the truth is I don’t want him searching for his… family. What kind of people just leave a child in the desert, Skye?”

“Maybe he needs to find that out for himself so he can get some closure. I don’t think his search is meant to hurt you.”

“I’m not worried about me.” She sighed raggedly. “He’s been on this quest for the past couple of years and it’s only been one disappointment after another for him. He’s moody on good days but when he comes back after following one of his dead-end leads, he just closes himself off from everyone. When he’s hurt, he gets angry and defensive, he pushes everyone away, and he won’t let anyone help him. I do worry that she won’t be able to handle him when he gets like that, when he pushes everyone away, because that’ll hurt both of them; Michael needs someone who can stand up to him, who can curb his impulsive behavior, who can let him go at the right times, and who knows that when he’s pushing her away the hardest, that’s when she needs to hold on the tightest. I worry about what’ll happen to him if she can’t handle being with him when he’s like that because he’s gotten very attached to her.”

“Are you worried that she won’t be able to handle him or that she will?”

“Honestly?” Catherine sighed. “A little bit of both. You asked earlier if I like her or not, and I do… it’s just that it’ll make it even harder if she can’t deal with him. I don’t want to see either of them get hurt.”

Skye nodded. “And if she can deal with him?”

“Well, I won’t really know that until he comes back from – “

“That’s not what I asked you,” Skye prodded gently.

Catherine took a deep breath and held it for a moment before releasing it slowly. “If she can deal with him after one of those disappointing searches I guess I’ll have my answer, won’t I?”

User avatar
ArchAngel1973
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 373
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:02 pm

Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child-M/M(CC-Teen)Pt38-9/6

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:21 am

Ken r – That’s right, children are meant to leave, fall in love, live their lives. Catherine is having a hard time accepting that with Michael, he is her baby boy and she will always worry for him.

Flamehair – Oh, Amy’s celebration was quite simple, and it implied champagne.

DeDePr – Poor Alex, huh? There will be repercussions and you’ll see Isabel’s reaction.

April – you’re right to be concerned about Dakota.

MercedesBenz – Catherine is the typical overprotective mother. She needs to learn to let it go, to let her son be an adult.


Part 38


River Dog watched his older grandsons as they engaged in a game of football, the game more of a wrestling match than an organized sport. His granddaughters had taken up positions on either side of the designated ‘field’; loudly encouraging or objecting to plays made by their cousins or brothers. The smaller children were playing their own games on the other side of camp under the watchful eyes of their parents who had gathered into a large group, talking and laughing as they prepared dinner.

His gaze followed Michael when Shadow tackled him, shaking his head when the boys scuffled over the football before the younger one wriggled free, victoriously holding the ball high above his head. Shadow quickly tossed the ball to his older brother Colton and Michael motioned for them to keep playing as he jogged to the sidelines where Maria was sitting, to retrieve his bottle of water.

A feeling of pride swept over him as he observed his family and for that single precious moment in time, everything was perfect in his world. As he got older, he had learned to appreciate these moments, to savor them, because they were few and far between. He was glad to see that Michael’s girlfriend was settling in with a little more ease than she had shown the day before. Not everyone had welcomed her with open arms; there were plenty who had their reservations about her, but after watching her with his grandson, he knew that in time she would win most of them over. There were a few, of course, who would never accept her because their hearts had been closed to outsiders, and the thing that hurt the most was that Dakota, his own grandson, was one of those people. He had tried talking to the boy in an effort to reverse the lies his mother had poisoned him with, but he hadn’t been able to set the boy’s path right.

He was too far away from them to hear what Michael said as he took a moment to sit on the picnic table next to his girlfriend, but he saw him smile at something she said when she leaned in to nudge him with her shoulder. He marveled at the changes that had occurred in his grandson since he had found the little boy in the desert so long ago.

River Dog had walked in the desert for hours with no specific destination in mind, propelled on by the insistent feeling that there was a purpose for his seemingly aimless wandering. After his wife’s passing several years earlier he had spent a lot of time in the desert, but now that his children were all grown up and his youngest had moved out on her own he spent very little time at home.

Movement in the distance caught his attention and he raised his right hand to block the sun. Heat rose from the sand, distorting his vision and creating mirages that could confuse and trick even the strongest of minds. It was the hottest part of the day and the animals that called it home had taken refuge in burrows and dens to wait for the cooler temperatures that would be brought on by evening.

He started to turn away so he could continue on his original path but before he had fully turned the flash of movement occurred again and he changed direction. The heat from the sand burned his feet even through the soles of his boots and he kept an eye out for a place to take shelter until the sun began its evening descent.

A large outcropping of rocks appeared in front of him as he walked up over a small dune and the promise of a brief respite from the heat caused his stride to lengthen. He walked around to the side that faced the west, knowing that was his best chance of finding some shade. His relief was short-lived though, because despite the promise of shade offered by the rocks, there was evidence that something else had staked a claim on the small cave. Experience told him that regardless of the heat he would be smart to leave the immediate area and avoid startling whatever creature had taken the cave for shelter.

Spotting a much smaller rock formation not far away he made his way to it, shrugging out of the pack he was carrying as he settled down in the small, but adequate, shady spot it provided. He dozed off after a while, tired from his extended walk under the hot sun, waking when it shifted in the sky and its light settled directly over him once more. He was reaching for his pack when he glanced up and saw a naked child run around the outcropping of rocks not far away.

He blinked a couple of times and rubbed his eyes before he shook his head negatively. Obviously, he had been in the sun too long, he thought. He chuckled at the absurdity and got up to walk towards where he had seen the trickery played on him by the sunlight. How long could a child survive out here? In the desert, miles from any form of civilization? It wasn’t possible. His gaze lowered to the ground and he stared in disbelief at the little footprints spaced close together in the sand and he frowned as he looked around for their owner.

He followed the footprints around the outcropping of rocks and froze when he was suddenly confronted with the little boy. The little guy was naked, his skin dirty from being outdoors without benefit of a bath in the recent past. His eyes were wide with fear as he stared at the man, his little body frozen in shock. He scrambled backwards and after only a few steps, his back came up against the rocks and he realized he had nowhere to go.

One moment River Dog was reaching out to show the little boy that he wasn’t a threat, his voice calmly speaking in an effort to reassure him that he meant no harm, and the next moment he was lying on his back staring at the sky. He had seen the boy’s hands as they shot out from his side, and he had barely had time to register the bright light that glowed around them before he had been picked up and tossed several yards away. He sat up and shook his head, certain that the little boy had hurried back to the cave.

He stood and brushed the sand off of his clothes, his expression intrigued as he walked back to his own outcropping of rocks. While it was comforting to know that he wasn’t seeing things, the little boy’s presence was disturbing. He had known for years that there were others, visitors, who occasionally revealed themselves to a few humans but he had only met one of them and that had been years ago. And Nacedo had been an adult. He wondered how long the boy had been left alone in the desert and what he should do about it. His people didn’t run to government agencies or the legal authorities to make their decisions for them; they were a proud people and self-reliant. Not to mention the fact that the government would not look kindly on the discovery of a little alien child.

He pulled an orange out of his pack, absently peeling it before pulling a wedge out and eating it. He glanced down at the fruit and he wondered when the boy had last eaten or had anything to drink. He reached into his pack and pulled out a bottle of water and a tin of cornbread that his daughter-in-law had made for him that morning. He looked in the pack when his hand brushed against something soft and he lifted out the blanket. His calloused flesh caught on the material as his hands ran over the blanket and his gaze grew misty as he stared at it.

It had been a gift from his wife and even though he had denied needing it, she had insisted he take it with him on his walks into the desert. He had scoffed at the thought of needing a blanket despite the cold that permeated the desert at night, but she had merely smiled and placed it in his pack.

Youth was truly wasted on the young, he thought as his gaze traced over the plaid pattern of light and dark blue squares intersected by thin gray lines. No matter how many times he had watched her weave the blankets, he had never understood how she made them so soft. He lifted his head to look at the entrance to the small cave and he thought back over the past few nights, shivering involuntarily at the realization that bare flesh provided no protection against the elements. It had rained two nights ago, he thought with a pang of sympathy for the boy.

For the past week, he had been in this very area but he hadn’t once seen the boy and he wondered again how long he had been there. He also wondered how the boy had come to be in the desert, so far away from anyone else. He shook his head, focusing on what he did know for the present time. The little boy had to be hungry. He had no way of knowing how long the boy had been in the desert and he hadn’t looked malnourished, but he was probably in need of food and water at the very least.

Certain he was being watched, he checked his pack and pulled out a set of clothes left there after his last camping trip with his grandsons. Picking up his chosen items, he walked over to the outcropping of rocks and selected a nice flat one on the northern side and laid them out where the boy could easily reach them. Once he was finished, he went back and gathered his remaining gear and then moved away, well out of the boy’s sight, but still close enough where he could observe him.

Night had fallen by the time the boy emerged from his hiding place, and River Dog smiled as he observed his behavior from his own hiding place. The boy crept along the rocks, obviously listening for anything that might be out of place among the night sounds he had become accustomed to. His eyes scanned the area and the man knew the exact moment that the boy caught the scent of food. He reacted much like a wild animal, reaching for the food before quickly snatching his hand back and scanning the desert again, and River Dog was saddened at the realization that the little boy obviously didn’t know how to act any differently.

Little fingers closed around the orange and after sniffing it curiously he bit into it, chewing quickly. Moments later his face screwed up into an expression of dislike and he spit out the bite he had taken. The rest of the orange was thrown away as far as he could throw it, and then his attention was focused on the cornbread. He was cautious this time, sniffing it and then experimentally licking it before he finally took a tentative bite, chewing it slowly. Apparently he liked the cornbread because a moment later, he stuffed a handful of it in his mouth and started to chew furiously.

River Dog watched him as he picked up the bottle of water, surprised by the sloshing sound it made when he shook it. The boy froze and for several long moments he looked around, searching for the source of the sound. When nothing moved or made a sound, his gaze dropped back to the bottle and he shook it again. His small hands pulled and tugged on the blue top that River Dog had loosened before placing it on the rock, and he gave an inarticulate cry when it wouldn’t open.

River Dog was interested when the boy suddenly froze and scanned the area once more, realizing that the boy didn’t know he had made the sound. His expression was determined as he went back to pulling on the top of the bottle and when it finally opened, he stared at it in amazement. After sniffing at it cautiously, he lifted it to his lips and drank greedily from the opening, unaware or uncaring of the excess water that overflowed from the sides and ran down his face and dripped off of his chin in a steady stream.

He set the empty bottle down and sat still for a few minutes and River Dog watched him as he swayed tiredly shortly thereafter, his little body trembling from the cool air that blew against skin that was now wet from the water. He was concerned when the boy swayed tiredly and his hand shot out to steady himself against the rock. His expression became curious once again when his hand landed on the blanket and he picked it up, petting it as he hugged it close to his body.

River Dog stayed safely hidden as he moved around to watch the boy. He scrambled down off of the rock, the blanket dragging behind him as he walked back to his cave and crawled back under the overhang. He lost sight of the little boy at that point and he wondered if the boy would be all right if he went back to get more supplies. He was torn between leaving the boy for a few hours and sitting there and watching over him to make sure he was safe.

After hours of debating and not hearing a single sound from the vicinity of the cave, he decided that he had to have more food and water for the boy before morning so he hurried to grab his things and make his way back to the place where he had parked his truck. He could always drive in closer once he had stocked up on food and water for a few days at least.

*****

River Dog had spent several days staying back out of sight, observing the little alien boy without encroaching on his space. The boy had obviously been in the desert long enough to realize that it was smart to stay in the cave during the hottest part of the day. He still hadn’t figured out what the clothes were for, improvising by using them to make a pallet of sorts to sleep on.

While the boy hid from the sun during the day, River Dog crept out and placed more food and water on the flat rock, using it as an opportunity to discover what the boy would and wouldn’t eat. He always tried whatever was left for him, but if he didn’t like it, he didn’t eat it. He had devoured every crumb of the cornbread, assuring the man that he wouldn’t starve.

He had tried different variations to see if that made a difference, but so far it hadn’t. Carrots had been thrown as far away as possible, and the same thing had happened a few days later with a small slice of carrot cake. Although he had noticed that the boy had licked the icing off before throwing the cake away.

Today he was going to try something new. In the morning, he placed himself where the boy couldn’t miss seeing him, staying still for many hours as the sun climbed high above them. A little while before the boy normally crept out of the cave to go find his food River Dog stood and brushed his clothes off. He picked his pack up and walked around the rocks to place the food in its normal place, but instead of disappearing, he sat down in the sand about thirty feet away to wait.

It wasn’t long before the child he was calling Magnum hurried around the rocks, heading for the food. He froze when he saw the man sitting close by watching him, but after a few moments hunger won out over suspicion and he crept over to the flat rock. The dark eyes never left River Dog as the boy reached blindly for his food and that night he discovered that pears were an acceptable fruit.

For nearly a week they continued with this routine, and each night River Dog moved closer and little by little the boy accepted his presence. He had learned much while observing little Magnum and he knew the boy was going to need a very special family to take him in. His first instinct was to take the boy himself but he knew it would never be allowed; he was older and a widower who made his living crafting walking sticks and other items that were sold by a woman a few towns away. He knew the fact that the boy was White would be a hurdle they would have to deal with; Social Services would probably hand him over to the first available family just so they wouldn’t have to deal with him and he had to make sure it was the right one. The boy didn’t speak even though on occasion he had heard him make sounds, he wasn’t socialized at all and was going to need time to adjust to other humans, and in addition to that there was the hygiene factor – or lack thereof – that was going to have to be dealt with.

A plan began to form in his mind as he watched the boy climb down off of the rock, cornbread held in one grubby hand. He approached River Dog slowly, the dark eyes shining with curiosity. He stopped mere inches from the man and after several minutes of staring him in the eye, he broke off a small corner of the cornbread and held it out.

River Dog accepted the small gift with a smile and remained still while the boy moved around him, occasionally reaching out to touch the man’s clothes and petting the material. He crouched down when he came to the pack lying on the ground, poking it cautiously to see what it would do. He frowned when it didn’t do anything and his gaze turned inquisitive when River Dog opened it and took something out.

He watched the boy’s eyes when he pulled the red ball out of the pack and offered it to him. Since he had already finished the cornbread both hands were free to reach out and grab it. He moved it around between his palms and then studied it before he brought it up to his nose and sniffed it. He gave it an experimental lick and River Dog did his best not to laugh at the look at disgust that crossed his features before he threw the ball on the ground. He stood slowly and went to pick the ball up, rubbing it against his jeans-clad leg to dislodge the sand that was sticking to it where the boy had licked it before throwing it away. Making sure that Magnum was watching him, he bounced the ball against the rocks and caught it when it rebounded in his direction. He repeated the action several times before he tossed the ball to the boy, chuckling when it landed in the sand at his feet and he crouched down to pick it up.


River Dog watched his grandson and smiled at the memories of the wild little boy he had been when he had first discovered Michael in the desert. So much had changed since then and the boy had grown up into a young man his family was proud of. Michael was happy now, confident of his place in his family and in the world, and comfortable with who he was.

Michael had a lot of questions about where he had come from and why he had been left in the desert, and River Dog knew that the boy wouldn’t stop looking until he had found the answers. He looked at Maria and knew that his grandson had found someone who was going to play an important role in that search, someone who was going to be beside him in that quest. He looked forward to talking to her and getting to know her better but the opportunity hadn’t presented itself yet.

User avatar
ArchAngel1973
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 373
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:02 pm

Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child-M/M(CC-Teen)Pt39-9/13

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sat Sep 13, 2008 1:59 am

Ken r – Hi Ken, we hope that you liked the description of the ceremony, in the previous pages. Yes, Michael was a wild child and it was a good thing that it was River Dog who found him.

April – We must be up to page 210 now. Half of the story.

DeDe Pr - you’ll have to wait a long time for the aliens to meet. But it will happen.

Flamehair – yes, it’s typical of Amy to celebrate her daughter’s first periods. It’s an important moment and champagne sounded like a good idea, for her. Her daughter was becoming a young woman, so now she could taste champagne. To make the pill easier to swallow. Because let’s face it, the monthly pains suck.


Part 39


Maria watched Michael as he ran back out to rejoin the football game, intercepting the ball when Yancey threw it with the intention of Shadow catching it and running it in for a touchdown. Michael held the ball up in victory and turned to run it in for a touchdown for his own team when Shawnee and Jacey ran in from the sidelines and tackled him. Shawnee held him down while Jacey pried it out of his grasp and tossed it to Colton so he could get the points for his team. Maggie managed to trip him up just short of the end zone, high-fiving her brother when he caught up with them. After a brief dispute over the fairness of the plays, the girls joined the game and both sides traded playful taunts and insults as the game resumed.

Maria knew he was lucky to have this family, to be surrounded by people who loved him and cared about him, to not have to hide who he was – at least with his immediate family. She could imagine how different his life could’ve been if he had fallen victim to the foster care system; he could’ve easily been placed in a bad situation, fostered by people whose only interest was the monthly check the government paid out in exchange for providing the bare essentials to those under their care.

She couldn’t imagine Michael’s spirit being contained, being forced to hide his abilities, never learning how to focus those abilities, never knowing what it was like to be loved for who he was. With his personality that would’ve been a combustible situation and it would’ve gone badly; he would’ve been withdrawn, angry, and completely closed off from everyone.

“You look like you’re deep in thought,” John commented as he joined his son’s girlfriend and sat on the picnic table beside her.

“Oh, hi, John,” Maria greeted, remembering his request that she call him by his first name. “I was just thinking about how different things could’ve been if Michael had gotten shuffled around in foster care.” She sighed. “It makes me sad to think of him being with people who wouldn’t have loved him like you guys do, or who wouldn’t have known or cared to know the truth.”

“Don’t worry yourself with the what-ifs in life, Maria; there are too many of them and your time can be better spent if you focus on what is.”

Maria nodded and they sat in silence for several minutes before she took a deep breath. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure.”

“Well, it’s just that you guys are very close to Michael and I know that his mom… I mean… I just don’t really know where I stand with her and I don’t know what to do to change that.”

John chuckled. “You just keep doin’ what you’ve been doin’, Maria. Trust me on this, okay? Michael’s happy, he cares about you, and you obviously care about him; she just has to accept that there’s another woman in his life. Catherine’s an incredibly stubborn woman, but she’ll come around in her own time.”

“I guess that’s where Michael gets his stubborn streak.”

“Probably.” He shook his head. “They can be mule-headed when they wanna be.”

Maria laughed. “What was he like when he was little?”

“Inquisitive, curious, stubborn, moody, and into everything; he didn’t get into trouble intentionally but he managed to find it… or it found him.” He laughed quietly. “I remember the first time we took him to a powwow; he was six and he was so fascinated with everything…”

Michael had been wide-eyed with awe as they had walked past the outfitted dancers lined up near the entrance and Catherine had been careful to maintain a hold on the boy’s hand. Maggie had been perched on John’s shoulders to keep her from running off and chasing after anything and everything that caught her attention.

He had been captivated by the different dances, drawn to the vibrant colors and the outfitted-dancers’ movements. His little body had practically vibrated with excitement, and before long he had been bouncing on the balls of his feet, trying to match the dancers’ rhythm.

“You’re gonna have to teach this little man to dance, John.”

John had tipped his head to the side when one of the dancers came to stand beside them and he smiled and reached out to shake his older brother’s hand. “Well, he’s certainly eager to learn,” he agreed with a chuckle.

Randolph’s booming voice had caught Michael’s attention and his expression had become one of wonder when he took in the man’s colorful outfit. Buckskin, feathers, beads, and body paint; they drew him like a moth to a flame and he inched closer to the big man, his eyes becoming wider as he reached out to grab a handful of the feathers that made up the long headdress.

“Michael.” John had to force the stern tone into his voice because he wanted so badly to laugh at his boy’s behavior. But, the outfit was handmade and had been handed down from his great-grandfather and it wouldn’t do to have a handful of the feathers plucked from it by curious little fingers.

Randolph had crouched down to let his nephew carefully pet the feathers and run his little hands over the beads, patiently explaining the symbolism of each item the boy touched.

“We’re next, Dad,” Dakota called as he ran up to join them. “Hey, Michael.” He watched his cousin as he was gently pulled back, reluctantly releasing the feathers he had been examining. They had played together a lot over the summer but Michael didn’t talk much so he addressed his question to his uncle. “Does he know how to dance yet, Uncle John?”

“Not yet, no,” John answered, wondering where the boy’s questions were leading.

“Hmm. He can come hang out with me an’ Dad after we’re finished.” He looked at his own father. “Right, Dad?”

“Sure.”


“His cousin Dakota who hates him now?” Maria asked.

“One and the same,” John said. “He and Michael were pretty close when they were little but now…” He shook his head. “Now, Dakota can’t see past the color of my son’s skin.”

Maria winced at the underlying hurt in his voice and knew it was something he felt deeply.

“I had hoped the world wouldn’t be as cruel to my children as it was to us, but that hasn’t been the case. Havin’ that type of hatred directed at your child by a member of your own family though… that’s so much worse than havin’ it come from a stranger.”

Maria watched him, smiling when he reached up to scratch his eyebrow with his thumb. “Michael does that same thing when he’s working something out in his head.”

“What’s that?” John asked.

“He scratches his eyebrow with his thumb like you just did.”

“He does, doesn’t he?” John grinned. “Y’know, I’ve seen him do that hundreds of times and I don’t think I’ve ever thought about the fact that I do the same thing.”

“I’ll bet Michael has a lot of your mannerisms.”

“Well, I’m glad that doesn’t extend to my athletic abilities.” He nodded at the game that was beginning to wind down. “I was never very good at sports unless I was on horseback and Michael’s actually pretty good at sports, he just doesn’t go out for anything.” He chuckled. “I think we do good just getting him to go to Maggie’s games.”

“He’s not real big on school activities, huh?”

“Not really.” He looked up when Catherine called him. “I’d better get back over there and help her.” He patted the girl’s shoulder as he stood up. “Don’t worry about tryin’ to figure out where you stand with Catherine; this is new territory for her and she just needs time to adjust to it. Like I said, just keep doin’ what you’ve been doin’ and things’ll work out.”

*****

After dinner, Maria left Michael debating politics with Colton and Yancey while she walked to the parking area where she could get a decent signal on her cell phone. She called her mom to let her know that she was doing fine and things were going well, but disconnected when it went to voicemail after a dozen rings. She leaned back against one of the cars and wondered if her mother had gone out on a date since she had the weekend to herself. It was the second time that she had called without reaching her mother that day and while that wasn’t necessarily unusual, she didn’t like being out of contact for so long. Her gaze scanned the early evening sky as she made a mental note to call her mother again later.

“You must think you’re pretty special bein’ invited out to see one of our ceremonies.”

She turned her head to look at the cousin she had been warned about, hiding the shiver of apprehension that raced down her spine when his hostile gaze slid over her. He circled her, his eyes angry and predatory, and she wished that she had agreed when Michael had asked her if she wanted him to go with her.

She could defend herself but she had never been faced with someone who hated her for no other reason than the color of her skin. She might be able to successfully defend herself against physical strength fueled by hatred, but she really didn’t want to find out.

“You’d think by now Whites would know to leave us alone.”

She remained silent, refusing to react to his actions or his words.

“No one wants you here.”

“Michael does,” Maria responded quickly.

An ugly grimace twisted Dakota’s features. “You think so? Why? Because he invited you out to the Rez a few times? Do you really think he’s doin’ himself any favors by bringin’ you out to a sacred ceremony? You’re not welcome here anymore than he is.”

Maria looked up when she heard gravel shifting beneath someone’s shoes and she felt relief wash over her when she saw one of Michael’s aunts walking in their direction.

“Dakota, your mother’s looking for you,” the woman said, motioning over her shoulder towards the campsite.

“We’ll finish this later.”

Sage watched him walk away before turning to look at her favorite nephew’s girlfriend. “Would you like me to get Michael for you?” she asked.

Maria shook her head negatively. “No, there’s no need for him to have to deal with this; nothing really happened anyway. Dakota was just expressing his opinion and I’m sure he expects me to run to Michael with it because he knows it would provoke him.”

“I see you’ve assessed the situation pretty well.” She nodded in approval. “Michael’s chosen well.” She held her hand out to the younger woman. “I’m Sage, by the way; we haven’t had a chance to talk yet.”

“You’re the one who gave Sundance to Michael.”

“I am. I’ve never seen an animal – especially one with such a bad disposition – react to anyone the way that horse reacted to my nephew. It was a good investment; it saved the horse, and Sundance and Michael have had twelve good years together. They’re a good fit,” she said with a grin.

Maria couldn’t resist asking the question that had been on her mind. “Does he have that effect on all animals or was it just Sundance?”

“Animals seem to be drawn to him, whether they’re completely sound or they’ve got a bad disposition.”

“So, how would you explain his gift?” Maria asked, knowing that Sage didn’t know about Michael being different. It was strange how animals could perceive things that humans couldn’t. In Michael’s case, it was obvious that animals could sense that he was different from the other humans around them. She wondered how exactly animals had such an awareness of people.

“Some things just defy explanation.” She shook her head. “I’ve seen others who possess similar gifts, but not to the extent that my nephew has shown. I don’t think it’s the type of thing that can be explained in conventional terms; maybe it’s just something that should be accepted for what it is.”

“Do you think he’s like that horse whisperer guy?”

Sage chuckled. “No, whatever Michael’s gift is it’s different than that. I’ve watched him with some of the most difficult animals I’ve ever seen and it’s almost like a silent form of communication that seems to be understood by both of them. I can’t explain it; I learned long ago that there are some things that simply defy explanation and you either accept them or you drive yourself crazy looking for an answer.” She shrugged. “I decided to just accept it.”

“There you are,” a relieved male voice said.

Sage glanced over her shoulder when her husband, Justin, joined them. “Problem?”

“Yeah, the boys are awake and they’re drivin’ my mother crazy.”

Sage laughed as she turned back to Maria. “I have four boys; two sets of twins if you can believe that.” She shook her head. “I couldn’t believe it!”

Maria’s eyes widened. “Two sets of twins? How old are they?”

“Two and four.” Sage rolled her eyes and pushed away from the car. “I’d better get back to my boys and give my husband a hand.”

Maria nodded and watched them walk back to camp. She didn’t remain in the parking area for long once they had gone, deciding that she didn’t want to risk another run-in with Dakota. She didn’t know if he was as dangerous as he seemed but there wasn’t any good reason that she could think of to find out.

User avatar
ArchAngel1973
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 373
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:02 pm

Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child-M/M(CC-Teen)Pt40-9/20

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sat Sep 20, 2008 11:41 am

Ken r – Maria is not used to such a large family, to family members being this close since she has no relatives except for her mother.

April – Expect more Dakota and Michael moments. Little Michael was cute, huh, trying to dance? Amazing how people change while they grow up. Little Michael wanted to dance, while you could hardly put Michael on a dance floor 10 years later!

Flamehair – Dakota is so far gone that it’s hard to say if he ever will go back to who he used to be.

DeDe Pr – I don’t know what your feeling about Amy’s boyfriend is. But it’s not Dakota, that’s for sure.


Part 40


“I don’t see how you can say that it’s not a law worth considering,” Yancey said, shaking his head at his cousin’s opposing viewpoint.

“Are you kiddin’?” Colton asked. “Passin’ that bill into law would only benefit people in a higher income bracket.”

Michael tugged at the collar of his shirt and glanced around while his cousins debated politics. The need to get away had been plaguing him for a while now and he had been resisting it but it was beginning to get stronger. The only word he knew of that described what he was feeling was claustrophobic, and when that feeling descended on him the only thing that helped was finding someplace quiet where he could be alone with his thoughts.

“That’s true, but at the same…” Yancey trailed off, exchanging a glance with Colton when Michael suddenly walked away. Within moments, they were right back in the middle of their heated debate, unconcerned with their cousin’s abrupt disappearance. They had long ago become accustomed to his behavior and they knew that it wasn’t meant to offend.

*****

Maria came back into camp and glanced around for Michael when she didn’t see him with his cousins who were obviously still in the middle of their discussion about politics. It was easy to see that they had differing opinions of whatever topic they were debating and she wondered if Michael had simply lost interest in the subject and walked away. She was turning to walk away when she spotted him rushing in the opposite direction and she hurried to follow him.

“He needs to be alone.”

She froze and turned to look at the old man who had spoken, recognizing Michael’s grandfather after a moment. He was sitting on a folding chair outside of his tent, his hands busy whittling away on a piece of wood.

“Oh, um… River Dog, right?”

He smiled and motioned for her to take the chair next to him.

“You said he needed to be alone; is he all right?” she asked as she sat down.

He smiled at her concerned tone. “He’s fine; he just needs some time to be by himself so he can find some peace.”

Maria looked around at Michael’s family, scattered through the camp in small groups. “I don’t understand.” She looked at the man for several long seconds before turning her head to stare in the direction Michael had gone in.

“Michael has a need to be… alone, at times. To separate himself from even those closest to him.”

“You’re saying this is typical behavior for him? Just going off by himself without a word to anyone?”

River Dog’s smile was mysterious. “Have you ever heard of the term, lone wolf?”

“Yeah.”

“Wolves travel in packs; it is in their nature to form their own groups and to live among each other. But often, packs will have a member that will disappear, sometimes for days at a time…” He held up a hand up before she could interrupt. “The lone wolf always returns to the pack, but the need to seek solitude, to find peace away from the others is an ingrained part of its nature.”

Maria listened to his explanation as she realized that he was telling her something very important.

“Michael is like the lone wolf, Maria; no matter how happy he is with his family, there is a part of him that will always need to seek out that solitude, that will drive him to go in search of it. He’s been like that since he was a little boy. I’m sure you’ve been with him long enough to realize that he can be incredibly moody when it suits him.”

“So, what you’re telling me is that I can expect this kind of behavior from him in the future.”

“If you intend to remain with him, yes. It’s a question of whether you can deal with it or not because he isn’t likely to change behavior that’s so much a part of who he is. It’s important for you to understand that when he goes off on his own like this there’s no hurt intended towards those he’s walking away from. Sometimes, he just needs to be alone so he can gather his thoughts and be himself away from everyone else.” His kind eyes settled on her for a moment. “And at times he’ll need to be apart from you as well, so you need to make sure you can deal with that part of his personality.”

*****

Michael rolled his shoulders back, forcing the muscles to relax as he stared at the sun dropping behind the mountains in the distance. The confined feeling that sometimes came over him had existed as long as he could remember and the only thing that helped was finding someplace quiet where he could be alone with his thoughts.

He couldn’t explain it but sometimes the feeling that everything was closing in on him came out of nowhere and something inside of him insisted on finding solitude. The times that the feeling had occurred and he hadn’t followed his instincts or he hadn’t been able to had resulted in an overload of emotions and he had responded by acting like the bear his cousins claimed he was.

He turned to let his gaze wander over his family and realized that while he had been busy thinking, the sun had completed its descent behind the mountains and they had all gone back to the area where the ceremony was being held. He cursed out loud and hurried to make his way back along the path he had taken to find a few minutes of peace. He had no idea how Maria would react to his behavior and he certainly hadn’t meant to leave her alone with his family for that long. He just hoped she could understand that it wasn’t personal, he thought as he loped through camp.

*****

Eddie looked up when Maria sat down next to him, quickly glancing past her to see if Michael had come back from his walk.

“It’s very dark out here,” she commented. “Roswell’s not that big but it’s easy to forget how dark it gets in the desert at night.”

“Yes, it is.” He shifted to look at her. “So, ready to hear about the next part of the ceremony?”

“Absolutely.” Her gaze drifted over the bonfire that was in the process of being lit.

“The evening part of the ceremony actually starts with the guys bein’ asked to dance by the girls; guys never ask the girls to dance at nighttime dances.” He motioned at the activity going on around them. “That’s what’s goin’ on now. Before long you’ll hear the Crowndancers approaching; they’ll burst outta the dark and into the firelight, dancin’ around to banish any evil spirits from the area and once that’s finished Kai will come out to dance accompanied by a few of her friends. They’ll dance with the Crowndancers for four dances until the fire burns down and at that point the Crowndancers will disappear, but the singin’ and dancin’ will continue throughout the night. You’ll also notice that we don’t face the fire,” he said, nodding at those who had already started to gather around. “Many cultures would be around the fire, but we face the darkness at the ceremony. You think its dark now? Just wait until the fire dies down and you see just how dark it gets out here.”

Maria nodded. “So, everybody dances? All night?”

“If they want to. Most will eventually turn in for the night, but there are a few who will make it the entire night.”

Maria smiled. “And what about you?”

“Me? I’ve never made it through an entire night of dancin’, but my girlfriend made it out here a while ago and she’ll make sure I dance a good part of it.” He smiled suddenly. “I’d better go find her before she comes lookin’ for me.”

Maria quickly lost sight of him as he disappeared into the darkness and her gaze locked on the fire that had come to life. She thought about what River Dog had said to her about Michael and as she stared into the flames leaping towards the sky her mind began to wander.

Could she deal with the different aspects of his personality? More to the point, could she deal with this particular one? Just accepting his need to go off on his own at times, to completely separate himself from everyone close to him? Including her?

Was it any different from the times her mother would take off on her retreats? Or when she herself would suddenly find inspiration and the need to write down the words was so pressing that she would run to her room and lock herself away until she had managed to capture her thoughts on paper.

She sat up straighter as she realized that she wasn’t the only one who would be dealing with that type of behavior. She did the exact same thing. Maybe not for the same reasons but there were plenty of times when she needed the seclusion provided to her by the sanctuary of her own bedroom.

“Hey.”

She turned her head to the side when Michael dropped down in the chair next to her in a graceless heap. For the first time since she had known him he looked unsure of his welcome and she debated about how to proceed.

“I lost track of time,” he said by way of explanation.

“Uh-huh.” She watched the way the light and shadows played across his face and his defensive expression made her decide to play it out a little longer. “Where’d you go?”

“It’s not important.” Michael slouched down and stared into the darkness. Was she gonna pry into his business now? he wondered, annoyed.

“Oooooooookay.” Maria shrugged and mimicked his pose, biting her tongue while she waited to see if he would take the bait.

“Fine, since you’ve gotta know every damn thing, I went for a walk,” he snapped. “Is that all right with you?”

Was he deliberately trying to be an ass? Because he was really acting like one right now! “I said ‘okay’, Michael,” she snapped right back at him. She took a deep breath as she shook her head. “I wasn’t pushing for an answer. Although I don’t see what the big deal is. Everybody takes a walk now and then.”

“Well, maybe I go for more walks than the average person.” Michael knew he was pushing her; it was almost as if, deep down, he wanted to fight with her.

Unknown to him, Maria was thinking the same thing. She frowned, wondering if he was really trying to pick a fight or if this was just another example of his prickly personality showing itself.

“I don’t see what the big deal is,” he mumbled.

“You’re the one making it a big deal,” Maria said, rolling her eyes.

Michael opened his mouth to deny her statement but before the words could form he realized that she was right. She hadn’t tried to take his head off for taking off and leaving her with a bunch of strangers so why was he trying to start an argument with her?

“Look, your grandfather explained and after thinking about it, I realized that everyone at some point needs time to themselves. I do the same thing; maybe not for the same reasons but neither of us are the type of people who would ever be content to be glued together every minute of every day.”

He watched her in the near-darkness for several minutes. “I can’t really explain it, Maria; most of the time I’m not even sure I understand it myself.”

Maria watched him intently, knowing that he was revealing a part of himself, something deep and inexplicable. He had told her that sometimes he just wanted space, that there were times when he needed to be away from everything and everyone. This was the first time she had been around him when he had experienced one of these… episodes, but once it was over he had come back to her. She smiled at that realization, happy that Michael had instinctively sought her out once he had found what he needed; he had come back to her because that was where he wanted to be. “I write,” she said suddenly, feeling the need to share something with him. “And not just articles for the school paper. So sometimes I lock myself up in my room and completely lose track of time while I’m writing or trying to compose a song that I’ve got stuck in my head.” She shrugged. “And sometimes I just need time to be by myself, to listen to music, and get lost in my own head for a while.”

She shifted, tucking her right leg under her and leaning her shoulder against his. “People need time to themselves to just be themselves, to be alone with their thoughts, and to charge their batteries so they can get ready for the next round of whatever life throws at them.” She shrugged the shoulder resting against him. “I guess what I’m saying is that you don’t have to try to explain it, Michael. Yes, there are gonna be times when this behavior and attitude of yours is gonna piss me off, but I’ll just have to remember that I act the same way at times. I’ll do my best to understand and not be a pain in the ass about it, okay?”

He turned to press a kiss against the top of her head. “Thanks,” he whispered gruffly.

“Yeah, yeah,” she mumbled as she sat up straighter. “Y’know, Michael, being a couple isn’t easy; I might not know a lot about relationships, but I do know it takes two to make it work. And I…” Maria hesitated before going on, trying to find the right words to explain what she wanted to say. “I really want this to work between us.” She tossed a quick glance at him, not surprised to see him shifting around uncomfortably. He was a guy so he probably didn’t want to talk about their relationship, but Maria felt the need to clarify a few things. “It’s not always gonna be a bed of roses… hell, we’ve already made it through a few rough spots. I’ve seen my mom go through a lot of relationships and I do know that compromise is a key element, and so is talking to each other. I don’t wanna repeat her mistakes, Michael, that’s all.”

Michael watched her carefully, trying to figure out what he was supposed to say. He hadn’t thought much about their relationship, mainly because it was all still so new to him. But Maria obviously had thought about it, and he could see that it was bothering her. He didn’t know what to say; it was his first serious relationship too, and he didn’t have all the answers. The only thing he knew to do was to try and reassure her.

“Don’t think about it too much, Maria. We’ll just see what happens. You’re not your mother, alright? We’ll just…” He stopped, pulling his thoughts together as he thought about what he could say to Maria that would get his point across. “Look, we’ll just take it one step at a time, okay? See how it goes. We don’t have to figure it all out tonight.”

Maria looked at him and considered his answer. He was right. He was Michael and she was Maria, and they would deal with whatever the future threw at them when that time came.

Post Reply