Warnings: Violence and canon character death. For more detailed warnings which may contain spoilers, click here.
Categories: GEN, Drama, Angst, Episode Tag
Pairings: Gen fic with references to Max/Tess and Max/Liz as per canon.
Characters: Tess Harding (primary), Liz Parker, Kyle, Max
Spoilers: Four Square through Four Aliens and a Baby. If you haven't seen this series, I recommend it. All three seasons are available on DVD
A/N: An episode addition to Four Aliens and a Baby. Tess has a decision to make. Immediately follows my ficlet Explanations.
Credits: Beta by Elle. Screencap used in title graphic courtesy of The Return, part of the Granolith. Several lines of dialogue taken from the episode Four Aliens and a Baby written by Russel Friend and Garrett Lerner. Research and alien spellcheck resources include Crash Into Me: The World of Roswell by Robyn Burnett and crashdown.com
Disclaimer: I'm borrowing from Jason Katims and Regency Entertainment. I promise to put the toys away neatly when I'm finished.
Tess failed to understand Max's anger, but she had anticipated it. Liz held too much power over him, and she'd left them alone together for nearly a year. She knew that would cost her whatever progress she had made with Max. Kyle's words, though, had a sting she never expected. He'd once considered her family, but that had obviously changed in her absence. It wasn't like Kyle and Alex were best friends; she'd never thought they were close. Was Alex's death enough to turn Kyle against her, without even hearing her side of the story?
She'd never understand humans.
Antar had always been her goal. Humans were simply a means to an end, or more frequently an obstacle in her path. Now, with Antar lost to her, she'd have to raise her son on Earth, and right now she needed these humans to help her evade the FBI.
The fate of these humans was irrelevant, but Zan, her child, had to survive. He was everything she had left.
Now Max was actually going to let them hold a vote. A vote! On whether or not she lived or died. Liz had really done a number on Max. Liz had wrapped him right around her little finger, and now with a vote, conveniently suggested by Maria, Liz would eliminate the competition.
Tess tried to catch the eyes of those who could save her. Isabel. Kyle. Sheriff Valenti. But Isabel had loved Alex, and she wanted her revenge. Why Alex? Isabel belonged with Michael, why choose a human? Why that human? As Vilandra, she'd chosen Kivar. Kivar had power. Charisma. Armies at his command. How could Alex compare? Being raised by humans had obviously ruined Isabel's tastes.
The sheriff voted to help her, but Michael wanted her dead. Of course he did, Maria had him as whipped as Liz did Max.
Kyle couldn't do it. The anger hadn't left his eyes, but he wouldn't vote to kill her. For just the briefest moment, she felt a little flutter of hope, but Liz held the swing vote.
Liz met her gaze without flinching. "I vote no."
"What! Are you crazy?" Maria's loud disbelief echoed Tess's own reaction. What did Liz have to gain from this?
"I made my vote," Liz said, leaving the room with Maria on her heels.
Tess leaned against the wall, her head spinning. She'd never understand humans.
While the others slept, Tess stared at the window. It was only a matter of time before the army found them. Max and the others couldn't protect her forever. She still didn't understand why they were bothering at all. The three words that had saved her, at least temporarily, echoed in her mind. I vote no. I made my vote. I vote no, I vote no, I vote no . . . Why?
Tess kept returning to that question, when she really needed to be planning an escape. For the first time, she found herself trying to think about the past as Liz must see it. She knew that Liz was angry about Alex. As angry as Isabel and Maria. If she'd doubted that at all, then being blasted into the wall a couple of times had cleared it right up.
Liz must feel the same hurt, the same burning jealousy, as she felt herself when it came to Max. Every time he'd kissed her -- every damn time -- he'd pictured Liz. Not Tess, his bride on Antar, but Liz, a human. Tess had hated Liz for that, hated her enough to kill her and remove the distraction once and for all, if she'd gotten the chance.
To Liz, she was the other woman, the one who could take Max away again, and Liz saw her as responsible for Alex's death on top of that.
Yet Liz voted no.
A simple yes from Liz, and she'd be in the White Room now, suffering who knew what agony at the hands of a man like Agent Pierce. One yes vote from Liz, and the others wouldn't have to worry about the army. The soldiers would stop searching. Zan would be safe.
She felt sick at the thought. Her son, her beautiful baby, was still in danger as long as she stayed here. But she couldn't face the White Room. Maybe she could run, lead them away from Zan, and find a way to escape. Tears came to her eyes at the thought. She needed to stay with her son. She needed to know he was safe, see it for herself, every minute, or every minute of her life would be tortured by uncertainty.
Her stomach churned as she forced herself to consider all the options. Zan might be better off without her. The army knew her face, and they wouldn't stop looking. Zan was human, just another baby on a planet of six billion humans. This wasn't Antar, where he'd stood out as unique.
Could she trust Max to protect her baby? Time and again, Max had taken the cautious approach, following his human pacifism to the peril of them all. Time and again, Max had chosen Liz over her. What if it came down to a choice, between Liz and Zan. Which would Max choose?
She remembered something of the argument she'd overhead earlier, between Liz and Maria. You voted on her side? After Alex? After all Max put you through when she took that baby to another planet? You were arrested, Liz. Arrested. Why? Because of her. Because she put that baby in danger, and Max got desperate. You went right along with him and put yourself in danger. And now you're doing it again, only this time we're all in danger . . .
A few hours ago, Tess had only cared about whether Maria's ranting would make Liz change her vote. Now she realized that she'd missed something important. Something had happened while she was gone, it didn't really matter what, but Max had chosen Zan. And it sounded like Liz had, too.
Why would Liz take any risk for Zan? Why was she even here now, sleeping on the couch in Isabel's apartment instead of in her own bed at home? The army wasn't looking for Liz. Liz could safely leave at any time.
They were all still here, even Maria. What was it that made these humans behave as they did? She really felt like an alien among them. At least she had her son.
Another thought nagged at her, one she fought to ignore. That her son would be more like them as he grew, that she'd be an outcast even to him. And then a worse thought arose. That she'd make him an outcast if she stayed; that if she raised him, she wouldn't be able to teach him how to live in this world.
Her eyes found Liz in the darkness. Liz Parker, human, the enemy, and her savior only hours ago. A plan, an utterly terrifying plan, had begun to form in her mind. If she was going to meet death tonight, then she needed to know why Liz hadn't condemned her to it.
"Because I'm not a killer, Tess."
Tess could see the honesty in Liz's face, and her plan cemented. She would trust her son's fate to this human. They took Maria's car, driving through the streets in silence, because Tess couldn't maintain the mind warp on the patrolling servicemen if she had to talk.
Liz looked almost sympathetic as they pulled up beside the fence.
"Max loves you," Tess blurted. She was about to die, and she needed to heal some of the pain she'd caused, or at least try. "Every time we were together, every time we kissed, he was thinking of you. He had these flashes that I saw, and they were always of you."
Liz's parting words were kind, and Tess knew that at last, she was doing the right thing for her son. She didn't want to die, but for him, she would, and in sacrificing her life she would find redemption for her mistakes. Her legacy would not be defined by Alex Whitman's murder. Like she'd told Liz, she could do one good thing with her life.
She marched through the fence and across the desert to the army base. The soldiers spotted her, firing their weapons as she dashed between the buildings. To them, she represented a threat to their world. Their small minds could not accept what they didn't understand. Her heart thundered and her instincts screamed at her to run. For my son, she thought fiercely, standing her ground. This is for Zan.
Everything stopped for one eternal moment as she let the soldiers take aim. They'd kill her, but would they stop there, satisfied with their one dead alien?
Tess decided not to take the chance. She took them with her as she died.
This transformative work constitutes a fair use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Roswell™© and related properties exist as Registered Trademarks of Regency Entertainment. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, May 2006.