I wake up in the morning, and I get through the first minute. Get out of bed, walk over to the bathroom - one foot in front of the other, one, two, one, two - see if I can find the energy to turn the tap. Once that's done, it's just a question of the next minute. One day at a time, that's what they say, but a day's far too long. I can't. Always forward, and in the end it's not too hard. Sometimes it is a struggle to keep moving, I'm not sure I can last the next five minutes, I think I will just die or disappear or turn to stone. But you stay alive and functioning unless you do something to stop it, and that amount of decision would be too much. Easier to carry on; mechanistic, I go through the motions, smiling, laughing, whispering words of love, and all the time I watch myself doing it. The words are alien to me, spoken without thought or concentration. I'm mildly impressed by the face I have spread on in the mornings, which has become part of the rituals of preparation. Eyeliner, lipstick, hair gel, smile.
This is my honeymoon. These words do not seem to belong to me. Honey; sweet, thick, like one of those warm summer nights where clouds envelop the world and you can taste them. Moon; moonlight, romance, kisses under the stars. Honey is apparently an aphrodisiac, and that's where the word comes from. Sex and summer nights, I know what these feelings are but I don't feel them. Mostly I just see black, and what is the moon anyway but an outsize piece of rock? It's barren and cold and I don't know why they chose it for a symbol of love. Look at my expression of perfect joy and harmony. I will try and live for the rest of the day. Breathe. Inhale, hold, exhale, hold, and I think of the molecules hurtling round my veins.
* * *
He thinks it's passionate and urgent, and his mouth is hot and so are his hands. My flesh reacts to them, and my hands take on their desirous rovings, up and over his back. Clothes come off as if they're choking us and he lifts me up and lays me down on the bed, hot-blooded and ravenous. Who is this man, who is my lawful wedded husband? We are seized by frenzied lust, his fingers, his mouth are all over my skin. My mind detaches itself, and I watch from somewhere far away as my body breathes in short gasps, cries out, begs for more. I see my face of ecstasy. He must think he's damn lucky, getting me and the hot alien sex. I regard the sweat, animal hunger, that shell of mine acting through its reflexes, and settle myself for a lengthy session of steamy play-acting. I lie back, and think of Liz.
* * *
There isn't much effort involved in having sex with your husband, as I think afterwards when he's gone, and a substitute in your mind almost makes it pleasurable. When I close my eyes I can see her. She has this glow, of health, of innocence, and when the sun's coming down her skin is golden. And her eyes are flecked with those sun's rays. They're clear, deep, and when she smiles her face lights up the air. She's sweet, she's pure, and I hate her for that. I hate her self-sacrifice and tragic star-crossed love. I was watching her long before Max came into her life, and he took over. Like the king he was, he thinks he can do anything, and he stole her away. I stood by as they fell into their love affair, which overcame life and death and planets. I identify with that, of course. We meet up sometimes, occasionally in her bedroom but more often in mine because Max is so often coming to her window. I stand near her when we are together, all discussing the latest threat to the planet. I long to touch her then, and I have to hold myself back from caressing her. Her flesh I see exposed, it's glistening and enticing, and her lips are red and shining. I watch them move and I want them on mine. Every move she makes is sensual. Max casually has his arm round her and I can feel what he's feeling. I see them content and engrossed in each other. They gaze into each other's eyes, and it hurts deep within me. Such trust, such wonder. She's his everything. More importantly, he's her everything. He takes up all her mind, and all her love, though she's not as innocent as he thinks she is, it's me who hears her cry out and me who takes her to the heights. I guard that, it's all I have.
I couldn't bear to live with her, though, because the love is too overwhelming. When I see her it's as if my whole body is blazing and flying. She takes me off my feet with wonder and I soar so high, but it is possible to fly too close to the sun. It seems like she threw a firefly from her soul, and it entered me and when it crashed down it exploded into flame. I can't put it out now, and it's the only thing I feel, and it is overpowering and I could be engulfed.
I try to cool it down, but it's a problem I have. Vilandra also loved too much. I'm not Vilandra, as I told Khivar, for whom I killed my brother and my husband. I tell it to myself, every day. I could feel her inside me, though, some long-ago urges on me. When I dreamt of the beauty of Antar, where I don't know, and I kissed him out by the water. I felt he passion and her longing. She was pushing at my skin from the inside, banging on the barriers I have so carefully set up. She almost took me over, then I shut her down. But it isn't just that demon. I don't love Khivar. But little bits of Vilandra have seeped through and run in my blood and couldn't ever be removed. I know what she did and I hate her for it. I know who she is, and I know who Isabel is, but I don't know which one of them is me. Would I do what she did, betray for my love? No, I say, but I know it's a lie. I'd do anything, and Vilandra wasn't evil, she was just overwhelmed. She drowned in her love, and that's why I try and keep my distance from Liz. I would like to expel Vilandra, spit her out, cleanse my blood. She's more like me than anyone knows.
Vilandra loves Khivar, and Isabel loves Liz. They've both just got married. They don't know what they're doing.
* * *
There are such a lot of little things that we could be affected by. Maybe a leaf held up to the light, veins spidering through it, delicate and oblivious. Maybe the sound of the sea. Maybe the sun reflecting off Liz Parker's hair in little flashes. Why can't I care about these? Why can't I feel a spark of wonder light in me? I can't even care that I don't care, only under a very many layers buried. I am a space filled with cold nothing and a smiling girl with golden skin and deep brown eyes.
The wedding, that was hard. The weeks before are just a blur to me in which the days bleed into one another. It's not easy to conjure up an expression which is appropriate to committing your life to the man you love. I woke up for a second at the altar, was suddenly overcome by a rush of adrenaline and fear. Then I pushed it down with a tremendous effort, and looked into his eyes.
To have and to hold.
Pretend it's Liz.
Till death do us part.
Pretend it's Liz.
Then it was done, and I slipped back into my sleep and sleepwalking of apathy. I kissed the groom, and smiled, and pretended it was Liz.
He isn't a bad man, I wouldn't marry someone I didn't like, and of course there was an attraction. I love the idea that he has no clue. He is ignorant, so there is bliss, of a sort, I feel safe, that he cannot look into my eyes and see my soul. If I have a soul. I am closed, and he doesn't know it. The glaze over everything in me is what he sees as reality; it is sweet to be so uncharted. He can give me a normal life and doesn't expect anything of me. He can't see I am haunted by a galaxy far, far away, the ghost of a traitor who was me. He can't see the flashes of memory of blood of passion, and kisses under alien stars, and he won't see my blood or my passion. He knows nothing of me, so he can't hurt me.
Days spent with my husband are pleasant enough. I'm not dreading next week, it will be fine. I don't want to think about the rest of my life. It scares me too much.
* * *
It's too hot, as usual. I wait, in Roswell again, where I have grown up human, for her. I know she's bad for me and it will hurt me so I think I will die, but I can't stay away. Maybe pain is better than numbness. I've always avoided drugs, ever in control. But sometimes you fall into addiction and don't know it until it's too late. I can't be at home because I want to distance her far from Jesse. This is the right place for her, the desert sand and barrenness stretching out forever and open to the pale sky, so her presence will not crush me.
Or so I hope, but the setting makes no difference: I watch her car enlarge from a speck and she takes me over and she is all I can see. Nothing I can do will ever make this change, I am lost in her skin. The sunlight surrounds me, drawn to her, or maybe she is the sunlight. It's not a bleak sun, it's late afternoon and it's casting long shadows. Her face looks like it has a candle flickering near it, and the light has an orange tinge, warming her. The eyes are shining. She touches every part of me just by standing there, I feel alive.
"How was your honeymoon?" she asks, the sincerity in her voice acting as sarcasm. Why should I answer that? Fuck her, she couldn't give a shit. I draw her to me and kiss her, my mouth crushing against hers and my mind opening up and flying. My hands stroke her smooth back, grasping, clinging, I breathe in deeply and smell her scent. Then she pulls away. I try and follow her lips but she turns. We stand apart.
"What?" I say, still reeling and dizzy from her. She looks down and around.
"I don't know if we should do this any more." She's said it once or twice before but today my insides are exposed to a huge wind of fear, though my head knows I can keep her here.
"And why would that be?" my sarcasm never betraying what I feel.
"You know why," she tells me, looking up at me.
"No, go on, tell me. Tell me why," and I match her gaze, challenging her.
"Isabel, you're married," she says with a tone of weariness and mature wisdom. I sigh in irritation.
"Well, we do have a little hypocrite on our hands here. You're the one who's spent the last three years desperately in love with my brother, never shutting up about how he's your Eternal Soulmate and you Can't Live Without Him." My tone is withering, but of course she wouldn't think anything is wrong for her. She'll have some stupid justification.
"This is different... marriage, it's not the same."
"God, Liz, you're such a fucking romantic," I say in disgust. "You think that just because I've said some words, signed a piece of paper, suddenly it's all changed? What, you think you're not cheating on Max because you haven't said 'I do'?"
"Do you love him?" she challenges quietly. She would say that. I smile at her.
"And exactly what would that have to do with you?" She's silent, and it's at times like this that I would murder to hear those words, the ones that she bases her life on and I pretend mean nothing. But she doesn't say them, she never has.
"Fine, you don't want this? You want me to leave? I can do that." If she told me to go there's no way I could live. She doesn't, she stands there and accepts. I hold her again, and kiss her over and over as the sun beats down on our bodies and the world is us. We lift off clothes, they are like mist, and she cries out when roughly I throw her to the ground. I know the sand is grating on her back and the rock is hard, I can feel it myself, I push her further into it. I don't see why she should enjoy this. There's a haze in front of me, colours of red melting into gold. I'm kissing her hard and then my fingers and mouth are all over her. I slip my fingers into her warmth and wetness and her body tastes of apricots, ripened under tropical suns. There's an ache tightening in my chest and I feel like crying. Grief and sweetness take me high, and I touch her with roughness, bestial, and I want her to hurt and my nails dig into her flesh and draw blood, it's salty and metallic.
Listening to myself talking to her I hear someone cold and cruel. I hate myself when I touch her and bruise her, that's how life goes. I don't recognise anyone I know in this woman. She's everything to me, and I don't give a shit what happens to the rest of the universe, there's only me and her under the setting sun. I've never told her. I've never shown her the fire that blazes through me when I think of her, never have I uttered the word. If I did she would break me open, she would see me and I would bleed out through the crack. She could do anything and I would be helpless. As long as she sees only my stone exterior I am safe. All I want is to be held in her arms, softly stroked and encircled with warmth. I don't know why physical pain can kill you, but I can't die from this pain which is there in every single atom of my body. Why won't it end, how can it go on?
I'm desperate and I drink in every bit of this and memorise every inch of her with my touch. I watch the redness and fire of the sun setting her skin alight. This is too much, I can't stand this passion choking me.
Soon I will leave, go home, kiss my husband and call him 'dear'. I will die again a little death, and sleep as I laugh. I will continue to breathe. I will lie with him, and dream of Liz.
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