Title: Always Will Be
Summary: Maria returns to Roswell on her national tour, but will she have a reason to stay?
Disclaimer: They're not mine.
Over the next week, Maria didn’t get much time to herself to relax and consider where things were going, or might go, with Michael. Despite having taken a few months away from singing to ‘take a break’, she had been swept into the hurricane that was Isabel and Alex’s wedding plans. Maria had once considered Isabel the Christmas Nazi…now she realised that she was even worse with weddings, and the fact that this one was her own was only making it worse. Almost everything had been booked months and months in advance, but there were still the hundreds of phone calls to be made to confirm the bookings, and the inevitable last minute disasters. The caterers were worried because one of their servers had fallen ill, the florists weren’t sure the blooms would be exactly on the right day, and somehow between them (with Isabel in charge of course), each little disaster was worked out to satisfaction.
Finally, the big day dawned. Maria, Liz and Tess were all going over to Isabel and Alex’s place early that morning to start getting ready for the big event. They had decided to make themselves up ‘manually’ for once. The whole wedding was to be a ‘NAP’ zone…No Alien Powers. This also gave them a whole lot of extra time to have a girlie bonding session before Isabel went off with Alex on their honeymoon. Once they were all beautified, they would head to the church to dress, where the guys, who supposedly took less time to ready themselves, would be preparing.
“Oh my God. Am I really doing this?” Isabel’s face lost all colour as she stood in front of a full length mirror in the back room of the church. She started to sway a little, clutching at the thin air around her, and the other girls all rushed to catch her before she fell. Maria and Liz helped her across the room to sit on a comfy chair in the corner. Tess opened the small window in the corner to let a little air into the small room.
“Calm down Isabel. And breathe.” Maria said. Isabel shot her a look that said ‘This coming from you?’.
Maria caught the look and added wryly, “Yes, I know it sounds odd for me to say that, but I’ve learned a lot in the last 5 years.” Isabel took a deep breath and looked round at her worried friends.
“I’ve been so busy making sure that everything is going to go right today that I haven't really thought about the fact that I’m getting married today. Alex and I are committing ourselves to each other for the rest of our lives. That’s a big step. Are we really ready?” Liz put her hand on Isabel’s shaking arm.
“You know you are. I think every bride feels like this on her wedding day. It’s called cold feet.”
“Did you feel them?”
“Of course I did. Until that morning I was absolutely 100% sure that the only thing I needed to know, the only thing I wanted to know, was that I could spend the rest of my life with Max. Suddenly, for no logical reason, I started doubting it.”
“We’ve all seen you and Alex together,” Tess added. “It would be a sin for you two not to be together. You love each other so much. Everyone who’s ever watched the two of you for more than about 10 seconds could tell you that you are made for each other, a perfect match in every way.”
“You really think so?”
“Honey, we know so.” Maria said. Isabel looked around at the sincere faces of her three friends, flashed a huge smile at them, and stood up.
“Okay then, let’s get on with it then!”
“So Maria,” Liz started as they began to change. “How did your conversation with Michael go?”
“Yeah,” Isabel added, “We know he went back to talk to you, but we can’t get a word out of him about what you guys talked about.”
“You know us.” Maria replied flippantly. “We barely got two words out before we were yelling at each other.”
Liz, Isabel and Tess exchanged looks. Maria was being evasive and they knew it.
“And…?” Tess said.
“And nothing,” Maria retorted, “we started talking, we ended up fighting, end of story, seriously!” The girls weren’t going to let her get away with that pithy account.
“Ok,” Liz said, “Methinks the lady doth protest too much!” Maria shot a disdainful look at her best friend.
“Come on. You know what it was always like between Michael and me. We’ve never been able to exchange so much as a couple of civil words to each other without it turning into some argument. On that front, it seems that nothing has changed at all in the last five years.”
“What about on other fronts?” Isabel asked, her voice full on innuendo. “That didn’t stop the two of you getting pretty damn cosy back then.”
“Yeah,” Tess added, “You were all but inseparable, despite both of you, at one point or another, claiming that you couldn’t stand the sight of the other. I tried to split you apart, remember? When I was on that whole idiotic ‘we need to follow our destiny’ kick.”
“Besides,” Liz chimed in, “you never stayed too mad at each other for long. After every tiff you always ‘made-up and made-out’. Or should that be in the other order?” Liz finished, with a cheeky grin on her face. Maria stayed silent, avoiding meeting the eyes of any of the other three girls. After about thirty awkward seconds of Maria finding the floor insanely interesting, and the other girls looking bemused, Liz began to chuckle, a realisation dawning on her. She looked at her friend, noticing the very slight hint of a blush just visible beneath her makeup.
“Things really haven’t changed all that much have they? At least, you and Michael haven’t. Not when it comes to each other.” Liz prompted Maria. Finally, Maria looked up and met Liz’s amused gaze. The look in her eyes confirmed Liz’s suspicions. Isabel had obviously come to the same realisation, but Tess continued to look rather bewildered.
“It happened again just like that didn’t it?” Isabel inquired, as much for Tess’s benefit as to actually have Maria confirm it. Slowly Maria nodded, murmuring softly, “Yeah…yeah it did.” Liz noticed the sad note in Maria’s voice, and that a little of the light had left her eyes.
“And that’s difficult for you, isn’t it honey?”
“Yeah, it is.” Maria started pacing. “Until I saw him last week, I was sure I was over him. Sure, I was still single, but that had nothing to do with Michael. I just hadn’t met the right guy yet, you know? And then…” Maria’s voice trailed off, as her eyes were awash with confusion.
“And then…?” Isabel prompted softly.
“And then I came back here. From the moment I saw the familiar scenery outside town I started remembering things, the last time I saw him, before I left for LA. I convinced myself that it was just the place. That it didn’t mean anything, not really.” Maria stopped abruptly at the wall and turned to face her three friends.
“And then at the concert, when I caught sight of him sitting there with the rest of you in the front row. I knew then that I’d just been pretending all these years. Deceiving myself. Letting my heart hide my feelings from my head. How could I ever have thought I’d be over him? And maybe a little part of me hoped he felt the same. That maybe there was a chance we could have something again. Something more mature, more lasting. And then when he came back to see me, we just fell into the same old pattern again. I don’t think I can do that.” Maria’s voice broke. Liz rushed over to hug her.
“Hey, don’t start crying now…you’ll ruin all our hard work of this morning, and with our NAP vow, we won’t be able to fix it.” Liz tried to insert a light tone into her voice.
“I know, I know…I’m not crying. It’s just so confusing.”
“You’re still in love with him.” Isabel said. “You’re pretty sure you always will be. You have to go after that. You owe it to yourself, and to Michael, to see if you can work it out.”
“But what if we can’t? I don’t think I could survive it if we got back together, only to end up splitting again.”
“What choice do you have?” Tess asked, “You can give it a go, and it might not work out, or you don’t, and you’ll never know.” Maria looked over at Tess.
“You might just have a point there, but I guess what I really need to do is talk to him. And then we’ll just see where we end up”
“Sounds like a plan” Liz said. “You can never really tell where you’re gonna end up. Sometimes you just have to leave it up to fate to decide. I know when you, me and Alex were kids that we’d never in a million years have expected to be living with aliens, let alone marrying into them and everything.”
“And everything?” Isabel looked over at Liz as she let her words drift away.
“Umm, well…” Liz hesitated and a blush stained her cheeks.
“What is it chica?” Maria asked, “something good I assume, since we seem to be talking you and Max here.”
“We’ve, umm…” Liz hesitated again, unsure of the best way to phrase what she wanted to say. “Well, we’re, er, we’re thinking about considering that maybe we might be ready for more out of our relationship.”
“You’re talking in circles Liz. What exactly are you trying to say?”
“Ok,” Liz took a deep breath. “We, Max and I, well, we’re thinking about trying to get pregnant. But…” The rest of Liz’s sentence was drowned out by the squeals of the other three girls.
“Shhhh!!! There was a ‘but’ there and you’re not listening to it.” Liz said loudly amidst the excited chatter. “We don’t know for sure if its possible yet, although the tests we’ve done so far seem to indicate that it would proceed in a manner very similar to a completely human gestation. And there may be risks involved.”
“Chica, there’s risks involved in every pregnancy. And you really want this, don’t you.” Liz looked into the understanding eyes of the woman she’d been best friends with since childhood.
“Yeah, yeah I do. We both do.”
“Then I say go for it.” Isabel declared. “We won’t know for sure until you try. And you know as well as I do that Max won’t let anything bad happen to you.”
“I know. It’s just a little scary, you know?”
“I can see why. But I’m sure it will end up fine in the end, one way or another. Somehow, we always manage to get everything worked out alright.”
“Yeah, like you and Alex. You ready? I can hear them getting ready out there now.” Isabel turned around, looking radiant in her dress and veil.
* * * * *
“She’s not gonna turn up is she?” Alex fretted. “She’ll realise that she’s making a huge mistake, that she doesn’t really love me, that she no way wants to spend the rest of her life living with me, and she’s not gonna turn up.” The guys were dressing in a small room near the front of the church, after spending the night before at Michael and Kyle’s apartment. Not having spoken to Isabel in over 15 hours was not having a good effect on Alex’s already jittery nerves.
“Calm down, Alex,” Max said, as he walked over and laid a stilling hand on Alex’s shoulder. “Of course she’s gonna turn up. She’s my sister. I know her. And she’s head over heels crazy in love with you man.”
“But what if…”
“But what nothing.” Kyle interrupted, “She’ll be here, trust us. Trust yourself, and what you know about Isabel and your relationship – when you’re not jumping around like a crazed bug. This is meant to be. You know it, and she knows it, and she’ll be here today to show the rest of the world.”
Throughout this exchange, Michael had been quiet and introspective, quieter even than his normal self, a fact which did not escape the others.
“Michael?” No reply. Michel didn’t appear to even hear his name being said.
“Michael?” A little louder.
“Are you even vaguely listening to what’s going on around you?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“Then what did I just say?”
“Before that.” Michael looked thoughtful again for a moment, then admitted, “Ok, so I wasn’t exactly paying attention.”
“You haven’t been paying attention to much this last week. You got something on your mind, and I have an inkling what it is. Or should I say who?”
“I don’t know what you mean.” Michael replied, trying to look innocent and failing miserably.
“Oh yes you do. You’ve been quiet and thoughtful-looking ever since you got back from your little one-two-one with our own little superstar. Something you still haven’t told us anything about.” Kyle goaded.
“And you’re not gonna hear anything about it. I don’t want to talk about it.” Michael ground out fiercely.
“Look, we all know you still got a thing for her. And I don’t think she’s completely indifferent to you either. So what’s the problem?”
“Look, I dunno. It’s complicated.”
“By a lot of things OK? Can you just drop it?”
“Whatever it is Michael, the two of you have too much feeling between you to just let it go. You need to see what you can do to fix whatever’s gone wrong between you. You’ll regret it all your life if you don’t.” Alex advised softly.
Michael was spared from a reply as a head poked in the door to tell them to get into place. The wedding was about to start.