Before I Sleep

Author: Bennie
Rating: PG
Spoilers: ITLaITB, BIY promo
Character Focus: Liz POV, non-shippy.
Disclaimer: I own nothing Roswell.
Author's Note: Liz copes. Or not. I don't know, lol. Thanks, Debbie, for beta-reading.
Feedback: always welcome!

When do I get to stop crying?

I´m sitting in a cab on my way home from the airport and I can´t stop crying.

I cry for Alex. About how this is the only way I can possibly atone for all the ways being my friend hurt him. About how a choice I made may have helped save the world – or worlds – but that it also changed a lot more than Max, the future one, could have anticipated.

I could just scream because I want so badly to have that Max here again, to ask him if Alex´s life was enough of a sacrifice, to ask him why Isabel and Michael´s lives were worth so much more. But I don´t. Besides, I know it´s an unfair question. Even if I could ask it, ask him.

But I cry anyways, and I feel guilty, which makes me cry more.

I cry as I think about Max, and all the ways I´ve known him. I´ve known him as a soulmate and I´ve known him as the high priest who called in the debt I owed and asked me to lay down all I hold precious on the altar of his higher obligations.

And now, now I know him as a stranger. I look into his eyes, and I see someone, see something, but I can´t really read his eyes anymore. They´re closed off. And defensive, because I´ve said what no one else will say. Because I´ve placed one more burden on his young and only too vulnerable shoulders.

And I cry to think that I played a role in doing that to him. To myself. And I feel guilty, which makes me cry more.

I cry as I think about Maria. Maria, who asks nothing but to be loved, to be cherished, to be recognized and valued for the person she is and will be. And she deserves it, too, and I wish I could be the person to do that for her. But I don´t have it in me right now, and all I can do is hope and pray Michael does. I love my best friend, and wish I could be the kind of friend she deserves.

I wish I could tell her I was wrong, and I wish I could throw my arms around her and cry with her and eat ice cream and heal. I wish … I wish I *was* wrong. I wish I could put her first right now. But I can´t, not now. The best I can do is be gentle when I tell her the truth and hope Michael will be there for her.

I cry to think of all the ways I´ve failed her. I cry, and I feel guilty, and I cry even more.

I even cry as I think about Michael. In some ways, I think he´s the most stable of us all. He´s really grown into his own skin, which sounds ridiculous until you watch him walk and then think about the awkward boy who shuffled and ducked for most of his life. He´s a different person now, or maybe he´s just learning how much he has to offer the world, our world, his world, my best friend, his friend and king, the people he loves.

But he´s travelled such a hard road. And the stability he´s worked so hard to achieve won´t last forever. It may not even last beyond tonight because I´m about to show him that while he may be a warrior, he can´t protect the people closest to him. No matter how powerful he gets, no matter how much insight he gets into the human (or alien) condition, he has his limitations.

I cry as I think of the look he gets in his eyes for a split second whenever something unexpected happens. I cry at the terrified child I see in them, and feel guilty for being the one who will put that look there this time, and I cry some more.

I always cry when I think of Isabel. The look in her face … when she heard about Alex, when I told her my suspicions, it tore me up inside. I can see that she feels the futility of wanting anything for herself, anything other than this cause that brings her only pain. Even as I yelled at her, even as I avoided her to focus on my own mission, I had an image of her in the corner of my mind and I couldn´t avoid her there. I couldn´t walk away from her hurt, questioning gaze, or pretend I don´t know that, in continuing to live, in existing beyond the limits of ordinary human beings who die when shot fatally, I caused her this pain.

If it wasn´t for me, she could have stayed under Valenti and the FBI´s radar. She would never have gotten as close as she did with Alex, and she wouldn´t be suffering now. At least, it´s a good guess that she wouldn´t. I only know the outcome of one possible future; I´m not going to pretend I know, or have any further power over, the outcome of this one. I´m simply not that important. Really.

I cry because I rationalize things like that. And then I feel guilty because I know I´m trying to protect myself from the pain of responsibility, and I cry even more.

I´ve cried for Kyle so many times. I cried when I realized how much I hurt him after Max saved me, I cried when Max saved him, I cried when he lost his father in the wipeout, I cried when he almost died again in a cold, damp cave, and I cried when I realized he was getting attached to Tess when I knew that he couldn´t have her. Not as a girlfriend, not as a sister. Not really. Because either with Max or to get away from Max, Tess was leaving Roswell. She didn´t belong here any more than the rest of them did. She never will.

I cry when I realize how much liking me ruined things for him. And then I feel guilty because I´ve used him at times – I know I have – and I cry harder.

I´ve even cried for Tess. All right, I hate her. Except, I don´t. I hate everything that is hers that isn´t mine, for all that I don´t get to have because she´s so much more important than I am. I hate that she gets to be with Max, she gets Kyle´s affection, she gets the slightly condescending attention of Michael and Isabel, and now, I hate that she gets to cry openly over the death of my friend while I have to stay in control. In public, at least. And I hate that when I tell them what I know, I´ll be the one everyone looks at as the outsider while she sits comfortably in the midst of their protection and warmth. Because now I´m the one rocking the boat, aren´t I?

I cry when I think of her because I can´t cry about what is really upsetting me. And then I feel guilty for blaming her for things that aren´t really her fault, not really, and then I cry until I can´t cry anymore.

But there´s always more, isn´t there? There´s always something else to prick at the corner of your eyelid until moisture wells up and falls in great, rolling tears down your cheek.

I even cry because I dared to feel happy with Sean, dared to hope, and ended up hurting him too. I´m so afraid that liking me, being my friend – or more – can only be bad for him. Dangerous, even.

I want to know when this all ends. I don´t care how it ends anymore, not really. If it ends with everyone happy, well that would be wonderful. If it ends with some of them – I mean, us – happy, that might be bearable too. I could even stand it if no one was really happy, as long as they were all alive and as long as they accomplish everything they need to.

But it´s this – this pain, that gets to me. This never-ending hurt, this overwhelming fear, this constant sense of being on edge, of never getting to rest. I tried to explain this to Max at the prom, but I think I did a really bad job of it. I must have, if I drove him into Tess´s arms. Unless he was just looking for an excuse. Maybe I´m overestimating my importance again. I just don´t know enough to be sure of anything, and I hate it.

Oh god, but I need to rest. I´m so tired, so tired of everything, of them all, of my own pathetic attempts to feel meaningful. Most of all, I´m just tired of crying all the time.

I´m just so … tired.

And I´m crying for myself, because I know something else. Something Alex gave me.

He gave me a lot, actually. He gave me his blood so I could have Max, he lent me his warmth when Max was taken away from me, he made me smile when the mere thought of smiling hurt my face. And tonight, as I took my newfound knowledge and used it to give context to clues that don´t add up, he gave me one last gift. He let me know that he hadn´t been so desperate to escape the life that I drew him into that he would … that he would do what they say he did.

And now, now he´s given me the proof I need to make the others listen to me, to believe me and what I say no matter how scary and outrageous it sounds. He´s left me a trail to follow, something to fill the void eating at me from inside.

Somehow I´m not surprised that although the Crashdown is closed, there are several figures huddling around a booth inside. Even from here they look shell-shocked and painfully young

As I wait for the driver to get my bags and my change I take a moment to dry my face.

I refuse to cry in front of them.

No one looks at me as I walk in but Maria says “Tess is pregnant” and I say “Alex never went to Sweden, I have proof” and then I keep walking because I don´t want them to listen to me now. I walk beyond them, walk up the back stairs and lock myself away in my bedroom with pictures of a dead friend and memories of a time when I felt alive.

And now I can cry.

Harsh, searing tears that hurt, that burn as they fall. Healing tears, tears that I can finally release because I´ve done it, I´ve won my first battle. I have found truth (not *the* truth, there is no such thing; there is truth, there are truths, but there is no one truth) and I have walked miles, so many miles in his shoes, and now I can rest. For a little while, anyway.

I might cry myself to sleep, but at least I *can* sleep now.

And one night soon, I may not need to cry first.


Authors Ros. Hetero Ros. Slash Ros. Other DC Slash Main