Disclaimer: Roswell isn't mine.
Author's Note: Special thanks to Debbie for ber encouragement from my first fic to my first slash fic. And, of course, for her marvelous skills as a beta as well.
Feedback: Please. This is my first slash piece.
Tess, Isabel, and Max were already in the Crashdown when I got there. It was my day off and I could think of other places I'd really rather be. But Max had called a meeting, and I couldn't ignore his summons. I slid into the booth next to Tess, trying to keep my shoulder from touching the backrest. The little jabs of the needle hadn't hurt as much as this continuous throb; I just gritted my teeth. The pain would go away soon. I hoped.
"Okay, now that everyone's here, we should talk about what we're going to do next. We have to be prepared to face our destiny at any moment."
Every since we had discovered our destiny at the beginning of the summer, Max had alternated between his roles as supreme leader and mopey boyfriend. Liz had disappeared to Florida a few days after she'd left him in the desert. I know he used these meetings to try to focus his attention on something else, but it was getting old.
"Michael? Michael, are you listening to me?" His voice snapped me out of my reverie.
"Yes, Max, I'm listening to you." Mostly. The throb in my shoulder seemed to be getting worse. I felt sweat break out on my upper lip. Just then Maria appeared, sliding a glass of juice in front of me. I gave her a grateful smile.
I picked up the glass and brought it to my lips. The whole glass was gone in one quick swallow. It helped some. When I put the glass down, everyone was staring at me. "What?"
"No Tabasco, Michael?" Maria asked.
I started to shrug but remembered that hurt. "I was thirsty." My voice was a little defensive, or maybe that was the pain. Whatever it was, it made Max look at me with a question in his eyes. I looked away; I couldn't meet his gaze. He could read me too well.
"Look, as much as I'd love to stay here and chat again, Maxwell, Tess and I made plans to go out and practice today. Right, Tess?" Her gaze shifted between me and Max. Since she had helped to show us our destiny, Tess had been eager to please, hoping, I think, to fit in with our tight-knit group.
"Michael and I did make plans, Max." Her voice held an apology for Max.
"C'mon, Tess, let's go." I slid out of the seat and moved to the front doors. I didn't look to see if Tess followed; I knew she did. I stepped outside. Man, the summer temperatures seemed to have increased twofold in the fifteen minutes I was inside.
I mopped my face with the edge of my t-shirt. I took one step closer to Tess's car, and felt my knees start to weaken beneath me --
"Michael!" Tess screamed.
I heard her even through the glass window of the café. I pushed Isabel out of the booth as quickly as I could and scrambled after her. I pushed through the front doors first, but Isabel and Maria were close behind me.
Michael lay crumpled on the sidewalk; Tess leaned over him, her hands fluttering about. Looking, I think, for something to do, some way to help.
"What happened, Tess?" I tried to keep my voice calm, but I was scared. We had barely saved Michael the last time he got sick. We never get sick, normally. I knelt beside her and pressed my hand to Michael's brow the way my mom always did. I tested his forehead; it was burning up. I pressed the back of my hand to his cheek as well. Beneath the light stubble, his skin was flushed. "He's burning up."
"We were walking to the car, Max. He he wiped his face and then just collapsed. He didn't say anything." Her voice trembled.
"We have to get him out of here. Tess, we'll put him in your car and take him to his place. Isabel, go home and get the healing stones and some towels and stuff. We might need to force his fever down."
"What do you want me to do, Max?"
I'd forgotten all about Maria. "Stay here." When she started to protest, I continued. "We need to keep everything looking normal, Maria. I'll call if anything changes. I promise." She agreed, but reluctantly.
I directed Tess to open the car door for me. I slipped one arm beneath Michael's shoulders, the other under his knees and struggled to my feet. Isabel and Maria helped to brace me as I struggled for balance. Michael's unconscious body just felt wrong in my arms.
Gently, so gently, I lowered him into the passenger seat. I crawled into the backseat from the driver's side; Tess got in behind the wheel. I told her to drive, fast. As we pulled away from the curb, I watched Isabel get into the Jeep. Maria stood outside the Crashdown doors, watching us drive away.
I carried Michael into his apartment and gently deposited him on his bed. Again I pressed my hand to his forehead. He felt hotter than before. Sweat beaded his forehead and his t-shirt was soaked with it.
"Oh, crap" I said. I had to do something, but I didn't know what.
Tess heard my curse and hurried to my side. "What is it? What's wrong?"
"I think he's getting worse, Tess. I've got to get him out of these clothes." She moved to the end of the bed and started on his shoes. She had one off before I could stop her. "Tess, wait outside. I'll let you know if I need help."
She stared at me for along moment. Whatever she saw in my eyes must have convinced her. "I'll go wait for Isabel," she said and stepped out of the room.
I pulled off Michael's second shoe, then shimmied his jeans down over his hips. It was a difficult job for one person, but I didn't think Michael would appreciate everyone seeing him at his weakest. Once his jeans were off, I moved to his t-shirt. It, too, was a struggle to remove, but I managed to get it over his head.
Stripped down to his boxers, I started to lower him back to the mattress. As I did, I noticed his right shoulder was red and swollen. I shifted him slightly so I could get a better look.
The discolored patch was the size of my palm. It was red and inflamed. I looked closer; there seemed to be something in the center. A black mark, a couple inches long. I tied to make out exactly what it was, but the area was too distorted.
I placed my hand over the area. It burned beneath my hand. I concentrated and the swelling went down; the irritated skin healed. The black mark was still there. I looked at it again; it almost looked like a .
A groan from Michael drew my attention away.
The burning was gone. That was the first thing I noticed. Then I became aware of my surroundings. I was home. How'd that happen?
"Michael? Are you awake? Can you hear me?" That was Max. He was sitting on the bed next to me.
I struggled to sit up, but his hand on my shoulder kept me from moving. His hand on my bare shoulder. I looked down and discovered I was just in my boxers. Now I was really confused.
Max's hand touched my forehead. "The fever seems to be gone. You had us all really worried there, Michael." I heard the concern in his voice.
"I feel a lot better. Did you --?" He nodded. "Thanks."
"Want to tell me about your shoulder, Michael?" I'd hoped he hadn't seen it. But since he'd healed me, I knew he must have.
"It's just a tattoo," I said. "I guess whatever they use for ink doesn't react quite the same with our systems." Just leave it there, I begged silently.
Max sat there quietly for a moment. His voice was low when he spoke. "It it looks like a handprint, Michael."
I rolled away; I couldn't face Max while I did this. "It is." I closed my eyes tight. If the damn tattoo hadn't gotten infected I would never have had to tell him, to tell anyone, this. "Max, when you healed Liz, when you healed Kyle, you left a mark on them. That silver handprint. It was like a symbol to show the world that you had touched them. Healed them. Changed them."
My voice caught on a sob. "But all the times you've healed me, all the scrapes and bruises, all the marks Hank left, it's never left a mark on me. And I wanted one. I wanted to be marked by you."
I buried my face in my pillow and waited for the scorn. Waited for Max to say something that would rip my heart apart. The silence was almost unbearable.
I felt a hand on my upper arm; Max rolled me back to face him. His eyes were steady and serious as they met mine. "I'm sorry. I didn't know, Michael. And until I healed Liz, I didn't know the healing would do that."
This time when I struggled to sit up, he didn't stop me. "It's still there, you know." His voice was quiet. I looked at him blankly. I had no idea what he was talking about.
"The tattoo. It's still there. I healed the infection, but the tattoo remained." He shifted slightly on the bed, his arm snaking around my back. I felt his touch on my shoulder, where the pain used to be. His fingers traced lightly over the ink. "I like the thought that I marked you. And that this mark is permanent."
I think he would have said more, but there was a pounding on the bedroom door.
"Max?" It was Isabel. "Is he ok? I've got the healing stones."
"He's fine, Isabel. I think it was heatstroke or something. We'll be out in a minute."
Max's fingers traced the tattoo again. I felt a trickle of power between us, and knew without doubt the handprint was now glowing. My eyes met Max's. He smiled.
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