Banner by Nicola

Author: Debbie
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Melinda Metz, Jason Katims, and the WB own Roswell. I own a dog. Ok, I don't -- she owns me.
Author's Note: Inspired by the QoD (who will crack first?) and Nicola's amazing picture (above).
Feedback: You betcha -- please tell me what you think. This fic is unbeta'd.

Isabel looked at her brother curiously. "So in the end, what made you decide not to take the deal?"

"I was going to." Max responded wearily. "I was gonna take the chance that...that Nicholas was telling the truth. But in the end, I realized that...that any deal which meant leaving you and Michael behind...was something I couldn't do. You're my sister, Isabel. Isabel, Vilandra...whatever your name is, it doesn't matter to me. You're my sister, and I love you...and that comes first. Always."

Isabel's eyes filled with emotion, and she whispered, "Thank you."

Max pulled Isabel into a fierce hug. He held her tight, so glad to be home, so glad to be here with her, with the one person he loved above all else, who had stood by him no matter what. He meant what he said -- her past life didn't matter to him at all. Now was what mattered to him.

Unconsciously, Max nuzzled into Isabel's neck, taking refuge in her arms -- a stark contrast to the tremendous stresses he'd experienced in the past few weeks. The betrayal of people he'd trusted -- Liz and Kyle. The threats from the Skins -- worse than the FBI. His estrangement from Isabel. Being alone in a strange city far from home, with the strange, untrustworthy duplicates, the Isabel that wasn't Isabel. The pressure of facing the alien representatives at the Summit. Alone. Emotionally alone, anyway. Max pulled Isabel toward him even more tightly, suddenly noticing how her soft form fit perfectly against him. He could smell the scent of her coconut shampoo, the light flowery fragrance left on her skin by her bodywash. The scents wafted through his nostrils, tricking in to his brain, slowly, slowly, awakening … something. He felt it stir within him. Something he couldn't yet name. Something that had lain dormant for a long, long time…

Isabel pulled away from him slightly. "Max, I need to breathe at some point," she said, smiling at him.

Max relaxed his tight embrace, although he still kept his arms draped loosely around her. He needed the contact with her, that sense of *right* that was keeping his demons at bay. "Sorry, Iz," he said with a wry grin. "I didn't mean to crush you."

"It's all right, Max. I needed to be near you, too, after all the horrible things that have been going on." Isabel hugged him again, giving Max a kiss on the cheek.

Max kissed her forehead as she came back in close again, feeling her smooth skin under his lips, feeling her soft lips brush his cheek in return. "I know," he told her. "I … I don't know how much longer I can go on like this… all this stress."

Isabel pulled back a little again to look at his face. Silently, she nodded her understanding. Max gazed back into her warm brown eyes, and suddenly, in that moment, it all became too much for him. All the strain, all the estrangement, and now to be back in her arms -- suddenly that dormant sensation awoke to full power. Love. He loved her, yes, but he wasn't seeing her as his sister now. He suddenly realized that he wasn't sure he ever had. He had only played the role that was expected of him, squelching his true feelings for the stunningly beautiful, warm and caring girl … woman … in front of him now.

Max leaned in once more and kissed Isabel gently, on the lips. Then again, with more pressure. And again, and again … his need increasing, the feel of her lips under his feeding a hunger he hadn't permitted himself before.

Isabel put her hand on his chest and pushed back slightly, staring at Max with wide, surprised, eyes. Questioning eyes. What is happening here? She didn't speak. She only searched Max's dark depths for the answers she required.

He couldn't process it all in words. It was feeling, emotion, instinct, running through his veins in an unstoppable flow. Staring into Isabel's eyes, all he could do was try to convey that, to connect with her as he had never connected with anyone else. Not even Liz. His breath coming in short gasps as he tried to control his emotions, his hunger, he watched her watching him. And then he saw it. Comprehension. Understanding. Acceptance. Yes. Yes.

She brought his face between her two hands and pulled him back into the kiss, pressing her lips to his to match his earlier fervor. Her tongue slipped into his mouth and caressed him there. He returned the explorations as he pushed her up against the kitchen counter, pressing his hips against hers in an unmistakable message. She answered the challenge without hesitation, pressing back, running her hands under his shirt, bringing one of his hands to her breast. He cradled the round fullness with his palms, feeling the smooth weight that he had unconsciously admired for years, every time he saw her getting dressed to go out.

Their need grew, fueled by years of suppressed desire, the need to reconnect even more urgent after their recent separation. Max lifted Isabel onto the counter and laid her back, their lips locked together as he pushed her shirt up and undid the button on her jeans to expose her midriff fully. He pulled his mouth away from hers so he could explore the smooth skin there. He pressed his lips to her satin-clad breasts, then undid the clasp so he could touch them directly.

Isabel ran her fingers through his thick dark hair, her head thrust back in pleasure as she let herself swim in the sensations she was feeling. In the corner of her mind that was still capable of coherent thought, she realized that this was unexpected, and yet not surprising. She, too, had never really thought of Max as her brother, not really. And the sense of rightness she felt whenever they were together was unmistakable. And now, undeniable. She had recognized the emotions and need she had seen in his eyes, and knew them to reflect her own desires as well.

No words had been spoken by either of them since the first kiss, and no words were needed, no need to request or grant permission, not verbally. Eyes on each other, they knew, they understood. They kissed and caressed and explored, they knew what the other wanted. And when Max slid Isabel's jeans down her long legs, when he shed his own restrictive denim, when all barriers of cotton and silk were gone and he was over her, within her, united with her, all that was needed was that gaze, dark eyes meeting darker eyes, a silent exchange of love and acceptance and redefinition of the relationship roles they had tried to play.

No more.

Now that they had taken that step, they wondered how they had lived for so long under the artificial rules that had been imposed on them. How could they be anything other than what they were now, united, emotionally, physically, one inside the other, creating a new whole.

When it was over, Max wondered fleetingly if she would regret what they had done, if there would be long, complicated discussions, if their bond would survive another upheaval. But the fear lasted less than a moment. He saw it in her eyes.

And she saw it in his.



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