Author: Debbie
Rating: PG
Disclaimer:You know who owns Roswell, and it isn't me.
Author's Note: A lot of the ideas and images here stem from an excellent Isabel character analysis posted by Kare on FF's Cliffie thread, and continued in discussion between myself and Scarlett. Thank you Scarlett and Bennie for beta-reading and for reassuring me that this fic wasn’t awful.
Feedback: This is yet another foray into new territory for me – my first Outsider fic. Please tell me what you think – I will pay you in gold, chocolate... Ok, so I can't really do that. But, seriously, your input means a lot to me.
If you are anti-Outsider, please keep all bashing comments to yourself. Thank you.

Home alone.

No, I'm not referring to that cheesy Macauley Culkin movie. I'm referring to me. That's what I am right now -- home alone.

It's a terrible paradox, really, a vicious circle. I'm alone because I've stayed here while the others are gathered elsewhere, thus creating my own physical isolation. But I've done so because I no longer feel emotionally connected to those I once relied on, and it's almost more painful to be with them, yet *not with* them, than it is to just avoid the entire situation.

To have and to hold…

I used to live a different sort of paradox. For my first 10 years on Earth I held the world at arm's length -- I had lots of friends, I was popular, but only a few people knew the real me. Although my inner circle was small, I felt loved. I felt secure. I felt wanted. By my parents, by Michael and Max. They were strong bonds, every one of them, each in their own way.

Now my world has expanded -- but it has left me bereft, isolated, torn apart.

When I was growing up, my alien blood was almost inconsequential. I never mentioned it to my parents, of course, but it wasn't such a big deal because it was a very small aspect of my life. But in the past year my alien side has dominated everything. I've had to actively lie to my parents -- about where I go and what I'm doing and who I am. Blind to my realities, they love me just as much as before -- but I no longer feel the connection with them. I've had to step back to protect them, to protect myself.

The humans that have replaced my girlfriends all know my secret and they're supportive in varying degrees. They have made gestures to me in friendship but I have resisted. Just because the girls are nice doesn't mean I feel anything in common with them. They're human -- they can't understand me and I'm not going to feign closeness that I don't feel, no matter how much I crave it. I want to be close but not to them -- I hold myself away.

You'd think things would be better with my alien companions. But it's not. I was so excited when I first met Tess -- at long last there was another alien girl, someone I could really relate to. But I find that our lack of mutual history hurts us. She does not understand my attachment to the human things from my childhood, and I do not share her devotion to all things alien, to our so-called Destiny. She has more in common with Michael than with me, it seems. As for Michael -- he was one of the few people I was able to be myself with during my childhood, but in recent months that closeness has been lost, torn apart. I give him my support, but mostly because no one else will and I feel obliged to step in. He makes me choose when sides are taken and I hate it. I hate it I hate it I hate it, so I stay away more and more to avoid being forced into that position.

To love and to cherish…

But the person I miss the most is Max.

No one has understood me better. It's not just because we grew up together; we've always been close. When we first came out of the pods we gravitated toward each other instantly. We knew each other, inside and out. We didn't know any human words but we communicated, we spoke with our hearts, we were together. We couldn't bear to be separated. The orphanage usually kept the boys and girls in separate wings, but they had to let us share a room, a bed, because no one would get any sleep if they didn't. I'm grateful our parents *wanted* to adopt us both, but there was still an adjustment when we came to live with them: we'd spend all day together, but at night, we'd be separated into our own rooms. Mom doesn't know it, but that toy house she gave Max to calm him down at bedtime benefited both of us. If she had ever looked, she would have seen that a corner was broken off. I have that piece -- I would take it to bed at night, as Max took the rest of the toy, and we would use the shared object to connect ourselves. Mentally joined, it didn't matter as much that we were physically separated, and we would sleep.

Ask any little girl whom she wants to marry when she grows up, and she is likely to answer "My Daddy." Kids choose the male role model they adore, it doesn't matter if in reality it's a laughable or an unacceptable choice. For me, my choice was Max. I watched TV, I read the fairytales, I saw my parents interact -- I understood. A husband was someone who loved you forever, who was with you no matter what, who understood you completely, who hugged you and did nice things for you. Max did all these things -- why shouldn't he be my husband? In my little-girl mind it made perfect sense. When I played dress-up I would put on a white dress that my mom no longer wore, and I would drape my sheer ballet skirt over my head as the veil. I would make Max dress up too, in our dad's old ties and shoes. I would walk down the aisle -- the hallway -- and Reverend Ted (my bear) would marry us. We'd repeat the vows we heard grownups say in movies or on TV. We might have just been children, but I meant those words I said. Max was the one I wanted as my mate forever, and I know he felt the same.

For richer or poorer…

As we got older, we understood that this was an unrealistic dream. Society frowned on siblings marrying, even adopted siblings such as we were. I stopped walking down the hallway in my ballet-skirt veil, we no longer spoke the vows out loud. We never took our physical expressions of love beyond hugging or an occasional kiss on the cheek. But we stayed connected, solely devoted to one another. As close as we were to Michael it was always *us* and *him*. I'm sure it hurt Michael to see that, but we couldn't help it. We just naturally supported each other in our devotion. Any trial, any difficulty, Max and I faced it together.

Oh, sure, I dated a few boys, but it was mostly for image. My mall-loving, boy-crazy girlfriends wouldn't have understood if I'd brought Max along on double-dates, to the movies or the game. So I went along with their silly expectations and picked boys who were so intimidated by me that they never made any threatening moves. Max, unencumbered by any peer pressure, dated no one.

In sickness and in health…

I don't blame Liz for what's happened between Max and me. But ever since Max healed her, my life has gone downhill, my isolation has increased. That's when the humans entered the picture in ones and twos -- Liz and Maria, Alex, Kyle and the sheriff. Where it had just been the two of us, the three of us -- Max and myself, with Michael -- now there were outside interests, outside pressures and demands. People who had no powers and needed protection, even as they strove to protect us. Our attention was pulled outward, away from each other. It was almost like we were having affairs, whenever we spent time with the humans. Our whole lives became "the other woman," intruding, distracting, breaking apart our bonds.

Then a real "other woman" surfaced -- no, not Tess. Vilandra. Learning that I had once betrayed -- destroyed -- my beloved Max in a past life just about killed me. I couldn't let it happen again, so I pulled away. If I stayed away from Max then I couldn't be inadvertently drawn into any inappropriate behavior. I couldn't lead him astray if I wasn't there, right? Max did not understand -- he pleaded with me to return to him, to the bond we had shared all our lives, but I was too afraid. I did eventually stop avoiding him, but I still hear the ghost of Vilandra whisper in my ear late at night and I wonder if I will be strong enough to fulfill my destiny without destroying everyone I love in the process.

From this day forward …

Max has changed, too. He is no longer the boy I loved and wanted for my Prince Charming. He is not a Prince -- he is a King. And now he behaves like a king, too -- he leads us, he directs us. I am his subject, not his partner. He will soothe my worries, and then in the next breath will be bossy and royal again. I never know what to expect, I feel like I don't even know him anymore.

He has told me many times over the years -- from our first day at school to all the horrible "firsts" that have happened this year, that he loves me and that nothing will come between us. I have stopped taking these words for granted. Now when he gives me a hug to reinforce the words I cling to him, desperate to remember the time when it was real, back when we were together, strong, united. Back then I could not imagine that anything would separate us …

Until we are parted by … life.


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