Categories: Ship, Het, Est Rel, Drama, Romance, Candy, CC
Pairings: Michael/Maria (Candy)
Characters: Maria DeLuca (primary), Michael Guerin
Spoilers: Anything up through Departure is fair game. References to Max in the City, How the Other Half Lives, and Off the Menu. If you haven't seen Roswell, I recommend it. All three seasons are available on DVD
Summary: Maria's life has its drawbacks, but most days, she knows the perks are worth it. A slice of life piece.
A/N: Set between the second and third season. Written for the prompt 'middles' at 100 Women.
Credits: No betas were harmed in the creation of this ficlet.
Disclaimer: I'm borrowing from Jason Katims and Regency Entertainment. I promise to put the toys away neatly when I'm finished.
"This is dinner?" Maria took the bag of Skittles and shot a glare at Michael, but only out of habit. Well, mostly.
He shrugged and raised the binoculars again. Typical Michael. He always made her carry the conversation during stakeouts. Okay, so she didn't need the perfect boyfriend, but some manners might be nice.
She let out her best long-suffering sigh -- which he also ignored -- and trained her own binoculars on the possible alien threat, which in her depressingly professional opinion looked completely ordinary and innocuous, and therefore entirely too likely to be bent on world domination for her liking.
Michael elbowed her, and she followed his vague gestures to the entrance of the mysteriously dull storefront in question. A short blonde woman locked the door behind her and headed for the Chevy parked in the alley.
"Blue eyeshadow," Maria said. "Just like Tess. I shudder to think of the state of fashion on your planet."
"What's she doing?"
"It looks like she dropped her keys." She desperately wished she could blame excessive movie-watching for her next words. "Or she's checking the underside of her car for tracking devices. Or explosives."
The girl's search came up empty, or she successfully located her errant keys. Either way, the hunt concluded, and she rose to open the driver's side door.
"Okay, she's leaving. Let's go."
Maria hit redial on her cell phone. "Kyle? She's on the move. Eastbound on Walnut."
While the other half of the night shift kept tabs on their potential alien friend, they did a little breaking and entering. Michael of course went straight for the desk, while Maria grabbed for the real source of dirty details -- the trash can.
"Someone's been to the UFO Center a few too many times." She sorted the receipts she found into piles. "And who eats at the Eiffel alone?"
"Max, almost," Michael answered. "Liz was supposed to meet him there, but they got their wires crossed or something, because she showed up an hour late."
"Try fifteen minutes," Maria said. "She went to pick him up at home, what with his whole lack of wheels problem, only to learn that he'd solved it without telling her."
"It was way more than fifteen minutes." Michael would argue about the color of the sky when he got in one of these moods. "Max called from the restaurant. He was worried about her. He wouldn't have been over a stupid fifteen minutes."
Maria started to point out that Max could definitely manage to worry about Liz in even smaller windows of time, but then she looked at the receipt in her hand. "Hey, our mysterious alien dined alone on that very same night."
"Think it's a coincidence?"
"I don't believe in coincidences. Still, it's hardly damning evidence. Find anything in the filing cabinet?"
"Just old inventory records. No wonder the music store went belly up. They stocked crap."
"I'm forced to agree." Maria shot a disdainful look at the sun-faded and crumpled Britney Spears poster currently spread beneath some painting supplies. If nothing else, the current alien threat scored points for peeling that eyesore from the window it had called home for nearly three years. She ran her flashlight beam around the room, half hoping to catch some alien orbs just lying around out in the open. No such luck. "Okay, let's do the spy movie thing. You check the toilet tank, I'll look in the fridge."
Michael grunted his acknowledgment and disappeared into the bathroom.
"Syrup and hot sauce," Maria muttered. "This is supposed to pass for normal? Aha, gotcha!" She grabbed the soda can just as the sound of a key sliding into a lock told her they were out of time.
They pelted -- very quietly -- out the back door and down a blind alley.
Michael jumped up on top of a dumpster, and offered Maria a hand.
"Yeah, no. Not happening." Maria rolled her eyes. "I'm not snagging another top climbing over a chain link fence. Just blast a hole in it."
"And let her know we were here? Maria -- "
Maria's red Jetta, headlights off, came to a relatively screech-free halt in the adjacent alley.
"Will you two stop bickering and please just get in the car." Isabel melted away a sizeable portion of the fence.
Maria climbed into the back seat, followed by Michael, who kept grumbling about the fence even after Isabel used her alien mojo to slide the dumpster in front of the hole.
"Any luck?" Kyle asked from the driver's seat.
"Yes," Maria answered, in perfect harmony with Michael's opposite response.
Kyle backed the Jetta out of the alley while Maria displayed her find.
"A soda can?" Michael asked.
"Diet soda," Maria clarified. "Aliens don't drink diet soda."
"So you're saying she's not an alien?"
"I'm saying she doesn't have diet soda in her fridge because she plans to drink it." She ran her fingers along the surface of the can, and dug her nails into the seam she found. The bottom popped off. "And what do we have in here?"
"Film! Betcha she's not hiding vacation pictures." One thing about Michael -- the instant he was proven wrong, he never hesitated to do a complete one-eighty. It was a real time saver, especially considering how often she did prove him wrong.
"Actual film?" Kyle asked. "That needs to be developed? So much for superior alien technology."
"Maybe she's another one of those rebel Skins," Maria suggested. "Only this one is obsessed with Max."
Hundreds of photographs covered the countertop in Michael's apartment. Max eating a hamburger at the Crashdown. Max and Liz at the Eiffel. Max behind the wheel of his car. Max unbuckling his pants on the pier, while Liz sprawled across a picnic blanket?
"Okay," Maria said. "Hold up. What exactly is happening here and why am I not already fully informed?"
Liz had the good sense to blush. "I did tell you. Our first date, after -- "
"Oh, right. The almost skinnydipping. And then alien chaos broke out, as is typical in our lives."
"Speaking of our chaotic alien friends, are they planning to show up for this meeting of the minds, or am I making myself late for work for nothing?" Kyle asked from the doorway.
"Max is busy getting spied on," Maria answered. "Isabel's with him. Who knows about Michael."
"I don't like it." Liz turned back to the pictures, and tapped her finger against the one with the particularly messy hamburger.
"Not the most flattering shot," Maria said.
"Maria . . . "
"I know, just trying to lighten the mood."
"Well cut it out," Kyle said. "That's my job, and I hate feeling redundant."
"You know what's weird about this?" Maria frowned at the photo spread.
"There's something that's not?" Kyle picked up the one of Max loading a picnic basket into his trunk.
"These pictures aren't weird." Maria held up one of Max watching television. "Every single one of these pictures is completely normal. Boring, even -- almost-skinnydipping aside, of course."
"So Max is a little dull," Kyle said. "This is news?"
"No," Liz said. "Maria's right. She's been following Max for weeks, she's taken all of these pictures, and there's not a single one of anything alien." She held up two pictures of her own fire escape. "No powers, no healing stones, nothing."
"You're with him the most. He has been using his powers lately, right?"
"All the time," Liz said. "Not in public or anything, but when he thinks we're alone, like on my balcony, or that night at the pier. She's had plenty of chances, but . . . " Liz's words trailed off as she dug through the photos again.
Maria nodded. "It's almost like she's deliberately ignoring the alien stuff?"
"That's gotta be a good sign, though," Kyle said. "She's not looking to expose him."
"Let's hope you're right," Maria said. "But my gut says there's something hinky about this. I mean, besides the obvious."
Another night of playing Spy Versus Spy with an alien in blue eyeshadow, this time out in the middle of the desert -- so much for catching a movie, and worse yet, they'd probably end up sleeping in the Jetta. Maria trained her binoculars on Little Miss Photography Nut. "Why is she digging a hole?"
"Beats me." Michael sounded bored. "I still say we should just talk to her."
Maria's rehashing of that argument died on her lips, because she recognized an alien orb when she saw one. Even if this particular alien orb looked a little worse for wear. The D batteries and duct tape weren't very alien. "You know that thing I was going to say about listening to Max and exercising a little caution?"
"I've changed my mind." She threw the Jetta into gear and skidded out of hiding in a plume of dust. Just as their alien foe raised her arm to shield her eyes, Maria flipped on her high beams. "Step away from the intergalactic cell phone, Amidala, we need to have a chat."
Michael climbed out of the passenger side, prepared to lay down any needed cover fire.
"No need for dramatics, Vilandra."
Lucky break. Maria went with it. "You have me at a disadvantage. Have we met?"
"Chansay. We met at your brother's wedding -- a pointless affair, I now realize. He seems to prefer humans."
Maria climbed out of the car, her hand raised threateningly. "Yeah yeah, save the sly insults and surrender."
"But you'll like what I'm doing. It'll work entirely to your benefit."
"That's good, glad to hear it. But I'm a little fuzzy on the how part -- care to explain?"
"Once these photographs spread across the five worlds, they'll quiet those clamoring for the return of King Xan." Chansay looked quite pleased with herself. "The once and future king, cavorting around this backward planet with a common human girl, not a care in the world for the suffering of his loyal subjects at home."
"A smear campaign," Maria said. "Clever."
"I thought you'd like it. With Zan out of public favor, you can charm Kivar into making you a gift of your brother's throne."
"Hmm." Maria wandered toward the woman with casual confidence. "That's actually not a bad plan. And what exactly do you expect to get out of it?"
"More stability in our star system, for a start." She sounded about as sincere as the average beauty pagaent contestant with dreams of world peace.
"Here's the thing." Maria snatched up the orb and tossed it to Michael. "I'm not sure I really feel like ruling a planet. It sounds like an awful lot of work."
"Don't make an enemy of Hannar. Your brother already has." She made a move toward the orb, but Michael kicked up dirt with a warning blast, and she froze.
Maria kept her own -- or rather, Vilandra's -- imaginary powers aimed pointedly at her foe. "Listen, lady. I'll let you off easy this time, but nobody messes with my brother but me. So how about you stop playing intergalactic paparazzi and mosey on out of town."
Chansay reached for her bag.
"Nope." Maria stepped forward. "Don't make me blast you into dust. That scaly dandruff stuff gets everywhere and I'd rather not spoil a good hair day on your account."
"Petty theft, Vilandra? That seems beneath even you."
"You can have the camera, but the film is ours." She slid the bag over with her foot. "Michael, do the honors?"
They proceeded to confiscate even more glossy photos of Max doing nothing particularly interesting, along with some undeveloped film, no doubt containing more of the same. They also scored a notepad full of mathematical scribblings and another one of those power neutralizing devices that Brody had used during the unfortunate hostage incident.
Maria handed back the camera bag. "Hollywood might appreciate your skills," she said helpfully, complete with air quotes. "They're a little lax on privacy there, not to mention common decency. Maybe you can snap a few shots of Paris Hilton scooping up after her dog."
Chansay left with her tail between her legs.
"Okay," Maria admitted, watching her burn rubber. She polished her fingernails against her shoulder and gave Michael a sly grin. "That kind of rocked."
"We can still catch that movie," he said. "Unless . . . "
"Easy, Spaceboy. Don't make me use my powers."
"You don't have any powers."
Maria raised an eyebrow, and aimed her best smile. "Don't I?"
Michael had to admit that she did.
This transformative work constitutes a fair use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Roswell™© and related properties exist as Registered Trademarks of Regency Entertainment. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, December 2008.