Mom and Dad used to make me and Max go to church every Sunday, whether we wanted to or not. When we were fifteen, though, they said we were old enough to make up our own minds, to make our own choices about what we believed.
In a way, I wish they'd never said that. It's so much easier to be told what to believe, than to have to work it out for yourself. But at least I used to know what I *didn't* believe, for whatever that's worth.
I didn't believe in a mothership; not like Michael, anyway. I've never spend all my time staring up at the skies, looking for an escape, a rescue. There are people out there who love us, who want to find us... I believed that. I had to. I just... never let my life revolve around it. I didn't believe *that* much.
I didn't believe in heroes, really. Max is the closest I come, and he's my brother; I know every bit of pigheaded, testosterone-poisoned stupidity in that brain of his. No, no heroes on Earth, much less in the stars.
I didn't believe anyone was going to rescue us except us.
I guess I'm more like Michael than I thought.
Which is why I let Tess convince us that we should go to the base and rescue Max ourselves, why I let her cut the other three, the *human* three, out of the loop. Cut them out of the ties we'd started to forge between us. When it came to my brother's life, there was no one to trust to rescue him except us.
Except we couldn't do it. We were the Three Stooges, stumbling around helplessly inside that base. Huddling in the morgue, for God's sake. We couldn't save Max; we couldn't even save ourselves. We were this close to being strapped to lab tables, this close to giving Pierce and his bastard agents four aliens for the price of one. We were scared, and stupid, and alone.
And we were rescued.
By Nasedo -- scary, inhuman, murderer Nasedo. He left a trail of bodies across the Southwest, kidnapped Liz without batting an eye, killed the guards without a second thought. And he went back to his prison to save Max, when we thought he'd run for the hills. He gave us the plan, gave Michael some control over his powers, gave Michael and Max the time to run. May have given us his life in that cold, white room.
And by Valenti -- our own personal boogeyman, determined and prying and relentless. He followed us to Marathon, almost got Max killed by that lunatic Hubble, tried everything he could think of to scare us into revealing ourselves. And he begged Liz and the others to trust him, went alone into that 'facility' to find us, shot Pierce and saved Michael and Max's lives. Helped us carry them out to what currently passes for safety.
They're all mixed up together in my head, as I sit by Max's side in the abandoned silver mine that's become our refuge. I can hear Valenti outside, stalking around, his boots crunching gravel as he worries about Kyle, worries about us. We don't know where Nasedo is; part of me doesn't actually want to know. I'm too tired to wonder, anyway.
We know what we have to do next; we're just getting ready for it. Praying we can pull it off, and keep our homes. Our friends. Our lives.
Maria and Michael are on the stairs next to each other. They're not talking and their eyes are closed, but their hands are joined, their knuckles white from the strength of their hold on each other. Tess stares blindly out at the sun a few steps above them, alone.
Liz is leaning against the wall, Max's head pillowed in her lap. She's stroking his hair, and his eyes are closed, peaceful for just a few more minutes. Alex is next to me, holding me up or I'd fall over. His arms are strong and steady around my shoulders.
And here with him, with my brothers, I think about what I believe.
Nasedo is alive. We've waited too long, needed him too much, for him to be gone. He'll come back, somehow. I have to believe that.
Valenti will protect us. I don't know if he'll succeed, but he'll try. Hearing his steady pacing outside, remembering his tired face as he and Max refined the plan, I can almost believe that.
We will never be safe. The government that was supposed to protect us, kidnapped us and tortured us. We can buy some time today, but they will never stop hunting, and we will never be able to stop hiding. That's a simple fact; no belief required.
There are heroes -- weird, bizarre, unexpected heroes with terrible, wonderful timing, who show up when we least expect them. There are rescues -- saving our bodies, our minds, our hearts... if we let them.
We are not alone anymore. My hand in my brother's, my head on Alex's shoulder, I let my eyes slip shut.
Maybe tonight, maybe after all this is done, I can make myself believe that.
This was almost entirely written before Destiny aired; I just had to adjust the setting a bit. And yes, I am pretty smug about that. And no, I have no idea why my second story in Roswell was written from Isabel's POV; I tend to relate a lot more to Maria on most things. Still, 'Destiny' kicked off a lot of fic; I guess I'm lucky Isabel is the only one who insisted I listen to her. < g >.