FanFic - Alice in Wonderland Contest
"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat "
Part 2
by Ossian
Disclaimer: "Roswell", it's characters, and situations are property of the WB. No infringement intended.
Category: Contest Stories
Rating: PG-13
"I told you he'd understand the message," Eddie said as they stepped into the clearing.

He and River Dog were sitting on the ground beside a small fire. River Dog smiled at Michael but his smile faded when he saw Maria. She self-consciously realized that she was still clinging to Michael's hand, but she wasn't about to let go. She was somewhat reassured by the fact that he didn't seem inclined to let go of her either.

"You weren't invited," River Dog said sternly. Maria tightened her grip on Michael's hand.

"Sorry," Michael said without a trace of remorse. "Guess I forgot to RSVP that I was bringing a guest." He led Maria across the clearing and pulled her down beside him as he sat in front of the fire. "What do you want?"

"I don't want anything," River Dog said.

"Then why'd you call me here?"


Maria felt like someone had pushed all the air out of her lungs as Michael's hand slipped out of her grasp. He leaned forward eagerly. She knew he probably didn't even remember that she was there anymore.

"He's here?" Michael looked around at the trees hopefully, but River Dog gave him one of those annoyingly cryptic smiles and shook his head. Michael sat back in disgust. "Then what are we doing here?"

"He wants to talk to you."

"You just said he wasn't here."

"There are ways to talk besides face to face."

"The dream plane?"

River Dog nodded. "In a sense."

"I could have done this from home," Michael said as he wrapped his arms around his shins. Maria could see his face settle into a brooding frown.

"Not this." The old man picked up a small bowl and carefully filled it from a thermos. So much for tradition, Maria thought irreverently. "Drink this," he said as he passed the bowl to Michael.

Maria looked over Michael's shoulder at the dark liquid sparkling with reflected firelight. She reached across him and wrapped her fingers around his wrist. "Hold it right there, buddy," she said. "Do you have some kind of memory problem? Last time you tried this you nearly DIED."

He looked down at her, his eyes darker than ever. "I'm not going to die," he said gently.

She wanted to believe him. She couldn't go through this again. Still, she was afraid that he was only saying what he knew she wanted to hear. She was afraid that he would walk blindly into anything if he thought that there was even the slightest chance he might learn something about his past. He never worried about his own safety; she would have to worry for him. She glanced past him to River Dog. "Will it hurt him?" she asked.

"He will be safe."

"Bet that's what you told him last time," she muttered.

"Maria." She looked back at him reluctantly. She couldn't help it. He was the only person she knew who could put five thousand shades of meaning into one little five-letter word. "I have to."

She nodded miserably. "I know," she whispered. She knew that he had to do it, but she certainly didn't have to like it. Her eyes never left his as he drank. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and passed the bowl back to Eddie. Maria stared as Eddie drank from the bowl, too, and passed it on to River Dog.

"Wait a minute!" she protested. "What are you doing?"

"We're going with him," River Dog answered patiently.

"Then I'm going too." She reached across Michael toward the nearly empty bowl. He pulled her back.


"Don't tell me no," she snapped at him. "If they can go to this dream plane, so can I."

"No," Michael said again. "If you go with me, who'll bring me back?"

She sat back down hard and wondered if he realized the implications of what he'd just said. As his hand found hers and he laced their fingers together she dared to hope that he did. His eyes rolled back abruptly and he stiffened. She squeezed his hand then looked at the other two men across the fire. Eddie was already as stiff as Michael but River Dog met her gaze.

"If anything happens to him," she said, "so help me, I'll kill you both."

He nodded solemnly as if he had expected her threat, then his eyes rolled back, too. Maria looked around at the three silent men and suddenly felt very alone. She pulled Michael's hand into her lap and sandwiched it between her own. His muscles seemed frozen as she leaned against his shoulder, wishing for reassurances that he was in no position to give. She closed her eyes and resigned herself to waiting. She opened her eyes again at a small noise and gasped.

"I told you not to drink that!" Michael growled at her.

"I didn't!" She looked around her in astonishment. They were still in the clearing… and they weren't. The trees shimmered and shifted, grew and shrank, changed colors and shapes. The fire in the center had been replaced by a small table with four chairs. River Dog and Eddie were already seated. A third figure approached and sat down. He shimmered and shifted just like the trees. The more she tried to focus on him the more indistinct he became. The fourth chair remained empty.

"Then how did you get here?"

She lifted her hand. It was still locked in his.

"Michael." River Dog's voice echoed in the strange clearing.

Michael glanced toward him then back at Maria with a puzzled expression on his face. "They can't see you." He seemed somewhat surprised by the realization. "They don't know that you're here. Don't blow this for me." He walked slowly toward the table and took his seat. Maria stood beside his chair, more than a little astonished that he hadn't let go of her yet.

She was close enough to Nasedo to touch him, but he was still a blur of faces and forms. It made her dizzy just to watch him. Finally he seemed to settle on a persona and solidify. He peered intently at Michael.

"Your hair wants cutting."

Michael blinked at him. "I'm sorry?" he asked.

"Your hair," Nasedo repeated, "wants cutting."

"That's why you called me here?"

Nasedo smiled at him and shuffled forms again. "What's the difference between a raven and a writing desk?"

Michael threw a quick, baffled glance at River Dog. The old man's face was unreadable, but Maria thought that his eyes looked a little disappointed. "I don't understand," Michael said. "I don't know."

Nasedo frowned. "If you can't tell the difference between a bird and a piece of furniture then you're of no use to me."

"I know the difference," Michael said quickly.

"Then why didn't you say so?"

"I thought it was something else - some kind of riddle or a test."

"You'd do well to simply answer the questions you're asked. What day of the month is it?"

"The tenth," Michael answered promptly but with a worried frown. "This is a waste of time. What do you want from me? When are you going to answer *my* questions? Where are we from?"

"Have you ever spoken to Time?"

"No," Michael said, frustration growing in his voice. "What are you talking about?"

"If you speak to Time just right it will do whatever you want."

"I don't understand."

"Can you sing?"

"What?" Michael gaped at him. "Why?"

"Why not?"

Michael shook his head in disbelief. "How do we get home?" he asked.

Nasedo changed faces once more and looked at Michael sadly. "Time doesn't do anything I ask anymore. I must have asked wrong." He rose and his shape began to shimmer and flow into a vague blur again.

"Wait!" Michael pleaded. "You haven't answered anything yet. You can't go!"

But he was already gone.

River Dog looked at Michael sympathetically. "I'm sorry," he said softly.

Michael stared at him blankly. Then he kicked over the table.

Maria closed her eyes to blink away her tears. When she opened them again she was no longer on the dream plane and Michael was no longer beside her. He stood beside the fire. River Dog and Eddie scrambled out of his way as he kicked the logs apart. The flames flickered and were smothered as the logs rolled.

"It's been a long time," River Dog said. "He has changed since the last time I saw him."

Michael dropped back onto the ground beside Maria. She couldn't tell if he was laughing or crying. "A haircut," he choked. "The only thing he said that made any sense…"

* * * * *

"A haircut?" Isabel repeated.

Michael nodded. Maria wished that she could reach over and take his hand as she had already done so many times this evening, but in this company she had no doubt that he would pull away. Although right now he sat on the arm of her chair, she knew that he would soon rise and begin pacing around the Evans' living room again.

"Wasn't there anything else?" Max asked.

"No," Michael said in frustration. "We told you everything he said."

"That can't have been all of it."

Michael stood then, as Maria had known he would. "Are you listening to me, Maxwell?" he asked as he paced. "There was something wrong with him. He just wasn't all there."

"Are you sure you remembered everything exactly?"

Maria caught Michael's eyes and she could almost hear the scream of exasperation he wanted to release. They had been going over this same ground for the past hour and Max and Isabel seemed unable to believe that their encounter with Nasedo had been so unproductive. Liz and Alex had wisely stayed silent as the three aliens had debated. Maria had merely nodded her support in all the right places. She gave him a small understanding smile and he shook his head wearily.

"Maybe you just misunderstood," Max persisted.

"We didn't misunderstand anything, because there wasn't anything to understand. He's insane, Max. Don't you think it's killing me to say this? He's nuts. He's been alone too long and he's gone completely mad."


"All right, fine," Michael said as he suddenly stopped pacing. "Maybe we did misunderstand him. Maybe everything he said was perfectly clear and we're just too dumb to see it. If you'd been there I'm sure we'd be halfway home by now or at least know where to start or who we are or something. I'm sure you would have been able to make perfect sense of it all and do everything perfectly right and you would have understood him. I did the best I could do, but I guess it just wasn't good enough…"

"Michael, that's not what I'm saying," Max interrupted.

"Then what are you saying, Max, because apparently I'm having a real hard time understanding people tonight."

"Michael…" Isabel began reproachfully.

"What? Why can't you ever believe what I say? You argue with everything that I tell you. You never believe my visions. If one of you had seen what I saw you would expect the rest of us to just accept it. And I would. I'd accept it. Because I trust you." Michael's tirade stopped abruptly. He stared at them as if he had just realized something. "You don't trust me."

"Of course, we trust you," Isabel said as she rose to stand beside him.

"Then believe me," he begged quietly.

Max stood and moved to stand beside him as well. "We do believe you."

Maria felt a little jealous flutter as Isabel squeezed Michael's hand, but she knew that he needed the reassurance. He already knew that she believed him. She just hoped that he remembered it. He looked up and gave her a quirky half-smile and she was reassured, too.

"Can we just let it go, then?" Michael asked. "Just for tonight? I'm tired of talking about it."

Max nodded. "We believe you," Isabel whispered before she released his hand. She glanced around the room at their human friends and smiled hesitantly. "I rented a couple of movies on my way home this afternoon," she said. "You could all stay and watch them?"

Maria noticed a small glance between Max and Isabel and knew that they were trying to make the most of an awkward situation. She didn't envy Michael the private grilling that he would probably get later. Nor did she envy the fallout that Max and Isabel would inevitably suffer if they tried to drag anything else out of him.

"That would be fun," Alex said. "I mean, uh, if the rest of you are staying," he added hastily.

"I live here," Max said with a grin.

"If you have food I'll stay," Michael said. He tossed a light punch at Max's arm and normality began to creep back into the room.

"Since I have to drive space-boy home," Maria said, "I'll stay as long as he does."

They all turned to look at Liz. "If you insist," she said with a deeply dramatic sigh.

The impromptu party that had begun with such tension moved into the kitchen. Max pulled bags of chips out of the cabinet and poured them into bowls as Liz held them. Michael rummaged through the refrigerator as if he was at home. He passed cans of soda to Maria. She stacked them on the counter.

"Where did my pop tarts go?" Isabel asked.

"Water," Alex gasped. "What's in this?"

"Cayenne pepper," Isabel said sweetly as she replaced the pastry in his hand with a glass. "That'll teach you to steal a girl's pop tarts."

"Hey, Iz," Max asked. "What movies did you rent anyway?"

She smiled at him. Michael groaned. "They're chick flicks, aren't they?"

"Does the term 'politically correct' mean anything at all to you?" Maria asked him.

He frowned and looked thoughtful. "It's a TV show, isn't it?"

She rolled her eyes and he followed her back into the living room. They settled on the floor with a bowl of popcorn and a bottle of tabasco sauce. The others followed them soon. Maria smiled to herself as she glanced around the room. Max and Liz sat close together on the sofa, all but oblivious to the rest of them as they leaned against one another. Isabel had dropped into one of the armchairs and motioned to Alex. He sat on the floor and leaned back against her chair. He turned half a dozen shades of red every time she touched him to ask for the chips or to hand him some popcorn or sometimes for no apparent reason at all.

Maria turned back to the boy sitting beside her and smiled again. Michael wasn't just tired of talking, she realized. He was just plain tired. The dream walk had taken more out of him than she knew he would want to admit. His head bobbed and jerked as he tried to stay awake. She touched his shoulder then motioned with her eyes. He looked at her blankly for a moment. Then he slowly shifted his position until he lay with his head in her lap. He was asleep within minutes. Her fingers slid through his wild, dark hair and before the movie was over she had drifted off as well.

* * * * *

"My dream or yours, space boy?"

"Blue sky, green grass, blinding sunshine. Must be yours. Looks kind of like a golf course."

"It's not a golf course. See the designs in the grass like those fancy lawnmowers cut in baseball fields? It's a chess board."

"Great. We're pawns. Nice dream, Goldilocks."

"Lighten up. *I'm* not a pawn. It's my dream so I get to be a queen. You can be my white knight."

"I don't get to be king?"

"You'd get bored being a king. You'd have much more fun as a knight."

"If you say so. It's your dream. What's over that hill?"

"I dunno. Dragons? How would you like to fight a dragon, my good knight?"

"Your wish is my command, your Majesty. You just better dream me up a sword first."

* * *


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