285 To Nowhere by Nicole Anell

Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I do not own Roswell or its characters. I am merely a fan. Hence the 'fan' in 'fanfic'. The survey questions are from 285 South and the lovely people at silverhandprint.com
Spoilers: Not really. Takes place a little after HTOHL and Viva Las Vegas, but only minor references to them
Author's Notes: Just gotta point out that I wrote this during the Hiatus Before Everything Went Down. It was inspired by boredom and the realization that these two never filled out those surveys.
Email me! Faith84@aol.com

~*~

This is what Kyle said:

Hey, guess what? Someone has a brilliant idea that involves you, but she wants me to tell you about it. Tomorrow Alex is driving to some kinda special superduper underground music store they opened just out of town... No, "underground" like that's the kind of music they sell, not like the actual store is underground. Anyway, this nameless person realized that you two never had your little buddy movie last year... No, never mind, don't ask, just do this. So Maria - I mean, heh, the nameless person - thinks the only way to rectify that situation is to get some bonding time in between you guys. Break down some barriers, get away from it all for a couple of hours. Who knows, maybe you guys can hook up and you'll get a little nookie- OW! Dammit, Tess, that's a pressure point! Jeez.... No, it's okay, I'm fine, don't worry about it. Seriously, I did almost die with Alex and all. Trust me, he can be a pretty cool guy.

This is what Maria said:

Come on, you've been talking about this store for a month since I found that flyer for you. What's the difference if you go by yourself or take one other person? Listen, Alex, it isn't just for you and her, it's for the good of the group. Just keep repeating that to yourself. Max and Liz are getting all cozy and, like, teetering on the edge of the inevitable and I'm just worried about Tess being sort of isolated... What? It's not like I hate her, I do care about her- okay, here's the truth: There's certain things I can't entirely tell you but it's just really important that she feels welcome here, so she doesn't want to leave or anything. That would be very very- just trust me, okay? Understand?

This is the problem: They both had to throw trust in there. That was so unfair.

***

"This is completely unfair." Tess announced, harshly enunciating each word.

"Don't worry, it's only a couple... dozen miles."

She sighed as loudly and purposefully as she could and leaned back in her seat. Yet another problem: she had already done that twice before, and they weren't even past the UFO center yet. She folded and unfolded the piece of paper in her hand. "So where'd you get these weird questions from anyway?"

"I dunno, Maria gave them to me. It's before your time. See, back in the day..." Alex looked up from the steering wheel and saw her rolling her eyes. "Alright, long story short? It was a school assignment a while back, for history or something. Everybody ended up paired off together. Maria was with Michael, so eventually she put all the questions and answers in the Michael file-"

"The Michael file?"

"Yeah, that's a shoebox. Aaaaand I just remembered I'm not supposed to tell anyone about it, so shush."

"Secret's safe with me, buddy."

"Anyway, all the Cool In-On-The-Alien-Stuff people who count did it except us. So..."

"Mmm. Fascinating. And such important questions too. I mean - What's your favorite ice cream flavor?"

"Rocky Road."

She shot him a look that made him sorry he didn't have a tail to put between his legs. "Uh, you don't honestly wanna do this, do you?"

"No," he fake laughed. "No, of course not.... I mean, it's just if we get bored or something.... If you wanted to..."

She sighed again, this time adding a little annoyed grunt at the end. "No, no, you've obviously got your hopes up. If we're gonna do this, let's at least go through it fast, okay? Favorite relative."

"My uncle Jeff. He was a-"

"I don't really care," Tess mumbled. Alex winced. It's for the good of the group, the good of the group. "Favorite subject in school."

"Electronics. It's alright, you know. We don't have to do this. In fact, we don't even have to go if you don't want to. I mean, I want to go get some indie CDs, but I'll take you back home and I'll give Maria her money back later."

Tess suddenly looked up from the sheet. "She paid you to take me?" Oops. She blinked a couple of times, then looked back down. "Favorite TV show."

"The Simpsons. Listen, don't take the payment thing in a bad way, like bribery or something. She's... Maria's kind of a friendship pimp."

"Well, it sounds so sweet when you put it that way. Favorite movie."

"I- I don't know. Didn't you get paid?"

"Nope. Cheapskate. Favorite movie."

"Groundhog Day? I don't know, I just saw it, it's in my head. Hey, if you didn't get paid, then... why are you here?"

She shrugged. "Don't start flattering yourself. I was bored, I wanted a ride."

"Oh, glad I could help then. So what's the next question?"

Tess glanced back at the survey "I'm sick of this already."

Alex bit his lip and smiled. For. The good. Of the group. "Let me ask you one, please? What was the first one again? Ice cream?"

"I don't think so."

"Come on, how about a deal? There's a nice little diner on the way to this place. But we can't stop and get any ice cream unless..."

"You're a crafty guy, aren't ya? But they won't have it anyway."

"You're favorite ice cream flavor is just so incredible and amazing it can only be purchased at certain locations?"

"Yep."

"Now I'm dying of suspense."

Tess groaned and leaned back, but she was now smiling a little. "Starbucks gellato - caramel and cream.'' Her smile faded and she shook her head nonchalantly. ''Okay, whatever, you can give me the stupid questions."

"Alright, Lightning Round." He looked away from the red traffic light and she held up the questions for him to see. "Favorite relative."

"I'll mark a little N/A next to that one."

"Gotcha. Favorite subject in school."

"History's the easiest to sleep through."

"Charming. What's your favorite television show?"

It was probably the reflection of the traffic light, but for a second it looked like Tess was almost blushing. "America's Most Wanted."

"Excuse me?"

"It's... shut up, it's a thing. You have to watch it with other people, just- never mind."

"Ohhhhhhhh, okay."

"Shut up."

"What's your favorite movie?"

"If you say one word about this - Edward Scissorhands."

"I like that movie. I've got nothing to say. I respect other people's thoughts and feelings, Tess. Apparently, it's a rare thing nowadays, at the start of the 21st century, in this car..."

"Green light, o respectful one."

He turned back to the road and drove until he saw the jolly green alien billboard inform them they were Now Leaving Roswell, New Mexico. "What's the next question?"

"What's the best thing that ever happened to you?"

"Okay, don't rush me. That takes a little thought."

"Whenever you're ready." She looked up and began giving him a Glare Of Death.

He flinched and tried to concentrate on the road. "Don't - stop it - come on, you're gonna make me say something stupid. Going to Sweden? Yeah, that's it."

"That's it?"

"Yeah, that's it. I can't explain how incredible it was. Not the country itself, but seeing new things, learning and growing, I - it was like really finding myself for the first time in my life."

"And here I thought it was all about the Swedish babes."

"Eh, for the most part the babes are overrated."

"No!"

He caught himself genuinely laughing. "So what's the best thing that happened to you?"

"I don't have one. I'm waiting for it."

"But in the meantime..."

"No, I don't need a best thing yet. It'll come."

Some part of Alex's brain knew he should leave it at that, but for some reason it wasn't properly getting through to his mouth. "Yeah, okay, but what if it doesn't or it takes a really long time to come? When do you stop waiting for it and be happy?'' She only sighed again in response. Oh brother. "Listen, when I was away, I really got in touch with everything around me and-"

"You sound like Buddha Boy."

Alex ignored her and started waxing philosophical. "I just think each person has the potential for a very cool life if they do something with it and don't focus on bad things. Every day you wake up and you're alive and you don't, like, get your ass kicked is a good day. You start with that and go from there."

"Gee, that's poetic. I'll write that down and underline it. Can we go to the next question now? It's 'What's the worst thing that ever happened to you?' Now see, that one I've got. Probably- probably Nasedo dying." Her face scrunched up "Oh, and getting kidnapped."

They sat in awkward silence for a minute. Alex muttered, "Those don't translate too well onto a college essay, do they?"

"Nuh-uh." Tess cracked a little relieved smile - she did look kind of cute like that.

"So you wanna know mine?"

She paused as if she was actually, physically thinking about it. "Yeah, I guess."

"Okay. It was being left out. You don't remember - you weren't here yet. I don't know if anybody really told you all the..." Tess shook her head no. "Well, there was this weird, like, couple of months after everything with Liz. There was always me and her and Maria since we were little kids watching cartoons - well, that's not a good choice of words, some of us are still watching them, but anyway... All of a sudden, I was this outsider, like I wasn't good enough to be in on the big mysterious secret. It was pretty bad. Doesn't rank anywhere near - you know - but it was bad. That's my worst thing. It just feels weird when you're not really in. I would talk to them and they always knew something I didn't and lied and avoided and acted like I was that creepy kid they didn't want to hang out with-"

"Yeah, I know what you mean."

"You do? Oh right, yeah, you do." He caught himself. "I mean, you're kinda - not in a bad way, you're just-"

She nodded. "I'm Edward Scissorhands."

**********************************

Tess checked her makeup in the mirror and fiddled with the radio buttons and air conditioning. "You have a weird car."

"Just remember that being in the driver's seat does not give you pre-set station changing privileges." he said without looking up.

She glanced sympathetically at the collection of crumpled papers in his lap - a map, the music store flyer, a slightly different map, the license and registration information that had fallen in a heap out of the glove compartment. "You still have that 20 questions thing under all that?" she asked.

"Uh, yeah, right here. I don't appreciate the doodles by the way."

"So give me one. Give me whatever one we were up to."

"Sure, let me just..." he folded some of the cluttered documents and looked at the next question. Oy. He cleared his throat. "Have you... have you ever been in love?"

"Yes," she said, without hesitating a millisecond.

Alex rushed into the next question. "Do you have any enemies?" He looked up to see Tess looking back at him, one eyebrow arched. "What?"

She looked out to the highway and the edge of a smirk appeared in the corner of her mouth. "Enemies. Right. Let me ask you something, sweetie. Does the word Skins mean a damn thing to you?"

"Oh yeah, my mistake. Forgot about all that... stuff... for a minute."

"And, you know, not just that. We've got duplicates and crystals and pretty much the entire United States government-"

"Right, right, sorry, moving on..."

"Hey wait just a minute, Al. You didn't answer the love one, did you?"

"Oh, I didn't?"

"No."

"Oh."

"Well?"

"I'm not sure."

"Well, I'm assuming you haven't done a whole lot of dating, no offense. So other than Princess Leia or whoever you have your special male dreams about, we've got Isabel. Were you in love with her?"

Alex's mouth formed an O arguably larger than his head itself. "I don't- I- I don't know where you get your information from, but I promise you I have never ever had a special male anything for Princess Leia."

"And...?"

"And, okay, Isabel - was I in love with Isabel? I'm not sure. What's love, you know? What is love? There's, like, wanting to protect someone and take care of them and stuff - I had that. There's wanting to hang out with them and be around them all the time - I had that too. There's just, you know, lust and wanting to..." He trailed off and cleared throat again. "So I had that.... In a lot of ways I guess I kinda did love her... I mean, I guess I kinda still..." He stopped himself before he could finish that sentence. "Oh great! Look at that, one stupid road trip with you just completely erases four very theraputic weeks of distance. Man!" Tess stifled a giggle while he knocked his head into the dashboard. "Noooo! No! Bad Alex!"

"Mm, poor kid. You might need just a little more theraputic treatment than that."

Alex groaned, took a deep breath, picked his head up again. "Okay, I'm okay. What are we on now? What's your greatest strength?"

"I'm guessing yours isn't your sense of direction."

"What does that mean?"

"Come on, Alex. Stop trying to pretend you know where this store is. You haven't given me any directions in ten minutes, Mr. Navigator."

"No, I- I know you're going the right way. Maybe... I just thought we would have passed it by now."

"Yeah? Well, I'm turning around. You must've missed a turn or something, we're lost now."

He fumbled with the papers in front of him. "We are not lost. I can see this road on the map."

"The one you're holding wrong-side up?"

His jaw dropped. "Well... wait-"

She giggled. "Gotcha. I'm turning around, you're telling me your greatest strength."

"I listen. I'm nice. I think I'm a pretty decent human being-" He could kick himself. "Or, you know, person, whatever. So, uh, what's your greatest strength? Not counting powers and stuff."

"Oh, other than that. I guess... I don't know. I'm not nice."

"You're not not nice, you're just a little... you're something. I don't know."

"Maybe that is a strength in a way, you know? Not being obligated to always be a so-called decent person all the time. Don't you get sick of that?"

He frowned at her. "That's your strength? That's what's going on this paper?" She nodded. "Alright, fine. Greatest weakness?"

"Yours first."

"What, physically? No, I guess... I dunno. As I said, I've been trying to focus on the more positive aspects of my personality, and the things I can change for the better."

"God, you are just a fortune cookie full of wisdom today, or something. Full of something."

"Oh ha. Ha ha. Answer."

She made a few clicking noises with her mouth, and suddenly she had a calm, even look on her face. "I guess, sometimes, lately, I act too much like... well, you. Not you you, I mean I act - now don't get offended by this - human."

"And the problem with that exactly?"

"Just irritating. Like I know I'm not supposed to. It's contagious or something. I get all... happy or, like, upset over stupid things. I always did a little, but I was learning to control it or hide it, and now I'm just-"

"Yeah, that's just awful. Really."

"You don't understand."

"Of course I don't. I mean, getting happy and upset - I wouldn't wish that on anybody. How do you even live with yourself?"

"Here's the thing, okay? I forget stuff. I'll be hanging around doing some retarded activity and, you know, actually having fun. And all these things I spent my whole life knowing - really knowing, being one hundred percent sure of - I can feel them slipping away from me. And then- then other times it all just floods back and I start thinking about all this crap and I can't even function and that- that- that just doesn't happen to me, you know? It's not part of who I am."

"But it does happen." Alex said slowly, wondering if that was the right cue for him to jump into the spontaneous spazzy fit that was, frankly, scaring him a little.

He watched Tess freeze and saw her eyes bulge as if she suddenly became aware of everything she had just said out loud. And aware of him still sitting there, listening, nodding, looking honestly concerned. She composed herself and forced a shuddery laugh. "Uh, so what was the question again?"

"I think we're okay for that one. Next question is - oh, these keep getting better and better - Do you envy anyone?"

Tess relaxed a bit and rolled her eyes. "Uh, yeah. Shut up, don't even - It doesn't ask who, it just asks if you do, right? So write yeah."

"I can't think of anyone specifically. I mean for me."

"Good. Next question."

"Who do you identify with? I was gonna go with Job. Nice, Biblical guy, had a little trouble with God, like, punishing him for absolutely no reason but overall..."

"You're kidding."

"Yes, I am. I am kidding. So who are you picking?"

She thought for a minute. "Amneris."

"And she is...?"

"Okay, Amneris was an opera character. She was an ancient Egyptian princess, and her love - her future husband, that's Ramades - was a soldier. And a great man. And he's supposed to be Pharoah one day."

"I'm seeing the connection."

"So she cares so much about him and they're on this perfect route to have a wonderful life together. Then he goes and falls in love with a slave from another country. The whole story's really about the two of them - Ramades and the slave - and their big star-crossed romance that destroys them. They die eventually, together. But Amneris, at the end, she's... she's alive and she's all alone." She stopped and waited for Alex to say something but he just stared. She gritted her teeth. "You know, this is- where is this damn store?"

"You got me."

"I am just so tired of driving and taking this stupid survey and... ugh!"

"Don't worry, here come the easy ones... Number 13 - Do you have a sense of adventure? Do you like to take risks?"

She sighed. Alex wondered for a minute if she had been doing that the whole time in the car, and he had just stopped noticing. "That's a weird question." she said. "I guess I am. More than you."

"What are you talking about? I've taken many risks. Several risks. A few. A couple - occasionally."

That got a smile out of her. Or at least a piece of one. "I don't look at you and think Daredevil."

"Well you, my friend, do not know the new Alex Charles Whitman. See, if you had met him, you would call him a huge risk taker. I'm totally getting the hang of it."

"So what's it like?"

"It only sucks when you apply it to gambling."

Her smile widened. "So I've heard."

**********************************

"Okay, so we're almost done. My favorite book is Cyrano deBergerac. Do you have one?"

"The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"

"Awwwww"

She laughed. "Don't you dare awww me, Al. So help me I will turn this car right around and take you home."

"Yeah, yeah."

"In twenty pieces."

"Ooooh"

"And on fire."

"Okay, okay."

"I mean it!"

"I'll be good.... Tess?"

"What?"

"What are you afraid of?"

"Ah. Heights."

"I'm serious."

"Me too, I always think I'm gonna fall."

"That's such a fake fear."

"No it isn't."

"Yeah. I thought we were being all open and honest, and you give me a fake answer."

"Alex, if you want, we can go to the top of a cliff and look down and you can watch me hyperventilate if that will make you trust me on this."

"Really?"

"Yes! Yes."

"The big interplanetary snowboarding trip is officially cancelled?"

"God, yes!"

"Okay, I believe you. In case you're interested, mine would be losing someone I love. See, that's a real serious opening-up-my-heart-to-you fear. But hey, screw that, we're almost done with this thing. What's your favorite animal?"

"The chameleon. Don't start reading anything, like, Freudian into that."

"I'll keep my mouth shut."

"And yours is?"

"Specifically, Barn. He's a little mouse that belonged to my host family in Sweden. He was so adorable. He was in my room and he made all these cute noises and stuff. So he, specifically, is my favorite animal. Generally I like cats."

"Are you sure you're not gay? Because I'm cool with that, really."

He smiled. "Wow. There is no bonding with you. Every step forward is like two cross-country plane rides backward."

She paused. "Okay, how's this for bonding? I want to know about your Uncle Jeff."

Alex looked at her in a mild state of shock. "No. Really? Well, uh, okay... he's a musician. I haven't seen him since junior high at least. He has one of those bands - not a famous band or anything like that, just one of those one-hit wonder groups who stay together until they're balding middle-aged losers touring state fairs."

"Oh, you obviously think very highly of this Uncle Jeff."

"No, no, but see when I was a kid I saw through all the lame stuff. He was just... hip, guitar-playing bad-ass Uncle Jeff! He was the coolest guy in the world."

Tess said, "That's sweet," in a much too sincere tone.

"No more bitchiness?"

She made an innocent angel face. "When am I ever that?"

"You've got quite a split personality disorder, I'm realizing that." She grinned over at him. "You know what else I'm realizing?" he continued. "This store cannot possibly be anywhere in our plane of existence. It has to be in a different dimension, that's the only explanation. How many times have you seen that sign right there? More than three, right?"

They pulled over and walked. They walked in the directions pointed out by anonymous people, at least those that didn't stare at them like they weren't speaking English when they asked about the music store.

Alex sighed. Yikes, it was catching on. "My legs hurt."

"You know what's good for that?"

"What?"

She pulled out a sheet of familiar paper. "Answering question #18: Do you keep a journal of your life?"

"How is that helping my legs?"

"It keeps you from whining about them." she teased.

He shook his head in disbelief. "No, I do not keep a journal."

"I did."

"Get out. That's odd."

"Why is that odd?"

"Errr, no reason."

"What? It wasn't anything specific, just feelings and ideas and stuff I wanted to remember. Dumb things, and the occassional not so dumb thing."

"It's a real shame how much you have in common with that non-mentioned person you might kinda envy."

"What are you rambling about now?"

"Forget it. Let me see that thing. Who knows you best in this world?"

"I do."

"That's not fair."

"It's true though. Nobody knows me better."

"Well, obviously. You are you, but you have to pick someone else."

She stopped walking and crossed her arms. "Don't make me say Kyle."

"Well, if it is him, then why don't you-"

"Fine. Kyle. God, how depressing is that?"

"That's not so bad. Mine's probably Liz."

Tess pouted. "That's depressing too." she snapped. She squinted and fidgeted like she wasn't exactly sure what to do, so she put her arms back down and started walking again. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" she asked.

"I have absolutely no idea. I don't want to grow up. You?"

She shrugged. "I know what I wanted to be - or at least where I wanted to be in the future, the same place I always want to be. But then, I don't know. I just- I don't know."

"Now that I think about it, I'd kind of like to either be a balding middle-aged guitar player, or an unbelievably rich computer programmer, or maybe, possibly, a psychologist."

Tess grinned. "Mine?"

"You know, if you're still around and you still need my services - and you probably would - then yes. I could be. I'd have to charge you though."

"I've got credit cards." She stared at him a minute and took a deep breath, like she was preparing to say something fast and never say it again. "You know, this was nice. This was a nice day... even if you are only here because of your friendship pimp."

"I thought this was nice too."

"Now.... if only we knew how to get here." She looked over at the flyer for the Music Store Of Another Dimension. Alex looked around and back to the flyer at least five times, then stared up with a look of pure shock and confusion.

"I don't believe this," he finally said.

"What?"

"I think we are here."

"Where's the store?"

"They turned it into a Starbucks."

"Wow, really?"

"This is crap! This is- this is so like corporatations to just come in and step all over the little people and- and-"

"We are so getting ice cream!" she squeaked.

The end....

No, wait, almost forgot:

This is what Kyle said:

Hey, you're back, did ya have fun? Take in some scenery? Spread your Martian voodoo throughout the surrounding countryside - No! Wait a sec! Hey! Chant or count to ten or something!... Hey, why the hell are you smiling so much anyway? Seriously, nothing, you know, happened between you guys, right?... NO, I am not jealous. Why on earth would I be jealous? I'm not. It's good. Good for you guys.... Really, nothing happened at all? Well, thank God. I mean, you know, whatever.

This is what Maria said:

Hey, Alex, I was just gonna call you. OH, you will not believe this! A bunch of us got to talking about that project and everything, and apparently Spaceboy has absolutely no memory of filling out one of them about me. And he didn't even say it like he was sorry or he wanted to make it up to me or anything. He was just 'duh, I had other things on my mind that day'. It never fails, he- what?... You're kidding, I love Starbucks. Hey, can I just call you back later or something? I'm going to Michael's right now. You would be so proud of me, really, I was such a 21st century woman, all Oprah and Hillary. I made him promise he'd let me go over there and give him all my answers in long looong detail, and if he's not paying attention, I'm gonna give him a pop quiz afterwards. So, I have to go, but I am really really happy that everything worked out with you guys. Does that mean I get my money back?... Hello?

-------

Have you emailed me yet?

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