Black by Nicole Anell

Rating: PG
Disclaimer: (rolls eyes) I don't own the show. I know this, you know this, Katims knows this, America knows this. And we are all fine with it.
Spoilers: up to Surprise
Email me! Faith84@aol.com

~*~

It's dark. All dark. Black actually.

I wasn't expecting anything else. Death is silence and eternity and longing, and I don't know what other color would fit into that equation. I suppose it could be white, but this suits me better. I think it's bringing out my poetic side too.

How did I get here? I hate to go over that again. Somehow I'm forced to think of things I don't want to over and over. Maybe this is Hell. Or maybe I'm just bored. Or maybe both.

How did I get here?

I liked Agent Pierce's body, or rather being in it. I felt at home sooner than I usually do. Tess asked me once if I was afraid of him. Actually, she didn't ask. She told me I was, as if it were an obvious fact. Sharp girl.

I wasn't afraid of his closeness, or his ruthlessness, or his intelligence. I was mostly afraid of him being this person - this human - who could be my equal. I admired him for that. I would have killed him in a second, of course, it was necessary to remove him from this world. But that doesn't mean I can't respect him.

I digress.

His body. I looked in the mirror and he reminded me of James Bond a bit, appearance-wise. I had the urge to play him as a charmer. (If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me? Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?)

It took an hour or so to slip into his character. It would have taken less time, but I wanted to be careful. I usually don't deal much with those who really know the person. Or when I was Max, I didn't even bother as I wasn't exactly convincing the sharpest crayons in the box. This was different; there are precautions involved when you're infiltrating the U.S. government. I'm not being sarcastic.

Luckily, in a position of his power, no one dared raise an eyebrow at odd behavior, though I still kept it to a minimum. I acted annoyed and silent until I got my bearings.

And I was a charmer.

I didn't think much of Vanessa initially. She was a few phone messages, a lone attractive sound amid the endlessly tedious FBI voicemails. It took me a while to accept her relationship to me (or rather to Pierce). Not too romantic obviously. I don't know, I didn't see him as the flowers and candy type.

She wasn't my biggest problem. She was easily controlled - whenever she asked questions about my work, Roswell, the difference in me, I would just kiss her once or twice to shut her up. I tolerated her for a couple of weeks, just tolerated her. She was an extra detail in this life, a unexpected challenge. We talked and kissed and touched and I mentally rehearsed the way I would cool things down with her and eventually break it off and allow her to explore another fish in the sea.

I don't know when it became more than toleration. Professionally, I decided I still had a use for her. I did glean a lot from our pre-diddle conversations, sometimes important details about The Aliens Out There and how much she and others knew about them. Other times just small things about 'myself' no one else would notice (If no one else noticed them, why did they matter? Well, why did James Cameron make sure every shirt button on the set of Titanic fit the time period? It's all about being complete, whole, 100% on board, that's why.)

So I stuck around a little longer, and suddenly she was every phone message and voicemail, at least the only ones I saved. And all the sounds and gestures and expressions across her face seemed to grow more attractive by the day. One day, against my will, I found my hand drawing a heart next to her name in my schedule book and erasing it so fast it could barely register in my brain. I think I liked her once. I'll admit that, and that's all I'll admit. I know at some point I sincerely wanted to be around her and it wasn't entirely because of the sex. It was good sex, but I give myself all the credit for that. It was just a matter of interest. She was more interesting than anything else I was doing.

In my weak moments, I wonder if she ever felt something like that with me. I despise my weak moments.

How did I get here?

I am very misunderstood. They all think I do what I feel like, what I want. I kill people because I'm sick or I enjoy it or some such nonsense. Well, everyone has to enjoy their work, even in a small measurement, or they go insane. But more than that, if it were up to me I would've made some very different choices. I'm not saying that I'm a good person; I don't really think I am. I'm just saying there are wants I have that aren't realized.

Here's a nice want: Leave Sheila Hubble alone in her car. I think about her in the darkness. Of all the people to think about, I always think of her. And her shiny innocent eyes. And the simple twist of fate, the wrong-place-at-wrong-time story that sealed her destiny like a shot to the head. I was harder then. But if it happened today, I still would have killed her. Because it wasn't that I was hard or emotionless, it was that the act itself was necessary at the time.

Here's an evil want: Do something very bad to that brown-haired dim-witted human the leader I once respected fell so pitifully in love with. I could have when her eyes darted nervously between me and Tess at our dinner table. I could have when she looked at me so lovingly, so childishly trusting when I took the form of her love. It would have been as easy as plucking a useless weed from the ground. Of course I couldn't. It wouldn't be practical. Max would hate me and only fall deeper in love with his wonderful Liz, dead tragic angel. Maybe he'd kill himself. Romeo and Juliet. Where the hell would our people be then?

I hate the way Romeo and Juliet loved, the way Max loves, the way most humans love. There's so much selfishness in it, the same selfishness attached to all emotions. Anger, fear, happiness, etc. - it's always about you. Even love, which you pretend is all about the other person - it's not. It's what you feel for them. It's what you want from them. It's you.

Of course, we have a word that comes close to "love" in our home language. However, it means something indefinably different. It's like a mixture of opposite emotions, ecstacy and pain, dependence and sacrifice, duty and foolishness. One of many things I hate about this world is that if something is indescribable by human terms, it isn't worth trying to understand. Everyone wants to hide behind Shakespeare and Meg Ryan movies and pretend they know everything.

Sometimes I wonder if our kind of love - true, selfless love - is what Max has. Only its pointed in the wrong direction, and nothing can help that. And then I start to pity him and put myself in his place, which makes me very uncomfortable so I need to think of something else.

How did I get here?

There were times around Ms. Congress when my mouth moved and I couldn't differentiate Pierce's voice from my own. His words, his thoughts - the ones I gave him - they were mine. This happens from time to time, a drawback to my lifestyle. When you don't have a self and you're constantly acting and improvising, there's always a point when that line - that line between what you're pretending to think and what you're truly thinking - begins to blur and vanish. I think of it as Falling Into Fantasy. It's scarier than anything.

I would tell her to stay away on occassion, I was putting her career in danger. "I can't stay away," she would breathe. But I would insist. I had to because she was getting to close... how did I let that happen?

"I don't want to see your life ruined." True.

"I'm going to get you hurt." True, as far as I knew.

"We don't really feel anything for eachother." A lie, but I had convinced myself of it then.

See, I thought it was only a momentary lapse. When she smiled and blushed in that knowing, not too innocent way (not like Sheila, not like Liz Parker) and I simply needed to suddenly get very into character. When I lied in some dirty motel room with her (what a meaningless scandal it would have been if our affair was made public!) and I felt incredibly safe and at ease. Maybe I was going senile somehow in a thirtysomething's body.

"You lied to me." She actually had the nerve to say that to me. Out there, by my car, with a long piece of her skin peeling off her ankle. I lied to her. She trusted me, I used her, I'm a shapeshifting bastard. I could almost laugh about it now, though all I did then was stare. It didn't occur to me to do anything else, until I felt the flash of pain, until I knew it was too late. For a second, I saw her tremble and then she shut her eyes and ran down the street.

That whore is here with me somewhere. I can feel her in her own darkness. I don't know if the dead are allowed to talk to eachother because I've never tried. She's the last person I would try it with. She avoids me and I avoid her. I'm happy she's here, but disappointed that I wasn't the one who sent her. But that brings another happiness that it was one of The Aliens Out There. I left this world with doubts our royal four (ammended: royal one + three teenagers with relationship issues that clearly outweigh any matter of intergalactic importance) would ever be good for anything. But maybe they'll surprise me after all. I hope so.

I'm not hurt emotionally by all this; the suggestion of that sickens me. We aren't like that, Vanessa and I. We're just enemies at war. I want to know that's the reason for all this. It was just business and nothing else, for our alter-egos and our true selves. I'm not angry that she betrayed me. She can't betray me when I never trusted her, right? I am beyond trusting anyone. I know I was. I had to be...

How did I get here?

In my first few years on this planet I would think deep thoughts. A popular one: What right do I have to ever enjoy myself when my only purpose is saving those who were suffering? If I ever did let myself feel an emotion, it was usually an intense depression. I wished sometimes that I was one of the dead, those who crashed to Earth and didn't last long enough to see the inanity of its inhabitants. Other times I almost wish I had been the unfortunate other who was imprisoned. Not to keep him from his fate, but to gladly accept it as mine. I'd love to tell that to a human. Doesn't that make you feel good about your race? That I would rather be studied and tortured in a government lab than deal with you people on a day-to-day basis?

I got softer. It hurts to think that, but it's the truth.

I always had a mission but sometimes it found its way into the back of my mind. Some days when there was nothing else to do I would be some random little man, someone you'd pass on the street and look right through. I'd go to a random little office and pretend to do a random little job and no one would question me. It was a good way to study behavior, I thought. I could see what human people do and learn to draw less attention to myself. But secretly I enjoyed smiling and nodding and shaking hands. That was when I first invented my Falling Into Fantasy phrase. For a day I truly was Ed/Steve/Carl Average who does his job and goes home to his family and thinks it's all so vital. I was him because I wanted to be him, to live a meaningless life and never worry about wars and responsibility and a vast universe of knowledge.

I once went to a Christmas party, some silly event thrown by a PTA leader from Tess' school. (Yes, I was a member of the PTA. I was a man of the community, and it was rather nice.) She was about eight years old at the time. I wore an elf hat there, because it was the kind of silly thing a person would do. I played the piano, intentionally playing something easier than my capability and still hitting the wrong key on occassion. I met a heavy mother of three under the mistletoe and I gave her a peck on the cheek. She laughed and I laughed. I wasn't even drunk.

I talked to the parents who thought they made a difference and envied them for their ignorance. Meanwhile, somewhere in a playroom in another part of the house, Tess reached into a Secret Santa bag and pulled out the most hideous doll that was ever put together by human hands. She ran and found me, squealing "Look!" like you would expect a little blond girl in a red-and-green dress to do.

"What did you get, sweetie?" asked someone else's father.

She held up the ugly thing.

"Look at that!" the crowd yelled in that condescending talking-to-a-little-girl-who-has-a-higher-IQ-than-anyone-else-in-the-state-let-alone-this-party tone. "Oh, it's lovely!"

The woman next to me said, "Isn't that the most beautiful thing in the world?"

(Say it with me - Falling Into Fantasy. It's catchy.)

I reached down and picked up the doll and examined it from all angles. Then I handed it to the woman, and - pretending to struggle as if I couldn't lift her with my pinkie - I lifted up my Tess and put my face up to hers.

"Nope." I declared. "This is the most beautiful thing in the world. The doll's not even close."

And everyone awwwwed and I think someone took a picture of me, holding the little blonde girl in the red-and-green dress in a way that I hadn't ever before or since. I wish I had that picture sometimes.

You know, she loved that doll, clung to it like it was her second self. She dragged it around the house by its limp cotton arm and stuck it in the front basket of her bicycle and I'm sure she had conversations with it in her room about all the neat stuff she could do with her mind.

Around New Years I asked her, "What would you do if that doll got ripped?"

And she said, "I'd fix it."

And I said, "What if it got lost?"

And she said, "Oh, I'd find it. She wouldn't get lost."

"Well, she isn't real, she can't find her way around." I pressed. "What if you lost her? Left her somewhere?"

"I'd never leave her anywhere. She's my best friend."

Oh, ouch. "You're better than that thing. You don't need friends like that. You can't keep her around forever." I know that from experience. I learned from friends who would turn their back on you if it might make them a rich, important writer.

"Yes I can." she responded, with a sudden determination in her voice. And she pulled it along, with its yarn hair and its dead little eyes she worshipped.

Something frightened me that moment about that determination, about that doll, about what a child she was.

I destroyed it while she slept that night.

"I told you so," I said as she frantically searched the house the next morning. She knew. She said nothing during breakfast. I could stay silent much longer than her, but I didn't have time for that nonsense. "What?" I said calmly.

And there was an elf hat on the table. I didn't know where it came from. When I think of it now, it probably wasn't there. It was probably just her using her powers because she needed to show me what she wanted.

"Look... you know how sometimes you do bad on your math tests and... and we always have different last names and you lie about what I- You know, forget it, I'm not even going to do this. I'm not talking to you like a you're a normal child. I know you understand me. You understand when things aren't real."

"Do you like me at all?"

I put a banana in my cereal.

"Why do you take care of me?"

I sighed and looked her in the eyes with all my intelligence and rightness. "Because its my job."

I'm glad to say we never had a conversation of that sort again.

Here are some nice wants:

Don't deny a little girl joy and affection.

Don't hide behind shallow coldness around the only person you care about.

Don't take a kid and ruin her, break her heart, give her a vast array of emotional problems people will talk about behind her back one day....

Not unless you have a damn good reason.

See, if it all didn't matter, I would've held her all the time. I would've let her call me Daddy. I would've tucked her into bed and sang her lullibies. She liked them in her former life, I remember. She was just a child then too, so young even when she died. So frivilous and sweet and happy...

I'm sure she mourned that disgusting rag doll longer than me. But she's here. She survived so far, and I think she will continue to. I wouldn't let her die young in this life. Because it was my job.

And because I love her.

I'm tired.

I was someone once, back home. Not the most important person or intelligent person, but I was someone. I had an identity and a name and one face that I constantly wore. It was a long time ago. It wasn't any better than what I had later - I was everyone and anyone and no one - it was simply different.

It's different now too, but the same. I am no one again, and anyone, and everyone.

I suppose death would be lonely if not for that. If I weren't surrounded by pieces of them in me, glimpses of who I could have been if I were someone.

Pierce.

Vanessa.

Max.

Tess.

And every random little man who ever stood on this blissfully forsaken planet.

Say what you will, but the black does bring out my poetic side.

-------

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