Melinda Metz

The Vanished

(Roswell High-007)


Michael Guerin caught a whiff of something fresh and tangy. The smell of the ocean. God, he loved that smell.

Yeah, but do you love it because you love the ocean? he asked himself. Or do you love it because it's the way Cameron smells?

He ignored himself. He needed to get some sleep. And thinking about Cameron Winger was like chain drinking fifty cups of coffee. It made him feel like all his nerves were vibrating.

The ocean scent grew stronger. And Michael's nerves started vibrating faster, generating an electric current that raced through his body. Cameron was here. In his room, in his bedroom. He was sure of it.

Before he could sit up, he felt her arm slip around his waist, felt her breath warm against the back of his neck. Cameron wasn't just in his bedroom. She was in his bed.

He used to fantasize about exactly this when he was lying in his cell in the Clean Slate compound, held prisoner by Sheriff Valenti. The fantasies kept him sane in there. Kept him from thinking about exactly what the Clean Slate crew planned to do with him after they learned everything they could about his powers.

But those fantasies all took place before he found out the truth about Cameron. That was before he found out that she wasn't just another prisoner in the compound. She was working for Valenti, and her job was to get Michael to give her the names of the other aliens living in Roswell.

Was he just supposed to forget that Cameron had betrayed him? Was he just supposed to what-roll over and start kissing her or something?

Yes, you big idiot! his body screamed at him. Yes! Do it. Do it now!

'Can't you even look at me?' Cameron asked softly. 'You haven't actually looked at me for days.'

It was true. He avoided looking at her because when he looked at her, he wanted her. And starting up something with Cameron again didn't seem like the smartest idea.

Cameron pulled her arm away. The mattress dipped as she slid to the edge of the bed.

'I guess I thought risking my life for you and your friends would mean…' Her words trailed off. 'My mistake.'

Michael shoved himself up into a sitting position and leaned against the headboard. He shot a quick glance at Cameron. She was facing away from him, and the curve of her neck under that short red hair of hers almost annihilated him. There was something about that short-as-an-army-guy hair that made the rest of her look even more female.

'It did mean something,' Michael told her. 'We probably wouldn't have gotten out of there alive without you.'

It was true. Cameron had risked her life to help them escape from Elsevan DuPris, an enemy who had proven himself to be much more dangerous than Sheriff Valenti and Project Clean Slate. Cameron knew DuPris was an alien with powers exponentially stronger than Michael's and the others', but that hadn't stopped her from hurling herself at DuPris unarmed. Totally defenseless.

'But?' Cameron asked.

But Michael's problem was figuring out which was the real Cameron. The girl who betrayed him. Or the girl who saved his life.

He sighed. If he was going to try and explain that to her, he had to at least look her in the eye. Even if it caused some kind of electrical fire inside him.

Michael reached out and pulled Cameron around to face him. And then he screamed. He couldn't help himself.

It wasn't Cameron sitting there. Not anymore. It was DuPris.

'Wake up, Michael,' DuPris told him. 'You're a whole different species than that… girl. A superior species. Don't taint yourself.'

What did DuPris want? He couldn't have taken on Cameron's appearance just to give Michael advice on his love life.

'Wake up, Michael,' DuPris repeated. But it didn't sound like DuPris anymore. It sounded like Max Evans, Michael's best friend.

Michael felt a pair of hands shaking him, although DuPris hadn't touched him. DuPris wasn't even in the room anymore.

What the hell?

'I know you need your beauty sleep, but you have to wake up,' Max's voice insisted.

Michael jerked upright and opened his eyes. 'Thanks,' he mumbled. 'I was having a heinous nightmare. Cameron turned into DuPris and-' He shook his head. 'You get the idea.'

'Nasty,' Max said. He stepped back, and Michael noticed for the first time that the rest of the group was there, too. Max's sister, Isabel, hovered by the bedroom door along with Liz Ortecho, Maria DeLuca, and Adam.

For a moment Michael wondered what he'd done to earn the honor of a group wake-up call, but then he groggily recalled the plan.

They were supposed to go out to the ruins of the Project Clean Slate compound to find their ship-the one DuPris had crashed back in 1947, killing Michael's and Max's and Isabel's parents… and Adam's. For years Michael had searched for the ship. Then just a few weeks ago he and his friends had discovered that Project Clean Slate, an organization dedicated to tracking down and possibly disposing of alien life on earth, had been hiding it in their secret compound for decades.

Unfortunately, Michael had only discovered the ship because Sheriff Valenti had trapped him in the compound. Michael's friends had stormed the place and broken him out, and the compound was destroyed in the process. The upside was Valenti and the rest of the Clean Slate crew were history. Ashes. Vapor. The enemy had been obliterated.

The downside was the ship might be history, too.

'So, the gang's all here,' Michael said. 'If I could get a little privacy, I'll get dressed and then we'll hit the road.' Then he noticed the silence and the worried looks on his friends' faces. 'What's up?' he asked.

Nobody replied, and a sick feeling twisted Michael's stomach. Somebody's missing, he realized, the first wings of panic fluttering in his chest. And it's not Alex…

Sadly, Michael had already gotten somewhat used to the lack of Alex Manes's bright orange aura in their group. A few days had passed since Alex had been mistakenly pulled through the wormhole that Max had opened to their home planet. Max had been trying to send DuPris back there, but DuPris had tricked them all, and now DuPris was free and Alex was in a galaxy far, far, far away. And who knew how the beings felt about having a human tourist.

'It's Cameron,' Maria said quietly, pushing a stray blond curl behind her ear.

Michael was out of bed in an instant. Without bothering to pull a pair of jeans over his boxers, he rushed into the living room and over to the pile of flattened beanbags where Cameron Winger had been crashing for the past few nights. It was vacant. Michael put his hand on the cushion closest to him and found it cold. Cameron had left hours ago.

He spun to face Adam. 'Did you see her leave?'

He, Adam, and Cameron had all been staying in Ray Iburg's apartment. They figured Ray wouldn't have

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