Putting things right(CC,All,Mature) Ch 25 - 6 June 2010[WIP]

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Putting things right(CC,All,Mature) Ch 25 - 6 June 2010[WIP]

Post by Lou » Mon Jan 01, 2007 5:18 am

Title: Putting things right

Genre: CC

Pairing: All (M/L, T/K, A/I, M/M)

Disclaimer: These characters don't belong to me at all, I'm just borrowing them to play with for a short period of time. I don't pretend to have any ownership over them whatsoever. I will be borrowing bits of dialogue from the episodes "The end of the world" and "Wipeout".

Summary: This is basically one scenario of what I would have done to put things back to where they should be after the whole Future Max thing. Set after "Wipeout", the Sheriff convinces Tess and Kyle to move into the house that belonged to Ed Harding- but nothing can go normally for the Pod Squad...

Author's note: It may start out slow, but I promise good things will (hopefully) come, so please bear with me. I'm going to try to finish it this month- if I don't I don't know when it will get finished, as I'm moving to Australia, so consider yourselves warned. But I will try!!
Oooh, I should warn you all here that the main reason it's got the rating it has is because one of the characters will nearly get raped in a later chapter, all going to plan (that sounds awful- there's got to be a better way of phrasing it- sorry!), so if you can't handle it you should probably stop reading here.

Kyle Valenti sighed as he landed his backpack on the floor after a long, hot day at West Roswell High. He glanced longingly at the bathroom door, silently cursing his moment of automatic chivalry as he and Tess had attempted to come through the front door at the same time. She had made a beeline for the shower, for no reason other than that Kyle had wanted to have one the moment he got home. He paced for a moment, trying to decide how best to handle the situation.

Frustration won out.

He pounded on the bathroom door.

“Tess, if you take a nanosecond longer than ten minutes in there, I swear to God I will break the door down,” he said in his most threatening voice. He paused, waiting for a response. A moment later, the door cracked open just enough to reveal Tess wrapped in a towel. Only a towel. She smiled at him mock-seductively.

“I can’t wait,” she teased, closing the door and locking it with her powers. Kyle just stood, trying to remember how to breathe. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t figure out his relationship with Tess. They were always jumping from best friends to worst enemies, from flirting to siblings, at such a rate that Kyle, for one, could never figure out how to approach her. When her “guardian”, Nasedo, had been killed, and Tess had moved in after the whole thing with the Skins, he had made a conscious decision to keep things purely platonic, regardless of any chemistry between them or her love of messing with his mind… without her special abilities…

“Hey, Isabel. You busy?” Max paused at the open doorway of his sister’s room, to find her fixing her hair.

“Oh, hi, Max. I’m just getting ready to go out, but I guess I have a moment,” she replied through the mirror. He came in and sat at the end of her bed, watching her.

“Where to?” he asked, avoiding his own topic.

“Dinner and a movie, if it’s any of your business,” she replied in her usual sisterly tone.

“With who?” he asked suspiciously.

“What are you, my keeper?”

“With who, Isabel?”

“Grant,” she mumbled, taking advantage of her mouthful of hairpins, avoiding his interrogating stare.

“What did I tell you about him? I thought we had an agreement. I don’t trust him.”

“Well, I do! It’s like you always say, the best cover we’ve got is to act normal, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I want to be normal, Max. I want to go out and have fun, with someone who doesn’t know who or what I am. I want to be in love with guys. I – Max? Are you ok? What’s wrong?” she asked with concern as he stood suddenly, his face slowly draining of colour.

“That’s what Liz said,” he whispered.

“What? When?”

“That’s what Liz said, the night before Gomez. The night before she and Kyle – she came to my room, and she said she wouldn’t die for me. That she wanted to have a normal life. That she wanted to be in love with normal boys…” he said, his voice trailing off in pain. Isabel pulled him into a sisterly embrace, quietly comforting him.

“What would you do, Is, if you found Alex like that? Would you believe it?” he asked. She pulled away from him quickly.

“That’s different. I’m not in love with Alex.”

“Aren’t you?”

She fell silent, once again avoiding his eye.

“Isabel! Someone at the door for you!” her mother’s voice called. She looked at her brother.

“I have to go.”

“You love him, don’t you? That’s why you’re going out with Grant, because you don’t want to admit that you’re in love with Alex…”

“Goodbye, Max,” she said with a pained looked in her eyes, and left the room.

Maria sighed as she put the next order through and began to make up some drinks. Her life was too complicated these last couple of weeks. Not that it wasn’t usually. After all, she had only spent the last year protecting real live aliens, one of whom was her on again off again boyfriend, Michael. But just recently, it had been more complicated than usual. After Courtney had killed herself to protect the Granolith from Nicholas, Michael had withdrawn back behind his stone wall of defence, and Maria was at the top of his list of people to shun. The most annoying part was that he hadn’t said a word to her. Not that he was a particularly eloquent person, but he usually managed “We’re through” or “Just go, alright? I don’t need anyone, especially not you”. This time, nothing. It was like she didn’t even exist. Also there was the whole thing at Courtney’s house. Michael had gone there to check out exactly who or what she was, but when Maria showed up, independently bent on the same mission, Courtney had made a comment about what a great kisser he was (before she was aware of Maria’s presence) and then appeared wearing only a towel. Leaving Maria wondering whether Michael was checking out who she was, or just checking her out.

Then there was Liz. Maria’s best friend since forever. For the last two weeks she had been a shadow of her usual self, and things had been awkward every time she was anywhere near Max, Isabel, Kyle, or Tess. Not that things were comfortable around Tess or Max on a good day, but this was different. The three aliens had completely withdrawn the hem of the garment. And then there was that comment the other day about how she didn’t want to die before she told Max what had really gone on between her and Kyle. But Liz and Kyle broke up almost a year ago, and Maria knew Liz had no feelings left for Kyle at all. So what was going on?

As if that wasn’t enough, her mother was running around like a thirteen year old with a crush, dating Sheriff Valenti, Kyle’s father. And although he was now a good guy, who was helping them instead of hunting them, it was still really disturbing walking in on a very heated make out session in her living room.
Maria sighed again, even more heavily.

“Come on, it can’t be that bad,” said Alex behind her. She turned around to grin at her other best friend.

“What makes you say that?”

“You’ve still got me.”

“If you don’t shut up right now, I’ll give you one of those Alex-you’re-such-a-great-friend speeches that you love so much. Of course, I probably can’t do them as well as the Ice Princess, but…”

“Could you please not call her that? You know it’s just a façade she wears at school.”

“Hey, look, she is currently being a cow to both of my best friends. Now I know you are in love with Princess Isabel, and therefore you don’t mind being treated like the dirt beneath her three-toed space boots, but she’s been treating Liz like that too, and I for one haven’t a clue why.”

“So which one bugs you more, the way she’s treating Liz, or the fact that you don’t have the details?” he asked, automatically dodging as Maria smacked him.

“Hey, you two, I’m home,” Sheriff Jim Valenti said as he walked in the door just in time to hear a playful shriek coming form the kitchen. He paused in the small dining area and watched with amusement as Tess, covered in last night’s leftover spaghetti, attempted to smear chocolate cake across Kyle’s face, before racing across the chocolate- and spaghetti-covered room and hiding behind the Sheriff. Kyle, who hadn’t registered the Sheriff’s presence, pulled a large proportion of the gooey substance off his face and threw it blindly across the room in the direction Tess had disappeared, only to watch in horror as it hit his father squarely on the left cheek. Jim paused for a moment, then deliberately reached one finger up and flicked it gently off his face. He raised a single eyebrow at his son.

“Food fight?”

“Well, she took so long in the shower, you see, I mean we’re talking forty-five minutes here, no exaggeration. So I kinda thought I’d give her a taste of her own medicine…” said Kyle, his voice trailing off nervously. Jim couldn’t help but laugh at his son’s expression, and Tess slipped out from behind his back, relieved. Kyle gave her a dirty look, and she smiled innocently back. Jim looked from one to the other; momentarily marvelling at the change she had brought on their household after only a month or so.

“Tell you what. You kids go wash off and clean up this mess, then we’ll have a quick chat in the living room, ok?”

“No need,” said Tess, waving a hand first over herself and then the kitchen, bringing it to perfect order. Kyle glared at her, still not completely comfortable when it came to her powers. She then squeezed past them, pausing to reach up and wipe a lump of cake off Kyle’s cheek, which she sucked off slowly, deliberating over the taste.

“Mmm… Needs Tabasco…” she said, leaving both men staring after her.

“Alright, here’s what I’m thinking,” the Sheriff began five minutes later as he settled himself on the coffee table with the two teenagers opposite him on the sofa. “Ed Harding left a house full of stuff which someone’s going to have to sort out sooner or later. You haven’t been back there, have you, Tess?”

“No,” she replied quietly, her “father’s” death still a sore point.

“How many bedrooms did the house have?” Jim continued.

“Five… why?”

“Because this place only has two, and since I assume you’re staying here semi-permanently, I was kinda thinking that maybe we could move into that house. I’m assuming that Nasedo owned the house? He’s not the sort to rent, even for short periods of time.”

“You got that one right,” Tess said with a half-smile.

“Wait a moment. Why do we need to move? We’ve always lived here,” Kyle said suddenly.

“Kyle, we can’t stay here forever. I’ve been meaning to move ever since your mother left. We just haven’t had a free house until now. And five bedrooms is a good size.”

“But there are only three of us.”

“Son, trust me. We can turn one of the spare rooms into a study, and the other bedroom will... have its uses. Is all this ok with you, Tess?”

“Sure. In fact, it’s perfect. This way I won’t feel like I’m freeloading.”

“Great. Kyle?”

Kyle sighed, unwilling to part from the house he had grown up in. But he could see the sense in the plan.

“All right.”

“Really?” Tess asked.


“So when do we move?”

“As soon as possible. I want to get it over with,” said the Sheriff, “so if we start packing stuff up straight away, we could probably do it this weekend. Also, on Saturday, Tess, you could go to the other house and pack up Nasedo’s things and get rid of anything you don’t want to keep.”

“That’s a big job…”

“Well, why not get the whole gang involved? You’re always so busy being half-alien, you forget you’re half-human, too. Teenage ones, at that. It will be fun if you’re all involved,” Jim said encouragingly. Tess cast a sidelong glance at Kyle.

“Alright. But I’m not calling Liz, Maria, or Alex. They wouldn’t come if I asked them.”

“I’ll call Liz. She’ll pass the message on,” replied Kyle. The Sheriff nodded and left the room.

“So what’s with you and Liz anyway?” Tess asked.

“What do you mean, what’s with us?”

“Well… Max told me you slept with her, about two weeks back,” she said awkwardly.

“Um, yeah, I did…”

“So are you two, like, together?”

“Nah, it was a once off… thing…” said Kyle, increasingly uncomfortable.


“Yeah… Can we not talk about this?”

She at looked him as if she were trying to decide whether or not he was lying. Kyle held his breath unconsciously. She relaxed suddenly.

“Sure. Sorry. Um… How was that maths test fourth period?”

Liz pulled out her biology manual and landed it on her desk with a resounding and satisfying thud. She felt like she had been walking around like a zombie for the last two weeks, and she felt an acute pain every time she breathed. Because that’s how often she thought of Max Evans and what she had done to him.

Two weeks ago, Max from fourteen years in the future had come to her and told her that she needed to make the present version of him fall out of love with her and in love with Tess. So Liz had tried, first by setting them up together, then by telling him she didn’t want to die for him, and finally by setting it up so that he walked in on her and Kyle supposedly sleeping together. That one had worked. Max and Tess were getting really close, and although Liz knew that that was the point of all this pain, it still hurt. Because she was still completely in love with him. And she hadn’t realised how much it would hurt to see them together.


Tess collapsing into a stool at the counter of the Crashdown after using her powers to make Nicholas and Ida see a wall and a mirror instead of the bathroom door, behind which they were all hiding.

“I’ve never come up against power like that before. It feels like someone took a sledgehammer to my head,” she said. And there was Max, right behind her, his hands touching her everywhere — her hair, her neck, her shoulders, her arms, her back, gently caressing her to ease her discomfort. Liz knew she couldn’t bear to look, so she left the room hurriedly. But the image would be branded on her mind forever, just waiting for her to close her eyes so it could continue to haunt her…

-end flashback-

Liz place her head in her hands, and tried to focus on her schoolwork. But even here was a reminder of Max. He was still her lab partner, and there were snippets of his writing right throughout her book, including one or two things he had written when they were still going out. Just then, the phone rang, breaking into her thoughts. She picked up her bedroom extension unwillingly, knowing her parents were out.


“Hi, is Liz there?”


“Hey, Liz it’s Kyle here.”

“Hey,” she said, not too enthusiastically.

“Listen, we kind of decided to move into Nasedo’s place since it looks like Tess is a permanent fixture here, and we were wondering if you’re not too busy on Saturday if you and Maria and Alex wanted to help?”

“Um, I don’t know, Kyle. It may cause a few problems.”

“Please? We would really appreciate it if you guys came.”

Liz sighed.

“Ok, let me call the others and we’ll get back to you.”

“Great. So see you on Saturday, hopefully.”

“All right, bye,” she said as she hung up the phone.

Saturday was sure going to be interesting.
Last edited by Lou on Sun Jun 06, 2010 7:33 am, edited 15 times in total.

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Post by Lou » Tue Jan 02, 2007 3:48 am

When Liz arrived at Nasedo’s house that Saturday, the place was alive with activity. The Sheriff was making an escape, after making sure the teens were settled in their various tasks. He was going back to finish packing up the other house so that they could move most of it that afternoon. Judging by the faces of Kyle and Maria as they watched him leave, it looked like Amy De Luca might be there to help him out. They greeted Liz as the Sheriff’s 4x4 turned the corner at the end of the street, and the three of them went in together. Tess was found at the bottom of the stairs issuing instructions to Alex and Michael who stood very helpfully at the top, with a bed between them, regretting the day they had ever agreed to do this. She turned around when the door opened.

"Oh, good. You’re both back. Could you two carry on with the living room? It’s rather ur..gent…" her voice faltered for a moment when she realised that Liz was there, too, but in typical Tess style she covered the awkward moment by saying, "Hello, Liz. Could you help Isabel in the kitchen please?" before turning back to her previous task just in time to yell,

"Watch out for the banister, Alex!"

"Got it," Liz heard Alex’s muffled reply as she wandered off in the direction of the kitchen.

"Hey, Isabel."

Isabel glanced up from the cupboard she was sorting, and tightened her mouth into an acknowledgement – it couldn’t be described as a smile.

"What can I help you with?" Liz asked as nicely as she could. Isabel glanced up again, this time hardly concealing her irritation, and nodded pointedly in the direction of the pantry, as far away from her as Liz could possibly get in the small room. The pantry was a complete mess. Liz looked at it, and then turned back to the other girl to make a comment. She was met by Isabel’s back. Sighing, she realised her conversation was unwanted and wondered what she had done, before heading over to the pantry. Oh well, she wasn’t in the mood for conversation anyway. The two worked in complete silence for over half an hour, oblivious to the various bangs and crashes echoing throughout the house.

A shriek was followed by a crash. Looking at each other, Isabel and Liz headed straight up the stairs, closely followed by Maria and Kyle. The four of them paused at the door of what had been Nasedo’s room, to find Tess sitting gingerly on the corner of the bed in the process of healing a bruise on her forehead, Alex supporting her and looking back dazedly at the wardrobe, Michael looking at something in the wardrobe, and a few boxes sitting at odd angles, possibly responsible for the crash.

"Tess, are you ok?" Kyle demanded, rushing to her side, the only one apparently worried about her.

"What happened here?" Isabel asked.

"Michael, Alex, what’s going on?" demanded Maria.

"Tess accidentally pressed against a hook in the back of the wardrobe, and a panel swung open and hit her in the forehead. She took a step backwards and tripped over those boxes, which is what caused the crash," Alex explained.

"So… what was behind the panel?" asked Isabel, not really caring. Michael’s head appeared suddenly from the depths of the wardrobe.

"Let’s just say, you’d better call Maxwell ASAP, and tell him to meet the three of us at the pod chamber as soon as he can get out there."

"Where is Max?" Liz couldn’t stop herself from asking. Isabel fixed her piercing eyes on Liz, allowing every word to gather ice as she spat them out, low, clear, and dangerously quiet.

"Lying on his bed, too depressed to even join the family at the dinner table, that’s where."

Liz’s eyes widened in horror, and then fixed themselves on the floor, realising he was at the same point as her.

"Michael, Tess, let’s go," Isabel commanded.

"Wait a moment, what about the rest of us?" Maria demanded aggressively.

"No," replied Michael challengingly.

"What do you mean, no?" Maria automatically counter-challenged.

"I mean, no. This doesn’t involve you. So keep out of it."

"Since when does this not involve us? Michael, you said just a few weeks ago that WE were going to figure it out. Together," Maria reminded him, annoyed at his response.

"So I lied," he replied, brushing past her. Since Max and Liz split the whole group had fallen to pieces.

Instead of yelling at him like he had come to expect of her, her eyes snapped with a cold fury he'd never seen before. When she spoke, her voice was quiet and calm. Too calm.

"So you three think you can survive without us, is that it? Well, if that’s how you feel, Michael Guerin, lets see just how you cope. Liz, Alex, come on," ordered Maria. The other two were so startled that they automatically followed her out the door.

"Isabel, are you calling your brother or not?" Michael asked, storming out of the room to the phone. Isabel followed him, her cutting remark muffled by the turn in the stairs.

"What’s happening now, Kyle?" asked Tess, with a glance at the wardrobe.

"I don’t know," he replied, still staring at the door, "But I sure as hell wouldn’t be in Michael’s shoes right now if you paid me."

Idly, Kyle looked in the shoe box that Michael had found in the secret compartment in the wardrobe. A flat octagon made out of a metal substance Kyle had never seen before sat there. In a ring around the outside edge of the octagon were eight distinct symbols. Kyle looked down at them, fascinated. One particular symbol grabbed his attention somehow. He couldn't have described the feeling, but he was somehow simply drawn to it. He reached out a finger to gently trace the symbol that fascinated him so much, and as his finger came into contact with the object, the symbol under his finger began to glow a golden yellow colour. He withdrew his finger with fright, and the glow went right out. Gingerly, he touched it again, and on cue it once again began to glow.

“Whoa...” he breathed. Tess looked at him.

“Kyle? What are you doing?” she asked him.

“I'm making it glow,” he replied as the Michael and Isabel reappeared.

“What the hell do you think you're doing?” Michael asked with his usual candor.

“Michael- he said he was making it glow,” Tess answered for him. The three aliens crowded around, and Kyle demonstrated.

“It's simple- I touch it, anywhere on it, and that one symbol glows. I stop touching it and the pretty lights go bye-bye.”

Michael reached down to touch it. Another symbol, this one glowing orange, reacted exactly the same way as Kyle's symbol did. A strange tingling came up his arm as he did so. He pulled his hand back, and Isabel took a turn. This time a red symbol lit up. Finally, Tess took a turn, and another yellow symbol glowed. They all looked at each other. Michael picked up the box.

“So are you all coming or what?” he asked. The two girls followed him to the door. Michael turned and glared at Kyle.

“What?” Kyle asked.

“Don't make me ask again, Valenti. Just get your butt down to the car. We need to pick up Max and find out what's going on.”

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Post by Lou » Tue Jan 02, 2007 7:21 am

Max had been startled out of his thoughts when the phone rang. His parents and sister were all out, and he figured it would give him at least a brief break from moping. Besides, if it was his mother or Is calling, they'd both worry about him even more than they already were. He padded out to the hallway and picked up the phone extension.

“Hello, Max speaking,” he answered politely.

“We have a situation on our hands,” Michael's voice stated without preamble. “We'll pick you up in ten minutes.”

“I'm doing a bit better, Michael, thanks for asking,” Max smirked at his friend's lack of people skills as Michael ignored the barb and hung up the phone. Max hung up his end, and sighed, running a hand through his hair. He wandered back into his room, and quickly changed out of his sweatpants and into something he would actually consider going past the letterbox in.

Twelve minutes after he'd hung up the phone, Isabel pulled the jeep into the driveway just as Max was locking the house. He turned to see Michael in the front, and Tess and Kyle trying to make room for him in the back. A look of dismay crossed his face when he saw Kyle there with them.

“It's ok, Maxwell,” Michael reassured his “fearless leader”. “We brought him for a reason. It'll hopefully become clear soon.”

The ride out to the pod chamber was silent and tense. Max desperately wanted to ask what was going on, why Kyle was there- esecially considering that Isabel and Tess, at least, knew about what he'd very nearly walked in on a few weeks back, and he had no doubt that one of them had filled in Michael- but most of all, where Liz, Alex, and Maria were. Well, where Liz was, anyway.

As usual, they travelled a few miles past the most direct route to the pod chamber before turning off the road and doubling back. When they parked the jeep at the bottom of the rock face, Michael carefully carried a shoebox up to the pod chamber, and the others followed in silence.
Once they were inside, Michael lifted out the small octagon-shaped object, and his orange symbol lit up on cue. Max's eyes widened, but gave no other reaction. Michael solemly handed it to Isabel, and as he did, his orange symbol stopped glowing, and her red one began. She then passed it on to Tess, whose yellow symbol also lit up.

“What does it do?” Max finally asked, breaking the silence.

“We don't know. That's why we came out here, to figure it out,” Michael replied, taking it off Tess. “But here's the freaky part...” he added, and gave it to Kyle. The other yellow symbol glowed softly as soon as he took it. Max raised his eye brows this time. He would never have expected a human to make it do that. He held his hand out to Kyle.

“May I?” he asked quietly.

“Sure- be my guest,” Kyle replied, handing it over. As he did, a symbol began to glow green.

“This is too weird,” he said, looking at it from every angle. “Maybe we should all touch it at once, and see what happens?”

The five of them gathered around, and each touched their own symbols. They seemed to glow exponentially brighter with every added person, and once they were all gathered around, one whole half of it was completely lit up, as well as Kyle's symbol.

“Anything, anyone?” Max asked. They all shook their heads.

“I think we'll need these other three symbols lit up before it can do anything,” Kyle said. Isabel had been studying the pattern.

“I think all the colours must come in pairs- they seem to be in order, from red on my side to green on Max's. Which means that the other side will have a green one between Max and Kyle, then Kyle's yellow, then another orange like Michael's, then red like mine- just like this side.”

“So do you think just anyone will be able to make them light up?” Tess asked.

“Only one way to find that out- we need to find the others,” Max said. The other four exchanged a look, and Isabel and Michael suddenly found the gravely floor of the cave quite facinating. “What did I miss?”

“Let's just say human/ alien relations are at an all-time low,” Kyle replied for them. “And now, if you all don't mind, my Dad is going to flip when he gets back with a truck full of furniture and none of us are there to help him unload it.”

“He's right, we should get going. Max, are you going to help us move?” Tess asked. He looked down at the petite blonde.

“Sure, I guess. What else have I got to do?” he replied. Michael replaced the octagon in the shoebox, and together they headed back to the new Valenti residence.

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Post by Lou » Tue Jan 02, 2007 5:14 pm

Jim was waiting for them when they got back, smiling at his own secret joke in a way that confused all of them including Kyle. But they shugged it off and quickly set to work moving furniture and boxes. Tess and Kyle started on their own rooms, Isabel unpacked and organised the kitchen (she was quickly labelled “Kitchen Nazi” by Michael), Max took care of the study and spare room, and Michael made himself available for as much lifting as possible, then did what he could for the living areas.

Once they had finished, Jim insisted on treating them all to pizza. They had been at the pizza parlour all of three and a half minutes when Amy DeLuca ushered Maria, Alex, and Liz inside. Amy made a beeline for Jim, greeting him with an enthusiastic kiss.

The Teenagers all exchanged different looks. Maria pointedly ignored Michael, instead making a “gag me!” face at Kyle, who returned the look, and then glanced at Tess to include her in the joke. Michael was pretending not to look at Maria, Max and Liz were trying desperately to watch each other without the other realising, Isabel was ignoring all three new arrivals, and Alex was pretending it didn't matter to him. Tess was watching everyone, and as she did, a new thought occurred to her.
Jim and Amy finally came up for air. Amy beamed around the whole group.

“Hi, kids! How are you all doing? I'm so glad we got all your friends together Maria. It just makes things perfect, doesn't it Jim?” she gushed.

“It sure does,” the Sheriff replied, looking mighty pleased with something.

“Mom! What is up with you tonight?” Maria demanded. Amy giggled, and looked at Jim.

“Do you want to tell them, or should I?” she asked.

“Tell us what?” Kyle asked suspiciously. Jim and Amy looked at each other, and she nudged him.

“Well, Kyle... Maria... Tess... there's no easy way to say this, so I'll just spit it out I guess... Well, this morning, Amy was so kind as to offer to help me pack up the old house...”

“It's what anyone would do, Jim,” she interrupted.

“... And I got thinking that I might just be ready for some other changes in my life as well... so I asked Amy to marry me...”

“...and I said yes...”

“...and then we got talking about when we should do it...”

“...and neither of us saw any point in waiting, so we popped right on down to the courthouse...”

“...luckily one of the judges there is an old friend of mine, and he was more than pleased to organise the paper work and to officiate the proceedings...”

“... so half an hour later it was all done!” Amy finished with a blissful sigh.

The teenagers sat there gaping at the adults for a full minute of shocked silence. Typically, it was Maria who spoke first.

“You... you got married?!?”

Amy beamed at her daughter. “Isn't it just the most amazing and romantic thing, Maria?”

Kyle looked from his dad to Maria's mother. “And you're not joking about this?”

“Kyle, why would we joke about this?” Amy asked.

“Son, do you have a problem?” Jim asked.

“If he doesn't, I sure do!” Maria replied, furious. “Mom, what were you thinking? You've only been seeing each other a couple of months! Have you thought through any of this? Where will we live?”

Amy couldn't have looked more shocked if Maria had slapped her. “I... Maria, how could you? I thought you'd be happy! I did this for us! Jim is a good man- better than any other boyfriend I've ever had! What did you expect me to do? Stay lonely the rest of my life? What about in a year or two when you graduate and leave home- what then? Who will I have to come home to then? I know it seems sudden. But we love each other, and there is no good reason why this shouldn't work out. Can't you understand?” Amy pleaded. Maria looked at her mother with tears in her eyes.

“Yeah, Mom. I can understand all of that. I just wish you'd included me. I still matter to you, don't I?”

“Oh, sweet heart, of course you do!” Amy exclaimed, giving Maria a huge hug. Kyle looked at his father.

“This is why you wanted the bigger house, isn't it? You were planning this all along...”

“Yes, I was. I'm sorry for keeping you out of the loop. I didn't want to tell you in case she said no, and then this morning, one thing led to another and it was all over and done with before we could tell any of you. What do you think, Tess? Do you think you and Kyle will handle having a stepmom in the house?”

Tess and Maria both looked at the Sheriff, suddenly understanding the implications of his statement, and then looked at each other in dismay. The two girls had never really had much to do with each other outside of the I-know-an-alien club, and what they did have was not positive. Tess's rocky start with the group had not endeared her to any of them to begin with, and it was Liz's boyfriend she had been after. And Liz was Maria's best friend. And Maria was nothing if not loyal to the end. Tess took a deep breath, knowing that her next words would make or break her happiness in the new household.

“I think I'm going to love having a mom-figure. Congratulations, both of you,” she replied. Amy smiled and held her arms open to give Tess a hug. Liz found her voice just then, and jumped up to congratulate them both, and the rest of the group followed her example. Tess took advantage of the sudden noise, and pulled Maria to one side.

“I know you have a lot of reasons to hate this, and me, too, but I'd really like for this to work out- for Jim and your mom's sake, if nothing else.”

Maria studied her for a moment. “Look, for mom's sake, I'm giving this a try. But just remember that Liz is my best friend, and if it's ever a choice between you and her, I will choose her.” She could tell Tess was a little disapointed with her reply, but Maria knew it was as honest as she could possibly be at this point in time.

“So are you going on honeymoon?” Alex asked suddenly. The chatter that had arisen stopped dead. Jim and Amy looked at each other.

“We had thought of going to a hotel for tonight...” Amy began, only to be interrupted by Maria.

“Ew, Mom! That's way too much information!!”

Amy ignored her daughter's outcry, and looked at her new husband.

“I might be able to get a week off work...” he began. Amy smiled.

“Sounds wonderful. But first I want Maria, at least to be moved into the new house. I don't want her home alone while we're gone. It'll give you three time to get used to each other.”

The newly weds only stayed a few more minutes. They left with a chorus of goodwishes from the teenagers. Once they were gone, an awkward silence descended over the group. Liz, Alex, and Maria began to quietly collect their things so they could leave, when Michael approached.

“Hey, look... the thing we found today... we made half of it work.”

Maria pointedly ignored him, so Alex replied. “Why only half?”

“That's the weird thing. Kyle made part of the other side light up.”

“There are three parts that won't light up, though,” Tess added. “I don't suppose you three could come back to our house to see if you can make it work...?”

“My understanding was you didn't need us for anything,” Maria replied.

“Michael may have said that, but I never agreed with him,” Tess replied.

“Besides, don't you want to see your room? If you like mine better, I don't mind trading, but you'd need to take a look...”

Maria exchanged looks with Alex and Liz, who nodded in agreement.

“We'll see you guys there. I can't believe I'm saying this, but we'll do it for you, Tess. And because I need to see my new room.”

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Post by Lou » Tue Jan 02, 2007 9:46 pm

“I don't get it, Maria,” Liz said as soon as herself, Alex, and Maria drove to the new Valenti house. “Why did you agree to help them after this afternoon? What happened to letting them figure it all out?”

Maria glanced at her two best friends. “It's going to sound weird to you guys, and I don't know if I can even explain it, but it was Tess asking, and this particular quarrel isn't with her. It's with Michael, mostly, and Isabel. I wouldn't have said it six weeks ago, but Tess is the only one treating us like we're actually involved. Which we are, no matter how much I don't want to be. Mom gave me the 'please make a special effort' look as she was leaving. Liz, she's my sister now- or as good as- and if I don't cut her a little slack now, the next couple of years will be miserable!”

“So we're on speaking terms with them now?” Alex asked from the back seat, tring to clarify where they now stood.

“Only with Tess. It's only fair we treat them with the same respect they're showing us. I am by no means on speaking terms with Michael, and don't intend to be until he's ready to be consistant.”

Alex and Liz looked at each other. “You do realise you're not exactly the poster girl for consistancy...” Liz began. Maria shot her a dirty look.

“Admit it, Liz. You want to find out how how Kyle Valenti made whatever it is work just as much as I do,” she replied.

“Her true motives revealled,” laughed Alex. “I'm not sure if it was the best decision, Maria, but as always, Liz and I are right behind you. Right, Liz?”

Liz sighed, thinking of how much she had given up for Tess already. Being nice to her was going to cost Liz a lot, but she knew she had to make the effort- not just for Maria, but for Future Max. She nodded in agreement, and let the others change the subject.

Half an hour later, Tess led Maria, Alex, and Liz back down to the living room where the others were waiting. Maria was chattering away happily, making plans for her bedroom, but she stopped short the moment she saw Michael. The eight of them stood in awkward silence for a moment, and then Michael produced the octagonal device. Without speaking- there was really no need for words- they showed it to the other three, and how each of four aliens could make one symbol glow just by touching it. Isabel, who was last, then gave the octaon to Kyle, and the other yellow symbol lit up. Liz, Alex, and Maria all exchanged looks, and tentatively Liz stepped forward and held her hand out for Kyle to give it to her. As soon as she touched it, the symbol between Kyle's and Max's began to glow softly- green, as Isabel had predicted. Liz's eyes widened with wonder, and she looked at the four aliens. They all looked at each other in satisfaction. Six of the symbols worked. Liz smiled slightly, happy that for once she was being included in one of the group's secrets without having to force her way in.

She handed the device to Maria.

Nothing happened. It remained cold and still in her hand- just an octagonal piece of metal. None of the group needed to look at her face to feel her disapointment- they all shared it, too. Maria examined the object closely, figuring it would be the only time she got to touch it, and noticed one of the symbols that had yet to light up. Somehow, she just knew that, had she been able to make it work, it would have been that symbol that glowed. But it didn't. She sighed, and gave it to Alex.

Again, nothing happened. Like Maria, he examined it carefully while he could, and he, too, felt somehow drawn to the other unlit symbol, but there was nothing he could do about it. He handed the device back back to Max.

“We'd better go,” Alex said quietly, and he, Liz, and Maria filed out slowly.

The others looked at each other for a moment, then, wordlessly, Michael headed for the door. Isabel turned to Tess and Kyle.

“I guess we'll see at school on Monday?”

The other two nodded. Max held up the device. “Do one of you want to look after this?”

“You take care of it, Max. It's probably safest with you,” Tess replied. He nodded, and he and Isabel departed.

Later that night, Tess lay in her new/old bed thinking about the events of the day, and the recent weeks. She was here, back in the house that she had lived in with Nasedo, the only parental figure she had ever experienced until a month or so ago. He had never gone a day without mentioning Max and their destiny together. And she had bought every word- because she had never understood anything different. And then she had arrived here, and Max hadn't wanted her. No matter how hard she fought, Max hadn't wanted her. Finally just recently, Liz had made a point of standing back and letting Tess have Max- and she'd done it by sleeping with Kyle.

Tess had never felt as comfortable as she had in this past month with the Valenti's. The Sheriff had gone out of his way to make her feel at home, and had shown a level of fatherly affection and concern towards her that Nasedo had been simply incapable of. And Kyle... Kyle felt as out of place in their group as she did- and by doing so, made her feel like she belonged.

There had been a moment this evening when Tess had found herself wishing Liz had slept with Alex... or, in fact, anyone but Kyle. But she didn't understand why she felt this way.

Max, Isabel, and Michael had been making an effort to include her in their doings, but she still didn't feel as loved as she had this evening when Kyle had shared his joke with Maria with her, too, with just a single look- or when Jim had naturally included her in his question about stepmothers- or when Amy had hugged her. Tess smiled when she thought of Amy. She had always longed for a mother, and she just knew that Amy had all of the same good qualities as Maria- loyalty and a sense of fun and creativity.

How was it possible that, if anything, she felt more at home with a family of humans than she did with her own kind?

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Post by Lou » Tue Jan 02, 2007 11:10 pm

It was a little after 2am when Kyle was woken by a distant moan. A shrill, terrifying moan. One that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, and, in his half-asleep state, freeze with his eyes clamped shut, unwilling to open them least every one of his childhood fears about what might be lurking in his dark, unfamiliar bedroom should suddenly become real. The moan sounded again, and this time, Kyle recognised Tess's voice, muffled through the wall, making the noise. In a flash, he threw back the covers and headed for her room, knowing there was no one else home to investigate. He slipped through her door, and knelt beside her bed. She was tossing and turning, moaning indecipherable phrases, and most of her bedding had gone askew. Kyle gingerly placed his hands on her shoulders and gave her a gentle shake.

"Tess, wake up! It's just a dream!!" he commanded in a low voice. Her moaning stopped immediately, and she froze as if listening for his voice again. "Tess, it's me, Kyle! You're having a nightmare. Come on, wake up!" He encouraged.

Her eyes flew open- wide, blue eyes that were strained with very real fear. She stared at him for a moment, then, on recognising her surroundings, she sat up and threw her arms around his neck. Awkwardly, so that she didn't need to let go, he crawled onto the bed next to her, and settled her more comfortably in his arms, all the while soothing her with his words.

"It's ok, I'm right here. Lets get you settled back in bed. There we go, all nice and snug. I'm just going to move this arm like so, and then- that's right, you cuddle right up next to me there. Good girl. Now, do you want to tell me about your dream?"

Tess drew away from him just enough to look into his eyes, and then nodded hesitantly. "I dreamed I was six years old, just after I'd come out of the pod chamber, and Nasedo had found me all alone- the others had all left. It was before I could talk- we were communicating with our minds. And he was telling me who I was and how I was different- and then he told me about Max. That I was going to grow up to be married to him. And it felt really wrong, and I tried to communicate that to him, and he wouldn't listen. And suddenly Max came up to us- Max as he is now. And suddenly I was me at my age, now, too. And Max came up to me, and kissed me, and told me it was time for us to get married- and Nasedo was standing near us and laughing at us. And I kept telling Max it was wrong, that we weren't meant to get married, but he was holding me in his arms and kissing me, and he wouldn't listen to me. I was struggling to get away from him, and he wouldn't let me go. I was so sure he was going to do something horrible to me- and then I heard your voice, and Max stopped what he was doing, and then you appeared and he let go and I woke up."

Kyle had been running a hand up and down her back comfortingly as she explained her dream, and as she finished, he tightened his arms around her in a reassuring hug.

"Well, I'm glad I'm useful for something," Kyle joked as he digested her words. "Seriously, though, you don't think Evans would ever do anything like that, do you?"

"Not deliberately. But in the dream it was like he didn't know that what he was doing was wrong."

"What would give him that impression, do you think?"

"Nasedo. Telling us we're meant to be together so much that we believed him." Tess shivered, and snuggled closer to Kyle. "The strange thing is, I felt so much safer when I knew you were there."

"I don't think it's that strange," Kyle replied with a smile.

"Kyle? Can you stay with me?" Tess asked in a lost-little-girl voice. Kyle's heart melted, but he tried to lighten the mood.

"Sure. After all, it's not like I've ever been in a girl's bed before."

The giggle he had expected in response never came. Instead, she drew away from him so that she could look into his eyes, a frown crinkling her forehead.

"But what about Liz?" she asked, perplexed.

"Liz? I never even made it to second base with Liz," Kyle replied, confused. Surely Tess knew that, even though he had found Liz quite attractive, their relationship had only lasted a couple of short months, and had been his most chaste relationship since he'd been at high school.

"But Max said he saw you in bed with her..." Tess pressed. "I remember, because I was thinking of running away because no one here really cared about me, and I found Max after he found out, and he confided in me, and everyone's begun to make me feel included ever since."

Kyle swore under his breath. "Oh, yeah, I'd forgotten about that. Yeah, Liz and I slept together a few weeks ago."

Tess just looked at him.

"Kyle, you suck at lying." He didn't respond. He didn't meet her eyes, either. She tried again. "What's all this about, Kyle? What really happened?"

"I don't know. Look, Liz was really upset, and she said that she needed to break things off with Max permanently, and she knew he was coming over that afternoon, so asked me to make it look like we'd slept together. I figured if she was really that desperate to get rid of Evans than I should help. So I laid in her bed with her wearing only my boxers, and we chatted, and when Evans showed up, he saw us. That's all I know."

"Why would she do something like that? I thought she was in love with him!" Tess asked protectively.

"Yeah, being in love with Evans seems to be the 'in thing' with every attractive girl I meet," Kyle grumbled.

"You mean Liz?"

"Well, there's Liz. And there's you."

"Me? You think I'm... attractive?"

"The short answer is yes, Tess. I think you're very attractive. But right now I'm too tired to go into that in any more detail. Time for us to go to sleep, ok?"

"Ok," she replied, secretly sure she would never sleep now, with so many questions burning in her brain. Kyle shifted her a little in his arms and was soon snoring quietly. Feeling completely snug and safe for possibly the first time in her life, Tess soon drifted off herself, leaving her questions until the morning when she would be able to think more clearly.

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Post by Lou » Wed Jan 03, 2007 5:29 pm

A/N -I wasn't going to update until after I'd cleaned my room and so forth, but you've all been so nice I decided to update first. That, and procrastiantion is a very dear friend of mine

The next day, being a Sunday, passed reasonably quietly. Liz worked a double shift at the Crashdown so that Maria could spend the whole day packing up her belongings and moving them into her new bedroom at the Valenti's house. Alex stopped in to talk to Liz on his way upstairs to look at her parent's computer as it was having software issues, and he brought his newest baby, the laptop his parents had given him for his birthday, to help him figure out the problem. Isabel spent the afternoon deciding on what outfit she was going to wear for her date with Grant that evening. Max spent the day in his room, coming out only when called for dinner.

He stopped by his sister's bedroom on his way downstairs.

“Since when do we dress up for dinner in this house?” he asked. She glared at him through the mirror.

“I have a date, Max. And before you ask, yes, it's with Grant. He's taking me to the theater.”

“Isabel...” Max began, but she cut him off.

“What do you expect me to do, Max? Sit around the house and mope? One's enough for any household. Besides, Grant has only ever been the perfect gentleman so far.”

Max looked at it for a long moment, and she knew her words had hurt him. He sighed. “I just hope you're right, Is,” he replied, and headed downstairs for dinner.

It was nearly nine o'clock the next evening when Tess walked into the Crashdown Cafe and deliberately sat in one of the booths in Liz's section. The cafe wasn't too busy- there was a large family in the far corner enjoying a late dinner, and a few people there on dates lingering over their deserts. Tess saw Liz quickly mask a pained look when she sat down. She came over as soon as soon as she could, though.

"Hi, Tess. What can I get for you?"

"Hey, Liz. Umm... actually, I was kind of hoping we could talk."

"Is it important?"

"Yes... but it's not urgent, if you get the difference."

Liz nodded. "I'm closing tonight- and we don't shut until 10 o'clock. So you have a choice- either we can chat in between me serving, and I won't get out of here til about midnight by the time I've cleaned everything, or you can stick around until we're closed and everyone's gone home and we can talk a bit more freely."

"Well, in that case... can I get a sundae? I have homework in my bag, I'll do that until you close, and then I'll help you clean up, and we can talk then. Is that ok?"

Liz smiled, genuinely this time. "That's actually really nice of you, Tess. But you don't need to help me clean."

"No problem. I'd... I know things are awkward... and some of the stuff I want to talk to you about might make that worse... but I've been doing a lot of thinking about things recently, and I really want to be friends with you, Liz."

Liz glanced over her shoulder to where one of the couples was signaling to her. "I have to go. I'll bring your sundae over soon."

"Ok," Tess said, disappointed that Liz hadn't replied to her last comment. She pulled out her algebra homework and began working. A large crowd of high schoolers came in having just come out from seeing a movie, and Liz didn't have any more time to stop and chat. Tess almost didn't notice her deposit a tray containing her sundae, a long handled spoon, a few napkins, a coke that she hadn't ordered (but appreciated nonetheless), and a bottle of tobasco sauce on her table.

It wasn't until quarter to 10 that the last customers finally left, and Liz began cleaning up the store. At five minutes to, she flipped the sign and locked the door, figuring her parents wouldn't mind them shutting five minutes early on a school night. Tess finished up her homework, found a cloth, and began wiping tables and putting up chairs without being asked. Liz began cleaning around the drinks machine, and glanced over at Tess.

"So what did you want to talk about?"

"Well... I had a bad dream last night. A really scary one." Tess began, and described her dream to Liz as well as she could. At the end, Liz looked at Tess, horrified.

"Max isn't like that, Tess. Not at all. He's sweet and loving and gentle. He would never push you to go further than you wanted to."

"I know that now, when I'm awake. But it was almost like he didn't know I didn't want to..." Tess's voice trailed off as she contemplated the situation.

"Why are you telling me this, Tess? In case you hadn't noticed, I'm not the most objective person on the subject."

"Well, the thing is... Kyle really did wake me. He'd heard me having a bad dream. And we got talking, and I asked him to stay with me for a while, and he made a joke about how he's never been in a girl's bed before. And I asked him about you, and he said he'd never made it to second base with you. But Max saw you two in bed together just a few weeks ago. And when I asked him about it... well, he told me it was a big scam. And I was wanting to know why."

Liz had been growing more and more alarmed throughout this last speech, and she turned away to clean the sundae machine with sudden vigor. Tess, sensing her need to collect her thoughts, popped out the back to fill up a mop bucket so she could begin mopping the floor. It was several minutes before Liz spoke in a strained, quiet voice.

"Have you told Max?"

Tess paused in her mopping to look at the other girl's back. "No. I wanted to know why, so I figured it would be best to ask you straight out. I wanted to know how you could do that to him when you claim to love him so much."

Liz turned to look at Tess and smiled- a sad smile, one that revealed every hurt and torment from the last weeks. "You wouldn't believe me even if I told you."

"Liz, think very hard about that statement, and about who I really am. There are precious few things that I'd not believe."

Liz sighed, defeated, and began cleaning again. "I got a visit from Max- not our Max, but Max from the future. He'd tweaked the Granolith to make him come back in time. He came back to ask me to get the present version of him to fall out of love with me and in love with you. Because you'd run away, and in the future, they needed you. They weren't strong enough without you. Everyone else was killed, Tess. Michael and Isabel..." Liz's voice trailed off, and she dropped her cloth and sat on one of the bar stools. Tess cautiously sat beside her.

"You could have just told me. I didn't specifically need Max, I just needed a reason to stay."

"But you have one now, or you would have gone already."

"Yes, they've been including me more now. And now that I know this, I definitely won't leave."

Liz smiled. There were still traces of sadness in it, but it was a smile. "I'm glad," she said, and then asked hesitantly, "How are things with you and Max, anyway?"

"It's weird. It's like, all my life I've been taught to be in love with him. And I have been, with the idea of him, anyway. I used to dream about him when Nasedo was taking me from place to place- I used to dream that he was with me and that I wasn't really alone. Nasedo didn't understand my human side at all, and to be honest, he didn't always treat me... well... nicely. But he was all I had. And then I met Max, and he was everything I'd ever imagined him to be- except he was in love with you. And the more I get to know him, the more I realise he'll never get over that. And a growing part of me doesn't want him to. It's weird, but the more I'm around him, and the longer I'm away from Nasedo, the more I think of him as just a brother. Is that strange?"

Liz looked at her for a long moment, before carefully replying "I can empathize with a lot of that. But if you want him, Tess, you can have him. I won't get in your way."

"But I don't want him. If anything, I want Kyle." Tess said without thinking. Her eyes widened, and she slapped a hand over her mouth when she realised she'd spoken out loud. The girls looked at each other for a long moment.

"Kyle? Kyle Valenti?" Liz questioned, scandalized. Tess nodded, unable to speak. Her face had turned an interested shade of red. Liz wrinkled her nose as she thought about it, and she smiled. "You know, you two would actually be really cute together."

Tess looked at the clock on the wall, mumbled "I'm out way too late!", finished mopping, picked up her bag, and fled, leaving Liz to lock the door behind her with a greater sense of hope that she had felt in a very, very long time.

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Post by Lou » Thu Jan 04, 2007 5:57 am

A/N This is the part I warned you about at the start. I've tried to tone it down as much as possible, but there is an attempted rape here.

Grant turned off the car and looked at Isabel.

“Where are we?” she asked.

“The park. I thought we could take a moment to enjoy the view,” he replied, smiling. There was something about that smile that made a warning bell go off in Isabel's head.

“I know it's the park... but it's awfully secluded, don't you think?” she asked nervously.

“Don't worry. I'm right here. What could happen?” he asked, taking off his seatbelt and leaning back. Isabel sat there for a moment, and then shook her head. What was she thinking? They'd been on several dates over the past couple of weeks, and he'd always been quite considerate the whole time.

“You ok?” he asked, and she nodded, ignoring the part of her that screamed at her to beg him to take her home right away. He took one of his hands between two of his.

“Relax. It's a beautiful night. Look, come over here,” he said, and turned her to him, and kissed her. After a few moments, she pulled away.

“What's the matter?”

“I just... I don't know if I want to do this just now, Grant...” she replied.

“Well, when then? Because it seems to me that we've been out on an awful lot of dates now, and surely I should be allowed to kiss you by now.”

“I know. I'm sorry. I just... can't we take this a little slower?”

“If we went any more slowly, we'd be running in the other direction. In fact, it seems to me like you already are,” he accused.

“Grant, I... I'm just not ready...”

“What if I am?”

“I'm sorry?”

He didn't reply, merely lunged for her and began kissing her on the mouth, hard. She tried pulling away, but he moved so that he was very nearly on top of her, as awkward as it was in the small car. She pushed as hard as she could, but he somehow managed to grab both of her hands in one of his and push his tongue in what felt like one motion. The other hand reached up to grope her breast, and a moment later the fabric of her shirt ripped open.

Isabel panicked, completely helpless for the first time in her life. She was unable to move away from him, unable to defend herself, unable to scream. Her mind flew to Alex, who had always been there for her. Alex, always the gentleman, whose first concern had always been her comfort and safety. Alex, who she loved but had never let in. Gathering up all her fear and panic in her mind, she screamed for him, hoping that she would somehow be able to form a connection with him- that somehow he would come save her.

Alex was walking home through the park from the Crashdown, where he had been helping Jeff Parker with a software problem. He'd brought his own laptop from home so that he could figure out exactly what was going on, and was now lugging it back. His mother would have a fit if she knew he was walking through the park after dark- she had a tendency to worry- but it was by far the fastest route.

He was taking a shortcut across a grassy picnic area, when a wave of sickening, terrifying panic washed over him. He instinctively froze, then swung around and looked behind him to see what was there. Nothing. He took a deep breath to calm himself down. It was then he realised- he didn't know how, he just knew- that it was Isabel. That she was in trouble. He shut his eyes, and concentrated on the feeling for a moment.

His eyes snapped open. He took off at a run across to the car park.

There was only one car parked there. Alex approached it as quietly as he could- not that it mattered, as the occupants weren't exactly looking out the window- and yanked open the passenger door.

Isabel fell backwards out of the door, leaving a surprised Grant clutching quite literally at thin air. Alex caught her before she fell and lifted her in his arms with unexpected strength, and carried her to a nearby park bench.

“Alex?” She looked up at him, completely dazed, and then hid her face in his neck.

“Hey! You! What the hell do you think you're doing?” a furious Grant demanded as he scrambled out the passenger door and came after them. Alex pulled away from Isabel gently in order to face her attacker.

“Removing her from your unwanted attentions,” Alex replied, his tone filled with ice cold anger.

Grant punched him, causing Alex to stagger back a couple of steps and double over. “That's for interrupting my date!”

From his doubled over position, Alex noticed that his laptop case was sitting less than a foot away. He quietly reached for it and in one smooth and unexpected moment, used it to hit Grant over the head, forcefully. Grant was laid out onto the concrete, dazed.

“That's for forcing yourself onto my friend,” he replied, and as Grant slowly propped himself up onto an elbow, Alex stood over him menacingly. “I may be stepping beyond the boundaries of friendship here, but if I am, I won't apologise for it. I'm going to speak slowly, because I want you to understand this very clearly: I don't want you to come near Isabel ever again. I don't want you to contact her, to approach her in the street, to speak to her, or even to look in her general direction, ever again. If you do, you will have not just me to reckon with, but her brother and our friends, as well- and believe me, they won't only be using a laptop if they ever get their hands on you. Do you understand?”

Grant nodded, by now realising exactly what he'd done. Alex made a movement with his head, indicating that he was free to go. Grant scampered away to his car, and a moment later, roared out of the car park.

Alex turned to see Isabel shivering on the park bench, trying vainly to cover herself with the tattered remnants of her shirt. He stripped off his jacket in a moment, and helped her into it, doing the zip up to her chin. He then pulled out his mobile phone, and called the Evans household.

“Mrs. Evans? Alex Whitman here. Listen, I'm at the park just down the road from the Crashdown, and I have Isabel here with me. It's a really long story, but something's happened, and I was wondering if you could come get her? ...Sure thing... ok... see you soon.”

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Post by Lou » Fri Jan 05, 2007 4:56 am

They didn't speak as they waited for her parents, just sat on the bench side by side. Alex didn't want to pressure her into talking, knowing that it was an embarrassing situation for anyone to be in. Isabel was feeling a wide range of different emotions, the predominant one being shame. How had she managed to get herself into such a situation? Especially after all of Max's warnings? And while she was more thankful than she could possibly say that Alex had been on hand to come to her aid, she still regretted the fact that he, of all people, had been the one to find her in such a compromising situation.

It only took ten minutes for Philip Evans to arrive. He got out of the car and rushed over, enveloping his precious daughter in a hug.

“What happened, sweetheart? Where's Grant?” he asked as she finally pulled away.

“He... he... tried to... well...” she stuttered, not meeting his eye. The look on her father's face told her he understood perfectly.

“Where is he now?” he demanded, a murderous look on his face.

“Alex chased him away,” replied Isabel. Philip looked at Alex with respect, but addressed his daughter. “Get in the car, and we'll take you home. Alex, would you like to come over for a hot chocolate? I'll drive you home later, if you want.”

Alex smiled. “I'd appreciate that, Mr. Evans. Thank you!”

As soon as they pulled up in the driveway, Diane opened the front door and came hurrying out. Max could be seen lurking in the doorway, also concerned for his sister. He raised his eyebrows as Alex also got out of the car. Diane gave Isabel a hug, and led her into the house. Philip told Max to make everyone hot chocolate, and led Alex into the kitchen and invited him to sit at the table. He left the room to check on Isabel, leaving Max and Alex alone.

“Grant attacked her?” Max asked as soon as his father was gone.

“Yes. I was on my way home through the park, and I heard her screaming for help- but it wasn't out loud. It was from inside my head. And I just knew where she was...” explained Alex.

“I'm glad you were there,” Max replied honestly. Alex nodded. Max glanced towards the door, and then indicated to the mess Grant had left when he punched Alex's face. Neither Diane or Philip had noticed the damage yet. “Do you want me to take care of that?” Max asked.

“Will it leave a hand print?” Alex asked.

“Not for a surface wound like that. But I will need to connect with you- is that ok?”

Alex nodded, and Max carefully touched the bruise and looked into his friend's eyes. Alex was nearly knocked backwards by a feeling of deep hurt as he saw a flash of Liz in bed with Kyle. He also felt Max's carefully contained anger at Grant for daring to touch his sister. Max saw a flash of Alex and Isabel kissing, and felt his deep concern and love for her as he quickly mended Alex's face.

Diane and Philip could be heard coming down the stairs, so Max quickly went back to finish the hot chocolates, and Alex sat down again.

“She's going to sleep,” Philip reported as he sat down. Max presented them all with hot chocolates, and Diane turned to Alex.

“She told us all about it. Thank you so much for taking care of her! There's one thing I don't understand, though- how did you discover she was in trouble, Alex?”

“Well...” he began, and tried not to glance up at Max. “I was walking home through the park from Crashdown, and I somehow just knew she was there and in trouble, so found her and took her away from him.”

His answer satisfied Philip, but Max could tell his mother wasn't convinced. She let the matter drop, though.

"I'm just glad you felt comfortable enough to call us, rather than try to hide it. I'd hate to find out she had tried to hide something this big from us- yet it would probably be the natural reaction," Philip replied.

Alex and Max made a point of not looking at each other. "It was a situation I knew was too big for me to handle by myself," Alex replied. Diane and Philip thought he was going red out of modesty.

"Well, you made the right decision, Alex," Diane said, patting his hand.

They sat there chatting for a while, then Philip glanced at the clock and realised it was a school night, so he suggested calling it a night.

“I can take Alex home, Dad. You and Mom both look exhausted.”

“Thank you, Max. I appreciate it.”

“I just need to get my keys, and some shoes. Come on, Alex,” Max said, leading the way upstairs. Alex waited patiently while Max hunted for a pair of socks, and glanced around his room. He noticed the octagon device, and sighed, wishing he could have made it work. He knew that he should have been able to make that one symbol work. Max glanced at him as he brushed his fingers across the symbol, and both jumped when it softly began to glow red. The two boys looked at each other.

“What changed?” Max asked quietly. Something in Alex clicked, and his eyes grew wide.

“You healed me,” he replied. “You connected with me, like you had to do for Kyle and Liz. That's why we're making it glow!”

“You're right!” replied Max. “Now all I need to do is heal Maria, and they'll all light up! Only...” his voice trailed of as he realised the implications of that. Alex finished his thought.

“...Only that means she needs to be hurt somehow first."

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Post by Lou » Fri Jan 05, 2007 5:43 am

It was Monday morning, and Michael was getting worried. Maria hadn't so much as glanced in his direction, ever since she had gone all weird and aloof on him on Saturday. He cursed the way she'd already managed to get under his skin- didn't she know he couldn't get attached? That no matter what she meant to him, even now, after everything they had been through together, he still needed to be available to leave at a moment's notice? And more than anything, didn't she realise that it would be better for her to not be involved with him? That she deserved better?

He physically turned his head away at that train of thought, unwilling to think about or admit the true depths of his feelings for her.

“Mr. Guerin, what do you think?” his English teacher, Mrs Sinclair, broke into his thoughts.

“I'm sorry- what was the question?” ever since he'd started living alone, he had made a point of coming to class - Isabel had convinced him he was less conspicuous that way, although right now he was inclined to disagree.

“We're looking at the theme of 'perceptions of reality' in Emma. Can you give us an example?”

Michael shifted slightly in his seat, and glanced down at the copy of the Jane Austen novel in front of him- as if the cover would give him the answer. He shrugged, suffering a mind blank. His teacher sighed, figuring it had been too much to hope for, and picked on Tess, who was in his class.

“Well, the obvious one is her perception of her own relationship with Knightley. At the start, she sees herself as someone who doesn't need anyone- that's why she brags about matchmaking everyone else rather than getting married herself. Then she spends most of the book annoying Knightley- by taking up Harriet and stopping her from marrying Mr. Martin, by flirting with Frank Churchill and being horrible to Miss Fairfax- but it takes her being horrible to Miss Bates for him to finally tell her off- and then she thinks she's really blown it, when really he's been in love with her the whole time, and had been waiting for her to wake up and realise that she was in love with him, too.”

“Very good, Miss Harding. Nice to see someone has actually read their assignment.”

Mrs. Sinclair continued with the lesson, but Tess's words lingered in Michael's head. He may not be the brightest student in the class, but even he could see how Tess's answer paralleled his own situation- substituting Emma's matchmaking attempts with things that were less associated with this world, of course.

But what if it was too late? What if he really had blown it with Maria this time?
Last edited by Lou on Fri Jan 05, 2007 5:44 am, edited 1 time in total.