Tandem Felix (All CC, Teen) Epilogue 12/19

Finished Canon/Conventional Couple Fics. These stories pick up from events in the show. All complete stories from the main Canon/CC board will eventually be moved here.

Moderators: Anniepoo98, Rowedog, ISLANDGIRL5, Itzstacie, truelovepooh, FSU/MSW-94, Forum Moderators

User avatar
tequathisy
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2003 8:49 pm
Location: I'm behind you.
Contact:

chapter 20

Post by tequathisy » Wed Jun 08, 2005 7:21 am

I hope everyone likes this part. Thanks for all the feedback.


*


Chapter 20

Knock knock.

Philip Evans glanced up from his work at the sound of a gentle tap on his door.

“Come in.” He called.

His secretary Jan entered, carrying a large file in her hands. “I think there’s been a mistake Philip.” She said as she laid the heavy tome on the desk. “This is the file child services sent over, but it’s his confidential file. It’s not what you requested. Should I send it back?”

Philip considered the question for a nanosecond before reaching across and taking the file into his hands. “What I want is probably inside it, I’ll just have a look through for myself first.”

Jan looked at it doubtfully. “Are you sure that’s ok?”

Philip ignored her question. “Can you see these letters go out in the mail today?” He said and handed her a couple of letters.

Jan nodded and excused herself.

Once alone, Philip opened the file and began leafing through its contents. Mot of the documents seemed to be reports made by social workers detailing their first meeting with Michael. It was clear that Michael had been assigned quite a number of them over the years, judging by reports few of the social workers had little contact with him after the initial meeting before the were reassigned elsewhere.

Many of them expressed concern about his placement and his behaviour but Philip noted angrily none of them followed up. There were a number of reports from different teachers at his schools urging for Michael to be moved to a different foster home, but again none of these were followed up either.

At the bottom of the stack of documents, Philip found the first report ever made about Michael. He read it once the again in disbelief.

“That’s impossible.” He said aloud.

Philip made his way out of the office and strode down the corridor to the office of one of the junior partners.

Tim Sanchez looked up in surprise as Philip walked in. “Hey Philip we don’t usually see you down here in environmental. What can I do for you?”

Philip consulted the paper in his hand. “I need a map that shows Wilson Road.”

“Sure no problem.” Tim told him, he quickly sorted through his collection of maps, pulled out one and unrolled it on his desk. “Let’s see, that’s Wilson Road.” He informed his boss, running his finger a long a road on the edge of the desert.

Philip examined it for a moment before tracing the route to the highway. He tapped the spot where he and Diane had found Max and Isabel. “How far is it between Wilson Road and here?”

“About five, six miles. Do you need an exact distance?” Tim asked in confusion.

Philip shook his head. “Can you make me a copy of this?” He asked faintly.

“Sure, I’ll get Pete to run it down to you.”

Philip nodded and made his way back to his office, too distracted to return a greeting to any of his colleagues as he passed them. Once in his office, he sank into his chair and shook his head in disbelief.

A couple of minutes later an intern dropped off the map and Philip sat staring at it, re-tracing the route from where he had found Max and Isabel and the place where Michael had been found wandering naked and dehydrated. Separated by three days and six miles.


*


“This is really good.” Maria commented as she ate the spaghetti bolognese that Michael had prepared.

Michael gave a distracted nod of thanks.

Maria sighed and put her fork down on the table. “Can we talk about it?”

“There’s nothing to talk about.” Michael told her.

“So that’s why we’re here eating dinner not in your bedroom working up a sweat.” Maria said caustically. “You’ve been distracted and quiet all day.”

“There are just a lot of things going on right now.” Michael said with a scowl.

Maria reached across the table and took his hand gently in her own. “Michael I’ve some money saved up. I want you to have it.”

“No way.” Michael said at once. “I’m not taking your money. You’ve just lost everything in a fire, you need it.”

“I don’t have to worry about making rent or paying bills. And Liz told me today that the girls at work are starting a collection for me. I don’t need it.” Maria told him.

“Maria, I’m not taking your money.” Michael said emphatically. He pushed away from the table and gathered up their plates.

“Michael now is not the time to be stubborn or proud. We’ve too much going on right now to let something like this cause problems.” Maria argued as she followed Michael into the kitchen of his apartment.

Michael tossed the plates into the sink and turned around to face Maria, his arms crossed defensively. “I’ve been thinking about this. I think the best thing for everybody is if I leave school. Then if we have a problem during school hours I can deal with it and nobody else has to skip school.”

“So while you’re off fighting crime during school hours, how are you going to work?” Maria asked. “If you skip work, you’ll get fired. At least if you skip school, nobody will bat an eye. Take my money, it’s not a lot but it’ll help pay the rent for a while, take some of the pressure off.”

“No.” Michael insisted. “I’m not taking your money. I’ll quit school, get a job. It’s fine.”

Maria regarded him for a moment. “You know for somebody who spent most of his educational career cutting class you don’t seem too happy about quitting.”

Michael ran his hand through his hair. “I just wanted to do things right from now on. Finish school, make something of my life.”

Maria gently wrapped her arms around his waist and leaned against his chest. “And you can. Take the money, I’ll be going back to work when my wrist is better, I can help you.”

“I want to do this myself, for you.” Michael said sadly. “I want to make you proud of me.”

“Oh Michael, I am proud of you. I think you’re amazing.” Maria told him tearfully. “But the way I see it is, we’re in this together for the long haul. I want to help you. I want to see you get on in life and live up to your potential.”

“I can always work now and once Kivar has been dealt with and things have calmed down, I can go back to school.” Michael told her. “Or I can get my GED.”

“That’s what my Mom said when she left school pregnant, she never went back.” Maria argued. “Things might take years to calm down and by then it’ll be too late. Please Michael”

Michael sighed. “I won’t quit just yet. Mr Evans might be able to work something out. If not, I’ll think about borrowing some of your money.”

“Ok.” Maria agreed, not entirely happy but satisfied that Michael had agreed to consider her offer. She caught him by the hand and pulled him out of the kitchen. “Now, how about desert?”


*


Sean whistled as Liz came into the diner dressed for her evening out with Max. “Looking good Parker.”

Liz blushed. “Thanks Sean. Is Max here yet?”

“I haven’t seen him. Care to join me while you wait?” He said with a wave towards the seat opposite.

Liz smiled and sat into the booth. “So how are things with you?” She asked conversationally.

“Oh you know, lost all belongings in a fire, lost my job, my cousin hates me and the girl I like is dating a guy I don’t like.” Sean said with a shrug.

“Oh.” Liz nodded unsure what to say. “Maria doesn’t hate you. She’s just mad at you.”

“Yeah, well it’s getting old.” Sean grumbled. He pushed a plate of fries towards her. “Want one?”

“Liz shook her head. “Maria’s going to ask Brody for a job for you, that’s good.”

“She’ll probably tell him to put me on toilet cleaning duties.” Sean pointed out. “Anything to get me to leave Roswell.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way.” Liz began. “But why are you so adamant about sticking around? A couple of weeks ago you were talking about getting out of Roswell.”

“I don’t like leaving Aunt Amy and M alone. When Alex… you know, and the fire, I just want to stick around. I know they’re very capable of looking after themselves but I’d feel lousy if I abandoned them.”

Liz squeezed Sean’s hand. “Sean that’s so sweet.”

“Sweet enough to reconsider dating me?” Sean said suggestively. “Don’t answer, I’m only kidding.”

“I’m really sorry for the way I treated you Sean.” Liz told him.

“Liz, you’ve already apologised about that. It’s getting redundant.” Sean told her.

Liz smiled. “Sorry, won’t do it again.” She nibbled her lip for a moment. “Listen, Maria’s worried that you’re going to say something to Brody about that day in the museum. The thing is he’s on medication and he forgot to take them that day. He actually doesn’t remember the incident at all and if you say something to him it might upset him.”

“Oh.” Sean said angrily. “That’s what this is about. I already promised you I wouldn’t say anything.”

“That’s not what this is about.” Liz told him. “But today, you threatened to say something. I know you won’t but Maria’s worried about Brody.”

Sean narrowed his eyes. “Why?”

“I can’t really say. It’s personal.” Liz told him. “She’s kind of stressed about it and with everything else going on I told her I’d talk to you so she’d have one less thing to worry about. You know how she gets.”

“Sean frowned. “It sounds like Brody needs professional help. Maria shouldn’t take it all on herself. But you can tell her I won’t say anything.”

“Thanks Sean.” Liz smiled. “Maria promised me that she’d be nicer to you in future.”

Sean nodded. “Hey, do you want to go bowling some evening?”

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Liz said gently.

“Just as friends. We could get a group together. Me, you, Maria and Michael, Kyle, Max, his hot sister.” Sean continued. “It might be fun.”

Liz laughed. “I’ll say it to the others, but we all work different shifts so it mightn’t be easy to organise.”

“Ok. Looks like your date is here.”

Liz looked over her shoulder and spotted Max watching them through the doors of the Crashdown. “I should go, thanks for the company.” Liz told Sean as she stood up.

She joined Max outside. “You look nice.”

“You too.” Max told her. “Ready to go?”

Liz nodded. “Yeah, it’s such a nice evening, let’s walk. I was thinking, we could check out the photographic exhibition at the library and then go to Topsy’s for a coffee and maybe a slice of their death-by-chocolate cake.”

“Sounds good.” Max agreed unenthusiastically.

“What’s wrong?” Liz asked in concern.

Max shrugged and started walking. “You and Sean looked cosy.”

Liz rolled her eyes. “He’s my friend, I was talking to him while I was waiting for you.”

“I saw you holding hands. What were you talking about?”

“That’s private.” Liz said in annoyance. “He’s my friend. That’s all Max.”

“You’re more than friends. A couple of weeks ago you were dating. He lives in the same house as you now.” Max pointed out sulkily.

“Because I burned down his home.” Liz said through gritted teeth. “He’s moving out soon. And we didn’t date, I went out with him once so he wouldn’t cause trouble for Brody. You’re being ridiculous Max.”

Max ran his fingers through his hair. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I know you were close to him and I can’t help feeling a little jealous. I’m sorry.”

“There’s no need to be jealous.” Liz told him.

“I know, I’m sorry Liz. Don’t let me spoilt the evening by being a jerk.” Max pleaded. He held out his hand to her.

She took it but then dropped it and marched back down the street in the direction they had come from.

Max hurried after her. “Liz, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Liz snapped.

Max stared at her in confusion. “Liz there’s something bothering you. Tell me what it is, please.”

“I can’t believe you had the nerve to give me grief about Sean.” Liz hissed.

“I apologised already Liz.” Max reminded her. “That’s the problem with jealousy, it’s irrational.”

“Not always.” Liz said sharply as she turned a corner. “If I’d slept with him and was carrying his child you might have a good reason to be jealous.”

Max stopped walking. “Liz.” He called helplessly.

Liz whirled around and faced him. “What Max?”

Max advanced towards her. “Liz, I know that you are feeling very hurt and angry and jealous.”

“That’s not exactly surprising is it Max?” Liz yelled.

“But we’ve had this conversation before.” Max continued, “We both agreed that we had hurt each other and that we’d try put it behind us and move forward. It’s not going to work if you keep bringing it up.”

“So I’m just supposed to forget about it, pretend it never happened?” Liz screeched in fury.

“No of course not.” Max said calmly. “It happened and we have to deal with it. But it’s not fair to bring it up everytime I do something stupid or wrong. Be mad at me for acting like an idiot.”

“It’s not fair to have to listen to you talk about your son all the time either.” Liz shouted.

“I don’t talk about him all the time. I hardly mention him because nobody wants to talk about him. Everybody wants to forget about him, pretend it never happened.” Max said in a raised voice. “He’s out there somewhere, and I’m worried about him. But I can’t talk to anybody, tell anybody how afraid I am because nobody wants to listen.”

“Poor you.” Liz said sarcastically before turning and storming off.

Max chased after her. “Liz, stop. If you’re upset at me then we need to talk about it.”

“But I’m not supposed to bring it up.” Liz pointed out bitterly.

“Liz wait, that’s not what I meant. Let’s sit down here and talk.” Max pleaded as he gestured towards a bench.

“Screw you Max.” Liz told him then walked off. Max watched her walk down the street and disappear around the corner.


*


“Thanks for dinner.” Maria said breathlessly between kisses.

“Thanks for desert.” Michael smirked as he covered her lips with his own.

Maria pressed her body against his, wrapping hr arms tightly around him. “I wish I could stay with you for the night.” She said wistfully.

Michael held her close. “Me too.” He found her mouth again and pulled her into another searing kiss.

After a few minutes Maria pulled away reluctantly. “I really have to go in. I promised her I wouldn’t be home late tonight.” She said for the seventh time that night.

“Ok.” Michael said as he continued to kiss her and made no attempt to let her leave.

Maria responded eagerly for a moment then pulled herself out of his arms. “I really have to go in now. Thanks for a lovely time. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She turned around to go in and let out a scream. “Max, what the hell? You scared the crap out of me.”

Max looked at her morosely. “Sorry.”

“How long have you been there?” Maria asked.

Max shrugged.

Michael and Maria exchanged glances. “Max what’s wrong?” Maria asked gently.

“Liz and I had an argument. She won’t come out onto the balcony to talk to me.”

“I’ll go and talk to her and see if she’ll talk to you.” Maria told him. “Goodnight Michael.”

Maria let herself in and made her way upstairs.

“Wow. You almost made your curfew.” Amy said as Maria came rushing into the apartment. “How was your evening?”

“Great. I’ll be back in a minute.” Maria called as she rushed down the hall to Liz's room.

Her friend was curled up on her bed, listening to somebody warbling about a broken heart, tears running down her face.

“Firstly, it’s against the law to listen to crap like this.” Maria said as she crossed over to the CD player and smacked the off button. She took the CD out. “All time greatest heartbreak hits. Why Liz?”

“Liz sat up and wiped her tears away. “I had an argument with Max.”

“What about?”

Liz hiccuped. “He was jealous of me and Sean and then I yelled at him about his son and when he wanted to talk about it I stormed off.”

“He’s outside now, why don’t you go and talk to him” Maria suggested.

Liz sniffed and shuffled towards the window. She clambered out onto the balcony and peered over the edge. “Max?”

Max was standing at the bottom of the ladder eagerly waiting for some sign from Liz. At the sound of her voice he shot up the ladder.

“Max I’m sorry.” “Liz I’m sorry.” They both spoke at once.

Max held up his hand. “Liz I’m sorry I know this is hard for you. You have every right to be mad at me. I can’t believe I got so jealous over Sean and then got mad because you were jealous of Tess.”

“No you were right.” Liz insisted. “I shouldn’t be bringing that into every argument we have. If I’m mad at you for something and you apologise I should let it go and not bring something completely unrelated into it.”

“I know that there’s still all lot of issues to be worked out and resolved. It’s wrong of me to expect you to just let the whole thing go and never bring it up. It’s the only way we’ll work it out.” Max said.

“The only way we’ll work it out is by talking to each other. I shouldn’t have walked away from you earlier.” Liz told Max. “I know you’re worried about your son and you need to talk about him but I’m not ready for that Max. I don’t think I’ll ever be.”

“I don’t expect you to want to talk about him. But there are other things we have to talk about if we have any hope of making this work.” Max assured her.

Liz nodded. “And the next time I’ll talk about it, I promise, not yell and walk off.”

“I’m so grateful that you’re giving me a second chance Liz. I don’t deserve it after how I hurt you.” Max told her. “I deserve to be yelled at and anytime you want to or need to - just yell.”

Liz took a couple of steps towards him. “I don’t want to yell or argue with you. I just want things to be normal between us again.”

Max nodded in understanding. “It looks like we’re a long way from there yet.”

“We just have to take babysteps.” Liz said as she took another step towards Max. “If we’re upset about something we have to let the other person know.”

“Agreed.”

“We both acted like idiots tonight, but we’ve apologised.” Liz said with a smile. “We can try again tomorrow night.”

“I’d like that.” Max told her. “I should go now, it’s late.”

Liz took the final few steps towards him. There were only inches between them now. “Goodnight Max.”

“Goodnight Liz.” Max said nervously unable to move from the spot as he was glued to her eyes.

Unconsciously Liz licked her lips. She put her arms around Max’s shoulders, pressed her forehead against his neck and hugged him. Max held her close to him. They stood like that for a moment, each relishing the feel of having the others body so close.

Liz drew her face from Max’s neck. She stared up into his face. “I miss you so much.” She whispered.

“Liz.” Max said reverently. He raised his hand and gently brushed her cheek.

Liz closed her eyes and leaned into his touch.

Max brought his thumb to her lips and softly caressed them.

Liz opened her eyes and looked into his. Max could see the longing in them. He brought his face close to hers until their lips were almost touching.

“Liz are you out here?”

At the sound of Jeff Parker’s voice, Max and Liz jumped apart guiltily. But it was too late. Jeff had already seen them.

“What’s going on here.” He demanded angrily.

“Max was only here for a minute, he’s going now.” Liz told her father as she rushed to the window and barred his entry onto the balcony. She whirled around to Max. “Goodnight Max.”

Max looked at her uncertainly, unwilling to leave her to deal with her father alone.

“Goodnight Max.” Jeff called out coldly.

Liz nodded to Max and mouthed ‘go’.

“Goodnight. I’m sorry.” Max said and climbed over the balcony.

By the time he reached the alleyway, Jeff Parker had dashed down the stairs and was waiting for him.

“Max don’t ever let me catch you crawling into my daughters bedroom in the middle of the night or I will call the police and press charges of trespassing against you.” He warned.

Max nodded. “I’m sorry Mr Parker. I was just saying goodnight to her. We weren’t doing anything wrong.”

“Maybe not this time.” Jeff responded. “But I’m watching you Max Evans. If you slip up once, if you hurt my daughter, you’ll be sorry. Now get out of here.”

With that he went back inside, slamming the heavy door and leaving Max alone in the alleyway.


*
Image
Banner by Evelyn

User avatar
tequathisy
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2003 8:49 pm
Location: I'm behind you.
Contact:

Post by tequathisy » Thu Jun 16, 2005 5:47 am

Thanks for all the feedback. Much appreciated.


This chapter takes place a week after the vents of the previous one.


Chapter 21


“One Two Three, lift.”

With a collective grunt the volunteers lifted the heavy couch and carried into the family room of the new Deluca house.

“Easy on the left.” Isabel commanded authoritatively. “Turn it this way, slowly, don’t drop it – put it down gently, these are hardwood floors boys.”

With another grunt the couch was lowered gently to the floor and the guys straightened up rubbing their aching backs and sore arms.

“Alright now bring in the armchairs and we’re done in here.” Isabel said with a clap of her hands.

Watching from the doorway Maria and Liz suppressed grins as the guys trooped out. As well as Sean, Michael, Max, Brody and Jeff Parker there were a half dozen employees of the UFO museum and the Crashdown who had been ‘volunteered’ into helping. Since early morning they had been lifting and carting furniture into the new house under Isabel’s directions. She had worked them hard and relentlessly, yet none of them dared to complain.

Maria linked arms with Liz and the two girls sauntered into the kitchen where Amy and Nancy were unpacking all the new kitchen equipment from boxes and arranging them in the drawers and presses.

“How’s it going out there?” Amy asked when the two girls entered.

“They’re almost finished in the living room.” Maria informed her mother. “We’re going to take them out some drinks. Where are the glasses?”

Amy skipped happily to one of the cupboards and handed them out to Maria.

“The place is looking so great Ms Deluca.” Liz commented as she took the jug of lemonade from the fridge.”

“I know, I can’t believe we’re going to be living here.” Amy sighed. “It feels like we’ve been on extreme makeover.”

“Only better, because we didn’t have to put up with Ty What’s-his-name.” Maria added gleefully.

“So Amy, are you going to have a housewarming party?” Nancy asked.

“Absolutely, but I want to wait a while until everything is more settled.” Amy assured her. “And Jim is back.”

“Ooh.” Nancy teased. “When will he be coming home?”

“It’ll probably be another few days. He’s not starting back in the Sheriff’s department for another two weeks so he’s going to take advantage of the time off.” Amy said, her cheeks blushing prettily.

“We should take this out before Isabel starts on the next room.” Liz said as she picked up the tray of drinks and headed into the living room. “Who’s thirsty?”

She was immediately mobbed as the thirsty workers jostled each other to get their hands on the cool drinks. Behind her Maria was trying to limit them to two homemade cookies each.

“Do not leave glasses on the furniture or on the floor – you’ll cause watermarks.” Isabel warned. “And don’t get crumbs in here either. Take them out onto the porch.”

“Wow Isabel, have you ever thought of joining the army?” Maria asked. “You’d make a great drill sergeant.”

Isabel glared at her and accepted the last glass from Liz gratefully. “I’m just trying to help.”

“And we appreciate it so much.” Amy gushed as she entered the room. “We’d never have coped without you here today. Thank you so much.”

“Your welcome.” Isabel said. “I’ve enjoyed myself, it’s been fun.”

“Sadistic torture more like.” Michael mumbled under his breath.

“So we’re doing your room next Maria. Can you show me where you want everything?” Isabel asked, ignoring Michael.

Maria and Isabel disappeared up the stairs to her room. Michael wandered out to join the other guys on the porch and the women returned to the kitchen, leaving Max and Liz alone with each other.

They smiled at each other but made no attempt to move closer together. Since their argument and almost-kiss on the balcony the week before, they had been spending more time together but always maintained a physical distance, avoiding any kind of contact.

“So how’s it going with my dad?” Liz asked.

“Uncomfortable, he keeps glaring at me. But I keep at least six guys between us at all times so we don’t have to talk to each other.” Max answered.

“Maybe you should try start a conversation with him.” Liz suggested. “Show him what a great guy you are.”

“Liz your dad doesn’t like me.” Max pointed out. “He can barely tolerate me being in his presence, talking to him might set him off. So right now I’m maintaining my distance, he’ll cool down in a while and then I’ll slowly start working my way into his good books.”

“I’m going to talk to him.” Liz informed Max. “He’s got to accept that we’re dating and that your going to be my life from now on so he has to make an effort to get on with you.”

Max shook his head. “Don’t push him, give him time to cool down first.”

Just as Liz was about to respond they heard the sound of footsteps in the hall and Jeff Parker entered the room. He seemed surprised to find Max and Liz alone, and more surprised to see them standing several feet apart.

Before anybody could react, Isabel came marching down the stairs clapping her hands. “Alright, break-time over. Back to work. Chop chop.”

Jeff glared at Max one last time before following Isabel outside.

“Chop chop. Better not keep Sergeant Evans waiting.” Liz smirked at Max.

Max drained the last of his lemonade and handed the glass to Liz. For a brief second, their fingertips brushed against each other and each felt a tingle shoot through their body. Max pulled away quickly and hurried outside. Almost colliding with Maria who had been watching the exchange from the doorway.

Liz waited until the guys had re-entered the house carrying more furniture before venturing outside to collect the empty glasses.

Maria followed her out with a grin on her face. “So what’s up with you and Max?” She asked.

“Nothing.” Liz told her. “The usual.”

“Gotta’ say Liz, you and Max don’t usually stand three miles apart when you’re alone.” Maria pointed out.

“I just don’t want to aggravate Dad.” Liz told her as she gathered the glasses onto her tray.

“Liz. You’ve been doing it all week, even when your dad is nowhere in sight. You keep throwing each other these looks – ”

“What kind of looks?”

“The take-me-now kind of looks.”

Liz sighed and plopped down on to an upturned packing crate. “Everytime I’m with him and even when I’m not with him, all I can think about is that night on the balcony when we almost kissed. It made me realise that we haven’t kissed in over a year. I want to kiss him so badly. I miss it, I miss being close to him.”

“So what’s stopping you?” Maria prodded.

“If we kiss once, it’ll lead to more kissing and we’ll skip over all the problems we have and all the work we need to do and just be…”

“Kissing?” Maria supplied helpfully.

“Yes, but as much as I want to kiss him I know that we can’t. Not until we’ve made more inroad into the mountain of crap first.” Liz said mournfully. “There’s still so much to go through and to talk about. It’s taking too long. I want the kissing to start.”

“I guess you’ve got a good incentive to talk and you won’t just avoid it and put it off.” Maria said sympathetically. “So the reason you stand so far apart is.”

“If I stand any closer I’ll jump him.” Liz said simply.

There was a thunderous commotion as a group of volunteers rushed down the stairs. They lifted Maria's new chest of drawers and carried it inside.

“Well you guys should tone down the looks. They’re hot and heavy enough to frizz hair.” Maria told Liz.

“I’m surprised you noticed, you and Michael are joined at the lips these days.” Liz retorted.

As another group of volunteers came down to collect another piece of furniture, Liz took the empty glasses into the kitchen. She poured some lemonade for herself and Maria and rejoined her friend on the porch.

“My mom and your mom are giggling at pictures of a naked man they found on one of the magazines used to wrap the crockery in.” A horrified Liz told Maria. “It’s so embarrassing.”

Maria laughed. “They’ve become really close since we moved in with you guys. They remind me of us when we were twelve, giggling and whispering all the time.”

“It’s kind of cute.” Liz agreed. “It’s going to be so strange when you’re gone.”

“Quite and roomy you mean.” Maria corrected her. “I’ve really enjoyed living with you, it’s been such fun.”

“I’m going to miss you so much.” Liz told Maria. “It was like having a sister.”

“I’m going to miss you too.” Maria admitted. “But I can’t wait to move in here, have my own space again. Get away from the atmosphere in your house. No offence, but the last few days have been like living in a fridge.”

“I’m sorry about that, but my Dad is being completely unreasonable. He watches me like a hawk all the time, keeps checking up on me and he deliberately rosters me for work when he knows Max is off.” Liz grumbled.

“Liz he found you making out with a guy he doesn’t like in your bedroom in the middle of the night.” Maria reminded her. “He’s just looking out for you because he loves you. Play the good girl for a while and he’ll ease off.”

“We weren’t making out, it wasn’t in my bedroom and it wasn’t the middle of the night.” Liz argued.

Maria waved her hand dismissivly. “Semantics. You had a guy in your room. Don’t forget he had received an anonymous letter in the mail telling him that Max is dangerous. He doesn’t trust either of you at the moment. Give him a few weeks, show him you’re trustworthy. He’ll come round.”

Liz sighed. “I guess.”

Maria slapped her knees. “Come on. We should go in and be seen to do some work.”

In the kitchen they found Jeff Parker kissing his wife goodbye.

“Mr Parker, are you going AWOL?” Maria joked.

Jeff laughed. “I’ve been given permission to leave. I’ve to go back to the Crashdown to check on some things and make sure it’s ok. I’m expecting some workmen this afternoon.” He saluted them and left.


*

Cole Browne cast an appraising eye around what would soon be his new office. Its current occupant was clearly unorganised and messy. The desktop was groaning under the weight of files, there were several stacks of them on the floor and the filing cabinets were overstuffed.

Sam Hanson cleared a stack off a chair and pulled it close to the desk, toppling another stack and spilling the contents of several files onto the floor. He cursed under his breath and began stuffing them back into folders without checking to see what they were.

Cole took the chair, gaining a sudden insight into why the City Council was so desperate to bring him in and move Hanson out.

A flustered Hanson took the seat opposite Cole. “I’ve got the files on the most frequent offenders, the people you should keep an eye on and the most important on-going cases right here. I thought we should go through those first.”

“I’m sure Jim Valenti can point me in the direction of the ones to watch and your other deputies can bring me up to speed on the cases they’re working once I start.” Cole told him. “I’d rather look at another file.”

“Oh.” Hanson said, failing to cover his surprise. “Have you one in mind?”

“Yes. My father always spoke about Jim Valenti with great admiration. From what I know and have heard of the man, he’s a first class cop. I’m very curious as to why the City Council saw fit to fire him. I’d like to see his file.”

Hanson cleared his throat. “We don’t have a file on Jim.”

“Surely you must have something on him? He can’t have lost his job for no reason.” Cole said evenly. “From what I understand, it was something to do with some kids. I’d like to see what you’ve got on him and these kids.”

Hanson averted his gaze from the man and scratched the back of his head. “We don’t keep a file on Jim. That was the city council, you should ask them for his file.”

“What about the kid’s files? Look, I’m going to be in charge here soon enough anyway and I’ll be able to look at the files at my leisure.” Cole pointed out. “So why don’t you just save me some time and let me have them now?”

Sam tapped his fingers against the desk, trying to think of another reason not to hand over the file. He had planned to destroy or ‘lose’ any of the incriminating files they had on Jim Valenti before he left his post. It was the least he owed his mentor. He realised that Browne may have suspected this and that was probably why he had come in today.

Cole raised his eyebrow questioningly and looked at his watch. He didn’t look impatient, he looked like he was prepared to wait all day.

With a sigh, Hanson reluctantly began sifting through the stacks of files. He knew exactly where the ones he wanted were but didn’t want to make it too obvious. After a few moments he pretended to find them.

With a sense of apprehension he laid the file on the desk but kept his hand on top of it.

“Jim Valenti is a good cop, he didn’t deserve to lose his job.”

“I agree Sam, that’s why I insisted on re-hiring him. I’m on his side. But I need to know why the City Council were so willing to fire him.” Cole told him reassuringly. “I’m going to be the one going up against them from now on. I need to know this.”

Sam nodded and slid the file over towards Cole. He resumed his seat and watched as Cole leafed through the documents.

The first pages he looked at were the most recent additions. Three anonymous letters warning the Parker, Deluca and Whitman family’s of the danger of the Max and Isabel Evans and Michael Guerin.

“There was a spate of those letters written a while ago, saying all kinds of things about lots of different kids.” Sam said nervously.

“Do you know who sent them?” Cole asked as he read through them.

“It’s one of our ongoing investigations.”

Cole looked up and nodded. “Sam if you need to be elsewhere you can go, I’m fine by myself.”

Taking the hint, Sam picked up his hat and exited the office with a feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach.


*



“I love you sweetheart. I’ll see you in a few weeks. Bye.”

Brody reluctantly hung up the phone and reached for a tissue in his desk drawer. He wiped his eyes and tried to bring his emotions under control. Telling Sydney that he had to postpone her visit yet again had been even more difficult than the last time.

He sighed and moved away from his desk and surveyed the museum floor below. The employees were gently shepherding the last remaining tourists towards the door and preparing to close for the night. He glanced at his watch and was surprised to see it was already closing time. His conversation with Sydney and her mother had gone on far longer than he thought. But then, he was used to losing chunks of his day without realising it.

He quickly began gathering his things and preparing to leave. He wanted to call into the Deluca’s new house and see how they were settling in. Hopefully Maria would be free to talk without her lumbering ape of a boyfriend hanging around and throwing dark looks in his direction. Although Maria seemed much happier with him these days, Brody still couldn’t see what a girl like Maria saw in a loser like Michael.

Brody powered down his computer and flipped off the lights. To his surprise he saw the lights were on in the other office. Usually only he and Isabel ventured in there and Isabel was off today, lending a hand with the move-in.

Brody tapped on the door and entered the office.

Steve, the gift shop manager was sitting in front of the security monitor rewinding some security footage. He jumped when Brody entered.

“Brody, I thought you’d have been gone by now.” Steve said as he paused the tape.

“Lost track of time.” Brody explained, he gestured to the monitors. “Is there a problem?”

Steve shook his head. “No, I’m just checking a few things.”

“It’s not another thief is it? I thought Isabel had identified the person who was stealing your stock.” Brody said

“It’s nothing like that, some of my staff are spending too long doing simple tasks and I want to make sure they’re not slacking off when they’re supposed to be working. It’s no big deal.” Steve explained.

“Ok. I’m off then, can you lock up for me tonight?”

“Sure. No problem.”

Steve waited until Brody had gone, then turned his attention back to the screens in front. He surveyed the many angles of the museum and quickly located the one he wanted

Isabel Evans, sitting in the staff canteen on her coffee break, talking quietly her brother Max. Steve quickly tapped a few buttons and the monitors changed until they were all showing the same scene.

Steve slipped a disc into the machine and pressed record.


*


Max pulled his car into spot in front of the Crashdown and turned off his engine.

“Thanks for the ride home Max.” Nancy said as she climbed out of the car.

“No trouble.” Max assured her.

Nancy smiled. “Now that our guests have gone, we have room at the dinnertable. Perhaps you could join us for dinner some night soon.”

“Thanks Mrs Parker, that would be great.” Max accepted.

“Great, you and Liz can work out what night suits best.” She waved and made her way to the door but instead of going in she waited and looked pointedly at Liz.

Liz smiled. “I should go in. Thanks for the ride Max. I’ll call you later.” She climbed slowly out of the car. “I’m so tired, who knew moving was such hard work.” She whined.

“Do you want me to feel sorry for you?” Max asked in mock disbelief. “You and Maria arranged the vases and the pictures. I’ve been lifting heavy furniture under the command of Isabel the merciless all day.”

Liz laughed and leaned in the window. She placed her hand gently on Max’s arm and squeezed his bicep. “All those years of working out finally paid off.”

Max flexed his arm and winked, then waved once more to Mrs Parker and drove off.

Nancy smiled at her daughter as they entered the diner. “He’s a nice boy. I just wish you wouldn’t hide him away all the time.”

Liz nodded her head in agreement, not wanting to get into yet another argument about Max.

Jeff Parker was standing at the counter in discussion with a customer, his back turned to the door. He didn’t see his wife and daughter enter until Nancy took a seat beside them and joined their conversation, Liz ignored him and walked straight through the diner.

She climbed the steps wearily and trudged into her room. Although she and Maria had been lucky enough to avoid the heavy lifting, they had worked hard getting the house in order and Liz was exhausted.

In her room she peeled off her dirty clothes and wrapped her dressing gown around her. As she waited for the water to heat up enough to have a bath she picked up the novel she was reading and climbed out onto the balcony.

Immediately she noticed that something was different. Her furniture had been moved and her telescope had been placed on one of the loungers. With a shock she realised that the fire escape ladder was different as well.

Her lethargy forgotten, Liz rushed to the side of the balcony and looked down. The old ladder had been removed and replaced with a fold up one. Instead of reaching all the way down to the ground, it hung only a few feet over the edge of the balcony. There was a lever at the side to lower it to the ground.

Liz climbed back into her room and marched into the living room. Her parents had just entered the apartment, they were laughing as they discussed the activities of the day but fell silent when they spotted Liz.

She was standing in the middle of the room, her arms crossed and a look of fury across her face. “What the hell did you do to my ladder?” She asked.

“I’ve reviewed the security for the Crashdown and our family home and made some alterations. It was at the insurance company’s behest.” Her father told her calmly.

“That’s bullshit.” Liz retorted angrily.

“We had a ladder going from a secluded alleyway that lead right into our apartment through a window that’s never even closed, never mind locked.” Her father pointed out. “Anybody could climb up and gain access to our apartment or the diner. The insurance company insisted we change it, so I did.”

“Liz, anybody could climb up that ladder while you’re in bed asleep. We had to change it.” Her mother added. “It’s an invitation to robbery.”

“What’s the point of locking up the diner at night when anybody could easily climb through your bedroom window?” Jeff asked. “You still have a ladder should an emergency arise. It can only be accessed from the top, so nobody can climb up and break in. And if somebody does use it, it sets of an alarm that alerts the police and the fire station immediately.”

Liz shook her head in disbelief. “Why can’t you be honest? You changed it because you don’t trust me.”

There was silence for a moment. Then Jeff nodded his head. “We changed it because it needed to be changed. But you’re right Liz. We don’t trust you.”


*
Last edited by tequathisy on Wed Oct 05, 2005 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
Image
Banner by Evelyn

User avatar
tequathisy
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2003 8:49 pm
Location: I'm behind you.
Contact:

Post by tequathisy » Wed Jun 22, 2005 11:24 am

Chapter 22


“Good morning baby.” Amy Deluca said cheerfully when Maria appeared in the kitchen. She placed a plate of pancakes on the breakfast counter and kissed her daughter’s cheek.

“Thanks Mom.” Maria said as she tucked into her food. “How did you sleep last night?”

Amy laughed. “Like a baby. I woke up this morning and expected to be back in the Parkers and that this was just a dream, but here we are in our new house.”

Maria grinned. “Hard to believe it’s real, isn’t it?”

“Jim called a few minutes ago, he and Kyle got back in late last night so I invited him and Kyle over for dinner tonight. Do you want to ask Michael and Liz?” Amy told Maria. “Maybe I should invite all the Parkers.”

“Wouldn’t you prefer a smaller crowd on your first night? It’ll give you and Jim a better chance to talk, if there’s lots of people here you’ll have to entertain them all.” Maria suggested. “I can go over to Michael’s after dinner, give you guys some alone time. When you’re more settled in you can invite everyone else.”

Amy looked at her daughter curiously. “You’d be ok with that? I thought you weren’t comfortable with Jim and I dating.”

Maria shrugged. “You make each other happy, that’s the most important thing. Besides, new house, new start.”

Amy hugged her daughter. “I don’t suppose you could extend that to your cousin, could you? I think he’s suffered enough.”

“I’ll try, but I can’t make any promises.” Maria said with a roll of her eyes.

“Thanks honey.” Amy went to the door of the kitchen and called Sean.

He appeared a few moments later dressed in the UFO museum uniform and looking nervous. Amy fussed over him, straightening his vest and smoothing down his hair.

“You look so handsome in your uniform.” Amy assured him, then she turned to Maria. “Doesn’t he honey.”

“You look great Sean.” Maria said with a forced smile. “Good luck today.”

“Thanks M.” Sean said in surprise.

“We should go, don’t want to be late on your first day.” Amy said as she collected her things. She kissed Maria and hurried out the door.

“Bye Mom.” Maria called after her. “Bye Sean, try not to get fired.”

Sean stuck his tongue out at her and hurried after his aunt.

A few minutes later, as Maria was finishing her breakfast, she heard somebody hammering loudly at the door. She opened it to find a furious Liz Parker standing on the porch.

“You are not going to believe what my Dad did yesterday.” Liz said venomously as she marched into the house.

“Good morning to you too Liz.” Maria said. She looked at her friend at raised her eyebrow. “What did he do?”

“He changed the ladder on my balcony.” Liz revealed.

“That bstard.” Maria said sarcastically. “Let’s go upstairs and you can tell me all about it while I try and figure out what to wear.”

Liz stomped up the stairs after Maria and followed her into her bedroom.

“I came home yesterday after helping out here and my old ladder was gone. He put in this new one that folds up and can only be let down from the top. And if it is let down, it sets of an alarm that alerts the police, the fire services and wakes the entire town.” Liz ranted as she paced up and down the room. “He says it’s a security precaution that the insurance company made him install. But he’s just trying to keep me a prisoner and make sure I never leave the house.”

Maria emerged form her closet with a bundle of clothes and began sorting through them.

“Are you even listening to me?” Liz demanded. “Can you believe it? What a jerk, I can’t believe he would do something like that. He doesn’t trust me.”

“Of course he doesn’t trust you. You’re always sneaking down that ladder. A couple of nights ago, he found you and Max on your balcony.” Maria reminded her calmly. “I’ve always wondered why your parents allowed that ladder to stay the way it was. Most other kids don’t have their own private access to and from their bedroom, they have to use the front door.”

“He didn’t have to go behind my back though.” Liz fumed.

“So he was a bit sneaky.” Maria said picking up a skirt. “Your dad took some measures to prevent thieves breaking into his home and business through his teenage daughters bedroom window. You still have an escape route if the place goes on fire, you can still come and go as you please through the front door, they didn’t forbid Max from seeing you. What exactly is the problem?”

“He was so sneaky about it. He could have told me, got my opinion on it but he waited until I was out for the day before he brought them in.” Liz pointed out.

“Does he consult you when he buys a new fridge for the restaurant or changes suppliers?” Maria asked.

Liz sank onto the bed. “No.” She said sulkily. “But he should have been upfront about it.”

“Probably.” Maria nodded. “But you’re over reacting. Your dad loves you and wants to protect you, you should be glad you have him. And I get called a drama queen.”

“I guess.” Liz sighed. She watched as Maria selected a different outfit and began getting dressed. “Wow, that’s a massive hickey.”

Maria examined it in the mirror. “You should see the other guy.” She laughed and sat on the bed beside Liz. “It’s so amazing. He might look and act like a Neanderthal most of the time, but Michael is a god in bed.”

“Oh.” Said Liz.

“I don’t know where he learned his stuff, but he really knows what to do.” Maria continued. “Maybe they’re programmed to be great lovers. I mean, on that tape we saw, Max certainly knew what he was doing.”

Liz shifted uncomfortably at the memory of that tape. “I guess.” She mumbled.

“But it’s more than physical. There’s this amazing emotional connection too. I can feel how much Michael loves me.” Maria went on. “Although the physical part is pretty damn amazing.” She bit her lip. “I’m worried that I’m not doing the same for him.”

“Of course you are.” Liz assured her.

Maria shook her head. “He says he’s really happy and that everything’s great but I’m afraid he’s going to start wondering if doing it with another alien is better.”

“He’d never think that.” Liz told Maria. “He loves you, and judging by the way he’s always all over you, it must be great for him too.”

“I guess.” Maria said uncertainly. “But Max told him that when he and Tess made love, their orgasm lasted an hour. And it’s nowhere near that long for us. What happens if Michael decides he’d like some of that? I can never satisfy him the way another alien can.”

“An hour?” Liz repeated weakly.

“Maybe it was because they were made for each other. Or maybe it’s because they conceived a child.” Maria mused. “But I can never live up to that, I hate disappointing Michael.”

Liz said nothing, but Maria’s words kept echoing in her ear and images from the tape began running through her mind.

Suddenly the lamp on Maria’s bedside locker exploded into small pieces and flew across the room.

“Maria I’m so sorry.” Liz shrieked. She jumped off the bed and began picking up the pieces. “I’m so sorry, I’ll buy you a new one. I didn’t mean to do that, it just happened. I’m so sorry.”

“Oh my God.” Maria said in surprise. She stared at Liz for a moment in shock. “Wow, you must think I’m so dumb. All this time I’ve been blaming Tess and it was you.”

Liz froze. “What?” She whispered.

“It was you.” Maria repeated, louder this time. “You burned down my home, you destroyed everything I had. You took away everything that belonged to me, to my mother. It wasn’t Tess, it wasn’t a booby-trap. It was you.”

“I’m sorry.” Liz said as tears streamed down her face.

“How could you do that to me?” Maria demanded.

“I didn’t mean to.” Liz told her. “I’m sorry.”

Maria looked at her friend. “You’re such a liar, no wonder Max doesn’t trust you. Every word that comes out of your mouth is a lie or a manipulation. You are incapable of telling the truth.”

“No Maria. I was going to tell you.” Liz protested. “Please, I’m…”

Maria covered her ears and yelled. “I don’t want to hear it Liz. I don’t want to hear anymore of your lies. Get out.”

“Maria, I’m so sorry.” Liz pleaded.

“I said, get out of my house.” Maria screamed. “Get out.”

Blinded by tears, Liz left the room and ran out of the house.


*


Philip Evans brought his car to a halt at the side of the desert road and climbed out. It had been several years since he had last come out to this isolated spot. Little had changed in that time, the road was even more overgrown, and a couple of scabby bushes had sprung up.

He could remember the day so well. The sun had been beating down hard, a light breeze was causing the dust to swirl. When he had seen the two children standing at the side of the road he had thought he was seeing a mirage or a hallucination.

As Diane had comforted the children and tried to get them to drink some water, Philip had searched up and down the road for some clues about where they had come from. He had walked into the desert, out of the sight of his car expecting to find an unturned car or a couple of wasted hippies, but all he had seen were sand and rocks. Nobody had replied to his shouts except his own echo.

Now he wondered had Michael been there that day, hiding and watching. Too afraid to come out and join Max and Isabel? Was he alone, or was somebody else with him, waiting for Philip to go away?

With a shake of his head, Philip climbed back into his car and continued on his journey towards the spot where Michael had been found. He remembered driving this way, towards a filling station that day. In their shock at finding the two children wandering in the desert, Diane and Philip had thought maybe they had climbed out of a car at the filling station and wandered away. They had fully expected to find two hysterical parents desperately searching the buildings behind it in search of their missing children.

He realised that Michael may have seen the car driving away and tried to follow it. By walking the three miles away from Roswell town Michael had crossed the county line. So when he was found he had fallen into a different jurisdiction.

Following the map carefully, Philip drove to the road where Michael had been found. It was similar to the spot where he had found Max and Isabel. Halfway down the road there was a mailbox at the end of a lane. Philip checked the name - Rogers, the same name as the person who had found Michael. Philip turned his car into the lane, almost a mile down the narrow track he reached a farm. It consisted of a small rundown house that was little more than a shack which was surrounded by a couple of dilapidated buildings.

There was an elderly man sitting on the porch rocking back and forth on a squeaking chair. At his feet lay an old basset hound, he opened one eye to see who the new arrival was, gave an uninterested growl and went back to sleep.

Philip got out of the car and approached the house.

The elderly man doffed his hat to him. "Ricky-boy's out in the fields, he'll be back for dinner sometime this evening."

Philip consulted the paper in his hand. "Actually I'm looking for Rob Rogers. Do you know where I can find him?"

"I'm Rob." The old man said, he looked at Philip suspiciously. "You a lawyer?"

"Yes I am, but I'm not here to cause trouble for you." Philip assured him quickly. “I understand you found a child out in the desert a number of years ago, I’d like to ask you a few questions about it.”

The man looked at him through narrowed eyes. “Why?”

“I’m his lawyer, he’s trying to find his real family so I’m going back over everything, looking for clues.” Philip lied. “I just want to hear your story for myself.”

The old man nodded and gestured towards the empty chair beside him.

Philip took the seat. “Let’s start from the beginning, how did you find him?”

Rob closed his eyes and cast his mind back to the day. “The wife and I were in town, running errands. By the time we got home, it was getting dark. Rosie said she thought she saw somebody hiding in the bushes at the gate, made me stop the pick-up to get out and look. We looked for a few minutes, called out a few times but couldn’t find anybody. At first I thought Rosie was seeing things but when we were looking, I kept getting this feeling, like we were being watched, you know. But anyway we couldn’t see nothing and I had to get back to milk the cows so we got back into the pick-up and just as I pulled off I looked into the mirror and there he was.”

“The child?” Philip prompted.

Rob nodded. “I don’t know where he sprung from, we had searched everywhere – but there he was, just standing there, naked and filthy.”

“He was naked?” Philip repeated.

“Hadn’t a scrap on him. Rosie tried to wrap a blanket around him but he didn’t want us to come near him. We tried to get him to drink some water, but he looked at it like he’d never seen a bottle before.”

“So what did you do?”

The man scratched his head. “I drove back to the house to call the police, let them know we’d found a child. A couple of minutes later Rosie came walking up the lane and the little boy was trotting along behind her. Rosie said he followed her the whole way. Ricky, my boy, was sitting on the porch step just there and the little ‘un went up and sniffed him, same as if he were a dog. Then he sat down beside him.”

Is Rosie here?” Philip asked.

“She passed away a couple of years ago.” Rob said sadly.

“I’m very sorry to hear that.” Philip told him.

“Cancer.” The man shrugged. He was silent for a moment. “I had to go milk the cows, by the time I got back Rosie had managed to convince him let her dress him and get him to drink some water. He was real thirsty, looked like he hadn’t had a drink or a bite to eat in days. His feet were all bloody too, like he had walked a long way in them.”

“I think he had.” Philip confirmed. “From what I’ve found out he may have been abandoned six miles away and have wandering for three days.”

“Poor kid.” Rob said. “Rosie fell in love with him, wanted to keep him. But we couldn’t.” He gestured to the farm. “Couldn’t afford to look after him, could barely afford the feed the three of us. Besides we spent all our time working the farm, didn’t have the time to look after another kid. Especially one like him.”

“Like him?”

“You know, a retard.” Rob said with a whisper. “Rosie said that the state would pay us but it wouldn’t have been enough. And we were too busy. Might have been different if he had been any way sort of normal, if he could have worked. But Rosie and me were getting on.”

“I understand.” Philip said. “Taking on a child is a big responsibility, especially one with special needs.”

Rob looked away into the distance. “We always used to wonder about him, where he ended up. I sometimes think… but it’s too late now. So you know where he is?”

Philip nodded in confirmation. “He lives in Roswell. He didn’t have an easy life, but he’s a good kid and I think he’ll make something of himself.”

“So he’s not a retard?”

“No.” Philip said in annoyance. “While the child was here, did he do anything that struck you as strange, did anything unusual happen?”

Rob frowned. “The whole thing was strange. A six year old wandering in the desert isn’t unusual enough for you?”

“Apart from the police and social workers, has anybody else ever come here asking about him?” Philip asked ignoring the old farmer’s question.

“There was a lady a couple of years back, said she was a journalist. But we didn’t say nothing to her. Rosie was sick at the time and I didn’t have time to be talking to no nosy reporter.” Rob answered.

Philip rose to his feet and withdrew a business card from his pocket. “Thank you for your time Mr. Rogers, if you remember anything else please give me a call.”


*


Max jumped when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around to find Kyle standing behind him.

“Have you got a minute?” Kyle asked looking a little embarrassed.

“I just have to finish this up and I’m free.” Max told him.

Kyle nodded and jerked his thumb towards the main doors. “I’ll wait outside.”

Max finished his task and made his way outside with some trepidation. He found Kyle leaning against the hood of his mustang. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Kyle said in return. He kicked the ground with his boot and then forced himself to look at Max. “I just wanted to apologise for acting like a jackass.”

Max shook his head. “That’s ok.”

“I was blaming you for something that wasn’t really your fault.” Kyle told him. “I know that you’re not a bad guy, you just found yourself in a bad situation.”

“I made some huge mistakes.” Max admitted. “And other people have had to pay for them. You and your dad, Liz, Alex. I’m sorry.”

“It wasn’t you, it was Tess.” Kyle said in a clipped tone. “Anyway, I’ve talked it over with my dad and from now on I won’t act like such an ass. I know that we’re in for some tough times ahead and I want to help.”

He held out his hand to Max, who took in and they shook awkwardly.

“Have you developed any powers or made anything explode?” Max asked.

Kyle shrugged. “I’ve been thinking, the night somebody broke the window in your room, I was sitting in my car outside, waiting for you to come home. I was planning on beating the shit out of you. I remember watching your windows like a hawk for the light to come on. I didn’t see anybody else around, although I was drunk so maybe I just didn’t notice but maybe I did it then, accidentally.”

“Alcohol does seem to enhance our powers, maybe you were the cause of the windows breaking.” Max agreed.

“Sorry.” Kyle said bashfully. “Apart from that, there’s been nothing else. I tried a few times but nothing happened.”

Max nodded. “Isabel said she took you dream walking a while ago, that probably means it’s in there. It just might take a while longer to kick in.”

“Jodi-Ann Paterson.” Kyle said smugly.

“How did you convince Isabel to do that?” Max asked in astonishment.

“It’s the old Valenti charm working…” Kyle trailed off and his grin slid from his face.

Max followed his gaze and spotted Liz hurrying towards them, with tears streaming down her face.

He ran towards her in alarm and pulled her into his arms. “Liz what’s wrong?”

Liz sobbed something inaudible against his chest. Max ran his hands soothingly up and down her back. He noticed a number of people staring at them as they passed by. Gently he steered Liz towards the alleyway at the side of the museum. Kyle followed at a distance.

“Liz, calm down.” Max pleaded. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

Liz straightened up, wiped her face with the back of her hand and pushed her hair behind her ears. “I was over at Maria’s and we were talking and I got upset about something and I was already mad at my dad and I made her lamp explode and she realised that I started the fire in her house so she got mad at me and kicked me out and now she hates me.”

“You started the fire?” Kyle said in shock, Max glared at him to be quiet.

“She says that I’m a liar and that she can’t trust me. I tried to say I was sorry but she wouldn’t listen to me. She was so mad and now she hate s me.” Liz sobbed “I should have told her before.”

“She doesn’t hate you.” Max said calmly. “She’s just a little bit upset and shocked right now. I’m sure when she’s had a chance to think it over she won’t be so mad.”

“Yeah, you and Maria have been friends forever she won’t let a little thing like this ruin your friendship.” Kyle added. “She’ll get over it soon.”

Liz hiccuped and brushed her tears away. She shook her head sadly. “You weren’t there. I’ve never seen her act like that, she hates me.”


*


“Phone-call, line one.” Jan informed her boss.

Philip looked up from the deposition he was reading. “Thanks Jan.” He picked up the receiver. “Philip Evans speaking.”

“You the lawyer who came to see my daddy today?” A voice asked suspiciously.

“Is this Ricky Rogers?” Philip asked.

“Yeah.”

“Yes, I visited your father today. How can I help you?” Philip asked.

“What were you asking all those questions for?” Ricky asked.

“As I explained to your father, I’m trying to find the family of the young boy who was found on your farm twelve years ago.” Philip told him. “He’d like to know why he was abandoned.”

“Coz he was a freak, that’s why.” Ricky spat out. “Don’t you go bothering my daddy again, you hear?”

“Wait. Why do you say he’s a freak?” Philip asked.

He was met with silence on the other end.

“Did he do something strange or did something strange happen while he was there?” Philip persevered.

“You wouldn’t believe me.” Ricky said accusingly. “Nobody believes me. You’ll think I’m crazy.”

Philip sat bolt upright in his chair and gripped the receiver so hard his knuckles were white. “Why don’t you just tell me what you saw.”

The other man hummed to himself for a moment. “When my daddy was milking the cows and my Mom went upstairs to find some clothes, the kid was going around picking up everything and smelling it and stuff.”

“He was just a kid in a strange house, what’s wrong with that?” Philip asked, although he knew there was more.

“He was looking at the TV, only it was too heavy to pick up.” Ricky continued in a faltering voice, unsure if he really wanted to tell the story to the man on the phone.

“So what did he do?” Philip asked in his most persuasive lawyer voice.

“He made it float.” Ricky blurted out. “Yes sir, he did. It lifted right off the table, went three feet up in the air, and his hands were glowing. What do think of that?”

Philip gripped the phone tightly in his shaking hands. “I think that’s a ridiculous story. Thank you for your time Sir, I won’t be bothering you or your father again.”

He slammed down the receiver and sat back in his chair and rubbed his face with his hands. “I don’t think you’re crazy Ricky.” He whispered to the empty office.


*
Last edited by tequathisy on Mon Jun 27, 2005 11:21 am, edited 3 times in total.
Image
Banner by Evelyn

User avatar
tequathisy
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2003 8:49 pm
Location: I'm behind you.
Contact:

Post by tequathisy » Wed Jun 29, 2005 7:32 am

Hi everybody, thanks for all the feedback. It's been very interesting! Hope you like this part.



*


Chapter 23


Liz peered closely at her face in the mirror of the ladies restroom in the UFO museum. Her eyes were red and puffy and her cheeks blotchy. She pulled her long hair into a ponytail and bent down to splash cold water on her face. As she dried herself off with a paper towel, she pressed the heal of her hands against her eyes. When she looked at herself again she was amazed to see that all trace of her tears were gone.

She examined herself further and realised that she had probably somehow used her powers to wipe away all evidence of how upset she had been. She tossed the towel into the trash angrily, why couldn’t she learn to control the damn things?

Max jumped up as soon as she emerged from the ladies room. Kyle, who had been perusing some of the exhibits nearby, joined them.

“You look better.” He commented in surprise.

“The magic of alien powers.” Liz commented bitterly, she bit her lip when she noticed Max wince guiltily. “Sorry, I’m just still a bit upset.”

Max shoved his hands in his pockets. “It’s fine. Are you ok?”

Liz shook her head in the negative. “I should go, my shift starts in a few minutes.”

“I’ll walk you over.” Max offered. He held out his hand to Liz who took in gratefully.

Liz turned to Kyle. “Do you want to come over to the Crashdown? I’ll shout you lunch.”

Kyle smiled. “How can I refuse an offer like that?”

The trio left the museum, waving to Isabel as they left and crossed the street to the Crashdown. When they entered the diner, they spotted Jeff and Nancy Parker in conversation at the counter.

Jeff frowned at Max until Nancy poked him in the sides, then his expression became more neutral. Liz scowled at them then turned her back and pointed the guys towards an empty table.

“Things a little frosty on the parental front?” Kyle mused.

Liz glared at him but was prevented from replying when Jeff approached the table.

“Liz, your mother and I would like to talk to you for a minute.” He said politely.

Liz ignored him and sat into the booth. She picked up the menu and began reading it, deliberately holding it so that she couldn’t see her father.

“When you’re ready to act like an adult we’ll be at the counter.” He informed her before going back over to his wife.

Liz fumed silently to herself for a moment before throwing the menu down and sliding out of the booth. She stomped over to her parents and crossed her arms. “What?”

Nancy placed a calming hand on Jeff’s arm. “We know that you’re upset with us right now. And although we had every right to do what we did, it was wrong of us to go behind your back. We’re sorry.”

“We want you to know that we do trust you. You’re a good girl and we know that we can depend on you. We probably take that for granted sometimes.” Jeff continued. “I admit that the reasons for installing the new fire escape ladder weren’t entirely for security. I don’t like the thought of you being able to come and go behind our backs.”

“Or bring boys into your room.” Nancy added. “We did what we had to do and it can’t be undone.”

Jeff nodded. “The tension between us this past week can’t go on. I don’t like it but I know that some of it is my doing, so I’m going to try to relax from now on and trust you.”

“Thank you.” Liz said, her stance had softened but she still looked a little angry.

“We’ve got you something.” Nancy informed her. “It’s not a bribe. It’s a show of good faith, to let you know that we trust you.”

“And to thank you for all the work you do around here for us.” Jeff said. “We really couldn’t manage this place without you. We know that you feel a little constricted by us so that’s why we got you this.”

“Just because you have this now doesn’t mean that the old rules don’t apply any longer. Your curfew still stands.” Nancy said strictly. “But it will allow you more freedom and you won’t have to rely on us and your friends so much.”

Unable to help herself, Liz looked around excitedly. “What did you get me?”

Jeff ignored her question. “And just so you know, we had planned to get you this for a while so don’t think that you got it by sulking and not speaking to us.” He smiled at her. “We love you Liz, you know that right?”

Liz nodded. “I love you to.” She said. “What did you get me?”

Jeff looked at her pointedly and cleared his throat.

Liz bit her lip. “I’m sorry for the way I’ve behaved. I know it was wrong to have Max in my room and it won’t happen again.”

Nancy hugged her daughter. “Thanks you Liz.”

Jeff handed her a car key. “It’s parked outside.”

Liz looked at the key in her hand in astonishment. She couldn’t believe that her parents had bought her a car. She hugged them tightly. “Thank you, thank you.” She told them and rushed outside.

Her parents, Max and Kyle followed.

Liz looked up and down the street at the various vehicles parked in front of the diner. Then she whirled around to face her father. “Which one is it?”

Jeff grinned at her enthusiasm and pointed. “The black one there.”

Liz followed the direction on his finger and gasped in amazement, she had been expecting an old car, not the shining, sleek SUV that her father was pointing at. She shook her head in disbelief then slowly made her way towards it and inserted the key into the lock.

To her delight the jeep opened. “Oh my God, it’s amazing.” She squealed happily, jumping up and down in delight.

“Hop in and we’ll take it for a spin.” Jeff said as he climbed into the passenger seat.

Max, Kyle and Nancy watched as Liz slowly reversed out onto the street and drove off. She reappeared around the corner a few minutes later and honked the horn as she passed.


*


Michael followed Maria into the gleaming kitchen of her new house and whistled in admiration. “The place looks great.” He commented.

“I guess.” Maria said. “Do you want a drink?”

Michael shook his head. “I’m ok thanks. Where’s your Mom?”

“At work.” Maria said as she poured herself a glass of water. “Sean too. It’s his first day at the museum today.”

“Oh.” Michael said suggestively. “So we’ve the place to ourselves. How about we take this opportunity to christen your new bed?” He slid his arms around Maria’s slender waist and began kissing her neck.

Maria pushed him away and walked to the other side of the counter. “Is sex all you think about?”

Michael shook his head. “Sometimes I think about food.” He joked.

Maria glared at him.

“What’s wrong?” He asked in concern.

“Liz was here this morning, whining because she doesn’t get everything her own way.” Maria said bitterly.

Michael blinked in shock. He had never heard Maria say anything bad about Liz before. “What happened?”

“Her daddy took away her precious ladder.” Maria said sarcastically. “Poor Liz has to use the front door like the rest of us and she can’t handle that.”

Michael stared at Maria. “Did you two have an argument or something?”

Maria smiled sourly. “Or something, She blew up my lamp.”

“So?” Michael prompted, unsure why that would have caused an argument.

“So, I got to thinking about other things that exploded round her when she was upset.” Maria informed him. “Like my TV.”

“Your TV?” Michael repeated, and then realisation hit him. “Liz blew up your TV.”

“She blew up my TV and burned down my house.” Maria concluded. “And she never said anything. She would never have owned up to it if I hadn’t worked it out. Oh sure, she says she was going to tell me but that’s a lie. She would never admit to anything that doesn’t make her look like the poor, special victimised martyr.”

Michel helplessly watched Maria as she paced up and down the kitchen. He had no idea what to say.

“I’ve had it up to here with her.” Maria said, tapping the crown of her head. “I’m so tired of her ‘Saint Liz’ act. She thinks she’s so great because she’s sooo smart and sooo special. She always makes herself out to be great and noble and special. But it’s so fake, all she does is lie and manipulate and make herself look important. You have to go along with her all the time and to hell with everyone else. Well, no more.”

“Maria, calm down.” Michael said finally. He caught his girlfriend by the hand and led her to the table. “Sit down. This isn’t like you.”

“Why? Because for once I can see Liz for what she really is?” Maria asked caustically. “I’m not hero worshipping her like I always do? I don’t think she’s the most amazing person in the universe?”

“It’s not like you to be this way.” Michael clarified. “I’m sure Liz didn’t mean to set fire to your house. I’m sure she feels awful about it.”

“Of course she didn’t mean to set fire to my house.” Maria screeched. “Because that makes her look bad and me the victim, she couldn’t stand that.”

“Maria, her powers are new, she probably didn’t know she had them.” Michael said to Maria, trying to get her to calm down. “She couldn’t control them. It happened while she was watching that video, right? She got upset and did something that she couldn’t help doing. Why are you so mad at her?”

“My house got burned down, we lost everything.” Maria reminded Michael. “Should I just be ok with that?”

“No of course not, you deserve to be upset.” Michael assured her. “But, it’s not like you to turn so nasty about it, especially where Liz is concerned. I thought you would be more understanding.”

Maria stood up from the table. “Understand that she burned down my house and never said sorry?”

“She lost control of her powers.” Michael said calmly. “It happens. You understand when it happens to me, why are you so angry at Liz?”

“You’ve never destroyed somebody’s home.” Maria pointed out.

“I killed a man.” Michael said quietly. “That’s much worse than what Liz did and you weren’t like this with me.”

Maria threw her hands up in the air. “A murderer for a boyfriend, an arsonist for a best friend and an alien abductee for admirer. I sure know how to pick them.” Maria said tiredly. “I thought you’d be on my side but of course not. You’re on Liz's. Why does everyone prefer her to me?”

“I don’t prefer her.” Michael snorted. “I don’t even really like her, I’m just saying that she didn’t do it on purpose.”

Maria huffed exasperatedly and marched to the front door. “Go away.”

“Maria…” Michael protested.

Maria opened the door. “Goodbye Michael.”

Michael walked out, on the step he turned back to his girlfriend. “Look I’m sorry that I don’t want to condemn Liz to the fiery pits of hell but I think you’re over-reacting. If you just –.”

But he never got to finish his suggestion because Maria slammed the door loudly in his face.


*


“Why don’t you take your mother for a ride now?” Jeff suggested to Liz after he had finished showing her the different things she needed to know about her new jeep.

Liz glanced over her shoulder at Max who was sitting at one of the Crashdown’s outdoor table eating a burger and making small talk with Kyle. She was unsure if leaving her dad alone with Max was a good idea. “Shouldn’t I start my shift now?”

Jeff waved his hand. “You can have the rest of the afternoon off, I’ll handle things here.”

“You can drive me to the post office, I need to do a few things there.” Nancy said excitedly. She rushed inside the diner and returned with her purse and a handful of letters.

“Hop in.” Liz said to her mother. She waved at Max and Kyle. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Jeff waited until Liz had disappeared around the corner before approaching Max and Kyle. “Is everything ok here?” He asked in his best waiter voice.

“Great thanks.” Kyle answered. Sensing the tension between Max and Jeff, Kyle rose to his feet. “I should be going. See you around Max.”

Jeff gestured to the vacated seat. “May I?”

Max swallowed the mouthful of food his was chewing at once. “Sure.” He coughed.

“I want to have a chat with you about your relationship with Liz.” Jeff began nervously. “I don’t like you Max, and I don’t trust you. But it’s nothing personal.”

“Ok.” Max said uncertainly.

“I remember what it’s like to be a seventeen year old boy and in love. So I know what you’re thinking. I know what you want to do with my little girl.” Jeff told him. “That’s why I don’t trust you. Liz is a smart girl, but she’s seventeen too. I don’t want her to do something that she’ll regret later.”

Max nodded but wisely kept quiet.

Jeff continued. “I want her to be respected and taken care of. I don’t want her to be pressured into doing something she’s not ready for. And I have my doubts that you’re the man for the job.”

“Mr Parker, I love Liz.” Max assured him quickly. “I would never pressure her for anything. I will always respect her.”

Jeff Parker held up his hand to silence Max. “Ever since she started dating you, she’s changed. She’s become more secretive, started sneaking around. Spending the night out in the desert for example, bringing you into her room in the middle of the night.”

“I’m so sorry about that.” Max said. “We had a silly argument and I felt bad and I wanted to apologise, that’s all. I promise you that I had no other intentions when I climbed up her ladder.”

Jeff looked at him shrewdly. “In future you call, or use the front door. I’ve no problems with you dating her as long as you’re honest and up front about it. That means no more sneaking around, no more late night balcony visits, and no more overnight trips out into the desert. You are almost adults, please act like it.”

Max nodded eagerly. “Yes sir.”

“Good. I’m glad that we had this talk.” Jeff said as he stood up. “Needless to say, if I find out that you’ve hurt or mistreated her, I will kill you.”

“You won’t have to worry about that.” Max told him.

Jeff smiled and went inside the diner.

A moment later Michael slid into the empty seat. He began helping himself to Max’s fries. “Hey.” He said.

“Hey.” Max replied. “What’s up?”

Michael looked around. “Is Liz here?”

Max shook his head. “She’s gone for a drive in her new jeep. Why are you looking for Liz?”

“I’ve just been over at Maria’s.” Michael explained. “Have you heard what really caused the fire at their house?”

Max nodded. “Liz told me last week. She feels really bad about it, I tried to get her to tell Maria, but she was afraid that Maria would hate her. I never thought Maria would react like that.”

Michael shrugged. “She’ll calm down in a while.”

“I hope so. Liz is really upset about the whole thing.” Max said sadly.

“She looks fine to me.” Michael commented as Liz skipped excitedly towards them. “How is Roswell’s very own pyromaniac?”

Liz's happiness deflated in front of them and she sunk into one of the chairs. “You’ve seen Maria, is she really mad at me?”

“I’m afraid so.” Michael confirmed. “But she’ll get over it.”

“I should have told her before.” Liz moaned.

Michael shrugged. “It’s Maria, she never stays mad for long. Don’t worry about it. I have to go start my shift.”

“Are you alright?” Max asked Liz in concern.

Liz wiped a tear away from her eye and nodded.

“Let’s go for a drive.” Max suggested.


*


“Hi Steve.” Isabel said brightly when she entered the UFO museum giftshop. “I’m faxing through our stationary order now, is there anything you need?”

“I’ll just check, give me one minute.” Steve told her. He disappeared into the stockroom.

Isabel glanced around the shop. It was a quiet period of the day and there were only a couple of tourists browsing through the displays. Sean Deluca was perched precariously on a stepladder, dusting off the top shelves. He nodded his head in greeting at Isabel.

“Hi Sean, how’s your first day going?” Isabel asked.

“Fine, thanks. Very educational.” Sean told her. “I’ve never realised there was so much to know about UFO’s and aliens.”

“And this is only what they want us to know.” Isabel laughed. “Have you settled into your new house?”

Sean climbed down the ladder and wiped his dusty hands with a cloth. “Settling in. It’s so strange to live in such a big place. I’m kind of used to cramped conditions.”

“You’re so lucky to have got that place.” Isabel commented. “I wish I had a millionaire admirer.”

“You probably have a million admirers,” Sean told her with a wink. “Maybe they could club together and buy you a nice house.”

Isabel rolled her eyes. “You should get back to work.”

Sean stepped back up on the ladder with a cheeky smile. “Sure thing boss.”

Isabel smiled and walked back to the counter to collect the order form from Steve, who was watching the exchange between the two with an unreadable expression on his face. “Thanks Steve.”

“You’re welcome Isabel.” He watched her walk out of the store before he sidled up to Sean. “So are you and Isabel friends?”

Sean jumped at the sound of Steve’s voice so close to his ear. “Not really, she’s more of a friend of my cousin. But we’re working together now so that could all change, with a bit of luck and a splash of the old Deluca charm.”

Sean turned back to his task and didn’t notice the angry scowl on Steve’s face.


*


“This is a seriously nice ride.” Max said enviously as he parked the SUV at Buckley Point.

Liz nodded half-heartedly. “Thanks.”

Max switched off the engine and took Liz's hand. “I’m sure Maria will come round soon. She’s a pretty forgiving person.”

“Yeah.”

“She’s just upset right now. And probably hurt that you didn’t tell her.” Max continued. “Maria thinks the world of you. Maybe it’s hard for her to see you’re fallible and she needs to come to terms with it. But Michael is right, she’ll get over it.”

“I hope so.” Liz sniffled. She wiped away her tears using her sleeve in the absence of real tissue. “I can’t lose Maria. I need her. I don’t know what I’ll do if she doesn’t forgive me.”

Max put his arm around her shoulder and drew her towards him. “She needs you too.” He assured her quietly.

Liz nodded against his chest but continued to sniffle for a while. Eventually she stopped and they sat in silence with their arms around one another.

“Max what was alien sex like?” Liz asked suddenly. She sat up in her seat and faced Max. “Is it different?”

Max opened and closed his mouth a few times. He was really uncomfortable with the question and had no idea how to respond. He knew that whatever he said would hurt Liz.

“Why do you want to talk about that?” He asked.

“I need to know.” Liz told him honestly. “I saw the tape and it looked really steamy and I need to know if I come second in the comparison stakes.”

“There is no comparison.” Max said vehemently. “Just holding your hand is a thousand times better that what happened between Tess and I.”

“Max, please be honest with me.” Liz pleaded. “Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear. I want you to be completely honest.”

Max licked his lip nervously and forced himself to look at Liz. “Ok.” He took a deep breath. “It was hot. It was like something took over me, something inside me woke up. But it didn’t feel good. I felt empty afterwards, and cold and dirty.”

He looked out the window. “Do you ever get the feeling that you’re removed from your body? It was just like my body was acting on autopilot. My head was screaming to stop but I couldn’t communicate the message to the rest of me.”

“Did you enjoy it?” Liz asked in a small voice.

“No. It felt wrong and even when it was happening I was regretting it.” Max told her. “My body liked it, I mean, physically it was good. But I hated it. I hated feeling that way.”

Liz sighed. “Thanks.”

“Liz I mean it. It doesn’t compare to how it feels when I’m with you. And I promise you will never come second. I love you and when, if, we sleep together it’ll be so much better than with Tess because I love you and I want to be with you.”

“I hope so Max.” Liz said sadly.


*
Last edited by tequathisy on Wed Oct 05, 2005 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Image
Banner by Evelyn

User avatar
tequathisy
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2003 8:49 pm
Location: I'm behind you.
Contact:

Chapter 24

Post by tequathisy » Fri Jul 22, 2005 7:14 am

Finally, after everything I have a new chapter for you. Thanks to everyone for the feedback.

And if I may offer everyone a word of advice - make a backup copy of your work. I lost five chapters which I'll have to write all over again.

Hope you like this.

*


Chapter 24


Isabel climbed out of her mother’s car and took a deep breath. It was early morning, and the sun had only begun its climb over the horizon so the desert was still cool and refreshing. Kyle climbed out from the backseat, grumbling about women drivers but he instantly shut up when Isabel shot him a glare.

“Hey guys.” Michael greeted as he joined them. “Where’s Max?”

“Liz is giving him a ride.” Isabel told him. “So what’s on the agenda today?”

Michael gestured towards some large boulders, he had placed smaller rocks, the biggest the size of a baseball on top. “Those are for Liz and Kyle to work on, see if they can do anything with them.” He produced a deck of playing cards from his pocket. “These are for you.”

Isabel took them in confusion. “Why? Am I going to learn magic tricks?”

“Max says he wants you to work on accessing people’s minds while they’re awake so I thought if we each picked a card you could try and see if you can find out what it is.”

“You can read people’s minds?” Kyle exclaimed, taking a step back from Isabel.

“I’ve only done it once.” Isabel sighed. “And trust me, I have no desire to read your mind. I’ve already seen your dreams.”

“Hey.” Kyle began in protest but he was cut off by the sound of an approaching vehicle. They waited in silence as Liz's new jeep roared up the bumpy dirt track with ease.

“Congratulations Liz.” Michael called out as she and Max climbed out of the jeep. “You’re now one of the 6% of American SUV owners who’ve actually driven off-road.”

Liz smiled but it didn’t reach her eyes. She waited until Max, Isabel and Kyle were making their way towards the outcropping of rocks before catching Michael by the arm. “Were you talking to Maria last night?”

“I called her last night but she was already in bed. It was kind of late though, after I had finished work and driven home.”

Liz sighed. “She went to bed pretty early, I tried to talk to her but she wouldn’t come to the phone. If you get a chance will you tell her I’m sorry, please.”

“Sure.” Michael nodded.

Liz followed him to the rocks. Isabel and Max had taken seats away from where Michael had set the stones for Kyle and Liz. Max was staring hard at a card in his hand, he looked up and smiled as Liz passed.

Isabel tutted in annoyance. “Max, focus please.”

“Sorry.”

Kyle was sitting in the lotus position in front of the rocks, breathing deeply.

“Are you ready?” Michael asked as he nudged him with his foot.

Kyle rose to his feet with a serene smile. “I am an empty vase. Fill me with your wisdom.”
Michael described to Kyle and Liz how he had learned to control his powers, giving them tips on how best to focus their energy. He omitted the fact that it was Tess who had taught him, feeling certain that neither Kyle nor Liz would appreciate that nugget of information.

When he had finished explaining to them he demonstrated a couple of times then stood back to allow Liz and Kyle to try.

After several minutes Kyle’s rock suddenly clattered off the larger boulder it was lying on and tumbled to the sand below.

Kyle sat on the ground with a thump, his clothes were sticking to his body with sweat despite the cool air and he was panting as though he had run a long distance.

“Are you ok?” Liz asked in concern. Max and Isabel approached to make sure he was ok.

“I’m fine, that was exhausting.” Kyle panted. “You guys make it look easy but it’s not.”

“It was your first time.” Isabel reminded him, “It’ll get easier when you’ve had more practise.”

Kyle nodded. “I might sit the rest of this one out though.”

The others returned to what they were doing and Kyle took a seat in the sun to watch.

After half an hour of unsuccessfully trying to make her rock do anything Liz took a seat beside him.

“Are you ok Liz?” Max asked.

“It’s just not happening for me today.” Liz shrugged. “I’m going to head back into town, my shift is starting soon.”

“Can I get a ride with you?” Kyle asked.

“Sure. Anybody else want to come with me?” Liz asked the others, though her question was directed towards Max.

Max bit his lip and glanced between Liz and Isabel. “I think we’ll stay here a little longer and do some more work. I’ll see you later.” He said a little reluctantly.

Liz nodded and motioned Kyle towards her jeep. “Your chariot awaits Sir.”

The three aliens watched their friends drive away. There was a heavy silence in the air, although nobody spoke aloud, they were all thinking the same thing. Liz and Kyle’s inability to use their powers for even the simplest task was disappointing and discouraging. They wouldn’t even be able to defend themselves against other aliens, never mind fight alongside Max, Isabel and Michael.

Michael picked up a small pebble and threw it forcefully against a large rock several feet away from him. “That blew.”

“Kyle managed to use his powers to move a rock right? That’s the first time he’s done anything like that, sober. He’ll get better with practise. And Liz was just having a bad day.” Isabel said without any real optimism. She had believed that Liz would master her powers easily and after seeing her performance today was worried that if Liz couldn’t then Kyle had even less of a chance.

“I guess I can understand why Liz was so bad today.” Michael agreed gruffly.

“Why?” Asked Isabel in surprise.

Michael narrowed his eyes and looked at her. “You didn’t hear? Liz caused the fire at the Deluca’s house. Maria found out yesterday and they had a huge fight. Maria isn’t talking to her now.”

“Oh my God.” Isabel gasped in shock.

She was surprised at the revelation about Liz starting the fire, but even more surprised at the news that Liz and Maria weren’t talking. She had been forced to watch the two girls for years because of Max’s obsession with Liz and had always admired, and envied a little, their close friendship. Liz and Maria’s friendship was a given, like air and gravity and Max’s love for Liz. It simply existed and there was no arguing with it.

“I guess Liz was feeling too guilty and subconsciously didn’t want to use her powers.” Max guessed. “They’ll both get better with time.”

If there is time, all three added silently.

“So how did you two get on?” Michael asked.

“Pretty good.” Isabel said with a shake of her head. “I can see the images of the cards quite easily from several feet away.”

“Do you want to try working with Michael now?” Max asked.

“I’m a little tired after all that, lets work on something else for a while first and then I’ll try.”

“Cool.” Michael said cheerfully. “Lets blow stuff up.”


*


“That blew.” Kyle said bitterly as Liz drove her jeep over the rough tracks towards the marginally better road into town.

“Kyle you did great today.” Liz contradicted at once. “You’re judging yourself by the wrong standards. Max and the others were genetically programmed to have powers, they’ve been using them since birth. Compare yourself to the other six billion people on the planet – you moved a rock with your mind. That’s phenomenal.”

“I guess.” Kyle said grudgingly. He was silent for a few minutes as he considered Liz's words. Then he shifted in his seat so that he was looking straight at her. “I guess I should be comparing myself to you considering we’re the only two people who’ve been brought back from the dead by an alien and given superpowers.”

“That we know of.” Liz smiled sadly, recalling another conversation.

“Right.” Kyle agreed dryly. “And by those standards I was great and you sucked. What’s up?”

Liz sighed. “It’s the whole Maria thing. I don’t know what to do. We’ve never had a fight like this before. The longest we’ve not been on speaking terms before was fifteen minutes. She’s so angry with me, she hates me.”

“She doesn’t hate you Liz.” Kyle said softly as he examined the upholstery of the jeep. “She loves you. You’ve hurt her and she’s really mad at you but she doesn’t hate you. When you love somebody it doesn’t matter what they do, you’ll always love them. It just hurts way more when they hurt you.”

“Kyle…” Liz trailed off, she knew he was speaking about Tess now and she had no idea how to respond. If Kyle still loved Tess, then Liz had no words of sympathy for him.

“It’s ok.” Kyle said with a shake of his head and a rueful smile. He ran his finger along the dashboard. “This is the same make as hers.”

It took Liz a moment to realise that he was talking about Tess’s jeep. With a jolt she realised that she and Tess did have the same make and model jeep, although in different colors. Suddenly the shine on hers seemed to lose a little of it’s glean.

“What happened to her jeep?” she asked.

“It’s still parked behind our house. We’re not really sure what to do with it.” Kyle told her. “Dad mentioned something about selling it and giving the money to charity or something. It’s a new jeep, in great condition, he should get a good price for it.”

“That’s a good idea.” Liz agreed flatly.

“I miss her.” Kyle said suddenly. “And then I remember what she did to Alex and Max and you and I feel guilty and get mad at myself. But I still miss her.”

Liz sighed. “There were two sides to Tess. There was the horrible evil side that killed Alex and there was the nice side that lived with you and your Dad and was part of your family. That’s the side you knew and now she’s gone. It’s ok to miss her.”

“Sometimes I think that, but maybe there wasn’t two side. Maybe she was just evil and it was all an act. Maybe she didn’t care about us at all.” Kyle said so quietly that Liz had to strain to hear him over the sound of the engine.

Liz brought the jeep to a halt in front of the Valenti’s home.

“Don’t even think like that Kyle. The nine months she lived in your house were probably the closed thing she had to a family life, ever. Before that she was raised by Nacedo, who was a murderer.” Liz said, she kept her gaze focused on a small dog, digging up a flowerbed in a neighboring yard.

“She probably dreamed about finding the others her whole life. She thought that once she found them, everything would be perfect. She’d have a husband to love her, a sister to share thing with, a brother to look out for her. And instead, they all rejected her. She was treated with suspicion from the moment she arrived. Everybody blamed her for what happened. The only people who were kind to her, who made her feel welcome were you and your Dad.”

“It sounds like you feel sorry for her.” Kyle commented in surprise.

“No.” Liz relied with a vigorous shake of her head. “She was raised by a murderer to be a murderer. She was unfortunate but she had a choice. The closest she ever got to decency and normal was the time she spent in your house. I think that if there’s any humanity in her it’s because of you. If there’s any chance that she’ll do the right thing when her son is born - it’s because of you.”

“I don’t think she has any goodness in her.”

“Maybe you were a good influence on her, maybe in the end, she’ll do the right thing.”

“Good influence.” Kyle snorted. “It would be the first time.”

Liz smiled. “You’re a good guy Kyle Valenti.”

“Thanks Liz.” Kyle opened the door of the jeep and climbed out. “Thanks for the ride.”

As Liz drove off, she glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw Tess’s silver jeep parked in the Valenti’s back yard, gleaming in the morning sunshine. A reminder that though Tess was gone, she would always have a presence in their lives.


*


Max was surprised to find that blowing up rocks was just as strenuous as any work out he did at the gym. By the time they called a halt to the practise, he was sweating and breathing heavily.

But he was pleased with the morning’s work, he and Isabel had honed their skills considerably in the hour they had spent in the desert, and although they couldn’t match Michael for range and ferocity, he was confident they could hold their own.

“That felt good.” Isabel commented as flopped onto a rock and gulped some water from a bottle before passing it to Max.

Max nodded in agreement. “I haven’t had a work out in ages, I needed that. It was good to work up a sweat again.”

Isabel grimaced and pulled her sweat soaked T-shirt away from her skin. “Whatever you say.” She picked up the deck of cards and shuffled them before fanning them out and holding them up to Michael.

He raised his eyebrow questioningly.

“Pick one.” Isabel told him.

“Why?”

Because I’ve already done this with Max and I need to practise with you.” Isabel told him with a hint of exasperation in her voice.

Michael sighed and grudgingly took one.

Isabel closed her eyes and tried to access Michael’s mind, however unlike Max, Michael made no attempt to allow her to see. “Michael you have to let me in.”

She made another attempt but again was unable to penetrate Michael’s mind. “Ugh, Michael will you please let me in. This isn’t going to work if you’re fighting me all the time.”

“I’m sorry but it’s not that easy.” Michael scowled.

“Max managed to let me first time, we need to be able to do this. What if one of us is in trouble and this is the only way to communicate?” Isabel beseeched.

“I’m sorry, try again.”

Isabel took a deep breath to calm herself down. Then closed her eyes and concentrated on Michael’s mind. After a moment she saw a flash of red. “Ok good. That’s better, it’s a red card.”

“Right.” Michael said with a nod of his head. He shifted uncomfortably on the rock.

“Now focus on the shape.” Isabel instructed.

Within seconds she was glaring at Michael again.

Max shook his head in amusement as he watched them bicker. He stood up and began stretching his arms and legs in a routine he had learnt at the gym. It helped him to relax and warm down after a vigorous work out.

Suddenly he heard Isabel gasp. He whirled around just in time to see her tumble backwards off the rock into an ungraceful heap. Michael was immediately at her side to help her up.

“What did you do?” Max asked Michael as he rushed to help a shaken Isabel to her feet.

“It wasn’t me.” Michael protested.

“It wasn’t him.” Isabel said in a tremulous whisper. “There’s somebody watching us.”

“What?” Max and Michael both said at once, whipping around and looking in all directions trying to see the person who was watching them.

Isabel sank onto a rock, Max knelt in front of her.

“Isabel how do you know? What did you see?” He implored.

Isabel took a calming breath and answered in a shaky voice. “I saw us through somebody else’s eyes. Somebody is watching us.”

“Where?”

Isabel pointed towards the desert. “From over there, close to us.”

Michael and Max exchanged glances and followed the direction Isabel was pointing in. Several feet away were a small outcropping of rocks and beyond that open desert.

“I’ll check it out.” Michael told Max.

“Be careful.” Isabel said, grasping his wrist tightly before letting him go.

She and Max watched in trepidation as Michael approached the rocks, his right hand held out in front of him.

He climbed onto the rocks and gazed into the desert, before walking back over to them.

“There’s nobody there Iz.” He said gently.

“There was somebody there.” Isabel insisted.

Max took her hand. “Isabel, how did he get there? We’re miles from the road, he would have had to walk because there are no cars anywhere around. Those rocks are too small to hide behind. He couldn’t have run away because we would have seen him. There’s nobody there.”

“There’s no footprints, nothing.” Michael added. “So unless you were mindreading a lizard, you were imagining it.”

“I was not imagining it.” Isabel hissed furiously as she rose to her feet. “I saw it. Somebody was watching us.”

“Isabel we don’t know enough about your powers. We don’t know how they interact with Michael’s.” Max said in a soothing voice. “Maybe you saw whatever you saw because he was trying to stop you from seeing into his mind.”

Isabel shook her head vehemently. “Somebody was there. Somebody was watching us.”

With that she spun on her heal and marched to her car. Before Max realised what she was doing she had reversed back onto the track and roared off in a cloud of dust.

“Hey.” Max cried after her in vain.

He sighed in frustration as her car disappeared from view then turned back to Michael. “Nice going.”

“Was I supposed to lie and tell her that somebody was watching us?”

“You didn’t have to be so dismissive.” Max retorted angrily.

“Do you believe her?” Michael asked.

Max glanced towards the rocks then shook his head. “No.”

“Then what was I supposed to say?”

Max shrugged. “I don’t know.”

Michael threw a pebble into the in the direction of the rocks. “Time to call it a day?”

He made his way back to where his bike was parked and pulled on his helmet. “I guess you’ll be needing a ride.”

Max glowered. “Yes.”

“Hop on.” Michael said with a smug smile.

Trying hard not to sulk, Max climbed onto the back of Michael’s bike and clutched his friend’s jacket.

“Hold on tight.” Michael shouted over the roar of his engine. He kicked the stand and the bike took off at speed.

For a while after the bike had departed nothing moved. Then slowly small animals began clambering out from underneath the rocks where they had hidden while the humans were invading their environment.

Suddenly the air sizzled with an unusual current, causing the animals to pause what they were doing.

A couple of rabbits and a handful of lizards were all that saw the rock change it’s shape until it resembled a Man.

The figure stretched his muscles and then made his way over to another rock. He waved his hand over it and it changed back into a car.

The rabbits returned to their hunt for food, ignoring the shapeshifter as he drove away.


*
Image
Banner by Evelyn

User avatar
tequathisy
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2003 8:49 pm
Location: I'm behind you.
Contact:

Post by tequathisy » Wed Jul 27, 2005 7:28 am

Thanks to everyone for the feedback, it's very much appreciated.

sylvia37
Timelord31
Ellie
begonia9508
taressa05
Galliard
that's a good point!
BehrObsession



Chapter 25


Liz nervously rang the doorbell at the Deluca’s new house, she heard it chime loudly inside. As the sound of footsteps approached the butterflies in her stomach grew. She took a deep breath, braced herself and waited for the door to open.

“Hi Liz.” A cheerful voice said.

Liz felt her shoulders slump in disappointment. “Hi Sean. Is Maria home?”

“Nice to see you too Liz.” Sean said sarcastically.

“I’m sorry Sean, how are you?”

“I’m fine. What have you been doing? You’re covered in sand.” Sean laughed.

“I was driving with the window down and I guess I got some dust on me.” Liz smiled as she tried to brush the sand from her hair and clothes.

Sean glanced towards the street and spotted the new jeep. “Is that yours?”

“Yep.” Liz answered proudly.

Sean whistled in admiration. “Nice. Is it your birthday or something?”

“No, my parents just felt it was time I had my own mode of transportation.” Liz said as she returned his smile. “How’s the job going?”

“It’s good. Brody’s nice to work for, Isabel’s not too bad. Steve-the-gift-shop-guy is a bit weird though. I think he has a crush on Isabel.” Sean told her, he checked his watch. “Shit I’m late. Maria’s inside somewhere.”

He rushed down the path towards his own beat up car leaving the front door wide open.

Liz waved at him before stepping across the threshold. She knocked on the door gently. “Hello, Maria?”

She could hear the sound of Maria’s voice coming from the kitchen so she followed it.

Maria was sitting at the table talking on the phone, she looked up as Liz entered and glared at her then turned away. “That’s great. Looking forward to it. I’ll see you then. Bye.”

Then she hung up the phone and walked out the kitchen, without so much as looking in Liz's direction again.

“Maria, please don’t ignore me. Talk to me.” Liz pleaded.

“Why, so you can lie to me again?” Maria asked as he spun around to face Liz.

“I didn’t mean to lie.” Liz began.

Maria snorted. “Liz all you ever do is lie. You’re always keeping secrets from somebody and I don’t trust you anymore.”

“Maria I’m sorry. I felt so guilty about what I’d done. I was so ashamed, I couldn’t tell you. I would never lie to you.”

“Apart from not telling me you burned down my house?”

“I was going to tell you, I promise. I just needed to find the right time.”

Maria snorted derisively and continued up the stairs.

“Maria I’ve never lied to you or kept thing s from you before.” Liz argued as she hurried after her. “Even after Max begged me not to tell anyone about his secret I told you.”

“Because I made you.”

“No. Maybe a little bit yes, but I would have told you anyway. I would never keep anything from you. Whenever anything happens, my first reaction is to tell you. I – ”

“Like the time Michael kissed you?”

“I – ”

“You weren’t going to tell me that. You didn’t think it important enough to tell me and I was stupid enough to let it go because you had so much going on at the time. But I should have seen, that’s what you’re like.” Maria said in a low voice. “You’ll only tell me things that make you look good, that’ll make me look up to you. But anything that makes you look bad – breaking Max’s heart, kissing my boyfriend, burning down my house – you never mange to tell me about those things.”

“It wasn’t Michael.” Liz protested weakly.

“You thought it was.” Maria said furiously. “And when I confronted you about it you just dismissed it like it didn’t matter. Have you any idea how much that hurt?”

“I –”

“Save it Liz, I don’t want to hear it. I can’t even look at you right now I’m so angry.” She whipped around, stopping only to say. “Close the door on your way out.”

Liz jumped at the sound of Maria’s bedroom door slamming shut, then she turned and slowly let herself out of the house.


*


After Michael dropped him off at his house, Max had a quick shower and changed into his work uniform.

He trotted into the kitchen to grab some breakfast before going to work. “Hey Dad.”

“Max, do you have a minute?” Philip asked.

Max glanced at the clock on the kitchen wall. “Sure, just a minute though.”

Philip sighed and took a seat at the table. “I feel like I never get to see you anymore. How are things going for you?”

“Fine.” Max assured him. “I’m keeping pretty busy with work and stuff.”

“Stuff, yes.” Philip nodded. “So there’s nothing troubling you.”

“No everything’s fine.” Max said with a forced smile.

“Max I remember when I was your age I was sure that if I got into trouble my parents would kill me.” Philip began. “Even though they were never anything but loving and supportive I felt that I couldn’t disappoint them or that they wouldn’t understand. I was lucky, I never did get into trouble, but if I did, I know now that they would have been there for me.”

“I know that I can come to you if I need help.” Max smiled, getting to his father’s point quicker than Philip had.

Philip returned the smile but it faded quickly. “It doesn’t matter what it is, there’s nothing you can do that would disappoint me or make me want to kill you. I’ll always love you, no matter what.”

“I know that Dad.”

“So promise me, if you ever have any kind of trouble, no matter what, that you’ll come to me.” Philip asked.

“I promise.” Max lied. “Dad I have to go, I’m already late and Isabel is pissed at me so she won’t be happy.”

“Go. I’ll see you this evening.”

“Sure.” Max ran to the door but paused before he left. “I love you too Dad.”

Philip watched him go and said a small prayer that Max would come to him for help if he ever needed it.


*

Jim Valenti gave himself one last look in the mirror, straightening his shirt. It felt good to be back in his familiar uniform again.

“It goes against all my hippie sensibilities but I’ve always loved a man in uniform.” Amy commented as he walked into his small kitchen.

Jim smiled. “It goes against all my cop sensibilities but I’ve always like hippies.”

Amy laughed in delight and motioned for him take a seat at the table. “I’ve made you breakfast. I don’t want you going to back to you first day of work on an empty stomach.

“This looks great.” Jim told her, he took a bite of the scrambled eggs. “Tastes great too.”

“Should I make a plate for Kyle?”

“I think he already had breakfast, he was up pretty early this morning.” Jim said between mouthfuls. He finished he meal and wiped his mouth.

“Thanks Amy, that was great.”

“It was my pleasure. It’s nice to cook for somebody other than myself and Maria.” Amy assured him.

Jim took her hand in his. “It was nice to have you here this morning.”

Amy blushed and began gathering the used plates. “Would you and Kyle like to have dinner with Maria and I this evening? It won’t be anything fancy.”

“That would be great. I should go, don’t want to be late.”

Amy walked him out to his car, where they kissed goodbye.

“Have a good day at work.” Amy called to him as he drove away.

He arrived into the station still grinning from his morning with Amy. It was nice to have somebody in his life who made him breakfast and kissed him goodbye in the morning. He knew that Amy would be worrying about him all day and planning what she would make for their meal tonight. It felt good to have somebody who cared for him. It was good to feel that way for somebody again.

As Jim walked up the steps he felt happy and confident. It didn’t matter to him that many people in town thought he was corrupt, or that the city council were itching for an excuse to fire him again, or that he would be subordinate to a man who was almost young enough to be his son.

None of that mattered to him because he was in love with a good woman.


*


Michael entered Café 47 and looked around, for a moment he couldn’t see Maria anywhere until he spotted somebody waving at him.

He threaded his way through the crowded tables to where his girlfriend was sitting by the window and kissed her on the cheek. “You cut your hair.”

“You noticed.” Maria exclaimed in mock surprise. “Do you like it?”

Michael looked approvingly at her sleek new hairdo, it was blonder and straighter than it had been and a lot shorter, falling to just below her shoulders. “I do, it’s nice.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Thanks.”

Michael picked up the menu and began looking through it. “So why did you want to eat in here today?”

“Because if we ate in the Crashdown I would have had to see Liz again and I don’t want to.”

“How long are you going to keep that up?” Michael asked.

“A very long time.” Maria told him as she slammed her menu down on the table. “I’m really angry at her right now.”

“Maria she lost control –”

“Don’t try and defend her Michael, I don’t want to hear it.”

Michael sighed. “You’ve already lost one best friend this year. Do you really want to throw away your other one?”

“Michael, I mean it. I don’t want to talk about her. If you don’t drop the subject I’ll leave.” Maria hissed.

“Fine.”

They sat in an icy silence until a waitress came and took their order.

“So what do you want to do tonight? I got paid today so my treat.” Michael asked in an effort to get Maria to lighten up.

Maria sighed. “I forgot we had a date tonight. I promised Brody that I’d hang out with him tonight. It’s Sydney’s birthday tomorrow and he’s pretty down about having to miss it. Can we do it some other time?”

“Sure.” Michael huffed.

“I’m sorry I’ll cancel if you like.” Maria said sarcastically. “I’m sure Brody won’t mind.”

“No, that’s fine.” Michael said in a conciliatory tone, he had learnt by now when it was best not to argue with Maria.

The waitress returned with their food and the couple began eating.

“This place is nice, we should come here more often.” Maria commented.

Michael nodded. “Listen, today we were out in the desert working on our powers and Isabel swears that somebody was watching us.”

“The shapeshifter?” Maria asked in wide-eyed alarm.

“I don’t know, we checked and there couldn’t have been anyone but she swears there was.” Michael told her. “So just promise me you’ll be careful.”

“I promise.”


*


When Isabel arrived into work she learned that Steve-the-gift-shop-guy hadn’t turned up so she spent the morning running the gift shop. She was busy selling two tourist’s official UFO museum T-shirts when Brody came in looking worried and flustered.

He waited until she was finished before approaching. “Can I have a word Isabel?”

Isabel did a quick check to make sure that the other employees had everything covered before following her boss into the back room.

Dim lights to create an atmosphere purposefully lighted the museum and the gift shop, but the area that was closed to the public – back stage, as Isabel liked to think of it - was bright and cheerful.

It was the first time in a couple of days that Isabel had seen Brody in the light and his appearance made her gasp. He looked thin and tired, with dark circles around his eyes.

“I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate all the work you’ve done here today. You have the place running like clockwork.” Brody began, fidgeting with the leg of an alien doll lying on a shelf close to him. “I haven’t heard from Steve this morning so I don’t think he’ll be in today. He probably won’t be in for a few days, so I hope you don’t mind staying in the gift shop for now?’

“Of course not.” Isabel smiled. “Do you mean Steve didn’t call in sick or anything? That’s strange.”

Brody leaned closer to her and whispered. “I think he’s been abducted.”

“What?”

“Steve - he’s another abductee like me. We met in an online chatroom a year ago and our experiences were so close that we met in person. He couldn’t keep a job because he kept disappearing without any explanation so I offered him one here.” Brody confided.

Isabel frowned. “And you think he’s been abducted again?”

“Yes. Something’s happening Isabel.” Brody said, pressing a hand to his chest. “I can feel it. It’s bigger than ever.”

“Maybe something happened and he couldn’t call.” Isabel suggested.

“Isabel it’s possible that I’ll be taken next. I hope it won’t be for long.” Brody continued, ignoring Isabel’s interruption. “While I’m gone I hope that you’ll manage the museum for me. I’ll make sure that you are well-remunerated when I get back.”

“Brody, I’m happy to help but I don’t think it’s going to come to that.”

Brody shook his head sadly. “Please don’t tell anybody about Steve, he doesn’t like for anybody to know. I had hoped he would let me tell Max but he was dead against it. I though talking to other abductees would help.”

“I won’t tell anyone.” Isabel assured him.

Half an hour later Isabel took her lunch break. She rushed upstairs to find her brother. As soon as she sat down opposite Max in the staff canteen she revealed to him what Brody had said about Steve-the-gift-shop-guy.

Max sighed. “I thought we looked into him and he was fine.”

“Everything checked out. But...”

“But?”

“He’s really creepy Max, something about him unsettles me.” Isabel whispered. “I don’t believe this story about him being an abductee. We know who the real abductees are and he’s not one of them.”

“Maybe he just fancied a couple of days off.” Max suggested.

“God damn it Max.” Isabel yelled, slamming her bottle of water down on the table. “Why don’t you believe me about anything?”

“Isabel keep it down.” Max warned. “I’m just trying to be the voice of reason here. “You just said yourself that you don’t believe he was really abducted, I’m just giving an example of where he could be instead.”

“I think he has something to do with this morning.” Isabel declared. “We need to find him and find out what he’s up to.”

Max nodded. “I agree. Can you get his personnel file? Give me his address and Michael and I’ll check it out this evening. If there’s a photo of him, can you try and dreamwalk him?”

“Sure.” Isabel paused. “Max do you believe me about this morning?”

“I know that you saw something.” Max said with a sigh “But nobody was there.”

“Then what did I see?”

Max shrugged. “I don’t know. We really don’t know enough about our powers and how they work together.”


*


Liz pushed her way through the crowds in the UFO museum later that afternoon. She found Max mopping up what looked like vomit outside the men’s restroom.

“Wow Max, you have such a glamorous job.” She laughed sarcastically.

Max grimaced in her direction. “I made the mistake of pissing Isabel off this morning and somehow I ended up on clean-up duty. Do you think there’s a connection?”

Liz crinkled her nose. “Probably. Are you nearly finished for the day?”

“Another thirty minutes and then I’m free.” Max said as he checked his watch.

“Good, I’m bored.” Liz moaned. “I’ve had nothing to do all day.”

“Were you working?”

“No, but everyone else is.” Liz sighed sadly. “Except Maria, but she’s not talking to me. I went over to see her this morning and she kicked me out again.”

“Do you want me to talk to her?” Max offered. “We haven’t hung out in ages but we were close for a while. Maybe she’ll listen to me.”

Liz bit her lip. “Thanks Max. Do you want to do something tonight? We could shoot some pool or something.”

“I’d love to but I have to do this thing with Michael.” Max said regretfully, he glanced around to make sure that nobody was within earshot. “Steve-the-gift-shop-guy didn’t turn up for work this morning. According to Brody he’s been abducted before and it may have happened again. Isabel is pretty suspicious of him so I promised her I’d check him out tonight. I’m sorry.”

“Oh, that’s ok. Some other time.” Liz said with a weak smile. “So what did you do to piss Isabel off?”

“This morning after you and Kyle left, she was working on her mind-reading skills with Michael. Max whispered. “It didn’t go very well, he wouldn’t let her in and she says that she somehow saw somebody else’s mind instead. And that this other person was watching us.”

“What?” Liz balked. “Who?”

“There was nobody. We checked it out before we started and Michael checked it out after she saw the vision, there was nobody there.”

“Then what did she see?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s some element of her powers that we don’t know about yet. Or something to do with the way Michael was blocking her out.”

“So you don’t believe her?”

“I believe she saw something but not what she thinks it is.” Max explained. “And now with Steve not turning up today she’s convinced the two are linked.”

Liz looked at him strangely. “No wonder you’re on vomit patrol.”

Max smiled, then grimaced again. “I have to go in here now.” He said pointing towards the men’s room.

“I’ll go say hi to Isabel.” Liz told him.

She dived into the crowd again and slowly made her way to the giftshop. She found Isabel in conversation with another girl and it took Liz a moment to recognise her as Maria.

Isabel looked up as Liz entered. “Hi Liz.” She said with an awkward smile, glancing between the two former friends.

Maria stiffened at Isabel’s words but didn’t turn around to face Liz.

“Hi Isabel. Hi Maria.” Liz replied tentatively approaching the counter where they were standing. “I really like your hair Maria, it –”

“I bet Max would have believed it if Liz had been the one to see it.” Maria said in a biting tone to Isabel, ignoring Liz's presence at the counter. She glanced at her watch. “I should go and find Brody, talk to you later Isabel.”

Maria walked past Liz without looking at her, then turned suddenly and called out in a loud and cheerful voice. “See you at home Sean.”

Sean waved at her and watched her leave through narrowed eyes. Then he climbed down from the ladder he was standing on and walked up to Liz. “Are you and Maria fighting?” He asked in a tone of utter disbelief.

Liz shook her head and valiantly fought back the tears. “It’s just a mis-understanding.”

“About what?”

“Sean can you take over here.” Isabel asked in a voice that brooked no argument. She took Liz gently by the arm and led her into the area that Steve used as his office.

“I’m sorry.” Liz sniffed as the tears began rolling freely down her cheeks.

Isabel handed her a tissue. “That’s ok. Let it out.”

And Liz did. She sobbed quietly, her shoulders heaving with grief. She didn’t notice as Isabel left the office to oversee closing time. And was barely aware of Max as he slipped into the tiny cubicle and wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly until her sobs subsided.

After a while Isabel peeked around the corner. “Are you ok?” She asked gently.

Liz nodded and then hiccuped.

“I have to lockup now.” Isabel told her apologetically.

Liz gathered the used tissues and exited the cramped, makeshift office. They made their way outside where they found Michael waiting by Max’s car.

“You ready Maxwell?” he asked.

“Just a minute.” Max led Liz away from Michael. “Are you ok?”

Liz nodded again. “I’m fine, don’t worry about me. Go, do your thing with Michael.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.” Liz assured him with a roll of her eyes. “I’m going to get a tub of ice-cream and a dvd and have a night in.”

Michael gave an unsubtle sigh of impatience.

“Go.” Liz commanded.

Max smiled. “If we finish early I’ll give you a call.”

He patted her gently on the arm and then climbed into the car.

Liz watched them drive away. When they had disappeared around the corner she crossed the street to the Crashdown, alone.


*
Image
Banner by Evelyn

User avatar
tequathisy
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2003 8:49 pm
Location: I'm behind you.
Contact:

Post by tequathisy » Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:15 am

Hi all, thanks for the feedback.

Ellie I don’t think Maria was keeping count but she was making an example of how Liz isn’t always honest and forthright with her. I hope this chapter answers some of your questions about Steve-the-gift-shop-guy.
Chica Candy Welcome Thanks for reading.
begonia9508
Itzstacie
Timelord31
taressa05
AngelicFairy
She doesn’t hate Liz, she’s just really angry.
Grace52373 Thanks for the support, and re-editing. I agree, Maria is acting out of character and irrationally but she has a lot going on (remember it’s only a couple of weeks since Alex died.) And it’s all come to the surface. She’s not handling everything as well as Liz and the others. Or she’s dealing with her grief, which the others haven’t really done yet.
Emz80m Was Michael kissing her too important to mention? I thought Maria had a valid point there. Liz is very secretive by nature.
Arianneleigh
BehrObsession



Chapter 26


“Of all the smart, genius moves you’ve made, this has got to be the brightest.” Isabel told Max in her most sarcastic voice. “Just in case the person who was watching us yesterday didn’t learn enough about us, we’re coming back to the exact same spot to give him another stration. Brilliant.”

“Isabel.” Max pleaded. “We have to practise somewhere and we don’t know that there was somebody watching us.”

Isabel glared at him then climbed out of the car. “Fine, but the next time you’re captured and d don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Then she slammed the door, hard.

Max closed his eyes briefly and forced himself to remain calm. In his rear-view mirror he caught sight of Liz's jeep winding it’s way down the bumpy track. He climbed out and waited for her.

“Hi Liz, sorry I didn’t get a chance to call you last night. It was pretty late by the time we got home.”

“That’s ok.” Liz told him. “Did you find out anything?”

Max shook his head. “No, nothing. And it was really strange. We broke into his apartment but there was nothing in it.”

“Nothing?” Liz repeated in confusion.

“There’s a bed and a table and chair but nothing else.” Max explained. “No TV, no books, no radio, no mail, no snacks, no sign of life. He just sleeps there and maybe has breakfast there, but nothing else.”

“That’s weird.” Liz frowned.

“We talked to a couple of his neighbors but none of them know anything about him.” Max continued. “They never see him or hear him except when he goes to work and comes home again.”

“Did he come home last night?” Liz asked.

“I left after midnight and he still wasn’t home. Michael said he’d stay a little longer so maybe he saw something. I’ll ask him when he gets here.”

“He’s already here.” Isabel said, pointing to Michael’s bike parked in the shade of a rock. “I think he’s setting up already.”

“Max should we really be doing this here?” Liz asked glancing around nervously. “If Isabel saw somebody out here and this Steve guy is missing, maybe it’s not safe.”

Before he could answer, Isabel turned to Liz ands smiled sweetly. “There’s nothing to worry about Liz, it was all in my imagination.”

Max ran his fingers through his hair. “I never said that.”

Isabel shook her head. “Unbelievable, my opinion counts for nothing with you but as soon as Liz opens her mouth you agree with her – even though she’s saying exactly the same thing I just did.” She shot them both glares and then turned and stalked off.

Max hurried after her. He rounded the large outcropping of rocks and found her sitting on a boulder with her arms crossed and a thunderous expression on her face.

“Isabel I’m sorry, I didn’t mean – ”

“Max.” Michael shouted.

“I don’t think it was in your imagination but it’s impossible that anybody was watching us. There couldn’t have been anyone there.”

“Maxwell.” Michael shouted again, this time with more urgency.

“I never said I agreed with Liz.”

“It was written all over your face.” Isabel retorted. “You were about to agree with her that it was a bad idea to be out here.”

Max opened his mouth to argue but was prevented when Michael stormed over to him, caught him roughly by the arm and swung him around.

“Max, look.” He ordered.

Max looked in the direction Michael was pointing. “I don’t see anything.”

Behind him Isabel gasped in horror. “Exactly.”

And then Max did see, the rocks that Isabel had pointed out the day before were gone.

“Oh my God.” Max murmured.

“Now do you believe me?” Isabel shrieked.

“What’s going on?” Kyle asked as he jogged towards them.

“Yesterday I though there was somebody hiding behind rocks over there watching us.” Isabel crowed. “But dumb and dumber here thought it was in my imagination.”

“What rocks?”

“There were rocks there yesterday, Michael stood on them.” Isabel informed Kyle. “But they seem to have vanished overnight.”

“There’s more.” Michael announced. He beckoned for them to follow him towards the spot where the rocks had been.

When Max saw what Michael was talking about, his stomach churned violently. “Shit.”

On the ground, drawn in the sand and pebbles was the same symbol they had found in the woods when Nacedo had first tried to contact them.

Isabel took a step backwards as though the symbol would burn her. “Oh my God.”

Kyle looked as though he was bursting to ask more questions but a quick glance at the thunderous expressions on the three aliens’ faces were enough to keep him quiet.

“It’s him, it’s Steve.” Isabel insisted. “It has to be.”

“Were you able to dreamwalk him last night?” Max asked in a hoarse voice.

“No, I couldn’t get into his head.” Isabel told him. “It was like trying to get into Michael’s yesterday, there was a barrier that I couldn’t get past.”

“Sounds like he’s figured out we’re onto him and has changed identities.” Liz surmised.

“If that’s the case, then why leave this symbol here?” Michael asked. “It means he wants to make contact. If he wants us to know who he is, why would he change identity?”

“Because he wants it to be on his terms.” Max answered.

“So what do we do?” Isabel asked.

“We get out of here and we don’t come back.” Max told her. “We have to find this guy and talk to him – on our terms.”

Unable to keep quiet any longer, Kyle asked the question that was most troubling to him. “How do we know he’s not here now?”

Isabel, Max and Michael exchanged worried glances.

“Can you do your thing?” Kyle asked Isabel.

Isabel bit her lip nervously. “I don’t know how it happened yesterday. I didn’t do it on purpose, Michael just pushed me out of his brain and I landed in somebody else’s.”

“Try it.” Max said gently.

Isabel took a deep breath and closed her eyes. There was complete silence amongst the group, nobody dared to move a muscle.

After a moment Isabel shook her head. “Sorry, I can’t get anything.”

“Ok, let’s go home. We’ll figure out someplace else to meet up and train later.” Michael suggested.

“You still want to meet up and use our powers even though you know somebody is watching?” Liz said in disbelief.

“He’s a shapeshifter, one of our protectors. He already knows what we can and can’t do, He probably knows more than we do. He has already identified us.” Michael reminded her. “We need to practise.”

“He knows what you should be able to do, not what you can do. He doesn’t know about Kyle and I yet, why should we reveal our hand before we’re ready?” Liz countered.

“Liz is right, we need to –” Max began.

“Unbelievable. There are other people in this group apart from you and Liz.” Isabel shouted. “Does anybody else’s opinion count for anything?” With that she turned around and flounced off.

“Isabel.” Max watched her retreating figure. A moment later he heard the sound of a car starting and then being drove away. “Hey, that’s my car.”

Kyle suppressed a grin. “I guess we should get out of here too.”

Max nodded his head in agreement. They turned to leave, but Max stopped and returned to the symbol drawn on the ground.

He looked at it in silence for a second then kicked sand and pebbles over it until it was no longer distinguishable.


*


Jeff Parker picked up an empty glass and tapped it gently with a fork causing the buzz of conversation in the Crashdown to die down as all the patrons and staff turned their attention to him.

"Ladies and Gentlemen." He began in a loud voice. As most of you know, due to an unfortunate incident at the Deluca’s home we’ve been deprived of most of our deserts for the last few weeks. But I’m pleased to announce that the famine is over. Cakes by Amy Deluca are back on the menu."

The locals in the restaurant whooped and clapped loudly while the tourists clapped politely. Amy, who was standing next to Jeff, blushed bright red.

Jeff held up his hands to shush the crowd. "To celebrate the return, there's free pie for everybody."

The diner erupted in cheers and the waitresses emerged through the swinging doors laden down with plates of pies and began handing them out.

"I think I might need to place another order for tomorrow." Jeff grinned.

Amy laughed in delight. “It’s always a pleasure doing business with you.”

A waitress placed two plates in front of Nancy and Amy who made feeble remarks about watching their figures before tucking into the delicious pies with relish.

Jeff laughed at them as he made his way towards the cash register where a customer was waiting to pay.

“That’ll be $15 please.” He informed the customer. “Have you had a slice of pie?”

“Can’t have pie unfortunately, I’m diabetic.” The woman informed him morosely.

“That’s a shame.” Jeff agreed as he handed her the change that she was owed. “Have a nice day.”

He watched her walk out of the diner and climb into a car, just as Jeff was about to return to where his wife was sitting he saw Liz's jeep pull into park across the street. Max Evans climbed out of the passenger side.

Jeff watched them as they said their goodbyes to each other. He felt himself relax, there was no physical contact between them at all and it made him realise that he had been silly to worry so much about Liz dating Max Evans. Clearly they weren’t as serious as he imagined. Maybe he should trust Max, maybe he was a good boy.


*


“I’ll come by at lunchtime and we can talk.” Max told Liz. He looked at his watch and winced. “I better hurry, those toilets won’t clean themselves.”

Liz tried not to laugh. “I’ll see you later.”

“Hi Max, any luck finding Steve?” Maria’s voice interrupted.

Max jumped at the sound of Maria’s voice. He felt Liz stiffen beside him. Maria joined them, she smiled cheerfully at Max.

“No, I don’t think he’ll be coming back. Did anything happen with Brody last night?”

Maria shook her head. “We drank tea and watched BBC America.”

Max sighed. “I wish we could talk to Larek.”

“If he calls, I’ll let you know.” Maria smiled. “You should get to work, Isabel looks steamed.”

“Sure, I’ll see you around.” Max told her, he glanced at Liz. “See you at lunchtime.”

“Bye Max.” Liz turned around to where Maria had been standing and saw that her friend was already climbing into her car. “Maria wait.”

Maria groaned. “I’m in a hurry Liz.”

“Can we talk, please?” Liz begged.

Maria considered the request for a nano-second. “No.” Then she slammed her door and drove away.


*


Jeff frowned as he watched Liz standing alone on the sidewalk. She looked upset by the exchange with Maria.

Jeff turned to Nancy and Amy. "Have you noticed anything going on between Liz and Maria lately?"

Nancy and Amy exchanged glances. "What do you mean by going on?"

“I think they’re having an argument.”

"Liz and Maria are having an argument?" Nancy said in disbelief. "Highly unlikely.”

"Maria would have told me." Amy said. "I think. But she's been in great humour since we moved into the new house. She's even being nice to Sean. If she and Liz had an argument she would be inconsolable."

"So I'm over-reacting?" Jeff asked.

"As usual." Both women replied at once, they laughed "Jinx."

Jeff shook his head and watched Liz through the window, she was wiping her face with the back of her hand, almost as if she had been crying.


*


Kyle knocked gently on the door of his father’s new office and poked his head inside.

“Come in.” Valenti said happily. “What do you think?”

“I like it. It’s cosy.” Kyle told him diplomatically. The office was tiny, most of the space was taken up by the desk and the one filing cabinet. There was only a small window, the size of an A4 page. But his father looked happier than he had in a long time, and Kyle wasn’t going to deflate his bubble.

Jim smiled happily. “Sit down. How was training, any developments?”

“Apparently the shapeshifter was out in the desert yesterday, disguised as a rock. He wants to contact Max and the others.” Kyle informed his father. “They’re certain it’s this Steve guy from the gift shop.”

“I got one of the guys to run a check on him but nothing out of the ordinary came up.” Jim recalled. “What makes them think it’s him?”

“He’s disappeared, and Isabel gets a weird feeling from him.” Kyle shrugged.

Before Jim got the chance to ask another question there was a tap on the door and Cole Browne entered, his giant frame making the office appear even more cramped.

“Kyle this is Sheriff Cole Browne, Sheriff this is my son Kyle.” Jim introduced.

The two men shook hands.

“Nice to meet you Kyle. I hope I’m not interrupting anything important.”

“No, I just came to see my Dad’ new office. I should go.” Kyle said. “I’ll talk to you at home Dad.”

Cole stepped out of the office to allow Kyle to leave then returned. “I thought I’d take a drive around town today to get to know it better, would you come with me to show mw the hotspots?”

Jim jumped up and grabbed his hat in a flash, eager to be on the beat again. “Let’s go.”


*


Liz sighed in relief as the family of seven who had made the last hour hellish finally paid their bill and departed from the diner. She gave a quick look to make sure that her other tables didn’t need anything more before flopping into a booth opposite her father.

“I think that’s the lunchtime rush hour over.” Jeff sighed. “I can’t wait until you’ve finished college so I can retire to Florida to spend my days drinking tequila by the beach and reading trashy crime novels.”

Liz laughed. “You wouldn’t last a week, you love it here.”

“I don’t know, a couple more summers like this and I might change my mind.” Jeff smiled. “So how are things with you?”

“Fine.” Liz answered in a strained voice. “I’m having a great time driving my new jeep.”

“Good, I’m glad you can handle it. I was worried it would be too big for you.” Jeff admitted. “I wanted to get you something smaller like the Deluca’s Jetta but your Mom liked the SUV.”

“I love the SUV.” Liz assured him.

“Speaking of the Deluca’s, I haven’t seen a lot of Maria lately. What’s she doing to occupy her time now that she can’t work?”

“Oh you know, shopping, moving house, listening to music, hanging out with Michael.”

“I thought she’d be in here all the time. Especially as both you and Michael work here.”

Liz shrugged, wishing her father would get off the subject. “I guess she’s busy.”

Jeff nodded. It was clear to him that Liz was uncomfortable with the topic of conversation, which told him that there was something going on between his daughter and Maria. “So she’s not avoiding Michael or anything?”

“No of course not. They’re love’s young dream.” Liz told him. “I should get back to work.”

“Jeff put his hand gently on her arm to stop her. “Did something happen between you and Maria? Have you had an argument?”

“No of course not.” Liz lied. She left to attend to a table.

Jeff watched her for a moment before making his way into the kitchen where Michael was flipping burgers. “How are things going in here?”

“I’m running low on pickles, we’ve enough for today but I’ll need them for tomorrow.” Michael informed him.

“I’ll pick some up today.” Jeff looked out the serving window to make sure that Liz was busy before saying casually. “It’s very quiet here without Maria.”

“I guess.” Michael grunted.

“It’s hard to believe that they’ve argued. I don’t think they’ve ever fallen out before.” Jeff added.

Michael glanced up in surprise, then shook his head. “It’ll blow over soon, the good thing about Maria is that she doesn’t stay mad for long. Something will come up that she’ll just have to tell Liz all about and she’ll forget that she’s not talking to her.”

“If there’s anything else you need from the wholesalers can you let me know before three?” Jeff asked Michael before leaving the kitchen deep in thought.

What could Liz possibly have done that would cause Maria to stop talking to her?


*



Jim Valenti was enjoying the ride with Sheriff Browne. It was good to be back in the police cruiser, driving around town. He felt like his old self again. Or rather, he felt younger and happier than he had felt in a long time.

“It must be weird seeing aliens everywhere you go.” Cole said suddenly.

“What?” Jim asked.

Cole pointed to a shopfront which had three bright green aliens painted on the window. “They’re everywhere, it’s like Halloween.”

“I’m used to it I guess.” Jim laughed in relief. “Whenever I go someplace new, I always think there’s something missing. Took me a while to realise it was because there were no aliens anywhere else.”

“So what really happened in ’47?” Cole asked.

“A weather balloon crashed.” Jim answered automatically.

“Can I tell you something crazy? Promise me you won’t repeat this.”

“Sure.”

“When I got offered this job, I thought I’d be taken aside by the city council or you and be told the truth about the crash.” Cole admitted. “You know, like some secret society sworn to uphold the secret.”

Jim was unable to hold back his laughter. “That’s the craziest thing I ever heard.”

Cole blushed. “I’m a conspiracy nut. JFK, the De Vinci code, aliens, I believe the whole lot.”

“And they made you sheriff.” Jim spluttered.

“Well I didn’t tell them any of that.” Cole laughed. “So you really don’t have anything to pass on?”

“I’m afraid not.” Jim told him.

“Oh well.” Cole shrugged. A call came through on the radio. “Will we take it?”

Jim nodded and picked up the two-way radio. “Dispatch this is Valenti, we’ll take that one.”

“Hey Jim.” Cheryl said cheerfully. “We’ve a report of a man staggering, probably in a drunken state, on Wilson road.”

“We’re on it.” Jim told her.

He gave Cole directions and within minutes they were parking on Wilson Road.

There was a man walking along the central line, he was stumbling and waving his hands around his face as though swatting flies away. Traffic at both sides was crawling past him in case he fell in front of them.

“Three o’clock in the afternoon.” Cole said with a sigh.

They quickly caught up with the man and pulled him onto the sidewalk out of harms way.

“Excuse me Sir, can you tell me your name please?” Cole asked.

“I don’t know.” The man groaned.

Jim frowned. The man was speaking clearly without slurring, His eyes, though unfocused weren’t shot and there was no smell of drink off him. He looked familiar, though Jim couldn’t quite place where he had seen the man before.

“I don’t think he’s drunk.” Jim said quietly to Cole.

Cole nodded his agreement. “Sir, can you tell us your name please?”

The man looked at him in with a vacant stare.

“Have you had an Sir? Did you hit your head?” Cole asked again. The man continued to look at him blankly. Cole sighed. “I’m going to radio for an ambulance, he needs to see a doctor.”

He took a step backwards to head towards the cruiser when suddenly the man shot up and grabbed Cole’s arm in a vice-like grip.

“Don’t leave me.” He pleaded. “They’ll come back.”

Jim knelt beside him. “Who’ll come back? Did somebody hurt you?”

The man whirled around to face Jim with a half-crazed look in his eyes. “Don’t let them take me again.”

Then Jim recognised him. It was Steve, the man who ran the gift shop at the UFO Museum.

“Call the ambulance, I’ll stay with him.” Jim said quickly to Cole.

Cole nodded and crossed the road to the cruiser.

“Steve.”

He blinked. “Steve…Steve Horrowitz, that’s me.”

“Steve, my name is Jim Valenti, I’m going to help you. Can you tell me what’s the last thing you remember?”

Steve scratched his ear. “I was mopping the floor outside the computer lab and then nothing. How did I get out here?”

“What computer lab?” Jim prodded.

“The lab at the university.” Steve groaned and swatted at invisible fly. “It was night time. Everybody was gone home. What time is it now, it’s daylight?”

“The university?” Jim frowned. “Which University?”

Steve ignored him, he had caught sight of the cruiser across the street. “Does that say Roswell PD? Am I in Roswell?”

“Yes Sir, you are.” Cole answered as he rejoined them. “There’s an ambulance on the way.”

“This is Steve Horrowitz, the last things he remembers is mopping a floor in the University.” Jim explained. “I recognise him, he works in the gift shop in the UFO museum.”

“No I don’t.” Steve protested. “I work in the University, I’m a custodian there.”

“There’s no university in Roswell is there?” Cole asked Jim in surprise.

Jim shook his head. “Steve where do you work?”

“In the Litvak building, Los Cruses University.” Steve informed them. “How did I get to Roswell?”

“What day was it yesterday?” Jim asked with a feeling of dread in his stomach.

Steve frowned and swatted the air again. “Yesterday, was Wednesday, the 16th.”

“What month?”

“January. What’s that noise?”

“What noise Steve?” Cole asked.

“That buzzing noise, can’t you hear it?” He scratched his ear. “It’s really irritating.”

Cole and Jim exchanged glances and shook their heads. Neither could hear any buzzing noise.

“It’s very warm for January, isn’t it?” Steve realised.

“Steve, it’s not January.” Cole said gently. “It’s the 7th of June.”

“June…” Steve repeated feebly. He suddenly smacked the side of his head with so force he toppled over. “Make it stop, make the noise stop.”

He writhed as though in agony for a moment, his body spasmed then went still.


*
Last edited by tequathisy on Wed Aug 03, 2005 11:19 am, edited 4 times in total.
Image
Banner by Evelyn

User avatar
tequathisy
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2003 8:49 pm
Location: I'm behind you.
Contact:

Post by tequathisy » Tue Aug 09, 2005 9:24 am

Wow, thanks for all the feedback, that's the best response I've received yet. I hope that you all get a better understanding of Maria from this chapter.


Emz80m
Timelord31
Ellie
taressa05
BehrObsession
Pooklette
He could just be an innocent sheriff with an interest in the unexplained!
Alyshia
begonia9508
Itzstacie
Galliard
Liz86000
Welcome, I’m really not trying to portray Liz as the bad one but unlike a lot of people I believe that she’s not perfect and that she made some whopper mistakes. But that’s not bad, she’s a teenage girl in a very difficult situation. Max has also made mistakes and now they both have to face up to them. If you stick with me a little longer you’ll understand more where Maria’s coming from. I promise.
Venus_star2.com

Chapter 27


“Charge to 350. Clear.”

The doctor leaned over his patient pressed the paddles against his chest and charged 350 bolts of electricity into the man’s chest. Then he stood back and watched the heart monitor intently.

The flatline remained.

The doctor glanced at his colleague, silently asking for an agreement.

“Call it.”

“Time of death, 4.35pm.”

Standing outside the door, watching through the glass window, Jim Valenti felt as though the breath had been knocked out his body. He instinctively knew that this man’s death was going to cause a lot of trouble.

Trouble of the alien kind.


*


Max wheeled his bucket out of the ladies restroom, removed the closed sign and stood back as a flood of girls rushed past him. He groaned. In minutes it would be a mess, again and Isabel would come looking for him to clean it up, again.

He heard the click of heals making their way towards him, a telltale sign that Isabel was behind him. He swore silently.

“You’re not paid to stand around doing nothing.”

“I’m not paid to clean toilets either, yet here I am.” He retorted.

“If you don’t like your job, why don’t you find another one?” Isabel asked in a voice dripping with saccharine sweetness.

Max took a step towards her. “I like my job, this isn’t my job.”

Isabel tilted her head to the side. “This must be so hard for you. Everywhere else you get to be the big boss man, telling everyone what to do, having everyone obey you all the time. And then you have to come in here and do what I tell you.”

“What has got into you lately?” Max asked through gritted teeth.

“I’m tired of you ignoring my opinions all the time, of not listening to me.” Isabel hissed. “Tell me if I died my hair brown and shrunk a few inches would my opinion count more?”

“Iz, you’re being ridiculous. I listen to your opinion. It does matter to me.”

“Not if it contradicts yours or Liz's.” Isabel sneered.

“I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to you yesterday. I should have believed you when you told me that somebody was watching.” Max sighed.

“Why didn’t you believe me?”

“Because what you were saying was impossible. I honestly didn’t think there could have been somebody there.”

“So you thought I imagined it.”

Max hung his head in defeat, nothing he could say could make this right. “No, I thought it was some element of your powers combining with something of Michael’s. I’m sorry Iz.” He put his hand on her shoulder and looked into her eyes. “Your opinion matters a lot to me.”

“Good, because in my opinion we should tell Mom and Dad the truth.” Isabel stated boldly, her eyes flashing dangerously. Max could tell that she wanted to have an argument with him.

“Excuse me.”

The siblings jumped in surprise at the sound of the unfamiliar voice.

“I’m Sheriff Browne, I need to speak to Brody Davis.”

Isabel recovered her composure. “Certainly, follow me.” She glared at Max one last time and then left with the sheriff in tow.


*


“Are you deaf or something? I asked for no pickle. I told you that I was allergic to pickle. All-er-gic. But look, what’s this lying here on my burger? Why, it’s a pickle.”

Liz winced at the woman’s shrill voice. “I’m so sorry. There must have been a mix-up in the kitchen. I’ll have the cook make you a new one. With no pickle.”

The woman threw her napkin on the table and stood up. “Don’t bother. We were sitting here for quarter of an hour before you came near us, you brought us warm cokes and took half an hour to bring our food. We’re taking our custom elsewhere. And we’re not paying.”

“I’m really sorry…” Liz called after them. Her shoulders slumped and she trudged to the service hatch. She was glad that her father was out of the diner and not there to witness her less than stellar performance.

Michael was leaning out through the hatch, watching her with a smirk on his face. “Excellent customer service skills Liz, that’s the third lot you’ve managed to drive away this afternoon.”

“Bite me.”

Michael took the burger from her hand. “No point letting good food go to waste. I’m on a break.”

Liz wrinkled her nose in disgust and followed him to an empty booth. She flopped down opposite him and sighed loudly.

Michael ignored her and reached for the Tabasco sauce.

Liz was quicker. She grabbed the bottle and held it close to her chest.

“You have to help me with Maria. She hates me, I don’t know what I can do to make her forgive me.”

Michael held his hand out for the bottle. “I’m the wrong person to ask for advice on this sort of thing.”

“You’re the only person to ask. You always manage to get back on her good side whenever you screw up.” Liz pointed out. “How can I do it?”

It’s not the same. She expects me to screw up. She expects you to be perfect. Now give me the bottle.”

“Not until you tell me how I’m going to be able to fix this.” Liz told him, wrapping her other arm around her chest and the bottle of sauce.

Michael sighed. “I really don’t know how you’re going to fix it Liz. She’s really hurt. You’re the one person in her life that she doesn’t expect to mess up or let her down.”

“I’ve disappointed her.” Liz said in realisation.

“There’s a lot going on right now, we’re all dealing with a lot. I cope by blowing things up. Max copes by being bossy. Maria’s focusing all her energy on hating you because it’s easier than dealing with the other stuff.”

“Thanks Oprah.”

“Can I have the sauce now?”

“What should I do?” Liz pleaded.

“You should give me the sauce.”

“Will you talk to her?”

Michael sighed. “I’ve tried, she doesn’t want to listen to me.”

“Maybe she’d listen to Max, they got close last summer.” Liz mused aloud.

“Worth a shot. Can I have the sauce now? Please?” Michael added for good measure.

Liz handed him the bottle. “I don’t know what to do without her. Ever since I can remember she’s been there for me. Listening to me, cheering me up, cheering me on, giving me advice, butting in. I don’t know what to do without her.”

Michael made an indistinguishable sound as he ate his burger.

The bell above the door chimed and Liz looked to the front of the diner. She smiled as she watched Max enter but the smile died on her lips when she noticed his grim expression.

“What’s wrong?” She asked in alarm.

Max slid into the booth beside her and took her hand in his. Michael put down his burger in alarm and waited to hear Max’s news..

“The police are over in the UFO Museum talking to Brody now. Steve-the-gift-shop-guy is dead.” Max revealed in a hushed voice. “ I was only talking to Isabel for a minute so I don’t have all the details.”

“Oh my God.” Liz gasped.

“What do you know?” Michael asked.

“Apparently, Steve was a janitor in a computer lab in Los Cruses University. He told Valenti the last thing he remembers is last January. He had no idea how he got to Roswell. Or what he’s been doing here since.”

“Valenti was talking to him? I thought he was dead.” Liz asked in confusion.

“They were talking to him for a few minutes and then he just keeled over and died. Apparently he was talking really strangely, about how someone was going to get him. And he could here a buzzing noise.”

“Oh my God.” Liz repeated.

“The police are asking Brody and Isabel about his behaviour. The Sheriff seems to think he was a whack-job.” Max said. “Valenti left a message on my cell, he say’s it’s alien related.”

Michael frowned “I thought Valenti did a background check on him before, how did the Los Cruses connection not come up?”

“He was going by a different name, I guess he had a pretty good cover.”

The trio sat in silence, contemplating Max’s news.

Michael was the first to break it. “I guess that means he’s not the shapeshifter.”

“I guess not.” Max agreed. “What do you think it means?”

“Tess was mindwarping him, she brought him to Roswell for some reason. Alex died…” Liz's voice faltered. Max squeezed her hand gently. She gave him a small, almost imperceptible smile of gratitude. “Alex died when he couldn’t take any more mindwarping. My guess is that the same happened to Steve.”

“But Tess is gone, she couldn’t be mindwarping him anymore.” Michael interjected.

Liz shrugged. “The mindwarp must have stayed on him. It must have eaten away at his brain like acid. It probably happened to Alex sooner because she had to keep mindwarping him. But what would she want with a janitor?”

“Maybe we were supposed to find out who he really was and investigate him, and then find the book and stuff.” Michael suggested, “But then Alex… you know and everything else happened… and she didn’t need him anymore.”

“She really believed that their lives didn’t matter.” Max said shaking his head in disbelief.



*


Cole Browne wrapped a sterile white facemask around his mouth and entered the mortuary. His stomach immediately began to heave as e caught sight of Steve Horrowitz’s body lying prostrate and naked on the gurney in the centre of the room.

The ME was weighing the cadaver’s brain and making notes.

“I’m Sheriff Cole Browne.”

The ME gestured with his full hands to excuse himself from shaking hands. “Nice to meet you Sheriff. Welcome to Roswell”

“I had hoped to come down here and meet you before we had to work together.” Cole explained. “What do you make of this?”

The ME shook his head. “I’ve never seen anything like it. If I hadn’t taken it from his head myself I’d say there was some mistake. This man’s brain resembles a ninety-year-old with Alzheimer’s. It’s a mess. The wear and tear is far beyond anything I would expect in a man his age. I can find no reason for it either. Apart from this he’s in peak physical condition.”

“So what’s the cause of death?” Cole asked, hoping to get the answer and I get out of there.

“A massive embolism.”

“It’s natural causes so?”

Again the ME shook his head. “It is - but it shouldn’t be. He’s far to young to have a brain like this. I can't understand it, he shouldn't have been able to function normally at all."

Cole frowned. "What does that mean?"

"It means that this isn't normal."


*


Max switched off the engine of his car and stepped out into the cool night air. He glanced towards the Deluca’s house and sighed, he really didn’t want to be here but Liz had asked him and he had been helpless to say no.

Reluctantly he climbed to two steps to the door and rang the bell. He could hear it chime inside the house and the sound of footsteps coming to the door.

Amy Deluca answered and smiled warmly when she recognised him. “Max, come in.”

She ushered him into the brightly lit kitchen where Max was immediately hit with the delicious smell of freshly baked cookies. Maria was sitting at the table looking at photographs. She looked up as he entered and smiled.

It made Max uneasy, there was something about the way she smiled that reminded him of a cat. And he wasn’t a cat person.

“Hi Max.” She almost purred.

“Hi Maria.”

“Now Max, take a seat, have a cookie. They’re fresh.” Amy instructed.

“Thanks Ms Deluca.” Max said as he bit into a cookie.

Amy took the seat beside and placed a plate of cookies at his elbow. “Take another one. We’re just looking at photographs my mother sent me. I used to send her a copy of all my photographs, thank God because she made copies of them all and sent them to us.”

“That’s great.”

“It really is.” Maria agreed. “Mom was devastated about losing all the photos. It’s funny, we lost absolutely everything but it’s the photographs she missed most.”

She looked up and Max and he realised that she knew why he was there and that she wasn’t going to make it easy for him.

Max picked up a photograph and examined it. It showed a younger Amy Deluca holding a small baby. “Is that you?”

Maria nodded.

“Cute.” He picked up another and a broad smile lit his face. This one showed two tiny little girls, dressed in party dresses, with pretty ribbons in their hair. They had their arms around each other and were smiling happily. One was Maria and the other was unmistakeably Liz.

“How old were you in this one?” Max asked.

“That was on my fourth birthday.” Maria told him.

“So you and Liz were best-friends before you even four. Wow, that’s amazing.” Max said pointedly.

“We go way back.” Maria told him with a smile. “Look here we are at my third birthday.”

She handed him a photograph of the two girls sitting on the knee of a man whose face had been cut out of the photograph.

Max frowned. “Who’s that?”

Maria laughed. “It’s my dad. After he left Mom and Grandma downed a bottle of bourbon and spent the even cutting his face out of all the photos we had of him. I didn’t realise that Grandma did the same when she went back to Albuquerque.”

“She hated him more than I did.” Amy smiled sadly, then frowned. “How did you know about the bourbon?”

Maria’s smile faded. “You were making so much noise I got up to see what you were doing, I just guessed it was bourbon because that’s the only drink I’ve ever seen Grandma drink.”

“Worst hangover of my life.” Amy muttered.

“I found one that you had missed a couple of weeks later.” Maria confessed in a quiet voice. “I was afraid that if I showed it to you, it would go the same way as the others so I taped it to the back of one of my drawers. I’d take it out at Christmas and on my birthdays to remind myself what he looked like.”

A tear trickled down her cheek.

Amy reached across the table and took Maria’s hand in hers and squeezed it gently. “I’m sorry baby, I shouldn’t have done that, you deserved to have photographs of your dad.”

Maria shrugged. “I hadn’t looked at it in years but I wish I still had it.”

“Maybe Sean could get one from his dad, I’ll ask him.” Amy suggested.

“Maybe.” Maria said softly.

Max shifted uncomfortably in his chair, feeling like an intruder on the scene between mother and daughter.

The phone rang and Maria hurried to answer it.

Amy quickly composed herself. “I’m sorry Max. You must think we’re very silly to allow a man like Vincent to upset us so much. But it’s very hard on Maria, she worshipped him when she was younger.” She shook her head in disgust. “A man who abandons his only child like that is just scum. Would you like another cookie?”

Max winced. Maria’s tears over her absentee dad had reminded him again of his son. Vincent Deluca was scum for walking out on his six-year-old daughter, but at lest he had left her in the care of Amy, who loved Maria with a fierceness that scared even Michael.

So what did that make him? He had abandoned his son to Tess – a murderer, who thought that human life had no value, a person who had no qualms about leading her only family to their deaths. He had known that Tess was going straight to Kivar to provide him with the child. He had known all that and still he had let her go.

If his son ever got to live, he would grow up knowing that his father had done nothing to help him, to save him from Kivar. Vincent Deluca was scum, but Max thought bitterly, he was a thousand times worse.

“Max are you alright?” Amy asked in concern when Max didn’t respond to her question.

“Sorry, I was on another planet.” Max covered.

Maria rushed back into the kitchen, pale and shaking. “That was Brody. Did you know about Steve-the-gift-shop-guy?”

“Yeah, I was going to tell you.” Max nodded.

“What about him?” Amy asked, she had dealt with Steve a lot in the last few months as he sold a lot of her products.

“He’s dead.” Maria announced. “I’m going over to Brody’s. He’s really upset.”

“Oh my God.” Amy gasped.

Maria grabbed her jacket and keys.

Max jumped up, grabbed his own stuff and followed Maria out the door. “Maria, wait.”

“What?”

Max joined Maria beside her car. “You can’t tell Brody the truth, no matter how upset he is.”

“He probably thinks he’s going to die like Steve did and you want to just let him think that?” Maria hissed. “Max, he’s terrified about what’s happening to him already.”

“I think that until we know exactly what caused Steve’s death it’s better if we just stay quiet.” Max said calmly. “Has there been any sign of Larek recently? It’s really important that we talk to him soon. “

“No. I don’t think it’s fair that we keep Brody in the dark like this Max. He should -”

“If we tell him the truth, we don’t know how he’ll react.” Max interrupted. “I know that this sounds selfish but he could go back to England and we need him here. We need to be able to communicate with Larek. Please Maria, don’t say anything.”

Maria scowled. “Fine.”

She turned to get into the car but Max stuck out his hand and prevented her from opening the door.

“I want to talk to you about Liz.”

“I don’t want to talk to you about Liz.”

“Tough. I’m going to talk and you’re going to listen to me.” Max said authoritatively.

Maria’s scowl deepened, but she nodded at Max to say his piece.

“You’re not being fair to Liz. She doesn’t deserve to be treated the way you’re treating her. She made a mistake but there were pretty mitigating circumstances.” Max told her. “Imagine if you had seen that tape but it was Michael instead of me, imagine how you would have felt. And even after seeing that, after everything I did to her she forgave me.”

Max produced the picture of Liz and Maria aged three. “You’ve known and loved each other since before this picture was ever taken, before I was even out of my pod. Your history with her is far longer than mine, and if I can forgive her for walking away from me hours after I had been tortured by the FBI and she can forgive me for what happened on that tape, then why can’t you forgive her for making a mistake?”

Silently, Maria took the picture from Max and looked at it, a tear rolled down her cheek and she wiped it away. “I can’t remember ever not being best friends with her.”

“So what’s going on with you?” Max asked gently.

“I don’t know.” Maria sobbed.

Max sighed. “We’re all going through a rough time right now, it’s affecting us all in different ways. I know it’s not easy to carry around all these secrets and lies and not be able to talk to anyone about them.”

“All there is anymore is lies and secrets and I’m so tired of it.” Maria agreed. “I’m not good at this sort of thing. I’m not a good liar, I never have been. I hate when people lie to me. I feel horrible about conspiring with my mother’s boyfriend behind her back. I hate knowing that your parents and Liz’s parents are out of their minds worried about you and I can’t tell them it’s ok. I feel so guilty when I talk to Brody and I can’t tell him that it’s going to be ok.”

Max winced. “I’m sorry Maria. I hate having to lie too. But we have no other option. It’s too dangerous to tell anybody. Maybe when things have calmed down and are more settled, we’ll talk about telling Brody. And my parents.”

“Promise?” Maria said in a small voice.

“I promise – on one condition.” Max said. “You have to talk to Liz.”

Maria hesitated for a moment and then nodded. “Ok.”


*


Liz dropped the Crashdown keys on the kitchen table where her father was doing the books. “All done.” She told her dad.

Jeff Parker looked up from his work. “Any problems?”

Liz shook her head as she poured herself a glass of water. “No. Do you need a hand?”

Jeff smiled. “Thanks, can you write up the invoices for me please?”

Liz sat down opposite him and began sorting through the pile of invoices.

“I haven’t seen Maria in a while, does she really hate the place that much?” Jeff asked, his light tone belying the seriousness of the question.

“I guess so.” Liz replied, vainly trying to sound as light as her father. “She’s pretty busy with other things.”

“I see.”

Liz forced a smile and continued working.

When she was younger it had been one of her nightly rituals to sit up with her dad and help him with the books. They would discuss the day’s events and often Jeff would explain important events that were happening around the world. It made her feel grown up and important.

One of her favorite parts had been adding up the invoices from Amy Deluca. When Maria had learned that Liz handled the invoices from her Mom she had started writing little notes at the bottom for Liz to read. They were usually coded or veiled references to events at school that made no sense to either Amy or Jeff but always made Liz smile.

Like most things, it had fallen by the wayside as they had entered highschool. Instead of little notes they spent hours on the phone talking.

So at first the shaky writing across the back of the invoice didn’t register. It took Liz a moment to recognise the writing as Maria’s.

Maria is not Maria.


*


Ps. I might have told a teeney-weeney little lie in a previous update regarding Maria and her behaviour, sorry.
Image
Banner by Evelyn

User avatar
tequathisy
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2003 8:49 pm
Location: I'm behind you.
Contact:

Post by tequathisy » Wed Aug 17, 2005 11:50 am

As always, thanks for the feedback. This piece might seem a bit odd but I promise we're getting to the good stuff shortly and things will be much clearer soon.

Liz86000
Begonia9508
Ellie
AngelicFairy
Emz80m
Sylvia37
Itzstacie
BehrObsession

It means a lot to mean that you've all stuck with the story.

Chapter 28


Although they all knew she’d arrive at 8am, although they had heard the Jetta pull noisily into the parking lot outside and the sound of her heals clicking as she walked to the door, they all jumped when the knock came.

For the briefest second nobody dared to move or breath, then Michael rose to feet and moved slowly towards the door. He glanced back briefly at his friends and they all saw the fear in his eyes before he turned and opened the door.

“Morning Spaceboy.” Maria said brightly as she stepped across the threshold, kissing him briefly on the cheek. “My mom was baking muffins so I brought some for everyone. Hi guys.”

“Hi Maria.” Max replied, forcing himself to be cheerful. He wasn’t very convincing.

Maria’s smile faded as she took in his grim expression, beside him Isabel too looked serious. Liz was sitting on the armchair staring at her intently.

“They’re banana and walnut, your favorite.” Maria said to Liz, almost shyly. She gave her a small, embarrassed smile. “I’ll put them on a plate.”

As Maria busied herself in the kitchen Max leaned towards Liz and whispered to her. “Liz are you sure about this?”

It was still dark when Liz had called him, demanding that he and Isabel meet her at Michael’s apartment immediately. She sounded almost hysterical on the phone and Max knew that whatever she needed to tell him wasn’t going to be good.

“So what’s going on?” He asked once they were all assembled, still half-asleep, in Michael’s apartment.

Liz brandished a piece of paper. “Maria is being controlled by aliens.”

Max’s first reaction was to laugh, for a moment it sounded absurd. Until he remembered that only hours previously a man had died, and he too was believed to have been controlled by aliens. And there were others - Alex, Jennifer Coleman and Brody Davis.

Michael was on his feet at once. He grabbed the piece of paper from Liz's hand and read it. “This doesn’t mean anything.”

Liz whipped around to face him. “It’s what Alex said about Leanna and he was right. It’s a code. She’s asking for help.”

Max took the invoice from Michael and read the chilling sentence. “It could just be a doodle Liz.” He suggested softly. “It’s really not a lot of proof.”

“We used to send messages to each other like that all the time when we were younger, she knew I’d see it. She knew I’d understand what it meant.” Liz yelled at him furiously.

“If she’s being controlled then how would she have been able to write this?” Michael asked.

“Maybe she broke free from it, maybe it was subconscious thing.” Liz shrugged. “But it’s not just that, she’s acting really weird lately. You said it yourself Michael that she’s not acting like herself.”

Max took Liz gently by the arm and guided her to the couch. “I agree that she’s been acting very out of character lately but I talked to her last night and she agreed with me. She was upset about the way she’s been treating you and she promised that she’d talk to you.”

A look of doubt flashed across Liz's face.


“I’m certain. We have to do this.”

Maria returned carrying a plate of muffins with a bottle of OJ tucked under her arm. Michael obediently handed out glasses to everybody and began to pour.

When everybody was served Maria sat down on the armrest of Michael’s chair. “So is this about Steve and Brody?”

Max cleared his throat. “Yes. We need to know everything Brody and Larek have told you about possession.”

“Ok. Brody doesn’t know a lot about it, of course. Just that it has ruined his life.” She glared pointedly at Max as she said this. “Larek hasn’t told me much either. His planet developed this technology to control prisoners with violent tendencies to help them become ‘better citizens’ and over time it was adapted to use for interplanetary exploration. They would possess somebody on a planet they wanted to know more about and watch them go about their daily life. He said it was anthology.”

“Anthropology?” Liz corrected.

Maria smiled. “That makes more sense. When the war broke out the found it was the easiest and most secure way to communicate without being spied on. The normal means could be tapped like phone conversations.”

“Does it harm the host?”

“Alex died because he was being mind-warped. Jennifer Coleman went crazy and almost killed you and Michael. Steve-the-gift-shop-guy died yesterday. I’m not letting that happen to Maria.”

“None of us want that to happen to anybody again, especially not Maria.” Max assured Liz. “And if you’re right we’ll do everything to save Maria. But we don’t know that she is being possessed or controlled.”

“Why would somebody want to control Maria?” Isabel asked. “What would they gain?”

“They could be spying on us, learning all about us and reporting back to Kivar. She could be here to make trouble.” Liz answered. “They still need the granolith and the seal.”

“In the last week, she’s got a new hairstyle, bought a lot of clothes and decorated her bedroom.” Michael listed. “It doesn’t sound like the itinerary of somebody trying to steal the most valuable weapon in the universe.”

“She’s biding her time. Learning our weaknesses, looking for an opportunity.” Liz pulled away from Max and began pacing up and down. “I don’t know why, but I know I’m right. Somebody is possessing or controlling her. And if we don’t stop them it’ll kill Maria.”



“Larek swears it’s not harmful. He says that when they possess a body it actually benefits the host because the fix any problems, like Brody’s cancer. And that woman – Kathana? – She had lung cancer before she was abducted which they cured as well. Although Larek did say that if a host was possessed for a long period of time that it would be very harmful.”

Max murmured. “Did he ever tell you about Steve?”

Maria shook her head. “He mentioned that Steve had an abduction story but not that it was so similar to his own. I just thought he meant like all the other loonies in town. He said last night it was because Steve had asked him not to tell anyone.”

“How is he?” Max asked.

“Terrified he’s going to die.” Maria replied sharply. “We have to tell him Max, he deserves to know.”

“She’s right Max. Nobody deserves to have their lives taken over like that.” Liz agreed, in an almost mocking tone, never taking her eyes from Maria. “We have to do everything we can to stop it from happening again.”

Maria smiled appreciatively.

“Who do you think is controlling her?”

“Kivar.” Liz said in a voice that plainly said she thought that was obvious. “Maybe not himself but one of his lackey’s. The shapeshifter is out there, he could be controlling her or mindwarping her for Kivar.”

“But why?” Isabel asked again. “Why go to all the trouble of controlling Maria and then doing nothing except have an argument with you?”

“We’re all going through a really tough time right now, I honestly think that’s all that’s going on with Maria.” Max told Liz. “Are you sure that you’re not trying to find an explanation her behaviour?”

Liz shook her head vehemently. “I’ve know Maria since we were babies and I know that she would never act like that. I don’t know why I believed it before now.”

“Maybe you were projecting” Isabel suggested.

“What do you mean?” Liz asked.

“You felt so guilty about what you did that when Maria reacted the way she did you accepted it because you felt it was justified.” Isabel explained.

“Are you saying you believe her?” Max asked in disbelief.

Isabel shrugged. “All those times you were watching Liz, I was watching the two of them.” She turned to Liz. “I used to envy you two so much, because you were so close. I wanted to have somebody I could talk to and depend on like you and Maria. And you’re right, Maria would never act like she’s been acting.”

“Last night when I was at her house she and her mom were looking at photos her Grandma had sent.” Max recalled. “She knew who everyone in the photographs were, what they were of. She knew things only Maria could have known.”

“Like what?” Liz demanded.

“She knew about her Mom and Grandma getting drunk on bourbon and cutting the face of her dad from every photograph in the house. She told us that she had found one her mom missed and taping it to the back of a drawer in case her Mom found it.”

Liz frowned. “She never told me about that. It’s made up.”

“Why would she make it up?” Max asked. “She was really upset about…” He frowned and looked off into the distance, trying to remember the conversation.

“What?” Liz whispered.

“Max shook his head. “I spent all last night tossing and turning because of it. What she said really got to me, it made me think of…my son. I never considered what he’s feel about me before and seeing Maria so upset made me realise that he’s going to hate me. What if…”

“What if that’s what she wanted you to think, to feel.” Isabel finished, realising what Max was thinking. “What if it was a ploy to influence you in some way?”

Max said nothing but a deep frown marred his handsome face.

Liz turned to Michael who was sitting in an armchair with his face buried in his hands. Liz realised that he had said very little since she had made her shock revelation.

“Michael? What do you think?” She asked.

Michael scratched his eyebrow. “I think there’s something in your theory.” He admitted. “Maria wouldn’t talk about her dad like that, especially not with her Mom. And she wouldn’t treat Liz the way she has either.”

“Have you noticed anything else about her, anything at all, that’s unusual?” Liz pleaded.

“What about when you guys …you know… get close?” Isabel said, with a wave of her hand in the direction of the bedroom. “Do you get flashes from her?”

Michael squirmed uncomfortably. “Actually we haven’…in a while. Not since that argument, she’s avoided…getting close. She’s cancelled dates and when we are together she’s usually too upset or worked up about Liz or Brody. And I know we’ve probably never been together long enough for me to say that’s not like her but before that argument we…well whenever we were alone…we…”

Sparing Michael the embarrassment of saying anything further Liz turned to Max. “See? When you put the whole lot together it’s pretty compelling. She’s acting completely out of character, saying and doing things she’s never do. We have to do something.”


“What did Brody tell you about Steve’s abduction?” Max asked.

“Not a lot.” Maria recalled. “He was more concerned about what it meant for him. And what would happen to Sidney if he died. What do you think happened with Steve? Do you think he was abducted?”

“If what Larek said is right, then it’s impossible.” Max answered. “So the only other conclusion is that somebody was controlling him. Like Tess or the shapeshifter.”

“Tess is millions of light years away.” Maria reminded him.

“So that leaves the shapeshifter.” Max nodded.

“But why would the shapeshifter go to all the trouble of controlling Steve when he could just be Steve?” Liz said. She gave Maria a meaningful look. “My guess is that Steve was there to spy on Larek and the Federation of Planet’s guys. The shapeshifter would want to do the more important job.”

“Like what?” Maria asked.

“Get close to Max. Get his hands on the granolith. Do whatever needs to be done to help Kivar get what he wants.” Liz said evenly. “And we’ll do whatever needs to be done to stop him.”

“Like what?” Isabel asked.

“We have to make sure that you’re right first.” Max said to Liz.

Liz nodded in agreement. “We have to get her over here and confront her. We’ll ask her the codeword and Isabel can dreamwalk her like she did with Pierce that time. We’ll ask her questions about the shapeshifter and possession and while we’re doing that Isabel can find out what we want to know.”


“Are you alright Isabel? You don’t look great.” Maria said in concern.

Startled by the question, Isabel jumped. She looked around, flustered. “I’m alright, just tired.”

“How are you Maria?” Liz asked suddenly, drawing Maria’s attention away from Isabel. “It’s been a while since we talked, how’s your sore finger?”

Maria glanced down at her broken wrist, still bandaged heavily. “It’s a lot better now, thanks. I have an …” Her voice trailed off as the implication of Liz's question hit her. “What?”

“I asked you a question,” Liz said evenly.

“You asked me if I’m a shapeshifter.” Maria said in disbelief. “How could you say such a thing? I know my behaviour has been pretty horrible these past few days but that doesn’t mean I’m an evil alien.”

“Then explain this.” Liz demanded as she placed the invoice on the table in front of Maria.

Maria picked it up and examined it. “Oh my God. I can’t believe this.” She stood up and faced Liz. “I’m sorry that I’ve been such a bitch to you lately. I’m aware that I’ve been acting like a cow. I haven’t been myself. With the fire and moving house and your powers and Alex and the whole Tess situation, I just lost myself for a while. That’s what it means.”

Liz looked her straight in the eye. “I don’t believe you.”

“Maria is not Maria, she’s a bitch. It was an opening line, that’s all.” Maria insisted. She looked at the three aliens and back to Liz. “That’s what this is about. You brought me over here to ambush me and accuse me of being an evil monster.”

Michael rose to his feet and put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Maria…”

“Don’t you dare.” Maria yelled, slapping his hand away and taking a step back. “How could you ask me to come over here and then let her do that?”

“I’m sorry, Maria but...”

“I don’t want to hear it.” Maria spat out angrily. She whipped around to look at Isabel and Max. “I thought you were my friends. I thought we talked about this last night Max.”

“We had good reason to think that you were being controlled. All we were trying to do was protect you.” Isabel said in a clam voice.

Maria shook her head in amazement. “You’re right. I was acting like a bitch and that does seem to be a trademark of female aliens.”

Isabel gasped as though she had been slapped.

Maria narrowed her eyes and scrutinised her. “You were in my head, weren’t you? While they were interrogating me you were poking around in my head.”

“I…” Isabel stuttered, looking helplessly in Liz's direction.

“Well, tell them what you found out.” Maria ordered.

Isabel shook her head. “There’s nothing. It’s just Maria.”

“Liz, I agree that there is some merit in this theory and we have to look into it.” Max began as tactfully as he could. “But if we bring her over her and make these accusations without any real proof and we’re wrong, you might never be able to repair your relationship with Maria.”

Liz took his hand in hers. “I know, deep down, that whoever this person is, she’s not Maria. She’s not my best friend. I know in my heart and soul, that it’s not Maria.”


Maria picked up her purse and angrily wiped away tears from her eyes. “I don’t know what I can do to prove myself to you, but you needn’t worry, because if I am an evil alien I won’t be coming anywhere near any of you again.”

The she stormed to the door and flung it open. “By the way, my finger, is as good as new.” She raised her middle finger to them, in a silent gesture of her fury, then turned and left.

The door slammed loudly behind her.


*


Amy Deluca opened the front door with a broad smile. “Deputy Valenti, come in.”

Jim returned the smile and stepped inside, removing his hat as he did. He kissed Amy on the cheek. “I’m afraid this isn’t a social call. I’m here on official business.”

Amy’s smile vanished. “Oh?”

“It’s nothing too serious.” Jim assured her quickly. “At least not for you, I just need to ask a few questions.”

“Ok.” Amy agreed nervously. She led him into the kitchen. “Can I at least feed you while you’re questioning me?”

“I’m not questioning you, I’m asking you a couple of questions. There’s a big difference.” Jim laughed. “And yes, please feed me.”

He waited until Amy had placed a pot of freshly made coffee and a plate of muffins on the table before he began. “These are just some routine questions about an ongoing inquiry. Did you know Steve Smith or Steve Horrowitz?”

“No, who are they?” Amy frowned.

“It’s the one guy actually. He’s the former manager of the giftshop in the UFO museum. He died yesterday.” Jim informed her.

“Oh him. Yes I knew him. I didn’t know his last name though. He was just Steve-the-gift-shop-guy.” Amy answered. “I’d heard he died.”

Jim nodded. “What kind of relationship did you have with him?”

“Not enough to call it a relationship.” Amy told him. “He’d call me when he was low on stock and I’d bring him some new stuff. Sometimes I’d bring him in a new line I’d developed and he’d agree to sell it. He never haggled over the price or the margin. We never exchanged more than polite pleasantries.”

“Did you ever notice anything unusual about him?”

Amy considered the question for a moment then shook her head. “There was nothing unusual about him at all. But he wasn’t normal either.”

“Ok?” Jim frowned. “What does that mean?”

Amy gave a nervous laugh. “He never said or did or dressed unusual. There was nothing unusual about him at all. Nothing. And that’s what was weird. It’s not normal to be like that. It’s like he was devoid of everything. That probably doesn’t make sense. To be honest Jim, I never gave him a moment’s thought except when I was actually in his presence doing business with him. Sean didn’t like him. He said there was something creepy about him.”

“One of my colleagues will be talking to all the museum staff later today. Thanks for your time Ms Deluca.” Jim said, closing his notebook and putting it away. He picked up a muffin and began eating it.

“You look very tired Jim.” Amy said in concern.

Jim shrugged. “Didn’t sleep great last night.”

“Is it this case?” Amy asked. “What did he die from?”

“It appears to be natural causes. A blood clot or an aneurysm probably.” Jim grimaced. “He had been living here for months and nobody knew him, knew why he was here. It’s just sad.”

“Why is there an inquiry if it’s natural causes?” Amy asked.

“He made some statements before he died to the effect that somebody was after him.” Jim sighed. “In all probability he was delusional but we have to check them out. It’s the least we can do for him.”

Amy reached across the table and took his hand in hers. “Are you sure that’s all that’s bothering you? You look very stressed.”

Jim forced himself to smile. As much as he would love to unburden himself to his girlfriend, he could never tell her what was really troubling him.

It was the second such death he had helped cover up in as many months. Aliens, with no regard for human life, were playing with the lives of innocent people to achieve their aims, and while he had every faith in Max and the others, Jim was beginning to see that they were facing something very big and very powerful. Something he doubted that a small group of teenagers could ever hope to defeat.

“He’s the same age as me.” Jim told Amy. “And it made me think about things, that’s all. I don’t want to end up alone like him.”

That won’t happen. You have Kyle. You have me.” Amy said quietly, squeezing his hand gently.

“Amy, I –” Whatever he was about to say was cut off by the sound of the front doorbell.

Jim grabbed his hat and followed Amy to the door.

“Good morning Nancy.” He said when Amy opened the door. “I’ll be off Amy. See you tonight.”

Nancy waited until he was out of earshot. “What’s tonight?” She asked Amy excitedly.

“We have dinner plans.” Amy revealed “But I don’t know if he’s really up for them right now, he seems stressed out.”

She ushered Nancy inside and filled her in on the details of Jim’s visit as the nibbled on her muffins.

“The poor guy.” Nancy said sympathetically. “Jeff and I were talking about him over breakfast this morning and neither of us know what he even looked like.”

“I don’t think anybody really knew him except the people that worked with him. Maria was at Brody’s for ages last night. She said he was really upset.”

Nancy bit her lip. “How is Maria these days, we hardly ever see her since she moved in here?”

“She seems to be keeping herself busy. I thought she’s be bored because she couldn’t work but she’s always on the go.” Amy smiled.

“So you haven’t noticed anything strange going on with her?” Nancy asked.

“No, like what?”

“You remember when Jeff said that he thought Maria and Liz were fighting?” Nancy reminded Amy. “Apparently, he said something about it to Michael and Michael told him that it’s true. Maria isn’t talking to Liz because of something Liz did.”

“Michael told him it’s true.” Amy repeated in astonishment. “She hasn’t said anything about it to me. Has Liz said anything?”

Nancy shook her head ruefully. “She never tells me anything. I was hoping Maria had told you.”

“No, although…Liz hasn’t been here or called here in a few days. That’s so not like them.”

“And Liz has been moping around. It’s almost as bad as last summer before she went to Florida.” Nancy added.

“I haven’t seen any signs of Maria moping.” Amy murmured. “What on earth could they be fighting about?” She paused for a moment. “That sounds like the Jetta outside.”

Sure enough, minutes later the two women heard the sound of the front door opening and footsteps on the stairs.

“Maria.” Amy yelled. “Can you come down here please.”

They waited for a moment until Maria came into the kitchen. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot and she has obviously been crying hard.

Amy rushed to her at once and pulled her into a tight hug. “Sweetie, what is it? What’s wrong?” She guided Maria to the table and made her sit down.

Nancy handed Maria a tissue as she began sobbing quietly. “Is it something to do with your argument with Liz?”

Maria glanced up at her in surprise and wiped her nose.

“Michael inadvertently told Jeff.” Nancy admitted. “Maria what is it. I can’t believe that you and Liz are fighting. You’ve been friends for so long.”

Maria sniffed. “It was something stupid to start with and I blew it completely out of proportion. I intended to fix things today but it just got worse.”

“It must be pretty bad if you and Liz aren’t talking to each other.” Amy probed. “If you tell us maybe we can help you fix things.”

“I don’t think you can fix this.” Maria sobbed.

“Please tell us Maria.” Nancy pleaded. “What could have caused you two to fall out?”

“Max Evans.” Maria spat out.

“Max Evans?” both mothers repeated in confusion.

“Ever since she got involved with him, things have been different. He changed her.” Maria continued angrily. “Liz thinks he’s king of the universe, but he’s not. He’s a jerk and she can’t see that.”

“What did Max do?” Nancy asked in trepidation.

Maria turned to her. “He got Tess Harding pregnant.”


*
Image
Banner by Evelyn

User avatar
tequathisy
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2003 8:49 pm
Location: I'm behind you.
Contact:

Post by tequathisy » Tue Aug 23, 2005 7:43 am

Thanks to everyone for all the great feedback. I’ve decided to post this chapter in two parts because it was too long to post as one chapter but too short to post as two.

Chapter 30 will be posted in three parts. That's the one with all the answers in it.


begonia9508
Chione
BehrObsession
very soon, I promise
Timelord31 all will be answered in due course
sylvia37 I’m afraid so.
Itzstacie
Grace52373
Just to clear something up, Maria wasn’t flirting with Max. I meant like a cat as in sly and devious, not sexy and flirty. (Cats are evil)
I am a dreamer
Emz80m Ironic yes, but Maria has good reasons in this fic. I think it’s funny that when I write Maria as a bitch everyone assumes she’s been possessed. When you do it everyone just accepts that’s she’s a bitch.
Ellie It is pretty suspicious.
Pooklette You’re very close
Galliard M-N-M I like it. Sorry about the Italics. I never thought about that. I didn’t like the way the story played out when I told it in the linear fashion. It made perfect sense in my head.

Chapter 29 (A)


“Are you ok?”

Liz smiled bitterly. “Peachy.”

Max sighed and took in his surroundings. After the disastrous confrontation with Maria he and Liz had gone for a walk in the park to cool down and clear their heads. All around them people were enjoying the glorious summer day. The air was filled with the sounds of children’s laughter and delighted squeals as they played.

It was in deep contrast to the mood he and Liz were in. They had barely said two words to each other since they left the apartment. Liz had wrapped her arms tightly around her herself and her long hair was hanging like curtains around her face.

After doing a couple of circuits at pace so fast Max was out of breath Liz had thrown herself onto an empty park bench and slumped in it. She had rebuffed any attempts Max had made at conversation or cheering her up.

Max wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead. “I’m going to get a bottle of water, do you want anything?” He asked, gesturing at a vendor just outside the Park gate.

When Liz nodded, Max hurried over to the vendor and bought two bottles of lukewarm water from him. He used his powers to cool them down before handing one to Liz. She gulped it down thirstily.

The icy cold water seemed to jerk Liz out of her melancholy and she turned to Max, pushing her hair away from her face. “So what are we going to do now?”

“I guess we’ll just have to give her time to cool down and then apologise until she forgives us.” Max shrugged.

“I guess…” Liz said doubtfully.

“Maybe she’ll realise that we were just looking out for her and maybe one day, we’ll be able to look back at this and laugh.” Max said hopefully.

“Max…” Liz bit her lip. “Could Isabel be wrong?”

“Don’t you believe her?” Max asked.

Liz shrugged. “There’s something I can’t put my finger on. I don’t know why, but I don’t believe her.”

“Isabel was sure about it, she –”

“Not Isabel. I don’t believe Maria.” Liz corrected him. “Or whoever is masquerading as Maria.”

Max looked at her in surprise. “Liz, if she’s not Maria then how did she know all those things last night? How did she know the password? How did she fool Isabel?”

“I don’t Max. Ok? I don’t know.” Liz yelled. “But I know I’m right. That’s not Maria.”

“We made a huge mistake this morning.” Max reminded her. “We may have lost one of our best friends because of it. You have to let this go Liz.”

“What if I’m right Max?” Liz asked.

“But you’re not.” Max said gently.

Liz glared at him angrily for a moment then slowly got to her feet. “You didn’t believe me about Alex. And I was right. I need you to believe me now Max, I need you to help me.”

Max rose to stand in front of her. “Liz I’m sorry. I want to believe you, but I can’t.”

Liz took a step backwards, out of his reach. “Fine.”

Then she turned and walked away. Max watched her go with a powerful sense of foreboding.


*


“Isabel can you come down here please?” Diane Evans called.

A couple of moments later Isabel came down the stairs and joined her parents in the kitchen. She knew immediately that something was wrong. Her father was sitting at the table even though it was far to early for him to be home from work. They both had grim expressions on their faces.

“Sit down.” Philip commanded.

Isabel took the seat opposite him, trying to appear calm and doing her best to ignore the butterflies fluttering in her stomach. There was something in her father’s face that scared her.

“Is this about the Steve guy from work?” Isabel asked.

“No dear.” Diane assured her. “But while we’re on the subject, if you want to talk about it we’re here for you. It can’t be easy losing a work colleague so soon after Alex's death.”

“I’m fine.” Isabel smiled. “I hardly knew him. I’m just a little bit nervous about talking to the police.”

“That’s natural.” Diane told her. “Lots of people get nervous when they have to talk to the police, even when they’re absolutely innocent.”

“What we want to talk about now is Max.” Philip informed his daughter.

Isabel rolled her eyes and laughed, trying to act casual. “What’s he done now?” She joked.

“Got a girl pregnant.” Her father replied in a voice that conveyed no trace of amusement.

It was as though the air had been sucked out of her lungs. Isabel choked in astonishment. “How do you know that?”

“So it’s true?” Diane asked and then promptly burst into tears.

Isabel could feel tears welling up in her own eyes but she forced them back.

“How long have you know?” Philip asked.

“A couple of weeks.” Isabel answered meekly.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Philip asked gently.

“I wasn’t allowed.” Isabel said bitterly. “Max doesn’t want you to know, and whether I agree with him or not doesn’t matter. So I couldn’t tell you.”

“And where is this girl – Tess – now?”

“She’s gone home to her family.”

Philip sat back in his chair and digested the news. “Is Max in contact with her?”

Isabel shook her head. “Not really, we get updates from a…a friend occasionally but we haven’t heard much lately.”

“I see.”

“Does he intend to support them when the baby’s born or have any role in the baby’s life?” Diane asked. She had managed to compose herself and was sitting beside her husband, holding his hand.

Isabel bit her lip. “You’ll have to talk to Max about that.”

“We’d love to.” Philip said sardonically. “The only problem is that he won’t talk to us.”

“Max doesn’t know what’s going to happen or what he’s going to do. He’d like to do the right thing but Tess isn’t exactly being co-operative with him.” Isabel explained.

“What do you mean?”

“She might as well be on another planet because it’s so hard to find out anything about what’s going on with her.” Isabel said, almost truthfully. “And to be perfectly honest, I don’t think it bothers Max all too much.”

“Do you mean he doesn’t care?” Diane asked aghast.

“What’s that expression? Out of sight, out of mind.” Isabel said. “That’s what it’s like with him. When Tess was in Roswell he was really concerned about her and he really intended to do the right thing but since she left, he hasn’t really tried too much. He’s got back with Liz and things have gone back to normal. And that’s how he likes it.”

“So he’s going to ignore his own child and forget about this girl, leave her to fend for their child all by herself?” Philip yelled furiously.

“Tess isn’t innocent in all this you know. She deliberately got pregnant to trap Max.” Isabel yelled back. “And when he still didn’t want to be with her she…look, she’s not a good person. Max is better off without her.”

“So Max is going to leave his child in the care of somebody who’s ‘not a good person’ is he?”

Isabel sighed and ran her fingers through her hair in frustration. “I really don’t know. Either does Max, but if you really need to ask all these questions he’s the one who should be interrogated. Not me.”

“You’re right. We’re sorry honey.” Diane said apologetically.

“Isabel, is there anything else we should know? Anything that you want to tell us?” Philip asked softly. “We’re here for you and your brother, no matter what.”

Isabel swallowed back her tears and nodded. “I know.”

“So, is there anything?” Philip prodded.

Isabel bit her lips to prevent herself from spilling their deepest secret to her parents. Tearfully she shook her head. “There’s nothing.”


*


Throughout their many years of friendship, Maria had given Liz dozens of aromatherapy candles. She had claimed that they all had special purposes and would help Liz in every aspect of her life. You just had to know which one to burn at the right time Maria claimed. Liz had never felt the effects Maria had promised no matter how many she lit, but she did derive pleasure from the many beautiful scents that they created.

Today she prayed that there was some merit in Maria’s claims. She just had to do what Maria had instructed and pick the right ones.

She had received the camomile candle the day before a stressful midterm. Maria promised its aroma would help her concentrate and focus her mind.

The cinnamon scented candle had been a gift at Christmas. Maria had told her that if she lit it and thought and wished with all her might, her greatest wish would come true.

The fruity Cyprus candle was Maria’s signature smell, every time she burned it Liz was transported to Maria’s bedroom, the old one she had burned down. It conjured lots of happy memories of her best friend and the wonderful times they had shared.

Satisfied with her selection, Liz climbed out onto her balcony. She arranged the candles around her sun lounger and lit them. Then sitting cross-legged she began slowly inhaling and exhaling deep breaths as Maria had once shown her.

She pushed her argument with Max, the horrible confrontation in Michael’s apartment and all the other negative thoughts out of her head and concentrated on the photograph in her hand.

It had been taken on Christmas day when she and Maria had exchanged gifts. It showed the two girls with their arms wrapped around each other laughing joyously at her father’s impression of Nat King Cole.

Liz traced the outline of Maria’s face gently. “Please Maria, let me in.” She whispered. “I know you need me, please let me in.”

She knew it was a long shot. The only experience she had with dreamwalking was with Isabel’s help when Max was in New York, but she was hoping against hope that somehow this would work. That somehow, she would be able to do what Isabel wasn’t and get inside Maria’s head.

Liz believed that Isabel had been unable to reach Maria because she didn’t really truly believe that Maria was being possessed. She had been dreamwalking the person in Michael’s apartment and not Maria herself. Ignoring the doubting inner voice that told her she wouldn’t be able to do this, Liz concentrated on her friend.

Their years of friendship, their close bond and Liz’s utter conviction that Maria was being possessed had to be enough to allow this to work. It had to work.

And for a moment Liz thought it was working. She felt something stirring inside her, her head felt light. The air around her rippled.

Knock Knock

And then the moment was gone.

Liz jumped at the sound of somebody tapping on her window and whirled around so fast that she upset one of the candles and knocked it to the ground.

“Mom.” She exclaimed as she scooped the candle up.

“Sorry to disturb you. Are you busy?” Nancy asked.

Liz shook her head. “It’s just an aromatherapy thing Maria taught me. What’s up?”

“Your father and I would like to talk to you. It’s important.”

“Sure.” Liz climbed back inside her room and followed her mother into the family room.

Nancy led Liz to a seat on the couch and sat beside her. Jeff took a seat on the other side of Liz.

Nancy cleared her throat nervously and began. “What we have to say is probably very upsetting for you. So we promise to remain calm and to listen to what you have to say. Can you do the same for us?”

Liz looked from her mother to her father nervously. They had matching expressions of barely controlled anger on their faces.

Liz bit her lip. “OK.”

“Good.” Nancy smiled thinly and let out a deep breath. “Your father and I want you to stop seeing Max Evans. We’ve talked to Max’s parents and they agree with us. From now on he is not allowed in the Crashdown or our home. You are not allowed to visit him in his home. You are not to visit him at work, you’re not to speak with him on the phone. You are to have no contact with him.”

“Excuse me?” Liz spluttered in disbelief. “Why?”

“I think you know why.” Nancy replied.

Liz shook her head. “I really don’t.”

“We don’t want you seeing him because we know that he got another girl pregnant. You have your whole life ahead of you and we don’t want you to throw it away because of him.” Jeff said sharply.

Liz gasped. “How do you know about that?”

“It doesn’t matter how. What matters is that we know now.” Nancy told her.

“We know that you have feelings for this boy and we’re really not trying to punish you.” Jeff said as calmly as he could manage. “You will still be allowed to come and go as always, except from now on, you will not be allowed to see him.”

“The Evan’s have assured us that Max will be grounded and will be warned to stay away from you as well.” Nancy added.

“This is so unfair.” Liz protested. “You said that you were going to listen to me, but you’ve already made up your minds.”

“What would you like to say?” Jeff asked, genuinely interested.

“He made a mistake. There was a lot going on then that you don’t know anything about. I know about the baby and I’m ok with it, why can’t you let me make up my own mind?”

“I thought you and Max were dating, but you’re ok with him getting another girl pregnant?” Nancy asked. “You’ll be ok with him being a dad in nine months time. You’ll be ok with him supporting another girl, being there for her, having a baby with her?”

Liz blinked, furiously trying not to cry. “Max and I weren’t dating at the time. I’m not happy about it, of course not. But I’ve accepted it. I love Max and I want to be with him, that’s all that matters.”

“Unfortunately Lizzie, it’s not.” Jeff argued. “You’re young and impressionable. You’ve been through a difficult time recently. Teenagers think that they’re old enough to run their own lives but they’re not. Sometimes a parent has to make decisions for their child if the child can’t make them for herself.”

“I am old enough and smart enough to make my own choices.” Liz said shrilly.

“Normally I’d agree with you but in this case, when it comes to Max Evans you’re not. All your brains go out the window. It’s like Max Evans has some sort of force on you. When it comes to him you stop acting and thinking rationally.” Jeff argued. “Ever since you started this… thing with him you’ve changed.”

“And not for the better.” Nancy added. “You skip classes, cut school, your grades have gone down, teachers say that you’re not as involved in school anymore. You sneak out of the house behind our backs at all hours. Last summer you ran away to Florida to get away from Max.”

“You used to have lots of friends, now it’s just Max and his friends.” Jeff continued. “You’ve fallen out with Maria. You’re constantly in tears. You lie to us. You’ve become even more closed off from your mother and I.”

“I’m growing up.” Liz reminded them. “I’m not going to stay the same, I’m changing and I’ll continue to change. I’m not going to always be your little girl.”

“But for now you are our little girl.” Nancy countered.

“Where is this Tess girl anyway?” Jeff asked.

“She’s gone home to her family.” Liz told him, trotting out the agreed story.

“Has Max been in touch with her?”

Liz shook her head. “It’s complicated.”

“So Max got a girl pregnant, broke up with her and sent her away and hasn’t even bothered to call her and see how she’s doing?” Jeff summarised.

“There’s more to it than that.” Liz argued.

“Explain it to us.” Nancy pleaded. “Explain to us why you have accepted this so well. How can you date somebody who found it so easy to turn his back on the girl who’s carrying his child? How can you be sure he won’t do the same to you? Does he really deserve your trust?”

Liz opened her mouth but no words came out. How could she explain this to her parents?

“No, I didn’t think so.” Jeff said, though his voice was surprisingly sympathetic. He took Liz's hand in his own and squeezed in affectionately. “I’m sorry Liz. I know that when you love somebody you’re willing to overlook everything. But we love you, not Max. We’re not prepared to overlook this.”

“One day, you’ll see that we’re right to do this.” Nancy continued. “Max Evans is not good for you.”


*
Image
Banner by Evelyn

Locked