Redemption (UC, Mi/L, ADULT)Part 5 11/11/10 [WIP]

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Ashita
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Redemption (UC, Mi/L, ADULT)Part 5 11/11/10 [WIP]

Post by Ashita » Sun Apr 04, 2010 7:28 pm

Title: Redemption
Disclaimer: The characters of "Roswell" belong to Jason Katims, Melinda Metz, and 20th Century Fox. They are not mine and no infringement is intended.
Pairings: Michael/Liz; Kyle/Isabel, Max/Tess; implied Max/Liz, Michael/Maria, Isabel/Alex
Rating: Adult
Summary: After Alex's mysterious death, the group becomes fractured when Liz and Kyle go missing, leaving the Pod Squad and Maria devastated. Challenge response to UC Challenge #44 by behrstars.
Warnings: Character Death(s), Violence, Abuse, Torture (mental and physical), Implied? Rape
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AN: I wanted make a brief note before jumping into this next story of mine. I was reading the challenges boards when I stumbled onto this particular challenge that intrigued me because it is so far removed from my usual. I had been looking an idea to challenge my abilities as a writer, specifically with a more angsty, darker edge as I tend to lean more towards fluff. What can I say, I like happy endings.

And this one will have a happy ending as well, but it will take a while to get there. Before that I will be taking this story places that are likely to make people uncomfortable. I'm going to try my best not to get overly graphic in my abuse, torture and rape scenes, but they will be descriptive. With the parameters of this particular challenge, to gloss over details would do the story a disservice. If you are by any means squeamish, this is not the story for you

That said, I do want to make it clear that this isn't about the dark elements this fiction will cover, but the perseverance of the human spirit and how love has the ability to heal even the worst of wounds. Despite it's bleak themes, this story began with a love scene that got stuck in my head (as many do) and demanded to be written, and thus this was born. Here are the for the rules for this fiction:

*Pairings: Mi/L; M/T; I/K
*Alex dies, but is killed by Rath and Lonnie not Tess
*Maria, unable to handle the abyss any longer moves to NY for record deal with mom.
*Max and Liz fight at Alex's but Liz and Kyle leave rather than Aliens
*Kyle and Liz are kidnapped by Lonnie and Rath
*Pod squad can't find them; Isabel can't dreamwalk them and no one knows what happened.
*Max gets Tess pregnant
*While in captivity they are mentally, physically and sexually abused as well as forced to hurt each other.
*Six months pass and Michael starts getting feelings he can't explain and tells Isabel he thinks it's Liz.
*Michael connects to Liz with Isabel's help
*Pod Squad locates missing Roswellians and kill Lonnie and Rath, rescue Kyle and Liz.
*Kyle and Liz have a hard time being separated when they get home and often sleep at each others house.
*Jim takes Kyle on a trip to force them apart.
*Liz, unable to sleep w/o Kyle, joins Michael in his bed; he knows because of their connection but doesn't say anything.
*Kyle comes back, Liz splits time between sleeping at Kyle's and Michael's.
*Liz finally confesses she's pregnant with Rath's child to Michael.
*Michael can feel and connect with baby.
*Max flips out about baby and Michael, Kyle and Isabel kick his ass alien style.
*Bond between Mi/L and K/I.
*Happy Mi/L ending.
*Lots of hot, sweaty sex. (This will take a while to give this story an air of realism as most victims would not be interested in a physical relationship after such a horrible experience. And it wouldn't be wise for the characters to jump right into one anyway.)


Typically, I don't like to give this much of the plot away, but this is listed on the challenge page anyway and I want people completely aware of the story's direction before they read it. I don't want it said later that the reader wasn't aware that this was going to get really dark for the first several chapters. So that said, you've been forewarned. If you wish to continue, the prologue follows in the next post.

AN2: There will be time jumping in this story. When I do have a significant time jump however, I will list the date above the chapter or section.

A big, warm thanks to my awesome beta, Whimsy!
Last edited by Ashita on Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:36 am, edited 7 times in total.
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Ashita
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Posts: 410
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 3:14 am
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Re: Redemption (UC, Mi/L, ADULT)

Post by Ashita » Sun Apr 04, 2010 7:38 pm

AN: Some scenes and dialogue are taken from #217 Cry Your Name and I do not claim those lines or scenes for my own. Just borrowing them to set up the coming story. Lyrics to My Last Breath belong to Evanescence.
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Prologue


Hold on to me love
You know I can't stay long
All I wanted to say was I love you and I'm not afraid
Can you hear me?
Can you feel me in your arms?



“This had better work,” a tall blonde woman smirked at her companion as they watched a dark-colored sedan pull out of the driveway, its driver looking around the street frantically, a visible sweat clinging to his forehead and temples, a wild, hunted expression etched into a pale, slightly emancipated face. She cracked her gum noisily as they watched their quarry speed down the street, intent on making it to his friends and telling them what he knew.

They couldn’t let that happen. It would jeopardize their mission and destroy everything they had tried so hard to accomplish, and if they didn’t nip this loose end in the bud, their commander would make a fine example of them. And since she was quite fond of her skin and position, he needed to die tonight.

“If you hadn’t lost control of him in the first place, we wouldn’t be here,” the tawny-haired man griped, scratching his brow in agitation before he threw their stolen truck into drive and peeled out after the sedan. “Now I’m forced clean up your mess again. I thought you said you had it handled?”

“I did,” she snapped, crossing her arms over her chest defensively as she slumped back into the bench seat and fumed at his callous attitude. Her quarry should have never broken through her shields and accessed his memories. Something went seriously wrong. “It should’ve been a snap. All I had to do was show up as my dupe and reinforce the binds I felt slipping.”


An hour earlier…


I'll miss the winter
A world of fragile things
Look for me in the white forest
Hiding in a hollow tree (come find me)
I know you hear me
I can taste it in your tears



Alex sat on his bed, phone pressed to his ear as he listened to the girl on the other end, biting his fist and mentally kicking himself for what he was about to do. Why was he refusing her again? Looking over at his best friends from childhood, he grimaced and recalled the reason he was about to turn Isabel down – she had played games with his heart for a long time and he needed confirmation that she wasn’t going to pull a disappearing act once more.

“I can't do tonight,” he replied, his words coming out in breathless rush as he looked around frantically, searching for a reason why he was turning her down when she questioned him, her voice put off and slightly hurt. Meeting Liz’s eyes he shrugged helplessly and groped for a plausible explanation, he had never been the best liar out of the group. Liz held up a book and whispered an excuse under her breath, he nodded quickly. “I have to ah da… study. I’m studying tonight.”

Blowing out a relieved breath, he rolled his eyes in exasperation at his goddess’s next words, his brow furrowing with panic as he dropped his head into his hand, shaking his head at his fumbling. Strong, he had to stay strong. It was for his own good. He didn’t need to turn into the blathering puppy dog Isabel had gotten used to over the years. She deserved someone stronger than that; his pride deserved someone stronger than that.

“Yeah I know, but I’ve got a monstrous final in…” he said a little more resolutely, squaring his shoulders slightly as he committed to his next actions, looking to Liz and Maria for strength. Smiling wanly at their encouraging nods, he looked at the book Maria was holding in front of him. “Robert Frost? English! Yeah, a killer final in English. It’s going to be a bi…I mean it’s going to be difficult.”

He grimaced at his utterly unconvincing performance so far and wondered if he was blowing all his chances with this phone call. He was doomed. Why had he agreed to play hard to get and string Isabel along again? It was all Liz and Maria’s fault. Glaring at them menacingly, he prayed that they were right in their assessments; otherwise he would kill the meddling minxes.

Rolling his eyes at their mimed strongman pose, he waved them off as he listened to his dream girl whisper softly, teasing him and subtly promising a better time with her than his books. Biting his fist in agonized pain, he imagined just how much fun he could be having if it weren’t for the interfering blonde and brunette at his side and drew a deep breath, nodding his head in agreement, forgetting Isabel couldn’t see him.

“I don’t want to, but I have to,” Alex responded with regret. Boy did he ever regret agreeing to this arrangement. It better be worth it or he was going to look for new friends. He bet Michael would tell him to go for it and he knew Kyle would be all for it, understanding a man’s needs. Maybe he should be talking to them instead. Scratch that – Michael would probably fry him with his nifty alien powers for even thinking of Isabel that way.

Looking over at his cohorts in crime, he cocked his brow at them as they beamed, bobbing their heads with encouragement. Glad he was making someone happy tonight because God knows he was going to spend the rest of the evening miserable and thinking of all the things he could be doing with a certain blond alien princess.

“Okay, well…uh…I’ll see you later,” he responded miserably, not even trying to hide his displeasure this time as he hung up the phone and flopped back onto his bed, sighing and staring at the phone longingly. Was it too late to change his mind? Maybe if he waited until the girls left, he could call her back and beg forgiveness.

Perking up at the possibility, he turned to face his friends as they sat on the bed and scratched that thought. Liz might forgive him for his weakness due to her own inability to resist the alien king, but Maria would have his hide despite being equally enamored of the second in command.

“I’m so proud of you,” Maria bubbled, hugging him as he groaned at her enthusiasm. This had been her idea to begin with, stating that no woman, other than Liz, wants a man to sit around mooning over her – especially in her presence.

She told him growing a backbone and remaining elusive and mysterious worked on girls like Isabel, who were used to men falling at their feet, and the more he seemed unattainable, the more she would want him. He had to wonder if she’d been sniffing too much cypress oil lately because to him, it seemed like it was a sure fire way for another man to steal the beautiful blond right from under his nose.

“This blows,” he said with a heartfelt groan, drumming his fingers against his guitar absently as he tried to figure out why girls had to be so damn complicated. Whatever happened to being upfront and declaring your feelings to the object of your affection as they used to in grade school? Now it was all games, perfectly planned maneuvers and pretense. He had to wonder if it was worth it in the end. “She’s thinking of me. Even now, she’s on her bed and thinking about me. ME!”

Alex groaned once more as he thought about her being in her bed. He was right, this totally blew. When had his life turned into a cross between the X-Files and a Dawson’s Creek episode?

“Okay, so are we done with this Isabel thing?” Maria asked impatiently, wanting to move on to the topic of Max kissing Tess at the prom. The ass. If she didn’t love Liz so much and knew it would hurt her friend if she interfered, she’d kick his alien ass back to Antar, sending that skank into to orbit with him. “All right, Max kissed Tess.”

“Maria,” Liz replied warningly, fixing the blonde with a quelling glance and bent over to hug Alex, giving him an exasperated smile. She loved Maria, but sometimes she needed to butt out of everyone’s business and let them figure out things on their own. Turning back to her friend with a pointed looked, she cocked a brow when Maria pouted and sighed as she reminded her that they had to go. “Work! You be strong, Alex.”

“Strong, strong, strong,” Maria agreed emphatically, patting the blue-eyed boy on his chest and ruffled his thick, dark hair as she clambered off the bed, retrieving her bags.

“Strong,” he repeated half-heartedly, his aggrieved gaze resting on his two friends as they started to gather themselves together for work. He knew a couple of girls that should take their own advice, although he was far too smart to point it out. “Yeah, strong.”

He stared at his ceiling as the girls walked out of his room, still drumming his fingers against his guitar, and gave another sigh, finally setting it aside as he heard Liz shout down the hall that his dinner was there. Waving to the girls, he grabbed a pen and walked towards the door.

“Ah, it’s about time,” he said, licking his lips in anticipation, handing the guy his credit card and reaching for his food. Pulling it out of the bag, he noted that it was barely warm to the touch and looked at the guy with confusion. “Hey, this isn’t even warm.”

“Oh, sorry about that, I got lost,” the delivery guy said, with a slight shrug of his shoulders as he took an imprint of Alex’s card with his machine and made a few notations on the slip, missing the other guy’s dazed expression as he slumped dejectedly. “You better heat it back up.”

“I’m…I’m so sick of this. I’m…always the same thing,” Alex muttered under his breath, absently drumming his fingers, shaking his head in agitation, and staring at the take out box unseeingly as the rest of his body started to tremble violently. “Always cold, always the same thing. I’m just so sick of everything.”

“Could, could you sign here please?’ the delivery guy asked nervously, watching Alex with trepidation and wondering why he always got stuck with the crack heads. He really needed to get a job that didn’t force him deal with the crazies. The slip trembled slightly in his outstretched hand as the other man took it.

“Why does life have to be so wrong?” Alex asked no one in particular, almost rambling under his breath, a light sweat breaking over his furrowed brow as scenes he didn’t quite understand floated past his eyes. Leanna wasn’t Leanna. Who was she? And why was Isabel in Sweden? Rubbing his temples with one hand, he blindly shoved the credit slip towards the delivery guy, meeting confused eyes and queried, “Why does everything have to be a lie?”

“I don’t know dude,” the guy replied helplessly, grabbing the slip and leaving as quickly as he could, all but running back to his car. Man, the things he did to make a few insignificant bucks.

Alex shut the door behind him, turning around and setting his cold food on the table, dark blue eyes unfocused and staring blindly down the hall as he staggered to his room. He grabbed a picture of Leanna and him and stared at it blankly as more images flashed across his mind, images that didn’t fit with the memories he had shared with his friends. It had all been a lie.

Standing, he stalked over to his desk, yanking the drawer open and rummaged through it. He grabbed a pair of scissors with agitation, his throat clenching bitterly as he hacked his head out of the picture. Leanna wasn’t Leanna. Leanna wasn’t Leanna. Leanna wasn’t Leanna…

Throwing the scissors across the room, he dropped the picture, collapsing to his knees and dropped his head in his hands, his fingers clenching the sides of his head, face pinching with pain as the litany reverberated through his head. Swaying dizzily, he tried to quell the treasonous thought from taking hold and let out an anguished growl as he slipped into darkness, the pain in his head too much to bear.


Twenty minutes earlier…


Closing your eyes to disappear
You pray your dreams will leave you here
But still you wake and know the truth
No one's there



Alex came to, head fuzzy and stared around his room blurrily, wondering how he had ended up lying on the floor of his room. The last thing he had remembered was Liz and Maria leaving as the delivery guy got there and he had discovered his food was cold. Beyond that, he couldn’t remember a thing.

Glancing at the clock on his desk, he realized that he was missing about thirty minutes of time and shook his head to clear the lingering cobwebs. Rubbing his face, he brushed rumpled waves out of the way and walked out of his room, startling when he heard another crashing on his front door and realized that was what had woken him in the first place.

Striding to the door, he winced as residual pain ricocheted across his temples, making his senses swim slightly and his stomach rolled. Why had he passed out? It didn’t make any sense as he had been feeling fine when he, Liz and Maria had been talking. It was just one more mystery to add to his growing list of oddities since he came back from Sweden. Maybe he had picked up something during his travels?

The person banged on his door once more, the loud knocking raking across inflamed nerves and he cringed. Rubbing his temples, he wished he had the power to heal like Max. It would be really handy at this moment.

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” he yelled as loud as he dared in the hopes it would keep his unknowing tormentor from sending yet more waves of pain skittering over raw nerves. Reaching the door, he threw it open and stared outside, squinting as the porch light glared in his eyes. Clenching his eyes shut, he counted to ten before opening them once more and squinted hazily.

A familiar face slowly came into focus and he stared at her dumbly as the edges of his vision finally cleared, the pain receding into the background. What was she doing there? He vaguely recalled telling her that he had to study tonight, all but blowing her off at his friends’ instigation. Paling, he stared at her and posed the question to her.

“Isabel, what are you doing here?” Alex asked, staring at the pretty blonde alien in confusion. The only other time she had sought him out was when they couldn’t find Max and she wanted to use him, again, to find his location. Not that he complained of course. There were worse things in life than kissing beautiful women.

But she tended to run hot and cold, keeping him at arms length and dating other people, then cozying up to him at prom as if he was the answer to all her dreams. It was confusing and he’d long been fed up with her games. Thus agreeing to blowing her off on the phone – he was tired of being the princess’s yo-yo. There were only so many refusals a man could take and he had reached his limit.

Yeah, and if he kept telling himself that, one day he might actually believe it. Wasn’t it just forty minutes ago that he planned to ignore his friends well meaning advice and call her back, begging for her forgiveness and damning the wrath of Hurricane Deluca?

“We need to talk about the other night,” she murmured, shifting from foot to foot uncomfortably, twisting a long, golden strand between her fingers, bright brown eyes meeting his beseechingly. Moving closer to him, she frowned slightly when he flinched and stepped back, keeping a small but noticeable distance between them. “I haven’t seen you since prom and I thought…can I come in?”

“Sure,” he replied hesitantly, rubbing his brow to ease the pressure building behind his eyes once more and took a shuddering breath as he stepped back to let her pass. “Come on in.”

To be honest, Isabel’s hot and cold act wasn’t the only reason he was avoiding the blonde. Since he’d returned from Sweden, he had been plagued with headaches, dizziness and weird mental fugues every time he was near her or Michael. If it was just Isabel, he could write it off as infatuation, but his reaction to Michael confused him. He couldn’t think of any reason why the other man would send a chill down his spine.

“Thanks,” she murmured demurely, looking at him through her lashes, a shy smile brightening her features. Moving past him, she shrugged her jacket off and set in on the couch, moving around to sit on it, slumping over a little self-consciously when Alex continued to watch her warily. “Alex?”

“What?” he queried absently, brow pinching in confusion as his head swam a bit and rubbed the back of his neck as he focused on her blurrily, shaking his head subtly and closed the door. “Sorry, hazed out for a moment.”

Joining her on the couch, he smiled and shifted uneasily as a flash superimposed itself over her face for a moment. Drawing a deep breath, he pulled back sharply, shoulders stiffening as he studied her face intently.

“Is everything okay?” she asked, brow furrowing as she noticed his agitation. Fixing him with a concerned glance, she placed a hand on his knee gently and leaned over, touching him lightly on the forehead, pulling back when he jerked slightly.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he rasped, running his hands through his hair, wiping away the faint sheen of sweat clinging to his temples. What on Earth was wrong with him; it was just Isabel. Smiling half-heartedly, he laid his slightly shaky hand over hers and squeezed gently, bringing it to his mouth and placing a soft kiss on the back of her hand. “Sorry, been a bit jumpy all day and I don’t know why.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked, smiling at him reassuringly as he let her hand go and placed it back on his knee, squeezing it gently. Assessing his demeanor quickly, she realized she had made it just in time. If she had waited any longer, he would have completely broken her shielding. She smiled sweetly to disarm him. “You know you can tell me anything.”

“No, I’m fine,” he reassured, smiling back and clasped his hands, staring at her curiously. Leaning back, he tipped his head towards her, admiring the bright red v-neck sweater and black slacks she was wearing. He always loved when she wore red; it was a perfect foil for her golden brown eyes and spun gold curls. Eyes shifting away nervously, he swallowed hard and mentally admonished himself to stay strong. “Uh…what did you want to talk to me about?”

“I just wanted to tell you I had a great time the other night,” she whispered, flicking her eyes up to meet his dark blue gaze and smiling at him shyly once again, tugging on her necklace absently. Reaching over to take his hand, she entwined her fingers with his, noting that he flinched subtly, but didn’t pull away.

“I did too,” he replied, giving her a soft noncommittal smile, hiding the tremors in his hands by clasping them in front of him and coaching himself to remain strong and not fall under her spell once more – a feat for which he was quickly losing ground. You can do this Alex. Just play it cool and easy and keep her wondering. “It was a good night.”

“Yeah,” she smiled, meeting his eyes flirtatiously, as she leaned towards him, resting her head on his shoulder, looking up at him through her lashes and snuggled closer to him, noticing that he stiffened imperceptibly at her proximity. Tipping her head up, she brushed her lips over the side of his neck ‘innocently’ and barely repressed a smirk when he shuddered in reaction. This might be easier than she expected. “I missed you. We haven’t talked in ages.”

Alex stiffened once again, and cursing softly in her head, she realized she had inadvertently done something to set him on edge once more. She kept her face soft and blank as Alex’s hard gaze stared down at her, his eyes tinged with suspicion and he started to move away.

“What kind of game are you playing Isabel?” he grit, back rippling with tension as he jerked away from her and shifted, putting as much distance between them as he possibly could on the couch. “We talked no more than forty-five minutes ago.”

“I know,” she said, trying to mollify the other man with a soft hand to his cheek, stroking it soothingly, trying to recover the ground she had lost. She had to get him back under control tonight or Khivar was going to have a shit fit. If he told his friends the truth it would ruin the next stage of their plan. “I just meant that it felt like ages.”

She smiled at him tremulously before letting her shoulders slump, eyes filling with tears as she rose to her feet, biting her lower lip nervously. Meeting his eyes, she watched the suspicion soften slightly, but he still held himself off and she sighed, quelling the rising irritation at his standoffishness. She knew he was crazy about her dupe, so the only explanation was that her mind control had weakened to the point that he was remembering more than she realized. They were screwed.

“Never mind…I’ll just…I’ll just go,” she whispered brokenly, hurt flashing through her eyes momentarily before she let them blank in Isabel’s typical ice queen façade and turned as if to walk away, playing to the other man’s hero tendencies. “I see it was a mistake to come here.”

She walked to the door slowly, her body bowed with defeat, although her mind was quickly calculating how she could get him to cave if this ploy didn’t work as she planned. She could always come back when he was sleeping and take him by surprise. Make him think it was Isabel intent on seducing him. Truth be told, she kinda missed him since they had released him. Rath was a great lover, but there was a soft care to the other man that she’d never experienced in her former mate’s arms.

It was why she hadn’t allowed Khivar and Rath to kill him when he was no longer of use, not that she’d ever admit it. If they were ever to find out of her weakness, they’d exploit it or kill him to keep her on track. She smirked as she heard him sigh and rise, walking towards her, and knew that her ploy had been successful.

“Isabel, wait,” he sighed, the suspicion draining from his voice as he came to stand behind her, lifting a hand to her shoulder and turning her to face him, his throat clenching slightly when he saw a tear trickle over her cheek. “I didn’t mean it that way. I told you, I’ve just been jumpy all day. I’m sorry.”

Pulling her against his chest, he wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her temple before he rested his chin on her head. Lonnie couldn’t help a flash of envy towards her dupe, but quickly suppressed it as the weakness it was and pulled away slightly to stare into warm blue eyes. She should thank her dupe actually. His feelings for her made it so much easier to do what she needed to do.

Reaching a hesitant hand out, she cupped his jaw, lightly tracing the line of it to his lips and drew a finger over his lips teasingly, smiling sweetly when he shivered at the soft caress. Drawing his lips down to her, she pressed hers against his in a soft, teasing kiss, deepening it when he gasped. Sliding her tongue over the part of his lips, she smiled against his mouth when he groaned and gave into her pull, opening his mouth under hers and plunged his tongue between her own parted lips.

Groaning helplessly, Alex knew that he was going to regret caving into the blonde temptress, but he couldn’t help it. He’d always loved her and he’d been crazy to allow the girls to talk him into resisting her for his own good. This was what he’d always wanted, so what was wrong with finally enjoying the attentions of this woman?

Threading his fingers through her long, silky tresses, he gave up the pretense of fighting his feelings and pulled her into his body, sliding his tongue along hers, teasing hers playfully, savoring her mouth completely. Sucking her tongue into his mouth, he continued to explore the sweet recess and nearly lost it, moaning when she bit his lip lightly. Why was he fighting her again?

Breath erratic, he sunk deeper, closing his eyes as he gave into her fully, opening himself completely to her assault, licking the folds of her mouth as he pressed firmly into the door, needing support as his knees grew weak

His head swam dizzily as Isabel slid her hands into his hair, pressing her palms to his temples and sent a warm pulse of power through his head. Shaking his head, he tried to break free from her grip and panicked, breathing quickening in fear when he found he had no will of his own and gasped when something broke in his head and suppressed memories swarmed before his eyes.

*flash*

He stared, jaw slackening in horror as Leanna morphed before him, turning from his pretty blonde guide to another blonde he’d seen only once before and thought he’d never see again. Shaking his head frantically, he rubbed his eyes and prayed that the image before him would disappear. Focusing back on the woman, he paled and heart pounding, backed away from her in a daze, terror coursing through his veins.

“What?” he murmured, stumbling when a wall jerked him out of his reverie and he noticed that he was no longer standing on the street but was trapped in a warehouse. A cold sweat broke over his body as he realized that he wasn’t in Sweden and had no idea where he was or how long he’d been missing. “Where am I? What am I doing here?”

“What’s the matter, Duke?” Lonnie smirked, cracking her gum noisily as she sauntered up to him, standing only inches from his body as she leaned forward, eyes flashing with malicious glee at the ragged pants puffing from his pale, trembling lips. “Not who you was expecting?”

*flash*

“Now, now Alex, alls ya gotta do is tell us where the Granilith is and we’ll letcha go back home to ya little princess,” Lonnie crooned tauntingly, dragging sharp nails over his chest, enjoying his hiss of pain when she drew them over the angry red burns littering his chest from their latest ‘conversation.’ “You don’t want me to gives you back to Nicco do you? We both know you won’t survive his tender care another day.”

“I told you! I don’t know where it is!” he cried desperately, screaming as she brought her cigarette down on his chest once again, his skin sizzling audibly, the acrid scent of burning flesh rising into the air, making him gag as pain ripped across his nerves before he slid into that beckoning dark that kept him safe.

*flash*

“We can do this the easy way or the hard way, Duke,” the blond man grinned at him maniacally, rubbing his hands together in anticipation, thoroughly enjoying this part of his assignment. “It’s yous choice.”

He faced the slumped brunet man as he laid on the ground limply, his hands bound behind him and crouched next to him, yanking his head back to stare into furious blue eyes, blackened by his last attempt to get him to spill information pertaining to the other Royal Four and the location of the Granilith.

“Fuck you!” Alex growled, blood trickling over the corner of his mouth, and he spat into his tormentor’s face, grunting in pain when his actions earned a fist to the jaw. Head lolling limply to his lap, he cried out when the other man leapt to he feet and planted his boot into his ribs, a sickening crack echoing through the room as several cracked and broke. Breathing shallowly, his head swam and he blocked out the violent pummel of feet and fists, slipping away into that void where he felt nothing.

*flash*

“I’ll give you this, human,” Nicholas said conversationally, clasping his hands behind his back and paced the length of the room as he watched Alex contemplatively, his brow cocking when Alex stared back at him blankly. It unsettled him, this stoic resolve. He had long thought humans the weaker race and yet this man had withstood all of their torture and not only lived, but also refused to back down. “You’re tougher than you look.”

The teenager stopped in front of their prisoner, taking in his battered, broken body with a cool detachment that belied his appearance and spoke of someone that had lived much longer than his tender years. Which he had and he knew when to cut his losses. Alex stared back at him, his face carefully schooled to hide the hate coursing through every vein.

“We’ll get nothing more from him,” he continued dispassionately as he walked away from the man and headed toward the door. He would just have to move onto the other humans in the group. Maybe one of the girls. They’d be harder to kidnap considering the male hybrids hovered over them at all times, but they were likely to have more information given their relationships with the king and his second. “Kill him.”

“Wait, do you think that such a good idea, Nicco?” Lonnie interrupted, feigning boredom to hide the slight flutter of unease in her gut. “That might bring unwanted attention to us.”

*end flash*


“What are you doing?” Alex gasped as he managed to rip himself from the other woman’s grasp, heart pounding as he realized that she wasn’t Isabel and he was in grave danger given the memories her kiss unleashed. “Get away from me, Lonnie!”

“So yous discovered my secret eh, Opie,” she smirked, morphing from her Isabel guise back into her typical punked out appearance, running a hand through her short, spiked hair before she brushed a hand over her clothes, replacing them with a tight, sleeveless black shirt and leather pants. “Not ta worry, I’ll be gone once I takes care of yous little memory issue. Can’t have you telling on me, now can I?”

Sauntering over to the pale man, she snickered as he backed up hurriedly, stumbling in his haste to get away from her. Picking himself up, he continued his backward trek, keeping one panicked eye on her the entire time as he wondered if he could get to his bedroom and out the window before she could catch him.

Halting mid-stride, Lonnie cocked her ear, barely catching the sound of a key in the door in time to morph back into her Isabel guise before Alex’s dad came in. Smiling at him sweetly, she cursed her luck. She had been so close.

“Isabel,” Charles smiled, delighted to see the girl his son held in high regard and completely missing his son’s scrambling to put as much distance between himself and girl as possible. “How are you, dear?”

Alex schooled his face into the stoic mask that had become his norm at the end of his captivity, fear thrumming through his veins as he worried that his father had unwittingly put himself in the crosshairs of an intergalactic battle. He cleared his throat, drawing his dad’s attention to him, and nearly leapt with joy when his dad continued into the room over to him.

Not giving Lonnie a chance reassert her control, he looked at her and replied for her, smirking slightly when a flash of anger lit her eyes before she could quell it. “Actually dad, she’s in a hurry and was just leaving to go study. Finals are coming up.”

“That’s right,” she agreed, her voice laced with a hint of amusement as she cocked her brow at his clever maneuvering. Not to worry, she’ll play his little game for now. There was more than one way to skin a cat. “I’ll come by later so we can finish our discussion.”

“Don’t bother,” he told her coldly, his animosity leaking through momentarily before he forced his mask into place, ignoring his father’s concerned glance as he walked from the room. He wasn’t about to turn away from Lonnie and give her the upper hand. “Nothing you have to say interests me.”

Lonnie’s mouth thinned imperceptibly, a slight flash of pain bleeding to rage as she studied him and the lines around her eyes tightened as she stared at him coldly. Message received. She wasn’t the one he loved and knew that the lines had been drawn. Whatever tiny shred of good will she felt for this human died in that moment and she squared her shoulders, cold resolve taking over. She knew what she had to do.

“So be it,” she spat, turning her back on the last shred of humanity she had foolishly clung to. She should have realized that he’d never look at her the way he did Isabel. Stalking over the door, she tossed one last hateful glance over her shoulder and quickly walked out the door, her mind already calculating how to rid herself of this folly.


Present…

Say goodnight
Don't be afraid
Calling me calling me as you fade to black



Her companion snorted derisively, fixing her with a furious scowl as he drummed his fingers against the cool, black leather steering wheel before turning his eyes back to the curving road before him. He knew of Lonnie’s weakness regarding the human and had been disgusted with her uncharacteristic show of compassion when it came to killing him a month ago. He knew it would come back to bite them on the ass.

“I got it handled!” she growled, ignoring the pang in her heart as she recalled Alex’s earlier words and the disgust that had been evident in his eyes. He’d looked at her as if she was nothing more than the sewer rat from which she’d been trying to distance herself. Who the hell did he think he was treating her as if she was dirt beneath his shoes? She was royalty, a princess, and she’d show him not to mess with Antar. “Just gets me close enough. I’s got enough control left over him to control his actions. Little Alex is about to have hisself an accident.”

“You better,” Rath threatened, looking over at his companion’s expression, smirking at the cold set of her eyes and mouth. And she’s back. Maybe. He’d have to keep an eye on her to make sure she didn’t falter when they implemented the second phase. They couldn’t afford any more mistakes. “Or else yous gonna wish you had died with him last month.”

“Quit yous bitchin’ and gets me close enough,” she repeated, glaring at him hatefully before she refocused her concentration to the sedan careening recklessly down the road in front of them, the man inside frantic to get to his destination before they caught up with him.

“You's lucky I needs you for the second part of this plan or else I’d kill you now and be done with you,” he growled, stomping his foot down on the gas pedal, flooring it. The truck lurched forward as gas flooded into the engine and their speed doubled, pulling them with in feet of the swerving sedan. Sweat dotted his brow as he fiercely concentrated on the road in front of them. It wouldn’t do them any good if they got killed in the process of eliminating their threat.

“But you do,” she reminded him with a derisive smirk, under no false illusions. She knew the man would turn on her if given the chance; just has she would turn on him if it meant her hide or his. She felt no loyalty to him in her past life and that hadn’t changed in this lifetime. “So do what you gotta do so wes can get the hell out of here.”

"This is as close as we gonna get, so do yours thing,” he smirked, barely acknowledging her reminder with a cruel twist of his lips. Keeping his eyes on the road, he noticed a flare of headlights in the distance and smiled. Looks like someone might be smiling down on them after all. “Think yous can control him long enough to make him drives into that big rig?”

“Of course,” she smirked derisively, licking her lips as she closed her eyes and focused on the link she had forged with Alex while he was in captivity. It was the one thing that kept her from killing him before. It was only fitting that it would lead to his demise. Brow furrowed in concentration, a sheen of sweat broke over it and her upper lip as she entered his mind, searching for that part that was hers and hers alone.

She felt him jolt in terror as he realized what was happening and he desperately fought against her powers, but weakened by her earlier attempt to reassert her control on him, he couldn’t push her from his mind. He had seconds to realize what was happening, fear skittering over his nerves, mind numb with horror as he read her thoughts and he broke out into a cold sweat before she wrenched away his control and took over.

Feeding on the adrenaline coursing through his body, she imposed her will on him and his foot clamped down on the pedal, the speeding car leaping forward dangerously, as it swerved across the road. Digging her nails into her hands, she struggled with the faltering connection and gave another boost of power, pushing through to his cerebellum to control his fine motor skills.

Taking over his body’s actions, she forced him to turn the sedan into the approaching big rig, holding him on the path as the truck honked his horn to get his attention. She felt a trill of resigned horror and fear echo back through their connection and sent her own vindicated smirk to him before pulling herself out when it was too late for him to change course.

“Gets us out of here,” she gasped as she came too, head buzzing with fatigue, and braced herself as Rath slammed on the brakes, whipping the truck around and cringing when she heard the distinct crunch of metal as the sedan tried to swerve at the last moment and caught the corner of the rig, flipping several times before coming to a rest on its roof.

She cried out as she felt razor sharp pain slide down the still open connection as he was sliced up by shattering glass and choked, gagging as she felt his him choke and suffocate on his own blood before she blissfully blacked out in exhaustion, his metal scream reverberating in her head. “Isabel!”

Rath looked in the rear view mirror, grim satisfaction crossing his face as he saw the mangled wreckage teeter on its roof and knew there was no way anyone could live through such destruction. Glancing over at Lonnie briefly, his lips pressed together in disgust and he made a mental note to change the color and plates of the truck just in case the driver of the big rig had seen them.


Holding my last breath
Safe inside myself
Are all my thoughts of you
Sweet raptured light it ends here tonight

~My Last Breath, Evanescence

~*~
Last edited by Ashita on Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:09 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Ashita
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Re: Redemption (UC, Mi/L, ADULT) Chap 1, 4/24/10

Post by Ashita » Sat Apr 24, 2010 5:10 pm

Carrie - I'm glad you liked the song selection. Music plays a huge part in this story, with each chapter having a song to set the mood/scene. I happen to love that band and use several of their songs for this story. I'm happy to hear that I made the change in story believable and effortless as this has been a difficult fiction to write. But the point was to challenge myself and I'm enjoying is so far. And I'm especially happy to hear that you thought I nailed the dupes in personality and accent. They were a challenge to me.

Kris - I'm glad you like the start of the story! Thanks!

Behrstars - I'm so glad that you like the start of this fiction since you issued the challenge. Hopefully I can do the remaining story justice. :)

Jan - Yeah, it is an interesting twist, and if you ask me, a more believable story to Alex's death than the slapped together, Tess is evil story line that the writers came up with. Thanks!

KiaraAlexisKlay - Thanks! :) I agree with you on the Dupes being behind Alex's death opposed to Tess. That whole story line just irked me. Yeah, I couldn't help adding that bit with Lonnie falling for Alex and adding a bit more depth to her character rather than just make her a psychopathic bitch. Besides, who wouldn't fall for Alex? He's just so squeezable. And I'm glad you felt a little sorry for Lonnie. I wanted to show that despite embracing their alien side usually, the dupes can't escape the pull of their human side either.

AN: Dialogue and scenes taken from Cry Your Name #217 and How the Other Half Lives #214 are the property of Twentieth Century Fox, Jason Katims, etc. I do not in any way claim them for my own. Just using them to set the scene for the coming story. Story will go AU after this chapter. The Lyrics to Amazing Grace are by John Newton (1725-1807) and are the stanzas sung by Maria on the show. Lyrics to Whisper belong to Evanescence.

AN2: I’m told a tissue alert is necessary for this chapter, so consider it done. This was a heartbreaking scene to write and I ended up tearing up several times as I wrote it.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ashes to Ashes
Catch me as I fall
Say you're here and it's all over now
Speaking to the atmosphere
No one's here and I fall into myself
“Hey Hanson. Whatcha you got?” Valenti asked as he reached the scene, staring at the sedan resting on its roof.

“Pretty bad,” Hanson sighed, fixing him with a resigned look that sent shudders down the other man’s spine. “Sedan doing about 70 did a head-on with a Semi.”

~*~


“What?” Maria asked with trepidation as she met Jim’s stoic gaze, fear trickling over her spine and screaming when she read the bad news in his eyes, running into the dining room into Liz’s arms. “Nooooo!”

“There's been an accident,” he murmured quietly after walking into the dining room and fought back his own tears, dreading the news he was about to give the group of teens clustered around him. “Alex is dead.”

~*~


“Max?” Isabel questioned hopefully, eyes brimming with tears and her heart pounding as she noticed Alex’s blood on his hands and broke when he stared back at her with disbelief, anguish coursing through her body.

“I think you should all go home now,” Valenti choked, as they watched two men wheel Alex’s body out of the car and into the morgue.

~*~


“Maria!” Liz shouted as she tried to press a disfigured photo she’d found of Alex and Leanna in the wreckage into her face. “This means something. Why is Alex's head missing?”

“Stop it!” Maria cried hysterically, staring at her best friend in disbelief, turning her face into Michael’s chest and hanging onto him as if her life depended, trying to avoid looking at the offending photo. “Stop it!”

“Shhh,” Michael whispered, wrapping her in his arms and comforting her while staring at Liz accusingly for being so callous. “It’s okay.”

“It means something,” Liz bit out, lips pressing together, staring at them angrily before she turned and walked away.

~*~


“Tell me,” Liz demanded, brooking no further arguments from the man in front of her.

“It's beginning to look more and more likely that Alex might have deliberately turned his car into the oncoming traffic,” Valenti said, heart sick as he watched anger and denial flash across the brunette’s face. “The last couple of weeks, people have noticed changes in Alex's behavior. Moodiness, lack of focus, his grades started to slip….”

“Oh please,” Liz scoffed scathingly, her eyes sparking with fury that anyone would dare think her best friend was capable of taking his own life; had any reason to take his life.

~*~

This truth drives me
Into madness
I know I can stop the pain
If I will it all away
“Are you ready honey?” Nancy Parker asked her daughter quietly, her brow pinching with worry as she watched her daughter’s pale, stoic face in the mirror, and placed a hand on her shoulder, her heart aching at the pained anger swimming through Liz’s eyes. Alex had been a member of the family, the son she never had, and his death had been a heavy hit to the entire family. “We should leave soon.”

“I’ll be right out, Mom,” Liz whispered, and watched her mother walk out of the room, her throat clenching as Valenti’s words reverberated through her head and she grit her teeth as venomous anger lashed through her body. Clenching her fists, she fought the tide of grief that threatened to overwhelm and leave her floundering.

She couldn’t give into the crushing ache in her heart while people were whispering lies about her best friend. There was no way. Alex would never kill himself. She knew it with every fiber of her being and she’d be damned if they were going to write him off as another teenage statistic. How could they even think that after everything that has happened in the past year?

Staring in the mirror, she shuddered at the emptiness etched on her face, and quickly rebuilt the wall that she’d constructed to get through the past week. It was times like this that she began to think Michael was right about not getting involved with their lives. At first, knowing the aliens had been a gift, an exciting adventure.

But this time, the price of such knowledge was too great. Because as sure as she was sitting there, Alex was murdered. And she knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that his death was alien related. And even if he hadn’t pulled the trigger himself so to speak, Alex’s blood was on Max’s hands. It had been his attempt to prevent the future that set this chain of events into motion.

Rising, she threw a black jacket on over her white blouse and paused, staring at a picture of her smiling friend, eyes welling with tears as she traced his face. She was determined to get answers even if it killed her. It was the least she could do for her part in his death.

“I’ll prove it somehow, Alex,” she vowed, anguish ripping through her body as she bit back a moan of despair, biting into her bottom lip so hard her teeth tore through the tender skin, a drop of blood trickling over it, and she gagged as the cloying, metallic taste hit her tongue. Hissing, she hastily licked the stinging flesh and grabbed his picture, walking purposefully out the door. “I won’t rest until I know the truth.”
~*~
~The Earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine


Breathing harshly, Liz stepped out of her parent’s car, staring sightlessly at the browning grass and desert brush surrounding the cemetery. Her stomach lurched sickly when she saw the covered mound of dirt on the side of what would become Alex’s final resting place.

Clutching the picture in her hand, she pushed windblown, unkempt hair behind her ear and slowly staggered toward the open grave lost in her own world, numb and oblivious to the other mourners around her. Swaying slightly, she came to a halt, eyes trained on the polished granite stone bearing his name and squeezed her eyes shut, pain whipping through her like an electric current, one tear sliding over her cheek.

Inhaling sharply, she tore her eyes away from his headstone, his name still swimming before her eyes and watched as the hearse came to a slow stop a few feet away, her heart pinching as Kyle, Valenti, Max, and Michael made their way over and congregated at the rear. This couldn’t be happening. It had to be some kind of sick joke or an extended nightmare.

Alex is dead.

Three words that forever ripped apart the fabric of her world, tossing its already chaotic existence hurtling into a deep abyss. A dark place she had no hope of climbing out of, no hope of emerging unscathed. The last shred of her hope and innocence was forever lost.

Alex is dead.

She took huge gulping breaths, gripping her hands so hard, her nails left tiny half moon bruises on her palms. It had to be a lie or an illusion like the time the Skins came to town and made everyone disappear or maybe a mind warp. Anything but the cold, icy truth staring at her in the face, threatening to crush her under an avalanche of torment.

Alex is dead.

Shaking her head in denial, she staggered, her fist pressed to her stomach as bile rushed up her throat into her mouth, coating it with acid, eating away at the soft skin and she gagged at its foul bitterness, pressing a tissue to her mouth. Looking up, she met pained yet concerned caramel eyes that spoke of a reality that she couldn’t deny no matter how much she wished it away.

Alex is dead.

Blinking away her tears, she pressed her lips together, ripping her eyes away from Michael and set her face into an icy mask. It was the only way she was going to make it through the service without wanting to fall into the grave beside Alex – an early grave she had placed him in herself.

~But God, who called me here below
Will be forever mine.


Opening the back doors of the hearse, the driver stood back and the boys, Valenti and a couple of Alex’s relatives stepped forward, slowly lifting and passing the coffin hand by hand, easing it out of back of the car until each man held one of the bronze handles. Facing forward, they watched as mourners gathered along several metal chairs, waiting for the family to join them.

Sucking in a deep breath, Michael stoically looked over at Max, Kyle and Valenti, shock and grief clearly etched on each of their faces, his own face blank despite the disbelief reverberating through his body. He had always expected one of them to die before their time, but always assumed it would be himself, not one of the human contingent and definitely not Alex. How could this have happened?

Staring off into the distance, his throat clenched and eyes burning with unshed tears, he tipped his head to the heavens, clenching his eyes to stave off the stinging. He had failed. It was his job to protect Alex, to protect them all and he failed. A mind numbing wash of emotion poured over him and he fought desperately to remain the image of impassivity.

He couldn’t allow himself to give into to this wave of pain over losing his friend, couldn’t give into the pain of Maria pushing him away last night. He had remain clearheaded so he could watch over them all, even if they didn’t want him to – especially the ones that didn’t want him to.

Looking over at Liz, his gut twisted when he remembered the burning fury in her eyes when she tried to get Maria and him to listen, to acknowledge that the picture meant something. As much as he worried about Maria, he knew she was dealing with her grief. It was Liz that terrified him. She had snapped onto autopilot the moment Valenti had told them about the accident and pushed aside any emotion aside from anger and denial.

She seemed to be on a one-woman mission to prove there was more to Alex’s death than met the eye. He couldn’t help but worry about what might happen when she got those answers, proving her right or wrong, and had nothing to keep her from falling apart. Shuddering as he watched her sway over the grave, he gasped softly when she turned and met his eyes, a yawning emptiness and devastation so clearly etched in them.

Snapping back to attention when he heard a voice near his ear, he realized that the family had been seated for the graveside service and they were ready to proceed. Moving forward somberly, heads bent in sorrow, they carried the casket over to the open grave, setting it down on the straps and moved away, standing behind the pastor as he started to speak, crossing their hands in front of them.

~Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease.


Maria stood next to the pastor, her program crinkling between tightly clenched hands, tears streaming down her cheeks, the pastor’s words of comfort and afterlives falling on deaf ears. There was no comfort, no solace, no rejoicing because Alex was with his creator. All she had left was a large gaping hole where her heart once resided and a cold, empty space where her soul once sang.

It was unbelievable. It couldn’t be happening. But as she stared at the gleaming wooden box before her, she couldn’t deny cold, harsh reality. It mocked her, taunted her, whispered through the night and reminded her that life was fleeting, that death was just waiting in the wings for the slightest misstep.

And she couldn’t take it any longer. She had spent so much of the past two years of her life avoiding the cold clutches of fate, destiny if you will. She ignored it every time some new crisis came up, pushing her further into the abyss that slowly overtook her life and left her suffocating, gasping for air. She told herself that as long as she had Liz, Alex and Michael, she would be fine.

She was wrong. So dreadfully wrong.

Alex’s death proved one thing – she didn’t have any of them. She was completely and utterly alone. Alex had died far too young, Michael had never truly been hers in the first place and Liz – she had lost Liz long ago to the alien abyss. She just hadn’t realized it until Alex wasn’t there to bind them together. He had been the glue after that fateful September day when her friend was brought back to life, but forever changed.

She didn’t blame Liz and could almost understand it – how does one live through a near death experience without being irrevocably changed? She even understood her obsessive need to explain Alex’s death and find a reason other than the obvious – a tragic, unexplainable accident.

She had tried to incite Maria, wanting to pull her into another conspiracy, but love her or not, she refused to follow her best friend on another wild goose chase of lies, chaos and danger. Even if Alex’s death hadn’t been a tragic accident, she didn’t want to know; couldn’t bear to know.

She was, simply put, tapped out, done with the pain, the grief, the uncertainty, the fear, the danger, the life sucking pull of it all. She was done with the abyss. She handed in her membership card, allowed them to strip her over her privileges and once the funeral was over and she and her mother were packed up, she would ask them to erase her memories of alien royalty and government conspiracies. She wanted no part of this life anymore.

Staring into Michael’s pain-filled eyes, she took a shuddering breath, anguish lancing her heart at the pleading that he could hide from everyone but herself and she closed her eyes to it, knowing if she didn't, she get sucked right back in and her heart couldn’t afford another chunk ripped from it.

Turning her back to him, she clutched the program once more, staring blindly at the gathered mourners and sang, her voice wavering with all the loss and pain she held in her heart – for Alex who was no more, for Liz whom she couldn’t touch, and for Michael who would never be hers no matter how much she wished it were possible.

~I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.


Her friend’s voice wafted over the congregation, struggling to stay sure and steady despite the obvious pain in her water-drenched eyes, and Isabel cringed, the mournful tune adding to the stabbing pain of her already shattered heart. God, he was dead. She had just barely found him, admitted her feelings for him, and he was gone.

Pain ripped through her heart, an anguished scream endlessly reverberating through her head and her body convulsed, burning to release all the torment she had bottled deep inside her soul. It always happened this way. She had to be poison, because she destroyed everyone and everything she touched.

Face crumpling, she squeezed her eyes shut to combat the tears fighting to the surface and cursed the day she was recreated. Actually make that the day she was born, since she had single-handedly managed to bring down the fall of her entire family. She was deadly, poisonous, a viper in the nest and she didn’t deserve to be alive. It should be her that was lying in that casket, not Alex. At least then, the world would be safe from her evil.

Oh God, Alex is dead. Dead.

The sweet boy with kind, sparkling blue eyes, who looked at her as if she was the only woman in the world, like she was a slice of Heaven on Earth, would never smile at her again. She would never walk into the Crashdown, meet his eyes and feel that warm glow that always washed over her when his face lit up, joy flashing through that blue gaze that had brought her so much hope and peace.

She would never feel the tempered strength of his arms around her; never hear him whispering into ear softly, telling her how much she meant to him, how much he loved her, how his world was a better place because she was in it. She would never again feel the soft press of his lips against hers.

Inhaling sharply, she turned furious, tear-filled eyes to the heavens, dragging short, shallow breaths into her constricted lungs and bitterly cursed the God or Fates who seemed to take joy in making her their whipping boy, pressing a shaky hand to her mouth. It wasn’t fair! What had she done to deserve this?

Alex is dead.

Maybe this is exactly what she deserves given her past sins and transgressions. After all, she was a traitor to her own people, had a hand in her own family’s deaths, betrayed her husband-to-be and friend, all for the sake of one man. It was poetic justice that she should live to feel the bite this time. Why hadn’t she’d paid more attention to Kyle when he was babbling about Karmatic Law?

If she had just stayed away, Alex would still be alive. She was the downfall of everyone around her. This was her fault.

Walking over to his burnished casket on wobbling legs, she pressed her hand to the top of it, desperately wishing it was the warm curve of his cheek against her fingers and not the cold, lifeless press of wood. Collapsing slightly, she caught herself before she could fall to her knees and screamed internally at the injustice of it all, her entire body clenched with a grief too deep to fathom.

Pressing the single long stem red rose on the top, she let out a heart-wrenching cry of disbelief and anguish, choked sobs bubbling out of her throat as the finality of the situation hit hard and a part of her died, crawling into the casket with the man who had held her heart for longer than she had wanted to admit, fearful this very thing would happen if he entered her world.

Oh, God, Alex is dead and she wishes she had died with him.

~Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.


Max watched his sister break, his own heart bleeding in response at seeing a woman who he had always thought so strong, so completely devastated, and he felt something break inside himself as well. He wished that he could live in denial, pretend that this was all some sort of horrible dream, but he, unlike the others had physical proof; the feel of Alex’s cold, stiff body haunted him every time he closed his eyes.

He had known that there was a slim to none chance of healing Alex, but he couldn’t help himself; it would have gone against everything he was and stood for if hadn’t tried to save his friend. And he had tried, oh God, how he tried, but failed miserably. He had never seen so much blood in his life, literally saturating Alex’s shirt, pooling on his chest and covering his hand when he pulled away.

Bile rose in his throat and it closed off, his lungs burning as he struggled to bring air into them, the sight of Alex’s pale, horrified face and sightless eyes dancing before his vision. Heaving slightly, he covered his mouth as his stomach swirled sickly, guilt chewing him up inside for bringing him into the web of lies that surrounded them. This is why he fought so hard to keep their secret.

A secret he only revealed when he saw Liz lying unconscious on the ground.

Slowly closing his eyes against the pain of choices made, he knew deep down it had been a no win scenario. He could have only saved Alex if he hadn’t healed Liz. But while Alex would have lived out a happy life oblivious that his classmates were alien royalty recreated because of a desperate people’s need to defy death, they would have lost Liz.

Defying death, maybe that had been the problem. He had played God that day in the Crashdown. The same way his people had played God by cloning them and sending them to a helpless, blue planet that not only feared them, but also were sitting ducks for their enemies because they hadn’t evolved enough to protect themselves. Hadn’t he once told Liz he couldn’t stop the natural ebb and flow of life? Now they had to pay for thumbing their noses at the Fates.

Rubbing a hand over his weary face, his eyes ached, shimmering with unshed tears, and slowly pulled white gloves from his hands, folding one and placing it into his dark suit jacket. Unpinning the blood red rose from his lapel, he quietly placed the remaining glove and rose on the coffin and stepped back to let Kyle and Valenti pass to pay their final respects.

~I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.


Kyle stood to the side silently watching over everyone, his heart pounding, breath coming in harsh pants as he watched the coffin bearing Alex’s remains slowly lower into the cold, dank earth and suppressed a sob, blinking back the tears gathering in his eyes. He hadn’t known Alex as well as the others, but it didn’t mean that he felt the pinch any less.

He remembered the night they had gotten stuck in the cave with all those glowing blue alien crystals and spent the evening singing American Pie, sharing a moment that changed his life forever. He’ll never forget the question Alex had asked him that night, when they thought they weren’t going to make it.

“You’re getting delirious, is that it?” Kyle asked dryly, pointing his flashlight over at Alex and fixing him with a sardonic grin.

“Nah, take...take a step away from your life, Kyle,” Alex rasped, his breathing thready and shallow as he tried to draw the thinning air into his lungs, a trace of wonder lacing his voice. “You know, I mean, you’re part of this...this amazing thing. This...amazing knowledge that you have that six billion people on this planet don’t. You really want to step out of this cave if it meant that you were gonna be another dumb jock?”

Silence stretched between the two boys for a moment while Kyle stared at the glowing blue crystals hanging above his head, casting an eerie haze around the cave, before he quietly responded. “You know what, I wouldn’t.”


With a few well-placed words, Alex had managed to put his life into perspective and he made a silent vow that from that day forward, if he managed to escape the cave alive, he was going to stop resenting being pulled into the alien abyss and be grateful for the blessings it had brought instead. It was a vow he honored every day of his life.

Swallowing thickly, he pressed his fingers to his eyes and silently thanked his friend for his wisdom, wishing him a safe and happy journey to whatever waited for him on the other side. Trying to clear the lump from his throat, he took comfort in remembering that this isn’t the end but a beginning and as much as his friend would be missed, he felt at peace knowing that they had Alex watching over them.

~I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.


Tess hovered behind Max, standing apart and feeling a little lost. She was new to the group and didn’t really have close ties with Alex, so while she was sad at his passing, she knew she wasn’t reacting as the others had and felt conspicuously out of place. Shifting slightly, she clutched the single red rose between shaky hands and stared at other mourners uncomfortably, trying to keep an appropriately stoic mask on her face.

Not because she wasn’t touched by the proceedings, she was, but she’d never had to face the loss of a loved one and life with Nasedo hadn’t prepared her for the very real human disbelief and confusion that fluttered in her stomach. She had never formed close enough attachments to warrant such distraught feelings and the ache in her heart unsettled her.

More, the implications of Alex’s death and how they’d affect a group of friends that already seemed to be self-destructing worried her. She had this niggling feeling that something was coming and that his death was just a precursor to the hard times ahead.

Staring at the open grave as the pastor gave the closing prayer, she joined the others as they gathered for their final goodbyes. Slowly winding her way past his final resting place, her eyes filled with tears and she stood silently over his lowered coffin, roses and dirt smattering the top. Dangling the rose in limp fingers over the opening, she said a quick prayer for Alex, her friends and herself before letting it drop to rest on the others.

Goodbye Alex.
~*~

I'm frightened by what I see
But somehow I know
That there's much more to come
Immobilized by my fear
Liz wandered through the Whitman’s house listlessly, making her way over to Alex’s room after talking to his father, numbness overtaking her once again. It was a safe place, quiet, calm and devoid of all emotion. One where she didn’t have to face the fact that her friend was never going to come bounding through the door ever again.

Grabbing Alex’s guitar, she sat in the middle of his bed, staring off in space and mindlessly strummed the strings, fighting back the memory of the last time she had been sitting here, encouraging him to turn Isabel down and play hard to get. If she had known how the day would end, she would never have advocated such childish games and just maybe she’d have her friend lying beside her, laughing about his and Isabel’s date. God, there were many things she would have said and done differently.

“I really need your help,” she whispered to the room, hoping her friend could hear her and lend her some guidance. She knew in her gut that everyone was wrong. She wouldn’t deny that he’d been acting off since his trip to Sweden, but with everything she’s found out, she knew they were missing something obvious. “I know what they're saying about you isn't true. But I don't know where to go from here. I need you to point me in the right direction. What happened to you Alex?”

“You know, they say the first sign of going crazy is talking to yourself,” Maria joked half-heartedly, leaning against the doorjamb and staring at her friend, trying to figure out how she was going to break her news. She sighed wearily when Liz’s head whipped around and watched her, a hint of trepidation sliding over her blank face. It was a look she’d seen on Michael’s face many a time, but never expected from her best friend. “Can we talk?”

Liz nodded warily, long having recognized Maria’s expressions and knew that whatever the blonde girl wanted, she wasn’t going to like what she was going to tell her. Scooting over, she patted the mattress in invitation, but remained silent, uncertain how to open up to her friend without sliding into the dark abyss she’d been desperately avoiding

Maria sat down, staring at the quilt, plucking at the lint balls absently while she gathered her thoughts. She was surprised at her lack of emotion now that it came down to giving her best friend her news, but maybe it was better this way. If it hurt more, she’d never be able to leave. She’d cave, stay in Roswell and eventually get sucked back into the abyss and she couldn’t afford that – she didn’t have anymore of her heart to give.

“Maria?” Liz prompted, drawing the other girl out of her thoughts and took a sharp breath as she guessed her news with the ability that only life long friends have. Letting her breath out in a rush, her throat clenched and her eyes glassed over as she looked away, nodding her head sadly. “You’re leaving.”

“Yes,” she whispered huskily, her own throat closing with emotion, her gaze misting as she confirmed Liz’s suspicions. Taking a shuddering breath, she swallowed thickly, her mouth opening and closing as she searched for words to explain her actions and coming up blank. Looking away from the brunette, she fixated on an invisible spot on the wall and finally found her voice. “I-I…I can’t do this anymore, Liz. The lies. The fear. The danger. I’m…I’m not like you.”

Liz looked at her sharply, opening her mouth to protest and tell her that she was wrong, but stopped when Maria held up her hand and shook her head sadly. Brow pinched, she dipped her head to stare at the comforter once more and fought the overwhelming tide of pain and grief welling in her heart. Clenching her eyes shut, Maria clutched at the blanket; a shuddering sob bubbling over her lips as she remembered Max coming out of the car covered in Alex’s blood and broke out in a cold sweat, fearing who might be next.

“I’m not and we both know it,” she choked, breath harsh and labored as she tried to fight back the sobs. She was so tired of crying, of hurting, of feeling like her life was a never-ending teenage prime time drama. “I’m tired of waiting for that phone call in the middle of the night telling me that they’re gone or that some new crisis or enemy has been discovered or worse, that another of you have died. I just…can’t. For a long time, I thought it would be worth it because I had you and Alex and Michael. But this…this….”

“Is too much,” Liz finished quietly, staring at the guitar in her hands, her heart aching at the loss of one more friend because of the alien abyss. She didn’t blame Maria after everything that happened, but it saddened her and even angered her to a degree that she could just walk away. The human contingent of their little group was dropping like flies. “Does…did…have you told Michael yet?”

“Last night,” she nodded, pushing herself off the bed and walking over to the widow to stare out it blankly. It broke her heart to tell him that she was leaving, but it was better this way. She was losing herself in all the chaos. Her teenage years weren’t supposed to be an endless struggle for her very life. “I’m going to have Tess erase my memories.”

“What?” Liz cried, staring at her friends back incredulously, her breath quickening, heart thudding in her ears and a flash of pained anger skewered her already shattered heart. She couldn’t believe this. “You’re what? Why…how…could you?”

“It’s for the best, Liz,” Maria responded, steely determination and pained acceptance ringing through her voice. Crossing her arms over her chest, she turned to look back at her friend, pleading for understanding. “It’s the only way to protect them from the government and their enemies. And after Alex…I can’t…no…I don’t want to remember.”

Liz stared at her friend like she had never seen her before, anger curling through her veins on a slow quiet burn at the injustice of her actions towards Michael. She understood wanting to leave this life behind, but completely erase it? Now, when he was just finally opening up? It was unbelievable.

She was about to berate her friend for her selfishness when a rustle at the door caught her attention and she turned angry, hurt eyes towards it, finding Michael and Tess standing in the doorway. Meeting his eyes, her breath caught at the devastation flaring briefly in them before his gaze blanked and she realized he had overheard Maria’s last words. Swallowing hard, she turned back to the blonde and frowned with displeasure, fixing her with a pointed glance. “We’ll talk about this later.”

“There’s nothing more to talk about,” she returned angrily, swiping a hand over her face to brush away the tears slipping over her cheeks. She had hoped that Liz would back her and see the wisdom of what she was doing, but she should have known better. Liz was far too immersed in the abyss to see straight. “It’s done. I’m done.”

Turning from her friends, she stormed out of Alex’s room, leaving a gaping Liz, a hurt yet ever stoic Michael, and an uncomfortable Tess behind. She had to get out of there before she weakened and stayed.

Liz stared at the door sightlessly, gaping in disbelief, anger coursing through her body as Maria’s words reverberated through her head in an endless loop. Giving a low anguished cry, she picked up the nearest thing to her and flung it across the room – a book of poems by Robert Frost, two small pieces of paper fluttering onto the bed.

Picking them up, she stared at what looked like event tickets and realized they were Beth Orton concert tickets for that evening. More importantly, she saw the purchase date imprinted on the tickets and a slight smile touched her face.

“Oh, my God,” she whispered, lifting her head to stare at Michael and Tess, holding the tickets aloft. “We need to have a meeting.”
~*~

And soon to be
Blinded by tears
I can stop the pain
If I will it all away
Liz paced the length of Alex’s room, waiting as everyone excluding Valenti and Maria got settled, her mind whirling at the implications of what she had found. She knew that there was no way that Alex had committed suicide and now she had proof. Something was seriously off and she was going to find out come hell or high water.

She owed it to Alex.

“Everything I'm about to say is gonna come as a shock to most of you but something happened, and you need to know what's going on,” she said as she turned to face her friends, eyes drifting around the room agitatedly, unwilling to stop on any one person for fear she wouldn’t be able to make it through the next few minutes without blowing up. “Valenti and Hanson are about to declare Alex's death a suicide.”

“What?” Isabel whispered in disbelief, snapping back as she’d been slapped at Liz’s announcement, stomach lurching sickly and prayed she had heard the other girl wrong. Clasping her trembling hands together, she scoffed at the very idea, shaking her head in denial. “No, It’s not true. Alex wouldn’t do that.”

“Of course it’s not true,” Liz affirmed, her anger at Valenti building with every minute, especially when faced with Isabel’s devastated face. She pressed her shaking fingers to the back of her neck, trying to ease the tension threatening to spike out of control. How could Valenti even buy into such lies?

“I’m not so sure about that,” Max stated softly, cringing when Liz whipped around and faced him, stunned anger pinching her face and he swallowed thickly, his mind still whirling with everything Valenti had shared with him after the funeral. He didn’t want to believe it, but what other explanation could there be? The evidence was stacked against Alex.

“What?” Liz spat, her eyes hardening at Max’s words, glittering with angry tears that he could even think…what had happened since last night? “Max, come on, you said…”

“I know what I said Liz!” Max snapped, pain ripping through his chest as he saw betrayal and pain flash through her eyes once again. He didn’t want to hurt her any further, but the truth was the truth and she needed to stop before she brought any more attention to them. “I don’t want to believe it either, but I saw the file! The evidence is pretty conclusive.”

“Oh, please! Don’t tell me you bought into their lies!” she cried, the fraying threads of her temper snapping completely as she stared at his implacable expression, her lips pressing into a thin line and resumed her frantic pacing, eyes and nostrils flaring wide, her entire body trembling with rage. “No, Valenti is wrong!”

“I don’t believe it’s suicide,” Michael said, shaking his head stoically, his blank façade belying the disbelief and pain raging inside him. There was no way Alex killed himself. He didn’t care what Valenti had shown their fearless leader. He knew how to read people and nothing would convince him that Alex took his own life.

“It wasn’t a suicide and I can prove it,” Liz stated firmly, sending Michael a grateful glance, a slight smile tugging the corner of her mouth when he nodded slightly in acknowledgment. Holding the tickets up, she faced her friends once more. “I found these here. They’re concert tickets. Alex bought them on the day he died.”

She looked around the room at her friends and sighed with frustration at their blank faces, knowing they didn’t understand the significance of the find. “Don't you get it? You don't buy concert tickets on the day you kill yourself. You don't make plans for the future when you aren’t planning on having a future.

“You’re basing this on a pair of tickets?” Tess asked, slightly confused and skeptical at how that can mean anything in the grand scheme of things. She didn’t want to sound mean or callous, but who was to say that something didn’t happen after he bought the tickets to send him over the edge. At this point, it was anyone’s guess what had been going through Alex’s mind. “I don’t know, it seems kind of flimsy…”

“You don’t know anything,” Liz spat, sending the blonde a hateful glance and started to walk over to her nemesis angrily. “So I’d shut the hell up now!”

“Hey, hey, there's nothing to gain with this argument one way or another,” Michael intervened, grabbing Liz’s wrist and pulling her over to him, wrapping an arm around her waist to keep her from going after Tess. The last thing they needed was a catfight because emotions were running high. “We know Alex. We know what kind of guy he is, and we know he'd never kill himself. So as far as everyone here is concerned, it was an accident.”

“It wasn’t an accident,” Liz whispered, tensing as she knew she was about to go out on a limb and she didn’t think that they were going to take her theory well. But it had to be said. She couldn’t ignore what seemed so blatant given everything they had been through this past year. “I believe Alex was murdered.”

“Murdered?” Kyle queried, surprise evident in his face and he turned away, his mind whirling at the thought, but he couldn’t fault Liz’s logic. She, of any of them, was the most intuitive and he’d never known her to be wrong when it mattered. She wouldn’t have made such a statement if she weren’t completely convinced.

“Why would anyone murder Alex?” Max asked incredulously, his blood starting to heat up as he had a bad feeling he knew where Liz was heading with her statement. It was a thought he didn’t even want to contemplate, one he couldn’t contemplate and keep his sanity. “On what grounds? Where is your proof?”

“I don’t know,” Liz confessed, running a hand through her disheveled hair and pulling away from Michael’s comforting grip to resume her pacing as she gathered her thoughts on her theory. “It’s just a gut feeling, but I believe it with every fiber of my being. Someone with a grudge, or hey, let’s try this on for size, maybe it was an alien?”

“That’s not what happened, Liz,” Max warned in a low tone, his stomach swirling sickly and his heart pounding, panic sluicing through his body. No, he wouldn’t believe it. It couldn’t be. “So get that idea out of your head now.”

“Or what, your majesty?” She scoffed, pinning him with a furious glance, her own heart hammering in her chest, stomach fluttering with nerves. She couldn’t believe he was blind to the possibility. “Use your head, Max. If there is anything we’ve learned over the past year, it’s not to take anything at face value.”

“What? This is your evidence?” Isabel gasped, shooting up into a standing position, swaying slightly as she stared at the brunette in pained disbelief. Michael quickly stood, wrapping his arms around his sister, murmuring to her under his breath as she tucked herself in his chest. “How could you lay this at our door? Or think we had anything to…to do with this?”

“You can’t deny that a significant member of our group just died under suspicious circumstances!” Liz declared hotly, beyond frustrated that they weren’t even considering the possibility that this was anything other than an accident. Growling under her breath, she clenched her fists and cursed their inability to grasp the situation. She was used to Max paddling up denial river, but she thought better of Isabel and Michael. “Think about it you guys!”

“I’m with Liz,” Kyle piped up, having remained quiet while he mulled everything over. He saw her point. Alex had been a key member of their group, immersed in the abyss far longer than he had been. It made sense that someone might target one of the key players in order to do what was happening now – fracture the group. “She makes a good point. Something isn’t right about this whole situation.”

“Of course you would,” Max muttered under his breath, still reeling from catching them in bed together. “And you still haven’t answered my question, why would anyone, and specifically an alien, kill Alex? “

“Isabel, for one,” Liz shrugged as if it made absolute sense, her brow pinching in irritation at his crack to Kyle. Sometimes she had to wonder why she put up with his attitude. “Khivar has made it known he wants Vilondra back at any cost. Why would a mere human be anything more than obstacle to him?”

“No,” Isabel whispered, shaking her head in denial as she stared at Liz with horrified eyes.

“If he knew what Alex meant to you,” she continued harshly, knowing that she was being heartless but so consumed by anger and pain she was beyond caring at that point. “If he was gone, whom would you turn to?”

“No, no, no,” the tall blonde cried, anguish lining her face, bile bubbling up her throat, heart pounding as she squeezed her eyes shut, feeling her world tilt sickly, her knees turning to jelly. “You’re making this up!”

“And what about the way Alex was acting when he returned? How he flinched every time Michael or Isabel came on him unexpectedly?” Liz pressed on, pushing more evidence in their face, trying to make them see that something was seriously wrong. “Why did he jump every time Michael touched him? Or pale the first time he saw Isabel after Sweden? You guys, something is not right! What if the Skins did something to him?”

“What the hell do you know about us, our world or our enemies?” Max shouted, shaking with anguished rage, getting in Liz’s face, pain ripping through him, completely devastated by her accusations and her callous handling of his sister. “You don’t know anything!”

“I know that you don’t want to think about Alex being killed by an alien because it would mean that you were responsible!” she spat, standing her ground and meeting his gaze unflinchingly, anger crackling over her every nerve.

The room went dead silent as the two stared each other down, anger washing off each combatant in palpable waves, the tension in the air so heavy and thick, one could cut it with the proverbial knife. No one dared to breathe as time suspended and you could hear an almost audible crack as the last statement hung in the air, renting the fragile alliance in two, humans against aliens.

“I’m out of here,” Liz snapped scathingly, keeping her hard gaze leveled with Max for a few more moments before turning away and stalking towards the door. “Obviously you’d rather cling to your fears and denial than face the truth.”

“Wait up, I’m coming with you,” Kyle said, walking out the door without a backward glance and hurrying to catch up with Liz. He wasn’t about to let her investigate this on her own and he couldn’t help but feel that she was right. Striding alongside her, he held the front door open for her, sighing as they stepped out onto the front porch, a cold, damp wind blowing through their hair. “So, I guess it’s us versus them.”

“Whatever, I’ll figure it out,” she muttered, her lips thinning as the wind kicked up, sending her hair flying into her face. Pushing it back impatiently, she stared out into the distance determinedly and made a vow then and there that no matter what, she’d find the truth, even if it killed her. “I owe it to my friend.”

“Hey, you’re not doing this without me,” Kyle chided, tucking her arm into his and pulling her down the walk to his car, opening the door and helping her in when they reached it. “Let’s go for a drive. I think we could use some cooling off time. And then we’ll sit down and you can tell me everything you know and what you suspect.”

“Thanks,” Liz smiled at him gratefully, watching as he loped his way around to the driver’s side and climbed in, putting on his seatbelt and starting the engine. Turning away, she looked back over to Alex’s house resolutely and was startled to see Michael standing at the door watching the two of them drive away, quiet contemplation etching his face. She had to wonder what was going on in his mind.
~*~

Don't turn away
(Don't give in to the pain)
Don't try to hide
(Though they're screaming your name)
Don't close your eyes
(God knows what lies behind them)
Don't turn out the light
(Never sleep never die)
“What have we got, Hanson?” Jim Valenti asked as he pulled up to what looked like another accident scene as he was driving home. Looking down at some papers contemplatively, his brow pinched with concern because he hadn’t heard from, nor seen Kyle and Liz since they left the Whitman’s hours ago. He knew that they were upset with the conclusion that Alex committed suicide, but his hands were tied.

“It doesn’t look good, Jim,” Hanson said hesitantly, trying to block the former sheriff’s view of the scene. He really shouldn’t be here and he would have turned him away if it had been anyone else, but he had been about to call the man anyway. “Another accident. Car was rammed from behind at what looks like a high speed.”

“Deliberate?” Jim asked, looking up at Hanson, eyebrows rising in surprise as that wasn’t something they saw every day in their quiet little town. Typically they only came across a minor fender bender.

“Looks like,” Hanson replied, shifting uncomfortably, trying to find the courage to tell the man before him his bad news. How did one tell a parent something like this?

“Fatalities? Injuries?” Jim asked curiously, noting his former deputy’s discomfort and mistaking it for general unease or uncertainty on how to handle such a case.

“Don’t know,” Hanson hedged, moving over to stand closer to Valenti and took a deep calming breath, staring at the asphalt as if it would give him strength. “Blood on the steering wheel, dash and seats, but the occupants are missing.”

“Missing?” Valenti asked, a puzzled look on his face, brow pinched with obvious confusion and he tried to step around Hanson to get a better look, only to be stopped by the man in front of him. “Think some one took them to a hospital?”

“Called all the local hospitals. None report any accident victims,” Hanson replied, shifting from foot to foot, his news not getting any easier the longer he drew it out, so he figured he might as well get on with it. “Look Jim, I don’t know how to say this, so I’m just going to come right and say it. The car…it’s Kyle’s.”

“What?” Valenti whispered, blanching as he pushed his way around Hanson and strode over to the scene. A deputy walked toward him to prevent his progress, but stopped when Hanson waved him off. Staring at the little red sports car, its roof down, Jim wiped his hand over his face, paling further at the amount of blood covering the seats. Shaking, bile coated his throat, his stomach lurching as he gave an anguished cry. “No, damn it, no!”
~*~
Servatis a periculum [save us from danger].
Servatis a maleficum [save us from evil].

~ Whisper, Evanescence[
Last edited by Ashita on Sat Apr 24, 2010 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Redemption (UC, Mi/L, ADULT) Chap 2, 5/21/10

Post by Ashita » Fri May 21, 2010 5:52 pm

Barbara - Yeah, that was quite a place to leave it. I wish I could say this one won't be as bad, but that'd be a lie. Thanks for the comment and I hope you still have some nails left after this chapter.

Behrstars - Yeah, I knew I'd get people with that cliffhanger. I'm glad that you like how I wrote Maria out with the memory bit. I wanted to give a good explanation without damaging her character too much. And I liked that Michael had been skeptical of the suicide ruling in canon, so I kept that element and expanded on it. Hope this chapter lives up to the last.

Whimsy - What can I say? You rock! And my stories are all the better for your attention to detail and picking up on the grammar/flow issues that happen when I get too caught up in the scene to see them. And yes the joys of betaing is having advanced copy, spoilers and knowing the plot in advance. Like having the last chapter to Wander in Darkness in my possession finally, thankfully. You were about to make your beta cry.

Jenna - Yeah. That was a terrible cliffhanger. Almost as bad as the one I have in this next chapter. *runs and hides* Thanks for the comments! :)

Kiara - Ha! Seems everyone felt the same on that one. That chapter was hard. I actually wrote the funeral scene about a week after we had buried my grandmother, so the scene became very personal to me and as a result, I'm sure my own feelings crept into writing. And I really wanted to give everyone perspective from the utter devastation Liz was feeling to Tess's uncertainty as I felt we never got much explanation in the series of why people were reacting the way they were. And thanks for the bump!

Carrie - I'm glad you liked the song choice and it's placement. To me, that song just fit where everyone, particularly Liz, was after Alex's death. Something seemed to break at that point and they never really obtained the same group unity they had after that point. As Kiara said in her feedback, it's amazing how one person's absence changes the whole dynamic. Thanks as always for the amazing praise. :)

dreambeliever - Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you're liking the story so far! :)

panthergirl2002 - Thanks! I'm really glad you're enjoying the story and my others. :)

A/N: This is a Tess (and Max and Maria for that matter) friendly story, there will be no betrayal and she has complete control over her powers, so there will be no returning memories. The only reason that Alex got his back is mind manipulation is one of Lonnie’s weaker skills and she doesn’t have complete control over that particular power. Lyrics to The Memory belong to Mayday Parade.

A/N2: I'm issuing another tissue alert as, well, I made myself cry with this chapter. It was rather funny as well, as my mom stumbled onto me while I was wiping the tears away and, concerned, asked if I was okay. I explained I was fine, I was just writing a chapter for one of my stories and making myself cry. She kinda looked at me strangely, as if she couldn't decide whether to laugh at me or pat me on the head and shook her head as she walked away. Plus Whims said it was hard to beta because of the intense emotion and had to set it aside several times and Storyteller said it hurt to read. So, you're warned.

A huge thanks to Whimsy for being brave enough to tackle my monster chapters and being an amazing beta and support system! Also a huge thanks to Storyteller for keeping me on track with her multiple questions and making sure that I have my bases covered. It's far too easy to get wrapped up in a scene and let something slip through the cracks.

And on that note, you guys ready for another monster update?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dust to Dust

She is everywhere I go
Everyone I see
Winter's gone and I still can't sleep
Summer's on the way
At least that's what they say
But these clouds won't leave



The following night…

Silence echoed through the room, its inhabitants sitting around the dining area in stunned contemplation, each marveling how their world could have fallen apart so quickly. In the space of a week they had lost three vital members of their intimate circle, crushing the already fragile group, shattering them to pieces. They all stared around the room with dazed, unseeing eyes, avoiding each other’s gazes because they knew if they caught, reality would cave in on them, smothering them under a blanket of anguish and helplessness.

The tallest of their group leaned against the cold, metal frame of the diner window, staring out into the night vigilantly. His thick dark-blond hair was ruffled and standing on end from hands running through it with agitation. Forehead and shoulder pressed to the chilled glass, he crossed his arms over his chest as his breath fogged it slightly with each shallow breath he took, his pressed lips and haunted brandy eyes the only indication that something had gone seriously wrong in his world.

He stood, silent and tense, eyes flicking over the cold night, guarding what was left of his family as a pretty blonde with chartreuse eyes sat crumpled in a nearby booth, her hysterical cries subduing into soft, choking sobs. Tears streamed over her pale cheeks, mascara running and she pressed her head to her folded arms as they rested on the table, her heart thudding dully as she mourned the loss of both of her best friends.

Staring blankly at the cheerful alien décor, a chill snaked over her spine as she realized she was the only human left, with the exception of Valenti. Shuddering, she clutched her arms to her body and prayed she would soon wake up from this nightmare as the blonde across from her stared at her clasped hands resting on her drawn up knees, eyes red-rimmed and lips pressed in an anguished moue, brow furrowed in thought.

She inhaled sharply, her golden brown eyes glassing over as she tipped her head back against the wall and stared at the ceiling beseechingly, as if she’d get the answers her broken heart were clamoring for, her brother sitting against the wall near the back of the diner, legs drawn to his chest and head bowed. Arms draped over his knees limply, he swallowed thickly, desperately trying to draw in air around the crushing ache in his chest and pressed his fingers to burning, gritty eyes.

Slumped over, defeat permeated the air around him, so thick one could choke on it and a strangled noise clawed its way out of his throat. A lone tear broke free, sliding down his cheek, matching the pain etched into the cerulean orbs staring at the Formica counter top, her face shadowed by thick, golden curls. Crouched over, the girl’s breath stuttered as she sat, at a complete loss as to what to feel about the recent events and hurting for her friends.

A horrified shudder rippled over her body as reality sank in and bile rose in her throat as she realized this was all their, the aliens, fault. Brow pinched, she rubbed her faced wearily wondering what new horror awaited them, her back to the eldest of their little rag-tag and broken down band as he sat at a table in the middle of the room. He should have been the one to comfort his younger counterparts but he didn’t have the strength being far too broken himself.

Crushing and reforming the hat in his hands, he wondered why he didn’t go with his initial gut feeling and treat Alex’s death like a homicide rather than another teenage tragedy. He was far more worldly and mature than they; he should have seen the signs. Why had it taken a teenage girl to point out the obvious holes in the police’s theory, holes that he now recognized far too late? Squeezing his eyes shut, he rested his head in his hand and desperately wished for something to drink, anything to dull the pain tearing him up inside.

Time held itself suspended as each of them sat stock still, silently seeking and failing to find the words or gestures to comfort one another. How could they tell each other that everything would work out when they hadn’t a clue what had actually happened? Liz and Kyle had vanished without a word, no trace of them to be found anywhere. No one came forward to seek ransom or bargain their lives for the hybrids as they’d been expecting. They were simply gone.

Tension mounted in the room, their bodies coiling tighter as each minute ticked away with no sign of their friends or any word from the quiet, grieving parents that resided above their heads. The pressure continued to build, sending waves of unease through the room until the very air lay so heavily; it crushed their lungs, stretched raw nerves taut and their collective breaths held until a shaky sigh expelled, startling everyone. Heads whipped up or around to focus on the pretty blonde struggling out of the booth she’d been sitting, eyes clouded with confusion at the defeat so clearly etched on her face.

“Do you need me to stay?” Maria asked brokenly, green eyes filled with tears, a resigned, hiccoughing sigh passing her lips as she watched her opportunity for freedom slipping through her fingers. Michael stared at her bent head, her golden blonde hair shimmering dully in the low, incandescent lighting, his heart shattering at the obvious misery etched in her pretty, down-turned face as he walked over to her slowly. Even now, his beloved pixie was one of the most beautiful girls he’d ever seen.

Clenching his eyes shut, he scrubbed a weary hand over his face at her question and swallowed thickly, his lungs constricting tightly under a wave of crushing anguish. Tipping his head back, he stared at the ceiling trying to gather the strength to do the right thing. It would be so damn easy to ask her to stay, beg her not to leave him to face this alone, but he couldn’t do it. Something or someone was targeting the humans in their group for unknown reasons and it was obvious he couldn’t keep her safe.

Releasing a shuddering breath, he dipped his head back down, his face blanking as he slid a finger under her chin, tipping her face up to meet his stoic gaze, a faint sheen of tears the only indication of how much this decision was truly killing him inside. She stared up at him apprehensively, expecting the worst, and smiled shakily when she read the answer in his eyes just before he began to speak.

“N-no,” he choked, his voice squeaking slightly with his repressed pain. Clearing his throat slightly, he swallowed again, and stroked her cheek lovingly, knowing this was the best gift he could give her. He nearly broke under the weight of his brother and sister's disbelieving gazes boring into him, but ignored them. They had no place in this decision. He didn’t even have a say, this was her decision and hers alone. “No.”

“Michael…” she whispered, her breath hitching at the anguish lurking in his eyes as he continued to study her face as if he was committing each feature to memory and quieted when he pressed his thumb to her lips, stroking them softly. Her heart broke for them both when he shook his sadly, lips thinning with regret and he cupped her jaw with both hands, leaning down to gently press his lips to her forehead, his body tight, shaking with tension and repressed emotions.

“No,” he responded, a bit firmer than before as he dropped his hands from her face and ran his fingers through the golden strands near her temple before stepping away, shoving both hands in his pockets to quell his desire to crush her to him and never let go. “I c-can’t protect you.”

Ripping his gaze from hers, he bitterly stared at the alien smiling benignly from the special board, its fingers raised in a parody of peace, and barely resisted the urge to relegate its mocking face to a pile of smoldering ashes. He let his gaze frost over, filling with a cold, empty light as it continued to rest on the effigy and clenched his fists angrily, vowing that when he found out (and he would) who had killed Alex and had taken Liz and Kyle (he wouldn’t accept that they were dead), they would beg for death by the time he was done with them.

Turning back to Maria, he softened and pulled her back into his arms, needing to feel her against him one final time. Pressing his lips to her temple, he closed his eyes and held on for dear life, memorizing every scent and texture before he let her go for her own good. So this is how it ends, he thought bleakly, inhaling sharply as he unconsciously crushed her to him a little tighter.

“Michael…” Isabel interrupted quietly, her own heart breaking for her brother, but she knew they were losing time and needed to get this over with if Maria was really going to go through with it. Flinching when blazing caramel eyes met hers, she swallowed harshly and shrugged helplessly, looking away hastily as her own face caved.

“I’ll always love you,” he whispered brokenly, pulling away and caressed her cheek gently, tracing soft pink lips one final time before turning away. Stalking over to stand by Tess, he nodded at her to proceed and leaned against the counter, staring out into the night blindly, helpless anger and anguish radiating off his body.
Walk away
I’m barely breathing
As I'm lying on the floor
Take my heart
As you're leaving
I don't need it anymore


“Ar-are you sure then?” Tess asked softly, slipping off her stool to face the other girl, her own voice raw from the guilt eating away at her inside for dragging so many people down for simply being who she was. While she knew she could do it, there were several pitfalls when manipulating a person’s memories and she wanted to be sure Maria understood the ramifications of her decision.

She couldn’t guarantee it would turn out as she expected, which is why she hated using this particular gift. Sighing softly as she watched the girl nod, she started to walk over but halted when Michael’s hand snaked out and wrapped around her wrist.

Startled, her head snapped up and she swallowed hard at the pain swimming in her brother’s eyes. Breathing shallowly, she met his gaze questioningly and waited for him to gather himself enough to speak, stiffening as she wondered if he was going to go against Maria’s wishes. She relaxed when she saw firm resolve replace the pain and covered his hand with hers, rubbing it soothingly.

“Do…do whatever you have to do to m-make…make her hate me,” he commanded softly, his voice cracking with emotion and so low only the two of them could hear. Watching her intently, he pressed his lips together firmly, the bottom one trembling almost imperceptibly and held her confused gaze until he read her acceptance of his demands, sighing quietly. “We can’t have her returning. She’s safer as far away from us as possible.”

“Okay,” she bleakly agreed, squeezing his hand gently and nodding before she pulled away, watching him wander over to the windows to hold vigil once more. Continuing over to the other blonde, she gesturing for her to take a seat at the table Jim was sitting at and faced Maria away from her, figuring it would be more believable. “It’ll be easier if you’re sitting.”

Looking around the room, she turned to Max where he was leaning against the wall and indicated for him to go stand next to Michael in the doorway, reluctantly setting the scene that was sure to crush her brother’s heart. Turning back around, she nodded to Isabel and indicated she should do the same. Jim looked up at her questioningly, but she waved him off, assuring him that his position was fine.

Once she had the scene set, she rested her hands on Maria’s shoulders, meeting her eyes and nodding at the pained resolve that met her equally anguished gaze. Placing her hands on her temples, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes, opening herself up to her powers, her brow furrowed in concentration. Jerking slightly as her powers flared to life, she slowly infiltrated Maria’s mind as gently and unobtrusively as she could, shifting through her memories until she came to the desired scenes, wiping out some completely and overwriting others.

Maria startled slightly under Tess’s touch, her breath quickening in fear and flinched slightly when she felt the warm glow of her powers flood her head. And then her mind blanked and it was like she was in a warm bath, completely oblivious to the alien scanning her mind, changing bits and pieces of her history so thoroughly, she’d never know the difference.

Tess swayed slightly as she pulled out of Maria’s mind, her brow beaded with sweat and head spinning slightly, throwing her off balance and forcing her to catch herself on the table behind her. Taking deep breaths to quell the rising tide of nausea that always came with the use of that particular gift, she flinched when Maria whipped around in fear, jade eyes icing over when they landed on her, indicating she’d been successful.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Maria grated scathingly, her eyes flashing with fury as she watched the other blonde suspiciously, her fists clutching the table so hard her knuckles blanched and the wood creaked. “I told you once before that I didn’t want to hear anything you have to say about your brother!”

Whipping her head up as some movement caught her eye, rage bubbled over as her eyes met Michael’s and she jumped up for her seat, stalking over to him swiftly, unable to hear anything over the frantic thudding of her heart as anger and disgust crashed through her veins. Hauling her hand back, she slapped him across the face soundly, the force of it sending his head rocking to the side and he winced, bringing a hand to his cheek, stunned.

“How dare you come here? Here! Of all places!” Maria cried brokenly, her fists balling up with indignant anger as she stared hatefully at the boy who had killed her friend, wanting to scratch his eyes out for daring to come anywhere near her. Whatever affection she felt for him, died the day she found out about Alex. “He’s dead! And it’s your fault! And Liz and Kyle…you bastard!”

“I should have known better than to get involved with you!” she cried, shoving him against the window, jabbing him in the chest as pain and rage welled inside, overwhelming all her senses. All she wanted to do is hurt him, hurt him like she was hurting; make him feel even half the pain that was coursing through her veins at the loss of both her best friends in such a short period of time. “They all warned me! Told me you were no good! That you’d end up hurting me! If only…if only….”

Isabel and Max stared at each other horrified, shrinking away from the couple, each wondering what on Earth Tess had implanted into the other blonde’s head to cause such a vehement reaction. They turned to look at an equally shell-shocked Tess and Jim, shaking their heads with anguish and turned back, unable to ignore the scene unfolding before them. Michael on the other hand, just stood there, taking the abuse, his stoic face belying the devastation that was eating him up inside.

“I hate you!” she panted as she pulled back, eyes filling with furious tears and watched him, growing angrier by the minute by his lack of reaction. She should have known he wouldn’t show any remorse for his actions. Shaking, she pulled herself upright and threw him a look of disgusted contempt, eyes narrowing when he continued to stare over her shoulder quietly, choking out her next words with finality. “I never want to see you again. Stay the hell away from me.”

Pushing past him, she jostled Michael’s shoulder roughly, making him flinch slightly, but he kept his gaze trained on an unseen point as she rushed to the door and threw it open, stalking out to her car. Michael stood stock still, clenching and unclenching his fists as he tried to get his rampant emotions in check after her departure and his fought for air as the pressure in his chest built painfully, hurting as if she’d physically clawed her hand into his chest and ripped his heart out.

Jaw ticking, he turned around slowly as he heard the Jetta’s engine rev, tires squealing as she threw it in reverse and backed out of her spot. He pressed his hands against the window and met her eyes one last time as she stared out the driver’s side window and clenched his eyes shut, unable to watch her as she stepped on the gas and hurtled off into the night. Hanging his head, he drew in short, agitated pants as the low murmur of stunned voices filtered around him.

Staring at the trio by the doorway, Jim turned his dazed, distressed gaze to Tess, his mouth gaping open at the unexpected change in demeanor and attitude of the girl that just left. It was completely unlike Maria. Tess was oblivious, caught up in watching her brother, remorse and regret clouding her face. Closing his mouth, he sat reeling as their world just continued to crumble around them and stared at the table wondering when the pain would end.

“I’d better go after her,” he said quietly, getting up from the table, his shoulders slumped, only a broken shell left in the place of a man that once held great convictions. Walking around the table, he stopped near Tess and looked down at her as she snapped out of her reverie. “You better tell me what you implanted in her head so it doesn’t look like I’m hearing it for the first time.”

“Oh, um…” she hesitated, wondering if she should walk outside to tell him to prevent her brother anymore pain than necessary. Chewing on her lip uncertainly, she startled when Michael’s voice rumbled through the dining room.

“Go ahead,” he grit out, meeting her eyes over his shoulder, thinly veiled heartache and rage simmering in his. “We need to know in case we run into her before they leave tomorrow.”

“Sh-she still knows that Alex d-died in a car crash, but she thinks it was c-caused by Michael,” she replied quietly, her voice shaky and uncertain as she watched Michael’s shoulders slump and he turned to stare out the window once more. “I…I implanted a memory of her and Michael fighting that night with Michael getting pissed off and leaving on his bike. He had been speeding and whipped around the s-semi into Alex’s lane, forcing him to swerve and his car flipped. But I also made it so she realizes she can’t mention his involvement as no one knows.”

“Liz and Kyle?” Jim asked, swallowing hard at the mention of his son, his fists clenching as a fresh wave of pain hit and gritting his teeth to stave the helpless anger that welled up. His heart ached for all of these kids, the lost and the left behind. He couldn’t imagine what was going on in their heads after losing three, now four, close friends.

He should have listened to Liz, should have realized something was off from the beginning rather than letting Hanson talk him into a suicide ruling. He knew these kids, knew their strength of character. He’d never forgive himself for ignoring Liz’s calls for justice, ignoring her demands that they investigate the incident themselves.

“Ran away,” she whispered, throat tight with suppressed emotions she couldn’t quite define and she turned back to Jim, sighing heavily as she ran a hand through her hair. Had she done the right thing? Michael and Maria had demanded it, but had there been a better way to deal with the situation? Was it really fair to her brother and the girl he loved to leave her with such hateful memories? God, had she done more harm than good? She shuddered, second guessing her actions and praying they didn’t come back to haunt her. “They couldn’t deal with the stress and left together.”

“Ok, I’ll see you at home in a couple hours,” Jim replied quietly, his voice hitching as watery blue eyes misted over and he slipped his misshapen hat on his head. Gripping the petite blonde’s shoulder to impart a little comfort, he smiled down on her sadly. “Make sure one of the boys brings you home. We…we don’t need anymore disappearances.”

Walking over to the door, he hesitated, staring at Michael’s tight, stoic face, and hesitantly rested his hand on the boy’s shoulder, feeling his body coil, his muscles rippling with tension and patted it helplessly before walking out the door. Hissing, Michael continued to stare out at the black skid marks in the street blankly, concentrating on drawing air into his lungs to keep his crackling powers from blowing the diner up around them.

“Michael…” Tess murmured, her face crumpling at the obvious pain her brother was holding in and shuffled towards him but held back when he held up an open palm, glowing with his effort to hold his anger in check.

“Don’t.” He spat and gave a low, primal growl as he spun on his heel and slammed out the door, his family staring after him with helpless concern, the three remaining hybrids cringing when they heard his motorcycle roar to life and he sped out into the night, missing his sister’s final words of remorse.

“I’m sorry.”
This is the memory
This is the curse of having
Too much time to think about it
It's killing me
This is the last time
This is my forgiveness
This is endless


Wind whipping through sandy blond hair, his face set in stone, Michael fixed furious whiskey eyes on the road stretching before him as he sped recklessly through the desert landscape, his knuckles blanching as he crushed the handles in a death grip. Peeling off the main road, he careened over the dirt, kicking up gravel and red dust in his wake, the pod chamber looming before him as a mocking reminder of everything they’d destroyed.

Skidding to a halt, he jumped off the bike before it completely stopped, uncaring to where it landed in the dirt as he stalked towards the cave, his thoughts buzzing in his mind like a swarm of angry bees. Standing stock still outside the chamber, tension rippling through his back and shoulders, hair whipping in cold desert wind, he stared at his place of ‘birth’ with agonized disgust as the past few days played out in his mind – things he could have done, should have done differently.

What good was he as a soldier if he couldn’t even see what was staring at him blatantly in the face? He should have seen this coming. The patterns were all there. Alex’s reactions to him and Isabel being out of the ordinary, the short and unplanned trip to Sweden, his moodiness and Liz’s complete conviction that it was alien-related.

Dragging his hands through his hair, Michael stared unseeingly out into the cold desert night, eyes stinging with unshed tears, breath labored and lungs burning with repressed anguish. Heart clenching, he choked back a sob, gritting his teeth to the pain lashing through him and slumped against the cold rock wall of the pod chamber, hands digging to the wall. Head bent and jaw clenched, he tried to rein in his rage in and failed miserably.

Liz and Kyle. God, how could he have let them leave that house alone? Deep down, he knew Liz was right. He knew it, had felt it in his gut as she was pointing out all the flaws in their thinking and he just sat there and let them walk away, making them believe they were all against them. He'd failed her when she needed all of them to believe in her. After everything she had done…

‘You don't make plans for the future when you are not planning on having a future…It’s just a gut feeling, but I believe it with every fiber of my being…it’s not to take anything at face value…I’m with Liz…Why would a mere human be anything more than obstacle to him…And what about the way Alex was acting when he returned…Why did he jump every time Michael touched him…Obviously you’d rather cling to your fears and denial than face the truth.’

Whirling away he paced the desert restlessly, his body strung as tight as a bow, the planes of his face hard and implacable as he shoved his hands through his hair. He should have gone with them. He’d followed them out of the room and just stood there, watching them pull away. If he had been in the car with them, he could have protected them, taken the blow so they’d get away. It should have been him.

And Maria. How was he supposed to make it through without her? Pain washed over him in waves as he dropped his head in his hands wearily and remembered their terse words two nights prior. He couldn’t even bring himself to think about her accusations and her utter lack of faith in him. And then tonight, watching the shadow of the girl he loved resign herself to a life of pain and uncertainty once more, he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t bring her down as he had with Alex, Kyle and Liz. Maria he could save.

But to know that she hated him or at least believed she did, it killed something inside him. A fresh wave of anguish coursed through his body and he dug his fingers into the sides of his head with shaky hands as her taunting words crashed through his mind once more.

‘He’s dead…it’s your fault…they all warned me…told me you were no good…that you’d end up hurting me! I hate you! Stay the hell away from me.’

Squeezing his eyes shut as those words ripped through him on an endless loop confirming every ill thought he held of himself, he fought the rage burning in the back of his throat. At least Tess hadn’t really lied. This was his fault. He was the protector of the group, the supposed soldier and second in command. Fat lot of good that did them. No wonder they all got killed back on Antar. He must have been as much of a fuck up there as he was here.

Letting out a primal scream, he whipped around, shooting out his hand, pooling all his pain and frustration into his palm and sending off a violent burst of power, obliterating the boulder behind him, leaving nothing but dust flying into the air. Panting raggedly, he spun on his heel and stormed into the pod chamber, his palms still crackling with suppressed power, completely unsatisfied with this release.

Nostrils flaring, he fixated on the pods wavering in front of him and narrowed his eyes, cursing the day that they dragged Liz and the others into this mess. Stalking over to the housing, a metallic gleam caught the corner of his eye and drew his gaze on the matching orbs, sitting innocuously on the ledge.

Everything had gone to hell since the day they'd used those damn things. Grabbing the small device in his hand he stared at it hatefully, tossing it in his hand contemplatively. Maybe if they hadn’t used them, Alex would still be alive, Liz and Max would be mooning over each other, Kyle would be arguing with Tess, and Maria…

Fury ripped through him, a red haze blurring his vision as he threw the offending object against the wall, the orb clattering noisily as it ricocheted off the wall and careened into a small nook. Whirling around, he grabbed its mate and tossed it against the opposite wall and sank to his knees, an anguished sob passing his lips as he cursed what ever fool recreated them, bringing nothing but heartache and destruction.
~*~
Isabel thumbed through her freshman year yearbook listlessly, looking for the picture of Liz and Kyle taken when they were named to that year’s spring court. She had tried this once and couldn’t get through, but she had to give it another try.

Finding the picture she was after, her heart ached as their brilliant smiles gleamed at her from the pages, the two of them happy, healthy and still blessed with the innocent glow of youth. They were so bright and shiny, carefree and the world lay at their feet. Before her and those of her kind took over their every day, normal, human lives. Before the danger, fear and fight for their lives slowly whittled that glow away.

It hurt to see them like that, remembering the shattered hurt and disillusionment that had lurked in their eyes as she and the others turned on them, paranoid that their words would shatter the veil of secrecy and lies they’d built over the years for self-preservation. They had acted like they were the enemy when they had done nothing but support and help them over the past year and a half.

God, they had been so thoughtless and selfish, thinking only of themselves and forgetting that they weren’t alone in this struggle, that there were other feelings and hearts to consider. The disappointment that shone in Kyle’s eyes before he went after Liz haunted her the most. He had just started to trust and believe in them, to expect better of them, and it must have been a bitter pill to swallow to watch them close in on themselves once more.

Fear and hurt weren’t good enough reasons to turn your back on friends. Especially when those friends had just suffered a devastating loss and were only trying to point out the inconsistencies in the evidence gathered. They should have listened. God, if only they had listened things would be different. They’d be together, tracking down the murderer.

Instead, too entrenched in their own pain and scared that Alex’s death was related to the alien abyss, they had treated Liz as if she were the enemy instead of a friend desperately trying to understand the death of a loved one. She had been stupid and selfish, preferring to live in denial than to have confirmation that she’d really was behind yet one more death. And now they were paying for that denial.

Eyes brimming with tears, she took a shuddering breath and focused on the wavering picture in front of her, touching Liz’s smiling face with a weary finger. Centering herself, she tapped into that part of her that allowed her to slip into the dream plane and began a frantic search for her friend’s soft, rosy presence. Growling with frustration as she came up blank, she pushed more power into her search, her heart cracking when Liz refused to or couldn’t answer her call.

‘Come on, let me in,’ she mentally cried, biting back a sob and slid her finger to Kyle’s face, his crooked ‘aren’t I lucky’ grin beaming from the pages as he had wrapped an arm around Liz’s waist. Focusing on his soothing blue aura, she recommenced her search and died a little more inside when his imprint failed to turn up, his voice remaining heartbreakingly silent. ‘Damn it, where are you? Let me in!’

Clenching her eyes shut, tears slid over her cheeks and her body shook as a heartbroken sob bubbled over her lips and she grabbed the yearbook, throwing it across the room in frustrated anguish. Dropping her face into her pillow, she shuddered as heart-wrenching sobs shook her frame and let out a choked cry, sinking against her bed and praying that it was all a horrible dream she’d soon wake up from.
~*~
Max lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling unblinkingly, barely coherent thoughts whirling through his weary mind as he numbly wondered where to go from here. He knew that the others looked to him to lead them, but he was just as lost as them and didn’t know to do. God, this was all his fault.

Pressing a hand to his gritty eyes wearily, he tried to get his tired mind to function and failed. He hadn’t been able to sleep since he had tried to heal Alex, the image of his friend burned permanently into his brain. Alex’s face, frozen in horror, haunted him every time he closed his eyes. He had assumed the expression was due to the violence of his accident, but recent events added a sinister air to his death.

He should have listened to Liz. That’s what good kings do, listen to the people advising and assisting them. It was a quality he’d once embraced openly until his own fears and insecurities had gotten the best of him. He’d been running scared ever since escaping the so-called tender mercies of the Special Unit, his capture permeating every relationship and segment of his life with a barely contained terror and desperate need to keep everyone safe.

Except, he’d gone about everything the wrong way. Instead of talking about his experience with the people he loved and trusted, he buried the pain and went on as if nothing happened, all the while trying to regain control of everything and everyone in his life and only succeeded in pushing them all away. Because he didn’t have control his own. It had backfired drastically. The more he tried to protect them from the world, the more they felt caged in and lashed out.

If only he could go back...

Eyes filming over, he couldn’t believe the way he’d treated Liz, turning on her and letting Valenti and Hanson talk him into believing their evidence. But, as bad as it might sound, it had been a relief to have a simple answer, and his own fears allowed him to latch onto that very human reason so he didn’t have to face the possibility that he was responsible. God, hadn’t he learned by now that nothing was as it seemed?

Pinching the bridge of his nose, his head ached dully and he closed his eyes against the tears threatening to spill over. God, he’d never wanted this to happen. As angry as he had been with them for pushing him and forcing him to acknowledge what he already knew deep down, had wanted them to back off, he would never have dreamed…he couldn’t believe this was happening.

Inhaling sharply, a sharp pang sliced through his heart as he tried to concentrate on Liz and the connection they forged when he healed her, and let out a shuddering breath as he came up empty once again. Their connection was gone. He couldn’t even feel her anymore. It wasn’t even like the connection was merely blocked because of a drugged haze, or distance as had happened when he was in the white room or in New York. It was like there had never been one in the first place.

The bond was completely severed, forcefully ripped apart somehow, and he was only left with a faint echo of where she used to reside in his soul. Of everything he’d discovered, this chilled him to the bone because he’d thought they’d be connected for life. Flinching at that thought, he didn’t even want to delve into the implications of what that severed bond could mean, didn’t want to acknowledge the possibility that she couldn’t feel him anymore.

He hadn’t even told the group about the missing connection yet. With everything they’d been through the past week, he didn’t want to add this to shoulders that were already overburdened, and so he suffered in silence, wanting to protect the remnants of his family for a little longer. But he felt hollow and incomplete and didn’t know how much longer he could hide this development before someone guessed he was holding back on them.

Praying that sleep would soon overcome his troubled mind, he tensed as he heard a muffled thump from Isabel’s room and shot off his bed, heart thundering in his ears as he ran to her room, terrified that their enemies were back to finish the group off. Thrusting her door open, he raised his hand defensively, sweeping the room for signs of a struggle and sagged with relief as he noted the yearbook lying haphazardly on the floor in front of the door and his sobbing, but unharmed, sister curled up on her bed.

Sucking in a deep breath, he struggled to calm his pounding heart and walked over to Isabel, sinking to her bed and running his hand over her head, his own heart aching at the loss of so many in such a short time. Lying down on her bed, he gathered her in his arms, stroking her hair and murmuring to her softly as she sobbed against his chest, unmindful of the tears slipping quietly over his own cheeks.

“What are we going to do, Max?” she choked, distraught, red-rimmed brown eyes meeting his quietly once her sobs subsided to a hiccoughing sigh.

“I don’t know, Izzy,” he whispered softly, shrugging his shoulders helplessly as he continued to stroke her head gently, his own eyes dark and haunted. “I just don’t know.”
~*~
Looking around the room blankly, Tess pressed trembling lips together and picked up a blue, flannel long-sleeved shirt that Kyle had worn the other day off the dresser. Pressing the fabric to her nose, she squeezed her eyes shut and inhaled deeply, the scent of him and the faint traces of his cologne teasing her nose. Clutching the shirt to her chest, she sank to the bed numbly and stared around the room he used to frequent, bowing her head as tears clogged her throat.

Shoulders slumping with defeat, she lifted a shaky hand and pressed it against her forehead, leaning her head against her palm heavily. Trying to breathe around the constriction in her chest, she was at a loss as to what to do or feel; she’d never been so confused in her life.

If Nasedo were here, he’d shrug his shoulders and tell her that was the price that humans paid for playing in their world. He would see it as nothing more than collateral damage, and in his eyes, humans were an annoying necessity, yet expendable. What did it matter if one died? There were plenty more pawns to position. All that mattered to him were the king, queen, knight and rook.

But the more time she spent in Roswell and had gotten to know the humans her family had entrusted with their secret, the more she realized that Nasedo was wrong. Life mattered. They mattered. More than she had wanted to admit at times and she had come to rely on their instincts and input just as much as the others; counted on the friendship so freely given, that held no strings or expectations from her. It was refreshing and for the first time, she had finally started to feel as if she belonged.

Nasedo had forgotten that a complete chess set held another knight, rook and two bishops, all of equal importance to the game. She hadn’t.

Their enemies hadn’t.

A shuffling at the door caught her attention and her head whipped up, watery irises meeting another set of equally distressed eyes as Jim walked into the room and leaned against the door. Letting out a soft sigh, she fought back her emotions and watched him quietly, shifting uncomfortably under his pained gaze.

“Did she get home okay?” Tess asked haltingly, swallowing thickly and suppressing the urge to run to his arms. How could she accept his comfort and offer him any when she was the reason he’d lost his only child?

“Yeah, she’s there,” he replied, clearing the lump from his throat and shifting uncomfortably as he tried to figure out how to approach this typically stalwart and standoffish girl. He knew she was uncomfortable with human emotion (her own as well as that of others), but she was the only family he had left. “Furious and threatening Michael great bodily harm, but safe. I got her calmed down. She won’t say anything.”

“Good,” she murmured, nodding at his words, although she hadn’t been worried that Maria would say anything. Despite her new memories, she couldn’t erase the feelings that still lingered in the other girl’s heart and she knew that would stop her from exposing Michael no matter how angry she was with him. Bowing her head, she studied her hands, expecting the other man to leave after having his say and was surprised when he continued to hover in the doorway.

“Yeah,” Jim whispered, nodding his own head and watching her with uncertainty, noting the tear tracks on her cheeks and came further into the room, needing to retain some link to the little family he had left. The silence stretched out for a minute before the little blonde’s brow pinched and her face crumpled under the weight of the emotions she’d been so desperately trying to hold back.

“It’s all our fault,” she choked, eyes filming over as she lifted her head and looked at him briefly before her gaze drifted away nervously, unable to face the condemnation she was certain would reflect in his eyes at her words. “If we hadn’t come here, if you had never found out, none of this would have happened. All this loss and death and pain would have been avoided and they’d be safe and you wouldn’t have to…”

“No. This isn’t your fault,” he refuted, walked over to her swiftly and crouched down in front of her. Taking her hands in his, he squeezed them gently, drawing her gaze back to him and his heart ached at the misery in those habitually cool, calm blue eyes. “This could have happened whether or not we had known you.”

“But,” she began, trailing off when he shook his head and held up a hand to stop her self-condemning words. Watching her steadily, he couldn’t even begin to fathom the impact this had made on her and the other three, but at least this weight he could lift from such small, fragile shoulders.

“No buts,” he replied, looking down briefly and inhaling a deep breath to quell the pain welling in his own heart. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed harshly, his eyes misting slightly and he lifted his gaze back to her, clutching her hands a little more firmly. “It’s been a privilege knowing you and being a part of your lives.”

“How can you say that after everything that has happened? How could you even bear to look at me?” she whispered, her brow pinched with confusion as she stared at the openly affectionate expression on his face. “Why aren’t you throwing me out knowing that I am the reason your son is gone?”

“Because you are my family too,” he responded firmly, grimacing slightly when her astonished expression showed him at how remiss he’d been at showing her how much a part of his family she’d become. But that changed starting now. If there was anything he’d learned from this tragedy, it was that you didn’t know how long you had with your loved ones. “I don’t want to lose my daughter as well as my son.”

Her lips trembled, blue irises filling with tears as she stared at the man before her with wonder and gave a strangled cry before launching herself off the bed and into his arms, squeezing tightly as his arms wrapped around her gently.
~*~
Now spring has brought the rain
But I still see your face
And I can not escape the past
Creeping up inside
Reminding me that I
Can never bring you back


Liz stirred, her head swimming, a dull throbbing resounding in her skull when she turned it slightly, an answering rush of nausea rolling in her gut and she clenched her eyes even tighter, drawing in slow, shallow breaths until it passed. Opening her eyes slowly, she hazily stared around an unfamiliar room, brow puckering in confusion as she stared at the concrete walls, shuddering as a draft whispered over her bared skin.

Bared skin? Moving very carefully, she turned her head to look down her torso and realized that instead of the black slacks and white blouse she left the house in, she was wearing a short sleeveless white, almost night-shirt like garment, her feet bare and tangled around a lightweight, white blanket. Was she in the hospital?

No, that didn’t make sense as there were no machines beeping in the background and the room was all wrong. Hospital rooms were sterile and clean, white walls and white floors, not cold, gray concrete, and she was completely alone. If it were the hospital, her friends and family would be there, waiting for her to wake up, or at the very least there would be medical personnel hovering some where near. Where was she?

Shifting slightly, she began a slow inventory of her parts, seeking any potential damage and noting that she didn’t feel any pain. She tugged on her arm sluggishly to push the long strand of hair off her face, frowning when she met with some sort of resistance. Tugging again at her arm, she twisted her head in annoyance trying to see what was preventing her movement, her head swimming sickly at her abrupt motion, and gasped as pain ricocheted through her skull once more.

Clenching her eyes shut once more, she waited for the pain to dissipate some, before looking up a bit more carefully, her eyes widening with terror, alarm shooting through her sluggish system, heart thudding and breath quickening with fear as she stared at her restrained wrists. Tugging on them sharply, she began to hyperventilate, every nerve standing on end as panic sluiced over her in waves. What the hell was going on?

Frantically searching her cloudy mind, she tried to recall how the hell she had ended up there, fear skittering cold fingers over her spine, and she let out a choked sob as the previous day’s events came rushing back to her with terrifying clarity. At least she hoped it had been the previous day. She couldn’t tell from the room she was currently lying in.

“Hey, you’re not doing this without me,” Kyle chided, tucking her arm into his and pulling her down the walk to his car, opening the door and helping her in when they reached it. “Let’s go for a drive. I think we could use some cooling off time. And then we’ll sit down and you can tell me everything you know and what you suspect.”

“Thanks,” Liz smiled at him gratefully, watching as he loped his way around to the driver’s side and climbed in, putting on his seatbelt and starting the engine. Turning away, she looked back over to Alex’s house resolutely and was startled to see Michael standing at the door watching the two of them drive away, quiet contemplation etching his face. She had to wonder what was going on in his mind.

Turning away from Michael as they pulled away, she let herself drift in thought, mulling over everything that everyone said and everything she had observed about her friend since he returned from Sweden a changed man, thankful that Kyle was lost in his own thoughts. It didn’t make any sense. At times Alex was his typical jocular self, but with a touch more confidence, even to the point of cockiness. Other times, he was withdrawn and moody, pulling back from everyone, but especially from Isabel and Michael.

That bit disturbed her the most. Alex had worshipped Isabel for as long as she could remember; had been mooning over her almost as long as Max had supposedly mooned over her. However, after his return from Sweden he barely gave the blonde alien the time of day at best, and at worst, he seemed almost afraid of her, flinching from the most casual touch when caught unawares.

And Michael, he could barely tolerate being near the brusque, stoic alien at all and went out of his way to avoid him anytime he joined the group. She couldn’t make heads or tails of it. She didn’t deny that Michael’s intensity could be unsettling and even intimidating if you didn’t know him well, but as a group they had grown beyond that, the humans forging an understanding and mutual respect with the standoffish alien if nothing else.

She couldn’t understand this sudden change of heart on Alex’s part; even with the brief romance with Leanna lending him some much needed backbone to put Isabel in her place. While she was happy to see a stronger, happier Alex, she couldn’t quell the growing trepidation that something more happened when he was in Sweden – if he was even in Sweden at all.

That was yet another piece of the puzzle that didn’t make sense; his abrupt departure and return from a supposed exchange program. What exchange program was only two months long? She had done a little research and every exchange program she had encountered was a minimum school year long exchange. And she could understand why – it made little sense to have someone to be gone for only two months because they would barely get settled in before leaving.

No, the only explanation was he never left in the first place or if he did, he didn’t go to Sweden. She would peg her very life on that fact. Actually, given everything that had happen recently with the Skins and FBI, she
was pegging her life on it.

The only thing that might belie her theory was the fact that Alex remembered being there and had pictures to prove it. Which led her back to her earlier conviction that this was alien-related. As proven by the white room incident, and Nasedo later confirmed it verbally, the aliens really had no clue about the extent of their powers. Who’s to say that they couldn’t erase and manipulate memories?

And as for the actual ‘accident’ itself, she had seen evidence their ability to move things when they concentrated deep enough or were provoked, or even blow things up and manipulate matter. And Max, Isabel and Michael were barely in control of their powers, so she figured causing an accident would be child’s play to an alien in complete control.

If one added everything up, it spoke of alien involvement one way or another. The only thing she couldn’t figure out was why now? What prompted them to take out Alex now opposed to months ago? It was the one thing that she couldn’t wrap up in a neat little package to present to the group.

Chewing on her bottom lip, she sighed in frustration, running an agitated hand through her tangled locks and stared out at the passing desert absently, not even aware of where they were heading or what Kyle had planned. Nibbling on her thumb, she jumped when she heard Kyle curse under his breath and her head snapped forward as the his car jolted violently, fishtailing slightly, and tossed a panicked glance over her shoulder, blood chilling as she saw the truck behind them swerve slightly and speed up once more.

“Fuck, hold on,” Kyle muttered, stomping his foot on the gas, the little sports car lunging forward, careening over the desert highway and Liz grabbed onto the door as she was thrown back into her seat forcefully by the inertia. “What the hell is this?”

Whipping her head behind her, her eyes widened with horror as the truck barreled down on them once more intent on driving them off the road, and her heart began pounding painfully. She turned back around in her seat, breathing heavily, fear shooting through her veins as she braced herself for the impending impact and screamed breathlessly as the truck rammed into the back of the car once again, forcing it into a skid to the left.

Kyle cursed under his breath, fighting for control of the wheel, sweat beading his forehead, his blood rushing in his ears, and shifted into a higher gear, pushing the car as fast as the engine would allow, the faint metallic taste of fear on his tongue. God, let him make it back in one piece.

The truck sped up and rammed them once more, slamming them against their seatbelts and the belts snapped, throwing them against them dash and steering wheel violently before snapping back into their seats stunned, blood trickling from a cut on Liz’s brow. Slumping in her seat, Liz was barely aware of Kyle’s hands being ripped from the steering wheel, sending the car careening into the desert landscape until it hit a rock, jerking them to a violent halt.

Head lolling against the door as her vision began to gray around the edges, white sparks dancing before her eyes, Liz tried to focus on the voices hovering just on the edges of her consciousness as a tall shadow fell over her and her companion, but couldn’t make sense of the words over the buzzing in her ears as she slid into unconsciousness.


Inhaling sharply, Liz eyes swept the room frantically looking for evidence on the identity of her and Kyle’s attacker, and grunted with frustration when her bonds made it impossible to see what was behind her. Attempting to flip part way onto her stomach, hoping to get a better glimpse of her cell, she gasped when a door flew open and a familiar face hurried through, sighing with relief at the thought that she was about to be rescued.

“Michael! God, I am so glad to see you! Where are the others? Are they here?” she asked excitedly as the man walked in and came towards her bed. Biting her lip thoughtfully, she looked towards the door to see if the others were with him and missed the cruel smirk flickering over his face as he hovered over her prone body, flicking a calculating gaze over the exposed limbs. “Did you get taken too? Or did you find us?”

Looking up at Michael, Liz’s brow furrowed as she noted the cold, calculating gleam in the other man’s eyes and her stomach dropped, a chill running over her spine as dread settled into the pit of her gut. Oh, God, please let this be Michael and not a shifter or worse, his unscrupulous twin.

“Michael?” she whispered hesitantly, her face clouding over the longer he hovered without attempting to release her bonds and her heart sank as her visions of security dimmed. But she wasn’t ready to give up complete hope yet.

“I’m offended yous don’t recognize me, sweets,” her captor smirked, cocking an all too familiar brow and smiling wolfishly as he sat on the edge of the bed, caging her in. Drawing a finger over her bared calf, his smile deepened when she flinched and watched him with wary, chocolate eyes, crowding her further as he enjoyed her apprehension. “I thought our kiss meant more to you than that.”

Rath.

Liz cringed as he palmed her knee, dragging her subtly closer to his body, and held her breath, her lungs burning under the pressure and her heart hammering against her breastbone as fear skittered over frayed nerves. Closing her eyes in resignation, her leg trembled under his hand and she tensed as she felt it slide over her knee to rest on her thigh. Eyes popping open, she gasped and tried to jerk out his reach, letting out a little cry of distress when his grip tightened, jerking her closer to him and stretching her flat, effectively caging her in with his arms.

“But that’s ok, we has plenty of time to gets reacquainted,” he whispered, leaning over her threateningly as she stared up at him with wide-eyed terror.
This is endless
This is endless
Someone help me
Cuz the memory
Convinced itself to tear me apart
And it's gonna succeed before long


Kyle shook his head as he came to, cringing when the movement sent waves of nausea crashing over his body and heaved slightly, turning his face to the side in case his stomach decided to erupt and give a Linda Blair impersonation. Breathing deeply, he leaned his head against the cool metal frame of the bed until the spinning ceased before looking around at his cell once more.

He had no doubt that was what this was, as he had heard quite a bit of Lonnie and Rath’s conversation as he slid in and out unconsciousness in his car and the back of their van, but what he didn’t know, was why? What was so important about him and Liz that they’d resort to kidnapping them?

Stirring slightly, he closed his eyes, leaning his sweaty brow against the cooling frame once more while he thought back to their capture and tried to remember what exactly had been said to see if he could glean any information from the cryptic, heated exchange.


“Jackpot! The wanna-be queen and her boy toy,” Lonnie crowed as she headed over to the smoking car, her companion following at a more careful, observant gait, quickly scanning the area for any potential witnesses to their crime. The last thing they needed was for someone to see and get word back to his dupe. “ How nice of them to separate theys self from the group like that.”

“Keeps it down,” Rath bit out tersely, shifting impatient, irritated eyes onto the other girl for a moment before turning back to his prize. Raking a satisfied gaze over the tiny brunette, he strode over to the wrecked vehicle and opened the door, inspecting her head injury. Placing his hand on her head, he healed the worst of the damage before scooping her into his arms, turning to address the blonde at his side.

“Watch over duke while I puts sweets in the van,” he commanded tersely, flicking an aggravated look over the light-haired man, barely hanging onto to consciousness in the other seat. No matter what Lonnie thought, this was hardly a clean sweep. “Then we’ll load him up in the van and gets the hell outta here before we call attention to ourselfs.

“Why not just leaves him there?” the blonde shrugged, cocking a hand on her hip and studying her nails nonchalantly and swallowed harshly when her lover swung cold bourbon irises over her. “Nicco said to only grab the mouse.”

“Yous can’t be that stupid,” he bit out harshly, watching the other woman with disgust and wondering why he put up with her for so many years. “No witnesses. He’s not fully unconscious. The last thing I needs is him rattin’ us out. I can’t do my part if I have my dupe bangin’ down the door before…just watch over him. Think you can manages that or do I need to do everything on my own?”

~*~


“So you thinks its true?” Lonnie asked, slouching in her seat as they headed down the road, deeper into the desert away from Roswell. Shifting slightly, she flicked a glance at the figures in the back and scowled as her eye lit on the petite brunette.

“What?” Rath asked tersely, raking his hand over his face and keeping his eyes peeled on the road in front of him, growing quickly irritated with the woman beside him. Christ, he should have just killed her in the desert when he had the chance.

“What they say about the mouse,” she responded, turning back in her seat, her lips pursed into a petulant moue and drummed her fingers against the door. “About the proph…”

“Will you shuts up!” he grated, flicking a concerned glance over his shoulder and raking a contemplative look over the man he knew was not quite as out of it as he was pretending to be. Bound and gagged, there was nothing duke could do, but they didn’t need to be spilling all their secrets. “Just concerns yous self with watching for our turn off.”

~*~


“What’s with him?” A voice Kyle didn’t recognize asked as the door to the van opened and they set about unloading their cargo, Rath grabbing Liz and striding off, leaving him to languish in the back with Lonnie and someone he didn’t recognize. “You were only supposed to grab the girl.”

“Theys together when we took her, Nicco,” Lonnie explained, leaning against van and stared at what looked to be a fourteen-year-old boy but didn’t act like any teenager he’d ever met. It was almost if he was much older than his years. “Couldn’t have witnesses to run back and tattle on us.”

“Christ, I send you guys to do a simple task and you can’t even manage snagging one girl without screwing it up,” the kid ranted, shoving his hand through his hair, staring at the blonde balefully. “Why didn’t you just kill him?”

“I suggested it but Rath said no,” she shrugged, studying the boy in front of her and licking her lips…seductively? Oh, that was sick. “He said wes got lucky when the other one was ruled as a suicide. Another death too soon after Alex would have alerted the local cops that something might be wrong. We’s don’t need an investigation. It’s bad enough that our dupes will be set off.”

“I hate this planet,” the kid griped, brushing past Lonnie and heading into the compound. “Fine, he’s yours. You’ll need something to keep you occupied while Rath completes his mission anyways.”



Taking a deep breath, Kyle’s head throbbed as he rolled everything over in his mind, but he still couldn’t make heads or tails of it. All he had got out of it was Rath needed Liz to complete some sort of mission or task and he wasn’t supposed to be there. Or at least, they hadn’t meant to snatch him when they snatched Liz and oddly, their commanding officer seemed to be a fourteen-year-old kid. He’d never understand the working of the alien mind.

Looking up as his door swung open, he scowled and stiffened when Lonnie sauntered in and perching herself against the baseboard of his bed, resting her hip against the cheap metal frame. They evaluated each other in silence before Kyle decided to play dumb and see if he could some answers from Isabel’s dupe. Any information would useful if they could get in touch with the others.

“Why am I here?” Kyle queried, feigning disorientation and confusion as he stared around the room, all the while studying his captor out of the corner of his eye. She smirked at his question, popping her gum slightly as she cocked a brow at his antics. Ok, so maybe that wasn’t the best approach. She’d probably been watching him for a while and knew he was much more with it than he was pretending. “What do you want from me?”

Lonnie sashayed towards the head of the bed and propped her arm on the metal headboard, leaning over slightly flicking a cool gaze over him and forcing him to strain his neck to study her. Her face lighting up with malicious glee, she sank down into the chair by his bed, propping her elbows on her knees and returned his stare.

“You? We didn’t want you. We wanted her,” she smirked, cocking a mocking brow at his question as she leaned over, threading her fingers together and resting on them, brown eyes flashing spitefully. Shrugging her shoulders, her lips quirked as she toyed with him, responding smoothly. “Yous was just extra, a bonus for a job well done and a replacement for the last toy I broke.”

Sitting back, she tipped her chin and studied the body of blue-eyed man in front of her with cool, calculating eyes. Not bad actually. All those sports seemed to do the little cornball some good. Licking her lips unconsciously, she raked her gaze back up his body as he squirmed uncomfortably and met his disgusted gaze at her perusal, taunting with a faux pout. “Poor Alex, never knew what… hit him.”

“You bitch,” Kyle spat, anger flashing through his body and jerked against his bonds, struggling to get loose as Lonnie snickered. Flushing hotly, he dropped all pretenses and stared at her malevolently, grinding between his teeth. “Where’s Liz? What have you done with her?”

“Watch it Duke,” the blonde sneered, eyes flashing hatefully at his insult and leaned over to grasp his chin, smirking when he shuddered with revulsion and jerked out of her grasp. Pinning him with a steely glare, she sat back once more and jeered. “Keep in mind yous at my mercy and we’s wouldn’t want any unfortunate accidents, now do we?”

“Where. Is. Liz?” he ground out, fear thrumming though his body as he realized just how helpless he and Liz were. He had to assume she was in a similar situation, likely facing Rath at this moment. He shuddered at the thought, because as much as Lonnie disturbed him, the thought of his friend at the mercy of Michael’s dupe scared him even more.

“Oh, don’t worry about yous little queen,” Lonnie drawled silkily, a half-smile curving her lips as she dangled her arm over the back of the chair, her voice fraught with innuendo. “My Rath will takes good care of her. He’s always been so…fond of her. Thinks she’s rather sweet and couldn’t resist another…taste.”

“If you lay one hand on her…” Kyle gasped, heart pounding and panic shooting through his body at the implication of her words, struggling against his bonds once more and grunted with frustration when they failed to loosen. Staring at the blonde hatefully, he vowed that if he found a way out of this situation he was going to kill both her and Rath.

“Yous do what? If yous hadn’t noticed, duke, yous hardly in the position to make demands,” Lonnie replied harshly, leaning over him threateningly just to prove how helpless he really was. Raking sharp nails down his chest harshly, leaving red, inflamed marks and blood welling in faint scratches, she smiled when Kyle hissed with pain, his breath quickening with fear and anger. “So pretty…I thinks I’ll likes having you as a pet.”

“What do you want with Liz?” he demanded, grunting when she hissed and stood up, pacing angrily that he wouldn’t let his inquisition go. Watching the other girl, he knew his persistence, while angering her, was also wearing her down. He didn’t know what good knowing this information would do him, but he had to know.

“Geez, yous no fun. One-track mind,” she muttered to herself as she paced the length of the room, getting quickly fed up with everyone’s obsession with the brunette. She couldn’t see the appeal. “What is it about that girl that has all yous panting after her? Surely it can’t be her golden pussy as none of yous have gotten a taste of that, but yets you all run to her aid – you, the king, his second…”

“She’s our friend,” he replied stubbornly, pushing aside the small flare of surprise at her lumping Michael into her tirade and stored that for further examination at a later date. Like when he wasn’t trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey and vulnerable to the irate woman’s whims.

“She’s more than that but yous all too stupid to realize it,” she snorted, flicking him a knowing glance as she turned and cocked her brow, her mocking smile sliding back over her face as his face pinched with confusion. So they still hadn’t translated the book. That was very useful information indeed.

“Why do you want Liz?” he grit out between clenched teeth, struggling against his bonds again and getting tired of the game she was playing with him, completely bewildered by her statement. What had she meant that Liz was more than a friend? Was she implying that they were all in love with her? Or something else?

“Geez…fine I’ll tells you if it will shuts you up already,” Lonnie grunted, rolling her eyes at the man’s persistence. She’d really like to know what hold the little mouse had over the boys of her circle. Hell, even Rath was obsessed with her, although he pretended it was because of the mission. The girl wasn’t all that and she was fairly certain they didn’t know what she did about the little geek. “It’s not like yous can do anything.”

Lonnie tapped a cigarette out of its carton and slipped it between her lips before tossing the pack onto a little table next to the bed. Sinking down into the metal chair she’d pulled up by the bed, she flicked her lighter and lit her cigarette, watching the angry, confused man with interest. He was loyal and persistent; she’d give him that. It would almost be admirable if it weren’t likely to get him killed.

Sprawling out in the chair, she propped one foot on the bed next to Kyle and smirked insolently, taking a long drag from her cigarette and holding the smoke in for a moment before letting it out in a rush. Licking her lips, she flicked the ash from her smoke and flashed a malicious smile, shrugging her shoulders at the silent, frustrated man.

“The prophecy duke,” she stated smugly, enjoying his confused expression and the confirmation of her original thoughts. The cornballs had no idea what a rare prize they had amongst them. “We wants her because of the prophecy.”
This is the memory
This is the curse of having
Too much time to think about it
It's killing me
This is the last time
This is my forgiveness
This is endless

~ The Memory, Mayday Parade
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Ashita
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Re: Redemption (UC, Mi/L, ADULT) Chap 3 8/7/10

Post by Ashita » Sat Aug 07, 2010 4:15 pm

Barbara – thanks for your comments. This story does have a very dark start and will remain that way for a while, but I’m glad that you think it’s well written as this is an incredibly difficult story to write and I often have to put it aside for a bit before attempting to get through it again.

Behrstars – The prophecy won’t be revealed in this chapter, I’m sorry! The pod squad probably won’t learn of it for a couple chapters yet. I know; I’m a relentless tease. Glad you like the story since it was your challenge and sorry it’s taken so long to update, but I want to do the story justice.

Jenna – Thanks I’m glad you liked that chapter as, well, I cried most of the way through it and it was a very intense chapter to write. And thanks for the comments on Hunted. I have a soft spot for that story development.

TJ – Yeah, Michael kills me in this story and has left me with tears in my eyes on more than one occasion, Tess as well. She has broken my heart several times with her commentary on how she grew up and her awkward desire to help and comfort, but floundering because she doesn’t know how to react.

Kiara – Oh God, that scene killed me and I’m not even a fan of the pairing. LOL! But I wanted to keep this realistic and have Michael acknowledge the depth of his feelings and their relationship. To push it off as nothing at this point would have been a disservice. Yeah, Rath and Lonnie are definitely evil in this story and I both love and hate Rath in this story.

I know there are people who say he OOC but I can’t relegate him to a common street thug. It makes no sense whatsoever. This is a man that was second-in-command on his planet and the same genetic make up as Michael and thus would certainly have the same level of intelligence, intuitiveness and cunning. So that’s my Rath. But because of his upbringing, he is most definitely not Michael.

Whims – As always, I have to make a note to you and thank you for your beta job on this considering how busy you’ve been lately! I appreciate everything you’ve done on this story as well as the others. You’ve been invaluable to me as I work my way through some very difficult scenes and well, just keeping me sane as I try to keep all the details straight in my head. You really deserve a beta award!

AN: This chapter will only cover the pod squad. I originally had it set up to cover all the characters, but this part reached 18 pages; the other is already 10 and only a little over half finished, so I broke it into two chapters. We’ll pick up with Liz and Kyle the next chapter. I would like to promise that I’ll have it to you soon, but this story is very emotionally intense and I often have to take a break to recharge after writing a scene because they are draining. So I’ll say that I’ll get it out asap. Lyrics to Breaking Down belong to Trust Company and Geffen Records.
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Breaking Down

I'm failing now
Starving for the answers
I'm slowing down
And losing ground



June 8, 2001


“How are you holding up?” Michael asked quietly, already knowing the answer but impatient to break the silence that had crept up between him and Isabel, despite her calling this meeting with him. Slouching against the wall, he fidgeted slightly, absently drumming his fingers against the doorjamb as he noted the dark circles etching Isabel’s eyes and the tight lines around her mouth.

Scrubbing a hand over his face, equally as weary, he cursed Max’s inability to see how his behavior was affecting the people that loved him, and wondered for the thousandth time where the hell Max had run off to this time. His reckless disregard was going to get them all killed and they’d had enough loss and heartache over the past month. The only thing that gave him comfort is he was pretty sure Tess would be able to monitor his moves and keep the idiot from doing anything rash.

Fixing unreadable eyes on the girl before him, he shifted uncomfortably and wished she’d say or do something other than bite her lip thoughtfully and pluck at the worn couch beneath her. He knew she was hurting, but unless she gave him an idea of what she needed, he didn’t really know how to help. He didn’t know the first thing about comforting anyone, especially Isabel who often retreated behind her ice princess façade, and was as approachable as an irate porcupine when she was in pain.

And despite what everyone thought, he was barely holding together himself. Albeit, he was in a better shape than Max and seemed to be the only one keeping their small family together. He couldn’t help but chuckle mirthlessly at the irony.

Pushing off the wall, he shoved his hands into his pockets and restlessly walked over to the window, staring at the red rocks looming in the distance. Itching for some action, his skin felt tight and hot, his heart burning for answers and resolution, and he knew he needed to get out there and do something, anything before the walls and silence of his apartment closed in on him once more.

At one time, he griped about everyone using his apartment as Grand Central, but now, he’d give anything to have that constant stream of people moving in and out, even if it was due to an alien crisis in the making.

He needed to get out there and check the area once more. Maybe he missed something that would lead him to Liz and Kyle. Because there was no doubt in his mind that they were out there somewhere. He felt it in his gut just as intensely as Liz had felt and known that Alex had been murdered and that his death was alien related. The question was where and who had them. And how was it possible that they were taken without a trace?

Sighing, he turned back to his sister sitting on his worn couch, staring off into space, still lost in thought and plucking at the worn, lint balls littering the cushion clutched firmly against her stomach. Clearing his throat pointedly, he bit back an impatient demand as the sound jarred the girl out of her dark thoughts and he was amazed at his restraint as he prodded gently, “Iz?”

“I’m…okay,” she murmured haltingly, absently running a hand through her disheveled locks and pressed her lips together, chagrined when Michael snorted and shot her a skeptical glance. Sighing heavily, she averted her gaze from those far too knowing and probing brandy eyes and licked her lips nervously, shifting uneasily at the thought that he could breach her shell so thoroughly. “I’m dealing, but it’s been...difficult. Max is closed off and won’t talk to anyone but Tess. He’s not even talking to my parents and they keep hounding me to find out what’s going on with him.”

Lurching from the couch, she began an agitated pace through the living room, her arms cinching around her waist as she tried to put her thoughts in order, a flash of pain streaking across her haggard face as she thought of the past month. God, how could everything fallen apart so quickly? Maria deserted them, Liz and Kyle were God knows where and Alex…Alex is dead. Clenching her eyes against the blur of tears covering her eyes, she inhaled a shuddered breath and pushed all the hopeless, helpless feelings into a dark little corner of her heart until she was alone.

“They think he’s overreacting to Liz running away,” she continued, stopping mid-stride and stilling completely as she stared blankly at an unseen spot on the wall before turning dark, troubled eyes to her brother once more. “But what do I tell them? It’s not like I can say that she’s been kidnapped with the lengths we went through to cover it up.”

Swallowing thickly, she pressed her fingers to the bridge of her nose, pressing them against gritty, stinging eyes and fought back the hot prickle of tears threatening to spill over at any moment, her other hand resting on her hip. She was so sick of crying and feeling helpless. “God, sometimes I wish we hadn’t manipulated the investigation and changed everyone’s memories of the events.”

“We did what was necessary to protect them,” Michael replied implacably, shifting uncomfortably against the wall. He hated the necessity of lying as well, but the fact was that three of the humans intimately associated with them were either dead or missing. “We couldn’t afford having anyone else getting hurt or an extensive investigation with everything that happened with the Special Unit.”

“I know,” she replied haltingly, her voice shaking with repressed emotion, knowing full well that any human that touched their life was a sitting duck for their enemies, but at the same time, she couldn’t help feeling a little resentful that they were right back where they started – closed off from everyone. “But sometimes, it just gets to be too much, especially since I only have you and Valenti to talk to. I hate lying to everyone.”

“What about Tess?” Michael offered, knowing that his sister and Isabel had seemed to be forming a friendship before everything blew up in their faces. He knew Tess had been a little wrapped up with Max lately, and with good reason given his reckless streak, but it surprised him that Isabel didn’t add her among her confidants. “I thought you two were getting close when she first came here.”

“What about Tess? She and I hadn’t gotten that close before it became obvious her main interest was in making us remember our past lives,” Isabel stated bitterly, still feeling the sting of the girl dropping her once it seemed that her destiny was within her grasp. She knew she was being unreasonable and deep down, she was glad that Tess seemed to be keeping Max from doing anything foolish, but it had hurt a lot when her friend had stopped coming around. “And she and Max are attached at the hip these days and since he’s avoiding me, that means she is too.”

“It will get better, Iz,” he responded lamely, smirking when the blond fixed him with a ‘don’t be stupid’ look, and then snorted in agreement as he didn’t really believe the words himself and had only been trying to comfort the girl. Leaning against the wall, he tipped his head against it and slumped slightly. This was getting out of hand and something needed to break soon before they all went mad. “Max will come around.”

“Will it? Can he? Because from where I’m sitting I don’t see how anything is ever going to be good again,” she whispered hoarsely, her face crumpling as the weight of emotion swirling inside became too much. Striding over to her, Michael pulled her into his arms, wrapping her in a tight hug, and kissed the top of her head, fighting back his own pain as tears slid silently down her face. “It was bad enough when we lost Alex, but since Max has discovered his connection to Liz has been severed, he has only been a shell of himself. It’s like he’s given up and doesn’t care what happens to any of us.”

Silence descended between them, as Michael couldn’t refute her words and instead, he tightened his hold on her, pressing his face into her hair, stroking the tangled strands softly. Closing his eyes, they stood comforting each other for several moments before Isabel pulled away a little awkwardly, clearly feeling discomfited at her uncharacteristic meltdown. Smiling at Michael a little sheepishly, she wiped the tears from her cheeks and took a deep breath, a small smile quirking her lips as he pressed a quick kiss to her forehead before moving away.

“So, what are you doing today?” she asked shakily, trying to put them on more comfortable ground as she pulled herself together. Running a hand over her hair, her brow furrowed when he avoided her gaze, staring at his feet as he tensed subtly and leaned back into the wall, turning to stare out the window, his face unreadable once more.

“Heading out to the desert,” he replied evasively, the rest of his words going unspoken – to search for Liz and Kyle. Grimacing, he shifted uncomfortably under her sharpening gaze and bit back an oath as her face softened with sympathy. The last thing he wanted was pity, or worse, anyone telling him that his search was fruitless. He refused to believe that they were dead. They would have known somehow just as they found out about Alex. Their enemies wouldn’t have been able to resist throwing it in their faces.

“Michael…” Isabel chided softly, swallowing harshly when the tawny-haired man fixed her with a warning glare, his body tensing further at her tone. Taking a deep breath, she studied her brother carefully, noting the almost undetectable signs of his own anguish and the evidence of sleepless nights marring his stoic features. It was there in the slight furrow of his brow, the thin compression of lips, the tight lines of his face, but mostly, it was there in his eyes, the one place he had trouble masking completely.

That pain shone out, so deep and heartfelt when you knew what you were looking for in those beautiful, yet haunted dark amber irises. It was the one place he couldn’t hide.

“What?” he grunted shortly, still refusing to meet her eyes, knowing full well he was going to see pity and worse, an almost sad understanding in his sister’s gaze. He knew that the others had given Liz and Kyle up for lost and saw his forays into the desert as a pointless endeavor to work through his guilt. But his gut had never led him wrong and until it told him they were gone, he wasn’t giving up.

“Michael, you can’t keep doing this to yourself,” Isabel reasoned, sighing when he stubbornly brushed past her, shutting out her words, and strode to his room to get his duffle and sleeping bag. Following him hesitantly, she watched as he grabbed a change of clothes from his dresser and threw them into the waiting bag, his back and arms coiling with tension.

“They are out there somewhere, I know it,” he bit out gruffly, walking into his adjoining bathroom to grab a couple of things and adding them to the growing pile that showed he planned to be gone at least over night, if not a couple of days. Impatiently zipping the duffle closed, he slung it over his shoulder and grabbed the sleeping bag before facing Isabel once more, his jaw stubbornly set. “And I won’t rest until I find them.”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Isabel pointed out softly, a sad smile touching her eyes as she met stormy, whiskey irises and braced herself for his coming cold, self-deprecating words. He hated to be cornered and tended to lash out whenever he felt trapped or when the situation was slipping out of his control.

“Really?” he scoffed, his voice tight, body strung as taut as a bow as he brushed past her, striding back into the other room to finish gathering his supplies, the air fairly crackling around them as he shoved her words away. No matter what she and the others said, he knew better. He had known as soon as Liz spoke up at the wake that something was wrong and he still let them walk away. That was unacceptable in his eyes. “Because as I recall I was supposed to be the soldier and I let the enemy take them.”

“You couldn’t have known this would happen,” she refuted gently, knowing that her continued pursuance was akin to prodding a caged tiger, but needing to break through his self-destructive mindset. She had already lost one brother to this; not to mention the disappearances and deaths of those she loved in a short space of time, some of whom might never know how she felt. She couldn’t lose him too.

“I should have!” he spat, helpless anger ripping through him as the threads of his temper snapped and he slammed his fist against the counter, the light shattering above them as his words cracked the air like a whip. Pressing his hands against the cold, Formica surface, his chest heaving, he slid his eyes shut, futilely trying to rein in his anguish as he continued brokenly. “It was my job to know, to pay attention to the details, to see the patterns. I knew she was right and I let them…”

Isabel moved towards her brother but halted when he pulled himself upright, standing stiffly as he warded her off with an outstretched hand, his palms glowing slightly with his effort to gain control. Swallowing harshly, her heart ached for the man standing frozen and just as broken as the rest of them, and wished there was a way she could break through that thick, fortified wall he kept wrapped around himself.

“I’m doing this Iz, with or without your guys help,” he replied quietly when he finally got his rage back under control, voice cracking with fatigue and other suppressed emotions he didn’t want to explore in that time and place. Dropping his hand, he licked his parched lips and looked at his sister, his eyes filled with steely determination, a sentiment echoing in his voice. “I will not accept that they are gone for good.”

Their eyes held for a silent moment before Isabel nodded her head softly and took a deep breath, walking over to help him place some supplies into another waiting duffle, missing the ghost of a smile that crossed his face. Grabbing the bag, she walked towards the couch, addressing him over her shoulder as she grabbed his sleeping bag. “I’ll go with you. Let me grab some stuff and leave a note my parents and we’ll go together.”

Striding towards the door, she halted when Michael finally caught up to her and placed a restraining hand on her arm, holding her breath to see if he was going to protest her involvement. Meeting his eyes, she barely bit back a gasp at the wealth of emotion staring back at her and placed a hand over his in comfort.

“Iz…” he began hesitantly, struggling to find the words to tell her how much her support meant to him and failed. Instead, he squeezed her hand back and nodded his head once in acknowledgment, simply stating. “Thanks.”

“No thanks necessary. You’d do the same for me,” she responded, smiling softly as she pushed some of his hair back from his face and hugged him before he could react. Wrapping his arms around her hesitantly, he squeezed her back for a moment before pulling away to grab his bag, his throat convulsing as he cleared it and faced her once more. “You’re my brother as much as Max and I won’t let you face this alone.”
~
Isabel stared out into the distance, golden brown eyes hazy and slightly out of focus as she attuned to the various swirls of energy surrounding her. The strongest, of course, was Michael, being that he was there with her, but once she recognized that imprint, she was able to program her mind to ignore it and focus on the other fainter and much more elusive emotions pressing against her skin. Breathing deeply, her senses sharpened as she caught the edge of anguish and a darkness hovering over the site where Kyle’s car was found.

An ominous threat and dark satisfaction hung heavily in the air, leaving a brackish, almost metallic taste in her mouth and clung to her skin, weighing it down, making her desperately wish for a shower to wipe away the sludge sucking at her essence. Shuddering, she scraped the slime away with her powers and was finally able to detect a hum of fear underlying the sinister taint and the acidic burn of panic spread across her nerves.

Something evil happened here.

Slamming her shields shut, she panted harshly as that niggling trace of contamination tried to worm its way into her heart, and clenched her eyes shut, dragging in deep, cleansing breaths to get rid of the acrid bite choking her lungs. Gasping when Michael grabbed her hand, she smiled weakly as he fed her some of his energy to help her chase away the pollution threatening to overcome her senses and spread through her blood like an infection. Meeting his questing gaze, she nodded grimly and released his hand to let him know that she had pushed past the worst and walked a few feet away.

Something wasn’t right.

Breathing easier, she looked around the scene once more. As bad as the dark felt, she was perplexed because it was not the level she was expecting at such a fresh scene. When she and Michael had gone to Alex’s accident site last week, she had been so overwhelmed with emotion that she had passed out and had remained shut down for two hours. So, when she opened her senses, she expected the same reaction.

But the area was suspiciously devoid of feeling. Almost as if it were wiped clean by some invisible force and that had the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. It shouldn’t have been that easy to push the taint away. Stomach clenching, she fixed a troubled gaze on Michael and walked back towards him with a frown on her face.

“Are you picking up anything?” Michael asked, his own stomach lurching at her reaction. Flicking a contemplative gaze over her pinched features, he was surprised that she was still standing given her reaction last week. Scratching his brow thoughtfully, he had to wonder at the difference. Was it because she was more attached to Alex than Liz or Kyle? Was it because Alex died on the spot and maybe, this meant Liz and Kyle were still alive? A small trickle of hope filtered through his wall before he could quell it.

“Nothing. It’s suspiciously devoid of anything,” she murmured, confusion evident on her face as she continued to look around the area and rubbed her arms to ward off the chill settling in her heart. “I can feel an edge of panic, taste some fear still lingering in the area, satisfaction and confusion. But I’m not really picking up clear impressions.”

“So what does that mean?” he queried, leaning against the stone formation behind him, watching his sister quietly as he mulled her findings over in his head. It was what he’d already expected, but to hear her confirm his gut feeling on her reaction gave him a hope like none he’d ever felt before. God, he hoped this meant that they hadn’t died. At least not here, a little voice whispered. Gritting his teeth, he shoved the thought away as impossible and waited for Isabel’s answer.

“It’s almost as if someone wiped it clean,” she answered, shaking her head to clear it of the lingering buzz of her power and suppressed a yawn. This particular power still drained her if she wasn’t careful. “Even with the newness of this power, I should be able to pick up something unless it’s been masked or manipulated somehow.”

“So it’s alien,” Michael asked rhetorically, not really expecting an answer from his sister, but more thinking aloud and confirming his beliefs. His stomach sunk at her observation that the scene had been wiped of emotion. That could mean anything and they were no close to solving this mystery than they had been before they came out here.

“I don’t see what else it could be,” she sighed, running trembling fingers through her hair as her use of power and lack of sleep the past two days caught up with her. Pinching the bridge of her nose, she rubbed her eyes wearily, sagging as she realized that this little trip hadn’t told them anything. She had hoped…

“Damn it, so close,” he growled, his frustration building with every passing day and avenue closing without a word or sign of their friends. Staring out into the gathering dusk, he grimaced and tried to figure out where to go with the investigation now. Hopefully, Tess and Max found out something on whatever wild goose chase they were on. “I can feel we’re close, but I’m missing something.”

~*~

I'm standing strong
Looking for the reasons
Somewhere Somehow
But I need you now



June 10, 2001

“Michael, good to see you son,” Valenti greeted as he opened the door, holding his hand out and shaking the other man’s hand slightly, knowing that any other show of comfort or affection would make the quiet, young man he’d come to respect uncomfortable. It was one of the few times in his career that he’d been wrong about a person and he was glad for that, marveling at Michael’s growth over the past year. Smiling at the teen tightly, he stepped back and ushered him into the house, sighing as he nodded towards the lit bedroom, already knowing why he was there. “You’re just in time. Tess just got home.”

“Yeah,” Michael nodded stoically, shoving his hands in pockets as he walked through the door and shared a pointed look with the former sheriff. Pulling one hand out, he scratched at his eyebrow absently, his lips compressing at the thought of what his sister and Max had put the remaining three through with their little disappearing act. With everything that had happened, it was irresponsible and unacceptable behavior. How was he supposed to do his job if they were running all over God’s creation without even a by your leave? “Isabel called me to tell me Max had finally shown up.”

“Come on in and have a seat,” the older man sighed, irritated himself with the way the two teens had thoughtlessly up and disappeared without even a call to say they were safe and alive. Being a protector himself, he could sense Michael’s aggravation with his king and queen and hoped he could get through their thick, self-destructive heads. Moving into the room, he knocked on the bedroom door, calling out to the girl inside. “Tess, Michael’s here.”

Walking back to the sofa, he collapsed onto it next to Michael, pressing his hand to his face in exhaustion. He hadn’t gotten a decent night’s sleep since Alex’s death and Liz and Kyle’s…disappearance. Lungs constricting with emotion, he swallowed thickly, his eyes prickling hotly at the thought of the lost teens and inhaled sharply, desperately fighting back the heartache and helpless anger that ate at him like acid burning through his skin. If only…if only.

Rubbing his face over his hand, he faced the stoic teen slumped into the couch next to him and watched him quietly, noticing the strain he fought to keep at bay and his heart ached. He was far too young to shoulder such heavy responsibilities. Michael looked up, fidgeting when he caught him watching him and his eyes darted away to stare at the wall blankly as he seemed to work up the nerve to speak.

“So…” Michael rasped hesitantly, clearing his throat of the lump that seemed to grow in his throat and leaned forward, bracing his forearms on his knees. Clasping his hands together, he flicked an unreadable glance toward the other man before lowering his gaze back to his feet as he licked his lips. “Um, you heard from Amy at all?”

“Yeah, she called a couple days ago,” Valenti responded quietly, watching the young man fidget and leaned his mouth against his hand, patiently waiting for him to ask the questions weighing on his mind. He was glad that Maria and Amy had gotten out of this mess, but he wished it hadn’t been at Michael’s expense, because he knew that the boy genuinely loved Maria.

“That’s good,” Michael replied brusquely, nodding his head in acknowledgment as he lifted it and stared at a picture from prom of the eight of them, after he had finally joined them at the dance to surprise Maria. Throat clenching, he tore his gaze away from the happy smiling faces and blinked back the mist that had formed over his eyes, running a hand through his hair uneasily as he continued. “Um, everything going…okay, there?”

“Yeah, they seem to be settling in well,” Valenti sighed, tearing his eyes way from the boy and looking at the mantle, knowing his scrutiny would make the other boy uncomfortable and likely to clam up. “Maria has her moments, but Amy says she’s starting to heal and she feels the move and the record deal were good for her. Maria still won’t talk about Alex, or you, which Amy doesn’t quite understand, but she’s trying to respect her boundaries. She’s enjoying herself as much as possible.”

“Good,” Michael replied quietly, his voice slightly hoarse and strained as he fought back the hopelessness that threatened to overwhelm him every day. Studying his feet intently, he crammed the welling, useless emotion into the dark, dank hole where so many of his feelings resided, supposedly to be dealt with later, but often built up in his chest like a pressure cooker until he felt he couldn’t breathe. Pressing his lips together, he took a shuddering breath and asked, his voice breaking under the strain. “Any sign of…anything weird?”

“No,” the older man reassured, shifting on the couch to regard the tense, broken young man next to him, sorrow filling his eyes as he noted his tight, ticking jaw and his clenched fists as he battled the pain he tried to push away for the groups sake. “I’ve been keeping tabs on them and from what I can tell, nothing not of this Earth has happened.”

Michael turned from Valenti’s all-too-shrewd, probing gaze to stare out the window blankly, nodding his head in acknowledgment, his body strung tight as a bow. If it weren’t for the fact he needed to talk to Tess, he’d have been out the door by now, running anywhere to get away from the aching loss that was slowly eating him up inside. Rubbing the back of his neck agitatedly, he startled when a large hand clasped his shoulder and his eyes flew to a sympathetic blue gaze. Throat convulsing, he looked away as his eyes burned and misted, his lips trembling just a touch.

“I’m sorry it ended that way, son,” Valenti murmured, trying to impart some comfort on the surprised young man and again realized how far he had distanced himself from the younger generation in his own pain. It was time he started acting like the adult in this group instead of everyone laying all the problems on the boy-man in front of him.

“No, it’s umm..it’s cool,” Michael refuted firmly, shoving his wall back up in place as he shrugged uneasily, his muscles coiling further and fidgeted, desperately wishing that Tess would hurry up. What the hell was taking her so long anyway? Shaking his head, he compressed his lips and ran his hands over his face wearily and continued emotionlessly. “I…I would have messed her up and hurt her anyway. It’s…better this way.”

“It will get easier,” the blue-eyed man assured, backing off as he could see Michael was growing uncomfortable with the emotional display and he didn’t want to push the boy away now that he was finally starting to open up and not be so guarded.

“Yeah,” Michael murmured, scratching his brow and tried to take the words in the light they were meant, to give him some hope that the pain would eventually become tolerable, but he doubted that anything would ever stop it. It seemed that his life was just set to be one tragedy after another. Flicking a glance at the other man, he smiled tightly and nodded. “Sure.”

Looking up as he heard a rustle, Michael nearly sighed with relief when he saw his sister standing in the doorway, watching both men warily as she pushed a strand of wavy blond hair back from her face. He tensed further, his irritation renewing when cool blue eyes met his defiantly and he narrowed his gaze, compressing his lips into a thin line. Jim looked over his shoulder, looking between the two teens with interest before he fixed Tess with a pointed look, intimating they’d discuss her disappearance later. Queen or not, she was still his daughter and she needed to respect that he was her guardian.

Clambering off the couch, he gave Michael’s shoulder a slight squeeze before he turned and headed towards his room to give the two siblings the time to hash out their problems. He had a feeling that Michael was going to be much harsher on the petite blond than he ever would. And in this case, she was deserving of his ire. It had been foolhardy rushing off to God knows where because Max said they needed to do it.

Michael sat up straight, leaning back into the couch, crossing his arms over his chest as his sister slunk into the room quietly and he barely held back the urge to smirk at her defiant demeanor. She usually pulled this act when she knew she was in the wrong and it did his heart good to see that she was slightly nervous about the coming conversation.

“You’re back,” he stated coolly, cocking a brow as he watched her fidget contemplatively, his face devoid of all earlier emotion. He was glad to see her and to have both her and Max home safe and sound, but he and Isabel shouldn’t have had to worry in the first place. If they were going to do this, they had to stop running off heedlessly and start working as a cohesive unit.

“It was last minute, Michael,” she replied quietly, tilting her chin stubbornly as she met his inscrutable bourbon irises and squared her shoulders as she braced herself for her brother’s wrath. “And someone had to be there to keep him in line.”

“And you didn’t see the need to, I don’t know, call?” he snarked, his voice dripping with sarcasm as he clambered off the couch and crossed the distance to hover over his sister menacingly, his eyes alight with anger. “Let us know you were alive?”

“Don’t pull that with me,” Tess snapped, placing her hands on her hips, tipping her head up to glare at the much taller man, impatient with his intimidation tactics. They hadn’t worked in their previous life and they wouldn’t now. “You know as well as I do, we would have felt it if any of us died. Our connection would have severed.”

“Doesn’t tell me if you’re safe,” he ground out between clenched teeth, his jaw ticking as images of her and Max lying in on a gurney in a white room flashed before his eyes, further fueling his anger. “Or if you’ve been hurt. What if something had happened? You should have told me where you were going in case I needed to come after you.”

“We went to see Kal,” she replied, shrugging her shoulders as she held her ground, feeling a faint hint of remorse as she caught his thoughts through their sibling bond. Sighing, she rubbed her eyes wearily and reminded herself once again that she was now part of a tight group and couldn’t just act on her own anymore. “We were fine.”

“The other protector that deserted his post?” he scoffed, reeling around to pace the room as he turned that information through his head. In a way, it had been a smart move as the alien might have information they didn’t, but foolish nonetheless as Kal had shown he was far from loyal with his desertion. “Forgive me if that doesn’t reassure me any.”

“We just wanted to find out if he had any clue who might have been behind Kyle and Liz’s abduction,” she murmured, running her hand through her hair thoughtfully. Not that it did them much good, as the former protector didn’t seem to give a damn about his former charges let alone their human allies. “Whether he’d heard anything.”

“And?” Michael prompted, halting his agitated movement through the room, eyeing his sister thoughtfully and crossing his hands over his chest, highly doubtful that the defector had any clue what his own charges had been up to let alone two humans. He made a mental note to have a little discussion with the man about his decampment at a later date.

“He didn’t,” Tess muttered reluctantly, wincing as her brother snorted bitterly and tossed her an ‘I told you so’ look before turning to stare out the window, scrubbing a hand through his hair with frustration. Her heart ached knowing that he had held a small hope through his disbelief that Kal could help. “But he reluctantly agreed to look into the matter.”

“And you believe him?” he snorted, shaking his head as one more avenue closed. Closing his eyes he braced his hands on the windowsill and pressed his forehead to the cool glass, his mind whirling a mile a minute as he analyzed the options left to him. They were few and far between.

“He doesn’t have a choice,” she chuckled mirthlessly, shaking her head at the way the protector had tried to squirm out of his duties to the royal family until Max demonstrated he didn’t have a choice in the matter. “He can’t refuse a direct order from the king. It was the same with Nasedo.”

“Convenient for Max,” Michael sniped, his shoulders slumping in exhaustion, his lips stretched thin as he turned around and leaned against a wall, his head tipped towards to the ceiling so that the petite blond couldn’t see the disappointment shining in his eyes. The longer this went on, the harder it was to shore up his wall of indifference.

“Michael,” she implored, swallowing thickly and her throat clenched as she read the lines of fatigue and distress growing deeper in his face with every passing day. Fidgeting, she toyed with a ring on her finger, desperately wanting to comfort the man in front of her, but Nasedo had never been demonstrative and she didn’t have any idea of how to approach her brother, especially when he was in stonewall mode.

“Look, I’m not going to get on you for leaving. I’m glad you were with him to keep him from doing anything stupid,” he replied tightly, warding off her sympathy with a swipe of his hand and lowered his head to meet soft, empathetic blue eyes, cursing his lack of control. Striding over to her, he towered over her quietly and vowed darkly. “But if you leave and don’t tell me again, I will track you down and when I find you, neither of you are going to like me. Especially Max.”

“Wow,” she murmured in wonder, eyes widening slightly, awestruck by the fierce, protective light glinting in his eyes, and fearing for Max when Michael caught up to him. Biting back a smile, she couldn’t help the small warm glow the stole across her heart at his words, feeling truly wanted for the first time in her short life. “You’ve really gotten the hang of this big brother thing.”

“Yeah, well…” he muttered gruffly, shifting uneasily under her surprised stare and looked over her shoulder for a moment before turning back and shrugging, rubbing his palm over the nape of his neck uncomfortably as he stared at his toes. “Someone has to watch out for you and Isabel.”

“How is Isabel?” she queried cautiously, squirming uncomfortably when he pinned her with an incredulous look and dipped her head, looking at her toes as if fascinated. A trickle of guilt burned in her stomach as she realized just how abandoned the other girl must be feeling since she’d been far too caught up in keeping Max together.

“Not good,” Michael responded bluntly, his irritation flaring as he recalled how broken and stressed his other sister had been the past three days because of her brother’s self-centered actions. “She lost just as much, if not more than, Max, if he’d actually pay attention to anyone other than himself.”

“He’s just…in a bad place right now,” Tess finished lamely, flinching as heated whiskey eyes pinned her implacably, his lips thinning and she could tell her brother was holding onto his temper by the thinnest of margins and shuddered – she really didn’t want to be in Max’s shoes when Michael read him the riot act. But maybe that’s what he needed.

“And the rest of us aren’t?” he retorted angrily and clenched his hands into fists as he felt the familiar hum of his powers flicker through his skin, desperately clawing at him to find release. Turning his back on her he strode back to the window, not fully trusting his ability to keep his powers from flaring and inadvertently hurting her. “Isabel can barely sleep and hasn’t eaten in two days because she’s been too stressed and worried about him. Their parents are hounding her for answers she can’t give!"

I can’t sleep without waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because I see Kyle’s car over and over in my dreams,” he continued, whipping his head around, eyes glimmering with anguish in the low light. “Only this time, he and Liz are in it, cold and lifeless. So, don’t expect me to feel sympathy for his Royal Highness’ breakdown. We are all dealing with the consequences.”

“I know,” she replied quietly, watching him with concerned eyes as she crossed the room hesitantly, coming to a standstill behind his rigid form and bit her lower lip, reaching out a hand hesitantly to touch his arm. Flinching when he jolted, she almost turned away, feeling slightly rejected, but stayed her place when he looked down and his face softened just a tad, the power pouring off his body cooling as she drained it away as she used to when they were small and living in another place and time. “I-I’ll talk to him.”

“And Isabel?” he asked, his voice still hoarse from the power and memories flooding his system and he forced himself to take several deep breaths, each drag of air loosing the tension from coiling muscles. Licking his lips, he studied his sister thoughtfully, grateful for whatever twist of fate that brought her into his life as he’d wanted a family for so long, and murmured. “You should talk to her. God knows we’ve lost enough people without purposely shutting each other out. The only way we’re going to survive is if we start acting like a unit.”

“I’ll call Isabel in a couple of days,” she nodded, blinking back tears and trembling slightly as she once again felt that flare of warmth and recognized it as hope, an emotion she had all but given up on while living with Nasedo. It nearly overwhelmed her in its intensity and she pulled away, afraid to have it crushed once more. “Schedule some girl time.”

“Good,” he replied, nodding as he moved towards the door, before turning back and drawing her into an awkward half-hug, giving a little squeeze and releasing her before she had a chance to react. Striding toward the door, he opened it swiftly, nodding at her quietly and scratching his brow, haltingly said before walking out. “I…I’m glad you’re back. I…uh…missed you.”

“Me too,” she whispered to the air, a watery smile sliding over her face as she stared out the window at his retreating back and gave a shaky laugh as she her eyes misted over. Swallowing thickly, she turned away as he rode off into the night, pressing her fingers to her mouth, hopeful that she finally found where she belonged for the first time in her life.
~*~

(I will) I will promise to stand by you
Until this ends
(I will) I will promise to stand by you
Until this ends

June 20, 2001


“Any word from…?” Tess trailed off quietly from her perch on Max’s bed as she watched the dark-haired boy pace back and forth, his brow damp with perspiration and sporting a pinched, haunted moue, as he’d been doing after his meeting with Michael. While she felt bad for him, Michael had a point. Max was getting far too careless in his actions and it wasn’t just himself that he would bring down if he got caught.

“No, nothing,” he responded listlessly, running a hand through his hair as he turned fatigued, shadowed golden eyes toward the petite blond who had become his rock during the past month. Swallowing harshly, he sometimes wondered where he’d be without her standing by his side to pull him back from the brink; he'd probably be locked up tight in a padded room. “Not that I expected him to find anything despite Michael’s refusal to accept…”

Swallowing thickly, he closed his eyes, pain flashing across his face as his voice trailed off, unable to complete the thought and he drew a deep, shaky breath as he swiped a hand over his haggard, unshaven face. Biting back a moan of anguish, he stared off into space as he once again searched for Liz through a phantom connection, shoulders slumping when he felt nothing but emptiness. He should know better by now, but he couldn’t help himself and the haunting hollowness sliced through him like razors every time.

“Well, we knew it was a long shot speaking to Kal,” she murmured, drawing Max out of his dark thoughts and snapping him back into his pacing as he mulled things over in his mind. He didn’t want to believe that they were gone for good, but nothing else made sense. Shaking his head, he focused back onto Tess as she concluded. “Especially with his lack of interest in our dupes. I had just hoped…”

“Me too,” he rasped, sitting down into his desk chair heavily, moving it in front of her before splaying his legs shoulder-width apart, back coiled and leaned over, bracing his elbows on his knees as he dropped his head into his hands, staring blankly at the floor.

“We’ll figure it out,” she reassured, moving to the edge of his bed in front of him, dropping a comforting hand on his arm and rubbing it gently, smiling slightly when he looked up and flashed her a weak smile. “We’ll find them, Max. I’m sure of it.”

“What if…what if they’re…gone?” he stammered, his voice breaking and eyes dulling with anguish as he met her gaze, a faint sheen of wetness coating his light amber eyes and he quickly glanced away to rein in his emotions before he broke down once more.

“Do you really believe that?” Tess asked quietly, watching him with concern and compassion, taking his hand in hers when it dropped to hang limply over his knee. Stroking the back of his hand with her thumb, she sighed as she watched confusion, pain, anger and helplessness cloud his features.

“I don’t know what to believe anymore,” he mumbled helplessly, shrugging his shoulders and toying with her fingers absently as he tried to put his thoughts into words. “I can’t feel her, Tess. That link, it’s just gone. As if it had never been…as if she’s…I can’t even talk to anyone about it because who would understand? It’s like there is this hole inside me that can’t be filled…”

“I know,” she sighed, ignoring the flash of pain that his words brought her as this wasn’t about her and her insecurities, but the need to get him through this because she had a bad feeling that they were going to need their strength, all of them. “But Max, you can’t keep this up. You’re pushing everyone away and we need to stand together right now, otherwise our enemies will have succeeded.”

“I know,” he snapped, his response coming a bit more harsh than he intended and sighed, scrubbing his face with his hand as Tess flinched visibly, pulling away, her eyes hardening and her lips pressed into a thin line, regarding him with a cool look. He hadn’t meant to snap at her, but her words were eerily close to the argument he had with Michael and put him on the defensive again.

“Do you?” she queried, her voice tight with hurt and a touch of impatience. Withdrawing, she sat back, drawing her legs up Indian-style and coolly quirked a brow, her lips flattening further. “Because you’ve been avoiding Isabel for weeks and it has to end.”

“It just... hurts to talk to her and know that Alex is dead because…because of what we are,” he replied, hurt flashing through his eyes when she leveled him with an impatient look and he swallowed harshly, fumbling through the rest of his explanation. “I see the pain in her eyes, the loss and it tears me up inside that I couldn’t spare her that pain.”

“Maybe you weren’t supposed to,” she suggested, hurting for him as she knew Alex’s death, and realizing it was indeed alien related, destroyed him, but he took far too much responsibility for it and turning away from a loved one in their time of need was just selfish. “You can’t protect her, protect us from everything Max. You are king, not God.”

Max looked away, remaining silent as he listened to the tiny blond, marveling at how much she’d changed from the girl she’d been when she’d first arrived in Roswell. He never, in his wildest dreams, would have imagined her delivering a lecture on the importance of family or supporting Michael in his quest to find Liz and Kyle. Watching her from the corner of his eye, he had to admit he liked who she was growing into under Michael and Jim’s care.

“She’s your sister, Max,” Tess continued, unaware that she had garnered his attention, and slid from the bed to walk over to his desk. Looking at the pictures he had recently added to his note board, her heart panging as she focused on a prom picture, the eight of them smiling happily, and silently vowed she’d keep the rest of the group together if it was the last thing she did. “And she needs you, just as much as you need her. Talk to her.”

“You’re right,” he murmured, sitting back and watching a young girl morph into the strong, determined queen she must have been right before his eyes, swallowing harshly, a little in awe by the power she harnessed as she spun around to look at him. Looking away hastily, he nodded and assured her. “I’ll talk to her tonight.”

“And Michael?” she pressed, knowing that if they were going to make it through whatever game the enemy was playing, Max had to mend his rift with Michael as well, otherwise all of this would have been in vain. Crossing her arms over her chest, she pinned him with a pointed look and waited for him to acknowledge the need to mend fences with the other man as well.

“I’ll try…it’s hard to talk to him,” Max stuttered, slightly taken aback at the ferocity in her gaze and the strength that she radiated, shocked that she would pin him to the wall when the others usually were happy to let him wallow, waiting for him to come around on his own. “He blames me. I can see it in his eyes.”

“He blames himself,” she refuted succinctly, cutting off his pointless and fallacious argument. It always amazed her that two men who had been so close in two lifetimes could still misunderstand each other so greatly. They didn’t have time for this if they were going to survive. “What you see is his own guilt and anger with himself, not you.”

“Yeah, maybe. But part of him blames me too,” he muttered defensively, re-evaluating his initial thoughts on her development; she was taking on some of Michael’s bad habits. Breathing out an agitated breath, he sat back and looked out his window, studiously avoiding her hard gaze. “If I hadn’t argued with Liz, she and Kyle wouldn’t have left and they wouldn’t be missing.”

“God, what is it with you Antarian men? You both were as bad on Antar, shouldering all the responsibility and blame for events you couldn’t change,” Tess snorted bitterly, shaking her head as she studied the pouting boy and missed the strong king he had once been. One that still resided inside him if he’d just learn to trust his instincts and stop questioning his every move. “If the enemy hadn’t gotten to them after the funeral, they would have found another way. Maybe even sneaking into their rooms in the dead of night. Blaming yourselves will solve nothing!”

Max sat quietly, his mind whirling at the implications of her words, seeing the wisdom and knowledge behind them, yet unable to relinquish the guilt that ate him up on a daily basis. He’d pushed Liz to the point that she felt she had to search for answers alone, and no one could shoulder that blame other than himself. He’d known deep down that Alex’s death was suspicious, but fearing the implications had ignored the possibilities until it was far too late.

“You’re right,” he sighed, nodding in acknowledgment as he slumped in his seat wearily and leaned over, bracing his weight on his knees once more, his eyes flitting over the room nervously, a quiet hopelessness filling his expression as he realized that there was really nothing he could have done to prevent Liz and Kyle’s disappearance. “I know you’re right, but…”

“No buts, Max,” Tess retorted softly, her expression implacable, losing patience as she watched him sink back into his self-pity routine and frustration coursed through her veins as she pointed at him, shaking her head. “We can’t help them with the group fractured. We need each other more than ever, because I have a bad feeling this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better and we need strong leaders, not little boys too wrapped up in their own blame to function! You are not the only one suffering here! Get over yourself!”

Max snapped back as if slapped, her harsh words stunning him and finally breaking through the fog that he’d been wrapping around himself. Licking his lips, he met her eyes warily, staring at the commanding young queen standing before him, and couldn’t help but admire her fortitude. She must have been hell to be reckoned with on Antar.

“I…I don’t know what to do,” he confessed softly, looking away uncomfortably, her strength making him feel woefully inadequate as a leader and shrugged helplessly. What did he know about leading people? He was a teenager, whose greatest problem until last year, had been keeping a low profile so no one discovered his secret. Now he was expected to make decisions on matters he barely understood. “I don’t know how to be a king….”

“And you think I do?” she asked softly, the irritation draining from her shoulders as she took in his lost expression and knew that this wouldn’t be an easy transition for either of them, but there were too many people relying on them for direction to sink back into their previous roles. “I’m a teenager, not a queen. But we don’t have a choice. Liz and Kyle are out there somewhere and they need our help. I agree with Michael, we would have known immediately if they were dead.”

“But the connection…” he began hesitantly, reaching out to it once again without thought and still feeling nothing but emptiness, the phantom echo of her slicing through him once more. Cursing, he needed to find a way to stop this before he tore himself up.

“There are multiple reasons for why and how that connection could have been severed,” Tess replied, sighing as that moment of breakthrough seemed to slip away once more, but no more. She’d tried being kind and sympathetic, hoping that it would help, and it had done nothing but enable him to slip further into his funk. So if she had to be a bitch, she would.

“I can’t do this…” he panicked, his lungs constricting as he felt the ties of obligation and duty wrap around him, sinking him deeper into the abyss than he’d ever wanted to go. He had spent so much of his life fitting in and ignoring his alien heritage, all he’d wanted was to be normal, but life seemed determined to remind him he was less than human no matter what he did. “I can’t shoulder this…”

“You can and you will,” she commanded as she steeled her backbone, through with coddling him in this instance. “Do you know what your biggest problem was on Antar? You always tried to shoulder all the responsibility and refused to lean on anyone. Don’t make the same mistakes here. You are not alone in this…you have three other people, willing and able to help. They won last time because our foursquare fell apart; don’t let them win this time because of your stubbornness.”

Tess leaned back against the desk, silent while her words sunk in before walking over to him and kneeled down in front of him, taking his hands in hers. Taking a deep breath, she met uncertain golden eyes with her own trusting gaze, letting him see the belief she held in him. “You were a good king and can be again if you’d just stop questioning yourself. I believed in you then and I believe in you now.”

Max swallowed thickly, keeping his gaze anchored with steady blue eyes that glowed with trust, respect and a faith he didn’t feel he deserved in this lifetime and probably hadn’t deserved in the last if her memories were any indication. Yet, he couldn't help the hope that flooded through his body that one day he’d be able to live up to her faith. Taking a shuddering breath, he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and smiled weakly, nodding his head quietly. “I can’t do this alone.”

“And you won’t have to,” she vowed, a soft smile touching her lips as she fed him some of her own strength and belief, nearly sighing with relief as his resolve seemed to get stronger with every passing moment. Maybe there was a chance they’d get out of this yet. Squeezing his hands, she cocked her head slightly and promised without hesitation. “I will stand by your side every moment.”

~*~
So how can I go on?
When you're breaking down
It's tearing me apart
So keep me strong
I need you to save me now
Save me now, Save me now
Cause I’m breaking down

~Breaking Down, Trust Company
Last edited by Ashita on Sun Aug 08, 2010 2:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Ashita
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Re: Redemption (UC, Mi/L, ADULT) Part 5 11/11/10

Post by Ashita » Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:24 am

Barbara - Thanks so much! it was a difficult chapter and this one was even worse to write, but thankfully it's done. Hope everything is well with you. I haven't seen you around much and was thinking about you.

Jenna - Glad you liked it. :) Ah yes...the prophecy, well, sorry to say, you only get a little bit of the prophecy for now. Come on...you know me...when do I ever reveal it all at once. lol! :) Thanks for the comments and bump!

Behrstars - Glad you liked the chapter...we're getting into the tough part, so here we go!

K - Yeah I know...how could I leave it there? Although you should be used to me now. I'm glad you liked the break and yes, it was the calm before the storm as from here on out it's going to continue getting dark. This chapter was incredibly hard to write and honestly, I had more trouble writing Kyle's part than Liz's. Thanks for the comments and for watching over my fics while I'm in NaNo madness.

Jan - I'm glad that you like this story and that it's your favorite despite the dark themes running through it. It certainly is the most challenging of my stories and one I derive a lot of satisfaction as well when a chapter is finished. Sorry to keep up awake though! I'll message you and let you know it's up so you can read them chapter to chapter now.

Alexceasar - Thank you! I'm glad that you are liking the story so far and that the emotional resonance rings through as I put a lot of my own emotion into this story. Probably why each chapter takes so much out of me. Thanks for the comments and here's hoping you like the new chapter

Whims - And as always, I must include a hug thanks to you for your support, beta skills and just over all listening to me rant or plot for this story as well as my others. You so rock!


AN: A very firm warning, while not especially graphic, this chapter contains scenes of physical and sexual abuse and thus has an ADULT rating. I know I state that in the the beginning, but be forewarned that this fic is going to take a dark turn starting now. This chapter may contain scenes that will make people squeamish. Here we go....
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hopeless


Here I lie forever
Sorrow still remains



June 6, 2001

Liz laid on her bed, curled up, staring at the room listlessly, her typically sparkling, curious gaze dulled by the past month, her hair clumped and matted, barely recognizable from the shiny, meticulously groomed girl she had been weeks ago. Caring for herself seemed so pointless given her situation and part of her used this as a defense mechanism, hoped it would keep Rath away from her. Hope – she had so little of that as the days passed without a word or the sight of her friends, so she clung to the threads that remained, even if it was wrapped in the fruitless wish to stall what she knew was inevitable.

Sliding her eyes shut, she sighed as she tried to fight the waves of hopelessness washing over her and shuddered as she thought back to that day in Alex’s room. God, what if they didn’t even care if she and Kyle were missing after everything she had said to them? And could she really blame them if they decided she wasn’t worth rescuing? Dragging air into her constricted lungs, she shook her head violently and pushed off the dark thoughts, her throat tightening and a tear slid over her cheek as pain flashed through her heart.

No, she wouldn’t think that way. It’s what Lonnie, Rath and Nicolas wanted her to believe so that she would feel lost and alone, so that she’d betray her friends and that would never happen. Strengthening her resolve, she crawled off her bed, walking into the bathroom to wash up, finally disgusting herself with the layer of sweat and dirt on her body. Her rebellion hadn’t done any good anyway, since Rath could just take care of that with a swipe of his hand and maybe feeling clean on the outside will help shunt off some of the darkness clinging on the inside.

Shedding her hated shift, she stepped under the steaming water, allowing the water to wash over her rivulets, her eyes pricking hotly as a sob rose up into her throat, the tears she refused to shed in the open, slipping hotly down her face. Pressing her hands to the tiles, she dipped her head, slowly sinking to her knees, slumping over to press her head against the bottom of the tub as the hot water washed over her, expelling the pain and fear that ate her up inside with each passing day. She was barely aware of the sobs echoing through the room as she tried to reach out to her friends, but despite what Ava said, she didn’t see any powers developing.

Helpless and alone, she wrapped her hands around her body, memories of the past weeks fighting to break through her carefully constructed wall she’d built to try and retain some of her sanity, but they were harder to hold at bay when she was this weakened. Stiffening, her body convulsed, bile rising in her throat as the first of the memories crashed over her senses, praying that the water falling would help purge that particular blackness from her heart, draining it like so much gangrene to her soul.


Will the water pull me down
And wash it all away?


“What’s the matter, pet? Not who yous was expecting?” Rath murmured against her ear, brushing his lips over the skin, smirking when she shuddered helplessly and caressing her legs tauntingly, he pried her knees apart, falling against her heavily, pressing her into the bed, ignoring her indignant gasp. Gripping her hips, his fingers bit into the soft flesh leaving behind bruises and he laughed when pain flashed across her face and she bucked against him, trying to dislodge him from her body. “Mmmm, do that again, sweets. I loves it when you get feisty. Gets me all hot and hard.”

“Fuck you,” she hissed, glaring at the man hatefully, trembling as fear and anger coursed through her veins. Pressing her heels into the bed, she grasped the metal rails of the bed and struggled to pull her body from under his, breath harsh and labored but quickly stilled, a chill chasing down her spine as she felt evidence her struggles really were exciting the perverse man. Swallowing harshly, she trembled as he chuckled at her terrified expression.

“I’s trying, but yous being uncooperative,” he protested mockingly and smirked as he gripped her thighs, pinning her when she tried to scoot away from him. Pressing her down with his lower body, he wrapped his arms around her waist, crushing her to him, pressing a light kiss to her neck and rubbed against her suggestively, reveling in her outraged growl as she struggled once more.

“Forgive me for having taste,” she spat, voice dripping with sarcasm, body shuddering with disgust and anguish, her stomach roiling as she desperately fought to get away. Fixing him with an enraged grimace, she yanked at her binds and bit back a grunt of frustration when she remained firmly bound to the headboard, snarling as he tightened his hold. “I prefer my men to have a soul.”

Rath threw his head back and laughed, staring down at the flushed, irate woman beneath him, pressing her harder against his body, getting a perverse thrill from every disgusted grunt and outraged cry passing her lips. God she was a firecracker.

“Oh, I’s gonna love taming you, pet,” he purred silkily, breath labored from their struggle and some darker passion brought to life by his prize’s fight, heat flowing through his blood as he licked her neck. Damn, he would envy the would-be king and his dupe if he didn’t have her in his hands right now. Straddling her, he reached between them, ripping the neck of her gown open, licking his lips and grinning at her terrified cry, as he stared at the bounty before him. “Fuck me, but yous sweet.”

“No!” Liz cried, panicked tears leaking from her eyes, sliding over her face, exhaustion setting in but determined to prevent anything her perverse captor might attempt. Mind whirling, she was trying to figure out a way to dislodge him once more when he caged her in once more, dipping his head near her head. Eyes widening, the breath stalled in her lungs as he nudged her thighs further apart, pressing hot, stiff flesh firmly against her core and she released a small, hiccough from the back of her throat.

“So cute. Yous say that as if yous actually believe yous can stop me,” he panted against her ear, pressing his lips against her jaw, sliding soft kisses along it and over her cheek, fondling her breasts roughly, grinning at her disgusted grunt. Pressing his nose to hers, he met her dark gaze, terror and anger swimming in their depths, lips hovering over hers. “Yous forget yous self, Elizabeth. I hardly need yous permission.”

She froze, her blood chilling at the implication of his words, heart thudding in her ears and her eyes widened further in alarm, her breathing stuttering as she stilled her movements, staring at her captor in terrified disbelief.

“Good, I see we’s finally gets each other. Is it going to be the easy or the hard way, sweets?” he asked coolly, grabbing her jaw in a vise-like grip, bringing her mouth to his for a short, hard kiss. Pulling back, he fixed fiery whiskey eyes on tear-stained chocolate and smiled coldly. “Tell me where the granilith is.”

Liz stared at him, anguished tears streaming down her face. Taking a shuddering breath, she squeezed her eyes shut, her body going limp, too tired to fight him anymore and head spinning with whatever drug that was still running through her system. Opening her eyes, face etched with resignation, she fixed her captor with a cold, determined gaze.

“Never, you sadistic bastard,” she stated quietly, steely determination ringing through the room, drawing in short shaky breaths, still terrified but resolved. “Do what you want, but I’ll never tell you anything.”

“The hard way, good by me,” he whispered, caressing her cheek with a surprising gentleness that only made her cringe further and he hovered over her lips, staring at her with those familiar, yet alien eyes. “Such fire. I can’t wait to make you mine. How do you feels about being my queen, sweets?”

Not giving her a chance to answer, he pressed his mouth firmly to hers and used her startled gasp to his advantage, snaking his tongue between trembling lips to tease hers into submission. He grunted slightly as that elusive taste that’s haunted him since their kiss in the hall burst over his tongue and deepened the kiss, losing himself momentarily. He moaned softly when she sucked his bottom lip into her mouth then swore violently when teeth ripped into pink flesh, blood trickling from the rent.

“I’d rather die!” she spat into her bloodied captor’s face, jerking away from his grip when he snapped back enraged. Wiping the blood from his mouth, he backhanded her across her left cheek, sending her senses reeling, stars exploding behind her eyes, ears ringing as her head snapped to the side.

“Careful what you wish for sweets,” he growled, grabbing her by the throat and pressing her into the bed, constricting her air supply slightly as he leaned over to press his lips to her ear, pinning her squirming body. Flicking his tongue over the soft flesh slowly, he smiled slyly as her body shuddered under his. “Nothing says I have to keep yous alive after yous filled your purpose. ‘Sides…you might find yous like being mine.”

~
Digging her nails into her palms, she drew a shuddering breath, anguish flowing through her blood, burning in her breast like poison, yet she couldn’t help feeling a little thankful that all he had done was threaten her so far, but she had a sinking feeling that she hadn’t seen anything yet, that the worse was to come.

What had he meant by becoming his queen?

Choking back the urge to gag, she hoped he didn’t mean what she thought he was implying. Shivering as fear chased her cold fingers down her spine, she shook herself free from that thought, not allowing it to drag her down into that black abyss that threatened to overwhelm her, only to have it replaced by yet another memory.

Come and take me over
Welcome to the game


Gasping as something jerked her into consciousness, her head spinning dizzily, Liz blinked open blurry, gritty eyes and cringed as bright light flared overhead, forcing her to clench dry, caked eyes shut, tears seeping from beneath her lids to ease the sting and wash away the grit of sleep. Or had she been asleep? Her mind whirled sickly, a faint sour, almost medicinal taste coating her tongue as cool metal pressed into her back and what felt like a drug-induced haze enveloped her body.

The last thing she remembered was Rath letting her loose from her binds after a guard brought in a tray of food and leaving after watching to make sure she ate, his eyes sliding over her salaciously the entire meal. After all, he didn’t want her wasting away while in his care, he said, chuckling when she sneered at him, but ate nonetheless, fearing what might happen if she refused and knowing she needed her strength to escape.

The food. Of course, they had drugged the food. It’s why he made sure she consumed it before groping her once more, forcing her to endure another harsh, possessive kiss before leaving her to consider everything he said.

Moaning low in her throat, she drew a deep breath to quell the rising tide of nausea swirling in her stomach, her limbs tingling slightly as if they had fallen asleep or they were under the influence of anesthesia or still working through whatever poison they had pumped into her system. Tugging at her arms limply, fear pulsed through her system as she realized that, although not restrained, she couldn’t move and some invisible force held her in paralysis.

Her eyes snapped open, her breath coming in sharp pants as she struggled against the force fruitlessly, her limbs weak, limp and useless to her demands, a small whimper bubbling over her lips as she became aware of voices wavering around her, talking in hushed whispers just out of earshot but coming closer. Cringing internally as she picked up the familiar rasp of Rath’s voice, she trembled; panic sluicing over her coldly as his threats and covetous looks flashed through her mind.

Oh, dear God…not now, not this way.

“We’ve ran the required tests, sir,” a male physician rumbled from behind his surgical mask, fixing cool blue eyes onto the tall, impatient hybrid at his side. Rath lofted an inquisitive brow and gestured for the man to get on with it. “She’s perfectly healthy as you expect as well as untouched.”

“Untouched? Yous mean she’s cherry?” Rath asked, his brows shooting up with surprise, before a smug, supremely satisfied smirk spread across his face as he came to a standstill over her prone form, his leer and finger trailing over her thigh eliciting a trickle of terror down her spine as their eyes clashed, his filled with a heat she didn’t want to explore, hers icing in horrified anger. Cocking his brow in challenge, he licked his lips, gripping her knee as he turned back to his companion with a questioning gaze. “Why is she still here then?”

“One last test to undergo,” the doctor shrugged carelessly, stepping up on her other side, fiddling with something on a tray just out of her line of sight. Not that she was focused on him, too caught up in her staring contest with her captor; that is until the other man’s words ripped through her, her terror reaching new heights as she renewed her struggles, helpless fear and rage crashing over her, making her scream internally. “We want to harvest a few eggs. Make sure that she’s compatible.”

Whipping her head towards the doctor, her eyes flared, a choked cry caught in the back of her throat as the man turned nonchalantly, the light catching and gleaming on a thin scalpel and she fought the paralysis for all she was worth, her muscles strung tight as he moved towards her. Clenching her eyes shut, she shuddered, her body growing cold and numb as a latex hand grasped the edge of her gown, slowly pulling it up, an outraged gasp spilling over her lips when Rath returned just as nonchalantly before walking away.

“She will be; she’s the one theys talkin’ about. I feels it in my gut. But let me know what yous find.”


Will the current drag me down
And carry me away?
Suddenly the light begins to fade...


Liz watched the door carefully, knowing it was close to the time that the guards would be bringing her dinner and her body tensed as she waited in anticipation. Rath, Lonnie and Nicholas were supposed to be gone searching for something of importance tonight and she was planning to use that to her advantage, hoping to get out of the compound before anyone could catch her.

Guilt rippled through her stomach as she realized she’d have to leave Kyle behind if this was to work, but comforted herself with the thought that if she made it, she could come back with the others to rescue him. And if she didn’t make it, no need to get him hurt for her defiance. She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if he got hurt because of her.

Licking her lips, she came back to herself as her doorknob rattled and she pulled back to the side a little so that the guard wouldn’t see her attack until the last minute. Holding her breath, her muscles bunched as the door slowly swung open, adrenaline pounding through her veins, setting her heart racing, hammering in her ears and her gaze narrowed to a pinpoint as she focused on her prey, a detriment as she missed the figure hulking behind him. She’d been waiting for this moment for three weeks.

Flying out of her hiding space, she tripped the guard, bringing her hand down on the back of his neck forcefully as her dad had taught her when he decided she needed to learn how to defend herself in such situations. The guard and tray crashed to the floor heavily as she whirled around, preparing to rush out the door, blanching as a familiar face caught her peripheral when Rath rushed her, snagging her around the waist and throwing her across the room, her head smacking the wall with a sickening thud as she slid to a halt.

Pain exploded through her skull, nausea rolling through her stomach and she winced as loud voices filled the room, guards scurrying to remove their incapacitated fellow and clean up the tray. The clattering and dull roar scraped over her raw nerves and added to the pain reverberating through her head. Rolling to her stomach, she haltingly tried to push herself onto her knees but fell back onto her side heavily as the world swum around her and another wave of nausea washed through her body. Panting, she curled into a ball, closing her eyes to block out the light and shut out the face of the man hovering over her menacingly.

Wincing as the door slammed shut behind the guards, she concentrated on drawing air into her lungs as the nausea and pain slowly subsided and cringed as she heard the faint shuffle of steps that alerted her to the fact that she wasn’t alone. Fear flowed through her blood, chilling her to the bone, clearing the remnants of haze from her gaze as she opened her eyes to find piercing, enraged bourbon eyes raking over her. Cowering against the wall, her eyes darted around the room frantically, searching for a way out and her panicked gaze lit on the bathroom door.

Steeling herself she pushed off the floor, staggering to her feet, her body swaying slightly as she broke for the bathroom. She didn’t really expect to make it, but part of her refused to submit to this captivity; it was the part that kept her from sinking completely into darkness, the part that kept her sane in a world that had gone mad. But of course it was fruitless as her captor growled low in his throat, grabbing her by the hair and yanking her back to him and slammed her against the wall, pinning her to it with his body.

Swallowing thickly, breath labored, she watched him warily as he studied her intently, those cold whiskey eyes for once burning with an intense heat as he caged her in. They studied each other silently, each breathing harshly as he pressed his nose to hers, gazes fused, hers burning with defiant terror and his with chilling anger. Sliding his hand over her body, he wrapped his hand around her throat, nearly encompassing the slender body part with his large hand and he pressed his lips to her ear, clamping down slightly against her throat.

“Did you honestly think yous could escape me?” he whispered heatedly, his breath hot and harsh against her skin as he bit the lobe sharply, laughing softly when she cried out in pain and shuddered in revulsion. Licking her along her neck as he adjusted them against the wall so that her legs now wrapped around his waist, his hips pressing her to the cold concrete, his rapidly hardening erection notched against her core.

“You weren’t supposed to be here,” she bit out, pushing against his chest to put distance between them and grunted with frustration as he just pressed back harder, rubbing against her suggestively. Gagging, she switched tactics, wrapping her hands into his hair and yanking as hard as she could to remove his mouth, which was currently latched to her neck, only to have him moan in pleasure and bite down on her neck forcefully, a disgusted grunt bubbling over her lips. “Or was that a trick?”

“Change of plans,” he murmured, pulling back to admire the bright purple brand he’d left on her skin and pressed his face against her neck, his body twitching with the need to claim this girl, whether she wanted it or not was of little concern to him. Actually he liked the fight in her, it turned him on, made him feel powerful as he’d been on Antar and he vowed that tonight, he’d act on it. “ ‘Sides why would I’s want to leave, when I has you to entertain me?”

“In your dreams,” she grated, here body stiff and rigid in his arms and she clenched her eyes shut, trying to remove herself from the situation, to go somewhere else, some place safe where she didn’t have to face the reality that this man, who looked so much like her friend, and was determined to have her. Swallowing the bitter acid coating her mouth and throat, she flinched when his hands stroked over her thighs, pushing the material of her shift up further.

“Oh yes, I do dream of yous, pet,” he agreed readily, pressing a soft kiss to her mouth, a caress so tender it made her cringe and she pulled back as if burned, anger flashing through her eyes as she renewed her fight, crying out when he pulled away from the wall to wrap an arm around her back pinning her arms to her sides and her chest to his as he watched her, his eyes lighting with a dark warning. “Every night. You will be mine make no mistake on that.”

“I’d rather fuck Lonnie,” she needled, hoping the comment would bruise his ego and maybe, just maybe get him to leave like her taunting words had done before. But her words only earned her a cocked brow and an amused chuckle as he pinned her to the wall once more and got into her face, the warmth draining out of his eyes.

“Careful…she might take yous up on that as I hears your boy isn’t all that responsive to her charms,” he warned in a low, dangerous voice, his face hovering just an inch above hers as their gazes locked and a chill ran through her body at the menace that filled his. Running a hand over her cheek softly, he grabbed her chin in a steel grip, whispering darkly against her mouth. “Don’t try this again, Elizabeth.”

“Or what?” she taunted, her eyes glittering with cold rage, an ice cold chill enveloping her body at the thought of her best friend, knowing from a flash on the first day that he’d died at the hands of her captors. For that alone, she would gladly kill the man in front of her once she got free. “You’ll kill me as you did Alex?”

“Oh no, pet, I needs you alive for what I has planned,” he lofted airily, smirking as wariness filled her eyes once more before his face hardened, his eyes growing cool and distant, his voice harsh and threatening. “I’ll do worse than that. Yous little buddy in the other room can takes much more of a beating than yous can and he isn’t needed.”

“Or better yet, how tragic would it be if yous little friends and family back in Roswell were to all be having lunch and boom! All dying in a terrible ‘accidental’ explosion,” he threatened coldly, his lips quirking slyly when she paled and grew faint at his words, upping his threat when he recalled a flash he’d gotten from her about his dupe. “Shouldn’t be too hard to rig the grill to explode when it turns on. Doesn’t yous king second work that grill? Well he’d die for sure. Along with yous dad in the office. If yous lucky the others might get away with nothing more than burns or smoke inhalation.”

“Do we understand each other, Elizabeth?” he queried silkily, a disturbingly pleasant smile sliding his across his face as he studied the ashen, shaky girl in front of him as she nodded silently, her throat convulsing as she swallowed harshly. Pressing his lips to hers, he licked the dry flesh lightly, her taste making him harden once more before he pulled back and stated coldly. “Good.”


(Hopeless!)I'm falling down
(Filthy!) I can't wake up
I cannot hold on, I will not let go


She didn’t know what she had been thinking when she attempted to get away. She had known the attempt had been foolish at best, but anything had to be better than sitting around waiting for them to abuse her and Kyle further. Better than sitting about passively waiting for Rath to make his move or Lonnie or Nicolas to slaughter them, only to begin this game with one of the others.

Breathing harshly, she slammed up her wall again, blocking out any further memories from sliding through her defenses, her body trembling softly as the blackness continued to bubble in her gut, strangling the light she so desperately fought hold on to. Thinking about those moments wouldn’t do her any good, not when she needed to be a fortress right now. When and if she ever got out of this situation, she’d allow herself to fall apart.

Pushing herself up, she turned up the hot water, wishing the hot water would penetrate to the inside and wash the taint away, but it remained, curling in her heart, poisoning her blood and filling her with its noxious fumes, determined to bring her to her knees. And she wasn’t sure how much longer she would be able to fight back that bone-chilling abyss threatening to overwhelm and claim her.

Grabbing a bottle of shampoo from the rack, she grimaced as the scent of vanilla filled her nose and quickly slathered the cleanser into her hair, wanting to hurry through this ritual as fast as possible before the cloying scent made her retch. Until a month ago, her favorite scent and flavor had been vanilla, but over the length of her captivity, she’d come to detest the scent, associating it with her imprisonment and the man who held her. He seemed to love the scent on her, evidenced by the selection of cleansers and lotions available to her and vowed that when she got home, she was throwing all of hers out.

She never wanted the scent around her again.

Rinsing her hair, she quickly washed her body with the detestable soap and quickly rinsed off, her stomach swirling sickly as that scent seemed to cling to her skin and hair. Closing her eyes, she beat back the sick feeling and squared her shoulders, turning off the water and stepping out of the stall, quickly drying herself off and cursed the fact that she forgot to bring another shift in with her; that meant she’d have to walk out into that room with only her towel.

Her stomach clenched, icing over with the thought, shuddering at how vulnerable and naked that made her feel, fear stirring in her gut at the thought that Rath could walk in at anytime when she was dressing. What if that was the thing that sent him over the edge to finally making good on his threats and claimed her fully opposed to his minor abuses to date? Shuddering at that thought, she stared at the door as if it were the entrance to hell, she steeled her backbone and vowed to hurry out, grab something and come back in.

Taking a deep breath, she pushed open the door, hurrying through and stopping dead when she realized she wasn’t alone and that hateful brown eyes were watching her in cold silence, a sinister smirk plastered on the woman’s face. Swallowing harshly, she took a backward step, wondering if it were possible to make it into the bathroom before the blond could catch up to her and paled as the woman glared at her menacingly, cracking her knuckles nonchalantly, chilling her to the bone.

Breath freezing in her chest, she closed her eyes, heart caught in her throat as she prayed that Rath was watching the monitors and was on his way, nearly laughing hysterically at the thought of him being the preferred captor. But for all her fear of Rath, she would rather face him rather than the woman staring her down any day. She knew he, at the very least, was determined to keep her alive for some reason.

Lonnie felt no such compulsion.


Silent I go under
I am not afraid



June 28, 2001

Kyle paced the room restlessly, his body coiled with nervous tension, running a hand over his head with agitation as fury and helplessness bubbled in his gut, cold blue eyes sweeping around his prison scathingly and he growled in the back of his throat as they fell onto the thick metal chain lying beneath his feet. A chain that attached to the metal collar locked firmly around his throat, as if he were nothing more than an animal, a pet to be tamed and ignored until his so-called owner paid him the slightest bit of attention.

Not that he wanted that psycho bitch’s attention or regard in any way; he could happily live out the rest of his days without seeing her face again and often prayed that she’d be met with some unfortunate accident like Alex. Jesus, Alex. Liz had been right; not that he doubted her for a moment, but it was one thing to think something and another to have it brutally shoved in your face in a nonchalant, cavalier manner.

Swiping his hand over his face, his breath hitched, eyes watering as Alex’s face danced before his eyes and he sucked air into his constricting lungs, pressure building painfully in his chest as he sunk to his knees, clenching his eyes to the burn of unshed tears. Cradling his head in his hands, he grit his teeth and drew several shallow breaths, desperately beating back the anguish spilling through his body like an ice flow, chilling the very blood thrumming beneath clammy, damp skin.

How could they have not seen this coming?

He had known that Alex’s death was far from normal, had felt that gut deep conviction that sank in once Liz had uttered the words that ripped their fragile alliance to shreds, but his mind had turned in other directions, completely dismissing the dupes from his mind. Actually, if he were to be completely honest, they had never even crossed his mind as potential suspects. Foolish. It was foolish to think that the New York group’s rough and crude manners equated to actual ignorance, especially Rath.

If there was anything he had learned from observing Michael, still waters run deep and sometimes dangerous; there was an underlying intensity always present in the other boy, no matter what mask he chose to wear and it was only natural to assume his twin would possess the same attributes. Only in Rath, it manifested in a cold, callousness that the other hybrid lacked. Michael was abrupt, brutally honest and taciturn, but he had a good heart and as much as he tried to hide it, cared deeply for those he allowed in his limited sphere. Rath had none of those qualities to temper his calculating, razor-sharp intellect and ruthlessness; his street rat vibe was nothing more than a mask to lure in the unsuspecting and foolish.

Lifting his head, he scanned the room, frustration burning in every cell as he glared at the walls and ‘hidden’ cameras, sure that the man he was just assessing watching him with an almost gleeful maliciousness as he often did, getting a perverse thrill out seeing him prowl the room like a caged animal. That was when he wasn’t…with Liz. Cold anger and despair splashed through his veins at that thought, his lungs tightening as if in a vise, his breath growing ragged and labored as he sucked air past the constriction in his throat, hands clenching against the rising tide of panic.

Quaking visibly as a shudder wracked his frame, bile rushed up his throat, leaving a trail of acid behind as it filled his mouth, the foul substance coating his tongue and making him gag, heaving slightly as sinister images flashed through his brain, placed there by a malevolent, taunting blond that took great pride in renting his peace to shreds.

I can see the daylight shine
And slowly drift away


“Prophecy?” he asked warily, the malicious glee lighting the girl’s dark brown eyes and her knowing, almost smug smile making the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. What had they missed that this group knew? It had been disturbingly obvious that the New York group remembered far more of their past lives than the Roswell group did, but Liz wasn’t alien; she was as human as he was and the fact that they believed that she was part of some alien prophecy left him cold and uneasy. “What prophecy?”

“What?” the blond crooned mockingly from her perch on the metal chair, her foot tapping against the thin mattress with a slight nervous twitch as she took a slow drag on her cigarette before pulling it away and shaking off the ash with a negligent flick of her wrist, blowing the smoke in his face. Winging a challenging brow, she dropped her feet to the floor heavily and leaned forward, resting her arms on her knees and cocked her head with a sneer. “Yous little friends ain’t figured it out yet? Weak.”

“Figured what out?” Kyle gasped between coughs, his face flushing as he tried to spew out the noxious smoke curling around in his lungs, eyes burning as he drew a wheezing breath and eyed the Lonnie suspiciously, frantically trying to figure out what game she was playing this time. Licking parched lips as his coughing became a controlled rasp, he compressed his lips thoughtfully, wondering how much he could drag out of the detestable woman.

“So rich,” Lonnie snickered, shaking her head as she sat back in her chair with an amused grin and pinned him with a thoughtful glance. It was just as she thought; they hadn’t a clue. Narrowing her eyes, a smug smirk curled over her lips as she chuckled mockingly, her words spilling out with barely veiled disdain. “They’s supposed to be the chosen ones and they’s can’t even read their own damn language. Pathetic.”

“Can we get back to the point,” Kyle grated, heartily sick with cryptic and non-forthcoming aliens after the week he’d lived through and he just wanted her to get to the point already and leave him in peace.

“So feisty,” she chortled as she clambered out of her chair and crawled onto the bed, straddling his waist, her laughter deepening tauntingly when he flinched and shrank back into the mattress as she caged him in, her thighs and legs locking him in like a vise. Kyle’s stomach rolled sickly as she trailed feather light fingers over his torso, grunting when her fingertips latched onto one nipple and she pinched it roughly, leaving behind a light purplish-blue bruise. “Good thing I like feisty.”

“I’ll bet you like anything with a stiff dick,” he quipped scathingly, sneering as her eyes grew hard and her mouth twisted with displeasure and he hissed when her underlying malice bled through as she scraped jagged nails over his still raw chest. Smirking contemptuously, his he glared at her balefully, voice dripping with his own disdain as he lofted mockingly. “Alien…human…animal…I’m sure you’re not all that choosy.”

“Watch it, Roswell boy,” Lonnie hissed as she dug her nails into his chest, the sharp points cutting into his skin, leaving behind shallow cuts that welled with blood and he just barely held back a cry as he grimaced, glaring at the girl balefully instead as he waited her out. “I’s said feisty, not insubordinate. Don’t test me. Yous pretty but yous not of any particular use to our cause, so we can makes sure yous disappear for good.”

“Like I believe you’ll keep me alive after this,” he replied evenly, his eyes boring into hers as she watched him contemplatively, dark ebony eyes assessing him with a blandly curious moue, her anger draining in the wake of his bluntly spoken words. “So what do I have to lose at this point by cooperating? I’d only be prolonging the inevitable.”

“I’s beginning to think a lot of people underestimate yous,” Lonnie mused, her brow quirking as she stared at him, recognizing a formidable nemesis and she hummed before a slow wicked smile slid across her face as she leaned in and whispered against his lips. “If yous little queen is anything like you, Rath is in for quite a ride…literally. Not that he minds, the fight and challenge is bound to give him a real hard on, if he hadn’t already had one for the little bitch.”

Chuckling as Kyle stiffened beneath her at her taunting words and she pulled back, aware that she had gotten the boy’s undivided attention, his crystal blue eyes icing over glacially as she hummed and crooned over his attributes. Licking her lips salaciously, she couldn’t help the jolt of desire that swam through her blood at the fierce determination that shone out of his eyes and she leaned over nipping his bottom lip playfully, snickering when his lips curled in disgust.

“What do you want with Liz?” he asked in a low, dangerous tone, the way she was looking at him sending his heart into a staccato rhythm, but ignoring the little flutters of panic rippling through his system as he focused on the task of getting the answers he wanted. A cold sweat broke over his brow as he assessed her coldly, already determining that her ego was her down fall and knew that her superiority complex would be the best bet to her, and hopefully Rath’s, breakdown. “What does she have that is so important to you?”

“It’s not what she has, Duke,” the blond replied silkily, draping her arms over his chest and melting around his body as if they were lovers sharing pillow talk rather than adversaries judging the others grit and strength. Fingers lazily toying with the strands of light-brown hair dipping across his brow, her breath fanning across his face as her lips quirked in a parody of a loving smile as she revealed. “It’s who she is.”

“And that is?” he bit out as their gazes clashed, fiery bronze meeting icy blue as she sat up and reached behind him, lifting large steel manacle from the bed posting, snickering at his outraged expression as she attached it around his neck and leaned over to press a hard kiss against the mouth before clambering away, lofting over her shoulder. “She’s the Chosen, Roswell boy.”

~
The Chosen. The words swirled in his mind, filling him with confusion and an overwhelming dread he couldn’t understand, a chill rippling through his body as he swallowed thickly, his mind weary of the growing mystery that had become their existence since being taken the day of Alex’s funeral. Rubbing gritty eyes with his palms, he shuddered as Lonnie’s taunts whirled through them and what they might hold for Liz.

Especially if her actions towards him over the past month were any indication of Rath’s intent towards Liz; the thought that his friend was potentially undergoing the same abuse and sexual advances he’d had to put up from the blond sickened and enraged him to a degree that he couldn’t begin to explain.

Safe to say it's over
Sink into the grave


Grunting in disgust, Kyle snapped awake as wet, warm lips pulled away from his, his stomach rolling sickly as dark sienna eyes gleamed maliciously, a cruel smirk twisting, light red lips as Lonnie pulled back, staring at him lasciviously, bright-red nails slowly raking over his chest. Hissing at the tips left angry, red streaks, he tugged at his wrists, a cold sweat breaking over his body as he realized that he was once again manacled to the metal bed frame and at the twisted girl’s mercy.

Swallowing thickly, he drew a deep breath as a wave of nausea washed over him, a cold numbness encasing his limbs, tiny pin pricks of ice tingling through out the whole of him as she lowered herself on top of him, her thighs straddling his hips with a steel grip. Bile rushed up, coating his throat as she reached for the edges of his long white, medical scrubs, tugging on them and slowly pulling them over his hips, making his stomach turn and he had to fight the urge to heave as she ripped the clothing away, staring at him appreciatively.

Flinching as her hands slid over his body, horror splashed through his veins, trailing its cold, icy fingers across raw nerves as she lowered her head placed a light, almost loving kiss in the middle of his chest, his heart speeding up to an almost unreal pace, slamming against his breastbone painfully, constricting his chest in a vise. Clenching his eyes shut, he ripped at the bindings at his wrists violently, icy steel cutting into his wrists and drawing fresh blood, crimson trails forming from torn, raw flesh.

Head swimming dizzily, he gasped in disgust, black anger and terror crashing through his bloodstream like a white-hot poker, a shudder rippling over abused, defiled skin and his eyes flew open as she crawled down his body, her rich, malevolent laugh chasing over his nerves like nails on a chalk board. Choking on the bile pooling in the back of his throat, he grimaced as she drew back, her lips curled into a sly smirk as she stared at him and then playfully pouted when he glared out her in outrage, icy blue eyes promising that she’d die a slow painful death if he ever got free.

Shrugging dismissively, she raked her eyes over him, one finger dragging over his body, trailing ever lower when a frown flashed across her face and her eyes flashed with cold anger as she stared down at his all too obvious disinterest to her advances, staring at the flaccid flesh with disgust. Hissing like a scalded cat, she raked her nails over his chest hatefully and he grunted in pain as the sharp tips scored deeply into his skin, the marks stinging and seeping blood as she gave a frustrated growl.

“What the hell? Somethin' broken?” Lonnie sneered, trying to bait the boy by poking at his ego, clearly frustrated with her victim's lack of response to her charms and ministrations. Screwing her face up into a menacing scowl, she leaned over and got into his face, her hot, damp breath rushing over his skin, making him flinch deeper into the mattress. “Yous didn’t have a problem this morning.”

“What can I say? I guess psychotic bitches that get around just don’t get me off. And as for earlier, well, it was a hell of a dream…Liz has always been flexible but wow, I wonder if she really can be that bendy,” he mused snidely, knowing full well the other woman was jealous of Liz. In actuality, his dream had nothing to do with the petite brunette, but featured a certain blond cheerleader he once dated and yes she was that bendy. So bendy in fact that…yeah better not go there. “Besides, I’m not really interested in getting alien herpes.”

Narrowing her eyes into slits, Lonnie growled under her breath, her nostrils flaring as his cavalier, insulting words rained over her and ripped into her fragile ego, sending a wave of pure, white-hot, unadulterated rage and hate searing through her blood, incinerating every last drop of lingering humanity. Balling up her fist, a red haze fogging her eyes, she raised her arm, swiftly pulling it back to her shoulder and slammed it against his jaw, his ears ringing as the force snapped his head to the side, white stars burst across vision as pain rocked his senses.

Grunting as she hauled off and his him again, he grit his teeth to the pain radiating through his head as his cheek split, and the skin around it swelled, growing hot and tight as blood vessels broke, turning his skin a mottled purplish-blue, but he refused to give her the benefit of a reaction as she continued to pummel his body in a series of rapid jabs, outside of the occasional grunt or grimace. Who knew that football practice would come in handy?

“That the best you can do, bitch?” he spat, glaring at her balefully as she rose off the bed with one last punch, grunting when she gave him a swift, vicious kick to the ribs, fiery pain ripping down his side. Taking several slow, wheezing breaths, he fixated on the fuming blond, glaring at her malevolently as he spat blood out of his mouth and sneered, his lips curling cruelly when her mouth tightened with anger, lips going white and bloodless as the pinched. “Pathetic, you hit like a girl.”

“Do I, Roswell Boy,” she grated tightly, her body coiling with tension, lips curling with a sly grin as she raked her eyes over him, a cold, calculating light filling her eyes before she leaned over and tapped him on the chest. “I wonder if yous little queen will think that too. Whadda ya say pretty boy, think she can takes it? Maybe I’ll just go find out what it is about her that has yous all wrapped around her mousy little finger.”

Chuckling as Kyle’s eyes filled with horror at her words, Lonnie stood up slowly, flicking him one last evil smile as sauntered to the door, slamming it behind her, the terrifying visions Lonnie had just implanted into his head making his stomach swirl with dread.


There's nothing left inside
But I am wide awake
I can hear the devil call my name...


Pressing his head to the cold tiles, a shudder rippled over his body as he drew several deep breaths, agony ripping through him as the taunting echo of Lonnie’s words still reverberated through his head. He had found out later that Lonnie made good on her word and sought out Liz, taking her aggressions out on the petite brunette and although he never heard the exact extent of the damage, Rath’s grave expression told him it had been quite serious. He took that to heart, because of one thing he was sure, they needed Liz and if it had concerned the other man enough that he had then beaten Lonnie within an inch of her life, it sickened him to think what might have happened to Liz.

It was too bad Rath hadn’t killed the sick bitch, ridding them of the unstable hybrid, but apparently Nicky boy had more pull and kept the bitch around for his own amusement, but she was on strict supervision whenever she was in this area of the compound for fear that something might happen to their plans. Then again, if Rath had killed her, he wouldn’t be able to have that pleasure once he finally figured out a way out of this mess. And he would. He never thought that he would ever consider killing someone, much less look forward to ending another’s life, but in this case, he’d make an exception.

Whipping his head up as the door opened, rage bubbled through his veins as he caught sight of one of his smirking tormentors and scrambled to his feet, lunging for the coolly amused man, standing just out of reach with his arms crossed over his chest. Watching Kyle struggle against his chains, Rath lofted a cool, bored brow, his smirk deepening and chuckled at the other man’s useless attempts to break free, vastly entertained by the man’s obvious anger and hatred. Exchanging a droll look with one of the guards, he feigned a yawn, covering his mouth as he turned back to the shorter man, completely unmoved by the Kyle’s threats and cursing.

After a couple minutes of this, he grew bored however and having better things to do than watch Kyle’s attempts to get at him, he flicked his hand carelessly, throwing the other man up against the wall with brutal force, momentarily stunning him and gestured to the guards. “Shackle him to the wall. He and I’s gonna have a little chat about his behavior and lack of cooperation. If he has no care for himself, maybe he’ll care about his little sweetheart down the hall.”

Kyle’s head spun sickly, pain radiating through his body as the two burly guards stalked over and yanked him roughly to his feet, one cuffing him across the cheek when he struggled against their ministrations, fighting the binds as much as possible, knowing they’d leave him helpless and vulnerable to the man across the room. Crying out when they slammed him into the concrete wall, his had smacking it with a resounding crack, he slumped slightly as a wave of nausea passed through his body, stealing the air from his lungs as they quickly bond him to the wall and stepped away.

“Leave us,” Rath intoned quietly, dismissing the men with a flick of his hand, his eyes for the dark-haired boy hanging limply from the manacles as he strode forward slowly, smirking coolly when Kyle lifted his head, a line of blood trickling sluggishly from his left temple and the newly busted lip, his blue gaze shooting daggers at him. He never did give up and it made this so much more fun. He hated when his quarry lacked spirit and squealed like little girls. “I’s beginning to think you aren’t enjoying my hospitality.”

Chuckling when Kyle continued to stare at him hatefully, the shorter boy’s infuriated gaze sliding over him with ill-disguised disgust and loathing, Rath planted a foot on the stool in front of Kyle and crossed his arms over his chest, still faintly amused by his actions. Well, he did have to admit that these humans were resilient.

“Cat got your tongue?” he clucked, flicking cool whiskey eyes over his victim, his brows rising as he took in the deep bruising on Kyle’s ribs and the faded scratches littering his chest and unable to resist needling Kyle further, mocked quietly. “Wow, Lonnie did do a number on you didn’t she. Maybe I shoulda rewarded her instead of beating her.” Swinging his gaze up when Kyle growled in the back of his throat the mention of her name, Rath’s face darkened, his eyes icing as he observed. “But then again, she did touch what was mine and that is unforgivable. I don’t takes well to those who touch my possessions.”

Grunting, Kyle bit his tongue, a cold rage splashing through his body as he stared at the taunting hybrid, knowing all too well that the man was prodding at him in an effort to get him to talk and fill him in on the information they wanted about the other four and just what they might have learned over the years. And he was equally determined to resist. Pressing his lips together with determination, he regarded the other man coldly, his stomach swirling with dread at Rath’s words, his back breaking into a cold sweat as all his fears seemed to be confirmed and he barely suppressed the urge to retch.

“Yous heard about that did ya?” Rath continued slyly, watching the thoughts and emotions flying over the other man’s face, knowing had struck a chord when he mentioned Liz and his lips curled with satisfaction, sliding a calculating gaze over Kyle. Stepping up to the other man, he smirked maliciously and met his eyes, jeering silkily, laughing when Kyle lunged at his words. “Or is it the idea that Liz is mine that bugs ya?”

“Fuck you,” Kyle hissed scathingly, his eyes glittering with rage, body coiling with tension as he clenched his hands into fists, his heart thrumming rapidly as Rath cocked an amused brow, raking his eyes over him derisively, as if sizing him up before flicking his eyes back to his face and twisted his lips into a cheeky grin. “Nah, not really my type.”

“Now sweets on the other hand, mmmmmmm...now she is just so tasty. So sweet. Like a ripe peach,” he taunted slyly, his mouth curving into a smirk as Kyle reacted predictably, turning a furious red as he lunged at the man, his eyes going wild and struggled against the bonds as Rath danced back, his eyes hardening for a moment, before softening as if remembering some good dream. “I love the way she glides over my tongue, how she fits just so, so tight. But you’d know something about that wouldn’t you. Oh wait…you don’t. My bad.”

“You bastard, I’ll…” Kyle rasped, shaking with rage as he ripped at his bonds violently, a haze of red covering his eyes, choking as Rath stepped up to him, cuffing him across the head before wrapping his hand around his throat and slammed him against the wall, his hears ringing as the star burst behind his eyes. Struggling as Rath kept him pinned to the wall, he fought to bring air into his constricted throat, his body flushing hot and going numb as it was deprived of the life-sustaining element, flinching when Rath spoke quietly near his ear. “What? Kill me? Try it. I dare you.”

“Nothing to say?” Rath rasped, holding him until he felt the other boy start to go limp before he let go with one last slam against the wall, moving away as Kyle choked and coughed, drawing shaky, rasping breaths into his lungs as he stepped away, tapping his lips as if trying to recall his place in a conversation. “So where was I? Oh yes, yous little dollface. What a firecracker. Quite vocal too you know. Skin so, so soft, lips and mouth the stuff of wet dreams and that body, so tight, compact and I just love the way she feels beneath me.”

“There’s jus’ somethin’ ‘bout her that gets under yous skin, leaves you pantin’ for another taste,” he continued as Kyle sputtered, his face still red, eyes watering as he drew deep wheezing breaths in to his lungs. Closing his eyes, Rath licked his lips salaciously, ignoring the malevolent gaze burning into his back. “The fire in those eyes makes my blood burn. I’d so hate to break that in her, but one does what one must.”

“You keep your hands off of her,” Kyle rasped heatedly, his eyes flashing with cold anger as he stared at the other man, his chest growing heavy as panic and fury ripped through his system, his heart pounding against his breastbone painfully, as if it were trying to leap from his chest. Gritting his teeth when mocking laughter filled the room, his stomach burned with a fierce desire to cut the other man down and for the first wished that he had some of his own super-alien powers as Rath stated slyly, “Too late for that, Duke, sweetest little cherry I’ve ever had.”

“I can still taste her on my lips,” Rath needled, walking back over to the heaving, infuriated man, stopping just in front of him with a disturbingly pleasant smile as he bent over and whispered into his face. “Want a sample?” Sniggering when Kyle growled low in his throat, Rath kissed him on the lips impertinently, dancing away when Kyle lunged once more, lofting tauntingly. “Tastes like warm vanilla and ripe strawberries.”

Kyle stared at him malevolently, his teeth clenched, lips pressed into a thin white line, eyes burning with fury, his back and shoulder rippling with tension as Rath stared back at him, the teasing light dying out of his eyes to reveal the cold, calculating warrior he must have been at one time, his lips curling with malicious intent as the guards opened the door, tossing over his shoulder as he left. “Leave him there for a bit to think about what I said. I has sweeter prospects to…indulge.”

Panting harshly, Kyle stared after him coldly, his stomach swirling with a cold dread, flinching when Rath and the guards left, slamming the door behind them. Eyes burning, he stared at the portal for several long moments, his mind whirling with everything that the man said and slumped wearily, nausea and fear rippling through his system as a low, anguished moan tore past his lips and a single tear slid over his cheek.

(Worthless!) It's over now
(Guilty!) There's no way out
I can not hold on, I will not let go

~ Hopeless, Breaking Benjamin
Last edited by Ashita on Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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