CHAMELEON (CC / Mature) (Complete)

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Carol000
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 110
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Post by Carol000 » Sun May 18, 2003 10:51 am

continued from previous post

********
Michael had already seen Liz and Kyle disappear into the hallways off the large room they were in, but dozens of others were exiting from the large doors opposite the ones that led into the room. Maria and Max were still in line. From what he could tell, most people were being told to check either the website or long lists posted on the convention hall doors later in the week to see if they’d been accepted on staff. Seeing two friends go into the hotel already made him feel nervous and inadequate. He hoped Kyle was right about this girl. She seemed nice, yeah, and he had winced more than once at the harsh dismissal many in that first line received from the guy Kyle had described as “pissed off.” But that was no guarantee.

“So you’re interested in casino work?”

Friendly blue eyes looked at him with mild interest, none of the impatience or disdain he’d seen the other man display. He glanced at her nametag. Serena, it said.

“Yeah. Uh, yes.”

She perused his application, which was in large part accurate, but differed from the facts in two important respects: he had listed his age as 21, and his education as high school graduate.

“Well, Mr. Guerin, you don’t have any experience. The waiting list is rather long for training, I’m afraid. It’s a popular job.”

His heart was thumping irregularly in his chest. He knew it—he was always the one who could never succeed.

“I learn quickly.”

She looked at him askance, and he was struck with how pathetic that sounded. Shit. So much for Kyle’s “gift.”

“But I see you have security experience. Would you consider that? We have a real need for security right now.”

Shit again. That whole experience at MetaChem had soured him on being a security guard, although he’d been pretty good at it, if he did say so himself. Why fight it? He had known all along it might come to this.

“I guess, but how long until I could get dealer training? I’d really prefer that.”

“Well, as I said, it’s a long waiting list.”

His disappointment must have shown on his face because hers suddenly looked concerned.

“You’re not currently employed, Mr. Guerin?”

“No, and I really need a job. Like now.”

There is something about desperation that haunts a face, that casts its shadows around the eyes and mouth until the individual features absorb its very essence and become heavy with it. Michael knew he wore that expression now, and he struggled not to shutter his feelings; she was studying him, and she needed to know he was hungry for a job. Yes, he knew he wouldn’t starve as long as any of them were employed, but he did feel desperate—desperate not to be the one who came away from this without a job, desperate not to be the screw-up, the tag-along, the one who needed caring for.

“I’ll tell you what, Mr. Guerin. You go over and apply for that security position, and if you get it, I will put you on the short list for dealer training. Do we have a deal?”

Michael felt his mouth open, but no words came out. Kyle had called it. She cut him a break, just like he said. He noticed her look of inquiry turn into one of mild amusement at his slack-jawed expression, and he finally pushed out a “Thank you.” She handed him his application and he nodded another acknowledgment before going to stand in yet another line.

********
Maria was bouncing with excitement, which wasn’t contributing much to the sound quality of the song she was humming under her breath. “Entertainment.” This was perfect. She hadn’t brought any sheet music, though, so she’d have to spend some of their precious resources on a couple of pieces after she signed up for auditions. Maybe, if she really impressed them, she could open for headliners or even do a late show of her own once in a while. After all, she’d been offered a recording contract with a major label. She’d turned them down. Ooh, she’d better add that to her resume.

An imaginary guitar vibrated beneath her fingers as she played a silent accompaniment. Why hadn’t she worked more on that new song while they whiled away the hours at River Dog’s cabin? She swayed in time with the music in her head, closing her eyes briefly so she could really feel it. Then that creepy feeling that she was being watched sent the little hairs on her arms on end, and she turned sharply to find Michael watching her from across the room. The look on his face left nothing to the imagination, and she was torn between irritation at his timing, and arousal at the sexy intensity that she could feel even from this distance.

Electricity hummed between them until Kyle distracted him, and Michael broke their staring contest with an undoubtedly crude comment in Kyle’s direction. She had no time to feel the loss, however, because she had finally reached the front of the line. She flashed a dazzling smile at the meticulously dressed blond.

“Maria DeLuca, singer.”

An air of disdain materialized around the woman, whose nametag identified her as Brittany—yeah, right—and she tilted her nose a fraction higher.

“How nice for you, Maria. However, I’m more interested in your qualifications as a booking coordinator, stage manager, or legal assistant.”

“What?”

“Did you read your application, dear? You do read, don’t you?”

The color rose in Maria’s cheeks, and she opened her mouth to rip into this rude, arrogant bitch, but her better judgment kicked in just in time, and she bit it back.

“Why, yes, I do read, as a matter of fact. I saw those categories listed, but I am also familiar with the definition of entertainment, and it usually requires talent, which, I’m happy to say, I have in abundance. When will auditions be held?”

Brittany’s eyes grew wide with surprise at the rare show of spirit, then narrowed in amusement, a faint smile emerging in spite of her obvious attempts to suppress it.

“We don’t handle auditions, my dear. We’ll be booking big name acts and experienced performers. The line you’re in is only for applications for the categories listed. Are you applying for one of those positions?”

“Well,” Maria stuttered uncertainly. The disappointment tasted bitter, and she fought to remain controlled in front of all these people. “I’ve set up for shows, the ones I was performing in, by the way. And I’ve been booked into a few locations. And my good friends’ dad . . . is a . . . lawyer.”

Her speech slowed in direct proportion to the amusement on her potential employer’s face. She was used to being teased, but not humiliated.

“What was your last paid position, Ms. DeLuca?”

Maria debated whether to tell the truth or not. She had sworn she wasn’t going to wait tables again. But she had to have a job, and the ugly truth was, she wasn’t qualified for much of anything. Her self-esteem, sky high only moments before, had plummeted to the floor. In fact, she was reasonably sure it was under the shoe of the woman in front of her.

“Waitress,” she mumbled.

The woman scanned her application. “You’re not old enough to serve alcohol. Pity. You’ve got the spunk to be a bar girl. How would you feel about gopher?”

“Gopher?”

“Yeah. Go for this, go for that. Gopher. You’d be at the beck and call of our performers. You’ll be asked for specific brands of bottled water. They’ll want tampons at 3 a.m. and a single 3-minute egg exactly 42 minutes before going on stage. They’ll treat you as if you are invisible until you screw up, and then they’ll demand you be fired. How does that sound?”

“Great!” Maria beamed.

“I thought so,” Brittany nodded, her mouth twitching. “Conference Room F.”

********

Max looked nervously around the room. All of the humans had been sent back into the hotel, obviously to the next level of screening for a job. Michael had switched lines . . . again, which meant his first attempt didn’t work. Clearly a case of discrimination—the aliens weren’t being given full consideration.

He rolled his eyes at his own inane thoughts and stepped forward another few inches. He felt invisible in this onslaught of hopefuls—just one more face in the crowd. He didn’t like it, which was irony in its purest form considering that being invisible had been his most heartfelt goal since he was six . . . or what passed for six. Now it was different. He’d wanted to disappear to survive. Now he had to stand out to survive. Why was he always on the wrong side of every fence?

He sought Liz with his mind. He could feel her, but not communicate. Their sublingual abilities were still confined to a short distance. Still, it calmed him to feel her—content, busy, safe—somewhere in the expansive complex. She was a little on edge, he could tell, but nothing different from her state of mind in line a while before. Job-hunting nerves, that was all.

“Next.”

Max handed over his application with what he hoped was a mature, confident expression. The ruddy-complected man was most likely a landscaper himself: he was browned well beyond the natural coloring of his Hispanic descent, and his fingernails, scrubbed and clipped, still carried traces of dirt in their deepest recesses. There were callouses on both hands, and weathered wrinkles around his eyes from too much squinting against the sun. His nametag was aptly printed with “Digger.”

He perused the paper Max had handed him. “No experience,” he said wearily. “You know anything about plants?”

“No sir, but I’ll study any books you think appropriate to learn.”

Digger’s head snapped up, eyes curious. No doubt, this was an unusual offer. After reading Max’s face for a few seconds, his eyes traveled over the rest of his body.

“You’re strong, but your hands are soft. Why are you in this line instead of Conventions? Looks like that’s where your experience lies.”

Max met his gaze head-on. “This pays more.”

They held each other’s eyes for a moment, and Max felt some approval for his attitude, if not his background.

“I’ll give it some thought, but you’d best try Conventions, too, while you’re here. Check the website day after tomorrow, or come over and look for the lists posted on the convention hall doors.”

Max gave him a half-smile and turned away, trying very hard not to sigh. He caught Michael’s eye as he took his place at the end of the Conventions line, and they exchanged a grimace of empathy. Nobody said it would be easy.

********

Between the supplies they’d brought with them, courtesy of their parents and River Dog, and a small portion of the money that provided their cushion against disaster, they had splurged on a good dinner over the campfire: Steak, baked potato, salad, and bakery cookies. Now the reflection that came with full stomachs, tired bodies, and the deep dusk of evening settled over them, and they quietly spun a picture of their immediate future.

Kyle was probably the most pleased, aside from his qualms about his “alien” powers graduating from latent to active. As often as he felt like the odd-man-out, the square peg among round holes, he was tonight’s hero. After a driving test in three different Oasis vehicles—limo, town car, and van—and a “practical” on what to do in different mechanical crises, he had somehow emerged as a chauffeur for the Crawford family and their guests, both personal and celebrity. He was not the senior member of this elite staff, to be sure, but he was still getting a decent wage and benefits. And he thought it was pretty amazing that next week, he’d be taking one of those courses where he’d learn what to do as a driver should one of the vehicles he was driving be chased, attacked, or threatened. Apparently, the Crawfords, or at least some of their guests, were either rich enough or famous enough to need such protection. Cool.

The only drawback—or was it?—was that he would be at their beck and call, which meant he had to live on the premises. He would be given a small room in the staff quarters, where he would be available whenever they needed him, except for scheduled days off. Personally, he wasn’t as dismayed as the others pretended to be. This meant the two couples could find a place to live without worrying about what to do with him, and he wouldn’t be constantly surrounded by the love . . . and sex . . . that blanketed him like a shroud of loneliness all the time.

Liz had earned a spot on the front desk with her friendly attitude, efficient manner, and quick intelligence. She’d even mentioned the possibility of wanting to return to school in the near future, and was surprised to find that option supported. It didn’t pay that well at first, but might lead to more responsibility later, especially with more education.

Maria was excited about her job doting on visiting celebrities. She didn’t mention what her original expectation had been, but contented herself with emphasizing the more glamorous aspects of being in celebrity dressing rooms and performers’ quarters, listening to their conversations and noticing which make-up they used. Like Liz’s job, the pay was only so-so, but everyone knew that she’d be networking her little heart out, waiting for her own chance to perform. The odds against that were ridiculously low, of course, but no one felt compelled to mention that.

That left Michael and Max waiting for the final lists. They would just have to go back in two days, having no Internet connection for Max’s laptop at the moment, to find out if Michael had gotten on with security or Max with either the groundskeepers or conventions. Everyone knew they felt odd about being the ones making the least contribution for the moment; that was a new and uncomfortable feeling, especially for Max. Even Michael had felt proud of his independence over the last year or so, and didn’t like depending on the others. But they had agreed before heading out today that it was one for all and all for one, and they had also agreed to live with the results each day, pooling their resources and supporting each other. Now it was time to abide by that.

“I guess Michael and I will start apartment hunting,” Max volunteered, trying to keep a positive spin on things. “You guys will be busy with training right away, so we could drop you off at Oasis and then scope things out.”

Maria exchanged a look with Liz. “We’d better give you a list of requirements,” she said guardedly. “Otherwise, we’ll wind up living in a one bedroom over a strip club.”

“Never a one-bedroom,” Michael grinned, waggling his eyebrows at her.

She smacked him hard as Max and Liz shared a guilty smile. “I think I have an idea what you ladies could live with,” Max assured her. “We’ll find something. The thing is, we don’t know what we can afford yet. All we can do right now is see what’s out there. When Michael and I find out about jobs, we’ll make a budget.”

“I’ll pitch in on it,” Kyle offered. “I mean, we said we’re all in this together, and I’m not being charged for my room.”

“Yeah, but your pay reflects that,” Liz reminded him. “Yours is a pretty good job, but that room is part of your pay. Your actual paycheck won’t be that big.”

Kyle knew she was right, but he didn’t want to abandon them. “Well, I’ll help pay for food. You guys are still gonna feed me sometimes, right?”

“Naturally,” Liz laughed. “After all, I know your requirements—food high in fat and calories with no inherent nutritional value.”

Their laughter made him smile. He was one of them, after all. It was all going to work out.

“Kyle?”

Michael looked into the fire rather than at his friend. “Thanks for the tip about that girl. I don’t think I’d have a chance if she hadn’t been the one I talked to.”

“No problem.”

The subject of Kyle’s emerging gift had been studiously avoided all evening. Once Michael had mentioned it to everyone, Kyle had looked tense and uncertain, and Liz’s one attempt to talk about it had met with tight-lipped monosyllables. Now, though, the atmosphere was more relaxed, and, as was so often the case, the darkness seemed to shed some light on the truth.

“What was it like?” Maria asked him quietly.

At first, it seemed he was still unable to talk about it, but finally, he found his voice. “It was like pressure. Every person I looked at was feeling something different, and whatever it was pressed against my mind, like when you poke a finger into an inflated balloon. But in a crowded place like that, it was . . . overwhelming. Scary.”

“I bet,” Liz sympathized. “I know how scary something new like that can be. I wonder why you didn’t get the electric hands thing, though. That always seems to come first.”

Kyle shrugged. “I don’t know. But I did feel a hum in my body, like when you put your hand on one of those static machines. Maybe just knowing what to expect gave me an advantage.” He sighed, still troubled.

“Kyle,” Max began. “You’ve been really great about everything. I know this is freaky, but we’ll be there for you. We’ll do what we can to help you control it. I have no doubt that’s possible, with practice. But you have to let us know what’s happening. No keeping it to yourself, okay?”

“Thanks.” Kyle’s voice was shaky, and he stood abruptly. He needed some space. An awkward vibe shot through the group as they, too, rose, ready to go to bed but facing only two tents. Soon the subject of sleeping arrangements would be easy, but for now . . .

“Don’t worry, I’ll sleep in the van,” Kyle said with forced cheer. “I’d hate to miss my last chance to get an arm caught in the gap of the cushions or wake up with my face smashed against a pane of glass.”

Liz smiled at her friend, then pulled him into a hug. “I’m glad you’re with us, Kyle. And that’s the truth.”

Kyle squeezed her reflexively; it’s just what he needed to hear. He needed them, too, more than ever. Impulsively, he kissed her cheek, then caught himself and darted a look at Max, who simply smiled serenely. Apparently, Max was past considering Kyle any kind of threat, even when his former nemesis was hugging and kissing his wife. Now that was cool.

An hour later, Liz lay nestled in Max’s arms. Their loving had been slow and soothing, a far cry from the urgency and need of their last encounter. They had sought comfort in each other’s bodies and souls, finding release in their physical union and in their spiritual bond—two facets of their relationship that had gradually merged into one. A new adventure awaited them, and neither knew what was coming. All that mattered was that they were together.

“It’ll work out, Max,” Liz whispered.

He tightened his arms around her and kissed her head, breathing in the heady scent that was Liz. “It already has,” he murmured, and they fell asleep, wondering what their new lives would bring.
Carol/spacemom

Max and Liz: The love that is Roswell--"You have gone through me like thread through a needle. Now everything I do is stitched with your color."

User avatar
Carol000
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 110
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Post by Carol000 » Sun Jun 01, 2003 10:35 am

News and notes.

First, thanks for your patience. It’s been two weeks since I’ve posted on this. You may recall the reason—a Memorial Day Rospal reunion. I bring a few tidbits from that fun event:

Liesel (LivE): Liesel is touched and amazed that so many people not only remember her stories but are still interested in seeing new ones. However, she’s working on a book right now that, when finished, she actually hopes to submit for publication. Should that happen, we’ll be spreading the word far and wide. So she won’t be writing any more Roswell, but it may not be the last we read of hers. We can only hope. I can tell you that she is a thoroughly delightful person—intelligent, funny, attractive, and very very nice! We loved finally meeting her in person.

Cindi (Phaedra): Many of you remember Phae’s cute stories and funny feedback. Well, we finally got to meet her, too. I would describe her much the same way as I did Liesel, although I wouldn’t be doing her justice if I didn’t add sarcastic! So funny! And the southern accent just adds to the effect. It looks like we won’t be reading more from Phae, either. Her demanding job keeps her free time limited, and even her reading of fic has fallen behind, let alone the writing.

Linda (crazy4roswell): Linda is very aware that she has a couple of unfinished stories out there. Her mind wants to finish them, but her heart is not yet ready. She came to visit me for a couple of days after the reunion, and we brainstormed a little, but it might be a while before she can put fingers to keyboard with the same passion she once had. I know you understand. Be patient. It may happen yet.

Mel (LizParkerEvans): Mel’s been a quiet author for quite some time—job and grad school will do that to you—but you might remember her awesome story “Snowmass” among others. Well, she is working on an ending to a popular unfinished story as well, so at least that loose end will be tied up. She may be the youngest of our group, but she also may be the most mature! LOL!

Pam: Pam, our mistress of the DDD, says the site is still very active and she continues to update. If you haven’t visited in a while, go check it out. The Dream lives on.

Debbi (Breathless) and I continue to write, of course, and the rest of the group are closet writers and/or avid fic readers. What the weekend reminded us most of all, though, is that Roswell gave us not only a Dream, but some great friends who would have been strangers to us without it. Quite a legacy.

Now about Chameleon: One feedbacker’s question made me realize that I had had a conversation in my head that should have become a conversation in the story, and that is, “Why did they use their own names?” My reasoning should have been spelled out in the story, since they began their journey anticipating the use of new ones.

:idea: Here’s the way I thought it through: They needed jobs, which would almost surely require references. The people that would be contacted about references would not turn them in—Jeff Parker for Liz and Maria (and Liz’s internship with a dead Congresswoman would have to be taken on faith—she can prove she did it, but they can’t talk to Vanessa!); Brody for Max; Isabel never worked (don’t get me started); Michael’s employer MetaChem is a pile of ashes and its owners gone. Only Kyle’s garage was a risk, and if you recall Kyle’s boss (when he asked for a partnership), he wasn’t too bright. I figured Valenti would corral him. In addition, the General has been working to derail the investigation, making the Special Unit look foolish, and the publicity of the graduation brouhaha and Gibbs’s heinous actions and mental breakdown has made them publicity-shy. It’s my take that this search is dwindling, and that they have too much back-pedaling to do to track them down. I suppose there’s a strong argument FOR changing their names, but I also feared using a whole new set of names would be confusing for readers, too.

Okay, on with the story. When last seen, some of the gang had secured jobs at Oasis and they were about to look for an apartment.

Chapter 29

Two weeks had gone by. Two frantic, stressful, amazing weeks. Michael had been offered a job with Security. Disappointed, but resigned, he’d accepted, with a reminder to Serena that she’d promised him dealer training in the next few months. Max had also been offered a job in Conventions, and although the pay was less than Grounds maintenance, he’d been grateful that at least he had a job and it was near Liz. Now the two couples were moved into a small 2-bedroom apartment near the resort; Kyle had completed special training in high-risk evasive driving, learned Vegas forwards and backwards, and received a chauffeur’s license; and the resort was two weeks away from its Grand Opening.

The five friends had spent little time together, given the different schedules and exhausting pace of the last two weeks, but at least they had enough money to live—if they were very careful—and they knew the others were there for them, if needed. Kyle had arranged time with both Max and Michael, working hard at learning to block the constant barrage of emotions that assaulted him, even in his dreams. No one mentioned Isabel, though they knew she was the most obvious alien to help Kyle through this. She was settled with Jesse now, though, and living the life she craved.

At first, Kyle’s frustration had led to some minor outbursts, and ironically, it was Michael who had the most success calming him, his own struggles to control his powers still fresh in his mind. Max had come by it so naturally—the concentration, the focus, the control—but Michael had had to develop techniques that proved useful to Kyle: where Michael had pictured his energy like toothpaste being forced through a narrow tube, Kyle had envisioned the incoming emotions as wind pushing through an open window. He simply had to learn to close that window, and then manipulate it up and down as needed to manage the flow.

Any given day, when their work schedules allowed them simultaneous time off, they could be found back at the apartment or on some distant hole of the as yet unopened golf course talking, practicing. Gradually, Michael nudged Kyle closer to populated areas, much to his protégé’s chagrin. Fortunately, Kyle’s chauffeur training was fairly isolated, with only one or two other trainers or students present, but his off hours were a challenge. Again and again, he would enter a room only to flee from the overwhelming waves of others’ feelings. He was scared.

Then came “Helen Keller Day,” as Maria aptly named it. The whole group had agreed to have lunch in the employee lounge where there would be a steady but minimal flow of traffic. Kyle was staring nervously at a turkey sandwich, reasoning that lunchmeat was unlikely to emote. At Michael’s insistence, he reluctantly began to look up whenever the door opened to a hungry employee, flinching with each new assault. In a completely intentional avoidance move, he turned to look at Max and Liz sitting across from him. Instead of the encouraging smiles he’d been getting from them, however, they had pulled their characteristic move of becoming completely lost in each other’s eyes, and he groaned with arousal that was not his own.

“Stop it!” he ordered, drawing startled looks from everyone in the room. He lowered his voice and glared at them. “I can’t go through that again. It was bad enough when Michael was spinning an erotic fantasy at the job fair, but watching you two is like taking hormones intravenously. Thank God I don’t live with you guys anymore. I can’t handle it!”

And then, as their embarrassed faces gaped at him, the window slammed shut. He had blocked them . . . completely. After that, it had only been a matter of days before he’d learned to open and shut that window at will, and life became more bearable for all of them. Since then, Kyle had become increasingly proficient with his gift, and the only battle left was developing a personal code of ethics for its use. When was it all right to peek into someone’s emotions? And even then, how much was too much? That rulebook would take a while to write.

Now, with job training and Kyle’s crisis under their belts, the resort’s opening was imminent. All that remained were the “dress rehearsals” that had been arranged for each department. Tonight, Michael and Maria would meet their first job-related challenges, but Max, Liz, and Kyle had a special evening to look forward to—staff from Food Services, Entertainment, Security, and Maintenance were going to run through their paces by putting on a dinner/dance for the remaining staff and specific invited guests. That meant that while Maria and Michael were working, the others could sit back and relax for a change.

The afternoon was humming with activity. Megan was drafted to take care of some last-minute details and jumped at the chance to escape what was becoming a tedious routine of caring for Alex. Serena had offered to watch Alex for her, and decided that he needed a new outfit for the party. Kyle was summoned to drive them, and was waiting with the town car when Serena wheeled her charge into the sunshine.

“Do you need help, ma’am?” Kyle asked with deference. He recognized the pretty young woman from the Oasis job fair, but if he was driving her around town, she must be someone important.

“Ma’am?” Serena laughed lightly, and the sound made Kyle smile. “Please tell me I don’t look old enough to be a ma’am. I’m Serena. This is Alex.” She reached for the squirming bundle, and Kyle immediately folded up the stroller and placed it in the trunk. Then, circling to the back door opposite the one Serena entered, he checked the seatbelt on the car seat.

“Need help?” he asked, hoping she would decline; he knew nothing about car seats. Someone else had installed it before he was allowed to leave the garage, and he realized with alarm that he didn’t even know how to put a kid in one of those things.

“No, I’ve got it,” she smiled. The baby spit his pacifier out with a loud sucking noise, and two hands reached for it, brushing slightly.

“Sorry,” Kyle apologized, looking up into bright blue eyes.

“Whatever for?” Serena replied with amused bewilderment. “There are never enough hands when it comes to a baby, I’ve learned.”

She offered the pacifier to Alex, who suctioned it in quickly. Kyle noticed with some surprise that her hand wore no wedding band, and he wondered what story lay behind this petite brunette and her baby. It wasn’t his place to ask, though, and he had no intention of doing or saying anything wrong on his first official day. He needed the job too badly. Besides, he liked this girl. She had given him a warm and caring feeling that first day when he’d stood in line for a job, and she’d given Michael a break, which was a small miracle in itself. Now, as he shut one door and circled the car to hold the other door for her, he had that same comfortable feeling.

Kyle blinked in confusion as Serena shut the back door and opened the front one before he could reach her. He broke into a trot.

“Ma’am? Uh, Serena? Don’t you want to sit in back?”

“Heck, no. I can go back if Alex gets fussy, but we can talk more easily if I’m up front.”

“Talk?”

“You don’t mind, do you?” she asked, frowning suddenly. “I mean, if you’d rather . . .”

“No. I mean, this is fine. I just thought . . .”

“ . . . that I’d expect you to cart me around like some princess?”

Kyle stood awkwardly, his mouth groping for words that wouldn’t come. She laughed, and he thought again what a nice sound it was.

“I’m no princess, Mr. . . .?”

“Valenti. Kyle. Just call me Kyle.”

“I’m just a college student, Kyle. I would have driven myself except I need to pick up a few things and had to watch Alex, too, and Uncle Brad thought I should have someone to help me with the packages and all Alex’s stuff. It’s amazing what you have to carry around with a little one.”

“Uh, sure. No problem.”

He shut her door and hurried around to his own side, sliding quickly behind the wheel.

“Where to?”

“Let’s start with Neiman Marcus. I want to get Alex something special to wear. Are you going to the dinner dance? It’s open to all employees who aren’t working, you know.”

“Yeah, I’ll be there. I’m meeting a couple of friends—other new employees who aren’t working the event.”

“Great. Maybe I’ll see you there.”

They chatted amiably as Kyle negotiated skillfully through the city traffic. Serena was so down to earth that he was soon at ease, genuinely interested in her stories of college life and her growing responsibilities at the resort. She gave him no clues, however, about her husband, and her bare ring finger. Could she already be a divorcee at such a young age? And Alex . . . he was another huge responsibility she hadn’t really talked about. She was something of a puzzle, but that wasn’t his concern, he reminded himself. He had a job to do, and that was all.

Pulling carefully into a parking space, Kyle wondered what his role was supposed to be now. Wait in the car? Go with her?

“Kyle, would you grab the stroller while I get him out? He’s already too heavy to carry around for long. I’ll push, and you carry packages, okay?”

Well, that answered that question.

Kyle brought the stroller around to the back door and watched as Serena settled the contented baby into the luxurious padding.

“Will you strap him in while I grab my purse and his bag?” she asked.

Kyle squatted obediently, already wondering how the complex array of straps and buckles fit together. A bright-eyed cherub looked at him expectantly, and a weird sense of déjà vu came over him. This baby looked so much like the one Tess had brought to Roswell, but older. He shook off the thought. That baby had been adopted out east. Besides, all babies looked alike, right?

Shopping with a woman and a baby was a new experience for Kyle, especially since he wasn’t free to wander to the sporting goods store or park himself in front of the television display. He couldn’t help but think of those two occasions Liz had succeeded in getting him to the mall, only to waste valuable time examining every display and exclaiming over her “finds.” Not to mention that he’d never been in the baby department in his life.

Still, watching Serena interact with her son gave him a warm feeling. He couldn’t help but admire the gentle way in which she handled the baby, or her reassuring tone when she talked to him, asking his opinion of this outfit or that one and laughing at the bubbles he puffed from his mouth in response.

“What do you think?” she asked Kyle, holding a hangar in each hand. From one hung a miniature tuxedo, complete with red bowtie. From the other was a pair of pinstriped pants and a high-necked shirt. That one apparently came with pinstriped sneakers to match.

A disapproving frown crossed Kyle’s face. What was he supposed to say? They were ridiculous clothes for a little boy. They looked uncomfortable and pretentious, but he couldn’t tell her that.

“Either one is fine,” he assured her with an unconvincing tone of encouragement.

Serena burst out laughing. “Kyle, if you’re not going to be honest with me, we’ll never get along. They’re horrid, and forcing him into either one would be just plain cruel. How can I trust you if you just agree with me all the time?”

Kyle’s jaw dropped open; then his mouth turned upward into a tentative smile.

“Thank god,” he breathed, and she grinned at him.

“Come on, then,” she instructed him. “Let’s find something for a baby.”

An hour later, they were sitting in the food court surrounded by packages. Serena had bought her young charge two outfits—both of which Kyle had suggested, much to his own surprise—as well as some crib sheets, sleepers, and toys. Very few of Alex’s belongings from his home in New Jersey had made the trip with him, but now that it looked like he might be staying awhile, the family had agreed they needed to create a more permanent environment for him. Furniture had been ordered, and Serena had volunteered to pick up some other necessities.

“Want some ice cream?” Serena suggested. “Hagen Das has a stand over there.”

Kyle reached for his wallet, wondering how much money, if any, was in it. Serena pushed his hand back down gently. “My treat. You’ve really gone above and beyond the call.”

Before he could say a word, she was gone, leaving him with the dozing baby in his stroller. Kyle took the opportunity to study him, still bothered by the resemblance to baby Zan. He’d only seen Zan a couple of times, and his exposure to babies in general was minimal, but damn. This kid was a dead ringer, in spite of the three months since Zan had been put up for adoption.

As he watched, the big, curious eyes opened slowly and looked up at him. A shiver darted through Kyle’s veins at the direct gaze, an incongruous wisdom in the angelic face. Out of curiosity, he opened his mind to little Alex’s thoughts, and squinted, perplexed, at what he felt. He couldn’t put a name to it, but it was almost like Alex was consciously looking back—studying Kyle just as intently as Kyle was studying him.

“Mint chocolate chip or strawberry?”

Pulling his eyes reluctantly from the baby, Kyle turned to see Serena standing with two cones, each topped with two big scoops of ice cream.

“Mint chocolate chip,” he smiled, taking the hint when she held that one toward him.

“Oh, good. I love strawberry.”

They chatted aimlessly about the resort until Alex’s restlessness became a series of increasingly urgent staccato grunts, and they knew it was time to go. Serena chose to sit in the back seat on the return trip, anticipating the baby’s objections to being strapped in yet again. She sang quietly to him as Kyle drove patiently through the busy streets, feeling more at peace than he had in some time.

********
Philip Evans threw his pencil down on the desk and pressed his fingers against weary eyes. Another dead end. So far, police, private detectives, or family members had been able to supply enough information to eliminate all but two children from his list of possible kidnapping victims. Zan was still a mystery.

It should have been easier than this. Police were understaffed and parents rarely knew enough to tap all the resources at their disposal. But he did. He’d used every agency, charity, and resource he could think of, and nothing. It was as if the child had appeared from nowhere . . . or worse, from somewhere so far flung that Philip would never have a prayer of tracking down the child’s origins. He didn’t have the time, money, or stamina to look into every male child kidnapped last year. There must be hundreds in the United States alone. The child had no language; he could have come from Sweden, Lithuania, South Africa, anywhere at all.

He looked out the window into the streets of Roswell, ordered and predictable. Except that those streets held secrets no one could imagine. Thanks to General Christopher, efforts to hunt the aliens had been severely diminished, and much of the “evidence” they’d been going on had been discredited or compromised. What initiatives remained were being skillfully misdirected. What little the citizens of Roswell knew, or thought they knew, was fast becoming ancient history, and new intrigues occupied their interest.

Only those who knew the secrets were left to wrestle with truth. They had given away a child that was not theirs to give, and the wrong might never be righted. It was a heavy burden, not unlike the ones Max and Isabel had carried all these years. It grieved him that they had gotten used to carrying such weight on their shoulders, and it saddened him he was unable to lift that from them.

At least Isabel was with her husband and seemed happier than she had been in some time. Through her, he also knew the others were well, too. Soon, perhaps, they could be more open with their communications; it seemed the fuss was dying down, and the hunt was all but suspended. He looked forward to the time when they could visit and be an active part of their children’s lives, to a time without secrets.

He closed the folders containing the information on the last two possibilities—at least for this round. The only thing he could still accomplish today was to pray—pray that Zan, wherever he was, was loved.

Continued in next post
Carol/spacemom

Max and Liz: The love that is Roswell--"You have gone through me like thread through a needle. Now everything I do is stitched with your color."

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Carol000
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Post by Carol000 » Sun Jun 01, 2003 10:39 am

Part 29 continued

********
Max couldn’t take his eyes off of Liz. She was a vision in a deep red, floor-length gown with a daring slit up one side. Atop the figure-hugging creation, one creamy shoulder lay bare while the other supported a drape of fabric fastened with a faux-diamond clasp, the dress’s only adornment. That is, if you didn’t count the irresistible accessories of Liz’s sparkling eyes and fringe of dark curls around her face.

Charmed by how his admiring look still made her blush, he bent over the hand he held tenderly in his own and kissed it, watching the blush deepen, along with her smile.

“Aren’t you gallant tonight?” she teased, obviously pleased by his attention.

“Yeah. I think I’m gonna be sick,” Kyle countered from across the table, the amusement in his eyes belying his irritated words and disgusted smirk.

Max just grinned at him, refusing to be embarrassed by his adoration of his wife. “Valenti, you need a girl. Then maybe you’d quit acting as chaperone everywhere we go.”

“You’re telling me. But who has time to meet girls? The only women I’ve met are old, married, or incredibly tall. Have you seen the Amazons around this place?”

Liz laughed. “Showgirls, Kyle. They’re always tall. It makes them look leggy in those skimpy costumes.”

“Yeah, well, I haven’t felt this short since I dated Vicki Delaney. I’ve discovered I don’t like looking up to kiss a girl.”

Max was about to make a sarcastic comment when he noticed Kyle’s expression change from scowl to smile, his eyes focused somewhere behind Liz. Turning, he saw a petite brunette in a sapphire blue strapless gown approaching. Looking back towards Kyle, there was no doubt that this woman was the object of his gaze.

The young woman greeted him warmly. “Hi, Kyle. I’m glad I ran into you. Wow, the place looks great, doesn’t it?”

“It sure does,” he agreed, looking around for the first time. “Serena, these are my friends, Max and Liz Evans. Liz is training for the front desk and Max is in Conventions. Our other friends are working tonight.”

Liz and Max exchanged a surprised glance. Serena. Future Max had said Liz would have a friend named Serena someday, but everything had changed from the future he’d predicted then. Could it just be coincidence?

“Liz, Max, nice to meet you. So you all came to Oasis hoping to work together? That’s friendship!”

Max recovered quickly before their silence became obvious.

“Well, we’re new to town, and this seemed to be our best chance at employment. It’s just an added bonus that we’re all together.”

Serena nodded. “Liz, your gown is gorgeous. Please tell me it’s one of ours.”

“Ours?”

“Oh, sorry,” Kyle interrupted. “I didn’t explain that I met Serena driving her around today. She’s the owner’s niece.”

“Oh . . .” Liz fumbled, unprepared to meet one of her bosses so casually. Then her self-assurance returned. She had nothing to be ashamed of.

“Yes, it’s from the boutique off the lobby. When we got word that we could choose a dress at cost, I figured I’d take a look.” She grimaced slightly. “It was still pretty expensive, but Max insisted.”

“Once I saw you in it, how could I not?” he said to her softly. Then, looking back at Serena, he added, “Besides, we’re living in Las Vegas. I imagine there are plenty of occasions to dress up, right?”

“Tons,” Serena laughed. “You may start longing for those sweats after a few weeks.”

Max watched Kyle watching Serena and decided to do his friend a favor. Besides, he’d been waiting for a chance to hold his beautiful bride in his arms, and the first of the bands auditioning tonight was just starting up.

“May I have this dance?”

Shining eyes held his, the answer inevitable and eager. He led her to the floor, twirling her into his arms with a flourish. When their bodies met, it was an effort to remember to move his feet. The only reason to dance at all was so that their need for contact had a socially acceptable outlet. But once they began to sway, a hundred more reasons electrified his mind and body.

The silk of her shoulder drew him down, and he kissed it, gently at first, then his tongue wet a small spot and he sucked on it ever so slightly. When her hips arched against him, he hissed, and he felt her shiver as his reaction drew air across the wetness. She had been more sensitive in that one spot ever since the “glowing hickey” had appeared and been healed there so long ago. It hadn’t taken him long to learn that this was now a vulnerable entry to her passion, and he thrilled to her primal reaction when he lavished attention on it.

He drew away from her shoulder and slid his hands up to cup her face. Her eyes were closed, a faraway expression softening her features, as if the music and his loving had carried her into an idyllic fantasy. She took his breath away.

“You are the most beautiful woman in the world,” he breathed, bestowing a feathery kiss on each eyelid.

The eyes fluttered open. “Only when seen through the most beautiful soul in the world,” she answered him in a breathless whisper. She closed her eyes again and lifted her mouth, a fluid motion borne of confidence in his response. He swooped in, covering her mouth and diving inside it, his tongue seeking hers, her taste assuaging his hunger.

The flame that burned inside him was always there, warm and potentially explosive. But when she was tight against him like this—her hands stroking his back, her breasts pressing into his chest, her hips swaying against his, her lips moving hungrily—the flame leapt, igniting his heart and body in a shower of sparks. He opened himself to her and felt her answering heat sweep over him.

It was a mistake.

He felt her arms twine around his neck, and she pushed herself up, eager to increase the pressure. A whimper escaped from deep within her as her feet left the floor, and he pulled her even tighter against him. Somehow, the floodgates that controlled the passion between them in public places had burst, crumbling in the path of their escalating connection.

“Liz,” he panted against her lips.

“I know.”

She slid down his body, clutching at him to keep from falling.

“Follow me.” Her trembling hand tugged at him, and he followed blindly down a corridor he’d never seen.

“In here,” she ordered, her hoarse whisper tinged with desperation. “Lock it.”

He did as he was told, then turned to her, stumbling backwards against the door when she came at him, naked longing evident in her face and body. Max broke off the kiss just long enough to get a sense of their surroundings—a lounge of some kind, complete with couches. The curtains were already drawn closed, and the only light was the waning streaks of dusk the crept around the window’s edge.

“Liz, what . . .?”

“No one will come back here tonight, Max. Now finish what you started before I explode.”

Her eyes gleamed, catching what little light still penetrated the room. She reached under her arm and pulled at a zipper Max hadn’t even noticed. As she drew it down, the dress loosened, then draped around her waist, exposing her delicate torso, her small, firm breasts already nipple-hard and reaching for him. Max sucked in his breath, eyes feeding on the feast she offered him. His cock was standing at urgent attention, and he reached for her just as the dress pooled to the floor.

There before him was his Dream. It always had been, and it always would be. Everything about her had pulled him to her his whole life, but this . . . this sensuous side to her had been beyond his wildest fantasies, and he thought he might die of happiness.

He was pulled abruptly from his idealizing by a decidedly concrete example of her sexuality. Her eyes had turned from desperate to daring, from longing to lust-filled. She touched her breasts, toying with them, tracing the areolas in tighter and tighter circles until she reached the tips, closing her eyes and throwing her head back as she touched the rock-hard nipples. Those circles weren’t the only things getting tighter. Max was suddenly sincerely afraid he’d lose it just standing there in his suit. She was driving him to the breaking point.

He reached for her again, but her head snapped up. “Not yet,” she warned. “You still have your clothes on.” Her eyes lingered on his straining erection. “And apparently I’m not the only one who objects.”

Max yanked at his suit coat and began unbuttoning his shirt when Liz knelt before him and started on his belt buckle. He leaned back against the door with a thud, aware of the trembling in his knees. She was moving fast. The pants fell around his ankles and seconds later, she had him in her mouth—long, slow strokes meant to bring him to the brink but not over it. He could feel his balls start to tighten, and he pulled out of her mouth with an agonized groan. Looking down from what had become a dizzying height, he gasped at the sight of her looking up at him, tongue still sneaking out to taste what he’d taken from her.

With a growl, he stepped out of his pants, scooped her up, and lowered them to the couch. Hovering over her, he almost laughed at the satisfied sparkle in her eye. She’d known exactly what she was doing.

“You are a witch,” he scolded gently.

“Only for you, my love.”

He plunged into her and the union opened their connection to its fullest, merging their souls even as their bodies merged in hard, possessive strokes. Their foreplay had readied them, and their bodies soared to completion in an explosion of pleasure and emotion. They lingered there, floating on the afterglow for a long time, at peace with each other and the universe in this isolated bubble of time—a moment of perfection that they cherished above all else.

Max rested his cheek against Liz’s, marveling at the simultaneous rhythms of their hearts. Everything about them was in sync. How could he have ever uttered the words, “I know it’s not meant to be”? It had been fear, a preparation for the worst. Thank God it hadn’t been true.

He felt Liz’s lashes giving him butterfly kisses. He propped himself up on his elbows and looked into her eyes, thrilling to the love that glowed from them.

“Am I crushing you?”

She squeezed her walls around his softened cock and asked, “Am I crushing you?”

His eyes widened in surprise, and a grin broke out across his face as they both felt him harden again.

“Ooooh, my,” Liz smiled impishly. “Maybe we’re not done after all.”

She wriggled beneath him and he gasped, feeling his libido kick into gear again. Footsteps in the hall stopped them both cold. Max pulled out of her and stood quickly, ready to react. Then the doorknob rattled, and Max saw a glow begin to emanate around it.

“Michael, you come in here and you’re dead meat.”

The glow subsided instantly, and a chuckle met their ears. “Sorry, Max. I just wondered what this room was. Hi, Liz.”

The footsteps disappeared down the hall and the two lovers collapsed in relieved laughter.

“We’d better get back,” Max sighed.

Liz traced a single finger down his renewed erection and frowned. “You can’t go like this,” she reasoned. “And besides, I believe Security just made their rounds. So if you can just keep the moaning down . . .” She took him fully into her hand, and the moan erupted before he could close his mouth. “. . . and that long, low wail you do when you cum . . .” He looked at her with a combination of shock and guilt, lips pressed tightly together as if already trying to do as she asked. “. . . then maybe we can take care of this before we go back.”

She nudged him upright until he was sitting. Then she rolled to her knees on the couch, and Max breathed deeply of their combined scents wafting from her dark nest of glistening, damp curls. The sight of her tousled hair and come-hither eyes, the fragrance of their passion, the danger of their location—he was rock hard again, and more than ready for her. Swinging her right knee across him, Liz straddled him, teasing his tip against her heat for only a few seconds before he grabbed her hips and sheathed himself within her with one smooth move. Leaning forward, she swallowed his inevitable moan with a kiss. She rode him then, with an abandon that turned him on beyond belief. Her breasts jiggled invitingly in front of him, and he dove forward to capture one into his hot mouth, sighing with satisfaction when her quiet keening became accompaniment for the sounds of their bodies coming together.

The tension built slowly this time, swelling and subsiding in steady increments until Max felt Liz ready herself. He bit gently on one nipple and felt the strong contractions pulse around him. He let go, emptying his seed into her welcoming recesses, waves of pleasure spreading through him until his very fingertips hummed with release.

This time when he opened his eyes, his first view was of moist heaving breasts at eye level, then up to moist shining eyes.

“I love you,” she whispered as a tear escaped. “I love you more than I ever thought it was possible to love.”

He pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her in a surge of protectiveness and love. “I love you, Liz Parker Evans. You’re my life.”

They held each other until their damp bodies began to chill in the air-conditioned room. Then, with studied tenderness, they dressed each other. Max erased all evidence of their tryst with a sweep of his hand, and they returned to the dance, glowing with the love that they had long since accepted was, indeed, meant to be.

********
“Wow.”

Kyle followed Serena’s gaze to the object of her exclamation. Max and Liz. A snicker escaped his lips, and he quickly suppressed it.

“What?” she asked him, smiling but curious. “I think it’s beautiful. They are obviously so much in love.”

“That’s true,” he agreed. “It’s almost scary, when you know them. They can’t get enough of each other.”

Serena’s smile broadened. “So I see.”

Kyle looked up again, shaking his head as Max lifted Liz from the floor and heated the room with one of “those” kisses.

“I wonder if they ever loved anyone besides each other,” she sighed, drawn into the dreaminess of their relationship.

Kyle snorted. “I would say no.”

He met Serena’s questioning expression and rolled his eyes. “Believe it or not, I used to date Liz.”

“You’re kidding! So how did you all wind up friends?”

Kyle shrugged. “It’s a long story. I thought we had something pretty special, actually, but once Max made his move, I was history. I just didn’t know it for a while.”

Serena frowned. “Sounds painful. You seem to have gotten over it, though. Did you fall for someone else, too?”

Kyle felt his face flush and he squirmed uncomfortably. “Not really. I mean, I thought I did, but no. That seems to be the story of my life. I think I’m in love, but I’m not. I wonder how I’ll know when it’s real.”

He jerked, suddenly aware that he’d been talking out loud. “Sorry, I was . . . just . . . rambling. Sorry.”

“Care to dance?” She stood and held out her hand, clearly willing to ignore his inadvertent self-reflection.

“Dance? Uh, what about your husband? Won’t he mind?”

“Husband? Good lord, Kyle. I’m 19 and in college. Why would you think I was married?”

Before he could answer, she grabbed his hand and pulled him to the dance floor. Buoyed by her surprising announcement, he swept her into his arms. This put a whole new spin on things, he smiled to himself. An entirely new spin.

Kyle let himself just enjoy the feel of this very attractive woman in his arms, suppressing the host of new questions that sprang to mind. This was a time to simply appreciate some of the good moments life threw your way, and he intended to make the most of it.

“Oh, they’re leaving,” Serena observed, sounding slightly disappointed.

“Who?”

“Your friends. They seem to be leaving. Too bad. I was hoping to get to know them. They seem nice.”

Kyle looked up and saw Max and Liz disappear down a hall. He couldn’t see Liz’s face, but he could see Max’s. He knew that look. Lucky stiff.

“They’re not headed toward the exit, just into the office wing. Do you think something’s wrong?”

“Nothing 15 minutes won’t fix,” Kyle muttered.

“What?”

“Nothing. I’m sure they’ll be back.”

Serena nodded and relaxed against Kyle, bringing a smile to his face. It had been a long time since he’d felt normal. Tonight, he did. He cracked the window open just enough to get a sense of Serena’s feelings at the moment. She was happy, content to be there with him. He closed the window. That’s all he had any right to know. It was enough.

“Oh, my gosh!”

Kyle leaned back to see Serena’s face, worried that something was wrong. “What is it?”

“Look at him, Kyle! Isn’t he adorable?”

A woman Kyle hadn’t met was walking toward them holding Alex, bedecked in his new outfit of soft denim overalls with a basketball on the front and a striped t-shirt. Miniature athletic shoes completed the outfit.

Alex reached for Serena the moment he saw her, and she broke her hold on Kyle to take him.

“Aunt Megan, this is Kyle, one of the new drivers. He took me shopping with Alex this afternoon. He even picked out this outfit.”

“Well, that explains it,” Megan nodded. “I didn’t think this outfit was your style, Serena.”

Kyle detected a note of formality in the woman’s voice, and wondered if she disapproved of her niece dancing with “the help.”

“I’m sorry if it’s not to your liking,” he said, trying to keep the edge out of his voice. “I guess without a dad, he’s been missing the male influence.”

He wanted to bite his tongue off. Both women looked at him sharply, shock and sadness merging into looks that made him want to disappear into the floor. He had no idea who had fathered Serena’s child. Maybe it was something they didn’t talk about. Maybe . . .

“If you’ll excuse me.” Serena’s aunt turned to leave, and Kyle immediately began to stumble through his apology.

“Serena, I’m so sorry. It’s none of my business. I don’t know what got into me. I’m sure you’re a wonderful mother. I had no right . . .”

Alex protested as Serena gripped him tighter and hurried from the room, leaving Kyle to mutter disgustedly at himself.

“You stupid prick. What’s the matter with you?” He threw himself into a chair at the empty table, and slapped his forehead against his palms. Great. He’d finally made a friend, and within hours of meeting her, he’d insulted her . . . or hurt her . . . or angered her. He didn’t even know which. He raised his eyes to watch the couples dancing out on the floor. They were happy, laughing, enjoying themselves. They had friends or lovers with them. They weren’t alone. Why was he?

He saw Maria off to the side, getting instructions from the next band leader who needed changes to the stage for his group who would audition next. She looked harried but was nodding her understanding and taking notes. Michael was wandering in and out, decked out in his uniform and watching the proceedings, fairly secure in the feeling that nothing would happen tonight. It was almost all staff, after all. He caught Kyle’s eye and rolled his eyes. Kyle found a smile for him and watched him leave again.

Lost in thought, Kyle looked up abruptly when Max and Liz joined him at the table. Just to needle them, he asked, “So, where did you two kids get to?”

He smirked at their predictably awkward expressions. “Never mind. I have a pretty good idea.” Then the blushes started up and Kyle laughed out loud.

“Oh, please. You two are about as subtle as a bulldozer. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time . . . or something like that.”

“Where’s Serena?” Liz asked, frowning as Kyle’s face fell.

“I don’t know. I messed up, I guess.”

“Why? What’d you do?”

Kyle blew out a sigh, but got no further because Serena had appeared at the table, Alex propped against one shoulder, his back to the group. Kyle stood and opened his mouth to speak, but she hurried on first. “Kyle, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have run off. You just touched on a sensitive subject.”

“I’m so sorry, Serena. I can’t believe I even mentioned anything. He’s your son and . . .”

“No, he’s not.”

A heavy silence yawned between them, and Kyle sat down with a thud. “He’s not?”

“No, he’s my brother’s son. My brother and his wife were killed a few weeks ago, and Alex was brought to us for a while. I just help look after him.”

“Oh.” Kyle felt like an even bigger prick now, but couldn’t help the thread of relief that Serena had not been committed to Alex’s father. That he even cared surprised him, but it was a nice feeling nonetheless.

“That’s awful,” Liz said. “I’m so sorry. It must be terribly hard on all of you.”

“You were close to your brother?” Max asked, thoughts of Isabel running through his mind.

Serena nodded. “Yeah, I was. Andy was my hero growing up. He always looked out for me. He and Susan were so happy when they got Alex. They would’ve been great parents.”

She was obviously fighting tears, and Kyle pulled a chair out for her, patting it in silent invitation. She accepted, and adjusted Alex on her shoulder.

“When they got Alex?” Liz prompted gently.

“Yeah, Alex is adopted. He was born out west, I think, but the adoption was handled through a lawyer in New York. We grew up in New Jersey, and Andy and Susan still lived there.”

Max could feel his heart racing, but knew he was being ridiculous. Her story could apply to lots of kids, he was sure.

“They’d only had him a couple of months when they had the accident—if that’s what it was. Anyway, I’ve been out here going to school and living with Aunt Megan and Uncle Brad. When Dad brought Alex out here, I just started helping out, and now I spend as much time with him as I can. I just adore him.”

She kissed the top of the little blond head and turned him around to face her new acquaintances.

“Say hello, Alex.”

Kyle’s heart lurched at the sight of Max and Liz gaping, slack-jawed, at the baby. He’d been right, after all. Zan had come back into their lives.
Carol/spacemom

Max and Liz: The love that is Roswell--"You have gone through me like thread through a needle. Now everything I do is stitched with your color."

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Carol000
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Part 30

Post by Carol000 » Sun Jun 08, 2003 12:26 am

I'm a few hours early on this one, but what the heck, right?

First, a warm welcome to amersau! I'm glad you've decided to join us here, and I'm delighted you're enjoying the story.

I was surprised at how many people expressed surprise or at least confirmation of the Alex Is Zan idea. That was actually pretty much established a few chapters ago when Serena explained that the people who had put him up for adoption called him Zan, and they thought that must be short for Alexander, which suited him, so they kept it. However, I'm glad some of you were still in suspense!

Well, since this picks up seconds after Chapter 29 ends, I'm putting that primer in here to remind you. The plot thickens (again).

From Part 29

“You were close to your brother?” Max asked, thoughts of Isabel running through his mind.

Serena nodded. “Yeah, I was. Andy was my hero growing up. He always looked out for me. He and Susan were so happy when they got Alex. They would’ve been great parents.”

She was obviously fighting tears, and Kyle pulled a chair out for her, patting it in silent invitation. She accepted, and adjusted Alex on her shoulder.

“When they got Alex?” Liz prompted gently.

“Yeah, Alex is adopted. He was born out west, I think, but the adoption was handled through a lawyer in New York. We grew up in New Jersey, and Andy and Susan still lived there.”

Max could feel his heart racing, but knew he was being ridiculous. Her story could apply to lots of kids, he was sure.

“They’d only had him a couple of months when they had the accident—if that’s what it was. Anyway, I’ve been out here going to school and living with Aunt Megan and Uncle Brad. When Dad brought Alex out here, I just started helping out, and now I spend as much time with him as I can. I just adore him.”

She kissed the top of the little blond head and turned him around to face her new acquaintances.

“Say hello, Alex.”

Kyle’s heart lurched at the sight of Max and Liz gaping, slack-jawed, at the baby. He’d been right, after all. Zan had come back into their lives.

Part 30

At first, Serena didn’t notice the dumbfounded looks directed at her young charge. She was too busy wrestling a table knife away from the quick-fingered baby, and chastising him gently for future reference.

“Alex, no. That’s sharp. Sharp. It can hurt you. Owee!” she emphasized, feigning pain with an exaggerated grimace. Alex objected loudly to the unceremonious loss of his new toy, and he began to wail. Serena cooed to him soothingly, but he strained forward, trying to reach the knife again. Even her offer of a spoon failed to placate him; apparently, it was too tame a utensil for his liking.

Serena glanced around the room, self-conscious about the racket Alex was making in the typically adult setting. This would never be tolerated at anything but a staff function. Still, her new acquaintances had come here to relax, not to deal with a crying baby. She should probably just go. Too bad. She had really been looking forward to some unofficial time with Kyle. Something about him . . .

She looked up, ready to offer them an apology, but it died on her lips when she saw the expression on Max and Liz’s faces. Their mouths were open, their eyes were wide with astonishment, and they were looking between Kyle and Alex with something bordering on accusation. The whole scene was almost surreal; none of it made any sense. Finally, she, too, looked at Kyle, a question in her eyes.

“I . . . I . . . is it?” he stuttered irrationally. “I didn’t think . . .”

Serena was about to ask what was going on when Kyle leapt to his feet and reached for Alex, who turned startled eyes to him and quieted immediately. Then, as if hit by sudden inspiration, he walked around the table and shoved Alex at a stunned Liz. Shifting nervously from one foot to the other, he turned back to Serena.

“Uh, Serena, we didn’t get to finish our dance. Max and Liz won’t mind watching him for a minute. Shall we?”

“Kyle, I don’t know . . .” Uncertain and more than a little reluctant, she shook her head. “He’s pretty upset . . .”

But as she looked at Alex, her reservations dimmed. The distraught baby made no protest about his new caretakers, and he and Max were staring at each other intently, as if carrying on a serious conversation, though neither was making a sound.

“Max? Liz?”

Liz didn’t respond immediately, then seemed to shake herself. “Oh, it’s fine, Serena. Go ahead. We’d love to watch him for a few minutes.”

Serena allowed herself to be led to the dance floor, her eyes darting to Alex every few seconds. After all, she didn’t really know these people. As she watched, though, the young couple only bent their heads close together and talked, never taking their eyes off of Alex. He seemed to respond to them, watching them closely, almost studying them.

She let herself relax against Kyle and felt his arms slip further around her waist.

“Alex seems to like them,” she observed a little nervously.

Kyle smiled a little too cheerfully. “Well, it’s, uh, good practice,” he replied nervously. “They’ll probably, you know, want kids someday.”

That caught Serena’s attention, and a small smile lit her face as she watched them interact.

“Yeah, I can see that. They look like they’d make a nice family.”

She turned back to Kyle and tilted her head, as if working out a puzzle. “How about you, Kyle? How do you see your future?”

A flicker of something she couldn’t quite recognize crossed his face. “I have absolutely no idea,” he murmured honestly. “But I damn well better start figuring it out.”

********
At first, they couldn’t even breathe. It was as if someone had suctioned all the air out of the room, and they were just suspended there, suffocating like fish on the bottom of a boat. Then, suddenly, Kyle had thrust Zan into Liz’s surprised grasp and practically pulled Serena to the dance floor. The air came flooding back, along with heartbeats and speech.

“Max. It’s him. It’s Zan.”

“I know.”

“He’s staring at you . . . almost like he recognizes you. You don’t think . . .”

“. . . that he’s aware of the memory I planted? Hard to say, I’ve never done that before.”

He watched Alex with fascination. There was something between them; that was certain.

“Can you believe his name is Alex? It’s like some kind of universal symmetry or something. You know, we lose one and the cosmos offers us another?”

Max looked at her askance. “Or maybe a coincidence?”

“What do we do?”

The intense staring contest continued between Max and Alex, and Liz wasn’t even sure he’d heard her. Then, “Nothing. We do nothing for now. I’ll tell Dad, and see if he’s gotten anywhere with his investigation. But we can’t very well kidnap him, and besides, we still don’t know where he belongs. The Crawfords are obviously taking good care of him, and I think Serena really cares about him.”

Liz nodded slowly. “Yeah, she does. But Max, I can’t believe he literally just fell into our laps. What are the odds?”

“I don’t believe in destiny or fate or anything, but . . . you really have to wonder, don’t you?”

Alex lifted a small fist toward Max’s face. It hung there until Max encased it in his much larger one. A tremulous smile broke out on Alex’s face, and immediately a matching grin erupted on Max’s. Max broke their eye contact and looked at Liz.

“Do you think we’ll have babies someday, Liz?”

The worry drained from her face, and her eyes softened. “Would you like that?” she asked.

He leaned in to place a light kiss on her lips. “Yes, I think I would.” Then his expression darkened slightly. “But only if we’re sure it’s safe—for you and for them.”

Liz took another long look at Zan. “Nothing’s been very safe for this little guy, has it?” She smoothed his baby-fine curls and watched them spring back into place. “But at least he’s human. That helps. I wish we knew where he came from.”

Suddenly, Alex’s whole face scrunched into a yawn, and Serena appeared in front of them.

“Thank you, but I’d better get him up to bed,” she said, scooping him expertly into her arms. “It’s already past his bedtime.”

“Need any help?” Kyle offered, eyeing the bag on the floor next to her chair.

“No, thanks, Kyle. I can manage. And thanks for the dance.”

“My pleasure,” he assured her.

They watched as Serena started to walk away. Then she turned. “Kyle? Alex has his 9-month check-up tomorrow. If it’s all right with you, I was going to ask Uncle Brad if you could drive us. Would you mind?”

“I’m here to serve,” he bowed. She hesitated until he straightened and she saw his grin. Then her face relaxed.

“Great. See you tomorrow.”

As soon as Serena and Alex were out of sight, Max turned to Kyle, practically hissing his words.

“Why didn’t you tell us?”

“What? That I’d seen Zan? I didn’t know! I mean, he looked kinda familiar. But you know babies. They all look alike. I didn’t even think it could be him!”

“They all look alike?” Liz practically squeaked. “He’s hardly changed! He’s bigger, yes, and he has more hair, but jeez, Kyle. There’s no question!”

“Well, excuse me!” Kyle spat back. “I only saw him like three times, and two of those we were a little busy . . . uh . . . oh yeah . . . trying to decide whether to kill someone! Memorizing what he looked like wasn’t exactly top priority!”

He looked suddenly ashen, and Liz felt immediately contrite. “I’m sorry, Kyle, I know you’re right. It was just such a shock.”

“Sorry,” Max murmured, reaching for his water glass with a slightly trembling hand. After downing several gulps, he took a deep breath. “It’s not important anyway. All that matters is that we know where he is. Now we have to find out where he came from.”

Kyle had dropped into his seat, his head in his hands. Liz reached over and squeezed his fingers, both an apology and a reassurance. His hands were ice cold.

“Kyle? Is something else wrong?”

“Nothing that concerns you.” He stood suddenly and stalked across the room, veering toward the hallway that would lead to the employee quarters. Liz and Max sat stunned, watching him leave.

“What was that about?” Max wondered aloud.

“I have no idea,” Liz answered. “I don’t feel much like partying anymore. Let’s go home.”

********
Maria still wasn’t used to waking up with Michael. Every day, a little thrill shot through her when her dreams seeped toward consciousness, and she felt the warmth of him wrapped around her. For someone who had made keeping his distance an art form, he seemed to be taking their new relationship very seriously. He still wasn’t one for declarations of love or romantic gestures, but if you knew Michael—and Maria did know Michael—you could see his effort in a hundred quiet ways. He was hers, and for a change, he didn’t care who knew it.

His warmth was missing this morning, though, and she frowned slightly at his absence. She glanced at the clock and winced. 8:05. That was obscenely early for a Saturday. But they both had post-mortems this morning—long meetings where each department discussed what had worked and what hadn’t at the party the night before. They’d be opening soon, and things had to be perfect from the very first day.

Coffee. Its strong aroma triggered a deep, slow inhalation, and she smiled as her hero walked through the door with a steaming mug.

“You’re awake.”

“If you can call it that,” she mumbled, pushing herself up to a sitting position and accepting the mug, along with a kiss to the forehead. “Thanks.”

“We’ve only got about 30 minutes before we have to leave,” he reminded her.

“You know, I think this is probably illegal or something.”

“What is?”

“Working us til 2 a.m. and then calling us in for a 9:00 a.m. meeting.” She glared at her coffee as if it were to blame. Then she felt the mattress sink as Michael lowered himself onto the bed.

“Put down the cup.”

“Huh?”

She turned to see him eyeing her with that look in his eye.

“Eeewww, Michael. I haven’t even brushed my teeth!”

He took the cup from her, reached across to set it on the nightstand, then waved his hand across her face.

“There. No make-up smudges. No bad breath. No spikey hair. Can I kiss you now?”

Maria smacked her lips together, enjoying the tingly, cool feel, just like mouthwash. “How come you’re so sweet when we’re alone, and such an ass in front of everyone else, hmmm?” She pushed him back against the pillows and hovered over him, one eyebrow quirked.

“Why, baby, I’ve got a rep to protect,” he stated in his best home-boy persona. “I can’t have no woman power trippin’ in front o’ my homies, yo?”

At this, Maria fell back against the pillows laughing, fully awake and glad to be alive. He was a character. But he was all hers. His arms came around her, and this time, she responded the way he wanted, relishing his most sensual qualities--soft lips, big hands, big . . .

“Oh, sorry.”

They flew apart, turning to stare at Liz in the doorway.

“I thought you were into knocking,” Michael grumbled.

“The door was open, and I heard Maria laughing. I’m sorry, I didn’t think . . .”

“It’s okay, girlfriend,” Maria sighed, sitting up. “We have to go to work anyway. Besides, I’ve done it to you enough times.”

“You have?” Michael asked, looking at Maria curiously.

“You don’t want to know, Spaceboy. You working today, Liz?”

“No, not til tomorrow. It’ll be a busy week, though. Both Max and I are about to do what you guys just did—get ready for a big run-through on registration, conventions, kids’ program, and pool services. After today, you won’t see much of us for a few days. Which actually brings me to my question. I was wondering when you’d be home today. I sort of had something planned for Max and me tonight, but it’s uh . . ., I mean, I just wondered when you’d be home.”

“Do you guys just screw all the time? Or do you do other stuff, too?”

“Michael!” Maria hit him hard in the chest, but he didn’t even flinch. He must be getting a callous there or something, Maria thought to herself.

“Don’t act all sensitive with me,” Michael warned her. “You’ve wondered that, too. You told me so.”

“Maria?” Liz gasped, blushing to her roots.

Michael’s adorable factor evaporated, and Maria stabbed him with a death-glare. “I never said that!”

“Yes, you did . . .”

Thwack!

“No, I didn’t. Liz, we work just til noon, but I’m making motormouth here take me to dinner and a movie tonight, so you can have the apartment to yourself. Is that what you wanted to know?”

“Uh, yeah. Sort of. Thanks. Also, did you guys see a package? One was supposed to be delivered yesterday.”

“Oh!” Michael pushed out of bed and padded to the kitchen. “Here,” he said, handing her the small box. “It came about 20 minutes ago. What is it?”

“A surprise,” she beamed, stashing the box under the frayed sofa, one of many unfortunate additions to the “furnished” apartment they’d rented. “Don’t say anything to Max.”

She scampered back to the bedroom and shut the door. Maria, watching from the doorway, waited until the door was shut, then began to yell at Michael in her most threatening stage whisper.

“You idiot! Why did you tell her that?”

“Because I wanted to know. And so do you,” he answered defensively. “And why did you tell her we had plans for dinner and a movie tonight? There’s a Cardinals football game I wanted to see.”

She glared. He glared.

“Ooooh, Liz!”

“Shhhh!”

Their heads both swiveled toward the closed bedroom door, and they burst out laughing. Maria closed the distance between them, and slid her arms around his neck.

“Well, I guess we know the answer to question #1. As for the second question, how about dinner in a sports bar?”

He kissed her lightly. “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Spaceboy.”

********
When Kyle pulled around to the Crawfords’ private entrance to pick up Serena and Alex at 10:00 the next morning, he was tired and irritable. The thoughts that had been racing through his mind all night were absurd, ridiculous, totally impossible. And yet, part of him must have been less sure than that logical part, because the rare sleep he did get was plagued by unsettled dreams and painful images.

He scrubbed at his eyes, willing them to open with a fresh perspective. Among other things, he was anxious about seeing Serena this morning. He liked her. A lot. And yet it seemed the time they’d spent together last night had met several awkward stumbling blocks. Still, she had asked for him to drive them to the doctor’s office today, so maybe she wasn’t completely pissed.

“Kyle?”

Kyle spun around to see Serena, laden with diaper bag and stroller, standing at the curb. Maybe he was just projecting his own mood, but she didn’t look much better than he felt. Forgetting momentarily that he was only the chauffeur, he reached for her arm.

“Are you okay?”

She shrugged and managed an unconvincing smile. “Yeah. Just tired. I didn’t sleep well last night.”

“You didn’t?” Kyle responded cautiously. “Bad dreams?”

She shook her head. “No, but Alex was incredibly fussy. I don’t know whether he’s getting a tooth or getting sick or what, but he couldn’t settle down. I’m glad we already had this appointment with the doctor.”

As if to confirm her words, Alex began to squirm restlessly, and anyone could see that a yell was imminent.

“You see? And nothing I do calms him.” There was an edge to her voice, and Kyle could see the strain of fatigue and helplessness fray her nerves a little more. He reached for Alex, extracting him from the depths of blankets and padding. To their mutual surprise, he quieted, observing Kyle closely.

“You seem to have the magic touch,” she said in a tone caught between gratitude and irritation. “Maybe I should drive and let you sit in the back with him.”

Kyle felt the knot in his stomach tighten, and he bent to install Alex in his car seat. “I think we’d better stick to our usual jobs,” he grunted, as he wrestled with the buckle. “I don’t want to lose my job the first week.”

Serena watched him, a troubled frown on her face. “What’s wrong, Kyle?”

He backed out of the car and straightened the coat of his uniform before taking a deep breath and looking at her. His guard was down and he knew it. He had to be careful.

“Nothing. At least nothing you can do anything about.” Her concern was colored by a tinge of hurt, and he hurried . . . again . . . to take his foot out of his mouth. He began with a self-deprecating smile.

“I know someone my age isn’t supposed to have baggage yet,” he told her, “but I’m afraid some of mine is pretty heavy. Please be patient with me. Maybe someday, we’ll talk about it.”

She studied him for a moment, then climbed into the back seat with Alex, who was already gaining momentum for a tantrum.

“Hurry, Kyle,” she urged.

Kyle trotted around to the driver’s seat, snapped his seatbelt on, and eased out of the resort drive. Within minutes, the grunts had turned into a series of short wails and finally into a long, grating cry punctuated by ear-piercing screams. Kyle was getting unnerved and swerved suddenly when he realized he was changing lanes into another car.

“Shit!” he muttered under his breath, glancing in the rearview at Serena, whose frantic efforts to soothe Alex were more agitating than calming. Justifying his actions by telling himself the racket was making his driving unsafe, Kyle opened a window to Alex and felt the pain and frustration the little boy was feeling. Something was hurting him, and he was most definitely at the end of his short, confused rope.

“Where’s his pacifier?” Kyle asked over the shrieks.

“I can’t find it,” Serena almost sobbed. “I haven’t seen it since yesterday.”

Kyle’s eyes left the road long enough to scan the front of the car. They’d had things in and out of both seats yesterday, and Serena had sat up front with him on the way to the mall. There it was, wedged into the crease of the passenger seat.

“Got it!” he yelled triumphantly. He held it up and over the back seat where he hoped she could reach it. This was the biggest damn car! He felt the pacifier leave his fingers and blissful quiet descended.

“It worked,” he sighed.

Serena didn’t respond and he looked in the rearview mirror to see Alex sucking furiously at the latex nipple. Next to him, Serena was gaping at him, a look of horror on her face.

“Serena?”

No answer. Not even a blink.

“Serena? What’s wrong?”

She jerked her head toward the front of the car. “Nothing. Nothing’s wrong. We’re fine.”

Her voice betrayed her words, and Kyle’s stomach torqued up another notch.

“Something is wrong.” It wasn’t a question.

“No, nothing. Keep driving.”

There was nothing short of desperation in that voice. Kyle swung off the freeway and stopped the car, twisting in his seat to look at her. She was pale and her hands were trembling, in spite of her attempts to still one with the other. Kyle didn’t need to open a window. Her fear and distress were blatantly obvious. His stomach was so twisted now, he was sure he was going to be sick.

“Serena, give me the pacifier.”

Her eyes flew wide. “No!”

“Give it to me, Serena.”

“No, keep driving. We have to get to the doctor.” She was almost whimpering now.

Kyle’s voice grew calm and firm.

“Serena, I’m not so sure that’s the wisest move. Give me the pacifier.”

Reluctantly, she pulled it from Alex’s mouth and handed it to Kyle, cringing when Alex’s screams picked up where they left off. Kyle held the pacifier out to him, and he reached for it. In a blink, it flew into Alex’s hand and he stuffed it into his mouth, scowling menacingly.

Kyle felt the bile rise in his throat, his eyes darting from Alex to Serena and back to Alex. “Holy shit.”
Carol/spacemom

Max and Liz: The love that is Roswell--"You have gone through me like thread through a needle. Now everything I do is stitched with your color."

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Carol000
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Post by Carol000 » Sat Jun 14, 2003 11:08 pm

First, a big wave to HoodieBehrFan, a new reader who left me some of the nicest f/b I've ever read! Thanks, hon!

Well, gang, that was fun! Watching your reactions and speculating over the truth was awesome. Thanks!

In return, I thought I’d do you a favor. Many were wondering if it had ever really been established that Max never slept with Tess. Others remembered that it had, but speculated that maybe Max and Liz had interpreted things wrong on their honeymoon, and that Max could be the father.

No one who knows me, or spends any time with me online, would wonder. I may be the single most vocal proponent that the tex never happened. And what’s more, I believe it. Below, I have pasted in the part of Chapter 2b that covered this. Don’t feel compelled to read it, but if you want to refresh your memory, here it is. Otherwise, scroll down to Part 31, and see what happens!

FROM PART 2B

Note: The setting here is the one night in a motel that Max and Liz could afford after their marriage. They begin to kiss as soon as they get to the room, and Max suddenly flashes on Tess and is horrified. In his agitated state, though, Liz notices his fingers thrumming. She convinces Max to let the flashes play out so that they can uncover the truth. What you are reading now is in the midst of the flashes that Liz and Max are both seeing.

*****Tess appeared at his side as he gazed at the stars, lost in hopelessness. She tested the waters with silky tones, disguising her desperate agenda. Hadn’t everyone turned away from him? Hadn’t he worked too long to bury his alien nature? Wasn’t it time to turn to the one person who truly loved and understood him? She saw him wavering, agonizing loneliness pushing him toward the one person who was always in the shadows, waiting. It was such a simple solution. So why didn’t it feel right?

And then her eyelids shut and the look of concentration pushed aside the disguise of softness and caring. No matter. Max didn’t see it. For in his mind, he saw only his acceptance of her words, his resigned agreement to come with her into the closed planetarium, and his submission to her as she undressed them both and seduced him. But the images that unfolded before them looked nothing like that. They revealed a dazed Max, giving himself over to Tess as she undressed them and arranged them, naked, side-by-side, letting him remember only what she wanted him to when he awoke in the morning to find her in his arms.*****


Max and Liz parted, seeking each other’s eyes to confirm what they’d seen. Max and Tess hadn’t made love! She’d only convinced him they had! Somewhere in his subconscious, Max must have known what was happening, but it was buried, deeply, just as Kyle’s memory had been. The sense of relief that swept through them both was almost tangible. It was almost too good to believe. Could it be?

Max looked overwhelmed, as Liz tried hard to look for flaws in what they’d seen. She wanted the truth more than she wanted a superficial explanation. But she couldn’t deny the exhilaration she felt about what she’d just witnessed. She could barely think straight.

“Max, let’s think this through. Could she really have mindwarped you? You’re a hybrid. She mindwarped Alex and Kyle and Pierce’s agents, but we don’t know if it works on her own kind.”

Max thought for a minute, and then his face lit up. “Oh, yes we do! Remember, she mindwarped Nicholas. And she admitted that the baby hadn’t communicated with me—not from within her before she left or from Antar after he was born. She said it was a mindwarp! So she could have made me think that we . . . that we were . . .”

Liz plowed forward. They didn’t need to dwell on what may never have been. “The part about the baby not being able to live on Earth was a lie, too,” she reminded him. “And she even admitted her being linked to him was a lie. In fact, in all likelihood, the story that Zan was hers was probably a lie.”

Max froze. “You’re right! But if it’s not mine . . . or hers . . .” His face clouded with anger. “What if she took that baby from his real parents, Liz!”

~~~~~~~~
Note: This carried us eventually to Max’s request that his father investigate Zan’s possible kidnapping, and now has us wondering what the truth could possibly be. Let’s find out . . .

From Part 30

There was nothing short of desperation in that voice. Kyle swung off the freeway and stopped the car, twisting in his seat to look at her. She was pale and her hands were trembling, in spite of her attempts to still one with the other. Kyle didn’t need to open a window. Her fear and distress were blatantly obvious. His stomach was so twisted now, he was sure he was going to be sick.

“Serena, give me the pacifier.”

Her eyes flew wide. “No!”

“Give it to me, Serena.”

“No, keep driving. We have to get to the doctor.” She was almost whimpering now.

Kyle’s voice grew calm and firm.

“Serena, I’m not so sure that’s the wisest move. Give me the pacifier.”

Reluctantly, she pulled it from Alex’s mouth and handed it to Kyle, cringing when Alex’s screams picked up where they left off. Kyle held the pacifier out to him, and he reached for it. In a blink, it flew into Alex’s hand and he stuffed it into his mouth, scowling menacingly.

Kyle felt the bile rise in his throat, his eyes darting from Alex to Serena and back to Alex. “Holy shit.”


Part 31

ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod.

**Zan is completely human. That’s why Khivar rejected him.**

**I’ve put Zan up for adoption. It’s the best thing I can do for him. He’s human. He has a chance at a normal life.**

**It was a mindwarp! Liz recognized the symptoms. We know now that Tess lied. We never slept together. I don’t even think my connection with the baby was real. Was there even a baby?**

**They’d only had him a couple of months when they had the accident . . . When Dad brought Alex out here, I just started helping out, and now I spend as much time with him as I can. I just adore him.**


Kyle’s head spun wildly, a dizzying collage of images rushing through his mind: flashes and bits of forgotten conversations; Max’s relief when he realized he hadn’t slept with Tess; Tess accepting Kyle’s congratulatory flowers; Serena’s terrified face; Zan’s cries of pain; flying pacifiers. Traffic whizzed by, adding to the chaotic sense of panic that plunged his mind into a surreal and indistinct dream. All that felt real was his heartbeat, slamming a rapid rhythm through his body like the foreboding drums of a tribal ritual.

And through the din of half-remembered words and fast-forward images came a single syllable that snapped him back.

“Kyle?”

His vision came back into focus, and he took in her face: pallid tone, a sheen of perspiration, shallow breaths. His minimal first-response training, still fresh in his mind, told the story—shock. She was going into shock. But she’d had no injury—physically. Could an emotional trauma cause shock?

Kyle threw himself across the front seat and nearly fell onto the shoulder of the road from the passenger door, then scrambled into the back seat beside her.

“Serena, look at me.”

Her eyes were still trained on Zan, who was mildly entertained by the activity. His nerves seemed to calm somewhat, and he watched his two caregivers with interest.

“Serena!”

Fumbling with the buttons of his chauffeur’s jacket, he pulled it clumsily from his body, the sweat-dampened sleeves grabbing at his even damper shirt. He threw it over her torso, tucking it around her trembling shoulders.

“Serena, look at me. I’m going to help you. I’m going to help Zan . . . I mean Alex.”

Her dazed eyes found him, only mildly focused.

“Kyle?”

“Serena, it’s okay. Alex is okay. I’m going to take you somewhere where they’ll help you understand this, okay?”

A crease appeared between her eyes, a look of determined concentration on her face. “What?”

“Serena, we can’t go to the doctor with this, but I know someone who will help. Will you let me take you there?”

“Where?”

“Trust me, please, Serena. I want to help you. I’m going to drive you to see people who will help, okay?”

She was gathering her wits now, and suddenly she thrust his jacket aside and began to fumble with the car seat. Kyle realized she was trying to extricate Alex from his chair—for what reason, he couldn’t be sure.

“What are you doing? Serena, leave him where he is. I’ll drive, and we’ll be there soon. I promise.”

“Something’s wrong,” she muttered to herself. “I have to get him out . . .”

Kyle reached for her hands, stilling them with no small effort. She turned in confused anger.

“I have to get him out!”

“NO! You have to let him be. He’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with him, Serena. You just need to understand. That’s all.”

His voice struck him as incredibly calm and certain, in spite of his own internal onslaught of panic, and she responded to it just as he’d hoped. He watched the first of the tears collect in her eyes, and considered that a good sign. Pulling her to him, he cradled her against his shoulder.

“I know it’s scary, Serena, but it’s okay. I promise. Come sit up front with me, and I’ll take you to people who will help.”

“Who?” she asked between convulsive shudders.

Kyle thought about how to answer that, and then decided one more familiar factor in this equation could only be a good thing.

“Max and Liz.”

She pulled back then, and looked at him from under a deep frown. “Why them?”

“They know about this stuff, Serena. Please.”

“Kyle, I don’t understand.”

“I know that,” he said, with an expression of true understanding. He certainly did know that. “But they can help. And nothing bad will happen to you or to Alex. If you can find a way to trust me this once, you’ll be glad you did.”

He took her weak nod as being as close to assent as he would get right now.

“Do you want to sit up with me?”

She turned to watch Alex, sucking furiously at his pacifier, eyes trained on Kyle.

“No, he might . . . need me.”

Rearranging his jacket over her once more, Kyle checked Alex’s seat to be sure he was secure, and backed out of the car. Long, slow breaths. That’s how he’d always tried to postpone throwing up when he had a hangover. He feared it would be as unsuccessful now as it had been then, and the heat wasn’t helping. He slid behind the steering wheel, turned the A/C up to high, and pulled out onto the highway.

“We’ll be there in a jiffy,” he told her. His fingers squeezed the wheel. What would happen when they got there was anybody’s guess.
********

The apartment complex was modest, but well maintained, with a small, fenced playground and little patios and balconies filled with grills, toys, and the occasional pot of flowers. Still, Kyle could tell this was not the kind of place Serena was used to. Down to earth or not, she was rich, and her life had been lived in privilege and comfort. Her already nervous eyes scanned the scene, and she looked from Alex to Kyle doubtfully.

“Here?”

Reigning in the exasperated retort that sprang to his lips, Kyle just nodded and reached to help her out of the car. He was surprised when she allowed him to extract Alex from his car seat, but when he straightened, he realized why. She was still trembling. No longer dazed or panicked, she had taken on a wary, defensive demeanor, but she obviously didn’t trust herself to retrieve Alex from his seat with any level of confidence. Her mind was beginning to cope, but her body was still reeling with the aftershock.

With Alex tucked in the crook of his arm, Kyle squinted against the sun, frowning when he realized the van was gone. Only a blunted stub of shade occupied the space carrying the faded number 2C, and Kyle cursed quietly under his breath. Heat radiated from the asphalt as it baked in the noonday sun, and Kyle’s stomach resumed its sickening caroming. Only the fact that two even more distraught people were relying on him right now kept him moving purposefully forward. If no one answered the door, he was screwed. He didn’t even have a good Plan A, let alone a reasonable Plan B.

It was Liz who answered the door. He’d heard her laughing from inside, and the smile grew surprised but no less genuine when she saw them at the door.

“Kyle! Serena! You’ve brought Alex for a visit,” she beamed before seeing the shaken condition of her guests. “Is something wrong? Max! Come out here!”

Max took half a step into the living room with a towel around his waist when he realized Liz wasn’t alone. Backtracking quickly, he closed the bedroom door. Serena turned to take Alex from Kyle, a fierce protectiveness building an invisible buffer around her.

“Kyle?” Liz’s question hung in the air, and Kyle sat abruptly, running a nervous hand through his hair.

“We need Max,” he said.

Liz glanced at Serena, indicated the sofa with a wave of her hand, and slid into the bedroom after her husband.

Lost in his own thoughts, Kyle failed to see the wide-eyed desperation take hold of Serena. Had Alex not begun his irregular build-up of squawks and cries, he may not even have looked up to see Serena back out of the doorway and run down the stairs.

“Liz! Max!” he called as he took off after her. Serena was at a supreme disadvantage running down a stairway with a baby in her arms. When she reached the bottom, Kyle’s arms were already around her, and Alex was crying in earnest. Max and Liz had burst out of the apartment, ready to pursue them, though they had no idea why.

“Kyle, what’s going on?” Max asked, wiping another drop of water away from his eyes. His hair was wet and he had no shoes on.

Kyle didn’t answer him right away. He was busy muttering something to Serena and guiding her slowly back toward the steps. Once they’d reached the top, Liz took over, steering Serena toward the couch. As Max stepped through behind Kyle, he closed the door behind them. One look at his friend asked the question. In answer, Kyle walked to the sink, rinsed the pacifier he’d retrieved from the stairs seconds before, and held it out to the crying baby. Instantly, the baby’s hand reached for it, and seconds later, it was firmly ensconced in his mouth, bearing the brunt of Alex’s full attention.

Kyle watched understanding dawn on his friends’ faces, then sighed and threw himself down on the sofa.

“Houston, we have a problem.”
********
Five minutes ago, Liz thought, things were more uncomplicated than they’ve been in weeks. Now . . .

She looked over at Serena huddled on the threadbare couch clutching at Alex as he screamed and thrashed in her arms. Her heart went out to the poor girl. Only a year older than Liz, she was living away from her family, going to college, working, grieving for her brother, and caring for an infant who had just exhibited unexplainable abilities. Now she was sitting in a strange apartment among virtual strangers waiting for an explanation she most likely didn’t want to hear. Liz heard the echo of her father’s voice, sympathizing after Liz had had a bad day. “Sometimes you’re the pigeon, and sometimes you’re the statue,” he used to say.

Kyle was sitting next to Serena, an arm around her shoulders, refusing to leave her side even when Max asked for a word alone. Now their voices were just a low rumble under the nerve-wracking cries that permeated the room.

“Let me try,” Liz offered, holding out her arms for the baby. Serena jerked away from her, tightening her hold on Alex.

“He’s sick,” she mumbled, a warning in her eyes.

Max watched the exchange and rose, holding out his arms to Serena. “I can help him,” he said simply.

Serena frowned, her eyes darting toward the front door.

“Serena, please look at me,” Kyle soothed. Liz’s heart ached at the fear that made Serena turn to Kyle, desperate for a familiar face, a safe refuge.

“Serena, you barely know me. I understand that. But there isn’t anyone in the world who can understand what you’re feeling right now better than I can. I know you don’t have any reason to trust me, but I’m asking you to do it, anyway. Give Alex to Max. I promise, they won’t leave the room, and Alex will feel better. Then we’ll talk, okay?”

She studied Kyle’s face until a shrill cry pierced the fog and she moved her gaze to Max. “You’ll stay right here? You won’t do anything to him that I can’t see?”

Max looked over at Liz, and she took the few steps to rest a comforting hand on his arm. His eyes sought hers, and she felt him reaching for her, the familiar fear welling up again.

I hadn’t planned to do this in front of her, Liz.

When do we ever plan any of this, Max? She has to know. She’s practically raising him.

But what if . . .?

Max, everyone who’s been told who knows you has accepted it . . . including your parents. She doesn’t know you, but she does know Zan. She already loves him. She’ll be okay.

She watched his eyes grow sad, almost apologetic. He’s going to be a part of our lives now, Liz. No matter who raises him, he’ll always be there. I’m sorry, I never wanted you to have to . . .

Stop it, Max. He’s just a baby, an innocent. I can’t resent him, and neither can you. He needs us. He needs Serena.

Max leaned forward and touched his lips to her forehead.

You amaze me every day, Liz. I love you.

“What are they doing?” Serena asked Kyle in a distraught whisper.

“Earth to Max. We’ve got company, remember?”

They pulled apart, embarrassed. “Sorry,” they mumbled in unison.

“I’ll stay right here,” Max assured Serena as he bent to scoop Zan into his arms. She yielded him reluctantly, but eased as she saw Max’s features relax with tenderness. Zan quieted, studying Max in that intent way that was already becoming familiar to them, but the quiet shattered quickly with a grimace of pain and a tired wail. Max ran his hand above Zan’s body from head to toe, brows knit in concentration. Returning to Zan’s head, he released a relieved sigh.

“Poor guy. He’s just teething, that’s all.” Max cupped the baby’s face with one hand and returned Zan’s once-again intent stare. Within seconds, the tense little body relaxed with a sigh, and the tiny mouth opened into an impressive yawn.

“Shall I take him into the bed for a while?” Max asked. “We can talk while he sleeps.”

Serena stiffened, and what had dissolved into a look of wonder snapped back to an alert wariness. “You said I could see him the whole time.”

Max nodded. “Yes, I did. How about on the overstuffed chair?”

Serena nodded, gathering herself in the welcome quiet. “I want some answers. Who are you people? And what’s wrong with Alex . . . besides teething.”

Max and Liz settled on the floor across from Kyle and Serena. The non-threatening pose and Zan’s soft breathing relieved much of the tension in the room, but everyone knew the hard part was just beginning.

Continued in next post
Last edited by Carol000 on Sat Jun 14, 2003 11:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Carol/spacemom

Max and Liz: The love that is Roswell--"You have gone through me like thread through a needle. Now everything I do is stitched with your color."

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Carol000
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Post by Carol000 » Sat Jun 14, 2003 11:10 pm

Part 31 continued

********

“Do you want to start, or shall I?” Max asked Kyle, who, whether consciously or unconsciously, had taken Serena’s unresisting hand in his. Kyle pursed his lips, wondering if it would go down easier coming from him, or if he should let Max do it and then step in to pick up the pieces.

Looking at Serena’s face, now completely focused but still wary, Kyle realized that he was already developing feelings for this girl, and if he was going to have a prayer of exploring those feelings, he would have to start with honesty. Lack of it had torpedoed his relationship with Liz, and he had to believe Serena would value his willingness to be honest with her right out of the gate.

“I will,” he said softly. He turned a little on the sofa to make it easier to look in her eyes as he talked. He could feel her brace herself, but her blue eyes watched his steadily, and he prayed he wouldn’t blow it.

“Ever heard of Roswell, New Mexico?”

“Sure. The Crash. Weather balloons. Area 51.” Her eyes narrowed suspiciously, and he saw the anger rush in without warning. “If you’re not going to be serious, Kyle, then I’m out of here. This is not funny.”

She made a move to rise, and Kyle squeezed her hand. “Please.”

She looked back at him, contempt on her face, but whatever she saw there squelched the anger, and she eased back on the sofa again, waiting.

“We’re from Roswell, all of us. Born and raised. Besides us, there’s another couple who work at Oasis now, too, Michael Guerin and Maria DeLuca. Anyway, my dad was Sheriff there until recently, and his dad was Sheriff, too, a long time ago. Gramps is in a retirement home now, pretty much out of touch with reality. I think it’s because he spent a lifetime pursuing something that almost no one else believed in. It made him a laughing stock, and I think that drove him crazy. My dad was following in those exact footsteps until two years ago.”

He had her attention but not her understanding. He hoped he was doing this right. He just didn’t want to slam her with it. It had to have a context.

“What happened two years ago?”

He looked into her eyes, hoping what he thought he saw there wasn’t just wishful thinking. She was strong. But was she strong enough for this?

“He found what he’d been looking for.”

She frowned in confusion, and he took the hand he was holding and encased it with his other hand as well.

“Two years ago, I was shot in the chest. I lay dying, barely conscious, with my father kneeling over me shouting for help. By that time, he was pretty sure there was only one person who could help me. Max.”

She looked over at Max, still frowning. Liz was idly stroking Max’s back, intent on Kyle’s retelling, a faraway look of remembering on her face. Max was staring at the floor, as if the scene was playing out on the braided area rug. He must have felt Serena looking at him because he lifted his head, meeting her confused eyes with his own, an amber mix of self-consciousness and grim determination.

Looking back at Kyle, she began to work it through. “Who shot you? And how could Max help?”

“The ‘who’ will take a much longer explanation, but let’s just say I got in the middle of something I didn’t understand. Wrong place at the wrong time kind of thing. But Serena, I would have been dead in minutes, if not for Max. He knew my father suspected the truth, and he could have run or even killed us, and no one would have been the wiser. But he didn’t. He came to me, put his hands on the wound, and healed me.”

What? What truth? What did he do to you?” She glanced again at Max, still not sure she wasn’t being duped, and not sure whether to hope she was or she wasn’t.

“I’m getting to that. Serena, when my father saw that wound heal, he knew he’d found what his father and he had spent a lifetime looking for.” A long pause stretched between them, and Kyle wondered if he had the courage to say the last word.

“Aliens.”

He could almost hear the wheels turning—she couldn’t decide if she was being played for a fool or hearing the most incredible story ever told.

“This . . . this is a joke. You are all just playing a joke on me.” The anger was returning, and Kyle knew it was her safest coping mechanism. She raised her chin and tried to look down on him with authority, a difficult challenge considering her size. “I want you to take me home, Kyle.”

Kyle looked down at their hands, hers now stiff and resistant in his. He saw the slight cut he’d gotten getting the stroller in and out of the trunk.

“See that?”

“What?”

“Right there, that little cut.”

“Yes.”

Kyle looked up at Max, who pushed himself up to his knees and shuffled toward the sofa. He saw the small cut, barely noticeable, and put his hand over it. Seconds later, he lifted his hand to reveal the smooth skin beneath. Serena gasped, and her anger melted into fear.

Liz jumped in. “Serena, Max and I have known each other since third grade. He was always quiet and serious and kept to himself, except for his sister and his friend, Michael, so we weren’t close back then. But three years ago, I was shot in my parents’ diner when Max was there. Michael distracted people while Max risked his life to heal me. Just like Kyle, I would have died if he hadn’t been there.”

Liz scooted to the couch and looked intently up at Serena. “Serena, Max is the gentlest, kindest, most wonderful person I’ve ever met. I married him, after all, didn’t I? He has never hurt anyone who wasn’t trying to hurt him, and he’s helped I don’t know how many people. You have nothing to fear from him, I promise you. Kyle and I are human. So is Maria. Max and Michael are half human and half alien, which is another long story. But all you need to believe right now is, you’re in no danger. No one here will ever hurt you. Or Alex.”

Serena digested all of this in silence. No one disturbed her reverie; it was a lot to take in. Finally, she looked directly at Max, who had moved back to his original place a few feet away.

“You haven’t said much, Max. I think I’d like to hear something from you.”

She watched Liz push back to sit with him again, their hands clasping immediately, instinctively.

“I thought you might like to get the human perspective first,” Max said quietly. “I don’t know what to add. My sister Isabel, Michael, and I were found in the desert at about age 6. The Evanses adopted Isabel and me—Michael had been separated from us and wound up in foster care. I’ve been raised human. I have human parents and a human wife and I just want to live that way. But not everyone is as open-minded as my family and friends. There are people out there who would just as soon see me dissected like a lab experiment as look at me, so secrecy is a way of life. That’s why we’re in Las Vegas; government alien hunters were getting a little too close in Roswell. We needed a place to disappear. The bottom line is, Liz is right. I have no intention of hurting you or anyone else. Neither does Michael.”

Serena stared for a long, uncomfortable moment. Then her fingertips went to her temples and she started to rub. “I have so many questions, I can’t even think. But you have to explain at least one more thing. What does this have to do with Alex? Is he . . .?”

Max let out a long low breath, his cheeks puffed out, lips puckered. Liz’s mouth formed a tight, grim line, and Kyle suddenly let go of Serena’s hand.

“You have to tell me . . .” she began, her voice growing louder.

“We don’t know.”

More stunned silence. “You don’t know?”

Max ran his fingers through his hair, jumped to his feet, and began to pace. Liz watched with anguished eyes. “We could spend a week telling you all this, Serena. I’m so sorry you’ve been thrust into the middle of it. In a nutshell—if that’s even possible—there was one more of us until a year ago. Suffice it to say, she wasn’t like us. Well, she was like us physically, but she had a very different set of priorities. She was ambitious and didn’t care who she hurt to get what she wanted. She let me believe she was carrying my child and then she left. When she returned, she had a baby with her. She still insisted it was mine. She told us he was completely human, so when she left again, I put him up for adoption to protect him. I thought he would be safer . . . and happier . . . far away from me. We know now, though, beyond a doubt, that he’s not mine. And until an hour ago, we thought she’d kidnapped him from some poor couple just to pass him off as mine. But now . . .”

Liz rose and stopped Max’s pacing by putting her arms around him. His wrapped around her like a vice. He was wallowing in guilt and confusion, and she didn’t know how to stop it. She turned to Serena, then looked up at Max.

“Now we know he did belong to Tess. So the question is, who’s the father?”

********
Rapid-fire questions and answers smoothed into a flow of conversation—a shocking new revelation to one, a roller-coaster memory for the others. They had only been talking for a short time when Michael and Maria burst through the door, an almost festive air about them as they boasted about the largely successful reports from the night before. Once inside, they stopped short, though; whether it was the sight of the stranger in their midst or the palpable tension in the room was hard to say.

Maria opened her mouth to speak, but mid-breath she saw the baby asleep in the armchair and only the name “Zan!” was expelled in the rush of air that left her lungs.

“Zan,” Michael echoed weakly behind her, and then, “Shit.”

“So, I’m like the only one who didn’t know it was him the minute I laid eyes on him?” Kyle groaned.

“What’s she doing here . . . with him?” Michael asked rather rudely, eyeing Serena and indicated Zan with a jerk of his head.

“Michael . . .” Max warned. “This is Serena. It was her brother and his wife who adopted Zan. They were . . . they were killed in a car accident, and Serena’s father brought the baby out here for a while. Her family owns Oasis.”

That got Michael’s attention. His attitude drained away, and he leaned up against the wall, eyes flicking over the group, always returning to Serena. She’s the one who had cut him a break at the job fair, the one Kyle “had a good feeling about.” Apparently, the good feeling was still with him, because their hands were locked in a death grip. He glanced at Maria who was bent over the sleeping baby, a look of wonder on her face.

“So, to what do we owe the honor?” Michael asked their guest with a tone of polite sarcasm as only Michael could deliver it.

Serena’s eyes grew wide and her knuckles whitened around the highly compressed flesh of Kyle’s hand, but no sound emerged.

“I was driving Serena to the pediatrician with Zan . . . Alex,” Kyle corrected. “There was . . . an incident.”

Michael’s features hardened from wary inquiry to rigid concern.

“Heard from your father lately, Max?” Michael asked in spontaneous code for Do we know where he came from yet?

“No. But it doesn’t matter. Zan wasn’t kidnapped. He’s Tess’s.”

Maria straightened and whirled around, her eyes immediately on Liz, looking for signs of devastation or at least anxiety, but there was none. Michael, on the other hand, seemed alarmed at the mention of Tess’s name. His eyes darted from Max to Liz to Zan to Serena and back to Max.

“Maybe this is something best discussed later,” he suggested with no attempt at subtlety.

“Michael, Serena knows.”

Michael’s anxious fidgeting halted abruptly, and he stared with lethal intent at his best friend.

“What?” The short, clipped syllable made no secret of his reaction.

“Michael, that’s what I was trying to tell you,” Kyle blurted. “In the car, Zan . . . Alex was upset—teething, I guess it was—and he zapped the pacifier right into his mouth.”

Michael went even more rigid at this, still looking at Serena as if he could prevent her from hearing this by sheer force of will.

“Liz,” Maria breathed, dropping to her knees to comfort her friend.

“It’s okay, Maria. He’s not Max’s. We know that. What we don’t know is, whose is he?”

Then a look of shock crossed her face, and tears suddenly pooled in her eyes. Max sat back with a gasp, hearing her thoughts easily.

“Alex? God, no, Liz, even Tess wouldn’t have done that.” He looked at the other faces, disgust twisting his insides. “Would she?”

********
Serena couldn’t have followed the conversation even if her head hadn’t been spinning under the onslaught of absurd stories of aliens and powers and government conspiracies. She was either having the worst nightmare of her life, or these people were suffering from a dangerous group psychosis. Either way, she had to get Alex out of here.

But it was Alex who had gotten them into this. What was that in the car? How had he pulled that pacifier toward him without touching it? Telekinesis? Some sort of weird magnetic field? Suddenly she wished she’d followed her original career goal—quantum physics. But her family had always assumed she’d go into the business, and she had always been the peacemaker, the obedient daughter.

Kyle seemed like such a good guy, and she’d already felt herself looking forward to seeing him each day. That’s why she’d asked her uncle if Kyle could drive them today. Dear God! What would have happened if it had been someone else driving today instead of Kyle? What if someone else had seen Alex do what he did? Would they have freaked? Taken her to an emergency room? What if any of this were true, and Alex had been subjected to tests that proved . . . what? He was an alien?

It seemed she and Kyle were taking turns tightening their grip on each other. In spite of the bizarre circumstances, they had somehow become a united force facing it together. Or was he just trying to hold her here? But why? Was she a hostage?

That thought sent alarm bells off in her head, and she envisioned herself making a break for it. Except the last time she’d tried that, carrying Alex down the stairs had slowed her too much, and Kyle had had no trouble catching up to her. And she wasn’t leaving without Alex.

They were talking about who Alex’s father could be. This Tess character must’ve been something else. How could she make Max think he slept with her if he didn’t? And why was Max’s young wife so forgiving of all this. Given Alex’s age, all this hadn’t happened that long ago. And why was it so important? If Tess had disappeared, what difference did it all make, anyway? Alex was hers now. And they weren’t going to take him away, no matter who the father was.

But Alex wasn’t hers, she realized with a jolt. When had she begun thinking he was? What was going to happen to him? What if these people went to her Uncle Brad and Aunt Megan—good people for whom a baby just didn’t fit into their lives? Or her father, who was distancing himself emotionally from all of this?

She winced. Kyle’s fingers were almost crushing the bones in her hand. She looked sideways at him, startled to see at least as much tension and fear in his face as she felt must be obvious in her own. Then he was up and out the door, his footsteps echoing on the metal stairs, leaving a roomful of blank stares in his wake.
Carol/spacemom

Max and Liz: The love that is Roswell--"You have gone through me like thread through a needle. Now everything I do is stitched with your color."

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Carol000
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Post by Carol000 » Sun Jun 22, 2003 12:00 am

Hello, all! The hour of truth is at hand.

You guys have been a ball, speculating and setting forth hypotheses. I can only hope that you find satisfaction in the answers to your questions.

Before I post, a bit of board business: BordersInsanity went through my story (and others') deleting "bump" posts. As a result, the page numbers for chapters have changed. She provided me with an updated list, in case it's helpful to anyone:

Part 18 page 1
Part 19 page 4
Part 20 page 9
Part 21 page 12
Part 22 page 14
Part 23 page 18
Part 24 page 21
Part 25 page 23
Part 26 page 26
Part 27 page 29
Part 28 page 32
Part 29 page 35
Part 30 page 37
Part 31 page 41


Okay, then. On with it . . .

From Part 31

They were talking about who Alex’s father could be. This Tess character must’ve been something else. How could she make Max think he slept with her if he didn’t? And why was Max’s young wife so forgiving of all this. Given Alex’s age, all this hadn’t happened that long ago. And why was it so important? If Tess had disappeared, what difference did it all make, anyway? Alex was hers now. And they weren’t going to take him away, no matter who the father was.

But Alex wasn’t hers, she realized with a jolt. When had she begun thinking he was? What was going to happen to him? What if these people went to her Uncle Brad and Aunt Megan—good people for whom a baby just didn’t fit into their lives? Or her father, who was distancing himself emotionally from all of this?

She winced. Kyle’s fingers were almost crushing the bones in her hand. She looked sideways at him, startled to see at least as much tension and fear in his face as she felt must be obvious in her own. Then he was up and out the door, his footsteps echoing on the metal stairs, leaving a roomful of blank stares in his wake.

Part 32 (in 2 posts)

“Let me,” Liz said softly, reaching for Max as he rose after Kyle’s abrupt departure. “You stay with Serena.”

She felt no need to explain what she was thinking. Max knew. Kyle and she had a history. If he would talk to anyone, it would be her. She turned to Serena.

“I know we’ve scared you, Serena. I hope you believe that we want to be your friends. As for Kyle, he has a lot to deal with right now, but I’ll bring him back up in a little while. Please wait for him. I have a feeling he’ll want to talk to you, too, when he’s calmer.”

Serena was clearly balancing a slew of conflicting emotion—astonishment at all she’d seen and heard; fear of what it could mean to her and, more important, to Alex; concern for Kyle. And yet she answered Liz with a quiet nod, already in at least outward control of herself.

Liz stepped out into the mid-afternoon sun, a hand shielding her eyes, and watched for the bright white of Kyle’s shirt in amongst the scrub pines that passed for shade trees in the dry climate. Peeling picnic tables dotted the ground beneath them, cushioned with pine needles and littered with fallen pinecones. But the heat of the day had driven most of the residents who were home indoors, and the tables stood deserted.

She scanned the grounds—the lone tennis court, net-less and weedy; the utility shed; the parking lot where the Town Car still stood. At least he hadn’t left. She descended the stairs quickly, more nervous now. Where was he? Rounding the side of the building, she spied the small fenced playground, also deserted save for one determined toddler who had convinced his father to push him in the baby swing. She turned to head the other direction when movement caught her eye. Squinting, she saw him, on the far side of the playground, fingers hooked into the chain link fence, watching.

He was oblivious to her approach, and as she neared, his tears tore at her heart. She was afraid to know, but somehow, she already did.

“Kyle?”

He didn’t move, but sighed deeply, a sob catching in his throat. She was content to stand there with him; it would come out when he was ready. They watched together as the child squealed with glee, soaring higher until the father said, “Nap time, Jonathan.” A pro forma protest died quickly when the father lifted his son to ride on his shoulders, and they made their way into the shadows of the nearest building.

“I still can’t believe she would do that.”

The words were little more than a whisper, but Liz heard the anguish behind them, and her hand went automatically to his shoulder.

“She mindwarped you, didn’t she?”

He squeezed his eyes shut and two more tears began their trail down his face.

“No.”

Liz frowned, confused. “Then what’s upsetting you?”

For the first time, he turned to her, making no attempt to hide the raw pain that contorted his face into a tragic mask.

“I loved her.” The words burst forth in a hoarse explosion of air, as if the pressure of keeping them bottled inside had finally blown them out into the open. Another sob caught him off guard, and his eyes widened in a vicious effort to keep any more tears from falling. The confession had cost him, and he swallowed convulsively, desperate to hold it together.

His face told the story, and suddenly Liz wondered why none of them had even thought of this possibility.

“Kyle,” she breathed, too shocked to say more. But then it came tumbling out, and all she had to do was listen and wonder where she’d been not to see what was happening. She felt Max nudge at her consciousness, but she only sent him reassurance. She wasn’t ready to explain what she didn’t yet understand.

“It was after Tess moved in,” he began. “Things were finally good at the house. It felt like . . . a home. We started eating as a family, you know? Talking to each other, and laughing. We hadn’t laughed that much in a long time.”

His expression softened, and he swiped at his nose with a damp sleeve. “I got used to having her around; we’d even talk sometimes. When she started to badmouth Evans . . .” He looked up sharply, realizing what he’d said, but Liz just shrugged and offered a weak smile.

“It’s okay, Kyle. It’s not like I didn’t know she was angry that Max didn’t accept her as his destiny.”

“Yeah, well, she led me to believe she was ready to give up on that, too. We got . . . close. That night you came over, telling her that you’d help her get with Max, I was so pissed at you!” He glanced at her, a sidelong look tinged with guilt, but when she just nodded, he pushed on.

“I thought maybe we were going to get past all that destiny crap, and then there you were, offering to help her snare Max. God, Liz, I could have strangled you. And what made it worse is, I knew that what you were doing was killing you. But after you left, instead of letting what was between us drop, she just heated it up. She told me . . .” His mouth tensed and his grip tightened on the fence.

“She told me that she didn’t want to be ‘destiny’s pawn’ anymore. She said if we could just keep it quiet for a while, just until she could explain everything to Max and find another way to help their people, then we could come out of the closet with our relationship.”

He snorted with contempt, shaking his head slowly as if he still couldn’t quite believe it.

“We made love that night.” A grimace pulled at his features, and his jaw muscles clenched and unclenched beneath the surface of his skin. “At least, that’s what I thought it was. I guess to her, I was just a means to an end, because when I reached for . . . protection . . . she insisted we didn’t need it. She said Nacedo had told her that she couldn’t conceive with anyone but another hybrid.”

He rolled his eyes. “Can you believe what an idiot I am, Liz? There she was, under our roof. We were alone in the house most of the time, and she’d wear these little short PJs and walk in on me in the shower . . . god, we did it all the time, every chance we got, and the whole time it was ‘Kyle, I love you’ and ‘Don’t worry; I can’t get pregnant.’ I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.”

He shivered with self-loathing, and Liz put a hand on his arm. “Kyle, she took all of us in at one time or another. You can’t be blamed for succumbing to it, too.”

“Yes, I can,” he snapped bitterly. “I believed her because I wanted to believe her. Because I thought she could actually love me. Me!” He blew out a self-deprecating puff of air. “Like she could love me.”

“Kyle, what are you saying? You sound as if you don’t think someone could love you. That’s ridiculous.” She slid a hand down his arm and spoke gently. “Believe me. It’s not hard at all.”

The coldness in his eyes chilled her, in spite of the hot sun radiating from the unforgiving ground.

“Did you love me, Liz? I mean love me?”

She stared at him, open-mouthed and silent.

“I didn’t think so. And neither did Tess.” The last words were so soft, she barely heard them.

“Kyle, I . . .”

“Never mind, Liz,” he said gently, staring off into the distance. “I don’t blame you. You never said you loved me. You never gave yourself to me in any way, really. We were 16. Just a high school thing. I knew that. But Tess. She made me feel loved, and not just physically. She had me completely sold.”

“Then why . . .?” Liz hesitated, afraid the answers to her questions would push him closer to the precipice he was already dangerously close to overstepping. He turned to face her again, looking resigned.

“Why did I agree to help you turn Max away? Why didn’t I freak when she got with him? Or at least made us think that she did?”

Liz just nodded. He could take those questions in any order he pleased, as long as she got answers, because this was getting weirder by the minute.

“The first one’s easy.” He turned to her, a wistful expression on his face. “I didn’t think he deserved you.”

She looked startled, and he smiled for the first time in hours.

“I was more than happy to help you piss off the illustrious Max Evans, Liz. I knew I owed him my life, but that just made it harder to swallow the fact that every time I wanted something . . . or rather, someone . . . they wanted him instead. I confess, I had a taste for revenge. But besides that, I thought he’d done something terrible to hurt you for you to want to hurt him like that, and if that was the case, I didn’t mind inflicting a little pain on him, too.”

Liz couldn’t help but smile. “That’s actually kinda sweet, Kyle. Mean and dumb, but sweet.”

A quiet chuckle bobbed his shoulders. “As for the other question, I’ve been thinking about nothing else since last night when you and Max recognized Zan. And the more I thought about everything that happened, the more I began to suspect the truth. By this morning, my insides were twisted up like a pretzel.”

He began to pace, and Liz scurried back and forth at his shoulder, determined to hear every word.

“Here’s what I think happened—just my theory.”

Liz nodded encouragingly.

“Tess lied about not being able to get pregnant by me. I think she intended to all along. She needed a baby, and she knew she wasn’t going to get one out of Max. I was . . . convenient.” An angry frown slowed his words, but he shook it off and continued.

“I think once she was sure she was pregnant, that’s when she mindwarped me. I remember being pretty excited about prom . . . well, not about the dance, of course, but about what we’d do afterwards. I had a whole romantic night planned. Hotel room, the whole bit. And then, at the dance, something happened. One of my friends made a lewd comment about Tess’s abilities in bed and I hit him, which wouldn’t have been that strange, given the circumstances, except I yelled at him for talking that way about my sister!”

“Sister?!”

“Sister!” he replied, incredulous even now. “And then I’m pretty sure I hauled her down into the eraser room and told her I didn’t feel that way about her anymore.”

“What did she say? Do you remember?”

“Yeah. She said she was disappointed, but she understood.”

Liz stood quietly for a moment, the wheels spinning full-steam in her head. “Oh my god,” she whispered to herself.

She looked at Kyle as the rest of the puzzle fell into place. He nodded, apparently relieved to share the burden of his new knowledge.

“It all makes sense now!” Liz exclaimed. “Toward the end of prom, I was looking for Max. I had finally realized I couldn’t keep pushing him away, but I was too late. When I found him, he was kissing Tess.”

“What? Already?”

This news seemed to inflame his anger all over again. “The little bitch didn’t waste any time, did she?”

It was Liz’s turn to pace. “She was pregnant, which was the most important part of her plan to get in Khivar’s good graces. She obviously planned to pass the baby off as Max’s, figuring they’d never know the difference. So all she had to do was warp Max into thinking they’d had sex, and it would be easy to convince him the baby was his. He didn’t know about you and Tess, and he believed they’d had sex at the planetarium. He told me he’d gone out there alone but that she just showed up there. She was stalking him, Kyle!”

“Once she had that hook in him,” Kyle continued the hypothesis, “the rest fell into place. She didn’t have to worry about me because she’d hidden my own feelings from me. Alex was dead . . .”

He faltered as he saw Liz flinch, and he cursed himself for being so blunt. “Max was ready to leave the planet to save a baby he thought was his, and just forget that my Dad had taken her in like a daughter. Goddamn, that fucking she-devil had everything she’d set out for!” His voice had gotten louder and louder as the whole scheme played out in front of him, but he bit back the rest when he saw Liz’s face, looking as if she’d been struck.

“I’m sorry, Liz. I just . . .”

“Don’t apologize, Kyle. It’s not you. It’s me. I was actually standing here wondering if I made the right decision when I voted not to kill her. She was evil, Kyle. Just plain evil. I never thought I could hate someone so much that I’d want to kill them.”

“I know how you feel.”

She looked at him curiously, then. “So if you’re just remembering that mindwarp now, why were you so upset when Tess came back to Roswell with Zan? If you didn’t remember loving her, and you thought she’d conceived Zan with Max, why were you so agitated when you saw her at Michael’s that night? Max said you asked them why they hadn’t killed her yet.”

Kyle let out a mirthless laugh, his eyes growing pained. “You have it all wrong, Liz. I never forgot loving her. But it was always kind of fuzzy why that changed. I somehow let myself believe that my feelings for her had just changed into a different kind of love; I just accepted it, you know? Then, after she left . . .” He hesitated, looking at her speculatively. “You have to promise you will never tell this to another living soul . . . and that includes . . . that especially includes . . . Max.”

Biting at her lower lip, Liz looked back at him, debating with herself for only seconds before she offered him what he deserved—the truth.

“I can’t promise, Kyle. Max knows my mind and my heart. I’m an open book to him. I can promise to try, though. We’ve learned quickly that it’s not good to know another person’s every thought, let alone to have someone else share your mind 24/7. We’ve been working on keeping our thoughts private sometimes. I’m doing it right now; he’s in there dying to know what’s going on out here.”

She smiled when a glint of satisfaction lit Kyle’s eyes. “You don’t have to enjoy that so much,” she chided him, and chuckled briefly at his unrepentant smirk.

“But whatever you have to tell me, Kyle, I can promise one thing—I can promise to try to keep it private.”

Kyle paused, looking off into the distance again, and Liz wondered if he would change his mind about confiding in her after all. Then he shrugged and glanced at her again.

“Wanna sit over there?”

He nodded in the direction of a bench, obviously placed to allow parents to keep an eye on their children as they relaxed a bit themselves.

“Sure.”

Once seated, he looked out over the prairie-like landscape that bordered the far side of the complex.

“After Tess left, I used to think, maybe . . . god, I don’t think I can say this out loud.”

His knees bounced up and down as he rubbed his palms against his thighs. “Shit, just say it, Valenti. . . . I thought—briefly—that I was falling for Isabel.”

After a long silence, he ventured a look at Liz, who was clearly working hard to compose her face. “Really?” she squeaked, unsuccessfully trying for a casual observer’s expression.

Kyle rolled his eyes and huffed. “I know it’s ridiculous. I think it was like a rebound kind of thing. I’d finally gotten close to someone and then she was gone. But Isabel was still there. I’m tellin’ you, Liz, when Isabel and I got to be friends, she let her hair down with me. She wasn’t the bitchy ice princess . . .”

Again, he stopped himself, realizing his uncensored thoughts were likely to offend Liz. To his surprise, Liz snorted before pulling her expression together again.

“You don’t have to tell me, Kyle. I was on the receiving end of that for long enough.”

He nodded. “Yeah, I guess you were. Anyway, what I’m trying to tell you is that each time I fantasized about that—which I tried not to do,” he explained hurriedly, “I would get flashes of Tess, instead. And gradually, little bits of it came back to me. Then one night, I finally decided to move back into my old room. I found things—little things that reminded me of her. I put on one of my old football jerseys she slept in sometimes and crawled into the bed where we’d made lo . . . where we’d fucked” he spat angrily, slamming his hand against the fence and watching it shudder and rattle in response. Then he looked up apologetically, the pain once again contorting his features. “Sorry, Liz.”

His fingers furrowed through his hair, his agitation escalating again. “Anyway, it all came flooding back like a dream . . . or a nightmare. There was no one to tell, of course, but the more I remembered, the more it just festered inside, you know? I realized how she’d used me. And all those intense feelings just sorta morphed into hatred. They say it’s a fine line, don’t they? I hated her, Liz, but I never expected to see her again. You can’t even imagine what it felt like to walk into that room and see her standing there. And then,,” he choked incredulously, “she thought I’d be glad to see her! She thought I’d help her!”

“Kyle, I’m so sorry,” Liz soothed, taking his hand. “I had no idea.”

“I know, Liz. No one did. Not even Dad. But I swear to you, I did believe the baby was Max’s. I still thought he was the only one who could be the father. It never once entered my mind that it was mine. I should have known that was just another line of bullshit.”

Liz watched her friend battling his demons, entrenched more firmly in his heart than she could have ever imagined. Liz, his first love, had turned away from him . . . and toward Max. Then, when he fell in love again, more deeply than before, she had used him, betrayed him, and again, gone to Max. It was a miracle he could be in the same room with Max, let alone call him friend. But Kyle had more strength and character than most people gave him credit for, and it had kept him from drowning in bitterness and self-pity.

She pulled away from her thoughts. He was talking again.

“And believing that the baby was his, it just made me feel dirty looking at her. Like a used, worthless piece of . . .” He caught himself and straightened slightly, a deep cleansing breath marking his return to control. “But there was no point in saying anything about it. It was water under the bridge. I figured I’d just keep my humiliation to myself.”

He caught her watching him closely, and she could tell he knew she had something on her mind. He frowned at her.

“What?”

“Back at River Dog’s cabin, that day when you were crying in the woods . . .” She stopped short when she saw him tense, and realized how uncomfortable that memory must be for him, but she had to know. “You wouldn’t talk to me about what was upsetting you. You just said I wasn’t the person to talk to about this. This is what was on your mind, wasn’t it? Me. Tess. You’ve been burned twice and you think no one will ever love you.”

He shook his head slowly, and his hands stilled. “It’s worse than that, Liz. I realize now, I’ve never loved. I don’t think I even know what that means.”

At Liz’s confused frown, he explained. “Once I fell for Tess, I realized what I’d felt for you wasn’t really love. It was . . . puppy love, I guess. But I thought what I felt for Tess was the real thing. Now I realize it was manufactured; she said and did all the things she knew would reel me in. My feelings weren’t for her at all, but for someone she pretended to be to achieve her own purposes. I was following a damned script, not my heart. I’ve never loved, Liz. And I’ve never been loved. And maybe that’s just the way it’ll be for me.”

“Kyle, you couldn’t be more wrong. This sounds lame, I know, especially coming from me, but let me tell you about Kyle Valenti—he’s strong and sexy and funny and the best friend . . . and boyfriend . . . a girl could ask for. He knows a lot about loyalty and kindness and gentleness, and I could be wrong, but I think there’s someone in my apartment who would very much enjoy finding all that out. And . . .” She smiled at him, a genuine, brilliant smile. “She’s all but raising your son.”

His modest frown of protest at her praise sat forgotten on his face when she said your son, and gradually a look of utter amazement moved in to take its place.

“My . . . son,” he repeated in a reverent whisper. “My son.”
Carol/spacemom

Max and Liz: The love that is Roswell--"You have gone through me like thread through a needle. Now everything I do is stitched with your color."

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Carol000
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Post by Carol000 » Sun Jun 22, 2003 12:02 am

Part 32 continued

********

The empty space in the room after Kyle and Liz were gone widened into an ocean of silence. Serena’s mind was filled with questions, merging and changing like a kaleidoscope of images that wouldn’t quite take shape. They claimed to be aliens, and they wanted her to believe little Alex was one, too.

“May I sit with you?”

Max’s quiet question took her by surprise, and she paused a few seconds before answering. He hadn’t moved from his spot on the floor, but he was watching her guardedly, clearly worried about her reaction to all she had heard. Her eyes flickered to the left, where Michael, perched on a barstool, was holding Maria loosely, her back against his chest. Maria’s fingers idly stroked Michael’s forearm, but both sets of eyes were focused on her, one set wary, the other sympathetic. Still, if Maria was really human, and if Liz was, too, and if they were intimate with these . . . men? . . . then sitting next to one shouldn’t do any damage.

“Sure.”

Max rose, crossed the room, and lowered himself to the sofa in a slow, smooth motion, as if she were a wounded animal that might flee or strike out if it felt threatened. He sat awkwardly for a moment, arms pulled tight against his side, hands clenched in his lap. Serena realized he was the mirror image of her at the moment.

“You must have questions.”

The understatement was so extreme that Serena heard herself let out a brief yelp—a cross between humor and fear. “Yeah, a few thousand. At least.”

“Ask us anything you want to know. Anything. We’ll answer it if we can.”

She didn’t know where to begin. There were too many questions about their origins, their abilities, their purpose, but most of all, she had to know about Alex.

“Where is Alex’s mother?”

From the shocked look on Max’s face, she could tell this wasn’t the question he was expecting, and it clearly didn’t have an easy . . . or at least a pleasant . . . answer.

“She’s dead.”

It was Serena’s turn to look shocked. “What happened to her?”

She saw the look Max exchanged with Michael, and warned, “I want the truth.”

“Everything I tell you will be the truth.” Max was looking at her now, and she saw a sad resignation in his eyes. He slumped back against the sofa, some of the tension gone, but he still looked uncomfortable. He obviously didn’t like sharing his secrets, especially not with a stranger.

“I told you there were government alien hunters in Roswell. It was Tess’s return—in a crashed spaceship—that threw them into high gear. She finally turned herself in, and she was killed.”

Serena wasn’t sure whether to be horrified that her government had killed a being they didn’t even understand or relieved that it was possible to protect oneself from this unknown life form. At her expression of alarm, Max hastened to clarify.

“Don’t feel too sorry for her. She didn’t go down easily. She blew up half a military base in the process. A lot of people were killed.”

This announcement only deepened Serena’s conflicted feelings. “Why did she do it? I mean, why did she turn herself in?”

Max leaned forward, bracing his head in his hands, elbows propped on his knees. “I never understood her. I probably never will. I honestly don’t know if she was trying to save us and Zan, or whether she figured she was going to die by someone’s hand, so she might as well do it on her own terms with a maximum of damage to people who represented all she resented in her life.”

“She was a bitch, Maxwell. A self-serving bitch. End of story.”

Michael had been so quiet, Serena started slightly at his sudden, venomous words. She turned to find that his expression matched his words, and it was a menacing look indeed. She felt herself tense up again.

“Michael . . .,” Max cautioned.

“It’s true, Max,” Maria erupted, leaving the haven of Michael’s arms to stand rigid and tight-fisted in the middle of the room. “You promised her the truth, and this is it. That girl never said a thing you could believe or did a thing you could trust. She set out to lure you all to your deaths at Khivar’s hands, and she mindwarped some poor slob into fathering a baby so she could go home and lie and cheat all over again.”

“Mindwarped?” Serena looked from one to the other, trying to understand what she was hearing. “What’s that?”

Max turned on the sofa and faced Serena straight on. “There is way too much to explain in one afternoon. Please be patient, and we’ll do the best we can.” He prepared himself with another deep sigh. “We are no more alike or different than any group of humans. We each have different abilities, dispositions, personalities. Some special abilities are common to all of us, and some are uniquely our own. Tess could do something we call a mindwarp. That means she could make you believe you were seeing something that wasn’t there, or remember something that never happened. She planted memories in my mind of us . . .”

He looked like he might choke on his next words until Michael spat out his own crude suggestion.

“Screwing.”

Max threw him a disapproving glare, but pressed on. “Sometimes, though, when our feelings get intense, we can break a mindwarp down, remember it for what it was and see what really happened. That’s how Liz and I found out Zan wasn’t mine. When we got married, we . . . on our honeymoon night . . . I . . . we saw what really happened. Or didn’t happen. It was all a mindwarp. A sham.”

He sat staring at nothing for a moment, and then seemed to remember himself. “That’s why we thought maybe she’d stolen him from a human couple, trying to prove she’d had my baby. But now . . .”

He looked over at Zan, sleeping deeply now that his teeth weren’t bothering him. “Now we know he must’ve been Tess’s after all.”

“Who’s Alex?”

Another pained expression crossed his face, and Serena began to feel a bit of sympathy for these people. Apparently, not much had gone right in their short lives.

“I’ll tell you who Alex was.”

Serena turned to Maria, whose grief-stricken eyes were already pools of unshed tears. “He was my best friend, that’s who he was. As good a friend as Liz. And that slimy piece of shit killed him with one of her mindwarps. She kept it up so long while he translated that stupid Destiny book, his brain collapsed. He was only 17, for god’s sake. And now it’s possible she . . . raped him, too! Oh, Alex!”

The last anguished words spurred Michael into action. He came from behind her and turned her into his chest, where she shook with deep, gulping sobs.

Serena turned a stunned face back to Max. “You think Alex is . . . Alex’s father? Did she name the baby for him?”

Max shook his head slowly. He hadn’t made that connection between the names before. “No, the baby was named after me . . . my name back on our homeworld—Zan. I think your brother must have just assumed that was short for Alexander. But that would be ironic, wouldn’t it? If Alex belonged to Alex?”

His words sent Maria into a renewed spasm of tears, and Michael lowered them both to the floor where he cradled Maria in his arms, brooding over the bittersweet hypothesis.

“Then how did you and Liz wind up together? If you were with Tess . . .”

“I was never with Tess!” Max shouted, then forced himself to calm down when he saw Serena’s frightened expression.

“I’ve been in love with Liz since I can remember, Serena, but we may never have made a life together if it hadn’t been for the shooting. Once I healed her, she knew my secret. We’ve had a rocky road to get here—Tess manipulated and lied and schemed to tear us apart, and it almost worked—but we made it. And I wouldn’t change a day of it if it meant giving up what we have now.”

His words were so heartfelt, so intensely true, that Serena felt herself admiring Max. Her mind went back to the night before when she had sat at a table with Kyle watching Max and Liz dance, so in love it took her breath away. That was something she could identify with, or at least fantasize about. That part, at least, felt real.

She still had a thousand questions, but she was starting to see what the others had seen—that these were living, feeling people with the same dreams and needs as the humans they shared their lives with. She felt her fear subside a little, and the questions became more interested and less defensive.

“So how did you get here? And who all knows about this . . . besides the government? Why are you even here?”

Max smiled as the tenor of Serena’s questions went from terrified to insatiably curious. She saw him look at her with something bordering on affection when Maria sniffled and said, “You sound like Liz.”

Serena felt herself relax still further, and smiled in return.

“Sorry. I have a tendency to drive people crazy with questions. Just my nature, I guess. I always wanted to be a scientist.”

Max’s burst of laughter caught her off-guard, and she wasn’t sure how to react. Was he making fun of her?

“Let me guess. Quantum physics.”

She stared at him, agape. “You read minds?”

“No,” he said quietly. “That’s another story you’re not quite ready to hear, but we’ll get there, eventually.”

He sighed. “Before I answer any more questions, I could use a drink. Anyone else?”

“I’ll get them,” Michael offered, earning a surprised glance from Max.

“I don’t really . . . drink,” Serena said uncertainly.

Michael looked back at her in surprise. “Suit yourself. Iced tea, Max?”

“Yeah.”

“Lemonade for me,” Maria chimed in.

At Serena’s embarrassed look, it dawned on Max what had happened. “You thought we meant alcohol. Sorry, no. We can’t drink alcohol. It does . . . strange things to our systems. I guess Maria could, but there isn’t any in the apartment.”

“In that case, lemonade would be nice, thanks.”

“What about Liz and Kyle?” Maria asked suddenly. “I wonder if they can still drink alcohol?”

“Hmm, that’s a good question,” Max answered, considering.

“Why wouldn’t they?” Serena asked, and watched the same hesitant expression come over Max’s face that she’d seen earlier, though not quite as pained.

“Uh-oh,” Maria breathed from across the room.

“Yeah, well . . . okay, I’ll explain this one, because I think you really need to know, but then maybe we should take a break. There’s only so much a person can absorb at one time.”

The wariness returned, and Serena wondered exactly how many secrets these people spent their lives hiding.

“You know that I’ve healed both Liz and Kyle. Well, it turns out that when my energy invades another body to that degree, something changes in that person at the cellular level, and eventually—how long seems to vary by age—that person will start to develop certain . . . abilities.”

The gasp cut him short, and Max flinched at her next words. “They’re turning into aliens?”

“No! Well, not really. The thing is, it turns out that our abilities aren’t even alien. They’re really an advanced evolution of the human brain. Thousands of years from now, what we do will be just common human behavior. So in that sense, we aren’t even alien, we’re more like advanced humans . . . except . . . from another planet.”

Her wide eyes just blinked at him, clearly focused inward to untangle this latest puzzle. Max pushed on.

“I told you some of our abilities are common to all of us and others are unique to us. I heal. The others can’t do that. Michael is . . . uh . . . very . . . powerful.”

Serena’s eyes grew even wider as she accepted a glass of lemonade from this now even scarier person. He huffed in irritation.

“I’m not gonna hurt you,” he bit out. “Jeez, why’d you put it like that, Max?”

“Sorry, Michael. Serena, I didn’t mean it that way. I just meant he’s sort of our . . .” His eyes brightened with inspiration. “. . . our security guard!”

Serena chanced a sidelong look at Michael. Suddenly an image of him at the job fair crossed her mind, and she couldn’t help but smile. “No wonder you were put out when I insisted you try for a position in security. I guess you wanted a change of pace?”

“Yeah,” Michael admitted. “Hey, does this hurt my chances at the casino job?”

“Michael, this lemonade is warm,” Maria complained.

“Don’t blame me. Somebody forgot to fill the ice trays.”

Without a word, Maria handed the glass back to Michael, who took it from her, concentrated briefly, and handed it back, frosty and dripping with condensation. Serena’s mouth hung open and Michael winced.

“Oops.”

Max took Serena’s glass and performed the same service, handing it back with a smile. “Comes in handy.”

Serena sipped at the cold drink and attempted a smile.

“So about that casino job.”

A nervous laugh escaped her lips. “I think I’d rather have you dealing the table than playing as a customer at the table,” she said. “You guys have an unfair advantage. I’ll see what I can do, Michael.”

Her expression sobered as she returned to her original question.

“So what about Liz and Kyle? They’re getting . . . powers? And what do you mean about the age thing?”

“It seems the younger you are, the faster the changes come on. Before I knew what effect the healing had on people, I healed some pediatric cancer patients at a hospital. Another long story,” he said hurriedly, putting up a hand to stop her imminent question, “but since then, it’s become apparent that those children, who are growing at a faster rate and therefore have increased cellular activity, are already starting to change. And that’s only been a year. It took Liz 2 years, and probably would have taken Kyle that long except I’ve had to heal him twice. He just started showing signs a couple of weeks ago.”

“Twice?” Her concern became suddenly personal. “What else happened to him?”

Max shook his head. “You’re probably getting too much information at once here, Serena. I think maybe . . .”

What happened to Kyle?

He was the one person she felt compelled to learn everything she could about. She wasn’t sure why, but it seemed very important that she understand what he was going through. Max must have seen her determination because he acquiesced quickly.

“To make a long story short, we left Roswell a few weeks ago only to be pulled back with news of one of those children starting to change. In the process of trying to help her, we found out the government’s alien hunters were closing in. Things got crazy one night, and Kyle was badly hurt. His hand was almost severed. I was able to reattach it, but that seemed to have accelerated his changing process. He’s okay, though. Really.”

“What . . . what is happening to him? How is he changing?”

“It’s pretty cool, actually!” Maria, emotions under control again, scooted forward with enthusiasm. “He can tell how people are feeling—you know, sad, scared, threatening. At first, he could feel everything from everybody.” She laughed, almost gleefully. “It was so funny! He couldn’t look at anything but inanimate objects. Once, he was looking at Michael who was looking at me . . .”

“Maria! TMI.”

Maria pursed her lips guiltily, and threw Michael an apologetic look. “Yeah, well anyway, he can control it now, and he’s very good about not invading people’s privacy,” she added reassuringly. “You know? When it first hit him, he was at the Oasis job fair. He told Michael to change lines and get into yours because he could tell you were kind and genuinely interested in helping people. The other guy was just pissed off.”

Serena smiled, her face softening as Maria spoke.

“Really?”

Maria nodded, pleased to see evidence of Serena’s caring attitude toward Kyle.

“Speaking of Kyle, I think it’s time I talked to him. Will you watch Alex for me?”

Max hesitated. “Maybe you should wait until he comes back with Liz.”

“I understand what you’re saying, Max, but it might help him to know that I’m not going to turn him in or even . . . turn away,” she finished shyly.

She watched Max close his eyes, as if concentrating. “It’s still pretty tense out there, but under control,” he told her. “Are you sure you can’t just wait . . .?”

“What did you just do?”

Max opened and closed his mouth, but was spared an explanation. “Don’t tell me. I think I’m on overload already.”

Pausing to look at Alex, who was still sleeping peacefully, she stepped into the hot sun and scanned the view. The only movement was a family getting into their car, dressed in swimsuits and carting an inflatable raft. They were laughing, and Serena found herself smiling, too. Descending the stairs, she began to circle the building when she spotted Liz and Kyle sitting on a park bench facing the empty playground. Their backs were to her, so she walked slowly in their direction, butterflies flitting nervously in her stomach.

Their voices were just a low murmur at first, but as she neared, a few words floated in her direction, and then she heard Kyle’s voice.

“. . . someone she pretended to be to achieve her own purposes. I was following a damned script, not my heart. I’ve never loved, Liz. And I’ve never been loved. And maybe that’s just the way it’ll be for me.”

“Kyle, you couldn’t be more wrong. This sounds lame, I know, especially coming from me, but let me tell you about Kyle Valenti—he’s strong and sexy and funny and the best friend . . . and boyfriend . . . a girl could ask for. He knows a lot about loyalty and kindness and gentleness, and I could be wrong, but I think there’s someone in my apartment who would very much enjoy finding all that out. And . . .” Serena saw Liz lean toward him. “She’s all but raising your son.”

The air left Serena’s lungs, and there was a strange ringing in her ears. She couldn’t have heard correctly. Surely, Alex couldn’t be Kyle’s.

“My . . . son,” Kyle repeated in a whisper. “My son.”

She didn’t hear herself make a noise, but she must have, because Liz and Kyle spun around to see her standing there. She must have been a sight, judging from the looks on their faces.

Kyle’s panicked eyes met hers, and she heard him whisper, “Serena.”
Last edited by Carol000 on Sun Jun 22, 2003 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
Carol/spacemom

Max and Liz: The love that is Roswell--"You have gone through me like thread through a needle. Now everything I do is stitched with your color."

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Carol000
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 110
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm

Post by Carol000 » Sun Jun 29, 2003 5:26 am

Hello, everyone. Thanks for coming back again this week. (big wave to HoodieBehrFan—Go Illini!)

Two very quick notes before we begin. The first is to Ariel70 who asked the meaning of TMI—it’s Too Much Information. It’s a much-used bit of slang around these parts, but perhaps not everywhere.

Second, as will come as no surprise, I’m sure, I’m a big fan of words. I love ‘em—learning them, using them, playing with them. The reason I mention this is because I was looking up a word last year and noticed on the same page the word “Camorra.” I’d never seen it before and read that it had a colorful history and had come to mean a secret society, often with sinister purposes. I’ve been dying to use it in a sentence ever since. I managed it in this week’s chapter, though I figured nobody would know what it meant, so I’m defining it here. You’ll find it in the second paragraph of this chapter. Indulge me. :roll:

And now . . .

Part 33

Philip Evans awoke feeling vaguely disquieted. He looked over at Diane, still sleeping in the predawn gray that crept groggily through the slats of the mini-blinds. Isabel had not pulled her into the dreamwalk last night, choosing instead to leave Max's rather enigmatic message only with him. Somehow, inexplicably, Zan had wound up back in Las Vegas under the care of the family who owned the resort where Max and the others had found work.

Isabel claimed to know little else, and Philip was inclined to believe her. After all, the time for secrets was past, and he had become the hub of information and communications for the many scattered arms of what was becoming an alien underground—a virtual Camorra from the Special Unit's point of view, he supposed. On the other hand, he felt good things coming from this support group of strange bedfellows that included alien hybrids, human teens, middle class parents, the military, and local law enforcement. Not to mention Brody's slow and patient work with the parent group he'd formed.

Still, the reappearance of Zan was a real puzzle. How had he gotten to Vegas? Isabel said something happened to his adoptive parents. But what? What impact would this have on Max and Liz's relationship? They already had so much to overcome. He thought back to the last time he'd seen Max and his new bride, and he couldn't help but smile. He'd rarely, if ever, seen his son's face so open and unguarded as when he looked at her, as if his next breath were dependent upon hers. Once Philip and the others had read Liz’s journal, so much had become clear, and it was easy to connect Max’s lowest points with those times when things weren’t right with Liz. Now, at least, they had each other, and if they were inclined to think that’s all they needed, then so was he.

Diane sighed in her sleep and reached to touch him gently. He knew the power of a mutual love, at least the human kind, and although thinking of his son as being old enough to forge such a bond was a shock to his system, it helped to know that Max had that strength in his life. He would no doubt need it. In point of fact, he already had . . . more than once.

The day’s agenda began to scroll through his head, and he eased himself from the bed so as not to wake Diane. Once in the kitchen, he started the coffee and reached for a pad of paper, smiling at Diane’s voice teasing him in his head. Philip Evans: List-maker. It’s how he’d always organized his thinking—lists, note cards, and lately, day planner. None of that palm pilot stuff. Give him paper and pencil any day.

1. 9 a.m.--Phone appt. with P.I. to hear latest on abducts.
2. Noon--Lunch at Crashdown—bring Jeff/Nancy up to speed; meet w/ Nate & Taylor re news from Gen. C. and msgs to M/L.
3. 3 p.m. meet w/ Brody (??)
4. Make dinner res. for Fri.

The sole picture of Zan that Philip had allowed himself to keep peeked from his wallet, coaxed into the light by a careless toss the night before. He pulled it out and stared, the doting grandfather warring with the lawyer’s mind. When Zan had slipped from their lives, seemingly for good, all Philip wanted was to believe he was safe and loved. Now, though, with his mysterious reappearance in Max’s life, the questions began to circle like so many hawks lazily homing in on a new find. What secrets lay behind that bright face? What surprises did the future hold for an innocent child thrust into an alien world? And what force of fate had brought him back into Max’s life?

********

9:18 a.m.

Philip hung up the phone. Nothing to report. Again. There was no getting around it. Wherever Tess had taken Zan from, it wasn’t New Mexico, Arizona, or Nevada. And beyond that, they were looking for a needle in a haystack. The odds of finding Zan’s parents were dwindling fast. He wasn’t sure where to start next.

Sighing, he turned to the computer. For now, he had other work to do. He had to keep the paying clients happy, after all.

12:04 p.m.

“Hi, honey,” he said, bending to kiss his wife.

“Hi. I ordered you the Will Smith, medium, hold the onion, right?”

“Great, thanks. Seen Jeff yet?”

“Yeah, he took the order himself and went to get Nancy. Help me with the tables.”

They pulled two tables together in anticipation of Nate and Taylor’s arrival, and sat facing the door. Moments later, everyone was there, sipping drinks.

“Do they know you’re coming?” Nancy asked.

“No!” Taylor grinned. “One of my JAG friends was in Vegas two weeks ago and got this Oasis promo package coupon at the car rental place. He couldn’t use it and asked if I wanted it. It’s a great deal because they need people to just sort of try out the place before their Grand Opening. They make you sign this whole disclaimer about service and all, since you’re basically a guinea pig for the new staff.”

“I bet it’s beautiful,” Diane smiled. “You can go to shows and eat cheap. Everyone says the food is a bargain because they make all their money in the casinos.”

“I’m not much of a gambler,” Nate admitted, “but who could turn down a weekend in Vegas with this beautiful creature?” He beamed at Taylor who blushed happily . . . until he spoke again.

“Not to mention all those naked dancers.”

Her initial shock turned into squinty-eyed warning and he raised his hands in defense. “You can’t convict me for my imagination!” he protested, and she shoved him playfully in the shoulder.

“So you’re just gonna walk in there and surprise them?” Jeff asked as he rose to help the waitress with her precariously balanced plates.

“That’s the plan,” Taylor confirmed. “It’s a great excuse to get away for a couple of days, and I’ll feel better when I see Liz for myself, you know? Everything was such a mess when they left.”

“I wish we could go with you,” Nancy said. “I miss Liz so much, and it’s worse not getting to talk to her ourselves. I want to hear her voice and let her tell me she’s okay.”

“Which reminds me, Nate,” Philip interrupted. “What’s the word from your father?”

“He asked me to tell you that things are progressing in the right direction, but it’s going to take time. Anything Gibbs put in his reports has been discredited as the ravings of a madman—he’s still undergoing psychiatric evaluation under lock and key—and Dad has started to let on to the FBI and brass that he’s become disillusioned with the whole project. He can’t come right out and disband them or anything; the momentum has to grind down slowly. But he’s got them grasping at straws revisiting old cases like UFO sightings and chasing bogus leads in Texas. All that anti-government sentiment after the fiasco at graduation is helping him, too. It’s just a matter of time.”

“What about the tape of Isabel?” Diane whispered, worry lines creasing the space between her eyebrows.

“Destroyed,” Nate said with conviction. “He did that himself.” He chuckled. “My dad is as gung-ho a military man as you’d ever hope to meet. Who knew he had this in him?”

There was pride in his voice, and relief in the faces that listened attentively.

“He’s a man first,” Philip said. “A principled man. He knows right from wrong.”

Nate nodded, and Taylor touched his hand, which he grasped immediately. “So does his son,” she said softly, and the look the two young lovers exchanged hushed the whole group. Something else good had come from all this, evidently.

“I’ve got a package in the back for you to take to them,” Jeff finally said, breaking the silence. “Some family photos, some money, and a little wedding present. There’s stuff in there for the others, too.”

“Happy to,” Taylor said. “We leave tomorrow.”

“I guess now’s a good time to tell you our news,” Philip said quietly. All eyes swung in his direction, some wary, some hopeful.

“Isabel came into my dream last night. Don’t ask me how, but Zan is living at the Oasis. Max and Liz have seen him.”

********
2:52 p.m.

“7 o’clock. On the terrace. Yes, thank you.” Philip turned to cross “dinner reservations” off the list. He and Diane were taking Jeff and Nancy to dinner for their anniversary the next night, and he’d wanted a specific table at The Hideaway, out on the terrace where carefully nurtured foliage gave the illusion of privacy, and a bubbling pond lent an air of exotic elegance. The place was 40 miles out of town, but the trip was worth it. Even the name made you eager to get there.

“Am I too early?” Brody asked, sticking his red-haired anti-coif into Philip’s office. “Your secretary’s not out there.”

“No, come on in!” Philip rose to greet his new friend. “I sent her home. I didn’t want anyone else here while we met. She’s got a new granddaughter, so I told her to go spend some time with her. She didn’t stop to ask questions.”

Brody laughed, relaxing considerably.

“Besides,” Philip continued, “you were a little mysterious about the purpose of this meeting. What can I do for you?”

“I want to know how to go about starting a town,” he said casually, as if people routinely created a city from scratch.

“What?”

“A town. How do I start one?”

“What on earth are you talking about?”

“It’s just research . . . for now. I’m working on a little plan, just in case it becomes feasible. You see, the families that I work with—you know, the families of the kids Max healed, like Sydney . . .”

“Yeah?”

“Well, I’m slowly warming them to the idea of how the healing has made their kids special. Some of them think their children were healed by angels; others think it was some supernatural phenomenon. No matter what the theory, though, they are open to the idea that it’s something extraordinary. And as grateful as they are to have their children with them, they feel a little removed from their regular lives now, and they’re taking a lot of comfort in each other. The kids, too. They’ve become so close, and enjoy spending time with other kids with similar abilities. I guess it’s a relief not to have to hide or pretend. I know that’s how Sydney feels.”

Philip’s thoughts were spinning back in time, seeing with fresh eyes the secretive lives his own children had led and the toll it took on them. They, too, had gravitated to others like themselves—as few as they were—because those were the people who would accept them for who they were, and who could be trusted to keep the secret. How he wished they had confided in him. Things could have been so much different.

“I can understand that,” he nodded. “So the parents have seen the kids do things? They know they’re developing abilities?”

“No, not yet. The kids have been unbelievably careful. I think maybe they’re afraid their parents will see them in a different light, if they know.” He missed the grimace that crossed Philip’s face, the words hitting close to home. “But that’s one of my goals—the parents have to be told . . . or shown . . . at some point.”

“Do you think any of the parents are unable to handle it? Frankly, I have yet to hear of one person who’s found out who didn’t deal with it and come out just damned amazed on the other side.”

“I can think of a few,” Brody scowled.

“No, I mean of people who already knew one of them. Family and friends. We’re talking about parents here. Do they all seem stable? They all love their kids?”

“Oh, yeah, definitely. In fact, with the whole cancer thing and being afraid of losing them, these kids are more precious to them than ever.”

“Okay, then,” Philip nodded, “so what’s this got to do with starting a town?”

“You’ll think I’m crazy, but it’s occurred to me . . . wouldn’t it be wonderful to bring them all together someday? The families, or just the kids when they’ve grown, could live in a single community, on their own terms, without secrets and fear. And if I had some property where such a place could be built, they might buy into it.”

Philip blinked in skeptical admiration. This man had amazing dreams and good intentions, but he wasn’t overly practical.

“That’s quite a gamble, Brody. First, you’d need to deal with the government on several levels, not to mention utilities, the highway system, construction. And what if the kids don’t want to live there as adults? They might want to get away from it, lead normal lives, have families. Where would they work? How would they support themselves? And then there’s the expense. We’re talking millions here, at least.”

Brody pushed his lower lip over his upper one, thinking. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking to rush into this anytime soon. And as for money, that’s the one thing you mentioned that’s not an issue. I’m a very wealthy man, Philip. My work is a labor of love. I have more money than I could ever spend. This seemed like a good use of it is all.”

If anyone else had seen Philip’s face at that moment, they would surely have burst out laughing. Brody’s casual revelation was a complete surprise.

“You have millions?

“A few,” Brody shrugged modestly. “Not enough for all of it, mind you, but enough to get it financed.”

Philip shook his head in disbelief. “I’ll look into it, Brody, but I’ll tell you right now, it’s the strangest request I’ve ever had.”

At this, Brody chuckled. “Stranger than finding a home for your alien son’s human child?”

Philip’s eyes shot up to meet Brody’s and crinkled in amused defeat. “Okay, the second strangest request.” He sobered. “Which reminds me. I have some news.”
Last edited by Carol000 on Sun Jun 29, 2003 10:06 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Carol/spacemom

Max and Liz: The love that is Roswell--"You have gone through me like thread through a needle. Now everything I do is stitched with your color."

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Carol000
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Post by Carol000 » Sun Jun 29, 2003 5:28 am

Part 33 continued

********

"Serena."

The one word hung in the air as they shared a tableau of suspended animation. Liz and Kyle sat twisted on the bench, mouths open, eyes wide, staring at the latest variable in the alien equation. Serena stood frozen on a hotbed of baked desert and shock. In the stillness, Liz felt the increasingly insistent pressure of Max in her mind, and she let down her guard to reach for him. He tumbled in gratefully, seeking first to know if she was all right, then if Kyle was. She reassured him, and promised to come in soon. Just another moment.

"Alex is yours? Kyle, how . . .?"

When she started to sway, Liz leapt to her feet and dashed toward her, relieved when Serena's weight leaned heavily against her own equally small frame. Kyle appeared on her other side, and the threesome shuffled wordlessly toward the bench.

“Serena, let me explain,” Kyle pleaded. But the slow shake of her head stopped him.

Eyes large and unblinking, Serena began to rock very slightly. “I can’t,” Serena mumbled to her lap. “I can’t.”

“Kyle, you need to get her home,” Liz whispered. “It’s all too much, and she’s not going to get better until she’s someplace familiar.”

Kyle’s arms had gone automatically around Serena’s shoulders in a pointless effort to protect her from her own thoughts. “But what will she do? What if she calls the police or her uncle or something? And what if she turns away from me . . . us, I mean?” he corrected quickly. “What if she abandons Alex?”

At the mention of Alex’s name, Serena’s head jerked up, and she tensed all over. “Where’s Alex?”

“It’s okay, Serena,” Liz soothed. “He’s asleep in my apartment. Max and Maria are watching him. Don’t worry.”

She stood abruptly, pushing Kyle’s arms away. “I need to go home.” She turned and began to march purposefully toward the apartment building, leaving Kyle and Liz scrambling to catch up. When they reached the apartment, Maria was sitting in the overstuffed chair cradling a mellow Alex, who was just swimming to the surface after a badly needed nap. She yelped with protest when Serena didn’t even break stride, but crossed the room in three steps, scooped Alex from Maria’s arms, snatched up the diaper bag, and started out the door again. Kyle grabbed his keys from the coffee table and hurried after her, looking like he might be sick if he could stop long enough to accomplish it.

Max was carrying on one of his telepathic conversations with Liz, his frown deepening by the second.

“What the hell happened?” Michael shouted, frustrated by the silence and frightened by Serena’s openly hostile attitude. “She was fine when she went outside!”

“She overheard that Alex is Kyle’s,” Liz responded very softly.

“He’s what?!” Michael and Maria screeched in stereo.

Vibrations from their sudden reaction reverberated in the light fixture, sending a brief high-pitched tone into the suddenly silent room. Liz had certainly expected Maria and Michael’s shock. What pulled her attention away from them and toward Max was his lack of reaction—at least an outward one. But beneath the calm exterior, his emotions were in turmoil, unreadable.

She’d managed to tell him only that Zan was Kyle’s as they spoke silently, but only now did she realize he wasn’t just surprised, he was upset. Very upset. He’d known Zan was Tess’s three hours ago; all that had changed was news of the father’s identity. Why did that have him in such an uproar? Surely, he couldn’t be . . . jealous.

********
Kyle had endured the ride back to Oasis in tense, terrifying silence; the chill that now separated them had sent shivers up his spine, in spite of the intense heat built up in the car. Watching Serena in the rearview, eyes studiously avoiding contact with anything but the glass in the window, Kyle would have bet his next paycheck—if there was one—that she wasn’t seeing anything that passed by. Alex had seemed subdued by the mood as well, and sat uncharacteristically still.

To his surprise, Serena had allowed him to help them up to her suite, still without so much as a look in his direction, and had gone directly to her bedroom with Alex. Unwilling to leave things as they were, and definitely unwilling to force the issue at that moment, Kyle had sat, then laid, on the couch, waiting.

The apartment was dark when he was awakened by a voice that he didn’t recognize.

“This is Dr. Deering’s office,” the slightly reproving voice announced. “You missed your appointment this morning. Please call to reschedule.”

The sound of a tape whirring oriented him; Serena was up and checking her messages.

“Hi, Serena. It’s your father. I’m trying to schedule a family conference call. We need to discuss a permanent solution for Alex. Check your schedule and give me a call.”

“Serena, it’s Paul. We need to get together on that accounting spreadsheet project for Miller’s class. You free tonight? Call me.”

“That was your last message,” the mechanical man intoned. The tape rewound and then a light went on in the doorway; he heard Serena cooing to Alex as cabinet doors opened and closed in the kitchen.

He stood slowly, afraid of alarming her. Better loud and direct than soft and sneaky-looking, he thought.

He started toward the kitchen, but stopped at his first glimpse of Serena, wearing sweatshorts and a tank top, leaning forward to caress the feathered curls on Alex’s . . . his son’s . . . head, her eyes soft with love.

“We’ll find a way, Alex. I promise. We won’t let Daddy or Uncle Brad or . . . Kyle . . .” Her voice caught on his name, and at that moment, Kyle ached to know what she was feeling about him, what had caused that hitch in her throat. “We won’t let them separate us, right? ‘Cause we’re a team.”

Alex reached for her face and uttered a series of syllables that Serena seemed to accept as assent.

“That’s right, so don’t you worry.” She handed him a slice of banana.

“Serena?” Kyle said clearly, stepping into the light. She gasped reflexively, but relaxed slightly when she saw him, even though her face fell into a dark scowl.

“How did you get in here?”

“I never left. I was on the couch.”

“You what?”

“Serena, you were in a pretty scary state when we came back. I thought you might need me. Or Alex might.”

His eyes drifted to his son, his first long look at him since coming to terms with the fact that he had actually fathered a child. The same intent look was being returned, and for the first time, Kyle felt a flutter in his chest, a flicker of recognition that burst into a flame of emotion. Without warning, there were tears in his eyes, and his knees gave out. He leaned against the doorframe and sank slowly to the floor.

“Oh, God,” he whispered.

Serena was kneeling next to him in an instant. “Kyle? Are you all right? What’s the matter?”

But Kyle couldn’t answer. His tears had swelled into sobs, and the full weight of what had happened hit him hard—in the chest, in the gut, in the heart. He’d stood by while his own son was given away to total strangers. How could he not have known?

“Kyle!” He could hear the fear in her voice, and he tried to pull himself together. Still trembling, he let her help him up, and he slid gratefully into a chair at the small kitchen table. Serena thrust a glass of water at him, and he sipped it obediently.

“What is going on with you? I’m the one who’s supposed to be upset!”

Kyle almost smiled at that. She was trying hard to be angry, but it was her concern for him that won out.

He attempted a deep breath, but instead a series of broken inhalations preceded a great whooshing sigh, and he realized he wasn’t ready for this conversation. But that didn’t matter, because now is when it was going to happen. He met her eyes, concern for her overshadowing his embarrassment and confusion.

“I’m sorry, Serena. I’m almost as confused as you are right now. I have so much to explain to you, and I wouldn’t blame you for throwing me out right now, but I hope you won’t. If only for Alex’s sake.”

She stared at him for a long moment. Finally, shaking her head, she rolled her eyes. “Why do I keep trusting you when every time I do, I get slammed with yet another ridiculous story? I’m like some kind of masochist or something.”

It was a rhetorical question, but Kyle answered her anyway. “It’s because the stories are not ridiculous. Amazing, yes. A little scary, yes. But not ridiculous. And I also think you know, deep down, that I’ve already started to care about you, and I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to you that I could possibly prevent. You or Alex.”

He looked again at his infant son, who was watching this interaction closely, and felt a smile break out on his face. When Alex returned it, Kyle felt his heart expand, just like the Grinch’s.

His son. Now that was amazing.

“Kyle, look at me.”

Kyle turned back to Serena, who was boring into his eyes with her own, stripping away pretense, peeling back protective layers, and delving as deeply as she could into who he was. It was unnerving, but exhilarating, too, as if fresh air had suddenly rushed into the musty vault that housed his soul. No one had ever cared who he really was. Now, for the first time, someone really wanted to know.

“Tell me, Kyle, right to my face, if everything I was told today is true.”

He held her gaze and reached for her hand, which lay stiff and careful in his grasp. “It’s all true, Serena. Every word of it. And I know exactly how you feel because I was hearing it all for the first time not that long ago, only add the fact that I would have died except for Evans. And I really really didn’t want to owe him anything—he’d taken Liz from me, and I wasn’t all that close to forgiving him for that.”

She searched his face, finally letting herself relax a bit. Her fingers curled slightly around his.

“Why didn’t you tell me Alex was your son? You even had the others lying about it the whole time I was in that apartment.” Her hand stiffened again. “And that shopping trip! We were buying him outfits and . . .”

“I didn’t know!”

She stared, new storm clouds gathering in her face. Her shoulders rose with tension. “You didn’t know yesterday, but today you do. Tell me, Kyle, how does that work?”

Alex began to stir restlessly, and Serena pulled her hand from Kyle’s. Quick jerking motions conveyed her state of mind as she prepared his dinner—a scrambled egg with bits of lean ham and the rest of the banana. Kyle tried to organize his thoughts as he watched her, jarred when she set a sippy cup of milk down on the high chair tray a little too forcefully. Even Alex jumped, but he grabbed the cup and was soon gulping noisily.

“Well?”

“I have no idea what they told you, but I’m sure it was all true. They didn’t know either. It’s so hard to explain.”

He ran his hand over his eyes and downed the rest of the water.

Serena turned her back to him to tend to the egg, flipped the yellow crumbles onto a plastic plate, and set it down—with measured control this time—on the tray. Alex dove in hungrily, but looked toward the table every few seconds, watching as if he knew he had a stake in what was happening.

“I’m listening,” she said, a subtle challenge in her voice. She sat down, folding her hands in an attentive pose. “Go on.”

Kyle knew everything depended on how he handled this. He straightened, took a cleansing breath, and began.

“You asked me last night if I’d fallen for anyone after Liz. I told you I thought I had, but I was wrong. That person was Tess.”

“But they said she was a horrible person, that she . . .”

“Let me finish. First, you have to understand that Tess was a master manipulator in her own right, plus she had an alien gift the others didn’t have.”

“Mindwarping.”

Kyle’s surprise lasted only a moment, then he nodded. “Right. So here’s what happened. My dad took Tess in after her . . . guardian, I guess, who was also supposed to be a protector for all of them, left town to follow an order Max gave him.”

“An order? Is Max some kind of general or something? Because he looks awfully young.”

“Oh, man,” Kyle sighed again. “Let’s stick to this story for the moment. But yes, Max is definitely the mucky muck of the group, and this protector guy—they called him Nasedo, which is another story altogether—left to do what Max told him to. So Tess had nowhere to live. Dad said she could stay with us. I was pretty bent at first, especially when she took over my room, but eventually, I kinda liked having her around. I knew about all the bad blood between Tess and Liz and Max . . .”

“How did that start anyway, I mean before they slept . . . or didn’t sleep . . . together?”

“My head hurts,” Kyle mumbled, pressing his fingers to his temples. “Long story short: Max and Liz were just getting together when Tess came to town, and once they realized she was an alien, too, she came straight out and said she and Max belonged together. Some garbage about destiny. So naturally, Max resisted and Liz just plain hated her.”

“Destiny. Maria said something about a “destiny book” and Alex . . .”

“No. I mean yeah, but I can’t go there tonight. Let’s get back to the main question here. Anyway, I knew they all disliked Tess and didn’t trust her, but while she lived with us, she seemed, I don’t know, nicer, somehow. More human. One thing led to another, and she let me believe she’d forgotten all that destiny crap and that maybe we could get something going.”

“So you did?” Serena said with some contempt, eyeing Alex meaningfully.

Kyle looked as though he’d been slapped, and for the first time, it was his face that clouded with anger.

“That’s not fair, Serena. You don’t know anything about it. I thought I was in love with her. I even thought it might be something long-term. On top of which, she told me over and over that she couldn’t get pregnant by a full-blooded human, and I was stupid enough to believe her. But it wasn’t just about hormones and it wasn’t irresponsibility that got her pregnant.”

Serena had the good grace to look mildly contrite. “I’m sorry, Kyle. You’re right. I don’t know anything about it. But why didn’t you think her baby might be yours when she got pregnant?”

Kyle took a few breaths and got up for some more water. When he sat down again, he was calmer.

“Because she started her mindwarp crap. She made me think I didn’t love her like that anymore. She turned it into a brother/sister thing in my mind. Then she warped his highness into thinking . . .”

“Highness? He’s royalty?”

Kyle stopped short, then shook his head. “You know? This is the most complicated damn story in the world. You’ll get all this eventually, but we’ll be here for a week if we go into each detail. Yeah, Max is . . . was . . . a king. Don’t be impressed. I try not to be.”

Serena finally cracked a smile. “You don’t like Max much, do you?”

A thoughtful expression came over Kyle’s face. “Yeah, actually, I do. It’s just that we got off to a rocky start, and giving him a hard time is the basis of our whole relationship. But the truth is, he’s all right. And he makes Liz happy.”

“You still care about her, don’t you?”

“Of course I do. I got over the crush, but somewhere along the line, we got to be really good friends. I don’t think I’ll get over that part.”

“So . . . she mindwarped Max into thinking they’d had sex.”

“Yeah, so when she turned up pregnant, we all thought it was Max’s. I didn’t think it was even possible for me to be the father, and Max seemed to accept that it was his, so when she left and came back with the baby, we all thought it was Max’s baby. She said he’d been rejected on Max’s planet because he turned out to be completely human.”

“Planet? She left the planet? How?”

Kyle glared at her, and she bit her lip. “Sorry.”

"Max made the decision to put Zan up for adoption to protect him. Then all hell broke loose with the Special Unit . . .”

At her frown, he elaborated. “. . . the alien hunters, and we got outta Dodge. Meanwhile, Max and Liz got married and had some kind of epiphany on their honeymoon night that it was a mindwarp, so the next assumption was that Tess had stolen the baby from some poor couple who must be devastated. Max got his Dad involved tracking down reported abductions, and that was the theory until today.”

They sat quietly for a few minutes, idly handing Alex small toys to keep him entertained while they wrestled with their own thoughts.

“So today, when Alex . . . did what he did, you knew he wasn’t completely human, and took us to Max.”

“Yeah, but over the last few months, I’ve had little flashes of . . . I don’t know . . . memories, or something. Tess would keep flashing into my mind when I’d be thinking of someone else, and it left me feeling unsettled. Then I met you and Zan . . . I mean Alex, and I kept thinking how much he looked like Zan, but dismissed it, you know? I’d only seen Zan a couple of times, and I didn’t look that closely even then. But last night, when Max and Liz recognized him so quickly, I knew. And that’s when I started to get a really sick feeling. I was up all night wondering if it could be possible. Then, in the car this morning, when it was suddenly obvious that he wasn’t human, I did the only thing I knew to do.”

He stood suddenly, pacing the tiny kitchen like a caged animal.

“Then, sitting there in that living room listening to all the hypotheses, I knew the truth. I must have been so full of adrenalin or something that it broke the warp, and I realized what she’d done. I knew, for the first time, that Zan was mine. And I just gave him away, like an old football I didn’t want anymore.”

He was no longer conscious of Serena or Alex; he was alone, tortured with self-loathing and disgust.

”What kind of father doesn’t know his own son? What kind of idiot takes the word of a lying bitch as gospel . . . especially about something so important? Love! Not in my lifetime. Not from Liz. Not from Tess. Not even from my mother. They always want someone else. They . . .”

“Da!”

The single syllable cut through his thoughts, and he jerked around to look at Alex who was peering at him with a scowl bordering on reprimand. Da? Had that been baby-speak for dad? Was it even possible Alex knew he was looking at his father?

“Da,” Alex repeated. Then, with a glance at Serena, “Ma.”

“He’s calling us Dad and Mom,” Kyle said incredulously.

Serena, pulled from her war of conflicting emotion as she watched Kyle, couldn’t help but smile.

“No, Kyle. ‘Da’ is his teething ring with the all the dogs on it—he calls them da for now. And ‘Ma’ is milk. He wants more.”

Kyle blushed, feeling ridiculous, and sank back into a chair. “I don’t even understand my own kid.”

Serena actually laughed at that one as she refilled the sippy cup. “Kyle, nobody understands baby talk unless you spend a lot of time with the child. You figure it out as you go. And as for not recognizing him, don’t beat yourself up. I’ve been up to the hospital nursery enough times to know that parents are always peering in that window asking which one is theirs. It’s not innate knowledge, you know. It’s learned.”

Grateful, but still embarrassed, Kyle drank deeply from his glass of water. God, his life was complicated.

With a start, he realized how incredibly complicated he’d just made Serena’s life as well. She was quiet now, seated again at the table, watching Alex with a frown. He wanted to say something—anything—to make her feel better, but he knew her mind was a jumble now, and she needed to let the dust settle.

“I guess I should go,” he said quietly, rising to his feet.

“You’re going to want him, aren’t you? You’re going to take him away.”

“What?”

She turned to face him now, tears pooling in her eyes even though they were more angry than anything. “Alex. Your son. You’re going to take him, aren’t you?”

The thought had never crossed his mind. He hadn’t gotten nearly that far yet. This was his son. He should raise him, right? But how? No money. No real home. No wife. No way of giving him the childhood he deserved. Never mind he’d never changed a diaper or fed a baby.

“I . . . I don’t know. I mean, how could I? I don’t know how. I don’t have anything but a room in this hotel and some clothes. I can’t . . .”

His eyes jerked to hers. He finally understood what she was saying. Now it was Kyle who was building toward anger. “What? You don’t want him anymore? Now that you know he’s mine, he’s not good enough? Yes! I’ll take him! And I won’t leave him, either! My father did fine with me and I’ll do fine with him!”

He took two strides forward, brushing past her, and began to fumble with the high chair. Her fingers touched his shoulder and he jerked away as if they were burning him. “No!”

“Damn you, Kyle! Stop it!” She grabbed at his sleeve and he wheeled on her, his emotions funneled into a fury that provided motion and an outlet, two things he needed badly right now.

“What?!”

“I don’t want to give him up! It’s the last thing I want. I want him here. Let me help you.”

Her voice had gone from piercing to barely more than a whisper, and Kyle felt the anger drain from him. He watched the tears spill down her cheeks and reached for her, pulling her impulsively into a hug that was less about affection than about relief.

“How is this ever going to work?” he asked the air breathlessly.

“We’ll make it work, Kyle. I promise.”

Alex looked on. “Da,” he said quietly.
Last edited by Carol000 on Sun Jun 29, 2003 12:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Carol/spacemom

Max and Liz: The love that is Roswell--"You have gone through me like thread through a needle. Now everything I do is stitched with your color."

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