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Carnival Of Souls (M/L TEEN) (Complete)
Posted: Sun Jun 29, 2003 12:58 am
Winner Round 9
Winner - Round 5
Winner Round 4
Title: Carnival Of Souls
Disclaimer: Don't own nobody
Summary: Max left Roswell the day after TEOTW. Everybody else moved on with their lives and it is now two years later.
Carnival: Translated from the Latin Carnivale, meaning "Farewell To The Flesh"
Thank you to LolitaBehrbuns for the beautiful banner.
Carnival Of Souls
When I was a child, life was bright.
Games were real, laughter was light.
I rode a roller coaster. Oh, how the years
have changed the prices-yesterday a quarter,
today the price I paid was tears.
They are alike, roller coasters and love.
Spinning you below and high above
the world around you. Hiding, it seems
the terror of the ride before it ends.
Sorrow is a long drop from our dreams.
Whirling you outside of time and space,
Searching for fake smiles to mask your face,
Chasing after dreams all over town,
Listening for voices from the past-
Like a roller coaster- up and down.
Max Evans lived in a twilight world. His existence was surreal. Just like the carnival atmosphere he worked in. The small RV he drove followed the convoy of trucks that snaked along the highway,their destination a small town in the Middle of Nowhere,America. He had done this countless times,rolling into little communities that were mapped out on the fair circuit in the middle of the night to set up the rides,the booths and games. The illusion of a few happy hours for the people who came to set aside the events of everyday life and allow themselves to be conned out of their hard earned dollars.
He parked at the back of the fairgrounds, got out and joined his fellow workmen to begin the task of unloading the big steel beams,cars and electrical cords that would be pieced together and transformed into a roller coaster. He liked this part of his job. It was orderly, precise and gave him a sense of satisfaction. The two men that worked with him were positive in their movements.
Marty, his boss, the taller of the two was thin, hawk nosed and his complexion was weatherbeaten from years in the sun. The wrinkles around his deep set blue eyes showed evidence of a life lived hard.
He lifted the heavy beams with little effort and placed them on the ground.
Dirk, the other man was stocky,bald and clad in black leather. His hands were huge and he could work magic with the electrical equipment that powered the coaster.
It was Max's job to run the heart of the machine. The gear box and the levers that ruled the acceleration of the ride. He made sure the cogs that meshed into the sprockets of the big chains were cleaned and oiled,the levers and buttons that shifted and slowed the motion were tested and inspected with each setup. Safety of the passengers was always his first priority.
The three of them worked together in unison and were done in four hours time. They high fived one another on a job well done and talked casually about the crowds of people that would teem into this small area later this evening to fall under the spell of the lights and the midway games and the chance of winning large stuffed animals to impress their friends.
Max was tired so he excused himself and returned to the RV to catch a few hours sleep.
This small space had been his home for almost two years now. When he had first left Roswell at 17, it had been his intention to go to Las Cruces and stay with his Mother's sister and finish his schooling there. But he had never made it to her house. He had stopped when he seen a help wanted sign for laborers to work the carnival that was in town. It had seemed like the perfect solution to his problem. He could blend in yet move around freely, and just disappear into the background. He would never be in one place too long,never have to put down roots. He wouldn't have to worry about destiny or aliens who wanted him to come back and save a planet-a planet he couldn't remember anyway, having been reborn mostly human save for the blood that coursed through his veins and the ability to change molecular structure. And the power to heal, to take someone else's pain and make it his own.
He didn't regret saving her life that day in the Crashdown Cafe. What he did regret, however, was the danger he had caused for the people around him. For his sister Isabelle and his best friend Michael Guerin, both alien hybrids like himself. And the humans that were loyal to them and held their secrets. He thought of bouncy Maria Delucca and how much she cared for Michael. And Alex Whitman's solid devotion to Isabelle. He even thought of Tess Harding, the fourth alien who had emerged from the pod
later than the rest of them and who claimed to be his wife from another lifetime-another world. And Jim Valenti, the sheriff who had helped save him from the tortures of the white room. Max felt he had repayed this debt by saving Kyle Valenti, the sheriff's son, from a gunshot wound. He didn't like to remember Nasedo, the alien shapeshifter who had brought the FBI special unit crashing down around their heads. Nasedo had redeemed himself by becoming Agent Pierce, the man that Michael had killed. By doing this, some sense of normalcy was restored and their secret was safe. Until the night his world fell apart.
So he had joined the work crew for the carnival, and closed the door on all his yesterdays. He had become a non-person, a face in the crowd, a traveler with no real destination. He became a member of humanity's misfits and lost souls who hid away from the real world behind the facade and illusion that was carnival.
He turned the knob on the door and stepped inside and sank wearily to the couch stretching his body out to rest. He glanced around the small space and suddenly his breath caught in his throat. A sliver of sunlight had caught the small necklace that hung from the rear view mirror. It was a tiny silver butterfly that looked heaven spun from the twinkle of stars. He had bought it in a moment of weakness because it was so fragile and delicate and it had reminded him of her. For just a moment he opened his mind and allowed himself the luxury of remembering her.
He imagined how she would have smiled at him with those beautiful brown eyes and how she would have lifted her long silky hair up for him to clasp the chain on the velvet skin of her neck. The butterfly would have floated down to rest in the hollow of her throat and he would have been rewarded with one of her long sensual kisses. One of the lipstick I love yous that he still couldn't erase from his mouth. Liz Parker would have loved the necklace, but she was gone, lost to him. He'd heard the words from her mouth that she didn't love him, and with his own eyes he had seen her in bed with Kyle. She wasn't able to risk her life to be with him, so she had given herself to another and he had left Roswell so she could live the life that she wanted with another human.
Posted: Sun Jun 29, 2003 10:51 pm
Marty watched as Max walked away. He liked this young man, and that had always seemed odd to him. He didn't normally like anybody. He had worked hard at being a bad ass and his reputation for being a stern taskmaster was well known. He had been a gaffer for 30 years and had dealt with the cesspool of humanity on a daily basis-druggies-thiefs-ex-cons and just plain old wanna be's. He'd heard every story there was to tell from the people that had crossed his path searching for work as a carny. He could read people by their body language,the way words tumbled from their mouths,the way eyes shifted when being asked questions,the gestures of their hands. He had honed this skill to perfection
over the years and knew the difference between the good, the bad and the ugly in an instant. Max Evans,however, had not been an easy study.
Aside from the cockamamy story of trying to get away from an abusive home life, Marty sensed that Max was honest and reliable and would
work hard and be an asset to his crew.
He had respected the way Max had looked him straight in the eye during the interview. He had been articulate with his answers, his hands hadn't fluttered around aimlessly and he never shuffled his feet or looked down at the ground. Still, there had been something in Max he couldn't tap into.
Need? The distant feeling of not belonging? Whatever it was, Marty couldn't quite grasp it. Reflecting on that interview, he remembered that by the time Max had been hired it was almost as if their roles had been
reversed. Max's demeanor had been almost regal as he studied Marty and had questioned him about the specifics of the work expected of him.
When Max had shook his hand and left the office gracing him with a slight nod he was slightly taken aback by the way Max's presence had left him feeling. This boy had secrets and he guarded them well. And, crusty old bastard that he was, Marty couldn't beleive he was thinking this, but Max Evans had the most soulful eyes he had ever seen.
"Hey,Max." Serena's soft voice reached his ears. She knew he was awake,even though his eyes were closed. "Hungry? I brought you something to eat."
He sat up and took the plate of nachos and cheese from her hand along with the can of cherry coke. She handed him the bottle of tabasco sauce from the table and watched as he poured a generous amount over the chips and then dashed some in the soda. She had teased him at first about his dietary quirk, but had since grown used to his taste for things sweet and spicy. Once she had even likened his tabasco fetish to American Express. He never left home without it. She was always trying new combinations of food that she thought he might like, loving the way his face would either wrinkle up in disgust if it was bad, or getting a smile of appreciation if he thought it was good.
She laughed a little as he popped a chip into his mouth.
"What?" he said, watching her eyes as he chewed the chip.
"I don't know," she giggled. "It"s just that I'm the one who's pregnant , and even I don't have the strange cravings for food that you do."
He studied her smile. She really was beautiful when she smiled. She had deep green eyes and her naturally curly red hair that fell to her shoulders
bounced around her ears when she moved. She was older than him by about 5 years, but didn't look it. Small framed , not tall, maybe 5'6" he thought. Her eyes crinkled up and she stuck her tongue out at him. He wondered if all pregnant women radiated with the glow she seemed to have.
"Gotta go to work. Thanks for the nachos." he said , rising from the couch and opening the door to leave. He patted her swollen belly softly. "Keep the little guy warm," he said,stepping outside. "I'll be home
Serena wondered how he just knew it was a boy. She hadn't had a sonogram,and had only been to the doctor once in the last eight months.
But she knew he was right. Max had a special sense about certain things
and she beleived him. It would be a boy.
Carnival Of Souls M/L PG13 Chapter 3
Posted: Wed Jul 02, 2003 2:02 am
Carnival Of Souls
All the aliens were gone. The real ones anyway. Rather ironic, Liz Parker thought. This was Roswell after all, the alien capitol of the world. People still flocked here to the UFO center seeking truths about extra terrestials. They bought key chains and alien themed trinkets, attended conventions and crash festivals. They ate Will Smith burgers, Men in Blackberry pie and drank alien blasts at her parent's resturant. What most die hard believers searched a lifetime for, she had discovered by a twist of fate. She had once wrote in her journal wishing for something to happen to break the routine of her small town life. In her wildest dreams she never imagined it would be an alien hybrid King wearing the guise of a teenage boy. Let alone the fact he had saved her life as she lay dying from a gunshot wound on the floor of the Crashdown Cafe. He had risked not only his secret, but had jeopardized other lives as well in the aftermath of that day.
A crescent moon swung low across the sky and blended with the stars to make little silver patterns that skittered across the sagebrush. Quarter moon in a ten cent town. She'd heard that phrase somewhere and thought it rather appropriate. She had come to the desert tonight for a rendevouz with her heart. The heart she had betrayed, hadn't followed.
The Max that had come to her from the future had clearly stated that all the aliens had to stay together in order to save the world. She had done what he had asked of her. She had broken Max's heart by pretending to sleep wirh Kyle. She had done her level best to push Max to Tess-to fulfill his destiny. And it had all been for nothing. Yeah, Max the usurper, as she liked to call him now, had been real smart. Her realization of what really happened that night of the Gomez Concert hadn't come to her as quickly as it should have. When it did it shook her to the core. Some scientist she was. Paradox. His real intention had been to create a paradox. By changing the one event that would have led to the end of the world, he had used her to set the course for different futures for everyone.
That's what he had meant when he told he didn't know whether she would be alone. That it was up to her to make her own destiny. By reinforcing the fact that Max could not make love to her that night, that pivotal moment in time had never happened, subsequently altering the future. It was the truth, but it was a lie. The truth being he knew he would never fall out of love with her, no matter how hard she tried to make him do so. He knew they were destined for one another-to be cemented-as he had put it. Just not that night. The lie being there was really no need for a foursquare. Since there was no event to set it in motion, the end of the world wouldn't happen. She alternated between hating Max the usurper for taking from her what wasn't his to take. Her moment in time. But she loved the scarred leather clad Max who had been selfless enough to return and give thier love another path to take.
Wasn't that a paradox in itself? Maybe. Well, she thought with satisfaction, if he could create one, she could too.
So, all the aliens were gone. Along with the humans that loved them. It was mid August and she'd be going to Las Cruces next week to start college. Michael and Maria had moved there right after graduation and she'd stay with them until she found her own apartment. Isabelle and Alex were in San Francisco. Tess had finally given up on Max and destiny, and no longer under Nasedo's influence, had embraced her human side, building a relationship with Kyle. They had just moved to Phoneix last month. Jim Valenti was still pursuing Amy Delucca, much to the consternation of Maria and Kyle, but they were gradually resolving themselves to the outcome. She had long since told everyone what had happened that night. Everyone but Max. Her Max. He had been the first to leave. Vanished. Or, when she felt the need to torture herself, banished. It had been her actions that had driven him away. The damage she had caused had broken him.
She knew he was alive. Mrs. Evans received sporadic letters, always postmarked from different towns, never a return address. He never asked about her or any of the others. Just quick little notes to assure his Mom and Dad he was okay. Not a hint as to where he was or what he was doing. Now it was her turn. She would be the last to leave.
She could still feel his touch on her skin, and her lips were scarred forever with his kiss. The winds that blew softly through her hair became his hands stroking the length of it along her back. Every beat of her heart was his footstep walking the corridors of that empty place. She raised her arms to the sky and pleaded for a miracle. That whatever Diety had had designed the universe and woven the fabric of time would bring Max back to her. His memory followed her home and lay down beside her as she rested on her bed.
She felt that he was close. The dreams were more frequent and very vivid. The one last night had been intense. A dragon. She was riding a silver dragon that slid across the moon. It twisted and turned and split the air between the earth and the sky with frightening speed. She could see Max below her on the ground smiling up at her with those golden eyes and that his handsome face was full of love. He was reassuring her not to be afraid, that he would keep her safe. The dragon plummeted down and the ground rode up to meet it. She had bolted upright from the bed, her fists clenched, her knuckles white. There had been a vauge fragrance in the room, faint and aromatic, and very sweet. It only lasted a moment as she moved her head from side to side sniffing the air. She thought it smelled like cotton candy.
Max was dreaming again. Serena could hear him shifting on the couch from the back of the RV where she lay on the bed. He was whispering the girl's name over and over. Liz, Liz, Liz. This was the one Serena called the hungry dream. The one that ate away at his soul. The nightmares nights were different than this dream. He would wake up screaming with those, and she would try to comfort him. She wondered what terrible things could have happened to this kind and gentle man who had rescued her from certain death. And she wondered about Liz, and what memories
she had given Max to torment him in his sleep.
Carnival Of Souls Chapter 4 7/3/03
Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2003 1:20 am
Author's note: Just wanted to thank everyone for the feedback. I'm glad you like my story. I am certainly enjoying writing it. Thanks again.
Carnival Of Souls
The dream haunted him all day.
Beneath the space of the low hanging desert moon,her long brown hair was luminous. The breeze fluttered and swayed against the silken strands, tugging at them gently to come and dance. She stood so still he thought perhaps she was a statue carved from the marble of an ancient stone. Venus Rising. Only the steady rhythm of her chest inhaling and releasing the air around her told him she was real. Her arms were raised to the sky in a gesture of supplication as if she were praying for something. He moved closer to her through the twilight of the dream. Her eyes were closed, but they didn't need to be open for him to remember their beauty. Her mouth was moving and her soft voice floated through the air to the space where he stood. He couldn't hear what she was saying. The words fell at his feet and when he bent to pick them up they melted like tiny crystals of ice on the heat of his hands. He reached for her and woke up clutching empty space. His lungs were searching for air and his heart was in his throat. He shoved his face into the pillow and the pillowcase captured his tears. Liz was all around him, her hands were touching him, setting his flesh on fire. He fumbled for the latch on the door and went outside to regain his composure. Serena watched him from the window as he paced back and forth for a long time.
Before he left for work Max stared at his reflection in the mirror,and he checked his smile for normalcy. He would have to feed little scraps of that smile to the people he would interact with before the night was over. There it was, looking back at him, covered with road dust and miles of highway. Fake as his life, but in perfect working order.
He watched the coaster climb the rail, slinking along the chains slowly, the steady clickety clack rhythm humming in his ears. When it reached the top he jerked the lever that would send it plunging down the steep descent before leveling out to take the twists and turns that would bring the two minute ride to it's completion. He watched the passengers faces as they threw their arms up and their screams flew out of their mouths.
Danger. People secretly craved danger. Like lightning that splits the borders of the universe-uncaring flares of danger. But it was danger with a safety net. They sought the high and the rush of not being in control for a small moment in their lives, knowing that when their feet touched the ground after being pummelled unmercifully inside the cars and flying through the air at breakneck speed they would survive and be safe again.
He delighted in giving people the wonderful of ups and the dangerous of downs. It was something he was in control of.
His own life had spiraled out of control so many times it pleased him in a perverse sort of way to hold sway over the power of this machine. His very own silver dragon. And Serena had become his safety net. His recompense for all his debts and errors. His atonement for sins committed and unforgiven.
The last ride was over for the night and Max pulled the tarps over the cars and shut the ride down, as Serena waited patiently for him to finish up. One more day in Amarillo, and then it was on to Lubbock. It was the last week in August and the baby was due in mid September. He paused momentarily and thought about secrets and lies. They clung to him like those little magnents on a fridge. No matter how hard he tried to fade away, they plauged him. Like bloodhounds sniffing for a runaway prisoner they pursued him relentlessly. Alien secrets, human secrets, it didn't matter. He would never be able to escape.
Marty watched as Max draped his arm over Serena's shoulder. He knew the truth. The child that Serena was carrying did not belong to Max. Sure, they acted like a couple, and it was a good masquerade. But they didn't share the intimacy that came with being lovers. There wasn't that special look between them and the physical contact was a charade. They pulled it off pretty good though, he thought. Guess they had their reasons. People being what they were, most didn't look for the nuances that he did. They accepted at face value what was presented to them, and went about their business.
"Max,wait up," Mary shouted. "There's been a change in the schedule. We won't be going to Lubbock. They need us in Las Cruces instead." Marty almost dropped the clipboard he held in his hand as Max swung around to face him, a look of panic flashing across his eyes. He had seen that look only once before. The only time that Max had refused to do a job. They had been short one man to erect the Maze of Mirrors, and he had sought Max out for assistance. He had been surprised at Max's reaction. Even at the risk of losing his job, Max adamantly refused to do it. Marty had let it slide because of his affection for Max and because he was so damn good at running the coaster. But he had noticed over time the one place that Max never went, the one place he skirted with a purpose, was the Maze of Mirrors.
The panic faded from Max's eyes and was replaced with a look of resignation. His back stiffened and he squared his shoulders and Marty sensed that Max was fighting some sort of internal battle. "Okay." was the only word he heard from Max, and there was no emotion in the voice.
Max felt his control slipping away, his mind was beginning to short circuit. Flashes from the past assailed him and the dream from last night engulfed him. Her memory crawled and scraped against his skin from the inside like a broken bone that even he could not heal. He made up his mind in that moment to take a stand. He couldn't run anymore. Liz was calling him. When the gig in Las Cruces was over and Serena and her son were safe it would be time to go home. Home to Roswell. Time to face his demons.
Carnival Of Souls M/L PG13 Chapter 5
Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2003 3:20 am
Carnival Of Souls
Serena laid the map on the table and Max studied it carefully. He noted every landmark and recorded the circle of stones into his memory. For the hundreth time. He could find his way to the spot in the desert where the answers to all his questions lay with his eyes closed. He also knew that digging things up sometimes could bring more pain than was bargained for. He hoped the results of this search for truth would bring better news than the last one had.
"I'll be leaving for Roswell after the baby's born, when I'm done in Las Cruces." he told her with a note of sadness in his voice. He had grown close to this woman over the past few months. She was funny and smart and he cared for her a great deal. She had also saved his ass on many occasions, just by being at his side when his workday was over. There was an unspoken code among carnival people. A kind of don't ask, don't tell policy. Nobody gave a damn why you were there, and wouldn't miss you when you left. Replacements were easy to find. It was not considered honorable to question any induvidual about motives or reasons.
So when Serena had shown up, nobody wondered why. It happened all the time. The strays, as carny's called them-leftover people from rural towns that hooked up with the workers. Some just looking to get laid for a night or two, others for the thrill of being on the road, escaping the ordinary. Most of them didn't stay long, the faces changed with every town. Max had turned down so many one night stands he couldn't count them anymore.
When it became evident that Serena was pregnant, he had been the recipient of many sly winks and pats on the back. Serena became known as Max's old lady, his squeeze. "Way to go, Max" "Got a bun in the oven, huh?" "Christ, Max, didn't know you had it in you, always thought you was gay." He heard all these remarks and graciously accepted the congragulations of his upcoming fatherhood. He and Serena went along with it all, playing the game, returning all the comments and friendly barbs with sly winks of their own.
"Are you sure it has to be done now, Max?" Serena asked as her fingers traced the edge of the table. "You could wait a while longer, couldn't you?"
She was almost pleading. "Grandfather said--
He cut her short before she could finish the sentence.
"No," he said with that stubborn voice she knew so well. "It has to be after Las Cruces. I'll see to it that you and the baby are safe in your own place,
that you have a new identity. When it's over, no one will ever find you. I just want you to be free of these secrets you've been carrying around."
"What about you?" she questioned. "Will I ever see you again? Will I ever get to meet the others?"
"Maybe, maybe not." he replied, and she felt the uncertainty in his answer.
"I honestly don't know. But when I"ve done what I have to do, I'm hoping
I can tell you everything. There are other people involved in this that I have to consider."
Everything. Serena wondered if he would ever be able to share with her the memories of Liz or the reason for his horrible nightmares. She knew he had been captured once and escaped from the special unit of the FBI, but he never talked about it. She was sure he had been tortured. But she knew nothing of his personal life. When she had tried to question him about anything that would reveal his inner feelings, or what he had done before working in the carnival, he simply refused to discuss it.
She knew about the other three like him. Michael, Isabelle and Tess. That they were hybrid aliens rescued from the crash of 1947 in Roswell.
Her Grandfather had given her their picture, and their names. Four teenagers sitting in an old jeep, along with debris from the crash, and the map a few days before he died. He had given her instructions to go to Roswell and give these items to any one of the four she could find.
Serena had inherited two beliefs from her Grandfather. Fate and the existence of aliens. She beleived that all things happened for a reason. That there were no coincidences. That all actions in life were predetermined. The belief in aliens because her grandfather had been involved in the secrecy of the crash of 47, and he had given her the proof. He had warned her to be cautious. That the woman who had approached him in the desert had said others were out there and might come looking for her because she had the map.
The day after her Grandfather died, Serena began to notice a blonde woman following her. When her apartment was broken into and ransacked, she knew the only thing to do was leave Tampa. She bought a bus ticket to Oklahoma City,leaving everything she owned behind her.
Roswell would have to wait. It was too dangerous to go there now.
And fate had led her directly to Max Evans. When she was sure the woman hadn't followed her to Oklahoma, she rented a motel room and finally rested.She knew she couldn't use credit cards and she didn't dare rent a car for fear of being traced. She would have to use only cash from now on. The memory of the night she had found him replayed through her mind.
From the room she could hear the music of the carnival. Moving to the window she could see the rides and bright lights hanging in the air. She was tired, lonely and scared. An hour or two of fun just might lift her spirits. She grabbed her coat and walked the two blocks over to eat and
forget the trouble she was in for just a while, knowing there would be a lot of people milling around, and wasn't there safety in crowds?
She spotted him from the midway-talking to a bald, stocky man dressed in leather pants. She took the picture from her purse and scrutinized it
for every detail. Yes, it was him. The dark haired boy driving the jeep.
There was no mistake. She had lingered in the shadows as he shut down the roller coaster, and followed him as he walked toward the row of trailers, tents and RV's parked at the edge of the lawn..
"Mr. Evans, Max, could I speak with you?" she called to him. He hesitated for a second and when she reached him she touched him lightly on the shoulder. He turned to face her, thinking she was another stray looking for a one night stand-ready to decline any offer of sex she had on her mind.
Her next question caught him completly off guard. "Do you know a Michael Guerin from Roswell, New Mexico.?"
His reaction had been swift and she was unprepared for it. He had grabbed her by the arms and had pinned her against the metal side of a trailer so quickly it made her head spin. He wrapped one hand around her throat, and placed his other hand, palm up, about six inches from her chest, his eyes dark and full of fear. She didn't know which one of them was more frightened. But she was certain he could have killed her in that instant if he had wanted to. She was helpless.
"Who are you?" he said, his voice almost a whisper as it escaped his mouth. "And how do you know about Michael, and me, for that matter?"
His grip was so tight she couldn't breathe. Her eyes began to water and only small choking sounds came from her throat. He released the pressure just as the darkness began to rise behind her eyes, allowing her to finally speak.
"I have something that belongs to you," she replied, her voice a raspy quiver as the air rushed back into her lungs. "If you'll just let me get in my purse."
He nodded silently in agreement, but moved his body closer to her to keep her pinned against the trailer as she fumbled with the clasp on her purse. She removed the small piece of silver metal and placed it in his hand along with the picture and the map.
"Michael was a friend of my Grandfather's," she said as he released her to look at the objects she had given him. She pulled herself up as tall as she could, and stared into his amber eyes with defiance and anger blazing from her green ones, " My name is Serena. Serena Carver."
Carnival Of Souls M/L PG13 Chapter 6 7/15/03
Posted: Tue Jul 15, 2003 9:02 am
Carnival Of Souls
Max had been stunned by the story Serena told him that night. How the government had really covered up the crash. That there were two sets of pods. But he was especially captivated by the role her Grandfather- Captain Carver- had played in the sequence of events. How insturmental he had been in saving them by allowing the two surviving aliens to remove the pods to safety. Serena relayed how Michael had driven her Grandfather to the desert, demonstrated his powers and admitted to being one of the inhabitants of the pods. He also told Captain Carver about Max, Isabelle and Tess. But he didn't know anything about the other pods. Hence, the picture. Captain Carver had taken it the same afternoon he had befriended Michael. As a reminder for himself that he had done the right thing after all.
Max wondered why Michael hadn't told him about Captain Carver or the second set of pods. But thinking back about how strained his relationshp with Michael had been in the few days before he had left Roswell, he understood why. The two of them seemed to have a penchant for keeping screts, even from each other. They had basrely been on speaking terms, and so many things had happened so fast. The death of Nasedo, Isabelle killing the Congresswoman, discovering the Granolith, Michael sniffing after Courtney, and Liz sleeping with Kyle. God, it had been a mess.
"Max," Serena's voice filtered through the haze of his thoughts. "There's more. Are you listening?"
He nodded his head yes as he crumpled the small piece of metal in his fist again and again, watching in amazement as it returned to it's original shape each time. He finally placed it on the table and looked at her intently.
Knowing she had his attention, Serena continued. "The last night my Grandfather spent in Roswell, an old woman came to his motel room and entrusted this map to him. She told him she was one of the aliens-a shapeshifter-a ptotector. And thanked him for what he had done. She said the map was to be given to any one of the four of you when you had reached maturity-18 in earth years. That it would lead you to all the answers you would be seeking. There was also a warning that other aliens, your enemies would come searching for the map. That the other protector had already been killed for it.
Max's eyes widened. "Skins?" Did he say anything about Skins?"
Serena ran the question through her mind before answering. "I don't think so. I don't remember anything being said about Skins. But when the woman began following me, I knew, I just felt that she was one of the-she searched for the right word--I guess, bad aliens." She eyed him candidly. "Are you a good alien, Max?"
The smile he gave her contained an apology. "After the way I treated you tonight, I'm not so sure. I'm sorry, it's just that you put me on the defensive. Nobody suspects what I am, and then you show up out of the blue. I"ve tried to put the past behind me, but you finding me by chance and giving me all this information has been a shock."
They sat in silence for awhile, him looking at the map, the piece of metal, the picture and then at her. She studied the worn carpet, the frayed material on the cushion of the couch and the tops of his shoes.
"I have to leave now," she told him, breaking the silence. "I have secrets of my own to protect."
"What secrets would that be?" he asked her as she rose from the chair. "Anything I can help you with? To repay you for everything you've told me?"
She laughed a little, a bitter laugh. He caught the somber look in her eyes. She saw the sincerity in his and decided to tell him. What could it hurt? She needed to tell someone, to talk about it. And right now, Max Evans was her only friend.
"Not unless you can make it possible for me to live long enough to deliver the baby I'm carrying." she told him with a sharp intake of breath, as the tears welled up in her eyes. It felt good to cry.
"You're pregnant? How far along? he asked in amazement. "And you think you'll be killed before the baby's born? By the woman who's following you? Who's the Father?" The questions rolled off his tongue in a rush and she put her fingers against her lips and gave him a shhsing sound to stop the flow.
"First of all," she explained, wondering why she was confessing her sins and secrets to this boy, this alien, "The Father was just a guy I met in a bar. I was drunk and things got out of hand. Shit happens. It was about six weeks ago. Second, I'll probably be dead before any bad aliens are able to find me. I have cancer. Luekemia. I just want to last long enough to give my baby a chance to live. There's a retreat, a hospice in Mexico where I can stay. I"m leaving tomorrow."
Max motioned her to sit back down. He took her hands in his and when he spoke, his voice was full of compassion and gentleness. "I can heal you," he told her. "That's my power, I'm a healer. But I need to make a connection with you. I need to touch you."
Serena eyed him suspiciously, unsure of this turn of events. "Touch me? Will it hurt? Me? Or the baby?" she asked.
"I won't hurt you, I promise." he said, reassuring her by the tone of his voice. "Please, just lay on the couch and I"ll help you." She did as he asked and he knelt beside her cupping her face in his hands. "I need you to look at me." His beautiful eyes were pulling her in and the heat from his hands as they ran the length of her body reminded her of the morning sun when it blesses you with it's warmth. She felt no fear, only the calming prescence of his touch. She was floating, light as a feather, and as she slowly came out of the euphoric state he had put her in, she realized his eyes now held her pain. His body shook, sweat beaded on his forehead and his head slumped against her arm as he struggled for breath. "It's gone now," he said, trembling as the tips of his fingers brushed back the hair from her forehead. "Both of you will live."
Pieces of Serena's life had flashed through his mind as he healed her. He knew who the blonde woman was. It was Courtney, the waitress from the Crashdown. Michael had been right to suspect her. She was an alien. Not a shapeshifter like Nasedo. It was more probable she was a Skin.
He decided that night to keep Serena with him. He could protect her, keep her safe. Maybe fate had sent Serena to him to be his salvation. His chance to repay the gift of life her Grandfather had given him. Michael had betrayed him, Liz had betrayed him, but Serena trusted him. He tucked the map under the edge of the old carpet. He didn't give a shit about what lay buried in the desert- Let it stay. He didn't care about being a leader, a King. The only thing he had ever cared about was Liz, and she had cast him off. The aliens and the humans he had left behind were better off without him. So together he and Serena had come up with the plan to be a couple. It was perfect. And it had worked so well until tonight. When the schedule changed, so had Max.
Serena shook her head and pulled herself back to the present, to the now. Max would be leaving. Their situation had changed and something was pulling at him. Was it the alien part of him, the aspect she knew about? Had he finally decided to dig up the answers? Or was it the human factor, his love for Liz, that was calling him home?
Liz finished unpacking as Maria watched from the doorway. She hung her clothes and filled the top of the dresser with remnants of the past, things from her old room. A picture of her Mom and Dad, the one of her and Alex and Maria. She placed the dried bouquet of white roses that Max had given her the night before he left on the edge of the mirror..Maria thought they looked like tattered scraps of paer as they rustled gently in the breeze each time the oscillating fan blew across them. The strip of photos of Liz and Max rested wedged in the wood against the glass, beneath the roses.
She knew about the dreams Liz was having, and wished with all her heart that Liz could just move on, forgive herself for what she'd done, but knew she never would. Liz would alway love Max. But Maria hated him in this moment, as she watched Liz rummage through pieces of yesterday.
It was the Friday before Labor Day and Isabelle and Alex would be here tomorrow, and Kyle and Tess were coming in from Phoneix. There would be a lot of shopping to do for the barbecue on Sunday. But tonight, she and Liz were going to have fun. There was a carnival in town, and she was bound and determined to show Liz a good time.
Carnival Of Souls M/L PG13 Chapter 7 7/20/03
Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 2:07 am
Carnival Of Souls
Sleep had eluded Max most of the day after the coaster was set up. He had shifted restlessly on the couch, his body tensing as he felt the tingling spiral up his spine and wind through his body. He was on edge and felt uneasy about something he couldn't quite put his finger on. For some reason his thoughts would not obey him. He had become quite adept at blocking her memory during his waking hours, but today was different.
As the evening progressed , he caught himself glancing at every girl that looked even remotely like her. Girls with the same sillouette of her shape. Girls with long brown hair swaying across their shoulders as they walked the midway. He looked for movements, listened to voices, searched for brown eyes. Maybe it was because he was close to home. If she was still in Roswell, would he see her? Would she still be with Kyle? And how would Michael and Isabelle react to his sudden reappearance? And the story he had to tell them ? What if everyone was gone? The coaster rolled to a stop, interrupting his thoughts, and he watched the people exit the cars to the left as another group came through the gates to fill the empty seats from the right. He shook his head to clear the clutter from his mind and focused on the job at hand.
Maria had to talk like a trooper to get Liz to go to the carnival.
"C"mon, Liz, it'll be fun. We'll ride a few rides, eat corndogs, play a few games." Maria begged.
"You know I hate carnivals, and I don't like clowns. I've got to finish unpacking." Liz said, her excuses running rampant over Maria's ears.
"Please, please. Just for an hour or two," Maria pleaded, giving Liz a pouty look. "Let's have some fun. Michael won't go and I need some recreation-recreation that doesn't include the bedroom."
"I heard that." Michael called from the kitchen as he grabbed a cherry coke from the fridge and joined them in the living room. "Kiss my ass, Maria," he said, as he wrapped his arms around her from behind resting his chin on the top of her head.
"Would that be your entire ass, Michael, or just the spots that drive you crazy?" Maria asked as she squirmed to get out of his embrace.
He rolled his eyes at Liz. "Please go with this lust filled woman to the carnival. I can't take another minute of her need for quickies during commercials. I need to become one with the tube tonight."
Maria slapped him on the arm, and he let her go, fienging pain as he rubbed the spot where her hand had landed. Liz laughed at the two of them. Some things would never change.
Maria and Michael had finally broken down Liz's reserves and she had relented, but as they purchased their tickets at the entrance, her stomach was tied in knots, and the memory of the last carnival she had been to came back and a chill rushed along her spine. She shook it off as Maria grabbed her hand, laughing, and pulled her into the crowd.
Max couldn't concentrate. His skin was on fire and he struggled to stay on his feet. His knees went weak and he called to Dirk to take over. Dirk ran up beside him quickly, he had never seen Max like this before. His eyes were glazed over and it was almost like he was in a stupor. Dirk shook him by the shoulders, pulling him back to reality.
"Holy Shit, Max, what's the matter? Are you sick?" Dirk asked with concern as he took over the controls. "Go home, Max, you look like hell. I"ll finish your shift."
Max felt dizzy as he relenquished the coaster into Dirk's capable hands. He held onto the rails as he walked down the ramp to the ground, wondering if he would make it to the RV before he fell down. As he neared the back edge of the circle of trailers, away from the Midway, he began to feel a little better. He could see Serena leaning against the door of the Rv. He stood beside her and leaned back joining her as she gazed up at the sky.
"You feeling okay,Max?" Serena said, surprised to see him. "You don't look so good."
"Just a little queasy," he replied shakily. "I"m going to take a break for awhile. Dirk's running the coaster. Don't worry, I'll be alright. I just didn't sleep too good last night."
Serena shook her head knowingly. He had called Liz's name again and again last night until she had shaken him awake, and tried to ease his melancholy with hot coffee and small talk.
He leaned over and kissed her cheek. "Thanks for caring."
Liz and Maria walked the length of the midway, stopping to shoot darts at balloons, trying unsuccesfully to make basketballs go into hoops. They were laughing and enjoying the lights and the atmosphere. When they reached the cotton candy stand, Maria spied the bathrooms.
"I'll be right back, gotta go to the bathroom." she said. "Wait right here for me, then we'll ride the roller coaster."
Liz nodded okay as she paid for her cotton candy. The smell drifted up from the fluffy confection and she had a vague feeling of deja vu. She became fascinated with the pink color. She twirled the bottom of the cone and the crystals of sugar twinkled back at her, little points of light that reflected every color that bounced against them. She raised her eyes to the far end of the midway towards the roller coaster and watched as the man walked down the ramp, holding the rails.
Her heart flew up in her throat as she recognized his face. The familiar jawline, his dark hair falling over his brow. She stepped forward and began pushing her way through the crowd toward him. As Maria returned from the bathroom she saw Liz drop the cotton candy on the ground, and began to follow her as she snaked her way between the spaces of trailers parked close together, wondering where she was going. Stepping into the clearing she stood next to Liz and her mouth dropped open as she took in the sight in front of her. Max. Max Evans. Standing next to a very pregnant woman, kissing her on the cheek.
Serena saw the two girls appear between the trailers. Strays, she thought. They probably had followed Max from the coaster. Max felt her presence before he saw her. It washed over him in waves as their eyes met between the distance that seperated them.
There were just the four of them, and they were locked together in that small space. Max with Serena standing just behind him. Liz and Maria facing them. Serena felt the air shift and the look between Max and the dark haired girl ripped off the mask he wore for survival, opening doors to the past and letting yesterday's ghosts walk through.
It wasn't just a coy flirty look, Serena thought briefly, not the kind a girl who's looking to get laid by a carny sends out.
This was a look that held history. You could almost see the memories flow. It spoke of sacred vows and broken promises. From the depths of the girl's dark brown eyes the emotion leapt out and shimmered in the space between them. It was almost hypnotic. Max held her gaze as something akin to wonder crept up from his heart and lit his eyes on fire. They danced for a moment and the little specks of gold in the amber of his irises flickered like tiny flames. They were almost molten, pulsing as he looked into her eyes.
No, Serena thought, this was no mere look. This was magic, and it trancended time and space. This was the girl he cried out for in his dreams, who consumed his soul and left him shaking and sobbing into his pillow. This was Liz. The name now had a face, and it was standing right in front of her.
The spell was broken when the girl's eyes shifted to Serena's very pregnant belly, then back to Max. With a look of shock on her face she stepped back as Max stepped forward, his arm outstretched and his mouth open to speak. She bolted and ran through the space between the trailers where she had first appeared. Max dropped his arm and the words that had taken shape in his mouth hung on his tongue, unsaid.
The fire went out of his eyes.
The small blonde girl darted across the lawn and putting both hands against Max's chest, shoved him backwards so hard he hit the trailer with a thud. Serena watched in disbelief as the blonde girl's fist swung through the air connecting with Max's mouth resounding with a loud smacking sound. Her eyes were blazing with fury and her small body was poised like a tigerr closing in for it's prey. She lunged at him again, jabbing her fingers into his chest.
"You Bastard." she screamed. "How could you?"
"Please, Maria," Max pleaded, as he wiped away the blood trickling from his lip, "just let me explain."
"Explain what, Max?" Maria shrieked. "That you're a goddamn coward?
That you couldn't stick around long enough to find out the truth? That you knocked her up?" She pointed to Serena. "That you abandoned the people who loved you? Not a word in almost two years? Explain to me what it feels like to be a piece of shit? Because that's what you are."
Serena couldn't believe Max was letting anyone talk to him like that and she stepped forward and placed herself between Max and the girl he had called Maria, ready to defend him in any way she could. He pushed her gently toward the trailer with a look of resignation in his eyes and told her to go inside.
"Right, Max," Maria said, her lip curled up in a snarl. "Get the little woman out of harm's way."
Maria whirled around to run after Liz, hesitated for a moment, turning back to face Max.
"Max," she hissed, you better have a goddamn good story, because I'm telling Michael where you are."
"You do that, Maria," Max said, his voice almost a command. "Send him here. Tonight. Michael has some explaining of his own to do."
Maria stared at him for a second, then turned on her heel and was gone.
Max entered the RV, falling onto the couch. Serena handed him a wet towel and he wiped the blood from his mouth. She waited for him to speak, to give her some explanation to what had just transpired.
"Guess you're finally going to meet Michael," he said, his voice strained.
Serena nodded, and brushed his cheek with her fingertips. "Was that Liz?" she asked, knowing the answer would be yes.
He raised his head and met her green eyes. He had never really told her about Liz, but Serena was very observant, and the dreams were a dead giveaway. As they waited for Michael to come, and Max knew he would, he finally told Serena everything. About saving Liz's life, falling in love with her, the white room, destiny and Tess. And about Liz and Kyle. He lay his life before her like an open book, explaining to her the events that had led up to his leaving home. And she made a vow to help him in any way she could. He deserved so much more than he allowed himself to have.
Carnival Of Souls M/L PG13 Chapter 8 7/23/03
Posted: Wed Jul 23, 2003 2:55 pm
Carnival Of Souls
Maria found Liz standing by the ticket booth. Her eyes were tear stained and her body limp. Maria took her hand and led her to the parking lot.
"Liz, get in the car," Maria said opening the door and gently pushing her down in the seat. "Let's go home."
Maria was angry, but fought to keep quiet, not wanting to upset Liz any more than she already was. They rode in silence for awhile, and when Liz spoke Maria could hear the self reproach in her voice. "I certainly played my role well, didn't I?" Liz said.
"What do you mean, your role?" Maria asked.
"I mean," Liz said, "I pushed him right out of my life, everyone's lives. Mission accomplished. Job well done. Do you think he's married, Maria?
I wonder if they're married. Max wouldn't get a girl pregnant and not marry her, would he?"
"I don't know, Liz," Maria replied. He wanted to explain things to me after I hit him, but-"
"You hit him?" Liz asked, incredilous. "Why?"
"Because of all the crap you've been going through these last two years. Because it just pissed me off to see him again, and under the circumstances, I think it was justified. Forget him, Liz, why do you torture yourself? It sure looked to me like he's forgotten you." Maria said, instantly wishing she hadn't.
"Turn around, Maria, I need to go back." Liz said with a sharp intake of breath. "I need to talk to him."
"Absolutley not." Maria replied angrily. "I won't let you go back. I'm sending Michael here as soon as we get home. He can take care of Max. I hope he beats the shit out of him."
"You don't have the right to make that decision, Maria." Liz said as the logical part of her mind began to function again. "Maybe there is an explanation. Max does deserve the right to tell us where he's been for the last two years, and I definitly owe him the courtesy of hearing him out.
After all, I caused him to leave, remember? It was my doing, my fault."
Maria pulled the car into the parking space and turned to look at Liz. She wanted to shake her, to pound some sense into her head. How could she possibly blame herself for Max getting someone pregnant?
"Tell you what, Liz, I'll make you a deal," Maria said. "Let's have Michael go talk to him first. Then if you still feel the need to punish yourself or
get closure, whatever, then you can go back and talk to him yourself, okay?"
Liz nodded her head in agreement, thinking Maria could be right. Max would most likely respond better to Michael than her anyway. Her mind told her he probably wouldn't want to talk to her. But her heart remembered the look they had shared. It had been full of love and longing, the way he used to look at her before she had deceived him.
Michael was expecting two happy laughing girls to burst through the door when he heard the key turn in the lock. Instead he got the volcanic version of Maria, seething with fury, and a somber sad faced Liz with misery floating in her eyes.
Maria threw her keys on the coffee table as Liz slid onto the couch like a rag doll. What the hell had happened to them? Had they been in an accident? Probably. Nothing pissed Maria off more than when someone defiled the Jetta her Mom had given her. Then all hell broke loose. The volcano erupted. Words spewed from Maria's mouth like lava sliding down a hillside.
"Michael, get your shoes on," Maria ordered. "Take these keys, get your ass in the car--your Fearless Leader has commanded an audience with you. His Royal Highness is at the carnival, living like trailer trash, even got a knocked up bimbo who stood by her man when I gave him a fat lip."
She was flailing her arms in the air and moving quickly about the room.
Michael stared at her, trying to assimilate what she was saying. He jumped up from the couch, grabbing her wrists as they flew through the air, pulling them down, forcing her to hold still. He drew her in close and looked into her boiling green eyes.
"Slow down, Maria, slow down." Michael almost shouted. "I need you to talk to me in coherent sentences, not Mariaspeak."
She flashed him a warning glare, the one he recognized as the *Don't mess with me now, I'm on a roll.* look.
When Liz spoke up, it startled them both. Her voice was calm and clear and full of authority. "Sit down, both of you."
They did as she asked, looking to her for counsel.
"Michael," Liz began, "when we were at the carnival, I saw Max. I think he works there. I followed him, we both did. He's living in a small RV, and yes, there was a woman with him, a pregnant woman. When I saw her, I couldn't beleive it, couldn't wrap my mind around it, so I ran. Maria stayed, and-" she gave Maria a sideways glance- "Being Maria, she evidently hit Max and gave him a piece of her mind."
"What do you want me to do, Liz?" Michael asked.
"I want you to go talk to him, to find out where he's been for the last two years." she answered. "Just talk to him, Michael, don't fight with him. Give him a chance to explain things. Something, just a gut feeling, tells me there's more going on than what Maria and I saw tonight."
"That's your heart talking,Liz," Maria interjected. "Things looked pretty damn clear to me."
There was a moment of solitary silence as Liz studied the involuntary movement of her hands. Lacing her fingers together to hold them still, she stood up and looked at Michael and Maria.
"If there's one thing I've learned in my life, it's that things are not always what they seem," she said softly. "And I think I must have worn the same look tonight that Max wore when he saw me in bed with Kyle."
As Michael drove towards the carnival, he could see the ferris wheel come into view, making a circle in the sky, over and over again. His thoughts were jumbled and confused. He parked the car and sat there for a moment, trying to calm the conflict that was racing through his mind.
Part of him wanted to finish the job Maria had started. To punch Max's lights out, kick his ass, punish him. To let him know how much he had hurt everyone by leaving like that. For leaving Liz.
But a part of him understood why Max had left. It hadn't been just the thing with Liz and Kyle. He was also trying to keep the rest of them out of danger, the self sacrificing sonofabitch. And it had worked. In the last two years there had been no incidents, no FBI, no alien related conflicts. Nothing. Life had been smooth. Shit, he'd even brought his grades up and graduated. He was madly in love with Maria, and the wondrous thing was that she loved him back. Alex and Isabelle were together. Kyle and Tess were in love. God, he suddenly remembered, they would be here tomorrow. All of them. And Max was here too. He had a gnawing feeling in the pit of his stomach that things were about to change. That something had drawn them all here. The one word that he avoided ever saying or thinking about ran across his mind like an evil imp jabbing at his thoughts. Destiny.
Following the midway, Michael walked toward the roller coaster, going behind it as Maria had instructed. He skirted the edge of the lawn and headed toward the small RV. He could see Max through the window talking to a woman with red hair. He sucked in his breath, clenching his teeth and fists in unison, his jaw tightening. He knocked on the door.
Max tensed a little when he heard the knock. He rose and pushed the door open, expecting Michael to deck him on sight. In his own defense, he raised his hand, prepared to shield himself. He didn't want to fight with Michael.
"Not neccesary, Maxwell," Michael said, noticing the stance that Max had taken. He also observed the damage that Maria had done to his mouth. "She banged you up pretty good, huh?"
Max nodded sheepishly, lowering his hand, feeling his tension ease. "Come inside, Michael. We need to talk."
Michael surveyed the small area he stepped into. From the bedroom in the back, the small bathroom, a smaller kitchen. It was compact and neat. His eyes glanced to the front, the driver's seat and finally came to rest on the woman sitting at the tiny table that jutted out from the wall. She was rolling a jar of tabasco sauce idly across the table with the flat of her palm. She smiled at him graciously and rose from the chair, motioning for him to sit down. Damn, she really was pregnant.
Serena moved to the couch, as Michael sat in the chair. Max stood against the sink and slid his open hand into the pocket of his jeans. When he had retrieved the object, his hand was fisted up. Max sat down in the other chair facing Michael and laid the small piece of silver metal on the table. It lay crumpled for a moment, then flattened out. Max fisted it again, repeating the process. Michael's eyes widened as he recognized what it was.
"Care to explain where you've seen this before?" Max asked Michael.
Michael hadn't expeted to be on the questioning end of this meeting, and it took him by surprise. Max was supposed to be explaining things to him. Somehow the tables had turned.
He stammered a little as Max's eyes bore into his. "I- I'm not saying anything in front of her." He leaned forward, whispering to Max. "She has to go."
"Bullshit," Max snapped. "She stays. She knows everything, Michael. About you, me, all of us--humans included. By the way, her name is Serena. Serena Carver. And since you didn't answer my question, I'll answer it for you. With an added bonus. She's the Granddaughter of the man who originally showed you this piece of debris from the crash. Hal Carver, remember him? Why didn't you tell me about him?"
Michael's demeanor went from wonder to indignation in an instant. Max had slipped into King Mode and Michael didn't like it one damn bit.
"Maybe I didn't want to tell you, Max. Just like you didn't tell me you were leaving." Michael's voice was bitter. "Captain Carver was special to me. Maybe I wanted something of my own, a personal memory to hold on to of one decent human being. Besides, we weren't talking much in the few days before you left."
Serena could feel the air crackling between them. She leaned forward and placed one hand on Michael's arm, the other on Max's, her touch calming them, defusing the strained moment, bringing their focus on her instead of each other.
She looked directly at Michael when she spoke. "You'll have to forgive Max his lack of social graces. He's been hanging around carny's too long.
It's good to finally meet you, Michael. My Grandfather thought highly of you and was honored to have known you. And so am I."
She blushed as Michael's eyes took in her pregnant state, then switched to Max, and back to her, head cocked to one side, his eyebrows raised in a silent question. She patted his arm affectionatley.
"No," she said, responding to his look. "This is not Max's baby. And when you see Liz again, I need you to tell her that."
Michael regarded Serena with awe. At least someone in this awkward situation had some common sense. She had even managed to bring Max down from arrogant to humble with the remark about his manners. Anyone who could put Max Evans in his place so effortlessly certainly deserved his respect. Damn straight! He decided he really liked this woman.
Carnival Of Souls M/L PG13 Updated Chapter 9 7/25/03
Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2003 2:05 am
Carnival Of Souls
Max and Michael needed to talk alone, and after cautioning them not to fight, Serena excused herself and went to the back to lay down, closing the folding door behind her.
"She's really something." Michael siad, admiration showing in his voice.
"She certainly is," Max smiled, "she's special."
"So, Maxwell, who goes first?" Michael asked. "We've got two years of catching up to do. Pretty sizeable gap, wouldn't you say?"
Max placed his hands behind his head, elbows jutting out as he leaned back in the chair.He was genuinely glad to see Michael.
I'm sorry I was such a jerk," Max apologized. "I know I shouldn't be angry at you. I guess I'm just angry at myself and taking it out on you. The thing with Maria and Liz tonight just brought everything back. Still friends?"
"Sure, Max," Michael replied. "It's not like we haven't been at odds before." He cleared his throat. "What do you do here, Max?"
"I run the roller coaster," Max said, "for almost two years now. I've travelled all over the country . But I'm going home to Roswell after this gig. There's something I have to do. But I have to wait until Serena has the baby and I get her set up in an apartment."
"Speaking of Serena," Michael leaned forward to look in Max's eyes, "where does she fit in? How did you end up with Hal Carver's Granddaughter?"
Max related the story of Serena finding him in Oklahoma seven months ago, her pregnancy and illness, that he had healed her cancer. The decision to keep her close to him. As Michael studied the picture of the four of them in the jeep, Max's voice jarred him from the memories he was recalling.
"I know about the other set of pods, Michael," Max told him, "but you need to tell me about Courtney. Was she a Skin? When's the last time you saw her?"
Michael struggled to tell Max the truth. "Yeah, she was a Skin. I was suspicious of her, but I was attracted to her, too. Something about her pulled at me. When I kissed her-put my arms around her, the skin peeled off her back. I tried to kill her, Max, but my aim was off. I blew up my TV instead. The last time I saw her, she was jumping out my window. It was the day before you left. What does she have to do with this?"
"Because she broke into Serena's apartment in Tampa, and was following her, Max said. "When I healed Serena, I saw Courtney's face."
Max leaned over and pulled the map from under the rug, placing it on the table. "Take a look at this" he said, " I think Courtney was after this."
As Michael studied the map, Max finished his tale. "This map was given to Captain Carver by an old woman who came to his motel room in Roswell. She said she was a shapeshifter. this map was to be given to one of the four of us after we turned 18- matured, so to speak. Supposedly it's the answer to all our questions."
Stunned by this revelation, Michael's heart began to beat furiously in his chest. "You mean there's something buried that we're supposed to dig up?
No, I won't do it," he said, sending the map flying through the air onto the couch. "I'm not leaving Maria. My life is here now. I've got a good job, a good thing going. Please don't ask me to give up what I have to dig up some alien shit buried in the desert. I can't walk away from Maria the way you did from Liz."
The impact of his last sentence hit Max like a sledgehammer. The color drained from Max's face and Michael wished he could have caught the words in mid air and stuffed them back into his mouth. He knew that was impossible, but maybe he could make it up to Max in another way.
"You do realize that Maria and Liz think Serena's baby is yours, don't you, Max?" he asked.
Max gave him a dull stare. "Of course I do. I've got a fat lip to prove it, and the look on Liz's face is going to haunt me for the rest of my life. I tried to explain, but- actually Maria didn't give me a chance." Max's voice turned into a plea. "I know how it must have looked, but you have to tell them I'm not the Father--you need to tell Liz things aren't always what they seem. Will you do that for me?"
Michael almost laughed, remembering those exact same words from Liz earlier.
"So what you're saying is Liz shouldn't make snap judgements based on what she saw before she knows all the facts?" Michael questioned.
"That's exactly what I'm saying, Michael." Max retorted, irritation on the edge of his voice.
"Why shouldn't she?" Michael challenged. "You did."
Michael was immensly pleased with himself that Max had fallen into his trap. As the light began to dawn on Max's face, Michael chose that moment to snap the trap shut. "Liz didn't sleep with Kyle, Max."
When Max's mouth flew open, Michael leaned forward and looked him dead in the eye. "Wanna hear a good story, Maxwell? Almost as crazy as the one you just told me?"
Max listened with wonder as the story unfolded of his future self, coming back through time using the Granolith to make Liz fall out of love with him. To push him to Tess and fulfill his destiny. How the scenario with Kyle had been set up. She had done it to prevent the end of the world. But the one thing that shook both Michael and Max was the mention of the woman named Serena who would one day be a good friend to Liz.
"Where is Tess?" Max asked.
"She's with Kyle. They've been together about a year. They live in Phoneix." Michael told him.
"And Isabelle?" Max questioned.
"With Alex, living in San Francisco." Michael said. "They'll all be here tomorrow night. I'm sure everyone will want to see you."
Max shifted uncomfortably in the chair. "I don't know-they must all be pretty pissed at me . I don't know if I can face them."
"Bullshit." It was Michael's turn to snap. "They've missed you, Max, worried about you. We're family, we care about you. Regardless, I'm telling them where you are whether you like it or not. We're having a barbecue on Sunday. You need to come and bring Serena. They'll love her. She certainly impressed me." Michael said with sincerity.
They talked for a while longer, filling in the details of their lives, and when Michael rose to leave, he spied the map lying on the couch. He picked it up, fanning it back and forth beneath his chin. His imp was back.
"Max," he said, " there's something about this map that troubles me. I don't think it was coincidence or an accident that Serena came into your life. That all of us are coming together in one place at the same time. Something's nagging me, just a feeling."
"I know," Max replied. " I feel something too. Sort of edgy, uneasy, just under my skin. Let's wait until Sunday when we're all together to discuss it. We can figure out what to do then."
"So you'll be coming?" Michael asked in surprise. "That'll be great, Max! Everyone will be so glad to see you. Especially Liz." he said as he wrote his address and phone number on the memo pad hanging from the fridge.
When he shut the door as Michael left, Max felt a shiver crawl along his spine-he could feel it-knew it in his bones- the alien abbys was rearing it's ugly head, jaws wide open, waiting for them to walk right in. Serena was right, and so was Michael. There were no coincidences.
Max needed to walk, to think about what Michael had told him--about Liz. He glanced at the clock on the wall. Almost midnight. He should go help Dirk shut the coaster down. Serena appeared from the back, giving him a sleepy smile, watching as he healed Maria's anger from his mouth.
"Can't sleep?" Max asked her.
"I just needed a glass of water." she said. "Are you going out?"
"Just for a walk, to help Dirk." he said. "You go back to sleep. I'll fill you in on everything Michael and I talked about tomorrow, okay?"
Serena watched as Max ran the laces through the eyes of his boots.
"Max, do you ever think about shoes?" she asked.
"Shoes?" he questioned, raising his head to look at her. "Why would I think about shoes?"
"You know," she said, swirling the water around in the glass, "the one shoe you see lying abandoned on the side of the road? Don't you ever wonder where the other shoe is? Doesn't it make you curious where the mate is, that someone, somewhere, is searching for it, wondering where it went?"
He studied her quizically, wondering where this was going.
"That's what you remind me of." she continued. "A lost shoe, desperatley looking for it's mate. That even if it's torn and tattered when you find it, you'll never be complete without it. And I'm telling you, Max, no matter how many miles you walk, or roads you travel for the rest of your life, until you face Liz, talk to her-either forgive her or let her go, you're always going to be one shoe short."
Max rolled her metaphor over in his mind. He'd never been compared to a shoe before. "You are so full of it." he said, grinning as he went out the door.
Michael was not surprised find Liz waiting for him at the gate. Her face was full of questions waiting to be asked. He countered her with one of his own.
"Following your heart, Liz?" he asked her.
"I suppose I am." she said, "I've let it lay dormant too long. When I saw him tonight..it's like..her voice trailed off.
"I know, Michael said, pulling her into his arms. "It's been hard on you. Both of you."
"Did you tell him?" How much does he know? I mean about his future self?" Liz asked, dreading the answer.
"Everything, Liz, I told him everything." He whispered in her ear.
He released her from the hug and held her at arms length, looking into her eyes. "And you were right about things not being what they seem. It's a long story, most of it can wait until tomorrow, except for two things. The woman, her name is Serena. The one the Max from the future said would be your friend. And Max is not the Father of her baby."
Liz's eyes lit up. "Serena? The baby's not Max's?"
"Nope." Michael said. "Better go find him."
Michael smiled as he watched Liz fly down the midway, her feet barely touching the ground. Then he frowned, remembering Maria was waiting for him at home. She was not going to be happy with the results of his conversation with Max regarding the map. And he doubted any amount of wheedling on behalf of Max would exact an apology from her for the fat lip. He prayed silently to the Gods of volcanoes and hurricanes that he himself wouldn't end up with a fat lip that matched Max's before the night was over.
The coaster was already shut down when Max arrived. There was a full moon and the desert wind had come up. He headed for the small shed adjacent to the back fence of the fairgrounds, hoping it was empty. He rested here sometimes when he was on break. He peered through the broken window, and sensing no one was inside, he opened the door and went in. There was a small cot against the wall and he lit the oil lamp, providing just enough light to navigate the room. He needed a quiet place to think, to put in perspective all the things that had transpired tonight.
It was like a jigsaw puzzle and he needed to put the pieces together. He was apprehensive about Sunday. He felt like a coward, afraid to face everyone. To face Liz. His mind was reeling.
Max took a blanket from the cot and hung it over the broken window as the wind howled at him with a vengance. He thought for a moment if he stood close enough maybe the wind would carry him away. Would split the seams that held his body together, allowing all his misery to spill out onto the floor. He wanted her like nothing else in his life mattered and her absence hammered against his heart. He missed her, her voice, her laughter. Her memories lined up in a row and danced across his mind. Little silhouettes and shadows. God, she had looked beautiful tonight. He had wanted to touch her, hold her, feel her lips on his.
The lawn wept from the shower of the water sprinkler as it spun around nourishing the earth, wetting her shoes as she neared the shed Max had dissapeared into. Her heart danced with wild abandon and the wind touched her skin, reminding her of the texture of his hands, surrounding her with hope. She pushed the door open, and stepped inside, adjusting her eyes to the flickering glow of the lamp.
Max heard the door open and turned to see her standing in the doorway wearing a look that was lonely and vulnerable. She turned her head to look at him, as her flowing hair brushed against her sudden smile.
Curious moonbeams had followed her through the door and drifted around her, seeking the contours of her face to fill with substance and shadow. The space that seperated them closed as he stepped forward and took her in his arms. They clung to one another, two broken hearts on a rescue mission to save the shattered remnants of their love.
In that small room there was enough time and space to hold them, suspend them, to grace them with a moment for their lives to touch-soul to soul. There was no time for speech. The language of their bodies spoke without the need of words.
Their hands played a game of touch and remember, rekindling smoldering ashes. Passion filled them like a melody left unsung. She became the music, he was the verse, their desire the harmony as they flowed together to complete the song.
His fingers were tangled in the softness of her hair. His body was on fire with a fever beyond faranheit, desperate to capture her lips, to drown in their moisture. The transfusion of heat melted her body as they became frantic to remove the barrier of fabric between them. Novices at lovemaking, there were no established rules. Control was out of the question, and caution slipped away as they fed the hunger that engulfed them.
Time stopped as ecstacy captured them. As she drew him into the depths of her body she sent the colors of her heart and wrapped them around the rainbow of his soul, changing the pattern that had shaped his life. She stormed the walls of the prison he had fashioned for himself and set him free. In the loss of their innocence they had reclaimed all they had forsaken. The creshendo of the sonata they had created was exquisite.
As the raging fire subsided to a glowing ember, they were enraptured by the afterglow of their union. A small sad essence hovered around them. They clutched at it, the etheral memory of their first time. And finally grasping it, tucked it away forever in the secret place only true love knows.
Carnival Of Souls M/L PG13 Updated Chapter10 7/27/03
Posted: Sun Jul 27, 2003 3:48 am
AN: First of all, I want to thank everyone for the wonderful feedback. I am truly humbled by your responses. It is such a pleasure to write about Max and Liz's love, and to know that others out there feel about them the way that I do. Thank you for reading my story. Cherie
Carnival Of Souls
The grey blanket that covered them and held them together slipped ever so slightly as Max moved, the material scratching the surface of his skin.
He was afraid to open his eyes. Afraid to let go of the world he held in his arms. His world. The gift that midnight had given him, wrapped in moonbeams and wind. The gift he had opened with wonder and delight, tearing away the ribbons of loneliness, ripping open the package like a child on a birthday morning, breathless to find what treasure lay hidden inside.
She lay curved against his body, her head resting in the crook of his arm. She shifted a little, and he risked the chance to look at her, to see if she was real or imaginary. He forced his eyes to peek out beneath the fringe of his eyelashes, like cheating at hide and seek. She was warm, and breathing, and she was real. It hadn't been a dream. He pulled her closer, wanting to keep her there forever, never let her go.
"Max," she said, her voice raspy, "I can't breathe. You're cutting off my air supply."
He loosened his embrace, and she turned to look at him. Into those wonderful eyes. They had held a haunted look earlier tonight, now they looked almost unnatural. Like pools of liquid metal, cascading in golden light. Sparkler flashes. Like the glow of fireworks bursting, illuminating the shower of love he bathed her in with his smile.
He regained his composure, as the universe righted itself, and reality made it's entrance. Their connection had been so intense when they had made love he had seen her life flash before him and marvelled at her strength and resolve. He struggled to gather his thoughts into a single strand. The connection had opened the floodgates of truth. They had not only shared the act of love, but all the moments of the days that they had lost. He knew the reason for her rejection, and she knew about Serena.
It was strange that they were still wary, still apprehensive, he thought. He knew it was time to test the waters. He began the conversation cautiously.
"Liz," he began, the sound of saying her name making his heart glow. "About what happened..I..I don't mean about what happened just now," he stammered, knowing he would never regret what they had done.
I mean what he did, that *me* who came back. I'm sorry."
"Don't be," she said. "Nothing can change that now. And I beleive whatever the intention, *your intention* was, it's going to be alright now. Somehow our lives had to take a different path, an alternate course. And he provided us a way to do that. We've found each other again. It's no coincidence."
Max thought that phrase was coming up more and more as he ran his fingers along her arm, leaving a small trail of silver glowing light. She could feel the benediction in his touch.
"You mean the"..he groped for the word, "what did he say?, the cementing? It wasn't supposed to happen until tonight?"
"I'm not sure," she replied, "I don't have the knowledge or the understanding of how time flows, or stops, changes. But then again, I never thought I'd fall in love with an alien, or be caught up in anything other than my dull boring existence. You changed all that when you saved my life."
She ran her hand across her ribcage, and he covered it with his own. "I just can't beleive I could do that." he said. "That I would hurt you, push you to extremes that way. That I would come like a thief in the night and steal our dreams away. It' ludicrous. Why would I do that? Make you lie? Try to set me up with Tess? You knew how I felt about that destiny crap. I only wanted you."
"Then why did you run away, Max?" she questioned him. "Sometimes I think you did more damage by going away than he did by coming back.
We could have solved it, worked it out. I would have told you the truth."
Her voice was filled with anguish. "If you had just stayed long enough to touch me, you would have seen the truth in a flash. Just like you saw it tonight when we made love."
"I just couldn't stand the thought of being around you and Kyle. Of living in the same town and seeing you with him." Max tried to explain. "I couldn't get the image of you laying next to him in your bed out of my mind for a long time. Do you have any idea how long I struggled to push that memory far enough back in my mind so it didn't haunt me during the day?" I learned to do it eventually, but the dreams, Liz, I had no control over the dreams. I couldn't guard against the dreams."
"Max," she said quietly, "if you guard yourself so much that nothing can touch you, hurt you, then nothing can help you either. It's unhealthy to be alive, but not to live. That's what we've both been doing. We have to open up, to be honest with each other. You can't run away, and I have to have faith in you."
Max could only stare at her, taking in the wisdom of her words.
"I had dreams of you, too." she said tenderly. "All the time. I was trying to reach you, to call you home. Did you ever feel me?"
"Always," he said. "especially one dream of you standing in the desert. It looked like you were praying. It was about two weeks ago, and I haven't been able to get it out of my mind.
"I was in the desert," she said in surprise. "I went there specifically to pray. To get the universe's attention. I asked for a miracle to bring you back to me. I had a dream that night of riding a silver dragon. Isn't that the name of the roller coaster? And I smelled cotton candy in my room when I woke up."
Wonder was creeping into her voice. "What do you think it means, Max?"
It's like we were pulled here, to this moment. That it was meant to be.
We're supposed to be at this carnival. Like tonight was predestined to happen."
He pulled her into his arms. "It was meant to be." he said emphatically.
"We were meant to be. I've always told you that. I don't know why we had to be apart for these two years, but something, someone is making sure that all the pieces of our lives are coming back together. Not just ours, but everyone else's. All of us."
She pondered her next question carefully. "Max, how did you end up working in a carnival? I would have thought, you know, after what happened ..doesn't it bother you? Bring back memories?" she hesitated.
"of that night you were captured?"
"It's not the carnival so much, Liz." he told her. "Only the maze of mirrors. I never go near that. Never." he repeated. "But the carnival itself, the people, the atmosphere, it's been good. I love making people happy when they ride the roller coaster. It helps me to forget about..not to think so much about.."he drew in his breath. "the rest of that night, the white room." His eyes grew somber.
Sensing his discomfort, she quickly changed the subject. "But you missed out on so much, Max, school and graduation. And your Mom and Dad were heartsick. Those little scraps of letters you sent were barely enough to ease their worry."
"I'll make it up to them, Liz, I promise." he said. "I'll make my peace with them, if they'll let me. And I'll have you know I did get my GED . Serena helped me study for it. I passed the test in Houston, so I'm educated now." He puffed his chest out a little just to let her know he was pleased with himself.
She laughed at the display of his pride. "Good for you." she said sweetly, brushing her lips against his. "And from me you get an A in biology. No, let me rephrase that. GED from Houston. SEX from Liz."
"Oh, thank God I didn't fail biology" he said triumphantly, his eyes dancing."I didn't even have time to study."
She slapped his arm playfully, her giggle music to his ears.
"Let's get dressed. Max, I want to meet Serena." she said, pulling herself regretfully from his embrace.
He was reluctant to let her go, but she had already slipped away and was gathering the clothes they had discarded when they had been caught up in their state of frenzy. As he pulled his teeshirt over his head, it slipped beneath his eyes to the bridge of his nose, hanging there suspended as he peered over the neckline. He was fascinated with the image that lay on the floor. Her shoe had come to rest against the side of his boot and lay tilted across the flap of it's tongue, the long black laces tangled around the white straps of her sandal, weaving them together in an intricate embrace. They didn't look similar, weren't quite the same-different, yet from his vantage point they looked like a perfect match. Like they were made to be together.
Liz followed the faraway look in his eyes. "What are you thinking about, Max?" she asked, concerned.
"Shoes." he replied. "I was thinking about shoes."
They stood at the door of the shed, Max peeking out to see if anyone was around. He pulled her close and kissed her. "I love you, Liz, with all my heart. Thank you for tonight."
She returned the kiss, bringing up all the dusty dreams that had lain unattended in her heart, brushing them off for him to see, sending him a flash that it was okay to feel now, that he could count on her love.
"I love you, too, Max. More than life itself." she whispered across his lips.
Holding her hand, he felt like a kid again. He tugged at her as he eyed the spray from the sprinkler, running towards it. He wanted to dance with her in the moonlight. He had been asleep too long, and this mystical night had been his reawakening. She didn't protest as he pulled her into the shower of crystal beads that fell tinkling like a waterfall around them. They waltzed with the water slowly, his hands on her hips, her arms circled around his neck, their foreheads resting together as they swayed silently to the melody only they could hear.
Marty was doing his nightly rounds, making sure the workers had closed everything down properly. He neared the coaster, checking the tarp, tucking the frayed edges under the edge of the electrical cords. A sudden movement along the back fence of the fairgrounds caught his eye. The living picture that was being painted on the wooden slats of the fence gave him pause to step into a shadow, to be silent, not to interrupt the scene that played before him.
Max Evans. The stoic Max who hardly ever smiled, whose laughter was rare, was running through the sprinkler, fully clothed, a dark haired beauty in tow, laughing like a man gone mad.
Marty felt like a voyuer, but he couldn't take his eyes off them. He had never seen Max like this.Actually happy, laughing. It pleased him. Whatever intimacy Max lacked with Serena certainly wasn't the case here. Whoever she was, Max knew her very well. Marty had a feeling Max wouldn't be with the carnival much longer. The dark haired girl would be taking him away.
Courtney slid into the booth and faced the old woman as she sipped her coffee.
"Is everything in place?" the old woman asked.
Courtney nodded her head yes. "They'll all be together by tomorrow night."
"And Captain Carver's granddaughter? She hasn't given birth yet?" the old woman continued her questioning.
"No," Courtney replied, " but she's close."
"Good." the old woman seemed satisfied. " I expect they'll be going to the desert very soon."
She leaned forward and gave Courtney a cold stare. "You know how I detest cleaning up other people's messes, alien or human. Especially yours. But it has to be done, and you will help me. We have to do this together, to complete what's been left undone. Sacrifices must be made."
Courtney shriveled under her gaze, knowing what was to come. The shapeshifter held the key and the resolve to finish the journey that had begun a world away over fifty years ago. It would come to an end soon.