Third Time Lucky - AU Season 3 ~ ADULT ~Completed

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

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Third Time Lucky - AU Season 3 ~ ADULT ~Completed

Post by montee916 » Mon Oct 27, 2003 4:39 am

Hey all. This is something I threw together a while ago and posted on RAMS, and pretty much forgot about after that. Now I find myself getting back into writing, I thought I'd repost it here and see what you fine folks think. :D

When I first started reading the spoilers for what season three was to become, I was fairly disgusted and thought I'd see if I could come up with anything better. This was the final result.

Edited to say: Sorry! Forgot all about the disclaimer. These are all Melinda Metz's toys, I'm just playing in her sandbox.

Chapter One.

“It’s December 10th, and I can’t believe I’m actually putting this down in a journal,
considering what happened the last time anyone tried keeping a record of what
was going on with our lives.

I can only hope that putting things down on paper will help it to make more sense - as though writing it all down will make it any more real for us all.

Ever since our final confrontation with Tess in the pod chamber, her last words have been haunting me - I used to think I could trust my judgment of people, and the idea that someone could turn out to so completely blind us all to who she really was scares me.

What is even scarier is that what has me writing this down is a guy – and we all know what my record has been like so far. Still, who knows – maybe this time it really will be
third time lucky.

It was almost three weeks ago, but I remember it like it just happened yesterday.
We were in the Crashdown, having the Saturday lunch special when he walked in.

The first thing I noticed was his size – though it was hard to miss. He almost had
to duck to get in the door! He slipped his glasses off and dropped them into his
pocket, then moved over to the counter and took a seat on one of the stools. The
thing was, we were all so busy looking, it took a minute before it occurred to
anyone that he might actually like to get some service…

“Hi, my name’s Maria, welcome to the Crashdown. Today’s…”

“Why thank you Maria, it’s a real pleasure to be here.”

The look on Maria’s face was priceless – you could tell she isn’t the type to
respond well to being interrupted. And judging from the twinkle in his
eyes and the almost, but not quite, hidden smile on his face, he was enjoying
it more and more the longer it took Maria to react.

“Uh, yeah. Anyway, here’s a menu you can look at, and our specials are up on the main
board just there. So take a minute to think it over, and once you’ve made a choice, just
give me a yell, okay?”

“Well, to be honest, I’m not too hungry, but you might still be able to help me out. I’m
after some information on a local, and I was told I might find her here.”

“Well, I’ll do what I can, but I can’t guarantee anything. What’s her name?”

“Liz Parker.”

As soon as he said that, I looked straight at Max. Given how protective he is of all of us
in general, and Liz in particular, he seemed like he was getting ready to jump on the guy
if he so much as breathed the wrong way.

“Uuh… just a sec, I’ll check and see if she’s available.”


Although Maria and I haven’t been the closest of friends, I couldn’t help but sympathize
with what she was muttering to herself as she headed out the back.

“Figures a guy that good is here looking for Parker. I swear, that girl should…”

The door closing behind her kept me from hearing exactly what it was Liz should be
doing , which was a good thing, because I was fighting to keep the grin off my face as it was. I glanced back in the stranger’s direction and saw him tapping his thumbs on the counter to some beat playing in his head. He seemed the type who was sure of himself, with a quiet confidence, but not in an arrogant way. Any further musings were quickly interrupted though, as I saw Max tense up half a second before Liz walked through the door.

Almost as if she could tell what we were both thinking, Liz softly smiled and dropped her hand on to Max’s shoulder as she walked past. As she moved towards the counter, the guy sitting there looked her up and down once, as if searching for the right words to say to her.

“Hi, I’m Liz Parker. Is there something I can help you with?”

“That depends. Any objections to me helping myself?”

“Excuse me? Do I know you?”

“Geez Sprog, I know it’s been a while but c’mon.”

“Sprog?” She said uncertainly. “I haven’t heard that in years, since the last time I saw….” Then realization hit her like a thunderbolt. “Oh my…. It can’t be. No way.”

He slid to his feet with his arms open, a low warm chuckle and a grin slowly spreading across his face.

“Funny, I heard the doctors said the same thing when I was born.”

“NATHAN!” She yelled, laughing loudly and throwing her arms around his neck. “Oh man, it’s so good to see you!! When did you get here??”

“Umm, let’s see. Well, allowing for differing time zones, biological clocks and the whole daylight saving time thing, I’d say about…. 30 minutes ago.”

She slapped him playfully on the arm. “Very funny. Still the joker, eh? I guess some things never change.”

“Yeah, well, why mess with perfection, y’know?” He replied, with a raised eyebrow.

“Fair enough. Hey, have you had any lunch?”

“Nah, I’ve just been munching on the way in. You’d be surprised how far a body can get on a stomach full of coke and corn chips.”

“Eeww… Okay, that’s it – grab a seat in the corner, and I’ll get a lunch special together for you.”


“Don’t even think about giving me any buts. It’s been too long since I saw you last as it is, so we aren’t going to waste time arguing the point. Are we, Toad?” Liz said, a cheeky grin of her own spread from ear to ear.

Nathan held up his hands in mock surrender. “Okay, okay, you got me.” Another chuckle. “You’d think with four sisters, I’d have learnt my lesson about trying to argue with a Parker woman.”

Liz poked her finger into his chest. “And don’t you ever forget it either, bud. Now go sit down, and I’ll get some food organized. Oh, and Nate… it’s good to see you again.”

“Yeah, I know.” He held her gaze for a few long seconds, then as she turned away, he called her softly again. “Liz?”


His face softened, and the cockiness faded, but the emotions were still easy to see just below the surface.

“It’s good to see you too.”

“Yeah, I know.” They smiled one more time, then Liz turned and headed for the kitchen as Nathan settled into a booth by himself. He steepled his fingers together and rested his chin on his thumbs, with his fingers touching his lips.

“I’ll be right back.” Max got up from his seat and headed towards the door, no doubt to give Liz the third degree – which, of course, ALWAYS works so well when dealing with Liz Parker. I guess Max hadn’t quite picked up the lesson Nathan had spoken of – at least, not yet anyway…

“…and make sure there’s plenty of onion, okay Michael?”

“Yeah, okay Liz, I got the point the first time.”

She turned around to head back out the front, only to find Max standing right behind her.

“Oh, Max! I didn’t even hear you come in.”

“Yeah, I noticed you were a bit… distracted. Do you have a minute?”

“Uum… not really… I need to catch up with Nathan. I’ll talk to you later, okay?” she called out over her shoulder as she headed out the door, leaving Max standing there.

“Yeah, sure Liz…. No worries.” He looked up at Michael, who simply shrugged his shoulders. “Pfft. Chicks.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“Any time, Maxwell.”
Last edited by montee916 on Fri Nov 28, 2003 5:46 am, edited 14 times in total.

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Post by montee916 » Tue Oct 28, 2003 3:14 am

:lol: well gee guys, how can I hold back after a welcome like that?? I just have to be careful, because I'd love to post it all in one hit for you guys to see, but then I'd have nothing to keep you all busy while I work on a prequel.

SS, I guess it's easy for me to say it because I've read the whole thing, but the connection between them may not be what people expect. There are a couple of clues in chapter one though, you just need to know where to look :wink:

EVE, yeah, I see it all the time. Most people I know are around 5'6 to 5'10, and I'm 6'5 :shock:

Lullaby and luver, glad you're along for the ride. Hope you enjoy the trip.

Now, where were we...


Chapter two.

Max came back in and took his seat with a look on his face like someone had stolen his favorite toy – I considered reaching for his hand, but could tell from the expression on his face that he wasn’t in the mood for any clichés, and the laughter coming from the corner certainly wasn’t helping.

“And what about that time you tipped out the sugar and replaced it with sand?”

“Well, let’s face it Liz, with the coffee they were making at the time, it could have only made it better anyway.”

“I’ll have you know, Sir, that our coffee was famous throughout the town!”

“Heh heh. Yeah, the mechanics used to say it was the best engine degreaser ever designed.”

“Why, you…” Liz never got to finish saying exactly what he was, as the call came from the kitchen.

“Hey Liz, lunch pack is up!”

She looked at Nathan with a grin. “I’ll be right back. You want a drink while I’m up?”

“Water would be great.”

“Feeling a bit dry?” She said, mischievously

“Yeah, just a bit. It’s hard work being as good as I am all the time.”

Liz shook her head slowly. “Oh, please.”

“Yeah, that’s what she said to me last night.”

Liz spun quickly with a glass and jug in her hands and a sharp retort on her lips – which she quickly lost amidst peels of laughter as she realized he was staring at her with his eyes crossed.

“You’re a clown, you know that??” she exclaimed.

“So I’ve heard. They say it’s my most endearing personality trait.”

“Really? When did that happen? You getting a personality, I mean.” Liz quipped as she approached the table with his plate.

“Well, gee, why don’t we break out all the claws?” Nathan tried his best to look upset, but the grin just wouldn’t stay hidden.

“Aaw, poor thing, getting picked on all the time.”

“Yeah, I guess it’s just as well I’ve got broad shoulders and I can take all the abuse. Hey, what do I owe you for this lot?” He asked, reaching towards his pocket.

“Oh, please. Don’t even TRY to suggest that you are paying for this lot. It’s the least I could do after all this time.”

“Now, hang on just a minute, you…”

“Nathan. You’re arguing the point again.”

He sighed theatrically, glancing down at his boots. “Didn’t have a chance, did I?”

Liz chuckled. “Not since I realized who you were, no.”

“Hmmf. Nuff said then.” Nathan grinned. “Okay, how about this one; what are you up to tonight?”

“Oh….Ummm…I kinda had plans… I have some friends coming over. But that’s okay,” Liz said, brightening. “You should join us. I can introduce you to everyone. It’s nothing exciting, we’ll just be hanging out listening to some music and stuff.”

“I dunno. I mean, I wouldn’t want to interrupt or nuthin’.”

“Don’t be silly, of course you wouldn’t be interrupting. Besides, if you’re going to be in town for any time at all, I’m going to have to introduce you to them anyway.”

Nathan thought it over for a minute. “Guess I can’t argue with logic like that now, can I?”

“Of course not,” Liz said, smiling. “It’s female logic.”

“Now there’s a contradiction if ever I’ve heard one…Ow!”

“You keep this up, Nate, and I’ll keep slapping you, so don’t say you weren’t warned!”

“Okay, I give… so when and where for this get-together of yours?”

“We’ll be meeting here at seven, so any time from then on… and behave!”

Nathan looked at her with a hurt expression on his face. “Hey, it’s me.” Then he glanced out the front window. “Looks like the hordes are on their way in.”

Liz looked up. “Oh, that’s the local basketball team. Kyle looks pretty happy – they must have won their game this morning.”

Nathan grimaced. “I’d better let you get going then. I’ll finish up here and then duck out so I’ll have time to grab some supplies, but I’ll be back around sevenish, okay?”

“Okay then. You just make sure you’re here, or I’m sending out the Marines to track you down!”

“Will do.”

It was about then that Kyle and the rest of them came crashing through the door, hooting and hollering like they were trying to wake the dead. Apparently, it had been some game, with Kyle making the break that won the game, 97 – 95. Kyle waved in our direction, but with all the guys crowding around him, he wasn’t able to make it over to us. Max sat there staring off into space, so I reached out and placed my hand on his – the poor guy nearly jumped out of his skin.

“Do you want to get going?”

He looked around briefly, then nodded. “Might as well. We’ve got things to do anyway. Tell you what, you take your bags out to the jeep, and I’ll meet you out the front in a minute.”

“Okay then,” I said, smiling. “And Max…. don’t worry. I’m sure there’s a perfectly normal explanation.”

“Yeah, I know.” He replied, but it seemed almost too quick, too defensive. I nodded, then started to collect my bags as Max ducked out the back. Even for me, I thought I may have spent a bit too much on this little excursion, and the bill was going to be a killer.

As I struggled towards the door with my load, I caught Nathan getting out of his seat out of the corner of my eye and he stepped around me. I was just about to say something nasty about male drivers cutting people off, when he pulled the door open and turned to me.

“After you.”

Now that was something I had definitely NOT been expecting. I smiled up at him and gazed into his eyes.

“Why thank you.”

He smiled back. “That’s quite alright ma’am, it’s all part of the service. Would you like a hand with those bags, or are you alright?”

It took a second for my brain to catch up with my mouth. “Uh, no, thanks, I’m fine.”

“Fair enough then,” he said, slipping his glasses back onto his face. “Well, you have yourself a great day.”

“Uh, yeah, I will…. Uh same to you.” I stammered.

With a smile and a nod, he headed down the sidewalk to a big black van parked on the side of the road. Pulling himself in behind the wheel, he started up the van and headed down Main Street, leaving me standing there trying to figure out exactly what had just happened. I was still standing there when Max came out, looking no happier than before.

“I thought you wanted to get going?” he barked.

“I am…did…I do.” I stammered. I knew if I kept this up, he would trip me up on something for sure – Max knew me too well. I opted to change the subject as quickly as possible.

“So what did Liz say for herself?”

He barely even looked in my direction. “She was…. busy.”

Max didn’t say anything on the way home, so I opted to steer clear of him for a while. Rounding up my bags, I trooped upstairs and dumped it all on my bed. I turned on my stereo for a bit of background noise, and settled down to business – I still had to find something to wear for tonight, and going shopping for more options had only made the choices harder. For some reason I couldn’t settle – and after a moment I figured out why. Maybe I was going crazy, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened at the Crashdown earlier.

After wasting an hour going through every outfit I owned – twice – and still not finding anything, I knew I had to get out of the house for a while before I started bouncing off the walls, so I changed into sweat pants and a top and slipped on an old pair of sneakers. I bounded down the stairs, tying my hair back as I went, and found Max still moping on the couch in front of the television.

“I’m going out for a bit.”

He didn’t even bother to look up, just giving a simple “Uh-huh” as he switched from ESPN to MTV. I stood there for a second or two, then gave up, throwing a “Fine, whatever.” over my shoulder as I walked out the door, pulling it shut behind me with a lot more energy than I had planned on using.

Things started feeling clearer once I settled into a regular rhythm. I had originally taken up jogging as an excuse to avoid Max and the others when the whole Vilandra situation first came up, but after a few days found myself really starting to enjoy it. It had a certain freedom to it, and I found that with a set route to follow and a steady pace, my body went on automatic and set my mind free to wander.

Finally getting home about three quarters of an hour later, I was feeling tired but happy. After hitting the shower, I stretched on my bed to sleep for a bit before we all headed to Liz’s place. Thinking of that reminded me of Nathan again, and I dozed off with a smile on my face, wondering if he would react as well as he did if someone other than Liz threw their arms around him…

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Post by montee916 » Thu Oct 30, 2003 3:15 am

Just coz yall asked so nicely, here ya go... :wink:


Chapter 3.

“Izzy? Hun?”

It took a minute for the voice and face to register, as I tried to wake up.

“Mom? What is it? Is everything okay?”

She smiled down at me. “Everything’s fine honey, but Max said you guys have plans, so I thought I had better come and get you on your feet.”

“What time is it?”

“It’s almost six.”

I pulled myself upright. “Okay, thanks Mum.”

Eventually I decided to go with jeans and a shirt, and headed downstairs where Max was waiting impatiently.

“You ready yet?”

“Yes, O impatient one.” I replied, almost daring him to say something else.

“Okay, let’s go. Night Mum… Dad.” He called out as we headed towards the door.

“Have fun, kids.” Dad called out. Mum got up to walk us out.

“Now are you sure you have everything?”

“Yeah Mum, we’ll be fine.” I replied.

“Okay then, you two. Make sure you’re careful out there okay? We’ll see you tomorrow.”

When we got to the Crashdown, Max had good reason to be thankful for being a bit late – the girls got together and decided to set a barbecue up on the veranda, and it was Michael and Kyle who had the fun job of lugging it upstairs into position while Liz and Maria stood in the corner offering tips on how to do it. For all the complaining though, I could tell the guys were having a ball – which is typical for guys when it involves something that could blow up and leave a very large mess.

I joined the girls and stood there chatting for a while, when the phone rang. Liz just about flew through the door to get to it first.

“Hello… Oh, hi! Where are you? Oh okay. Yeah, we decided to move it upstairs…. No, that’s okay, wait there. I’ll be right down… yeah okay.”

She hung up the phone and headed downstairs, returning a few minutes later with Nathan in tow.

“Okay. Nathan, this is the gang. Guys, this is Nathan, one of my cousins from New Zealand.”

He looked at each of us in turn with a quick nod of his head and a simple “Evening all”, and moved towards the table we were standing next to, to get a drink. As he approached, Maria gave him a quick once-over.

“Hey Nathan, good to see you back in town.”

“Hey Maria. Sorry about what happened earlier – I was so focused on seeing Liz again that I didn’t even register who you were until I had gone.”

“That’s okay. None of us are the same as we were when you left. I guess we’ve all made a lot of changes.”

“Yeah, there’s no denying that.”

I cleared my throat loudly and glanced in Liz’s direction. – She immediately got the point.

“Nathan, this is Isabel Evans. Isabel, this is Nathan Johnson.”

“Hi Nathan, it’s a pleasure.”

“Likewise, I'm sure.” He replied, taking my hand in a firm but gentle grip and holding it for a second or two longer than normal. I felt as though he wasn’t looking at me, but rather into me, and I felt a small thrill of fear (or was it excitement?) at the thought of what he might have seen.

It was then that Kyle announced the food was ready, so we all grabbed a plate and got stuck in. They had done a great job on the food, and after we had finished it took a bit of time before anyone could be bothered moving. Bits of small talk floated between us until someone asked what I was wondering myself.

“So Nathan, what brings you back to Roswell?”

“A touch of homesickness mostly,” he replied. “I actually grew up around here until I was about 10. Dad was a New Zealander, and when his father passed away, he inherited the family property. Originally we just went for the funeral, but Mum fell in love with the place as soon as she saw it," he said with a shrug of his shoulders. “And Dad hadn’t been so happy in years as he was to be back home. So they sat down with us kids to talk it over and decided to make the move permanent.”

“Glad to be back?” I inquired.

“Sort of. In some ways it’s just like I remember – but in others I hardly recognize the place.”

Maria shifted in her chair, turning towards Nathan. “So what have you been doing with yourself for the last twelve years?”

He took a mouthful of Coke from his glass and leaned back against the wall.

“Well, after college I went on to university and spent three years doing animal behaviour studies. That’s another reason why I came back to the States – I’m hoping to specialize in wolves and pack living. They’re an animal that has always fascinated me.”

Kyle grinned. “Those Wolves we played today will be needing to see a specialist, that’s for sure.”

“Yeah, I caught the result on the local radio station. It sounded like you guys had a great game.”

“Yeah it was. The boys did really well.”

Maria looked up. “So Nate, where are you staying while you’re in town?”

“Down at the local campgrounds.”

“Cabin or tent?”

He chuckled to himself. “Actually, it’s neither. I’ve got a bed set up in the back of the van I’ve been driving around in, with a little gas cooker for meals and heating.”

Liz looked up sharply. “You have GOT to be kidding me.” She said, astonished.

“No, if I was kidding, I’d say something like a horse walked into the bar; bartender said why the long face?”

“No, forget it.” Liz said, shaking her head. “There is NO way I’m going to have you sleeping in a van on the side of the road somewhere. You can stay here at our place – Mum and Dad are gone for the weekend, but they won’t mind anyway. You can use their room until they get back.”

“Are you sure it’ll be okay? I mean, I don’t want to impose or anything.”

Liz rolled her eyes at him. “Oh, please. You’re family. Besides, it’ll mean I’ll have someone to keep me company for the next couple of days.”

Nathan raised his glass in a silent salute. “Well, when you put it like that, I guess I can hardly say no, can I? Thanks darlin’.”

Liz grinned. “Don’t mention it.” She looked around as she stood and stretched. “So who wants some music?”

There was a chorus of affirmatives, and as she headed for the window to put on a CD, Nathan got up and looked over the edge of the balcony down at the street below. He glanced over his shoulder and raised his left eyebrow. “Be right back.” was all he said as he grabbed the ladder railing and tore off down to the pavement. A few minutes later, he was back again, but with a black satchel over his shoulder. Striding across the balcony, he climbed in the window to Liz’s room.

“Haven’t you found anything yet, Sprog?”

“It’s not easy picking one CD with this many choices.” Liz said plaintively.

“Easy fixed.” He tossed her some cables. “Hook these up to your stereo, and I’ll take care of your music worries.”

It turned out the satchel contained a laptop computer - he claimed to do the music at various parties, so he loaded all the songs he wanted on to a computer and then connected it to stereos for volume. As he said, it was a lot easier than hauling all the equipment with him everywhere.

Once he settled into a beat, we all started to get up and dance, and the time went so fast that before we knew what was happening, it was closing in on midnight. Michael and Maria were together on a deck chair, and Liz and Max were swaying gently to the music. Kyle had already left, and I was sitting by myself on the edge when Nathan came strolling over, stretching his back as he moved. I lifted my hand to stifle a yawn as he made himself comfortable.

“Long day, huh?” He enquired.

“Yeah, it has been a bit.”

He nodded and leaned back. “It’s been too long since I saw something this beautiful.”

I looked at him sharply. “And what, exactly, is that supposed to mean?”

He waved his hand at the sky. “All those stars. I’ve spent the last couple of months in New York City with a couple of friends from my university days, and I was starting to think I wouldn’t get to see them again.” He sighed wistfully “Back home, we used to have nights that were so clear, you could lay flat on your back in the back yard and watch the satellites going overhead.”

I smiled gently, trying to hide the lump forming in my throat - it sounded so much like something Alex used to say that if I closed my eyes, it would have been so easy to pretend it was him sitting next to me again. In the background I heard the music fade to silence, to be replaced by the stillness of the night. Max and Liz stood there, speaking to each other softly enough that no one else could hear what was being said, and Michael was running his fingers through Maria’s hair as she dozed in his arms.

We all collected our things and headed downstairs to our cars, making plans for later next week as we went, and after a few lingering goodnights, we finally headed home for the night. Mind you, if I had known what was be waiting for me when I got there, I might not have been in such a hurry...”

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Post by montee916 » Mon Nov 03, 2003 12:44 am

Speaking of which, let's find out just what was waiting for her... :evilbat:


Chapter 4.

Isabel stopped for a moment to settle her thoughts - she knew that it was too important to rush herself as she wrote it all down. Bad enough that the others were starting to think she was... well, going mad was what they wanted to call it, just not to her face. She didn’t want to have the same arguments with herself as well...

“The dreams started that night. At first it was nothing more than a vague impression of something dark coming towards us all, and me in particular. By the end of the week though, it had taken on a strong feeling of something more real - similar to what I was going through when I first started connecting with Laurie. Last night was the strongest it had ever been, so powerful that I woke up screaming, drenched in sweat, because this time I had seen the face of what was ahead of us - and I desperately prayed that I was both totally right and totally wrong. Whatever it was, it had taken its first prisoner from among us without us even noticing it - it had taken Alex Whitman.”

Isabel snapped her diary shut and clutched it tightly to her chest as tears threatened to well up and overwhelm her. Even after it had been so long since he had died, Isabel still felt Alex’s loss as though it had been a part of her soul cut out of her. And now, this - even the merest hint that he might have been alive all along and in their enemies’ hands - there were times when she felt it was more than she could bear. Of course, the others knew about the dreams, and they had tried to be supportive, but she could tell what they were really thinking - it was practically written on their faces.

“Max’s first impression was that somehow Nathan was connected to what was happening - after all, the dreams didn’t start until after he had arrived in town, and I was worried that it could end up being similar to what happened to Grant Sorenson. I just wish that I knew for sure why there was a part of me that was convinced we could trust him... about everything.”

Isabel glanced at her watch and realized with a shock that she had to get going quickly, or she would miss meeting everyone for the movie. Tossing her book into her bag, she threw it over her shoulder and headed towards the sidewalk outside the coffee shop. She could just imagine what Max was thinking...

Max looked at his watch for the third time in ten minutes and got up from his seat on the bench to start pacing again. Michael sighed and shook his head.

“Max, would you sit down and relax? She’ll get here.”

“She should be here by now!”

Nathan chuckled softly. “Look, Max, I know I’m new to you guys, but speaking as someone with four sisters, trust me when I say this is nothing unusual. Besides, if anything had happened, odds are you’d be one of the first to know about it anyway.”

Max glanced at Liz, then focused in on Nathan.

“What makes you think that?”

“Well, I’m assuming you aren’t wearing that cell phone for decoration.”

Max looked down at the phone on his hip and smiled to himself as the absurdity of the observation Nathan had made struck him.

“Yeah, that’s true. I guess I hadn’t...”

Nathan pushed himself off the tree he was leaning against with a grin on his face, raising his hand in the air.

“Look, what did I tell you? Here she comes now.”

They all turned to see Isabel waving and stepping from the sidewalk to cross the road. As the girls turned to collect their bags, however, all but one of the group was distracted, and missed the danger Isabel was in.

As she got halfway across the street, a car came hurtling around the corner from out of nowhere, heading straight for her. She froze and instinctively lifted her hand, praying for an energy burst or shield of some kind - anything that would stop the car from hitting her. Time seemed to slow to a crawl, and in the distance, she could hear someone scream her name.

Suddenly she felt two arms wrapping around her and lifting her off the ground. Nathan had sprinted out onto the street and caught her in a huge tackle, ripping her clear of the oncoming car’s path. Turning as he reached the other side of the street, he back slammed heavily into a van parked by the pavement. Impacting with a loud thud, Nathan went slack and released the grip he had around Isabel, and they both collapsed to the ground in a heap as the car that almost hit them sped off into the distance.

Almost immediately, a crowd started to gather around them, but Michael and Kyle pushed their way through and started forcing people back, giving Max and Liz the room to get to them.

“Nathan! Are you okay?”

He looked up at Liz with a grimace on his face - the adrenaline was starting to wear off as quickly as it had kicked in, and he could tell from the throbbing in his left shoulder that he had done some damage. He could only hope it wasn’t too serious. Liz reached out with a concerned expression and placed her hand on his cheek.

“Nathan, talk to me. Are you okay?”

Nathan nodded wearily. “I’ll survive,” he said, clutching his arm to his chest as he rose. “Where’s Isabel?”

“Behind you.” Isabel replied shakily. Nathan turned to see Max helping her to her feet, and he moved to help steady her.

“You okay, kid?”

Isabel put her hand on his chest, as if to make sure he was really there.

“Thanks to you, I am. That was....” She shook her head to clear the fogginess. “What about you? Are you sure you’re alright?”

Nathan smiled slightly. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve survived worse. Just not too sure when.” His face darkened. “It feels like I’m gonna have to get my shoulder checked by a doctor. You should probably think about doing the same.”

He looked over the crowd, and raised his voice. “I don’t suppose anyone got the plate number of that mad sonuvabitch, did they?”

There were a few mumbles, but no one stepped forward, and Nathan shook his head in disgust.

“Typical. Over a dozen witnesses, but nobody saw a thing.”

Nathan staggered to the left, and would have fallen, but luckily Kyle was there to help hold him up.

“Okay, Rambo, I got you,” He said with a grin. “Let’s get your shoulder checked and then we’ll worry about who to blame. Michael, you want to go get the Jetta? The sooner you guys get him to the hospital the better, and while you’re doing that, I’ll find Dad and meet you there.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Michael said. “I’ll be right back.”

Maria grabbed Isabel’s bag and she and Max helped Isabel as Kyle and Liz grabbed Nathan. They managed to maneuver them to a seat on the footpath and were just getting comfortable when Michael pulled up. Nathan was complaining loudly the whole time that he would be fine and they didn’t need to fuss so much... right up until he passed out in the back seat.
Third Time Lucky - my first fic

Second Time Around - the sequel to 3TL

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Post by montee916 » Tue Nov 04, 2003 3:38 am

I must admit, this was probably one of the parts I enjoyed writing the most... I can't imagine why. :lol:


Chapter 5.

It was just like the last time. He was in the park leaning against the tree and saw her coming from across the street. She was the type of woman who could easily get a guys attention, and once she got it, the world could come crashing down around his ears without him noticing. Everything in him told him to focus on nothing but her - but instead he turned away to see what the girls were doing. As soon as he heard the squealing of the tires coming around the corner, he KNEW - but by then it was too late for him to do anything but watch in mute horror. He saw as she stopped in the middle of the road and he ran with everything in him to try and save her - maybe this time it would be different. But it wasn’t to be. The car struck her full force and she was sent flying through the air, to land with a stomach-churning crunch. He fought to get to her side, but felt pulled back by someone or something, and the sound of mocking laughter filled his ears the harder he tried....


“Nathan! Nathan, I’m here! It’s okay!”

His eyes adjusted to the false twilight in the room he was in, and he automatically turned towards the voice he heard. He knew right away who it was in his heart - it took a second or two for his head to catch up.


She gazed down at him with a slight smile on her face.

“That was some scare you gave us all. We were starting to wonder if you were going to wake up.”

“How long have I been out for?”

Isabel glanced at her watch. “Almost eight hours now. The doctors were concerned about the possibility of damage from concussion, but they did some scans while you were out, and they said you should be fine. Though I guess you’ll want to hear it from someone a bit more qualified than me.” She looked away shyly, as if not quite sure of what to say next.

“Are the others around?” He asked, a bit uncertain of what he had heard.

“The other guys left after they got you settled in here. Max finally convinced Liz to go home around twelve. She was still feeling pretty cut up about what had happened,” Isabel paused for a second before continuing. “But then she wasn’t the only one.”

Nathan suddenly realized what she had said earlier.

“Hang on a minute. If I’ve been out for almost eight hours, that would mean it’s almost two in the morning. You mean you’ve been here all this time?? I’m surprised one of the doctors didn’t try to have you removed.”

Isabel smiled and looked at the floor. “Well, I guess I can be pretty... convincing when I need to be. Having Kyle’s dad talk to them helped see things my way as well - he used to be the sheriff around here. Besides,” she said, placing her hand on top of his,” after what you did for me, how could I just leave you here by yourself?”

Nathan rolled his hand and gently took hold of hers. “Well, for what it’s worth darlin’, I’m real glad you’re here, especially after the nightmare I just had. I kept dreaming over and over that the accident happened again, but this time, I.... I couldn’t move fast enough.”

“Well, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. You’re awake and this is real and I’m going to be right here, because I’m just fine.”

“Can’t think of too many sights I’d rather wake up to.”

Isabel blushed furiously and looked away. “That’s just the medication you’re on talking.”

Nathan chuckled. “Yeah, okay then. Hey, speaking of which, shouldn’t we buzz the nurse to let them know I’m awake or something?”

Isabel rose from her chair. “I’ll go get the nurse and see what she says.” She smiled down at him. “Don’t go too far, will you?”

He grinned. “With all this strapping holding me down? I think I’ll just wait here and practice my world famous cut-down-tree routine.”

Isabel laughed. “Okay then, you do that. I’ll be right back, okay?”

“No prob.”

He watched as she walked out of the room with a quiet smile on his face. Amazing, he thought to himself. A month ago, you didn’t even know she existed, and now.... NAH,
he thought, silently laughing at himself. She was right, that was DEFINITELY the medication talking.

A few minutes later, the ward nurse walked in carrying a chart. “So, our young hero has returned to the land of the living, eh?” she said, with just a hint of scolding in her voice.

“I could think of a whole list of things I could call what I did, but I can’t say heroic would be one of them. Mostly it was just doing what needed to be done.”

The nurse snorted to herself and ran through all the vital signs.

“Well, from what we can tell, you should be fine. The doctor should be in to see you around ten this morning. The bad news is we’ll have to leave the straps on until then to avoid you thrashing around. Your shoulder was wrenched pretty badly, but nothing too serious - it’ll just be a bit tender for a while.” She closed the chart folder with a snap. “All things considered, you’re quite lucky to be in one piece after what you did.”

Nathan looked at her with a disgusted expression. “And what was the alternative? Stand back and sell tickets??”

The nurse walked towards the door. “I’ll let your sister know we’re done.”

“Hey, hang on a minute!”

The door swung shut behind her and Nathan was left to ponder what she had said. Belatedly, it struck him as Isabel entered the room, a steaming disposable cup in her hand.


“Gidday, sis.”

She paused for a second. “Well I had to come up with something good, or they probably WOULD have gotten me to leave.”

He raised his free arm in mock surrender. “Hey, no argument here. Come on, grab a seat. You look like you need to sit down before you fall down.” He sniffed the air as she settled into the chair next to his bed. “Coffee?”

She shook her head. “Hot chocolate from the vending machine down the hall.” She paused for a moment. “Can I ask you a question?”

Nathan’s eyes narrowed slightly. “Yeah, sure. What’s on your mind?”

Isabel took a deep breath. “Well, it’s not that I’m ungrateful for what you did, but I was wondering... why did you do it? I mean, we barely know each other, and yet the way you just.... you could have been killed out there today, for someone you don’t even know.”

Nathan thought about it for a minute, then cleared his throat. ”Well, to be honest, I didn’t have time to think about it - I just did it because it needed doing. As for not knowing you, do you really think that matters? I mean, if we only settle for helping people we know, this world would go to hell in a hand basket inside of ten years. Besides,” he said with a cheeky grin,” I have to shave every couple of days or I look like the shaggy D.A.”

Isabel looked at him, mystified. ”And what, exactly, does you shaving have to do with anything?”

“Well, it’s easy really. I have to look at myself in the mirror to do it, and if I hadn’t at least tried to do something to help you,” he shrugged. “Well, looking at my mug is hard enough as it is.”

As she sat there thinking over what he had said, a yawn escaped her control.

“It’s getting late.” Nathan said. “Why don’t you rest your head for a bit?”

She shook her head, but with little conviction. “If I go to sleep, you won’t have anyone to keep you company.”

“You mean like you, sitting here surrounded for the last couple of hours?”

“But that’s...”

“Different?” He smiled gently. “It usually is. Look, I spent a week getting to Roswell on my own, I think I can survive a few hours. Besides, I will have company - We just won’t be saying anything to each other.”

She folded her arms on the side of the bed and rested her head on them. “Okay, but you have to promise me you’ll make me up if you feel like you need to, alright?”

“I will.” Nathan reached out and started to gently rub the back of Isabel’s neck. She yawned once more, and was out five minutes later. He brushed a few stray hairs away from her face and sat there watching her sleep.

“Sweet dreams, Princess.”
Third Time Lucky - my first fic

Second Time Around - the sequel to 3TL

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Post by montee916 » Wed Nov 05, 2003 5:09 am

Heh heh. Cmon, Luver, you didnt think I'd have it any other way, did you? :wink:

Welcome aboard, Angel. I hope you enjoy the rest of the story. :D

I must admit, I'm kinda surprised you guys are enjoying it so much. Last time I posted this anywhere, I had complaints about everything from the Pod Squad being out of character, to posting the story in chapters when Roswell was a TV series (??!!) . :lol:

I guess with so of these middle sections I lost the plot a little. I knew exactly how it started and ended, but for the middle portions of this story, it was a case of "Throw it all at the wall, and see what sticks." See what you think...


Chapter 6.

Max and Liz came out of the elevator onto the third floor just before lunch.

“Look, all I’m saying is I don’t see why she felt it so necessary to stay here all night with him.”

Liz rolled her eyes at him. “Well of course you don’t see it; you’re a guy.”

They walked down the hall to the room Nathan was in, to find Isabel sitting in a chair by the door. She rose to her feet and hugged Liz as Max eyed her over.

“So how are you feeling?”

Isabel smiled weakly. “I’m good, but tired. I’m looking forward to my own bed - it was a long night for us.”

Liz frowned. “Is something wrong with Nate?”

“No, he’s fine. He should be out in a minute; he’s just getting the final word from Doctor Samuels.”

The door opened behind her and a doctor walked out with Nathan close behind him, his left arm in a sling.

“...And his missus, she turns to him and she says, ‘Nope, but they’re all sitting in the truck and one of them is leaning on the horn.’”

The doctor burst out laughing. “That’s nasty.”

“Maybe, but it’s damn funny.”

“Yeah, that’s true.” Doctor Samuels extended his hand and shook Nathan’s. “Well, take care of yourself, Nathan. It was good to meet you.”

“Thanks, Doc.”

As the doctor headed off to his rounds, Liz sidled up next to Nathan. “Hey Toad, how you feeling?”

He grinned. “Well, officially I’m about ready to go face off against the 49er’s offensive line up on my own.”

“And un-officially?”

“If I tried it, I’d probably trip up while tying my bootlaces and spend the next half an hour on the floor screaming like a baby.”

Liz laughed and gave him a tight squeeze. “You realize, of course, that I got no sleep whatsoever last night because of you. You ever scare me like that again and you’re going to NEED a doctor.”

“I’ll consider myself put on official notice then.”

Together, the four of them headed downstairs to the car and went back to Liz’s place. Once there, they got comfortable and wiled away the afternoon swapping stories from when they were kids, until Max and Isabel had to head home for tea. Liz took Isabel upstairs to show her something, so Max could have a quiet word with Nathan.

“You know, Nathan, I never did get the chance to tell you how much I appreciated what you did. I mean, if it wasn’t for what you did, Isabel wouldn’t be here, and Thank You seems so... I mean, they’re only words.”

Nathan smiled. “Well, if it makes you feel any better, consider it a settling of the scores. I could be blind as a bat, and I’d still be able to see how happy Liz is with you. She’s something special, that kid, and I’m real glad she’s found someone that can understand that.”

An awkward silence followed, and Nathan couldn’t resist the opportunity. “I guess it’s a Kodak moment.”

Max laughed. “Yeah I guess it is.”

They stood and shook hands as the girls came down from Liz’s room. Liz smiled at the pair, having an idea of what had just happened. Isabel, however, was suspicious.

“Max? What’s going on?”

“Nothing.” He replied, trying to look innocent as he headed for the door. “We better get going. Mom will be waiting for us.”

Isabel turned. “Nathan?”

“Don’t look at me, I’m totally guilty.” He said with a deadpan expression.

She slitted her eyes suspiciously. “Bye bye then.”

After they had left, Nathan got settled on the couch with a book to hide behind. He could tell Liz wanted details, but he wasn’t about to make it easy for her, and she didn’t disappoint him.

“So, Nate, have fun last night?”

Nathan looked up. “Considering I was unconscious for most of it, yeah, I had a ball.”

“Isabel said you two had an interesting talk.”

“I’m sure she did.”

“So what happened?”

Nathan closed his book and stared pointedly at her. “Look, Liz, you may be my favorite cousin...”

“I’m your only cousin.” She interjected.

“...But a guy’s gotta have some secrets. Yes, we did talk - between us. And that’s how it’s going to stay. Between us.”

Liz smirked. “It’s not between you two though. Do you honestly think I wouldn’t notice the way you watch her? And if I noticed it, it’s a safe bet I’m not the only one.”

“And what would you suggest?” Nathan said. “That I try starting something I may not finish? I barely know the girl, and even if I did know her, there’s no way of knowing how long I’m here for. It could be six years; it could be six days. That’s not a good basis for any kind of relationship.”

Liz got up to head to her room. “I lost one of my best friends in the world in a car crash a little while ago, Nathan, and he was only 17 years old. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that it isn’t about how much time we plan on having, it’s what we plan with the time we have.” She paused at the doorway, looking back. “But then, I guess it’s up to you. Goodnight, Nathan.”

After she had left, Nathan settled back into his chair, a satisfied grin slowly spreading across his face...

Later that week, everyone was at the Crashdown for a late night study session when Nathan walked in the door. Liz looked up with a grin.

“Hey Nate. It’s about time you got back - I was starting to think you’d lost your way.”

He grinned back. “No chance of that happening - I have too many people telling me where to go.”

Liz laughed. “So, did you find whatever it was you were looking for?”

He nodded. “Yeah, I found the old quarry outside of town, and that did the job just nicely.”

“What job might that be?” Maria asked, trying to sound innocent.

“Nothing very exciting, I’m afraid. Since my near miss last Friday, I’ve been feeling a bit cramped up, because I haven’t been out much. So I went looking for a quiet spot where I could run around like a madman and not worry about anyone interrupting me in the process. It ended up being so lovely out there that I found a spot on top of one of the cliffs and sat there, watching the sun go down.” He patted his camera, hanging from his hip. “Hopefully the shots I took will turn out okay - it was a great way to spend the day.”

“Have you had anything for dinner yet, or are you trying your usual trick?” Liz said, although she had a strong feeling she already knew what the answer would be - and she was right.

“Not yet. I’ll grab something shortly, I just need to get a couple of bags out of the van and put away upstairs.”

Isabel got up from where she was sitting. “I’ll give you a hand if you like.”

Nathan turned in surprise. “Well, not that I don’t appreciate the offer, but it’s not that heavy.”

Isabel smiled. “Well, if it isn’t that heavy, I should have no trouble lifting it then, should I? Besides, you know the doctor told you to rest your shoulder while it’s healing.”

He shook his head and glanced at Max and muttered under his breath. “And I thought my sisters were bad.” Looking at Isabel with a grin, he nodded his head towards the door to the kitchen. “Van’s parked out the side there.”

Max started to rise from his seat. “Maybe I should...”

“Get a drink.” Liz interrupted. “I’m getting quite dry myself. Could you get me a coke while you’re up?”

Isabel flashed Liz a conspiratorial grin as she headed out through the door following Nathan to the van parked out the back.

“So, what are you after?”

Nathan laughed to himself, but thought better of saying anything. He opened the driver’s door and climbed in, facing Isabel as he reached behind the seats.

“Well, we’ve got this one,” He said pulling out a tripod case. “And the video camera here...and the last one, I’ll have to open the back door.”

He clambered out, locking the door shut behind him and headed for the rear of the van, from which he pulled out a large black plastic case, about three feet long. Isabel blanched at the sight of it.

“Is that what I think it is?”

Nathan looked up, seeing the expression on her face. “Well, if you think it’s a gun, then yeah, that’s exactly what it is. I need to give it a cleanup, and I don’t like the idea of leaving it in the van in case someone steals it.”

Isabel looked away. “I can understand that, but why have it in the first place? I thought you said you study animals, not kill them.”

“That is what I do, but there are some animals that don’t take too kindly to being studied.” Nathan said. “I do what I can to avoid that kind of situation like the plague, and so far I’ve never fired a shot outside a rifle range, but if I have no other option, I would use it. I’d regret it afterwards, without a doubt, but quite frankly I’d rather have the gun and not need it than need it and not have it.”

“So you’ve never used it to shoot an animal then?”

“Not that one, no.”

Isabel regarded him for a moment, thinking about what he had said, when it started to lightly rain, and he looked up at the sky.

“I wondered how long this rain would hold when I was out at the quarry. We’d better get this lot in before it really opens up.”

They walked through the door and headed upstairs to the spare room where Nathan had been sleeping. Isabel placed the camera and tripod in the corner as Nathan sat down, opened up his case and starting pulling out the equipment for cleaning his rifle.

“Is there anything else you need a hand with?”

He turned in his chair. “No, thanks, that should be everything.” He regarded Isabel for a moment. “You’re disappointed, aren’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

He patted the rifle. “I mean this. It isn’t something you thought was a part of my world, and seeing me with it has poked holes in the image you had built up about me in your mind.”

Isabel looked away. “It’s a bit hard to build an idea of what anyone is like when you don’t know much of anything about them.”

“So how about we work on that a bit.”

“What exactly are you getting at?”

Nathan rose from his chair and walked over to where Isabel was standing in the doorway.

“All I’m saying is that you seem like a really good person, and I think we could have a lot of fun if we spent a bit of time together and got to know each other better.” He smiled nervously. “I mean, we never did get to see that movie the other day, and I was thinking you might like to try again...”

Isabel tried to keep a grin off her face as she realized just how nervous Nathan was, standing in front of her, waiting for her reply.

“You know, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were asking me out on a date...”

Nathan looked horrified with himself. “No! No, nothing like that, honest. Just strictly as friends type of thing.”

“Just friends?”

“Absolutely. No strings of any kind whatsoever attached.”

Isabel looked him over one more time before heading for the staircase. “I’ll call you.” She said as she headed downstairs.

“Well, you know how to get in touch if you do want to.”

She laughed, and looked back at Nathan leaning against the wall, as if that was all there was holding him up. “Don’t you worry, I’m pretty sure I have your number.”
Third Time Lucky - my first fic

Second Time Around - the sequel to 3TL

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Post by montee916 » Mon Nov 10, 2003 11:53 pm

Hey peoples! :lol: Sorry, I would have been back sooner, but things have
been pretty hectic for me over the last week or so. Between work all week, the V8 supercars over the weekend, and what little time I can spare working on another story, I haven't been online as much as usual.

Having said that, though, I'm back with a vengeance, so lets turn up the heat a bit and see what comes to the boil... :twisted:


Chapter Seven.

The next few days flew by and before she knew it, it was Friday night and she was pacing in her room, waiting for Nathan to arrive, when there was a light tap on her door.

“Come in.”

Max opened the door and stepped in, a slight frown on his face, and Isabel sighed, guessing why he was there.

“Max, don’t start. I told you, it’s just a movie.”

Max nodded. “I know, and I know you can look after yourself.”

Isabel eyed him suspiciously. “So...”

He sat on the end of her bed. “Actually, I just wanted to say I hope you have a good time tonight. With all that’s happened lately, you deserve a bit of fun, and Liz has made it pretty clear that Nathan is that, at the very least.”

Isabel smiled. “And just how clear did Liz have to make it?”

“Pretty clear.” They both laughed. “Look, Is, I know you know what you’re doing and everything, it’s just... I wouldn’t want to see you get hurt. I guess it can be frustrating for you, and I can be overbearing, but it’s only because your my sister, and I want the best for you.”

Isabel placed her hand on Max’s shoulder. “I know, and I feel the same way.”

Max smiled up at her. “I better get out of your way then, and let you finish. What should I tell Nathan?”

“You mean he’s here already??”

“Right on six o’clock. He’s talking to Dad at the moment about the computer.”

“Oh my... Umm... okay, just a second... okay, tell him I’ll be down in five minutes.”

“Will do.” He replied as he headed for the door. “And for the record, relax - you look fine.”

After Max had left, Isabel stood in front of the mirror for a moment, making sure everything looked just right. Nathan had obviously wanted to make a good impression, showing up at exactly six o’clock, and it was only fair she do the same. Changing her lipstick color one last time to match her blouse, she gave an approving nod and grabbed her jacket on her way out the door. As she headed downstairs she could hear the voices coming from her father’s study.

“Yep, now click there... other button... that’s right, now go down to here.... Okay, now click on that.”

She paused in the doorway and saw her father sitting in front of the computer, focused on the screen, with Nathan standing next to him.

“And that’s all there is to it?” Her father said, sounding incredulous.

Nathan smiled. “Easy when you know how, isn’t it?”

“That’s what they all say.”

Both men turned at the sound of Isabel’s voice, and Nathan stretched to his full height as Mr. Evans stood.

“Hi, honey.”

She smiled. “Hey Dad... Nathan. Having fun?”

Nathan grinned. “About as much as I usually do.”

Mr. Evans looked from one to the other and cleared his throat. “Well, you two no doubt have plans, so I won’t keep you waiting. Thanks for your help, Nathan.”

Nathan took his hand in a firm grip. “No worries, it’s good practice for me. If you have any other problems, just give me a call - I’ve been staying at Liz Parker’s place, so even if I’m out she will probably know where to find me.”

“I’ll be sure and keep that in mind.” He walked the pair of them to the door. “I’ll see you tomorrow, hun.”

“Okay, Dad. Good night.”

They walked to the van and Nathan held the door open as Isabel got in, making sure she was comfortable before closing it and heading around to the driver’s door. He pulled away from the curb and headed into town, parking on a side street outside a coffee shop where they began their night together...

They finally got back to the Evans's home at eleven and Nathan walked Isabel to her front door.

“Well, it’s been a good night, kid.”

Isabel chuckled. “And just who are you calling kid, old man?” She said, teasingly.

Nathan grinned. “Believe me, it’s nothing personal. I’ve even called my mother kid once or twice... not to her face, mind you, but I’ve still done it.”

“Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me.” Isabel looked into his eyes. “Thanks for tonight. It makes a nice change meeting a guy that wants to sit down and get to know who I am, rather than just settle for what I look like. It’s been a while since I had this much fun.”

“Maybe you’ve just been spending time with the wrong guys.”

“Maybe.” She looked down, nervous. “Maybe we could do it again sometime?”

Nathan grinned. “You mean you WANT to? See, I told you that mixing tobasco in your
coffee would mess you up.”


He held his hands up in surrender. “Okay, you’re right, I should be serious for once.” He took her hands in his and paused for a minute. “You’re sure this is what you want?”

“I’m sure.”

“Okay then.” He lifted her hand to his face and kissed the back of it. “If you’re sure, then that’s good enough for me.” He glanced at his watch. “I better get going, or neither of us is going to get any sleep.”

“Yeah, I guess you’d better. I’ll call you?”

“I sure hope so.” He looked at her grin. “What’s so funny?”

“Just thinking.” Isabel replied. “I’m pretty sure tonight was originally just going to be about us being friends.”

Nathan’s expression sank, and he moved back from Isabel slightly. “You know, if you want to hold back a bit, just say the word. I mean, it’s not too late...”

She reached up and placed her fingers on his lips. “I’d say it is too late... well, for one of us, anyway.”

“Enough said, then. Now get inside to bed before someone comes out looking for you.” Nathan reached up and brushed a stray hair back behind her ear. “Sweet dreams.”

“You too.”

Later that night, Max shot out of bed and rushed to Isabel’s room, hearing her cry out in panic. Rushing to her side, he threw his arms around her as she burst into tears.

“Isabel, it’s okay! I’m here! Just relax... come on, breath... that’s it, nice and calm.”

As the sobs wracked her body, she looked up at Max, with no doubt in her mind of what she now knew to be true.

“Max... oh Max, they’ve got him... please, we’ve got to find some way of saving him from them...”

Max raised his hand to the side of her face. “Okay Isabel, take it easy. Did you have another one of your dreams about Alex?”

She looked at Max with the heartache written on her face. “Max, please, you’ve got to believe me. It’s not a dream! Alex is alive - he always has been. Nicholas got his hands on him from Tess and planted a fake body!”

Max took her hands in his and shook his head sadly. “Iz, I know you still miss him, but you’ve got to let it go - Alex is dead.”

Isabel looked at him, her distress rapidly giving way to anger. “You mean to tell me that after all we’ve been through, you won’t even consider that I might be right? That Alex might be alive?”

“Look, Isabel, all I’m saying is...”

“NO! I’ve listened for too long to what you have to say and now you’re going to listen to me. Alex is alive - I don’t know where or how, but he is, and if I have to, I’ll find him on my own, but I will find him! Now get out!”

Max got up and headed back to bed, pausing in the doorway. “Okay, I’ll go. But remember one thing, Iz - You are my sister, and that is something that will never change. I may not agree with what you say, but you won’t ever have to go through things on your own as long as I’m around.”

After Max had left, Isabel crumpled into a ball on her bed as fresh tears threatened to overflow. Oh, Alex, she cried silently, why couldn’t I have known sooner...

The next day, Max met with Michael down at the basketball courts.

“So, she’s sure about it then?”

Max shrugged. “She says she is, but I can’t help thinking that a big part of it is wishful thinking on her part. I mean, I know Isabel went through the same thing when she had the dreams about Laurie, and she was right about her, but we all went to Alex’s funeral... you and I helped carry the coffin!” He shook his head sadly. “I mean, I saw the body!”

Michael took his shot. “That’s eight. You may have seen the body Maxwell, but then we all saw Nicholas “die” at the school when Tess torched him, and he turned up again in New York.”

Max looked up. “So you’re saying you agree with her?”

“Look, I’m not saying I agree with anyone... That’s nine. All I’m saying is you can’t always be sure of what you see - we’re living proof of that.”

“I guess so. I just can’t forget what Liz said the day of the funeral, that it was our fault. If Alex has been alive all this time, and Nicholas has had him... Do you think she was right when she said it?”

Michael took his shot at the hoop, hitting another swish. He looked at Max with a grin.

“What I think is that that was ten in a row, which means you’re buying.” Michael looked at Max, sitting on the bench staring off into the distance. He took a seat on the back of the bench next to him and started spinning the ball between his hands.

“Look, Max, you know Isabel always gets wound up at this time of the year - Christmas is only a week away, and she’s getting into her Christmas Nazi trip. For all you know, it’s Nathan reminding her of Alex that’s making her have these dreams. Besides, even assuming for a minute she is right about Alex, how could we have known? You said it yourself - we saw the body. You can’t go back and change something you didn’t know about.”

Max looked up at him with a worried expression. “So what does it say about me when I do know something, or at least suspect it, and I still do nothing about it?”
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Post by montee916 » Wed Nov 12, 2003 6:18 am

Time for a little Christmas spirit to liven things up a bit... :x-mas:


Chapter Eight.

Across town at the Crashdown, Isabel was talking to Liz about what she had seen the night before.

“And you think he’s still alive, but being held somewhere?”

Isabel nodded. “It may be hazy, but it’s Alex. I mean, who else could it be?”

Liz turned away. “Well, given some of the things we’ve seen...”

“So you don’t believe me either?”

“No... No, that’s not what we’re saying.”

“It’s not?” Maria said, sounding amazed, until she saw Liz’s expression. “I mean, no, its not... like Liz said.” She stood and moved towards the door. “Um, I think the tables need clearing - I’ll be right back.”

Liz looked at Isabel. “Look, Isabel, I knew Alex better than just about anybody, and I don’t think anybody would be happier than me to have him back again; it just seems strange. I mean, why now, after all this time? Now that you and Nathan are getting on so well, you start to dream about Alex. Doesn’t the timing seem odd to you?”

Isabel nodded sadly. “I know, and I’m not sure either. Maybe they’ve had Alex under some sort of control and he’s starting to break through it or something. Or maybe my being with Nathan has made it easier - before now I’ve been trying not to think about Alex because not having him here hurts so much.” She hung her head. “ Nathan reminds me of him so much... just the way he can be so annoyingly polite, like what he wants doesn’t matter to him so long as I’m happy.”

Liz bit her lower lip and decided to take the plunge. “Do you think that... the reason you’re so happy with Nathan is because it’s like you get another chance with Alex?”

Isabel considered the question for a moment. “ No... No, it isn’t like that. At least I don’t think it is. I care for him, I really do. It’s just that I need to settle what happened with Alex once and for all, or it will hang over everything I do in my life.” She looked around. “Speaking of Nathan, where has he gone off to this time?”

“He said something about heading out to Frazier Woods for the day.” Liz said, with a slight grin. “I would love to know where he gets all his energy from - it’s like he can’t sit still for more than half an hour.”

“It must be hard for him, being away from his family at this time of the year.”

Liz nodded. “He keeps saying that he’s fine, but I’ve been thinking that that is why he’s been going off on his own so much for so long - so he can avoid being reminded of his family.” She looked down at Isabel with a grin. “Maybe he needs something, or someone, else to help him deal with it.”

“Yeah, maybe he does.” Isabel said, smiling. “Mum was talking about having a big lunch Christmas day, so you would all be welcome to come over. I know Dad would be happy to see the both of you again, and there would be plenty to go around.”

“That sounds really good to me. I’ll tell Nathan about when he gets home and see what he says.”

“Okay then.” Isabel looked at her watch. “I’m going to have to get going - I still have a hundred and one things to do, and heaven knows Max still can’t find a tree to save himself.” She smiled at Liz and gave her a hug. “Thank you for listening. I just really needed to talk to someone who could understand.”

Liz patted her on the back. “Any time you need to, you know where to find me.” She stepped back. “I’d better go give Maria a hand. Are you going to be okay?”

Isabel nodded. “I should be... it’s just going to take time.”

“Okay then. I’ll try to give you a call tonight about Christmas lunch - I think I’ll be able to twist his arm.”

Liz watched as Isabel slipped out the back door, and sank back onto her chair with a sigh. As if Tess hadn’t put them through enough pain before she had left, and now this - the idea that Alex might still be alive? Liz thought to herself. She looked up at the desk where she helped her father with the paper work for the cafe and saw the photo she had framed sitting in the corner - the one they had taken the night of the prom, before everything fell apart. Seeing it sitting there helped to fill her with a fresh resolve, and she reached for it, gazing down at Alex’s smiling face.

You were so happy that night, Alex, she thought, and you had every right to be - you had your whole life ahead of you. I made you a promise not to rest until I had found out what had happened to you, and that's a promise I will keep, however long it may take...

After dinner, she finally managed to catch up with Nathan in his room.

“So what do you think?”

He looked up with a grin. “Christmas lunch with Isabel Evans? Gee, let me think about that one for a minute. I mean, I had a meeting with G. Dubya planned, but I guess I could postpone it.”

Liz shook her head. “You don’t take anything seriously do you?”

“Not if I can avoid it. It gives you gray hairs.”

Liz laughed. “Okay. I’ll let them know we’ll be there.”

Nathan nodded. “Cool. Hey, would you say these guys like going out into the forest at night?”

“Why would you ask that?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “I found a really good spot while I was out in the woods today for a campfire - I was thinking if everyone was keen, we could head out there for New Years, and spend the night there.”

Liz’s eyes lit up as she thought it over. “Sounds like it could be fun. We could toast marshmallows and sing songs and sleep out under the stars.”

“That’s the plan.”

“I’ll tell Isabel about it when I ring her. If we can get her and Max along, the others will probably come too.”

Nathan grinned. “The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. I guess I’ll have to do some shopping for the surprise I have planned.” He said, with a raised eyebrow.

“What surprise is that?”

He sighed theatrically. “Well, if I tell you that, it wouldn’t be a surprise, would it? Besides, don’t you have a phone call to make? Go on, scat.”

Liz harrumphed as she headed out the door. “Fine, I know when I’m not wanted.”

Nathan watched her leave, shutting the door behind her, and reached into his knapsack, pulling out a couple of small metal cylinders, each about three inches long. Yeah, he thought to himself. These should do the job just nicely...

The following week was hectic for everyone as Christmas closed in. Even Nathan found himself caught up in the festivities, helping Isabel by agreeing to wear a Santa suit at a toy drive for the local orphanage. After the annual concert from some of the local school pupils, the gang headed back to Liz’s place for a coffee. Nathan disappeared upstairs, and after ten minutes, Isabel’s curiosity got the better of her, so she decided to investigate. As she got to the top of the stairs, she heard his voice coming from the main room, as though he was talking to someone, but she could hear no other voices...

“So everyone’s okay then?”

She peeked around the corner into the room and quickly realized what was happening - he was sitting in front of his laptop wearing a headset, with a camera to one side of the screen facing towards him.

“Well, I’m glad you guys got your presents in time. It took me forever to find some of it, but it looks like it was well worth it.”

A smile spread across his face, in response to whatever had been said to him, and he nodded reluctantly. “Yeah, that’s okay. I’ve got things I need to do anyway. Be sure and give my love to everyone there, won’t you?” A pause. “Same here. Merry Christmas, guys.”

He kissed the tips of his fingers and brushed them across the lens of the camera in a farewell gesture before peeling off the headset and tossing it onto the table in front of him. Folding down the computer, he sat there staring off into space, lost in thought, oblivious to Isabel who had entered the room and was standing just behind him.

“I had wondered where you got to.”

He nodded slightly, but there was little other reaction.

“I guess you could say I had a call to make.”

She reached out and placed her hands on his shoulders, feeling the tension in them.

“Was that your folks?”

He rubbed his hands over his face before resting his chin on top of them.

“Parents, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends and neighbors.” He tried a grin, but with little enthusiasm. “Even the dog was there.”

“You really miss them, don’t you?”

A tremble ran through him, and Isabel felt pretty sure it wasn’t because it was getting cold.

“A wise man once said that you don’t really appreciate what you have until it‘s gone.”

“Maybe, but you will be getting them back once you head back home. You just need to make sure when you do, that they know how much you do appreciate them.”

He turned in his chair and she could now see the smile on his face was quite real, and not forced at all.

“Well, this is true. Besides, to be honest, I love them all dearly, but if I had to choose between being surrounded by screaming kids or being here with all you guys, the choices wouldn’t be quite as easy to make as people might think.”

Isabel grinned down at him. “So, are you going to come down and join the rest of us, or sit up here being as social as ever?”

Nathan laughed. “Okay, point taken. I’ll just get this gear packed up and I’ll be right down.”

“While you do that, perhaps you can fill me in... Liz was saying something about you planning a camp for us all?”

“Oh, that.” He looked up, smiling. “I was thinking we could get some sleeping bags and head out to Frazier Woods for New Years Eve, and spend the night out there.”

“You realize of course, that it is winter out there at the moment.”

“That’s why we take the sleeping bags.” He raised an eyebrow, with a cheeky expression on his face. “Unless you can think of some other way we can keep ourselves warm.”

“I’ve heard that fire helps.”

“Oh, don’t you worry, I’ve got all the flammables we’re going to need. And don’t bother asking, because it’s a surprise.”

Isabel fixed him with a stare. “Why do I get the feeling I should be very afraid?”

“I have no idea.” He replied, placing the laptop in the closet and coming out of it with his hands behind him as he kicked the door shut. “Look, I know I act the clown a lot, but I always take things seriously when it comes to the safety of people around me... especially the important ones.”

They stood for a moment gazing into each others eyes before Nathan glanced down at his feet.

“So tell me,” He said, trying to hold a stern expression on his face, “Have you been a good girl for Santa this year?”

She looked up with a coy smile. “You think I’d misbehave?”

“I should be so lucky.” He grinned, but before she could respond, he placed a finger on her lips. “Close your eyes and turn around.”

Isabel did so, realizing as she did so that she was now facing the mirror hanging on the wall.
She stood there waiting and felt a shiver run down her spine as something cold went around her neck.

“Okay, open your eyes.”

She looked at her reflection in the mirror and saw what it was - a silver necklace with a wolf pendant hanging from it. It took her a moment before she could say anything.

“It... it’s beautiful.”

Nathan smiled and wrapped his arms around her waist. “And the necklace looks good too. Just a little something to remember me by.”

She turned and returned his hug, resting her head against his chest. “I don’t need a present to do that. You’re pretty hard for a girl to forget.” She leaned back and looked up at him, feeling a little disappointed with herself. “But I didn’t get you anything.”

“Yes you did; you just didn’t realize it. Since I arrived in town, you guys, and you in particular, have gone out of your way to make me feel welcome here as part of your group. That’s meant more to me than I can say and I’ll always be grateful for it.” He looked down with a grin. “Anyway, we better get downstairs before they come looking for us.”

He started to pull away from her, but Isabel about to let him get away so easily.

“Not so fast; there’s something you forgot about.”

She reached up and placed her hand on the back of his neck, pulling him down and kissing him firmly on the lips, sending what felt like an electric shock running through his entire body. After a long pause which didn’t seem long enough, Isabel finally broke contact and stepped away, smiling at Nathan who stood there with an astounded expression on his face.

“Merry Christmas, Nate.”
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Post by montee916 » Sat Nov 15, 2003 3:43 am

Now to stir the pot a little...


Chapter Nine.

The next day they all met at the Evans’s house for a late Christmas lunch. Everyone was there - Max and his dad were playing basketball against Kyle and Jim Valenti without much success, with Maria, Amy and Isabel watching on. Liz noticed Isabel looked a little wary as she and Nathan approached, but put it down to the time of year. Michael came out from the house with a tray of drinks, saw Liz and Nathan standing there, and called for Max to switch places so he could have a run on the court. They paused the game long enough to make the change, and after grabbing a drink, Max made straight for Liz.

“Hey Liz, do you have a minute? I’ve got something to show you.”

“Uh, yeah, sure.” She turned to Nathan, who was settling into a seat next to Isabel. He sent her off with a wave of his hand.

“Go ahead, I’ll be fine.”

“Okay. I’ll be right back.”

Liz followed Max inside as he led her up to his room and closed the door behind her. She turned with a coy smile on her face until she saw the seriousness of his expression, and the tone of his voice did nothing to make her feel any more at ease.

“You had better sit down for this.”

She did so on the edge of his bed, feeling the edge with her hands and not taking her gaze off Max’s face as he sat at his desk chair and took a deep breath before starting.

“First of all, I want you to know that no one is being accused of anything, but it is a situation that has us concerned, and we decided that...”

“Max. Please. Whatever it is, just say it. I can handle it. What is this all about?”


As soon as he said that, Liz felt a cold knot of fear start to twist in her stomach. Trying to remain calm, she nodded for Max to continue.

“These dreams that Isabel has been having didn’t start until he arrived in town, and you said yourself that you haven’t seen him in years. Can you be sure that he is who he says he is?”

Liz thought about it for a moment - it had been quite some time, even she couldn’t deny that. Could there be more to it than any of them had realized?

“This isn’t an accident, is it? Why wait until now before you said anything about this? What is there you haven’t told me, Max?”

Max looked down at the floor. “Isabel had another dream about Alex last night. The difference was that this time we were ready for it - I was connected with her. I saw what she has been seeing, and she’s been right all along - it’s definitely Alex. Not only that, but from what we saw, we were able to get a rough idea of where he is... Liz, it’s somewhere in Frazier Woods.”

Liz considered it for a moment as she realized where Max was going.

“So you think that Nicholas grabbed Alex, and they’ve got a base in the woods waiting for
you to go looking for them, and now they’ve decided to send Nathan in to draw out the rest
of you?”

“We aren’t too sure what’s going on, but we can’t afford to take any unnecessary chances. Michael, Isabel and I talked about it this morning - We’re going to go with Nathan on New Years Eve and see if we can turn it around to our advantage, find some trace of what they’ve done with Alex.”

“Are you sure that’s such a good idea? What if you’re right and they are waiting for you?”

Max nodded. “I know. It took me an hour to talk Isabel into waiting for us all and not go out there last night as it was. The problem is, we can’t be sure exactly where in the woods she was seeing, and even if we get that far, we don’t know if that’s where they will be, or if it’s just where they took control of him. That’s why the three of us agreed to wait until our night out.”

Liz looked at him with a shocked expression. “You can’t go out there alone.”

“We aren’t. We also talked to Kyle and his dad. They agreed to follow us out there and stay nearby, in case we need some support. I wasn’t too keen on the idea myself, but Michael made a good point that if someone is out there, they’ll be ready for us, but not for them - at least, we hope not.”

“What I meant was, you aren’t going out there without Maria and I.”

Max shook his head. “Not a chance. It’s too...”

“Max Evans, don’t you dare try to tell me it’s too dangerous! After everything we’ve gone through, if you think I won’t be with you, you have a lot to learn. You are my boyfriend, Nathan is my family, and Alex is the dearest friend I ever had. I have more at stake in this than anyone, and I will not sit at home, waiting for a phone call like some kind of war widow. Besides, if I don’t go with you, Nathan will know right away that something is wrong.”

Max sighed. He should have known better, but he had hoped that he would be able to talk Liz into staying in town while they dealt with things. As much as he wanted to though, he couldn’t deny she had a good point about Nathan being suspicious if she wasn’t there. Liz watched the emotions play across his face, and she reached out to take his hand.

“Are you really sure this is the best way to solve things?” She said, the worry clear in her voice.

“I don’t think we have too many options. Isabel is almost ready to start climbing the walls to find out what really happened, and although it will probably be dangerous, it is about the best, and possibly the only way we can get that information.”

Liz looked down at the floor, as the realization of what it could mean started to overwhelm her. Max sat next to her and wrapped his arms around her, placing her head against his chest.

“Don’t worry, we’ll find some way of working things out.”

“I know you will; you always do.” Liz looked up at Max with a sad smile on her face. “What worries me is that Nathan is who he has said he is all along. I mean, after all he and Isabel have been through, to find out like this just who and what you guys really are... assuming he finds out, that is.”

“We’ll just have to deal with that when and if it happens.” He looked down at her with a smile. “Come on, let’s go find the others and see if Michael and Dad are done embarrassing themselves yet.”

As Max got up to head outside, Liz held on to his hand and pulled him back for a moment.

“Max, just promise me one thing. Promise you’ll do all you can to avoid hurting Nathan. Even if someone else is controlling him, he’s my family and when this is over, I want my family back.”

Max nodded, looking down at his feet for a second. “Yeah, so do I.” He said as he walked out the door...

Later that night, they were sitting out on the deck discussing the plans for the next weekend, and Nathan had a pleasantly surprised smile on his face.

“Well, I guess that’s just about everyone then.”

Kyle looked down. “It’s a shame I won’t be able to make it, but me and Dad have... other plans. Something of a family tradition for us.”

Nathan nodded. “I know what that’s like. Too bad though... you’ll miss my surprise.” He said with a sly grin.

Max perked up. “What surprise would that be?”

“Now, now, a good magician never reveals his tricks. Besides, a brother’s gotta have some secrets, right?”

“I guess it depends on what the secret is.”

Nathan maintained his smile, but something flashed dangerously behind his eyes. “I guess you’ll just have to trust me then, won’t you?”

“Now, boys,’ Liz interrupted, ‘This is Christmas, remember? You know, peace, goodwill, that sort of thing?”

Maria playfully squeezed Michael’s knee. “Of course, some of us still think it’s just about big companies making bigger profits.”

Nathan grinned. “Hey, I resemble that remark.”

Everyone laughed at that one, and the chill that had started to settle on the group was quickly shaken off. After a while, they all decided it was time to start heading home, and started to collect their things. As Liz and Max were saying goodnight, Nathan pulled Isabel to one side, with a concerned expression on his face.

“Are you okay? You’ve been pretty quiet all night.”

Isabel nodded shortly. “I’m okay. I’m just... tired. I didn’t sleep too well last night. Christmas and all, you know.”

Nathan’s eyes narrowed slightly - He wasn’t convinced she was telling the whole truth, but he wasn’t sure she was lying either.

“Fair enough. Just try and make sure you get plenty of sleep this week - next weekend is likely to be a busy one. Speaking of which, I’m gonna be pretty busy this week setting some things up, but I’ll try to call you at some stage, okay?”

“Okay. It’s no problem if you’re busy, don’t feel like you HAVE to ring or anything.”

“I never HAVE to, but I always want to.” He gave Isabel a hug which she returned, but stiffly, and he moved away from her with a feeling that something important had been left unsaid.

“Merry Christmas, kid.”

Isabel smiled, but without any real conviction. “You too.”

As Max and Isabel stood in the driveway watching Liz and Nathan drive away, Isabel leaned her head on Max’s shoulder and sighed deeply.

“I hope we’re doing the right thing with this, Max.”

“So do I.”
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Post by montee916 » Mon Nov 17, 2003 3:56 am

A-camping we will go, a-camping we will go... :morning:


Chapter Ten.

“I'm really worried for him, Maria.”

It was Saturday night, and a week had gone by since they had shared their Christmas

“I’m sure he’s fine.” Maria said, as she placed an arm around Liz’s shoulders for support.
“I mean, he’s been coming and going like this since the first day he came into town.”

Liz shook her head. “Not like this though. He’s hardly been at home all week, and when
he has been there, he spent all his time in his room with the door shut. I tried to talk to
Isabel about things, but she hasn’t spoken to him either.”

“Maybe that’s the problem. She gave him a bit of a cold shoulder when we were all at
their place last week. Maybe he’s miffed and this is him returning the feeling.”

Liz turned to face Maria, and Maria could see the pain flash briefly across her face.

“But if that’s the case, why shut me out as well?”

Maria looked at the ground, trying to think of some way to respond, but before anything
could come to mind, everyone’s heads turned south, to the sound of a racing motor that
was coming closer. Nathan came to a sudden halt in his van outside the Crashdown like
Schumacher pulling in for a pit stop, and left the motor ticking over as he slid to his feet
and stepped around the van, onto the pavement. Gazing at each face in turn, he finally
settled on Liz, and a wide grin spread across his face.

“Hey kid.”

“Uuh.. Hi.” She saw Maria in the corner of her eye, looking at her with a what-the-heck?
expression on her face. “You seem pretty happy for someone who hasn’t said more than
boo to me all week.”

Nathan nodded as he reached out and gave her a hug. “Yeah, I know. I just had some things on my mind that I needed to get sorted. It’s all good now, though.”

He looked at everyone standing there with the same easy-going grin he had worn since
they had first met him.

“So, I guess we’re all ready then. Who wants to ride shotgun with me?”

Isabel stepped forward with a look on her face that made it clear she wouldn’t take no for
an answer.

“I’ll do it.”

Nathan looked her up and down once, then nodded shortly. “Sounds good to me. Let’s
saddle up.”

He helped Isabel load her bags into the van, and then led the way out of town, followed by Michael on his bike and Max, Maria and Liz in the Jetta. Half an hour later, they found themselves well clear of town on the northern edge of Frazier woods, settling into a small clearing, which Nathan had spent the day preparing for their arrival. As Nathan helped the girls set up one of the tents, Max and Michael were assembling theirs on the other side of the fire pit.

“Did you get in touch with Valenti?”

Max nodded. “They followed us out here - they’re parked on a side road about half a mile back.”

After the tents were up and the fire was started, they all settled down with a pack of cards and a large bag of marshmallows to roast. As the night wore on, stories were swapped and Maria found herself talked into singing a couple of songs for them. They had fifteen minutes until midnight, when an alarm on Nathan’s watch started to beep. He looked a bit lost for a moment, until he recalled what the alarm was for.

“That’s my cue. I need you guys to stay over here - I’ll be back shortly.”

Without waiting for an answer, he jumped to his feet and jogged to the van, where he pulled out a plastic case and a leather shoulder bag. Striding back to the group, he paused long enough to hand his watch to Isabel.

“I need you to tell me when it’s ten and five minutes to midnight. If I yell out time check, tell me how much time I’ve got left, okay?”

She nodded, bewildered. “I guess so.”

He grinned. “Good lass. Max, at five minutes to midnight, I want you and Mike to kill the fire. I’ve got the gear there to restart it, but it’ll be more effective with it out.”

Max eyed him suspiciously. “What will be more effective?”

“No time to explain.” Nathan turned and walked to the other side of the clearing, where
he placed both packs on the ground and started to dig a series of small holes with the tools he had in them. Working quickly, he placed something in each hole before moving
onto the next one, running some wires between each of them.

“Ten minutes.” Isabel called out from where she was standing. Max moved alongside
Michael and they talked in hushed tones.

“I don’t like this, Michael.”

“What do you want to do about it?”

“Call Valenti on his mobile and tell him to be ready in case something happens. I want
me and you standing between Nathan and the girls, so if anything happens, they have a
chance to get away.”

“You got it.”

Nathan had finished at the fourth hole and moved to the fifth when Isabel called out again.

“Five minutes.”

“Got it.” Nathan replied. “Max, the fire please?”

Max looked across at Michael, who tapped his phone and nodded.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea? I mean, it’s kinda cold here, and...”

Liz came up behind him and took his hand, gazing up into his eyes.

“Max, please? For me?”

He bit his lip for a second, then nodded, and bent down to a pile of dirt sitting next to the
fire site. Within seconds, the fire was out, and the only light they had to see by was that
of the stars overhead, and the pencil-beam of a pocket flashlight Nathan pulled from his
bag. Connecting each wire to a single metal box in his hand, he moved quickly back to
the group with a grin from ear to ear, and one thought on his mind.

“Time check!”

“Ninety seconds to go.” Isabel replied.

“Perfect.” He said, squatting down on the ground with the box in front of him, and
holding in place between his feet.

“Now, what I need you guys to do is gather around Isabel, and give me a countdown from
fifteen seconds out.”

They huddled together, watching the second hand tick around. and the anticipation of
what might happen caused their voices to get louder as they counted.

“Five... four... three... two... one... HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

With a mighty whooshing sound, a pillar of pink flame, like a flare, leapt from the ground in each of the five points where Nathan had been digging. He jumped to his feet and started dancing around like a madman, with his arms high in the air, as the others gazed in astonishment at what he had done. The flares had lit up the entire area, and they burned for almost two full minutes. Then, just as they stopped, Nathan pulled his arm back and punched his fist in the air, as each of them released the last of the pressure in a
thundering boom. The group all ducked their heads as Nathan continued to laugh
uproariously at their reaction. He walked over to each hole, and reeled in the wiring he
had used, before returning to them.

“Woo-hoo-hoo! Yeah, Baby!”

Michael was the first to recover.

“Exactly WHAT the hell was that?” He demanded.

“Ah, c’mon, lighten up a bit. You can’t have New Years without fireworks.” Nathan
said as he slapped Michael playfully on the shoulder. He reached into his pack and pulled
out a small metal cylinder, and tossed it in Michael’s direction, who caught it one-handed.

“These things are what I nicknamed my ground pounders. Totally harmless, and they can
be great for scaring off hostile wildlife if needed.” Nathan chuckled to himself. “Not too
mention, a pretty good poor man’s light show.”

Just then, Michael’s phone started to ring. He passed the cylinder to Max, and went over
towards the cars to answer it. Max held it up to get a better look at it.

“So what’s it made of?”

Nathan shook his head reluctantly. “Sorry Maxie, can’t tell you that, you might get
ideas. Lets just say it’s everyday stuff you can get almost anywhere - well, in theory.
Some of what I used for a base for the mix is different to what I used back home, and
it took me a few attempts to get it right.” He nodded in Liz’s direction. “That’s why I
haven’t been around much this week - if you don’t mix it right, it can combust on its
own, and make a real mess of things in the process.”

“I’d wondered what you were up to. This was that surprise you were talking about,
wasn’t it?” she asked.

He shrugged his shoulders. “Okay, so it ain’t the most exciting thing in the world, but
you have to admit, it was fun.”

“That’s true.”

Nathan shuddered suddenly as a shiver ran through him. He and Max bent down and
worked quickly to clear the fire site, and true to his word, Nathan soon had it blazing
again. Michael rejoined them, mumbling something about a wrong number, but firing
a significant glance in Max’s direction, and Liz and Maria pulled out thermos jugs full
of coffee and hot chocolate for everyone to share. They all shared their thoughts on
personal highs and lows in the previous year, and plans for the future.

It was about 3 am when the girls started to talk about going to bed for the night. Isabel
knew she had to talk to Nathan, and soon, before she lost the courage to say what she
was feeling, so she leaned over and spoke softly in his ear.

“Can we talk in private for a bit?”

He ran his eyes over her face with a hint of a smile tugging at his lips. He nodded slowly
and stood up, stretching his back before picking his pack up off the ground.

“You going somewhere?” Liz said.

“Just for a quick stroll. I need to stretch for a bit before I rack out.”

“Mind if I come?” Isabel inquired, trying to sound innocent but convincing no one.

“Not at all.” He helped Isabel to her feet, and while she pulled her jacket on, he went
over to Max.

“You see that gap in the trees over there?”

“Yeah, why?”

“That’s where we’ll be going. There’s a path for about five hundred feet which opens into another clearing like this one.” He grinned. “Just so you know.”

Max nodded and took his hand in a quick shake. “Thanks for telling me.”

Nathan looked over at Isabel, waiting expectantly. “Right, let’s do this.”

As they headed off, the group could here them laughing as they both tried to push each
other into the bushes at the head of the trail. Liz snuggled up to Max with a sleepy smile
on her face.

“I guess you were worrying about nothing after all.”

“Maybe, but I’m still not going anywhere until they get back.”
Third Time Lucky - my first fic

Second Time Around - the sequel to 3TL