Children of Eden (CC, MATURE) Ch. 30 12/29

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Chione
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 118
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2005 4:25 pm
Location: Wherever the Four Winds blow. . .
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Children of Eden (CC, MATURE) Ch. 30 12/29

Post by Chione » Mon Jan 17, 2005 12:10 am

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Thanks to Anniepoo98 for the gorgeous new banner!

Children of Eden
Author: Chione
Email: andyaloysia@earthlink.net
Category: CC M/L M/M A/I K/Av
Rating: TEEN to MATURE
Spoilers/Episode: Takes place after Cry Your Name, and parts of ITLAITB. Max and Tess have NOT slept together. ::shudder::

Disclaimer: Roswell doesn’t belong to me. Everything else does.

AN: This chapter is just sort of setting the scene. I anticipate this to be long. There’s a lot to cover. I know exactly what I’ve got planned, but then, things never go according to plans. And don’t get all upset at the M/T that is present. It’s necessary and, unfortunately, part of the characters. Whether we like it or not, Tess acted innocent and sweet for most the the second season. (Don’t think she is though. She’s still the evil, conniving bitch we all know and love to hate.)

Round 11:

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Nominated for Best Vision of Antar.

Round 10:
Runner-up for Best Past Lives Storyline!

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for Favorite Science Fiction Story

and

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for Favorite Science Fiction Story!


Chapter One

Philip Evans shut the door of his office behind him, twisting the lock automatically, his feet carrying him to his car on autopilot. He dreaded going home, to the silent dinners and awkward conversations that ruled their house since the death of Isabel and Max’s friend, Alex. Feeling powerless, he wanted to grab them both, shake them, and demand answers. But Max had been pulling away for weeks, and Alex’s sudden death only served to make him withdrawn and aggressive.

He shook his head, opening the car door. There was so much he didn’t understand about his children. He was well aware they had secrets, but that was unacceptable if it was going to tear their family apart.

“Philip.”

He jerked around, keys clattering to the concrete.

“Philip, it’s fine.” A man stepped from the sidewalk, hands in his pockets. His hair was long and dark, pulled tight in a curly ponytail at the nap of his neck.

Philip stood taller. “What-”

“It’s time.”

“Time?”

The man nodded, reaching out into the shadows with an inaudible murmur. As his arm retracted back into the circle of light the street lamp provided, a small child clung to his fingers with taut knuckles. She stared at Philip from dark, amber eyes. Her hair was cut short, and straight, and if it weren’t for her long lashes, Philip would swear she was a boy. The red cheeks and pouting lips would grow to a beautiful young woman, he knew, in time. But at the moment she couldn’t be any older than five.

“Who is she?”

“My youngest sister, Psyche. She goes by Samantha here. Sam.” He pulled her forward, pushing her toward the lawyer in introduction. “I need you to look after her for a while.”

It wasn’t the idea of looking after a child that worried him. The simple fact that this man, who he knew to be a powerful, wealthy man, was asking him to watch over his sister worried him. It’d been so long, why show up now? Philip nodded his acceptance, regardless.

“Good.” The man turned slightly, kneeling to the ground and taking the girl in his arms. “Sam, this is Mr. Evans. He’s gonna be taking care of you for awhile, alright? Be good.”

She murmured something Philip couldn’t hear, her head tucked deeply into her brother’s shoulder. The man stood up, and released his grip on his sister’s hand. Acknowledging Philip with curt nod, he walked back into the shadows and out of sight.

--------------

A sick, wet plop on the cold tiles as red and white swirled on the ground.

She doubled over, fists in her mouth, shrieking.

The scenery spiraled out and suddenly, she clutched her abdomen for another reason, blood pouring over her arms as they pressed against the gaping wound. Cries from the hallway deafened her until all sound seemed to seep from the world and she was left alone.

Cold metal chilled her scalding skin, the warm weight of his body pressing down in the darkened corner. Lean, tanned fingers trailed down her arms, across her breasts, and down to her stomach, pressing slightly against her womb, a teasing grin alight on his face. So many shadows.

The warmth and safety was gone, searing pain and choked sobs wracking her body.

She cradled his body to her chest, ignoring the crusted blood on her clothes and hands. Blank eyes stared over the unnatural bend of his neck, dry and blinking slowly. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”


Liz opened her eyes to the ceiling, sweat dripping from her forehead and chest rasping for breath. Was one night so much to ask? Since Alex’s death, nights spent staring at the sky, wide awake, had become common. Not unexpected, she reasoned. Her best friend was dead. Murdered. But the nightmares. Not all were bad, some left her wanting more, but most just left behind a sense of loneliness, of loss. Of pain.

Was it more alien madness, or just her own inability to deal with the fact that she’d never see him again?

Stop! she told herself. Just stop.

She sat up. “This is getting really weird.”

-----------------------------

Liz watched in amusement as the color drained from Pam Troy’s face, before violently rushing back as she shifted her hips in her chair, crossing her legs at an angle just perfect for riding up her skirt. Liz wasn’t sure she wanted to look to the door, to see whoever had just walked in.

“That certainly isn’t Mrs. Eddings.” she heard the girls whispering.

Finally, she willed herself to glance up, immediately finding herself lost in the memory of a green eyes, and a woman’s strong, smooth voice in a song.

. . .But through the night, my children,
You will go on. . .


A small sound escaped her throat, drawing too much attention to herself. She couldn’t bring herself to care. The man at the front of the classroom, with his eyes, sent chills down her arms and a familiar comfort to her heart.

His voice brought her out of her shock. “Miss Parker, are you alright?” he asked, grinning broadly.

“Oh, um, yes, I’m fine.” she mumbled, ignoring the scorching heat of Max Evan’s stare in her back. It was bad enough he’d thought she was in Sweden, and now to have to face him so soon after their argument was stressful at best.

“Good. Then lets get down to business. My name is Mr. Thompson and I’ll be your teacher for the rest of the year. Mrs. Eddings is out on maternity leave.” He dropped his briefcase by the chair, hopping up to take a seat atop his desk, sending papers scattering to the floor. “Alright then. So why don’t we get to know one another, hm? Lets just go around the room and share a strange fact about yourself. Something not many people know, or something most people wouldn’t expect.” He glanced down at his attendance list. “How about we start with you, Mr. Guerin.”

Micheal sat up in his seat. “What?”

“Tell us something about yourself.”

He snorted. “Don’t you think we’re a little old for this type of stuff?”

“Not at all.” Mr. Thompson said, giving a small smile. Nothing like the all-out one he’d given her, Liz noticed.

“Fine. My name’s Micheal and I live in an apartment.”

“Fair enough.”

Most students were more forthcoming than Micheal, responses ranging from “I have a pet turtle,” to Pam Troy’s “I like older men,” accompanied by a flirtatious wink.

As Tess’s turn came, Liz took a deep breath and let it out. She wasn’t involved in their group anymore. Not if they couldn’t trust her, believe in her. Tess, Max, Micheal and Isabel were nothing more than strangers anymore.

“Well,” the blonde said, smiling and twirling a curl around her fingers, “you know how most girls dream of being a princess? I’ve always thought of myself as more of a queen.” At that, she grinned back at Max, sitting in the desk behind her.

Mr. Thompson raised his brows. “Hm. A queen, huh? I guess I can see that. So, who’s next? Miss Parker? Got any deep, dark secrets to share?” He smiled at her again, not the small, slight one he’d been showing the class but an open smile. Loving. And so familiar it hurt. Tugged on something so deep inside she hadn’t ever thought it’d existed.

She cocked her head, unable to resist returning a smile. “I don’t know. I’ve never really thought of myself as a queen though.” It’d help her relax if Michael, Max and Tess weren’t all gorging holes in her back and head. What did they think she’d say? ‘Oh, well, last year I was shot and healed by Max Evans, my ex-boyfriend the alien. And then I found out about his sister, a princess, and Micheal, a general of some type, and his bride, Tess, who really was a queen.’ Just because they weren’t speaking didn’t mean she would rat them out to a new teacher. She sighed. “I guess the biggest thing most people don’t know about me is that I don’t really want to go to Harvard and become a molecular biologist.”

Mr. Thompson raised an eyebrow. “Really? Those are pretty high goals.”

“Things change.”

“That they do.”

-----------------------------

“Philip, who’s this cutie?”

He sighed, watching his wife pick up the child and smooth her hair. The girl hadn’t said a word all day, chosing to sit quietly and observe the going-ons with a small frown. “This is Psyche. But she goes by Sam. We’re just supposed to look after her until things are ready.”

“Until things are ready.” Diane fixed her stare on her husband. “Philip. . .”

“We don’t have much say in it, alright?” He shook his head. “I agree it’s too soon, but--”

“But nothing! She’s much too young!”

Sam followed their argument carefully. Pursing her lips, she finally spoke, “It’s supposed to be this way. There’s no such thing as too young. Besides, it already happened.”

Diane bit her lip, shaking her head slightly. “I don’t think it’s right, but when has anyone ever followed my advice?”

The front door swung open, the sounds of their children fighting filling the downstairs. Philip glanced at his wife just as Isabel, distraught, raced past the kitchen to the stairwell.

“Isabel! Max! Your father and I have somethings to discuss with you.” Diane called, voice mothering but stern.

“Mom, now’s really not a good time.” Max said, glaring up the stairs. At his side, Tess observed the family with cool, blue eyes.

“No. Now.” Philip stated. “I’m sorry, but your friend is going to have to leave. This is a family matter.”

Sam giggled, stepping from behind Diane to face the teenagers. “Yup. It’s a family matter, Max. That means no blondie.” She wiggled her finger at Tess, a smirk on her five-year-old face.

“Who is this?” Max demanded, eyeing his parents and the strange child. When would his life slow down? Just when he thought things were going well, he and Liz were friends, and he was growing closer to Tess, Alex died. Then the fateful argument over the nature of his death, and suddenly, it was humans versus aliens. And last night, he’d thought Liz was on her way to Sweden, only to find her sitting in her seat in class that morning. He shook his head. What Liz did was no longer his concern. Their friendship ended when she put them at risk with her obsessive investigation. She wasn’t the girl he thought she was.

Tess smiled, not phased at the least by Sam’s comments. “Hi there, sweetie. What’s your name?” she nearly cooed.

“Sam.” she said, crossing her arms, a stoic expression taking over her face. “And don’t call me sweetie. Ever.”

Tess took a step back, startled. The two girls held each other’s gaze for several moments.

Philip coughed. “That’s enough, Sam. Tess, I think you should leave. I’m not trying to be rude, but this is a private matter.”

“Of course, Mr. Evans. I understand perfectly. It’s not rude at all.” Tess turned, and leaned up to kiss Max’s cheek. “Goodnight Max. Sweet dreams.” She shut the door quietly behind her.

The family sat silently in the living room, tension a tangible current between them. Isabel frowned at her brother, who studiously ignored her in favor of staring down his father.

“Max, Isabel.” Diane started, hesitant. “This is Samantha, or just Sam. She’ll be staying with us until her mother comes to get her. She’s an old friend of ours, and needs us to do this for her.”

“Are you going to tell us anymore than that or leave it cryptic?” Max asked, irritated.

Philip stood. “As long as the two of you feel you have to keep secrets from us, we feel the need to keep this cryptic. It’s nothing personal, and it’s not punishment of any sort. We respect your privacy, and until you can fully trust us, we hope you can respect our need for privacy as well.”

Isabel finally looked up from the floor. “Does she have a last name, or are we not allowed to know that either?”

The adults shared a glance. “Her last name? Well--”

Sam cut in. “It’s Parker.”


--------------------------------------
Last edited by Chione on Fri Dec 28, 2007 6:32 pm, edited 62 times in total.

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Chione
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Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2005 4:25 pm
Location: Wherever the Four Winds blow. . .
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Chapter Two

Post by Chione » Wed Jan 19, 2005 9:31 pm

Thanks so much for the responses! :D Love y'all.

So, the question of the regularity of my posting has been raised, and here's the best answer I can give: I will post as regularly as possible. Hopefully once or, at very best, twice a week. But no guarantees, because I'm in the most stressful quarter of my entire school career until March. Then I have all the time in the world. But for now, this story is an escape, which I will use as often as possible. I promise not to keep you hanging to months on end.


Children of Eden
Author: Chione
Email: haderin@earthlink.net
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: TEENto MATURE
Spoilers/Episode: Takes place after Cry Your Name, and parts of ITLAITB. Max and Tess have NOT slept together. All that occurred at the Observatory that night was heavy make-out. ::shudder::

Disclaimer: Roswell doesn’t belong to me. Everything else does.


Chapter Two

Liz shivered. Her room seemed unnaturally cold, though the window was shut and the outside air lacked the usual nighttime chill. It was earlier than she normally went to bed, but all day her energy had been nonexistent, and it took every last bit she had to stand.

What was wrong with her? She had too many things to do, she couldn’t get sick!

She shook her head clear of those thoughts. She didn’t need to stand to accomplish this task. Sprawling on her bed, she reached for the phone and dialed. This was it.

“Hello?”

“Derek? This is Liz.” she paused, taking a deep breath. Not the time to lose it, Parker. “So, what did you find?”

“Well, it seems those emails were sent from Las Cruces. From the university, actually. One of the dorms.” the voice from the other end answered, giving sound to her greatest fears. “May I ask why you asked me to do this? I know you wouldn’t tell me before but--”

“Actually, it’s really not that big, Derek. I was just curious, is all. I didn’t know it was even possible to track emails like that. Thanks so much.” She ended the conversation quickly, jotting down only the essentials. Without hesitation, she leap from the bed, energy renewed, and packed a small overnight bag. Hopefully, it wouldn’t take more than a day to get there, find what she was looking for, and get back out.

Running a hand through her hair, she went over a checklist in her head. “I’m gonna need a car.”

Her first instinct told her to go to Max. But logic ruled. Going to Max would be as helpful as sawing off her own feet. What she needed right now was a friend, not a king. Especially not one who swore they would always be friends, only to abandon her when she needed him the most.

Stop. Just stop, she thought, forcing any and all Max-related wanderings from her mind. Solve this first, everything else could go to hell afterwards, and she’d deal, but until she figured out the truth behind Alex’s death, it would be her sole focus. It had to be. Otherwise she’d lose it.

So the Jeep was out. Which left Maria.

But as her legs crossed the lawn of her friend’s home, she realized the Jetta was not parked anywhere in sight. And Maria wasn’t exactly happy with her at the moment, she was still so upset about Alex’s death that the mention of it being murder sent her into hysterics.

Having spent enough time around Isabel, she was dressed in tight, black jeans and a black, curve-fitting tank top. She wore her leather jacket on top, to keep out the chills from earlier. Finally, to keep her hair out of the way, she’d braided it back snugly; ponytails moved too much.

A quick glance in the mirror before she’d left her room raised the questions in her mind once more. She’d seen it, a brief flash, in which her reflection wore a similar outfit, with shorter, cropped hair and dark, brooding eyes. Had the future really been averted?

She’d planned on going to Las Cruces right then. Dark clothing, boots, gloves, everything she needed to get away with sneaking around a college campus in the middle of the night. But not all the determination in the universe would get her to Las Cruces without a car.

Great, now what, Parker?

“Parker?”

She whipped around. “Sean!”

“What are you doing here at,” he glanced at his watch, “ten o’clock?”

She had to get to Las Cruces. Alex died for whatever this was. Deep breath, “Sean, I’m really, really sorry about getting you in trouble. I never meant for you to come with me to the school. But please, I need your help again.” She held up her hands, pleading, “Nothing illegal, I promise. And nowhere near the school. I just--I just need you to drive me somewhere.”

He sighed, eyeing her wearily. “Where?”

She bit her lip. “Las Cruces.”

“Alright, lets go. But you owe me, Parker.”

------------------------

Philip tilted his head at the girl, gaze reprimanding. “Sam--”

“Parker? As in Liz?” Max choked on the name, startled. He met Sam’s eyes across the room, realizing how similar they were to Liz’s own. How could he have missed the resemblance? Who was she?

“Max. Her last name isn’t Parker.” Philip assured him, glaring over at the child.

Diane cut in, “Philip.”

“No. It isn’t Parker.”

“Stop!” Sam yelled, rising from her seat and stomping her sneakered feet on the carpet. “My name is Parker! Samantha Parker! It is! It is!” By the time she’d finished shouting, tears were pouring from her eyes, and her tiny shoulders shook, fists clinched at the end of stiff, tightly drawn arms. Sniffling, she growled out an excuse and raced from the room. Philip had shown her the guest room last night, and she knew exactly how far it was from the living room.

Once she reached the safety of the hall, her tears vanished, and she pounded the floor the last few steps to the doorway of her new room. After a moment of silence, she slipped off her shoes and tiptoed back to the entrance way of the living room. Crouching low, she narrowed her eyes and listened.

“Dad? Mom? Is she really related to Liz?” Isabel.

A sigh. Female, Sam reasoned. Diane. “Isabel, please. How could she be related to Liz? The Parkers only have one child, and Liz is much to young to have a five year old.”

“She looks just like her.” Max.

“Just drop it. She’s having to deal with a lot right now, Sam is, I mean. Don’t push her, and try and be nice.” Philip paused, and Sam waited. There was shuffling. “You’re our children, and we love you. Nothing and no one can replace you. But Sam is important to us too. You’ll see why, someday. Please don’t ask us to chose, because you are our children and our loyalties lie with you first and foremost. But we can’t betray Sam like that. Nor her mother. Give us time, and you’ll understand what this is about one day.”

“We do love you. That’s why we’re trying to be as honest as possible here. Please don’t resent us.” More shuffling, and sniffles, and Sam decided that was all she needed to hear for now. Silently, she crept back to her room, and crawled in bed.

-------------------------

“You gonna tell me why we’re here, or am I gonna have to guess?”

“Guess.” Liz didn’t want to answer his questions. She didn’t want to deal with his curiosity or his hovering, but he was her transportation. The halls were dark, and empty; his voice echoed too far. They couldn’t get caught sneaking into the dorms in the middle of the night. Thankfully, it wasn’t half as challenging as breaking into the high school. “Just ssshh!”

He raised his eyebrows. “Right, okay.”

This was the room. The door was slightly ajar, and as she pushed it open further, she realized why. It was empty. Obviously, whoever stayed in this room for the semester was gone, and so was everything else.

Damn! A dead end!

Still, she scoured the dorm, opening cabinets, closets, behind doors, everywhere. There had to be something of Alex, some clue!

“Excuse me, but you aren’t supposed to be in here.”

Sean and Liz whirled around in unison. She jumped forward, mouth rushing to catch up with her mind. “We’re just here to see if my brother left anything while he was staying here. I’m sorry. It’s kind of important, and I know it’s late, but I just really wanted to see if there was any clue as to where he’s gone. He--he disappeared, you see, and I have to find him.”

“Ray’s your brother?” The guy was a typical college student, dressed in baggy sweatpants and a tank top, rumbled from sleep. “Man, no offense, but he was one seriously messed up dude.”

“None taken. He just--” she ran back over his words, “Wait, what was so weird with him? Was there anything unusual?”

“Unusual? About Ray? Just about everything. He never left this room. The only time anyone saw him was when they delivered his Thai food; breakfast, lunch and dinner. Food fetish, if you ask me. But seriously, the only time I ever saw him outta here was really late one night, and we were like, the only two on campus, and not even five feet apart, and just--oblivious. Didn’t acknowledge my presence in the slightest.” He seemed to shrug. “Weird guy. Sorry I can’t be of more help.”

Liz wanted to scream. What would drive Alex to do this? What on Earth or any other planet had happened to him?

She back pedaled, desperate. She scrunched her eyes. “Okay, um, do you remember what he was doing out so late? I mean, what building was he in or, where was he going?”

“He’d been in the Litvach building. It’s got this, I dunno, this supercomputer or somethin’. But like I said, I dunno much about it, I’m not really into that kinda thing.”

She nodded, absently. “Thanks. I really appreciate your help.”

“Hey, no problem. Hope you find your brother.” The guy nodded at her, swept his eyes up and down her body, then backed out the door.

Sean swore. “Okay, Parker. Enough of this shit. What the hell is going on?”

“Sean, please--”

“Not this time. Look, whatever you’re messed up in, trust me, it can’t be as bad as some of the things I’ve been involved with. Just trust me.” He gripped her arms, not harshly, not gently. “What’s going on?”

She took a deep breath. So close to finishing this, nothing, not Sean DeLuca and not Max Evans, was going to stop her. “Sean.” she emphasized, removing his hands resolutely. “Sean, listen to me. You help me now, and I explain later. There’s no time. I have to get in that building, to that supercomputer. Now.”

“Are you nuts? If we get caught, it won’t be a slap on the wrist, it’ll be jail!”

“I know that!” she hissed, tears pricking her eyes. She wiped them furiously, resisting the urge to collapse. Where had all her energy gone? Finding out Alex had been in Las Cruces had given her a buzz, a rush and now, suddenly as it had come, it was gone. The world swayed, then righted itself once more. Collecting herself, she continued, “Sean, this is more important that you can imagine. Please, just, you don’t even have to come with me! Just let me do this, and I swear to you, I’ll answer every question you have! Please, I have to do this!”

He gazed at her for a moment, nodded briskly, and dragged her out of the dorms. They were almost to the doors leading to the quad when Liz jerked away, immediately zooming in on the campus map posted on the bulletin board. Trailing a finger down the key, she found what she was looking for and headed for the doors, Sean following, resigned.

“Okay, so you help me get in, then stay outside while I go in and see what I can find--”

“No way in hell, Parker. I go in too.”

She forced her lips together, glaring. “Fine. I don’t have time to argue.”

The building they were looking for was easily spotted, having obviously been built only recently; its modern architecture and clean walls speaking for themselves.

Sean cursed. “Liz, look, they’ve got this place rigged. There’s no way we’ll get in without setting off their alarms.”

“We have to!”

He took her shoulders in his grip, shaking violently. “This has gone too far! There’s no way we can get in! Just take a deep breath, and we’ll come in the morning, when it’s open.”

She ignored him, staring past into the night. Willing the answers to materialize before her.

“Andy, he’s gone, stop! Stop doing this to yourself!” Masculine hands held her shoulders firm, choking on the words but stern.

She wished she had the answers.


When her vision cleared, a tall, blonde figure stood just beyond Sean’s shoulder, her back turned to board the bus. Liz pulled back from her companion, shouting for the bus to wait.

She knew that blonde hair. As the woman stepped on the bus, tossing a casual glance over her shoulder, she’d known without doubt. Leanna. The girl Alex had been in Sweden, but apparently had met right here in New Mexico.

They’d kill her if they found out. Michael and Max and Isabel. She knew she should’ve reached for the nearest phone and called them. It wasn’t safe. Not with aliens and killers and whatever had happened to Alex. She was chasing after the only clue she had, a woman who very possibly wasn’t human, and Liz had no defenses except her best friend’s cousin.

The bus door closed behind them, Sean having lunged the last few steps to make it on. Too late now.

“Parker, what the hell--” She put her hand over his mouth, narrowing her eyes. Releasing him, but keeping her gaze tied to his, she took a seat, hoping to look anything but suspicious. Sean followed suit, reluctantly, but obediently. They sat in tense silence, her forehead pressed to the window, keeping watch on their surroundings. It could easily be an elaborate trap. Not that she’d have any recourse if it was.

It wasn’t until the bus rolled to a stop miles outside Las Cruces that the blonde Liz examined began to shift in her seat, gathering her bag. As the brakes squealed their arrival at the next drop off, Leanna stood, gracefully. Aside from Leanna, the bus was empty.

Liz checked her watch. Four thirty in the morning. Her parents would freak. She didn’t care.

She rose from her seat, motioning the stiff teen beside her to trail behind. They stepped out into the desert night, cool and windy, nothing but piles of scrap metal and sparse brush to greet them. Leanna’s dark form was already moving from sight into the shadows.

“Look, follow me, or don’t. But either way, shut up, stay back, and do as I say.” she growled, nervously flitting her gaze back to the disappeared figure. She couldn’t let her get away now. Twirling, she held up her chin and stalked forward, careful to keep her footsteps light. Wherever Leanna went, she would go, and she would get her answers.

At whatever the cost.

She wouldn’t fail him again.

The light from the bus stop had long faded by the time Leanna came to her destination: a small, rundown shack. Liz supposed it might’ve been a house, once. Just outside the building parked a small, sleek, blue car.

Leanna entered the house, disappearing briefly before returning to the car with a box under one arm. Liz held her breath as the blonde placed the box in the trunk, praying the answers to her questions weren’t in there. She wanted this solved. Now.

Leanna glanced around then, satisfied that no one had seen her, she drove off, dust clouding her wake. Liz crept from behind a scrap pile, shielding her eyes until the dust and sand settled. Sean stepped up behind her, body nearly vibrating with curiosity and irritation, but he kept quiet, instead brushing dirt from his jeans.

“Shall we?” he motioned to the house. It looked like it had been gutted, window panes broken and peeling, and the windows themselves dusty or shattered. Plastic sheets hung like curtains in the doorway, and inner halls. Liz explored, allowing her feet to move of their own accord. Catching the shape of something dark behind the plastic, she pushed it aside. Glass crunched under her boots.

Across the room, hovering above an expensive computer setup, was a small, red pyramid, the top section a rapidly flashing light. Her eyes widened, the tingling at the base of her spine sharpening, turning painful. Something bad. . .

“Sean! Run!” she screamed, spinning on the balls of her feet, back the way she came. Sprinting, tearing through the plastic and scattered glass. “Sean!” her voice cracked, stretching to fill the silence.

The air exploded, Liz’s world blazing fire, her legs crumbling as she fell to the ground.

------------------------

At five in the morning, Max jolted awake, legs swinging over the side of his bed in a fluid, automatic motion. In the darkness of his bedroom, his amber eyes glowed and a hand clutched at his chest.

“Liz.”

User avatar
Chione
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 118
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2005 4:25 pm
Location: Wherever the Four Winds blow. . .
Contact:

Chapter Three

Post by Chione » Mon Jan 24, 2005 9:18 pm

Hey! Thanks for all the wonderful resonses! Makes my day. :D

Here's the next part! It might seem like this story is starting off quickly, but don't worry, it's only just begun. Things are about to get complicated. :wink:

I meant for this to be longer, but it was taking me too long, and I wanted to get this out, so I cut it a little short. Enjoy!

Children of Eden
Author: Chione
Email: haderin@earthlink.net
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: TEEN to MATURE
Spoilers/Episode: Takes place after Cry Your Name, and parts of ITLAITB. Max and Tess have NOT slept together. All that occurred at the Observatory that night was heavy make-out. ::shudder::

Disclaimer: Roswell doesn’t belong to me. Everything else does.


Maria closed the door softly, whispering a quick plea to some deity that her mother was asleep. A lecture was exactly what she didn’t need. Her mom had already warned her about being with Michael all night, and every time they were caught were the times they weren’t doing anything wrong.

Thinking of Michael made her spirits lift just a little. After Alex’s death, Michael had been really helpful. Nice, almost. Holding her, letting her cry, listening to her babble about her and Liz and Alex as kids, and being there for her while her remaining best friend wrapped herself in the insanity of the alien abyss. Just thinking the word ‘murdered’ made her skin crawl.

As she twisted back around to find her room, her mother’s pursed lips made her sink low. “Mom--”

“Maria,” her hips shifted, and Maria knew instantly she was in trouble. “Liz came by several hours ago. She left, with Sean.”

Logically, Maria knew Liz and Sean had been hanging out recently. In all honesty, it didn’t bother her as much as she thought it would, as long as he kept Max off her best friend’s mind. She glanced at the clock, eyes narrowed dangerously. 5:05 am. Going bowling, fine. Spending the night? Not fine. Not with her delinquent cousin.

“They’re not back yet?” she demanded, shrill.

“No. And Sean isn’t answering his cell phone. I’ve been calling for an hour.” Mrs. DeLuca started pacing, hands wringing behind her back. “God, Maria, what if there has been an accident? What if she gets pregnant?”

“Mom!” Maria shouted, “They’re not sleeping together, okay? I have no idea where they are, but I promise you, they’re not doing that!”

Only one good thing came from her mother’s worry, Maria realized the next morning as she entered the doors of school. She’d never even noticed how late her daughter had been out. Still, Liz would get an earful when Maria found her. Getting her mind off Max was one thing, but did she have to do it with Sean? And since when did Liz Parker stay out past midnight, on a school night?

Since never.

Following her initial gut reaction, she walked up to Michael in the history classroom. He was lounging in his seat, preparing to nap, she supposed, and she plopped down on his desk, legs crossed. “Liz is missing.” she paused, then amended that statement. “I think.”

“You think?” He leant forward, eyes flashing angrily. “Maria, she’s taking this whole investigation too far. And now you think she’s missing?”

“I don’t know, alright? When I got home this morning, she and Sean were gone. Mom said they’d been gone all night, and Liz isn’t here now. She doesn’t miss school. Not even when she’s sick. Michael, I know my best friend. We may be fighting right now, but something’s wrong.” she hissed, fear making her eyes tear up. “I can’t lose my other best friend, Michael. I won’t survive it.”

He took her hand, eyes softening briefly. “Maria, do you have any idea where she might’ve gone?”

She shook her head, mute.

“Then there’s nothing we can do for now. Hey, you’ve got me sounding like Max.” He smirked, lightly, hoping to get her to calm. “Look, we’ll find her. She’s smart. After school, we’ll get Max and Isabel, and try and see what we can find, alright?”

She nodded, sniffling. “Okay. Thanks Michael.” She attempted a smile.

Mr. Thompson walked in the room, motioning for silence as he set down his briefcase. Dark circles marred the skin beneath his eyes, and he rubbed the back of his neck with an apologetic expression for the class. “Good morning. I hope you’ve had a better one than me. So, lets just skip the roll call, yes? Is everyone here?”

“Liz Parker isn’t.” Tess said, looking their teacher in the eye.

He raised an eyebrow. “She isn’t? Hm. She must be sick.”

Max sat a little straighter in his seat, brow furrowed. His knee was burning and since his wake-up call at 5 am, he hadn’t been able to get back to sleep. Now Liz wasn’t in school. Had something really happened to her? He’d thought it was only a dream, but--

His knee throbbed, and he cursed quietly. The pain was agonizing, and his chest felt like a well-used scratching post. What was wrong with him?

The rest of the class passed by too fast for Max, he wasn’t ready to stand again. Every minute made his leg screech with pain.

For Maria, it passed too slowly. She bounced in her seat, eyes ticking away the seconds until she could find Liz and chew her out. Liz was going to pay for making her worry so much!

As the bell for class change rang, Max sucked in his breath and settled as much weight as he could on his bad knee. He just had to make it to his locker, and then to the Jeep. Class could wait. Liz was missing, and he’d known something was wrong, and he’d ignored it. She could be dead, because he hadn’t wanted to believe he could still feel her. Would they forever be bound by this connection? In the middle of the night, after all their terrible fights, he’d woken up, feeling Liz in the back of his mind, more acutely than he’d felt her in months. Since she’d been with Kyle.

But he hadn’t just felt Liz. He’d felt Liz’s pain and ignored it because he was hurt and angry. He had to find her. Make it up to her.

He brushed his hair back with hand, reaching down to twist the lock for his locker. The only problem with his plan, he realized as he set his history book down on the pile already there, that he had no idea where to start looking. She obviously wasn’t waiting at the Crashdown with an explanation.

A small, folded sheet of notebook paper fell from the bottom of his locker and he frowned, picking it up. As he opened it, he nearly choked on his heart, rising in his throat.

A single sentence.

You will find her in the Pod Chamber.

The breath he’d been taking in vanished from his lungs. Nothing in his mind questioned who the words meant. Liz.

He glanced at the note once more, eyes trailing the hallways for another member of the Pod Squad. Anyone. He had a bad feeling, and they needed the whole group. Whatever it was, Liz needed help, fast.

--------------

“Maxwell, what the hell is this about?” Michael demanded, following Max’s path up the rocky summit to the entrance of the pod chamber. The other climbed behind them, all in varying states of irritation.

“Liz is here.”

“Liz? What about Sean? How did she get here? Why?” Maria leapt forward, hands flinging about.

Max ignored her, pressing his hand against the rock, the door appearing. He turned, slightly, to answer. “Yes, Liz. I don’t know about Sean, and I don’t particularly care. I got a note in my locker saying she was here.” He pulled the paper from his pocket, tossing it to Maria. “That’s all I know.” And with that, he stepped inside, the rest close behind.

Liz’s body lay, spread like a battered cross upon the ground. She wore a leather jacket, and a pair of jeans that were shredded, stained with blood. What little they could see of her shirt underneath was in tatters, sticking to the skin and stiff with dried blood. Her left knee was bent at a sick angle, and Max realized, finally, why his own knee was killing him.

Maria fell to her knees, retching between sobs. “Liz! Oh my god, Liz!”

“Max, heal her.” Kyle ordered, choking back a cry. “Damn it Evans, don’t just stand there! Heal her!”

Max blinked, once, then took off, racing to her side and kneeling in one smooth motion. His hand found its way to her stomach, and he pressed down, concentrating, wincing at the flakes of blood under his palm. She was unconscious, he couldn’t see her eyes, but it had to work. There was nothing he wouldn’t give to heal her. All his anger over her accusations, her willingness to give up their friendship for this investigation, was beaten back by the sight of her blood staining the ground around her. Her betrayal, he’d forgive her anything if she’d just open her eyes!

But even as the glow of his hand washed over her body, the sinking in his stomach told him it wouldn’t work. None of her injuries were healing. Desperately, he pulled at their connection, at everything inside of him that was alien, forcing it forward. Why wasn’t she healing?

“Oh, god!” Maria’s voice sobbed in the distance, sounding much too far away to Max.

Isabel covered her mouth with a hand, eyebrows arched up in fear and sorrow. Liz was hurt. Somehow, she knew it was their fault. And Max couldn’t heal her. Even she could tell, just from watching the glow of her brother’s hands and the lack of effect they were having. There wasn’t anything natural, normal about her injuries.

How many more people would die because of them? she wanted the shout.

“Max,” she called, weakly, “Max, it isn’t working. We--we should try something else.”

Max rocked back on his heels, tears gathered in his eyes. “What else is there, Iz?” He stared blankly at his hands. “I can’t-I can’t heal her.” he whispered.

Michael pushed past Isabel, moving deeper into the cave. Reaching through what was left of the pods, he pulled his arm back. In his hands, he held a small, brown bag. He lifted it for the others to see. “The healing stones.”

He didn’t like seeing Liz in this condition any more than the rest of them. Although he knew some of his concern stemmed from the knowledge that Maria was right; she wouldn’t survive losing her other best friend. It was only after Alex’s death that he’d seen how fragile Maria--humans, really--could be. He didn’t like it. Their relationship might’ve been hell recently, but that didn’t mean he cared any less. It’d take more than stampeding elephants to drag it from him though.

Shaking the stones into his palm, he distributed them to all but Kyle. Seeing the jock’s glare, he shrugged. “It’ll be stronger with all of us aliens.”

Max nodded, stepped back out into the circle as the others took their places.

Maria stood on shaky legs, gulping at the sight of Liz’s form; her hands trembled as she clutched the stone to her chest. “Let’s just get this over with.” she whispered. Sean was far from her favorite person, but where was he? And Liz, she looked so small, fragile. Was it natural to be that pale? Had she lost too much blood? What if this didn’t work?

“Right. Everyone, just focus on Liz. Think about what you know of her.” Let’s hope this works, Max added silently.

Kyle watched from the sidelines as the five stones began to glow.

--------------------------

. . .As we well know,
Our end is very near. . .

The shadows hid all in the tiny room save a small square of light from beneath the doorway. There was no sound apart from the steady clak-clak of the marching soldiers outside the walls. She lay on her side in the back corner, avoiding the thin puddle of water from the bottle she’d knocked over in her haste to reach the safety boxed in by the walls. Her knees were crunched to her chest, nearly cracking her already bruised ribs. If only she could vanish. Melt into the floor and be gone.

Her eyes, the only bright color in the room, a vibrant emerald, gazed at the door, frightened. Only one person ever walked through that door, the one person she never wanted to see. If only her mother would come. She’d make everything better. That’s what mommy’s did. Father’s hurt, mother’s protect.

But her mother was dead. A swirl of red and white on the floor.

. . .And so I ask you,
If all we’ve got is just this little while
Here and now, everyone of us
Reconcile. . .

She stumbled through the narrow pathway, hand clutching her middle despite the sting of her salty skin on an open wound. There was little time left, and pain played no role in her plans.

Plans. She snorted, bitter. She never had plans.

Next time. Maybe next time.

The soft glow the the circular room warmed her, a welcome relief. Knowing she’d lost too much blood, the brief warmth was her only comfort. It was likely she’d never be warm again.

Not the time, Andy. Not yet.

She reached under her shirt, pulling out the one thing she’d managed to keep. A small, dangling necklace of spun silver, and shining amber. The stone too tiny, perfectly cut to attract unwanted attention. That’s how she wanted it. They’d never be able to find it, much less use it without her presence. It would be safe, if only for a little while.

. . .We hold the promise of the Earth in our hands. . .


Liz blinked up at the light. There was no ceiling, just an eternity of endless columns of stone stretching up and up. Rows and rows of them, leading off into distant shadows.

Where was she? Not on Earth. Not anywhere she’d ever been.

There were whispers, warm thoughts and feelings and comfort. It didn’t help. The hall was too empty, lonely. Her feet shifted, and she pushed back the urge to dash away.

“Liz!” Maria’s voice startled her from her thoughts. Suddenly, she wasn’t alone anymore. Circling her in a familiar pattern, Maria, Michael, Isabel, Max and Tess stood at evenly spaced intervals. Watching her. Smiling at her.

“Maria? Where are we? What’s going on?” she asked, whirling around to see them all. When was the last time they’d stood together like this? Really together.

“You tell us. We found you at the pod chamber, the shit beat out of you. We’re using the healing stones.” Michael said, eyeing their surroundings. “At least, I think we are. I’ve never seen this place before though. Last time we were in the desert.”

Isabel stepped forward, walking on a predetermined line to face Liz. Taking her hand, she pulled Liz into a quick hug. “Come back to us, Liz. We can’t lose anyone else.” Squeezing her hand, Isabel turned and walked back from where she’d started. Liz nodded to her.

A hand on her shoulder brought her back around. Michael peered down at her, brows furrowed. “You worried the hell outta Maria. Don’t. Just come back, okay?” He too hugged her, stiffly, and nodded. She thanked him silently. She remembered now. The explosion. No wonder Maria was worried. She should be dead.

Maria ran over to her friend once Michael stepped back. “Oh Liz!” She knocked her over, arms snaking around her neck in an attempt to both squeeze the life from and into Liz. “Don’t ever scare me like that again,” she cried, “I can’t do this without you. Not after Alex. I can’t, please just get better and wake up!”

Liz put a hand on Maria’s back, murmuring softly in her ear. “Shh. Maria, I’ll be fine. You guys are taking care of that. I promise I won’t do this again. I don’t know why, I just--” she cut herself off, not sure how to finish that thought. Instead she patted Maria on the back, and released her. “Thanks Maria. I know I’ve been horrible recently but it’s over. I swear, it’s over.”

Tess was next, and she didn’t want to talk to her. Not after prom, and not ever again. Why had Tess been one of the ones to hold a stone? Why not someone who actually gave a damn? As the blonde approached, she stood taller. “Tess.”

“Liz.” Tess smirked slightly, “I’m not going to tell you I particularly miss you or am worried for you. I’m not. But I’ll do what I have to do.” She nodded back, curls bouncing, and took her place around the circle once more.

Max’s approach was slower. His hands were buried in his pockets, a stern expression on his face despite his eyes, soft, molten gold. “Liz, you scared us all. I couldn’t heal you.” He reached for her, pulling her up against his chest. “Please come back. We’ll work everything out, I promise. Just come back and don’t ever do anything this stupid again. Whatever happened, we’ll figure things out.”

There wasn’t time for him to step back before the world dispelled in a flash of light.

. . .We cannot know what will occur
Just make our journey worth the taking
And pray we’re wiser than we were. . .

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Chapter Three Part Two

Post by Chione » Wed Jan 26, 2005 9:55 pm

This is the second part of the last chapter, I just didn't have time to post it with the rest, though I did say it was unfinished. Well, here's the rest. Thanks so much for all the feedback! Makes me smile! :D

Previously

Max’s approach was slower. His hands were buried in his pockets, a stern expression on his face despite his eyes, soft, molten gold. “Liz, you scared us all. I couldn’t heal you.” He reached for her, pulling her up against his chest. “Please come back. We’ll work everything out, I promise. Just come back and don’t ever do anything this stupid again. Whatever happened, we’ll figure things out.”

There wasn’t time for him to step back before the world dispelled in a flash of light.

. . .We cannot know what will occur
Just make our journey worth the taking
And pray we’re wiser than we were. . .



Chapter Three, Part Two:

Liz awoke with the knowledge that a tiny pebble, normally insignificant, was digging in her spine at just the right angle to be irritating. But as she met the gazes hovering above, worry in the men’s, tears in the women’s, she realized how lucky it was that a small discomfort was all she felt.

She sat up, reaching for her stomach in wonder. There’d been pain, she remembered, and it was gone.

“So, are you gonna tell us what happened or are we have to guess it had something to do with your recent obsession and move on?” Michael asked, putting space between himself and the huddled group. He crossed his arms, pinning her with a glare, demanding an answer. She was okay, now was the time for explanations.

Max leaned back, sliding down to sit on the dirt. He shook his head at Michael, turning his own amber stare to Liz. “This has to stop. Maybe Alex was killed by an alien--maybe--but don’t you think that makes this all the more dangerous for you? Do you think Alex would’ve wanted you to--”

“Don’t pull that ‘Alex would want’ crap on me, Max.” Liz snapped. Couldn’t they give her a minute? Hadn’t she been dying moments ago? Lost in some strange world with columns and red and white swirls? Her mind wasn’t in the best state for the inevitable interrogation.

“What? Don’t say that Alex wouldn’t have wanted his best friend getting herself killed for his sake? Because it’s true! I may not have been that close to Alex, but he sure as hell wouldn’t have been happy to see you just a few minutes ago. You were dying, Liz! How could you’ve been so stupid?” Max’s voice was hard, brushing off the warning looks Maria shot him.

“Oh, so now I got myself blown up on purpose? I didn’t walk in there knowing it was dangerous! The house was empty, Max, no alien in sight!” She smiled at him, eyebrows drawn down in a sarcastic sneer. She couldn’t breathe. They were too close. Too focused on her. Couldn’t they let up just to let her catch her thoughts? “Besides, it’s not like I had a lot of help. The only person who gave a damn about me the past few weeks was Sean! Don’t say I didn’t try to come to you with this because I did, and what did I get for it? I got alienated, yelled at and pushed about!”

“You accused us of killing Alex, forgive us for defending ourselves!” Isabel interjected.

“I never accused you of that. Any of you. And if I did, that wasn’t my intent. But Alex did not kill himself and there are too many things for it to have been an accident.” Liz was trying. She felt like she was drowning.

“What things? Concert tickets don’t prove anything.” Tess. Giving an innocent toss of her hair, a soft, mocking smile.

“Not concert tickets. Alex never went to Sweden.” Deep breaths, Liz, she reminded herself. Why was it always her who was explaining her actions?

“What? Of course he did. That study abroad program. He had a host family, and there are pictures!” Maria leapt to her feet, pacing furiously, rattling off everything Alex told them about Sweden. She’d forgotten her cedar oil.

“Alex never stayed with the Olsens. In fact, I doubt the Olsens exist. I called the numbers, and checked with the exchange program. The pictures are fake too. There’s a picture of Alex and Leanna standing in front of a building that was torn down in 1994. And I got Derek--”

“The computer dork?” Maria asked.

“Yeah. I asked Derek to trace the emails Alex supposedly sent from Sweden. Only, it turns out Alex never even left New Mexico. The emails were sent from a dorm room at the University in Las Cruces.” The tingling at the base of her spine returned. The one that warned her of the bomb, or explosive or whatever that red thing had been. Only this time, Liz had no idea where the danger was coming from. Was she paranoid now? Or imagining things?

Pale blue eyes caught Liz’s from meters away.

No, the brunette decided, she wasn’t being paranoid.

-----------------------------

The house was dark as Max pulled in the driveway. He knew it was late, they’d spent all afternoon at the cave. Arguing mostly. It seemed like nothing would be settled.

He turned off the ignition, leaning back in his seat. The silence was welcome. Isabel had decided to ride with Michael, Maria, and Liz, and he’d dropped Tess and Kyle off earlier. Facing the knowledge that he’d almost lost her permanentaly shook him; it wasn’t something he wanted to deal with around others. Couldn’t he just curl up and cry? Have his mother comfort him?

No. Those thoughts wouldn’t get him anywhere.

Liz almost died. Deal with it.

God, when had everything gotten so out of control? What happened the Max Evans who needed to step out from behind his tree? Things had been going so well with Liz, and then Pierce, and then the summer. But they’d gotten past that. Or he thought they had. Until he saw her in bed with--

No.

He shook his head, violently. He could get past this. He could think it, if not say it.

Until Liz slept with Kyle. They did not make love no matter what Liz called it. He may not know her as well as he thought, but he still knew her. She didn’t love Kyle.

Everything was a downward spiral from that night. Whirlpool, really. So fast. Things had happened so fast. Would he be prepared next time? Could he defend them against an enemy that kept Alex from them for months, without their knowledge?

The front door was unlocked, and he latched it shut behind him, making his way through the darkened house. Hopefully no questions would be asked by his parents, but if they were curious he could always use their own secret-keeping as a trump card. They seemed too reluctant to share whatever it was they were hiding. And that little girl--

He paused, a tugging in his mind warning of company. There was breathing, in the living room. Steady clump-clumping.

He peered around the wall, eyes narrowing at the dark. Thank god for his alien senses.

“What are you doing up?” he asked, softly. No need to wake his parents. Maybe he could get answers from her on his own. His family’s new ward sat huddled on the couch, barefeet tucked underneath her as she shivered and cried.

“Go away.”

“This is my home.” He lifted an eyebrow. “Is everything alright? I’m not an enemy, Sam.”

She buried her head in her arms, mumbling.

Max took tentative paces into the room, stooping to her level to stare at her eyes. Something about them was so comforting. He could swear they were Liz’s eyes, if he phased out the child’s slightly bolder chin and curly hair.

His hand brushed her shoulder, and all the fear he’d ever felt with in the white room paled at the fright that flooded his veins.

The girl was terrified.

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Post by Chione » Sun Jan 30, 2005 1:28 pm

:D So, here's chapter four. Enjoy, and don't kill me. Things have to get worse before they get better. I know our gang isn't quite acting normal--for them, anyway,--but they have their reasons.

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback! We'll see if some of your theories are correct. :twisted: Or not. . .

What, indeed, happened to Sean? Hmm. . .

Chapter Four

“Why are you so scared?” Max breathed, falling back against the coffee table. He peeked at her through his bangs, hands clutching hers to comfort them both. “What are you so afraid of?”

Sam gazed at their intertwined hands, blinking back tears and flexing her fingers in his grasp. They were so real, she marveled. Solid. They felt real too. His hands were touching hers, not just passing through as she’d always imagined they would.

But that wasn’t forever. “What makes you think I’m afraid of anything?” she demanded, stern.

“You’re trembling.”

“Am not!” She was.

He stared, willing her to trust him. He needed someone to protect, to comfort. Liz wouldn’t let him and he didn’t think he would let himself. Too much had been lost between them. He didn’t trust her.

“Look,” she began, “don’t ask me to be someone I’m not! I’m not like Crystal!” With that, Sam jerked her hands back, taking off down the hall, a tight fist shoved in her mouth.

-------------------------------

Liz shuffled through her locker, absentmindedly. She could feel Max’s presence near, hoping he would ignore her if he thought she was focused on something else. Or at least hoping to avoid a confrontation. It would be hard enough to sit by him during Biology, but in the classroom there was a crowd and no time for conversations.

She risked a glance over her shoulder, knowing the moment the dark-haired boy passed. Her stomach fell at the sight of a small, blonde head beside him. Turning back to close her locker, she grimaced, patting herself on the back all the while. It’s what she wanted, after all. Max and Tess. Tess and Max. Following destiny, completing the four square, breaking her heart in one gift-wrapped package.

The confrontation was inevitable. But she would make it as later as opposed to sooner. If only she could get to Biology without incident, she’d be safe in the classroom. Surrounded by classmates.

Seconds before the bell rang, she dropped on her seat beside Max, still her lab partner. His gaze brushed her profile, and she studiously ignored him. It was bad enough the entire group was meeting after school to discuss what happened to her. She knew her actions were stupid. That didn’t mean she’d ever admit that in front of Max, however.

At least now they believed something was going on, even if they wouldn’t openly acknowledge she’d been right.

The door of the classroom opened, and the teacher walked in with a small, dark-haired girl as her shadow. Clearing her throat, Mrs. Ingram pushed the girl to the front of the room. “Everyone, we have a new student. I’d like to introduce you to Serena Briant. She’s new to the town, please make her feel welcome.”

Serena. Liz shifted, uncomfortable as the girl’s pale, gray eyes passed hers. She was gorgeous, Liz realized, slightly jealous. Long, black hair, flowing like smooth satin over her shoulders, flawless skin and hauntingly pale eyes that would seem unearthly if Liz hadn’t had personal experience with how very earthly the unearthly can appear. And that name.

“Serena said--she’s going to be a friend of yours one day--” Could this be the elusive Serena she was destined to meet?

God, how she hated that word.

Mrs. Ingram helped Serena get settled, assigning her a lab partner that, thankfully, wasn’t anyone Liz knew. They were expected to get to work on the lab, as their teacher took her time catching up the new girl.

Arranging the beakers in ascending order according to their labels, she pushed by Max to stand on the opposite side of their table. Not to get away from him, she rationalized, but to simplify things. The experiment would go smoother if they weren’t constantly bumping one another. She stared at her paper, mentally working through an appropriate data table to create, when Max spoke.

“Don’t you think it’s a little odd how many new people there are in Roswell all of the sudden?”

She glanced up at him, startled.

He pulled into himself a little, scribbling down a few notes on his paper. Clearing his throat, he continued, “I just mean, we have a new teacher, a new student, and Sam all in the span of a few days. Not to mention everything else that’s been going on. I find it odd, is all. Don’t you?”

“Sam?”

“She’s this little girl my parents are suddenly looking after. She’s five, I think.”

Liz nearly grinned. “Right. And you think this five year old may be, what, an evil alien? An FBI agent out to get you?”

He snorted, shaking his head at her. “No, just that there are too many new people. Every time someone new shows up, it’s always trouble. Roswell’s not that big of a place.”

He had a point, she thought, slipping a thermometer into the liquid before her. It was boiling. She recorded the time, and held out the information for him to copy. She bit her lip, hesitant to destroy the easy conversing they’d stepped into. Still, she couldn’t resist. “Not true.” Wincing at the tension she knew she would cause, she pushed on. “Tess was new, and while we didn’t trust her at first, she turned out to be the opposite of trouble.”

The wall he’d had up since October--the night of the Gomez concert--rose violently. He didn’t reply, the tip of his pencil pressing into the paper enough to snap it in half. The remainder of the lab passed in stony silence, and he raced through the door the moment the bell rang.

Cleaning up their equipment, Liz bowed her head. God, why did she have to hurt him? Why couldn’t things just be simple, and happy, again?

Couldn’t he see how this was killing her?

“Some lab partner. Do you need any help?”

Liz held her breath, looking up into the eyes of Serena. She nodded, swallowing the fear that things were beyond her control. She had no right to hate the girl because in some other timeline, she’d discovered the way to destroy her life. Going back to wiping the counter, she answered, “Sure. Thanks.”

They settled back into silence, comfortable and familiar this time. Liz ignored the part of her that wanted answers. She had a feeling Serena knew more than she did.

---------------------------

Liz was quiet as Maria and Kyle bickered in the front seats of the Jetta. They were all headed to the Evan’s house, where the group was meeting to interrogate her about how she’d gotten so hurt. Well, that was her interpretation of the meaning behind it. They really had nothing else to discuss.

The driveway was empty save for the Jeep, and Liz felt her stomach knot. Months ago, had someone said she’d be so nervous about facing Max, she would’ve laughed at the absurdity. Unless the nervousness was simply about going on a date, or something. After having literally seen into his soul, why would she ever fear him?

He hadn’t been himself. The bruise on her arm from the day he’d grabbed her had gone away, but its memory would not. The Max Evans she knew would never have done that. Ever.

The door opened, and Isabel stepped aside to let them through. The aliens of the group had already arrived, sprawled in various positions in Max’s room. Their parents were working, so the house was empty.

Isabel plopped down on her brother’s bed. “We have to be quiet. Sam’s asleep, and we don’t want her poking her head in here at a bad time.”

“Sam?” Maria asked, taking the desk chair away from Michael and spinning it around to straddle it.

Isabel waved it off. “She’s a little girl our parents have taken in indefinitely.”

“Why?”

“Who knows?” Max said, leaning his elbows on his knees. He rested his chin on his hands. “So, Liz, what happened?”

“The million dollar question.” Maria mumbled.

Liz tucked her hair behind her ear. “I asked Sean to drive me to Las Cruces when I found out the emails had been sent from there. We found the dorm room, but it was empty. Then we talked to some guy who’d seen Alex around when he’d been there, and apparently Alex had been going by the name Ray. He stayed in his dorm room all day, and only left to go to this supercomputer, I think. So we were gonna go see what he was doing, but I saw that girl, Leanna, that Alex had in his pictures, who he supposedly met in Sweden. So, I followed her.”

“Are you insane?!” Michael demanded, lurching to his feet and pacing rapidly. He barked out his next words, “You followed a potential alien killer with Sean DeLuca as your only protection? Why the hell didn’t you just come get one of us?”

Maria glared at him. “I think we’ve been over this, Michael. You weren’t very receptive to the idea that maybe Alex had been killed by an alien.”

“Alright. So you followed Leanna. What then?” Isabel asked, voice strained.

“She went to this--abandoned house, I guess. She got a box out of it, and left in her car. Sean and I went inside to check it out. I had a bad feeling. In one of the rooms, there was computer and a printer, and in the air just above that was this-this red pyramid thing. It was blinking, and I kind of realized it was dangerous, and I yelled at Sean to get out, and I remember running, and that’s it. The next thing I know, you guys are standing there with the healing stones.”

Tess spoke up from Max’s side. “So, it was a bomb? That seems a little far-fetched to me.”

Liz shrugged; she kept her face carefully blank. “I don’t really know. All I know is what happened, and it was exactly what I said. I wouldn’t lie.”

The air in the room was explosive. Electrically charged with a single statement.

Max lifted his head, meeting her gaze directly. “Why should I trust you?”

Maria stood, lips pursed and hands firmly planted on her hips. Enough was enough. “Alright. I get that you’re pissed cause she slept with Kyle, but grow up Max. She didn’t cheat on you, you weren’t together. That doesn’t make her any less trustworthy.”

“Liz slept with Kyle?” Isabel shouted, whipping around to face the Buddhist.

Kyle looked at his feet, kicking the carpet.

“Oh my god! You slut!” Isabel said, turning to stare down Liz. “I can’t believe you’d do that to my brother!”

“Isabel--” Max began.

“Wait just a damn minute. Just because she slept with Kyle does not make her a slut!” Maria yelled, interrupting Max and getting in Isabel’s way. No one spoke about Liz like that! Not after all she’d given up for them! “Back off, Isabel! You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Tess was silent, glancing back and forth between Kyle and Liz. She sighed, breaking the silence. “Maria, maybe you don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t like to think it either, but Kyle told me that Liz wasn’t a virgin when they were, you know, together.”

“What?!” Liz shrieked, whirling on Kyle.

He shrunk back, fear and regret on his face. “Look, Liz, I’m sorry. But it’s true. You weren’t a virgin that night.”

Liz felt the world spin. What was going on? She’d never slept with Kyle, how would he know? She’d never slept with anyone! “How the hell would you know anything about that, Kyle?” she choked out.

“Liz, I think I’d know.” He said, blushing and looking at the wall. His fingers strummed lightly against his bicep, arms crossed over his chest.

Swallowing, Maria shivered. Something was horribly, irrevocably wrong. Liz would never do anything like that. She knew her better than anyone! Liz wouldn’t lie to her, and besides, they were best friends! She knew Liz was a virgin. The night with Kyle had been a set up, so why was he saying those things? Oh, where was her cyprus oil when she needed it?

Max burned holes in the floor, willing the world to dissipate around him. His throat was choked by tears, and fear, and a bubbling of hate. Of whom, he didn’t want to know. He’d seen into her soul. She was good, and pure. He knew that. So why was he doubting it? Caught red-handed in bed with Kyle, how could he discredit what he was hearing? He wanted to believe her. To make it stop hurting, to know that everything he’d thought wasn’t a lie. If only he could just ask her, and get a straight answer!

“Max? Izzy?” A small, tentative voice broke through the room. Sam stuck her head in the doorway, clothes rumbled and hair mused about her head. Groggily, she stared up at the teenagers, rubbing her eyes with the back of her wrist. “What’s going on?”

The group collectively pulled up their shields, forcing their harsh emotions to the back of the room in hopes that the little girl wouldn’t notice.

Maria plastered a smile on her face, becoming genuine at the sight of Sam’s sleepy yawn. She knelt down next to her, holding out a hand. “Hi! You must be Sam, I’ve heard so much about you. My name’s Maria.”

Sam held her breath, the outstretched hand mesmerizing her. Eyes wide, she gazed at Maria, then at the other occupants of the room. Suddenly, she was alert, no longer looking half-asleep. Quickly, she reached out to shake Maria’s hand, pumping it up and down cheerfully. “Hi Maria!”

Maria grinned at her, leaning back to point at Michael. “That grump over there is Michael,” then she pointed to Kyle, still shuffling his feet, “and that’s Kyle,” gesturing to Tess, who smiled, “Tess,” and then to Liz, “and that’s Liz over there.”

Sam nodded to each in turn, keeping up with Maria until the child’s gaze caught on Liz. She froze, throat clenching and hands falling limp at her sides. A small squeak escaped her lips, and she backed-pedaled hastily, stopping just outside the doorway. Raising a trembling arm, she shouted hysterically, “Don’t come near me, please!”

“Oh my god, what did you do to her Liz? She’s terrified of you!” Tess said, standing and reaching out to the child. “Don’t worry, whatever it is, we won’t let Liz hurt you.”

“Shut up!” Sam shrieked, backing away from Tess as well. “Just shut up! You don’t know me! Get away!” Tears welled in her eyes, spilling over her cheeks and onto the carpet; her eyes never leaving Liz’s. Close to sobbing, but holding it back, she whispered softly, apologetically, “I’m sorry, Liz. Sorry. I want to-I want to but I can’t! I’m scared!”

Nodding, Liz sank to the floor, torn between comforting the girl and the urge to run and never look back. Keep breathing, she coaching mentally, just keep breathing. Deep, full breaths.

Willing herself to calm, Sam took one last look around the room before bowing. “I’m sorry. I’m just gonna go back to sleep.” She left, the pounding of her footsteps filling the silence.

Moments passed. No one moved, or spoke or met another’s eyes.

Finally, “What’s happened to us?” Maria questioned, squinting her eyes against tears. “What happened? Alex is dead, Liz almost died, and here we are, arguing, accusing, lying and-and not trusting each other! God, we should be comforting each other! Believing in each other, now more than ever!” Her voice quieted, no more than a hushed whisper. “What happened to us?”

No one had an answer.

----------------------------------------

Serena dropped her bag unceremoniously on the floor as she closed the door, twisting the lock in place. The apartment was silent apart from the clanking of her keys as she deposited them on the table, absently flipping through the mail. Nothing important.

She sighed, throwing the pile of envelopes on the counter in irritation. Today she’d managed to to do what, start a conversation? That would get her nowhere, fast. Time was running out, and she was running late. Trust was the key, and it wasn’t easy. Never had been, she thought, biting her lip.

The clock on the wall kept ticking.

Pivoting, she wandered down the hall to her room. Something had been off all day. She could only hope it would lead to a clue. But she knew better than to force anything, her headaches would only put her out of commission. She couldn’t afford that at this point.

Glancing in the mirror above her dresser, she tied her hair back, examining the color of her eyes critically. They looked normal enough. Pupils not dilated. Damn.

Please, she prayed, please just one! Something helpful this time!

In response the world shifted, full of screaming and curses whirled back and forth. White, plain walls stretched on all sides, and flashes of movement were chaotic, blurred and desperate. Glass shattered in the background, spraying the floors, playing a gentle tune on the metal as they hit. Pain, then darkness.

Her bedroom reformed around her, the carpet even with her eyes. She’d fallen.

Holding in a cough, Serena sat up gingerly. Her head pounded in protest, trying to break open her skull, she was sure. The migraine wouldn’t go away with medication, Goddess knew she’d tried that for years. Tomorrow, she would be beating herself up for this. School would kill her, tomorrow.

But today, she’d gotten what she wanted.

Rising to her feet slowly, she took her time reaching the bed, laying down carefully to avoid jarring her head. Once settled comfortably, she grabbed the phone, dialing instinctively.

“Hello?” a voice on the other end answered.

“We’ve got trouble.”

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Chione
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Post by Chione » Sat Feb 05, 2005 10:22 pm

Sorry for the slight wait, this is a long one. You'll recognize some of this from the show, but most of it is changed :wink:
Things are about to get really complicated, just a warning. You already have so many questions already, hehe, and that's just the start. All in due time, I promise!

Thanks to all of you for the wonderful feedback! I love hearing what you guys think!

Dreamers are gonna kill me for parts of this, but remember, nothing is as it seems! This is definitely M/L! :wink:

:D

Chapter Five

Maria waited until Tess was in the Valenti’s house before rounding on Kyle. “Alright Buddha boy, you’re gonna explain to me right now what the hell that was all about!”

He looked away. “Maria--”

“Don’t! You know what, I don’t care. Just don’t ever come near Liz or me again, or I’ll rip off your balls and feed them to a pit bull.” Maria enunciated carefully. She shoved him back, watching as he stumbled over his feet to regain his balance. Lowering her voice to a lethal hiss, she continued, “You and I both know you never slept with Liz. You have no right to say any of those things. To that blonde bitch, no less.”

His brow furrowed. “Wait, what?”

“Don’t play dumb, you ass. You know exactly what I just said, or have you finally taken one too many whacks in football and are incapable of holding even the simplest of conversations? Oh, wait, that’s right, you had no trouble discussing Liz’s sex life with Tess! I guess it’s just us humans who render you idiotic.”

“Maria, I don’t know what Liz told you, but I remember quite clearly having sex with Liz.” Kyle blurted out, holding up his hands to try and offer peace.

Maria froze, finger poised to reprimand him with a hand on her hip. Her mouth worked silently, opening and closing, for several seconds. “Come again?” she managed.

“I said: Liz. And. I. Had. Sex. I remember it. Liz might’ve been drunk, but I remember it. That doesn’t mean I have any idea why, because I was over her, and thought she was over me. Apparently I was right, but maybe we were both desperate and turned to each other. All I know is that Liz and I were together that night, and it wasn’t her first time, if you know what I mean.” Kyle made a strange gesture with his hands, beginning to look annoyed.

She spat at his feet, spinning around to stomp away. She'd thought he was a decent guy. She'd been wrong a lot lately.

Michael gripped her arm, whirling her around to face him. He dragged her back into the shadow of the trees where he'd been hiding, holding her in place by her shoulders and frowning down at her. “What the hell is going on, Maria, and I want the truth. Now.”

She shook her head, exasperated and tired. “You want to know what’s going on? Your bitch of a queen is spreading lies about my best friend, and stupid, gullible Max hangs off her every word!” Maria whispered, tone accusing and intense as a shout. “And now Kyle thinks he really slept with Liz. And I have no idea what to do.” Her posture shrunk, anger leaving with her breath. Gazing up at him helplessly, she allowed him to pull her in his arms.

“Did they have sex? Yes or no, Maria.”

Maria swore never to tell. But then, everyone else seemed to be breaking promises recently, and she was floundering on her own. “No, Michael. They did not sleep together, Liz could never do that to Max. It was all a set up because Liz has a martyr complex and Max is an idiot.” She paused to laugh, quietly, bitterly. “Wouldn’t it figure that a future version of Max decided to come back in time and break the two of them up because they’re so wrapped up in each other that the possibility of the world ending for any reason other than their love doesn’t even cross their mind?”

Michael opened his mouth, searching for the right words. It didn’t make sense but then, it sounded exactly like something Max and Liz would do and it was just far-fetched enough to belong in the alien abyss they lived in. He settled for “Oh.”

---------------------

Max sighed, shuffling his keys in his pocket. He was working, but there was nothing really to do and Brody was nowhere to be found. Working seemed like such a normal thing for him to be doing, especially after all that had happened recently, but it was a welcome chance to throw himself into something other than agonizing over Liz. Surprisingly, being alone around the museum had given him the opportunity to clear his head. He wasn’t sure what he’d do yet, with the Liz situation or the Alex situation, but he felt confident in his own personal sanity for the time being. So long as nothing else happened for a few days.

He knocked on the large, metal doors once more. No one answered the first time, so he called out just in case, “Brody!”

Scraping from within the office barely made it through the thick doors, but Max heard it. “Brody?” he called.

Suddenly, the door swung open and Max felt his heart skip at the barrel of a gun in his face. He stepped back, until Brody lifted the gun higher, fingers tightening on the trigger.

“Don’t move!” Brody hollered, mouth twisted in a scowl. “You lied to me! You lied! You’re an alien, aren’t you?”

Max blanked, shaking his head instinctively. “Brody, what are you talking about? I’m not, I’m just Max--”

”No! You were there, in New York! You and me, and those aliens!” Brody shouted, cutting him off. His eyes were wide, hands trembling with the weight of the gun. “What are you? Am I-am I an alien too? Why is all this in my head?! Am I really Brody? Or am I Larek?”

Max held out his hands, praying he could take sense into his boss. Larek. Was something wrong that the alien needed to contact him? If so, why was Brody affected? Why was he freaking out? “Brody, what’s going on? What are you talking about? I’m not an alien.”

“Sit down!” Brody pushed the gun in his face, backing him up against the autopsy display. Max sat on the ledge, obedient. He watched Brody pace across the room, gun clinched at his side protectively.

At least it was just him, Max reasoned. If anyone else were around, he wouldn’t be able to do anything. With that thought, he raised his hand, prepared to blast Brody just enough to knock the weapon from his hands. Concentrating, Max waited for Brody to go flying.

He didn’t. Instead, the redhead turned, as if knowing Max’s plan, and waved the gun. “Don’t even think about it, Max.” Brody held up his other hand, a small, black pentagon nestled safely in his palm. “This? See, how do I know what this is? And how do I know that because it’s on,” he motioned to the spinning light at the center, “your powers won’t work?”

Max took a deep breath, working through what he knew. There had to be a way out of this without telling Brody the truth and without hurting him. It was only a matter of finding it.

His stomach fell to the floor as a voice called his name. “Max?”

It was Tess. He wanted to scream at her to run away, get Valenti, or Michael and Isabel, but Brody had already turned to the blonde girl coming down the stairs, gun aimed at her chest.

“Stay where you are!” He shouted, startling her into losing her footing. She stumbled, caught herself, and cautiously moved down the last few steps. “Get over there! You were there too! I remember you! You were both in New York! You’re an alien too, aren’t you?”

Tess looked at Max helplessly. She frowned, biting her lip and closing her eyes. She’d fix this, and Brody would be none the wiser.

But the moment she touched Brody’s mind, she was thrown aside in the chaos. There was too much there for her to sort through. She caught Max’s gaze, shaking her head. Following Brody’s gestures, she moved to stand beside Max, sitting down and hugging her knees.

“Max,” she whispered, “Max, what’s going on?”

He leaned over. “I don’t know. He’s been ranting about aliens and the summit in New York.”

“Why can’t I mindwarp him?”

“He’s got that pentagon. It somehow blocks our powers.”

The two sat in silence, wearily keeping their eyes on Brody. He kept pacing, back and forth at a furious pace, muttering. He seemed distracted enough, maybe they could--

“I mean, honestly, I really hadn’t planned on coming here, but I just couldn’t resist. You know? I mean, Roswell, New Mexico. How could we possibly not visit the UFO Museum?” A girl’s cheerful voice echoed in the hallway as two shadows appeared at the top of the stairs.

Max groaned. As if this couldn’t get any worse, they now had tourists to worry about.

“Hey!” the man shouted, spotting Brody and the gun. “Whoa there! What’s goin’ on down here?”

The girl froze, flitting her gaze from Max to Tess and back to Brody. She twirled the end of her long, black hair around a finger, chewing on her lower lip. “Um, we’ll just be going.” she began, backing up the stairs.

Brody fired, missing and hitting the wall, but getting the point across. “No! No one leaves this room until I get answers!” He aimed the gun again, daring them to leave.

The girl shared a timid look with her companion, then moved further into the museum, keeping her distance from Max as well. As she eyed him with suspicion, he realized where he’d seen her before. “Serena!” he realized aloud.

She pursed her lips. “Hi. You're that guy who bailed on Liz in Bio. Not very nice, seeing as you’re her lab partner and just as responsible for cleaning up as she is.”

Tess snorted. “Right. Like Liz doesn’t deserve it. You don’t know the story behind them, so mind your own business.”

“Tess--” Max started.

“I don’t give a damn if they were married and she slept with his brother! Or the whole town! They’re partners! Implies shared responsibility, which means that no matter what, no matter what, he shouldn’t have abandoned her!” She flung her arms, kneeling in front of him and leaning close, eyes tiny, gray slits. “But no, you got your feelings or your balls or whatever stomped on, and so you leave her behind at the first opportunity to clean up the mess both of you made!” Serena ranted, raising her voice with each word.

Max turned his head, staring at the man accompanying the fiery girl. The man’s lips twitched, obviously unable to resist grinning. Feeling his mouth dry, he faced Serena, wondering briefly if she was talking about the lab at all. Of course she was, he thought, what else would she be talking about? She didn’t know anything.

He glared back at her. “Will you just get out of my face? Now isn’t exactly a good time.”

“He’s right, Ser. Not now.” The man reached for her arm, dragging her to the ground to side beside him. Looking back at Max, he introduced himself. “My name’s Josh. Care to explain what’s goin’ on or are you as in the dark as we are?”

“We’re pretty in the dark. Brody, he’s my boss, and he just--”

The scraping of metal interrupted him, and the group watched as Brody piled an assortment of UFO displays in front of the stairs. The gun was still in his hand. He was muttering under his breath, too quiet to hear. Max observed his behavior, worried.

“There,” Brody called out, apparently finished. He stood back to admire the blockade he’d created at the base of the steps. “Now, it’s just the lot of us. No one’s leaving until I get answers. I know you know why this stuff is in my head! Why I know things that I shouldn’t know! Tell me!” His shoes scuffed the floor as he shuffled back and forth. A quivering hand grabbed at his hair as he sped up, his steps shorter, snappier. “There’s too much, too much in my head.” he mumbled, clenching and unclenching his fist around the gun.

“What’s in your head?” Serena asked.

Brody halted. “Dimaras Rock!” he exclaimed, “I remember now, Dimaras Rock!” He spun, pointing at Max. “It’s where the two of you met! It was before you were king, you were so nervous and uncertain then.”

Max sat, half-awed, half-horrified by Brody’s words. What he’d wanted his whole life, just a piece of his past, was before him, and perfect strangers were around to hear it. Riveted, he couldn’t have prevented Brody from continuing if he’d wanted to.

Tess was stiff beside him, eyes lost in memory.

“Zan, we were swimming, the water was crimson red, remember? That’s when you first saw her, standing up on the cliff above. Dimaras Rock!”

The tingling of remembrance, a faint echo, grew in the back of Max’s mind. He could picture it, painfully clear but no more familiar that a scene dreamed up from a book. Ignoring that, he tried to imagine Tess, as she might’ve been, with longer hair, whiter.

Vibrant green eyes pierced his across time, cool water flowing against his skin.

His heart ached sharply as the impression dissipated, leaving the breath in his lungs stale and the blood in his veins still.

Had Ava’s eyes been green?

“You said she was the most beautiful woman you’d ever seen.” Brody’s quirky grin appeared. “She was too short for my tastes. Too wild, fiery. I could never have tamed her. You were terrified to try.” His laughter filled the silence, the others transfixed as he spoke, attentive as small children listening to their favorite bedtime story . “But you never did. Tame her, I mean. She was the one to free you. The love between you, the attraction, was instantaneous. You never would’ve approached her, though, if I hadn’t introduced you that night--”

“At a party.” Tess breathed, opening her eyes.

“Yes, at a party.” Brody said, moving closer and getting excited that he wasn’t the only one. Dazed, Tess smiled up at him.

“No.” Max said, cutting through the peaceful atmosphere and Tess’s daydream. “No, Brody, that never happened. I’m not Zan, and she’s not Ava. We’re not in love, we never have been.” He emphasized every word, staring down his boss form his seat on the floor.

Brody’s frown replaced the carefree grin, shadows lurking in his eyes. His forehead crinkled above light red eyebrows, the trembling in his limbs returning. “No. No!” He backed away, shaking his head violently. “It’s not just a story! It has to be true! How am I supposed to know what’s real?” His hysteria didn’t faze the two strangers, but Max rose to his feet.

“Brody,” he said, “Brody, calm down. We’ll figure this out, I promise.”

The shrill ringing of a cell phone interrupted them, echoing in the large, empty room. Serena was reminded of horror movies where the murderous stalker calls in the middle of a tense situation with an eerie message for the hero. Reaching for his pocket, Max glanced at Brody, silently asking permission. Brody shook his head.

“I have to answer it. I won’t say anything about this, but people will get suspicious if I don’t answer. I always answer.” Max argued. It was probably his parents, wondering when he’d be home. Isabel was still pissed at him for threatening her, and Michael never called for anything, Tess was beside him, and he and Liz were hardly speaking at all.

Brody glared, but aquiesced. “Just make it quick.”

“Hello?”

“Max? Is everything alright? We know something’s going on in there, Michael and I heard gun shots. Are you okay? Is everyone alright?” It was Liz, and she sounded worried.

“Liz?”

Serena’s head jerked up, giving her full attention to the phone conversation. Making note of her reaction, Max focused on how to explain to Liz without alerting Brody. If Michael was there, maybe he could do something to get them out without revealing themselves. He just wished he knew what had happened to Brody to cause this. He’d been fine earlier in the evening.

Suddenly, the phone was snatched from his ear. Brody held it up, speaking quickly, harshly. “Look, just keep the cops away. Don’t do anything with your alien powers, or I’ll shoot one of them, got it?”

“Brody?” Liz’s voice sounded confused, and Max realized why Brody’d taken the phone. The volume was up too high! He’d heard everything, which meant Liz was potentially in a lot of danger. Brody wasn’t exactly stable, if he thought she was a threat. . .

He didn’t finish the thought.

“Brody? Um, is there something you want? I mean, why are you doing this? Is there something I can do to help out, I mean, what is it you want?” she asked, hesitating on every word. The sound of her voice bringing silence to the room, everyone holding their breath for an answer. Max knew if anyone could get through to Brody, it’d be someone like Liz.

Josh got sick of waiting, glancing at Serena. His eyes begged for something Max couldn’t read, but whatever it was, Serena seemed unwilling to do it. Her lips paled as she pressed them together. Finally, she came to a decision and nodded Josh. A grin broke over his face, reminding Max of someone he couldn’t place yet. Very familiar.

“Hey!” Josh called. He lifted his eyebrows, tilting his lips up at the corner. “I could use a burger.”

Serena shook her head, exasperated. The boy was an idiot, she thought, amused. Sometimes he was so much like his mother, then he goes and does something like this. What would she think if she saw him now? Serena winced, amending that thought. What would she think if she saw him, and actually knew who he was? Would his plan work? She glanced at Brody from the corner of her eye, taking in his reaction with trepidation. Everything hinged on him.

Brody narrowed his eyes. Rumbling, his stomach reminded him it might be a good idea to get food if they were going to be down there for awhile. The girl worked at that restaurant across the street, surely she could whip something up. Deliver it, even. Mind made up, he tuned back into the phone conversation. “You know what? We could use some food. Hamburgers, all around. Five, please, and fries too.”

Liz took several minutes to reply. “Um, sure. I’ll bring it right over. Is there anything else?”

Brody eyed his hostages. Nodding, “That’s all, thanks.”

“Okay. Bye then.”

He snapped the phone closed, tossing it back to Max cheerfully. “So, I hope you’re all hungry. I figured since we’re stuck here.”

No one mentioned they were stuck there because of him.

Time crept by as they waited, Max wishing ferverently for the power of telepathy to tell Michael not to let Liz bring the food. He could do it, he was an alien and could take care of himself. Liz couldn’t. She shouldn’t be dragged into this.

She wanted a normal life.

It was too late to stop her when he felt her presence nearing. Surely Michael couldn’t be that stupid, he prayed, knowing it was futile when her form appeared at the top of the steps, wearing that silly alien uniform and her hair pulled back, swinging back and forth in its ponytail as she descended. Balanced on her hand was a box of take-out from the Crashdown, exactly what Brody ordered. Dodging the blockade at the bottom, she crawled through and handed the box to Brody.

“Here you go. Five burgers and five fries. Is that all I can get you?” she asked, in waitress mode. Brody fumbled around with his wallet, pulling out a hundred dollar bill and placing it in her hand. She shook her head, smiling. “That’s not necessary.”

“No, no, I insist.” He grinned at her, at ease for the second time that evening. “I think I’m rich,” he joked, and she laughed with him, eyes straying to Max.

Liz bit her lip, watching him as she pocketed the money. He looked so lost, and she yearned to hug him, taking him out of there and to safety. Whatever was going on, she certainly didn’t understand. Brody seemed to be himself. Or, at least, he didn’t seem particularly violent or threatening. It had to be something alien related. Her eyes scanned the rest of the assembled group, smiling at Serena reassuredly, and landed on her companion, the tall, light haired boy with his hands crossed against a rigid chest.

Swallowing, Liz gazed into lively, green eyes that were nearly identical to Mr. Thompson’s. Where the teacher’s eyes were serious and controlled, this boy’s were wild and bursting with a foreign emotion. Was he Serena’s boyfriend, and if so, why did he look like Mr. Thompson’s twin? Younger, yes, but still clearly the same.

She was starting to suspect Max had been right to worry about the new arrivals.

Brody took a bite of his burger, chewing thoughtfully. “Is there a new cook at the Crashdown?”

Liz shook out of her thoughts. “No. But the power’s out over there, and we had to use this little butane grill to cook them.”

The redhead nodded, examining his food. He took another bite, then froze. “And the fries? How did you cook the fries?” he demanded, rounding on her and forcing her away from the exit.

“The-the same way,” she stammered. But Brody was already shaking his head, dropping the box of food and reaching for her arm. He shook her, fingers diggin painfully into her jacket sleeve.

“No!” he shouted, pushing her to the floor with a snarl. “No! You used your alien powers, didn’t you? You’re one of them too!”

Max rushed forward, getting between them and trying to pacify his boss. “No, Brody, she’s not. She’s human, leave her alone.”

Brody flinched, running a hand through his already mused hair and took up his pacing again.

Turning to help Liz, Max found Josh already at her side, a hand on the small of her back as he aided her in sitting up. She looked up at Max, concern the foremost in her eyes.

“Are you alright? He didn’t hurt you, did he?” Josh asked, hurriedly. “I mean, you’re not hurt badly or anything? He seems pretty unstable, and I’m sure it must’ve startled you.” He stopped, unsure of how to continue. “Don’t worry though, I won’t let him touch you again, okay? You’re just an innocent girl.”

She nodded, fighting to present a smile, studiously ignoring the tiny tremors in her body as she calmed. So much for seeming nonviolent. Her butt was sore, and her arm would be sensitive for a few days, bruised, but she’d been through worse. Falling to the floor paled in comparison to jumping off a bridge.

“There are two of them, there can’t be two. There isn’t supposed to be two, only one. Which is real? Only one of them is real.” Brody chanted, pacing at a breakneck speed. His hand was permanently dug in his hair, eyes darting furiously back and forth as he worked through the shouting in his head. “One is fake. One has to be fake. Or-or one isn’t--no, that’s not possible. I can’t get this out of my head!

Serena twisted her lips. “He needs therapy.”

Liz couldn’t help but agree, though silently. She brushed invisible dirt from her jacket, fingers catching on the tiny camera Valenti had given her to wear. It looked like a normal pin or button, nothing overly obvious. Still, she was beginning to think it would’ve been better to not wear it. If Brody caught sight of it, he’d lose it even more.

Max stood to the side, observing Brody warily for any more words that could help him understand what was going on. Too many people were at stake, he was going to have to tell Brody the truth if things didn’t improve, and soon. Brody was a good man, he wasn’t doing this on his own. He couldn’t be.

Unless he’d found out the truth about Max, and was disgusted. What if he blamed Max for his abductions? His missing time?

But even that wouldn’t drive Brody to harm innocent people.

Tess stood, rolling her eyes at the quiet group and strolling toward the box of food, spilt across the floor. Most of the hamburgers were still tucked in the box, safely wrapped, and she pulled one out. “Might as well eat, since it’s here.” Liz could be shaken up all she wanted, Tess smirked internally, but she wasn’t. No human was going to threaten her. She’d bide her time, and get her and Max out of there. The others didn’t matter.

Serena grabbed the other two burgers, tossing one to Liz and taking one herself. “Wouldn’t want you guys getting fat on this stuff. Ruin those bodies, tsk-tsk.” She smirked, shaking her head scoldingly.

Flushing, Max was sure his ears were glowing. What was with this girl? He didn’t even know her! He refused to acknowledge her, keeping Brody in his sights.

A glint of light caught on the camera lens, and Brody lunged for her. For a brief instant, Liz pictured him as a rabid dog, foaming at the mouth and eyes rolling in his head, before his hand free hand closed around her throat, jerking her away from Josh and Max.

“You have a camera?! I told you not to do anything stupid! I warned you!” he hollered, waving the gun in her face menacingly.

Josh leapt, fists meeting the hard bone of Brody’s jaw in rapid succession. He growled, yanking Liz from between them and shooting vicious kicks at Brody’s legs. The redhead retaliated, never losing his grasp on the gun and slamming it into the side of Josh’s head. Metal cracked against bone, and Josh lurched back, hands twined in Brody’s shirt. The two tumbled to the ground, both contending for the gun and flinging limbs at one another.

The gun snapped back, trigger pulled tight against the handle and a shot rang out over the ruckus. Brody and Josh stiffened simultaneously, Brody’s hands closed over the gun and Josh sprawled on the floor to the side.

The resounding echo deafened them all for several seconds, and Liz found herself once more gazing up at the ceiling, a stinging, unbearable pain in her stomach. The world faded in and out rapidly, much quicker than it had when she’d been shot before. That couldn’t be a good sign, the distant, scientific part of her mind realized. Choking, she struggled to swallow and catch her breath. She’d be fine. Max was here, he could heal her.

If he wanted to, a voice whispered in her ears, taunting. And why would he? You’re just a slut who betrayed him, in his eyes. Her plan had worked, and he’d fallen out of love with her, so why would he take the risk of exposure to help her?

Max collapsed to his knees at her side, pressing his hand on her stomach automatically. The pentagon was preventing him from using his powers, but if he could stop the bleeding. Or if he could get through whatever shield that thing produced! “Brody!” he called, voice cracking on his tears, “Brody! Turn off that pentagon, please! Please, let me help her! Brody! She’ll die!”

Brody’s mouth fell open, horror at the blood pooling on the floor evident on his face. He’d done that, he’d shot her and she was human, and she was bleeding, and she was dying! He had to make it right. Desperately, he clawed at his pocket, drawing out the pentagon he knew so much about, but couldn’t explain how. Turning it in his hand, he waited with baited breath for the spinning light to stop, for it to shut off and Max’s powers return. He was certain he could help her, and who was Brody to argue. If he could, she wouldn’t die, and her death wouldn’t be on Brody’s hands.

Her blood always would be, healed or not.

The glow of power from his hand was all the encouragement Max needed, his other hand coming up to cup the side of Liz’s face. “Liz,” he begged, hoarse, “Liz, you have to look at me. Please, you have to look at me, Liz!” The familiarity of his words sent him reeling, and as her eyes met his, he felt the same tugging, and fell willingly into their connection.

Images rushed to the forefront of his mind, behind wide open eyes he watched portions of Liz’s life, lived portions of her life. The memories came to more recent events, and his muscles tightened. If he saw anything with Kyle, he wasn’t sure he could keep up the connection. But he pushed on, straining the tendons in his neck as flashes passed by too quickly to process. A man, leather and long, graying hair. Tears. Pain. Despair and determination wound together in knots. He saw himself, at prom, kissing Tess. The heat of an explosion as she screamed for Sean to run. Spirals of red and white on marble floors intertwined with everything else.

The breath filled his lungs in a thick gust as their connection ended. His hand hovered over her stomach, eyes trailing down to assure himself the bullet hole was gone. Her blood was sticky on his hands, bright and glaring against his flesh.

She’d been shot, again, and this time it was because of him.

”I love you but, I don’t want to die for you.” He didn’t want her to either. He would make sure she wouldn’t.

Drawing back, he sat on his heels to put as much distance between them as he could. Nothing made sense anymore, and the weight of her blood on his hand tugged at his soul. Dread pooled in his toes and his hands, knowing he’d turn to face the puzzled, horrified stares of Serena and Josh. They’d seen too much, but he couldn’t, wouldn’t take it back. Not when it meant the difference between Liz’s living and dying.

“Oh my god,” Serena murmured, eyes round. She mouthed words, unable to form sounds correctly. Exchanging looks with Josh, she swallowed a few times before speaking. “Max, whatever that was, I promise we’ll both keep quiet. Not a word. In fact, I think it’d be best if we just locked this guy away,” she motioned to Brody, “and forget this whole thing happened.”

Max shook his head. “No, Brody isn’t normally like this. But you should get out of here, and please,” He glanced at them pleadingly, “please keep quiet about this. You’re right, just forget about everything that happened here tonight.”

The two newcomers left quietly, Josh with his tail between his legs. He kept his chin high, shooting Liz an apologetic glance. He’d never meant for her to get hurt.

The four remained still, Tess staring at Liz with hooded eyes and Brody enthralled at the sight of his hands, having thrown the gun to the other side of the room. Max held a hand out to Liz, helping her to her feet and holding her arm as she steadied herself. He reached out to push her hair behind her ear, a tentative half smile on his face.

She turned away. The immediate threat gone, she beat herself up mentally. What had he seen?

“Brody,” Max called, walking over and extending a hand. “I can help, let me help fix things in your head.”

“You can?” he asked, barely more than a whisper.

Max nodded, hands coming to rest on either side of Brody’s head. The older man didn’t move. Closing his eyes, Max took deep breaths, and opened them to connect with Brody.

For the second time that night, images assaulted his mind, this time of a short woman and her pouting lips, stubborn chin and long, ivory hair that was eternally wrapped around her head in braids. She danced with him, Zan, she smiled at him teasingly, she handed him a child with mahogany curls and glowing emerald eyes. Everything through the eyes of his friend, confidant, Larek.

His heart skipped. A child. He and Ava had a child.

-------------------

Monday morning found Liz sitting in a classroom too soon. In the span of three days, she’d been in an explosion, brought back from the brink of death, been called a slut and had her reputation thoroughly battered by her closest friends, been shot, healed again, and expected to be in school. Things had spiraled so quickly, she hadn’t time to catch her breath or her sanity, and it was slipping.

Alex was dead. Sean too, in all likelihood.

It was her fault. They’d both be alive, healthy, happy if it hadn’t been for her.

She sunk further into her seat, wishing desperately to melt into the metal of her desk. Then her teacher’s eyes wouldn’t be following her as he lectured, and Max’s eyes wouldn’t be burning the back of her neck. Aliens, the end of the world, nightmares, strange powers, and red and white swirls in her dreams wouldn’t be any of her concern. Someone else could handle it. She was tired.

“Miss Parker?” Mr. Thompson asked, dropping off in the middle of his sentence about Woodrow Wilson. “Are you alright? You were ill last week, are you sure you’re recovered enough to be here?”

She nodded hastily, blushing under the gazes of her classmates. She brushed her hair behind her ear before answering. “I’m fine.”

If only she could make it to lunch, she’d have time to be alone. Then, and only then, she could cry. By the time class, ended, she flew from her seat and out into the hall, hoping to get lost in the crowd of bubbly teenagers. Lunch time meant they’d all crowd in the cafeteria and the quad, so she had the classrooms essentially to herself. Just what she needed. Maria and her questions could wait. Liz had an appointment with a dark, shadowy corner and her tears.

After that, she’d figure out what to do next.

------------------------

The steady hum of conversations greeted Max as he stepped outside into the school’s quad. It was already filled with students, hanging out in their designated areas according to the unspoken teenage hierarchy. He didn’t really have a specific group, if you left out the “I Am or I Know An Alien” club, but they always used to sit at the same table everyday. Recently, that table had been for the four aliens only. No homo sapiens allowed, so to speak.

Would all that change, because of the weekend’s events? he wondered. He hoped it would. Too much time had been wasted because of petty disagreements and hurt feelings. But their group had gotten over worse. This was just a pebble on the road. They’d get through it, somehow or another, he was certain.

In fact, it was the only thing he was sure of these days.

That, and the fact that he and Liz had a lot of discussing to do. Sooner rather than later.

He shook his head. He could worry about that later, lunch was his first priority. Something simple, mundane. The vending machines were inside, on the opposite side of the quad, so he crossed it cautiously, avoiding anyone who’d stop him and want to talk. Namely, Tess.

Dumping his change into the slot, he contemplated what he wanted to eat. Everything was just so boring, bland. He’d had the same thing everyday of his school career, it seemed. Sighing, he decided to stick to the usual chips and deal with it.

“Max!” Maria snuck up behind him. “Have you seen Liz?”

He raised his brow. “No. Not since history this morning, why?”

“I have to talk to her. That, and the fact that no one’s seen her since last class, and she’s come way too close to dying too many times in the past few days so excuse me for being really freaked out when she’s suddenly missing again!” When she ran out of breath, Maria paused. “You have no idea where she is? I know you’re pissed and all, but I’m really worried about her, and I really, really need to find her and, just, make sure she’s okay, you know?”

He nodded, bending down to retrieve the bag of chips he’d chosen from the machine. “I know. I’ll see if I can find her.”

Since Maria had already searched the quad, he didn’t bother venturing back outside. He had a feeling she was alone. For the first time in way too long, he follow his gut instincts to where he knew she’d be. Through the window in the doorway, he found her curled around her knees on the floor of an abandoned classroom. Her shoulders trembled; she was sobbing. In all the crazy events of the week, he’d forgotten she’d just lost a best friend. She’d been far too close to dying, twice, and he hadn’t even asked if she was okay. They’d yelled at her the other day, too, the people who were supposedly her friends. No wonder she sought to be alone to cry.

He twisted the metal knob under his fingertips, using only the slightest of force to open the door. She raised her head at the sound, not looking in his direction. She knew he was there, and he knew she was aware. How could she stand to be around him after the way he’d treated her? God, he’d manhandled her! Said their friendship was over because of his own need for control.

She looked so small, fragile.

Liz kept her head down against her knees, sensing his presence in the doorway and not certain what it meant. She wanted to be alone, but of course he could always find her. If only he would move, speak, anything to indicate how she should react.

Footsteps approached, and then Max was sliding down the wall to take a seat by her side. The sleeve of his jacket brushed her arm. He didn’t bother to ask if she was okay, if she was she wouldn’t be crying alone on the floor of a darkened classroom. The silence between them was comfortable, right, and they basked in it.

“Maria had a point, didn’t she?” he finally began, staring off in the shadows.

“Yeah.” Liz couldn’t look at him. What was he doing? It didn’t matter, really, the fact that he was there was enough to calm her, comfort her. Even for just a little while.

“Look, I don’t really know what all is going on with you. But I don’t buy the stuff Kyle said.” he whispered, finally turning his head to gaze down at her. “You were just as surprised by what he said as the rest of us, and I do know you, Liz. People don’t change that drastically that quickly.” He cut himself off, shaking his head. “Like I said, I don’t buy it. I can’t believe you’d do that to me, and I won’t. Maria was right. You just lost your best friend, and I don’t know everything that’s troubling you but that’s got to be a big part of it.”

“Max--”

He took her hand in his, entwining their fingers gently. “I promised I’d always be your friend, no matter what else was going on with us. So, here I am, if you want to talk. Cry. Whatever. Just know you don’t have to be alone.” He seemed to lose his confidence, grasping in the silence at anything to express what he was feeling. “I nearly lost you.” he whispered, barely reaching her ears and full of tense emotion. The thought choked him even as he felt the warmth of her through his jacket. He’d seen her with Kyle, yes, but by this point in his life, he knew better than to trust first glimpses. And even if she had slept with Kyle, she wasn’t the type to go from guy to guy. He knew that. He trusted that. He trusted her.

She was Liz, after all.
Last edited by Chione on Tue Jan 16, 2007 4:35 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Chione
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Post by Chione » Thu Feb 10, 2005 8:10 pm

I hate to do this, but I'm going out of town for the next four days, and won't be posting anything. So here's chapter Six. Somethings are revealed, others raise only more questions. :twisted:

You'll just have to wait til I get back and make me feel encouraged.

Thanks bunches for all the wonderful feedback! And all my lurkers too! :D

Chapter Six

Sam perched on her bed, pouting up at the shadowy figure in the corner. He didn’t acknowledge her, glaring over top her head to avoid her trap. He knew he should stay away, she was safe with Philip and Diane. He would only make things worse if either of the Evans’ children caught him, but not even the thought of their work being in vain was enough for him to forget the danger his sister was in. Her fears were his own. He couldn’t help but check up on her occasionally.

She crossed her arms, chewing her lower lip in irritation. “Gerin, you’re supposed to talk to her. Explain things. I’m the one that can’t--”

“I know, Psyche. But it isn’t as simple as walking up and explaining. It’s going to take time.” He took a seat on the bed beside her, placing a gentle hand on her arm. “I know you’re scared, little one. I’m scared too. But things have to happen this way, and I promise, everything will be better. One day, we’ll all be a family again, and you’ll be annoyed as hell because I’ll be too overprotective, and Dad will get mad at you for sneaking out at night to meet your boyfriend, and Mom will embarrass you in front of your friends by being affectionate in public. A family, Psyche. It’s scary now, because it’s always frightening to step into something new, but everything will work out. You’ll see, all this worrying we’re doing is for nothing.”

Tugging on his ponytail, Gerin rose to his feet, giving his sister a light pat on the head. “Sleep now, munchkin. What will come, will come. You’re better off rested when it does.”

She stuck out her lower lip, knowing he was watching and knowing he’d give in. “But you know I don’t sleep well without a lullaby, Gerin. Please sing me momma’s song.”

“Alright, just a little. Stop with the puppy eyes, though, got it?” he conceded, glancing at her sternly. He took a breath, reminding himself to keep it quiet as they weren’t alone in the house. In a deep, clear voice he sang to her,

”Children of Eden,
Grant us your pardon
All that we leave to you is the unknown

Children of Eden,
Seek for your garden
You and your children to come
Someday,
You’ll come home. . .”


-----------------

Tess slid her hand over the rock, tapping her foot impatiently as she waited for the rock door to move from its place. Even with Antarian technology things were slow on Earth. With her free hand, she fingered the delicate stone hanging around her neck. It was small, smooth and long, amber wrapped in white gold. As long as she had this, everything else would come in time. All she needed was patience and good timing.

The cave was dark as she stepped inside, listening for the soft ‘clunk’ as the rock slid back into place. Privacy at last. Too many people had been around, too many new faces in Roswell that she couldn’t explain away.

Her plan had to work. She wouldn’t settle for less. Last time she accepted being second, and it got her nowhere.

This time she was on equal footing.

She gazed across the room to the pods, stacked and lined in a perfect square. Why couldn’t the rest of her life be so perfect? What did she have that Tess didn’t? The answer was nothing. Tess was the alien. Tess was one of them. Tess had the memories, the power and the knowledge. Tess was older this time.

Still, Max was too close to forgiving Liz. How could he? She slept with Kyle, and, as far as he knew, she’d slept around before that too. Surely even he wasn’t stupid enough to accept Liz’s apologies and take her back. But if things didn’t start looking up for her, she’d have to interfere again. It wasn’t something she minded, really, she just wished she could leave Kyle out of it. He’d been a good friend, someone who could make her laugh and didn’t judge her because of who her cousin was.

Tess clenched her jaw. She didn’t need Max, or Isabel, or Michael’s approval. Not anymore. She was the one who had control in this situation, not them, and she would never let them gain it back. She’d suffered in the shadows too long to turn back. All her childhood had been spent in planning, never being given a second glance in favor of her illustrious cousin. Sweet little Ava, always the replacement.

No one gave a damn.

The fourth pod held her attention, and she caressed the broken membrane lovingly. The Queen of Antar had not trusted Andraya, never had. And it had been Ava’s one chance.

Things were working out perfectly.

Smirking, she released the tension in her shoulders. Yes, everything would work out for the best. Aloysia had started it all with her birth, and with her death, the pain and suffering would end.

Tess walked over to the hole in the cave wall, where Max had hidden the orbs, the destiny book. Her plan had been perfect then too, she mused, only that idiot human was too stubborn to let things go. She honestly hadn’t meant to hurt him, he’d been a nice guy. But that translation was more important that silly humans and their emotions. If he’d handed it over willingly, she wouldn’t have had to force him, and things would’ve been much smoother for everyone. As it was, she was stuck with a book she still couldn’t read and the translation for it lost in an e-mail she had no idea how to access.

The silver hand print reappeared when she waved her hand, bag of alien treasures slung over her shoulder. Solid rock once again shifted, breaking off from the wall to reveal the outside desert air. The glare of the sun prevented her from seeing her car as she exited, holding up a hand to shield her eyes. Descending the path from the rock formation, she kept her eyes on her feet, not trusting herself to make it down without stumbling. How could anyone stand the desert? It was too dry, too bright, too rocky. She wasn’t about to break a bone because of a missed or careless step.

Clicking caught her ears, and she looked up sharply, stomach shattering on the rocks below as a row of FBI agents faced her, guns drawn. Not just normal guns, tranquilizer guns.

The first thought in her head was of herself; the second, they knew where the pod chamber was. Only as the weight of the bag fell from her shoulders did she realize how badly she’d messed up.

Then the world was gone.

-----------------------------

Liz stretched, feeling strangely rejuvenated. It was the first time in weeks she’d been able to sleep through the night. She tried not to giggle as she thought back to the dreams she’d had, so different from the nightmares she’d been having. This one left her aching for more, to rush off into the night to Max’s bedroom window, to hell with the rest of the world, to hell with Future Max and destiny and Tess. The feel of his fingers exploring her skin from head to her little toe, the glow only he could create burning pleasantly under her skin. The feeling of emptiness left behind as she’d awoken nearly broke her resolve.

Still, she felt hope for the first time in many months. Maybe, just maybe, everything would work out for the better now. Max was willing, somewhat, at least, to help with the investigation into Alex’s death. The aliens acknowledged he might’ve been murdered, now.

She stood, dragging her feet from the bed with reluctance. After the past year and a half, school had become so useless. Where she used to anticipate the mornings with a desire to learn and do well, the most she could muster in the mornings anymore was sluggish movement and hollow motivations. Getting through the school day without the world ending had taken precedence over everything else. Her greatest fear, one that haunted her at every turn, was if Future Max had been wrong. What if, even with Tess, they’re still not strong enough, and the world ends?

Then everything would’ve been in vain. She’d sacrificed too much to let it. At this point, she was willing and ready to do anything if it meant preventing that or a worse future from happening. She’d die, if that’s what it took. Alex wouldn’t be dead, she’d still be happy, and with the man she loved more than anything or anyone if it hadn’t been for her meddling.

But that future she’d seen in the brief, accidental flashes she’d gotten from Future Max was too horrible to imagine. Filled with fire, and death and pain. Chaos.

Which was why she’d let him go. It was why she was able to let him go. Even if it hurt him for awhile, he was alive to feel it. His sister was alive to hate her for tromping on his devotion.

Enough with the morbid thoughts, Liz! she scolded herself, forcing a smile and striding to the bathroom for her shower. The past was past, the future was undetermined. As it should be.

No one should be forced to see their own future.

She twisted the shower to scalding, wanting to be warm again. She’d been warm, and happy, contented, getting out of bed and ready for the day. The water relatively hot, cleansing, but it cooled as rapidly as her thoughts. Or had she cooled? They’d never had a problem with the water heater before. But no matter how far she turned the knob, the water never warmed. It dug into her skin, frozen and grating. Shivers wracked her thin frame, too cold to move yet unable to remain standing.

Her knees buckled, dropping her to the tiles. Abruptly, she was burning, the water boiling and splattering on the walls as steam filled the small room. Shrieking, Liz reached blindly for the shower knob, slamming it down and off. The silence left behind deafened her.

Brushing a lock of damp hair behind her ear, she pulled back her other hand away from the faucet. A smear of red marred the shining metal she’d held.

Dread flooded her veins as she brought her hand up to her face, palm toward her. In a smooth, clean-cut line, blood poured down and mingled with the water clinging to her skin. It moved in thick clumps, as if it had been dry until she stepped into the shower.

It wasn’t a cut one could get from a razor. And she hadn’t been anywhere near hers. It wasn’t a scrap, too straight and perfect for that.

Dazed, she stood and, without bothering to dry or cover herself, walked to her room, to her bed, to the pillow she was known to clutch in her sleep. Nothing. She threw it to the side, losing the calm veil she’d dawned when she’d seen her hand. No. No. No. She chanted in her head, flipping the sheets of her bed to see every wrinkle and surface. Her clean hand pushed aside her other pillow, and her body stilled as her eyes fell on a small trail of blood by the head of the bed. A straight, thin line of red, stark against the pale blue sheets.

Hesitantly, she flipped her hand over, palm up, and settled it beside the stain, eyes darting back and forth from her cut to the sheets and back. Same length. Same width. Same shape.

Her feet shuffled back against the carpet, gentle steps with a pause between each one. She thought her knees would break at the sudden weight, her body heavier that it was before. Or was she just imagining things again? Had she just imagined the water changing temperature? The blood? Was it all in her head?

Gleaming metal on her dresser drew her attention, saving her from an answer she didn’t want as her eyes narrowed on the object. A wooden hand barely the length of her hand, topped with a long, thin blade that dripped noiselessly onto the top of the dresser. Crimson drops pooled along the edge of the knife, falling as they grew too large and bulky.

Her eyes wandered down to her trembling hand.

Either she’d begun to sleepwalk in her adolescence, or someone had come in her room and cut her as she slept.

She sank to the carpet, tucking her legs underneath her. Swallowing bile, she turned her head, scanning the room mindlessly. If she thought, she’d freak. She’d lose it and scream. That would
raise questions she couldn’t answer.

She had to tell Max.

As soon as the thought came, an accompanying accusation rose behind it. What if he doesn’t believe you, again?

No, she shouted back silently, no he trusts me! He’s my friend now, if nothing else.

That’s what you said before, that’s what he said before. Didn’t seem to make much difference.

Why was she suddenly so nauseous?

The clock on her bedside table told clicked as the numbers shifted to read eight o’clock. Her first class started at 7:30, but she couldn’t make herself move.

She never noticed the figure on her balcony, watching through the window with one hand shoved in his pocket, a thoughtful frown on his face.

-------------------------------

“Max!” Liz stumbled slightly as a larger boy moved past her in the hall. She raised her voice. “Max! Max, I have to talk to you.” She reached him, tugging on his arm. She shrugged off the familiarity of her words, their postures. If only they could go back to that day, when he first told her of his origins, and before destiny and the end of the world became concerns. Life had been so much simpler.

She smiled despite herself. Nothing with aliens was ever ‘simple.’

“Liz what’s wrong?” he asked, eyebrow quirked as she yanked him into the band room, darted a quick glance around to reassure herself they were alone, and slammed the door shut behind them. He waited patiently for her reply, noting the stiffness in her back and shoulders. “Liz?”

Gently, she held up her right hand, wrapped in a rough, white clothe. With the barest of tugs, the clothe came free, and she twisted her palm to face him. The cut across her skin was no longer bleeding freely, but the flesh around it was pink and raw. She let her fear show in her eyes as she met his. “Someone came in my room last night while I was asleep. They cut my hand. It’s not bad--”

He interrupted her, moving to her side and placing his hand in her own, meeting her eyes. Their connection flared between them, charging the air and sending him spiraling in her feelings and memories. Her terror at the thought of someone hurting her as she slept, a deeper, lingering fear of something he couldn’t grasp, and the blind faith in him that he’d make it right again.

She had faith in him, and he could feel how it terrified her after how they’d been getting along recently, how he’d turned on her over Alex’s death.

He swore not to let her down again.

His gaze trained on hers, he watched the emotions pass behind her eyes, no longer able to feel them. How could he not have noticed the new darkness in her eyes, the hollowness of her cheeks? Even her wrists were frail and bony in his grasp. But he hadn’t been paying attention, not really, not since she betrayed him. He could act content and normal all he wanted, but the mere thought of her with someone else, much less the sight of her with Kyle, was enough to bring him to his knees. It never occurred to that it would be killing her too.

Why? he wanted to scream. Why are you doing this to us? Why are you lying to me?

Wanting desperately to crumble in his arms and take away the pain in his eyes, Liz retracted her hand tentatively. Rubbing her thumb over the newly healed skin, she thanked him. He nodded, and there was silence between them.

-------------------------------

Picking at the threads on her pants, Sam avoided the eyes of her caretakers. It was lunchtime at the Evans’ household, and Max and Isabel were at school, which left her to the scrutiny of Philip, who’d decided to take a lunch break with his wife, and Diane. Before her was a plate of grilled cheese and crackers, only a few bites missing. The thought of finishing made her want to scream.

She loved food. Why was the idea of it making her sick?

Hoping the Evans wouldn’t notice, she rested one hand against her stomach, rubbing lightly with her thumb. She scrunched her nose in irritation. Her tummy hurt. She prayed she wasn’t getting sick. That was the last thing she needed! More people hovering over her, more attention that she didn’t want or feel comfortable with. She’d met a total of five people outside her family in her entire life, but suddenly she was expected to fit in and interact with complete strangers? There were too many people! Way too many, she thought morosely, I’m gonna go bonkers!

If she didn’t throw up first.

“Sam, sweetie, are you alright?” The child grit her teeth at the nickname. Why did all adults assume that all children were “sweeties?” Couldn’t they at least call her something slightly less. . .sissy? Babyish? Hells, she’d be fine if they called her ‘kiddo!’ just not sweetie.

She nodded, teeth pinching her bottom lip. “Just not very hungry.” she mumbled finally, seeing their concerned looks.

Were parents supposed to be so nosey? she wondered. It’d be nice, if they were her real parents. She wouldn’t mind so much then.

But they weren’t, she frowned. Her parents couldn’t keep her yet.

Then the world tilted, spinning away from her and twisting in her stomach. Tingles shot up and down her arms, in every nerve and she saw the kitchen vanish down a tunnel.

Everything slammed back into place abruptly, and she whipped around to lose her lunch on the floor. With each shuddering cough, her back hit the underside of her chair and when she finally caught her breath, she half-turned on her back to gaze up at the wooden seat she’d been sitting on.

Diane crouched beside her, hand clasping her mouth and eyes full of unshed tears. Philip looked down from over her shoulder, frowning in concern. “Sam, what’s happening?” Diane whispered.

Sam shook her head frantically, choking back her sobs until they weren’t there to see. Her eyes were fixed on the chair, still towering above her. It rose impossibly high in her sight, taunting her and sending her spiraling down in her fear. “No!” she cried, “No! No! I don’t want to yet!”

“Sam, Sam, it’s alright, just tell us what’s happening! We can fix it, whatever it is, just tell us! One minute you were sitting there, the next you were falling through the chair!” Philip knelt by his wife, lifting the chair up and away from the trembling girl. He placed a hand on her head, searching for a fever.

She tossed his hand from her, composing her five-year-old face with a serious expression. Standing, she brushed her hair behind her ear, and held her head up. “It’s started.” Her lower lip quivered briefly, before she stilled it. “She’s pregnant now.”

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Chapter 7

Post by Chione » Mon Feb 21, 2005 9:13 pm

Hi! I'm back! Thanks for all the wonderful responses! I love hearing from you! And I had a wonderful time in NYC. For those who are into Broadway, go see Wicked and Avenue Q if you haven't already. They both kick ass!

Enjoy!


Chapter 7

It had been a week since Max had seen Tess, and he couldn’t help worrying. When one of their group disappeared, it was never accidental or innocent. He ran an agitated hand through his hair as he paced, debating whether or not to barge into the Valenti household and demand to know where she was. He needed someone to talk to. In the past few months, she’d been there for him through everything and he’d taken for granted that she’d always be there. Tess had been a constant since she’d arrived. And it wasn’t like he could talk to Liz about Liz. Then again, he mused, talking to Tess about Liz wasn’t much better.

He frowned, glaring at the phone. To call Kyle or not to call Kyle. Even months later the mere mention of him, the normal boy Liz wanted, the normal boy he could never be, made his skin crawl. Couldn’t he put aside his jealousy for Tess’s sake?

Did she know Ava and Zan had a child? Images of the dark-haired girl he’d seen, with bright, haunting green eyes that gazed up at him adoringly flashed in his mind day and night. Did Tess know what had happened to her? Was their daughter grown? Was she raised by their enemies? He hadn’t even realized how much a child could mean to him until the moment he saw her through Larek’s eyes, knowing she was part of him in some other life.

He shook his head violently. No. Not their daughter; Zan and Ava’s. He wasn’t even sure he could have children. Liz would’ve been able give specifics, but he knew enough about science to know that often hybrids were sterile. And even if it was possible, Liz was the only one he’d imagined as the mother of his children, and she didn’t seem to be an option anymore.

So he was left with Tess. Not that he didn’t think she was beautiful, or sweet, but she was only a good friend.

Zan may have loved Ava, but Max loved Liz. That didn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. He could live with being her friend, he told himself, it had been enough once and it would have to be again.

God, who was he kidding? Friends was never enough with Liz. Which was why he’d given her back his knife, given her the way out of his dangerous, unpredictable lifestyle that she hadn’t wanted. If she had. . .

But she hadn’t. And the only way he could’ve let her go was to severe all ties. Only, she’d been sucked in too far to ever be fully removed again, and it was his fault. He’d turned her into something different than she was meant to be, put her in permanent peril with powers none of them had any clue what to do with. She was as good as alien to the FBI. And his enemies, if they ever found her, god, would they find her a threat too?

The phone rang, interrupting his thoughts and drawing his eyes away from the window. He waited, letting it ring until he was sure no one else would pick it up before reaching for the handle.

“Hello?”

There was a pause, and he heard a voice that weighed his stomach to the floor. “Max? It’s Jim Valenti.”

“Hey. Is everything all right?”

“I was just wondering if you know where Tess is? She hasn’t been home for a week, and I’ve tried calling before, because I figured this was a--personal--matter but no one answered. Liz and Maria haven’t seen her either, and Kyle says she hasn’t been to school.”

Taking a moment to scroll through the information rationally, pick it apart and spit it back out, he swallowed at the only conclusion. Every instinct he had, alien and human, was screaming. Something was wrong, and Tess was missing, and that meant something bad had happened to Tess. After everything that had happened with Liz and Alex, he knew something had been going on for awhile and he’d been to blinded by his own pain to see it.

“Call Liz and Maria, get them to meet at your place in an hour. I’ll get Michael and Isabel.”

“All right. I’ll see you then. Be careful.” And the former sheriff hung up.

------------------------

“Kei,” she murmured, wrapping her arms tighter around the warm body beneath hers. It wasn’t the warmest place, nor the most romantic for a secret rendezvous between lovers, she realized. But nothing in her life ever allowed for convention, and the reminder of how they’d kept each other warm left a smirk on her face. He was certainly worth the risk.

“Hm.” Her companion groaned, snaking his own limbs around hers to hold her still. “Too early, love. Go back to sleep. Or haven’t I worn you out yet?” His eyes closed, he raised his gently curved brow in mock insult. As the silence stretched, he peeked through one eye to gauge her reaction.

She grinned up at him, one hand removing itself from his hair to seek a more sensitive part of him. “Haven’t you learned anything?” Tossing her head confidently, her hand found its treasure, and she smiled wickedly as her fingers caressed the silken skin coming to life beneath her. “I am the
Kazra’ia. I never tire.”

Both his eyes snapped open, narrowing at her grin and he reached for her hands, rolling them over. “No, I guess you don’t.” His lips descended.


Her dreams were back, Liz mused, stretching in bed on the one day she had off work for the weekend. Back, and powerfully.

That man. . . His eyes drew her in like nothing else she’d ever known. Evicted feelings she loved, and hated, and had never felt the like in her life. She could forget anything, everything in his embrace, content to watch the world fall to tatters around them as long as he held her. Yet she didn’t even know who he was. Just a name, and a nickname at that. Kei.

Remembering a soft, burning glow within her at another man’s touch, she amended her thoughts. Max made her feel like that, before Tess. Before destiny and reincarnated wives, and future selves interfered, they’d had that same power together. Just the thought of the shy, innocent boy who’d held her hand in the middle of Bio, sending her spiraling through the stars at the briefest contact set her heart in loops and her head to the heavens.

Was it possible to feel so much emotion for two people? She thought she’d burst thinking of only one, having more love for his pinky than could fit inside her heart. Was one just a fantasy she’d dreamed to replace Max, who would never be hers again?

No. That wasn’t right either. Before she’d met Max, she couldn’t have imagined feeling so powerfully for someone. It was too wild, too fierce and consuming there’s no way little Lizzie Parker, the perfect student, the perfect daughter, could’ve thought it up.

Well, she had been the perfect student and daughter, before she’d been shot, healed, and dragged head first into the Alien Abyss, as Maria so charmingly dubbed their world of suspicions, FBI, evil aliens, apocalypses, mindwarps and lies.

Out of all the aliens, the only one she’d never learn to trust completely was Tess. No matter how loyal she proved to be, or how sweet and kind a wife she’d be to Max. It was only too convenient for the one who’d been separated, the one no one remembered until she showed up, had the ability to make people see things, believe things, that weren’t real, that weren’t true. She used her powers so flippantly.

Sometimes it’s easier to make someone see something that isn’t there, than to make them see what’s right in front of them.

How far did her abilities go? She could alter memories, she could create new ones, she could envision false realities and force them on others. How could anyone ever be certain that what they lived was real with her around? Even with her gone.

The shrill ring of the phone brought her from her groggy consciousness. Without sitting up, she stretched her arm for the phone and held it next to her ear, one eye open, the other closed as she struggled to sound awake as she said, “Hello?”

“Liz?”

“Mr. Valenti?”

“Yes. Liz, we have a situation. We’re all meeting over here in an hour. Can you get here? It’s important?”

She felt the strings of her life falling once more from her limp fingers. Sending a silent prayer to any deity watching over them that her friends were all alive, healthy and free, she took five filling breaths and responded. “Sure. Not a problem. I’ll be right over.”

“I’ll see you then. Be careful.”

“You as well.”

The moment the phone touched the cradle, Liz felt her world melt away.

Long, even walls made of maddeningly identical, white squares flashed on all sides of her. She knew that room. Max knew that room, and he’d passed it to her. The infamous white room of the FBI. Silence echoed in the geometric room, but she could feel someone else there. Two someones. Two familiar auras, presences.

One blonde, manipulative, alien, but not evil.

Tess.

The other warmer. Greener?


Liz shot up from her bed. Absently, eyes wide, she reached behind her to gather her hair in a ponytail. Why had she gotten a flash? Those only ever hit her when things got--intense with Max. Was it important? Or just a memory of Max being rescued? He could’ve been the second presence.

No, that wasn’t quite right.

Michael? And was it the past or the future? Except she’d know if Tess was in the white room, the group would know, and she was still part of that, right? What if they hadn’t told her, and that’s why Tess hadn’t been in class all week? She’d just assumed it was Tess being, well, Tess. It wasn’t unusual for the blonde to skip school at whim. Apparently school wasn’t a big priority for aliens.

No, someone would’ve told her, if only so her eyes would be peeled.

Everything was fine, it had just been something from Max’s memories.

But then, why had Valenti called, and what was this situation?

-----------------------

“So where is she, Evans?” Kyle began the moment everyone was settled about the living room. He stood beside the couch, arms crossed and eyes stabbing Max with blame over Tess’s disappearance.

Maria shook her head from her seat, scoffing at Kyle’s glare. “What are you talking about, Valenti?” she asked, eying him with warning. He’d better remember her earlier threat, or she’d just have to demonstrate how very pissed off he’d managed to make her. What was he even doing there? After what he pulled last time, he had no right to be part of their group anymore.

“Tess is missing.” The ex-sheriff stepped in, fatherly instincts for all the teenagers gathered in his living room coming to surface. They wouldn’t get anywhere fighting, and the moment they’d entered the house he’d sensed the crackling tension among them. Focus was what they needed now. It was the only way they could help Tess.

Liz stiffen from her perch on the arm of Maria’s chair. “Missing?” she repeated, gulping down her rising hysteria.

“Yes, for about a week. Max thought she was with us, and we thought she was with one of you.” Jim explained.

“Boy do we need to work on our communication.” Maria muttered.

“Tess is missing? Did she tell anyone where she was going, or why?” Liz asked, gazing at each of them in turn. She hadn’t left town, had she? That would mean everything was useless! They needed her to save the world.

Her thoughts ran into each other as she stopped. Save the world? God, what had her life come to?

A sudden thought caused her heart to plummet. Maybe Tess hadn’t left willingly, after all.

“Don’t you think if she had one of us would’ve said something? All she said last I saw her was that she was going to visit El Presidente. She never came back. That was Monday.” Kyle snapped, glowering at the aliens present, Max especially.

Max shook his head. “I never saw her. We didn’t have any plans.”

“Bullshit--”

“No one asked for your input, Kyle.” Maria cut him off, rising to her feet in a huff. Readying herself for a major ass-kicking, she opened her mouth just as Liz whispered the five words guaranteed to shut her up instantly.

“I think the FBI has her.”

“Liz-” All three aliens began, Max with a frown, Isabel a fearful glance and Michael a contemplative scowl on his face.

Kyle overrode the three with his shouts. “What? You mean all this time you’ve known where she is and you didn’t say anything? Who knows what they’re doing to her! I knew you were jealous, Liz, but this?”

“No, that’s not--”

“Damn it Kyle! Has your brain gone to shit? I can’t believe you’d say that to Liz!” Stalking over to Kyle, Maria raised her arm and slapped him across the face, smirking in satisfaction as his head whipped to the side. Immediately the skin of his cheek turned red, and she put her hands on her hips. “You have no idea what you’re talking about!”

“Everyone, calm down! We won’t get anywhere like this!” Jim said, putting his hands up between his son and the irate blonde, pushing them apart and eying the rest of the teens wearily. “We have to work together here. No one in this room is an enemy, remember that.”

Michael watched Liz carefully. He had plenty of questions, and knew where to find the answers. But too many people were present, and he respected her desire for secrecy. Maria had broken her promise not to tell, but he had made no such promise to anyone. He had every right to involve the rest of the Pod Squad, and they did deserve a warning if the end of the world was to come.

But Liz had sacrificed everything for them, and she’d kept this to herself, knowing she could’ve been with the man of her dreams, could’ve married him and lived happily for at least fourteen years. He wasn’t a fool, despite what his girlfriend seemed to think. The only way Max, any Max, would give up Liz was if he thought it would be better for her, for everyone he loved. If it were to punish himself. The present Max would blame himself for the end of the world, and alienate not just Liz, but their entire family. Valenti was right, too. They had to focus on one thing at a time, and if their visitor from the future had nothing to do with this new development, it would have to wait.

He’d talk to Liz privately first, before he told anyone. He had to have the entire, unabridged version if he was going to make any decisions. “Liz, what makes you think the FBI has her? Does this have anything to do with--gray hairs and leather?” He asked, flushing at the only words he could grasp at to indicate what he meant without out and out saying ‘Future Max.’

“What the hell? Michael?” Isabel sputtered, gazing at him in horror.

Kyle raised an eyebrow, rubbing his hands together nervously and turning from the circled group. “How kinky.” he noted sarcastically, unheard.

“I had a flash earlier today, but I really didn’t know what it was until now. It was really vague, and really brief, and I didn’t even know Tess was missing.” Liz said, brushing an invisible strand of hair behind her ear. The memory of the visions she’s seen sent her stomach rolling, and she swallowed once, hard.

“What was the flash of? When was it? What were you doing at the time?” Max pressed, brow furrowed. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, gazing at Liz. This was his fault. She was having flashes, and somehow, evolving and there wasn’t anything he could do. Maybe she’d just been touching something alien, or something an alien had touched previously that sent her a flash. Maybe she wasn’t really changing into one of them.

He clung to the hope as he waited for an answer.

“I wasn’t doing anything. It was just this morning, after I got the call to meet here. I saw the white room, and then Tess, and I thought it was from when you were captured, but I couldn’t tell what Tess was doing, or anything. I couldn’t even really see Tess at all, it was more of a feeling that Av--Tess was there.” said Liz, the name Ava nearly rolling off her tongue at the wrong time.
What if it wasn’t Tess in her flash, but her dupe? No, she thought, something didn’t sit right about that. It was definitely Tess. So why the slip?

“Since when do you get flashes? Without Max, I mean?” Maria asked, standing protectively between Kyle and her best friend.

Isabel answered for Liz. “Since Max changed her. Ava said she’d been changed somehow by the healing, and then she saved Max in New York.” She winced at the memory. She owed Liz, despite all she’d done to her brother, he was only alive and with them now because of the young waitress.

“We can deal with Liz and these potential powers later. Right now, we need to focus on one thing at a time: first and foremost, getting Tess back, if the FBI really has her.” Valenti reasoned, and the group fell silent, one by one reaching their own conclusion and twisting to face Isabel.

She blanched. “All right, no need to beg. I’ll dreamwalk her.”

-----------------------------------

Diane stared at her husband in the mirror. He stood behind her, hand running up and down her arm in gentle, soothing strokes. Both had been feeling the stress of the past few weeks, and they hadn’t had any time to really talk. It was almost a blessing their children had decided to spent the afternoon with friends. Now they had time to themselves, and Sam had time to rest. She hadn’t slept much at all, Diane knew, and she worried for the girl. For all of them.

“She’s her mother’s daughter, Di. Sam will get through this.” Philip assured, leaving a kiss on his wife’s shoulder. “Things will be tough for awhile, I know. I’m not that naive, but I do have faith in them. Things will get better, and everything, everything will be worth it in the end. Not tomorrow, or a week from now, or even five years from now, but someday, it will all be worth this.”

---------------------------------

Sam tiptoed away from her guardian’s bedroom door, tiny, bare feet padding on the carpet softly. Her stubborn chin lifted high, she stuffed her hands in the pockets of her overalls. As she passed a mirror in the hallway, she climbed up on the table below it to peer at her reflection. Tear tracks made their way down both sides of her face, and she scrubbed at them furiously with her sleeves. No one was going to know she’d been crying. It hadn’t occurred to her that others would worry too, and that they’d worry about her. Only her mother and sister and brothers had worried for her, but her mother had been gone since she was too young to remember more than the feel of her aura.

Her fears would be her own. Diane and Philip had faith in her, Gerin had faith in her, and Crystal was relying on her until her own children were grown and she was ready to take Sam’s place. She couldn’t let them down.

She was strong.

She was her mother’s daughter.

Resolved brown eyes challenged her in the mirror, and she accepted.

No worries.
Last edited by Chione on Tue Jan 16, 2007 7:09 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Chione
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Post by Chione » Sun Feb 27, 2005 9:42 pm

Some of the answers you're looking for can be found in this chapter. Others, well, you'll just have to wait. :twisted: :D

Thanks once again for all your wonderful feedback. I love to hear what you think of the story!

Chapter 8

“I can’t get in.” Isabel shouted, snapping her eyes open and flinging her arms as she sat up from the couch. She’d tried three times to connect to Tess, and not once had she caught so much as a glimpse of the girl’s mind.

“Maybe Liz should try,” Maria piped up, “She did get the flash, and she was able to get to Max when he was in New York.”

Michael gave her a sideways look, then glanced at Liz. She was visibly uncomfortable with the idea, so Max would never push it. Which left him with the dirty work, and the sore ears after it was over. “I think it’s worth a shot, Liz.” he added, nodding to Maria.

Liz shook her head as Isabel cut in. “Oh, so now I can’t even use the powers I’ve always had, but Liz suddenly can? So I’m useless now? Why am I even here then?” she demanded, gaze flicking from Liz to Max and then to Michael.

“No.” Liz stated, feet spread shoulder width apart, hands clenching and unclenching against her folded arms. “I can’t dreamwalk. What I did before, it was Isabel’s power. She just--pulled me along, I guess. But Ava was wrong, I haven’t been changed. I’m human. I haven’t shown any powers other than that once, and so it had to be Isabel. Not me.” She met Max’s eyes across the room. “I haven’t been changed.”

Michael shook his head, grabbing the picture they’d used of Tess and shoving it at Liz. “Try it. I guarantee it’ll work. Besides, what do you have to lose?”

“Max.” Kyle said. He glared at her, jaw tight. “She has Max to lose, that’s why. She doesn’t want to find Tess. She’s jealous, and doesn’t give a damn about anyone but herself.”

Growling, Maria tightened her grip on the pillow from the couch, nails digging into the fabric. “You unbelievable ass! You lying bastard! Not only do you lie about sleeping with Liz, which we both know you never did, but now you accuse her of being selfish? You have no idea what she’s done to save all your asses!” Before anyone could stop her, she leapt from her seat, pillow raised to strike. The pillow smacked into the side of his face, followed quickly by her bunched fist. Kyle stumbled to the side, holding his face in one hand, and Maria back with the other. She pushed against him, and Michael as he came up behind to to wrap her in his arms and drag her backward. “Let me go, Michael, or I swear I’ll--”

He lowered his head, cutting her off forcefully with his own lips.

Isabel cleared her throat, shifting so she sat with her legs folded beneath her. Swallowing, she smiled shakily at Liz in apology. She didn’t know what had gotten into her lately. She’d been so snappy. Quick to attack at anyone. You have every right to hate Liz, she told herself. After all, Liz broke your brother’s heart.

The same brother who threatened you if you tried to leave for college? the majority of her asked. She shook free of those thoughts. They’d all been someone else since Alex--

“Try it, Liz.” she urged, halting her thought process where it was.

Not giving her an answer, Liz fingered the picture in the pocket of her jacket, scrutinizing Kyle’s movements as he drummed the counter with his fingertips. He seemed oblivious to what he was doing. Her hands fisted over the photo.

---

As she grabbed her coat to meet Maria out in front of the Crashdown, Liz paused by her dresser, a small, folded paper snaring her attention. That wasn’t there before, she thought, reaching hesitantly. If anything started blinking, she was running.

Her hands brushed the edged of the paper, and she pulled it apart, unfolding it reverently.

It was Alex, the day he died. She remembered, eyes misting, the look on his face that afternoon as he talked and joked with Isabel, finally having the girl of his dreams. How she wished she’d thought to capture that moment and she hadn’t. But in her hands was a clean, shiny photograph of him as he sat cross-legged, phone to his ear and fingers poised, frozen in the motion of strumming against the wood of his guitar.

She flipped it over frantically, praying for an explanation. Someone had been spying on them in his room that day. Why--

On the back of the picture, in typed, black writing, was a warning.

Watch your friends. Observe. If they tap their fingers, know to beware. I’ll explain when I return. For now, be cautious.

All things in Time.

Liz stared, mouth dry. Licking her lips, she fought to keep her breath in her lungs where it belonged.

“Liz? What’s up?” Maria asked, poking her head in the room. “We gotta go or King Max’ll be pissed. I get the feeling something’s really up in the Alien Abyss. Bad vibes and all that.”

Liz shook her head, shoving the picture in her pocket to ponder later. She had a meeting to get to. Other problems to worry about.


---

“Liz? Will you try it?” Max asked, touching her shoulder in concern. She’s zoned out at Isabel’s suggestion, and he worried that the development of powers was too much for her. She accepted what he was, but then, he remembered how terrified she’d been of Tess, for being ‘alien.’ But Tess’s life depended on it. And, he shuddered, if they were keeping her in something like the white room, the sooner they rescued her the better.

She nodded, shrugging off his hand. “Yeah. Um, I don’t really know what to do though.”

Isabel smiled, patting the couch as she stood up. “Come lay down, and I’ll help you through it.”

Settling back against the pillows, Liz cast a wary glance around the room. They were depending on her, a human, to find Tess. But if Isabel couldn't reach her, when the two were at least friends, how on earth or any other world was Liz supposed to? Max, she understood. They had a connection no one could explain, but there was certainly no such connection with Tess.

Still, she touched the photograph of the blonde, and leaned back with her eyes closed.

Tess’s image appeared in her mind immediately, and she could feel a distant hum that felt like the presence in her dream she knew to be Tess. She followed it, an imaginary red line that led out of Roswell and deep into the desert. A familiar compound, with a familiar sign announcing its importance to the world, and to her heart.

Fear and anger crashed into her as she approached, feelings not belonging inside her. Someone else’s. Then her soul brushed Tess’s, and cool blue eyes met hers across the space.

Hate.

-------------------

Racing through the halls, skirts gathered and spilling down from her waist as she held the fabric with one hand, Ephiny glanced back over her shoulder with loosely caged panic. In her other arm clung a young girl, squirming and struggling to keep her hands locked around her mother’s neck.

How much longer until they were caught?

The child wriggled, stifling her cries. It had been years since she’d been carried in such a manner, and she was slipping.

“Maman! Maman! Frightened!” the girl whispered. She looked over Ephiny’s shoulders, hiccuping her sobs. The hallway stretched behind them, dark and full of lingering mysteries. Faint echoes of padded feet slapping the stone followed their trail.

“Silence, Andraya. Rest assured you will be protected, at all costs.” Your father must not find you, Ephiny finished internally.

As the eldest granddaughter of the High Queen, Andraya was the eight-year-old heir to the throne. With the capital under attack, she was a prime target.

Ephiny cursed. It was her fault, after all. She’d been the one to fall for him; the only man with the capability to launch a full scale siege on the city and the will to use his only child to his own ends. Keiran.

Had her husband and their children escaped in time? On Keiran’s orders, any but Andraya were to be killed. Such a total coup had never come this close to being successful.

The footsteps drew closer. A slow, steady bum-bum on the floor, vibrating in the empty air; calm, in no hurry to reach her yet bridging the gap and growing ever louder.

“Ephiny,” his voice reached across the distance to grip her heart, faltering her steps.

There was stillness and quiet beyond the walls, footsteps and hurried breath shrieking in the silence. Where were the sounds of battle? Was it over, had they lost? Was her mother alive, or did she hold the new High Queen in her arms? So many questions. So much worry.

Brilliant lighting poured from the hanger to the floor ahead. She kicked out her legs with each step, desperate to make it. From there, they’d be safe. Ships were ready to leave, one touch and they’d been gone, out of Keiran’s grip for a time. Nearer now, nearly there.

Maman!” Andraya cried. Invisible, intangible limbs pulled at her hair, her dress, her toes, weighing her back. Her soul screamed and she lurched from her mother’s grasp.

“Andraya!” Ephiny shouted, pivoting to a stop. No time to change her mind, no time to make it now.

Keiran’s face appeared out of the shadows, then his chest and torso, then his clanking feet. He smiled.

Ephiny stared at him. Struggling for breath, heaving. Her hair had come undone, drifting down her back and falling nearly to the floor. A rippling sea of silver and ivory, blending with her pure gown in a statue of elegance and sorrow. Andraya would not go to him so long as her blood rushed beneath the flesh. Straightening, shoulders up, back, and down, she raised her chin.

“Keiran.”

Andraya lifted herself from the cold stone, burning emerald eyes flickering between her parents. A strange rush, pulsing, pounding, churning, barely contained within her small frame, drew her to her feet, calling to the man with hair as black and deep as hers was crystalline white. A coarse beard feathered his chin, groomed and cleanly kept.

He stepped forward, Andraya back, as Ephiny remained still.

“You know why we’re here. You loved me once, don’t make this difficult.” Keiran said, chin tucked in and eyes unblinking.

“Did you ever love me?”

“Oh, Ephiny, you know the answer to that.”

She nodded, once. “You will not take her while I live.”

“Then you will not live.” With the casual flick of his wrist, his fingers caressed her cheek lovingly. When had he moved in so close?

Ephiny’s head tumbled back through her hair, catching and tangling as it plopped on the ground, rolled, and rested. Severed neatly. The world stained red.

Doubling over, Andraya bit her fists and screamed. And screamed and screamed.

---

The smoldering ruins of the west wing of the palace were picked apart by the Guardians, the only testament to the siege. A frantic search for the missing princess and her daughter, the heir to the throne.

The High Queen paced about her throne room, instinctively sidestepping the chunks of stone and rubble strewn across the tiles. Her ivory braids wrapped within clothe and tied around her head. No expression marred her face, carved from a marble soul.

“Mother,” Milosa, the eldest princess of the royal family, sighed. “Mother, Ephiny is hardly at fault.”

“Milosa dear, she betrayed us to that man. You know as well as I who fathered my granddaughter.” the Queen stated. Glancing at her daughter in annoyance, she continued, head shaking, “This wouldn’t be quite so devastating if Callisto also hadn’t been taken. As is, we’re down to two possible heirs, neither over the age of five. Leon will simply inherit my crown, unless Callisto can be returned.”

“And Andraya?”

“Is a problem who shouldn’t have been born. My grandchild, indeed, whom I find quite darling, however her father’s blood hides within her childhood innocence. She will not always be so adorable and pure. She is a bastard on top of a half-breed, and though I love her--do not doubt that, Milosa--the Alliance can’t afford for her to be queen.” The High Queen took her seat on a golden throne of elaborate, winding filigree and glistening jewels. Quivering fingers gripped the golden scepter of her title, pale skin clashing with the rich color. Her shoulders shook, face stern. “We are better off for her absence.”

Milosa pursed her lips, “Perhaps. But Mother--”

“I should think you’d be thrilled to have your daughter on the throne.”

Milosa kept silent.

“That’s what I thought. Now--” she was cut off abruptly by the swinging inward of the doors. Both women turned their attention to the soldier entering the doorway, wordlessly demanding answers.

“Your Majesty, Princess,” the man nodded to them. He swallowed, the knot in his throat bobbing low, “We’ve found her head.”

Milosa hushed her cries with her hands, gray eyes raining like clouds with too heavy a burden.

The Queen blinked. “Whose?” breathlessly, cautiously.

“Your daughter, Majesty. The Princess Ephiny. There was no trace of Crown Princess Andraya, nor her cousin, the Princess Callisto. Just-just Ephiny’s head.” he stumbled over the last sentence, tripping on his tongue and flailing about to the end.

The Queen waved him out, using only the muscles necessary to lift her hand. So Ephiny hadn’t betrayed them in the end. The Queen’s youngest daughter was dead. Beneath her crown, the woman allowed her eyes to fall and fulfilled an entire mother’s mourning in the blink of a teary eye.

“Oh Mother!” Milosa murmured.

The High Queen stood once more, skirts smoothing their wrinkles and folds so the fabric draped gracefully down her back and over hips made for birthing. “Milosa, find Alexander. He must be informed of his wife’s passing.”


--------------------------------

Liz snapped up from the couch, the pillows lodged behind her head falling to the floor with a dull thud. Raising a hand to her mouth, she ran from the room and emptied her stomach away from prying eyes. Red and white painted the insides of her eyes, and she wretched, knowing for the first time why that image had haunted her. What the image had been of.

“Liz?” Maria asked, knocking hesitantly on the open bathroom door. Her pale, green eyes trained on her friend’s huddled form. Without waiting for permission, she grabbed a cloth from the hanger and ran it under the sink, wringing it out. She knelt down beside Liz, one hand on her back for comfort, and placed the cool, damp clothe against her forehead, wiping away the gathered sweat. “Liz, what did you see?”

Max looked on from the doorway, the others watching from over his shoulder. “Liz, are you all right? Is Tess? Please, tell us what happened.”

“She’s at Eagle Rock,” Liz croaked, “and she’s scared and angry.”

“Liz--” Maria began.

“Not now. We have to get Tess first.”

----------------------

Max sat in the drivers seat, clutching the steering wheel and alternately glancing at the road and the brooding girl in the seat behind him. There was something she wasn’t telling them, and he had no right to push it. They weren’t that close anymore. But what if it was about Tess? Where they torturing her? Liz knew, in part, what they’d done to him due to flashes, so was she trying to protect him by keeping quiet? He could handle it.

Picking at invisible dirt under her nails, Liz ignored the feeling of his eyes on her, silently cursing whatever connection still existed between them. If it weren’t for that, things would be so much easier. It’s easier to hurt someone when their emotions weren’t yours as well. It was easier to stay away from someone when you couldn’t constantly feel them near no matter how far you ran. And because of it, he always knew when she was hiding something. Only, recently, she’d been hiding so much. Now this dream, memory, nightmare, whatever it was. All her other dreams had been vague, shapes and feelings and auras but no actual events. This was so real. Vivid. There were only a certain number of things her dreams could be, and until she figured out what, she’d keep them to herself. Worrying about Alex’s murderer, Tess, and now the FBI again, the others had too much on their minds.

“Liz, when this is over, you and I are going to talk.” Michael spoke up from the front seat. He switched his gaze from Max to Liz, gauging her reaction and willing her to understand what he was talking about. Surely she caught the reference to Future Max previously.

Nodding, she continued fiddling with her hands on her lap. Maria had broken her promise, and Liz didn’t blame her. Keeping the end of the world to yourself was a constant tug-of-war that she herself was steadily losing. The only thing holding her secret in was Future Max’s faith in her. She’d already let down her Max in the worst possible way, breaking his trust. Future Max’s trust and faith was all she had left, even if that man no longer existed.

Max observed the occupants of his Jeep cautiously. Maria sat next to Liz, arm around her shoulder and gently rubbing up and down her arm soothingly. Isabel, Kyle and Valenti had taken his car, following close behind. Something was going on between Maria and Liz, and Michael now too. If it was making Liz this upset, then he needed to know. He’d wait, though, until they finished this to confront anyone. Now wasn’t the time. Not when one of them was still in harm’s way.

The highway stretched out before them, and off in the distance he could see the rising fence of the military base stark against the horizon. He never wanted to set eyes on the place again, and here he was about to break in. He had to keep it together for all their sakes or they could easily be caught as well. Who knows what the FBI would do with their human friends. He wouldn’t let that happen to any of them, especially Liz. She wanted a normal, safe life.

“We’re here.” Michael announced, twisting around in his seat to face Maria and Liz. “You two and Kyle will stay out here, be ready to get outta here when we get out, and fast. The rest of us will get Tess. If we’re not out in an hour, leave. Got it? Don’t try and do anything, you know, helpful. It won’t be appreciated, and you’ll only be getting in the way.”

“Gee, thanks Michael. We feel really needed, now. Why are we even here, then?” Maria asked, jaw clenching and unclenching as she spoke.

Liz narrowed her eyes, holding up a hand to silence Maria. “Wait a minute, who found out where Tess was? Me. Don’t you dare presume that I’m just gonna sit out here and wait. I’m coming too.”

Both men shook their head. “No. Liz, it’s too dangerous, and Michael’s right, you really can’t help here. The best thing for you to do is wait, and help us get out of here quickly when the time comes.”

Liz sat forward to argue when Maria put a hand on her shoulder and the other on her mouth. “All right. Liz, we’re going to stay here. They’re right. This isn’t time or the place to argue about it either. So get going, you two, and get back safely.”

“The only thing I won’t agree to is leaving. If you’re not back in an hour, we’re grabbing Valenti’s spare gun and going in after you, got it?” Liz said, tearing away from Maria’s grip. Max opened his mouth and she cut him off. “That’s not up for debate either.”

Michael groaned. “Fine, you wanna get killed? Not my problem. Now wait here.”

The three aliens gathered around Valenti’s car, going over their plan with the ex-sheriff one last time. Max, Michael and Valenti would go in and get Tess out, however they had to do that, while Isabel was to distract the guards outside the actual building.

Liz watched from behind the fence as the others crept into the compound, she didn’t like being left just because she was human. There were plenty of things she could do to help, her mind screamed, though rationality kicked in and insisted she was better off where she was. Minutes ticked by on her watch as she stared ahead, refusing to acknowledge Kyle and his shuffling about. Anytime now, there would be disturbance below to indicate they were on their way out, and she had to be ready to bolt. They were counting on her for that, at least.

-----------------------

Max glanced over his shoulder at the two figures following him, to insure they were keeping up. Tess hadn’t been in the white room and, in fact, the base had been nearly deserted as far as they’d seen. So they were scanning each hallway carefully, searching for any place the FBI could be keeping Tess.

“Max,” Michael hissed, “What if Liz was wrong?”

He shook his head, motioning to keep silent. He trusted Liz. If she said the FBI had Tess, the FBI had Tess. If she said Tess was at Eagle Rock, then Tess was at Eagle Rock. If she said ‘jump,’ he joked mentally, he’d ask ‘how high?’

But he couldn’t help that. She was Liz.

Footsteps clanked around the corner, drawing closer and Max was thankful for the darkness. He hung back in the shadows, praying the person would pass them by.

The footstep slowed. “Over here!” A man’s voice whispered, tossed in their direction. “Follow me, I’ll take you to her.”

They couldn’t see his face, just his hands, shoved deep into the pockets of his neatly ironed pants. He continued in the opposite direction, obviously expecting them to trail behind him. Valenti shrugged at Max. The man didn’t have a gun, as far as he could tell, and at that point, he was as good a lead as any.

Max furrowed his brow, concentrating. If they didn’t find Tess soon, Liz and Maria would come charging to the rescue and get themselves captured or killed. He didn’t have time to waste anymore.

He nodded to Michael, falling into step behind the stranger, keeping his hands out and in front of him just in case. If the guy was human, and alone, they could take him. If he was alien, well, they had no reason to think he was alien. He was in an FBI hideout, after all. No alien would be that stupid.

Then what did that make them?

The man placed his hand against the wall, seeming to feel his way through the corridor and down a small hallway. At the end lay a single, blank door. He twisted the knob, kicking his leg slightly against the bottom to force it open. Inside, the lights were dim, and focused on a small circle in the middle of the room. In a fetal position, curled around her knees, Tess lay unconscious in the clothes she’d been wearing the last they’d seen her, the morning of her disappearance.

Turning back to face them, they finally caught the features of the man who’d helped them. He was plain looking, balding and slightly wrinkled around dark, blue eyes. With a bright twinkle in his eye, he gestured into the room. “Take her and get out.”

There was a shout at the end of the hall, and the man’s eyes widened. Someone stood at the other end, shouting down at them in a language Max didn’t recognize. The man, however, seemed to understand, and he hollered back, malice leaking into his voice. Turning to Max, he pushed him at Tess. “Go. Now, I’ll handle this.”

The man at the end of the hall stepped under the lighting, reaching out to take Tess from Max’s arms. His brown ponytail came into view, and as Michael raised his arm to blast him, they saw his face for the first time.

“Mr. Thompson?!”
Last edited by Chione on Tue Jan 16, 2007 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Chione
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Post by Chione » Wed Mar 16, 2005 4:35 pm

:oops: I'm sorry this took so long to get out. Real life calls, but here it is! And this is part is the beginning of some answers for you!

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback! You have no idea how much every little rely helps get me off my lazy bum and write more!

Chapter 9

“Mr. Thompson?”

His eyes widened, vibrant green luminous in the gloom. They weren’t supposed to be here, they never should’ve found the girl. “What are you doing here?” he ground out, switching to English.

“What? We’re here to save Tess, one of your students, from these people who’ll torture her and hold her against her will!” Max shouted, pulling the unconscious Tess against him defensively.

Thompson shook his head. “She hasn’t been tortured, and she wouldn’t have been. You don’t even know who she is, you shouldn’t be so quick to her defense.”

“We know her better than we know you.” Michael retorted, hands aimed forward to blast their teacher if he had to.

Thompson sighed, running a hand through his hair and out of its tie. “Fine. Take her and go. You have three minutes before I can’t hold the FBI agents back anymore.”

Tess stirred in Max’s arms, and he tightened his hold, dropping a kiss on her forehead. Brushing the curls from her face, he murmured reassurances while urging Michael on down the hall. He would take three minutes, if they had them. He just didn’t trust Thompson.

The balding man reached for his arm, his other hand outstretched to Tess’s neck. Max jerked back, but the mans’ hand was quicker, weaving his fingers in a thin, silver chain circling her neck and trailing down into her shirt. With a rough yank, the clasp broke and his waiting hands clutched the necklace, frantically hiding it from Thompson’s scrutinizing gaze.

“What is that?” Max demanded, muscles in his throat straining in his anger. They needed to get out. Now. But if that necklace was important. . .

“That’s mine!” Thompson shouted, face rapidly flushing. He lunged at the bald man, wrestling their arms for the necklace Max had yet to see much of. With a strangled cry, the man shoved Max away, tucking the pendant of the necklace in Tess’s pocket and dropping the useless chain to the floor.

“Run!” he shouted, turning back to restrain Thompson from following them.

Valenti looked back and forth between the two men. Nodding, he took Michael’s arm and pulled. “He’s right. Let’s get out of here.”

“So much for the three minutes,” Michael muttered as they raced back the way they came, praying their time hadn’t run out and that the girls, plus Kyle, would be waiting at the cars. Their lives just seemed to get worse and worse as the year wore on, and they were quickly running out of any luck they may have had.

------------------------

This was a mistake, Liz lamented. Not that she didn’t want to save Tess, because she did. They just didn’t bother to think through their last minute plan, and they’d be sure to pay for it later.

Not to mention her sudden, intense urge to do something. Every nerve in her body screamed to move, to help, to pace, to barge in there, to fight--

No, there was nothing she could do in their situation. Only the aliens had any useful talents for fighting. She was the brain, at best.

Eyeing the horizon warily, Liz turned back once more to face Maria. “I have a bad feeling. Something’s wrong.” And she had no idea what. Just that every part of her wanted out, of the desert, of the whole damn city. To sit in a quiet, peaceful corner of a shadowed, hidden place for days on end, and think. There were too many questions forming and she had no answers. The only way to find them: think. There had to be an explanation for everything, a logical one, even if it involved aliens.

“Of course something’s wrong! The FBI has Tess in there, doing God knows what--”

Now the voice breathed to her conscience.

Liz jerked upright from her perch on the Jeep’s bumper. Without hesitation, she crossed the dirt road separating them from the military base they were watching. An invisible thread wrapped itself around her mind, tugging her away from the place she was supposed to be and into the place she knew was dangerous. Maria called her name from somewhere behind her, but she ignored it, hands reaching forward to peel back the portion of fence Michael had cut to get through.

She paused, not stepping through. A whisper in her mind told her to stay, that they were on their way out. Footsteps pounded on the other side of the foliage, and she knew it was Max. She moved out of the way, holding the fence back so they could pass through. Max first, a moaning, not-entirely-there Tess in his arms, Michael and Valenti rushed through in his wake. Michael nodded to her in thanks, not bothering to ask how she’d gotten her timing right.

She waited, holding the fence up in expectation. Max pivoted to face her, motioning to her to follow.

“Max,” she hissed, feeling the bottom of her stomach evaporate. “Max, what about Isabel?”

Michael halted mid-step, eyes quickly narrowing as he scanned the parked cars across the road. Two figures. No Isabel. “She didn’t stay with you?”

Liz shook her head, biting her lip. They couldn’t afford to go back in, but if Isabel was gone. . . “We assumed she’d gone with you.”

“Shit!” Michael cursed, hand shaking as he scrapped it through his hair. He grabbed her arm, chasing after Max and away from the base. Thompson or FBI agents were surely on their tail.

“Max!” he called, intense but quiet. “Maxwell, we got a problem!”

“Michael, what?” Max snapped. He was nearly to the Jeep.

“Isabel’s gone!”

Max faltered as his world spun out of control, his focus spread too thin between too many. It was supposed to have been simple. In and out. But first the lack of FBI crawling all over the place, then the strange bald man, and Thompson, and now Isabel had vanished? What else could go wrong?

Tess groaned, shifting in his arms. He resisted the urge to drop her and hunt for his missing sister. He was the king. He was responsible for the others, after they were safe he could find save Isabel. If she even needs saving a quiet voice whispered against his conscience. She was desperate to get out of Roswell. Maybe she took her chance and ran with it. She betrayed you before, after all.

He shook it off. Isabel wasn’t Vilandra. They’d worked out their issues.

Oh have you? the voice tauted. Does she know that?

“Max, whatever we’re gonna do, we have to do it, now!” Valenti warned, pulling his pistol from his belt.

A whirring siren sounded from behind them, alerting the listening world to their presence. Max cursed as he adjusted Tess in the back of the Jetta. “We have to go, now! Everyone get in a car! We meet up at the Pod Chamber, take different routes!” he ordered, rushed back to the Jeep just as Kyle and Maria drove away in the Jetta. Michael sat behind the wheel, ushering Max in the front seat as he started the engine. Liz was already seated in the back, ignoring the tingling in the back of her mind.

Max lurched forward as Michael sped off. Turning to keep an eye out behind them, he caught Liz’s eye. They were going to have a long talk once everything settled. All of them. The tension, the mistrust had gotten them nowhere, and they were up to their chins in shit because of it. Isabel. . .

She would be alright. She had to be. For now, he had to concentrate on getting the rest of them to safety.

------------------------

Liz sat mesmerized by the back of Max’s head. Only when he wasn’t looking was she allowed to admire him, the fall of his hair, the curve of his neck, his thick, broad shoulds resting against the seat. He couldn’t know how she still felt about him, although she was beginning to wonder if the future she’d been warned from was better than the one she was living. At least Alex had been alive.

Because Michael now knew, she’d have to rethink her resolution to keep silent. There was no way he’d keep secrets from Max, not when it dealt with the Granolith or their enemies.

Would he blame her? For Tess being captured, and Alex being killed, and Max being a jerk? For Isabel’s disappearance? None of it would’ve happened if she hadn’t meddled. But she still had time to formulate an explanation. Michael couldn’t corner her until all this mess with Tess and Isabel was cleared up. She had time.

The Jeep jerked to a stop as Michael pulled it around a boulder, hiding it from immediate sight. Not that anyone ever drove by the pod chamber, but they’d already made too many mistakes in their haste. No more.

Liz crawled from the back of the Jeep, feet stirring up dust as she leapt to the ground, shaking her hair free of the ponytail she’d used to keep it out of the wind. Glancing at Max, she followed Michael’s trail up the hill, feeling caged and protected with an alien on either side. Max’s eyes burned her back, and the bottomless feeling she’d had all day intensified. Had something changed that he’d returned to staring at her? He’d held her a week ago as she cried, told her he trusted her despite everything, but after everything with Kyle, and her own words, their relationship as a couple was irrepairable.

Wasn’t it?

Michael had the door open by the time she reached the top, the soft, glowing recesses of the cave sending chills across her neck. She shrugged, stepping through and attributing it to bad memories.

Maria and Kyle stood waiting, Valenti kneeling by Tess and gently shaking her awake. The blonde blinked to consciousness, gazing up at at them before focusing in Max. “Oh, Max. You rescued me! Thank you. What they did to me--” her eyes melted into tears, “what they did to me. . .” She trailed off.

Max’s throat clenched. He’d sworn none of his friends would suffer through the white room or any similar experience, but he’d failed first with Tess, and now Isabel too. What kind of king did that make him, that he couldn’t even protect his family?

He’d have to deal with Thompson. The teacher wouldn’t dare show up at school anymore, his cover had been blown. But he knew too much about them, was too dangerous to let him go.

“What are we doing here?” demanded Tess, lurching upright. “We can’t be here!”

“Tess, it’s alright. We’re at the pod chamber, it’s alright. You’re safe now.” Max said. He knelt across from her, cradling her hands between his own in comfort. Gently, he leaned forward to kiss her forehead. “You’re safe now.”

But she was already shaking her head. “No, we’re not safe here. This is where they found me! We’re not safe here anymore!”

Michael grabbed Maria’s arm, dragging her to the entrance. “We’re all leaving. Let’s go.”

Avoiding the scene of Max and Tess, Liz glanced around. How had the FBI found this place, unless they’d followed one of them there. Or there was a traitor among them.

The thought hit Max at the same instant, sending him to the ground on his butt. They could’ve been betrayed by one of their own.

Before Michael could wave his hand over the wall, Max shouted, “No! Michael, we can’t just go charging out of here. No one can get in, and we have to think this through.”

“Maxwell--”

Max stood, cutting him off. “No. We think this through.”

They all jumped as Maria’s cell phone shrilled in the silence. She blushed, reaching to answer it with a mumbled apology. “Sorry. If I don’t answer, people will know something’s up. I always answer my cell.”

“Hello?”

“What? But we’re not--” Her face turned to ash. “Oh my god. . .”

A trembling hand closed the phone, Maria’s pallid face drawn tight. She swallowed, twice, not meeting anyone’s eyes. “God, Liz. There’s a fire at the Crashdown.”

-------------------------

Diane Evans pushed open the doors to the Crashdown, holding them out of the way of the child trailing her shadow. The afternoon was lovely, and the kids had gone on another of their ‘camping trips,’ which she didn’t buy for a minute. But she’d give them space. They were responsible children, after all. And more pressing matters were weighing heavily on her shoulders.

“Here we are, Sam. You wanted good ol’ American grease food, and this is the place to eat.” she introduced the girl, sweeping an arm out in a grand gesture of showing off the restaurant.

Sam nodded, hopping up on the seat. The decorations were silly, she decided, because aliens didn’t really look like that. Not any she’d seen, anyway, and she liked to consider herself an expert on the subject. Still, the Parkers owned the small diner, and that alone earned her interest. Maybe, if she behaved, she’d catch a glimpse of Liz again. The nervous flutter in her stomach kicked up a storm at the thought.

“Hello, Diane, how are you today? What can I get for you?” Jeff Parker strode over to their booth, taking notice of the small child nearly swallowed whole by her overalls. “And who is this lovely lady with you?”

“I’m Sam.” she said, sticking her hand out diplomatically. He shook it, reminiscing at the familiar wide-eyed child before him. She looked so much like Liz at that age.

Diane smiled. “She’s staying with us for awhile. I thought I’d introduce her to traditional Roswell delights. I think we’ll start with two Alien Blasts, please.”

He nodded, passing on their order to the waitress behind the counter. Diane frowned. They seemed awfully short staffed. She wondered where that Liz girl was, and her blonde friend. They were usually working. She shrugged it off, grinning as the girl in front of her slirped up her Alien Blast enthusiastically. Her cropped, brown curls were backlite by the window, alluminating her head in an eery impression of the halo painted about the Virgin Mary’s head in traditional paintings. Crystal may have been the Blesséd Child, but Sam was in no way second best.

“I take it you like it then?” Diane teased at the sight of the girl’s now empty glass. The child was grinning, playing contentedly with the small, green alien toy Jeff had given her with her drink.

Sam nodded, biting her lip as she watched Diane from beneath her lashes. Her attention was caught on the toy though, and she returned to it, giggling at the strange, contorted expressions it’d make as she manipulated it. She hoped Diane would order something else. She wasn’t ready to leave, Liz hadn’t shown up yet. What started as a tiny hope had grown to a resolute plan. Even if she couldn’t touch her, or get near her, Sam would at least get to watch her. And that would be enough for now.

The door jingled to announce a new customer, but Sam ignored it. She had an important decision to make.

Will Smith Burger or Galaxy Sub?

On one hand, she’d never had a hamburger in her life, but then--

“Well, well, wasn’t expecting to see you anytime soon, brat.” The voice interrupted her thoughts, standing just off to her side. She knew that voice, she hated that voice!

Jumping to her feet on the booth, she flung her arms up in front of her, vainly warding off what she knew was coming. “No!” she screamed, forgetting everything else. Forgetting Diane, just across from her, forgetting Liz should’ve been there but wasn’t, forgetting Jeff as he raced from behind the counter to the disruption in his café.

The man reached around her arms, hands gripping her shoulders, digging groves into her skin as he attempted to pull her into his threatening embrace. She struggled, kicking and biting and shrieking.

Diane leapt across the table, hands closing around the man’s broad arm. Tossing all her weight into it, she shoved him back. “Stay away from her!”

Sam fell back against the wall. The man moved to take her again, then stopped, glaring. She stared back, loose sobs breaking forth occasionally. With a wicked grin, the man stretched his hand to bridge the distance, ignoring Diane as she moved to stand between them. A spark of white light flickered between the girl and the man.

No, Jeff realized, watching with the phone to the police pressed to his ear. The light was coming from the girl!

Fire sprang from the light, exploding the air in heat and smoke.

Across town, Sheriff Hanson sat in his office, clutching the phone as he frantically called into the mouthpiece, “Hello? Jeff, did something happen? Hello?”
Last edited by Chione on Sat May 05, 2007 12:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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