posted on 7-Jan-2003 2:28:23 PM
Big note for everyone. This fic is coming along very slowly in the writing process, so I'm thinking one part every week or two is how it's going to come out. I know it's annoying, but that's what I've got, lol.


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Title: The Pass Beyond Nothing
Author: Giselle
Rating: PG-13
Category: M&M
Summary: After leaving Roswell, the six humans and podsters stumble across something that will change all of their lives forever.
Spoilers: None, the show is over. Unless someone's been hiding something from me...
Disclaimer: If I owned it would I have to include this? I don't think so.
Distribution: You know you can have it if you want to have it, when I want you to have it and I know you can handle it. Get it? Yeah...me neither.
Author's Note: Since this kind of bounces back and forth, I'm sticking one section on italics. Oh, and I never claim to be a nice person when writing fics, so be forewarned. (I.e. angst is a likelihood...I get my kicks from death, mayhem, and destruction)



~Part One~

Just one more door...

The hurried clicking of black stiletto heels on the polished hardwood floor echoed off of the walls of the large conference hall, drawing the eyes of everyone in attendance. It took only a few seconds before an attractive woman with deep auburn hair and full ruby lips, hiding behind a pair of reflective sunglasses, appeared on stage in front of the multitude. Her dress suit was black pin-stripped with a short skirt that rode up slightly with every step she took, and her lengthy hair was pulled up in a loose bun with small tendrils floating down to gently shape her face. Her mere presence demanded attention, and at just under 5'5" she seemed to fill the entire room.

Stepping up quickly to the podium, the briefcase that had been in her hand was set down in front of her, underneath the microphone. She slowly pulled off her sunglasses, allowing her rich chocolate-brown eyes to scan the silent crowd with an intensity that seemed to trickle through to her very core.

So, this was her class.

"My name is Special Agent Emma Gueritt. Over the next sixteen weeks I will be your instructor here at the Virginia FBI Training Academy. You may call me Special Agent Gueritt, or Instructor Gueritt. The choice is up to you."

Taking a small packet from her briefcase, Special Agent Guerrit walked over to a desk that had been situated on the right side of the stage and leaned back against it, opening the booklet. "On your chairs when you sat down you should have found a white envelope with instructions on the front not to open it until you were prompted by your instructor to do so." Smiling at her new students, she continued, "I am now prompting you to do so." A few of the new trainees allowed themselves a smile before tearing at the white paper and dumping the contents into their lap.

While they were all busying themselves with the simple task, Emma allowed herself a moment to study them, as she did with every new class that she taught. Most looked as though they were fresh out of college, anxious and ready to learn. Naive. Nearly a forth appeared as though they were around her own age, and a small handful looked to be approximately five years her senior. Typical.

"On top, you will find a small gray pamphlet detailing your schedule throughout your entire training period," she informed them, taking the short steps down to the ground floor. "Every activity of every hour of every day is written down for you in there. However," she cautioned, strolling absently down the aisle between the two sections of seats, "should I see fit to add in an extra training session, or perhaps decide on rescheduling an activity, even if it is the result of a bad hair day, I suggest you make yourself available to me twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week." She could make out a few sniggers coming from the bunch in regards to her hair comment, but everyone else seemed to take her deadly serious.

Well, at least she knew a few of them were alive.

Beginning a brisk walk back to the stage, Special Agent Gueritt lifted the booklet in her hand high into the air so that they could all see it. "If you would all kindly turn to page one of your packets, you'll find following along with me will be very helpful over the next hour. If you have any questions I prefer you ask during the discussion, instead of waiting for me to finish with everything before asking them." Taking the steps quickly and turning back to them, a mischievous smile lit up her face. "I like knowing when I'm finished with a lecture, and I hate being forced to stay because students decided they were too polite to interrupt me." It seemed as though a few more smiles lit up the faces in the crowd. Just a handful more of heartbeats from the zombies and she might be able to get through the next four months.

Tossing the booklet in her hand onto the small desk, she propped herself up on top of it, crossing her legs in front of her and gripping the front edges for support as she leaned forward. "You will, however, be forced to raise your hand if you would like to speak, and I urge you to pay attention. I hate repeating myself and I will only say things once."

"While you are here there will be three and only three parts to your curriculum; investigative/tactical, non-investigative, and administrative. If you have none of these skills, and refuse to develop them," she told them with a piercing stare, "the door is twenty feet away. Feel free to use it." It was typical that she was never taken seriously when she gave the option to each class that came through the facility for training. Even more typical was the look on the faces of those students who found themselves failing her course when they refused to listen to her counseling.

"Along with those components, you will be required to complete a total of 643.5 hours of instruction. The four major concentrations for this will be academics, firearms, operational skills, and the Integrated Casio Scenario."

"You will also be required to pass eleven academic examinations, with a score of eighty-five percent or better. The following disciplines for these exams are as follows; two legal exams, one behavior science exam, one interviewing exam, one ethics exam, one white collar crime exam, an organized crime/drugs/violent crime exam, an informants/cooperating witnesses exam, one interrogation exam, one forensic science exam, and one national foreign intelligence program exam."

"You must pass a physical training test, and a defensive tactics test. You must qualify twice with a Bureau issued handgun and once with a shotgun, as well as showing familiarity with the sub-machine gun. So, if you don't like guns and you're not big on exercise, you might want to pack up and go home." That would be better than having to spend the entire class hour convincing a recruit that they couldn't just skip this part and work in a desk job for the rest of their lives. She truly wished they would get more creative than that. At least when she was younger, she could come up with better excuses as to why she didn't have her homework done.

"These will be your main focuses over the next four months, people. You don't pass these, and you've just wasted sixteen weeks of my precious time." It was bad enough she was forced back into doing this because of the raid that occurred just two days ago, getting her replacement for this position shot in the process. She certainly didn't want to see her time here being all for nothing if this class couldn't pull themselves together.

Picking up the packet lying next to her, Instructor Gueritt turned to the next page, watching as the students followed suit. This was going to be a long day.

~~~~~

"...Sixty-nine..."

Michael turned to stare at the quirky blonde sitting next to him, who was currently lounging back with her feet propped up on the seat in front of them. For the last hour and a half she had been counting, letting the numbers fall from her full, moist lips every few minutes as though she were relaying utterly vital information to the rest of the group. It was the most mesmerizing thing Michael had ever watched, and he had no intention whatsoever of stopping her any time soon. He thought she looked beyond sexy when she was upset, with her little...

"Seventy miles since the last time you told me we'd pull over for a bathroom break, Max!" Maria informed the driver of the van they were all currently traveling in.

Two months. They had been driving together, cramped in this poor excuse of a getaway vehicle for the last two months. The three podsters, the two would-be (or should that be will-be?) metamorphosising humans, and her - the last surviving normal one of the bunch. Heaven help her, if she ended up getting shot during this entire ordeal, she'd rather die than follow in the footsteps of Mr. Visionary Non-Supreme or Ms. Snap-Crackle-and-Pop! The fact that Liz was finally starting to be able to control her powers instead of simply masking them, and Kyle was just now experiencing his didn't help any in the 'we have to remain invisible and anonymous' part of their whole escape plan.

"We're almost there Maria, I swear. Just a few more miles, okay?"

Max was taking a huge risk by ignoring her. Not only was she highly informed in 37 ways to bring a man to his knees, she was also pretty sure she could pull off that whole Vulcan Death Grip thing if the need presented itself. If he didn't pull over soon, he was going to be one very sorry...

Maria's thoughts were forced to an abrupt end as the van came screeching to a halt at the side of the road, throwing everyone forward, out of their seats. Small mounds of dust were rising up around the outside of the vehicle and seeping in through the opened windows, sending her into an angry coughing fit.

"Max! What are you trying to do, prep my bladder or something?!" she snapped at him, grabbing hold of her seat and pulling herself up from the floor. "Because believe me, it's all ready to go!" She really needed a week's worth of vacation away from all of this voodoo alien stuff. Well...she'd be willing to suffer with the Michael-filled part of it, but the rest had to go!

Max turned to look out of the passenger side window, absently unbuckling his seat belt and pushing on the driver's side door to let himself out. "Sorry Maria...We're here...You can use the bathroom now." Letting his feet thud lightly on the ground as he hopped out into the fresh morning air, Max looked around him trying to pinpoint exactly where the signal that had been leading him to this area was coming from.

Pulling open the side door of the van and looking around, Maria pinched her eyes shut, telling herself this wasn't true. "How do you expect me to use the bathroom in the middle of nowhere, Max?" The desert? He expected her to drop her pants in the middle of the desert? What was she suppose to use for cover, a cactus? Yeah, that would feel just great! "There aren't even any
bushes to hide behind!"

Michael couldn't help the smirk that crept up his face as he witnessed her angry tirade. She was more entertaining to watch than ESPN!

"Maybe there's a bathroom in that building over there," Liz stated, rubbing the back of her neck as she stretched her sore muscles. Riding day in and day out with the Abominable Grump and his sidekick, The Chatter Box, was completely wearing her down. Of course, she wouldn't want to replace her best friend for anything in the world, but she was really starting to miss the peace and quiet of her single bedroom back in Alien-ville, New Mexico. This must have been what it was like to have siblings. She definitely had a new respect for Max and Isabel.

Quickly making his way over to where Liz was standing, Max scanned the area, trying eagerly to find the structure Liz had spotted. "Where?"

"Sixty degrees northwest of where you're staring," Isabel informed him as she followed Kyle somberly out of the van. She could feel one of his arms wrap around her shoulders comfortingly, and she managed a small smile, doing her best to reassure him that she was all right.

Since that awful day that they had left Roswell, running from the Special Unit of the FBI, Isabel had felt as though a part of her had been ripped away and left to die. Growing up knowing what she was, knowing one day that she might have to leave her life behind, hadn't prepared her for the pain she felt when she watched Jesse fade into the distance as they drove away from their homes and their families. She wasn't ready to let go of that part of her, the part that was still human.

"I think that's it," Max told them all, as he began to walk towards the rundown shack in the distance, shuffling his feet over the peeling dirt. They all stared at his back as he hurried away from them, heading for the oasis.

Glancing around at the confused group, Kyle finally spoke, "So...am I the only one who thinks he's totally lost it?" He couldn't help but wonder exactly what Max's motive was for being here. One week ago they had all been heading east, away from all of the 'FBI-is-going-to-take-us-prisoner' stuff, when suddenly Max was turning them around saying that he thought they needed to go west again, and he wouldn't explain why. He'd been driving them toward this area ever since.

"Nope. Maxwell's lost it," Michael answered him, folding his arms across his chest and frowning.

Sighing in frustration, Maria took off after their lone friend, hoping beyond hope that there really was some form of a bathroom waiting there for her. If not, Max had better pray that he woke up tomorrow with all of his body parts in tact. At the moment, he was dealing with one very unhappy DeLuca, and quite frankly that wasn't a very promising prospect.

After watching Maria follow their questionably sane friend and brother, the rest of the group grudgingly went after them. They would have all preferred to be strolling down one of the Atlantic beaches by now, but if Max thought this was important to them, then they probably should too.

It didn't take them long to reach it as they stumbled over tumbleweeds and strange-looking insects that Michael decided must have survived from the prehistoric era. The outside of the building appeared as though it had been built over a century ago, with cracked wood paneling and several fallen shingles that had found their way to the ground, off of the roof. The small wind-around porch creaked with the tiniest amount of pressure, and the wooden bench sitting next to the front door, with one broken leg, looked like it had been plagued with at least fifty years of dust.

Carefully making his way up the steps, Max squinted as he bent down to look through one of the front windows. He had to wipe away a few stray cobwebs from the panes in order to see inside, and was already heading for the front door when Maria reached him.

"All right girlfriend, what's the deal?"

Avoiding her eyes, he opened the screen door, stopping when he felt her light touch on his arm. Sighing quietly he asked, "What do you mean?"

"You know what I mean, Max," Maria answered, not letting up. "We all agree to finally settle someplace east for a little while, and suddenly you turn us completely around, take us west, stop the van in the middle of nowhere after a week of silence, and declare, rather off handedly if you ask me, that 'We're here'. If you plan on making us all camp out in the middle of No-Man's-Land," she told him, gesturing to the surrounding area, "I'm seriously going to have to kill you."

Fighting an inward battle with himself, Max finally relented. "I...A week ago I felt this...I don't know how to explain it," he told her, lowering his voice as he kept his eyes on the others that were approaching. "It was kind of like a signal, I guess. Drawing me. I just know that there's something important here, Maria. Something that could change all of our lives." He didn't say any more as the rest of the group approached, looking back and forth between the two on the porch.

"Nice place, Max," Kyle said, taking in the dangerous looking structure. "I know we all didn't plan on having a summer vacationing home, but with a little paint and just a tiny bit of love, I'm sure we can all enjoy being eaten by hungry termites in our beds while we sleep," he said sarcastically, making his way around the outside, refusing to touch anything.

Before anyone else could have a chance to ask questions, Max spoke up. "I looked through one of the windows. It's completely deserted inside." Grabbing hold of the door handle, he twisted it and pushed, sending up a cloud of dust that settled quickly.

Not daring to look back, Max took a step inside. "Let's go."


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Jan-2003 6:26:19 PM ]
posted on 29-Jan-2003 6:25:26 PM
~Part Two~


"Sam! Hey Sam!"

Special Agent Gueritt turned around in the silent hallway of the FBI Training Academy, a large smile playing on her full lips as she took in the figure jogging toward her. "Ace!"

The moment he reached her, Emma wrapped her arms around his neck in a tight hug, placing a quick kiss on his cheek as he spun her once in a full circle before placing her feet back down onto the floor.

"Hey there, little sis! I didn't know you were still in town," he stated, holding up her arms to get a better look at her.

Special Agent Christiansen was a tall man at the age of thirty-four, with a mess of blonde curls that swept down passed his ears and a wicked gleam in his eye that Emma was all too familiar with. All in all he didn't look a thing like what you might imagine should come from an agent of the FBI, with his devil-may-care attitude and carefree demeanor. He was the epitome of contradictions.

Well, he came in close second to her own raging contradiction, anyway.

A silent shadow fell across Emma's face and faded away before he even noticed, being replaced with a dazzling smile full of confidence. "I wasn't supposed to be, but Johnson got himself shot in a raid on Saturday. I think he did it just so he could keep me here longer," she said, looping an arm through his and guiding them both down the hall.

She wouldn't have put it past the man either. For the last two years he had hounded her relentlessly, asking her out on numerous occasions while she avoided him every step of the way. When she finally came out with a firm 'no', coming close to shouting it in his face, it just seemed to fuel his determination, placing him on the top of her avoidance list.

It was a pity that she had been his trainer. She should have just decked him when she'd had the chance.

"You sure it wasn't his fear of you chasing after other little green men? I mean, you do have him right in front of you if you're looking for some other form of intelligent life."

"Now there's the problem right there," Emma stated, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. "If I were looking for intelligent life, I'm afraid he certainly wouldn't qualify. After all, any man who can't take the hint after clear and utter rejection simply doesn't have a smart bone in his body."

Agent Christiansen laughed at that. If anything, his Sam was brutally honest and forthcoming nearly to a fault. It was the main reason he made sure never to ask her opinion about anything that he wished to be humored over. He was a man that needed pampering and she refused to do anything of the sort, which just made him love her more.

"You know, just because you have J.C. doesn't mean you can't be out there on the meat market."

Now that was a low blow. He knew plenty well that she had no intention of dating every lowlife and scumbag in Virginia...even if most of them resided in the strongholds of the FBI.

"I am very happy living alone with J.C. in our apartment right now. Unless I find a man who can curl my toes and take my breath away with just one look, this is the way it will remain. Besides," she added, smiling warmly at him as they rounded a corner, "I have someone who needs and cares about me right now and my life is more than full at the moment."

Taking a deep breath, Agent Christiansen put a hand on her shoulder, stopping them both in the middle of the deserted hallway. He knew he shouldn't press the subject, but every time he saw her just a little more of her spirit was missing. Day by day her soul was dying, and it was tearing him up inside watching it happen. "It's been ten years Em. I know...I know that you still love him, but maybe it's time you let go. He would want you to be happy."

Emma brought a hand up to rest against his cheek, forcing him to look her in the eyes. She knew that he worried about her, that he was suffering because of the pain that she carried, but she knew that she would never be free from the memory of the love she had. The memory of the love of her life.

Blinking back the traitorous tears hiding behind her eyes, she smiled at him weakly. "I know," she whispered, running her thumb along his cheek to wipe away the moisture that had fallen there. "I know."

Clearing her throat and nodding her head down the hallway, Emma started walking again, folding her arms in front of her. She had a job to do and she certainly couldn't do it if she couldn't keep her emotions in check. Breaking down in front of her class was not an option. Not today.

Not ever.

"So, how are Sarah and the girls?" she asked, directing them to a safer line of conversation. The brilliant smile that lit up Agent Christiansen's face at the mention of his wife and two daughters was beautiful. Emma could feel her lips curving upward just watching him. He looked so happy.

"Well, Beki and Heidi are all registered for school next week, and Heidi decided to sign up for orchestra this year. We promised her that if she worked really hard at it, we'd buy her a cello for Christmas," he told her, falling easily into the role of 'Super Dad'. "I know she'll only just be starting, but this way if she decides to quit I'll have guilt material for the next seven years of her tortured teenage existence." He laughed menacingly as the overly exaggerated rubbing of his hands commenced.

He really was a nut case.

"I truly can't believe you fell out of the Christiansen mold. Everyone else in the family is just so...well, not like you."

"I'll take that as a compliment," he said, grinning at her.

Holding the door open for her as they made their way outside, Ace pulled out the big guns. "Speaking of Mom and Dad..."

A look of pure terror crossed over Emma's face as her gaze darted towards the parking lot and her mind made a quick mental list of all the possible hiding places within a twenty-foot radius of them. Martha and Eugene were like a plague, reeking havoc over everything and anyone that happened to be unlucky enough to fall prey to the duo. They couldn't have found her, could they? The guards at the entrances wouldn't be foolish enough to let anyone so devious into a compound as innocent as the FBI Training Academy, would they?

The imbeciles! The traitors! When she got her hands on them she would...

"They were wondering when you were going to call and tell them how your apparently delayed move to D.C. was going."

...Oh.

Agent Christiansen almost wished that he had drawn out the torturous moment a little longer, as a deep sigh of relief escaped her lips. He was well aware of Sam's astute fear of the parents that no intelligent human being would ever want to be alone with in a dark alley at night...or anywhere else for that matter. They had a special way of prying into every little detail of your life, closing in on you until you were nothing more than a blubbering pile of ooze sitting between them on one of their hideous polyester couches, unable to soak down through the cushions and escape their maddening torture.

He could still remember countless times of going to great lengths just to avoid them during the holidays or special occasions. Like doing your homework, eating at the dinner table...or breathing. Perhaps that was what pulled him towards a career with the FBI. Well, besides the fact that it was sort of a family commitment. His instincts must have told him that he needed the rigorous training to survive his early years of adulthood, with them constantly trying to overrun his life.

Yep, must have been it.

After the initial relief had worn off, Emma's face suddenly dropped. "They want to know how the move went...? Why? What are they planning?!" she demanded, clutching his arm pleadingly. "They're not going to...visit, are they?!"

A terrifying smile came over Agent Christiansen's face as he patted her lightly on the cheek. No! They wouldn't!

"I think Mom mentioned something about a house-warming party and the fact that you and J.C. couldn't start a new life in Washington without some help with decorating and stuff."

Sam's face suddenly turned a ghostly shade of white. There was no possible way that woman was getting anywhere near her furniture! She was sure to come home to a gruesome Western theme complete with a worn-down saddle and Mr. Fins, the talking fish, resting above her fireplace. Her worst nightmares were finally being realized!

"You won't tell them where I am, will you?" she pleaded, looking deeply in his eyes for some small amount of sympathy. There was no possible way that she could handle a visit from them right now, or when Special Agent Johnson made it out of recovery so she could take up the position she'd been vying for in Washington, D.C. all year. Martha would insist on doing the whole nurturing thing, cooking burnt casseroles and leaving ugly weeds lying around in vases that she insisted on calling flowers, while Eugene took over her living room, intent on finding out what the score for every possible sport on television was, while the volume blared loudly through the rest of the apartment.

They would invade her life, her home, and worst of all her mind. She couldn't let that happen! Neither her nor J.C. would be able to survive it!

Ace snorted at her in disgust. "Hey, I'm no snitch." Sure, he might have ratted her out in the past, but desperate times had called for desperate measures. Besides, that was months ago. Was she still ridiculously holding a grudge about it?

"Uh huh," she said, looking at him skeptically. He may have looked like an innocent, kindly man but she knew better. His view on life was that if it concerned his relatives, no mercy was to be shown.

She couldn't blame him.

Straightening his tie and giving him a quick kiss on the cheek, Emma pushed him back towards the building they'd just come from. "You go do whatever it is you're here for. If I don't get back to my class soon, I'm never going to be able to enforce my strict rule of punctuality that I've been working so hard to improve."

Giving her a crooked grin, Agent Christiansen replied, "I don't think that rule will ever improve with you." Laughing at the glare she was directing at him, he turned around and left. "Have fun in Hogan's Alley!"

Special Agent Gueritt groaned inwardly. Hopefully none of them had touched any of the props that were scattered throughout the mock crime scene. Maybe if they came back from the labs with one of the student's fingerprints on them, she'd arrest them out of spite.

Now, that could be fun.

~~~~~

Max felt the aged floorboards creak beneath his feet, holding securely as he entered the rundown shack that was hidden out in the middle of the desert wasteland. A lingering staleness hovered in the air as if rigor mortis had settled over the fossilized structure long ago, burning his nostrils with its stench. The entire house felt lifeless.

As Maria followed him in silently, she scanned the rooms, shivering as though a clammy hand had glided its slick fingers down her spine. Everything from the floor to the ceiling was covered in a thick, desolate dust. Heavy cobwebs hung from the corners, most having been abandoned long ago by their former inhabitants. Gray cloths that showed signs of once being a paste-white were half-hazardly thrown over the furniture in the room, and she nearly found herself backing out of the house until she felt Michael's arms wrap protectively around her waist from behind.

There was something disturbing hidden deep within these walls. She could feel it.

"Max, maybe we should-"

"Wow, this place looks ancient," Liz remarked, stepping inside with her arms folded in front of her. The worn photographs hanging from the walls looked like they couldn't have been taken any less than two decades ago, and the faces staring back at her could very well have been people that had grown up around the same time as her parents. "I'd be surprised if anyone has lived here for at least twenty years."

Brushing passed Liz and the stiff couple standing next to the door, Kyle made his way over to a small coffee table in the center of the room and bent down, picking up a magazine that looked as though it had fallen off of it from underneath the tattered sheet. Finding the date on the front, he held it up and answered her, "May of 1978. Twenty-four years, to be exact." Tossing the used magazine back down, he left to go inspect the other rooms, muttering a sarcastic 'Home sweet home' underneath his breath.

He still couldn't believe they were here instead of enjoying the sunny Baywatch lifestyle in Miami. All he'd needed to do was convince the rest of them that Florida was a better location than somewhere in Maryland and he would have been all set. Stupid Max Evans and his sense of intuition.

Taking a deep breath, Isabel stepped inside after everyone. She just wanted Max to find whatever it was that he was looking for so they could all leave. It was frustrating that he seemed to be falling back into the life style of 'Aliens-R-Us, the collectable series'. She may have been a little coddled by everyone since they had left, but the one thing she didn't want was to be put up on display behind a horrible glass wall for everyone to stare at. She wasn't just some new toy to play with; she was a living, breathing life form and the sooner the government realized that little fact, the sooner she could stop living in fear of the unknown.

Besides, they'd all made the decision to drop the search for answers to their past, hadn't they? So why were they suddenly rushing off for answers now? It wasn't as if they had the means to follow every lead that they came across.

Sighing heavily and pinching the bridge of her nose, Isabel fought to keep her emotions in check. There were more important things for her to worry about right now. Things that couldn't be taken care of unless she could keep her head on straight. Things that could affect them all, more than this little detour Max had taken them on. Things she needed to speak to a certain someone about.

Although standing there with Michael's arms wrapped around her was keeping Maria from bolting out of the door, she really had one...pressing matter to deal with at the moment, and there was no possible way that she could do that just standing there. She was almost grateful to feel Isabel's hand pulling her away from him and slightly down the hallway to their left.

Eureka! Target spotted at two o'clock. Now she just had to find out what Isabel wanted...

Bouncing slightly on her heels, Maria tried focusing on the girl in front of her that looked slightly the worse for wear. If she hadn't known any better she would have thought that the tall, perfect blonde hadn't slept at all in the passed two weeks. Her eyes were blood shot and swollen, the mop on top of her head looked like it hadn't seen a curling iron in ages as it dropped flat against her cheeks, and her skin was oddly pale, as though she'd been drained of a good portion of her blood.

"Are you okay?" Maria asked, concerned. She hadn't seen Isabel like this since...well, ever.

Watching as her friend smiled weakly at her, the short blonde tried not to sound rude when she asked, "Look, whatever you needed to talk about, could we do it in like five minutes?" Pointing towards the bathroom she added, "I just really don't think I have the capacity to concentrate on what you're saying right now."

Isabel laughed. What she had to say would definitely have changed that. She wasn't sure whether or not she should be relieved; she'd already been avoiding talking to the girl for the last two days. But, she knew she needed to get it over with soon. "Yeah, we can talk after Max completes his search-and-destroy mission," she answered, smiling slightly and walking back towards the others before Maria changed her mind.

The moment Isabel left, Maria wasn't so sure that she wanted to take another step down the hall. The eerie feeling that had come over her when she had first stepped into the house was back, and the thought of being alone in a place like this, even for a few minutes, was making her shiver. Maybe...

Peaking around the corner, Maria spotted Liz slowly making her way towards the hallway she was standing in. Waiting until her best friend looked up at her, she put the biggest pout on her face that she could possibly muster at the moment. "Liz..." she croaked out, rather pitifully.

Watching as Maria bounced up and down, the dark-haired girl rolled her eyes. "We're not twelve anymore. Can't you just tell yourself there aren't any monsters in the shower and deal?" she asked, a bit too hopeful.

Making a small whining noise in the back of her throat, Maria stuck out her bottom lip as far as it would go. "Pleeease?"

Groaning inwardly, the skinny brunette grabbed Maria's hand and pulled her into the bathroom. How in the world had she been elected as the group babysitter? Did she have a tattoo on her forehead that read 'Torture Me' written in big, bold letters?

Sitting on the edge of the tub with her back to her friend, Liz sighed. She was suppose to be out there right now, helping to look for whatever it was that had led them all here. Kyle was watching the front door, the other three were looking for signs of a basement or cellar, and what was she doing? Sitting on the edge of a tub, forced by Maria to follow the 'women travel to the bathroom in herds' rule. Wasn't that just a little bit elementary school of them?

Resting her head back on the wall behind her, Maria smiled. What was she saying the other day about small miracles? That they never happened to her? She took that back. Finding this little, rundown shack out in the middle of nowhere was definitely a small miracle of sorts. It certainly beat dealing with sand covered toilet paper, and it had saved Max's life. Well, today at least.

Liz kept staring at the wall with her chin tucked snuggly in her hands, until she heard the sound of the sink being turned on and a large, foamy bar of soap being dropped back onto the counter out of Maria's small fingers. Standing up and stretching, she turned around to face the mirror that the quirky blonde was thoughtfully looking into.

"Why do you think Max brought us here?" Maria asked, after a few moments of silence.

Shrugging lightly, Liz leaned back on the counter, facing her. "To find something that he thinks is important," she stated. "He said we were all looking for some kind of object when we came in."

Shaking her head while she pulled her bottom lip softly through her teeth, Maria tried another approach, "No, I mean why did he bring us here after he decided that his past life didn't concern him anymore? It's almost like he was completely desperate to get here."

"Well, maybe it's something more along the lines of protecting us," Liz offered, standing back up and pushing Maria towards the door after she wiped her hands dry on the inside of a dusty hand towel. "Besides, we'll find out a lot sooner if we're out there helping instead of in here talking."

Huffing lightly at her friend's dismissal of the topic, Maria walked back out into the living room. It wasn't that she thought Max would have led them here without good reason, it was just that he didn't even seem to understand, himself, why exactly he was being compelled to find whatever it was that was hidden deep within the recesses of these walls. Max had been desperate, and the only time she could remember seeing him that desperate was when their lives were in danger.

Maria shuddered at the thought. She really didn't think that they should be here.

At that moment Maria, Kyle, and Liz all turned their heads toward the sound of a loud shout coming from somewhere below them, followed by a deep rumbling noise that shook the whole house. The hollow vibration didn't seem as though it planned on letting up anytime soon, and they each grabbed whatever they could find close to them to help keep them upright. It only took a few seconds before they were all making their way into the kitchen and over to an open door that looked like it led down beneath the house.

Taking a few shorts steps down, Maria froze in place. A huge spaceship, made of a shiny black metal, was hovering above the ground just ten feet from the bottom of the stairs. Directly above it, a large hole was opening up from the ground spilling large clumps of dirt onto the craft, that ran down the sides of it and fell in massive piles onto the concrete floor near stacks of boxes that were scattered all over the gigantic basement.

She could barely keep herself upright as the shaking became stronger and the ship rose smoothly upward. A deep fear shot through her veins as she watched the large frame of metal clear the opening before it suddenly pitched itself into the sky and out of sight, leaving the room in a deafening silence.

Maria didn't think she could move. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew that the other two, standing there right behind her, were rooted to the spot, unable to breath just as she was. Their worst nightmares had finally come true.

Their alien friends were gone.


~TBC~