posted on 24-Aug-2002 3:21:39 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Synopsis: Set six months post-Departure. We can't let Alex stay dead, can we? This fic may turn on an A/I axis, but it's a Dreamer and Candy friendly zone!
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC
Rating: R shifting to NC-17 later on
Feedback: If you aren't too busy.

Dedicated to the woman who encouraged me to get off my uncreative butt and get some of my anger at TPTB out by writing....my wife.

STILL YOURS - Part 1
(Destiny)
By Kzinti_Killer


"Wo-oh my love, My Darlin'.
I've hungered for your touch,
A long, lonely time.
And time goes by, so slowly.
And time, can do so much.
Are you, still mi-I-ine?"
-The Righteous Brothers-
"Unchained Melody"



Friday Evening...The Evans Household

Isabel studied the picture in her year book with an intensity that defied her powers of reason. Alex was dead. Six months dead. When he had died, a part of her had crumpled like paper. The grief had nearly killed her. But she had dealt with it. They all had. Liz, Maria, Max, and even Michael, had all grieved for Alex. Each in their own ways. But it had been very hard on Isabel.

Max and Michael had seen him as a comrade in arms. A friend that they could call on in dire need. One who would rally to them without thought or question for his own safety. Liz and Maria had known him as the brother that they had never had. Someone who would have happily died for them. And they had loved him as fiercely as if he had been their brother in fact. But to Isabel he was all that and more. Possibly much more.

To Isabel he was an opportunity lost. To her he might have been the best chance she had ever had to be happy, and she had thrown it away...because of fear. Fear of getting too close, fear of not being able to get close enough. Fear of her destiny......

"Destiny," she thought. "God but I'm beginning to hate that word."

Privately, and for the thousandth time, she cursed Tess. For killing Alex. For warping him into her personal slave. For her role in making them aware of their destiny. For playing on their insecurity and fear to make them pull back from those they needed, and who had needed them in return. Max from Liz. Michael from Maria. Herself from Alex. Not that she had ever given him much of a chance to begin with.

"One little date," she thought. "The occasional smile. A friendly word. I couldn't even give him that. He gave me, all of us, so much and asked for so little in return. And now I think that I wanted even more from him. The few times that I showed him any affection at all I was mostly using him. Until right before Tess killed him. I had finally started to wake up to the possibility that he was something more than just another human friend who knew our secret. They say that hindsight is 20/20. If that's true then I could wish for blindness. It wouldn't hurt so much."

"I'm sorry," she whispered to Alex's picture. "I'm so sorry." She began to cry softly. "Oh Alex, we had to bury your parents today. It was like burying you all over again. We were all there. All of us. I didn't think I could handle it, but I went anyway. I owed you that much. I hope they're with you. Of all the things that frighten me, the thought of you out there alone in the dark frightens me most."

Alex's parents, Chuck and Sheila Whitman, had never really come to terms with their son's death. They were intensely private people, so it was hard to say that anyone knew them well. Perhaps Liz and Maria did. Isabel certainly hadn't known them at all. But she recognized them through being at Alex's funeral. Well enough to say hello afterwards without feeling awkward. In the months that followed Alex's death she saw them now and again, and each time they seemed more pale and withdrawn. Like they were simply going through the motions of living. So when the news went through Roswell that they had been killed in a highway accident, it hardly surprised Isabel. She thought that they had actually been gone for quite some time, but were too stubborn to admit it. She had known how they felt. She and they were kindred spirits in tragedy.

And so, 12 hours ago their few friends, and Alex's friends, had laid them to rest beside their son.

12 Hours Ago....

Isabel stared straight ahead, ignoring the lump in her throat. Determined not to cry, but failing. She had tuned out the minister's graveside platitudes right after 'We have come together to lay your servants Charles and Sheila to rest.....' and wondered, not for the first time, if this God could even hear her prayers. Six months had passed since Alex had been taken from them. And she'd thought that the wounds were healing. For all of them. But from what she was seeing and feeling that was far from true. Studying the small crowd, she focused on her friends and family.

Both sets of parents, the Evans' and the Parker's, were there to support their children. And they needed it. Max looked ghastly; and Liz, who clung to his arm, looked no better. Ditto for Maria. As Isabel moved her eyes to the man boy that Maria clung to like a rock in a storm, she was struck by the difference between the emotions on his face and those on everyone else's face. Michael was grieving all right, but more than that...he was angry. Thoroughly incensed. Raging at the unfairness of the universe. Mad enough to kill something, or rather someone.

"He's back where we all are right now," she thought. "Where I am. He's back at the granolith, when we got the news about who exactly had killed Alex, and why. God help Tess if he ever gets his hands on her." Isabel, shifted nervously and sighed. "Get in line Michael. Vengeance is mine. Thus sayeth Isabel. Then yours, if I leave you any." She knew there was precious little chance that they could ever get to their traitorous pod mate, but it was a fantasy to cherish when she had little else now.

Isabel glanced to the right of the grave site then returned to staring straight ahead and trying to suppress her grief and loneliness. She had looked at Alex's headstone. Again. After all these months her frequent night time trips out here to try and recapture some piece of Alex had put her on a first name basis with it. Indeed she had been unhappy with it's surface finish so she had...well...altered it. It would last far longer now, though any geologist who happened to examine it under a microscope might have an stroke, but so what? It was all she could do for Alex now. Max had nearly flipped when she'd told him what she had done. Michael was all for going out and changing it back. But, with equal doses of cajolery and fury, she'd convinced them to let it be. After all, what sort of maniac tests tombstones? Or, testing them, would believe that this one selectively incorporated allotropic diamonds into it's microcrystalline structure?

"....earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust..." and it was over. Isabel sighed, glad to escape this place for now, to go home and try to resume the healing that this day had halted, and even reversed. Later she knew, she would have to come back. To talk to Alex. But not now, and not soon. She turned to Max and Liz where they stood holding hands. If it could be said that there was anything good that came from this day, it was that Max and Liz seemed to have, at least temporarily, overcome the odd distance that had remained between them after Tess left. That they loved each other was obvious to everyone. But there was still some issue they couldn't seem to resolve. Isabel had thought about doing something about it several times, but had always left well enough alone. She told herself that it was out of respect. But it was really about the simple fact that she couldn't work up her enthusiasm for meddling enough to pursue her favorite hobby where her brother and the girl she'd come to regard as a close friend were concerned. Taking Liz's other hand, as much for her own comfort as for Liz's, she started toward the line of cars with them.

In that instant, something happened. The small hairs on the back of her neck lifted. She got goose flesh. He was there again. She stopped and turned, certain that she would see Alex. Nothing. No one there. "Alex??" she whispered. Still nothing. She shuddered and moved on with Max and Liz.

This had happened to her several times in the previous months. She had 'felt' him. Known he was there. Just on the edge of her perception. Like a will 'o the wisp. Like (she hated to consider it) a ghost. Sometimes near, sometimes far and faint. But this was something else. This was so strong that she was certain she was being watched. By him. When they were growing up she couldn't help knowing that Alex liked her, and later loved her. She could always tell when his eyes were on her. Watching her in school. Or if they happened to pass on the street. There was nothing of obsession about it. Nothing of the stalker about Alex. It's just that, whenever Isabel entered his field of vision, everything else faded into limbo. The boy simply knew how to focus on what counted, that was all. And Isabel knew it. She had always known it, and been puzzled by it even as it flattered her. Now that it was gone from her life, she was no longer puzzled. She simply missed it, and him. So the sudden return of the feeling to her personal radar screen was like a clammy hand on the back of the neck. She, reached her ride home and turned to look one more time. Nothing. No one. "Alex?" She turned back to Max and Liz; sighed and said, "Let's go home."

Isabel couldn't know that she was both right and wrong. She had felt his eyes on her, and he wasn't there...in the cemetery. She simply hadn't looked far enough.

On a nameless low hill a mile East of the cemetery....

Alex lowered the binoculars with a start, then brought them back up to his eyes to take in the last sight of Isabel and his friends. He had been focused on her sweet face at maximum resolution and he had seen her lips move. With his name. "She knew," he thought. "She knew that I was here." "Isabel," he whispered as she climbed into what looked like an older model beater car with Max getting in the driver's side. "What happened to the jeep?" he wondered silently. His binoculars swept the length of the cortege slowly soaking in familiar faces before returning to Isabel.

Something must have shown in the set of his shoulders. His much changed shoulders. Gone was the geek boy of six months past. The training they had run him through (were still running him through) left him looking (so he thought) and feeling like Conan the freakin' Barbarian.

His shift in body posture alerted his companions. The sandy haired man spoke. "Don't even think about it man. I know you want to go down there. Everyone wants to go back when they first make the change. It's natural. But you can't. Got that? You cannot go back. I'm really sorry about your folks, but you're dead. And it's better you stay that way, to them."

Alex kept the binoculars trained on Izzy. "Bite me Richie," he said.

At that the darker haired, pony tailed individual behind him placed a hand on his shoulder and spoke. "Easy Alex, what Richie lacks in tact he makes up for in truth. Do you really think that they could accept you for what you are now?"

"You might be surprised," Alex muttered.

Duncan McCleod sighed in exasperation. "Alex it doesn't matter if they accept you or not," he said. "The life you lead, or will lead once I'm done with you, is dangerous as hell. Do you *really* want someone to come hunting your head around your friends? Do you want to have to take someone's head in front of them? I know it's not the second chance at life that you would have chosen. What sane man would take this route? But it's the hand you've been dealt. You have to live with it." Duncan waved at the people departing the cemetery. "But there's no reason they should have to. Our way of life and that of the ordinary mortals doesn't mix well when it comes to family and relationships. To even try can bring heartache to all concerned."

Richie kept his thoughts to himself, but he still had them. "Stop preaching at the kid Mac. I agreed to come along and ride herd on him because I like him, not to hear you recite the do's and don'ts of Immortality for Dummies. And besides, it never stopped *you*. Not with Tessa. And not with Ann. Or is that what this is about? Trying to 'spare' the kid your mistakes? Erecting a 'keep off the humans' sign?"

Not for the first time Alex chuckled inside. "Danger? Differences? If only Duncan knew," he thought.

Not that Alex had let a single word slip. There was a quote from a book he had once read that functioned as efficiently as any dead bolt on his mind and lips. "Nor shall death release you.....," he thought. "Well, I was most certainly dead. And the secret still needs to be kept. For them. For Izzy."

Duncan studied his newest student. In many ways the lad was an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Most newbies would talk incessantly about their former lives. But aside from the quite normal expressed desire to go home, Alex had been close mouthed to the point of making a rock look like a chatterbox. He had said nothing about the people that he was watching so intently below. In fact, that whispered name "Isabel?" was the most they had heard from him about his past in months. That is to say, except for one point. Alex told them that he had been murdered, and that he regarded his killer, a girl named Tess Harding, as a threat to those he cared about. In fact, his fear for his friends was so strong that it had taken all Duncan's powers of persuasion, and a threat to bind and gag him to keep Alex in Seattle. In the end, to quell Alex's concern, Duncan and Richie had gone to Roswell and investigated the matter. Duncan had even dragged Joe Dawson and the Watchers into it...over Joe's strenuous objections.

The Watcher's cyber trolls had hacked a missing person's report for a 'Tess Harding' out of the New Mexico Justice Department data banks that was dated to after Alex's 'death'. That, combined with Duncan and Richie's efforts, had convinced Alex that his friends knew what Tess had done, that they were on their guard, and that she was either dead or fled. In fact the thing that had seemed to encourage Alex most was the almost complete hostility that some inhabitants of Roswell on the subject of Tess Harding. "Including that hardcase of a Sheriff," Duncan recalled. In fact, one kid had been downright threatening. Alex had listened to their report with little animation on his face until they told him about the odd reactions they had encountered and given him descriptions of the people who had them. And at one point, when they told him of their encounter with the angry young man with the spiked hair, he actually burst into laughter and muttered what sounded like...."typical of him".

After that he refused to explain himself at all, choosing to let the matter drop. Instead he applied himself to his training with a will that Duncan seldom saw in his students. Mortal or otherwise. And, to all appearances, he'd abandoned his former life completely....that is until the flags set on internet news retrieval by Joe Dawson had turned up the name 'Whitman' in a news article a few days ago. "Be that as it may," Duncan thought, "I've sat in on enough card games over the centuries to know when the other guy is holding. That boy has a hole card. And one of enormous proportions at that."

Duncan let it go. If the centuries had taught him nothing, they'd taught him that, sooner or later, the truth comes out. Why rush things? Instead he returned to his assessment of Alex Whitman. The boy had changed much since Methos and Cassandra had brought him to Duncan after dragging him from his untimely grave six months ago. Rigorous physical training had filled him out, though he was far from the 'Hulk' caricature that he saw himself as. Instead, it had simply enhanced what was already present, giving him the grace and strength of a predator. Further training had brought out his excellent eye hand coordination out in ways that surprised even his instructor. He could already hold his own in hand to hand against Richie most of time, though Richie would deny it. And while his swordplay still had a long way to go, he showed flashes of sudden insight that indicated that he might one day become a master.

Only five days ago, in a sparring match with Duncan, Alex had used the 'ballestra'. A complex disarming move that he had never been taught. He had invented it on the spot. Afterwards he had said that 'it had seemed the natural thing to do'.

"It may be natural," Duncan told him, "but it's also dangerous and chancy. It requires leaving yourself utterly defenseless to a counterattack. It's all or nothing. Fail to carry it off and you'll find yourself a head shorter."

Afterwards Duncan had congratulated him, then taken him out on the mats and thrashed him for 15 minutes straight to impress upon him that he must never, never, NEVER try the ballestra again except as the last ditch against a superior opponent. And even then, running was a better option.

Duncan shook himself out of his reverie and looked down at the cemetery. The cars were leaving now. It was over. Duncan sighed, gave Alex a gentle shake, and spoke. "Lets go lad. I'm sure you'd like to go down there to say good-bye in person, but if someone sees you it could raise some truly awkward questions. And that's the last thing you want. We're homeward bound. I'd like to sleep in my own bed tonight."

Alex shook himself free of Duncan's hand and seemed about to argue, then his shoulders slumped and he turned away, walking up the hill. Duncan looked at Richie who shrugged and shook his head. Both men glanced down at the cemetery one more time then turned to follow their young friend over the hill and thread their way down the other side to where their rental car was parked. With luck they'd make their noon flight out of Albuquerque.

Below on the road to Roswell, Isabel Evans stared out the car window, her mind bereft of thought or purpose. Mourning the lover she'd never had.

30 Minutes later......

A figure clad in a black duster emerged from the scrub on the Western side of the cemetery. It was a man and his face was incredibly handsome, with one stellar exception. A ragged trench of scar tissue marred the right cheek of a face that otherwise might have been that of a runway model. Slung over his back was a spotting scope with a co-axial rifle mic. He approached the fresh graves studied them briefly. He pulled out a pen and pad and jotted down the names and dates for future reference. His gaze shifted to the older grave and noticed the name and date......and then recalled the conversation his mic had relayed to him. "Easy Alex......," McCleod had said. "Hmmm," he thought, "a newbie! Perhaps this won't be so boring after all!" He turned toward the recently occupied low hill East of him, sketched a mocking salute, turned with a smirk, and headed back the way he had come. He had a plane to catch too.

Author's Note: Let's hope that the format turned out okay. If not, I'll be back later to edit.



[ edited 30time(s), last at 14-Feb-2003 9:09:15 PM ]
posted on 24-Aug-2002 3:43:25 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 2a
(I'll See You In Your Dreams.)


Friday...11:00 PM at The Evans Household.....

Isabel snapped out of her reverie and scrubbed at her eyes with the back of her hand. She looked across the bedroom at her reflection in her vanity mirror, sniffled, and then laughed painfully. "Between lack of sleep and running mascara, I look like a raccoon," she thought. She looked back down at at the yearbook, sighed, and spoke aloud. "I guess I'm in full regret mode tonight Alex." She reached out to trace the boundaries of his photo again.

"Why in God's name did I waste so much time?" she thought. After her initial dream walk she had finally taken the time to get to know Alex as person. What she had learned had amazed her. At some point in the past, in her approach to relationships, she had let fear replace caution, and studied indifference replace prudence. Uselessly. All it had accomplished was to prevent her from seeing the obvious.

Alex loved her. The essential Isabel. The fact that she had some non-standard DNA in her makeup hadn't made the slightest difference to him. And yet, for years she had managed to ignore him as a non-entity. Letting his interest get lost in the background buzz of testosterone that the boys, who swarmed around her where ever she was, gave off. She had gloried in being the flame to their moth. The trouble with being a flame is that, sooner or later, you burn out. And until the moment she had entered Alex Whitman's subconscious, she had thought herself on the brink of that very fate. The ennui of being the Golden Goddess was getting to her.

"Tomorrow morning I have to remind myself to give Max a big sisterly kiss," she thought. "I was beyond angry when he saved Liz. And I blamed her for every little thing that went wrong after that. But when you come down to it, that single act saved my life. And probably my sanity." Once again she was struck by the similarities between her brother and Alex. Both could be wry and funny, or shy and pensive. Given cause Alex could brood with the best of them, as did Max. God knows she had given both of them reason enough to brood. But the most amazing thing is that both had apparently chosen the girl they wanted at a tender age, pinned their respective hearts of their sleeves, and then waited patiently to be noticed.

Isabel chuckled. "In that respect Liz was smarter than I was," she thought. "Of course it took getting shot, brought back from the edge of death, and a 'Vulcan mind meld' to do it, but she finally got the message. Thank God." Isabel smiled, and thought wryly, "I should have been so 'lucky'."

Isabel sighed and looked back at Alex's picture. "I think you were there today," she said aloud. "At least I hope that you were. It was a beautiful service, though I zoned out for most of it. I'm sorry Alex, I had to. Otherwise I'd have been a basket case. There weren't as many people there as there were for you, but then more people knew you and I-(her voice hitched a little)-loved you." Isabel flopped back and stared at the ceiling. Thinking of Chuck and Sheila Whitman she whispered, "Keep him safe and tell him that I...we miss him."

There was a soft knock on her bedroom door. "Yes? Come on in," she said. The door opened to show Max standing there in boxers and his bathrobe.

"Are you okay Iz?", he asked. "I was headed for bed when I saw the light under your door and heard you talking."

Isabel shrugged eloquently and said, "Yes Max, I'm fine. Or as close to fine as I can get right now."

Max studied her and said, "Are you sure? You look like you haven't slept in a month."

Isabel sighed. "I'll be fine, daddy. All it takes is time." She paused and looked at her brother more closely. "You don't look so hot yourself brother of mine. What's up?"

Max looked uncomfortable. "I just got off the phone with Liz."

Isabel nodded and asked, "How is she?"

Max sighed. "She's coping I guess. But to be honest I don't know for sure what's happening with her. She hasn't let me in since...."

"Since Tess left", Isabel finished for him.

Max looked momentarily lost. "Yeah." He was silent for a moment then looked his sister in the eye and spoke. "Iz, has she said anything to you?"

Isabel frowned. "About what Max?"

Max shrugged. "About anything. Anything at all." Silence fell again.

Isabel finally broke the tableau. "Max you two eventually have to talk. You can't keep this up, either of you. Anyone can see that you're still gone on each other. So what's holding you back?"

Isabel was truly worried now. In a very real sense Max and Liz's love and bond were a part of the fundamental emotional glue that held them all to each other. If it were lost, they might not go their separate ways, but some precious part of what they all shared would be gone. Alex's death had been bad enough for the morale of their little band. In fact it had brought them to the point of being borderline enemies for a while...until Liz's persistence had vindicated her belief that Alex had been murdered. They still hadn't gotten back to where they had been before Tess had arrived to turn their world upside down. As friends. As more than friends. Thus, this bordered on a potential catastrophe.

Max sighed in frustration. "I don't know what's wrong, Iz. Anything. Everything. We both have a lot of baggage. My sleeping with Tess. My son. Her *pretending* to sleep with Kyle, which she *still* won't explain. I....I'm afraid. I think she is too. Someone has to make the first move. But it's like we're in a stare down. Each one waiting for the other to blink." Max walked over and sat down on Isabel's bed. "I don't want this. I don't like this. But I'm scared to start something for fear I'll be starting an avalanche, instead of closing the rift between us. I don't want to lose her Iz."

Isabel studied her brother with new eyes, her brain working furiously. Clearly something had to be done. It was time for her self imposed pity party to end. It was time for damage control. Isabel kept her face carefully neutral. "It was time for a little Izzy charm and finesse," she thought. "And if *that* doesn't work, there's always a good beating with a blunt instrument. If neither of them will make the first move, I'll make it for them. And let the chips fall where they may." A hazy plan of action was taking shape. Accordingly, Isabel changed the subject.

"Did mom and dad get off okay?", she asked.

Max looked nonplused, then rubbed his face, swept his hair back, and straightened. Isabel read the signs. "Good," she thought, "I've got his mind elsewhere for now."

Max stood. "Yeah, they talked about staying home if we needed them. But I told them that we had each other, and we could deal. Second honeymoons aren't something that you put off. And delaying one day to be there for the funeral was enough."

Isabel nodded. "Good," she said. "They've planned this trip for two years. I think that they need the downtime worse than we do."

Max yawned, then yawned again. Yawning being catching, Isabel found herself yawning too.

Max smiled sheepishly. "It's been one hell of a day, Iz. I'm going to bed."

He stood and headed for the door. Isabel hopped off of her bed and called, "Max!" He halted and turned. She walked over and gave him a kiss and a hug, paying off early on her self promise. "It'll be okay," she said. "Everything will turn out okay, I promise".

Max gave her one of his rare "sun coming up" grins. "You always manage to do it for me don't you? Ever since we were kids you've been able to make me believe that it's always darkest before the dawn."

Iz smiled. "No more than you do for me", she said. She gave him a gentle shove out the door. "Now get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning."

Max turned briefly and smiled. "G'night Iz."

Isabel reached for the door. "Sweet dreams Max."

Closing the door Isabel leaned against it for a moment. "It WILL be okay," she thought. "I'm making it my business to MAKE it okay. Liz and he deserve that much at least....if for no other reason than to make up for all the crap the Michael and I gave them about being together at all."

Isabel yawned again. This was one of those huge jaw cracking yawns that tell you to find your bed. Pronto. But, not quite yet. Walking to her bed she flopped down on it and snagged her phone, hitting the speed dial. It rang four times before someone picked up.

A gruff, sleepy, and highly irritated male voice spoke, "Hello!"

Isabel blinked. "Michael?"

Michael's voice became more agitated, "Isabel, for God's sake...it's nearly midnight! If K'var isn't landing troops outside the Crashdown I'm going to kill you tomorrow!"

Isabel sputtered. "I'm sorry, I must have hit the wrong button! I was using speed dial, and I thought that I hit Maria's button!" There was silence at the other end. "Michael?"

Michael sighed. "You didn't," he said.

Isabel looked puzzled. "I didn't what?"

Michael sighed yet again and said, "You didn't hit the wrong button. Hang on."

Isabel gave a startled blink. "They didn't?" she thought. "They wouldn't. They couldn't."

After a long pause her thoughts were broken by Maria's equally sleepy voice. "Isabel? This had better be important."

Isabel blinked again. Apparently they could, would, and did. *Apparently*, in her apathy of the last six months, she had missed a *lot* of subtext.

Isabel broke the awkward silence by getting straight to the point. "I'm sorry about the time Maria. I probably could have called tomorrow, but I wanted to get this done while it was on my mind. Are you as tired of this Mexican Standoff between Max and Liz as I am?"

Maria coughed. "You had better believe it! If this goes on much longer they won't have a relationship left to get back to."

Isabel's eyes narrowed in thought. "Okay, I just wanted to be sure before I did anything irreversible."

Maria's voice became suspicious. "What are you going to do?"

Isabel chuckled and said, "Oh, just a little planned intervention."

Maria was silent for a moment then asked..."And you called me because......?"

"Because I want you to back me up on it", Isabel finished for her.

Maria cleared her throat. "Okay Isabel, I've got your six. What's the plan?"

Isabel felt a small thrill at Maria's unassuming trust in her. Another gift that grew from Max's single impulsive act that day at the Crashdown. "It's still hazy," Isabel said. "In fact it probably won't be finalized until about ten
seconds before I put it into action. I guess basically I intend to look for the first opening I can find and start pushing, and I won't back off. I simply need your support to see to it that neither of them bolts until the job is done."

Maria laughed. "You've got it Isabel."

Isabel sighed. "Maria, this is really for all of us. I've finally realized that what happens to some of us happens to all of us. And it *won't* come easy I think. In fact it could get bloody before it's over."

Maria spoke seriously, but with a hint of merriment. "So? I'll bring a mop."

Isabel sighed with relief. Without Maria's support, her job would have been much harder. With it, there was a good chance that they could end this once and for all.

Isabel yawned again. "Thanks Maria. But there's one more thing that I need. Information. You and Liz have been tight friends practically since you were hatched. If she would tell anyone the whole story, it would be you. Can you give me *anything* that I can work with?"

Maria was silent. Isabel grew concerned. "Maria?" she queried.

When Maria finally spoke it was obvious that she was picking and choosing her words carefully. "Nooo. No Isabel, I can't. Not without betraying her trust."

The implication being that Maria *did* know the truth.

Isabel sighed. Okay, it was time to go fishing. "Can you give me some hints or snippets? Anything that will tell me what direction to go in? You don't have to give me the full truth, just enough so that I'm not flying blind."

Maria considered. "Okay Isabel, I'll give you this. The full story is every bit as strange as 'aliens among us'. And Liz did what she did because it was literally a life and death issue for people that she cared about. And she was asked to do it by someone she trusted."

Isabel blinked in surprise. That was more than she expected, but as puzzling as the events themselves were.

Maria spoke again. "That's all I can say Isabel. Once this is all over I hope you'll know the whole story and we can all cry all over each other, but until then....I promised."

"That's okay Maria," Isabel said. "It will be enough...I hope." Isabel hesitated. "There's just one more thing. Off the subject. And you don't have to answer but......"

"When did Michael and I start sleeping together?" Maria finished.

Isabel blushed. "Um, yeah."

Maria chuckled. "About five hours before you guys were slated to catch a ride into the wild blue yonder."

Isabel smiled. "So *that's* why Michael suddenly decided that Earth was "home", she thought. "It wasn't Earth
that was home. It was Maria!" Isabel smiled. "It was strange", she thought, "how, of the three couples that started this odyssey, one was broken, one was faltering, and the third and most volatile pair were as solid as granite. Strange."

Maria cleared her throat and Isabel realized that she'd been zoning out. It was now past midnight and she was sleepy. "God, I'm sorry for keeping you Maria! I'll catch you tomorrow. Just be alert over the next few days, and when I make my move, back me on it." Isabel paused, considering whether to take the first actual step in her plan. Then she decided to take the plunge. "And Maria?"

"Yes?" Maria responded.

"Be happy. With Michael I mean. I know I've been a pain in the ass about the whole human/alien issue at times, but I really do love you both."

Maria was silent for a very long time. "Maria?" Isabel queried.

"Okay, who are you and what have you done with Isabel Evans?" Maria demanded.

"It's still me Maria. Just an older more chastened me." Isabel sniffed. "Lets just say that I had an epiphany this afternoon. I discovered that you really *don't* know what you've got 'til it's gone."

Maria sniffled a bit. "And to think, you used to terrify me," she said. Maria yawned. "Look Iz, Michael is getting crankier by the minute, so I'd better go. But you and I have to serious issues to deal with tomorrow. Like making up for half a lifetime lost as best friends. And for what it's worth, I love you too."

Isabel laughed. The fact that, for the first time ever, Maria had used her pet name was not lost on her. Success! "Okay Maria. G'night! And give the Cro Magnon Man a kiss for me!"

Maria laughed aloud. "Sweet dreams Iz! Bye!"

Isabel replaced the phone on the cradle and gave a contented sigh the segued into yet another yawn. She felt good. For the first time in months, possibly in her entire life, she felt completely and unabashedly good. "Sweet dreams," she thought. "Perhaps tonight, for the first time in forever, I really *can* have some sweet dreams."

It was 12:21 AM.

And Isabel Evans couldn't have been more wrong.

Friday 12:22 AM...Half a continent away in Seattle, Washington....

Alex Whitman walked down the hall toward his room above the dojo. He was clad in a bathrobe and drawstring sweat pants. His hair was still wet from the shower. He had a towel over his shoulder and his shaving kit in hand. Pausing at the guest room door he rubbed the knot on his shoulder and groaned. Duncan was a nice guy. He'd become a true friend in the last six months. But, when it came to training, he could be a ruthless pain in the ass. The flight back from New Mexico had been quick, putting them in Seattle just after supper time. Duncan had insisted that Alex eat light and go straight into a workout, followed by some time on the mats, and then still more
workout.

Alex had to admit though that Duncan had known exactly what he was doing. Alex had been wound up tight when they had finally gotten home. The tension of the flight, the funeral, *and* seeing Izzy again had him wound up so tight that it felt like his mainspring was about to break. The punishing workout followed by time spent letting the hot water of the shower pound away some of his aches had left Alex, if not relaxed, at least exhausted enough to sleep. Alex walked to his dresser, dropped his kit, and slung his towel over the back of a chair.

"Punishing," he thought, "was a good word for what Duncan had done to him tonight". Like pitting him against Amanda on the mats.

Amanda had been expecting something a little more in the way of romance out of Duncan's homecoming than being asked to spar with his student in unarmed combat. It had left her more than a little bit disgruntled. She had therefore vented her frustrations on Alex. And she fought dirty.

"God help me," Alex thought. "A pissed off woman who knows nearly a thousand years worth of dirty tricks." Amanda had mopped the deck with him. "Still", he thought, "I'm learning. Only three months ago I wouldn't have lasted thirty seconds with Amanda. Tonight I went 30 minutes."

Alex walked over and sat down on his bed gingerly, the memory of that knee to the groin coming back vividly. "It's a good thing that I heal quickly these days," he thought. "Otherwise I'd be singing soprano for a month." Yup, Amanda fought dirty.

He shed his bathrobe and sweat pants, choosing to sleep in the raw tonight. Alex switched off his bedside light, stretched out, and pulled the covers up. Shifting about under the covers he groaned again as he tried to find a position that evenly distributed his aches and bruises. Finally giving up he simply lay back with his arms behind his head and studied the ceiling. Thinking.




[ edited 3 time(s), last at 24-Aug-2002 3:50:10 AM ]
posted on 24-Aug-2002 3:54:03 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 2b
(I'll See You In Your Dreams.)

Going home had hurt more than he had thought it would. It was like losing everything all over again. And seeing his name on Izzy's lips, even through binoculars, had been like seeing heaven at arms length and having it snatched away. Seeing them all, knowing his parents were now gone beyond recall, it had all hurt. One of his recurring fantasies was to go home. To see his parents, Liz, Maria, Max, Michael, and even Kyle. To see Iz. To pick up again what that bitch Tess had cut mercilessly short. Alex sighed. "Useless", he thought. They were lost to him. And he to them. Their lives were dangerous enough without throwing headhunting immortals into the mix. The best way he could protect them now was to stay away. As far away as possible. Once his training was complete, or at least complete enough to suit Duncan, Alex planned to go to Europe. He and Duncan had already discussed Alex borrowing Duncan's barge on the Seine until he got on his feet.

"Perhaps this time I may *actually* get to see Sweden," he thought. "Maybe I can see what snow boarding that mountain is *really* like. Damn Tess Harding anyway".

For now though, he wasn't going anywhere. He had a long way to go before he could rely on living to a ripe old age of three or four hundred years in the strange and violent world of the Immortals.

One thing that he *had* done was insist on computer access. And they had given it to him after extracting a promise that he was not to contact anyone from his former life via e-mail. And he had given his word. What he *had* done though was set wards around Roswell, New Mexico. His search algorithms were running constantly correlating anything and everything to do with Roswell. And they were *good*. He ought to know, because he had designed them. In fact, they had turned up the fact of his parents death before Joe's internet news retrieval had. But, in typical fashion, Alex stayed silent until Joe had reported the fact to Duncan, and Duncan had approached him about going home for the funeral. In any event, if a pattern of occurrences appeared that suggested trouble for his friends, he would be on the first flight to Albuquerque, and screw the consequences. For now though, distance was the best medicine, the only medicine, that he could take to salve the ache in his heart.

His eyes grew heavy as sleep claimed him. Alex spoke aloud, giving voice to his last waking thoughts. "Sweet dreams, Izzy," he murmured.

Alex had no clue that he was as wrong as Isabel had been.

Still, in Roswell, New Mexico, Isabel Evans paused in putting on her pajamas, cocked her head and
listened. Just for a second, she had thought she had heard...

It was now 12:30 AM. The witching hour.


12:22 AM at The DeLuca Household

Maria DeLuca stared at the phone in her hand for a moment before hanging it up. She could not have been more surprised by Isabel's declaration of affection than she would have if the phone receiver had suddenly transformed into a frog in her hand. She heard an irritated grunt from behind and turned to study her bed mate. Tousled hair and all, he was irredeemably sexy.

"What was that about?" Michael asked.

Maria sighed. "Just a little girl talk is all."

Michael snorted. "And it couldn't wait until tomorrow? And what was with the 'I love you' stuff? Is there a side to you two that I don't know about?"

Maria flushed and swatted Michael's shoulder before stretching out next to him and laying her head on his chest. She loved listening to his heart beat.

Her extended silence prompted Michael's irritation to jump a notch. "Maria?" he queried

Maria sighed and rolled slightly so that her upper body and chin now rested on Michael's chest. "Isabel is worried about Max and Liz," she said. "She's worried that if this standoff they have going isn't resolved soon, it may be to late. So she asked for my help with an intervention."

Michael said nothing for a long moment. Then he spoke. "And you agreed?"

"Yes", Maria said.

Michael chuckled. " It sounded like she was trying to pump you for information."

Maria sighed. "She was Spaceboy, she was. But in a good cause. Unfortunately I couldn't give her what she wanted, also in a good cause."

"And that would be what?" Michael asked.

"Fixing what's broken," Maria retorted. "I don't blame Iz for trying to get at the truth before she acts. I really don't. And I'll give it everything I've got when she does act. But if I had told her what I know, I'd have betrayed Liz's trust. And I don't do that. Ever. But, if Liz tells Isabel freely...well maybe we nudge a bit...it's a part of the healing process. Iz has to work a bit harder, and Liz has to trust a bit more, but in the end everyone comes out ahead. See?"

Michael studied his lover with new and profound respect. (The word 'lover' appears in technicolor, extra bold, capital letters in his mind.) "Exactly when and how did you get so wise Pixie Girl?" he asked.

Maria laughed aloud. She loved that pet name. "Well maybe being in love with the original stone wall boy had something to do with it", she said. "It was either get wise or give up".

Michael smiled. "Well I for one am glad you got wise."

Maria reached forward quickly and pecked his cheek with her lips.

"What was that for?", Michael asked.

Maria grinned impishly. " That was from Isabel. She said to 'give the Cro Magnon Man a kiss for her'. Consider yourself kissed Spaceboy."

Michael chuckled and raised his eyebrows. "Under the circumstances, don't you mean Homo Erectus?"

Maria sat up suddenly, her mouth hanging open.

Michael grinned. "What? I can't watch Discovery Channel too?"

Maria collapsed back on his chest laughing helplessly. Michael joined her.

After they had laughed themselves out, Michael brought the conversation back around. "So what
about that 'I love you too' stuff?" he asked.

Maria looked pensive. "Off hand I'd say that Isabel has discovered that being vulnerable with your friends isn't such a bad thing after all. I like it better than her Ice Princess routine."

Michael stared at the ceiling before saying, "You've been good for us you know. All of us. And all of you."

Maria turned her head away and resumed listening to his heart beat. "Wow," she thought, "this *is* a night of profound revelations. Old 'stone wall' Michael would have *never* made *that* admission. Not even if you were extracting his fingernails, one at a time."

They were quiet for a while. So long so that Maria thought to her chagrin that Michael had fallen back asleep. Then he surprised her by speaking again. "So, do you think that you and Iz can put the whammy on Liz and Max?" Michael asked.

Maria sighed. "I think that we have a good shot at it. They *want* to fix things. They love each other. That's more than half the battle."

Michael cleared his throat. "Good," he said. "After what Liz did she deserves it. They both do. How do you reward someone for giving up everything they cherish to save your life?"

Maria flinched and felt Michael's arms go around her. His hand stroked her back soothing away tension. "You know?" she asked. "You know what she did and why? How Michael?"

Michael chuckled. "Hello? Earth to Pixie Girl? We've been making love at every opportunity for six months, remember? Flashes, remember? How could I *not* get a complete picture of something that's always close to the surface in your mind?"

Maria sat up again. "And your opinion?" she asked.

Michael looked at her very seriously. "My opinion is that I keep misjudging Liz Parker. I knew that she was our friend. And that we could trust her. But I'm starting to realize that, like 'love' and 'family', I haven't had a clue of how deep the word 'friend' can go. I never had a clue that she cared for us enough to dive on a live hand grenade for us. Grenade hell, a live nuke."

"And?" Maria said.

Michael sighed. "And so, if it can be fixed, we fix it", he said.

Maria grinned. "What you mean 'we' paleface?"

Michael grinned back. "I mean 'we', as Isabel, you and me, Pixie Girl."

Maria gave a happy squeal and lunged at him planting a furious kiss on his lips, one that quickly morphed into passion. After some minutes she was forced to break for air.

Michael gasped out, "Pixie, it's late. As much as I'm enjoying this, we should try to sleep!"

Maria gave a snort and let her hand slide down his stomach and into sensitive territory. Michael growled. Maria chuckled and said, "Spaceboy, my mother will be back from the Herboligists convention tomorrow night, we are here now, in bed, and awake. If you think we're going back to sleep right away, you're out of your mind."

That was all Michael needed. In a blink Maria found herself on her back with one of Michael's legs sliding between her thighs. After that everything became a blur of sensation. Pure pleasure. And, at the end of things, as she kissed him before her orgasm took her away, her last coherent thought was the same one that she had had in their love making for the last six months.

"The door opened," she thought. "The door opened and he came out. He came out for me!" Then she went into
sweet oblivion.....

It was 12:50 AM, twenty minutes into The Witching Hour

The Evans Household.....

Dressed for bed, teeth brushed, and face washed; Isabel Evans slid under the covers. As an afterthought, before turning out the light, she retrieved her high school yearbook from the floor beside the bed, where she had dropped it earlier to talk to Max. Opening it to the now familiar page she took a last look at Alex's picture before going to sleep. Gently she reached out with a finger to caress his face. "Thank you Alex. Thank you for prying me out of my shell and giving me a life to live in place of the mere existence I had before. Sleep well Sweetheart."

Isabel closed the annual before removing her hand, so she never saw the wave of discontinuity race across picture and disappear. An inconsequential thing really. Easily missed. But the precursor to the most profound
night of Isabel's life. One that would change her life irrevocably. None of which she was aware of as her eyes closed and sleep claimed her.


THE DREAM STATE

Isabel was walking the streets of a strange city. And feeling troubled. She hated dreams that had her in strange places. And this was no exception. But there was this odd feeling of deja vu that dogged her. Like this place was part of some half remembered, long ago, dream. The sea was near. She could smell salt in the air. Something drew her on, her feet somehow knowing where they wanted her to be.

Distantly music reached her ears. She moved towards the source, spellbound by the melody.

She followed the sweet strains of the old Righteous Brothers tune to a building, and through it's front door. Just inside the door, the music stopped. Isabel paused, confused and fearful. What was happening? A moment later the music resumed at the beginning. She began to follow it up the stairs and through a pair of double doors into a large room lit by what looked like a thousand candles. As long as the music played, she was calm. She felt safe, warm, loved.

"Wo-oh my love,
My Darlin'.
I've hungered for your touch,
A long, lonely time.
And time, goes by, so slowly.
And time, can do so much.
Are you, still mi-I-ine?
I need your love.
I need your love.
Darlin', speed your love,
To-oo meee.
Lonely rivers flow,
To the sea, to the sea.
To the open arms,
Of the sea, yeah.
Lonely rivers sigh,
Wait for me, wait for me.
I'll be comin' home,
Wait for me-ee."


The room looked a bit like a cross between a gym and the set of every bad kung fu movie ever made. Weapons hung from pegs on the walls. Exercise equipment was scattered about. All of which made the fact that the Righteous Brothers themselves were at the mic crooning "Unchained Melody" completely incongruous. But that wasn't what really got her attention. What riveted her was the dancing couple swaying to the slow mellow ballad.

She smiled. "Trust Alex to be groovin' to the oldies," she thought. "Even in my dreams he knows how to romance a girl."

She watched as Alex, his back to her, and her dream self moved in dance. As the couple slowly turned Alex's face came into view. That was when Isabel began to get a sense that something wrong. He looked older somehow. Harder. More careworn. Her heart nearly broke at the weight of sorrow and responsibility that seemed etched into his features. Other changes became apparent to her eye. He was standing straighter, and he had filled out to a point where he could have given any jock in West Roswell a run for his money. Something was definitely *not* right here.

Isabel spoke. "Alex?"

The music stopped. The singers vanished. Her dream self dissolved into mist. Alex looked up at her. Right at her. Isabel looked over her shoulder to see if something was behind her. Nothing there. She turned back and felt her heart jump into her throat. He was walking toward her. His eyes never leaving her face. Closer. Then closer still. He stopped within touching distance. Isabel stood riveted, unable to move.

"Izzy?" he said. "Isabel, what are you doing here?" This is dangerous. You shouldn't *be* here! You should never have tried it!"

Isabel was unable to speak, torn between fear and wonder. Dream Alex raised his hand and brought it to her face. He touched her cheek tenderly. The effect of that touch was like live high voltage arcing across her soul. She FELT him! His living presence! OH MY GOD! ALEX!

She was in sensory overload.

Under the circumstances Isabel took the only reasonable course of action open to her.

She woke up.

Sat straight up in bed.

And screamed at the top of her lungs!


1:00 AM in Seattle, Washington

Alex sat up in bed with a stifled shout. "What the hell had just happened?", he thought. " Jesus! What a dream!" As he calmed his brain began working and he realized what had happened. He had felt Izzy. Felt her soul. Felt it touch his. Dream walk! After that his panic returned in full force. He switched on his bedside light and stalked to the mirror on his dresser. As he always did in a tense situation he began to address his reflection. "Okay idiot, she found you. Somehow she found you. With any luck she might think that it was just a nightmare, for a little while anyway. Which it must have been, for her!" He had seen the terror in her eyes in that last second before she had vanished.

"Way to go Whitman, way - to - go!" he berated himself. "The first time in six months that you get to see her, face to face so to speak, and you scare the living crap out of her! Perfect. Juuuust perfect!"

Alex walked back to his bed and sat down, scrubbing his face with his hands. "Okay stupid, think!. What are your options? Contact is out, for nothing has changed. I'm still 'dead'. And I'm still walking talking trouble for everyone that I care about. Travel is out too. Now that I think about it, Europe was a pipe dream! If she can reach me here, she can reach me there. And for all I know she can reach me on Mars too. Think you idiot!"

So Alex considered, rejected, and considered again. Then he paused, and his eyes widened as the gravity of the situation came home to him. "I am sooo in trouble," he thought. "Iz isn't stupid. The odds are good that she'll figure out what happened eventually. And when she does, she'll be back. With fire in her eye. Oh man, I am sooo dead....no pun intended."

So, Alex reached the conclusion that every good man since Adam has reached when he sees an extended tour 'in the dog house' coming at him like a truck with no brakes. He would stall. He would be on guard. And when she came he would cloud his mind. Think gray. Think static. Think about *anything* but how much he loved her. That would have to do until he could find a more permanent solution.

"Well, she won't be back tonight," he said to himself. "After the way you scared her she probably won't sleep for a week!" Alex winced, remembering how tired she had looked at the funeral. "Christ, I can't win!"

Still berating himself he went back to bed. "I should just cut my throat and get it over with! But that wouldn't do a damned bit of good because I'd be on my feet again in half an hour!" Alex flopped back gracelessly and sighed. "Hell of a thing," he thought. "Now I have to be alert while I *sleep* TOO!" He lay awake a long time waiting for sleep to claim him. And when it finally did, his last thought was...."I'm sorry Isabel".


Saturday.....2:30 AM in Roswell, New Mexico....

Isabel sat on her bed. Her back against the headboard. Her knees pulled up to her chest and wrapped in her arms. She shivered. With fear...and something else. Wonder. She wasn't sure what to think. What had happened? And she wouldn't be sure for quite awhile. But she knew one thing for certain, there would be no more sleep tonight.

It had taken forever to convince Max to go back to bed after he had charged into her room, ball bat in hand ready to defend her. But he had eventually gone willingly enough once she had pretended to go to bed. After he was gone she had flicked of the light and sat up. She retrieved her yearbook and opened it. Frowning with concentration she touched his picture again. She was hoping for enlightenment. Hoping for an explanation to appear. Hoping that she wasn't losing it.

She hugged her knees again and waited.

When the sun came up, she was still waiting..........

The Witching Hour was over.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Aug-2002 4:01:14 AM ]
posted on 24-Aug-2002 10:48:10 PM
Thanks for the feedback folks. Especially from those of you who've already seen this on Jessi's board. For those of you that haven't, the parts just get bigger from here. It stands at 11 completed parts, and the 12th is al-l-l-lmost there. And the story isn't half done yet. Be warned, real life can be a bear for me. So there's sometimes an ungodly lag between parts. For now though, I'll post the existing parts as I have time. Thanks again.

Trude & Krazykitti Let's see what reaction we get when I finally hit'em with part 9. *wink*
posted on 24-Aug-2002 11:52:54 PM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 3a
(Interlude)

Saturday....10:17 AM the morning after at the Evans Household...

The soft trilling of the phone invaded Isabel's sleep, pulling her into resentful wakefulness. It had been after dawn before she had felt safe enough, relaxed enough, to give in to her need to sleep. And now some uncivilized savage was interrupting her! She opened her eyes and groaned. The phone continued to trill its irritating call. Isabel rolled over and glared at the phone, then turned bleary eyes towards her clock radio. Three hours! Only three hours she'd been asleep! The phone continued to trill. "Give it up already!" she snarled to herself. Flopping back on her bed she pulled her pillow over her head. The phone kept up it's monotonous call. "Why doesn't Max answer it!?"she moaned. The phone continued to make noises like a hyperactive cricket. Finally she growled, reached over, and seized the phone. Bringing the receiver to her ear she spoke wearily. "This had better be important!".

Musical laughter greeted her from the other end of the phone. The laughter wound down a little and a female voice still gasping with amusement said, "That's a *fine* way to greet your co-conspirator in the morning!"

Isabel came further awake and said, "Maria?"

Maria giggled again. "This is too perfect Iz. You sound like I felt last night! You even stole my line and everything!"

Isabel snorted, then smiled inspite of her exhaustion the she said, "I assume your have a good reason for calling? Aside from revenge that is?"

Maria laughed. "They say that turn about is fair play, but I'm not that petty! What I called about is to tell you that the ranks of our little band of conspirators have expanded to include Spaceboy!"

Isabel frowned, "Michael is cool with this?"

Maria hesitated briefly then spoke. "More than cool, Iz. He's on board, all the way. I didn't even have to bully or use my feminine wiles!"

Isabel sighed and said, "Why do I have the feeling that we *both* underestimated Michael Guerin?"

Maria chuckled. "Um, I don't know Isabel. Maybe because we did?"

Isabel smiled. She could definitely get used to this "best friends" thing.

"That's all I really had to say, Iz. So I'll let you get back to the beauty sleep that you don't really need," Maria said.

Isabel yawned. "After a night like last night I need it more than you think, Maria. But as long as we're on the phone I need to get your opinion on something."

Maria paused. "Okay, the question of what exactly happened last night will wait. As for an opinion, you don't need to ask for it. Just ask Liz. Unsolicited opinions are my specialty! So shoot."

Isabel paused to organize her thoughts. "Look Maria, I know about the whole setup Liz pulled with Kyle. Making Max think that she had slept with him. I boggled when I heard the rumor last year. I couldn't believe it. Now thank God, I don't have to believe it. But it's still part of what's holding them apart. Liz *still* won't tell Max why she found it so necessary to wound him like that."

Maria sighed. "Iz, you know that I can't..."

"Tell me why," Isabel finished for her. "I know that Maria. I wouldn't ask it of you...now. What I really want to know is, since Kyle knows about us it makes him 'a member of the club' so to speak. As well as a principal player in this mess. Though I get the feeling that he's mostly an innocent bystander."

Listening to Isabel, Maria grinned. "The girl may be an alien, but there's nothing wrong with her feminine intuition," Maria thought.

Isabel continued. "What I really need to know is, should we 'invite him to the party'?"

Maria was silent for a moment as she considered the idea. "I don't know Isabel. Kyle is a wild card. I mean, with me to corral Liz and Michael to control Max, you can rain tough love down on them for as long as it takes. But Kyle, for all that he has a good heart, tends to be impulsive. He doesn't always think before he speaks. Which could make things a lot harder. I'd say, if he's there when you get your shot, include him. Otherwise, don't borrow trouble."

Isabel sighed. "I kind of thought that myself, but it sounds better hearing someone else say it. All the same, after they settle with each other, they'll both have to settle with Kyle."

Maria sounded grim, "You know it."

Isabel yawned again. "Well, that's all I really needed so......"

Maria cut her off. "Not so fast Iz. What happened last night that has you sleeping late today?"

Isabel shuddered. "It was a dream Maria. About half nightmare, half wish fulfillment, and 100% scary I'm not ready to talk about it yet."

Maria sighed. If it was only a dream, they could deal with that. "Well when you're ready to talk, track me down. Best friends have dibs on all the good dish. Including dreams! You go on back to sleep now. Spaceboy is waiting breakfast on me, and he takes his cooking *very* seriously!"

Isabel yawned, feeling sleep beginning to bite at her again. "Okay Maria, have a good day!"

A muffled shout came over the phone. Maria could be heard hollering, "Keep you pants on Michael! I'm coming!" Maria spoke quickly. "Gotta go Iz, Michael is whining about the eggs getting cold. Sweet dreams!"

Isabel winced. She thought that in was just possible that she would never have a "sweet dream" again. "Bye Maria!"

Isabel yawned and gave a catlike stretch as she hung up the phone. Looking down at herself she realized that she had slept on top of the covers. Which was somewhat chilly. Twisting around she worked her way under the covers and snuggled down into the warmth of her bed. She tried to think about her dream last night, but sleep would not permit that. It was only a moment or two before she dropped into blessedly dreamless oblivion.

Saturday.....10:30 AM in Seattle, Washington ....

Richie Ryan strode down the hall in the residential part of the building housing the dojo. He didn't look like it, being clad in ragged sweats and running shoes, but he was a man with a mission. That being to pry Alex out of his bed and get some road work in. Had it been up to Richie, he'd have given Alex a few days off to recoup. After all, yesterday had really put the kid through the wringer. But Duncan's prescription was somewhat different. And Richie could only comply.

They were going to run the kid ragged. Work him until he dropped, then make him get up and work some more. The point being to keep him so busy that he wouldn't have the time or energy to dwell on the past all that much. Or on things that he couldn't have and couldn't fix. Richie also suspected that this was an exercise in discipline. To survive long as an Immortal you had to be able to ignore things that were not of immediate importance, and focus when it counted. Like staying alive. Not that Richie saw that as a part of Alex's problem. He'd never seen someone who could focus like Alex could. He took after Duncan that way. The kid was Mr. Self Control personified. Which is probably why Duncan had a soft spot for him, and was thus doubly determined to see him equipped to survive in his new life.

Reaching Alex's room, Richie let himself in and paused to study the sleeping teenager. From the way he was tangled up in his covers, it was obvious that he'd spent a restless night. As Richie watched Alex made a sound, almost a moan. Rich in pain. Words came. "Isabel....nooooo," Alex whispered. Richie grimaced. The girl again. Jeeez, she must really be something! Perhaps Duncan had the right idea after all. The kid needed something on his mind besides a lost love.

Matching action with thought Richie strode over and raised the blind on the window, allowing sunlight to flood the room. "RISE AND SHINE ALEX!" he shouted.

Alex stirred, groaned, and pried open one bloodshot eye. "Go to hell Richie! It's Saturday, and nothing is going to get me out of here until I'm good and ready!"

Richie laughed. "All right then. I'll just trot down and tell Amanda that the breakfast she has set up for you isn't appreciated. Then you can deal with *her*. I'm sure that we can set up a rematch."

Alex sighed. "No, that's quite all right. Last night was enough to last me a lifetime." He groaned and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. Pausing to look at Richie's get up he said, "Road work?"

Richie nodded.

"Well then I'd better eat light. If I have more than OJ and toast I'll toss my cookies before we get a mile. Get out for here and let me get dressed. I'll see you at the table in a couple of minutes."

Ten minutes later Alex was facing an irate Amanda, and a one eyed Texas stack...with sausage. Both Amanda and breakfast looked intimidating.

"Toast and orange juice???" she ranted. "I really don't think so! Do you know how seldom I cook? So eat up Alex, because this maybe your one and only opportunity!"

With that she huffed over to the stove. Alex was flummoxed. Both Cassandra and Amanda had this tendency to mother him. Something that he still hadn't gotten used to. Especially since neither of them looked the part. Least of all Amanda. Alex heard a snicker and shot a look at the other two people at the table. Richie had paused over his bowl of cold cereal and was shaking with silent mirth. Alex stared daggers at him. Duncan simply looked laconic and sipped his coffee. Alex sent him a questioning look.

Duncan glanced at the kitchen where Amanda was muttering imprecations over the stove, leaned forward and whispered..... "Guilt."

Alex frowned, and his look must have said, 'Huh? I don't get it'. Because Duncan checked on Amanda's location again, then leaned closer and said, "She feels guilty about beating your brains out last night. So, unless you want her to do it again, I'd dig in lad."

Alex looked at the stack of pancakes with a single egg on top, thought about what he might be feeling like after the first few miles of the morning run, then thought about what he was *absolutely certain* to feel like if Amanda came at him on the mats again. Alex considered his options, then sighed, and reached for the syrup. It was going to be a long day.

Saturday.....10:38 AM in Roswell, New Mexico

Max Evans was running late. He'd slept badly last night to begin with. Though, truth be told, it had been a long time since he'd slept truly well. He had too many issues to keep him awake. And having Isabel wake him with that bloodcurdling scream in the middle of the night hadn't helped at all. That must have been *some* nightmare. One that she had refused to share. So he'd simply sat up with her, holding her hand and talking until her irritation had gotten the better of her and she had chased him off to bed. And sleep had been slow to come again after that. Hence, he was running late.

He paused before entering the UFO Museum. Even though he was going to be late for work he couldn't escape what had become a ritual for him. Pause, turn, and look at the Crashdown. He did it even when he knew she wasn't working. Even when he knew she wasn't home. But neither of those were true this morning. She was there. He could feel her. The departure of Tess seemed to have cleared some sort of static for Max Evans. Because he could sense Liz Parker's location with unerring accuracy now. And he had the uncanny feeling that the "sense" was mutual. But, like so many things Liz lately, he didn't know for certain. And he was afraid to ask. Liz and he talked, but they didn't share. He missed that sharing. Sighing to himself, and wondering yet again just what the hell he was going to do to break this emotional log jam, he turned away and headed in to work. It was going to be a long day.

Across the street at the Crashdown.

Liz Parker stood well back from the widows, where she could see without being seen, and watched the familiar figure with the slumped shoulders turn and walk into the museum. He looked really tired this morning. Or perhaps her guilt vibe was just really strong this morning. She heard the cook bellow "Order Up!" and turned away to retrieve yet another breakfast order from the service window. Delivering the alien themed omelet with toast to a customer she paused again to look across the street. She had known he was coming to work. This location sense she seemed to have for Max Evans was eerie. She tried to tell herself that it indicated that they were meant for each other, but she always ran up against guilt and humiliation.

How do you tell the one that you love that you gutted him like a trout to save the world...and that it may all have been for nothing? How do you tell him that you and his analog from the future, acting on bad information that his present self never knew about, changed history. Which, among other things resulted in him to siring a son with an enemy, and the death of a friend? And may very nearly have gotten he, Isabel, and Michael killed. She knew that none of it was rational...but the emotions were still real to her. And now, six months later, she still couldn't communicate them to anyone beyond Maria, let alone believe that she merited forgiveness. And even Maria knew only the bare facts of it. So, against her desire and love, Liz remained silent. And that added to her guilt.

Max's future self had said that the future was now an unknown. That meant that the alien invasion of 2014 might not happen. But then again, it might, and her friends needed to know about it. But her shame kept her from telling them. It was an endless feedback loop. Garbage in, garbage out. . Yet she felt powerless to break it. A genuine "Catch 22" So instead she went on, day after day, being cordial even affectionate with Max. But never allowing him in. Never allowing any of them in. Afraid that they would see. See her, what she had done, and hate her for it and it's consequences.

She wondered what had happened to the self possessed girl who had thrown caution to the winds to fight for and give her heart to a man who was literally out of this world. She missed that girl. Liz heard a throat clear and turned to see a customer looking at her with irritation, waiting for his check. "Well that's another tip that's going to suck", she thought. She smiled and hurried the check to the table then went to check on the only outstanding order that she had. "Stay busy", she thought. "If you're busy you aren't thinking." It was completely irrational. But who could blame her for getting stuck in this particular corner? Her friends wouldn't, that much was certain...as Elizabeth Parker was due to find out. Because sometime later today fate, in the shape of Isabel Evans, would schedule the choice of what and who to tell to be taken from her hands. It would be the worst and best day of her life. In succession and at the same time. It was going to be a long day.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 25-Aug-2002 12:52:54 AM ]
posted on 25-Aug-2002 12:32:18 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 3b
(Interlude)

The DeLuca household....

Maria finished washing the skillet in her hands and placed it in the drainer beside the sink. As she let out a longsuffering sigh a pair of strong arms slid around her waist from behind and Michael whispered, "Naughty, naughty...remember the agreement. I cook, you wash. No complaining allowed."

Maria rolled her eyes and turned in his arms. Placing her arms around his neck she said, "Michael, we both do this for a living. Would it kill us to eat out? That way you wouldn't have to cook and I wouldn't have to wash."

Michael chuckled, "Okay, deal. Breakfast at Denny's tomorrow. That way I can tell their cooks what they're doing wrong." He winked.

Maria leaned into him and wondered again how she had gotten so damned lucky. When she had first realized that she had a thing for Michael he had been this surly, distant, just barely approachable enigma. More than once she had thought of giving up, of just writing him off. How did that old saying go? 'Good things come to those who wait'? The man upon whose chest her head currently rested was proof of that. Had he really changed this much? Because of her? Or had she changed? Imponderable questions. And Maria wasn't much for imponderables. That was Liz's territory, Maria simply wanted to enjoy the ride. So thinking, she reached up and kissed Michael. Michael held her tight and deepened the kiss....

*FLASH*

~Maria and Liz, seated by a fountain, locked in earnest conversation...~

*END FLASH*

Michael started slightly, but it was enough for Maria to feel it. She pulled away and looked Michael in the eye while keeping her arms around him. Michael saw her questioning look and sighed. "It was a flash Sweetheart. Nothing cosmic, just you and Liz at the fountain again." Maria looked puzzled. Michael grinned and spoke. "It's the night she told you the whole time travel and changing history story. Over the last six months I've watched that scene play out two or three times a week."

Maria scowled at him. "You know Spaceboy, if I were the easily insulted type, I might be a little miffed about the invasion of privacy."

Michael rolled his eyes. "Cut me some slack will you? Pixie, I can't help what I pick up from you. Anymore than you can help what you get from me."

Maria pinched him. Hard.

"Ouch! What was that for?" Michael asked.

Maria's scowl deepened. "You mean what I can't help picking up from you now that you *let* me!" she growled.

Michael sighed. "Maria, I'm sorry. I don't now what more I can say. We've been all over this. I was ashamed of my life. So ashamed that I didn't want to inflict it on you."

Maria softened. "Michael, you can't inflict anything on me. But you *can* share." She smirked. "Think of it this way Spaceboy. Are things with us better after the sharing? If the answer is yes, then you know how wrong it was to block me out like you did."

Michael gave Maria his crooked "cute" smile. "Okay Maria, I surrender. You're right, I'm wrong. And things are better than I've ever known in my life. Satisfied?"

Maria matched his half smile and said, "Michael, you're so cute when you're submissive."

Michael grinned and released Maria. "Pixie, that brings up mental images I can do without at the moment. And you and I have to get to work. The lunch rush will be starting soon, and Liz will skin both alive if it starts without us."

Maria glanced at her watch then spun and snatched her purse off the counter. "We have plenty of time yet. But, if you insist, we'll go. Though I swear, you're turning into a regular pillar of responsibility. Between the turnaround in your attitude at school, and this arriving early for work, your friends are going to start suspecting you of being a shape shifter."

As they headed out the door Michael chuckled. "I'm not worried," he said. "That's why you're here. So that, no matter how much I grow up, you can still vouch for the fact that I'm the same cranky bastard that everybody knows and loves."

Maria stopped him at the car and reached up to give him a quick kiss. "Not so cranky anymore Sweetie", she said. "I won't allow it."

Michael smiled softly and thought..."Yes ma'am."

The UFO Museum......

Max was headed down the stairs when the music started. Elvis Presley again. "At least it isn't 'God Save The King'," he thought. "Or worse yet, 'Hail to the Chief'." After Tess' departure the mental deterioration of Amy DeLuca and Brody due to Tess' mental manhandling had become so pronounced that, in desperation, Max and the others had given them both the whole story. That, along with a lot of talking and the occasional dream walk, had managed to pull them through. Amy was far from happy about knowing something about the aliens and their friends that their parents didn't. But she could understand the reasons for secrecy, once she had calmed down that is. Realizing that your only child is romantically involved with another life form tends to be traumatic.

Brody, on the other hand, had seen things with his own unique brand of humor. It took him a while to get past being 'an interstellar cell phone' as he put it. But Max had known the worst was past the first time he'd arrived at work and had the strains of 'God Save the King' come wafting over the Museum's public address system. Brody was a dreadful tease.

Max stoically marched into Brody's sanctum sanctorum and was unsurprised to see his boss and friend sitting in his office chair, facing the door, wearing his 'I gave Max another hotfoot' grin. Seeing the long-suffering look on Max's face, Brody relented. He spun the chair and flipped a switch on the console behind him, cutting off the music. Brody spun back and grin intact. "Now now Max! Don't be a bad sport! You can't give a man like me an employee that's not only royalty, but alien royalty at that, and not expect to pay the price!"

Max attempted to return Brody's infectious grin, but it came out looking forced and faded quickly.

Brody frowned. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing," he thought. "And knowing what I know now......" He sighed and spoke aloud. "It's Liz again isn't it? Max you cannot go on like this."

Max glanced heavenward looking for patience. "So everyone tells me Brody."

Brody smiled gently. "Max m'boy, listen to me. I owe you big, both directly and indirectly. I owe your people my life. Granted there's the occasional inconvenience of being Larak's hand puppet, but it beats the alternative. Especially when that alternative called for something considerably quieter and less active." Brody winked. "And then there's my daughter and your Christmas Miracle. So, I'm going to give you a bit of advice. And I hope that you take it to heart. Talk to her. If the worst happens and it all screws up, and I don't think for a minute that it will, then at least you'll both be out of this limbo you're in. The longer you wait the harder it will be and the more certain you can be of a meltdown in your relationship."

Max looked resigned and sighed. "Okay, after work. I'll go over after work."

Brody beamed. "That's m'boy", he said. "Now let's get to work. I want that alien autopsy exhibit taken down. I'm putting in an exhibit on recent tech advances allegedly spawned by reverse engineered alien technology."

Max looked quizzical. "What advances?"

Brody was grinning again. "Why whatever ones I can dream up of course! How do you like DVD's as a start?"

Max shook his head. Prior to learning the truth the museum had been part of a deadly serious attempt by Brody to find and expose the truth. Now though it was a game to him. A playful way to misdirect people away *from* that truth. To protect his friends and have fun at the same time. A colossal practical joke on UFO believers.

Max grinned. A true grin. "Next thing you know you'll be attributing chia pets to aliens."

Brody made a show of looking thoughtful then laughed and said, "I wish I *could* blame them on aliens, but they're just too cheesy." He winked again. "Only a human mind could dream them up." With that he waved Max out the door.

Max headed toward the autopsy exhibit in a good mood for the first time in a long while. Brody's humor had started it, and the knowledge that he was going to get rid of that eyesore of an exhibit capped it off. He had hated that thing since the first time he had to stuff phony entrails back into the psuedo-alien corpse after some rug rat had pulled them out. As he began the all day job of dismantling the exhibit and packing it up he heard music commence on the PA system. Elvis. Singing 'Blue Suede Shoes'. He paused and winced, then grinned. His good feeling blossomed further as he considered the fact that giving someone a hotfoot flowed both ways. So thinking he returned to work, while daydreaming. His mind off of Liz for now, and occupied with plans counting coup on Brody.

Brody watched from his office door, reading Max's body language accurately. "I'm in for it now," he thought. "But it's worth it to get him out of that angst ridden mental rut." He headed back into his office feeling considerably better. Jim Valenti, Amy DeLuca, and he had made a pact over a private dinner some months back. To protect the kids. They had been through hell and back. Much of that hell they still didn't share with anyone. Enough was enough. Jim had stood up alone as their "father figure" long enough. Now they had a "mother figure" and a "wealthy uncle figure" too. The 'I know an alien' club had fortnightly informal dinners where they compared notes and sought ways to help 'their kids'.

Brody flopped into his office chair and frowned in thought. "Whatever money and some judicious nudging can do, I will do. I owe them that much." He looked at a calligraphed poster on the wall. It read "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good people do nothing". Brody smiled and picked up the phone to let Amy know that her idea for dealing with Max's ongoing depression had finally borne fruit. If it came at the price of the alien equivalent of a banana cream pie in the face, so be it. He chuckled at the mental imagery. He was, after all, good people.

Saturday....11:30 AM Green Lake Park, Seattle....

Alex was going to die. When Richie and he had started their run he had been certain of it. A mile later he had been wishing for it. Now it was three miles and he was back to certainty. All thanks to Amanda and the breakfast from hell. He should have said no and let her beat the tar out of him again. Alex groaned aloud. Next to him Richie spared enough breath for snort of laughter. Alex had remonstrated with Duncan before they had left for the park. When that had failed he had gone to pleading. But Duncan had been adamant. He had told Alex that, if he expected to live long, he had to be prepared for anything. Including the physical discomfort of say, fighting a pitched battle right after a heavy meal. Or even in the middle of a heavy meal. So they were here, and Alex was sure he was going to die. All he concentrated on was putting one foot in front of the other, and on saving enough for the sprint at the end. As he and Richie approached their fifth mile their pace faltered as 'the buzz' hit. The buzz that indicated another Immortal in the area.

Keep running," Richie panted. "If it's someone we know there's no point in breaking stride. If it's someone that we *don't* know, then the last thing we want to do is break stride. I haven't got my sword and neither do you."

His discomfort forgotten Alex was constantly scanning the area like a rabbit who knows the fox is there, but can't see him. "Would that matter? I thought this was 'code duello' type stuff?"

Richie snorted. "Alex, you've been around us long enough to know that, aside from the long lifeline, we're just folks. Most immortals obey the rules. But some would slaughter you like a chicken if they get the chance, and screw fair play."

Alex frowned. "Now you tell me this? Now?"

Richie spared him a pitying glance. "Well Alex, for one thing, with my upbringing I wasn't surprised by it when my time came. Not even a little bit. I know how low people can be, and I never expected Immortals to be any different. For another, you have enough on your plate learning to fight and putting your past behind you. Knowing there are people out there who want to kill you sucks. Even if they *do* obey the rules when they try it. Knowing there are some that will cheat while trying it is a little too much information we thought."

Alex snorted "Gee, thanks for protecting my innocence. Anything else I should know that might get me killed if I don't know it?"

At that moment they saw him. Lounging on the grass with studied indolence. He was lean, almost skinny, but there was no mistaking they feral look in his eyes, or the predatory smile he sent them. This was a hunter. He might have been handsome if it weren't for the discolored weal of scar tissue marring his right cheek. As they approached him he made no move to rise. In fact, the impression he gave was that they were barely worth his notice.

Richie snorted. "Let the head games begin," he thought. Ordinarily Richie might have assayed a remark to get the smirk off of not so pretty boy's face, but he stifled his inclination. His job was to get the kid home safely. And that didn't include provoking a fight with an armed immortal while he himself didn't have so much as a cocktail straw. "Keep moving Alex. Ignore him."

As they ran on, Alex's heart was pounding. And it had nothing to do with his physical exertion. This was his first encounter with an Immortal outside the little circle that surrounded Duncan. Inside he was swimming in a complex stew of emotions. He was certain that some of it was fear. Otherwise his butt wouldn't be snipping holes in his BVD's. And it was. But most of it was excitement and curiosity. This was his first actual contact with The Game. And above all he felt caution. "This isn't the time to lose my head," he thought somewhat wryly.

Once they reached their car Alex was all in favor of 'getting the hell out of Dodge', but Richie insisted that they cool down and stretch first. Thinking it over rationally, Alex saw the sense. Panic was definitely contra-indicated.

"What the hell was that about Richie?" Alex demanded.

Richie sighed. "Isn't it obvious Alex? He's hunting. Probably me."

Alex looked a little incredulous. "Hunting? And this doesn't bother you? And why not me?"

Richie studied him for a moment. "Well, taken in order, yes....hunting. He looks like the stalker type. He'll probably pop up a couple of more times over the next few days or a week. Just trying to rattle my cage before he actually tries something. As for bothering me, no. I've had to fight before. And I've won. I've been taught by the best. Just like you. As for you, I doubt it. If he's been checking us out he knows you're a newbie, and therefore under Duncan's protection. Any challenge issued against you is a challenge to Duncan, and he has first call answering it. And frankly, just looking at him, that guy wouldn't stand a prayer against Duncan. And on the outside chance that he *can* take Duncan, he'd have to get past Amanda, Cassandra, *and* Methos. And me." Richie winked. "So I'm pretty sure that it's me he's after."

Alex simply nodded.

Richie sighed. "Lets head for the barn, buddy of mine. You aren't done for today yet. And I want to let the others know that our 'friend' is out there."

Richie had given Alex a lot to think about. Not least about the bonds of loyalty in their odd little club. If he had to leave his old friends behind, he thought, at least his new friends were every bit as loyal. As they pulled out of the park they saw him again, lounging on the seat of a motorcycle with the same studied indifference he had shown before.

Richie grinned. "See what I mean? Definitely a stalker type."

Alex sighed to himself. He still had a lot to learn......

Saturday......3:00 PM Roswell Public Library......

Isabel had slept well into the afternoon before dragging herself out of bed and into the shower. Being at loose ends and wondering what to do she had followed her bump of curiosity to the library. Now she wandering the stacks with a scrap of paper bearing a reference number copied from the computer. Scanning the shelves her eyes lit on her quarry. She pulled the book out with a grunt of satisfaction. She doubted that it would help, but it was worth a shot. Tucking her selection under one arm she headed for the checkout counter.

The middle aged matronly librarian on duty smiled cheerfully and scanned her book into the computer. As she glanced at the title before passing the book back her eyebrows rose slightly. "Trouble sleeping dear?" she asked.

Isabel sighed and rolled her eyes. "You have no idea." And, tucking "The Psychology of Dreams" under one arm, she headed for the exit.

Coming out of the library she considered what to do for the day. The hollowness in her stomach signaled that lunch was the first order of business. 'Breakfast' had been a hasty cup of coffee. "Definitely not everything a growing girl needs," she thought. So thinking, she headed for The Crashdown. A fast lunch, a little shopping, then hit her father's office to pick up his mail. After that she would settle in at The Crashdown and read. And see if she couldn't ambush a few people who urgently needed ambushing.

As she headed for the diner she halted in thought. "Why leave things to chance?" With that she pulled out her cell and dialed from memory. On the second ring her party answered. "Hello?" Isabel grinned evilly. There was no mistaking that British accent....
posted on 25-Aug-2002 12:51:34 PM
LXC Hola fic friend! You veterans from over at Jessi's should start a part 9 support group. *wink*

Transparent Clear Hang on to your hat. We'll get there. *wink*


Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17


STILL YOURS - Part 4a
(Catharsis)

Saturday.....8:00 PM Late Supper at The Crashdown

Maria looked up from bussing tables to see Isabel come through the door. They threw each other a quick smile as Isabel took a booth halfway back. Maria finished bussing the dirty tables and scooped up an order for a customer, dropping it off on the way to take Isabel's order. When she arrived at the booth Isabel was absorbed in a book. "Twice in one day?" Maria asked. "We may have to put your name in for customer of the week! What can I get you Iz?"

Isabel looked up, her eyes twinkling, and spoke. "Nothing out of ordinary. A cherry coke, a Will Smith with pepper jack, a side order of Tabasco...and oh yes, set Liz Parker up for the kill?"

Maria snorted. "I thought you were simply going to wait for an opportunity?"

Isabel rolled her eyes. "So I'm jumping the gun. The suspense is killing me. And after all, they say that 'God helps those who help themselves', don't they?"

Maria chuckled softly. "So what's the plan?"

Isabel glanced up and saw Liz had come out of the back and was studying them from behind the counter. "I'll tell you when you bring my order. We have hours before 'the main event', and us being too chummy might make our intended prey suspicious."

Maria hesitated. "She's looking at us?"

Isabel frowned fiercely. "Yup. Now look harassed and abused." Raising her voice Isabel said loudly, "..and make sure the burger is *done* this time!"

Maria bowed and spoke sardonically, "Yes oh Queen Amidala", then stalked away in a seeming huff.

Isabel scowled after her. She spared Liz a glance and noticed her worried look. She pretended to return to her book. "Trust Liz, even wounded herself, to be concerned enough about her friends to want to play peacemaker", she thought. Isabel felt remorse at being so manipulative. A relatively new phenomenon for her. One she had others to thank for. Liz for not letting Isabel's initial bullying chase her away from Max. Alex for not writing her off for being a bitch. Lately Maria for forgiving Isabel's former haughtiness enough to let her start mending fences. And finally Max, her stubborn brother, for starting it all. Isabel shook herself and resumed reading. So far she was getting nothing useful, but it was something to pass the time.

20 Minutes later

Maria stalked towards Isabel like a cat with it's back up. Placing Isabel's order in front of her Maria spoke. "One charcoal special, hold the taste!" The in a quieter tone she spoke while maintaining her frown and posture. "Now what?"

Isabel scowled and appeared the speak vehemently, if quietly. "I'm staying until close. I contacted Brody and got him to keep Max past midnight at work, then tell him I'm here and that I need a ride. That will give us about an hour or two to work our magic on Liz before Max walks in." Then she added loudly, "You forgot the Tabasco again!"

Maria winked then settled her face into a scowl and stormed away, returning in a few seconds with a bottle of tabasco sauce which she slammed down on the table. "Here you are! It matches your 'tude!" Then she added in a near mutter, "Okay, I'll clue Michael. After that we'll simply wait for you. By the way, you took a chance there announcing the tabasco thing to the world."

Isabel mock glared and said, "If Alex taught me one thing it was that life is too short to *one* take chances." Then returning to her arguing voice she said, "Okay, now get lost and let me eat in peace!"

Maria started to turn away, then turned back. "Um, if 'you know who' asks, we're fighting because Michael and I are too touchy feel in public." Then louder she said, "For this sort of abuse, you'd better be a good tipper!"

Then she swept away.

Isabel put her book aside and began to eat. And think. If she and Maria could keep the tension going for a few hours, Liz was almost certain to let her curiosity get the better of her. She would start to probe for what was wrong, trying to help. Then they would have *are* in a position where she could hardly escape. She would have to accept *that* help. It wasn't exactly a perfect plan, but as 'fly by the seat of your pants' ambush therapy went it was as good as she could do.

"Besides," she thought, "Liz and Max are both too pigheaded stubborn for any other approach to work."

10:00 PM Closing time at The Crashdown...

Liz Parker was concerned. Worried in fact. She glanced at what she privately labeled The E.T. Booth where Isabel Evans sat, seemingly absorbed in a book.. It was the booth that their resident aliens habitually used. Early on Isabel had made it clear that she was waiting for Max to get off work and give her a ride home. So, when Liz locked the front doors, she had let Isabel stay where she was. The problem seemed to be that her booth was in the same county as Maria DeLuca. As Liz watched, Isabel shot another glare towards the booth near the waitress station where Maria and Michael were holding hands and having a quiet conversation, punctuated by occasional laughter.

While Isabel and Maria had never been fast friends, Liz had thought that Alex's death and the events since had let them come to some sort of terms with each other. But that seemed to be a fading memory tonight. From the hints that Maria dropped tonight, Liz assumed that Isabel was having issues over Michael and Maria's public displays of affection. Which seemed pretty irrational for Isabel. Which meant that there were other issues involved. "Could Isabel be jealous?" Liz wondered. She bit her lip in indecision as she wiped down the last of the lunch counter.

Maria laughed aloud from where she was sitting with Michael, drawing a look from Isabel that could only be called murderous. That's all it took. Enough was enough. It was bad enough that she and Max were suffering from issues of the past. She wasn't about to see the rest of their little "family" suffer too. Not when she could try to do something. Tossing the rag in the lunch counter sink, she shed her apron, and rounded the counter heading for Isabel. This did not go unnoticed. The same thought went through both Isabel's and Maria's minds simultaneously. "Finally!"

Isabel looked up in mock surprise as Liz approached her booth. "It took her long enough!" Isabel thought. "I thought I was going to have to keep trolling all night!"

Isabel thought that she'd overdone it with that last glare, bordering on homicidal fury. But it had worked. And that's what counted. She caught the momentary look of determination on Liz's face before Liz smoothed it over into a mask of bland innocence. Internally Isabel snickered. Despite the fact that this game was intended to help Liz, Isabel was enjoying herself. It had been a long time since she'd been this devious. Isabel slapped a mask of equally bland innocence on her face as Liz slid into the booth across from her.

"Poor Liz thinks she's the hunter here, when actually she's the hunted," Isabel thought. "She and that pigheaded brother of mine!" She waited calmly for Liz's opening gambit.

Liz cleared her throat and sought for an opening to start the conversation. Glancing at the title of the book that Isabel had closed when Liz sat down, she found it. "The Psychology of Dreams?" she inquired. "Why that?"

Isabel was momentarily discomfited by how close that came to her own trauma, but snapped back and smiled. "Um, because I couldn't find 'The Psychology of Alien Dreams' in print", she responded.

Liz giggled for a moment then regarded Isabel solemnly. "Isabel, I'd have to be an idiot to miss the vibe in here tonight. Maria is my friend, and I'd like to think that you are too after all we've been through together. I hate seeing you two like this. If you want to talk, I'll listen."

Isabel was elated. "Gotcha!" she thought.

As children, when Max, Michael, and Isabel had realized that they were different, they had experimented to find the limits of their powers. One of the things that they had experimented with was telepathy. The results were disappointing. Hit and miss. They could communicate, sort of, almost, halfway. But it came more in the form of feelings rather than words. And only when strong emotions were involved. Hence it wasn't particularly useful.

So they had, for the most part, left that talent unused. Until now. Isabel drew on her elation, focused on Michael, and sent one word; hoping for the best. It was simply, "NOW!"

Down at the end of the row of booths Michael jumped as the word slammed into his mind. He looked up, caught Isabel's eye, and nodded. Standing up quietly he kissed Maria's hand, then he pulled her to her feet, and headed towards Isabel and Liz with Maria in tow. Liz's back was to them, and they were so quiet that Liz was unaware of them until Maria slid into the booth next to her, forcing her to scoot over towards the wall, and neatly trapping her. Isabel made room for Michael as he slid in next to her.

Liz jumped as Maria slid in next to her. Something wasn't right here. The look passing between Maria and Isabel at the moment was anything but tense. If anything it looked like triumph tempered with fear. Liz looked at Michael for help, but his solemn gaze gave away nothing.

"Okay," she said, "what's going on here?" Regarding Maria with puzzlement Liz said, "You and Isabel have had this hostility thing going all night. What's up?"

Maria couldn't help herself. She grinned. "And you wanted to help didn't you Chica? That's what we counted on. Or rather, what Isabel counted on. Michael and I were just the bit players."

Liz looked even more puzzled. "So you two aren't fighting?"

Maria's grin widened. "Isabel?" she said.

"Yes?" Isabel shot back.

Maria responded with, "I forgive you for acting like an arrogant twit. Do you forgive me for being a slobbering hussy?"

Isabel chuckled. "Of course girlfriend," she said. "Slobber on Michael all you like." Then she winked. "Of course I reserve the right to be an arrogant twit anytime I happen to feel like it!"

Maria laughed and nodded. "If you didn't, I'd worry!.

Liz, was startled. It appeared that not only weren't Maria and Isabel fighting, but that they were a lot closer than even Liz had suspected. Which led her to the further conclusion that she had been the butt of some sort of practical joke. A small core of anger began to grow in her. "So this was all for *my* benefit? Why all the play acting? Surely you can't be so bored that you need to pull something like this?!"

Both Isabel and Maria winced at Liz's harsh tone. Isabel moved quickly to head Liz off at the emotional pass. "Liz, how did you feel when you watched us carry on all night?"

Liz huffed. "How do you think I felt?! Worried is how I felt! I care about you two." Then she glanced at Michael.. "I mean you three. Though now I'm not so sure why!" Liz stopped herself and swept her eyes across all three of them. "What affects any of us affects all of us, and I wanted to fix it if I could! Is that a crime?!"

Isabel sighed, smiled, and spoke quietly.. "No Liz, it isn't. But it *is* a lesson. Because now you know how *you've* felt watching you and Max the last six months."

Liz was struck dumb. Her anger completely deflated.

Isabel took full advantage of Liz's derailment. "Liz, it's been about a year since whatever happened to separate you two started. And in that time we've watched you and Max walk through your waking hours like zombies. And it just keeps getting worse. And it will go on getting worse until you both clear the air! About everything. What you did. What he did. And if need be, what *we* did!" Isabel drew a deep breath. "You had it right. What affects some of us affects all of us. On a certain level, we five are a family now. And we love you." Isabel stumbled over the unaccustomed intimacy. "You and Max need this. We all need this! He isn't here, so start with us! Talk to us! Let us 'fix it' before it breaks you completely!" Isabel paused, out of breath.

Liz was speechless, her mouth hanging open. A single tear traced a track down her right cheek. She shook her head. "I can't", she choked out. "You can't possibly know...."

Isabel cut her off. "We *what* to know."

Liz looked terrified. That "deer in the headlights" look. Only it wasn't an ordinary car bearing down on her. It was a main battle tank.

The sound of a clearing throat broke the tableau. All three girls snapped their eyes towards Michael. He blushed in an unaccustomed manner and cleared his throat again. "Liz, you and Max were and are sort of the parents in this crazy little family of ours. You had to be strong for us. Let us be strong for you now. We can take it."

Glancing at Maria. "Um, I don't know if this helps, but you forgot something when you spilled it to Maria. The flashes. I already know most of what she knows."

Liz stared him in utter horror then jumped as he reached across the table to grasp her hands in his. This wasn't what she would have expected from Michael! "Listen Liz, you were strong enough to do what you did. To place us ahead of yourself and Max. To place the whole planet ahead of yourself and Max. You're strong enough to do this. Max deserves to know what sort of woman he has on his hands." Michael eyes glinted with a bit of mischief. "And Isabel deserves to know exactly how much guts her future sister-in-law has."

Liz's mouth dropped open again and she flushed a shade of red that was frankly impossible this side of a special effects lab.

Liz wasn't the only one at the table that was seeing a new side to Michael. Isabel stared at him and thought, "Well I'll be damned! I didn't know he had it in him! Maria certainly *has* been good for him! The old 'stone face' Michael would *never* have engaged is this sort of gooey dialog." Isabel knew a winning hand when she saw one, and elected to keep her mouth shut. Michael's unaccustomed directness and sincerity could succeed where any amount of pleading from her would fail. Whatever was happening/had happened/was going to happen, it went beyond a broken romance. "The whole planet...?" Isabel wondered.

Maria had never been prouder of Michael than she was at that moment. This was purely him, with no coaching from her. "What has he been doing when I leave him alone in that roach motel he calls an apartment? Watching Oprah instead of ESPN and MTV?" she mused. Maria beamed at Michael as he held Liz's eyes with a frank and honest gaze. "One way or another, Space Boy doesn't know it yet, but he's going to get *very* lucky tonight!" she thought.

Liz was trembling violently. So much so that all three of her friends began to be concerned. She gulped, gripped Michael's hands tightly, and slowly the tremors subsided, but they didn't go away entirely. Her friends couldn't know it, but her shivering wasn't fear induced. Instead, it had much in common with the trembling of long over-burdened muscles after a great weight has been lifted from them. She had made her decision. And the sense of relief was so intense that it was almost physical. And her reaction to it *was* physical. It was time.

Liz glanced at Maria who smiled and nodded encouragement as she reached out and laid her delicate hands atop Michael's hands where they still gripped Liz's. Isabel reached out and joined hers to theirs. It was back. That old feeling. 'One for all and all for one'.

Liz swallowed and worked her shoulders to loosen them, then released Michael's hands to grasp Isabel's. Turning to face Isabel she spoke. "This is mostly for you since you're the one that's mostly in the dark here, though it may fill in some holes for Maria and Michael. Just let me talk, and hold any questions until I'm done."

She swallowed convulsively and released Isabel's hands long enough to take a sip of the partially full water glass that Isabel still had at the table. She then returned to her death grip on Isabel's hands. "Is that okay?"

Isabel was scared now. A little frightened of what she was to learn tonight. Scared of what the hell could crush Liz Parker so completely that it made her sound plaintive. "Do it any way you want Liz," Isabel said. "We're listening."

[ edited 4 time(s), last at 27-Aug-2002 2:52:10 AM ]
posted on 25-Aug-2002 1:21:45 PM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17


STILL YOURS - Part 4b
(Catharsis)

Liz turned her gaze towards their joined hands and began to speak in a low dull uninflected monotone. She spoke of visiting the medium and her joy upon learning that Max would choose her over duty and Tess. Of Future Max and his arrival. Of how he had convinced her of who he was, where he had come from, and how he had gotten here. Of his knowledge of the future and it's consequences. Of her, as yet unrealized, marriage to Max. Of the Invasion of 2014 and the Fall of Earth. Of Isabel's and Michael's deaths at the hands of the Skins. Of the conclusions that Max's future self had drawn, and the desperate plan which he and her future self had arrived at as the only way to prevent this catastrophe.

Isabel listened with growing horror as she spoke of how Future Max had convinced her and gained her commitment to what had to be done. Isabel's hands clinched hers tighter as she went through the steps they took to try and force Max to turn away from her. And she culminated with her 'wedding dance' in which Future Max vanished from her arms, and the crushing despair that came as she realized that she was, and would be ever after...alone.

Liz looked up at Isabel expecting to see pity in her eyes. To her surpass there was none. What *was* there was admiration and grief. Liz closed her eyes and allowed two tears to leak out. This had been the easy part. What came next would be the hard part, and for that she would have to look Isabel in the eyes. She didn't look forward to seeing the emotions in those eyes morph into rage and hate. But she had to finish what had begun here. No more halfway. It was now all or nothing.

Opening her eyes she locked gazes with Isabel and began to speak again. Of her ambivalence about her choice. Of knowing in her head that it was the right thing. And knowing in her heart that it was wrong. Utterly wrong. She spoke of sending mixed signals, of accepting and rejecting Max at the prom. Crushing him yet again. Something that left him open to Tess. Leading directly to the travesty of their 'lovemaking'. She spoke of the conflict with Max after Alex was murdered. Of his aggression and panic, and of her anger, fear, and determination. At the time they were more like enemies than friends. They were certainly strangers to each other. And above all else she spoke of the pain that the estrangement had brought.

Then she paused for a long moment, taking another sip of water. It was the moment of truth. Isabel's eyes still held hers with admiration. This was going to hurt. A lot.

"There's one more thing you need to know," Liz said. "Tess may have killed Alex, but *I* caused his death."

She closed her eyes and waited. No outbursts followed her guilty plea. No outrage or anger. When she opened her eyes, they were all looking at her with expectant puzzlement.

She sighed and began in detail. "When Future Max told me about our wedding, which would have taken place a little over a year from now, he told me that we were married in Vegas. And that to celebrate, you three came to meet us....with Alex. In the original timeline, before I changed it, Alex lived. In this one *because* I changed it, Alex died." Liz pulled her hands away from Isabel's and began to cry. "I might as well have killed him myself."

Maria was sobbing openly and pulled Liz into her arms, sharing the grief with her again. Michael was simply struck dumb. Maria hadn't known this, so he hadn't learned of it...until now. He stood, rounded the table and yanked both girls up into a rough hug.

Isabel however stared at Liz in undisguised horror. Though not for the reasons that Liz assumed. She grew whiter and whiter, and felt an unfamiliar sensation in her body. It was almost like...like...like....and with that Isabel slapped a hand to her mouth and ran for the bathroom. She made it. Barely. Thus Isabel Evans took another step into the world of humanity as she was violently ill for the first time in her life.

Maria broke from the hug and ran after her while Michael continued to hold Liz. Eventually the pitiful sounds from the bathroom quieted to be replaced by the noise of running water. Maria came back to the table and retrieved a tiny bottle of herbal mouthwash from her purse, gave them both a hug and a kiss, then returned to the bathroom.

Liz stood quietly locked in Michael's arms, unwilling to let go of even the tiniest shred of comfort. She heard the bathroom door open, and footsteps approaching. Isabel's reaction to her admission had already told her that some of the worst of her fears were true. Isabel now hated her. "Here it comes," she thought. A hand touched her arm. She refused to turn.

Isabel spoke. "Liz?

Liz flinched at the hoarseness in Isabel's voice.

"Liz, look at me please?" Isabel requested.

Michael loosened his hold on her and stepped back, leaving Liz no choice but to turn and face her fears. Maria moved to join Michael as Liz turned towards Isabel. But she couldn't make herself look up. She couldn't look Isabel in the eyes.

Isabel reached out and stroked Liz's hair gently. This was *not* the reaction Liz had been expecting. Liz shuddered again and began to hope. Isabel's hand cupped her chin and forced her to look up. What she saw in Isabel's eyes wasn't rage. It wasn't hate. And it wasn't pity either. It was empathy. Shared pain.

The puzzlement in Liz's mind must have shown on her face, because Isabel smiled. "You expected me to hate you, didn't you?"

Liz couldn't speak, but simply nodded jerkily.

Isabel sighed. "What you didn't realize is that we're two of a kind, you and I. All these months and I never realized that we were living in adjoining rooms in the same sort of purgatory."

Liz frowned. "What exactly do you mean Iz?"

Isabel closed her eyes and took a deep breath. It was her turn now. "After Tess and our 'Destiny' arrived on our doorstep, we pulled back from you. You, Maria, and Alex." Isabel looked at Michael. "Some of us more than others."

Michael winced. Maria saw it, hugged him harder and made comforting noises, then she gestured for Isabel to go on.

Isabel returned her eyes to Liz. "I for one was glad of it in my own tight-assed selfish way. I'd always tried to distance myself from normal humans. That distance was my armor. My shield. I *was* the Ice Queen. And Tess gave me an excuse to go back to what I knew best. To where I felt safe and confident. To being an alien marooned in a world of"....Isabel swallowed...."lesser creatures."

Isabel dropped her hand from Liz's chin to Liz's own hand and pulled her towards their booth. As they sat down Michael moved to join them, but Maria went behind the counter and rounded up some drinks for everyone. Once she returned and sat down, they were back where they had been before. Everyone paused to settle with their thirst. All this trauma had left them feeling like they'd spent a day in the desert. Through all this Isabel never released Liz's hand, and now she looked at her steadily and continued on.

"As children, Max, Michael, and I all dealt with our sense of isolation differently. With Max it came out as simple loneliness. With Michael it was rebellion and alienation." Michael cleared his throat and looked uncomfortable. Maria snuggled close to him and he drew strength from her. Isabel smiled and nodded to them both. No more alienation. She turned her eyes back to Liz. "For me it came out as ego. Smugness. I could do things that humans couldn't, so I was better than them. It never occurred to me that being different didn't make you a better person. Being a better person makes you a better person. I was clueless. Until Max saved you and started this whole chain of events in motion. First you. Then Maria." Isabel's voice hitched slightly and she swallowed against a lump in her throat. "And finally there was Alex."

"Once you all were in our lives I had my nose rubbed in the fact that I had been missing something vital about life. That we weren't humans, Antarians, hybrids, or whatever. We were all people. And you were better at the 'people' thing than I was. All of you. Liz, you lied for us, fought for us, protected us, and put yourself on the line for us again and again. And Maria"....Isabel sighed and shot an apologetic glance at Maria who smiled her forgiveness..." I tried to terrorize into silence. When I was afraid that she would cave under Valenti's questioning I invaded her dreams to pressure her into silence. I tried to be menacing when we were awake. And she kept silent. Not because of my pressure, but in spite of it. She overcame her own fear *and* the fear I tried to induce in her, and kept silent. Because she had the empathy to understand what it was like to be us."

"I was forced to examine myself against you two, and I found myself wanting. I didn't like it. And finally, just when I thought that my self esteem couldn't take any more, Alex came along. Up until you and he came into our lives, my attitude let me use boys as playthings. I was Isabel Evans, the Ice Queen, the Golden Goddess, the envy of every girl, and the desire of every boy. It was my right to do as I pleased. To manipulate and use humans with impunity. Only our parents escaped my disdain...because they were special. Or so I thought. I couldn't see the double standard until Alex came along. He was special too. He was attracted to me of course, every boy seems to be sooner or later." Michael snorted with amusement and Isabel shot him a quelling glance. "But in his case it wasn't the exterior packaging that held his attention. That *got* his attention, but it wasn't enough to hold it. He wanted what was inside. He saw past the haughty shield to the frightened insecure woman child within. And he loved her anyway. Warts and all. Unconditionally."

Isabel paused and swallowed again. "And he scared the hell out of me. Because I loved him back. Suddenly one of the 'lesser creatures' was more important to me than myself. More important than a ride to a home I'd never known. More important finding those answers we'd been yearning after all our lives. And it scared me. It exhilarated me, but at the same time made me more insecure. It was impossible to be 'business as usual' with Alex around, though God knows I tried. I was on unfamiliar territory and I hated it, even as I loved him. So, when Tess gave me an excuse to bolt, I jumped on it with both feet. I pulled back. And then it got even scarier, because I treated him like dirt and he kept loving me. I made dates in front of him and he kept on caring. Even after I thought that he was done with me for good, he was still in tune with me. After he passed on taking me to the prom, I went to him and pleaded. And he caved. Because he still loved me. In fact I think it was love that killed him in the end. I think that when he finally awoke to the fact that I actually wanted *him*, Tess' control began to slip. It was love that broke him free, forcing Tess to try and reassert control again. And it killed him."

Isabel paused and studied Liz. Silent tears were tracing a path down her cheeks, but her face and eyes spoke of the old Liz. The lioness who had been there for them through everything. It was going to be all right. But there was still unfinished business. Liz sensed it and nodded for her to go on. Isabel sighed and took a cleansing breath before speaking again. "The thing is that, through it all, once Tess gave me a reason to pull away, I never dream walked Alex again. Never tried to bond with him. Even as a friend. I never let him get close enough to bring my feelings for him out into the open. Because that's what I feared most. Losing control of the situation. So I left him, isolated and defenseless. And when Tess started looking for a puppet to mind warp, there he was. The perfect pawn. One who knew about us and cared about us, but yet was isolated from us. I might as well have served him up to her on a platter with an apple in his mouth."

Liz's heart broke as she looked at Isabel. Iz had been right, so terribly right. They had both been living in the house that guilt built. So she was hardly surprised when Isabel reprised Liz's own feelings by saying.."I might as well have killed him myself." Liz squeezed her hand and smiled. "Neither of us killed him Isabel. But we both miss him. We both loved him in our different ways. And he loved us. Let's remember *that* from now on instead of the rest of it. Deal?"

Isabel gave her a tremulous smile. "Deal!"

Maria sighed and then spoke. "Y'know people, this is the first time in a year I've felt like we were clean. But it leaves us with the question, where do we go from here?"

Isabel gave her a wan smile. "No where yet. We have some unfinished business...." And with that, as if on cue, Isabel's cell phone began to trill in her purse. Fishing around for a moment she pulled it out and answered it. "Hello?"

Brody's rich accents were unmistakable. "Isabel, what the bloody hell are you up to over there?!!"

Isabel pulled back from the phone and looked at it in surprise. Returning it to her ear she spoke. "What do you mean?"

Brody made an exasperated sound. "I mean what are you lot doing to Liz?! Max has been climbing the walls over here for nearly an hour. He says that he's 'feeling' her, like their bond is coming back to life. And he's getting vague feelings and images from her. Terrible ones, full of turmoil and pain. It's been all I can do to keep him from charging to her rescue! I managed it by telling him that you were with her and that you *would* have called had anything actually been wrong. But that isn't going to last much longer. He's ready to chew his own leg off to get to her!"

Isabel glanced at her watch. It read 11:40. All this in only an hour and 40 minutes. It had felt like days. She sighed and said, "Hang on a minute." She held the phone to her chest and addressed Liz. "Sweetie, your unfinished business is going to come charging through that door any minute. Are you up for it?"

Liz turned pale. "Isabel, I don't think I can talk about all this again. Not now. I'm completely exhausted!"

Isabel looked at her quizzically. "Liz, I don't think that's going to be an issue here. Brody says that Max is practically tearing the place apart with worry. Your bond, or link, or metaphysical whatever it is, has become active again. I assume that's because you've decided to let everything out." Liz's hands flew to her mouth as Isabel continued. "Anyway, some of what you've been carrying around is reaching Max, and he's in a panic to reach *you*. I'd say, just kiss him and let nature take it's course. At this point I'd say it's unavoidable anyway."

Liz closed her eyes, took a deep breath and nodded. Then she slid from the booth and stood on trembling legs to wait. Maria slid out behind her, took the keys from Liz, and unlocked the front door. Then she returned to Liz's side, stood with her, and slid a comforting arm around her shoulders in support. Michael rose and gave them both a hug then moved around them to stand behind Liz. Perhaps to cover her back. Or perhaps he expected her to bolt. Either way, he was there for her, as she had been there for them.

Isabel raised the phone as she slid from the booth to join Michael. "Okay Brody, cut him loose. We're ready here". When Brody asked the inevitable question, Isabel answered in the affirmative. "Yep, mission accomplished. Okay, talk to you later." Isabel hung up the cell and stood waiting with the rest of them. "One way or another, this will be settled tonight. And thanks be to God for that!" she thought.


Across the street at The UFO Museum...

Brody hung up the phone and walked out of his office to where Max was pacing in the partially dismantled alien autopsy exhibit. As he approached, Max halted his pacing and looked at Brody expectantly. Brody smiled and spoke. "Okay Max, go to her. And good luck!" The last words were unnecessary, since he was addressing a Max shaped hole in the air as soon as the word 'Okay' was out of his mouth. Scarcely a second later he heard the front door slam as Max hit it going full tilt. Brody smiled to himself and followed in Max's wake to lock up. After that he had work to do in the office.

Seconds later at The Crashdown...

Max ran as if pursued by Furies. He hit the front door of the Crashdown without slowing then slammed to a stop as he took in the scene before him. Over the last hour and more he'd been getting an incredible mix of emotions from Liz. Fear, resignation, elation, loss, love, grief, hope, loneliness, pity all blended together in an incredible melange. He'd never felt anything remotely like it before in his life. The crew were all there. Maria, Michael, and his sister were there, ranged around Liz. His gaze swept their faces looking for some hint of what the hell had been going on here.

Isabel simply smiled cryptically and nodded. Michael, as usual, was sphinx like. Maria was simply beaming. This could be good. Finally his eyes came to rest on Liz. She looked so scared that his heart broke. But she had something else in her face that he hadn't seen there in what seemed like forever. Determination. This was the old Liz. This could be very good.

Time slowed. Liz stared at Max for what felt like an eternity. He was still out of breath from his breakneck sprint from the Museum. His face looked wild. She wondered what he'd been getting from their link that put him in that state, then felt a pang as she went over a buffet of possibilities. No, this wasn't going to be easy. "But then nothing worthwhile ever is," she thought.

Maria dropped her arm from around Liz's shoulders and stood away. This was between Liz and Max.

Max spoke, a hopeful inquiry. "Liz?"

Liz advanced slowly towards him on wobbly legs, stopping barely a hand span away and placed a hand on his chest to steady herself. To Max it felt like fire. Good fire. The sort that warmed you through without burning you. Liz studied his face. The same face that had visited her dreams every night since he'd patched that bullet hole below her ribs. She was re-memorizing every plane and curve.

Max spoke again, this time with worry. "Liz?"

When she finally spoke it was with a low halting voice. "Max, a lot has happened with me the last year, with us, that you don't know about. And it's been keeping us apart. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of hiding things, and being apart. I want to be with you again. All the way with you. But before that can happen you have to know. All of it." She looked at him beseechingly. "I'm ready to give you the truth, if you're ready to handle it." Then she looked away and leaned into him. Sliding her arms inside of his jacket and around his chest.

Max's breath hitched as he swallowed hard. This was it. What he'd been waiting and hoping for, for a year. He looked over the top of Liz's head as her cheek rubbed against his chest. Michael was sporting that infamous half smile of his, what passed for a full out grin for him. And Maria looked ready to implode. Isabel's smile was no longer cryptic. Instead it was exultant. Triumphant. She winked. The wheels in Max's mind started to turn. Obviously Isabel and the others had been working on Liz. Brody asking him to stay late. The phone call from the museum office. Brody cutting him loose right afterwards. Setup. Fait accompli. Max couldn't think of anything else to do but send her a grin of acceptance and thanks. Then he turned his attention back to matters at hand.

Pulling back slightly he lifted Liz's chin so he could see her eyes, and spoke. "Yes."

Liz frowned. "Yes what?" she queried.

Max smiled. "To anything. To everything. I want it. I can take it. I need it."

Liz sighed. "Then kiss me. Please?"

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-Aug-2002 1:26:30 PM ]
posted on 25-Aug-2002 1:39:45 PM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17


STILL YOURS - Part 4c
(Catharsis)

Max leaned in to kiss her, and she met him halfway. It had been forever, so their urgency quotient was near red line. So there were none of the tentative preliminaries of the past. Her mouth opened immediately taking the kiss from tender to rugged in the first instants. Nor was Max far behind her. They both eased for a second, drew a deep breath, and then they took the plunge. It took only a heartbeat for their reawakened connection to flare to full life, after that point the flashes were unavoidable.

FLASH~

Liz on her patio with someone who looked like himself..

FLASH~

Liz and his older self spying on Tess and himself....

FLASH~

Liz awkwardly climbing into bed with Kyle while his older self hid in the bathroom...


Nor was the traffic all one way. Liz began to receive images from Max.

FLASH~

Liz leaving him at the cave...

FLASH~

Liz in bed with Kyle...

FLASH~

Max making love to Tess, and cursing his own weakness afterwards...

But it wasn't coming fast enough. It had been denied for too long. *They* had been denied for too long. Just when they didn't think they could possibly get any closer, they did. The avalanche of emotion was too great. The longing too intense. Something gave. Something snapped. A barrier crumbled. And they merged. Like two drops of water they became one. It wasn't a flash. It was *FUSION*. It was the most poignant moment that either had ever known, and they were experiencing it for the first time as one individual. They knew each other. He knew her self-sacrifice and bravery. She knew his longing and uncertainty. And they knew that their whole was greater than the sum of it's parts. Thoughts. Memories. Feelings. Hopes. Desires. It was all there. Neither could hide anything. It was agony. It was ecstasy. And they couldn't hold it forever.

Isabel watched Liz and her brother kiss, then kiss more deeply. As her brother shuddered she guessed that the flashes had started. It was such an intimate moment that she had to look away. She met Maria's eyes, for Maria had the same idea, and grinned. They dove into their own congratulatory hug.

Maria laughed as she pulled away. "Are we good, or what?"

Isabel chuckled. "Now we have to work on Jim Valenti and your mom."

Maria laughed and slapped at Isabel. "Don't speak heresy, girl. Besides, I don't think they need any prodding. A bucket of cold water maybe....." A throat clearing got their attention.

Michael said, "Umm, ladies? Not to interrupt the high fiving, but take a look at the happy couple."

Both girls turned and drew a startled breath. They had all heard about Max making Liz glow when they were on the trail of the first orb. But this time, both of them were leaving glow worm trails as their hands roamed each other. Max's jacket was in a heap on the floor. It had been in the way, and the two lovers had dispensed with it in the first seconds. So Isabel watched with her mouth open as the glow followed Liz's hand down her brother's arm.

Maria gasped. "Um, there's a whole lot of glowing there, and I don't think that all of it is following their hands."

Sure enough, there were other trails, merging and diverging from the ones that their hands were leaving. As they watched the trails merged and expanded to become a corona surrounding the two lovers. Both Max and Liz started to sag as their knees gave way, but they never lost their grip on each other. Their lips never parted. The auroral glow intensified.

Michael cleared his throat again. "Girls, I don't know about you, but I'm thinking that Maria's bucket of cold water might be in order here."

Isabel held up her hand. "No, whatever is happening here, let's just let it take it's course. Besides, it might be dangerous to try and separate them. And I have a funny feeling that they wouldn't thank us for it anyway."

"And besides," she thought, "it's our own fault if this is going wrong. We set it up."

At that moment the threshold was reached. Neither Liz's, nor Max's stamina could sustain them any longer. The light flared, and went out. But, as with all milestone moments, nothing is the same afterwards. As they pulled back they maintained their grip on one another. They could do nothing else. Had they let go completely they would have both fallen over. Liz immediately began to cry. Isabel and Maria rushed forward to lift them to their feet and help them into chairs.

Liz's crying jag passed quickly. Looking at Max, all she could summon up was, "Wow".

Max's first attempt at speech was equally eloquent with a profound, "Uh huh."

"Are you okay Chica?", Maria asked.

Liz gulped and nodded. When she spoke her voice sounded rusty. "I think so, though if I live to be a thousand, I don't think I'll ever be able to describe *that* experience well enough to do it justice."

Isabel looked at Max and raised an eyebrow.

Max nodded. "I'd say that covers it, Iz. You had to be there."

Michael chimed in. "Screw that, what happened, and are you two okay?"

Max looked at Liz, and when she nodded it was backed up by a warm hum of assent in his mind. "If what we felt is anything to go by we didn't just get flashes. We merged."

"Merged?" Maria's voice came out in a squeak.

"Yes merged," Liz said. "I think that we'd been apart so long, and the emotional overload was so great, that it was the only way." She looked at Max for support. "Or something like that...," she trailed off.

Max sighed, "We're off into the 'Twilight Zone' here. I don't know if this is the norm for us or not. And, to be honest, I don't care. I'm tired of second guessing and what ifs. Liz and I needed to resolve some things. They're resolved now." He paused with some trepidation. "Aren't they?"

Liz smiled. "Yes, they are. Absolutely."

Again, Max felt the hum of assent, stronger this time.

Max frowned. His eyes narrowed and he focused on Liz and let the puzzlement in his mind rise to the surface. Liz's eyes twinkled, she shrugged indicating a bemusement not far less than his own, then nodded. Isabel's voice interrupted his self examination. "MAX!" Max snapped back from Never Never Land.

"Are you sure that you're okay? she asked. "You started to zone out for a second."

Max nodded. "Yeah Iz, I...I mean *we* are okay. More okay than we've been in months." He yawned. "Right now though, it's almost midnight, and I'm beat. That whatever it was really takes it out of you. I'd like to have some alone time with my girlfriend before I fall over...if no one minds?"

Michael seemed less than satisfied, but Maria wasn't having any nonsense tonight. They had waited too long and worked too hard for this moment, and Max and Liz would have it to themselves! "Let's go Spaceboy! They have lost time to make up for and I have something I want to talk to you about!" She leaned up and whispered warmly in his ear.

Michael flushed faintly and muttered what sounded like, "Insatiable".

Maria giggled and started dragging him towards the door, stopping only to turn and toss the door keys to Liz. "You want a ride, Iz?" she asked.

Isabel nodded. "Hang on, I'll be right with you." Turning to Max and Liz she said, "Sorry about all the sneaky manipulation kids, but it was the only way to break the log jam."

Max hugged her and grinned. "What ever works Isabel, and this certainly did. But we all need to make a pact." He paused to look at Liz. "No more secrets." Liz flushed. Max gave his sister a kiss and released her so that she could give Liz a quick hug. At that the Jetta pulled up in front and stood waiting.

Isabel turned and headed out the door feeling that, for the first time in a very long time, they were almost whole again. It felt good.

Max and Liz stood watching as Maria's car pulled away then turned to each other. After they had studied each other's face for a moment Max sighed and spoke. "Well, alone at last."

Liz smiled uncertainly. "Max, I don't know what you felt, but I don't think that either of us will be truly one hundred percent alone ever again."

Again came the hum in Max's mind. This time it was simply one over riding emotion. Love. He gulped. "No, I don't think so. Though how you can feel like that after everything..."

She cut him off with two fingers on his lips. "Hush. Now we can go on about who did what to whom. Who owes who what apologies....and then grovel to make said apologies. Or we can revel in this. I vote for revel."

Max grinned. "No argument Love. Reveling it is." He frowned briefly. "But tomorrow is another day, and there are issues to deal with."

Liz hugged him. "We'll handle it. I can handle anything, now."

Max looked down at her and grinned. "So, now what? I'm not leaving. Is there anything left to do down here?"

Liz pulled away and walked to the door to re-lock it. "Nope," she said. "Our band of happy plotters helped me finish up while we were waiting for you. So it's lights out for me."

Max's grin broadened. "Sooooo, at this hour I hardly think that your parents would take it well if we just walk upstairs, into your bedroom, and close the door."

Liz snorted. "What makes you think that you're getting into my bedroom buster?"

Max smirked. "I don't, but it's the most direct route to your patio. However, if you're suggesting...."

"Nothing!" she cut him off with a blush.

Max rolled his eyes. "Okay, plan B. You take the low road and I'll take the high road. Betcha I'm up the ladder before you're up the stairs." With that he broke for the door.

"Wait," Liz said, "I locked that!"

Max laughed. "So?"

He pressed his hand to the lock and it disengaged with a click. Stepping outside he re-engaged the lock the same way, smirked at Liz, and took off. Liz realized where he was headed, but had to take the stairs at a normal pace in the event that her folks were still awake. So she lost the bet.

She reached her room without incident, and he was there. Sprawled on her bed. She felt her blood start to race. It had been a while. It felt like several centuries in fact. "I thought you wanted to get to the patio?" she hissed quietly. He shrugged. "God," she thought, "he's even handsome when he shrugs. How could I have forgotten?"

Max smiled and answered, "Liz, I know what you're feeling. You know what I'm feeling. And now we both know what we've each felt throughout all this."

He was right too, the hum was back, and this time it was lust. Pure and simple. Max continued. "And while I'm not stupid enough to ask you to go for it right here with your folks at the other end of the hall, I didn't think that some serious cuddling was out of line. And besides, we're both too whipped to..um..do 'it' right."

Liz dropped her stuff and dashed into the bathroom to change. "Hold that thought!" she said. Emerging with her PJ's on she moved towards him showing a gentle smile. "Nope, you're right, I'd say that we're both seriously cuddling deficient. Move over!" She slid onto the bed. "And turn out the light!" The room plunged into darkness. Liz settled back into a spoon with Max and sighed as he kissed her neck. With her last coherent thought she reached out and snagged her alarm setting it for 4:30 AM. There was no point in getting busted by her parents. Then she settled back to sleep as she hadn't slept in a year. Contentedly. She was home. They were home.

Sunday....12:20 AM at the Evans Household....

Isabel went through her nightly preparations for bed with a goofy grin. Success! Maria had dropped her off a little after 12:00. The ride home had been boisterous to say the least. There had been an attempt by Michael to get a pool going on what time Max would leave Liz. But it turned out to be a dud, since no one thought that Max would be leaving Liz's side tonight. Then Michael had done the guy thing and tried to get them to bet on whether or not they would make love. Which very nearly gotten him killed. After some bloodthirsty threats by the girls, and some profuse apologies by Michael, they had reached the Evans house. Isabel paused to kiss them both goodnight before heading inside, walking on air. Success! Finishing up with lotion, tooth brush, and apple blossom scented baby powder she flipped off the bathroom light and tiredly made her way to bed..

Now as she dropped onto her bed to let her adrenaline ramp down she decided that a few infomercials might be the very thing to help bore her to sleep. Rolling over to grab the remote for her TV she noticed something on the floor by the bed. Her yearbook. That, and the thought of sleep, brought her back to last night. And suddenly she wasn't certain that sleep was a good idea. She finished reaching for the remote on her bedside table and clicked on the TV. After some channel surfing she settled on what looked like a biography on A&E. Laughing silently she thought, "Now I'm choosing programming to stay awake!" As she watched and struggled to stay awake her mind kept running over and over what had happened last night. On the one hand, she'd never dreamed a dream walk before. On the other hand, you can't dream walk a dead person. It had *felt* so *real*!

Isabel growled with frustration and tried to shove her thoughts aside. The A&E show was a biography on Arthur Conan Doyle. Cool! The creator of Sherlock Holmes! Alex would have liked this! Of course, thinking of Alex put her back on track, thinking of last night. There was so much they didn't know about their abilities! In fact only what Tess and Nasedo had told them, which may or may not have been the truth, and what they had learned themselves. And everything in her experience cried out that last night was something outside the normal nightmare. Like the music. It was something that Alex would like, for sure. But she had never associated it with him. Never heard him play it. And it certainly wasn't something she would have gone for herself. Correction. The old Isabel wouldn't have. The new Isabel probably would have, in time. But regardless, the Righteous Brothers currently had no place on her CD shelves. It was a like a dream walk. But it *couldn't* have been.

Isabel was getting drowsy, losing the battle against sleep, when a bit of dialogue from Conan Doyle seeped into her half-awake twilight mind. "Elementary Watson! Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains; however improbable, must be the truth." The line echoed and re-echoed in her mind, looking for someplace to land. For something to connect with. It found what it was looking for.

Isabel sat straight up. Wide awake. She had chills. Her heart was hammering. "...must be the truth." She never questioned her feelings, just went with them. She reached over the side of the bed and dragged the yearbook off the floor. Flipping it open to the dog eared page she sought, she drew a deep breath and placed her finger on his picture. She gasped as she saw the wave race across the picture. Did that mean that the improbable was possible? Was it because he *was* alive? Or was it just the application of her powers? She blinked tears away. One way or the other she would know by morning, if not sooner.

Isabel clicked off the TV after sending silent blessings to Sir Arthur, waved the light off, and tried to compose herself for sleep. It was a long time coming. Before it did, something occurred to her. If Alex *was* alive, he had neglected to make them aware of the fact. There were things about her 'dream' last that were troubling, like Alex's evident fear. But to not send any sort of word? However vague? Her eyes narrowed as she thought... "Sweetheart, when and if I get my hands on you, I'm going to kiss you for a solid week. *Then* I am going to kick your ass so hard that you'll have to reach *up* to scratch yourself!" Isabel settled back and waited for sleep to come.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-Aug-2002 1:45:51 PM ]
posted on 26-Aug-2002 12:44:54 AM
Author's Note I write really large parts, so this requires that I break them up in order to get the BB posting system to swallow them. I label the sub-parts alphabetically. 5a, 5b, etc. To save confusion I will in future tack on a line at the end of each full part...."End Of Part So and So"....so no one will be waiting around for that next post. Thanks.

Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 5a
(Nocturnal Admissions)

Saturday 11:00 PM..... in Seattle

Alex rolled over in bed and groaned. "Why am I still awake?" he thought. He had tried everything, from the breathing exercises and yoga that Duncan and Methos had taught him, to counting sheep. Nothing had worked, and sleep seemed further away than ever. He sat up and winced. His side still ached from where the kendo stick Duncan had used in their evening workout had swept past his defenses. For the thousandth time he thought, "It's a damn good thing I heal fast. The old Alex would have been in a body cast after one day here. The new and improved Alex simply hurts like hell." He swung his feet to the floor and stood up. Grabbing a robe he headed for the bathroom. Surely there was something there for aches. Muscle rub. Advil. Plain old aspirin. Something. As he passed the short hallway leading to the large loft that comprised Duncan's bedroom/livingroom/any old thing at all room, he heard voices and paused to listen.....

At the same time across town in a rented room...

As residential hotels went the place was a dump. Though, for the low rent district it was in, it passed for the Ritz Carlton. The room didn't look much better. It was dingy. The paint had seen better days, as had the bathroom fixtures if the rust stains were any indication. The bed was unmade since housekeeping was hit and miss. Mostly miss. And the debris around the room were an eclectic mix of cartons from takeout places, beer and soda cans, liquor bottles, pizza boxes, and fast-food leftovers. The room's occupant paused in sharpening his sword to scratch at the scar tissue on his right cheek. Raphael Conterras was bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. "This recon job sucks," he thought. "Next time that friggin' cabrone Brit can find someone else to do the scut work. Speaking of which....". He flicked a glance at his watch and nodded to himself. Reaching out he picked up his cell phone and punched a speed dial button.

The connection was made and the phone rang twice.

"Hello?" said a masculine voice with a touch of Northern European accent in it.

Conterras said, "Jossie, let me talk to Britney?"

The man at the other end started to growl incoherently but was cut off by a cultured voice. "It's all right Joachim, I'm on in my office. Let me deal with our *young* friend."

At the sound of that voice Conterras blanched. "Sire I...."

The voice cut him off. "Now now Rafe, you've already managed to offend me. Don't make it worse by trying to kiss my arse. Let's hear your report, then we'll deal with personal issues."

Conterras swallowed and commenced his report. "I followed McCleod and two of his flunkies to New Mexico and back."

The voice asked, "The purpose of their trip?"

"A funeral," Conterras said. "From what I picked up on the rifle mic and learned from examining the graves afterwards, one of the flunkies is a newbie. Less than a year old as one of us. They took him home to see his parents buried. The obit I read said, automobile accident.".

The voice paused as if ruminating then spoke again. "Has the investigator we retained turned anything?"

Conterras pawed through the mess on the floor next to the bed coming up with several printed sheets that comprised the PI's report. "Surveillance shows several people being occupants, guests, or frequent visitors to that dojo McCleod runs. The newbie, an Alex Whitman. A young stud named Richie Ryan, who has a couple of heads to his credit I hear. A guy named Adam Pierson.. A couple of major babes, no names on them yet. I think one of the babes lives there and is shacking with McCleod. And some old geezer who walks with a cane, name of Joe Dawson. He runs a small but popular blues bar. Aside from them there are the usual run of martial arts students." Conterras sighed. "I can't tell you who the players are besides McCleod, Ryan, and the newbie without getting close enough to catch the buzz."

The voice held silence for quite awhile after that. Long enough to cause Conterras to get jumpy. "Sire?", he queried.

The voice suddenly seemed to recall its minion was there. "So, discounting the 'geezer' and the more plebeian students we have three immortals and three unknowns. Possibly as many as six immortals." The voice paused and then continued briskly. "McCleod always was the gregarious type." The voice laughed then continued. "Stay well away from them. Don't let them know that you're around. I want them relaxed and unsuspecting. We'll handle sorting the wolves from the sheep when I get to town with the rest of the Cohort. Am I clear?"

Conterras gulped and said, "Yes Sire".

The voice went on. "I mean it Rafe. I know your habits. You do anything that compromises this operation and I'll skin you alive. *Then* I'll take your quickening."

Conterras cleared his throat. "Yes Sire."

The voice spoke again. "And Rafe?"

"Yes Sire?" he responded.

The voice continued. "If you ever again refer to me as anything but Britanicus or Sire, and I hear of it, I'll pull your beating heart out through your ribs and eat it in front of you. Are we clear?"

Conterras shuddered. "One of these days", he thought, "my big mouth is going to get me killed." Then he spoke aloud. "Yes Sire."

A loud *click* indicated that he had been hung up on. He stared at the phone for a moment then dropped it like a hot potato. He stared off into space a moment then grabbed the half full whiskey bottle next to him on the bed and took a pull. He failed to consider that, having consumed most of a bottle before the call, the liquor may have had a hand in his mouth putting him on the spot. As a result he was in no position to deal with the second blast when it hit him. "Screw Britney," he thought. "I want to have a little fun before he gets to town, and that newbie is right up my alley. All I have to do is snake him away from his guard dogs."

Conterras smiled to himself and resumed sharpening his sword.. "That blonde hottie that hung back as the mourners left. What was the name that the rifle mic had given him? Isabel? She'd work just fine. Probably the boy's ex or sister. Looked to be the right age." Conterras took another drink. The alcohol was giving him delusions of grandeur. "I'll just mention her name to the newbie somehow and let nature take it's course." He'd seen love do many things over the decades, but to him it's most effective use was as...bait. Conterras laughed aloud. It would be a good week.

Somewhere North of the Canadian/US Border....

In an office sequestered on a modest but well appointed estate in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies the man whom the world presently knew as Roland Kingsgate studied the phone that he'd just hung up. He'd had other names in other times and places. But his own, what he thought of as his birth name, was Britanicus Musa. It had been his when he had been a centurion of the legions of the empire. He had been in the command of Gaius Julius when he had crossed the Rubicon to become Caesar. Those had been heady times. He sighed. Times that would never come again. He looked down and studied the notes he had made. Not bad. Not too bad at all. Even under a worst case he would have a two to one superiority in arms on his side. And if too many of his own died he would simply kill the rest, close up shop, and wait a century or so before rounding up another crop of gullible 'youngsters' to go aconquering once more.

Much as he enjoyed the Game, he preferred that it be played by his rules. Which meant overwhelming force and no quarter. Screw single combat. What was he? A gladiator? "Still", he thought, "it's getting hard to find decent cannon fodder. That bellicose fool Conterras for example." Britanicus fully intended, come what may, win or lose, to take that fool's head and be rid of him when this was over. A man could be many things and still earn Britanicus' latitude. But stupid and annoying were the two worst vices in his book. And Conterras was both. "No matter," he thought. "Being what he is, our dear Rafe will probably do something stupid and McCleod will shorten him for his trouble." Britanicus chuckled. "Perhaps I should thank him when I see him. Right before I take his head."

Returning to his notes he circled the New Mexico reference and the name Alex Whitman, penning a note to have a little low priority investigating done on the young man's associates prior to his 'untimely death'. It would probably come to nothing, but Britannicus hadn't gotten to be as old as he was without learning to be thorough. In a tight situation a little leverage never hurts anything. Slipping his notes into a file folder and placing them in his private files he stood, stretched, and headed out into the hall. Time for bed. Tomorrow was a new day. He had places to go, sights to see....and people to kill. Life was good.

McCleod's Dojo...Seattle Washington

Alex stood unobtrusively in the hallway, exactly as Amanda had taught him, and listened. This sounded like a council of war.

There were five people sitting around McCleod's dining table. Amanda was there mainly because the bedroom and dining room were the *same* room, so there was no point in going to bed without Duncan. The others included Duncan obviously, Richie, Methos, and Joe Dawson.

Dawson slid a glossy photo across the table at Richie. "I ran search parameters in our database for the description you gave of your stalker, Richie. I turned only six hits. One is in prison, confirmed. And four aren't on this continent, that we know of. That leaves this character. Recognize him?" Joe has long since outgrown any compunction at helping out his friends with a little information. And since McCleod had finished Callas, The Watchers were disinclined to lean on him to stop.

Richie studied the photo. It was relatively old. Maybe from the sixties given the hair and the 'Nam Vet wardrobe, peace sign and all. But the face, and scar, were unmistakable. "Yup, that's him. Got any particulars?" He skated the photo over to Methos.

Dawson started to speak but was cut off by a startled oath. "Sonofabitch! The Angel of Death is in Seattle?"

Methos looked up and found four puzzled faces staring at him. "I know this pendejo," he said. "It's been almost eighty years, and I've met a lot of men with scars...but this one I wouldn't forget. He's a class A lowlife."

Richie grimaced and spoke. "Why the nickname? Is he hell on wheels with a sword or something?"

Methos shook his head. "No, he's a parasite. Tags along with other immortals, picking up scraps. Between gigs as a minion, he specializes."

"Specializes? Amanda asked.

Methos gave a gallows grin. "In new Immortals."

Standing in the hall Alex had to struggle to keep silent as something cold and heavy settled in his stomach. "Oh yeah Richie," he thought, "he's for certain hunting you." Richie's remark about slaughtered chickens came back to him. "Hello, I'm Foghorn Leghorn. Just dip me in batter, fry me up, and call me lunch," he thought.

Joe spoke into the silence following Methos' last statement. "Here's what we have. Full name, Raphael Jesse Conterras. Born 1892. He fought in the Mexican Civil War, and rode with Pancho Villa when he crossed the border in 1916 to raid Columbus, New Mexico. Executed after the raid.

"Executed?" Richie queried.

Joe cleared his throat. "Yes. Apparently he was a little to enthusiastic about the rape, loot, and pillage aspect of his duties. It's believed that this was when he became Immortal." Joe paused. When no comments were forthcoming he continued. "His current alias is Jesus Rodriguez, but he has also gone by Rodrigo Garcia and Adam Hidalgo. Current whereabouts unknown. Eighty nine recorded kills with thirteen more suspected. All new Immortals."

Alex swallowed and tried to calm his shakes, which would have been easier had his blood stream not been pumping straight ice water right then.

Richie sighed. "So this piece of shit is hunting Alex?" He grinned ruefully. "And to think, I thought it was me."

Duncan looked at Joe. "I don't suppose you can tell us where he is, can you?"

Joe sighed. "McCleod, we've been friends a long time. And while I don't mind providing you with occasional intel on a black hat like this, setting them up so you can knock them down is above and beyond the call. The Watchers might think well of you, but there are still limits to what they will permit me to do. Besides, we really don't know where he is. He's a slippery SOB. Like a sewer rat. Keeping him under surveillance is tough. Not because he knows *we're* following him. But because he thinks that *everyone* is following him."

Duncan looked thoughtful. "Okay, I'll do this the hard way then. He stalks Alex, and I stalk *him*."

Amanda spoke up. "You mean *we* stalk him."

Duncan stared at Amanda. "What?" she asked. "I'm fond of him too. He may be your student, but he's *my* friend."

Duncan grinned and shrugged. "Besides, he doesn't gag on your cooking."

Amanda's eyes narrowed. "You're honing for a night on the couch Junior!"

Methos chuckled. "Not to break up a good lovers spat...er, I mean interesting foreplay, but you two can't handle it all *and* keep things up around here. I'll take every third day. That way Duncan can keep up with Alex's training and Amanda can play Martha Stewart to her heart's content."

Amanda glared at him. If looks could kill, Methos would have been a head short right then.

Duncan nodded then turned to Richie. "Okay, you hold the fort, and keep up Alex's training with whomever is available. Keep the pressure on, Richie. He's got to get his mind off of things back in New Mexico, and the quickest way to accomplish that is to give him too much to worry about right here." Duncan picked up the photo and stared at it. "Meanwhile, we'll see if we can't give this bastard a haircut. Piece of cake."

Standing unobtrusively in the hall, Alex suddenly grinned. "Give me too much to worry about?" he thought. "How about the fact that some moron wants my head? I'd say that's worrisome enough." Then he paused as he suddenly realized that his shakes were gone. When he sought the reason why he couldn't nail it down. He simply felt better. "I ought to be scared shitless," he thought. In fact I think that I *was* scared shitless a moment ago. So why don't I *feel* it now?"

He frowned for a moment then looked over his shoulder. For a second he could have sworn that he had company there in the hall. A presence both warm and comforting. Still frowning he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. There it was. That apple blossom scent that, in his memory, said 'Isabel'. He looked around again, the he shrugged it off. "When I start imagining that she's here it's time to visit a shrink." Grinning again, he imagined *that* couch session. "Well doc, I used to consort with aliens, but after I died I became an Immortal warrior. The problem is that my drop dead gorgeous super model alien ex-girlfriend, whom I still love more than my own life, has started dropping into my dreams to visit...resulting in olfactory hallucinations." Either he or the shrink would end up in the laughing academy.

Shaking off the humor of the moment he focused again on what was happening in the living area. He thought about joining the council of war, but all that would do was draw admonitions to stay close and be careful. And worse yet, it might make Amanda "mother" him more. He sighed. "Youth sucks," Alex thought. "Especially when you're a youth from both the mortal *and * the Immortal point of view." Alex reached a decision and quietly withdrew.

He started towards the bathroom to finish his search for something to relieve his aches when he halted in surprise. He worked his shoulders. Then he stretched. Nothing. Not a single twinge. Chuckling silently he about faced and headed back towards his bedroom. "I've discovered a cure for muscle aches," he thought. "There's nothing like finding out that that you're under imminent threat of death to clear up those nagging aches and pains."

Reaching his room he climbed back into bed and gratefully settled back onto his pillow. As he felt sleep take him he puzzled again over his strange calmness at the news that someone was after his head. He shook his head to try and clear it, but sleep won over introspection. His last waking thought was, "Tomorrow is another day.....".



[ edited 2 time(s), last at 22-Sep-2002 12:52:57 AM ]
posted on 26-Aug-2002 1:06:41 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 5b
(Nocturnal Admissions)

Back in Duncan McCleod's main living area....

The meeting had broken up. Methos and Joe had headed home, and Richie was already in bed asleep. Duncan and Amanda were settling down in bed when Amanda sat up suddenly and sniffed. She turned to Duncan and frowned. "Was Cassandra over today while I was shopping?"

Duncan shrugged. "Not that I know of, why?

Amanda's eyes narrowed. "Then why do I smell apple blossoms? Come to think of it, that isn't her sort of scent....which means that it's *someone else's* sort of scent. Care to explain?"

Duncan looked the injured innocent. "Okay, you got me...I like to use women's toiletries."

Amanda's mouth dropped open, the she squealed and began to pummel McCleod....which as usual led to other things that banished her suspicions completely before they were done.

Sunday 1:00 AM in Alex's bedroom...

Alex was asleep. He was approaching that point in slumber that the scientific types call 'REM state'. Rapid Eye Movement. The dream time. And for Alex it would mark a turning point of sorts. A return of the old, and the true beginning of the new.

You see, Alex was right on two counts. Tomorrow would indeed be another day, but before the new sunrise there would be the night. And youth does sometimes suck...for the young. For had he been a bit older and saltier he might have recognized the calm surrounding him as the sort that people refer to as 'ominous'. Like the famous 'calm before the storm'. In Alex's case tonight was just the beginning of a force 5 blow named Hurricane Isabel.....


THE DREAM STATE........

Isabel found herself in that city again, walking. The airborne tang of the sea was stronger now. And this time she knew where she was and where she was going. She hurried on until she arrived in front of the building she recalled from her previous dream walk. The fact that the same building and city had been the backdrop in both dream walks seemed to indicate that they were familiar enough to Alex that his subconscious would use them repeatedly as stage setting for his dreams. This must be the place that Alex called home now. Before entering the building she made a slow turn, scanning nearby buildings and the horizon for any indication of where she was. Nothing leaped out at her except for an odd structure in the distance. It tickled her memory as if she should know it, but she couldn't put a name to it.. It looked like a minaret with a flying saucer impaled on it. After studying it for a few minutes she gave up. One mystery at a time please. Filing it for future reference she turned and entered the building.

The room was the same, minus the smoochy lighting and the singers. No one was around, so she made a slow circuit of the room, studying it's contents. All were related to physical training and the martial arts. "Who is Alex living with?" she wondered. "Jet Li?" After completing her walk around she thought it was time to get down to business. Find Alex and find out what the hell was going on, in that order. As she looked around for a way deeper into the building the thudding sound of running feet caused her to freeze. As she watched, Alex burst into the room in panicked flight. He had what appeared to be a sword in his hand. "A sword!!?"

Alex's dream self made it to the center of the room, spun about facing the way he had come, and dropped into guard with a grace that she had never imagined in him before. The changes she had noticed the last time were still there. The erect posture. The muscles. And that hardened careworn face. It was Alex, but not Alex. "Is this what he looks like now?" she wondered. "Or what he imagines he looks like?" Another mystery to solve, along with what had Alex so frightened.

For the later she didn't have long to wait. Barely a moment later a man entered the room. He too had a gleaming sword in hand. And from where Isabel stood she could see the ragged seam of scar marring one of his cheeks. He advanced on Alex rapidly and wordlessly. For his part Alex looked terrified but determined. This was obviously a nightmare in the making. Isabel wondered if she should try to change things to soothe Alex, but decided against it. Sending a silent apology to Alex she did nothing. She was here after information, and this was the way to get it. Once the man was with striking distance he launched a vicious overhand slash which Alex parried cleanly. Isabel watched in astonishment as the battle continued from that opening. Alex moved like a dancer trading cuts and parries with the stranger. No words were exchanged, the only sound was that of stentorian breathing punctuated by the clash and scream of tortured steel as their blades met. It was utterly amazing to her. This had to be fantasy driven. As she watched their death dance she was certain that no one could possibly be this graceful in real life. It bordered on the beautiful.

As the fight went on it became apparent that Alex was losing. He was tiring. His movements became slow, almost lethargic. The stranger on the other hand seemed to be unstoppable and unkillable. Both combatants were bleeding from minor wounds. But while Alex was panting and disheveled, his opponent wasn't even breathing fast and didn't seem to have a hair out of place. As Isabel watched in horror that stranger let loose a roundhouse slash that knocked Alex's weakened guard aside and cut him deeply across the stomach. Dropping to one knee grasping his stomach Alex was unable to prevent his assailant from contemptuously knocking his sword from his hand sending it spinning away to stop near Isabel. As Alex looked up, unable to summon the energy to rise and flee, the stranger raised his sword above his head for what was obviously going to be a killing stroke. He paused, and then spoke for the first time. The words sounded like a ritual. "There can be only one!" he intoned.

This was too much for Isabel. No one but *NO ONE* hurt Alex like this, even in a dream. Scooping up his fallen sword she held it clumsily and charged the strange man's back, intending to distract him from his intent. Time seemed to slow. She was going to be too late. The stranger's sword was already moving in it's downward stroke as she opened her mouth to scream.....

BLINK....

Isabel's momentum carried her forward as she stumbled through the space that Alex and his erstwhile opponent had occupied, but they were gone. So was the room. She stumbled and fell, dropping the sword which dissolved at once, as dream props do when discarded. She was outdoors now, on rough ground that had caused her to trip and fall. It was bright daylight out. Rolling over and sitting up she looked around and realized where she was. New Mexico. Or at least it looked like the scrubland around Roswell. She heard a car door slam and stood up. She saw Alex and two men leaving a car and walking up the hillside behind the car. As she hurried forward to catch up she glanced at the car as she passed it. New Mexico plates. >From the looks of it, a rental. She had to give Alex this, his memory for detail, no matter how trivial, was extraordinary. Closing the distance between herself and the three men she slowed, not wanting to attract Alex's attention she stayed out of his line of sight.

They crested the hill top and settled down to watch the broad sweep of land below. The older of the two men removed a pair of binoculars from their case and wordlessly handed them to Alex. He immediately focused them on an area out in front of the hill, perhaps a mile away. With a start she realized where they were and what he was looking at. It was the cemetery. She shaded her eyes and squinted. There were cars there. A lot of them. It was too far away to make out people, but she knew those cars from the recent past. It was the day of the funeral. Dropping her hand she stared at Alex as a chill swept over her. "I was right!" she thought. "Oh my God, I was right! He *was* there. Up on this hill, watching us! But why didn't he come down?" A sudden doubt assailed her, only to be swept away a moment later by the pained tones in Alex's voice as he whispered her name. "Isabel!" The obvious yearning in his voice caused her throat to constrict as unbidden tears gathered in her eyes. "He still loves me!" But that only deepened the mystery. "Why didn't he come down there, damnit!?"

A moment later she had her answer. "Those *bastards*!" she thought in fury. "They stopped him! He would have come, and they stopped him!" Glaring at Alex's two companions with undisguised hatred she allowed herself a thin smile. "Oh boys," she thought. "You have no clue about who you're messing with, or of what you've done. But you will, I promise you. Get ready for your last sound night's sleep....EVER!"

Isabel kept listening with utter amazement. If the younger man's efforts to restrain Alex had angered her, the dark haired guy's left her dumbstruck. "Ordinary humans? Megalomania much, Mister?" Isabel blinked as she gained comprehension of what they were doing to Alex. A guilt trip! "What the hell is going on? This sounds like that 'keep off the humans' crap that Max, Michael, and I used to lay on each other! Alex has heard this all before! God knows *I* used it enough trying to get him to keep his distance!" Her eyes softened. "Thank God I failed." Then she smiled. "Or rather, thank God Alex succeeded in out waiting me."

Isabel gave a frustrated sigh. Whatever was happening had to be pretty far out there. These guys were talking like they were...Isabel's eyes rounded. "They're talking like they're aliens themselves!" This was impossible. Or least pretty damned improbable. Not least because they were talking like Alex was an alien too. And she knew very well that he wasn't. "Whatever is going on, Alex should have known better than to buy into this crap! He knows what we are! And he for damn sure knows that if anyone could accept him, we could! And what's all this nonsense about danger and head hunting?"

They were getting ready to leave. Time to have this out once and for all. She was getting some answers if it killed her! As they filed past her Isabel reached out and touched Alex's arm, softly but emphatically calling his name. "Alex!" Alex started, and his companions dissolved as he achieved awareness of Isabel. He looked around frantically, then he seemed to realize what had happened. He looked back towards the cemetery and she saw his shoulders slump. When he turned back to her she was unprepared for the look on his face. Resignation and crushing sadness.

"Hello Izzy," he said softly. "I knew that you'd come back eventually, but I kind of hoped that you'd write it off as a nightmare." He smiled through his sadness. "I felt you, you know that? Earlier tonight I felt you reaching for me. I thought it was my imagination when I smelled you."

Isabel blinked. He smelled her? Alex's smile morphed into a full blown grin. Her heart did a back flip in her chest. She had forgotten how beautiful he was when his usually solemn features were lit up by honest merriment.

He answered the question written clearly on her face. "Your body powder. The 'before bed' stuff. It smells of apple blossoms. Kinda hard for me to miss the association with you." Looking her up and down he smiled. There was appreciation in his eyes. Appreciation and...hunger. That look she'd missed too, largely because Alex's essential shyness didn't let him show it very often, and it could still make her shiver. Still grinning he said, "Red satin PJs. Very nice. You remembered."

Isabel felt herself softening under his words and stare, then she remembered why she was there. She shook herself out of her current charitable state of mind. Leaving out the weirdness that went with Alex *smelling* her talcum powder when she was trying dream walk him, there was still a lot of explaining to be done. She glared at him. "Alexander Charles Whitman! I swear, I don't know whether to kiss you or kill you! For six months you've let us, LET ME, think that you were dead! And never once did you try to get in touch! Not a word! Not so much as a whisper!"

Her hands were on her hips now, her foot tapping in a comical satire of 'the vexed schoolmarm'. "You weren't the only one with 'feelings' mister! I felt you all right. On and off for these entire six months I've felt you out there. I thought it was just grief. Or wish fulfillment." Angry tears began to flow down her cheeks and she scrubbed them away with the heels of her hands. Then she waved her hand at the cemetery out in the dreamscape. "The day of the funeral I thought that I was loosing my mind, you oaf! Your essence was so strong that it was like having you in my LAP! I had visions of ghosts and God knows what else! And it turns out you WERE in my lap! Sitting up here with your new friends playing the voyeur!"

Isabel gave a ragged sniff. "I want answers! NOW! Why aren't you dead?! Where have you been? Where are you now? Who were those men? WHAT were those men? Why did they think they had the right to stop you from coming to us, to ME? What's happened to you that *they* don't think we'd understand? Why are you in danger? And don't lie to me! That doofus with the ponytail made it clear that you are! If you're in danger you belong with us! God knows you've protected us often enough! Did you think that we wouldn't return the favor? That we wouldn't care? That I..we didn't...love you?" She was crying harder now. She regarded the anguish on Alex's face and took a deep shuddering breath in an effort to control herself. "And lastly, what is this crap about headhunting? I saw your nightmare earlier, Alex. If that's your future, you need our help!" Alex was silent. "Well? Answer me!"

What Alex did next startled her beyond measure. He touched her. Then he kissed her.

All through Isabel's tirade Alex had stood mute. He was completely unable to speak. His emotions were caught in a twisted mass. Pain, regret, passion, longing, loneliness, fear, desire, love. All boiling together, each vying for top billing. He had forgotten how incredibly beautiful she was. His Golden Goddess. Whose beauty was enhanced by her emotions, any emotions. And now her tears tugged at him. He felt like scum. And unworthy scum at that! All the more so because he dared not give her the answers she was demanding. To do so would place her, and all his friends, in jeopardy. At that moment, regarding the tenderness and fury in her eyes, on her sweet face, there was only one answer that he was capable of.

Of their own volition his hands rose to cup her face, his thumbs gently smoothing away her tears. He stepped in close, until their bodies touched. He felt her stiffen, but before she could react further his face dipped towards hers and their lips met. At first she resisted, but his arms had dropped past her shoulders pinning her arms to her sides. And his mouth was insistent, his kiss demanding. At last she sighed and relaxed. Her mouth opened and welcomed him home.

The kiss seemed to go on for eons. Isabel felt herself drifting in a warm haze. This was perfection personified. She had missed him. All the more because they'd had so little time together before Alex had been taken from her. She'd never had time to get to *this*! They had kissed before, even french kissed...but not like this! God! This wasn't just a kiss! This was making love with her mouth! And Alex wasn't holding back anything either. He was putting everything in him into that kiss. Isabel felt herself growing closer to Alex's essence. He was in the haze with her. She willed herself to him, reaching out for him, enfolding him in herself. Straining to reach his center. She could feel him yielding, wanting to give in. They were almost there......

"NO!", Alex shouted has he pulled away. Isabel was dumbstruck as she watched him drag himself away from her, breathing raggedly. "God Izzy!", he said hoarsely. "I'm sorry! I shouldn't have done that! I shouldn't have made *you* do that!"

Alex looked wretched and lost. She reached out to try and take him in her arms, but he backed away. "Alex, what is it? What's wrong?"
posted on 26-Aug-2002 1:22:26 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 5c
(Nocturnal Admissions)

Alex laughed brokenly. "What's wrong? This. Me. You. Everything!" He seemed to gather himself. "Did you ever get the feeling that whoever or whatever passes for God must be the ultimate practical joker?" Alex swallowed past a lump in his throat. "I can't answer your questions Iz. None of them. To do so would place you in danger! You, Max, Liz, Michael, Maria...everyone I care about. It might even reach out to include your parents!" He took several deep breaths and struggled to bring his emotions under control.

Isabel watched as he visibly fought for control...and won. "He's just like Max," she thought. "Mr. Focus and self control, the idiot." Max's self control had held him back until he'd nearly lost Liz. But that was not, repeat NOT, going to happen here. Not to her, and not to Alex. She was NOT giving up. But she knew how to play the waiting game. "So," she dissembled, "what *can* you tell me?"

Alex regarded her cautiously. The sudden change of direction had taken him off guard. He had expected many things. More tears. Anger. Accusations. But not a reasonable question. He sensed a trap, but he couldn't for the life of him think of a single damned thing to do but answer her. He certainly wasn't willing to end this yet. "Tess killed me."

Isabel nodded. "We know," she said softly.

Alex blinked. "I thought as much," he said.

Isabel smiled inwardly. Guile had it's place in this. Alex didn't realize that he'd given her two important pieces of information. Three actually. That he *had* been 'killed'. That, in some strange way, he hadn't *stayed* 'killed'. And that he had a means of knowing what was happening in Roswell, with them. "Make that four pieces of information," she thought as her heart swelled.. "He's been watching over us from where ever he is now." She smiled at Alex. "She staged it to look like you had committed suicide. In fact that's what it says on the books."

Alex winced. "I know. I hacked the police report. If she staged it well enough to fool the cops, how did you find out?"

Her smile broadened as she spoke one word. "Liz." Alex's eyebrows rose. She had him. "You would have been proud of her, Alex. She was like a pit bull. She refused to believe for an instant that you had killed yourself. It took her a while, and some wrong turns, but she finally cracked it." Isabel swallowed. "He has to know it all", she thought. So she continued. "Even though she had to fight us to do it."

"Fight you?" Alex queried.

Isabel nodded. "Your death had hit us hard. And to top it off we had other issues going. Tess was pregnant. We couldn't deal."

Alex's looked nonplused. "Pregnant? By who? Who was the father?"

Isabel was grim. "Max."

This was too much. Alex tottered over to a nearby rock and sat down with a thump. "Poor Liz! What was he thinking of? What the hell happened? I knew they had problems, but this?"

Isabel nodded. "Saying that 'they had problems' doesn't even begin to cover it." Taking a seat on another nearby rock she began to talk. She brought him up to speed. Starting with Future Max and the invasion of 2014. When she reached the part about her death, then Michael's, at the hands of the invading skins Alex looked like he'd been poleaxed. She told him of the desperate plan to change the future and of Liz's choice to throw her love into the furnace of destiny to achieve it. To save the world. Then came the fallout. Max's alienation from Liz. The Dupes. The Summit in New York. Vilandra. And finally the disaster of prom night.

Alex looked guilty. "I was too wrapped up in you to notice anything else. I *told* you that you looked too fetching in that dress!"

Isabel placed a hand on his knee to soothe him. "Alex, Tess had you so messed up that you probably wouldn't have noticed if people started going around nude. Don't beat yourself up over it. Lets drop it." Her narrative continued. Liz finding the instructions to the granolith that Alex had been forced to decode. The baby's inability to survive on Earth. The decision to leave.

Alex looked stricken. "You almost left? What happened?"

Isabel looked away. "It was a near thing", she said softly. "Liz had finally convinced us that you had been murdered. Whoever had done it had framed an innocent human girl for it. Max nearly killed her before Liz stopped him. It wasn't until the last hour that Liz realized that you'd been displaying the symptoms of mind warp, the same as Maria's mom. Then she identified them in Kyle. She and Maria questioned him and he broke through Tess' control and remembered your murder and being forced to load your body into a car. After that it was race to reach us before we launched the granolith."

Isabel swung around to look at him. "Even at that, they would have failed if Michael hadn't had a change of heart at the last minute." Alex's face queried her. "They couldn't get in or signal us. But Michael decided at the last minute to stay. Apparently his farewell night with Maria got pretty intense. Intense enough to finally let him know where 'home' was. And it was here. With Maria."

Alex grinned again, giving her a thrill. "Way to go Bro'!" His grin weakened as he remembered. "What happened?"

Isabel couldn't hold his eyes. "We got off and Tess left...with Max's son in her. Max would have killed her otherwise. The hell of it is, Nasedo planned it that way, or almost. He'd cut a deal with K'var long ago. Forty years Tess said. And he'd trained Tess to carry it out. Get pregnant, knowing the baby wouldn't survive here, make us go home, then march us off the ship straight into K'var's guns. Finis."

Alex turned white. "Jeeezus pleezus! She was a rat all the time? I have to remind myself to find a bathroom and puke when I wake up! This was too, too, too damned close!" He slid his arm around Isabel and drew her to him. She could feel him shaking. "Too damned close," he repeated as he planted a tender kiss on her cheek, as if to reassure himself that she was actually there and not lying dead light years away.

Alex held her for a long moment then pulled away. "What about Liz and Max?", he asked. "If they had problems before, this had to very nearly finish them."

Isabel sighed. "You're right. These last six months they've been close, yet distant. If you get what I mean? Wanting each other, but scared of the baggage. And each one was afraid to make the first move."

Alex frowned. "You're talking past tense Izzy. What happened?"

Isabel smiled brightly. "Enter 'The Grand Conspiracy To Reunite Max And Liz'! May I introduce you to it's ringleader?" She stood and bowed with an impish grin, then she launched into the gory details of the grand ambush and its quiet, passionate, and very pyrotechnic finale.

All Alex could get out was, "Wow!"

Alex sighed at length. "All's well that ends well then. It sounds like things have worked out well for everyone." He studied her. "Or at least *you* made sure that they worked out."

Isabel smiled at him winningly. "I'm trying", she said. Alex smiled back looking a lot like the boy she had grown up knowing.

Alex sat silently, studying her face. "Damn, I just plain forgot the effect she has on me", he thought. Then it hit him. Therein lay the trap.

The silence stretched into one of those interludes that people refer to as 'uncomfortable'. Isabel watched as Alex's facial expression began to change. She felt her smile start to slip as his features drifted from those of the gentle boy that she had known and come to love to the harder more mature features that seemed to be his now.

Alex looked away from her and swallowed with a dry throat. "I can't do this Izzy. I can't give you what you want."

Isabel swallowed. She was losing control of the situation. "What is it that you think that I want?"

Alex refused to look at her. "Don't play dumb Iz. In your own way you're smarter than Max or Michael. And probably smarter than most of our little 'family'. So please don't act like you checked your brains at the door. I'm not buying it. You want things too 'work out' for us, and it just isn't in the cards. You want answers, and I cannot possibly give them to you without endangering your life and the lives of those we care about. You want me to come home, and I can't! Not ever!"

Isabel felt her tears gathering again, but was determined to hang on as long as possible. "Just keep him talking," she thought. "Why?" she asked. "Why can't things work out? Why can't you tell me? And above all, why can't you come home?"

Alex threw his hands up in frustration. "For the practical reason that I'm dead. The records say I'm dead. People have seen me dead. And there's an empty grave where I should be. I can't come back and resume the life of Alex Whitman. It isn't mine anymore. It ended six months ago when Tess homogenized my brain for me." Alex paused for breath. "As for the rest, if I tell you anything, then I have tell you everything. And I can't. I simply cannot. I cannot make you a part of this."

Isabel finally lost it. "Alexander Whitman you're infuriating! You know that? If you expect me to just spend my life feeling you dancing around the edge of my awareness without doing anything about it, guess again! I can't know that you're alive, then sit in Roswell pretending you're dead! And you can't ask me to!"

Alex regarded her sadly. "That's exactly what you have to do Iz. Not because I ask it, but because it's necessary. I'm walking talking trouble for anyone associated with me. And I can't hide from it in Roswell. It will seek me out, time and again. And it will destroy anyone close to me without pity." Alex looked her in the eye. "It's my destiny, the one I was born to."

Isabel's temper went red line, and beyond. "Destiny!", she spat. "Don't you *dare* use that excuse with me Alex Whitman. I know about 'destiny', and it's bullshit! We tried following our destiny and what did it buy us? Pain! Pain for us and everyone we love. It got *you* killed! It nearly got *us* killed! And for what? A planet we can't remember except for some hazy recollections that may or may not be real? The only power that 'destiny' has over you is what you *let* it have! Destiny is someone *else's* idea of how you should live your life!" Her temper cooled a bit. "I can't say that Antar is done with us yet, but we'll deal with it here, together. Max is stronger with Liz than without her. Ditto for Michael and Maria." Isabel waved her hand at the horizon. " Do you honest to God believe that I can live my life knowing that you're alive?" Then she pointed at the ground next to her. "But that you're not *here*!? I NEED YOU!!!! I love you Alex and, come hell or high water, I'm not giving up. I'm not moving on. And I'm most emphatically NOT settling for second best! We have a second chance here, and I'm not letting go of it!"

Alex looked sad and grim. "I was afraid of that. Terribly afraid. I should have shut this down the instant that you showed up. But I've missed you so much. I was too much of a coward to not want to spend some time with you, even if it did mean tempting fate." He stood and began backing away. "Forgive my weakness Izzy. And forgive me for hurting you. Don't come back again. If you do I'll just have to force you out. And I'll keep doing so until you give up. I'm dead now. Treat me that way. It's the only way that you and the others will be safe from the trouble that will follow me the rest of my ..(Alex's mouth gave an ironic twist)...life."

Alex closed his eyes and began to mutter to himself. To Isabel it looked as if he were praying. But then she noticed a change in the dreamscape. The colors began to bleed out. And a gray mist began to draw in from every direction. Alex was continuing to back away. Isabel began to panic. "Alex, don't do this! Whatever it is that you're doing, please stop it!?" It did no good. Alex was gone. The dreamscape was gone. The world was 360 degrees of gray white mist. It was disorienting. She shouted. She pleaded. To no avail. If he was there, he wasn't listening. She felt her hold on the dream walk slipping.

Sunday 2:00 AM in Roswell...The Evans Household

Isabel sat up in bed gasping. Realizing that it was over she began to cry. Damn him, how *could* he shut her out like this! Her sobs were powerful, gut wrenching. She staggered out of bed and into the bathroom, slamming the door and locking it. She was home alone, but right now she wanted to shut out the entire world. She started running the water in the sink, but realized that there was no going halfway. Still crying she shut off the sink, started the shower, then hurriedly shed her pajamas and stepped in. As she stood under the pounding hot water her sobs lessened in intensity. She felt the tension draining out of her. She stood there for a long time, letting her mind go blank. When she finally shut off the water she felt like a prune. Getting out and drying off she wrapped her hair in a towel and headed down to the kitchen.

Throwing together a ham and cheese sandwich (liberally dosed with tabasco) and brewing some tea (likewise tabasco laced), she finally allowed herself to think about what had happened. She mentally ticked off what she knew. Alex was alive, and seemingly in some sort of danger. He was keeping tabs on Roswell somehow. The people he was with would not let him come home. And he seemed to agree with them. He was somewhere near the sea. And there was that funky looking half familiar building. She would have to check on that later. And she had a name. Richie. She had no idea what to make of all this, but she couldn't take it to the others yet. Max and Liz were newly reunited. They deserved some time to rediscover each other. Michael would either want to go charging off to rescue Alex....or he would think that she was nuts. Maria was an unknown quantity, though given recent events she would probably back Isabel. Isabel bit her lip pensively. No, she would wait. Try to dream walk Alex a few more times. The last thing their little 'family' needed right now was a divisive issue. There had been enough of those the last year to last them all a lifetime.

"Okay," she thought. "That covers facts and logic. It's time to deal with feelings." Isabel stared into space. She couldn't begin to describe how she felt. She was elated and depressed at the same time. He had shut her out, but apparently he had thought he was protecting her, and by extension the others. "I can see that I'm going to have to remind him of what happened when Max tried that approach with Liz. Yes, Alex has a lot in common with my brother. They can both be pigheaded fools." She smiled to herself, despite the fact that a single tear was tracing a path down one cheek. "He still loves me. Though God knows why he loved me to start with. One thing is certain. He can't hold out forever. He can't resist both himself *and* me. There was a song that Alex used to play a lot, what was that lyric? Isabel sniffed back her tears and grinned. Oh yeah! "Time is on my side." That was it!

Relaxed and fully at peace for the first time in six months, Isabel Evans headed back to bed. Tomorrow was Sunday, and she had a full day ahead of her.....now.

Sunday 2:00 AM....Seattle...Alex's bedroom.

Alex jerked awake. "I'll be damned, it worked." Then he paused to examine that thought. Considering what he had done, what he had just given up, he was most certainly damned. What he had tried was about half science and half science fiction. He had begun reciting math tables. Log values. Trig functions. Multiplication tables. Anything to cloud his mind. And it had worked. This time. Next time was another matter. Alex sighed. "Why worry, the Angel of Death may take my head and solve everybody's problems. One way or the other I'm going to be losing a lot of sleep, because no way in hell will Izzy give up soon, or easily." He rolled over. He was still exhausted. He was reluctant to go to sleep again, but he didn't think that she'd try again tonight. "Besides," he thought while looking at the clock, "I've lost enough rest already."

So Alex drifted off to sleep again. A restless and disturbed sleep. Haunted by images of the dream walk. Saddened by the need to push Izzy away. And always, a part of his mind was on alert. This was not the way for someone who needs to stay sharp and alert to stay alive, to sleep....or to stay alive.

End Of Part 5

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 26-Aug-2002 1:31:10 AM ]
posted on 26-Aug-2002 1:28:30 PM
Choc79 It'll be a few days for part 6. I'm still trying to polish off part 12, and I have impatient people waiting on it. Regarding secrets, I agree. But it seems to be a deep and abiding failing of fictional characters everywhere, that they keep secrets from the one's that they love....to protect them. You'd think that they'd learn. *wink*
posted on 27-Aug-2002 2:08:43 AM
Thanks for the FB folks. There's an old quote that goes something like.."Whom the Gods would slay, they must first drive mad." Well, I'm on someone's s**t list tonight. I tried to e-mail part 6 and the working draft of part 12 in to work. With a highspeed connection here I reckoned that I could post the next part *and* get some work done.

Ri-I-I-ight!

First the dial-ups were hammered, then right before I had to leave I got in....to find my mail server was hosed. I cannot send or receive e-mail.

Shoot me now. All I can do tonight is read other people's fic, and grumble, when I'm not doing honest work. I'll try to get part 6 up tomorrow before I fall face first into bed.

Sorry.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 27-Aug-2002 2:11:07 AM ]
posted on 27-Aug-2002 6:42:24 AM
Asabetha I'll give it my best shot. Honest Injun. But I work the night shift in a computer center. And come Tuesday morning, after my first night back, coming off the weekend, I'm always pretty much on the ragged edge of collapse. And this night has been aggravating to say the least. Here's hoping I hold together long enough to get the next part up....but don't be too surprised if it waits until the wee hours of tomorrow night.

Laters Gang....
posted on 27-Aug-2002 10:01:17 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 6a
(Reach Out And Touch Someone...Any Way You Can)

Sunday Morning 4:30 AM...The Parker Household

Liz Parker's alarm began to chime softly. She made an irritated noise and slapped at it twice, finally getting it on the second try. She groaned in disbelief at the idea that she had deliberately chosen to get up this early. Then her memory caught up with her as she realized that there was a warm comforting weight against her back when she stretched. She arched into that warmth, smiled possessively and rolled over so she could watch Max. It was 4:30 AM, and her parents would start stirring in a little over an hour. The day started early for them, even if it *was* a day of dishing out cheesily named alien themed food to tourists and locals alike.

"Time to wake up Prince Charming," she thought. "Max!" she hissed quietly. "Max, wake up!". Failing to rouse him she began to gently rub his chest while punctuated her entreaties to wake up with small tender kisses on his face and neck.

Max stirred and groaned. "~Oh God, it's too early! Just give me a couple more minutes mom.~"

Liz froze. She had heard Max clearly but his lips had never moved. She thumped him on the chest urgently. "Max! I am so *not* your mother! Now wake *up*!"

Max's eyes popped open. "~Huh? Wha? Liz?~"

Liz was confused but not frightened. The last year and a half had burnt out her 'fright circuits'. And the scientist in her was intensely curious. She frowned with concentration. "~Max? Can you hear me Honey?~"

Max's eyes had started to sag closed again. Now they popped wide open. "~Liz? Where am I? What's happening?~"

Liz giggled. This could have some distinct advantages. " ~Well, taken in order, yes it's me, silly. You're in bed with me. Last night we kissed and made up...and now you're having an early morning telepathic chat with your significant other.~"

Max sat up suddenly and looked around, then he turned is gaze on Liz and spoke aloud. "Last night...I thought that it was a dream! I was sure that I'd wake up this morning and everything would be....(his voice cracked)...the same."

Liz reached for him and cuddled him, making crooning noises. "~No Love it happened. And nothing will ever be the same again. Thank God!~"

Max stiffened and spoke aloud again. "Er..Liz? What was that about telepathy?"

Liz, who hadn't released Max yet, grinned over his shoulder. "~Telepathy? What telepathy?~"

Max pulled away slowly and studied her then frowned and deliberately went into mind to mind mode. "~You're being awfully calm about this.~"

Liz shrugged and gave him a merry grin, her eyes were twinkling. "~There's calm, and then there's calm. I've spent most of the last two years in love with an alien. Last night I slept with an alien. And, had said alien asked last night, risks notwithstanding, last night I would have made love with an alien. After that, a little telepathy is nothing the get upset over.~"

Max grinned then his facial expression changed to a mild frown as he focused on her, his eyes narrowed.

Liz was getting a wash of emotion from him. Mostly worry and curiosity. She spoke aloud. "Max, what is it?"

Max's face relaxed. "I was trying something. I was trying to read your mind. I couldn't. Try it on me?"

Liz focused, tried, and came up empty. She went into mind mode. "~Zip. Nada. Which is something of a relief. We may love each other, but I think being able to invade each other's thoughts at will would be a bit too much of a good thing. What we *do* seem to have, I think that I can get used to.~" Liz smiled happily as she snuggled up to him. "~Besides, there's no going back now.~"

Max cleared his throat quietly. "~So it would seem. But this is something new. Not just new for you, or even for you and me, but really new. We used to mess with this when we were kids and it never led anywhere. The ability seemed to be there but it was unreliable. Not like this. This is effortless. Almost instinctive.~"

Liz frowned. "~I know what you're saying Max. I've always been a science geek. You know, Ms. 'There's a scientific explanation for everything.' But this is metaphysics. So *not* my strong suit.~"

Max sighed. "~We'll talk later. This has to be connected to our...um..reunion. Right now though I'd better head home. If your parents catch me here *this* is all we'll be able to do with each other until the age of.....oh say forty five.~"

Liz grinned. "~Yupper, this may save us a lot of phone time, but telepathic cuddling will never replace the real thing!~"

Max began dressing while Liz slid over into the warm spot he'd left in her bed. The pillow smelled of Max. "~Max, try to 'call' to me when you get home. I want to see if this works over a distance, or if the 'signal' attenuates.~"

Max finished tying his shoes then leaned over to kiss Liz and nuzzle her neck. She felt his chest rumble with quiet laughter. "~Trust my lovely science geek to try and apply science to metaphysics.~"

Liz made an irritated noise and smacked his arm. "~Don't be a tease Maxwell! You're as curious as I am and you know it. *Now* hit the road buster! My mom and dad will be up in thirty or forty minutes, but it's not unknown for them to get up really early for reasons of their own!~"

Max grinned and then made a grimace of mock horror at the thought. Giving Liz an unhurried kiss farewell he snatched his jacket and beat a hasty exit through her window. Outside he paused to close it and lock it with a wave of his hand.

Liz reset her alarm to wake her at 8:00 AM, then she settled back to wait. In her mind she went back over the events of last night. This was definitely going into her journal! Max was hers again! And she was his! Twenty four hours ago she wouldn't have believed it possible. Glancing again at the clock she smiled. Even eight hours ago she wouldn't have believed it possible. This change would take a long time to digest, but one thing was clear. She owed a lot to Maria and Isabel. And to Michael. Last night had cleared the air to such a degree that all of them seemed to be breathing freely for the first time in a year. Certainly since Alex had died.

Thinking about Alex made her wince. "It's so unfair," she thought. "All of it. He dies, we live. We get love, and Alex and Isabel have their love snuffed before it can really blossom." And she was certain that it had begun to blossom there at the end. Maria felt the same way. It felt like part of their collective heart had been cut away. Liz sighed. "Life goes on. Though sometimes we wonder why."

She shook herself free of her melancholy thoughts and focused again on the now. Last night had been one for the books. She gave a feminine snort. "Or at least one for *my* book." For an instant she and Max had fused. That was the only way to describe it. They weren't Liz and Max, or even a duality joined by a bond, for an instant they were a gestalt. An entirely new entity, greater than the sum of it's parts. It was the most fulfilling, and yet terrifying, experience of her life. And when they'd been forced by exhaustion to separate it had been accompanied by an almost painful sense of loss. After that, the concept of forgiveness had been ridiculous. They had come away from the experience knowing each other more completely than either had ever imagined was possible. Where there is understanding, what need is there for forgiveness?

"~Earth to Liz! Earth to Liz! Your Lover Boy is home safe and sound! Can you read me Liz!?~" Liz jumped as Max's voice rang out in her mind.

"~Damnit Max! Don't DO that!~" she fired back.

She felt a wave of chagrin from Max. "~Sorry Sweetheart! I can see that we're going to have to work out protocols for this. Just barging in could be distracting, as well as rude. We need to be able to signal each other for a connection. For right now though, is there any weakening of the signal?~"

Liz settled down. "~Nope, it sounds like you're still in the room.~" Then she yawned. "~Max, we'll worry about protocols and science experiments after the sun comes up. Right now we had both better get some more sleep. Give me a call when you get up please?~"

Max answered, "~You know it! We have lost time to make up for! G'night Sweetheart!~"

Liz let herself relax. "~G'night Max! Sleep tight! And don't let the bedbugs bite. That's *my* job.~" Liz felt a wave of love and good humor from Max.

"~I'm positively looking forward to it! Sweet Dreams Elizabeth!~" he said.

Liz felt Max recede from her. As she drifted off to sleep she paused to consider that feeling. It was a nice feeling to have after months of being without Max. When she finally drifted off, her final waking thought was..."And it's especially nice knowing that he'll still be there in the morning...".

The Evans Household.......5:30 AM

After Max had finished his conversation with Liz he made a quick check of the house before crawling into his own bed. The doors and windows were all locked. The evidence in the kitchen sink said that Isabel had conducted a late night 'fridge raid. The lights were out, so he headed upstairs. Passing his sister's door he couldn't stop himself from peeking in on her. Normally she locked her door, and tonight was no different. Pressing his hand to the lock he quietly disengaged it. Making sure the hallway light was out, to minimize the chance of waking her, he swung the door open silently and moved into the room. After pausing to allow his eyes to adjust he moved to the edge of Isabel's bed and stood watching her sleep.

Isabel's face in repose looked truly content for the first time in months. Max had been worried. The months after Alex's death had been hard on her, on all of them. Many times he had heard her whimper or moan in her sleep, and that nightmare the night before had been a real whopper. It had to have been provoked by the funeral the day before. He was certain she hadn't gone back to sleep afterwards, regardless of her promise to do so. He looked down at her and shook his head in wonder. He had always hoped that Isabel would come out from behind her defenses and warm up to the humans. But last night had exceeded his fondest wishes. Apparently he still had a lot to learn about his sister. Caring enough about Liz to do what she had done. Trusting Maria enough to make her part of the plot. Max smiled tenderly. Yes there was a lot more to Izzy than met the eye.

Isabel's mouth curved into a half smile as he watched. She sighed and stirred, then murmured. "I'm coming Alex. Soon." Then she settled down in sleep again, still smiling that contented smile.

Max placed a gentle kiss on her forehead and backed silently from the room, closing and locking the door behind himself. Once he was in his own room he paused to ponder. A lot of his sister's personal growth the last two years could be traced to Alex's influence. They all owed Alex a lot, but six months was long enough to mourn. "I've been so involved with Liz and myself that I've been neglecting other things," he castigated himself. He couldn't demand that Iz simply stop thinking about Alex, but perhaps they could start her towards thinking about him less. He would talk to Liz and Maria about it in the morning. Perhaps if they prodded her to start dating again it might pull her out of her fixation on 'might have beens'.

Max stripped off his clothes, leaving on his boxers, and crawled into bed. "I've been a pretty crummy leader the last year or so," he thought. "Time to get my act together." He went to sleep feeling confident that, for the first time in months, their problems had finally been reduced to manageable proportions.

But, as they say, 'confidence is what you feel when you really don't understand the situation'.

Sunday 10:00 AM....The Evans Household

Max had been awake for an hour when the phone rang. He had showered and shaved, and was just dumping fresh coffee into the filter basket of the coffee maker. He had heard Isabel stirring for a while now, and the shower upstairs had started fifteen minutes ago. He was considering giving Liz a call when the phone rang. Slipping the grounds basket into the coffee maker he started the brewing cycle with a wave of his hand as he reached out snagged the phone. "Hello? This is the Evans residence."

"Max? This is mom. I just wanted you to know we got here okay. We settled at the resort a while ago, and we're on the beach. How's everything there?"

Max smiled. "Good God mom! A phone call from St. Croix must cost a bundle! We're okay here. No crises. No catastrophes. As a matter of fact, things couldn't be better!"

Sunday 10:41 AM......St. Croix US Virgin Islands

Diane Evans blinked in surprise. "Okay bub, who are you, and what did you do with the moody, 'oh so serious he's almost morose', son I left there Friday night?" She heard her son laugh and felt a burden shift off of her heart. One that had been there for over a year, and one which had grown heavier as the months had gone by. She had known for over a year that something was desperately wrong in her children's world. But try as she might her efforts to discover what was happening had come to nothing. She simply couldn't get past that reserve they had always had about them.

When Max had paired off with the Parker girl, Diane had been both surprised and pleased. After years as a confirmed loner Max seemed to finally be opening up to someone. Even that episode in which they had seemed to be getting a little too hot and heavy didn't concern her too badly. Her concern had been mostly for appearances sake, to stay in Nancy Parker's good graces. And after that the kids seemed to level out and start showing some of the good judgment that she knew they both possessed in full measure. But starting a year or so before, when that girl Tess had appeared, everything had seemed to go whacko. Liz and Max had broken up. Reunited and broken up again. They claimed to be friends, yet Diane's maternal radar detected serious trouble between them while all the time recognizing that they loved each other with a desperation that bordered on the surreal. She was at a loss to explain it. At the same time problems began to appear between Isabel and Max. And between them and Michael Guerin.....

"Mom!?"

Diane Evans snapped back to the here and now. "Yes sweetie?"

Max cleared his throat. "Are you okay?"

Diane sighed. "Yes Max, just wool gathering. A symptom of age."

Max chuckled again. "Well, in case you missed it, everything is okay here. Better than okay. So go forth and enjoy your second honeymoon! Before your 'old age' has you forgetting what you're there for!"

Diane sighed. "Okay Sweetie! I love you! So does your dad, and he'd say so if he weren't trying to skip stones in the surf at this moment."

Max snorted with laughter again. " I love you too Mom! See you back in 21 days, not before then!"

Diane paused and dug a piece of paper out of her shoulder bag. "You already know where we're staying *and* you have both our cell numbers. But here's the phone number to our condo here..." Diane read off a string of numbers, and for good measure threw in the number of the resort business office. "If you have any problems, don't hesitate to call! And I'll call anyway before the end of the week."

Max sighed. "Don't worry mom, we won't starve and the bills are being paid."

Diane laughed. "I know that Max. I simply miss you both already. Bye Sweetheart. Give Isabel our love!" Diane paused a moment, considering, then she continued. "And give our best to Liz."

Max was silent for a long moment then answered in a voice that was soft with wonder and happiness. "I'll tell Liz that. Have a good second honeymoon! And Mom? We love you!"

Diane sniffled. "We love you too honey! I'll talk to you later this week! Bye!"

After the connection broke, Diane returned her cell phone to her bag and began walking towards the spot on the beach where her suddenly boyish husband was skipping rocks on the water. She had a grin of elation on her face. The ol' mom radar was still working! "I thought that only one thing could possibly make Max that chipper. And I was *right*! I could hear it in his voice! He and Liz must have patched things up. A lot must have happened since Friday evening!"

Diane had no clue how right that statement was.

As she reached her husband she slid her arms around him from behind. He dropped the stone he had just picked up, turned in her arms, and kissed her. Then he pulled her head to his shoulder, just enjoying the closeness, and the air of being alone with each other.

"How are they?" he asked.

Diane snuggled closer. "They're fine dear. And I think that Max and the Parker girl may have patched things up."

Philip sighed. "That's a good thing. A very good thing. God knows our kids could use some good news. Did you talk to Isabel?"

Diane managed to shake her head without moving it from Philip's shoulder. "No. And I worry about her more since Alex died. She was always more outgoing than Max and she seemed more resilient, but I've never seen her take something as hard as she took his death."

Philip stroked his wife's hair and rubbed his cheek against the side of her head, inhaling the spicy scent of her hair. "They all took it hard, Sweetheart. All of them." Pulling away he took her hand. "Let's go for a walk before lunch." He winked. "We have a lot of beach to cover."

Diane smiled and nodded her approval as she leaned in to kiss her husband again.

As they walked they were each thinking much the same thoughts. Thoughts brought on by many late night pillow talks. They had adopted two children, only to discover later in Michael that they had apparently adopted three, albeit the third was unofficial. Then suddenly two years ago, the three grew to four, then five, then six. Then the six had broken, reformed, changed their configuration and reformed again. The final blow seemed to have been the death of the Whitman boy. The little ad hoc family had shattered on them. It was bitterly frustrating to Philip and Diane. They loved their children. Both those they had chosen, and those they hadn't. And to watch all this happen, to only be able to guess based on appearances, to be able to do nothing, and never give a clue that you were aware that something was happening for fear of driving them away. It hurt. And now it seemed to be changing again. The healing may finally have begun. This was a fitting 'second honeymoon gift'.

"Perhaps we shouldn't waste it," Diane thought.

Diane stopped walking. Philip felt the tug of her hand. He turned to look at her quizzically and was intrigued by the shy smile on her face. It took him straight back to their wedding night. Then her smile widened out into an outright grin. "We have three weeks to play beach bums. I have something else in mind. Last one to the condo is a rotten egg!" And at that she took off running. Philip lost the race. But the prize for losing wasn't that different than the one for winning. Both involved the love of a good woman. What more could a reasonable man ask for?

10:30 AM...The Evans Household

Isabel was just finishing in the bathroom when the odors that said 'breakfast' reached her. "Max must be home," she thought. "And in a good mood, if he was cooking. The last few months he's been to morose to do much for himself besides throwing some cold cereal and milk in a bowl." Isabel was starving. She was hungry as she hadn't been in what seemed like forever. The alluring scent of eggs, bacon, and fresh coffee were too much to resist. So she blew off everything else, threw on some clothes, and headed downstairs sans makeup and with her hair still damp. As a result Max shuddered in feigned horror at her appearance when she showed up in the kitchen, miming an imaginary crucifix with two fingers at her less than coifed countenance.

Isabel stuck out her tongue and began dishing up her own breakfast. "Good thing you cooked enough for two, brother dear. Otherwise I'd just eat yours." Snatching the tabasco sauce away from Max she liberally dosed her bacon and eggs before returning it to his outstretched hand.

Max was grinning. "You're in a good mood this morning."

Isabel snorted. "What about you? You cooked! So, who was on the phone?" Isabel asked as she buttered a piece of toast.

"It was mom, doing a check in," Max answered.

Isabel stared at Max as her foot lashed out under the table to catch him in the shin. "And you didn't call me?!"

Max winced at the kick then shrugged. "I thought that you were still in the shower. Anyway, she sent you her love. She left some phone numbers, and promised to call by the end of the week."

Isabel rolled her eyes. "I wish she'd stop worrying about us and enjoy the time with dad. You told her to, right?"

Max nodded. "Yup, but I don't think that it took. It goes with being a parent I guess."

Isabel took the conversation off on a tangent. "So, what time did you finally tear yourself away from Liz last night?"

Max flushed with embarrassment. "Actually it was about 4:30 this morning." Seeing Isabel's knowing grin he hastened to add, "Get your mind out of the gutter, Iz. I'm not stupid enough to try anything...um...noisy...with her parents right down the hall. I just held her while we slept. And we needed it!" Max paused then went on. "Speaking of Liz....."



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 27-Aug-2002 10:07:04 AM ]
posted on 27-Aug-2002 10:26:10 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 6b
(Reach Out And Touch Someone...Any Way You Can)

Max turned his attention to Liz Parker and began to gently push with his mind. His efforts were rewarded a few moments later.

"~Max, is that you calling?~" came Liz's mind voice.

"~Yes Honey, you told me to call, so here I am...calling. How are you this morning?~" He felt a wave of good humor and embarrassment from Liz.

Liz spoke with mock petulance. "~Taking a shower if you must know. I slept like a baby after you left. And you?~"

Max gave a mental chuckle. "~Ditto. I haven't slept this well in a year. I threw together some breakfast, which of course drew Iz out of her cave.~"

Liz giggled. "~Well then stop pestering little old naked me and eat before it gets cold.~"

Max winced at the mental image. "~You're going to be the death of me Parker! You know that?~"

Liz had felt the suppressed passion that her words had evoked in Max and answered it in kind. "~Ah yes, but you'll die happy!~"

Max groaned mentally. "~Too true. I should know better than to try and get the best of a woman in an argument!~"

Liz sent an answering wave of warmth and love. "~How's Isabel this morning?~"

Max looked at his sister who was studying him curiously. "~She looks like I feel. Like the bluebird of happiness made a pet project of her. And at the moment she's looking pretty inquisitive about my ongoing silence while we're talking..~"

Liz paused. "~Ooops! You haven't told her? About this?~" Liz caught a mental sigh from Max.

"~Nope~," he said. "~Not yet. I haven't had time. Calling you had higher priority!~"

Liz paused in the shower with her hands on her hips...as if Max could see her. "~Well get with it Sweetheart. We have to tell everyone sooner or later. Preferably sooner. As far as I'm concerned we're out of the 'keeping secrets from each other business' for good! All keeping secrets brings is heartache!~"

Max snorted. "~To hear is to obey, heart of my heart! Before I sign off though, remind me to talk to you about Isabel later today, preferably with Maria around too.~"

Liz answered, "~Will do, Love. Now eat your breakfast so I can finish washing my hair!~"

This caused Max to laugh out loud, provoking Isabel's curiosity still further. All the more so because Max noticed and winked at her. Max returned his attention to his soul mate. "~All right, though I wish I were there to wash it for you! See you in a few hours! I love you!~"

Liz sent him something that could only be described as a mental kiss. "~I love you too! Now eat breakfast and tell Isabel, in that order! Later Love! Signing off!~"

Max felt Liz withdraw from their conversation. He then turned his attention to his now totally bemused sister.

"What?" Max asked with mock innocence.

Isabel's eyes narrowed. "What are you hiding Max?"

Max, following his better half's instructions, began eating and talking between bites. "Before I answer, you eat. I cooked this stuff, and it doesn't reheat well!" Isabel dutifully began to eat. Max chewed thoughtfully and swallowed. "Last night. What happened with Liz and I?"

Isabel grinned. "You mean that you don't know? *You're* the one that spent the night with her brother of
mine!"

Max snorted. "Yes, we patched things up and I finally learned the truth. With your help, for which I am eternally grateful. But there was more to it than that. When we said that we 'merged', we so were not kidding. So before I talk about it I want to know how it looked from your point of view."

Isabel developed a faraway look in her eyes. "Well, after you two made physical contact and went into lip lock, I thought for a minute that you were going to go for it right there in the Crashdown, with us watching. But after a second the glowing started."

Max choked on his food. "Glowing? I made Liz glow again?"

Isabel smiled. "More than that brother dear. You were *both* making each other glow. It wasn't just your hands leaving glow worm trails on Liz. Her hands did the same to you. And after a minute the glowing trails weren't just following your hands. They were moving independent of your hands. Merging, increasing, jumping from one of you to the other. And eventually they merged into what I can only call a solid glowing aura. You two were burning like a miniature sun."

Max took a bite of food and chewed thoughtfully. After swallowing he spoke. "Okay, I don't know how that relates, but it *feels* right. Anyway, last night Liz and I didn't just reopen the bond. Something else happened. Something way above and beyond any bond. For a few heartbeats we fused into one individual. We weren't Liz and Max anymore. We were something entirely new. And we know each other now. Right down to the last detail. Under other circumstances it would have scared the crap out of me to have *anyone* know me that completely. But not last night. Last night was...completion."

Isabel's eyes glinted slightly. "Soul mates?"

Max shrugged. "As close as makes no difference. And it has had one interesting side effect so far."

Isabel frowned. "Side effect? Like what?"

Max studied his sister for a moment, took a long deliberate sip of his tabasco laced coffee, then continued. "Telepathy," he said. "Direct mind to mind communication when we want it. Not like that hit and miss stuff we fooled around with as kids. This is clear and unambiguous. Like being in the same room with each other. With sensing emotional nuances thrown in for good measure."

Isabel paused with a piece of bacon halfway to her mouth. She was silent for a moment, then noticed she was still holding the bacon and returned it to her plate. "Mind reading?" she asked.

Max shook his head, "No, thanks be to whatever God there is. Liz thinks, and I agree, that knowing each other's thoughts would definitely be too much of a good thing. The only time we knew each other that completely was when we fused, and that only lasted a few instants. And it really wore us out. In any event, under those conditions we aren't an 'us' anymore. We become parts of a greater whole, but only for a few instants. The thoughts don't belong to us, they belong to the 'whateveritis' we become."

Isabel swallowed convulsively. "Michael and Maria are going to freak."

Max sighed. "Possibly. Maybe even probably. But they'll get over it. They have to, because whatever has happened doesn't feel like the sort of thing you can undo. And I wouldn't undo it if I could. It feels instinctive. Natural. Liz and I were doing it this morning without even being aware of it. There's no going back!"

Isabel frowned. "Are you sure it's just you two? That you can't communicate with others?" Max shrugged. "I don't know what Liz is doing, but I've been trying with you since we sat down to eat. All that it's doing is giving me a headache."

Isabel sighed mightily then delivered a crooked half smile. "Well, even if we don't understand the whys and wherefores of it yet, if this is what it takes to get you back together with Liz, then you can glow in the dark and exchange thoughts until the end of time as far as I'm concerned."

Max didn't realize how tense he had been until that moment when he felt his muscle relax and unwind. He had been more than a little worried that Isabel might be jealous of this fallout from her efforts. When he and Liz had first gotten together, Isabel's antagonism towards her had been composed of equal parts of fear of the unknown and flat out jealousy. Time had changed that, but Max hadn't realized how much. Clearly, even taking Isabel's actions last night into consideration, he had been underestimating how far his sister had come since then. Noticing a wistful look on Isabel's face Max reached across the table and took her hand. "Don't worry Iz, your day will come."

Max wasn't prepared for the odd smile she gave him as she answered, "I know that Max. Better than you do."

Max was bemused, but decided not to push it. Too many good things had come his way in the last 24 hours for him to want to risk screwing it up by being too nosy.

Isabel gave Max's hand a squeeze then scooped up their dirty dishes and carried them to the sink. Standing there rinsing them let her hide her face from him. She was uncertain about just how much had shown in her expression, but Max's words had unexpectedly loosed a riot of emotions in her. The upshot of which felt like a neon sign on her forehead declaring that she knew Alex was alive. Max stared at his sister's back a moment longer, then he rounded up the remaining dishes and cups, and joined her at the sink. While she rinsed, he loaded the dishwasher. The little domestic chore was quickly done. And hopefully, by the time they were finished, Isabel would once again firmly in control of her emotions.


Isabel finished the last dish and handed it to Max. "I have to go finish getting ready to face the day", she said. "What are you up to today?"

Max closed the dishwasher and shrugged. "Off to work at the museum. I have to finish taking down that alien autopsy exhibit."

Isabel shuddered. "I always hated that thing. I kept seeing myself on that table."

Max grinned. "Me too. Which is why I'm having a lot of fun taking it down. Brody is putting it in storage and replacing it with a hokey exhibit about recent high tech advances brought about by alien technology."

Isabel frowned. "You mean he knows about some?"

Max's grin widened. "Nope, after I take him to the Crashdown for lunch, we're going to sit down this afternoon and make some up."

Isabel's mouth fell open. "Max Evans! You're a...a...a..a flim flam man!"

Max chuckled. "Try not to think of it that way. I think of it as disinformation! The really dangerous nuts will be so busy looking for non-existent evidence of aliens that they won't even think of looking for us! At least that's Brody's plan."

Isabel shook her head and grinned at the playful genius of it. "Well you two have fun and don't do anything too embarrassing! All I really have to do is return a book to the library." Then she added to herself, "and do a little research on architecture. A building that unique *has* to be recorded somewhere. I *know* I've seen it!"

Max gave his sister a quick hug and started for the door then paused with his hand on the door handle and looked at her. "See you at the Crashdown after work?"

Isabel snickered. "Only if you and Liz hold off telling Maria and Michael about the joys of telepathy until I get there. The look on their faces should be a Kodak moment."

Max laughed. "No promises, but I'll talk to Liz about it. Bye Iz. See you there". Then he was gone.

Outside she heard his car start and fade into the distance. Glancing at her watch she hurried upstairs. For the first time in months she really had purpose in her life. The quicker she got moving, the quicker she'd have Alex with her again. "Time's wasting," she thought. "If Alex is in danger I'm not about to have him get killed...again. Not this time. Not when I can prevent it.!" Isabel hurriedly finished her makeup and hair, grabbed her bag and the book she was taking back...and was out the door.

11:00 AM...McCleod's Dojo in Seattle

"Damnit Alex! PAY ATTENTION!" Richie was ready to pull his hair out. Mac had left him to keep up the dojo's day to day operations while he and Amanda spent the day stalking the city for Raphael Conterras. That included Alex's training as well as the regular students. And so far he was sucking at the former job. Or rather Alex was sucking at letting Richie do it. Richie had decided to let Alex warm up by sparring with the regular students. *That* had been a real stroke of genius. Not! Due to his intensive and extensive training Alex's skill level was far above the average student at the dojo. And well above even the few above average students. And so far this morning three rank amateurs had mopped the deck with him.

Alex pulled himself up off the mats staggering slightly and blinked owlishly at Richie. "Sorry Richie", he said. Then he gave a great jaw cracking yawn. "I guess I'm not at the top of my game this morning. I didn't sleep well last night."

Richie snorted. "I guess not! Look just go back to bed. I'll pull you out around 4:00 this afternoon and we'll try again!" Alex smiled his thanks and headed off to the residential part of the building, his feet shuffling tiredly. Richie watched him go as worry gnawed at his mind. He didn't look forward to telling Mac about this. As long as Conterras had his head he'd be a threat to Alex. And if you're called upon to deal with a threat when you're dead tired, you're likely to end up just plain dead. Richie shoved that worry to the back of his mind and focused on the regular students. Mac would be back before he had to wake Alex. Let him handle it.

1:30 PM...Roswell Public Library

Isabel sat at a table scattered with reference volumes. Next to her was a sketch pad with the "UFO on a stick" building drawn on it as well as she could recall. She sighed with frustration. The library was closing soon....in fact had closed half an hour ago. But the librarian was staying over to catch up on returns and Isabel had charmed her into letting her stay over. She stared morosely at the pile of architectural periodicals and assorted books. She had been at it for several hours and was no closer now than she had been when she started. She was so frustrated that she had taken to pulling random reference books off the shelves and scanning them in the hopes of seeing something familiar. She was about to continue with her latest choice when a hand touched her shoulder causing her to jump. She turned and looked up into the face of the matronly librarian who had let her stay over.

"I'm all finished dear", she said. "I'm afraid we'll have to return those books and magazines to their shelves and you'll have to pick it up tomorrow." She smiled as she looked over Isabel's choices. "Well, I have to say you're a girl with varied interests! Yesterday it was dreams, today it's architecture." Her eye fell on the sketch pad and she smiled. "My late husband and I ate there once."

Isabel looked at the pad then back at the librarian. The look on her face could only be described as dumb wonderment. "You know this?" she asked.

The librarian looked puzzled. "That *is* the Space Needle isn't it?"

Isabel looked frustrated. "That's just it! I don't know and it's driving me nuts. I saw it in a dream, and it looks familiar but"....she waved her hand at the piles of reference material...."I can't *find* it anywhere!"

The librarian looked thoughtful. "Wait here," she said. Then she made a beeline for the Travel and Leisure section. In minutes she was back with a travelogue of Washington State. Checking the index she flipped it open to the appropriate page and flopped it in front of Isabel. "Here you go dear. Is that what you saw?"

Isabel was unable to speak. There it was. In four different views, plus a fifth view from the top. Checking the caption she gained the one thing she needed to know. Seattle, Washington. "Which, as any idiot knows, is on the Pacific Coast," she thought. She sent the librarian a smile of thanks, then capped it off with an enthusiastic hug. "I can't thank you enough!" Isabel looked ruefully at the collection of material on her table. "I'll have this cleaned up and be out of your hair in ten minutes."

The librarian waved off her thanks. "That's my job dear. Aiding people in their search for knowledge. I'll just gather up my things and be right back. With my help we'll both be out of here in five minutes instead of ten."

The librarian was as good as her word. Five minutes later as Isabel and the librarian headed across the parking lot towards where Philip Evans' Blazer was parked, the librarian stopped her before cutting over to her own car two spaces away.

With a twinkle in her eye the woman smiled and said, "Someday dear you'll have to explain to me why you're dreaming about futuristic architecture instead of Brad Pitt."

Isabel shrugged. "Who knows?", she dissembled. Then she grinned. "Maybe I was Frank Lloyd Wright in my previous life!" With that they parted ways. As she started the SUV Isabel laughed at what she had just said. "There's no way the she'd believe what I *actually* was in my previous life," she thought wryly. Isabel paused and sighed. Of all the changes that Liz Parker had wrought in their lives, this is one that she could do without even though it was inextricably intertwined with the rest. All her life she had hidden in plain sight. Deceiving and lying as necessary to maintain their cover. And the only guilt she had felt at doing so was in relation to her parents. Now though, the concept of lying to good people troubled her more and more. Sighing and shaking her head she pulled out of her parking spot and headed for the street. "I guess this is what they mean by 'the burdens of adulthood'," she said aloud. "I've grown up."

Isabel had time to kill before heading for the Crashdown. Time enough to find a computer somewhere and do a little web surfing on the subject of martial arts studios in Seattle, Washington.

3:30 PM...... McCleod's Dojo...Seattle,Washington

Duncan sighed in exasperation. "I told you not to cut him any slack, Richie."

Richie shook his head. "It wouldn't have done any good Mac. You should have seen him. The kid was totally wiped. Normally he's like you, "on" all the time. But today he could hardly stand up let alone work out. If it weren't for the fact that we don't get sick, I'd think that he was coming down with something."

Duncan frowned. "Well, let's get him out of bed and get to work. We have some time left yet. Amanda stayed out to hunt, so I don't have to go back out tonight." Duncan chuckled. "I almost pity Conterras if she finds him first. She's taking this personally. I've never seen her get as attached to someone as she has to Alex. In all the time I've known her, the one concept I've never attached to her in my mind is 'mother'. It's a terrifying thing to see."

Richie grinned. "You learn something new every day, don't you?"

Duncan laughed aloud. "One of the benefits of being us I guess. Live long enough and you'll see anything and everything." Duncan consulted the schedule. "There's nothing left until the 6:00 PM late class. And you can handle that. Go dig Alex out of bed and start him into warm ups. Then I'll take him for the rest of the night."

Richie sketched a bow. "To hear is to obey, boss!"

Duncan kept Alex at it until 10:00 PM, long after the regular classes had ended, and working right through supper for both of them. The sleep had done Alex some good, but Duncan could see that he was still slow and distracted. Something was bothering the boy. During sword drill he had slipped up and actually injured Duncan. Being what he was it was no big deal. Still, no one likes to get poked in the stomach with four inches of sharpened steel. He had recovered quickly, but after that further drill was pointless, because Alex was wary of causing further injuries. They could pick it up again tomorrow, after the boy recovered some of his confidence and stamina.

Duncan briefly considered calling in Cassie, but decided to give it a few days before doing anything. At 10:00 PM a seriously disgruntled Amanda came in the report no luck in tracking Conterras. Duncan decided to call it a day and sent Alex off to shower, with instructions to grab a snack and go straight to bed. Tomorrow would be another day.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 27-Aug-2002 10:31:16 AM ]
posted on 27-Aug-2002 11:02:46 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 6c
(Reach Out And Touch Someone...Any Way You Can)

10:30 PM...The Crashdown After Hours.

"YOU CAN DO WHAT??????", Maria shrieked.

Isabel had been right. The look on Maria's face was priceless.

Liz made calming motions with her hands. "Jeeez Maria! Keep it down will you? Remember? Parents? Right upstairs?"

When Max had contacted her via what she was starting to think of as 'head phone' and asked her to hold off telling Maria until they were all together, Liz had been reluctant at first. But it had made sense from the standpoint of fostering the 'family' feeling that they had all been missing lately. Now she saw how right that view had been. Maria looked excited and envious. Michael looked stunned and rebellious. Isabel and Max were laughing openly for the first time in months. And Liz had to admit, this was fun. They were all sitting at the ET Booth having a relaxed late supper courtesy of Michael's cooking. Something they hadn't done since Alex had died. And it was finally fun again.

Liz batted her eyes innocently as she reached out to snitch a fry off of Maria's plate. "It's nothing really. Just sort of 'flashes-plus', that's all."

Maria snorted. "Uh huh!" Maria waved her hand to indicate the Pod Squad. "And these three Favorite Martians of ours are simply a figment of my overactive imagination." Isabel snickered.

Michael broke in to the conversation, primarily to derail what he saw as Maria's train of thought. "Anything else weird we should know about?" He was thinking that this sucked big time. Maria had been hurt by the lack of flashes during their make out sessions. Now that she knew that it was due to his holding back, she'd be doubly hurt by the lack of whatever it was that Max and Liz now had. Talk about 'keeping up with the jones's'.

Liz shrugged. "Nothing so far. I'd say the telepathy is weird enough for now."

Maria cleared her throat to recapture everyone's attention. "Have you tried the fusion thing again? I mean, it's really cool, but what if you guys go in and can't get back?"

Liz glanced at Max, who raised his eye brows. Max cleared his throat. "No, we haven't. I have this feeling that this isn't something to be taken lightly, or played around with."

Liz continued. "Getting 'in' was hard, and staying was harder. I think the only thing that let us do it was the fact that our emotions had been building to overload for months. And we could only stay that way for a few moments. Just long enough for us to...um...have a few issues cleared up."

Max nodded in agreement. "And those few moments exhausted both of us. While I'm not sorry it happened, I don't think that we'll fool around with this until we know a lot more than we do now."

Michael looked relieved and moved to change the subject before Maria could inquire further. "So, now that we're all in the know, what about the invasion that's supposed to happen in 2014?"

Max frowned. "That's another matter. Speaking for myself I'd like to think about this a while before we try to do anything." Max put his arm around Liz and pulled her closer. "My only regret in the whole mess is that I can't meet my future self and try to find out how I became such a self absorbed fool. That and not getting a chance to punch him right in the mouth for putting this on Liz."

Liz elbowed him gently. "If you had you wouldn't *be* here you idiot. Your future self made it clear that, had you met in person, you would have both spontaneously combusted, or something."

Max leaned over and kissed her soundly. "Okay, then I'd have Michael do it. I'm sure there are more than a few occasions on which he's wanted to pound on me some." Looking at Michael, Max raised an eyebrow in amusement.

Michael made a disgusted sound, then he picked up the banter. "Sure thing Max. Any time you want me to beat the living crap out of you, or any alternate version of you, I'll be happy to oblige. But can we get back on the subject at hand? Your future self wasn't exactly free with information. We know he was out to defeat the invasion by shoehorning you and Tess together. Which speaks for his ignorance since he obviously never knew what we know now. That she was a traitor. The question is, did all this change the future *enough* to prevent the invasion altogether? Because, in case no one's noticed, your future self's pre-conditions for our defeat have come to pass. Tess is gone. Again."

Max sighed. "That's why I want us to think about it to some degree before we do anything. Why did they bother to invade Earth at all? Just to get us? Or the granolith? Why the granolith? It seems to have been nothing more than a power source, and a one shot star ship. Albeit, one that can be hot wired for time travel."

Maria chimed in. "The skins that are already here wanted the granolith so they could get home. Maybe K'Var wanted it to burn their bridges, and yours. If that's the case, then your being stuck here makes an invasion pointless. So, maybe we can hope that he has no further interest in us."

Michael frowned. "We don't know that."

Max responded. "Actually we don't know anything. That's why we need to take some time with this. Personally I won't start to panic for another year or two."

Michael looked annoyed. "But it wouldn't hurt to get some assets in place so that when we *do* decide on where to go with this, we have something to work with."

Max looked puzzled. "Assets? What assets?"

Michael looked around the table, gauging everyone. "Ava. She's a Tess clone. If Tess is required to defeat the invasion, then maybe Ava can fill her shoes. Let's have our friendly law enforcement officer start the ball rolling to find her."

Max shook his head. "I don't think that's a good idea. For starters Sheriff Valenti is sheriff again because of two things. Hanson was a screwup. And the townspeople petitioned to get his job back for him. Mine and Liz's parents among them. But he's still very much on probation with the 'powers that be' around here. Until that passes we can't ask him to do any big noticeable favors for us. It wouldn't be fair. Also, he'd have to use 'official' channels. And the last thing we want is for anyone in those channels to be paying attention to any one of us."

Michael looked rebellious but calmed as Maria reached up an stroked his hair. "I thought that we had outgrown this 'fearless leader' stuff. But, if that's the way you want it played, I'll go along for now. I simply think that we're making a mistake by not moving on this immediately."

Max shrugged. "I didn't say that we would do nothing. One thing we can do is ask Larek to keep his ear to the ground back on Antar. If there are any indications that K'var might be thinking of trying something major we might get enough warning to make a difference."

Isabel had been largely silent in all this, but now she spoke up. "There's one thing that we may be missing in all this. K'var has most of what he wants right now. He has the granolith. That maroons us here which, for his purposes, is as good as killing us. For the time being anyway. And it cuts the skins off from home, giving them an incentive to get on with their mission. Which is to kill us eventually." She shot an apologetic look at Max and Liz. "He has Max's son for whatever purposes he wishes. Hostage, puppet on the throne, whatever."

Liz winced at the reference but nodded encouragement anyway. Like it or not, the boy existed. However he had come to be, sooner or later, she and Max would have to deal with his existence. Liz looked at Max. He looked torn. Torn between doing something to rescue his son, and not offending Liz.

Liz pushed against his mind gently, seeking contact. "~Patience Love, we'll get him back. And I think I'd make a passable step mother. Don't you?~"

Max's muscles relaxed noticeably. "~Liz Parker, have I told you lately that, I love you?~" What followed was some brief mental nuzzling before Liz broke the connection to pay attention to Isabel again.

Isabel, for her part, had seen the change in their faces that marked their silent dialogue and waited patiently for them to return to the conversation. The interlude was brief. So brief that Maria and Michael never noticed. Liz finally spoke. "You said that we were missing something, Iz?"

Isabel nodded. "Yes. K'var has everything that he wants for the moment...except one thing. Vilandra. Me. Nicholas made it clear at Copper Summit that K'var still considers Vilandra to be his property. And that he wants her back."

The others at the table stiffened. "You didn't tell us about that", Michael said quietly.

Isabel sighed. "I was ashamed. It was part of the whole package of Vilandra. Finding out that, in your previous life, you were a cross between Benedict Arnold and Lucrecia Borgia isn't a fun thing. I just wanted to shut my eyes and make the whole thing go away. But I've had enough of that, thank you." Isabel reached out and took his and Maria's hands. "If this renewed family thing between the five of us is going to work, it means no more secrets. No more. He won't take me. I'll kill myself first."

Maria clenched Isabel's hand in hers. "Don't worry girlfriend, we won't let it come to that."

Liz added, "That's right, he gets to you over my extremely dead body."

Isabel swallowed and blinked at the sting in her eyes. "Th-thanks. I needed to hear that. I shouldn't have had to, but I did." She cleared her throat.

Max looked at her inquiringly. "Anything else?", he asked.

Isabel hesitated, then shook her head. She had briefly considered springing the knowledge that Alex was alive on them, but it wasn't time yet. She needed to know more if they were to believe her.

Liz took her hesitation for doubt and said, "Besides, no greasy psychopathic alien despot gets to think of *my* future sister-in-law as 'property'."

Michael was in the middle of sipping his coke when she spoke. He snorted coke, choked, and then sprayed over everyone. The other four occupants of the booth were torn between outrage and hysterical laughter. They settled for laughter. After Michael finished sputtering and coughing he regarded Max with a teasing grin. "Anything you wanna tell us Maxwell?" he asked archly.

Max glared at Liz good naturedly. "I don't know. Liz, did something happen last night that I don't remember?"

Liz grinned saucily and said, "Well, not really. But if you think that I'm ever letting you get away from me again, this side of eternity, think again buster."

Max chuckled. "Who am I to fight fate? Just wait for me to ask you before you start mailing invitations, okay?"

Liz nodded. "Done deal, Your Majesty."

Maria yawned. "Well, this has been more fun than we've all had in a while, but tomorrow is a school day for some of us. And I have an english paper sitting in my the computer waiting for me to finish it before bed." She looked at Michael. "Let's go Space-Boy, I for sure know that you've got homework you haven't finished.."

Michael slid out of their seat and then helped Maria out. Max and Liz slid out of their seat as well. Isabel slid her chair back and grabbed her jacket. Hugs and kisses were exchanged all round.

Before breaking her hug with Liz, Maria gave her an extra squeeze and whispered, "Be sure to remember who your friends are Chica, when you finally get to toss that bouquet."

Liz chuckled and nodded, then gave Maria a kiss on the cheek and let her go. Max stood with his arm around Liz as the others left. Then she let Max out the door and locked up. After taking a few minutes to bus their table and straighten up she headed upstairs to find Max already reclining on her bed.

"Comfy?" she asked.

Max rolled to his feet and closed the distance between them in a single step, pulling her close. "Did you mean what you said Liz?"

Liz went into mind talk mode. "~Did I mean what, handsome spaceman?~"

Max regarded her seriously. "~All bantering and baggage aside, you halfway promised to marry me tonight.~"

Liz snuggled closer and gave a sigh of contentment. "~I'm still processing the fact that you're with me again. But...yes, one day that is the logical end of all my hopes and dreams. Besides....(Liz's body shook gently with silent laughter)....I'd hate to waste all that time I spent practicing signing my name 'Elizabeth Evans'.~"

Max pulled back and cupped her chin, bringing her eyes up to meet his and gave her a kiss. "~I just wanted to be sure that I'd heard right. After everything you've been through because of us....because of me...~"

"~Has been worth it~," Liz cut him off. "~There were times in there where I thought I was losing myself and my sanity. *But*...(Liz pulled him close again)....this makes it worth it. What happened downstairs tonight, with the five of us, makes it worth it. *You* make it worth it. Any other questions, quandaries, or doubts Mr. Evans?~"

Max pulled her tightly to him. "~No, Future Mrs. Evans, none at all.~"

"~Good!~", Liz thought. "~Then you'd better scoot for home. Much as the idea of spending another night in your arms appeals to me...tomorrow is a school day. And I have some last minute stuff to deal with. And I'm sure that you do too.~"

Max looked at her steadily. "~We could just say the hell with it you know.~"

Liz smiled, but shook her head. "~No we can't, and you know it.~"

Max sighed. "~I suppose not.~" Then his face altered. "~Honey, before I'm out the door there is one thing I wanted to talk to you about. Actually I wanted both you and Maria in on it since it's, in part, your territory.~"

Liz looked puzzled. "~What Max?~"

Max pulled away and went over to set down on the bed. "~It's Isabel. I'm worried. The night after the Whitman's funeral she had a nightmare. A bad one. And she wouldn't talk about it. I doubt the subject of it would be tough to guess though. And last night when I checked on her she was whispering Alex's name in her sleep. We all miss Alex. And I think that Iz was finally falling in love with him, there at the end. But six months is long enough. Can you and Maria start prodding her a bit, girl style, to start at least opening up the the possibility of dating again?~"

Liz sighed as she slipped on to the bed next to Max. "~Love, we can try. But, if it were you and I, six months wouldn't be long enough. Six years maybe, just barely. But not six months. If nothing else we can get her to open up about that nightmare.~"

Max sighed. "~That would probably help. But I can't help thinking that we should start helping her get past this. I've been so wrapped up in how to fix you and I that I forgot that there are other walking wounded around here. I've been a lousy leader, but it stops now.~"

Liz elbowed him sharply. "~Stop that this instant! You have not been a lousy leader. Confused yes. But you've been playing a game where someone else has been setting the rules. Now you know better. Next time *you* set the rules. As for the rest, we'll work on Iz, but don't hope for much. Like I said, six months wouldn't be enough time for me.~"

Max stood up and pulled Liz up with him. "~Okay Liz, you're the doctor. Just let me know if there's anything that I can do to help out. Now I've stalled long enough. I'd better hit the road.~" He pulled her close and kissed her. He had meant it to be brief, not wanting to promise more than he could deliver, but she wasn't having any. Liz clung to him tightly, and forced the kiss deeper. Max responded in kind, his hands massaging her back and bottom, then moving up into her hair. Liz gave a slight whimper at his caresses then she pushed the kiss near to meltdown and held it there. After what could have been minutes, but felt like hours, the couple came up for air.

"~Wow~," Max said, even his mind voice sounded ragged. "~If we're always going to be like that, I'm going to need CPR some day!~"

Liz chuckled. "~Not to worry, I'll take some classes. By the way, the feeling is mutual!~"

Max grinned. "~Then we'll take those classes together.~" He gave her another quick kiss, pulling away before she could make more of it. "~Now I'm outta here before another kiss like that last one convinces me to stay the night again.~" Max gave her a last hug and she walked with him to the window. Once he was outside he turned to kiss her again. "~Sweet dreams Liz.~"

Liz sent him a wave of warmth and love. "~G'night Max. Sleep tight! I love you!~" Then he was gone. Liz closed and locked the window, then hurried to get ready for bed. She had homework to finish before lights out.

Same time....Michael's Apartment

Maria pulled to the curb to let Michael out. Michael opened his door and turned to Maria for a good night kiss, but paused when he saw her smirk.

"What?" he asked.

Maria chuckled. "It's you Spaceboy. I'm getting so I can read you like a book. You were scared to death back at the Crashdown. Petrified that I'd go all flaky on you, wanting a mind meld. Or whatever that is that Max and Liz did."

Michael regarded her solemnly. "Do you? If you do, we'll try for it." He sighed and smiled. "At this point I can't say no to *you*, no matter how much I might argue with Max or the others."

Maria leaned over, grabbed the back of his head, and kissed him hard. "No Michael. I don't. Not right now anyway. We aren't Max and Liz, and we don't have to do everything that they do, when they do it. If it comes, it comes when it comes. Not before. Lets just be open to it if it does. And if it doesn't, no regrets. Besides, you heard Liz, are you willing to go through the months of emotional turmoil they did to get there? I'm not. I'm happy with *now*. Let later take care of itself."

Michael regarded his lover with profound respect. Every time he thought he had her pegged, she would perform some new feat of emotional understanding and wisdom that would leave him breathless. Just how in the *hell* had he gotten so lucky in finding her, he wondered. Surely the odds were so high as to make the lottery look like a sure thing by comparison. Michael's face was a study in calm, but inside he was braying with laughter at himself. "Honest to God dimwit, if underestimating people were an Olympic event, you'd be a Gold Medalist." He looked at Maria and simply said, "Thank you, Pixie." Then he leaned in to kiss her. "Now you'd better go before you get my hormones going."

Maria nodded and leaned over for a last kiss. "G'night Spaceboy. And don't stay up to watch ESPN. Get your homework done and get to bed!"

Michael snorted. "Yeees, mooommy", he drawled.

Maria looked exasperated. Michael had already gotten out of the car and stooped to lean in and say a final goodnight. Grabbing the back of his head again she pulled him in for a thorough french kiss. Breaking the kiss she grinned. "Still think I'm you mom?"

Michael laughed. "No Maria, not unless I had a perv family. Night Pixie. You really know how to win an argument." Michael stepped away from the car as she pulled away with a brief toot of her horn. Then he shook his head in wonderment again as he turned to go in...and finish his homework before going to bed.

11:40 PM...The Evans Household

Isabel had prepped for bed in record time. Tomorrow she had to be up early to open the law office up. Philip Evans' junior partner was handling the firm's business while he and Diane were on their second honeymoon. And for some unknown reason, after years of doing without one, her father had decided that Isabel was the perfect person to be the firm's receptionist. Actually, she did know why he had done it.

After Alex's death she had been in limbo as to what to do with her life. Initially she had planned on college, but after Alex was gone everything had seemed pointless. Almost futile. So this was her father's way of giving her something to do that would occupy her mind and keep her engaged with life. She wondered again at the astounding good fortune that had delivered she and her brother to the right place at the right time in the nighttime desert of 1989 to be found by Philip and Diane Evans. It almost made you believe in divine providence.

But her reason for rushing tonight had nothing to do with work. She was anxious to continue probing at Alex for information on his situation. Willing or not. She doubted that she would get more than a few words out of him before she was shut out again. "Which reminds me," she thought, "I have to make a note to kick his butt for that once I've gotten my hands on him again." She was intensely curious now, as well as concerned. "Just what the hell happened to him that his current keepers think would be beyond the capacity of his friends to accept and understand? Alex for damn sure knows better. Which means that he was telling the truth. Whatever he's into is so dangerous that he won't risk it touching us."

Isabel sat on her bed with her yearbook open, studying his picture. "Alex," she said aloud, "you know I love you...but you're taking this self sacrifice thing too far. Liz was bad enough. We don't need *you* to throw yourself into the fire for us too. Not when you've already paid your dues there." Isabel sighed. "Flattering as it is, I'd rather have you *here* instead."

Isabel reached out and stroked his picture with one fingertip. The expected wave of distortion raced across the image and vanished. It was time. Isabel reclined on her bed, pulled the covers up, doused the light with a wave of her hand, and snuggled down to wait for sleep. As her eyes grew heavy she allowed herself a smile. "I'm coming for you Alexander Charles Whitman...ready or not."

With that, Isabel sighed herself into deep sleep. To sleep and perchance..to dream.

End Of Part 6

I'll be damned! I stayed awake long enough too......z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-.....

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 27-Aug-2002 11:08:33 AM ]
posted on 28-Aug-2002 5:38:19 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 7a
(Something Wicked This Way Comes)

THE DREAM STATE..........

When Isabel arrived in Alex's dream this time, she was standing in the vestibule of the building that housed the dojo. "This saves me some time," she thought. "But, now that I know this is Seattle, collecting a few street names while walking here wouldn't have hurt."

The clash of steel on steel caused her to turn towards the stairs leading up to the dojo. Thinking that Alex had another nightmare in progress Isabel hurried up the stairs. She slowed as she reached the top and she realized that, even if it were another bad dream, she couldn't interfere without making Alex aware of her presence again. As she approached the workout room she heard a curse and a thud. The voice doing the cursing was Alex's, so it kind of followed that the 'thud' must be.......

"Damnit Alex!", someone roared. "Just because this is sword work doesn't mean that you can't pay attention to your feet!" Then the voice continued in a quieter tone. "Look son, I know that you're tired, but the day may come when you *are* tired and facing a tough situation. You've got to have your reflexes honed to the point that that you can come up fighting, tired or rested, awake or asleep, anywhere, anytime, for any reason. Anything less and you won't live long."

Isabel heard all of this before peeking around the corner. The words chilled her, added to her forboding...and to her sense of urgency to get to the bottom of things. As well as her desire to get Alex the hell out of here. As she peered around the corner she saw Alex sprawled on the floor. Standing over him, sword in hand, was the pony tailed character from the cemetery dream last night. And, at the moment, he appeared to be more than a little concerned.

As Mr. Ponytail reached down to pull Alex to his feet, the a second figure stepped away from the wall of the room towards the pair. Isabel recognized him as 'Richie'. As he reached them he spoke. "Mac, you guys have been at this for 6 hours now. Don't you think that's enough?"

'Mac' glanced at Richie then turned back to Alex. "I don't know Richie." He turned to look at Alex. "Alex....this morning three students, none of whom should have been able to lay a glove on you, made you look like a fool on the mats because you were sleepy. Do you think this is enough?"

Isabel winced as she saw Alex hang his head. Clearly he was having problems with 'Mac' because he was exhausted from lack of sleep. And she knew very well why that was, even if Alex couldn't tell 'Mac'. She felt more than a little guilty that she wouldn't be able to let up on him tonight. Isabel promised him silently to make it up to him when this was over...after she kicked his ass for shutting her out to begin with.

Before the conversation could go on a new voice chimed in...from behind Isabel. "Is what enough!?"

Isabel leapt to the wall and tried to appear unobtrusive as a woman swept by her. A tall short haired brunette dressed in head to toe black. She held her breath until the woman had joined the others. Things like this were so unpredictable. Get caught in the open at the wrong time and the dreamer would notice you. After that, the only thing to do was pretend to be a part of the dream. And in Alex's case that wasn't going to work. He would be alert for any appearance she made in his dreams.

The way the woman moved reminded Isabel of a big cat. Come to think of it, all these people moved that way. Even Alex did now. To Isabel it was puzzling. If she had met these people before now in real life, she felt like they would have intimidated the hell out of her. She studied Alex again. What did that mean for him?

The newcomer moved between Alex and 'Mac', and gave 'Mac' a kiss of greeting, then she spoke again. "Is what enough?"

Mr. Ponytail sighed. "Alex had to short his training today because of lack of sleep. I was simply making the point that one day he may have to fight under the same conditions. And that pleading exhaustion won't save him then, only trained reflexes will."

The woman turned to study Alex. She reached out and gently forced his chin up so she could see his eyes. "Duncan", she said with some asperity, "look at his eyes. There are bags under them the size of steamer trunks. They're bloodshot to the point of looking like a road map. He should be in bed! You can pick this up tomorrow!"

Duncan sighed and looked at the clock. "Okay, one more round, then we'll call it quits." He paused and looked at the brunette. "So, any luck shopping?"

The woman shook her head and looked disgusted. "Nope, not a lick. And I was never one for bargain hunting either. I'll just be happy when we close escrow on this particular merchandise."

Isabel's eyes narrowed. His name was Duncan then. Mac *had* sounded an awful lot like a nickname. That would be filed for future reference. "What is with the subtext here?" she thought. "The brunette hottie is mothering Alex? And that conversation! Euphemisms much? These two haven't been around kids enough. They sounded like clueless parents trying to have a sex conversation over their kid's head. And judging from that momentary look on Alex's face, he knows exactly what they're trying to hide. And he isn't happy about it."

Duncan glanced at the woman and sighed. "So will I." He turned to Alex. "Now, let's finish this up. One more bout then you grab a snack, hit the showers, and get to bed. In that order."

Isabel grinned. "If the hottie is mama bear, I think I know who papa bear is."

As she watched, Duncan and Alex walked to opposite corners of a large square, marked off on the floor with tape. They both came to guard as Richie and the woman moved off to the side to watch. As Isabel watched they launched into a flurry of cuts and parries that had her thinking that perhaps the 'beautiful' quality of the fight in Alex's nightmare hadn't been fantasy driven after all. She'd never been into this sort of thing much, but this was bordering on being an art form. The only troubling aspect for her was that they appeared to be using real swords.

Suddenly Alex resolved the question for her as he stumbled while extended for a lunge, causing his sword to extend further than he had intended. And much further than Duncan had apparently expected, for he cursed as the tip of Alex's sword took him in the stomach. Alex finished falling then rolled over and scrambled to his feet. Richie and the brunette reached Duncan in less than a second. Duncan was holding pressure on the wound as he staggered to a bench next to a rack of free weights.

Alex was staring in horror at his sword. So was Isabel. There was blood on it. Starting at the tip and ending four to six inches back on the blade. Alex dropped the sword and dashed to where Duncan was sitting. Isabel walked over and looked at the sword. Yes, it was definitely blood, and a lot of it. There was more blood on the floor as well. And a considerable amount of blood stained Duncan's shirt, as well as the shirts that Richie and Alex had pulled off to improvise pressure bandages.

As she watched the brunette pulled up Duncan's shirt in back, apparently checking to see if the sword had passed through, while Richie and Alex took turns helping Duncan keep pressure on the wound. Isabel frowned. Something wasn't right here. They weren't *doing* anything. She would have expected at least *one* hysterical call to 911. Instead, they did nothing beyond the simplest first aid. And it wasn't long before she knew why. After a few minutes Duncan stood up and waved off his nursemaids. He pulled off his shirt and wiped at his abdomen where the sword had penetrated. There was no wound. Only a rapidly fading discoloration.

Isabel's heart seized up and she moved quickly away from the sword, out of the line of sight. There was only one sort of creature she knew of that healed like that. An alien. Her blood was running several degrees below zero and she had a ringing in her ears. But that didn't stop her from listening to what was happening.

Alex looked depressed and apologetic. As Duncan bent over to pick up Alex's sword, Alex spoke. "Oh man! Duncan, I'm sorry. I never meant...."

Duncan had straightened and was wiping off Alex's sword with what was left of his ruined shirt. As he did so, he cut Alex off. "Relax Alex. This isn't the first training accident that I've had. Or even the first training accident that *you've* had either. Granted it's no fun, but as injuries go it doesn't rate as badly as a shaving cut for your average man. Richie has done worse to me in the past. And Amanda has done *much* worse...deliberately."

The brunette hottie spoke up. "Oh really? When?" At that, everyone laughed.

Isabel felt she was missing something here, but wasn't exactly sure what. As it was, she was reaching information overload, bordering on panic. Whoever these people were, they were not human. Or at least the one named Duncan wasn't. And they were behaving as if Alex were one of them. Whether he was or not, they had him. And they were teaching him to fight. For who? For them? And why swords? Whatever was happening was beyond her. She needed more information....

*BLINK*

The dream setting had changed. She was standing in a hallway outside the open door of a large, if sparely furnished, bedroom. The only concessions to luxury seemed to be the enormous king sized bed and sitting in one corner was a desk and worktable loaded with tech gear. Two computers and assorted support hardware. The rest of the room was all second hand furniture, and quite shabby and spartan.

The sound of footsteps alerted her to someone's approach down the darkened hall, so she jumped through the door. Once in the room she looked around but there was no where to hide. The closet was too small. The bed was too low to get under. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. All she could do was stand in the shadows against a wall and try to imitate the wallpaper. Alex walked into the room wearing a towel wrapped around his waist and carrying his shaving gear. He had obviously just come from a shower. Once he closed the door he dropped his shaving kit, pulled off the towel, and finished drying his hair. Then he crawled into bed.

Isabel felt suddenly warm. She had trouble catching her breath. She was sure that she was blushing neon red from her scalp all the way to her toenails. The sight of Alex sans clothing had only lasted a few minutes, but it was enough to wake her hormones up and put them on the warpath. Alex was reclining with his arms under his head. With the covers only pulled up as far as his waist, this posture did interesting things to his muscles. From the abs, to the pecs and on up into the shoulders. Coupled with the wild boy look of his hair, it made him look positively edible.

Isabel started to become aware of a faint buzzing in her ears. She shook her head to clear it. She felt like a ditzy school girl. There was still enough of Isabel the Ice Queen in her to make her try and deny the obvious reaction she was having to Alex's physical appeal. When the rapid tattoo of her heart made it apparent that her efforts were getting no where, she groaned softly in frustration. That noise was her undoing.

Alex had been reaching for the bedside light when he stopped. He thought that he'd heard...... He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. "Damn", he thought. "Apple blossoms. She's here. How long has she been here?" He spoke aloud. "Allee allee outs in free! I know you're there Iz."

Isabel stepped away from the wall and into the circle of light cast by his bedside lamp. Alex sucked in his breath. " Oh my GOD, but she's beautiful", he thought. This was absolutely the last place where in he wanted to be alone with Isabel right now. Reading his own reactions right, he judged himself to be no more than a New York minute from doing something irreversibly stupid. So he stalled. "If this were my usual dream about you, you'd be wearing a lace teddy, and you would have cut to the chase by now."

Isabel smirked and sat down on the foot of the bed. "Alex, I've been in your dreams before. Not that I find your idea repulsive, quite the opposite, but I doubt that it's your 'usual'." She reached out and began to rub one of his feet through the covers. Alex felt high voltage arcing up his leg. She smiled sweetly and said, "You're simply too sweet a guy to make a habit of that."

Alex riposted sharply. "Generally I don't...not with just any girl. You however, are an exception to the rule." Alex noticed a wicked glint in her eyes and realized that he'd overplayed his hand.

Isabel's smile widened into a full out grin. And an evil grin at that. "Why Mr. Whitman, is that your way of saying that there's no other girl for you, but me?"

Her hand moved higher on his leg, causing a tactical nuke explode low in his belly. Alex swallowed hard. He had to stall long enough to find out how much she had seen. "Okay, you win. Isabel, just stop it or I'll have to force you out again."

Isabel relented. "It's a good thing you caved Alex. If you hadn't, my clothes were coming off next."

Alex shivered at the image presented. His blood was hammering at his temples, among other places. The idea was so tempting that it frightened him.

Isabel maintained her evil grin and continued. "But, regardless of the fact that you saved my dignity by caving, consider this a temporary stay of execution Mr. Whitman. We have larger issues to deal with at the moment."

"Here it comes," Alex thought. "Such as?" he asked aloud.

Isabel's eyes narrowed. "I saw quite a bit tonight Alex. I saw your little training accident. Who are Duncan, Richie, and Amanda? More importantly, *what* are they? Especially Duncan. And what are they to you?"

Alex winced. "Damn!" he thought. "Damn! Damn! Damn! I should have been more alert. She's seen way too much!" Alex sighed. "Would you accept that they're my friends and that I can't tell you anything else?"

Isabel pursed her lips and rolled her eyes. She didn't have to say a word. The unspoken 'As if!' was hanging there for anyone to see. And while Alex Whitman was far from blind, he was at a loss as to what the hell to do. The silence stretched interminably. Finally Isabel decided to force things, even if it meant getting booted out again.

"You know, I think I understand what Liz went through a little better now," she said.

Alex frowned a question.

Isabel smiled softly. "Back when Max wanted her but was still fighting it, I mean. I now know what it's like when the one you love is making all the decisions in your relationship. Deciding that it's okay if you're both miserable and apart, as long as he feels that he's keeping you safe."

Alex sighed. "Iz, if I had a choice I'd be home in a heartbeat. You have to know that! But I don't *have* a choice. The first hurdle would be making me officially undead. The second and higher hurdle is my...um..unique situation. I do not exaggerate when I tell you that just being around me could get one or more of you killed."

Isabel regarded him solemnly. "Big deal."

Alex blinked. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Isabel looked irritated. "It means what it says. Big hairy freakin' deal! Once you, Maria, and Liz knew about us, you could have bolted. You didn't. Each of you made a choice to be with us." Isabel's voice softened with the wonder of it and she repeated herself haltingly. "To...be...with...us." Then she continued in a more normal tone. "You three didn't hesitate for an instant. You threw yourselves into what turned out to be a months long nightmare carnival ride of fear, danger, and near death experiences. And you did it despite our efforts to stop you and force you away. And if you really think about it, once Max healed Liz, the die was cast. You were all in danger simply by association. Liz was in danger because Max healed her. You and Maria were in danger because you were Liz's friends. And you would have been in danger whether you were with us or not. But at the time we couldn't see that, and you didn't care anyway. I treated you like crap and you stayed anyway. Ready to jump in anytime, for anything." She looked at him with narrowed eyes. "Don't you think that *we*, your friends, have the right to make the same choice with regard to you? Whatever the stinkin' secret is, it can't be any bigger or badder than what we've already handled together!"

Alex looked uncertain. He was wavering. Isabel could see it.

"But the others don't know Iz," he said, "they don't have all the information to make an informed choice...and neither do you."

Isabel shrugged. "That's easily solved. Or it would be if you'd tell me WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!"

Alex jerked at her tone, then his face hardened. "No, I'd rather face this alone and know that all of you are safe. Once I tell you, there is no choice. Because I'll have made it, for all of us. You may have the right to choose, but I don't. Not anymore. If it comes to it, I'd rather die than have this to touch your lives."

Isabel lost it. She jumped to her feet. Tears compounded of equal parts of fear and fury began to trickle down her cheeks. She was shaking. "YOU SELFISH BASTARD!" Alex jerked at the explosion and tried to speak, but Isabel cut him off. Mount Isabel was in full eruption and there was no stopping her now. "Is that what this is about?!! You being afraid how you'll feel if one of us gets hurt, because you didn't keep us away?!! Weren't you listening at all, you idiot!??" Alex tried to speak again, but again she overrode him. "I admitted that WE were wrong to shut you, Liz, and Maria out..just because of the danger involved to both you AND to us! Because WE were AFRAID! And you sit there and try to pull the same crap, for the same reasons??!! What is this? Some sort of bizarre pay back?!"

Isabel scrubbed angrily at her tears with the back of her hand. She placed her hands on her hips and glared at Alex. "I swear, if I didn't love you so much, I'd kill you myself for putting me through this! Listen up Alex Whitman, and listen well! When I thought you were dead, it felt like the best part of me had been amputated! I kept waiting for something to happen, for the grieving to pass! But it never did, because deep inside me some part of me knew that you weren't dead! I knew you were out there! I FELT you and never realized it! But, I REALIZE it NOW! You and I are bound, every bit as much as Liz and Max or Maria and Michael are! If something happens to you, I'll know it! If you do something stupid, like get careless with your life because you see your death as the best way to protect us...I'll KNOW it! And I'll follow you! Do you UNDERSTAND me Alex Whitman!? I'll be right BEHIND you, headed into the afterlife. I will NOT be left behind AGAIN!!" She glared at him through her drying tears, her heart heavy with hopeless anger and fear. "Believe it!"

Alex felt like he'd stepped off over his head into some very deep, very cold water. One thing he had to say about Isabel. She doesn't mince words. And she doesn't bluff either. The small spark of panic that had been flickering in him since her first appearance in his dreams flared into a full out inferno of fear and anger at the very thought of what she had just threatened. Panic is not a good thing for someone trying to sleep. He was trying to reach out to her when.....

*BLINK*



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 28-Aug-2002 5:41:42 AM ]
posted on 28-Aug-2002 5:48:05 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 7b
(Something Wicked This Way Comes)

Monday 12:10 AM....McCleod's Dojo

The first thing that Alex became aware of was pain. His elbow, his head, and his tailbone. "OWW!!" he howled. He was half awake as he thrashed and struggled against an invisible enemy. As he continued to fight he heard the clatter and crash of something hitting the floor. At that sound his sleep fogged senses cleared and he realized what was happening. He had tumbled out of bed, he was fighting with his covers, and unless he missed his guess...he'd just broken his clock radio.

Cursing quietly he struggled out of his covers and paused, seated on the floor with his back against the bed, to let his heart beat and breathing slow. By the time he felt composed enough to put his bed back together and crawl into it, no one had come to check on him. So he assumed that any noise he had made had passed without notice. Before going to bed he checked the clock radio. Sure enough, it was history. Duncan granted him a small weekly allowance, most of which he saved since room and board were provided for in exchange for doing grunt work around the dojo. Tomorrow he'd have to take some of it and get a new clock radio.

Ever since he'd come awake enough to realize he was on the floor, his last encounter with Isabel had played and replayed in his mind. Looking at the phone next to his computer he'd never been more tempted in all the last six months than he was that instant. It shouldn't have ended that way. "I wonder if it's a human/alien thing," he asked himself. "I wish I could talk to Maria and Liz. How can she piss me off, scare the crap out of me, AND cause me to love her...with equal intensity and at the same time? Is it like this for Liz and Maria, with Max and Michael?" Alex sighed as he settled back to sleep. "Now that I think about it, I suppose it is." He grinned as he flexed his fist, recalling the time he'd belted Michael in the mouth. "Wonder how I'd do now?" he thought as he tried to relax enough to sleep. It wasn't going well.

Alex sighed deeply and then settled into his breathing exercises. He willed himself to sleep, but it wouldn't come. After only a few minutes of it he felt like he was going to explode. Or implode. Either way, he had to get out of here and walk this off. Having made his decision he quickly rose and dressed. He paused in thought then nodded to himself. Opening his small closet he drew out his duster and sword. Slinging the sword high he pulled on the duster and checked himself in the mirror. He chuckled quietly. "I guess you could say I'm dressed to kill. I just hope it works the other way. That I'm dressed not to BE killed."

His inspection finished, Alex drew on Amanda's stealth lessons and moved silently through the dojo. As he approached the hallway that led into Duncan's loft he slowed to a crawl and listened. He heard nothing but uninterrupted snores. One set masculine, one set feminine. Alex grinned. "Does Amanda know that she snores I wonder?" Moving slowly Alex passed the hallway and then picked up the pace until he hit the street. It was raining. Not hard, but steadily. The air felt heavy. It was misty. Alex paused and looked around. The street was quiet. At this time of night there was no foot traffic, and vehicle traffic was low. Alex set off down the street in the general direction of the waterfront. He had a destination in mind, and it was only a few blocks away.

To anyone watching he was lost in the mist and rain in moments. As it happened, someone WAS watching. The unseen watcher chuckled to himself as children's rhymes about spiders and flies danced in his head. He smiled at his unbelievable luck. Usually, at this time of night, he would be curled up with a bottle of Johnny Walker Black. But every so often he would assume a vigil on top of an empty storefront up the block from the dojo, on the off hand that something interesting might happen. And, lo and behold, something had. The fates had delivered the newbie to him on a platter!

Still smiling a feral smile, Rafe Conterras abandoned his post on top of the old storefront and moved towards the roof fire escape. He had no idea where the newbie was headed, but this was like a gift from heaven as far as he was concerned. He anticipated no trouble tracking him, but if he lost him...so what. There was always tomorrow, and that was what the hunt was all about. Moving with an innate stealth Conterras set off down the opposite street, paralleling Alex's course. Tracking in for the kill.

The loft of Duncan McCleod...a few minutes earlier

After Alex moved past the short hallway the snores stopped. Amanda sighed. "He's getting better. If I hadn't known he was coming, I'd never have heard him at all."

Duncan snorted. "I would have." He gave a loud 'OOF!' as Amanda's elbow connected with his ribs.

"Now what?" she asked.

Duncan sighed. "Now one of us follows him to make sure he gets back in one piece, then the other gets to ream him for going out alone."

Amanda nodded. "So who does which job?"

Duncan chuckled. "We cut cards?"

Amanda shook her head. "Too much trouble. Rock, paper, scissors. It's raining out. The loser gets wet."

Accordingly they raised their fists and counted the beat. Duncan showed scissors. Amanda showed rock. She smiled happily and rolled over. "I'm going back to sleep. Wake me when you get back." Then she squawked, because as Duncan swung his feet out of bed he leaned back and swung the flat of his hand to connect solidly with her rump. Amanda snap rolled onto her back and glared. "I'm going to try and pretend that didn't happen, because if I happen to remember it when you get back...you're sleeping on the floor. Now stop clowning around! If Conterras is out there and reaches Alex before you do, your life won't be worth living. I'll make it my mission in life."

Duncan jumped to his feet and hurriedly dressed without turning on the light. At his age and experience he could dress in the dark without a problem. If need be he could handle it blindfolded and standing on his head. Centuries of living on yellow alert had given him an edge. There was nothing more embarrassing than being taken by surprise in the middle of the night and having to fight buck naked. So his clothes and weapon were always close at hand when he slept. The reason for his speed had as much to do with Alex's safety as it did with Amanda's threat. Though a threat from Amanda was not to be despised for it's power to motivate.

Thus it was that Duncan hit the street just as Alex was vanishing into the clouds of suspended mist shrouding the city. Duncan hurried after him. Straining his ears until he caught sight of his young student half a block ahead. After that he stayed well back from him, trailing him in the very ragged edge of visibility. Speeding up when the mist was thick, slowing when it thinned out. He had no idea what had disturbed his pupil's sleep, but both he and Amanda had awakened to Alex's shout at the same time.

Duncan had been outside his door in seconds, sword in hand. But rather than burst in he had listened. It was time to have the boy start standing on his own two feet...or least have him think that he was. Because, with Conterras cruising Seattle like a starving shark on a blood scent, the day may be coming when his student would need that confidence to save his life. So Duncan listened until he heard Alex begin to move about the room purposefully. Duncan knew the telltale sounds that accompanied someone getting dressed. He had turned and hurried back to bed, arriving in time to alert Amanda and settle back in feigned sleep.

As he moved along behind Alex he stretched out his senses, honed by centuries as both the hunter and the hunted, seeking any trace that someone else might be shadowing Alex. Someone with less pure motives. He couldn't detect anything. But that meant nothing. Conterras' dossier from The Watchers hinted at the fact that the man made rat look like a bumbling amateur at slinking by unnoticed, buzz or no buzz. They'd come eight blocks when Alex stopped, then walked into the well lighted building across the street from him. "The bus station?" Duncan pondered. "He wouldn't run. Not now. He knows that his training isn't complete. And he for damn sure knows that there's no going home. But something has been plaguing the boy the last few days, if his performance is anything to go by. Something more than the funeral,"

Duncan cut across the street and approached the bus station along the adjacent store fronts. As he passed the alley between the right side of the station and the last store front his 'friend or foe' radar came to quivering alert. There was a hostile around. His 'radar' wasn't as good as the buzz when it came to detecting trouble coming, but it had never truly failed him. And it had only played him false a few times over the centuries, and all that had lead to was some embarrassing incidents. In Duncan's book, being embarrassed occasionally was much better than being a head shorter once. So he paid attention to the alarm sounding in his hind brain. The place where, in all humans, the wild animal still resides. Where instinct rules. He made a dash to the right wall of the bus station and froze next to a dumpster and listened. Nothing. But Conterras was here somewhere. He was as certain of it as he'd ever been about anything in his life.

His initial impulse was to march into the nearly vacant bus station, drag Alex out by the scruff of his neck, and make a strategic withdrawal. He stifled it. For the same reason that he hadn't charged into Alex's bedroom earlier. To build the kid's confidence. This was riskier, but it was a carefully calculated risk. He was betting Alex's life that, should Conterras show his face, he could reach Alex before the butcher could.

Duncan shook himself free of his reverie began to find a position from which to wait things out. He found it on the left side of the bus station, next to a parked bus. That side was well lighted, with a mostly empty parking lot for cars and offloading buses, and the whole side of the station was glass. Floor to ceiling glass. Doors and windows alike. Aside from an occasional structural support column, his view was unobstructed. And most importantly, he was close enough to observe, yet far enough away not to set off 'the buzz'. As he settled in to wait it out he kept his senses wound up to maximum.

Scanning the inside of the station for Alex he found him easily, for he was in plain sight. "At a *pay phone*?" Duncan mused. "Who the hell would he be calling at this time of night? And why?" Duncan frowned. This was trouble in the making. He was certain of it. "One thing for sure. When I get him home and tell Amanda, his goose is cooked. She'll take her job as the designated reamer VERY seriously. It was the mother hen in her coming out." At that Duncan grinned. He knew who would be on the mats with Alex tomorrow.

The Evans Household...12:50 AM

Isabel was slowly going out of her mind. She had tried to settle down and get to sleep after being abruptly ejected from Alex's dream, but she wasn't having any luck. She was too scared. She was frightened of what was happening in Seattle. Of what MIGHT happen in Seattle. Of what was GOING to happen in Seattle. The repeated dream walks were starting to give her a stronger sense of Alex. Of what he was feeling. And what she was getting now was worrying her. A constant background buzz of anxiety that, for want of a better term, felt something like what a rabbit might feel if he knew there was a hawk around that he couldn't see. Alex was
afraid, but fighting it.

She had meant her last threat. To join him in death if he did something stupid, like allowing himself to be killed without a fight...simply to end this before it endangered her or the others. "Bullshit!" she thought. "Anything that dangerous we're SUPPOSED to share. We're MEANT to share. If he can't see that, then I'll have to pin him down and bully him until he does." Isabel paused, then grinned. "Or perhaps pinning him down and wriggling a bit would work better. Because I certainly had his engine racing earlier. I don't think it would have taken much....." Isabel's internal dialogue was cut off abruptly by a faint trilling sound.

Isabel frowned and stood up...listening as the trilling went on and on. "Shit! My cell phone!" She lunged at her purse and dug into it, pulling out the ringing cell phone. She stared at the chirping phone with a mixture of hope and dread.

"Who would know that I was awake at this hour? Who would know my number?"

She knew that Alex had committed it to memory back when they had first dated. But would he still remember ,it after all this time? Yes, of course he would. Unable to put it off any longer she answered the call..."Hello?" she said in a small voice.

There was silence on the line for a moment. Then the the sound of someone clearing their throat, followed by a soft low and very familiar voice...heavy with emotion. "Isabel?"

Isabel felt her knees start to go rubbery, and she sat down heavily on the bed. She felt like there was a weight on her chest so heavy that she could barely breathe. This wasn't a dream. And it wasn't a dream walk. Alex, very real and very alive, was on the other end of the phone. This was real! She began to tremble so badly that her voice came out in a stutter. "A-A-Alex?"

The same low voice answered. "Yeah Izzy, it's me. I just couldn't go back to sleep. I couldn't leave things the way they were between us."

With that, Isabel's reserve cracked. The damn broke. The pressure in her chest had to find an outlet. And it did. She began to sob as the emotions, that she'd rigidly held in check since Saturday, burst loose.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 28-Aug-2002 5:57:16 AM ]
posted on 28-Aug-2002 6:10:46 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 7c
(Something Wicked This Way Comes)

Seattle, Washington Bus Terminal...Same Time

The terminal was clean and quiet. Except for two winos staying out of the rain, there wasn't a soul in sight. The night custodian had long since finished his job and was sacked out in a store room. And the night manager was following the route of self supervised night workers the world over who have no work at the moment. He had retired to catch some shuteye right next to the custodian until the next bus came in. The place would have looked abandoned if it weren't for the presence of very one nervous and worried looking young man at the pay phone bank along the back wall.

Alex stood at the pay phone and listened to the woman he loved break down into tears. This was a far cry from the Ice Princess of old. And he felt like a total louse. He let her cry for a bit until her sobs began to wind down, then he tried to restart the conversation. "Isabel? Honey?" The sobs at the other end slowed further as Isabel seemed to be bringing herself under control. Though she was still gulping back the occasional sniffle, and when she finally spoke though it was very clear that she was still a long way from being happy.

"Alex Whitman! What makes you think you have the right to 'Honey' me?! After what I've been through the last two days?! Two days hell, the last six months! You son of a bitch! How dare you pretend to be dead? How could you do this to me? To all of us? What about Liz and Maria? Yes, and Michael and Max too! Do you have any idea how guilty we've felt about the fact that one of our own 'murdered' you?" Isabel's control started to slip a little, but her anger trailed off somewhat as she became plaintive. "Alex? Come home. Please? Or let us come and get you, before this whatever it is you're into gets you killed?"

Alex sighed deeply. "It isn't that simple Iz. This isn't something I'm 'into', it's more something that's into ME. I can't explain it better than that. All I can tell you is that until I'm better trained, I'm a living lightening rod. Trouble will come to me whether I like it or not. And unless I can defend myself I'm a liability. A liability that could cost the people I love their lives!"

The pendulum of Isabel's oscillating emotions swung back towards anger. "That's bullshit! Better trained to be WHAT? A killer?"

Alex's voice took on a note of grimness she'd never heard before. "Yes, if need be. Though I like to think of it more as becoming a warrior. I won't go looking for trouble. But, from now on, and for as long as I live, trouble will come looking for me."

Isabel's emotional storm subsided to a dull roar in her heart and mind. "So what? I'm supposed to play Penelope to your Odysseus? Guess again buster. Whatever you're up to you have to be able to handle here as well as you can there, with us to back you up! Come home!"

Alex was silent for a while, so long that Isabel started to be afraid that she had angered him. When he finally spoke, she discovered it wasn't anger that stilled him. It was grief.

"Home to what Iz? Yes, I would have you and the others, but this isn't something you can fix with a little molecular manipulation. I was dead. My life is gone. Everything I had. Everything I owned. Just gone. In a sense the only thing I own now is the suit I had on when they planted me... and that's all torn up. Even my parents are *dead* Iz. Even if I came home the chances are really damned thin that I could salvage my former life. What would I do? Hang around, living on what I could sponge off of you guys...until someone happened to see me who knows that NO ONE should be seeing me at all? Then all hell would break loose and you know it! I don't think you want that kind of attention Iz."

Isabel was growing desperate. "We'll work something out! Brody would help. He has the money, the skills, and the contacts."

Alex sounded puzzled. "Brody? Isn't that a touch risky? Bringing in an outsider?"

Isabel winced. In updating Alex she'd clearly missed a few things. "Um, he's not an outsider. Not anymore. After you..um, left us...Amy DeLuca and Brody both started showing signs of breakdown due to Tess' mind warp. Their minds were literally coming apart at the seams. The only thing we could do is tell them. We had to if we were going to help. Max, Michael, and I had made up our minds that no innocent bystanders were going to suffer because of us."

Alex was silent for a moment. "And it worked?"

Isabel spoke with some temper. "Yes it worked and you're ducking the issue. Brody has the money and the means to bring you home and rebuild your life. I know he does. So, come home!"

Alex was silent. When he spoke again it was in a dull monotone that reminded her of Liz the other night. "Isabel..it's...just...not...that...easy. Things are different now."

Sitting on her bed in Roswell, Isabel could feel him out at the far end of the wispy emotional tether between them that seemed to be growing stronger every day, binding them ever closer together. Making a mental note to talk to Liz about her own bond with Max she paused in thought. She could feel his borderline acquiescence, his willingness to talk, and decided to go for broke.. She hesitated a moment, then she gave the gentlest of verbal shoves. "Different how?"

Alex glanced around the bus terminal and then fed some more money into the pay phone, rather than risk interruption. Taking a deep breath he decided to give her some information while carefully skirting the core truth. But first he had a request. "Isabel, before I answer that, could you do me a favor?"

Isabel sensed victory, but stifled any rejoicing to concentrate on the issue at hand. Trying to make light of the moment she asked playfully, '"Are you trying to come up with something that I'd actually say no to? If so, it won't work. For you? Anything. Anything at all."

Alex wasn't stupid. He knew he was being played with. And it pleased him to let her get away with it, because he HAD missed this. He had missed *her*. So he skipped a comeback and cut to the chase. "Try to check my birth records. Be careful and thorough because I'm betting the truth is hidden. I'm betting on something that my folks never told me."

Isabel frowned in puzzlement. "What would that be??"

Alex glanced nervously around the bus terminal again. "That, like you, I'm adopted."

Back in Roswell Isabel jumped to her feet and started to pace. She hadn't seen this coming. "Are you leading up to telling me that you're an alien too? If so, don't. Don't tell me something that I KNOW isn't the truth Alex! If you were one of US your blood never would have passed inspection at the hospital when Max was hurt!"

Alex sighed. "I don't know what I am. Or rather I do know what I am, I simply don't know where people like me come from. But one thing is certain. It isn't out of incubation pods! No Isabel, I'm not an alien. At least not in the sense that You, Max, and Michael are. But as different as you are from say Liz, I'm just as different from both of you....now. I always was, I simply didn't know it. My kind come into this world as foundlings. Every one of us. Abandoned babies with no biological parents that can be found. We look human. We grow up human. We're identical to humans. We ARE human until we're....changed..." He trailed off. This was getting perilously close to the central truth. And he'd rather break THAT news face to face!

Isabel had collapsed onto her bed again. This was a LOT to take in. Even so, she kept pushing. "Changed how? By what?"

Alex was quiet for a long time. "Iz, what do you think happened to me six months ago?"

Isabel was at a loss now. "I don't know," she said faintly.

Alex gave a grim laugh. "C'mon Iz, it's ok. You can say it. I died."

Isabel's head started to spin. Without prompting Alex continued.

"I got curious and hacked the coroner's report. Morbid I know, but I couldn't help it. They don't come much more dead than I was. Even if I hadn't died of a cerebral hemorrhage BEFORE the crash, I certainly never would have survived the crash itself. Skull fractured. Multiple broken bones, lacerations, and internal injuries. Knowing you guys, you tried to have Max heal me. To do that he had to SEE me. What did he say?"

Isabel's ears were ringing now. She had wanted information. Now she had it, but it was too overwhelming. From far away she heard Alex's question, and from equally far away she heard herself answer. "He didn't say anything. He wouldn't. He simply got out of the coroner's van without you and we knew. What would have been the POINT of saying anything. At that point I couldn't have stood much more anyway!"

Alex heard the stress in her tones, and more than that it was like he could *feel* how close to the edge she was. He didn't understand it, he simply followed the instincts that Duncan's training had brought to the surface. Always trust your gut, it will never play you false. He decided then and there to withhold the critical piece of information until they were together again...if they ever were. He was about to speak again when he suddenly froze.

The Evans Household....1:00 AM

Isabel was still trying to overcome her mental vertigo and speak again when the shock wave hit. Far away in Seattle Alex was suddenly terrified. His emotions were so powerful and sharp that she had the sharp copper taste of fear in her own mouth. Something was happening. She ignored her dizziness and leaped to her feet clutching the cell phone in a death grip. "Alex! What's happening?! Alex?!!"

Seattle Bus Terminal....Same Time

Alex stood frozen as the eerie creeping electric chill of "the buzz' worked it's way through his body. An Immortal was near. And he was damned certain that he wasn't lucky enough for it to be one of his friends. Not at this time of night. He had been followed! "Damn! Damn!! DAMN!!" he thought. He turned towards the glass windows facing the parking lot, his senses at full tingling alert now. He became aware that Isabel was shouting at him over the phone. Keeping his eyes alertly on the lot he spoke. "Iz, I have to go. NOW!" Despite his efforts to talk to her she continued to shout into her phone and demand an explanation.. And he simply couldn't spare the time and attention. Cursing himself and his luck he slammed the receiver back onto its cradle and spun away, stepping towards the double doors with his hand under his duster on the pommel of his sword.

Outside still observing from next to the bus at the far end of the lot, Duncan was on full alert. He had seen Alex slam the phone down abruptly and spin away to face the doors with his hand on his sword. And there was no mistaking his posture. He was on battle alert. The lad had sensed something. Duncan moved along the side of the bus away from the station to stand at the other end, thus improving his view of the rear of the building. If it was Conterras, and it very likely was, then his two best chances of attack were the rear, or the roof. Duncan cursed. "Unless of course there's a back door to that place!" he thought. As he watched Alex remained in place, scanning the lot. Duncan sighed in frustration. "Come on Alex, come on! Come outside! Don't let the bastard get behind you, if he can! Bait him in!"

A moment later Alex left his position in the terminal waiting room and answered Duncan's unheard request by moving outside. He stopped just outside the door, the moved to the right, towards the street, and waited in the shadow of one of the supports of the breezeway connecting the parking lot to the terminal. It was still raining slightly, so the shelter was welcome. The sense that he was being stalked was still there, but he still had no clue where his hunter was. Which made him less than happy. He was scared to death, but suppressing it. The white noise of rain fall masked sounds, and the water already of the ground dampened any noises that might have been made there.

The minutes ticked by as all the parties involved in the little life and death poker game were trying to outwit each other. As you might have expected, Conterras' patience folded first.

Alex was so tightly strung that he wanted to scream when he heard a scrabbling sound that he couldn't place at first. Then he heard a thud towards the rear of the terminal building as a body hit the ground.

It was Conterras. He had lain in wait on the roof, trusting "the buzz" and his mere presence to drive the newbie into a panicked run. Experience had taught him that once you get them running, they were easier to kill. They'd exhaust themselves and be unable to fight, and their fear would sap their ability to make an organized defense. But this kid had the patience of a clam. He had grown more irritable with each passing minute. "I should be back in bed by NOW!" he muttered. "How dare this little cabrone keep me awake for longer than it takes to shorten him?" Finally his patience snapped and he made the short drop from the terminal roof to the ground, letting his knees collapse on impact and going into a shoulder roll to take up the momentum.

When he bounced to his feet the last thing he expected was to see Alex with his sword out at the ready. He'd expected the kid to still be cowering somewhere in the terminal. Perhaps in the ladies room. Somewhere from which Rafe would have to pry him before taking his head. Now though he paused. He didn't think the kid could be a serious challenge, but all his immortal life he'd done things the easy way. Why change that now? He paused just a little too long, because a moment later he felt "the buzz" accompanied by a shout and the sound of running feet could be heard before being overwhelmed by the roar of the incoming inter-urban bus from Eugene.

Duncan saw Conterras drop off the roof and cursed. He was already moving across the lot at a run before "The Angel of Death" rolled to his feet. He shouted for Alex to back away, but he was drowned out by the roar of a big diesel engine as a North bound bus rolled in to disgorge passengers from Oregon, California, and points South. Thus the encounter was halted before it began. Immortals don't conduct their business well in a crowd.

Duncan reached Alex, who had sheathed his sword as soon as the bus rolled in. Conterras had never even drawn his. Neither had Duncan. So, from all appearances, they were simply three men in long coats having a conversation. As the noisy passengers came through the breezeway into the terminal, Duncan and Alex moved to the side into the still gently falling rain, and out of earshot of those entering the terminal. Rafe Conterras matched their movement by backing away.

Looking at Alex, Conterras laughed. "You got lucky cabroncito. Had the bus been a few minutes later those passengers would have been greeted by your headless corpse."

Duncan glared. "You know the rules. He's my student. To challenge him you have to get through me first."

Conterras laughed again. "Ah, but you have to be there to take the challenge McCleod. And you can't be everywhere at once. In fact I have it on good authority that it won't be too long before you aren't anywhere at all. Sooner or later I'll shorten him. Why make this hard? Look after your own life." He looked at Alex. "What do you say you introduce me to that chica that was at your parents funeral in Nueva Mejico? What was her name? Isabel? Ai! What a girl! Don't worry cabroncito I promise that after I finish with you, I'll put a smile on her face that will last her the rest of her life! Which, come to think of it, shouldn't be more than a few minutes after I'm done with her." Conterras drew his finger across his throat theatrically.

Alex snarled and would have charged him then and there if Duncan hadn't put a hand on is shoulder. Addressing Conterras he said, "Whatever you know, or whatever you've heard, forget it. People have tried to take my head for centuries. I'm still here. And while I'm here, my pupil and everyone associated with him are under my protection. Mess with them and I'll make you a personal project of you! But, if you want to do this the right way, I'll meet you. Anywhere, anytime."

Conterras grin never left his face. He waved his fingers in a latin gesture of negation. "No no my friend. I make it a policy never to do things the hard way. That honorable combat crap is not for me! All I have to do is be patient. As I said, you have problems enough. Sooner or later this child will be mine. Until then a bid you good chances." As he turned to go he beamed another smile Alex's way. "One thing cabroncito? Is she your sister? Or your girlfriend? I like to know who I'm ravishing."

Alex snarled again, but Conterras had already spun away into the darkness. In a blink he was gone. Alex spun on Duncan. "What the hell are we waiting for??!! You heard what he said! Let's go!"

Duncan shook his head. "That blowhard won't try anything with the girl while you live. He's too much of a coward to do anything else. And besides, while I might catch him, you have no experience at this kind of night chase. So I'd have to leave you behind. There would be nothing to prevent him from doubling back and trying to take your head while I was chasing a false trail. Even money says that he's out there right now, watching for that very thing. What I'm really waiting for is an explanation for YOU! What the hell were you thinking of? Who was so important that your call couldn't wait? Or that you couldn't be make it from within the dojo?"

Alex blinked. "I can't tell you."

Duncan looked stern. "Can't? Or won't?"

Alex looked sorry, but stuck to his guns. "Can't."

Duncan stared at him a moment, then he shrugged. "All right, have it your way. This isn't over. I'm sure Amanda will have some words for you when we get home. Let's go!"

Now that Alex's adrenaline was winding down he was aware of an uncomfortable feeling of panic in the back of his mind that just wouldn't fade. At first he put it down to the thought of facing Amanda's wrath. But it didn't feel like that at all. He pondered it for a moment as he and Duncan made their way back to the dojo. Then he thought back to that gut feeling about Isabel's state of mind when he was talking to her. Without questioning he followed his instincts and began to think soothing thoughts. Clearing his mind of conflict and worry. Without words he touched the panic and said, "I'm okay and I love you." Whether it was really Isabel or not, the feeling seemed to relax and vanish from his mind. He hoped that she was okay. Having dealt with that he recalled Conterras' threat. And remembered who he had threatened and gave a grim chuckle.

Duncan heard him laugh, but he was in no mood for humor. Glaring at his pupil he said, "And just what do you find so funny about this?"

Alex shrugged. "It just hit me that it would almost be worth it."

Duncan looked puzzled. "What would be worth it?"

Alex laughed but shook his head, preferring to keep his thoughts to himself. "It would almost be worth it," he thought, "to let that jerkoff take my head. So I could stand up in the hereafter and watch what happens to him when he tries to make good on his threat against Isabel. You'd be able to bury what would be left in a thimble. If there's any woman on Earth that's one hundred percent rape proof, it's Isabel." Alex chuckled again and shook his head. When Duncan tried to pry an explanation out of him he refused.

Duncan stared at him a moment longer and then picked up the pace. It was still raining and he wanted to salvage *some* sleep before dawn. Answers could wait until morning. He didn't know that his thoughts of the moment closely matched those that a certain teenage reincarnation of an alien king was having at the moment in Roswell , NewMexico...after his sister's screams had dragged him from a sound sleep for the second time in three days.

Duncan and Alex hurried on into the night. Tomorrow was another day. And Max was thinking THAT too.

End Of Part 7



[ edited 3 time(s), last at 28-Aug-2002 6:25:42 AM ]
posted on 28-Aug-2002 6:28:32 AM
Asabetha There! Happy now? *tongue* If "blink" bothers you, then the last word in chapter 9 will cause all of you to drag me out and beat me to death with a shovel. *big*

Laters Folks.....
posted on 28-Aug-2002 11:23:51 AM
Rim I suppose that you could call it the evil cliffhanger from hell. *big*
posted on 30-Aug-2002 12:47:33 AM
Thanks for the feedback folks. Welcome to the new folks who just found me...I'm glad that you're digging my story. Be aware though...when I run out of finished material the wait is going to get loooong. Ask any of the folks from Jessi's board. They've been waiting all summer on part 12.

Trude I'm workin' on it Hon', honest. I'm in rewrite hell. I scrapped a lot of material and rewrote, only to have my wife point out a problem....so I'm rewiting yet again...which I will turn to after I post this part for these good folks. Promise. *wink*

Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

Author's Note: It has been called to my attention that some of my readers are "Highlander" challenged. That being the case, a reminder about Cassandra. She has a bad history with Methos. A better history with Duncan. She's a couple millennia old. She practices a form of magic. The key in this is "Voice". All her dialog in Voice mode will appear in Bold Double Quotes. As in...""Dialog"". When she speaks to you in Voice you cannot help but obey. Now, enjoy troops!



STILL YOURS - Part 8a
(Revelations)

The Evans Household....9:00 AM Monday Morning

A bleary eyed Max Evans snapped awake and realized that he'd fallen asleep eating breakfast. For the second time that morning. His first thought of "Oh shit I'm late for school!" subsided when he remembered that he had taken the day off to look after Izzy. His second was that he'd just had another near miss with going face first into a bowl of Cheerios, milk, sugar, and tabasco sauce. He gave a melancholy sigh as he thought about the reason for his exhaustion. If Friday night's nightmare had been bad, last night's was a 10 on the Richter scale. Isabel had been borderline hysterical most of the time, with occasional forays across the border into total lala land. After a while though, just as her hysteria reached it's height, something had happened. It was like some invisible emotional rubber band had snapped back. She had calmed down and fallen asleep almost immediately. She was still sleeping. Max had stayed up the rest of the night, standing watch over her. And he was genuinely frightened.

"~Max, are you ready to tell me what's wrong?~," came the soft, but very welcome voice in his head.

Max had contacted Liz this morning via their newly minted telepathic connection and told her that he was staying home from school, asking her to catch a ride with Maria. She had sensed his tension and worry, but had let him alone when he promised to tell her what was wrong later.

Max sighed. "~Where are you? Some place that we can talk without your being distracted or interrupted? It's a long story.~"

Liz giggled mentally. "~I'm in the eraser room, missing my big handsome spaceman. It beats early study hall. If we didn't have a test in honors chemistry today I'd have cut school completely to be with you.~"

Max shook his head ruefully. "~Sweetheart, I'm a bad influence on you! Tell me honestly, did you ever in your life cut school until I came along?~"

Max felt a wave of tenderness backed by impatience from Liz. "~No Love, but then I never had a reason to. Until you came along. And if you hadn't come along I'd never have had the chance at all, because I'd be dead! And you're trying to evade my question. Are you ready to talk?~"

Max chuckled. Liz must be taking "Maria" lessons. "~Okay, okay, you win! I'd love to Liz, but you have to bear with me. I haven't slept all night! So I'm gonna ramble a lot.~"

Liz chuckled mentally. "~You're already rambling.~" Then she took the sting from her words with some mental cuddling.

Max grinned sheepishly. While they had been talking he had given up on further efforts at breakfast, rinsed his dishes and placed them in the dishwasher. Now he headed upstairs to check on his sleeping sister, while continuing to talk to his better half..

"~It was pretty bad, Liz. Isabel had another nightmare. At least I think it was a nightmare. I heard her scream. And believe me, I never want to hear her make another sound like that again as long as I live. I was out of bed and into her room like a shot. She was curled up in the middle of her bed clutching her cell phone, sobbing hysterically. I don't think I ever saw her like this, Liz. Not even after Alex died. She was always so controlled. But not last night. I couldn't get anything out of her except 'He's scared, he's scared'. She just seemed to get worse and worse, until I was actually starting to get beyond being worried and into outright afraid for her.~"

Approaching Isabel's bedroom door, Max paused. "~Hang on a sec Liz, I'm going in to check on Isabel.~"

Max quietly walked into the dim half light of his sister's bedroom. Her back was to the door. He walked around to the other side of the bed, and stared at her face, still streaked with the tracks of dried tears, and half hidden by her hair. He gently brushed her hair back and placed a kiss on her forehead. Isabel stirred in her sleep, murmured something unintelligible, and settled back again into slumber. Max left as quietly as he had entered, closed the door silently, and resumed his conversation with Liz.

"~Where was I? Oh yeah, afraid for Isabel. Anyway, whatever was happening reached the point where I thought she was going to snap. She was totally terrified. Then something happened. The only way I can describe it is a 'release'. It all just stopped. She went limp, muttered what sounded like 'he's okay', and fell asleep. She's been asleep ever since. I sat up watching her most of the night. Liz, I'm scared witless here.~"

Liz was silent for a long moment then she spoke. "~I can see why. In your shoes I'd be worried too. I'm NOT in your shoes and I'm worried.~" She paused again. "~Max, I always thought that there was more going on with her after Alex died than she let on. Like she was suppressing a lot. That can't be healthy. It could be that the Whitman's funeral opened a crack in the dam, and what you saw last night was the ultimate result of months of pent up emotion. All that grief, all that anger, finally coming out into the light of day. Look at what pent up emotion resulted in with the two of us? Only for Isabel, there can be no resolution. She's stuck. There's no one for her to expend it with. And all that has to come out before she can heal. Or even START to heal.~"

Max entered his bedroom and sprawled out on his unmade bed. "~I hope so. God, I hope that's the case. If she's losing it, I don't know what we'd do. We can't take her to a shrink. I don't even think that drug therapy would work, because we haven't a clue what drugs designed for normal humans would do to us.~"

Liz sent soothing waves of love and understanding into his mind. "~I don't think it will come to that, Love. The fact that she passed the crisis and went to sleep is probably an encouraging sign. If you want, I'll grab Maria after work tonight and swing by for a little ice cream therapy. Maybe we can get her to talk.~"

Max sighed with relief as he returned her love. "~Thank you Honey. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Do you suppose you could give her a nudge about dating while you're at it?~"

Max picked up a spike of impatience from Liz. He could almost read the thought in her mind....'Men!' "~Max, it's too soon. If this WAS the crisis, it's way too soon to start talking about that! It would just make her shut down again. Or if she did start dating she'd likely just shelve everything again. It's better that she deals with it NOW, so when she does start dating, she can give it all her attention. As it is, if she started dating now and got serious, it'd just turn out to be a really weird sort of love triangle between her, Alex's memory, and the poor bastard she was dating. No, no dating, no TALK of dating.~"

Max sighed sleepily. "~Okay, you and Maria are the boss on this. I'm kinda tired, so I think I'm going to try and make up for lost sleep before Izzy wakes up. I want to be fresh and rested to handle any new problems.~"

"~Sleep well Sweetheart~," Liz's mind voice crooned. "~I'll round up your class work and drop it off this afternoon on my way home. I Love You!~"

Max smiled as sleep began to take hold of him in earnest. "~I Love You Too, Liz! Have a good day at school! And tell Michael what's going on, will you?~"

Liz's voice was fading now, but he still heard her mind say, "~Will do! Sleep tight Your Majesty!~"

Max chuckled a last time as he lethargically slipped out of his clothes and pulled his covers up. He was blissfully asleep in moments.

McCleod's Dojo...Seattle...same time....

Alex cautiously regarded the people staring at him across the breakfast table. His face was as hard set as theirs. He had known from the moment that Duncan had silently waved off his farewell last night, as they went to their separate beds, that he was in for it this morning. But dealing with Duncan, Richie, AND Amanda before he had any caffeine in him had been taxing. So he had put them off. Breakfast had proceeded in stony silence broken by the occasional polite requests to pass the sugar or salt. The meal was over now, and the interrogation had resumed.

Richie shook his head. "Alex my man, that was a bone head thing to do. You could have gotten yourself killed. For a freakin' phone call?"

Alex gave a snort of disgust. "Knowing that this evil Don Quixote wannabe was out to collect MY head would have been helpful. If you want me to play by the rules, knowing the rules helps. Besides, I'm still alive."

"But you wouldn't be if one of us hadn't followed you!" Amanda exploded. "For God's sake Alex! I thought I taught you better than that. As a new Immortal you AREN'T the 'cat'...you're the MOUSE. Caution in all things! What the hell was so important that you had to use a phone away from here, hmmmm?"

Duncan looked stern and serious when he chimed in with, "Alex, I'm not stupid. There would be only one reason for you to do what you did. You wanted to hide the phone call from us. From me specifically. I'd be willing to bet that, if I could check it out, the other end of that call would end up being somewhere in the state of New Mexico. Wouldn't it? You know the rules. You've allowed someone from your previous life, a mortal, to know you're still alive. That could create serious problems for all of us. For every Immortal alive!"

Alex flushed painfully, but he stood his ground stubbornly. "There won't be a problem, I'm making it my business to see that there isn't one!"

Duncan had to admire the boy's grit. He wasn't denying anything, but neither was he backing down an inch. But then he had expected that. The kid was honest to a fault. Deceit came hard for him...which was what Duncan was counting on. "In this, your business IS our business. What the hell possessed you to do such a foolish thing? Besides that, if we hadn't been awakened by your nightmare, you'd be just another headless body in someone's dumpster right now!"

Duncan wasn't saying so out loud, but seeing Conterras' in action he'd come to have second thoughts about Alex's chances against him. Conterras' leap and landing off the terminal roof had been clumsy. And his recovery had been slow. That had shown Duncan enough to know that Alex was probably faster than Conterras, and most likely had better reflexes to boot. Raphael Conterras been killing helpless newbies for a almost century now. And Alex had been trained by some of the all time champions at walking away alive with the other fella's Quickening. In a stand-up fight he gave Alex even odds. In another year, it would be no contest worth mentioning. None of which he was going to say out loud for fear of making the boy cocky.

Duncan placed his elbows on the table and leaned in towards Alex. "Alex, I thought it was understood that contact with people from your past, even people that you were close to, *especially* people that you were close to, was a bad idea?"

Alex gave Duncan a small grin and glanced around the table at Richie and Amanda. "Before we get into that Duncan, answer me this. You've had mortal friends before. People who knew what you were?"

Duncan threw up his hands. "That's beside the point!"

Alex shook his head. "Tessa...and Ann?"

Amanda made a show of staring off into space. No woman likes to hear the ex's brought into the discussion. Duncan glanced at her then turned to glare at Richie. He really had no reason to blame Richie. It wasn't really a secret, and it could have been Methos, or Joe who had told Alex about Duncan's past...but Richie was the one within reach. So he was the recipient of Duncan's ire.

Duncan turned back to Alex. "And this is your justification?"

Alex shrugged. "No, I see no need to justify it. I'm just saying that the situations are comparable, with a slight twist."

Duncan stared at him. Had Alex just flashed Duncan a peek at that hole card of his? Duncan's face gave away nothing. "What twist?" he asked.

Alex looked like he was considering something. And he was. He was going to have to play the same game with Duncan that he was with Isabel...and hope that he could keep the two halves of his life, both past and present, from colliding with one another. Alex nodded to himself then looked at Duncan. "I didn't have a choice but to call Duncan. They found me first."

Duncan looked puzzled. "How?"

Alex flushed faintly. "I can't tell you."

Duncan paused and seemed to shake his head, as if he hadn't heard Alex correctly. "I could swear that you just said that you can't tell me. Cannot? Or will not?"

Alex shrugged. "There's a difference in this case? Duncan, as old as you are you must have a million secrets you've kept. Confidences you've never broken. This one is mine." Alex's mouth twisted wryly at the irony of it. "To borrow the words of a friend of mine, 'It's not my secret to tell'."

"And all of this means what?", Duncan asked.

Alex sighed. "Just what I said. One of my friends found me somehow. I can't tell you how or why. She...they have been badgering me for information. They already know more than they should. So I'm caught between good people there who want to protect me, and good people HERE who want to protect me. Good people in BOTH places that I want to protect. And I can't tell you about them, or them about you. But I thought that I could tell them enough about ME to stall things. In the end, it doesn't matter though. I simply can't tell you. I swore to keep the secret until I died, and I don't see the minor technicality that I DID die as letting me off the hook!"

Duncan looked irritated, but proud at the same time. Alex might not have any deceit in him, but he had a streak of honor a mile wide. Duncan hadn't missed the Freudian slip either. "She?" he thought. He shook himself away from his thoughts. "We aren't finished with this yet", he said, "But for now, go get your sweats on and start to warm up. You've lost enough time the last few days." Duncan caught Richie's eye and spoke sternly. "Richie, go with him."

Once Alex was out of earshot Duncan looked at Amanda. "Well? What do you think?"

Amanda leaned back in her chair and pursed her lips. "I haven't got a clue. I can tell you this, you won't get it out of him with straight forward questioning. The only person I've ever met that's more stubborn than he is, is you. And muscling him won't do it either, he'll just set his jaw and endure it. That's *another* thing he has in common with you." Amanda stared at the ceiling for a few moments the looked back at Duncan. "I can do the feminine thing and try to wheedle it out of him if you want."

Duncan frowned. "I'm more interested in how they found him. Or rather how 'she' found him, and how she gets to him."

Amanda laughed. "I wondered if you caught that stray pronoun. She. As in a girl." Amanda picked up the coffee pot and poured the dregs into her cup, and tasted it. Making a face she laced it with double portions of cream and sugar before being satisfied that it was drinkable. After taking a sip she turned her eyes back to Duncan. "You supervise his every waking moment Duncan. When would he have time to be contacted by her? Other than last night? And then it was Alex doing the contacting."

Duncan rubbed his temples for a moment. Amanda's words had sparked something. "Waking moments?" he thought. "Nightmares?" He couldn't afford to dismiss it casually. He lived long enough believe anything...once. He stood and walked to where the phone lay, on the kitchen counter. Hitting the speed dial he waited until a rich husky contralto voice answered.

"Hello?" the woman said.

Duncan got right to the point. "Cassandra? I have something here that I need your help with. It's right up your alley I think."

Cassandra answered, "Really? How so?"

Their conversation went on for nearly half an hour as Amanda listened with widening eyes. When Duncan finally hung up the phone, after Cassandra promised to be there later that night, Amanda could restrain herself no longer.

"Duncan, that whole idea is crazy," she said. "And besides, if it works, it's one hell of an invasion of privacy!

Duncan shrugged. "In 400 years I've seen things a thousand times stranger. And if there's one person I know who's equipped to deal with it, it's Cassandra. I don't see any other way to tackle it. We can't keep him awake around the clock, seven days a week. And besides that I noticed that he didn't bring up the girl that Conterras threatened while we were talking. Isabel was her name. I heard him say her name when we were in New Mexico as well, though I don't think he realized at the time that he had spoken it aloud. It HAS to be her. You know him as well as I do. Under the circumstances he'll be wild to protect her from Conterras. Even if it doesn't show now, he must be close to the breaking point. Close enough to risk telling her everything to save her. We have no choice. *I* have no choice!"

Amanda nodded in acquiescence and sighed. "You know that if she's hurt because of this, he'll never forgive you?"

Duncan looked grim. "All the more reason to find that bastard Conterras and put paid to him once and for all. Which reminds me, I have to talk to Joe about something Conterras said." Duncan picked up the phone again and began to dial. Then he paused. "After I'm done here I'm going hunting again. You up for it?"

Amanda stood up and walked over to the closet that she shared with Duncan and began getting into street clothes. "I'll be ready when you are," she said.

Duncan turned back to the phone and resumed dialing....

On the Kingsgate Estate East of Vancouver, BC.....same time.....

Roland Kingsgate aka Britanicus Musa sat in his office and surveyed the information that his inquiries had turned up on Alex Whitman. His front, a respectable skip trace firm in Toronto had turned up nothing of consequence. The sheriff's office in Roswell, New Mexico to whom the inquiry had been forwarded, had telexed back a skimpy dossier. Parents dead. No known associates. A confirmed loner. Britannicus sighed. Well, it had been worth a try. And it was only money. Besides it never hurts to be thorough. A soft knock on his office door drew his attention. "Enter!" he shouted.

The door opened to reveal his majordomo Joachim Kriegmeister, in his mortal life formerly a lieutenant in the Adolf Hitler Division of the Waffen SS. He had come into his destiny in the battle of the Falais gap, when his division had fought itself to destruction holding open the gap as the then allied armies strove to pinch it closed, trapping tens of thousands of retreating German troops within the Falais pocket. Standing with military erectness his nordic features betraying no expression as he waited for permission to speak, he looked the part of the perfect majordomo.

Britanicus regarded his deputy with satisfaction. The boy had been a real find! He'd been with Britanicus since 1945, when he'd found Joachim wandering Western Germany in a daze, unable to understand what had happened to him. Britanicus had gotten him out of Germany and into Canada. After some convincing and training he'd become the most capable subaltern that Britanicus had had since before the fall of Byzantium.

Britanicus gestured peremptorily. "Speak!"

Joachim bowed stiffly. "Excellency, all the preparations are complete. Air travel has been procured, as well as accommodations at the Radisson in Seattle. The men are all on the estate. We are staged to fly out on Friday as you instructed."

Britanicus rubbed his hands together briskly. "Excellent! Excellent! With any luck we'll execute this little raid over the weekend and be back in Canada before the local US authorities even notice that McCleod and his friends are missing!" Then he noticed a slight frown of disapproval on Joachim's normally phlegmatic face. "Is there a problem, Joachim?"

Joachim cleared his throat. "Some trouble with a few of the rankers sir. They dislike your order to remain on site until we move out. One or two have expressed a desire for a little recreation while they're waiting."

Britanicus' frown gathered like a thunder cloud. "You mean one in particular don't you? That Balkan bastard Radu! Tell him the answer is no. I'm not having any problems...like missing school girls...delay our launch date. If he gives you a problem, let me know. I'll handle it. I'll make an object lesson of him for the ranks!"

Joachim bowed again with a grim smile. "As you wish Sire." He was clearly wishing to see that object lesson come to pass. "Before I go, do you require anything?"

Britanicus pursed his lips. "Yes, have my meals served here in the study. It wouldn't do to eat with the ranks in the dining room. Familiarity breeds contempt." Then he added with a chuckle, "And I already find them contemptible enough!"

Joachim bowed again then backed out of the room, and silently closed the door.

Britanicus smiled to himself and leaned back in his chair as he again opened the file on Adam Pierson's country home in the hills above Seattle. This was going to be more fun than he'd had in *decades*!

The Evans Household....Monday Noon

Isabel groaned as she awakened. She had a headache and she felt sticky. When she tried to open her eyes she winced. It felt like the back of her eye lids were upholstered with sandpaper. She levered herself up on one arm and managed to squint at the alarm clock. It read 12:00. She groaned again and collapsed back on her bed. She may have felt like road kill, but there was nothing wrong with her memory. She remembered last night. Alex's call. The wonder. The joy. The mystery. And above all the terror. Both hers, and what she had felt from Alex. She could still feel him, more strongly than ever before, so she knew that he was all right. His mind was a buzz of surface thoughts. Those of someone going through a routine day. So she put the matter on hold...until tonight.

She also remembered Max. Poor Max! She must have scared him out of ten years of his life! She'd have to talk to him today. Convince him that she was all right. And she needed to start bringing the others in on this. The situation was getting out of hand. If she had another night like last night, the others might start seeing her as a candidate for the rubber room!

She pulled herself out of bed feeling creaky. She had to get cleaned up and get dressed. She was *supposed* to be playing receptionist today! Granted it was busy work, but she hated to be a slacker. Staggering into the bathroom she locked the door and shed her pajamas before turning on the shower. While waiting for the water to heat up she ran a damp washcloth over her eyes to clear them of sleep grit. The shower was starting to billow steam when she finished. It was then that she noticed the piece of paper taped to the bathroom mirror. The neat handwriting on it was easily recognizable as Max's. She pulled it off and read.....


"Iz,

I left this here because I knew that this would be the first place that you'd head for when you woke up. I was pretty wiped out after last night. I stayed up a while to keep an eye on you. Once I thought you were going to sleep through the night I went to bed myself. As soon as you get yourself together, please come and wake me up.

Love,
Max

PS....I called dad's office and told Mr. Stein that you were sick today. So, if he calls to check up on you, try to sound like you're at death's door, huh? ;-)"



Isabel winced when she hit the part about him staying up to watch over her, and made up her mind to pull herself together and fix them both something to eat! It was bad enough that Max had cut school because of her! He shouldn't go hungry too. By now the bathroom was filling up with steam, so she tripped the exhaust fan, grabbed a loofa and her shower gel, and got in the shower.

Forty five minutes later and feeling like a new woman she stood by Max's bed. Gently she reached out and shook his shoulder, calling his name. He groaned and woke slowly. Opening one bleary eye he made a stunning observation.

"You're awake," he said.

Isabel smiled and spoke. "Well brother of mine, you're only *half* awake. So get thee to the bathroom and shower up while I get together some food for us!" Then she leaned down and brushed his forehead with her lips. "And thank you for looking after me last night. I'm sorry to be such a pain."

Max tried to stifle a yawn, then gave up the battle and yawned and stretched anyway. "You mean that you're sorry to be more of a pain than usual, don't you?" Then he rolled out of bed as she yanked a pillow away from him and threatened to whack him with it. "Now that's the Iz we all know and love!" he said with a smile. "And you're very welcome. That's what brothers are for."

"You jerk!" she growled. Then she smiled to take the sting out. "Get into the shower. I'm headed downstairs. Since we've both just gotten up, I think that brunch is the best way to go. Pancakes?"

Max grinned and nodded his agreement as he pulled a robe on over his boxers and rounded up his clothes. "You're a lifesaver Iz. See you in about twenty or thirty minutes."

Isabel headed downstairs to begin making pancake batter. She was feeling good. Better than she had in a while. Today she would tell them about Alex. And tonight she would finally get to the bottom of things. She gathered the necessary ingredients from around the kitchen and set to work. As she did so she began to hum. She wasn't even aware that she was doing so. It was "Unchained Melody"...by the Righteous Brothers.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-Aug-2002 12:54:30 AM ]
posted on 30-Aug-2002 1:21:19 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 8b
(Revelations)

West Roswell Highschool...Lunch time....

Liz had reached the E.T. table first and staked out their usual position in the center court. Dropping her book bag she unzipped it and hauled out her lunch. She was just opening the bag as Michael and Maria emerged from the double doors leading into the court, with Kyle in tow. Maria spotted Liz and waved. Liz put off starting her own lunch until they had arrived at the table and sat down. The three of them dropped their books and settled down for lunch.

Liz had barely taken a bite of her chicken salad when Michael spoke up.

"Where have you been all day?! Maria told me in second period that Max had stayed home today because of Isabel! What the hell is wrong with Isabel?"

Michael had been sensitive about the state of the alien three's health ever since his own brush with mortality. He waited impatiently as Liz finished her bite of food and took a drink of water.

"She had another nightmare, Michael."

Michael frowned. "Another nightmare? *Another*? I didn't know she'd had a *first* nightmare!" Glaring at Maria and Liz he folded his arms, looking so 'Michael' that Maria had to cover her mouth to hide her smile. Then he continued. "Just how long has *this* been happening?"

Even Kyle was trying to hide his smile when Maria laid her hand on Michael's arm. "Chill out Spaceboy! She had one Friday night. Though I understand that the one last night made Friday's look like sunshine and lollipops by comparison."

"Is she okay?" Kyle asked. "Did Max say what it was about?"

Liz said, "Hang of a second, I'll try to find out." Turning her focus inward she began nudging Max for telepathic contact. "~Max?~"

As the connection deepened and broadened she felt a rush of emotion from him. Amusement and embarrassment.

"~Yes Liz?~" he answered.

"~Caught you at a bad time did I?~" she asked. She felt laughter flowing off of him in waves.

"~I was just getting ready to step in the shower!~" he said.

Liz giggled mentally. "~Well, turnabout is fair play! But I didn't call to tease Sweetheart. I'm at lunch and the gang wants to know how Isabel is doing. Michael's being an overprotective pain about it.~"

Max's amusement grew. "~He's being Michael. Tell them she's fine. Or at least she looks fine She woke me up a while ago, and now she's downstairs getting a meal together while I clean up.~"

"~Okay, I'll tell them~," Liz responded. "~Don't forget to tell Isabel that Maria and I may be by tonight.~"

"~I won't~," Max answered.

Liz gave him a warm mental cuddle. "~Okay then, I'll see you in a couple of hours with your school work.~"


"~Thanks Liz~," he said. "~I'll see you in a few hours. I love you!~"

Liz sent him a mental kiss. "~You're welcome Sweetheart! I love you too!~"

As Liz emerged from the connection she noticed that all three of he friend were staring at her. Michael and Maria looked expectant, but Kyle's expression defied description. He looked afraid and puzzled all at once.

For his part Kyle was all that and more. As a part of the 'I know an alien club' he expected the weird and unusual. As one of those healed by Max Evans he was now a PART of the weird and unusual. He accepted that. But watching Liz zone out in some weird trance to 'talk' to El Presidente Evans made it all seem a lot more real. Nothing had changed except his perspective. He saw Liz looking at him with a worried expression and inwardly winced. "She's worried about me," he thought. "Worried about how I'll handle the freak show that our lives have become since this bunch of lost Jedi came into them. How *will* I handle it? Good question. And I honest to Buddha don't know. But I'll be karmically damned if I'll let it throw me!" So thinking he spoke in a low voice before anyone else.

"While Michael and I were slacking during gym class, he told me that you and Max had this...um...telepathic 'thing' going. But it still weirded me out a bit seeing you do it. It's not you, it's me. It makes me wonder what's waiting for me down the road." Kyle chuckled. Then sent an apologetic glance to Michael. "It's one thing if your planet becomes an alien colony. It's another thing if you *yourself* become an alien colony!" Noticing that they were all looking a little concerned now he waved his hand in negation. "Don't worry, I'm not gonna freak out on you. It's just that, as a small town guy I'm not used to having to change the way I look at the world and life so often. Buddha teaches us that the occasional epiphany is a good thing. But I'm thinking once in a lifetime, not once a week." He laughed aloud this time. "Don't worry, I'll deal!" He paused, looking at Liz. "Now, how's Isabel?"

Liz smiled when he'd finished. "She's just fine. Max said she was downstairs fixing them some food." Liz looked at Maria. "Maria, I know I should have asked first, but I told him that you and I would swing by after work with some ice cream and try to do a little girl talk with Isabel. Maybe we can start getting whatever is eating at her out in the open now. It sounded like she reached some sort of crisis last night. If she did, the door may be open to help her unload some of that baggage she's been carrying around."

Before Maria could speak Michael cut in. "Liz, I know you mean well. But maybe this is an 'alien' thing. That means that Max and I can probably handle it better than you and Maria."

Kyle winced and thought, "Michael my man, I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box when it comes to women, but I know a mistake when I see one. And judging by the look on Maria's face you're about to find out just how big!"

Michael winced as Maria's dainty fist connected with his left biceps. Hard!

"Michael Guerin! I thought we'd gotten past this "us" vs "them" crap a long time ago!! Then she realized how loud she was and lowered her voice, though it's intensity was still hot enough to melt steel. "Alien stuff indeed!" she hissed. "You idiot! This is about a girl who's finally starting to mourn the boy she loved!" She pointed at herself then at Liz. "She's OUR girl friend! This is a girl thing!" Then Maria slapped her forehead. "Oh yeah! I forgot! You're a guy, that'd put you on an entirely different planet from girls anyway. So it'd STILL be an 'alien' thing...to YOU!"

She punctuated the last word with another shot to Michael's already sore arm, then scooted away from him in a huff and turned her attention to her lunch, completely ignoring a chastened Michael's attempts to get her attention again.

Michael had sat speechless through Maria's diatribe. Then he looked up and frowned as he saw both Kyle and Liz dividing their time between trying to eat and shaking with silent laughter. "Some friend!" he thought, glaring at Kyle. "I'd expect as much from Liz! She and Maria practically hatched from the same egg! But from a guy?"

Kyle noticed Michael's impotent glare and finally broke out in full blown laughter, which resulted in him choking on a bite of his sandwich. Liz reached out and walloped him on the back, as he coughed and wiped at streaming eyes. Kyle took a sip of Coke, cleared his throat experimentally then caught Michael and Maria watching him with some concern, their argument forgotten for a moment. Kyle shook his head, chuckled, and resumed eating.

Once she was sure that Kyle was okay, Maria didn't turn away fast enough to avoid Michael catching her eye. Having been so caught she made the best of it by raising her chin defiantly while holding his eyes with hers. The whole effect projected screamed, 'WELL?!'

Michael's shoulders slumped a bit as he glanced at Liz and Kyle. He was going to have to apologize. Publicly. "Oh well, at least they're friends," he thought. "That may gain me some brownie points." He cleared his throat. "I'm sorry," he said.

Maria leaned forward. "What was that? I didn't hear you."

Michael sighed with frustration and spoke louder. "I'm sorry Pixie Girl!" He leaned forward and spoke in a softer tone. "Please forgive me?"

Maria gave a victorious smirk and scooted back close to him. Closer than she had been before. As she leaned in to give him a hug she whispered in his ear. "Don't think that this gets you off the hook completely Spaceboy. But the we'll talk about *that* later. Alone." Then she pulled back and gave him a kiss that made his head spin.

They emerged from the kiss to the sound of a chorus of hoots and catcalls from the surrounding tables. The old Michael would have pulled away, perhaps even have fled in embarrassment and anger. This Michael simply settled back and enjoyed the fact that the spectators had a reason to hoot.

Once the ripples of the little spat settled down, Maria recalled what had prompted it. Liz's plans. Maria reached out, touched Liz's hand, and said, "I'm there Chica. But are you sure we can pull it off? On a school night?"

Liz shrugged. "I don't see why not. My homework is light for a Monday. I can get most of it done on breaks tonight. The new girl Dolores is taking the late shifts Monday through Thursday since dad taught her how to close the register. And maybe we can get some study time in at the Evans, though it's no big deal. That Chem. test today was the last of the biggies for a while."

Maria smiled and spoke a little sardonically. "That's not what I'm talking about Chica. You? Max? Same house? Parentals gone? Your dad and mom will just be thrilled to death."

Liz looked apprehensive, but stood her ground. "They trust us now."

Maria shook her head. "Not *that* much they don't, Chica. Max is a nice guy. You know it, I know it, even the angels know it. But all your parents see when they look at him is...a guy. A guy that's too close to their baby girl for their comfort zone to be...um...comfortable."

Liz sighed mightily and said, "Well then *we'll* just have to convince them, that's all. Besides, this isn't about Max and I. This is about Isabel. Anyway, it's my problem, I'll solve it. What about you?"

Maria looked thoughtful. "I think that I can pull it off Lizzie. My homework is no big deal so far today either. I guess the teachers are too busy grading tests."

Liz nodded with satisfaction and was about to speak again, but at that moment the bell rang, ending their lunch period. Scooping up their remains they tossed them in the trash. Maria gave Michael a kiss and then joined Liz in a dash for their English class. Michael headed off towards his art class, leaving Kyle to head off towards slow death in a class that he had joined because the athletes curriculum at West Roswell required it. Home Economics.

Kyle winced as he approached the too cheery class room filled with the sound of feminine laughter. The only bright spot in all this was that he had two fellow sufferers with him. Jocks. "Thank God *this* day is nearly over!" he thought as he passed into the room to face yet another hour in cooking hell.

The Evans Household...Monday 12:30

Isabel watched as Max used his last bite of pancake to chase maple syrup and tabasco sauce around his plate. All through the meal she had noticed him studying her surreptitiously. As if he expected her to shape shift at any moment. Whenever she caught him at it he would glance away self consciously. Finally she sighed and was getting ready to break the stalemate when he spoke.

"Iz, would you...um...mind if Liz and Maria stopped by tonight?" he asked.

Isabel thought that her puzzlement must have shown on her fact because he continued.

"They would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to know that something is going on with you. If for no other reason than that Liz can read *my* emotional states now. And my emotional state hasn't been all that good with regard to your...um...well-being. So, anyway, they thought that you girls could do was some female bonding over a couple of quarts of Ben and Jerry's....or whatever."

Isabel grinned. This was to perfect. She really hadn't wanted to start the ball rolling with the boys anyway. Besides that, Liz and Maria were Alex's best friends. If anyone deserved to know first, that he was alive, it would be them. Plus it would give her some time to discuss the whole 'bond' issue with Liz before they took the news 'public'.

Realizing that Max was waiting for her to say something, she spoke to put him at ease. "Of course I don't mind! Actually I was looking for a reason to spend some time with them. Before Tess showed up (Isabel winced as Max's face turned to stone at the name) we were starting to develop as friends, and as something more than friends. All that got derailed by 'destiny'. I think it's time that we put it back on track! And besides, I have a few issues I want to discuss with them."

Max sighed with relief. He didn't know why he had thought this would be a hard sell, but he had. "Okay, I'll let Liz know before she leaves school so she and Maria can plan accordingly. Before then, if there's anything you need to talk about, I'm here now." He looked at her hopefully.

Isabel ground her teeth at the need to hurt his feelings by holding back, but she *really* wanted to tell Liz and Maria first. She sighed deeply. "Max, I really want to, and to satisfy you this much...there *is* something to tell. Something we all need to know about. But I need the girls first. I-I-I need to sort this out with them in my own heart and mind before I talk about it to you and Michael. Okay?"

Max was crestfallen, but that was only part of it. At the moment he was sad that Iz was passing up his offer to help for someone else, and at the same time he was elated that it was for Liz and Maria. All their lives, all they had had was each other and Michael. When he had healed Liz he had thrown the door to a whole new world of possibilities open. In all truth Michael and Isabel had resisted that brave new world. They had to be dragged into it kicking and screaming. But once there they had accepted the necessity of it. And first Michael, then Isabel, had seemed to embrace it completely. He had worried that, in breaking it off with Alex the first time, Isabel was only paying lip service to it to hang on to Max and Michael. It was an irrational fear and he knew it, but it was there none the less. But the last few days had seen it's last remnants dwindling away as Isabel seemed to take an active role in binding their little ad hoc family together. And, just a moment ago, when Isabel had chosen *human* girl friends, over her alien brother, his last shreds of lingering doubt had melted away. And that was what won out in his heart. So he did the natural thing. His face blossomed into a grin that would have given the Cheshire Cat an inferiority complex.

Isabel had studied the play of emotions on her brother's face with extreme puzzlement. There was disappointment, which is exactly what she had expected. But it had been replaced by a look of wonder and happiness so intense that it was almost blinding in it's intensity. Inwardly she sighed. There were times that she would never understand Max. Was it an alien thing? A guy thing? Or just a plain old sibling thing? Isabel didn't waste time pondering.

"Why look a gift horse in the mouth?" she thought. And so thinking she gathered her dishes and headed for the sink, giving her still beaming brother a kiss on the cheek in passing.

"What was that for?" Max asked.

Isabel shrugged. "For being there for me. For watching me last night. For opening up our lives the way you did. For not being stinky difficult about my talking to the girls first. For being you."

Max flushed faintly. Even when there were just the three of them, such moments with his sister had been rare. In a low voice he said, "You're welcome Sis'."

Isabel had finished loading the dishwasher so she turned and folded her arms. "Now what?"

Max grinned and shrugged. "I have a few hours to kill before Liz arrives with my homework, so I think I going to hit our video library and pick out a couple of good kungfu and machine-gun flicks. You?"

Isabel made a face. "No thanks, wallowing in blood, gore, and broken bones is so *not* my idea of entertainment! I'll be in dad's office surfing the web." Giving her brother a passing hug she said, "Call me
when Liz gets here will you?"

Max nodded and said, "Will do.

And Isabel left, headed for their dad's office. While Max spent an entertaining few minutes deciding between "Crouching Tiger" and "Kickboxer" before settling down to an early afternoon murder and mayhem film festival.

The Evans Household..Some Hours Later...After School...

Max met Liz at the door with a warm kiss. But one that stopped at going all out because Maria was tagging along behind. When Max and Liz finally broke, they met Maria's dancing eyes.

"Relax kids," she said. "No need to be self-concious around me. You forget, I was there the night that you two did your imitation of some sort of Martian firefly." Then she winked.

Both of them blushed and Max backed up and waved them into the house as he turned and bellowed, "ISABEL, THEY'RE HERE!"

This brought Isabel at a rapid trot from her father's office where she had been perusing various web sites in or about Seattle, Washington. With a special emphasis on martial arts studios. Her next move would be to get her hands on a Seattle telephone directory. Arriving at the front door she delivered a hug to both Liz and Maria.

Liz handed off Max's classwork and reading assignments. Then she said, "We can't stick around. We both have the late afternoon shift at the Crashdown." Before leaving though she peremptorily dragged Max into the dining room, out of sight of their audience, and gave him a much more thorough and lingering kiss. Then she settled into his embrace and molded herself close as she gently pushed at him with her mind, requesting telepathic contact. Max responded immediately, as if expecting it.

"~Yes Love?~" he responded.

Liz sighed happily as the contact broadened. "~Max there's something we need to discuss quickly, something that Maria pointed out. Sweetheart, you and I both have given our parents reason to be unhappy with us...as parents will be. And while they seem to be mostly over it, my mother has been known to carry a grudge. So, while they may be cool with Maria and I hanging with Isabel for some unchaperoned girl time, *you* are another matter. I'm going to do the wheedle and beg thing, but if that doesn't work...I need a plan B.~"

Max considered. He hadn't thought of this. And he should have. It was so obvious. After considering several ideas all of which entailed lying to Liz's parents...with the accompanying possibility of getting caught, Max settled on the fact that Isabel's problem was the more important issue here. So he looked at Liz, smiled sheepishly, and said, "~How about this.....~" And he outlined his idea.

By the time he was finished Liz didn't know whether to be shocked or break into giggles. "~Max! They'll never go for it!~"

Max sensed the struggle in her and chuckled. "~Well the alternative is having Isabel come to you. It's your choice.~"

Liz considered it and rejected it. "~Sweetie, if the object is to let Isabel talk about things comfortably, then she's more likely to do it *here*. In *her* comfort zone.~"

Max massaged her back as he agreed. "~There's another reason that the idea has merit. If nothing else, the fact that we would propose such a thing would show your folks that we're bending over backwards to accommodate their fears, and can therefore be trusted alone.~" Max's hand strayed down to caress her butt. As she sighed and leaned into him harder, he continued. "~And believe me I DO want to be alone with you Elizabeth Parker! Just because I haven't tried anything yet doesn't mean that I haven't *thought* about it!~" Max took a deep breath and continued, "~*And* it will show them the importance we attach to this. I know that my Mom and Dad asked your folks to keep an eye on us while they're gone. Tell them why you want this. About Isabel's nightmares and why you think they're happening. And if all else fails, plan C is, I ask Isabel if she'd like to do the 'ice cream social' at your place.~"

Liz pulled back slightly and gave him another deep kiss that left his ears buzzing. Then she spoke out loud. "Okay, I'll put it to the folks as soon as I get home. Speaking of which, Maria and I are going to be late."

Max walked her back to the front door where Isabel and Maria were waiting. As they approached Maria handed Isabel a dollar.

Liz studied them suspiciously. "What was that for."

Maria and Isabel started chuckling. "I bet Isabel a buck that we'd have to drag you away from Max to get you out the door."

Liz made a derisive noise as she glared at Isabel and Maria. "Some friends! Betting on my love life?" Then she gave Max a last quick kiss before grabbing a still snickering Maria's arm and dragging her out the door. "Let's go laughing girl, we'll see how funny you find an ice cube down the back of your uniform tonight."

Max watched as Maria pulled out of the driveway and tooted her horn before driving off. Then he turned back into the house to get started on his homework. For her part, Isabel made them both a couple of sandwiches before going back to web surfing. After delivering the Max his sandwich and a glass of milk...with tabasco on the side...she headed back to her father's office and his computer.


The Crashdown....6:00 PM

The dinner rush was in full swing, and the cafe was packed. Liz paused at the pickup window undo her hair and re-tie it in an effort to deal with an irritating wisp that had pulled free and kept getting in her face. Michael was working the grill, and at that moment he put her latest order up and hit the bell to tell her it was ready. Hurriedly finishing her task she scooped up the food and delivered it to table four. After checking the water and coffee in her section she went to the waitress station. She collapsed on to a stool there and wiped her brow with the back of her hand. Maria had just returned from the ladies room and completed a check of her customers. She joined Liz at the station, setting down the carafe of ice water she'd been carrying.

"My God Liz", she said. "The place is a madhouse tonight!" Then she noticed that Nancy Parker was in the kitchen. Jeff had been back there all night helping Michael deal with the rush. Maria nudged Liz to get her attention then nodded in the direction of the kitchen. Liz saw her mother at the same instant that Maria gave her a gentle shove in that direction. Liz needed no further prompting.

All afternoon Liz had been trying to catch her folks in the same place at the same time so she could make her pitch, or if necessary, Max's pitch to them. Right now the place was packed, but there weren't any orders outstanding. And Maria could handle watching her section for a few minutes. So, Liz made a beeline for the kitchen and caught up with her mom restocking the condiment table. To mollify her mother a bit she grabbed a pickle jar from the refrigerator and began to help out. It only took a few minutes to finish the job, and her mother flashed her a smile and gave a murmur of thanks before she turned to begin her next chore. She halted in mid turn as Liz cleared her throat.

Liz hesitated, then plunged in. "Mom, I need a quick family conference."

Her mother's eyebrows rose. "Honey, can't this wait?" Nancy asked. "We're sort of busy here."

Liz glanced at the clock and shook her head no. "This will only take a second, after that you can think it over until my shift ends."

Nancy beckoned Jeff over from the dishwasher he was struggling with. As he approached he could be heard muttering under his breath.

Nancy smiled. "What was that dear?"

Jeff grimaced and said, "If you must know I *said* that the damned thing has burnt out three heating elements in the last 4 months. Those things are expensive to replace. If we strike a good balance this quarter, I'm replacing that hunk of junk entirely!" He paused for breath, then glancing at Liz he asked, "Now, what did you need me for?"

Nancy nodded at Liz. "Ask our daughter. She's the one that wanted you."

Jeff looked at Liz. "What is it Honey? And make it quick, you know that we have a rush going."

Liz took a deep breath and started in. "Look, I know the Evans' asked you to keep an eye on Max and Isabel while they were gone, and this sort of has to do with that. Can I have your permission to go over there tonight after work? Possibly for an overnight?"

Jeff frowned. He wasn't blind. He'd noticed the change in Liz the last few days. And after Diane had given voice to suspicions regarding Max and Liz in her check in call yesterday he'd thought about it and reached the same conclusion as she did. Somehow they'd healed whatever rift had been between them for the last year. And while part of him secretly rejoiced for his little girl's happiness, the father in him had other ideas. Accordingly he said, "Liz, you should know better than that! It's a school night! And besides that, while we may like Max, he's a guy in love with a girl." He glanced at his wife and gave a half smile. "And as I recall from my days in that state, it colors your thinking a lot. And since the girl in question is *our* daughter, we're not allowing any late night rendezvous while his parents are out of town."

Nancy nodded in agreement, but was curious none the less. "Honey what did you mean when you said this had to do with looking after things for Phil and Diane?"

Liz paused to collect her thoughts. Her dad had just scuttled plan A. Any wheedling or begging now would just irritate her parents. Time for plan B. Accordingly she took another deep breath and started over.

"Max is worried about Isabel. Ever since Alex died we've had this feeling like she was stonewalling. Not dealing with her grief. Well, after the Whitman's funeral Friday she woke Max out of a sound sleep with a screaming nightmare. And again last night."

Nancy frowned with worry. "Does Diane know about this?"

Liz shook her head. "Not yet mom. She's a world class worrier, and she'd likely grab the first plane home if she knew. So Maria and I want to try our own prescription first. Ice cream and girl talk."

Nancy nodded understandingly. "So why not invite her here?"

Liz shrugged. "Max and I thought that she'd be more willing to let her hair down on her own turf. And if we wait until this weekend the opportunity to get at what's bothering her might pass."

Jeff cleared his throat. "Lizzie, as much as I admire your desire to help, I don't see how that changes the fact that you have homework, and it would put you and Max in the same house. Perhaps all night." He grinned ruefully. "Somehow you've chosen a parent's worst nightmare."

Liz blushed and said, "Well, the homework I can deal with. We've been into midterms all week. I took the last one today. Either the teachers were feeling generous, or they're up to their eyeballs in grading tests, because they didn't give us much to do today beyond some light reading. That I can handle. As for Max and I...um...Max foresaw your objection and he offered a compromise."

Jeff looked surprised. "This ought to be good," he thought. Then he asked, "Such as?"

Liz's blush deepened, but she went ahead. "He wants Maria and I to talk to Isabel. She's as much as told him that she wants to talk, but not to him. At least not yet. So, since your problem is not being able to keep an eye on us, he thought that you might settle for keeping an eye on one of us."

Jeff looked puzzled, but Nancy had an inkling of where this was headed. So she asked the question. "Which one?"

Liz smiled faintly and said, "Max. A trade. Me for him. He'll park himself here under your eyes all night. Doing homework, studying, reading, or helping out if you need him to. And he won't leave until I get back. Even if he has to spend the night."

Jeff looked nonplused. He wanted to object, but couldn't think of a valid reason to do so. Nancy on the other hand was elated and amused. She had long wished for a chance to study Max Evans close up under conditions where Liz wasn't there to run interference, and he couldn't escape. The thought of poor Max squirming under her studied stare as painfully funny as well. She had nothing against the boy, but instilling a little discomfort in him might serve to slow him down in the future. And she had to hand it to the kids. They took their desire to help Isabel seriously enough to inconvenience their desire to be together. She was proud of both of them on that account. So before Jeff could think of a reason to object Nancy spoke up.

"Sweetie? Exactly what time would this trade take place?"

Liz hide her joy well and said, "Around 8:00, give or take a little bit."

Nancy looked at her husband and lifted an eyebrow in query. He shrugged to say it was okay with him if it was okay with her.

"Okay Honey, you have our permission. Tell Max that he has a deal. But you don't leave until his butt is parked in a booth out there. And if you stay overnight, he stays overnight. Got it?"

Liz beamed happily. "Got it!"

At that moment a very hassled looking Maria DeLuca stormed the kitchen. "Liz! I'm dying out here! A little help please?"

Liz gave her parents both a quick hug and enthusiastic thank you's before dashing out to bus tables and wait on customers....and to place a telepathic call to Max informing him that his terms were acceptable to her parents.

Jeff and Nancy simply exchanged grins and went back to work. Though Nancy's smile lingered longer than Jeff's did. She was looking forward to instilling a little respect (spell that f-e-a-r) in Max Evans where her daughter was concerned.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-Aug-2002 1:30:47 AM ]
posted on 30-Aug-2002 1:46:57 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 8c
(Revelations)

The Crashdown.....7:30 PM

Liz Parker felt him before he walked in the door. Anyone looking at her in that moment would have recognized a resemblance to The Mona Lisa in that little half smile on her face. She turned towards the door and was already moving forward when Max Evans walked in. She walked straight into his arms without even breaking stride. After a quick kiss and a hug she escorted him to the ET booth and went to get a cherry coke and a bottle of tabasco.

The Crashdown had quieted down somewhat. The dinner crowd was mostly gone now. All that was left were a few transients, some late diners, and Jim Valenti enjoying a cup of coffee and a piece of pie at the counter.

Liz returned and slid back into the booth beside Max with her leg brushing against his. Max, whose blood pressure was starting to rise, rubbed his leg back for a moment and leaned over to kiss her before the sound of a clearing throat brought him to attention. He saw Nancy Parker regarding him with a frown.

Without preamble Nancy said, "You're early."

Liz gave her mother a vaguely disgusted look as Max pulled away from her blushing faintly. He smiled faintly and tried to put forward a brave face in the harsh light of motherly disapproval.

He said, "I didn't want Liz to have to wait around when she got off work, Mrs. Parker. And my time off today let me get the class work, that she dropped off to me, done early. I had so little left to do that I was actually reading ahead of some of my assignments."

Nancy's frown deepened as she glanced at Liz. "Time off?" she queried. "You don't look sick."

Liz made a vaguely impatient sound. "Mother! Quit interrogating him! If there's one thing that Max *isn't*, it's a slacker."

Max made calming motions towards his girlfriend. "It's okay Liz. It's all right. If you recall, your mom and dad are supposed to keep an eye on things for *my* mom and dad." He glanced at Nancy. "That would include me I suppose."

Nancy had to give Max high marks on being reasonable. She smiled faintly and nodded at her daughter. "Liz, Maria is getting changed, and Dolores is here early. Why don't you go get into some street clothes honey, and take off."

Liz regarded her mother suspiciously.

Nancy sighed. "Oh go on dear, I'm not going to eat him alive! I'm a mother! That gives me the right to play the heavy a bit where *any* kid is concerned." Then she added to herself, "Let alone one who's the odds on favorite to be my future son-in-law."

Liz shared a lingering look with Max, who gave her a brief 'parent safe' kiss before letting her go. Before she pulled away she murmured in his ear, "If you need me, call me. I'll call you later anyway."

Max stroked her cheek with his then let her go; saying, "Have fun Sweetheart!"

Max then turned towards Nancy who looked like she still had some questions to be answered. He smiled and motioned for her to sit down across from him.

Nancy returned to her original question. "Time off?"

Max nodded. "I was up most of last night sitting by Isabel's bed. I didn't go to bed until the wee hours of this morning. I didn't see the point in going to school."

Nancy winced. "How bad was it, Max?"

"Pretty bad Mrs. Parker," he answered. "I've *never* heard anyone scream like that before, let alone Iz. It was like she was a damned soul on judgment day."

Nancy looked concerned. "If she's that bad, shouldn't you contact your folks?"

Max flinched as he read between the lines and saw 'I should call Diane'. "Mrs. Parker I'm trying to balance things here. I'm trying for a measured response instead of bringing in the heavy artillery right off the bat. All that would happen is that my folks would hop the first plane home. And they couldn't be here for 24 hours even if they did. They've waited a long time for this trip. I'd rather try other options before I ruin it for them."

Nancy blinked. He was counseling her to prudence? Clearly Max had some depths she hadn't imagined. Before she could respond he continued.

"Isabel was pretty chipper when she got up. And she made it clear that she wants to talk, she simply *won't* talk to *me*. And she has said specifically that she *will* talk to Liz and Maria. So, here I set. As I see it, an evening of my time is a fair trade for leaving my parents free to enjoy the trade winds."

Nancy felt uncomfortable as she had to upgrade her assessment of Max Evans for the second time that evening. The remarkable maturity he was showing was at odds with how the protective mother in her wanted to see him. She was saved further thought by a loud crash in the kitchen. She leapt to her feet and, followed by Max, dashed back into the kitchen to find her husband muttering imprecations over the dishwasher. As they watched he cursed softly and backed away from the balky machine.

Looking at his wife Jeff grimaced. "Well, it's not a question anymore of whether or not we strike a good balance this quarter. It's good and well busted."

Nancy sighed and glanced at the clock. They had over two hours until closing. She turned to Max and spoke. "You're sure that you're caught up on your school work?"

Max nodded. "Completely sure. Why?"

Nancy gave him a long suffering look. "I hope that you and Liz don't take this the wrong way, but how would you feel about washing some dishes? "

Max laughed. "I'd be delighted."

Nancy showed him the routine and then stepped aside to let him work. She glanced at Jeff whose eyes were twinkling somewhat before he shrugged and went back to work himself. She smiled softly at Max's back and retreated to the stockroom while musing over the same thing that every good mother does, sooner or later. That perhaps she'd raised her daughter right after all, and that as a result said daughter had some pretty good taste in men.

Max had only been at it for a few minutes when an elbow nudged him and Michael asked in a sardonic voice, "What'd you do to get sentenced back here?"

Max shrugged. "It's the only way they'd let Liz spend some unsupervised time with Isabel. They trust us, within limits, and spending the evening at my house with the folks gone is beyond them for now, unless I'm gone too."

Michael grinned. "I suppose they told you that, as the cook, I have the lowly dishwashers under my command? Look alive Your Majesty, we're running out of forks!"

Max groaned and muttered something about 'never seeming to escape alien tyrants'. As he set to work again he muttered, "It's gonna be a long night."

The Evans Household.....7:50 PM

The doorbell rang three times before Isabel reached it. She jerked the door open to find Liz standing patiently and Maria reached for the doorbell a fourth time. The door hadn't even finished opening before Maria was through it with a mumbled apology, vanishing up the stairs like a shot. Isabel stared a question at Liz, who shrugged and said with a grin, "Too many iced coffees". Isabel chuckled and motioned her inside. Closing the door she followed Liz into the living room where they were joined a few moments later by a chastened and seriously *relieved* Maria. Before Isabel could speak Maria broke in, apologizing profusely.

"Sorry I was so...um..rude Isabel. It's just that I've been worried and wound up. So I took out my frustrations with caffeine."

Isabel laughed and waved at her to sit down while she relieved Liz of the grocery sack of ice cream she was carrying, "We've all been there and done that at one time or another." Then she considered before continuing. "Ladies, you have some homework to finish up before we get down to some serious girl stuff. What do you say I leave you to it? I'll just slip this," as she hefted the ice cream, "in the freezer. Then I'll go hide out in my dad's office for a while. Just come and get me when you're ready to start the party."

Liz looked at Maria and shrugged. It suited her. For Maria's part, she was studying Isabel with a critical eye. Looking for signs of serious emotional strain. She found none. If anything Isabel's impish grin betrayed high spirits and good news. Catching Liz's shrug she nodded and spoke.

"Sounds like a plan. The gods of education were kind to us today. We don't have anything more than some reading to get done. And I'd guess that we can clean that up in an hour or an hour and a half", She said.

Isabel nodded. "Okay then, I'll be waiting. See you in about ninety minutes."

With that she beat a retreat into the kitchen. In a few minutes she returned with some drinks before heading back to her father's office and her continuing research on Seattle and it's martial arts studios.

Once she was out of earshot Maria turned to Liz and spoke.

"This ought to be good," she said. "Did you see her?"

Liz looked puzzled. "See what? She looked all right to me."

Maria nodded. "That's just it! Remember why we're here? Does she look like a girl at the end of her emotional rope to you? Whatever is going on, I have this funny feeling that you and I are about to step off into the alien moderated Twilight Zone again, Chica."

Liz giggled. "Well, whatever it is, we won't find out any quicker if we don't get busy."

Maria gave an exaggerated sigh at her friend's display of common sense and collapsed into a chair to begin reading her history text. Liz followed suit, cracking her english book and beginning to read. Such was the spur of their curiosity that it was comfortably under the ninety minute deadline when Liz quietly padded into Mr. Evans' office to find Isabel intently hunched over his computer. Reading over her shoulder made Liz even more curious.

"Martial arts?" she thought. "What the hell was up with *that*?"

Liz cleared her throat and Isabel turned casually, making no effort to hide what she was working on. Following the direction of Liz's stare she chuckled.

"It ties in with what we have to talk about, Liz. Trust me."

Liz stared at her for a moment then gave her an impish grin. "Okay, I'll buy it. Lets get the ice cream and make with the powwow. Last one to the kitchen is a rotten egg!"

Ten minutes later the girls comfortably ensconced around the living room, each with a dish of their favorite diet destroyer. As Liz and Maria watched Isabel had unwrapped a newly purchased CD and started it running on the stereo. The only odd thing that struck both Maria and Liz at the same time was her choice of music. The Isabel that they knew wasn't exactly a golden oldie sort of girl. They both studied Isabel as The Righteous Brothers crooned in the background. She was making an intense study of her ice cream, but seemed to be eating very little of it. When she looked up they both caught a hint of strain on her face. Liz thought that she had hit on it after all. That it was unexpressed grief. She couldn't have been more wrong.

Isabel was upset all right, but her trepidation had nothing to do with grief. It was fear. Now that the moment of truth was here, what would they think? They loved Alex as much as she did. Would they hear her out? Or would they simply drop a net over her? Isabel sighed as she studied the questioning and concerned looks on both their faces. It was now or never. Time to...umm..let the cat out of the bag. So thinking, she cleared her throat and got the ball rolling.

"Liz? I need to ask you some thing personal."

Liz had been waiting and watching for some minutes, wondering how to get things started. She was relieved when Isabel saved her the trouble, but surprised by her request. And even more by the solemn serious way in which it was presented.

"Absolutely Isabel. Anything at all", she answered.

Isabel took a bite of ice cream as she considered just how to word what she wanted to say. "Um, your connection with my brother. How did it work exactly? Early on I mean?"

Liz had been in the act of lifting a spoonful of ice cream when Isabel asked her question. She put the spoon down and frowned in thought. "What the hell does *that* have to do with anything?" she wondered silently. Then she realized that Isabel was waiting on her answer. Liz opened her mouth then realized that she had never really given it serious thought. Not enough to describe it anyway. Time to dig a little further. So she asked. "Exactly how do you mean, Isabel?"

Isabel looked thoughtful. "I mean how did it work? I don't mean the flashes. I mean did you sense him? Did you know he was there, even when he wasn't?"

Liz nodded. "Sometimes. Not always, not until we were apart for so long. It's like the separation boosted our sensitivity to unbelievable levels. I always knew when and where he was. I could feel him at times, like this buzz in the back of my mind. If there was one strong overriding emotion, I could get a sense of what it was. It was unpredictable. So unpredictable that I had to be careful about sorting out whose feelings were whose. Which ones were from me, and which from him." Liz paused for breath, the went on. "Now though, since we...um..fused, it's easy. Words and feelings flow naturally, and I have no trouble sorting out his from mine." Liz looked up at Isabel. "Does this make sense to you? Why did you want to know? And what does this have to do with your dreams?"

But Isabel wasn't listening. She had a far away look in her eyes. Mulling over Liz's words, she turned her gaze inward and reached out along the gossamer tether that seemed to bind her to Alex. Gently she stroked the nexus of thought and emotion associated with him. This seemed a little easier for her than Liz had just described. But, as the alien half of this duo, it probably would be. She wished that she could get Max's opinion on that. "Is it like this for Alex?", she wondered in thought. "Separation is the word that Liz used. I guess absence really *does* make the heart grow fonder...and the bonding grow stronger."

"ISABEL!" The sound of her name snapped her out of her introspection and she looked around to find Liz and Maria regarding her with worry. Liz was the one who had shouted at her.

"Er, sorry. I must have dozed for a second," was all that Isabel could get out.

Maria wasn't buying it. "Dozed hell, Iz. You zoned out on us, alien style. Now what the *hell* is going on? Max is scared, and we're worried! So spill!"

Isabel poked halfheartedly at her ice cream and sighed. "You're gonna think that I'm crazy," she said as she ate a spoon full.

Liz glanced at Maria, who was fairly quivering with anticipation. "Try us," Liz said.

Isabel took a deep breath and began. "Okay, last Friday night after the funeral I went to bed and I had a dream."

Maria pursed her lips and answered, "That much we know. What has this got to do with Max and Liz's bond?"

Isabel hesitated then continued. "It was weird. Dreams I've had. And I've performed dreamwalks. But this was the first time I've ever dreamt a dreamwalk...if you get what I'm driving at?"

Liz looked puzzled. "Your dreamed that you were in a dreamwalk? What's so bad about that?"

Isabel shuddered at her remembered fear and shock. "For one thing I'd never imagined that it could happen. It's like, in my mind, dreams and dreamwalks were mutually exclusive. So it didn't make sense. And if it *were* a dreamwalk, then I didn't consciously initiate it. And then there was the content....."

Neither Liz nor Maria had missed Isabel's shudder.

"The content?" Liz asked. "What was it about?" Then daylight dawned. "Are you saying that you think that it *was* a dreamwalk? That you entered someone's dreams without realizing it? Like with Laurie Dupree?"

Maria had been studying Isabel intently. "She's saying more than that, Liz. She's saying that whoever it was, she now has a bond with them. Like yours with Max." Maria put down her empty ice cream bowl then went on. "That *is* what you're trying to tell us, isn't it Izzy? Who is it? Someone we know? Or someone new?"

Liz was flabbergasted. Max was hinting around about them trying to get Isabel interested in someone new. And now it appeared that she just might have stolen the march on them. Hesitantly she asked, "Isabel, are you saying that you have a boyfriend?"

Isabel started violently "What?! NO!" Then she calmed. "No, it's no one new." Then she developed a soft smile. "In fact it's someone old, you might say."

Maria was suspicious. "You sound like you're sure that it was a dreamwalk."

Isabel nodded. "I'm sure. The next night, on the off chance that it was, I tried to connect deliberately. I made it. And again last night as well."

Maria focused on Isabel's terror and on the "someone old" comment. "Isabel, please tell me it wasn't K'var?"

Isabel winced and then grinned. "I said 'old' Maria, not fossilized."

Maria snickered and nodded, feeling relieved. "Okay so who?"

Isabel paused with her mouth open. It was the moment of truth, and her vocal chords had just gone on strike.

Liz took in her hesitancy. Without understanding it, she knew that this was make or break. So she prodded. "Isabel, please tell us? Who was it? And why is it so upsetting? I promise, even if it *were* K'var, we wouldn't freak."

Isabel took a deep breath and muttered, "Oh, you'll freak all right." Then in a normal tone she went on. "I need something from you both first. A solemn promise of silence until we're done here tonight. Doubt me all you want while we're talking. Call me crazy, but don't call the guys. I'm not ready to bring them in on this until we three thrash it out. You'll see why in a second. Liz, once I shoot my mouth off, Max is going to feel your emotional turmoil meter go through the roof. And he's going to want to know what's going on. No telepathic chit chat please? Please?" Glancing anxiously back and forth between her two girl friends, who were looking increasingly mystified she asked, "Do I have your promise?"

Liz and Maria were both feeling like they were about to take a big leap into the unknown. Whatever was troubling Isabel was major. And apparently not just for her. For all of their group. But both gave their word without hesitation.

"Cross my heart and hope to die," said Maria.

Liz nodded. "You have my word Isabel."

Isabel closed her eyes and summoned her courage as tears began to leak, then she took the plunge.

"It was Alex. He's alive."

McCleod's Dojo.....10:05 PM

Cassandra was standing next to the bed of the already sleeping Alex Whitman when she finished quietly reciting words in a language that was already old when Gilgamesh was a stripling boy. Then she made one slow pass of her hand over the sleeping boy's head and torso. Alex stirred briefly then settled back into deep slumber. As soon as he had settled she spoke in a more normal voice and said, "All right, it's done. You can come in now!"

The bedroom door opened to admit Duncan and Amanda to the room. They both surveyed the their sleeping ward curiously.

"He won't wake up?" Amanda asked.

Cassandra chuckled. "No, he won't. The spell will keep him asleep until I release it. You could set a bomb off under his bed right now, and he'd sleep right through it."

Amanda looked curious. "If the idea was to put him to sleep, wouldn't it have been easier for us to just slip a little something into his supper?"

Cassandra frowned as if she tasted something bad. "Not really. Drugging him might have interfered with, or even completely suppressed, his natural dream cycle. If Duncan is right about this, I want him to dream."

Duncan sighed. "Oh, I think that I'm right. Now what?"

Before answering, Cassandra walked out into the hall and retrieved the large flat rosewood case that she'd brought with her. It was only about three inches thick, but nearly five feet square and heavily decorated with white scroll work in Native American symbols. Undoing the snap locks she opened it, revealing what had to be the great grand daddy of all Amerind 'dream catchers'. It was enormous, completely filling the case. And it was far more ornate than the usual sort of thing that tourists turn up with. There was an air about it that suggested great age. Cassandra whispered a prayer then picked it up and moved towards a picture hanging on the wall. Removing the picture she replaced it with the dream catcher. She muttered another prayer as she passed a hand over the dream catcher. The feathers that were integrated into it stirred briefly in the breezeless room, and then settled.

"There," she said, "now we wait."

Amanda looked at the artifact curiously. Her experience in assessing and stealing antiquities of all kinds led her to believe that what she was looking at was priceless.

Noticing her interest Cassandra spoke. "It's over two hundred years old. It was a gift from a Lakota Shaman named Burning Wind."

Amanda's eyebrows rose. "What's it for?"

Cassandra chuckled and waved her hand at the sleeping Alex. "The trap is baited." Then she indicated the dream catcher. "And the alarm has been set. If Duncan is right, and she comes tonight, I'll know about it when it happens."

Amanda nodded. "Then what?" she asked.

Cassandra looked somber. "Then I go into the undermind and see about having a little 'chat' with Alex's hypothetical nocturnal visitor."

Amanda looked stunned. All she could say was..."Oh".

End Of Part 8


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 30-Aug-2002 3:26:36 AM ]
posted on 30-Aug-2002 3:36:35 AM
Choc79 You want more? You sure about that? The next part up is the infamous part 9....you want to go to Miami in a *good* mood. Rather than trading your ticket in for one to Ohio so you can track me down and impale me. *big*

I didn't choose my icon lightly. Mwuuuhahahaha...!

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 30-Aug-2002 3:45:40 AM ]
posted on 30-Aug-2002 10:01:20 AM
MaryJean Welcome to my world! LoL That's me...a Blue Rider! *wink* Regarding Methos....hmmm...a little spoilage is in order. Yes, you will be seeing him in an *extensive* flashback *after* part 9.. More I will not say.

How can anyone *not* love Anne McCaffrey? As a younger man I had a dreadful crush on Menolly. *wink* My fav book was always the story of Jaxom and Ruth..."The White Dragon". I was always pulling for him to get together with Menolly...but Sharra isn't a bad sort. *wink* Have you read the "Ship" stories? Or the Doona books? Love them too! I have a couple of thousand titles on the shelf, and Mistress Anne's work is a large section. Second only after Heinlein I think. *big*

Everyone Be careful what you wish for. Part 9 is a monster. It will have to be posted in *four* parts, not three. I'll e-mail it into work tonight, and if the computer Gods are kind, I'll post it....then leave you to howl for my blood for a few days. (insanely evil laughter) If not, it may have to wait until Monday night, because this is shaping up to be a busy weekend.

Trude Good news! I'm on a freakin' roll here! I can see daylight at the end of the tunnel! I need to get this...er...scene...finished. I'm close. Then I have a few...er...experts (other writers) lined up for a test read. If it flies, we're in business!

LXC Try not to gloat too much when these poor folks realize that you so were *not* kidding! *wink*

Thanks again for the generous feedback everyone!

Laters folks!

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-Aug-2002 10:16:22 AM ]
posted on 31-Aug-2002 12:57:13 AM
Ladylou Welcome to the world of my twisted imagination! Let me know what ya think!

Roswellady Stay tuned and see... *wink*

Rim Your wish is my command! *big*

Aussie_Dreamer Stick with me my friend. Like I said at the opening, this fic may spin on an A/I axis, but it's Dreamer and Candy friendly territory. Point of fact, the scene in part 12 that I'm currently stressing over is a nookie piece...and what pushed this fic's rating from R to NC-17. Damnit! Max and Liz just can't "do it" without tearing my creative process to bits! *big* See ya 'round ficdom!

dzdreamer Thanks for the accolades, but watch it. You'll swell my head so badly that I won't be able to get through doors anymore.

I've read all the authors you listed, and more. Brin, DeCamp, Adliss, Blish, Henderson, Asimov and so many many more. Growing up they were my only friends in a less than salubrious family environment. Of the ones that you listed I have fond memories of the Flinx books...the last one I saw was Mid-Flinx (Flinx visits MidWorld). Foster's "Spellsinger" books were topnotch. Though his tales of the Humanx Commonwealth were my fav. Like "Sentenced to Prism" and "Nor Crystal Tears". Dickson's "Love Not Human" was like a primer for Roswell's alien/human love theme. *wink* And Piper, alas poor Beam. I always wanted to visit Zarathustra and meet The Fuzzies!

But enough nostalgia! You folks are here for another reason. I'm here and Part 9 is floating in my e-mail queue. Time to roll up my sleeves and get to work. Let me get some cotton in my ears to drown out the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth to come, and I'll be right with you.

One thing....I herewith make an IRONCLAD PROMISE. You *will* get a happy ending. Count on it. Be you Dreamer, Candy, Or Gazer.

See ya in a bit people.....

Added in Edit: dzdreamer Jessi is short for Jessica. A very nice young lady that runs a little Roswell fic archive and message board called "Desert Dwellers Fanfic". It was the first place I posted "Still Yours" in it's draft stage. I was still learning how to write then. Here's the link to it.... http://jessifanfic.com/roswell/index.shtml

Happy reading...

[ edited 5 time(s), last at 31-Aug-2002 3:06:03 AM ]
posted on 31-Aug-2002 1:09:12 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

Author's Note: Just a reminder. Cassandra's dialog in Voice will appear thus...""Dialog"".

"The time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of many things.
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax. Of cabbages and kings."
-Lewis Caroll-




STILL YOURS - Part 9a
(Of Cabbages and Kings)

The Evans Household......10:05 PM Monday Night

Liz and Maria stared at each other thunderstruck. This was awful. It was impossible. It was tragic. It was all of the above! They hadn't seen it coming, and Isabel's tears were forestalling any attempt at a response on their part. They waited together silently for Isabel to pull herself together.

Maria broke the silence first. "Isabel," she said gently, "Alex is dead. Max saw him. There's just no way...."

Isabel cut her off. "I know all that Maria!" she snapped. Then she sighed. "I'm sorry Maria, I shouldn't have been so bitchy. It's just that I've been scared to death the last three days. And the more I learn, the more frightened I become."

Liz finally broke out of her own mental vapor lock and said, "I can see where having dreams like that would scare you. But Isabel, he can't be alive. We went to his funeral. We were all there. Jim Valenti identified his body. So did his parents. And Max too. He simply can't be alive. There's just no way. Surely you can see that?"

Isabel sighed. "Look, you promised not to tell the guys. I think there's an implied fair hearing in there don't you? Will you listen instead of telling me what can't be?"

Liz started to speak then held up her hand. "You were right Isabel. Max is signaling for a connection. Hang on while I deal with this will you?"

Isabel broke in. "Liz, you promised! No head talk!"

Liz froze. It had been the natural thing for her to do. But she *had* promised. She sighed deeply then stood and walked over to Isabel. Taking Isabel by the hands and looking her in the eyes, Liz spoke. "Iz, I promised not to tell him, and I won't. But I have to take this. I'm not trying to split hairs on you, honest. A promise is a promise. But if I don't answer, he's going to assume that something has gone disastrously wrong. After that, one of three things is going to happen. He'll leave the Crashdown and race back here, thus breaking our word to my parents. Or he might use the phone...but he'll be pissed at both of us. Or he'll stick to the plan and be *majorly* pissed at *me*. Anyway you look at it, it sucks. The only way that it won't suck is if you trust me to take the call, and not spill the beans." Liz gave Isabel's hands a gentle squeeze. "The other night I made a decision to place my fate with Max and our group in your hands. I never made a better choice in my life. I trusted you. Trust me now...please?" By now Liz was blinking a few tears away.

Isabel was shedding a few of her own tears when she released Liz's hands and pulled her into a hug and said, "And I never made a better choice than I did when I decided to intervene." Isabel gave Liz a kiss on the cheek. "And my brother never made a better move than he did the day that he saved your life! Go talk to him Liz, and get him to chill." With that she released Liz after tightening her hug just a bit to let her know that she meant what she said.

Liz nodded. "Thanks Iz. I'll just be a minute." Then she sat down as her eyes got that vacant look that they always did when she turned inward to converse with the love of her life.

The Crashdown....10:05 PM...45 minutes until close.

Max paused with a soapy dish in his hand as he felt Liz's anxiety spike sharply. He instinctively began nudging their connection, seeking contact. After a few moments he felt her assent and the connection began to deepen. "~Liz? What's wrong Baby?~"

Liz sent him a mental kiss. "~I won't say nothing is wrong Max, because you know that I'd be lying. You'd feel it. But I can tell you that things are under control. She just surprised me that's all. I was right, Alex is at the root of her problems. But I promised her not to bring you into it until we've thrashed it out. Maria made a similar promise about Michael.~"

Max sighed. "~So I guess I just wait it out?~"

Liz answered, "~I'm sorry Sweetheart, but I'm afraid so. Which brings me to my next issue. I think this is going to be an all nighter, so as soon as we're done I'm calling my mother to let her know.~"

Max launched a wave of love and gratitude towards her. "~That's okay Liz, whatever it takes. But I'll miss you.~"

Liz chuckled. "~I miss you to Love, now I'd better scoot before Isabel thinks that I'm ratting her out. Oh, and beware Sweetie. If Iz pulls out any more surprises like this last one, you'll probably feel my emotions going like a yo-yo. Sorry Love.~" Liz gave him a brief mental nuzzle, then she began to back away.

Max sighed in acceptance and returned her nuzzle with the words, "~Good night Sweetheart! I love you! And good luck!~"

From far away Liz's mind voice came. "~G'night Max! I love you!~"

Then the connection was broken. Or rather damped down to it's low level norm.

Five minutes later Jeff Parker came into the kitchen. " Well Max", he said, "Nancy just got off the phone with Liz. Apparently her little therapy session is going well, but she wants to stick with it. So it looks like you're our guest tonight. Does that suit you?"

Max shrugged with a grin. "It's what I signed up for sir. I knew the job was dangerous when I took it."

Jeff stifled a laugh, but his eyes were twinkling. "Well, we'll try not to leave any bruises that show. I hope you don't mind sleeping in Lizzie's bed tonight."

There was a choking sound from across the kitchen. Jeff and Max swung in its direction.

"Something Michael?" Jeff asked.

Max simply glared.

Michael pretended to be extremely busy with the grill in order to hide an uncontrollable grin. "Do I mind sleeping in Lizzie's bed sir?" he thought. "Oh no sir! I found it very comfortable the other night when I *slept* with your daughter sir!" Hello to half-alien blood just all *over* the floor. Clearing his throat he tossed a reply over his shoulder. "Nope, just a little dry throat is all."

Jeff nodded. "Well get something to drink. It's almost time to close, and the place is near empty. If Dolores has something to do, just walk out and get it yourself. You won't shock anyone." Turning to Max he asked, "You brought a change of clothes?"

Max nodded. "And a few small items. Razor, toothbrush, comb and such."

Jeff clapped him on the shoulder. "All right then. Back to work We close at eleven sharp, and I expect you to be wrapped up by eleven thirty and be in bed not to long after that." Jeff started to walk away, then he paused. "Oh, and Max?"

Max looked up. "Yes sir?"

"Don't forget to take out the garbage. The truck comes early." Then Jeff went back upstairs to rejoin his wife.

Max turned back to ream Michael for his untimely slip, but the swinging kitchen doors indicated that he had already fled out front to get a drink. Muttering under his breath, Max returned to work.

Michael was drawing a cherry coke when he heard the sound a throat being cleared. He turned to find Jim Valenti seated at the counter sipping a cup of coffee. Michael frowned, then he walked over to where Valenti was sitting.

"You've been in here an awful lot today Sheriff," Michael said in a low voice. "Is there something cooking I should know about? Trouble?"

Jim shook his head. "I'm not sure Michael. I need to talk to Max. While I was here earlier I couldn't catch him alone, but I overheard something about him being here tonight. Is he back in the kitchen?"

Michael smirked. "Filling in for a busted dishwashing machine while Liz does an all night thing at his house."

Jim smiled as his eyebrows rose. "My oh my, the things a man will do for love...or to get in good with his love object's parents."

Michael nodded. "Yup, he's whipped all right. Look, he has to take the garbage out at closing. There's nothing that says he can't do it a bit early. Why don't you meet him around back?"

Jim smiled his thanks. "Thank you Michael. I'll see you later."

Michael answered, "Anytime for our favorite law enforcement officer. Go ahead, I'll send him right out."

With that Valenti stood up and dropped some money on the counter for the coffee and the tip, then headed for the door. Once he was outside Michael returned to the kitchen. There was nothing happening so he walked over to Max and tapped him on the shoulder. Max turned with a frown.

"Just what the hell were you trying to do a moment ago Michael?" Max asked. "Get me killed? Or worse, leave me alive but banned from seeing Liz until we all die of old age?"

Michael chuckled. "Hey Fearless Leader, I performed the save didn't I? Honestly Max, I'm sorry. It was simply Mr. Parker's question about Liz's bed. It was too funny for words."

Max's frown battled with the inherent humor of the moment. Battled and lost. He chuckled. "Just don't let it happen again. I hope to marry Liz one day. And I won't be worth much to her on our wedding night if her father turns me into soprano now...will I?"

Michael's eye's dancing. "True, but you'll sing so beautifully at the wedding." Then he ducked as Max took a playful swing at him. "Anyway, it's time to take out the trash."

Max glanced at the clock. "What are you talking about? I have over half an hour yet!"

Michael nodded and then indicated the alley door with his eyes while mouthing the word "Now". Max frowned, then shrugged and hefted the kitchen garbage cans as well as the bags from out front and headed for the alley. Carrying the garbage can and bags he approached the Crashdown's dumpster and tossed the bags first. After emptying garbage can he had turned to head back to the kitchen when he heard a familiar voice call out quietly. "Max?"

Max froze and scanned the alleyway. After a moment a shadow detached itself from the wall twenty feet past the restaurant's back door. It was Jim Valenti.

"What can I do for a friend this evening, Sheriff?" Max asked.

Jim chuckled. "It's more like what the friend can do for you. I don't know what this means yet. But I have information on something odd. Something the team may be interested in."

Max frowned. "I *knew* that things were too quiet!" he thought. Aloud he asked, "What's been happening?"

Jim had a far away look on his face. "When I got into the office this morning I had a telexed information request from Toronto, Canada in my in box. It was couched as a fugitive information request. I checked the source and verified that it's from a respectable skip trace outfit based in Canada. One that operates on both sides of the border."

Max wore a puzzled look. "What did they want to know?"

Jim regarded him soberly. "Background information and known associates of one Alex Whitman."

Max heard a roaring sound in his ears. He staggered, but held himself erect by propping himself up with one arm against the alley wall. Shaking his head to clear it he looked at Jim Valenti, who was looking very worried.

"Max, are you okay?" Jim asked.

Max shuddered. "I think so, but I'll know better in just a second. Because I could have sworn that you said that you received an official information request on....Alex?"

Jim nodded. "That's exactly what I said. Someone wants to know about him and anyone associated with him."

Max sat down on an empty crate with a thump. Cradling his head between his hands he scrubbed at his face briefly then looked up at the Sheriff. "The Feds?" he asked in a weak voice.

Jim Valenti looked thoughtful. "I doubt it. If it were them, why would they take such risks, why use such clumsy subterfuge, and tip their hand while they're at it? If the coroner's report had shown anything "alien" I'd have known about it. And I suspect that, if they had anything...I'd have known about *that* too. Ever since Peirce I've been alert for any signs of Fed activity. That bunch doesn't know the meaning of the words "subtle" or "overkill". The Special Unit may be history, but the principles it operated under are still there. If they had anything I wouldn't have gotten a telex from them, I'd have had a flock of suits it my office faster than you can say "illegal wire tap". And like I pointed out, they wouldn't risk compromising their security by using a third party to make their approach. Stuff like that they tend to keep 'in the family'."

Max sighed as his initial reaction calmed. "So what's it about then?"

Jim Valenti shrugged. "I haven't the foggiest. But I sent back a non report, claiming that he had no friends and was a confirmed loner, because the last thing we want is attention directed at his 'friends'....meaning you, Michael, and Isabel. As well as the rest of us. Then I notified Brody. He'll use a few contacts and grease a few palms, to try and feel out what's happening. I brought it to you for two reasons. For one thing, he was a member of the family, so to speak. You deserved to know. The other is, did you ever get a hint that he or his family might have been into something that wasn't strictly kosher?"

Max looked flabbergasted. "Not a chance, Sheriff. Not Alex. Not his folks. As arrows go, they're the straightest in the quiver. They certainly wouldn't rate this kind of attention."

Jim nodded. "So I thought. But I wanted you to know and get your opinion at the same time. Brody and I will keep checking discreetly. In fact, one thing that just occurred to me is that someone, a criminal, may be running around out there using Alex's identity."

Max's face hardened like granite. That such people actually existed.... "If you learn anything else let me know, will you Sheriff? If someone *is* out there dirtying Alex's memory, I'd like to help do something about it! After everything that's happened, he doesn't deserve *that*, of all things!"

Jim Valenti reached out and took Max's hand, pulling him to his feet. "Will do Max. I assume that you're telling the others?"

Max paused in thought. "Michael yes. The girls no, not yet. My sister still hasn't come to terms with Alex's death. Besides which, right now she seems to be going through a rough patch in that regard. And I'd hate to think of what Liz and Maria would do if they even suspected that someone was out there using Alex's identity. They can be relentless when they're pissed."

Jim Valenti nodded with understanding, and extended his hand. "Okay, your call. I'll talk to you later, Max. Have a good night."

Max shook Valenti's hand and bid him good night before wandering back into the Crashdown in a daze.

As he arrived in the kitchen a glaring Michael intercepted him. "For cryin' out loud Max! What happened out there? Did you get lost?" Then he noticed that distant troubled expression on Max's face. "Max? What's wrong buddy?"

Max snapped out of the thousand yard stare he was in and focused on Michael. "Tell ya in a minute. Right now I have to take a call."

Max turned his gaze inward and allowed his connection to Liz to open fully. She'd been storming the ramparts of his mind for the last ten minutes. Ever since his emotions had gone berserk out in the alley. Liz and he were going to have to learn to keep a lid on things like this....they couldn't go pestering one another every time one of them banged their shin or got ticked off about something.

As the connection unfolded like a flower, Liz's presence flooded his awareness with her love and concern.

"~MAX! Just what the *hell* is going ON over there!!??~"


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 31-Aug-2002 1:38:09 AM ]
posted on 31-Aug-2002 1:15:00 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 9b
(Of Cabbages and Kings)

The Evans Household...10:10 PM

Isabel and Maria disposed of the empty ice cream bowls while Liz was in conversation with Max. Maria had returned to the living room to sit on the love seat by Liz while Isabel stayed in the kitchen to load a tray with drinks and munchies. Chips, dips, nachos, salsa, drinks, ice...and of course, tabasco sauce. It took only a few minutes because she'd prepared much of it earlier. Returning to the living room with the tray fairly groaning she found Liz looking at her with clear eyes, indicating that she was home from Max-sylvania.

Maria jumped to her feet and cleared a place on the coffee table for the tray. Isabel sat it down and then flopped on the floor between the sofa and the coffee table. After getting comfortable she took a sip of her drink and looked at her friends. The silence streeeetched.

Isabel sighed. "So?"

Liz giggled. And Isabel frowned at her. "What's so funny?" she asked.

Liz continued to laugh but managed to wheeze out, "Us! We're acting like some Old West gunfighters meeting at high noon. We're each waiting for the other guy to draw!"

The humor wasn't lost on Isabel. She began to laugh and Maria joined her. But she sobered at a memory.

Liz's laughter died too as she saw Isabel's face fall. "What is it Isabel?" she asked.

Isabel sighed. "I just remembered Max saying something similar about his relationship with you, back before we ironed things out. He was so scared Liz. Terrified to do something. Terrified *not* to do something. I *don't* want that to happen here. Just hear me out, okay? The evidence is sketchy and subjective at best, but I'm not crazy. And I'm *not* imagining things."

Liz looked at Maria, who nodded and turned to Isabel. "We're here for you girl friend. And we won't let things get that way. Just between us girls we have more sense than to let that happen.....unlike our estrogen challenged better halves."

Liz nodded vigorously. "So start at the beginning and take your time. And don't leave anything out!" Then grabbed a paper plate and loaded it with plunder from the tray.

Isabel closed her eyes and collected her thoughts, then she took a deep breath and began to talk.

"It really started the night after the funeral, but as time has gone on I've been seeing things from before that didn't fit. Now they do."

"Like what?" Maria asked.

Isabel shrugged. "Like the fact that I couldn't seem to make myself grieve for Alex's death. I kept waiting for something to happen. For the catharsis to hit. It never did. Now I think that it's because I'm bonded to him, and that on some level my mind couldn't grieve because it knew he was still alive. I mean, on and off I've been sensing him for six months. I thought it was my imagination playing games with me. But the day of the funeral it was so strong it was like I could feel his breath on my neck." She looked at Liz. "Liz, do you remember at the end there, how I halted when we were leaving and looked back?"

Liz frowned and then nodded.

Isabel went on. "It's because I felt him more powerfully than I ever had before. Like he was actually there."

Maria was in the act of eating a nacho when she paused and asked, "Any particular reason for that?"

Isabel nodded. "Yes. Because he *was* there. On a low hill about a mile away, watching through binoculars."

Maria choked on her nacho and began to wheeze. Liz walloped her on the back and she swallowed mightily, then chased it with a gulp of coke. "He was WHAT?"

Isabel smiled. "You heard me, he was there. Watching. I busted him at it in dream walk. And I reamed him thoroughly, believe me."

Maria looked nonplused. "Iz, I don't know if I believe yet or not, but if it's true...then anything you could have done to him can't possibly match what *I'll* do to him when I catch him!"

Isabel looked pained. "Maria, I don't have all the information yet. But he may not have had a choice. I'll be going back in tonight, but from what I *have* been able to piece together he's trying to protect us."

Liz wore a puzzled look. "From what?" she asked.

Isabel's face softened with something like wonder as she said, "From what he is now."

Maria's face took on a shadow. "Okay, not liking your choice of words here. He's protecting us from *what* he is?"

Isabel nodded. "That's right. I said 'what'. Look, let me do this from the beginning, and just hold any questions. Then you look at what I have and see what *you* make of it. Okay?"

Maria nodded her assent, but Liz looked lost in thought...and white as a sheet. Maria glanced at her friend and said, "Liz? Chica? What's wrong?"

Liz's hand was shaking as she reached for her drink. "Something's wrong. Within the last minute Max's emotions are off the chart. I'm trying to raise him telepathically, but he isn't answering."

Isabel reached out and grabbed her purse. After fishing around for a second she came up with her cell phone. "We could call the Crashdown and ask."

Maria shook her head. "Thereby causing people to ask awkward questions about how we knew about whatever is happening there, should the wrong person happen to answer the phone? No, I don't think so."

Liz waved to get their attention. "Whatever is going on is ramping off. He's still tense, but his emotions are calming. He still won't answer my call though."

Isabel nodded. "He may be stuck talking to someone. Just keep up the pressure while we talk." She noticed Maria staring at her significantly. "What? He's my brother too. And if Liz reported that he was still off the scale we'd all be in your car and on our way by now. As it is, all we can do is wait."

Maria sighed and shrugged. "You're right of course." She glanced at Liz. "Are you okay to go on Liz?"

Liz smiled wanly. "Yeah, I'll be fine. But Max and I are going to have to work on some protocols here. I can't be panicking over every little thing."

Isabel nodded in agreement before starting in again. "Okay, where was I. Oh yeah, the night after the funeral. I was getting ready for bed and I had one of these 'talks' with Alex I usually have late at night. I open our yearbook, look at his picture, and talk to him. That must have triggered it. At some point I must have touched it and keyed the 'walk. Once I was asleep, the next thing I knew I was in a strange city, walking. I was near the sea, because I could smell salt in the air. Anyway, I kept hearing this music. It kept drawing me on until I arrived at this building that turned out to be a martial arts studio." Isabel glanced at Liz who had the question on her face. "That's right Liz, that's what I was surfing after on my dad's computer."

Maria cleared her throat. "Did I miss something? When was this?"

Liz spoke up. "When I went to get Iz to start this shindig, she had a page up on the screen about martial arts studios."

Maria nodded, then looked at Isabel. "Okay, go on."

Isabel continued. "Anyway, once I got inside, the place looked like a set from a Jackie Chan movie...except there were about a zillion candles lighting it, live singers singing, and Alex and 'I' were on the dance floor."

Maria waved her hand. "Sorry to interrupt, but what music?"

Isabel picked up the remote for the CD changer and consulted the back of the CD case that she had left on the coffee table. She hit the right numbers and the song began to play.

"Wo-oh my love, My Darlin'.
I've hungered for your touch,
A long, lonely time.
And time goes by, so slowly.
And time, can do so much.
Are you, still mi-I-ine?"


Liz blinked at the sting in her eyes. "Maria and I both wondered why you were suddenly into oldies. That's the music?"

Isabel nodded.

Maria coughed to clear the lump in her throat. "That's our Alex. He still knows romance, inside and out."

Isabel nodded again and added, "I remember thinking much the same thing. Then I started noticing some differences. People tend to carry their body image with them into their dreams. And Alex's was changed."

"Changed how?" Liz asked.

Isabel developed a distant look. "Older, harder, and more muscular. And the way he moved. Like a cat. He looked like he could take on any jock at West Roswell, break them in two, and keep on going without changing stride. And he looked sad and lonely, like he was carrying the weight of the world. When I called to him, the whole dream changed. The singers vanished, the music stopped, my alter ego disappeared. And then he walked over to me. He knew it was me. Not some dream conjuring. And he was scared for me to be there. That was when he touched me, and this connection thing flared up and I felt him."

"Felt him?" a spellbound Maria squeaked out.

Isabel was far away now. "His living presence. His soul. It's hard to describe, but it was him. My soul would know his anywhere."

Liz nodded encouragingly. "I know exactly what you're talking about Isabel. Exactly. I....." Liz broke off and sighed. "Max is answering, hang on a second."

Liz's gaze turned inward. As they watched she developed a frown that deepened then smoothed out to a blush. A few moments later she was back.

"Well?" Maria asked.

Liz sighed. "He wouldn't tell me."

Isabel gave a snort. "Wouldn't?"

Liz smiled wanly. "Yeah, wouldn't. He said that it was important, but not 'right now' important. And it would only 'serve to distract me from the business at hand'."

Maria looked like she'd bitten into something sour. "It sounds to me like maybe His Majesty is a bit miffed over being shut out of what's happening at the squaw party"

Isabel chuckled and said, "If he is, just leave him to me."

Liz shook her head slowly. "No, I can see his point of view. And it's every bit as valid as ours is. He has news, but it isn't relevant to what we have going here. So lets just skip it." She glanced at Isabel then resumed her attack on her chips and dip. "So, we left off with you and Alex in the dream walk. You formed this connection and things got out of hand from there. How am I doing?"

Isabel nodded. "Exactly right. As soon as I was aware that this was Alex I was dealing with, the real article, I freaked. I sat straight up in bed and shrieked at the top of my lungs." She rolled her eyes. "Hello to nightmare the first."

Maria looked fascinated. "Okay, then what?" she asked.

Isabel paused to gather her thoughts then went on. "Okay lets fast forward to the next night. After I got home from the ambush and light show," she paused to glance at Liz who was flushing red, " I was trying to stay awake. At that point I still thought that it was all some bizarre dream. Then I had this weird intuition and decided to follow it. I grabbed the yearbook and touched Alex's picture. Now, whenever I perform a dream walk, I use a picture to connect with my subject. The result is this funny distortion wave that races across the picture and vanishes. Well, when I touched Alex's picture I saw that wave, indicating that I had connected. And you can't connect with a ghost." She paused to grin. "Or at least I don't *think* that you can."

Maria looked irritated. "Ghosts have nothing to do with this anyway. Mush girl friend! Make with the explanations!"

Liz chuckled at Maria's impatience. Isabel flushed a faint pink, and then smirked.

"Just for *that* Maria, you get to wait while I visit the ladies room!" Isabel said. Then she jumped to her feet and dashed for the bathroom. When she got back a few minutes later, Liz was laughing at Maria who looked ready for a full out meltdown.

"Trouble?" Isabel asked.

Liz shook her head laughing. "I was just having a little fun with Maria. She's been antsy ever since you left."

Maria glared at Liz. "Stow it Chica. We have business to attend to." She switched her glare to Isabel. "Now, you were saying? Before you let a piffling thing like potty issues get in the way that is."

Isabel laughed. "I was only gone a couple of minutes! Okay, I'll try to pick up the pace. The next night I got in again, and this time was even more scary. Now that I knew it was a dreamwalk I was trying to be just another part of the landscape. Usually, if I don't actually draw attention to myself, I can go unnoticed. It helps in..um..information gathering."

Maria laughed. "In other words, it's better for spying. Right?"

Liz was taking a sip of coke when Maria spoke, and as a result she snorted a healthy amount and began coughing. In spite of that, and her streaming eyes, she still managed to laugh as she swatted weakly at Maria. "Don't say things like that when I'm taking a drink!" she gasped.

Maria, for her part, wore a look of innocence that simply said, 'Who me?' "I'm sorry Chica," she said merrily. "Just call it one of the hazards of being one of DeLuca's friends." Turning back to Isabel she went on, "You were saying, Mata Hari?"

Isabel shook her head with a smile and picked up where she'd left off. Telling them about the fight she'd seen, and the trip to the hill overlooking the cemetery. By the time she was done she saw her own feelings echoed in her girlfriends' faces.

Liz was the first one to speak. "So you don't think that the fight was real?"

Isabel nodded. "The guy was like a dream monster. Alex was giving as good as he got, but this guy was like the Terminator. Too good and too scary to be real."

Maria got her voice back next. "But from what that guy on the hill said this may be his life now. Headhunting for God's sake? Why? I mean, I can see why Alex would want to keep that away from us. I know him. This is him all over the place. He'd want to protect us at all costs, the idiot."

Liz nodded in agreement. "I've known him for years, and been tight with him most of that time. Yeah, he'd fall on his sword for us." She glanced apologetically at Isabel. "Forgive the pun."

Isabel smiled her forgiveness.

Maria broke in and asked, "But what was with the guilt trip those guys laid on Alex? I mean jeeez! It sounded like this was old hat to them!"

Isabel grimaced. "You noticed that too? It bothered me because it reminded me way too much of the 'keep off the humans' pep talk that Max, Michael, and I used to use on each other to prevent us from developing attachments. And the way that the big guy said it, referring to us as "ordinary mortals" bugged the hell out of me. Until last night."

Maria leaned forward. She had a feeling that this would be the clincher.

Liz was equally transfixed. "What happened last night?", she asked.

Isabel looked at them and saw belief written on their faces. Whether she had proven it, or they simply had faith in her, she didn't know. But what mattered was that they believed her. Blinking back tears she said, "I got in again. But that wasn't what had me in hysterics. Though I did see some disturbing stuff, it's what happened after the 'walk that gave me fits."

Maria snorted with impatience. "Don't keep us in suspense Iz! What happened?"

Isabel smiled weakly and sniffed. "He called me. On my cell phone. I talked to him. For real."

Neither Liz nor Maria said anything for a moment, then Liz crawled around the coffee table to reach Isabel. Once there she stood on her knees, placed her arms around the sniffling girl, and pulled Isabel's head down to her petite shoulder. That was all it took. Isabel gave in to her feelings and sobbed brokenly. Liz stroked her hair and whispered softly. "Shhhhh, let it out. That's what we're here for. Just let go of it."

Maria stood blinking back her own tears and walked unsteadily around the table to sit on the sofa behind Isabel. Once she was there she began rubbing the tension out of Isabel's shoulders.

It took a while, but Isabel cried herself out. Eventually she sat up, but not before kissing Liz on the cheek and gently trapping Maria's hand for the same purpose. "Th-th-thanks. I needed that. More than I knew. I'm afraid I did the same thing when he called too. I was so happy to hear his voice. But at the same time I was so angry at him for hiding from us. I just broke down."

Liz nodded as grabbed her drink and took a long swallow to clear the lump in her throat. Maria gave Isabel a quick hug from behind before returning to the other side of the table.

Maria studied Isabel solemnly. "Girl friend, you should have told us sooner. Carrying all this must have been driving you crazy."

Isabel gave a weak laugh. "I thought that maybe I *was* crazy. Or that *you* would think I was crazy. And besides," Isabel gave Liz a hug, "carrying this around was nothing compared to what Liz did in carrying what she did for us. With her as my example, how could I share this until I had proof?"

Liz elbowed her gently. "I don't recommend myself as an example of discretion. In hindsight I'd have done better taking the whole thing to you guys directly. At the very least I should have taken it to Max."

Isabel chuckled. "I'll take that under advisement. Until then you're stuck on a pedestal. For Alex too. He I told him how dogged you were in unraveling his murder."

Maria shifted uncomfortably. "Which brings us back to the subject at hand. What the hell happened? He obviously didn't die. So who was it that we buried?"

Isabel developed a haunted look. "I don't know Maria, I only know that Alex told me that if we were to dig that grave under his headstone up, we'd find it empty....now."

Maria swallowed. "So you're saying what? That he rose from the dead?"

Liz was looking skeptical, so Isabel took a deep breath and started in. She told them about the combat drill she'd seen, and the accident. And about the healing. Liz and Maria grew pale.

Liz spoke. "Do you think that they're..."

"...aliens?" Isabel finished for her. "I don't know. Taken together with Duncan and Richie's attitude on messing with "ordinary humans", it's the first thing that I thought of. But there's something of about the whole thing. That woman Amanda was mothering Alex. He didn't seem like a prisoner. If what I saw and what he said on the phone is anything to go by then he doesn't feel threatened by them. If anything he considers them friends."

Liz looked thoughtful. "None of which answers the question of who died six months ago. Obviously even Tess thought that it was Alex she killed."

Isabel sighed. "I don't know Liz. I just don't know. Here's what Alex said about it...and she recounted the phone conversation, along with its abrupt ending and accompanying wave of blinding fear from Alex."

Liz put an arm around her again and squeezed.

Maria folded her hands, her brow furrowed in thought. "So this is what we have. Alex says that he's different from regular humans. But not any sort of alien like Max, Michael, or you. Different, but not different enough to blow a blood test. Yet different enough to play dead for real and live to tell about it? That there are others like him, and that they just pop up as abandoned babies? That his life is now too dangerous for him to live it around us? And that he lived his life in complete ignorance of all of this? This is either too much information, or not enough."

Liz cleared her throat. "Not enough I'd say. That Duncan guy may have recovered quickly from a serious stab wound, but he obviously didn't enjoy the experience. And they're teaching Alex to fight with deadly weapons. Even if Alex is like Duncan, he still isn't invulnerable. If he were, why train to fight? I hate to say it but it sounds like he's being trained to war."

Isabel winced. "That's exactly what he called himself. A warrior."

Maria flopped back against the love seat. "You said that you were going back in tonight?"

Isabel nodded. "Come hell or high-water."

"Well, see if you can find out where he is will you?" she asked.

"Oops," thought Isabel. "I missed something." Then she went on aloud. "Um....I must have forgot to mention. I know where he is."

Both Liz and Maria stared at her as if she had sprouted a second head.

"Well! Don't keep us in suspense!" Maria burst out.

Isabel looked chagrined. "I'm sorry, there was just so much information! On the second 'walk I saw this odd building on the horizon. Like a spire with a UFO impaled on it. Given that people tend to incorporate their surroundings into their dreams, I guessed that it was a landmark where ever Alex was. It was pretty distinctive. It looked familiar, so I made a sketch and went to the library to do some research. I got no where until the librarian looked over my shoulder and recognized my sketch. She found this travelogue that had pictures. It's the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington.

"Seattle?" Liz breathed. Then she sat up and looked at Isabel. "Not just Seattle, but a martial arts school *in* Seattle. Right?"

Isabel nodded tiredly. "That'd be my guess."

Maria glanced at the clock on the fireplace mantle. It read 11:15 PM. Past their bedtime if they were going to be even half alive for school tomorrow. "Look, you said that you were going back in tonight, right?"

Isabel smiled indulgently as she nodded yes to confirm it again for an antsy Maria.

"Okay, it's past bedtime for all of us then." Maria said. "I move that we adjourn for tonight and reconvene in the morning to discuss anything new that you've picked up. All in favor say aye?"

With an awesome display of timing and coordination, both Isabel and Liz stifled yawns while mouthing, "Aye!" Both girls looked at each other and laughed.

"Tomorrow I'll take over the web surfing after martial arts places in Seattle if you don't mind Isabel" Liz said.

Isabel nodded tiredly. "Not a problem. I'm not half as computer savvy as I'd like to be. I found myself wishing more than once that I could appeal to Alex for his input."

Maria chuckled at Isabel's gambit then asked, "Sleeping arrangements? Who sleeps where?"

Isabel smiled. "Well, I didn't think that there was any way that we'd keep Liz out of Max's bed."

Maria laughed at the double entendre, while Liz flushed.

Isabel continued. "So I figured we'd toss a coin, the result decides whose bed you share DeLuca."

Liz snickered, but Maria affected not to notice. "Nothing against you girl friend, but I'll sleep with Liz," she said. "If you're going under to explore Alex's psyche again, I think the last thing that you need is me kicking you in your sleep."

Isabel grinned. "Suit yourself Maria. That's just more covers for me."

Isabel took the dishes into the kitchen and rinsed them while Liz and Maria grabbed their bags and headed for the bathroom to get ready for bed. By the time she'd rinsed the dishes and loaded the dishwasher they were already in bed. Isabel bid them both goodnight and went through her own preparations quickly. Getting into bed she pulled out the much used yearbook and studied Alex's picture. Reaching out with one finger she stroked the picture delicately. As she watched the expected distortion wave race across the picture she murmured. "Ready or not, here I come." She waved the light off, but instead of dropping the yearbook to the bedside floor as she had before, tonight she folded it tightly in her arms as if it were her lover. Sleep was beginning to take her when a soft knock on her door pulled her back. "Come in," she said drowsily. The door opened to admit Liz and Maria. They stood looking at her for a moment then approached the bed.

Liz sat on the edge of the bed and touched Isabel's hand before she spoke softly. "Iz, we're sorry to disturb you, but we have a favor to ask."

Isabel yawned. "Granted, but only if I don't have to get out of bed to do it."

Maria was standing behind Liz with her hand resting on Liz's shoulder. "You don't." She moved around Liz and leaned down to kiss a startled Isabel on the cheek, and Liz followed suit half a heart beat later."

Isabel looked puzzled. "What was that for?", she asked.

Liz smiled and said, "When you go, take our love with you. And when you see him.." Her voice hitched. "When you..." Her face crumpled as the central truth behind the events of this evening came home to her. "Tell him that we miss him!" she wailed.

Isabel sat up and laid the yearbook aside as she pulled the sobbing girl into her arms. Now it was her turn to offer solace. "Shhh! Don't worry. Before I leave him tonight, he'll know that you love him...if he doesn't already." Looking over Liz's shoulder she saw that Maria too was on the ragged edge. Opening one arm she beckoned the petite blond forward. For a long time she held both girls in a sisterly embrace, until they had cried themselves out. Once their sniffles died away they both stood, looking embarrassed. Isabel smiled to ease their feelings. "Don't worry, I'll bring him home to us, one way or another," she said.

Liz nodded her silent thanks, not trusting her voice. Then she fled the room. Maria managed to squeak out, "Thanks Izzy," before she followed Liz.

Isabel sighed and began to calm herself. As the balm of sleep began to pull her down once more, she groped for and found the battered annual. Cradling in close she settled back, already reaching out towards her sleeping soul mate with her mind. Her last waking thought was, "Geronimo!".


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 31-Aug-2002 1:18:06 AM ]
posted on 31-Aug-2002 1:34:23 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 9c
(Of Cabbages and Kings)

Liz's Bedroom....11:30 PM

Max was trying to get to sleep but the emotional roller coaster that Liz was on kept distracting him. And the fact that Liz's scent was all around him didn't help either. Between them they were contriving to drive him out of his mind. He had been occupying himself replaying the scene less than an hour ago when he'd shared Valenti's news with Michael. Michael had been torn between flat out disbelief and naked fury. In the end he had echoed Max's sentiments that, should it prove to be a criminal making use of Alex's good name that had triggered this, there wouldn't be a hole on Earth deep enough to hide him from them.

Max was about to try counting sheep again when Liz began to frantically page him over their bond link. It was only moments ago that he'd felt her emotional balance had pitch over hard. It had taken a supreme act of will on his part not to contact her. As a result he was a little grumpy. So he was overwhelmed when the link opened fully and Liz swarmed through it into his mind. She was borderline hysterical. "Good God!" he thought. "What the hell did Iz tell her? I sent her over there to deal with Isabel's issues, not grow some of her own!" Trying to calm her he said, "~Liz? Baby? What's the matter? Talk to me?~" Instead Liz went straight into close contact, forcing the link open further. His eyes widened as he realized what she was trying for. "~Liz Honey, I don't think this is a good...~"

She cut him off in a shaky mind voice, thick with emotion. "~Please Max, please. I need...I need you.~"

Max was shaking with the force of her need. He sat up in bed and reached for his clothes. "~I can be there in a few minutes Love, hang on.~" He was stunned by the force of her reply.

"~NO, too long! I need you now! And besides, if my parents find you gone, they'll know where you are. And we won't see each other again until we're old and gray. Please just let me...~"

Max felt the first flickers of what was to come, together with her love and overwhelming need. So he laid back down and relaxed, allowing their bond to dilate completely, giving himself fully to his lover's need.

*FUSION*

The entity that was greater than the sum of it's parts was aware again. It felt the distress in it's composite mind and reached for the source. It considered the evidence dispassionately and began constructing event scenarios. As a construct of energy rather than matter it operated at nanosecond speeds. Considering dozens of alternative explanations, testing them, discarding them in the space of seconds. Finally it arrived at it's conclusion. It's real work done it idled for a few moments, enjoying awareness. Then it realized that it's primary reason for existing in this here and now was over. It was a servant of it's constituent parts. Time to sleep again....

*FISSION*

This time the separation wasn't such a shock. The real shock came afterwards. Rather it was, as the Bard wrote, a "sweet sorrow". Max returned to awareness laying in Liz's bed. The dreamy lassitude that he felt was quickly dispelled as the knowledge gained from Liz and the conclusions drawn by their Composite sank into his conscious mind. He tried to move but found that one thing hadn't changed, the exhaustion. If anything it was worse this time. He had no idea how long they had held to fusion, but he felt like he'd just run a triathlon through the Mojave in August...and lost. He reached out to Liz with his mind. "~Liz? Honey? Are you all right?~"

At first there was nothing. Which frightened him, but just as he was summoning the energy to try and get dressed to reach his Beloved he felt the stirrings of their link.

"~Oh My GOD~," came Liz's rejoinder. "~I've never been this tired in my LIFE! Is this what it's going to be like every time, I wonder?~"

Max chuckled in relief. "~Don't blame me Princess. You're the one that was on the verge of blowing a fuse.~"

"~Can you blame me?~" she responded tartly. "~And speaking of blown fuses, Michael will have a cow when he finds out that we did this again.~"

"~No~," Max said thoughtfully. "~I can't blame you a bit. You were supposed to get some answers and help Isabel. You can't help it if the result was so mind bending. And as for old 'stick-in-the-mud', he'll be pissed all right. But that's just his 'protect the group' side coming out. Bear that in mind when he blows his top, will you?~"

Liz giggled mentally. "~Roger wilco Your Majesty.~" She was silent for a moment then she went on soberly. "~Max do you think that the inquiry Valenti got has anything to do with what Iz told us tonight?~"

Max paused in thought. "~I don't know. You've got the same information and conclusions that I do now. And vice versa. The whatever it is that we become seems certain that, based on the evidence, Alex is alive. From what Iz told you it sounds like he's going to war. If *you* were an enemy of his, wouldn't *you* want to know everything you could about your opponent? I think Valenti did all of us a major favor when he sent in that false report on Alex..~"

"~Max! We can't leave him alone to deal with this!~" Liz cried across their link.

Max sent soothing thoughts of love to his distraught soul mate. "~We won't Love. But before we do a single thing we'll have to come up with tangible proof. Michael and the Valenti's, among others, aren't going to be convinced without physical evidence.~"

"~Like what?~", Liz asked.


Max gave a mental sigh. "~Well, Alex *did* say that his grave was empty didn't he?~" Max could feel Liz's mental shudder across their link.

"~Surely you aren't suggesting that we, er look and see?~" she asked.

"~I don't see any other way Honey~," Max responded.

The Evans Household....Same time

Laying on the Evans' living room couch Liz yawned, hardly able to keep her eyes open. She'd come out here to be comfortable and to have some privacy while she was talking to Max. Now she was too tired to join Maria in bed. With an effort of will she reached up and managed to pull the throw off of the back of the couch. Spreading it over herself was a major project in her state. As she snuggled down into the warmth she gave Max a sleepy rejoinder. "~Well, it's too much to consider tonight. Sweetheart I'm about dead here. I need some sleep before school tomorrow, and so do you. Lets call it a night and pick it up tomorrow, please?~" She heard Max's warm chuckle at felt a soothing wave of tenderness from him was over her.

"~Killjoy~," he said teasingly. "~Sleep tight Princess! I'll talk to you in the morning!~" He sent her a mental kiss as he began to back out of their connection.

Liz was already half asleep as as her mind murmured to his. "~D'nigh' Max...~"

The Crashdown......Liz's Bedroom

Max stretched and then rolled over. Tucking a pillow under his head he closed his eyes and let fatigue drag him down. One of the anchors that had weighed on his soul for half a year was gone. Alex was alive. Obviously in danger, true. But, for their little ad hoc family, that seemed to be business as usual. He could foresee a thousand problems and troubles surrounding the resolution of this situation. But the key fact was the important one. Their friend was alive.

Max fell swiftly and dreamlessly asleep for the first time in a year. Peace of the soul will do that for you.

Still, it's the troubles that you *can't* see that come up and bite you in the ass when you aren't looking. Fortunately for Max his sleep sodden mind was in no shape to be properly pessimistic.

He slept peacefully as somewhere, far away, two lovers met in a dream tryst.


McCleod's Dojo............11:15 PM

Amanda stifled a yawn. They'd been waiting for over an hour, with no success. As a professional thief, she had patience when it counted. But this situation was an unknown. Thus her patience was wearing thin...and it naturally followed that her temper of the moment was slightly shorter than a snake's hind legs. She turned her gaze to the sleeping man/boy on the bed. As funny as her friends found her behavior towards Alex, she herself found it even funnier. "Who would have thought that, in my second millennium I'd be answering the call of motherhood?" she mused. As a first timer at this particular calling, she had a difficult time dealing with the emotions it brought out in her. There was one in particular that she was dealing with as they waited for this unknown girl to invade Alex's sleep again. If such a thing were even possible. "Who is she? What is she like? What is she to Alex? What is Alex to *her*?" she thought. If only Amanda had known. She was feeling the same thing that countless mothers through the ages had felt when their sons brought home a girl for them to meet, of unknown and possibly questionable reputation.

The three of them, Duncan, Cassandra, and Amanda, were sitting quietly around Alex's room in some chairs from Duncan's dining room table. Keeping watch.

Fighting off another yawn she turned to Cassandra. "How long do we have to wait?" she asked.

Cassandra shrugged. "Until our little mindwalker comes to call."

Amanda looked unconvinced. "Are you *sure* about this?" She nodded at Duncan. "As flights of fancy go, this sounds pretty over the top, even for him!"

Cassandra looked thoughtful then shook her head. "The alternative is to believe that either Alex has been sneaking out, or she has been sneaking in, unmarked by anyone, for days. Granted it's a reach. I didn't even want to believe it myself, when Duncan proposed it. But mindwalking isn't unheard of. With enough time and the proper training, a few people can do it. Me for instance. But it's taxing for those that can. And they were never many to begin with. And, of all of those, I had thought that I was the only one still alive."

"Well then obviously you thought wrong Glinda!" Amanda said with asperity.

Duncan cleared his throat. "Calm down Amanda. Giving Cass a hard time isn't going to make this go any faster."

Cassandra spoke. "It's okay Duncan, this sort of cat and mouse game can get on anyone's nerves." Turning to Amanda she said, "There's an exception to the rule. In all my overly long life I never knew of more than a dozen of people that could manage the training to master this. As far as I know I'm the only one still alive, by simple virtue of the fact that I'm the only Immortal ever to swing it. The exception is, the naturals. I never met one. But I've heard of three, widely scattered across centuries.. Born with the innate ability. No training required. And where those of us that developed it as a mental discipline tire easily and quickly, the naturals never seem to tire at all. They take to it like a duck takes to water."

Amanda glared suspiciously. "How come I've never heard of them then?"

Cassandra shook her head sadly. "Of the three, all were mortals, and the last died over 1500 years ago. None ever lived to maturity."

This was news to Duncan. They all died? He frowned. "What, is there some flaw or vulnerability that comes with the gift?"

Cassandra sighed. "Only if you count a vulnerability to the bigoted hatred of those around them. In the benighted era that they were born into a talent like theirs was something to be feared. They were all killed as children, as soon as they displayed their talents. Either by their parents, or their frightened neighbors. Even today I wonder what would become of one, should one emerge with The Gift. A zoo animal? A lab specimen?" Cassandra shook her head in negation again. "No, the human race hasn't changed so much. It's just gotten better toys to play with now. It's been so long since I've even heard *rumor* of one that I thought that The Gift had died out for good. A pity. Given the fact that a few of us can, with training and time, do the same thing in a lesser way....I've often wondered if the talent isn't latent in everyone. And it was just a fluke that turned it on in those unlucky three."

Amanda's irritation had faded. Now she looked thoughtful. "Are you saying that this girl, if she shows, is one of the naturals?"

Cassandra nodded yes. "She would have to be. If she's the girl that Duncan saw at the funeral, then she's too young to have had the time to learn the necessary mental disciplines. I doubt that, at that age, she'd have the required will power anyway. No, she has to be a natural. And a pretty restrained and crafty one at that. To reach the age she has, undiscovered, would require a great deal of patience and self-restraint."

Amanda nodded. She walked over to where Alex lay sleeping and gently brushed an errant lock of hair from his forehead. Then without looking up and to no one in particular..she spoke. "All of which makes her dangerous."

Duncan sighed. "Here we go," he thought. "Amanda's having a mommy attack." Then he said aloud, "Amanda, you don't know that."

Amanda spun on him. "I don't? She screws up his sleep three days in a row, making him so punchy that he can't even train...let alone fight? That's not dangerous? Good God Duncan! Because of her he went out into the night yesterday and could have gotten himself killed!"

Duncan held up his hands in a placating gesture. "I'm not saying that he wasn't in danger. But I'd think that it's mostly a result of ignorance on her part."

Cassandra spoke up. "I agree. If she's from his mortal life, then she probably thought he was dead until she got into his head. Probably by accident. Enough love and yearning could do that."

Amanda looked at them incredulously. "Love? What the hell are you talking about?"

Duncan winced. "Oh my," he thought. "This is worse than I thought."

Cassandra continued. "Yes, love. Certainly Alex took a big risk last night. Who hasn't for love? And she still loved him enough to manage to reach him when, for all she knew, he was beyond the grave. That's what's going to be toughest about this."

Duncan chimed in. "Just look at him Amanda. We all know the kind of person he is. Do you think that he'd cuddle up to evil?"

Amanda's shoulders slumped briefly in defeat. Then they straightened and she looked up. "I'm not saying that she's evil. She doesn't have to be bad to be bad *for* him. Besides, he's a boy scout. Just like you are Duncan. That makes you gullible sometimes. Would I have been able to pull half the crap that I have on you in the last 300 years if you weren't?"

Duncan almost burst out laughing. Amanda was afraid that this mystery girl was just like her? How many mothers want their son to marry a woman *better* than themselves? "Lets give her the benefit of the doubt before we pass sentence, shall we?"

Amanda managed to look puzzled and pissed at the same time. "If you're so convinced that she's one of the good guys then why are we setting an ambush for her?"

Duncan sighed. "Because we may have a ton of trouble coming at us, and if it works out the way I think it's going to, then the fewer variables we have to deal with the better that I'll like it. And right now this girl is a big fat wild card in the deck. A deck that we're going to need heavily stacked in our favor."

Amanda looked at Cassandra, who wasn't looking the least bit surprised. "What have you been holding out on me?" she demanded. "And why does the Good Witch know what I don't?"

Duncan smiled grimly. "To take your questions in reverse, Joe Dawson called while you were out shopping earlier. He reported on something I asked him to check on when I called him this morning. Our good friend Conterras has a big mouth, which he was flapping pretty hard last night. Hard enough to make me curious. So I had Joe pull his file again and make some inquiries as to who our dear Rafe has been spending time with the last year or so. He got back to me with it tonight, and I told Cass when she arrived.

"And just who has the little rodent been spending quality time with? The ghost of Elvis?" Amanda snarled.

Duncan told her.

Amanda turned pale. All that she could manage to get out was, "Oh shit."

Duncan nodded. "So you see, we *don't* need any complications. And neither does Alex. But I don't fancy that she'll be willing to listen to sweet reason. And neither will he. So Cass is going to slap a temporary fix on the situation. As you pointed out, if the girl got hurt, he'd never forgive me. In this situation her odds of 'getting hurt' in a really permanent way are damned near certain."

Amanda glared at him a moment longer, then collapsed back into her chair, her posture betraying a defeat that was anything but graceful, grumbling about 'the damned Boy Scouts'. She looked up and said, "Well, I'm bored to tears. Anyone up for cards? I'll get the deck and...."

At that moment everyone in the room froze as a mellow low frequency hum filled the air. They didn't have to look far for the source. The resonance was easily traceable to dream catcher. It's feathers danced and jittered as ghostly fox fire wound it's way up and down it's web. Abruptly the air was swamped with the warm springtime scent of apple blossoms.

"She shoots! She scores!", Amanda thought silently.

THE DREAM STATE......................


When Isabel emerged in Alex's dream this time, she felt like she was on familiar territory. It was night time, and she was alone in shadowy forest. But the terrain and the trees all screamed 'home' to her. It was Frasier Woods. More that that, it was a part of the woods that she was familiar with. Her heart began to accelerate as she picked up her pace down a faint trail that she could pick out in the moonlight. As she rounded a bend in the trail she could see the faint glow of firelight ahead in a glade. Emerging into the clearing she saw Alex reclining against a backpack. He had a blanket spread, and there was a campfire of fragrant pine burning in front of it. He was staring morosely into the fire, poking it with a stick. As he picked up the sound of her approach he stood looking at her apprehensively.

Alex had good reason to be apprehensive. If Isabel wasn't seriously pissed off about what had happened last night, he'd be very much surprised. Which is why he had deliberately tried to direct his dreaming towards a place that held happy memories for both of them.

As Isabel approached him her emotions began to oscillate wildly. But one feeling emerged as dominant. One that went back to that terror filled time the night before when he had hung up on her. When she was within an arms length, she moved. He never saw it coming. One minute she was an arms reach away, the next his cheek hurt like hell and he was seeing stars. He'd hoped to do a little star gazing with her, but this wasn't what he'd had in mind! Jeeez! It was like being kicked by a mule! Rubbing his cheek gingerly he thought, "I think she actually took skin off!" As his vision cleared he saw the love of his life standing there looking at him with her hands on her hips, and damn did she look pissed!

"Alexander Charles Whitman!" she shouted. "You'd better have a damned good explanation for what happened last night or Maria isn't going to get her chance at you, because there won't be enough left of you to matter!"

Alex shook his head to clear the bells ringing in it. God Almighty, she looked so beautiful. Every inch the princess she was supposed to be! When the ringing had subsided sufficiently he said hoarsely, "I'm sorry Izzy. I really am, I had to do what I did because explaining why I was doing it would have taken too long. I was in some serious trouble right then."

Isabel's glare grew deeper. "Do you think that I don't KNOW that? I told you that you and I are bound. Like Liz and Max. And it's getting stronger all the time. I can *feel* you, even when I'm *not* dream walking you! I felt your terror! I felt like I was dying inside. Your fear, my own fear for you. They fed each other until I thought I was going to go out of my mind! I flipped out. I think that I scared poor Max out of ten years of his life!" She was past anger now. Her tears began to flow.

Alex winced and reached out to grip her shoulders, pulling her close. She resisted, pounding her fists weakly and impotently against his chest.

"Do you want to know what was the worst?" she choked out between sobs. "The worst was NOT KNOWING! Not knowing what was happening to you! Don't you EVER do that to me AGAIN!"

Alex made crooning noises as he rubbed her back, running his hands up and down her spine. By increments her tension and tears lessened until her arms slid up around his neck, pulling him closer as her body softened against his and she began to rub her head in the hollow between his neck and shoulder. Then something she had said came back to him.

"Er..Isabel? What did you mean when you said that Maria wouldn't get a chance at me?" he asked. "A chance for what?"

Isabel gave him a squeeze and pulled back a little without letting go. She looked him in the eye and gave him a watery smile. "Why to kick your sorry butt of course. When I told Liz and Maria about you tonight, Maria said that any reaming that *I gave you couldn't *possibly* measure up to what *she* would do to you when she got her hands on you again."

Alex gulped. "You told them? They believed you? Isabel, I'm not sure that was a good thing to do. I took an incredible amount of flak from my friends here for my little excursion last night to call you. I'd hate to think of their reaction to still more people knowing."

Isabel released her hold on him and stepped back. She wasn't angry. And she wasn't crying anymore. But she had her hands on her hips again and was regarding him sternly. "What excursion? And why the flak? Was that what scared you so badly? That they busted you? If they scare you THAT badly over something like *that* then they can't be very good friends!"

Alex looked embarrassed. "Er...no," he said.

Isabel gestured impatiently. "No what? Stop bobbing and weaving with the truth Alex! I can read you like a book. Now what the hell happened! Not just last night! I mean ALL of it!"

Alex sighed, looking reluctant. Isabel relented a bit and stepped forward a bit to link her arm through his so she could pull him towards the blanket. Arriving there she pulled him into a hug and kissed him on both cheeks.

"The hug and kisses are from Liz and Maria," she said.

Alex winced again. "You really told them?"

Laying on the guilt with a trowel she smiled sweetly and said, "Yes I did, and they either believed me, or they make a habit of bursting into wracking sobs at the drop of a hat. They said to tell you that they've missed you."

Alex sat down on the blanket with a thump. His knees were raised, his arms were crossed atop them, and he leaned his head forward against his forearms. He was silent.

Isabel sank down beside him and laid her hand on his arm. "Alex? What is it? What's wrong?" She was beginning to worry that she may have pushed him too hard.

In a soft low voice Alex spoke. "It's a game."

Isabel frowned. "What? What's a game?" Then she tried to move her hand up to his hair, but she pulled back as he flinched.

Alex dragged himself to his feet and began to pace. After several minutes of to and fro he paused and looked at her with folded arms. "Iz, I can give you the spiel that I was given. Do you want it?"

Isabel swallowed and nodded. Maybe this would be it. "Go ahead," she said. "Please?"

Alex tossed some more wood on the fire, then knelt beside Isabel on the blanket and pulled her into a kneeling position like his. "Okay, you've got it. First though, give me a kiss?"

Isabel frowned. "Why?"

Alex sighed. "Because I need one?"

Isabel smiled softly and murmuring the words, "That's reason enough for me," she leaned into him as she placed her arms around his neck. Where the kiss on the hill above the cemetery had been rough, urgent, and demanding, neither of them were in any particular hurry tonight. Isabel gave him an series of gentle teasing kisses before his impatient mouth trapped hers. But she beat him to the punch by opening her mouth first. After that everything became a lazy, warm, sensual exploration of the sort that neither of them had had in six months. They were two people in love, with a desire to taste each other, and unhurried time in which to do it. Isabel felt herself heating up as Alex's hands strayed into new and previously forbidden territory. He cupped her bottom and pulled her hips flush with his. Isabel stiffened for a moment then sighed into his mouth and let him work his will upon her senses.....


*FLASH*

Alex was standing at a pay phone. He slammed the phone down and spun to face the room he was standing in. Fear was written into his posture. After a moment he walked through a door and out into rain do stand near a pillar.

*FLASH*

A man making a clumsy jump from a building and landing to face Alex who drew a sword from beneath the coat he was wearing.

*FLASH*

Duncan running through the rain to join Alex in facing the unknown man...


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 31-Aug-2002 8:20:33 AM ]
posted on 31-Aug-2002 1:47:08 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 9d
(Of Cabbages and Kings)

Alex felt Isabel stiffen slightly and slowly broke the kiss and pulled back slightly so that he could see her face. "Isabel?" he asked. "Is something wrong?"

Isabel pulled him close again burrowing her head into the hollow between his shoulder and his neck, clinging tightly. Then she brought her head up to gently stroke the side of his face with hers. Not looking at him she spoke in a low voice. "You were at a pay phone last night, weren't you?"

Alex froze for a moment then pulled back so he could see her face. He brought his hand up to her cheek an stroked gently before using it to force her to look at him. Then he said, "You had a flash, didn't you? What did you see?"

Isabel gave him a gentle shove so that he reclined on the blanket, and then she followed him down. They were laying on their sides, facing each other, only a hand span apart. "I saw you slam down the phone. You hesitated, then you went outside into the rain. There was a man. He jumped off the top of the building." Isabel paused studying his face. She was afraid that her own had her fear for him written all over it. "You were afraid. I could see it. But you drew a sword to fight. Then Duncan ran up. That's where it ended. Alex what's this about? Please tell me?"

Alex reached out and ran his fingers through her hair. Then he leaned forward to give her a quick kiss, before rolling onto his back and bringing one arm up behind his head to support it. Then he heaved an enormous sigh. "I always thought that getting to know you would be a mind bending experience. And that was *before* I knew about your bi-species bi-planetary status." He glanced at Isabel as she gave a snort of laughter, then nodded for him to go on while she reached out to rub his chest. "Anyway, all that didn't hold a candle to how I felt once I discovered that, in my own way, I was no more human than you are." Alex captured her hand and brought it to his lips. "Except in the ways that really count that is." Releasing her hand he closed his eyes and began...

"It begins before recorded history. People like me have always been around. We come into the world as infants, from who knows where, we grow up, we die...but we fail to stay dead. Instead we emerge changed. We're able to sense others like us. That's why I hung up on you last night. I knew that another like me was around, and the odds were good that he wasn't my friend."

Isabel looked puzzled. "You sensed him? How?"

Alex shrugged. "How does a rabbit know when a hawk or coyote is around? We call it 'the buzz'. It's like that 'someone is walking over your grave' shiver, multiplied a thousand times, and with an electric tingle thrown in for good measure. When we feel it we know that another of our kind is nearby."

Isabel nodded. Now she was getting somewhere. "Are there many like you?"

Alex looked thoughtful. "Define 'many'. According to Joe Dawson's Watchers there are never more than five or six thousand of us around at any given time, tops. And our population seems to vary in direct proportion to the overall human population."

"Watchers?" Isabel prodded.

"Normal humans who've made it their business to keep an eye on my kind since forever," he responded. "Their archives go back thousands of years. Where ever one of us goes, there are always one or more Watchers dogging us, recording our lives. Joe runs the North American branch of The Watchers." Alex chuckled. "In addition he's Duncan's friend, which I'm given to understand is something of a no no for Watchers. They're supposed to watch us, not fraternize. Given that both he and Duncan are rebels at heart, you can see where that wouldn't matter a damn to either of them. Anyway, that's how I come to know as much as I do."

Isabel listened with rapt attention. "So what does this have to do with the idiot on top of that building? And why the combat training?"

Alex sighed and looked at Isabel. "Iz, this is the tough part. And I need you to be calm. Okay?"

Isabel continued to rub his chest, simply to maintain contact and keep him at ease. She just *knew* that she wasn't going to like this, but she nodded her acceptance anyway.

Alex lapsed back and close his eyes again. "No one knows where it began, or how. The Watcher archives aren't clear on it. But the..um...people like me play a game. You might say that we're born to play it. In fact they refer to it as The Game. Special emphasis, big 'T' big 'G'."

Isabel stopped rubbing and sat up. "Okay", she thought, "now I'm REALLY not liking this!" She took his hand and kissed it, then spoke aloud. "And this game involves swords and combat?"

Alex nodded. "Ever seen Gladiator?"

A single tear traced a path down Isabel's cheek. She smiled as Alex silently reached up to wipe it away. "Why?", she asked. "Why do they do this?"

Alex shrugged. "Like I said, no one knows. And opting out isn't a possibility. The others can sense you. And while the occasional one may agree with you, the next one probably won't. So you live your life on guard constantly. Both the hunter and the hunted. The fighting is to the death. But it has more in common with the stereotype of the gunfighters of the Old West. Even if you avoid confrontation and try to lead a normal life, there's always going to be some asshole who wants to make a reputation coming to town to try his or her luck."

Isabel's eyes snapped to his. "Her?" she thought. Then she went on aloud. "So that makes you what, Billy the Kid?"

"No, it just makes me a guy trying to survive in something that I didn't volunteer for," he said.

Isabel was getting angry now at the unfairness of it all. That a gentle spirit like Alex should be thrust into this was beyond injustice. It was cosmically cruel. "So, is there an object to all this murder and mayhem, or is it just a big free for all?"

Alex sensed her emotional bent, even if he wasn't sure whether her anger was for him...or *at* him. "There *are* rules. And like all rules there are some people who don't follow them. But most do. Single combat only. Holy ground is your only refuge. It doesn't matter what religion. No fighting or killing may be done on consecrated soil. Older players take newbies under their wing to show them the ropes. Newbies...which would be me by the way....are off limits for combat. Challenge a newbie and you have to get through his teacher first."

Isabel regarded Alex steadily. She forced her anger down. This was NO time to lose it. "And your teacher would be...?" she asked. She knew the answer, and it must have shown.

Alex grinned. "You got it in one. Duncan. Though Amanda and Richie also have a piece of it too. They're both like me. Richie was Duncan's student before me. And Amanda has been tight with Duncan forever. I had the dumb luck to fall under the tutelage of a man who's so good at the game that he *can* opt out and be left mostly alone. He still gets the occasional idiot who won't listen to reason, but he hasn't lost yet. Amanda and Richie, and quite a few of his other friends run the same way."

Isabel stretched out next to him and laid her head on his chest. "Will I ever hear this heart beat for real again?" she wondered silently. She sighed and spoke. "None of which tells me why? Why is the game played?"

Alex cleared his throat. "Like I said, it's vague. There's this nebulous legend that, one day, the last player standing will gain a great prize. But there's no description of it. This isn't The Publisher's Clearinghouse. Anyway, the legend is enough to keep the fighting going. The legend and tradition. And even if I don't like it...even if *you* don't like it...I'm stuck with it."

Isabel was silent for a while, then sat up looking puzzled. "Alex, how did you get out of...er..um..."

"My grave?" he finished for her. When she nodded he pulled her back down to his chest. "It was dumb luck, or maybe the grace of God. If people like me last long enough, the older ones develop the ability to sense those who are like them but who..um..haven't made the change yet. Two of Duncan's friends, Cassandra and Methos, were on a road trip through our area six months ago and they stopped in Roswell. They're both..um..old, as people like me go. They spotted me right off the bat. So they got curious and stuck around. People like me they keep tabs on. As luck would have it that was only a day before I died, and as a result they were still in town for my funeral. So the night after the funeral, they waited until they were certain they wouldn't be seen, then they appropriated the back hoe from the cemetery garage and dug me out. If they hadn't I'd have been stuck. Buried alive."

Isabel shuddered at the fate that Alex had escaped. "Well, it's good to know that you don't have super powers. *That* would have worried me. Remind me to thank them if I ever get to meet them," she said.

Alex sighed, he wanted to tell her, but not until they were face to face. She rated *that* much at least. "So, now you know. What do you think?"

Isabel frowned. "What do you think that I think? It sucks. It blows. And I won't stand for it!"

Alex sat up, thus forcing Isabel to sit up as well. "Iz, you guys were in enough trouble the last year or so without bringing ME into the mix. I see that I forgot to mention 'The Quickening'.

Isabel's emotional barometer began to nudge into the red zone. "The what?" she asked caustically.

"When one of us dies, I mean *really* dies, there's a substantial release of energy. I've never seen it, but I'm told that it's really hard on the surrounding real estate. The only thing that can stand up to it is someone like me. Lighting bolts, fire, explosions, the works. Imagine something like that in a little burg like Roswell. And there will be if I live there. I won't be able to avoid it. People would talk. It would attract attention. And that's something that you don't need."

Isabel frowned. Something wasn't adding up. How could anyone stand up to such power *unless* they were more than human?

Before she could ask the question that Alex saw written on her face, he took evasive measures. "I'll prove that I'm dangerous to you, without even being there. Remember the bozo that jumped off the top of the bus station?"

"That was a bus station?" she thought. "Thank you Alex!" She nodded yes.

Alex went on. "I went there to call you so that the long distance wouldn't show up on Duncan's phone bill. Duncan followed me, and so did that guy. His name is Rafe Conterras. He specializes in breaking the rules. In killing newbies like me. Before we can learn to fight back."

Isabel's stomach turned over. "And you want to stay and let this bastard try to kill you? Oh yeah! That's logic!"

Alex stood and pulled Isabel up with him. He reached out to stroke her her hair gently. She was upset, but the contact still soothed her. Alex pulled her close and kissed her forehead. "If it means a shot at keeping him away from Roswell, then yes..I will."

Isabel stiffened. "What are you talking about?"

"Alex sighed deeply. "Apparently the son of a bitch was something of a psychopath before he...um..crossed over. He still is. A stalker type. He followed Duncan, Richie, and I to New Mexico when we were there for the funeral. Somehow he was eavesdropping. Anyway, he knows your name and that you mean something to me. When we had our little confrontation at the bus station, the arrival of a bus stopped things before they could get rolling. We don't fight in public. But we had words. And he made it clear that once he kills me, he intends to come for you. Just to torment me."

Thunder clouds gathered on Isabel's brow. "I remember his face Alex. A pretty one with an ugly scar. If he comes near me, he's a grease stain. No problem. If he kills *you*, or even bruises you seriously, I'll track him to the ends of the Earth, and he'll *still* be a grease stain. Again, no problem."

Alex nodded. "That isn't the problem." Then he pulled her close. "I have absolute confidence in your ability to deal with the likes of him. But you shouldn't have to. What if he sees what you can do and gets away alive? Or he has company with him, and *they* see what you can do and get away alive? The risk is just too damned high! If it were just you and me, I'd have a problem with it. Throw Max, Michael, Liz, Maria...and yes Jim and Kyle Valenti too...into the pot and the stakes are just too high. I fold. I can't bet their lives on our happiness! And stop and consider that it goes both ways. The government would probably be just as happy to vivisect Duncan or Amanda as they would you or Max." Alex sighed. "Do we have the right to risk all those people? Do I?"

Isabel shoved herself from Alex's arms and walked away, perhaps five paces. She stood with her back to him, her arms folded, her head down. Alex watched her with a growing sense of unease. She didn't seem angry, but with Isabel you couldn't be certain. She was thinking. There was that feeling again that things weren't adding up. Alex was holding something back. That crack about the Feds wanting to get their hands on Duncan and Amanda as much she and Max. No matter. She shook it off. "I'll deal with it later," she thought. "Right now I have the information I need." Abruptly she turn turned back towards him. The look on her face was the last thing he expected. She was smiling, but behind the smile there was the hardened steel of determination.

"Do you love me Alex?" she asked.

"What?" he responded.

Isabel sighed. "It's a simple question Alexander Whitman. Do - you - love - me?"

"With everything that I am, and with every breath that I take," he said solemnly.

She came to him and took his hands. "Then go with me on this. Okay, I'll admit that you, and by extension we, don't have the right to put everyone at risk without their knowledge. So lets ask them."

"What!?" Alex exploded.

"You heard me," Isabel said. "You tell your friends about us. *All* about us. I'll do the same with our people in Roswell. Then we find away to make it work."

"Max and Michael would never go for it," Alex protested weakly.

Isabel smirked. "Oh, I think that they would once Liz and Maria get through with them. And Max might anyway without any convincing. After all..he saved Liz without consulting anyone didn't he?"

"But my friends in Seattle.....," he started.

"Are bound to be cautious," she finished. "So, as a gesture of good will, tell them about us first."

Alex was wavering. Isabel stepped in close. "Damnit Alex, I can't manage to live on this world or any other without you. I'm not even sure I want to try." She drew closer, placing her arms around his neck. "When we were first together I knew that I loved you, right from the beginning. And it scared the hell out of me! So I broke up with you. I dated around. I deliberately went out of my way to try and make you stop caring." She looked ashamed now. "I did such awful things to try and make you stop loving me. And when you came back from that ersatz trip to Sweden, I thought that I'd finally succeeded. And my triumph tasted like ashes. Because, in driving you away, I'd destroyed what made me human. Your love. And I was getting to *like* being human! I can't go back to the way things were before you knew me! All of me! I don't want to, and I *won't*"! Give me this chance! Give *us* this chance! Please?"

Alex sighed. He considered. He made his choice. "Okay Iz! I....."

A husky contralto voice spoke with authority. ""STILL!""

McCleod's Dojo......11:30 PM

As the dream catcher continued it's resonant hum, both Duncan and Amanda were looking at Cassandra expectantly. Cassandra walked over to Alex's bed. Being a king size it had more than enough room for two people, so she carefully crawled in and stretched out next to Alex.

Amanda knew what was going to happen, and felt antsy about her role as spectator. She approached the bed as well. "Are you sure that there's nothing that we can do?"

Cassandra broke off the meditation mantra that she had barely begun to relax herself into trance state. "Nothing at all, buuut....." She trailed off.

Amanda frowned. "What?"

Cassandra sighed. "Do you recall that I said that, as a natural, the girl can come and go at will, without injury? And that I was probably the sole surviving practitioner among those who were trained to it, rather than born to it like she is?"

Amanda nodded yes.

Cassandra said, "There's a reason for that. This sort of thing is risky for the one doing it. Draining. Drain the body's strength enough and it dies. The mortals who did this, all of them, sooner or later overstepped those safety margins, and paid with their lives. I should know. I've died several times while doing this , but being an Immortal I could survive where they could not. I may die doing it this time as well, if I have to push it. If I do I want you to keep 'the boy scout' calm about it." Cassandra glanced at Duncan meaningfully. "I've done it before."

Amanda smiled at her. "I'll sit on him, never fear. Just one thing. How come we smell apple blossoms?"

Cassandra shrugged. "Perhaps someone will explain it someday. The same phenomenon occurs with me, or any of the mortals who used to do it. If there's a strong odor in your ambient environment you take it with you when you go. That's why there used to be a ritual of cleanliness that accompanied the doing of this. Some regarded it as a purity thing. It was nothing of the sort. It was to eradicate body odor so you wouldn't give yourself away when you were snooping. The apple blossoms are simply her perfume."

Amanda laughed softly. "Thanks. And to think I was ready to kick that living hell out of Duncan because I thought a strange woman had been around. It turns out that one was. And a very strange one at that."

Cassandra smiled back at her and said, "I'd better go look after our surrogate son before he gets himself in further trouble. I have to hurry. Time behaves strangely in the dream plane. It's already been nearly five minutes since she arrived. But in the dream plane, days may have passed. Or only minutes. Either way the longer I delay, the harder my job will be. She has the advantage of being able to stay there indefinitely if she wishes. My time there is finite. Whatever I do must be done quickly and decisively."

Amanda gave her hand a squeeze. "Sorry I was a bitch earlier. I love him too. Good luck, Cass. Take care of him."

Cassandra nodded and closed her eyes and began to drone the mantra that would help her enter trance and permit entry into the undermind. She felt the familiar leaden sensation in her limbs. She'd always disliked this part. Which is why it had been nearly five hundred years since she'd last used this particular skill. She felt herself slipping free of consciousness and physical bonds. She was drifting in a featureless void. "Alex?" she whispered. "Where are you?" Using the 'fisherman' analogy that had served her well centuries ago she cast the net of her consciousness into the void. At first she thought that she had failed. Then she felt a slight 'tug'. It felt familiar. Following it she found herself approaching light. She was drifting through a moonlit landscape of open forest. If this was something that Alex had conjured, then she had to give him credit. It showed clarity of thought, and a good eye for detail.

It took her only moments to reach the glade with the campfire. There they were! She could already feel her strength ebbing, but she took a moment anyway to get a good look at the subject of her foray into Alex's dreams. "Dear God!" she thought. "What a lovely young woman! Sulieman the Great never had a wife half as lovely, and he'd had thousands of them!" Cassandra paused. Why had she chosen the word 'wife'? Never one to doubt her intuition she concentrated on shifting her perceptions to allow her to detect the energies that surrounded all human beings. It was easier to do here than in the physical world.

The dream world took on a shadowy half life as the world of the aether took form. The place of spiritual energy. The realm of souls. What she saw there left her speechless. Normally humans have a definite glow of a particular color surrounding them. What people have, for thousands of years and in one language or another, labeled 'the aura'. Reading the color and vitality of it can give you insights into the character of the person you're interested in. But these two children were something else entirely! The aura was there all right. For both of them. But in both it surpassed, in richness and density, anything that she had seen in all her millennia. And where an ordinary human aura is usually simply a diffuse cloud, both Alex's and the girl's had structure. They both showed a central core of energy so intense that it was blinding. As she watched, strange arcane energies played back and forth between them. Crackling with mystic vitality. They were obviously in love, but there was more to it than that. They were something she'd rarely seen. They were soul mates. The thin silvery appearing thread that normally binds two hearts in love together was, in this case, replaced by a mighty cable of polychromatic light connecting their very souls. It was so beautiful to look at that it was almost painful...and at the same time mesmerizing.

Forcing herself away she shifted her focus fully back into the dream plane. She was starting to lose her ability to operate smoothly. It had been to hard changing focus. It was time to end this. She was here to stall things. To buy time. And that is what she would do. Drawing her remaining strength together she forced her way fully into Alex's dream. As soon as she had substance she shouted in Voice.

""STILL!""

Both Alex and Isabel stood frozen by the command. Cassandra strode forward and studied the girl that apparently had Alex's heart in her hand. She had been right. She truly was lovely, in an almost unearthly sort of way. As if one of the Faerie had taken mortal form. Shaking herself from her thoughts she gently reached out and stroked the girl's cheek. ""Tell me child, is your name Isabel?"" When Isabel nodded woodenly Cassandra sighed. She hated to do this, but it was only temporary. ""Hear me Isabel. You will go home tonight, returning to the confines of your body and your bed, and you won't remember me, or anything that has transpired here. You never found Alex. He remains dead. He loves you still, but he's with the Angels now. Do you hear me? Do you understand?""

Isabel spoke as if in a daze. "I understand."

Cassandra was startled by the single tear that traced a path down Isabel's cheek. It tore at her. Dear God, did their love have such power, even in trance? Wiping the tear away she placed a kiss of benediction on the girl's cheek. ""Go then daughter. And be happy, for Alex is safe with the Angels. And he loves you still. Sleep deeply and without dreams. Arise refreshed. Go now, with love.""

Isabel vanished.

Looking at Alex she sighed sadly. ""RELEASE!""

Alex snapped out of his daze. One minute Isabel had been standing with her arms around his neck, the next she was gone. Had someone awakened her? He cast about frantically, but the confusion only lasted a second. He had company. The nature of his company explained a lot.

"Hello Cassandra," he said. "So I guess that we're busted? Where's Isabel?"

Cassandra smiled tiredly. She couldn't stay much longer. "I sent her home with orders to forget that she found you."

Alex was aghast. "You can't do that! Conterras has threatened to kill her! Or worse! I told her to watch for him! By ordering her to forget you're leaving her defenseless! If he kills me, he'll go for her next!"

Cassandra felt sorrow for his fear, however temporary, and sought to calm him. "Alex, I promise you, if worst comes to worst, Methos and I will see to her safety. Personally. But we won't let it come to that, I promise. Conterras will never leave this city alive."

Alex gave a melancholy sigh. "Why? Why was this necessary?"

Cassandra reached out and pulled him into a hug. He stood stiffly in her arms. She understood Amanda's emotions better than Amanda herself. The frustrated mother in her wept at what she had had to do. She had hurt her little boy. "Caution in all things Alex. You don't live past your first thousand years without caution. There's trouble coming that you know nothing about. Trouble that she can have no part of. One of the major reasons that we indoctrinated you to avoid your loved ones from your previous life was not to protect *you*, but rather to allow you to protect *them*. You know that. And we needed time to deal with what's coming, and time to think. Or rather Duncan needed time to think. I know he can be stiff at times, but eventually the maverick romantic in him will succumb to the charm of the love you two share. And it *is* love. Any blind man could see that." She chuckled. "And I am not blind...on any of several planes."

Alex looked up hopefully. "You saw something?"

Cassandra laughed. "Enough to know that the love between you two is unique."

Alex thought of Max and Liz, as well Michael and Maria, and he muttered, "Unique? Don't count on it."

Cassandra continued. "Her binding with you is so strong that the memory suppression I performed here tonight will not last long. But it will hold long enough for us to divine a way to come to terms with your mind walking soul mate." Cassandra chuckled. "Though Amanda might never do so." She laughed aloud as Alex winced. "*And* it will hold long enough for us to deal with Britanicus without your Beloved's interference."

Alex snorted. "On the Amanda issue...wanna bet? Izzy will charm her socks off. And who's this Britanicus?" Then he paused and regarded Cassandra quizzically. "By the way, I forgot to ask, what *are* you doing here?? How did you get here?"

Cassandra laughed. "You will find out about Britanicus in the morning, when you awake. And as for how I got here....what your beloved does naturally, I took decades of training and discipline to accomplish. And where she does it without strain or effort, every moment that I'm here costs me. An ordinary mortal with my skill would have left before now. As an Immortal I can afford to take risks that they cannot. However, my time still grows short. And I still have one more task to complete."

Alex was looking concerned. "What's that?"

Cassandra regarded him solemnly and said....

""Forget.""


End Of Part 9


Don't hurt me! *wink*


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Sep-2002 11:56:01 AM ]
posted on 31-Aug-2002 1:58:25 AM
Rim You caught me in the middle of submiting and editing. It's all up now my friend. Just let me run and hide here...and you can resume reading.
posted on 31-Aug-2002 3:45:52 AM
Rim That's pretty much the reaction I got at Jessi's...with overtones of lynching. *wink* Bear with me, what I eventually have planned for Alex and Isabel in this story would require the special effects budget of a Speilberg movie.

Roswellluver Hang in there. I promised a happy ending and I intend to deliver. *big*

Tabasco Liz When this started out it was to be a simple straightforward "A/I ride into the sunset" story. It's rapidly evolving towards a more balanced ensemble piece. Though the A/I center of gravity will remain. Damn my muse anyway! I now have plans for a trilogy. Actually a tetrology if you include the short story I intend to write after this one. It's tentatively to be entitled "Winter In Pandemonium". My titles *always* mean something. When the time comes there will be a prize for the reader who ferrets out the meaning. *big*

Anyway, keep that entity in mind. IT has kin on the way.

Everyone Their memories aren't gone and neither is their bond, they've just been suppressed. Now let me offer a teensie little hint. What happens the first time Alex must endure The Quickening? 'Nuff said?

Damn my muse anyway!

wanders off muttering incoherently

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 31-Aug-2002 3:55:18 AM ]
posted on 1-Sep-2002 1:04:29 AM
Just a quick follow up post here. Thanks for the praise everyone. I still have a hard time believing that my mauderings are really that good. But I'll keep it coming as long as you're willing to keep reading it.

Choc79 I warned you, didn't I? *wink* Have fun in Miami. Soak up some rays for me.

RoswellLady In Liz's defense, she only promised not to talk to Max until after she'd heard Iz out. Well, she heard Iz out...and believed her.

Ladylou I'm betting you have it figured out. *big*

dzdreamer WHAT? There's another Flinx book out????? Dear God, how out of touch am I?? Thanks for the 411.

Strawbehrry Shortcake The skiptrace outfit would be a dead end. They tend to protect their clients for anything short of a court order. And the last thing that Valenti and the Podsters want to do is alert a certain Black Hat to the fact that *his* interest has provoked someone *else's* interest. *wink*

2crzy4roswell I'm glad that you like it, but don't worry about part 9. It's heavy angst at the end, but survivable. *big* I look forward to your input!

Trude Now if only I'd finish part 12, eh? *wink*

Lorilei You'll never guess what I'm listening to right now. Some old vinyl by Styx. Your name is featured prominently. Oh yeah, I have snippets of dialog for that encounter floating around in my head. Something like.... Alex: Iz, don't hurt her. Isabel: I promise not to kill her. But do NOT tell me that I can't hurt her!

You get the picture.

Well folks, I'm off for the night. One thing. I have been informed by my fathead employers that I may be called in to work in the wee hours of the morning. A matter of a missing body in the roster. As senior man, I have to fill the hole if no one lower on the totem pole will take it. And work-wise, Sunday is a wasteland. So, if that happens, my last act before heading out the door will be to send part 10 into work. A man has to fill the empty hours somehow.

Laters people...thanks again.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 1-Sep-2002 1:14:06 AM ]
posted on 1-Sep-2002 11:42:28 AM
Well folks, I didn't get that phone call. The missing body must have reappeared. Therefore I have a long day of pulling weeds and fixing windows ahead....and writing occasionally (I hope) when I come in to cool off. My bedroom/computer hidey hole is the only air conditioned room in the house. *sigh* So no part 10 until I return to the salt mines Tuesday night. I still can't believe the responses I'm getting. (blush) It can't possibly be *that* good.

tn No, no powers for Alex....yet. Later maybe. I should have foreseen this. I'm taking Isabel's POV on this. She knows that Alex was resurrected by means that she doesn't understand. She hasn't made the logical leap to assume further possible resurrections. Alex has made it clear that his kind CAN die for keeps though. So she's confused. Something like his description of a quickening should kill a human being caught in it. But he's said that it won't kill his kind. So she has conflicting and insufficient data....because he hasn't told the full secret. That he's Immortal now. In his shoes I'd be scared too.

This is the same trap I fell into in part 1 with the "hardcase sheriff" reference. It had to be Jim, right? Yet post Departure Jim was no longer sheriff. Logical conflict. I love Jim as sheriff. Jim as a baseball bat making guitar struming Kit Shicker was pathetic. Out of character. He's a strong man who needs strong role to shine. So I made him sheriff again and trusted the reader to go with me until I explained. *big* You wouldn't believe how many e-mails I got on that. *wink*

Anyway, thanks again for the praise....but be ye careful, lest my head get so big that it pops again. It took me forever to clean up the mess over at Jessi's.

Speaking of TMF, it's archived over at Jessi's, along with the two other stories set in the same universe. Have you read them? "The New Arrivals" is a gas. Sweet beyond words. It's about the night (and afterwards) that Phil and Diane found their kids in the desert. Taffy kicks major butt. I'm her awed disciple. *wink*

Asabetha (hiding face in shame) I'm sorry! dz ran into the same problem. I should have just posted the directions instead of e-mailing them! Still Your's isn't archived. It's on the message board. Use the link I gave you, go into the pulldown menu and click on "message board". That loads the message board menu page. Select "Roswell Fan Fiction (Works In Progress)". The last time I looked my story was sixth from the top. Beware, the drafts there aren't as...er...clean as the ones here. Enjoy Asa!

Laters folks!
posted on 1-Sep-2002 3:48:51 PM
ASA (cringing in fear) I'll watch my step! *evil grin* I've been watching the numbers go up over at Jessi's. So many people are hitting that thread now that I su-u-uppose I don't re-e-eally need to post parts 10 and 11 here, do I? Eh? *wink*

Anywho, I'm on a roll again with part 12. Nearly past the pesky Dreamer love scene. The sub-title for this one will be "Cement Mixing For Dummies". Which is more about my ineptitude, than it is about our intrepid lovers. TTYL

Ciao Folks.
posted on 1-Sep-2002 8:19:30 PM
Okay, chores went faster than expected today. And progress are part 12 was....well I had to go smoke a cigarette. So, in a celebratory mood, I'm going to brave a cranky dial up connection and load speeds that make a lame sloth look like an Olympic sprinter, and try to post part 10. Besides, the way the numbers are climbing over at DD, everybody and their brother will have read it in no time at all. So hang on to your hats...and awa-a-a-a-y we g-o-o-o!

Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 10a
(Awakenings)

McCleod's Dojo........... Tuesday 1:00 AM

Cassandra was curled up on the couch in the main room of Duncan's loft warming her hands around a cup of green tea that Amanda had brewed. She hadn't died coming back from the under mind, but it had been a close run thing. And, while an Immortal doesn't stay dead, the actual process of dying albeit temporarily is *not* something that they look forward to with any great enthusiasm. Amanda was sitting across from her while Duncan was on the phone in the kitchen speaking to Joe Dawson. And, judging by what Amanda could hear of the conversation from Duncan's end, a very irate Joe Dawson. At the moment he was trying to get a word in edgewise.

"Yes.......I'm sorr......Of course I know what ti.......Joe, I nee......No I won't make a habi...." Finally Duncan gave up. Rolling his eyes at the ladies he settled back and let Joe go on popping and fizzing. Judging by the cup of tea that Duncan poured himself, he planned to be there a while.

Amanda and Cassandra looked away only to find themselves staring at each other. The silence stretched for a few moments, then Amanda spoke. "What was she like?" she asked.

Cassandra didn't need a translator to know who the 'she' was that Amanda was referring to.

Cassandra stared off into space. "You have to understand, I didn't talk to her. I simply slammed the door on her and got her out of there. Since she's a natural, she's stronger than I am, and who knows what other abilities she might harbor. What I did, I could get away with only once. There won't be a twice. Once she remembers, she'll be seriously angry, and very much on guard. I won't be able to do *that* to her again." Pausing for a moment she considered. "And when it comes to it, Alex isn't going to be happy either. Not with us, or with me."

Amanda frowned. "No, he won't. But you won't take the heat for it alone. Duncan and I were there, and we knew what the score was." She paused. "So, if you can't give me an idea of her character, then give me your impression of her at least."

Cassandra laughed to herself. Amanda had the mommy thing even worse than she herself did. It made Cassandra wonder if Amanda would ever be able to cut those apron strings when the time came. Cassandra covered her amusement and looked thoughtful, then she broke into a half smile. "Would you believe a cross between a super model and a valkyrie?"

Amanda blinked. "What exactly does *that* mean?"

Cassandra chuckled. "She's not exactly the physical type that you would imagine seeing Alex with." Her expression turned pensive. "Tall, statuesque, blond, unnaturally beautiful, and..for want of a better word...regal."

Amanda looked a little incredulous. "Regal?"

Cassandra shrugged. "She had an air about her. Like she was 'born to the purple', in a way the ancient Roman Patricians could only dream of." Cassandra's face became distant again, remembering. "I can tell you this, I think that she's good, and good for him."

Amanda gave a cynical snort that got Cassandra's immediate attention. "Look Amanda, I know that you don't buy into the things I that I can do, but they *do* work. If they didn't, then Alex and his lady love would be waking up tomorrow morning with their memories intact. I can tell you without question that I've never seen energies like those that surround those two. And I've never seen one aura interact with another the way theirs do. Taking all that into account, I'd say that they're something that I see only rarely. They're soul mates. But of a unique sort. Instead of being two souls tied to each other, they're more two halves of a single creature seeking union...or perhaps RE-union. The bond between them is so powerful that it's almost tangible. I wish that you could have seen it. It was so beautiful that it was blinding." Cassandra paused for breath. "In any event, all I did was put a temporary damper on things. It won't last. It can't possibly. Sooner or later she'll remember, and then she *will* come for him. And she'll have fire in her eyes when she comes."

Amanda gave Cassandra a skeptical look and then settled back scowling. "There's no way to sever the connection then?"

Cassandra graced Amanda with a matching scowl. This doting mother thing was getting out of hand! "I'm not sure that I'd want to if I could! And I don't think that I could! I don't think that *anyone* could! You didn't see it. Even with the best effort that I could muster, it would be like trying to saw through a steel I-beam with dental floss! Just so much wasted effort! And even if I *could*, the parting might well kill them both! Even if it didn't, it would leave them both empty shells of what they were. No. The only ones who could effect that sort of separation are the two involved. They would have to do it themselves. And frankly I can't imagine the sort of power and emotion it would take to accomplish it. I don't think that I'd care to, because it would be tragic on an epic scale. To do so would require an act of raw courage of their part. Or on *someone's* part. And it would probably end up killing them both an inch at a time anyway. If anything this increases my admiration for Alex enormously."

Amanda's skepticism was fading somewhat, and was now being overridden by her curiosity. "Why?" she asked.

Cassandra smiled beatifically. "Because he resisted the call of his heart and soul all these months. Something powerful resides in that boy. Something that drove him to resist the inevitable for half a year. Knowing what I know now, I can say that it wasn't our rules that kept him away from her. It was *his* honor and courage. He's what Lancelot *should* have been."

Amanda laughed aloud. "Honestly Cass! I thought that we all out grew the starry eyed romantic stage before our first centennial! " She sighed deeply. "Let's hope that he doesn't end up the same way that Lancelot did in the stories."

Cassandra smiled confidently. "He won't. He's different in one critical way from the example I chose. Love was Lancelot's weakness. His Achilles Heel. But with Alex, love is his strength. I don't know what the future holds for him. But as long as he has love, he won't falter or fail."

Truer words were never spoken.

The conversation tapered off leaving both women alone with their thoughts. Amanda's were centered on this unknown girl, and on whether or not she was worth as much as Cass claimed that she was. Cassandra onthe other hand was much further afield, dwelling on her memories of the first time she had laid eyes on the subject of her discussion with Amanda.......

On 285 South Approaching The Roswell City Limits......Mid Saturday Morning Six Months Previously.

The vintage '57 Caddy Convertible was purring like a kitten, which was more than could be said for it's occupants. Silence had reigned in the car since they had departed Santa Fe after breakfast. Both people in the car were quite old and very stubborn. In other words, neither one was going to speak first unless they absolutely had to.

"Damn Amanda anyway," thought Methos, " for foisting this road trip off on us." Glancing over at the auburn haired brick wall in the passenger's seat he still marveled at the fact that, after nearly thirty seven hundred years, she could still stir his blood like no other woman could. They say first impressions are lasting ones. And the impression that he had made when he, as a part of the Four Horsemen, had laid her village waste and taken her as a slave *still* hadn't worn off. Thinking about it he winced. Back in those days he would have given Ted Bundy a run for his money. But he'd out grown it. Which is one reason that he didn't subscribe to the portrayal of criminals as victims. Even a total psychopath is free to choose between good and evil. And he had chosen good...eventually. He just wished that he'd chosen it *before* he'd met his fellow traveler all those centuries ago. As it was he'd spent the rest of his very long life trying to expiate the sins of those centuries as a brigand, and he still had a long way to go. Turning his eyes back to the road he sighed. The only conversation so far today had been her complaint over breakfast at his proposed stopover in Roswell. Of course had he decided to stop in any other town the complaint would have had different grounds, but the same reason...he was within one hundred yards of her.

He still hadn't a clue of what had driven Amanda to bully him into this. Ostensibly her reasoning was that they were both friends of Duncan's. Having friends who were mortal enemies made Duncan uncomfortable. And what made Duncan uncomfortable made Amanda uncomfortable. One thing was certain, she had badly wanted them out of her hair for a while. He had no idea what had happened to put Cassandra in this car with him, but the hints that he'd picked up suggested some sort of lost bet. Hiding his smile he laughed inwardly. "At thirty seven hundred years old, I would have imagined that Cass had more sense than to gamble with Amanda about *anything*," he thought, "from a turn of a card to what time of day it was. Amanda never loses."

Glancing again towards his passenger his good humor faded. She hated his guts. He sighed. She hated his guts with good reason. Only the fact that Duncan had sworn by his reformed character kept her from trying to take his head. And even so, he'd still slept with one eye open the entire trip. He sighed deeply and tried to ignore the fire in his belly. You'd think that after over three and a half millennia.....

For her part his passenger was having a hard time of her own. The memories of long ago were still bitter. But when confronted by his earnest good behavior she couldn't find anything that she could use to justify herself to Duncan, should she take his head. She was the very definition of mixed emotions. Part of her wanted to kill him. Part of her wanted to forgive him. And part of her, a very small part she told herself, just plain wanted him. Which revolted her....didn't it? By any civilized measure, what he, Kronos, Silas, and Caspian had done to her people had been barbaric. But, by late Bronze Age standards, it had been business as usual. Could she truly blame the man next to her for what he had done so long ago? "Yes!" Cassandra thought, "I can, and *then* some! You don't forget that sort of treatment! Damn Amanda anyway!" The bet had been a simple one. Amanda had bet her that she couldn't get Methos to agree to go on a vacation with Cassandra. The stakes were equally simple. If Amanda secured his agreement, Cass had to go...and the mode of travel would be selected by
Amanda. "Selected for the intimacy of it no doubt!" she snarled inwardly.

She stretched to cover a lingering glance at the man driving the car. His spare features were an impassive mask, revealing nothing of his thoughts. Had she been meeting him for the first time, she would have considered him quite handsome. And he was articulate and charming as well. None of which did anything to improve her temper. She returned her glare to the road and silently berated herself for the way her thoughts had been running. "Someday," she thought. "Someday he'll screw up and reveal his true colors. Then I'll be glad that I kept my distance, because I'll finally be able to shorten him with a clear conscience."

They were coming into Roswell. The sudden transition from desert scrub to civilization was jarring to say the least. Everywhere that they looked the 'aliens have landed' theme was evident. It was a weekend, and even though the schools were in session for the year, the streets were heavy with tourists and their kids. Methos pulled to a stop in front of a kitschy little restaurant with a flying saucer logo. The sign read "Crashdown Cafe". As they both got out of the car (still without a word between them) and stretched their legs, Cassandra took in the tourist traps up and down the street. Including the 'UFO Center' across the street. She groaned deeply and turned to Methos. "Just what is the big attraction here? I mean, I'm on this trip under protest anyway. Is there really any reason that I should have to suffer through this?" She waved at the street.

Methos shrugged. "It's just a little trip down amnesia lane. I was stationed here once upon a time. I wanted to see how the old place had changed."

Cassandra frowned. "Stationed? As in, the military? When were *you* in the American military?"

Methos chuckled. "No I wasn't in the *American* military. But, back in 1939, I found myself in possession of a British citizenship *and* a valid pilot's license for multi-engine aircraft. The perfect prescription for *conscription* into the RAF. I loved flying, but flying a Lancaster bomber through German flak on a moonless night wasn't my idea of a good time!"

Cassandra's eyes narrowed. "None of which tells me how you ended up *here*.

Methos shrugged. "War is never a good time for our kind. Too much chance of being seen to live through something that we couldn't possibly have survived. I didn't figure that walking out of a flaming plane wreck would be good for my anonymity. So I calculated the odds and saw the best way to stay in the military and still be a noncombatant. Be a hero."

Cassandra gave a snort of disbelief. "What?"

Methos smirked. "I became the best and most highly decorated night bomber pilot in RAF history." Methos bowed. "William Trent KCVO and holder of a Victoria Cross at your service." He looked up with his eyes twinkling slightly. "So when the Yanks started shopping the British for some men to train *their* pilots in night bombing......"

"You got yourself assigned to the job?" Cassandra finished.

Methos nodded. "Exactly right. Of course that was in '41 and, at the time, things were still pretty iffy for Merry Olde England...so they were loath to let an experienced man get away like that. So I had to resort to slipping a case of twenty year old black market Scotch to Art "Bomber" Harris' adjutant to get the assignment." Methos chuckled. "Best money I ever spent!"

Cassandra looked like she'd bitten into a raw lemon. "I might have figured that you, of all people, would take the coward's way out. A pity, unloading tons of bombs on to innocent civilians would have been right up your alley."

With a pained look, Methos sighed. "The "Methos is the Scum of the Earth" riff was old when Rome was new," he thought. "But I can't complain. Because I *was* the scum of the earth...as she knows only too well." He went on aloud. "Mass murder and wholesale destruction lose their entertainment value rapidly. It's easier to destroy than to build. And any Immortal that takes the easy path all the time will die of boredom long before someone takes their head. And even if they live on..they're dead inside."

Cassandra looked unconvinced, which hardly surprised Methos, but seemed willing to drop it....until the next time. Looking around again she frowned. "So, were you around when the place made a name for itself?"

Methos smiled with relief. "No. I was pulled out as soon as the war was over, back in '46. But I knew some of the people involved. Jesse Marcel and a few others. I even did some hunting near where the whatever it was is alleged to have crashed." He shrugged.

Cassandra glanced around and muttered under her breath. Methos cleared his throat in a questioning noise and Cassandra sighed and spoke aloud. "I said, so much built on so little." Methos still looked puzzled so she continued. "One hoax, and it alters a town's fate in history forever. Most towns have required a lot more catastrophe, and a lot more human suffering, to get their names into the history books." She waved her hand at the street. "Part of me finds a certain charm to it. But the larger part is contemptuous. It feels like this town cheated somehow." Cassandra noticed that Methos got a far away look in his eyes and, her curiosity was piqued. "What is it?" she asked.

Methos cleared his throat. "I don't know. It may have been a hoax. In fact there almost certainly *was* a hoax. But it was a hoax that covered something else. Something bigger and a *lot* more serious happened here back in July of '47. I knew a lot of locals, and I knew Jesse Marcel personally. And I tried to stay in touch for a while after I was recycled back to England. Marcel and I used to play cards together at the O-Club. The man didn't have a dishonest bone in his body. If he had told me that he'd found a crashed flying saucer, then I'd have been inclined to believe him."

Cassandra shrugged. "So, he made a mistake."

Methos shook his head. "He wasn't sort to do something that stupid. But it isn't my assessment of the man that tells me that there was something queer going on. It was what happened later. Men that I'd been stationed with here stopped answering letters. There was one captain, a hell of a guy named Hal Carver, a real load of trouble he was, that simply dropped off the face of the Earth. A pity. He was always good company." Methos sighed and looked a little pensive before continuing. "Even the few locals that I knew well enough, to exchange occasional cards and letters with, just clammed up. The final confirmation came when, in October of '47, I wrote a short letter to Marcel. I was teasing him about the whole thing. I heard back about it, but not from him. One morning in late December I was hauled out of bed at the BOQ and found myself standing at attention in front of the battered desk in a dingy anonymous office. Behind that desk was Air Marshal "Bomber" Harris himself."

Methos paused for breath, then went on. "It's worth noting that he shouldn't have been there at all. The official word was that he'd left the air service and England over a year before. The fact that American General Curtis LeMay was with him didn't help either. They had my letter to Marcel in front of them, and they proceeded to take turns interrogating me about it. It went on for hours. After they had satisfied themselves that I was just an idiot having a little fun with a friend they proceeded to inform me that I was playing games with classified material. And should I ever do it again, I'd find myself stationed in the Falkland Islands until I was "old and gray", where I'd spend the rest of my days chasing sheep off the runways. Now," he paused, "does *that* sound like a flap worthy of a 'weather balloon' to you?"

Cassandra studied him for a moment, then she smirked. "So you believe in little green men do you? At your age? It has to be a sign of senility setting in."

Methos gave a snort. "I never said that I believe in little green men, martians, UFO's, or anything else. I simply know that whatever happened here, over half a century ago, it was no wandering weather balloon that came down out there. Experimental aircraft or flying saucer, it was big enough and hot enough for the US government to clamp a light proof, leak proof lid on it....and big enough to cause them to get His Majesty's government to lean on *me*."

Cassandra looked skeptical, but shrugged as if to say that it didn't matter. "So what did you do?" she asked.

Methos sighed. "What *could* I do? I'd attracted the wrong kind of attention. Wrong by a long stretch. So I played the cowed subordinate to the hilt. And shortly after that William Trent was "killed" in a crash while on a routine training flight. No body was ever found. And I spent the next fifteen years captaining a tramp steamer up and down the China coast."

Cassandra nodded grudgingly. That's what she would have done as well. One thing that immortality did for you is that eventually it did confer wisdom of a sort. In other words, an Immortal learned a sense of proportion and perspective. Hence, any of them who lived long enough would know when to cut their losses and run, and were always prepared for that eventuality. She glanced up and down the street again, then spoke. "So what's your intention here? A walking tour of old haunts? Must we see every former bar and brothel in Roswell?"

Methos chuckled. "If you insist. However, we're standing in front of my favorite old hangout at the moment." Waving a hand at the cafe they'd stopped in front of. "This used to be the 'Longhorn Bar and Grill'." Turning he indicated the UFO Center across the street. "And *that* used to be the 'Majestic Hotel'. Between these two places and the local movie theater there wasn't much else to do here. Sure, we'll walk around a bit. But it won't take long. We'll come back to catch lunch here, then be on our way."

The two of them set off at a leisurely pace following the trail of Methos' memories of the Roswell that was. Now and again he would stop, pointing out a missing house or building, or one that had changed. Or, very rarely, one that was still the same as it had been over fifty years ago. Cassandra, for her part, maintained a sullen silence punctuated by an occasional caustic remark. Methos took her temper in stride, while wondering yet again just what the hell had possessed Amanda to saddle him with this. After a few hours Methos had visited all the places that he'd wanted to, with only one incident involving a late middle aged woman who thought that he looked familiar. With good reason. She was the daughter of one of the local people that he'd been friends with. That last time that he'd seen her she had only been 7 years old. Of course, neither he nor Cassandra brought that minor fact up. They simply chatted pleasantly with the woman for a few minutes, then they beat a hasty retreat.

It was lunch time when they approached the Crashdown Cafe where they'd left their car. The Cafe was moderately busy when they arrived, but there were still a few tables open. A perky blonde waitress who gave her name as Maria seated them in a booth quickly and they were perusing their menus when they both felt a rare, but disquieting sensation that Methos had long since come to think of as "the baby buzz". His senses were telling him that there was a pre-Immortal nearby. Catching Cassandra's eye he saw that she'd picked up on it too. She was still pretending to study her menu while actively scanning her surroundings. Finally her gaze settled on a spot just over his left shoulder.

"Behind you I think," she murmured quietly. "Just coming through the front door."

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 1-Sep-2002 8:38:46 PM ]
posted on 1-Sep-2002 8:50:05 PM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 10b
(Awakenings)

Methos maintained an expression of studied indifference as someone walked past him to take a seat at the counter. He did a double take then looked back at Cassandra. "The skinny stripling?" he asked.

"That would be the one," she murmured.

He turned his eyes towards the future Immortal and studied him appraisingly. After a few minutes he turned his eyes back towards Cassandra who was watching him closely. Once his attention was on her she raised one eyebrow in a motion that said, 'Well?". He shook his head and said quietly, "You first."

Cassandra sighed. "He's very young, but the potential is there. He looks unatheletic at best, but that can be corrected. He has the height and the reach to be a good swordsman. And from the way he carries himself I'd say that his flexibility is way above average."

Methos chuckled, but nodded. Watching the young man at the counter he could see all that and one thing more. His body language was...odd. He had no idea of what secrets the boy's past might hold, but he carried himself like someone who had been "to the wars". His posture betrayed a self-contained watchfulness that was unmistakable to eyes with as much experience as those that watched him now. In Methos' experience, that kind of alertness didn't develop for no reason. And school yard antics, even in today's schools, wouldn't be enough to account for it. This boy had 'seen the elephant' at some time in his obviously short life and lived to tell of it. "Well lad," he thought. "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you haven't seen anything...yet."

He was broken out his study of the nascent Immortal when one of Cassandra's feet reached out and nudged his sharply. Looking into her face he saw her eyes furtively move to his left. Returning to his perusal of the menu he made his choice, closed the menu and waited for the waitress to notice. Making a production of turning in his seat slightly he stretched his legs out in an indolent and relaxed manner. Looking at Cassandra he muttered conversationally, "Who was it?"

Cassandra smiled vacuously and answered in the same tone, "The boy in the letter jacket sitting with his back to the far wall."

Methos behaved as if she had said something funny and turned away chuckling. As he did so he ran his eyes over the opposite side of the restaurant. Bingo! Even if Cass hadn't fixed his position, Methos would have known. Even though there were *three* boys in letter jackets other there. He was the only one of the three that had that same 'I've been to the wars' body language as the boy at the counter! Curiouser and curiouser. This was just way too much coincidence. "Just what the hell happened in this little town to produce two kids like these?" he thought. "In an inner city school perhaps, but Roswell?" That they were connected was obvious. Why else would this kid be taking an interest in a total stranger based on that stranger's interest in the *first* boy?

The young man wasn't looking at him *now*, but he was tense. And, as Methos mimed a yawn, he caught the boy throwing a furtive glance in his direction. "Oh yes," he thought. "We've definitely attracted attention."

"Excuse me sir?" a soft husky voice said, interrupting his thoughts. "Are you ready to order."

Looking upwards he found himself face to face with a lovely brunette whose looks bordered on the angelic. His first impression was shocked recognition. This made three kids with that same posture and set to their shoulders. If anything the girl's was even *more* pronounced! She was walking with her weight well forward as if her 'fight or flight' reflex was on what looked like a permanent yellow alert! On a hunch he glanced at the blonde that had seated them and felt his stomach twist. That made four. She was so pixie cute that he'd missed it at first glance. Just what the *hell* was going on in this town!?

"Sir?" that dulcet voice said again.

Looking up at her he saw concern in her face at his hesitation. But behind it was something else. A hint of soul killing sadness. Forcing himself into the moment he spoke, "I'm fine Miss, just reconsidering my selection." Turning towards Cassandra he said, "Ladies first m'dear."

Cassandra was torn between admiration and outrage. Admiration at his dissembling and outrage at the way in which he chose to do it. She was well aware that something was off in this little cafe, and she was looking forward to comparing notes with Methos. "I'll have a Will Smith with fries and a glass of iced tea. And I'd like that burger rare if you don't mind."

The girl looked back at Methos who smiled winningly. "Far be it for me to argue with my lady's choice." He held his face straight as Cassandra kicked him sharply under the table. "I'll have the same if you please?"

Their waitress finished jotting down their order and smiled...a smile that didn't reach her eyes. "I'll have the cook get this started, then I'll be back with your tea." With that she made a quick check of a few nearby tables before heading for the order window.

Once she was out of earshot Cassandra leaned forward and spoke casually. "Do you think that you could have chosen a different cover, other than letting people think that I'm your 'lady'?"

Methos shrugged. "It was the quickest cleanest way I could think of to make us look like the harmless tourists that we are, relatively speaking."

Cassandra gave a snort and looked like she was about to argue, but the waitress chose that moment to return with their drinks.

"Here you are" she said. "Two iced teas. Freshly brewed no less."

She was getting ready to leave when Methos spoke. "Excuse me Miss, what is you name, please?"

The girl looked uncertain. "My name is Liz," she said.

Methos smiled and said, "Hello Liz, my name is William Trent and this is my friend Sarah. Tell me Liz, do you see that boy at the counter? The tall slender lad with the short hair? Do you know him?"

Liz looked behind her, realized who Methos was talking about, and stiffened slightly.

"I was right!" he thought. "They know each other, which means that whatever it is that has them running scared is something that they have in common!"

"Y-yes," she answered. "I know him."

"Would his last name by any chance be Davis?" Methos asked. "My cousin George's boy Tommy attends ULV, and I would swear that's him! I was simply wondering what he was doing so far from school."

Cassandra chimed in. "Now now dear, what an awful thing to say! You know that George takes after *you*, and that young man, to his great good fortune, most certainly does *not*."

Liz spun, her fears forgotten, and stared at Cass uncertain that she had heard what she thought she had. Cassandra simply stared back, but her eyes were dancing.

Methos groaned. "Please dear, not in front of strangers?"

The waitress giggled, and for the first time her eyes showed a bit of life. "No sir. His name is Alex. Alex Whitman, and he's been my best friend for most of my life."

Methos chuckled. "Please call me William, Liz. Or Bill if you must, but not 'sir'. Calling *me* sir is like putting tennis shoes on a horse. They don't fit and they look ridiculous."

Liz laughed out loud at that drawing the attention of her blonde co-worker, Maria. Swinging by the table she bumped Liz's hip. "If you're through flirting the customers Chica, I just seated someone at table two."

Liz looked startled then bumped her back and made her apologies to 'William' and 'Sarah' before fleeing to care for her other customers.

And so it went for the rest of the meal. As it happened Liz was busy and it was Maria who brought them their food. What followed was a repeat of what had taken place with Liz. Methos working his charm and Cassandra playing the good natured slightly vacant girl friend. Cassandra was entranced as she watched him work his magic with the girls, using equal parts of kindness, humor, and sensitivity. It almost made her forget that some millennia back he would have likely raped them both by now, after killing everyone in the restaurant. Almost. The dichotomy between what he was now, and what he had been was never clearer to her than it was in that instant. And she began to think that, just possibly, he truly had changed. "But that doesn't change what he did to *me*," she thought. "Nothing will *ever* change that!"

When the meal was done, and they were outside in the car Methos didn't start the engine immediately. Instead he sat with his hands on the wheel, staring into the distance.

Cassandra sat watching him. Finally her impatience got the better of her and she said, "A denarius for your thoughts?"

Methos sighed. "Cass I realize that you hate me. And therefore, you're likely to argue with my every suggestion, and I can't fault you for it. I wish...." He stopped himself and sat silent for a moment, then he went on. "Do you think that you could put that aside long enough to do a little business here?"

Cassandra was flabbergasted. This was more honesty than she'd ever seen from the man. Completely disarmed she said, "What sort of business?"

Methos started the engine and backed out. Putting the car in gear he took them out of town at a leisurely speed. "I'd like to find a motel and set up camp for a few days. There's something odd going on here. Did you see how those kids were acting? The way they carried themselves? Like soldiers waiting for the inevitable shock of battle."

Cassandra nodded. "Or like a slave cringing before he even sees the whip. He knows that it's coming."

Methos winced at the comparison, but nodded just the same. "I'd like to stick around, in part to see if I can remedy whatever it is, and in part to keep an eye on young Mr. Whitman. Once we get a room I'm going to call Joe and talk to him. He and I were talking just last month about what we'd do if we ever lucked into a pre-Immortal before the change."

Cassandra had frowned. "What would that be?"

Methos looked at her and gave her a quirky half smile. "Why put a Watcher on him of course! No one has ever documented an Immortal's life before the change. It could be instructive, especially in one this young! In fact I may dust off old skills and do a little surveillance of my own until he can get someone here."

Cassandra, against her will and inclination, found herself smiling back. "The idea has a certain appeal." She paused. "Sure, why not? As you say, it could be interesting!"

Once they found a newer motel and had booked their rooms, Cassandra joined him in his room while Methos was placing his call on his cell phone. After a short conversation, Dawson had agreed with Methos assessment and promised that he could have someone in place by the day after tomorrow. After terminating the call Methos dug out his lap top, jacked into the motel's web connection, and began to do research.

"Well, well," he said. "Our not yet newbie has quite a cyber presence. Not just one web site, but several interlocking sites. Hmmm, science fiction, fantasy, music, free ware, shareware, games...all created by him." Methos clicked on an icon. "Oh my! Look at this!"

Cassandra wandered over to investigate and found herself looking at a page entitled, 'The Top Ten Grossest Food Items Of All Time'. A further menu at the bottom of the page revealed an extensive archive of past lists covering everything from cars to pets and from clothing to bad habits. She chuckled to herself. "If nothing else young Alex's sense of humor would appeal to Richie Ryan," she thought as she began to read. "Hmm," she muttered. "Raw liver, eyeballs (pick your species), fried brains, chocolate covered insects of any sort...." When she finished she nudged Methos. "Are you thinking the same thing that I am?"

Methos nodded. "I suspect so....if you're thinking that our young friend hasn't lived long enough or traveled far enough to have seen some of the things that people can and *do* eat on a regular basis, or what they're willing to eat when they have to."

Cassandra laughed softly. "If only you knew the things that *I* ate in the desert in the beginning," she thought, "back when I first escaped you and the Horsemen."

Cassandra hadn't been idle. While Methos had been perusing cyber space, she'd gone the old fashioned route and let her fingers do the walking. She had the Whitman's phone number and address from the phone book, which she passed to Methos before going back to the bed to consult one of the the small town maps they'd picked up in the motel office.

Methos copied a few files and shut down his laptop, the stood and stretched. "Believe it or not, the boy has some interesting ideas there. I copied some of his free ware over to play with later." He paused. "Do you think that you could drive me to a car rental agency and drop me off? We're going to be here at least twenty four hours or more. And, much as I love it, that Caddy tends to stand out too much."

Cass smirked. "Thinking of a nice nondescript mud colored sedan, are you?" Then she nodded and held out her hand. "I agree. The keys if you please? I'll get my purse out of my room and be with you in a moment."

The motel office directed them to a small rental agency at the county air field. The selection was thin, but since their requirements would be met by any unprepossessing piece of junk that would run and keep the rain out, Methos had their car and was back at the motel in an hour. Cassandra regarded the beat up Ford Tempo with some disgust. "When I said 'mud colored' I was only kidding!"

Methos chuckled. "Now now, it *isn't* mud colored. Closer to the color of a nice dark Dijon mustard I'd say."

Cassandra curled her lip. "Whatever the color is, it's repulsive. I'm not going to be seen in that in daylight!"

Methos was gathering up things in his room. His sword and duster, as well as a few odds and ends. "I wouldn't ask you to Cass. It may escape your notice, but on a surveillance the rule is to be inconspicuous. With your hair and looks, the only way that anyone could ignore you is if they were dead. You'd stand out as much as the Caddy would. And in the yech-mobile I'll be driving you'd look as out of place as a cow on roller-skates.....but much prettier." He paused to dip into a bag of new purchases he'd made on the way back to the motel. A stop at a local electronics store had yielded a pair of mid-range two way radios. He opened the packages, inserted the batteries and tested the units. These came with an ear piece and vibrated when they received a signal. Tossing one to Cassandra he said, "Emergency communications. You can reach me by cell, but if we both have to go out it might be helpful to be able to talk without using something that's quite so noisy."

Cassandra frowned. "So I just wait around here while you go out and play Watcher?" The idea had little appeal.

Methos shook his head. "You have the Caddy and the other map. Go exploring. Do some shopping. Be seen doing the tourist thing in *that* car. I won't be out all day. A few hours at most. This isn't a full out Watcher gig. I just want to familiarize myself with the neighborhood around the boy's home, and with the town at large. I could leave it for the regular Watcher to do, but a little leg work gives me an interest in things." Methos winked and headed for the door.

Cassandra had been swept along by his enthusiasm to this point, but decided she needed a parting shot to remind him of how things stood. "Well I'm not spending my *own* money to maintain *your* cover."

Methos froze, then turned with a Cheshire Cat grin. "My money belt is on the bed. It has copious amounts of cash, Travelers Checks, and my credit cards. I assume that you *can* forge my signature? Help yourself Cass. You've earned it simply by being patient this far. Spend yourself into a stupor." With that he was gone.

Cassandra stood there doing a slow burn. "That man is infuriating!" she thought. "I should have summoned my courage and cut his throat while he slept *before* I escaped his tent three and a half millennia ago!" Going to the bed she removed a substantial amount of cash and all the credit cards. If she had to play the spendthrift girl friend, there was no point in going halfway. Stuffing her plunder into her purse she smiled a feral smile and scooped up the Caddy's keys as she headed out the door. Oh yes....there was no point in going 'halfway' at all.

Roswell The Next Morning.....Six Months Previous....Plus One Day

Methos and Cassandra were taking the Caddy into Roswell to try the Crashdown's breakfast menu. The previous evening they'd spent killing time in their separate rooms. Methos had only done a quick once over on the haunts of Alex Whitman. The boy had arrived home before lunch and stayed home all day, being visited once by their two charming waitresses, and once by a takeout delivery boy. His parents were no where to be seen. It wasn't much information, but it was enough to lay the required ground work for the incoming Watcher. For her part Cassandra had taken Methos at his word, forging Adam Pierson's signature on charge card slips all over Roswell and it's immediate environs. For her, the crowning glory had been the bed. What appeared to be a lovely hand carved French Provincial that anyone, with seven thousand dollars to waste, would be proud to own. That is, until you looked closely at the carving and realized that you were seeing a UFO and bug-eyed alien motif. The boutique had promised to ship for a merely outrageous surcharge, and Cass had paid without a quiver. She was wishing that she could be there to see it delivered.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-Sep-2002 8:57:21 PM ]
posted on 1-Sep-2002 9:15:24 PM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 10c
(Awakenings)

Pulling up at the Crashdown they went inside in relatively good spirits (albeit for vastly differing reasons), but stopped immediately inside the door. Something was wrong. Very, very wrong. You don't get to be millennia old without having metaphorical nerve endings connected to your surroundings. And what they were both getting was a somber mood. Like there was a dirge playing that no one could hear. The place was empty and there were no waitresses in evidence, so they seated themselves and waited. After a few minutes they heard crying and the slamming of a door back in the kitchen area.

Their dark haired waitress from yesterday emerged from the back and looked around the cafe as if temporarily lost. When her gaze fell on them and she walked over to the serving window to address someone in the kitchen. Then she walked towards them. Cassandra studied her face. Yesterday there had been deep sorrow there, but old sorrow that had retreated to a dull ache. Today her face was impassive as a stone mask, but she had a new layer of pain over the old. Fresh. Raw. Like a still bleeding wound.

Liz's expression was glacial when she reached there table. "Can I help you?" she said mechanically and with no hint of recognition.

Methos opened his mouth to speak, but for once he was at a loss. Looking at Cassandra for help he watched as she reached out and took Liz's hand. "Child," she said, "what's the matter? What happened here?"

Liz focused on Cassandra's face and tried to speak, but her face crumpled and she broke for the back of the restaurant. Methos started to get up but Cassandra waved him down and followed Liz. Entering the kitchen she heard the sound of sobs from the break room. A throat cleared to her left, turning she saw a middle aged man wearing an apron.

"Can I help you?" he said.

Cassandra glanced in the direction of the break room and looked back at her questioner. "I was about to ask that question myself. I hate to butt in to something that may be none of my business, but my friend and I were in here yesterday. Something seems to have changed since then. Something worthy of tears. Something that causes a pretty young girl to flee rather than talk. Can we help?"

The man sighed, and seemed to age before her eyes. It was the age old burden of a parent's love. "I'm Jeff Parker, the owner. That would be my daughter Lizzie that just ran through here." Jeff sighed again. "There's really nothing you can do that I or my wife haven't done already. She and Maria have what they need right now, and that's each other. The two of them and Alex have been tight friends since grade school."

Cassandra paused. "I beg your pardon? Did you say Alex?"

Jeff nodded sadly. "Yes, that would be Alex Whitman. He was driving his parents' mini van last night when he was in a head on collision with a tractor trailer rig out on Route 70. He was killed instantly the sheriff said." Jeff paused and looked around at the kitchen as if noticing it for the first time. "I probably shouldn't have opened the place up today. My wife and I always thought of Alex as one of our own, and most of my staff are teenagers that knew Alex and cared about him to varying degrees. So I'll be shorthanded all day. But I can take your order now if you want. It's just that the service may be a little spotty."

Cassandra raised her hands in negation. "No no, we don't want to be a bother." Then seeing the pained look on Jeff Parker's face she relented. "Let me get my friend and we'll move up to the counter so that we're closer to the kitchen. You cook, I'll serve. Will that do?"

Jeff smiled. "Do a good job and I might just hire you for the day."

Cassandra gave a half-hearted grin. "I'll be right back." Then she walked back out front and rapidly to the table. She leaned over Methos and whispered. "You can call Joe and cancel that Watcher. Alex Whitman was killed in a car wreck last night. The whole place is in mourning. The owner is Liz's father and he insists on feeding us, so let's make it look good. Come with me." Cassandra pulled an unresisting Methos to his feet and led him up to the counter near the kitchen. Making a quick check of the menus they settled on a simple meal of alien themed omelets and toast with juice and coffee. Jeff Parker took their order through the window and began cooking. No one had started the coffee maker so Cassandra undertook to get it going after pouring their juice.

The coffee was just beginning to brew when they heard the kitchen door. Liz and Maria emerged from the back looking much the worse for wear. Liz gave Cass a half hearted smile and gently shooed her to the other side of the counter. When their breakfast was ready Liz served them and then went out to the tables to help Maria make sure that everything was set up for the day.

Both Methos and Cassandra kept stealing glances at the girls. They were moving slowly, as if in a daze, operating on auto-pilot. Methos had seen this so many times that he couldn't begin to count them. The first stages of grief. He wished that he could comfort them. Tell them that it would be okay, that their friend wasn't dead. He sighed deeply. It was not to be. It couldn't be. It wouldn't be safe for them, nor would it be safe for Alex Whitman the new born Immortal.

Methos and Cassandra finished their breakfast quickly and beat a hasty retreat, but not before Methos dropped a one hundred dollar bill on the counter. As they walked out the girls were still working. Cassandra motioned Methos ahead. He went on out to the car as Cass walked over to where the girls were going through the motions of working. Setting an resetting the place settings, checking and rechecking the condiment containers.

Taking each of them by the hand she spoke to Liz. "Your father told us."

Liz nodded jerkily swallowing, and Maria looked to be ready to bolt at any second.

Cassandra sighed and spoke again. ""Still.""

Both girls froze.

Cassandra reached out and gently brushed a stray lock of hair from Liz's face then used her thumb to remove a tear from Maria's cheek. "Grief should not be allowed to mar such youth and beauty," she thought. Then she continued aloud. ""Hear my voice children. You are stronger than you think. You are stronger than this. Be of good heart, for your friend may be gone from you, but he is safe. I will see to it, I promise you. Remember me not, only remember that Alex is safe. And that as long as you hold him in your hearts, he cannot die. Let your grief go, for your pain does not serve his love for you well. Remember him with love."" Cass gave them both a kiss on the cheek and turned towards the door. Just before she exited she turned and spoke. ""Release.""

Both girls stumbled briefly and looked at each other. What had just happened?

"Liz, are you okay?" Maria asked.

Liz nodded as she looked out the window and saw their customers getting into their car. Customers? She remembered the man vaguely, but not the woman. Blinking she shook her head to clear it. Then she remembered. Alex was dead. She waited for the pain to strike, but was surprised that it struck so lightly. Somehow she knew that Alex was okay. That he would be okay. Looking at Maria he saw her undergoing a similar shift in emotions. Liz recalled being devastated last night and this morning. But now it was like she'd gotten her second wind. Enough to begin thinking beyond the fact that Alex was dead....and start thinking about *how* he had died. Her eyes narrowed as she began to speculate. She didn't like where her thoughts were taking her. And neither would Max.

Hearing a gasp from Maria she turned to where Maria stood at the counter. She had gone there to start clearing the debris from someone's meal. Now she was standing absolutely frozen looking at something in her hand. "Maria?" Liz inquired. "What is it?" Wordlessly Maria raised what she was holding to where Liz could see it. A one hundred dollar bill. For breakfast? Liz turned to dash outside and stop their departing customers, but it was too late. They were gone.

"What do we do?" Maria asked.

Liz smiled. "We give it to my dad and, if they don't come back claiming that it was an error, we split it."

Maria smiled faintly. "It works for me." She walked over and handed the bill to Liz. "Speaking of work Chica, we'd better get to it. The churches will be letting out soon, and the rush will come with it."

Liz gave her a hug. "Ever the practical girl. Start setting up the fountain and I'll go see dad about this," she waved the cash, "then I'll be out to help you." Pausing she hugged Maria again. "It's going to be okay. I don't know how I know, but it's going to be okay."

Maria nodded. "I know Chica. We'll get through this."

Both girls went on about the morning's business, unaware that they'd been face to face with two living relics of history....and just incidentally a big piece of Alex's destiny. As well as their own future.

Roswell 1:00 AM Wednesday Morning.......Six Months Previous...Plus Three Days....

Cassandra was jumpy. She was sitting in their rental car, parked on a disused side road near Roswell Municipal Cemetery. Methos had left her there three hours ago to reconnoiter the cemetery. The funeral had been in the late afternoon to allow Alex's school mates to attend. It seemed that one of them was having a tough time letting go. Because Methos had reported through their two way radios that there was still someone at the grave site. Cassandra was on the verge of storming into the cemetery and laying a good dose of Voice on whoever it was.

They'd waited patiently for this. Watching the obituaries and counting the days. Alex's reported injuries had been extreme, which meant that their real extent was probably much more severe. Combined with the damage that the post-mortem had probably done and the effects of modern embalming, it would take him a while to regenerate and recover. It should be tonight at the earliest. If they didn't get him tonight that would mean leaving him trapped alive in a coffin underground until tomorrow night. Having been in that position herself, it's nothing that should wish on her worst enemy. Not even on....Methos.

Cassandra sighed at the ambivalence of her feelings for the man. The man who'd taken her into bondage in the late Bronze Age was inarguably a sadistic monster of the first order. But from all appearances he no longer existed in the here and now. The question that plagued her was, did he sleep within the gentle civilized man she'd spent the last two weeks with? Or was this individual the awakened man that had been at the core of the monster? Did the monster only sleep? Or was he dead? Slain by the gentle soul that appeared to take his place and wear his face? She shook herself sharply as the ear piece from the radio hissed in her ear.

"You awake Cass?" came the question.

"I'm as awake as I was the LAST time you asked that question!" she snapped back. "Still no action?"

"That's what I was calling to tell you, she's leaving," came the reply.

Cassandra frowned. "She? Was it Liz or Maria?"

"No," the radio whispered. "She's too tall, and too...well there'd be no mistaking her for anything but a girl. Not even in *dim* light. She just got into a jeep that was parked near a clump of trees and drove right past where I was hiding near the main gate. You're between her and the town. Assuming she's a townie, you should be seeing the glare of her lights any minute."

Sure enough there was a brief flare of light out towards the main road, indicating that a car had passed. The first one since Methos had left her parked there. "Okay, I saw her. She just passed me headed towards Roswell."

Methos responded. "Come on then. I'm going to the cemetery garage to hot wire the back hoe. We've got to work quickly. There's a storm coming in. Come through the main gates and use the key I had made to lock them behind you. Hopefully that will keep anyone who's nosy out long enough for us to get the job done."

Now that they were in the clear Cass wasted no time. Tramping on the accelerator she caused a small rooster tail of dust and gravel to spray from under the car. Reaching the main road she made the turn and negotiated the two hundred feet to the cemetery entrance in only seconds. Turning into the entrance she jumped out and closed the seldom locked gates. Reaching through the bars she used the heavy key to lock the gates. The caretaker would never know the favor that Methos had done him. When they had first conceived this plan, the ever meticulous Methos had gone out that night and checked the cemetery. Realizing that locking the gate was a must he'd secured a key from the caretaker's shack and had a copy made. At the same time he'd oiled the long unused locks on the gates to insure that they were in working order. Nothing had been left to chance.

As the lightening of an approaching thunderstorm began to strobe, she jumped back into their rental and raced for the burial site. Though she'd never been there, Methos had. It was a small cemetery, and she had explicit directions. By the time she stopped on the service road near the grave, Methos was already driving the back hoe towards the graveside. Cass got out of the car and opened the trunk, retrieving two shovels, a powerful portable light, and a length of heavy chain. All the tools were courtesy of a fast drive that Methos had made back to Santa Fe. The same trip had yielded the heavy boots, coveralls, and work gloves that they were both wearing.

By the time Cassandra had finished the walk to the grave Methos already had the back hoe in position, lowered it's stabilizers, and begun to dig. She leaned on Alex's headstone as she watched him dig with deliberate haste. The soft recently disturbed earth was easy to move. So it was only ten minutes before the bucket scraped across the top of the concrete vault encasing the casket. Cassandra jumped down into the grave and tested the situation with a shovel. There were only a few inches of soil left over the vault cap. She looked up at Methos and nodded. Seeing her nod Methos swung the bucket over the grave and put the 'hoe in idle.

Cassandra was already digging when Methos joined her, shovel in hand. Together they dug frantically, working against time. Not only to get the job done before someone happened upon them, but to beat the approaching storm, whose lightening was increasing. Cassandra cleared her end of the vault and paused to look up at the Western sky as branching fingers of lightening danced across it, bringing a grumble of thunder. She chuckled aloud.

Methos was still digging but managed to grunt out, "What's so funny?"

Cassandra laughed louder. "The setting. The weather. The mission. All combining to give me the sudden urge to call you 'Igor'."

Methos gave a snort. "Wouldn't 'Renfield' be more appropriate?"

Methos dragged the heavy chain into the hole with them and looped it over the bucket of the back hoe. Using the hook on the end of the chain he completed the loop. Then he repeated the process with the recessed handle on the vault top. That job done he gave Cass a boost out of the grave before climbing out himself. A glance at his watch showed twenty minutes elapsed. Not too bad. Calling a break, he and Cass shared a flask of water from the small back pack he'd been carrying.

Cassandra paused taking a deep breath. Surveying their handiwork she wiped her damp brow with her sleeve, leaving a smudge of dirt. "Tell me again why we couldn't just snatch him from the coroner?" she said.

Methos chuckled. "Because vanished bodies are mysteries. Which lead to open case files. Which might lead to nosy fools trying to solve them. Trust me, it's better for the boy this way. Even if it does mean that we risk a bit more and sweat a bit more." Handing Cass the water bottle he climbed back into the operator's saddle on the 'hoe. Starting the engine he gently nursed the control lever, lifting the bucket and pulling the lid free of the concrete vault. Then, after idling the engine down he joined Cass in climbing down into the hole.

Standing on opposite sides they clearly see the lid of the coffin illuminated by the beam of Cassandra's lantern. They couldn't hear clearly over the noise of the idling engine. But there was nothing wrong with their eyes. The lid was rattling slightly.

Methos sighed. They'd called it close enough. Alex was awake. And, no doubt, scared to death. Not exactly what he wanted to deal with right then. Reaching down he released the latch on the coffin lid and it flew open to reveal one very frightened young man.

Alex Whitman pulled himself out of his coffin with desperate haste, as if escaping the clutches of hell itself. In his confusion he began to try and scramble out of the hole, completely ignoring Methos and Cassandra.

Methos took hold of his shoulder and tried to speak to him. "Alex, just hang on a minute, I'll help you...." He was cut off as the terrified boy swung at him. All at once Methos had a wildcat on his hands. And with the uneven footing they both promptly slipped and fell. Landing in the bottom of the hole Alex wailed and continued to struggle.

Cassandra sighed, and hefting one of the shovels, brought it down on Alex's head with a metallic "BONK!" Alex promptly collapsed.

Methos extricated himself from beneath the unconscious boy and sighed. "Not the worst reaction I've ever seen, but definitely in the top ten." He winced and muttered as he rubbed a sore spot on the side of his head wear he'd cracked his skull against a rock projecting from the side of the hole during his struggle with Alex.

The oncoming storm was beginning to make itself felt as the flash effect of the lightening increased moment by moment, illuminating the landscape in an eerie fashion. As the wind picked up and drops of rain began to fall here and there, Methos boosted Cassandra out of the hole. He then lifted an unconscious Alex high enough that she could slide her hands under his armpits, and between the two of them they heaved the unconscious boy out of the hole. Methos then kicked the coffin lid closed and tossed their tools out of the hole.

Climbing aboard the back hoe he slowly lowered the vault lid back into place, carefully jiggling it until it settled with a dull 'clunk'. With that done he climbed down once more and disconnected the chain before beginning to hurriedly back fill the now empty grave. With that completed he drove the 'hoe back to it's parking spot in the garage and locked it up. With any luck at all the oncoming downpour would be heavy enough to erase any traces of their late night activities.

Cassandra had gotten Alex into a shoulder carry and gotten him back to the car. Once there she dipped into her 'travel kit' of herbal compounds and administered a soporific that would keep the slender boy out for some hours. Hopefully by then they would be far away. Then she carefully and clinically stripped him of his burial clothes and managed to dress him in some all purpose sweats that they'd brought along, before depositing him in the back seat. Leaving Alex asleep in the car she had retrieved their gear and stowed it in the trunk. By the time Methos got back she had the motor running. It amused her to no end that he had to cover the last hundred feet at a dead run as the clouds of the long threatened storm opened and unleashed a downpour of biblical proportions. Once he was in the car she drove through the rain and mist to the cemetery gate. Turning to Methos she simply handed him the key to the gate lock. When he sat there looking from her, to the key, and back again she shrugged and said, "There's no point in *both* of us looking like drowned rats tonight."

Methos grumbled but got out of the car and stoically marched up to the gate and unlocked it, being careful to leave it standing open exactly as they'd found it. By the time he got back in the car he did indeed resemble the aforementioned drowned rat, but Cass diplomatically ignored it.

Once they reached the motel they took advantage of the darkness and rain to move Alex and their gear over to the Cadillac. They had already packed most of their belongings before setting out on their rescue mission earlier that night, leaving only the bare essentials to shower and clean up before leaving. Once they were ready the rain was still heavy, but it had slacked off enough that they could leave without getting drenched. Driving the Caddy Cassandra followed Methos to the rental agency where he left the rental's keys along with a hefty tip in the night drop box. By 3:00 AM they were on the road drinking strong coffee with double cream and sugar from a thermos that Cass had purchased on her 'shopping trip', and had filled at the coffee shop next to the motel. By the time the sun rose they'd left New Mexico far behind.

Both Methos and Cassandra realized that they were taking Alex into the unknown. But they had no clue that, before a year had passed, he would return the favor. With interest compounded.

End of Part 10

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 2-Sep-2002 9:14:26 PM ]
posted on 1-Sep-2002 10:40:13 PM
Rim You're welcome! And thanks!

MaryJean Pat Frank? "Alas Babylon" was one of my earliest acquisitions, when I was still a teenager. The quintessential "after the bombs" book. Ever read any Christopher Anvil, like "Pandora's Planet"? Or "The Gandalara Cycle" by Randall Garrett and Vickie Ann Heydron? Or perhaps any Dean Ing?

Regarding my own story, I figured that's the way it was going. So I gave in and took a chance on posting it from the antique PC I use at home. *wink* Just to catch this thread up with DD, then focus on part 12, which BTW is starting to scare me. The part I just put up was around 70+ K of text. The largest to date has been part 9 at 110 K of text. Here are the numbers for part 12. Pre-love scene, 93 K. The love scene itself, 40 K (Max and Liz just refused to do things in a small way), and post love scene (as yet unwritten) should be about 20 K. Result....one hell of a lot of readin' and writin'. *big* Hang in there, it'll be done soon.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-Sep-2002 10:41:59 PM ]
posted on 2-Sep-2002 12:29:24 PM
*jaw cracking yawn*

Good morning my friends! My y'all have been busy while I've slept. And we have new readers on board! Welcome to behrhugs and Jane! My thanks for the praise, but you really need to talk to the characters. All I do is write what they tell me. *wink*

MaryJean I especially recommend Dean Ing's "Systemic Shock", "Single Combat", and "Wild Country". They're a kickass series. Would you believe that on of the most intriguing characters is a monsterous wild boar? The hero Ted Quantrill refered to Baal (the boar) as "the friendly tyrannosaur just over the hill". *big* Also, "The Gandalara Cycle" is a series. Randall and Vickie were a husband and wife team. Two thirds of the way through Randall suffered a catastrophic injury. He lingered a while, and then passed away. Leaving Vickie to finish the series alone. See if you can spot the change in style. Truly beautiful seamless work.

Everyone I'm glad that you're diggin' the background info. For those of you that haven't snuck over to Jessi's yet, the next part has more. And Alex gets the "you ain't in Kansas no more" speech. And Liz gets....well...that would be tellin'.

dzdreamer Y'know I got quite a few complaints on the issue of Cass' meddling, though most were focused on what she did to Alex and Isabel. The best way I can explain it is this. In my view, the real enemies of an Immortal are arrogance and boredom. Even well meaning actions can have an Olympian "helping out the poor mortals" flavor to them. I see it as something they have to fight every day of their extraordinarily long lives. And not always successfully. And in the case of what she did to A/I, think parental. She had Duncan's and Amanda's support and encouragement there. Even outstanding parents occasionally do things to their children with the best of intentions, that end up having the opposite of the intended effect. You could say it's part of being human. And it will be a lesson in humility for our long-lived friends.

Besides...I needed that "mindwarp" for something. What, I ain't tellin' you.

Speaking of the "gerbil", one of my wife's demands when I started this was, rehabilitate Tess believeably. I think that I can do it. Though to ease you into it, she will NOT be appearing in this story other than in flashback mode. So hold the lynch mob. It isn't EdR's fault that JKrew couldn't write their way out of a wet paper bag. *wink*

Added in Edit Darn it, dz! I missed your question about Seattle! Hmmmm, okay...in shooting and writing a lot of series (and their resulting flood of fic) Seattle and Vancouver get used interchangeably. In fact I've seen the fictional name "Seacouver" used. I simply opted to *keep* it simple. The bad guys are in the Great White North, so I didn't want the good guys only a few hours drive from them. Hence I kept them in the lower forty eight. And further, Seattle had a really obvious and unique landmark building that I could use as a handle in Isabel's search for Alex. In a simple phrase...expediency was the mother of location. *wink*

ladylou No, I don't mind at all if you take it offline with you. This is a public venue, and in posting here I accept that this story will go places that may surprise me. And archiving offline is something that I do myself for my own enjoyment. Melinda Dawney's "Friendship" is on floppy around here somewhere. What's "Friendship"? Only the ultimate AU UC all around x-over nookie fic ever to emerge from the Buffy-verse. It wasn't the blond that got the brooding vampire....it was the red haired hacker. *wink*

Well, laters folks. I have to finish part 12 today come hell or highwater. No TV. No reading of other people's fic. No chores. No distraction of *any* kind. I'm staying in my cave until it's done. Then I'm submitting the excerpted love scene for a test reading offline. Until I get the thumbs up, part 12 remains on my hard drive

Adios!



[ edited 2 time(s), last at 2-Sep-2002 1:00:52 PM ]
posted on 4-Sep-2002 1:42:34 AM
Evenin' folks. Just a little news flash. Part 12 is completed. I won't say that it's done because I'm still finding and trapping errors in the text. But the creative process is over, pending final approval of my first attempt at a sex...er...love scene, by the jury. The vote is still out. However I'm in no mood to wait. Work on part 13 has commenced. BTW, the final size of part 12 was...144K of text. Like I said, a monster.

Norma Oh, the Immortals and Podsters *will* meet, but not before some serious s**t happens. Bear with me.

Lorilei The spelling may not be the same, but the song title *is* your name.

2crzy4roswell Bear in mind that none of the others beat me to death, and if *you* do, no more parts will be forthcoming. *wink* Hang in there, part 12 will sooth your shattered nerves...once it passes inspection that is.

Everyone I have part 11 here at work, but I'm really getting pounded tonight. So I may not get to post it. Hang in there though. If it's humanly possible, I'll get it to you.

Laters folks.....
posted on 4-Sep-2002 7:18:24 AM
Oooooops! Looks like we have a casualty! ROTFLMEAO!
For those who don't know what that means, it stands for
"Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Evil ⊕$$ Off"

Yes folks, I'm coming out of the closet! I am an Evil
Overlord! Look here for the...
Evil Overlord
list of do's and don'ts.

Sorry folks, no chance to get to part 11 tonight. Too much to do and not enough of *me* to go around.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 4-Sep-2002 7:20:41 AM ]
posted on 5-Sep-2002 3:35:31 AM
2crzy4roswell Thanks for editting that. *wink* Don't worry, in part 12 there's good medicine coming...provided I don't send everyone into sugar shock. *big*

Everyone Well, ready for part 11? What? I can't hear you! Oh well, ready or not, here is comes!

Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 11a
(Divergence)

On I-25 North In Colorado.....Six Months Ago Plus Three Days...Sunrise

Even though they were well into Southern Colorado, they had no intention of stopping that day, short of Wyoming. Thus they still had at least two days of driving ahead. And a newbie to educate. Methos dozed in the passenger's seat while Cassandra drove. Even with her sun glasses, she was intensely glad that they were moving NorthWest, away from the glare of the rising sun. Casting a glance in his direction she was once again bothered the fact that it was getting harder to summon the clear burning hatred that she'd nurtured for him for so long. "If familiarity breeds contempt, can it also breed forgiveness I wonder?" she thought.

Idly craning her neck to glance over the back seat she saw their new charge sleeping peacefully. Turning back around she paused frowning. His position has shifted since the last time she'd looked! She began looking for a place to pull off. "Alex?" she said softly. "I know you're awake. And probably scared to death, aren't you?"

There was silence from the back seat for a moment then a voice hissed, "Understatement of the year lady! Just who are you working for?"

"Why would he think that we were working for anyone?" she wondered silently. "If we're working *for* someone, that someone would be you," she said aloud. Spotting an abandoned gas station surrounded by a few trees she pulled off and drove over the fallen barriers blocking the parking lot entrances.

The changes in acceleration and the uneven bumps in the decaying macadam of the parking lot woke Methos. "What's happening? Why are we pulling off?

Pulling to a stop among the trees behind the vandalized station she nodded towards the back. "Alex is awake, and I imagine he'd like some answers, posthaste. Don't you?"

As soon as the car stopped rolling the back door flew open and Alex jumped out. He started to run, but Methos was ready for it and tackled him before he'd made it ten yards. Alex began to fight back, savagely. But Methos eventually gained the upper hand and got an arm lock on him. He lay there panting as Alex continued to struggle uselessly. As he went on fighting in vain, Methos finally lost patience and shouted, "Knock it off Alex! All you're doing is hurting yourself!" Finally Alex's will seemed to collapse and he lay there limply. "Now," Methos said in a reasonable tone, "can we talk without you bolting like a frightened rabbit?" He felt the boy stiffen again. Good! By impugning Alex's courage, perhaps he'd made an impression. Slowly and carefully he released his hold and sat up.

Alex took advantage his freedom to roll away out of reach before sitting up. But, to his credit, he didn't run. Glaring at his 'captors' he snarled, "Just what the hell is going on? Where am I? What do you want with me? Where's that bitch Tess? And just who the HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE!?"

"My, but that's a lot of questions," a feminine voice said.

Turning towards the car Alex saw the woman who had been driving, and who had spoken to him first. This was his first sight of her face. His forebrain seized up instantly. The over all impression was one of exotic good looks complimented by a self-confidence that bordered on the sublime. Coupled with the high cheek bones, almond hazel/green eyes, strong chin, and red hair the impression delivered was one of strength. Too much strength to be called pretty. No, this woman leapt straight past pretty and into drop dead beautiful. Alex was tongue tied.

Sensing the source of his temporary silence, and being flattered by it she glanced at Methos, who shrugged Gallic style.

Alex realized that his staring and silence were telegraphing his thoughts and emotions, and he began to blush. The woman laughed merrily, and the man who'd tackled him spoke in a comforting tone. "Don't let it get to you son. She has that effect on most men. I should know." This drew a strange glance from his female companion, something between fear and wonder it looked like.

Alex sighed as he began to get himself under control. He had other worries at the moment without dealing with whatever emotional subtext his captors had going. Looking the woman straight in the eye he spoke. "Yes, those were a lot of questions. And unless you want to have to run me down every time you turn your back, you'll answer them. But, for now, let's start with something simple. What are your names?"

The woman smiled and nodded. "My name is Cassandra." She waved a hand in the direction of the man. "His name would be Methos. As for the rest of your questions, what do you remember?"

Cassandra watched Alex's eyes as they narrowed in thought. He seemed to be weighing something in his mind. It appeared that he was trying to decide what and how much to tell them. "Oh my, not even eighteen years old yet, and you already have a past?" she thought. His face cleared. He had apparently made his choice.

Alex grimaced. "I remember being at a girl's house." he paused then continued, stumbling a bit over his next few words. "I'd..caught her....doing something...wrong...to me. Then I remember coming too in a dark confined space. I was there for what felt like forever. I yelled. I pleaded. I screamed myself hoarse. No one heard me. I think that I lost it there for a while. When I heard noises outside, I was certain that it was my imagination. Then I heard louder noises. Scraping sounds. By then I was too scared to even make a sound, for fear that it wasn't real. It was stifling where I was. I started struggling to get out again. Then the cover was lifted away and...." He frowned. "YOU two were *there*!" He pointed at Methos. "I fought with you! And...and...," he glared at Cassandra, "YOU *hit* me! Didn't you?!"

Cassandra grinned and nodded. "With a shovel. I apologize, but you were out of control. And we were in a hurry. We had to get you out of there, fill in your grave, and get out of town without getting caught."

Alex looked at her blankly. "My....grave?"

Methos nodded. "Yes...as in cemetery and dead. A grave."

Alex looked skeptical. "Someone buried me alive?" Inside he was thinking furiously. "Kheerist! I knew that Tess was a bitch, but that seems to be a little over the top. Even for her! And anyway...why not just kill me and be done with it?" he thought.

Methos sighed. "Er, not quite," he said. Looking at Cassandra he said,"It's demo time I think."

Cassandra nodded. "The buzz first I think. He's not even a day old so his range can't be more than fifty feet." Reaching into the car and grabbing their two way radios she checked their frequencies, then tossed one to Methos. "I'll be right back." Cassandra walked away around the corner of the station and out of sight.

Alex glanced at Methos, nonplused. "What are you two talking about? Where's she going? And what's 'the buzz'?"

Methos smiled. "Be patient, you'll see. She'll be back in just a minute."

After a few minutes the radio began to vibrate in his hand. Twisting the volume to maximum he unplugged the earpiece and spoke into the radio. "Yeah Cass?"

Her voice came out loudly enough for Alex to here it. "I walked all the way out to the highway, just to be certain I was out of range. I'm starting back now." She paused. "Just for the sake of interest, I'll come back slowly. Give me a call when it hits."

Alex frowned and thought, "What the hell are they talking abou....." Just then the creepiest feeling of his life hit him. He sat up alertly and looked around. It was like the chills and an mild electric shock at the same time.

Methos had been watching him closely and keyed the radio.

Cassandra answered immediately. "Yes?

Methos chuckled. "Houston, we have liftoff. What was the range?"

Cassandra was silent a moment, no doubt estimating the distance. "Maybe one hundred and twenty feet. Most impressive for a newbie."

Methos gave a low whistle in agreement and looked at Alex appraisingly. That was VERY impressive indeed! He'd known newbies that had almost no sense of other Immortals at all for the first year of their new existence. They generally didn't last too long. But this kid had better than twice the norm! *Very* impressive!

Cassandra came back around the corner and tossed her radio back in the car. Methos tossed his to her and it followed hers onto the driver's seat.

Alex was sitting up alertly, looking back and forth between the two of them. "What the hell just happened? What was that?! What did you two *do* to me?"

Methos scrubbed at the back of his neck with one hand. He stood and walked over to an old tree stump and settled on it. He regarded Alex for a long moment then he spoke. "Alex, we did some research on you. Am I right in assuming that you're a math, high tech, and science sort of man?"

Alex looked suspicious, but nodded.

Methos smiled faintly. "Okay then I'm going to lay out the situation for you. You see if you can guess your position in it. Ready for a trip into the Twilight Zone?"

Alex snorted. "Been there, done that," he thought sardonically. But he gestured for Methos to continue anyway.

Methos took a deep breath and began. "Let's imagine a hypothetical group of people. They live within the larger population of humanity, blending in, unseen. They've been there for a very long time. But they aren't, strictly speaking, human. They look like it, they act like it, they feel like it....but they aren't." He paused, looking at Alex, and was unprepared for the barely suppressed laughter that showed on the boy's face. Puzzled, he asked, "What?"

Alex, still shaking with silent laughter, just shook his head. "Sorry," he said contritely, "it's just an inside joke among friends...that's all." Then he gestured. "Go ahead."

Methos sighed. This kid had more facets to him than than a marquis cut diamond. "Okay, here's the bottom line. These people come into the world from, we know not where. No trace of biological parents of any sort can be found. They grow up and appear normal, until they die. It's amazing how many of them die violently." Methos paused, glancing at Alex to see how he was taking it. All he saw was polite interest, so he hurried on. "In any event, they don't stay dead. They come back. And ever afterwards they don't age. They're effectively immortal. They can sense one another through what they call 'the buzz'." Methos smiled sympathetically at Alex and said, "That's a pretty creepy feeling that I don't think I need to describe to you....now do I?"

Alex was silent. Alex sat without saying a word for so long that Methos and Cassandra began to get concerned. Methos reached out and nudged the boy gently. "Alex? Say something,"

Alex came back to himself and glared. "Prove it," he said.

Methos couldn't resist playing a bit. "Prove what?" he asked in mock innocence.

Alex's glare intensified. "Methos, I'm not stupid. I trust my senses and I can add two and two. I can see where I 'fit in'. Or rather, where you think that I do. So, prove to me that you are what you say you are. That I am what you say I am!"

Cassandra frowned. "You're being awfully blasé' about this, Alex. Is here any particular reason for that?"

Alex shrugged. "Let's just say that this isn't the first time that life has thrown me a curve of the 'Twilight Zone' variety, and let it go at that."

Methos looked curious. "And you wouldn't care to explain what you mean by that?"

Alex grinned with a touch of malice. "No. Now, I believe we were discussing proof?"

Methos sighed heavily and stood up. Striding over to the Caddy he open the trunk and reached up towards the back seat. He came up with his sword in its scabbard. Taking the weapon he walked over to Cassandra and offered her the hilt. Cass blinked and hesitated, then she grasped the hilt and freed the sword from it's scabbard with a practiced yank. Methos stepped back and waved Alex forward. "Please examine it," he invited. "Satisfy yourself that it's the real thing."

Alex walked gingerly over to the still open trunk. Scanning it he spotted a bundle of rags in the right wheel well that a suspicious resemblance to his good suit. Whatever it was, it was all cut up now. Grabbing a piece of shirt he walked back over to Cassandra and dragged the fabric along the edge of the sword blade. It parted cleanly. That was a real blade all right!

Alex spoke. "Okay, I'm happy, it's real. Now what?"

In answer, Methos reached out and slid the palm of his right hand along the blade, slicing his hand cleanly. Blood trickled down the blade from his hand. Then he held his hand up so that Alex could see it clearly. As Alex watched a faint blue energy flickered along the edges of the wound and it closed up. Methos took the remains of the shirt from Alex and used it to wipe the residual blood away. There was no wound. No scar. No trace of a cut at all. Alex looked bemused.

Methos smiled. "Now for the second part of the act. He removed his shirt and stepped out into the open, gesturing Cassandra towards him. Then he stood relaxed and passive, with his hands at his sides, and waited. Cass was shivering inside. She'd seen this coming, but now that it was here..she didn't know what to do with it. This had been her fantasy for thousands of years. A defenseless Methos, and she with a sword in her hand. She controlled her shivering and stepped forward. She studied Methos' face, but it betrayed nothing. She stepped closer and spoke softly. "You old fool, do you realize the risk you're taking with me? I could take your Quickening now, and be done with it!"

Methos smiled and nodded. "Not that much risk, you're basically a good and decent person Cass. And besides, either way, our new protégé gets his proof."

Cassandra's eyes narrowed. This was.....it was almost like he had a death wish. Immortals as old as the both of them are generally immune to such stupidity and fatalism. "What are you up to old man? It's not like you to take chances like this."

Methos closed his eyes and his face seemed to age before her eyes. When his eyes re-opened she could see written in them....pain, sorrow, and weariness. "Cass, I love you," he said in a frank admission. "I always have. Even thirty seven hundred years ago when I was a weakling, a coward, and a sadistic bully. I lacked the strength to be the man I should have been. The ennui of our long lives had me firmly in it grasp. And I hated you for showing me that side of myself. You did it. You did it by simply existing. And so I set out to hurt you. Thoroughly, methodically, and with consummate care. But in the end, you won. You planted the seeds of my rebirth when I found that I could not bear to surrender you to Kronos like....like some *play thing*, but I was too weak to fight for you and too cowardly too flee with you. So I 'encouraged' you to escape."

Cassandra was shaking in earnest now. This was more naked honesty than she'd ever expected from him, or from any man. And it was scaring her to death. "That's all well and good," she hissed, "but it changes *nothing*. I was your slave. Your play thing. I lost track of how many times you killed me in an effort to terrorize me!"

Methos nodded. "Yes, I did all that, and more. And I'm sorry. Sorry beyond all measure. More and more lately I've found myself wishing that you had killed me before you escaped my tent that night. You need what modern society calls closure. We both need it. I would prefer that we both be alive to enjoy it. But either way, *you* must have it. This has crippled you for over three and a half millennia. I think that's long enough. I meant it when I said that I love you. And, in the end, I can live without you loving me back. I can even live with your hatred if need be. But what I *cannot* live with anymore is watching you drag the burden of *my* sins around with you, like you were the ghost of Jacob Marley with his chains. So I kill two birds with one stone. I give us the closure we need, and our young man gets the proof that he needs. One way or the other. As the condemned, I do however, have a last request."

Cassandra's ears were buzzing, and from far away she heard herself ask, "What is it?"

Cass was holding the sword one handed. Methos reached out and took her free hand. Then, bringing it up to join the other hand gripping the sword hilt, he firmly clasped both hands in his. It was a benediction, as if he was affirming her right to do what she needed to do. "That, no matter what you do, no matter what happens, someday you'll find in in your heart to forgive me." He sighed and stepped back. "I prepared for this before we left Seattle. I left a letter with my lawyer to be delivered to Duncan in the event of my death, stating that I would be looking for an opportunity to....finish things between us. It absolves you entirely."

She studied his face for a long time. So long that he stirred uncomfortably and said..."Our young friend is waiting Cass."

Cassandra winced in pain. It wasn't his words that did it. It was the shattering of old chains on her soul. She'd been so accustomed to their weight and presence that their departure was almost agonizing. She was unable to say anything so she simply nodded and stepped back, brought the sword up, and wasting no time she gave a hoarse cry and lunged. Methos gasped as the sword entered his chest cleanly. His eyes rolled up as his knees began to buckle. With a cry she jerked the sword free and caught him before he could collapse, easing his weight to the ground.

Alex had been watching all this time with some confusion. His erstwhile captors had been talking quietly, but with considerable intensity for several minutes. He had no idea what was at issue between the two of them, but love was obviously involved. In a way their behavior reminded him of Max and Liz. The two of them with serious issues to resolve, but both were unable to bring themselves to take the first step. "If that's the case here," he thought, "then I think that I've just seen the first step." Thus he was shocked when Cassandra had stepped back and run Methos through the chest with the sword she was holding.


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 6-Sep-2002 1:17:39 AM ]
posted on 5-Sep-2002 3:47:09 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 11b
(Divergence)

Alex leapt to his feet with a shouted, "HEY!" He sprinted over to where Cassandra was now sitting on the ground beside Methos' body. "Lady, are you out of your mind?!" he panted out.

Dry eyed Cassandra looked in his direction, finally focusing on him. She shrugged. "You said that you understood what he was saying, and that you needed proof. We just gave it to you. 'Death' is, generally speaking, a relative thing for us. We don't seek it, or enjoy it, but in the end we can shrug it off. There is only one way for us to die forever, and that involves losing your head. Literally. As it is, he'll be on his feet in a few minutes."

Alex's eyes narrowed and he nodded at Methos. "Let's be clear about this. What you're telling me is that I was dead, and now I'm not. I'm one of you? And that like him, or you, I can shrug off death? Short of, if I understand you, decapitation?"

Cassandra nodded. "Yes. And don't leave out eternal youth."

Alex looked quizzical. "Just how eternal would that be?"

Cassandra laughed. "Just how eternal you need it to be? At three thousand seven hundred years, I was already old when Imperial Rome was a collection of huts at a bend in the Tiber." Cassandra smiled down at Methos and brushed a lock of hair back from his waxy still face. "And Methos is older than I, the eldest of us. Over five thousand years. Do either of us look elderly to you?"

Alex sighed. "Okay, I can deal. But, and forgive me if I'm being nosy, what is with this weird subtext that you two have going?"

Cassandra looked pained, but shrugged. "Let's just say it's an old grudge that I had against him. One that goes back thousands of years." She nodded at Methos. " If you want to know more, ask *him*. For me the matter is over, and I want to forget it!"

At that moment, with a deep gasp, Methos sat up and looked around. His first words were, "Well I'll be damned."

Cassandra knew exactly what he meant. He hadn't expected to wake up at all.

Alex was startled and fell back on his rump. Pulling himself up into a squat he watched as Cassandra took the rag from Methos and used it to wipe away the blood on his chest. Again, there was no mark. No visible scar of any sort. Alex stood and walked a short distance away. Then he turned and spoke. "Okay, you exist. You're for real. It therefore follows that everything that you said is true." He paused. "Now, tell me why I'm here."

Methos chuckled. "In the ordinary sense? Or the metaphysical sense?"

Cassandra moved sharply, planting an elbow in his ribs. "Don't be a wise arse. He deserves answers!" She looked at Alex. "Believe it or not, this is random chance. If you live long enough as an Immortal you can sense those that are going to become Immortals, but who haven't made the leap through death yet. We happened to be in Roswell on a road trip when we spotted you. We were going to hang around for a few days to keep an eye on you until someone else showed up to take the job full time. Then you died. And we couldn't just abandon you. So we waited until the funeral was past...and then we dug you out."

Alex sat back and stared off into space. "So I was really dead? How long?"

"Three days going on four," Methos answered.

Alex shook his head. "I don't buy it. You were out for only a few minutes."

Methos shrugged. "I was simply run through with a sword. *You* on the other hand were in a car wreck...head on with a semi no less, worked over in an autopsy, and subjected to modern embalming techniques. It takes a while to come back from all that. Even for one of *us*. As it was, we cut it too close. You were already awake in your coffin. God only knows how long *that* was."

Alex sat there staring at the two of them. They could see the thoughts flickering behind his eyes. They saw what they were looking for. Realization. Naked horror. And belief. He believed them because, at that moment, the events of the last few days caught up with Alex he was instantly and violently ill. He crawled away and gave up the sparse contents of his stomach to the underbrush. Cassandra crawled over to him and supported him, trying to soothe him a bit. Once his spasms eased he was weak, but he was strong enough to accept a drink of water from the bottle that Methos retrieved from the Caddy.

"I can't remember everything," he said hoarsely, "but I know this...I was murdered. I had to have been. The last thing I remember...." His voice trailed off. "I have to go back! You have to take me back! The...girl. This girl must have been the one behind my death. She had to be! I can't leave her there with my friends!"

Both Methos and Cassandra shook their heads. "The best thing that you can do now is stay dead," Methos said. "If someone really did murder you, then it's the best thing for you to let them think that they succeeded. It's best for our safety as well. You showing up alive could attract unwanted official attention on our existence. This is generally considered by the larger community of Immortals as a bad thing."

Alex froze. It cut both ways, though Cass and Methos couldn't know that. Official attention. Those were the last words in the world that he wanted to see applied to Roswell. To hell with the Immortals. Literally the last thing on Earth that Max, Michael, and Isabel needed is one of *their* friends returning from the dead. Even if it wasn't their doing. It would make the flap over Liz's healing look penny ante by comparison. They were right. He had to stay away.

Cassandra picked it up. "We're taking you to Seattle. We and a few others like us live there. There's a friend of ours living there that excels at teaching new Immortals like you the ropes. A four hundred plus year old Scotsman name of Duncan. You can't show your face around Roswell, ever again. And, while we aren't under *immediate* scrutiny, neither can we. But if you make your pitch to Duncan, he'll look into it once the furor surrounding your death dies down a bit. She paused for breath. "You know, the first time we laid eyes on you was on Saturday, and the morning after your 'accident' we were in that little cafe where we first saw you."

Alex spoke in a monotone. "The Crashdown?"

Cassandra nodded. "The whole place was in mourning. You were dead. You are dead. People have seen you dead. You can't go back." Seeing Alex's face beginning to harden she changed her tack. "Look at it this way. We're old enough to have a lot of experience with murderers, and unless this girl is the serial killer type, she's laying low hoping her crime goes undiscovered. Hurting one of your friends could definitely blow her cover. She won't be doing anything for a while. So there's no rushing urgency to get on her trail."

Of course Cassandra was thinking in terms of murder and mayhem. But there are other ways in which to do harm, that don't involve the shedding of blood.

Alex developed a stubborn look. "I could run," he said defiantly. "At least *try* to warn them!"

Methos smiled as he shrugged back into his shirt and tucked it in. "Yes, you could. Then we'd catch you and you'd make the trip to Seattle locked in the trunk. Wouldn't you rather enjoy the ride and pelt us with questions? For a guy like you, having two living history books at your disposal should be irresistible. And besides, as Cass said, if this girl murdered you, she's going to be exceedingly careful not to kill anyone else for a while."

Alex growled. "All right," he said with ill grace. "I don't have to like it, and I don't. But I'll go with you. Just bear this in mind. If one of my friends dies because I wasn't there, or because you wouldn't let me warn them, I'm holding both of you responsible!" With that he stormed back to the car and got in the back seat. Both Methos and Cassandra stared at him with some amusement. He leaned forward and bellowed out the window..."Let's move it! The quicker we get to where you want to go, the quicker I can get someone back to Roswell."

Methos looked at Cassandra. "Okay, as an orientation lecture for a newbie goes, that was one for the books. Both the easiest and the hardest one I've ever done."

Cassandra grinned. "He demanded proof. Just like they usually do."

Methos frowned. "That isn't what I meant. You know what I'm talking about. There's more to him and his friends than meets the eye. He changed his world view to encompass our existence, and his role as one of us, way too easily. Unless I miss my guess, he has experience with having his world view turned upside down. Between that and his 'I'm just a soldier between wars' body language, I'd say that Alex is odds on in the top five as most interesting newbies of my long and sinful life." He sighed deeply. "And that includes Elvis."

Cassandra chuckled. "You won't catch me arguing *that*, but we can deal with it in Seattle. As Alex said, time is wasting." They started towards the car, with Methos scooping up his abandoned sword as they went. As they neared the car Cassandra laid a hand on his arm. "There is one thing that we need to address though, Adam."

Methos paused, startled at her touch and her use of his alter-ego's name. He looked at her and waited.

Cassandra shrugged. "I don't know how I feel about all this yet. What happened between us back in the bad old days has been so much a part of my life for so long that...well....letting go of it is going to be a process. Not an event. I don't know what you and I will be when it's all said and done. Friends..or....something else. But I just wanted you to understand that your head is safe around me...from now on. Whatever we are or will be, it won't be enemies. As for the rest," she regarded him cautiously, "it will take time."

Methos nodded and opened the driver's side door for her. As she got into the car he said, "Time I've got. Another three thousand seven hundred years worth if need be." Closing the door he walked around the back of the Caddy, sheathing his sword and dropping it in the trunk. As he got in the car, Cassandra stuck the key in the ignition and a loud rumbling sound filled the car. They looked at each other, startled.

Methos said, "Either my engine needs a tune-up or..." They both turned to look in the back seat at an angry and embarrassed Alex Whitman.

"Hey! What did you expect?" he grumbled. "It's been three days since I've eaten *anything*!"

Cass burst out laughing and started the engine. "We can fix that easily enough!" she said as she pulled out onto the interstate. "Does breakfast at the first good place we see suit you?"

There was a louder rumbling from the back seat, that overrode the noise of the engine.

Cass laughed. "I'll take that as a yes. Just hang on a little longer Alex. "

"Anything with a breakfast buffet will do," Alex groaned. Now that his initial adrenaline high was winding down, his body's demands were really kicking into high gear. "Good God! I didn't think that it was possible to be this hungry! At this point I think that I'd eat anything that didn't eat *me* first!"

Methos chuckled. "You heard the man. Woman! Get thee too a Denny's!"

Cassandra laughed. "After my "shopping spree" in Roswell I don't know if you'll have enough money left to...."

"CASSANDRA!"



McCleod's Dojo............Tuesday 1:30 AM

"CASSANDRA!"

Cassandra was startled out of her reverie by someone shouting her name. Looking up she saw Duncan standing in front of her, holding out the phone. In response to her questioning look he said, "Methos." Taking the phone from him she brought it to her ear and spoke. "Adam?" In her mind she thought of him by his modern cover name or Adam Pierson more and more often as a means of distancing herself from her former relationship with him.

"Cass?" he queried in a concerned voice. "Did everything go okay? Do you need a ride back to your place?"

Cassandra sighed. Now that she was 'accepting' him, his concern for her well being was getting...well, someone else might call it stifling, but she thought it touching in the sense that he was so eager to right past wrongs. "No, I'm fine. It was a rough ride, but it's done...for now. Did you have any luck?"

True to his word Methos had been out hunting tonight. "You mean that pig Conterras? Nada. I thought I felt him once. In fact I probably did, but the slippery son of a bitch got away." He paused. "Are you sure that you don't need a ride?"

Cass sighed once more. "No, I going to sleep here tonight in case I have to deal with anything unexpected with regard to Alex 's memories tomorrow morning." Methos was silent. He'd had words with both Duncan and Amanda over the ethical considerations of having Cass tamper as she had. But in the end he had acquiesced to the majority opinion. She went on, "I know your opinion on this Adam. We've been over it. What's done is done. Now I have a tiger by the tail which will, sooner or later, about face and bite me. I can handle it. And it won't last that long anyway. Do you recall that last person to leave the night that we rescued Alex? The girl that wouldn't give up?"

Methos chuckled. "With the silhouette she had, she'd be hard to forget."

Cassandra made an impatient noise. Men! "Well, from your description, she was Alex's nocturnal visitor. And if you'd seen what I saw, you'd know that those two together are something very different from the norm. It's no wonder she was able to reach out across half a continent to touch him."

Methos snorted. "Then I look forward to meeting her. She sounds...formidable." He paused for breath. "Well if you're staying in, I'm going to make one more sweep of the immediate area around McCleod's building, then head home. Sleep tight Cass, and tell that daft Scotsman that if he talks you into anymore stunts like this we're going to have *more* than just words."

Cassandra chuckled. "I'm sure he'll take it under advisement. You be careful out there old man, don't lose your head over anything. I still hold the mortgage on it, remember that!"

Methos snorted. "Not to worry, I'm well aware of that Cass. Sleep well!"

"I will," she said. "Goodnight!" She broke the connection and handed the phone back to Duncan who was grinning smugly.

"I'll take what under advisement?" he asked.

Cass flushed faintly...because she knew damned good and well that Duncan was looking for an excuse to tease. Then her flush faded somewhat and she grinned with evil intent. "Oh, I believe that had to do with his recommendation that Amanda and I should make you sleep in the middle tonight!"

Amanda stared in amazement. Generally speaking Cassandra came across as so well educated and straight that you forgot the she could have a truly wicked and earthy sense of humor when she bothered to reach for it. Amanda snorted and choked, then broke into raucous laughter. She was joined a moment later by Cassandra as Duncan flushed a deep red.

Duncan knew that he'd been bested. Gathering the shreds of his dignity he grinned and said, "Touché Cass. However, if you and Amanda are having a pajama party, I think that I'll settle for the couch. With the only guest room occupied by Alex, that's all that's available." Duncan raised an eyebrow and delivered a parting shot. "Otherwise *your* only choice would be to go cuddle with Alex or Richie. And while Richie might not mind that, Alex would. And his young lady Isabel certainly *would* mind it. I listened to you with half an ear while Joe was reaming me. She certainly sounds like one of a kind."

Cassandra studied Duncan solemnly. "Duncan, you have no idea how literally true that is. Like Amanda, you didn't see her. So let me be blunt. When this is over, perhaps even *before* this is over, she's going to remember everything. And I mean everything. When that happens she'll come for him, and she won't be in a reasonable mood. If I read her correctly, even under the *best* of circumstances, she has a temper. Under *these* circumstances, if you get between her and what she wants, you'll have an Isabel shaped hole right through you." She smiled grimly. "We may have solved a short term problem while creating an even *bigger* long term problem."

Duncan stared at her for a long moment and then shrugged. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now I'll be happy if we all have our heads come this time next week." He yawned mightily. "I wheedled Joe into having the Canadian Watcher section report any movement by Britanicus and his merry men....and in wasn't easy to do. Not least because I woke him up to ask the favor."

Amanda was yawning now too. "Why didn't you wait until the morning?"

Duncan walked over to a closet and pulled out a spare pillow and a blanket while he explained. "Musa has ten Immortals gathered on his estate. All relatively young, and all of them are pretty much the scum of the earth. Men like that don't get along well in close quarters, not for long anyway. He wouldn't have ingathered them unless he were planning to move soon. The fact that he has Conterras *here* says that he's interested in something in this city. And the only 'something' that he's ever shown himself to be *that* interested in has been collecting heads the easy way. So I'd be willing to bet that he'll move soon, within the next ten days at the latest." Duncan paused as he began making up a bed on the couch. "Then again he could already be moving. And once he starts we'll have only hours at most to prepare. Therefore I want us to have all the warning that we can get, starting now."

Cassandra sighed. "The Watchers aren't going to be happy about this Duncan. Joe is using up his capital with them at a ferocious rate. You can't keep using him as your own personal intelligence arm. And it must irritate him no end, if his behavior on the phone was any indication. You're not being fair."

Duncan smiled as he put the finishing touches on the makeshift bed. "Curiously enough that isn't going to be an issue this time out. By using the tactics he uses, Britanicus is placing himself beyond the pale as far as the Watchers are concerned. He's violating the single combat rule yet again, and on such a scale as to defy reason." Duncan glanced at Cassandra. "No, the Watchers definitely want his lifeline trimmed off. And that goes double for Joe. His only beef with me lay in the fact that he'd old, tired, and he'd already been asleep for an hour." Duncan flushed faintly. "And the fact he'd already thought of it when we talked earlier, and already taken the appropriate action, didn't help."

Amanda chuckled. "Okaaay, you woke the man to ask a favor that he'd already granted without your asking for it." She shook her head. "You're going to have to do some serious fence mending junior."

Duncan yawned. "Thanks a lot grandma. As if I didn't know that? It's just one more in a long list of things I owe Joe for." Duncan pealed off his shirt and stretched out on the couch. "Right now though it's late, I'm tired, and we should all grab some sleep. The next couple of days could get a little hectic. You ladies have first crack at the bathroom. Just let me know when you're done."

Twenty minutes later Cass and Amanda came back to find Duncan already fast asleep. Amanda shook her head. "Typical," she said with some disgust. Duncan already had his boots off, so it was simply a matter of pulling the blanket over him and turning in themselves.

Before Amanda shut off the lights Cassandra touched her arm. "Do you and Duncan have a set time when you get up?"

Amanda sighed. "You've just hit the one major drawback of living with someone in a loft....you get up when your roomie does. Whether you like it or not.. He's usually up early. Crack of dawn type early. First cockcrow early. Once he starts stirring, forget about sleeping." She sighed eloquently. "I miss sleeping in."

Cassandra chuckled and yawned. "That's about what I expected. And actually it suits my purpose. I want to be there every step of the way when Alex starts his day, just in case I have to fine tune things a bit." She paused a moment then smiled has she flopped back on her pillow and settled in to sleep. "When this is over, if we're both still standing, plan on spending a weekend at my place. We can swap stories about Duncan, sleep in all weekend, and hit a few clubs to kiss the boys and make them cry. Besides, it'll do him good to do without you for a few days. It'll shake his complacency."

Amanda gave a snort and mumbled sleepily, "Sister, you have a deal. It anyone needs to be taken down a notch, it's Duncan. And besides, I could use the extra sleep." She gave a jaw creaking yawn. "You think that we did the wrong thing...don't you? Meddling with Alex and his girl?"

Cassandra shrugged. "Right or wrong, it's done now. We'll have fallout to deal with later, but that's later. The next week or so is going to require every scrap of attention that we can summon to deal with that fool Musa and his savages. Alex is going to be angry, very angry indeed, but he'll get past it. And at least the odds are better that he'll be alive *to* get past it. His lady love is another matter." She smiled teasingly. "Off hand I'd say that her temper is right in line with yours. How would *you* react in her place?"

Amanda winced. "I'd skin the whole lot of us alive." She paused. "*Then* I'd get nasty." She looked pensive for a moment then grinned. "Perhaps she's a good match for him after all."

She was cut off from further speculation by a groan from the direction of the couch, followed by Duncan's voice thick with fatigue. "I *was* sound asleep there for a while. I'm not anymore. Now....will you two shut up and go to sleep so I can get back to it? We have a long day tomorrow."

Cassandra and Amanda both chuckled. "Good night junior!" Amanda called out. Both women settled down and fell into slumber as the sound of renewed snores drifted up from the vicinity of the couch.

Outside in a rainy night Methos was headed home, having failed to trap the cunning observer who settled in to wait again for a while hoping that his prey would emerge again to wander the night. Taking a pull on his hip flask Rafe Conterras relaxed and watched the silent dojo with the patience of a viper. "Soon boy. Soon," he thought. "Then I can pay that delicious lady of yours a visit and *extend* my condolences...."

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. As the rain continued to fall, Conterras was unaware that before the week was out he was only one of a number of people whose plans would go awry monumentally, and in ways that they'd never imagined...


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 5-Sep-2002 3:51:33 AM ]
posted on 5-Sep-2002 3:53:27 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 11c
(Divergence)

The Crashdown....Tuesday 6:00 AM

The gentle chiming of Liz's alarm dragged Max Evans out of slumber. He'd groaned as he came awake and then cursed. He'd been in the middle of an extremely detailed and intensely satisfying dream about Liz. With special emphasis on 'intensely' and 'satisfying'. He seemed to be having a lot of those the last couple days. He chuckled to himself and thought, "Like every time you close your eyes." Getting back together with Liz seemed to have unlocked the flood gates of his libido. And like any teenage boy he had a *lot* of back pressure. All the alien factor/telepathic link did was multiply it and make it harder to hide. "No pun intended," he thought wryly as he levered himself awkwardly out of bed. "Of course, months of separation and anxiety followed by sleeping in her bed surrounded by her presence and scent probably doesn't help either."

Heading for the bathroom he decided that his shower this morning should be on the cold side of chilly if he were going to hide his...er, affliction...from Jeff and Nancy. He knew that Liz was aware of the source of his situation. Their bouts of fusion made it impossible to hide anything from each other...including the fact that *her* dreams lately had been every bit as detailed and 'intense'. Yes indeed, Liz knew. But having her parents find out that little aspect of their renewed love was not something that he cared to contemplate. Other than as a potential horror movie plot. Something entitled "I Know Who You Did This Summer", with Jeff Parker in a featured role chasing him around the Crashdown with something sharp and lethal. Max shuddered at the image, shook himself, and started the shower. Warm first, cold later. Laying out his tooth brush and shaving gear he grabbed the guest wash cloth that Liz had left out for him and stepped into the shower.

Twenty minutes later a wide awake and thoroughly chilled Max Evans was standing at Liz's vanity shaving. He paused and stared around the bathroom smiling softly. The sense of unreality kept getting him. Everything about that bathroom seemed to scream "Liz". He'd been in here before...but this time felt like he was marking territory or something. "Watch it Evans," he thought. "The next thing you know you'll be out baying at the moon." He resumed shaving, but at that moment a wave of anxiety and distress came rolling up his link with Liz and smacked him squarely in the psyche. He cursed as the roiling wave of emotion swept into his mind, pausing his hand to jerk sharply, resulting in a deep cut on his jaw line. Hissing under his breath he slapped a hand to the cut and healed it immediately. He probed briefly at Liz, but found that she was keeping him out for the moment. If the last twenty four hours had taught them anything, it was that handling their link required trust. He had to trust Liz to contact him when she could. So he settled for an 'I'm here when you want to talk' nudge and finished shaving.

He was getting dressed when he felt Liz's presence nudge at his, initiating contact. Max sat down on her bed, half dressed, and let the link open fully. The emotional flux from his beloved now had a new factor. Anger. Before Max could even speak, Liz plunged ahead.

There was a note in her mindvoice that bordered on grim as she said, "Max, we have a problem."

The Evans Household.........One Hour and Twenty Minutes Earlier

Liz Parker stumbled into the bathroom dragging her overnight bag and reached into the shower to start the hot water. Late hours the night before had left her feeling like the living dead, and the fusion that she had pushed Max into hadn't helped at all. God only knew how she'd managed to come awake without an alarm, but once she *was* awake the only thing that would prevent her from over sleeping was simply to get up and get moving. Turning to inspect herself in the mirror she grimaced in distaste. "Yuck!" she thought, "I look like road kill! I hope Max can live with waking up to *this* every morning for the rest of his life." Then she smiled wistfully. "Not that he gets a choice in the matter...now." Glancing at her reflection one more time she turned to the linen closet and dug out a towel and washcloth before stripping off her baby tee and sweat pants to get in the shower. Forty minutes later, fully dressed and feeling more alive than she had earlier, she walked into Max's bedroom and prodded Maria awake.

"Come on DeLuca, rise and shine! Time to face a new day!"

Maria groaned and opened a bleary eye. "How *dare* you sound so cheerful in the morning?! Morning people should be shot on sight!" she growled. "Only the fact that I love you like the sister I never had stops me from strangling you this instant!" Sitting up she stretched. "What time is it?"

Liz chuckled. "It's ten minutes of six." And deciding to tease a bit more she added brightly, "Come on Maria! The early bird gets the worm!!"

Maria gave a squeal and pitched a pillow at Liz, which she dodged easily. "I - don't - do - early!" She made as if to roll over and go back to sleep.

Liz sat down next to her and spoke soothingly. "C'mon Maria, I've had my shower and cleaned up for school. You should get up and get in there before Isabel does."

Maria groaned and then rolled over to look at Liz. "Girl friend is still in bed?"

Liz nodded. "If using her powers in dream walk is anything like what Max and I feel after fusion, then she may have exhausted herself. I thought that, if she doesn't get up on her own, we'd just get ourselves together, grab some cereal and get to school. After the last couple of days she could probably use some 'sleep in' time." Liz paused. "I'll check on her before we leave, if she isn't up by then."

Maria sighed and swung her feet out of bed as she sat up. "Okay, go grab yourself something to eat Chica. I don't think that I could face cereal this morning. See if they have some whole wheat bread. Toast and coffee are about all I can handle this morning."

Maria stumbled to her feet, grabbed her bag, then shambled out into the hall and into the bathroom. Liz followed and was rewarded almost instantly by the sound of the shower. If Maria's past performance were anything to go by, it would be almost seven o'clock before she showed up in the kitchen. Smiling to herself Liz headed down the hall to the kitchen in search of breakfast.

Half an hour later, after lingering over a bowl of cheerios and strawberries while she read ahead into the next chapter of her American History textbook, Liz had rinsed her bowl and cup and was placing them in the dishwasher when she heard a familiar voice speak her name. "Liz?" She turned to find Isabel standing in the kitchen doorway blinking sleep from her eyes.

However, before she could answer, Isabel spoke again. "What are you doing here? Where's Max?"

Liz felt something cold and heavy turn over in her stomach. "What do you mean? What do you remember?"

Isabel looked puzzled. "Remember? About what?"

Liz felt the icy hand of panic closing her throat in it's grip. Swallowing convulsively she fought to get herself under control. At that moment she felt Max nudging her mind with inquiry. "Not NOW!" she thought as she shoved his bid for contact away firmly. Liz shook herself and forced her fear into the back of her mind., and regarded Isabel cautiously. "About anything. The last few days for example?"

Isabel frowned. "As questions go, this is one for the books," she thought. But she complied anyway. With a smile she said, "I remember ambushing you and my pigheaded brother...and....and..." Her frowned returned, deeper than before, as she sought to remember. Something wasn't right. She reached for the memory , but it danced away like an elusive ghost. Then a gentle voice that only she could hear reminded her. "Alex is safe." Her face cleared. "Just the usual, lay around the house and work stuff. Why?" She walked further into the kitchen, retrieved a can of coffee from the cupboard, along with a filter, and began nonchalantly to scoop coffee in the grounds basket of the coffee maker. While she did so she glanced occasionally at Liz and arched an eyebrow. "And you still haven't answered my question. What are you doing here and where's Max?"

Liz was thunderstruck. Isabel had no memory of what had happened at all. Liz's mind began to race at light speed, but there was only one conclusion that she could draw. Mind warp. Isabel had gone in last night and gotten caught by...by what? Another dream walker who could mind warp? One thing was clear. There was no longer any question. Aliens had Alex. Whether they had him under warp too, or had lied to him so smoothly that they'd convinced him of their story she didn't know. Liz's fear surged forward again, only to be beaten down by something even more powerful. Rage. Sheer unadulterated fury at the creatures who could play such games with her friends. "Damnit!" she thought, "we've all suffered enough from their stupid GAMES! I'm going to get to the bottom of this and get Alex back...even if I have to drag K'var off of Max's throne personally and beat the bastard to death MYSELF!"

Liz's continued silence puzzled Isabel, which lead her to make a natural mistake. She thought that Liz's lack of speech was inspired by embarrassment. She studied her friend closely and decided that there could be only one reason for her presence and ongoing silence. She walked over and hugged a very surprised Liz Parker warmly. "Congratulations Liz! I'm happy for you! I knew that it was only a matter of time for you two, once you got back together!" She felt Liz quiver slightly and took it as a sign that she was right. Pulling away she smiled. "Is Max around here somewhere so I can hug him too...and maybe needle him a little?"

Liz snapped out of her turmoil at Isabel's final words, and thought, "If she thinks that Max and I are lovers now, then I might as well go with it for now...at least until we can all compare notes and come up with some idea of how to deal with this, out of Isabel's sight and hearing." Then she continued aloud, "No, he had to leave early to deal with something that Brody wanted help with down at the Center. I'll see him at school and tell him that you know." She hugged Isabel fiercely, though for entirely different reasons than Isabel imagined.

Liz let go of Isabel and began easing towards the kitchen door. But Isabel wasn't having any. "Hold on a second. You can't leave me hanging. How did it happen? Did you plan it?"

Liz winced mentally. Her conscience ripped at her like a band saw, but she saw no help for having to lie to Isabel. "No, it...just...happened. We came over last night after you went to bed."

Isabel interrupted her. "We?"

Liz nodded. "Maria and I. We came over to try to get ahead on next semester's work with Max. I was supposed to be staying with Maria for the night, and Amy had another date with Jim Valenti. So it was so late when we finished that we figured we were covered and just crashed here for the night. Maria slept on the couch and I...um..shared Max's bed. One thing led to another....and..."

Isabel leaned forward. "And.....?"

Liz swallowed. "And we did it."

Isabel looked skeptical. "*That* is the skimpiest description of a defining moment in a woman's life that I've ever heard."

Liz hung her head. What Isabel interpreted as embarrassment was actually guilt. "I'm sorry Iz, it's just...new...and...personal."

Isabel smiled. "It's okay Liz. I can wait, but I want *details* later." She looked wistful and sad. "Actually, I'm envious. There was a time when I'd hoped for the same for myself by now, but then Alex......"

Liz cut her off sharply. Swallowing against the lump in her throat she said, "Isabel, I have to go check on Maria, or she's going to make us late for school." Then she resumed backing towards the kitchen door.

Isabel blinked in surprise at her abruptness, then smiled in understanding. This was a bit of the old Liz. Miss prim and proper. Too shy to discuss such things until she got used to them. So Isabel let her off the hook. "Go ahead, we can catch up tonight or tomorrow. Or next week if you can't talk about it." Isabel waved her hands. "Go round up Maria so she can eat something before you leave."

With that Liz turned abruptly and fled down the hall. Reaching Max's bedroom she entered and set on the bed. She drew her knees up and tried to think, but her emotions kept betraying her efforts. She sat there a few moments, then stood and walked out into the hall and down to the bathroom. She knocked for a second, then walked in. Maria turned away from the mirror in the middle of doing her makeup. Ordinarily the sight of Maria with only half a make up job would have been amusing. Not today however. And Maria was less than happy at the interruption.

Maria sighed in irritation. "Lizzie you know that this goes faster without you bugging me to hurry up, so why don't you just wait out...."

Liz cut her off. "Maria, we don't have time for this. We have bigger issues than foundation and eyeliner. Something's wrong with Isabel".

Maria stopped in mid complaint. "Define 'something'."

Liz began to pace in the narrow confines of the bathroom. "She doesn't remember anything that happened last night, or anything that led up to it. I talked to her in the kitchen just a few moments ago, and either she was doing a hell of a job at conning me, or her memory of the dream walks, of learning Alex is alive, of what he told her, of what *she* told *us*, is gone. Completely and totally gone."

Maria sat down on the toilet, her makeup forgotten. "Okay, that's 'something'. But what?"

Liz shrugged. "The only thing that I can think of is that she went in like she planned and ended up going head to head with another dream walker. One that can mind warp, like Tess did."

Maria frowned. "So someone put a whammy on her? But...that would mean that those people that Alex is with are...."

"Aliens," Liz finished for her. "Or close enough as makes no difference."

Maria stood up and resumed trying to do her makeup, but it was harder now. Her hands were shaking.

Liz noticed and tried to comfort her. "It'll be okay Maria, we'll figure something out. I know it looks scary, but we've been through worse."

Maria stopped doing her eyes and gave Liz a disgusted look. "I'm not scared Chica, I'm *pissed off*! Girl friend has been through enough! And we've been through *more* than enough! Things went whacko right back when the whole Tess and Destiny thing intruded. And it's been like surfing a tidal wave ever since! Max had it right back when we got him out of the white room. It's time to take back control of our lives! That includes Alex! I intend to settle down with Michael and have a family one day! And I don't care how many little green men we have to dust to get there!"

Liz grinned. "Then we see eye to eye. We find out what's happening, and then we do something about it...instead of passively hiding from it and thanking our lucky stars that it isn't worse!"

Maria nodded and returned to her make up, her hands now rock steady. It took her only a moment to finish. Then she started gathering her things as she spoke again to Liz. "So, now what? Do we try to enlighten our absent minded sister of things?"

Liz shook her head. "No, not until we have a group meeting, minus Isabel, to discuss things. We may be a family of sorts, but you and I are the in-laws Sweetie. Max and Michael are her blood. They should have input on this before we start to meddle."

Maria's eyes narrowed in thought. "So we do what? Lie to her by omission?

Liz nodded reluctantly. "That's the only option that I think we have. I already told her that Max left early to help Brody out with something at the center before school."

Maria nodded in agreement. "And you and I are here why?"

"We were getting a jump on our post-exam school work," Liz said. Then she blushed. "Oh, and one more thing. This morning I hesitated too long when Isabel asked me about Max's whereabouts, and she sort of leaped to a conclusion.." Liz's blush deepened. "...about Max and I."

Maria noted her friend's discomfiture, reached the proper conclusion in a flash, and clapped a hand to her mouth to stifle her laughter. "She thinks that you're a 'fallen woman' eh?" she gasped between waves of giggles. "Oh my, if it weren't for the situation, I could have some *fun* with this!"

Liz growled. "It isn't that *funny* Maria! If I'm going to have people believing that I'm a woman now, I'd at least like to enjoy *getting* there, and the benefits that go along *with it*!" Liz was glaring now as an angry tear traced it's way down one cheek.

Maria reached out and pulled Liz into a hug. "It's okay Chica. I know it bugs you, but be patient. You and Max have only repaired things a few days ago. And it isn't exactly as if you've had a lot of opportunities to...um...consumate things since then." Maria sighed. "One thing though Chica. Max may be Mister Romance, but when push come to shove you may have to be the one to push. I did with Michael. He set up the ambiance, but I had to take it from there." Maria pulled away and held her at arm's length. "So be ready for that 'target of opportunity' when it comes."

Liz sighed and nodded jerkily. "I'm sorry I snapped. This whole morning has my emotions in a mess. And to top it off I'm still *pissed*! I just took some out on you." She sighed again. "Poor Max. If he's getting all of this over the link then he must be thinking that he's in love with Sibyl by now."

Maria chuckled softly. "Then go and talk to him Chica. I'm done here, so I'll go grab some breakfast and see just how bad girl friend's memory loss is." She shook her head sadly. "I'll update you on any lies I have to tell her on the drive to school." Maria opened the bathroom door and propelled Liz ahead of her into the hall and down to Max's bedroom. "Go talk to him Lizzie, I'll see you in a few."

Liz walked into the bedroom. Her emotions were still a mess with fear and anger battling for ascendancy, but she was in control. She sat down and reached out towards Max, prodding him gently to open up. As soon as the link was fully open Liz wasted no time getting to the point.

"Max, we have a problem."

The old saying goes, 'Don't get mad, get even'. The thing that they never tell you is that sometimes you have to *get* mad *to* get even.

End Of Part 11




[ edited 3 time(s), last at 5-Sep-2002 9:38:58 AM ]
posted on 5-Sep-2002 10:22:25 AM
KK hits the 'submit edit' button.....

ladylou Bill? Bill who? Who's this Bill person that you're referring to? *big* That one wasn't half bad. Errors do slip by though. I don't have a beta. Here's a real lulu for you. One time I ran the words "her fear" together, like so...."herfear". While using spell check, and half asleep in the morning, the software sucked that in and changed it to...."heifer". Which I missed, and which was duly posted at DD, and remained for several days before I caught it. That made for interesting sentence structure.

You're printing it out? Good heavens! The ink cartridges you must go through! When I printed out Melinda Dawney's "Friendship" I went through 2 cartridges and part of a third! *sigh* I hope I make it worthwhile all the way through!

dzdreamer You left out a pissed off Maria. Now all I have to do is piss off Amy and it'll be like the Four Horsemen...in drag. *wink*

We'll see how you like the...er...scene, the reactions from the..er...judges have been good so far. I just hope that the last few paragraphs don't put everyone into sugar shock.

LL, MJ, and DZ I'm workin' on it ladies! Promise! It's just that certain people have waited a looong time for this, and I want to deliver a clean product. Or as clean as I can get it.

Laters Folks......


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 5-Sep-2002 10:25:29 AM ]
posted on 7-Sep-2002 4:51:09 AM
I don't know if any of my readers are Farscape fans...and the mods may kick my ⊕$$ for doing this, but my wife just called me at work bawling her eyes out. Farscape as been cancelled. See my post in the discussion section. If anyone shows even the slightest interest I'll cut and paste an address list you can target with those irate cards and letters. Let's move it people. They're taking chainsaws to Moya next FRIDAY! That's 9/13/02! Appropriate, don'tcha think?

If any of you are interested, take your questions to the topic I started down in the discussion forum. Don't use this thread to respond!

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-Sep-2002 5:06:55 AM ]
posted on 7-Sep-2002 7:07:42 AM
Here's the link to the Discussion Forum Thread. I cut and pasted the e-mail my wife forwarded to me there. It has all the dish that you need to fight back

We have to hurry, otherwise, come Friday the 13th, some big ugly men with chainsaws are going to do to Moya what the PK's have been *trying* to do for four years. So says Dave Kemper.
posted on 8-Sep-2002 2:20:15 AM
Thanks for the bumps and the feedback folks. And a welcome to searchingthestars! I just posted part 12 to Jessi's board, and I'm going to try and stay awake long enough to repeat the process here. On this dark day in SciFi history, I thought we could use some feel good stuff. So read my friends, and feel good. Be ye warned though. This part is why this fic got bumped from R to NC-17. Tell your Dreamer friends to come and give me their opinions! *wink*

2crzy4roswell This part is gonna rock your world dearie. Hang on tight!

Special thanks go to Fran, Breathless, and Taffy for agreeing to 'vet' my love scene. I hope they approve of the few changes I made to it. I love ya ladies!

Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

Special Dedication: To my friend Michelle, whose voice in my mind has chided me all these months, keeping my Muse alive.

STILL YOURS - Part 12a
(Cement Mixing For Dummies)


West Roswell Highschool......8:15 AM Tuesday Morning

Max was waiting at Liz's locker when she and Maria came down the hall. He'd felt her coming before she had even entered the school. Without pausing she walked straight into his arms and let him pull her close. Their early morning telepathic conversation had left them both feeling frustrated and in dire need of physical contact. Liz's parents had been noticeably curious at how quickly Max had vanished that morning. He hadn't even taken Nancy's offer of what Diane had told her was one of Max's breakfast favorites. Blueberry waffles.

This morning Max found himself to be feeling as needy as Liz was. Their connection was wide open, just short of fusion.

Max burrowed his nose into Liz's neck and inhaled deeply. "How is it that the same girl scent that drove me nuts last night can calm me down so completely this morning?" he wondered. Then he felt Liz's arms shift their grip on him and tighten. As he matched her movements he chuckled silently, grateful for the reminder. "Oh, *that's* why." Just then, thoughts that were not his own insinuated themselves into his mind.

"~Penny for yours thoughts, Love?~" Liz queried.

Max's first response was to tighten his grip further. "~I was just thinking about how you calm me down. How I draw strength from you.~"

Liz gently rubbed the side of her head against his cheek. "~The feeling is mutual. Shared troubles are only half as bad. And shared joy is twice as good.~"

Max planted a soft kiss on the skin behind Liz's ear. "~That sounds like a quote.~"

Liz chuckled softly. "~Yup, from the famous sayings and anecdotes of Claudia Parker. Wanna hear another one?~"

Max stilled and settled back against lockers with Liz leaning against his chest. "~If you want to tell me, I'm here to listen.~"

Liz pulled back slightly so that she could see his face and smiled. "~This one is about you.~"

Max blinked. "~Say what?~"

Liz pulled back so that she could see his face and her smile broadened into an all out grin, then her face turned somber. "~Back just before my Grandma died we were doing a girl talk session, dishing about boys, I kinda let slip that...um...there was someone else that I was interested in...um...other than Kyle. We'd been talking about soul mates, and more or less come to the conclusion that Kyle wasn't mine. Back then I was uncertain about just exactly what was happening between the two of us, and *you* were playing hard to get! So I tried to blow it off by telling her that it was incredibly complicated and could never be.~"

Max smiled back gently. "~And?~"

Liz broke eye contact and leaned forward again into the comfort of his chest. "~She said that if it *wasn't* complicated then you probably *weren't* my soul mate.~"

Max sighed and rubbed her back. "~We know the answer to *that* now, don't we?~" he sent to her, augmented with an emotional backwash of contentment and possessiveness.

Liz sighed happily and seemed ready to settle in for the duration within the comforting circle of his arms.

"Excuse me children, but this really isn't the time or the place," said an impatient Maria. "The straights will start wondering about you two and these long silences. And besides, we have that little problem of Isabel's to deal with?"

For a moment Liz glared reproachfully at Maria, then she sighed and nodded. "Sorry, I was just...um..taking a time out from the tidal wave."

Maria smiled, and the whispered urgently. "I know Chica, I know. And if anyone deserves a time out, it's you. But you two need to knock off the lingering looks and long silences in public. And besides that...", she glanced at Max, "..we have other issues to deal with."

Max looked around at the crowded hall and sighed. "This is too hot to handle in school," he said quietly. "Besides that, now that we have 'adult' backing I'm in favor of taking some advantage of it. I'd say that our best plan is to meet at the UFO Center after school, around 7:00. I'm certain that Brody would be willing to let us use the back conference room, and we could invite in the ...umm...more mature members of the 'club' without arousing suspicion."

Maria nodded. "I'll let Michael know." Then she held up her cell phone. "And I'll call my mother during lunch."

Liz nodded. "Thanks. I'll tell Kyle at study hall, and have him invite his dad."

Max smiled as he watched the girls work out the logistics of tonight's meeting. "That reminds me", he thought and then continued aloud, "Maria could a I borrow your phone? There are a couple of calls I want to make."

Maria was about to hand over her phone when Liz waved her off and handed him hers instead. "Here, just give it back to me at lunch."

Max smiled and kissed her...a bit more warmly than the "law" allowed in a school hallway, but Liz gave as good as she got, which made the risk of official disapproval worthwhile. It certainly didn't escape the notice of passing classmates. Least of all several girls who had been trying to take advantage of the much advertised split between the school's most recognizable couple to sink their fangs into Max. With no success.

Terry Kealer nudged Pam Troy, and nodded at the couple. "There goes the ball game," she said.

Pam frowned. "It isn't over yet," she said in a huffy tone. "I so did *not* spend an hour last night picking this outfit, with Max Evans in mind, only to take a pass. Even if he is back with that flat chested doe eyed little mouse, I'll bet you that I can change his mind!"

Terry sighed. Pam's over confidence would be her downfall. Not that it wouldn't be entertaining to see her try...and fail. "I'll take that bet. If you lose, the next time my parents try to saddle me with baby-sitting my snotty little brother, he's *your* problem...and I get to go out. All you have to do is score with Max Evans by the end of the day. Deal?"

Pam studied Terry for a moment then nodded. "Deal!" Then she stalked away towards her first class.

Terry glanced backwards at Max Evans and Liz Parker one more time. They were still playing statues. Totally lost in each other. Pam didn't have a prayer in hell. Terry grinned and turned away. "Well, to bad for Pam," she thought. "And anyway, she and I may be a part of the same clique, but it's not like we're friends...."

Back down the hall Max released Liz reluctantly and waved as Maria dragged her friend off towards their homeroom. Their connection was still wide open, and neither one seemed to be in any hurry to damp it down. So he clearly felt a wave of love and good humor from her as her words came drifting back down the hall and into his mind. "~Thanks for leaving the connection open, Love. Otherwise I don't think that I could survive until lunch time.~"

Max wore an enigmatic smile as he walked into his own homeroom and nodded to his teacher. "~You're welcome Sweetheart. And the feeling is very very mutual!~" Whereupon he backed his words up by broadcasting his feelings to her.

Down the hall and around the corner sitting in her homeroom Liz flushed slightly as the warm mix of love, lust, and amusement swept into her mind. It left her so distracted that Mr. Rollins had to call her name twice when taking attendance.

As the the bell rang to signal the beginning of first period Liz jumped as a hand reached hurriedly over her shoulder to drop a note. Aside from Maria or Alex, no one had passed her a note in years. And the events of the last few years made note passing seem...incongruous. Childish. She looked across the aisle at Maria who regarded her quizzically. The same question was written on *her* face as well. They both knew who sat behind Liz. What the hell was a member of the popular clique doing passing a note to a non-member? Maria gave a curious half smile and indicated the note with her eyes. Her meaning was obvious. "Open it."

Liz opened the note and scanned it's few lines. She blinked......then she read it again.

"Liz,

Congrats on getting him back. But you might want to know that Pam T. is going to make a serious last ditch run at him sometime today. Cleavage and all.

T.K."


Mr. Rollins was slow to get the class started, so Liz took advantage of the interlude to turn in her seat and study the note passer. Terry Kealer simply smiled and shrugged. Liz turned back around and stared straight ahead for a moment. She was torn between outrage and outrageous laughter, and she was totally bemused. She debated what to do then realized that Max was getting her emotional state over the connection, so she damped it down a bit. Then an evil thought stirred in her mind, brought into being by Max's curiosity coming in over the connection. "This is too good to pass up," she thought. Then she went into telepathic mode and cooed sweetly, "~Oh Maaaaaax......."~.

Maria was watching curiously, burning to know what was in that note that "Kiss the Boys" Kealer had passed to Liz. She'd watched her friend's face go from angry, to amused, to mischievous in the space of moments. Now she had that vacant look, which they'd all recently gotten used to, that indicated that she was either sending or receiving a Max-o-gram. When Liz's eyes cleared she was wearing a grin that could only be called evil. "Damn," Maria thought, "this ought to be good!" She settled back to wait impatiently for the end of class, where upon she promised herself to drag Liz off to the nearest rest room and squeeze the story out of her by whatever means necessary!

Down the hall Max Evans had just had his curiosity, regarding Liz's emotional roller coaster, very thoroughly satisfied. To the casual observer he appeared to lose his normal healthy tan in favor of an unhealthy pallor. The sort you get when confronted with the imminent arrival of...oh say, a man eating tiger. Or in this case, tigress. He sighed and settled in his seat, slouching so as to appear invisible. For he was now all to painfully aware that Pam Troy was seated three rows back on his left. This was going to be a excruciatingly long day.

McCleod's Dojo.......8:30 AM Tuesday Morning

Morning coffee, so strong as to make a double expresso look like kool-aid, was slowly restoring the three Immortals around the table to life. Even so, Duncan, Cassandra, and Amanda all looked like a poor job of embalming. By contrast, Richie Ryan looked energetic enough, whistling as he banged around the kitchen assembling his breakfast.

Duncan growled. "Richie, keep the racket down. Since when does making cold cereal require you to make noises like you're riveting a boiler?"

Richie walked out of the kitchen whistling and flopped down in a chair on the unoccupied side of the table placing his bowl of cereal in front of him on the table. "Cranky this morning...aren't we?"

Amanda muttered an obscenity. "Richie, if you whistle just one more time, I swear I'll shorten you myself!"

Richie blinked. "Now I know that you guys didn't go out and party last night. So a hangover is out. What's up?"

Cassandra sighed. "Just not enough sleep. Three hours. At the most four."

Richie looked from one zombie to the next. The only thing that he could think of right off hand that could have kept the three of them awake was Conterras. "Okay, I'm hip. But why? Did you get a line on Rat Boy last night and forget to wake me up for the fun?"

The three glanced at each other surreptitiously and, Richie thought, a little guiltily. Cassandra stared hard at Duncan, who shrugged and nodded in Richie's direction. His message was clear. It was her decision.

Cassandra sighed. "Er...no. We had something else going last night."

Richie waited silently. "This ought to be good," he thought.

Cass cleared her throat uneasily. "I, um....well I had to use my abilities to get into Alex's dreams."

Richie did a double take. "Beg pardon?"

Amanda, ever the practical one, cut to the chase. "Duncan had a theory on Alex's behavior, the lack of sleep, the late night excursion and phone call. So he bounced it off of Cass, and it made sense enough for us to explore it."

Richie's patience was starting to fray. "And?!"

Duncan made a disgusted noise. "It was his girl friend. Ex-girl friend. Whatever you want to call her. Name of Isabel?"

Richie nodded hesitantly. "I know the name, but I'm still not seeing a connection."

Cass shook her head. "Apparently there was more going on there than we knew. She was invading his dreams. Accidentally at first I would guess. How could she have known he was alive? Anyway after the first time, a few days back, she's been visiting him every night. I'd guess that the phone call was a follow up to one of her visitations."

Richie looked flabbergasted. "*You* went into his dreams? You caught her at it?"

Cassandra nodded. "I used voice on both of them. In a little while Alex should be waking up. His Isabel is probably already awake. And neither will remember what happened, or that she found him."

Richie looked down at his forgotten and now thoroughly soggy bowl of cereal. His face twisted in distaste and he shoved it aside. "I'm still looking for a reason for the 'beat to quarters, man the guns' approach. I mean, yeah, this could be awkward. But putting a whammy on them is a little extreme, don'tcha think?"

Duncan sighed. "Richie, we found out some stuff late last night. We have a ton of trouble coming, and Conterras is just the tip of the iceberg. The last thing we need right now is Alex's significant other meddling. She may come to town looking for him. And that may just get her killed. Or Alex. Or one of us. This just seemed to be the safest short term solution."

Cass nodded, backing Duncan up. "Richie, I got a reading on those two that you wouldn't believe. They're special. If we'd left things to develop as they have been, she would have been here in a matter of days. She wouldn't have been able to help herself. As it is my 'whammy' won't hold long. I'm hoping that it will last long enough for us to get the upcoming problem dealt with, but I can't say that it will with any certainty."

Richie sighed. "Okay, so what's the disaster looming on the horizon?"

Duncan shook his head. "We'll have to tell Alex anyway, since he's stuck in this too. So lets just wait until he gets up and we see how he's doing. Then we'll tell you when we tell Alex."

A familiar voice interrupted. "Tell me what?"

All four looked up to see a yawning Alex blinking at them owlishly at them from the doorway leading to the guest bedrooms.

Cass smiled uncertainly. How much had he heard? "You look well rested. Sleep well?"

Alex nodded as he headed for the kitchen and the coffee. "Heya Cass, what are you doing here this morning? Yes, I slept wonderfully well." He paused as he poured coffee, took a long sip, and shuddered. "Ah! Like blood to a vampire!" he said. Then he looked at his four friends. "Now.....tell me what?"

Duncan sighed with relief. "Ah, the impatience of youth! It'll keep until you get on the right side of breakfast." He paused. "So you slept okay? No dreams...or anything?"

Amanda kicked him under the table and mouthed, "Real subtle Junior!"

Alex regarded him strangely. Something was going on. "Yes, contrary to what is apparently a popular rumor this morning I slept like a log last night. No dreams or nightmares, or anything of the sort. Now, will you *please* tell me what the hell is happening that I don't know about? Didn't we get past this whole secrecy thing when you guys withheld your knowledge about Conterras for fear of upsetting the newbie? What is it that I don't know *this* time, that can get me killed!?"

Duncan grimaced and waved for Alex to take a seat. Amanda stood up and went to throw together some kind of breakfast for him. Alex took a seat next to Richie, pulled one leg up into a casual position, and waited.

Duncan stared at him for a long moment, unsure of where to begin. "Er...I got curious about Conterras' presence. His MO is more that of a follower, not a leader, or even a loner. So I wondered who he might be following...here. I had Joe do some checking on where he'd been seen in the last few years. The trail lead to Canada, and to a bad ass load of trouble named Roland Kingsgate aka Britanicus."

Alex frowned. That name seemed familiar to him.

Cassandra held her breath. A memory suppression was always most vulnerable early on. In closing off his knowledge of Isabel's visits she had also suppressed anything associated with it. Including the reason for his run in with Conterras at the bus station...AND her mention of Britanicus name in Alex's dreams. The memory was there, but it wasn't consciously accessible to him right now. But his subconscious *could* access it, and it could recognize that name. The question was, would that recognition be enough to break the suppression before layers of additional memory could overlay it?"

Alex was silent for a long moment, then he shook his head as if to clear it, simply dismissing the event as deja vu. "So, I take it that this Britanicus is now our problem?"

Cassandra heaved a quiet sigh of relief.

Duncan nodded. "Yup. He and Conterras are birds of a feather when it comes to breaking the rules of single combat. Though as birds go, Conterras is a very small vulture to Britanicus' very big eagle."

Cassandra snorted. "That would be a Roman eagle."

Alex still wasn't one hundred percent yet, so the best he could muster was, "Huh?"

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 26-Sep-2002 9:33:57 PM ]
posted on 8-Sep-2002 2:39:16 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 12b
(Cement Mixing For Dummies)

Cass grinned. "I met him once a long time ago. Britanicus dates back to the Roman Empire and Caesar's Legions. So, as Immortals go, he's an old one."

Alex nodded. "So, what's his game?"

"Taking heads the easy way," Amanda called out from the kitchen.

Richie had been largely silent through all this. He was still processing what had been done to Alex. So he was only giving the latest information half of his attention. He'd been watching Alex for any overt signs of what had been done to him. He couldn't see anything obvious, which for some reason pumped up his irritation into outright anger, but what was done was done, so he tried to shove his concerns aside for the moment to focus on the current problem. With only marginal success, as he demonstrated immediately by snapping out, "Which tells us nothing. What is it that he's coming at us with?"

Everyone at the table turned to stare at Richie, though only Alex could truly have been called surprised by his display of temper. Duncan eyed Richie for a moment in a 'can we deal with this later' sort of way, then he shrugged. "At least ten or more Immortals, all relatively young, and all lowlife types. Gullible and stupid enough to go along with his plans, and vicious enough to carry them out."

Richie was still doing a slow burn, and he held Duncan's eyes in a way that said so. "And his plans are?"

Duncan sighed, this wasn't starting out to be his best day. "Like Amanda said, taking heads the easy way. He misses the 'good old days', he likes conquest. So, once a century or so he collects a bunch like his current one and goes on the rampage, hunting other Immortals. Ganging up on them for an easy kill. Eventually someone will organize a counter strike, but since Britanicus is never out front with his people, he never gets caught in it. Depending on the results when his cut throats finally run into that inevitable brick wall, he may just fade into the background and disappear. Or , if the carnage is thorough enough, he'll simply stroll in and lop the heads off of any survivors, both from his own people and the opposition, THEN he'll fade into the background and disappear."

Richie looked less than pleased. "So we're next on the 'conquest' menu I take it?"

Duncan nodded. "So it would seem. Conterras looks to be the point man for the operation. There's no telling how long he's been observing us. The only reason that we know about him at all, we owe to Alex."

Alex blinked. "Huh?"

Amanda came back to the table with some scrambled eggs and sausage and planted the plate in front of Alex. "Yes, you Alex. The problem Britanicus has with using scum bags like Conterras as his 'step 'n fetch it' boys is that they can't stay focused on the job at hand. Old habits reassert themselves....like Conterras habit of hunting newbies. If Conterras has told his boss about what he's been up to, which I doubt, I promise you that his life isn't worth a Confederate dollar right now. The last thing that Britanicus would want is to attract attention or have us on high alert right now."

Richie was still ticked off, but he smiled in spite of himself. "So rat boy gave the show away? Too bad we can't direct dial his boss and tattle on him. It might even have him look elsewhere for 'sheep' to slaughter."

Duncan shook his head. "No, even if we could, I wouldn't. Forewarned is forearmed. And I WANT Britanicus. I want him to come to us. His rampage in the 1832 killed some friends of mine. And I want to put paid to the bastard once and for all."

Alex was munching his way through his breakfast, but he paused and spoke. "So we're the bait *and* the trap, all rolled into one?" He paused then sighed loudly. "I never thought I'd see the day when having a *lone* deranged psychopathic killer hunting me would look *good* to me." He glanced around the table. "So, is it always like this with you guys? Or did you lay on something special to break in the newbie?"

This time Richie couldn't help it. He laughed outright. Nudging Alex he said, "I know exactly how you feel bro'. I felt the same way when I was new and weird life threatening things started happening routinely. Good thing we're immortal and damned near indestructible, otherwise the stress woulda killed me in the first six months!"

Cassandra, being aware of Richie's mood and the reason for it, had been quiet the last few minutes. Now she spoke up. "We need to be elsewhere when Britanicus arrives. He'll have planned this thoroughly, and that includes knowing this building inside and out...as well as our personal dwellings."

Richie scowled faintly, his ill humor resurfacing. "I don't like it! I don't like being off of our home territory Isn't the object to get him to come to us? To fight on *our* terms?"

To everyone's surprise it was Alex that jumped in. "But Richie, if he's reconned this place down to the the last scratch in the plaster, then our home court advantage is gone. He'll know where we're weak and where we're strong. I agree with Cass, we need to move this elsewhere."

Duncan nodded. "Somewhere isolated, away from non-combatant eyes. The fact that we're on territory he hasn't covered yet will make him cautious, but the temptation presented by catching us in an isolated area will be too much to resist, I hope." He paused. "Ideas anyone?"

Cass looked thoughtful. "Adam may know of a place. I'll call him later and ask."

Duncan was about to speak when Richie cut him off. "Sounds good to me, now, if there's no other new business, I'd like to talk to Duncan, Cass, and Amanda." He looked pointedly at Alex and added...."Alone."

Alex looked startled, then looked down at the remains of his breakfast. "But I'm not done yet!"

Richie sighed. "Take it with you then. Go down stairs, finish it, and start warming up. I'll be down in a while. Please Alex? This is personal." The implied half truth bothered Richie somewhat, but only somewhat. He was still too ticked off to moralize.

Alex sighed in resignation, and with a nod he grabbed his coffee and his plate, and headed for the elevator. They waited until they heard to elevator stop, then Richie turned on the older Immortals. "Okay, I'm going to set aside for a moment, the totally whacky idea that Alex's significant other is some sort psychic. I've seen things a million times weirder since I got yanked into this life." He waved his hand at those sitting at the table, including Amanda who had just returned with a pot of coffee and taken a seat. "Hell, we're the very definition of weird. So let's leave that alone. What I want to know is, WHAT THE HELL GIVES YOU THE RIGHT......!?"

Duncan cut him off by holding up his hand. "I know, I know. We meddled. We're aware of that. And it will probably come back to bite us in the ass, we're aware of *that* too. But we couldn't risk Alex being distracted right now. The chances are better than even that we'll all be fighting for our lives sometime this week. That includes Alex. I want him to focus on getting through this in one piece. THEN he...and we...can worry about his love life. And regardless of her more than unusual abilities, his lady isn't likely to be terribly understanding about what his life entails right now. She's likely to pressure him to try and come home, as impossible as that is. Or worse, she'll discover where he is, if he hasn't told her already, and come here. Do you want her trying to see him when Britanicus' band of merry men launch their attack? She could be killed, or taken hostage. Do you think that Alex would want that?"

Richie closed his mouth with a snap, and sat back. He glowered for a moment, then spoke. "All right, your reasoning makes some sense, I'll grant you. But the ends don't justify the means. After all your talk, and yes I admit it mine too, about staying away from our former lives, this is still going to look very high handed and 'father knows best'. You'll be lucky if Alex has anything to do with us if he finds out what's been done to him! And I assume that you DO intend to reverse this when the 'war' is over?"

Cassandra cleared her throat to get his attention. She got it all right. As the instrument of what had been done she was the recipient of a ten megawatt glare. She winced, but spoke anyway. "Richie," she said gently, "of course I would reverse it, if I needed to. But I won't need to. You weren't there, you didn't see what I saw."

Amanda pursed her lips and gave a loud and obviously skeptical snort.

Cass regarded her with irritation. "We've been over this Amanda, and I frankly don't care whether you believe me or not. So drop it!"

Amanda, still in mama bear mode, sighed and subsided. Unwilling to pursue the matter. They had bigger issues to deal with at the moment anyway.

Richie looked back and forth between them. "Okay Cass, I'll bite. What am I missing here? And what did you see?"

Cassandra's face took on a distant smile. "Those two are special Richie. What they have is special. I used aura sight on them, to determine the nature of their relationship before I acted. It's love...and more. I've been doing this for millennia, and I've seen special lovers before. People destined by fate to be together, but I never seen anything like these two. They're strongly connected to each other, and on multiple levels. Heart, mind, and soul. It makes me respect Alex a great deal. Being away from her all this time must have been the purest form of agony this side of hellfire."

Richie looked puzzled. "If that's so, then why did he stay here? Why didn't he run?"

Cassandra shrugged. "Form your own theory. Amanda has. I prefer mine. Alex knows enough now to know now dangerous his life will be. What I saw tells me that he's willing to die for her. After that, dying an inch at a time without her would be a trivial thing...if that's what it took to keep her safe. So take our usual caution of involving mortals in our lives and raise it to the Nth degree, and you have your reason. I think that it would have killed him eventually, and most probably her as well. But he would have held out. He's a stubborn one, like Duncan."

Duncan gave an aggrieved snort.

Cassandra chuckled. "All I can add is, thank God that *she* found *him* first!"

Richie was silent as he absorbed what Cass had said. He wasn't sure that he believed in this 'deathless love' stuff, but it explained an awful lot. Then he brought himself up short and looked at Cass again. "I have a feeling that this is connected to why you won't have to reverse your whammy. Am I right?"

Cassandra nodded. "This isn't hard science. I have to go on intuition. But my intuition tells me that this will last only days. I didn't erase their memories. Even *I* can't do that. All I can do is cloud them. Suppress them. Sooner or later the blockage will crumble. Some cue will trigger a blocked memory and the rest will cascade behind it. Or the barrier will simply collapse on it's own if it goes on long enough."

Richie, still looking none too happy, nodded in understanding. "How long?"

Cassandra winced. "Days only. A week if we're lucky. Long enough to settle with Britanicus...we hope."

Richie sighed heavily and nodded again. He picked up his forgotten breakfast and empty coffee cup, and carried them over to the sink where he turned to study the silent three at the table. "Okay, I'll keep my mouth shut...for now. But when he finds out, don't look to me for sympathy or support. Your intentions were good, but your methods suck. And besides that," his eyes narrowed, "if what you said is right, I suspect that this Isabel will see it as her right to share Alex's danger..regardless. A right that you've denied her...and Alex." Richie shook his head ruefully. "I know the kid pretty well too, and I wouldn't want to be in your shoes for all tacos in Tiajuana." With that he turned and headed for the elevator to join Alex downstairs. Leaving the three at the table to their own ruminations, and regrets.

The Kingsgate Estate....10:30 AM Tuesday

Britanicus swayed as the crackling energy of The Quickening danced around him. The pain was exquisite, then as quickly as it came it was gone. There was silence. Looking around him he surveyed the destruction in the central court behind the manor house and blearily thought, "Now I'll have to get landscapers out here to deal with this mess." Looking on the ground within the still smoldering ring of once manicured garden he saw the reason for the destruction. The headless corpse of Radu T'chernic. Uttering a curse he strode over and delivered it a vicious kick to the ribs. "The problem with using scum to do your dirty work," he thought, "is that they revert to type with little or no notice!" Looking up he saw the spectators standing discreetly outside the area affected by The Quickening. His chauffeur was off today, the domestics were only part timers, and the cook was doing the marketing, so the only audience that he had were those that understood the significance of what had happened here. Looking at them with contempt he spun on his heel and marched back into the house and into the ground floor room that Radu had occupied. The place was a pig sty and it stank. "I'll have to have the place fumigated," he thought as his lip curled in disgust. Then he looked at the bed...and the reason for his handling of Radu.

Walking over to the bed and it's tangled and bloody linens he stood looking down at the body. Reaching out he brushed a lock of auburn hair from her face to find sightless green eyes staring back at him. "Gods," he thought, "she's barely old enough to be called a woman." He'd been walking by when he'd heard a feminine whimper coming from a room where none should be, and without pausing he'd kicked the door in and found Radu rising from finishing with his entertainment. What Britanicus had heard was the girl's death rattle. Britanicus had snapped. In the moments that followed he'd beaten Radu within an inch of his life, then he had dragged him out into the courtyard, drawn his sword, and taken Radu that last inch to Hades. Britanicus saw himself as a soldier of The Legions. To him a soldier may legitimately conquer and kill the enemy. But that was all. There were certain lines which he would not cross. It had always been that way. Long ago the soldiers of his cohort under Caesar had thought him niggardly because he refused to permit any under his command to indulge themselves in post battle rapine and slaughter of non-combatants. He still wouldn't. Hearing a noise behind him he spun, his face a mask of fury. It was Joachim.

Joachim paused just inside the door. With his employer in this state he was very likely taking his life into his hands simply by walking in here, if for no other reason that that it had been his job to prevent things like this from occurring. So he stood stiffly and impassively, and waited.

"What is it Joachim?" Britanicus growled.

Joachim's eyes lost their thousand yard stare and focused on Britanicus. "I simply came to see if you wanted me to begin cleaning this up." He waved his hand at the room.

Britanicus paused then said, "In a moment, but first...bring them in here. All of them!"

Joachim knew who 'them' meant, and he beat a hasty retreat to round 'them' up.

Britanicus turned back to the bed and fought his anger down. After a short interval he heard the sound of approaching footsteps in the hallway. He waited until he judged that they were all here, then he turned. Looking at a thoroughly cowed pack of subordinates he spoke. "When you all joined me, did I, or did I not, explain the rules of your employ? And the punishments for violating those rules?" A chorus of muttered incoherent replies fanned his anger back to life. "I SAID, DID I, OR DID I NOT, EXPLAIN THE RULES? ANSWER ME DAMN YOU!"

This time it was loud and clear. "Yes Sire!"

Britanicus pointed at the bed with his sword without turning away from them. "That utter pig Radu broke those rules, and paid with his life! There will be no more such infractions, am I clear? I can't control what you do when you aren't working for me, but when you are I expect you to obey! Or by Mithra and Mars I'll kill the lot of you and start over! AM I CLEAR!?"

There was some shuffling of feet, but again it was loud and clear. "Yes Sire!"

Britanicus nodded jerkily. "The next time something like this happens I WILL kill the lot of you, and crucify the perpetrator...literally! So from here on, you are all responsible for and to each other! If one of you screws up, breaks curfew, or even farts in the dining room, you'll be hustling off to hell to join Radu in warming his toes by the fire!" He paused for breath. "Now GET OUT! ALL OF YOU!"

As they shuffled towards the door Britanicus spoke again. "All but you Joachim."

Britanicus turned away and stared at the pitiful sight on the bed. Once the rest were gone, Joachim closed the door and turned to his employer. "Your orders Sire?"

Britanicus was silent for a long while, then without turning he began to speak. "Joachim, we've been together a long time, and you've served me well. So it pains me to say this, but if this should happen again, ever again, you and the offender will share adjoining crosses. Am I clear?"

Joachim swallowed. "Yes Sire!"

Britanicus sighed. "Joachim, I may be a brigand and a killer, but I have certain ethical lines A commander is responsible for the actions of those under him. To kill an enemy in battle is acceptable. Even killing hostages is a legitimate tool of war. But to kill simply for the sake of...appetite...is unacceptable. For me or any under my command. Do you understand?"

Joachim had recovered his aplomb. "Yes Sire."

Britanicus nodded and turned to regard his subordinate. "And as my centurion, you are not immune from those rules."

Joachim looked impassive. "Yes Sire."

Britanicus sighed. "Now, clean up this mess, and get those swine out there to help you. Take charge of this girl's body yourself. She is to be cleaned up as well as may be, and wrapped in clean linen. Be sure that the linen carries no laundry marks, or indeed distinguishing marks of any sort. You will then take her to an out of the way spot far from here where she will not be found immediately and deposit her there. Dump Radu's head and body a respectful distance away. And take a rifle with you. You will then stand guard at a discreet distance to keep the scavengers from bothering her. Radu I don't care about, let the carrion eaters make a banquet of him. You will then summon the police with an anonymous phone call so that she may be returned to her family. Be sure to tell them that her killer has been accounted for...and where they can find what's left of him."

Joachim nodded. "Yes Sire!"

Britanicus made as if to leave, then paused. "And Joachim?"

Joachim turned towards him. "Yes Sire?"

"Be sure to watch the obituaries," Britanicus said. "I want her name. I owe her family wergild for this." Then he turned away.

Joachim stopped him before he reached the door. "Sire?"

Britanicus stopped, but did not look back or speak.

Joachim hesitated. "What of the contents of the room, Sire?"

Britanicus shuddered. "Burn it. Burn it all." Then he was gone.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 8-Sep-2002 2:45:37 AM ]
posted on 8-Sep-2002 2:57:26 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 12c
(Cement Mixing For Dummies)

West Roswell High.....Lunch time

Kyle and Michael were already at the ET table when Maria arrived....snickering quietly to herself and grinning. She dropped her book bag and pulled out her lunch, sitting down opposite the boys, and carelessly dumping the contents of her lunch on the table. She was still laughing, lost in a private joke, when she picked up an orange and began to peel it. Then she noticed that both of her table mates were staring at her. "What?" she asked.

Michael glanced at Kyle then back at Maria. "Care to share the joke Pixie?"

Maria made a show of thinking it over, then shook her head, and went on peeling the orange.

Kyle was feeling a little lost so he tried to make conversation. "Where are Max and Liz?"

Maria stopped peeling the orange and carefully set it down before looking up an Kyle. She opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out. She simply started to tilt sideways on the bench falling out of sight. Strange squeaking noises arose from her side of the table. A now thoroughly worried Michael jumped to his feet and leaned over the table to check on Maria.

Kyle watched as he stood there for a while then slowly sat back down. "Well?" he asked . "What's wrong with her?"

Michael gave Kyle a bemused look. "She's laughing. In fact she's laughing so hard that she can barely make a sound."

A delicate hand reached up and grasped the table surface, and a moment later a still laughing Maria hauled herself into sight and promptly crossed her arms on the table, pillowing her head on them. Her shoulders were still heaving with laughter.

It was infectious. Kyle and Michael began to smile, even though they had no idea what the joke was. After some minutes Maria had subsided enough to wipe the laugh tears away. She pulled out her compact and checked her makeup for damage. A few quick wipes with a tissue satisfied her and she snapped it closed. Her eyes were still sparkling with laughter when she looked the boys in the eye and said, "Mr. Evans and Miss Parker will *not* be joining us for lunch." Then she picked up her abandoned orange and resumed peeling it.

Outside the Evans Residence....At approximately the same time...

Max's car whipped up into the Evans' driveway and screeched to a halt. He was out of the car in seconds and ran for the front door. Isabel was in the kitchen, having come home from the Evans' law office for lunch, when she heard what passed for a stampede of elephants heading for her brother's room.

"Max?!" she called out. "Is that you?"

A distant shout from the direction of her brother's room satisfied her that it was indeed Max. But what the hell was he doing home in the middle of a school day? Isabel abandoned the remains of her lunch, picked up the cup of tea she'd been drinking, and walked down the hall. Entering Max's room she found a harried and strangely attired Max throwing clothes on the bed. Jeans, t-shirt, boxers, socks. A complete outfit.

"Max, what the hell are you doing home in the middle of the day? And why the hell are you wearing your PE clothes?" Her eyes narrowed as she studied him. "And how did you get red paint in your hair and smeared on your face?"

Max opened his mouth to speak, but winced as someone else cut in...silently.

"~Maxwell Evans! What's taking so long? You're not the only one going commando here!~" came Liz's impatient mind voice.

"~Patience Sweetheart, Izzy's home. I'll just be a second~," he responded.

Isabel had seen the look on his face that said he was having a conversation with someone other than her. So when she was his focus come back to her she said, "You were talking to Liz. Is she with you?"

Max sighed. "It'd take too long to explain Iz. She's outside in the car, waiting. As for why I'm home... that's what'd take to long to explain. Trust me."

Isabel's curiosity was now in overdrive. Following Max as he left the room and dashed back the way he had come, she arrived at the front door in time to see him getting into his battered Chevelle ragtop. The top was down so she had a good view of the other occupant. Max started the engine, slammed the car into gear and backed out of the driveway. Isabel raised her arm to wave and froze as she had a momentary view of Liz Parker's hair and face. Max tooted his horn and peeled out in a very un-Maxlike fashion. He was obviously in a hurry to be somewhere else. Isabel lowered her arm, went back into the house, and closed the door. Then she noticed the cooling cup of tea in her hand, and drained it. Leaning against the front door she frowned. "That was definitely red paint in Liz's hair and on her skin. And more of it than Max had on his," she thought. Isabel sighed. She and Max were going to have a long talk tonight. Not least about the little fact that she'd discovered this morning after Liz and Maria had left. That her bookmark file on her Dad's computer was suddenly full of martial arts sites. Shaking her head she rinsed her lunch dishes and put them in the dishwasher. For a moment she paused. Martial arts? That triggered something, a vague feeling of something important, like a memory of a memory. It danced tantilizingly...just out of her reach. Then it was gone. She sighed deeply and shrugged, then she grabbed her purse and headed back to work.

West Roswell High....Same time

Michael frowned. "What do you mean they won't be joining us? They ditched school?" he asked in evident disbelief.

Maria was chewing a segment of orange. She choked, clapped her over her mouth, and swallowed mightily. Grabbing her coke she took a sip and coughed experimentally. All clear. Then she glared at Michael. "Don't ask questions like that when I'm eating, Spaceboy!"

Michael was getting impatient. "Well Pixie, if you could spare us time between giggling and feeding your face to explain things, we wouldn't need to ask questions."

Thunderclouds began to gather over Maria. And, not wanting to get hit by a stray bolt of lightening, Kyle intervened. "C'mon Maria. Stoneface here may not be very diplomatic, but we're dyin' over here. Where are Romeo and Juliet? And what happened?"

Maria seemed to consider things. Then, true to her mercurial nature, her mood flipped, she grinned and shrugged. "Okay boys, I'll give. It'll be all over school by the end of lunch anyway. It's too juicy to keep quiet."

Michael and Kyle leaned forward.

"So talk," said Michael.

Maria chuckled. "It all started this morning when Terry Kealer passed Liz a note in home room."

"What'd Keelhauler want?" Michael asked. He was puzzled. Terry Kealer was an "insider". Someone of that clique passing a note to one of their group was a violation of the laws of nature.

Maria sighed. "Patience Spaceboy. All will be revealed." Maria paused dramatically then went on. "Now, where was I? Oh! The Note. Anyway, I dragged Liz into the girls bathroom right after first period class and squeezed the contents of the note out of her.......

***Flashback***

"She said WHAT?!" Maria shrieked.

Liz made calming noises. "Shhhhhh! Maria! Public bathroom?!" Liz glanced around at the handful of other girls in the room.

Maria made an irritated noise and dragged Liz out the door. Looking around she spotted the janitor's closet and hauled Liz over. Testing the door she found it locked. She banged on the door and shouted. "Out you horn dogs. Priority user here!"

There were brief scuffling noises from within, then the door was snatched open to reveal two rumpled classmates, one of each gender, who beat a hasty exit. Maria dragged Liz inside and locked the door.

"Okay, we're short on time so lets make it quick," Maria said. "What did the note say?"

Liz shrugged. "Just that Pam Troy was going to do her best to nail Max before the day was out."

Maria was fuming. This had to be a set up. Kealer was no friend of theirs, anymore than Pam was. "And you believe this?"

Liz grinned. "Enough to tell Max. He took it badly." Her eyes were twinkling. "He bolted out of homeroom with Pam in hot pursuit when the bell rang. And she *is* chasing him. There's no mistaking it."

Maria adopted a poker face. "And what do you propose to do about it? You can't have that top heavy cow pawing Max in front of the student body. Others might get the idea that you can't defend your territory."

Liz shrugged. "I'll deal with it when it comes to that. I'm not going to stress over it. I have no worries about the 'Dairy Queen' getting her hooks into Max, so why not enjoy the game a bit." She grinned. "Max is so cute when he's panicked."

Liz cocked her head and got that vacant look. When her eyes cleared Maria was looking at her curiously. Liz shrugged. "Max says that I'm getting entirely too much enjoyment out of this, and that he'll get even with me if it's the last thing that he does."

Maria giggled. "Okay Chica, if that's the way you want it. The bell is about to ring and, unless my memory fails me, you and I have a class coming up with both Max *and* Pam Troy in it." Maria opened the door and hooked her arm through Liz's. "Let's go see today's episode of 'The Fugitive'."

Both girls exited laughing and made their way to class.

***End Flashback***

Kyle laughed out loud. "You girls spent the morning watching Evans play fox to Pam Troy's hound...and you didn't see fit to share it with me? What kind of friends are you?"

Even Michael was chuckling. Maria looked at him. "Was it worth the wait Spaceboy?"

Michael nodded. "Yes Pixie, worth it and then some. I am *so* not worthy! But why do I have the idea that there's more to the story?"

Maria's eyes twinkled. "Cuz there is. It just keeps getting better....."

***Flashback***

All morning long the girls had been treated to a display of Max Evans fleeing Pam Troy to preserve his virtue. The only time Pam had left him alone was the brief moment between second and third period that he'd managed to grab a few moments with Liz. Then Pam had backed off rather than cause a scene by making her play. Other than those few minutes she'd been on his trail all morning. Even when he was out of their sight Liz still gave Maria the telepathic play-by-play.

Now Liz and Maria were in study hall. Maria had been struggling with geometry, with Liz's help, and the study hall teacher's approval, when Liz zoned out. When she came back she was muttering under her breath.

Maria pretended to keep working but whispered, "Liz, what's the matter?"

Liz copied Maria's play acting, and whispered back, "This just stopped being entertaining. That slut took a seat behind him in English. She's touching him! And Max, true to his 'I can't attract attention' nature is enduring it rather than complain!"

When the bell rang for lunch the girls were ready, and made a dash for the door. By pre-arrangement they would meet Max in the art department classroom and escort him to a Troy-free lunch. They were halfway there when Liz froze in the hallway.

Maria grabbed her friend's arm with concern. "Liz, what's the matter?"

Liz unfroze and began to speed walk down the hall, as Maria struggled to match her pace she said, "She's tracked him down. She's in there with him." Suddenly Liz uttered a word that even Maria had never heard from her before and broke into a run.

Maria was right beside her, and managed to gasp out, "Liz?"

Liz was in better shape and said clearly, "She's taking off her BLOUSE!"

***End Flashback***

Kyle stared at Maria with tears running down his face. "You're kidding, right? Pam 'The Student Body' Troy was trying to get naked with Max Evans?"

Michael was trying to keep a lid on his amusement, but he could feel gales of laughter struggling to escape. And as much as he'd fancied himself the rebel over the years, he was really quite shy and uptight about public displays of any sort. Maria was slowly curing him of that, but right now his reputation as "Stoneface" Guerin was in danger of biting the dust for good.

Maria stared at her more than boyfriend and lover, and prepared to deliver the killing blow to his self-styled cool.

"Wait for it boys," she said. "Here comes the punch line...."

***Flashback***

Liz and Maria dashed around the corner, entered the hall that held the art room, and accelerated flat out.

Pat Vazinni the art teacher had stopped on his way to lunch to chat with a colleague. Both teachers stopped the conversation as the girls thundered past. Pat was about to stop them and chew them out when they stopped themselves...outside of his classroom! Liz Parker began to tug on the door wildly. "I didn't lock that door," he thought. Suddenly Liz's efforts were successful and the door flew open with a bang. The girls charged into the room. Pat had nodded a good-bye to his fellow teacher and begun walking back towards his class room with the intention of investigating their behavior when a bellow of feminine rage emerged from the door of his classroom to echo in the hall. He broke into a run.

Liz and Maria had charged into the room to find a stuttering red faced Max backed up against an art supply cabinet. Pam had her blouse off, and her skirt was partially unzipped and ready to come off next, she was relying on her ample curves to break down his resistance. After all, wasn't Max in the position that every other boy in school would kill to be in?

Max had known he was in deep trouble the instant she'd reached for the first button. Now she had him backed up against the cabinet while she whispered promises to show him things that his mousy little girl friend had never even dreamed of. He was getting desperate. He didn't have enough hands. He couldn't stymie her efforts to land a kiss *and* keep her hands off of him at the same time. There was also the issue of skin. Every time he tried to fend her off his hands made contact with disquieting amounts of skin, which only caused her to redouble her efforts in anticipation of success.

Pam, for her part, was over the top. She'd been chasing The Max-imum Evans all morning without success. She was tired of this game. She finally had him alone without the little troll of a girl friend, with whom he was now joined at the hip, to interfere. And she was going to have him no matter what it took! If for no other reason that that she was *not* going to baby-sit that drooling slack jawed refugee from the shallow end of the gene pool, Daniel Kealer!

Liz and Maria chose that moment to arrive. The bang of the door flying open startled Pam and caused her to look over her shoulder, without letting up on her efforts to grope Max. "Well well, the mouse girl and her groupie cometh! Now I *know* I locked that door! It doesn't matter, I can work with an audience as well as not. Watch and learn little girl." Then she studiously ignored them.

Liz shook her head. This was nuts. Pam was nuts. Who did she think she was? Darth Vader in drag? Six months ago Liz would have hesitated. A year ago she'd never have dared. She hadn't been the 'in your face' confrontational type. Now though, after everything that they'd been through together, a tramp like Pam was just another annoying cockroach. Her anger from this morning returned with potent force. The time for clever repartee was past, this called for a little massive retaliation. In that instant her eyes fell on the very thing. A quart can of abandoned water color paint. "~Max, close your eyes.~" Taking two steps forward she grasped the can. "Pam...tsk tsk...blue lingerie? Red is really more your color." And with an easy underhand flip she launched the contents of the can at the girl.

Pam sprang away from Max with a shriek. She was splattered, head to toe, in red paint. "You little bitch!" she screamed. She launched herself at Liz. Max made ready to intervene. Pam had height, reach, and weight on Liz. The cat fight in the making didn't get off the ground however. Liz and Pam grappled for only a moment before a male voice bellowed, "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?" Everyone froze and looked at the Mr. Vazinni standing in the doorway wearing a stern look.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 9-Feb-2003 3:02:23 PM ]
posted on 8-Sep-2002 3:12:38 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 12d
(Cement Mixing For Dummies)

Regardless of his words, Pat Vazinni knew exactly what was going on. He and a few other teachers were just young enough to be regarded as 'cool' by their charges. Hence he was wired into the school grapevine. He and a few others had followed the course of the Evans/Parker phenomenon (as they referred to it privately). They'd seen the ups and the downs, and they had in fact had a pool on just when the inevitable reconciliation would take place. A pool which he had won on Monday. And he'd heard from his students all morning about the pursuit of Max Evans. So he wasn't quite in the dark. However, as the authority figure, he was required to come on like the Wrath of God. Still, the hundred and fifty dollars he'd collected also left him feeling charitable.

In a calmer tone of voice he continued, "Miss Parker? Would you care to explain?"

Pam tried to cut in and give her side first, but Vazinni over rode her and gestured for Liz to answer. Liz, carefully editing any references to telepathy, told of Pam's pursuit of her boyfriend, their arrangements for she and Maria to meet him here and escort him to lunch, and of finding Pam throwing herself on him when they arrived.

Pat saw a few holes in the story, relating to their panicked arrival, but he let them go.

Pam Troy however was not so easily beaten down. "After all," she thought, "I *own* this school!" So she spoke up immediately after Liz finished. "She's *lying* Mr. Vazinni! Max and I were fooling around, and she can't take the truth, or handle the competition."

Even without Max's reddened face and frantic shaking of his head, Pat wouldn't have bought it. He knew Max and Liz too well.

So he said nothing. He simply gave Pam that 'I'm not buying it' stare that all good teachers master in their first months on the job. After a moment, he spoke evenly. "Miss Troy, don't bullshit a bullshitter."

Pam blinked and got a sinking feeling.

"I saw everything from the hallway. And if it were anyone else's classroom other than mine, I'd have given Liz time to thrash you before I intervened."

Pam tried a halfhearted protest, but Vazinni cut her off. "Might I point out that *you're* the one that's half naked?" Pam subsided. "Get your clothes on and go home to clean up. Principal Siebring will be contacting your parents sometime today."

Everyone was silent as Pam got her blouse on and stalked out of the room. After she was gone Pat regarded Max and Liz ruefully. Max hadn't gotten the worst of it in Liz's initial paint salvo, but he was still a mess. And Liz's momentary wrestling match with a paint covered Pam hadn't done *her* clothes, face, or hair much good either. Pat Vazinni sighed. Now that Pam was gone his deeply buried amusement was beginning to surface. He had to get them out of here before he started braying like a jackass.

"Miss DeLuca, you head on for lunch," he said.

Maria hesitated.

"Oh relax! They aren't in any trouble. Not with you and I to back them up! Go on, this story will be all over before the school day is done. So if you want to get any mileage out of it, I suggest that you get out there and get to gossiping!" He jerked his head at the door and winked.

Maria grinned and turned to Liz. "Chica, I'd give you a hug, but then I'd have to go home too. Call me, eh?"

Liz nodded. "You bet. Now go and eat. Michael and Kyle will be waiting."

Maria giggled, blew her a kiss, and scooted out the door.

***End Flashback***

Maria, Kyle and Michael were all rolling with laughter. Michael's usual public stoicism was toast. Ordinarily this might have attracted attention, but similar scenes were playing out elsewhere on the quad. The word was spreading. They had barely recovered their self-control when Terry Kealer walked by and silently gave them a big thumbs up. Which set them off again.

Michael recovered first. "Honest to God, I'd have paid money for a front row seat! Pam's days as the Bitch Queen of West Roswell are over. Every time she tries to do the snob thing, someone will comment on how good she looks in red!"

Maria was next. "It might even force her to burn all of her clothes that even faintly red!"

Kyle shook his head and wiped his eyes then looked at Michael. "Honest to God Bro', however much I may whine about how my life has changed since I got sucked into all this, I can say one thing in all honesty. Knowing you guys is more laughs than I've ever had in my life!"

Michael grinned. "I'll remind you of that Valenti, the next time you bitch about being a member of the club!"

Kyle snorted. "You *do* that!"

Maria cleared her throat. "Guys? Not to blow the mood or anything, but Liz was supposed to tell you something when she saw you today, Kyle. Now I have to. Max is calling a meeting at the UFO Center after school."

Kyle frowned. "Trouble?"

Maria rolled her eyes. "You could say that. I was supposed to tell Michael about it. Liz was supposed to tell you, and ask you to tell your Dad. It's set for around 7:00." Maria hesitated. "And if you see Isabel, do *not* mention it to her. It's kind of about her too."

Michael frowned. He hated mysteries. Especially threatening mysteries. But this wasn't the place to get into a discussion. It was a measure of how much he had matured when he simply nodded. "I'll be there, Pixie." Then he noticed that time was slipping away and began to inhale his meager lunch with desperate haste. Kyle copied his speed, and barely finished before the bell summoned them all back to class.

The Art Room....Just after Maria's departure...

Vazinni looked at the two remaining participants in the recent altercation and planted his hands on his hips. He shook his head. "You guys have a ride home?"

Max nodded.

Vazinni's eyes narrowed in thought. He walked to his desk and scribbled something on a piece of paper and handed it to Max. "This is a pass for the both of you. Take it and get to the gym. Change into you PE clothes, you don't want to get paint on your upholstery. Then take those clothes that you're wearing and roll them up to keep the paint from drying. Then go home and clean up. And be sure that you get those clothes you have on in the washer immediately, while the paint is still wet. I can't promise that they won't stain, but they'll probably stain less than they would if that paint dries."

Liz swallowed. "Can we help you clean this mess up?" She waved at the paint splatters. They were surprisingly few. Liz's aim had been good.

Pat shook his head. "There's not that much to clean up. And by the time you finished that paint you're both wearing would be bone dry. Besides, seeing you clip Miss Troy's wings was worth the price of admission. That arrogant conceited little fool has been a blight on this school for three years. It was time that she was taken down a peg or two." Then he grinned teasingly. "Besides, students aren't the only ones in this school that gossip. This story will make me very popular in the teachers' lounge for a day or two." The objects of his humor both blushed. "Relax kids. The people who count around here will see you as heroes. Now scoot!"

Max tried to stammer out his thanks. But Pat waved him off. "All part of being a good pedagogue. Now scram! Both of you!"

Max grabbed Liz's hand, then they both grabbed their book bags and fled. Before they'd made it to the end of the hall they heard hoarse laughter echoing after them. Max stopped Liz and grinned. He leaned in to give her a kiss, and let his thoughts and feelings roll out to her. "~My hero!~"

Liz giggled. "~Shucks, t'weren't nothin'.~" Then she tugged his hand and hurried him on, taking advantage of the empty halls to reach the PE locker rooms unseen.

They separated to reach their lockers. Liz was doing a hurried job of changing when Max spoke to her. "~Liz? I'll drop you off first, then head home.~"

Liz paused studying her lingerie. The paint had soaked through. Sighing she rolled them up inside of her jeans and top. "~Look Max, your parents place is between here and the Crashdown. You swing by and pick up some clothes. We can wash everything together at my house, and you can use the 'rents shower to clean up.~"

Liz felt wave of worry from Max. "~Liz, I'm not sure that bringing you home covered in paint will do anything to plead my case in your parents eyes.~"

Liz sent him a wave of warmth and amusement. "~Relax handsome spaceman. I checked my voice mail before third period, and Mom left me a message. There's a restaurant equipment vendor's show in Albuquerque today. My dad can get a discount if he orders that new dishwasher at the show. He'd never pass up a deal like that. He and Mom left not long after you did this morning. They're staying there until late afternoon. I don't expect them back before 6:00 PM at the earliest.~"

Max froze. He was going to be alone with Liz? At her place?

Over in the girl's locker room Liz felt Max's excitement slam into her mind. On her face, a slow grin started and spread. Even without telepathy she could have read him like a book. "~Let's move it Max. I don't want to be in here when lunch ends!~"

By mutual agreement they met at Max's car. The few students who had seen them had pointed and whispered. It was starting already.

The Crashdown Cafe....a short time later...

Max parked down the alley from the Crashdown and they climbed the ladder to Liz's balcony. Liz went first and Max, who was following behind, didn't even pretend to *not* enjoy the view. Her window was locked, but it opened to a wave of Max's hand. Once they were inside Liz turned to him.

"Give me your clothes and I'll get the washer started. It draws it's water off of the restaurant system, so we should have plenty of hot water for the showers."

She took his bundle and led him down the hall to her parents room, with a stop in her bathroom to retrieve the towel and wash cloth that he'd used only hours ago. They were still damp, but he solved that with another wave of his hand. He gave her a lingering kiss and a smile, then he vanished into her parents' bathroom, closing the door. Since they had left school, and by mutual agreement they'd kept their connection damped down, but enough was leaking through to let her know that the news of her parents' absence had brought Max's hormones to red alert. The fact that her own..er...juices....were also at a rolling boil wasn't helping. The sexual tension was so thick that you could have spread it on bread. She rushed to the utility room and got the laundry started, in an effort to give her mind something else to focus on...other than the naked love of her life in her parent's bathroom. She clucked despairingly over Max's jeans and shirt. She'd been more thorough than she'd realized. She set the washer for a long pre-soak and hoped for the best. The underwear was another matter. Max's boxers were patterned and dark, but her lighter lingerie was probably hopeless. With her luck they'd come out tinted pink. Then she realized that these *were* Max's boxers. That he'd been wearing them only a short time ago. And she thought about the fact that he had put them on in *her* bedroom this only a few hours ago! Big mistake.

"Oh my God!" she thought. "He slept in *my* bed last night! Again!" She dashed down the hall into her room and looked at her bed, carefully made up by Max this morning. She flipped back the spread and picked up a pillow, pressed it to her face, and inhaled deeply. It was him. His scent was all around her. It was a heady masculine scent that made her blood race. "It's a damned good thing that we were too tired the other night for our needs to have much say about it," she thought, "otherwise Mom and Dad would have gotten a rude wakeup call!" She dropped the pillow as if stung and spun around heading for the bathroom. It was time for a shower, on the cold side!

Just down the hall Max stood under the shower head, letting icy water cascade over him. He tried to tell himself that he was only trying to save hot water for Liz, but it was a bald lie. Only a few days ago he had despaired of ever again even touching her hand with the ease they had known in the past. Now though, in the space of only 48 hours, all that had changed beyond recognition. She had welcomed him back into her heart and soul without hesitation or reservation. Silently he cursed his older alter ego again. All that pain, for nothing. Max sighed and leaned his forehead against the cold tile. They were past that now. Past it and moving forward. It was the 'forward' part that had him chasing his own tail. They had been stymied in pursuing their own destiny for too long. A destiny that surely would have made them lovers before now. If what his future self had said were true, they were already a year and more late. Before their reconciliation it had been an unrelieved ache in his belly. Now though, with the knowledge of what had happened...what *should* have happened, the ache had become a raging inferno that burned twenty four hours a day. And the back pressure was driving him out of his mind. And, more to the point, Liz knew it was doing so.

Max saw no point in staying in the shower until he became a prune, so he shut off the water and stepped out. He dried off and pulled on his boxers and a pair of pants. Then he gathered his remaining clothes as well as his towel and wash cloth and padded down the hall to Liz's room, barefoot. Arriving he could hear the shower running. He stepped up to the bathroom door and was overwhelmed by a riot of fantasy about what was happening on the other side of it. He placed his hand on the door knob and contemplated going in there. What would she do? Chase him out? Or ask him to wash her back? Or would she just invite him into the shower with her? He shuddered and contemplated gathering his courage and going for it..or fleeing like a frightened rabbit, then dismissed both ideas just as quickly as they'd come. This was Liz, his other half. That she loved him he had no doubt. That she lusted after him he also had no doubt. But he didn't think that she was ready for that next critical step yet. Even now the stench of Tess was still strong.

In typical Max-like fashion he was ignoring the feelings that were even now seeping into his soul through their connection. Trying to dismiss them as his own wishful thinking. He was completely unaware that Liz had finished washing up long ago and was herself standing under an icy stream of water, trying to quell the longing in her heart, and that she had a fire in her belly to match or even surpass his own. One that burned only for him.

The water stopped and Max sprang away from the door, releasing the knob as if it burned. He stood there for a moment and listened. He could hear her humming softly to herself as she moved around in the bathroom.

"This is getting me no where," he thought. "I'm getting myself worked for nothing. Because that's what's going to happen today. Nothing!" He sighed and dropped his stuff on a chair and looked around the room. The only comfortable place looked to be Liz's bed. Max walked over and lay down, first on his back. Unable to get comfortable he rolled over on his stomach and brought his arms up under one of her pillows, pulling it to him and inhaling. Her scent again, mingled with his own. Mingled. He shuddered. "Why does every other word I use seems to have sexual connotations?" he berated himself. He took a deep breath and willed himself muscle by muscle to relax and wait for Liz to finish in the bathroom. Max eventually began to relax and doze a bit.

That's where Liz found him fifteen minutes later. Thus lighting a very short fuse on a very big bomb. Metaphorically and hormonally speaking.....

***********************************************

Author's Note: I had thought of ending an already overlong Part 12 right here. However, I've reconsidered. Due to the fact that I do not want to have to change my name and move to Argentina, here's the rest of the story. Run and get your munchies or drinks, and smoke 'em if you got 'em. Cuz' there's gratuitous Dreamer nookie ahead.

***********************************************

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 8-Sep-2002 3:16:06 AM ]
posted on 8-Sep-2002 3:28:51 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 12e
(Cement Mixing For Dummies)

Liz emerged from the bathroom wrapped in a towel. She unwrapped her towel and studied herself critically in the wardrobe mirror on her closet door. She'd always thought herself to be spare and boyish, so she tried to see herself through Max's eyes. The long straight silky hair, the warm chocolate colored eyes, the high cheek bones. An average mouth, a delicate chin. Her eyes traveled downward past the square shoulders and delicate collar bones, to the small well formed breasts that rode high on her chest. She inhaled and tried to thrust her chest out to increase their apparent size, then broke down into giggles. She ran a hand down her side to one flaring hip then across her flat belly, creeping downward towards the dark triangle below her tummy.

There was a noise behind her. She looked in the mirror, over her shoulder and realized that she wasn't alone. She gasped and lunged for her towel. Clutching it to cover herself she turned and advanced on the bed. Max lay there, his head turned away, apparently oblivious. Testing his awareness through their connection she found him to be drowsy, and only half awake. He was clad only in pants. As she watched he stirred slightly, smooth muscles bunching and relaxing beneath the sun browned satin of his skin. She was suddenly aware of an need to touch that skin, to caress and knead those muscles. To test their texture with her hands. It suddenly occurred to her that the last of the happy times she'd been alone with Max when he was dressed (or undressed) like this was the night before they'd found the orb. So long ago. "To long," said a little voice in the back of her mind. And ultimately, the last time she'd seen his beauty like this was when future Max had sent her to destroy his younger self. Her mouth trembled. Not a good day in her life.

Just then her mental prodding stirred him and he awoke. "Liz?" He started the raise up and turn his head.

"Don't move Max!" she said quickly. "I'm right behind you, and I haven't gotten dressed yet!"

Max froze. His heart started hammering. It sounded like she was only feet from him. Possibly only inches. Right next to the bed? And naked? "Okay, I'm not looking."

Liz moved over to her clothes, though moving *away* from that very male body on her bed was the *last* thing she wanted to do. She had started pawing through them looking for her panties while keeping herself wrapped in the towel when she thought she heard Max groan.

"Max?" Are you all right?"

Max let out what sounded like a sigh. "I'm fine, just a bit tense. It never seems to end. I feel like we're trapped in an episode of The Twilight Zone. The thing is, this is my life. It shouldn't have be *your* life."

Liz had just found her panties and slipped them on when he had spoken. She paused and reached out along the connection between them and touched his mind, intending to console him. What she found shouldn't have surprised her. He was dissembling. Using his usual self-flagellation to hide an embarrassing truth. He wanted her. Right here. Right now. With no fooling around. His lust, his need for her was a palpable thing. Akin to that of a starving man confronted by a feast, knowing that he *must not* take a bite. That he has done nothing to merit such generosity and plenty. Liz stared at the man/boy laying on her bed for a frozen moment, then reached a decision. Modesty and decorum be damned. Maria had been right. *This* was *her* target of opportunity. If they were ever going to take the next step it would be up to her to make the first move. She quietly backed her mind away from his, unnoticed by him as he continued to fight his internal war. She didn't want him to have any idea of what was coming until she was damned good and ready. She walked over and studied the broad sweep of his back like a gourmet reading the menu. The fire in her belly was reaching outward and upward now. Into her chest and along her limbs. She almost giggled as the odd 'butterflies in your tummy' feeling came. What sort of butterflies could survive in a blast furnace? "Is it always like this?" she wondered. "Knowing what you intend to do, yet having no idea what you're doing?" She squared her shoulders. "Enough introspection. Time to put up or shut up. Or is that 'put out'?" This time she *did* giggle.

"Liz?" Max queried.

"It's nothing Max. Just a stray thought. Let me see what I can do about that tension ." She climbed onto the bed and straddled his waist. She leaned forward and began to massage his shoulders in long smooth strokes. Slowly kneading those tense muscles trying to soothe away the tension. If she was any judge, she was failing monumentally. Max's breathing was beginning to labor and he moaned softly. "Yup," she thought. "Right on target.

Max was going out of his mind. He could feel the soft skin of her thighs against his sides and back. "L-L-Liz, what are you wearing?"

Liz giggled to herself. "Panties and a T-shirt." As soon as the words were out of her mouth she felt Max stir under her, as if he were uncomfortable.

Indeed he was. He'd had half an erection ever since they'd arrived, and the cold shower hadn't done a thing to relieve it. Now though, the news that his angel...his half naked angel...was straddling his back boosted him to full agonized arousal. He was so hard, that he hurt.

Liz knew that she was having the desired effect, but pretended to be oblivious as she continued to massage his back and shoulders His skin was warm, and every bit as smooth as she had remembered. She slowed her motions further, leaning forward until only inches separated her tummy from the skin of his back. She didn't know whether it was her imagination, or his alien metabolism, but she could feel heat rising off of him. Warming her own skin like a lover's touch. Her loins felt weak and strong at the same time as she resisted the impulse to grind against him. "Not yet quite yet," she thought. Her own breathing was becoming short and shallow, and her breasts had tightened to the point where they ached. "It's almost time for phase three," she thought languidly.

For his part Max was about to have a stroke. He was certain that Liz had no clue of what she was doing to him. He bit his lip to stifle a groan. He was afraid that if he made any sound she would stop. And equally afraid that if he didn't do something soon, she'd never stop. His body felt so hot that he thought that he was going to burst into flames any second. His groin was throbbing angrily. If she stopped now, he'd have to get off of this bed. And he wasn't sure that he could even manage to sit up, let alone walk. His emotions were so wired that his ability to keep his end of the connection under control was shot to pieces. Thank God that Liz was in control at her end. Otherwise he'd have some serious explaining to do!

Liz hovered above him. "Time for phase three," she thought. So thinking, she acted.

Max was to the point where he couldn't stand it anymore. He was opening his mouth to say so when Liz's hands abandoned his back to slide across his shoulders and down his arms, where they were curled under her pillow. As she did so she whispered, "Max? You know that t-shirt I'm wearing? I lied." With that a great deal of warm..no *hot*....silky smooth skin to come into contact with his, as she slid her body up his back. He could feel her breasts against his back, rubbing every so slightly. Her belly was against his lower back and her breath was warm on his neck.

Liz sighed with pleasure as the contact she had denied herself, skin to skin, was made. She laid her cheek on one powerful shoulder.. She felt him jump, then go rigidly still. "God, this is heaven all by itself," she thought. "If actual lovemaking is *better* than this, I may not survive it!" She stroked one shoulder blade with her cheek and inhaled blissfully. His scent was different now. More erotic. More...everything. Whether it was a change in him, or simply his normal scent filtering through her lust saturated synapses she didn't know. But the effect was immediate. The fire in her belly exploded, sending internal shock waves racing through her body. She wanted to eat him alive! Suiting deeds to needs she began using sharp teeth to nip delicately at the smooth skin of his shoulders. Alternating teeth with tender kisses and laving an inch at a time with her tongue she was slowly and deliberately going to drive him out of his mind. "Oh my! He tastes as good as he smells!" she thought. She felt him begin to tremble under her, and she crooned softly as she continued her ministrations to his back and shoulders.

When Max felt her sharp little teeth on his back, followed by tiny gentle kisses, and warm wet tongue, his muscles began having small uncontrollable tremors. Struggling internally he managed to find his voice, only to discover that his speech center was apparently spastic, because he was stuttering.

"L-L-Liz?"

"Hmmmm?" she responded.

"W-w-what a-are you doing?"

Liz chuckled slightly. "You, of all people, should know. But if you need proof....." She threw the connection wide open and let herself flow into and through him, like warm honey.

Max was stunned as warmth poured through the connection and into his soul. Lust, love, and a crystal clear intention that honored him, even as it humbled him. And there was amusement too.

Liz was sliding down his back now, still nipping and planting tiny kisses as her hands continued to wander over him. He groaned aloud as her breasts traced trails of fire on either side of his spine. Then he heard her mind voice.

"~Mmmmm! God do you taste good! Y'know, this is one use for telepathy that I'd never imagined....I can still talk to you while my mouth is busy. In fact, my mind boggles at the possibilities.~"

Liz proceeded to send him a very clear picture of one of those possibilities that almost made him lose it on the spot.

"~Max? I'm going to lift myself up. Turn over Sweetheart. Please?~"

Max rolled over and saw her above him, regarding him with heavy lidded smoky eyes. Up until this moment he'd been half certain that he was dreaming. He studied her as she hovered over him. Surely God Almighty in his infinite wisdom had never created a more beautiful girl than then one above him now. God, she was perfection itself! "~Liz? Are you sure that you know what you're doing?~"

She leaned over him, letting her hair fall forward to brush his chest. "~I think I do,~" she spoke playfully. "~But if you want me to stop...just say so.~"

Max groaned. When you're in hog heaven, you do NOT make waves in the mud. Their connection was wide open, so he knew beyond doubt that she wasn't in the mood to stop, though he'd have to slow her down...or this would be over before it really got started. "~Good God, no Liz! I just want to be sure that *you're* sure!~"

She gave him a curious half smile then she leaned forward to claim his mouth with hers. "~I've never been more sure of anything in my life!~"

That was all the encouragement that Max needed. His arms went around her, his hands sliding slowly down her back. They paused at her panties for only a moment before dipping under the waist band to cup her bottom firmly. Then Liz squealed in sudden surprise as Max flipped her on to her back, reversing their position. She was hyper-aware of his weight pressing down between her thighs.

Max spoke aloud as he gently but firmly closed down there connection. "No more mind talk. I'm afraid that if things go the way that I think they will, we'll merge...and, I don't want that. I want to stay Max Evans, making love to Liz Parker, every step of the way."

Liz reached up to stroke his cheek. "And I want to be Liz Parker, being made love to by Max Evans." she said softly.

Max leaned over and kissed her softly, lingering for a moment before trailing tiny kisses along her jaw, moving towards her throat. "Good, then we agree."

He paused to suck gently on a pulse point.

Liz whimpered softly. It was getting hard to breathe...and she didn't care.

With that Max completely assumed the initiative, and began a slow and careful exploration of her body, returning the attention she had paid his, with compound interest. There wasn't a square inch of skin that escaped his loving mouth and hands. When he reached her right breast, he stopped, hovering for a moment, letting his warm breath caress her skin. Then, in a playful move he pursed his lips and blew gently. The cool air caused her aureole to crinkle and tighten. While he was teasing her breast, one of his hands slid into her panties to gently caress the curls there.

Liz gave a soft moan. Her nerve endings were doing a ecstatic dance. He was taking this slowly, so slowly that he was going to kill her before it was over!

"Max?" she said softly.

"Hmmmm?" he answered.

"Hasn't it struck you yet that we're both still overdressed?" she asked.

He chuckled. "Well, I hadn't really run out of skin to explore yet, but if you're getting impatient...."

She made a frustrated sound. "You know, you can still be a *jerk* sometimes Max Evans!"

He raised himself up and slid higher so that he could see her face. Without pausing he seized her mouth with his own, plunging his tongue in aggressively, as his hand cupped the breast he'd just abandoned. His mouth was working magic with hers while his thumb gently worked circles around her nipple.

Liz was sinking into a sea of sensations that she'd only imagined before when she felt his leg insinuate itself between hers. A heartbeat later she felt warm pressure against her sex as his leg began to move. Her hips bucked as she surrendered to the need to move against him. Just as her hold on sanity was starting to evaporate, he stopped and pulled back.

"You first," he said.

Liz was panting now, and her lust addled brain couldn't make sense of what he'd said. "Me first what?"

Max smirked and pointed. "My jeans? Your panties? Remember? You first." It was a damned good thing that the connection was closed. He was as close to the edge as she was...so stopping had been a heroic effort, but worth it for the look on her face.

She growled and slapped at him playfully. "Like I said...jerk!" Then her face changed, adopting a crafty look. "You do it."

Max suddenly looked solemn. He gulped. "Er....what?"

Liz grinned. "*You* take them off of me."

Max licked his lips. THIS was a boyhood fantasy come true! Elizabeth Parker was asking him to undress her! Well...*finish* undressing her anyway! Max took a deep breath, spared a moment to give her a soft kiss, then slid downward rising to his knees. He fumbled a moment then hooked his fingers around the elastic. Liz raised her hips to help him as he slid the panties off of her. There was a heavy scent in the air, redolent of Liz...and something else. Whatever it was it seeped into his blood, and stole his reason. Max began to slide upward, kissing his way up her tummy, but Liz's firm hand on his shoulder halted his Northward progress.

"Not so fast Buster! I showed you mine, now you show me yours!"

Max chuckled as he straight-armed himself clear of her body and arched his back downward. "What goes around comes around," he intoned.

Liz understood his meaning, but wrinkled her nose. "Was that a pun? Never mind! I don't want to know!" With shaky hands she reached down between their bodies and unbuttoned his jeans, then began tugging at them awkwardly. Their relative positions afforded her no leverage.

Just as she was about to growl with frustration he relented and carefully rolled sideways, swinging his feet to the floor. As he stood up he let his jeans and boxers slide off in a single motion, then he paused...suddenly shy, before turning to let Liz see him completely for the first time.

At first she didn't look, choosing instead to hold his eyes with hers. She noticed the way his eyes traveled over her body. Pausing here, pausing there. "Like a man at a buffet, trying to decide what to go for first," she thought with a suppressed smile. Then she was struck by the incongruous way her thoughts were running. "Damn! We both missed lunch! That's where all these damned food metaphors are coming from!" As if on cue, her stomach growled menacingly. She groaned in embarrassment and flopped backwards, covering her eyes with her hand.

Max heard Liz's belly rumble and looked up, giving her a half smile. "You're hungry? Isn't that only supposed to happen *afterwards? Wanna call a break and get some lunch?" At this point, he really didn't think that he could do that without screaming in frustration, but for her he'd manage somehow.

Liz jerked her hand away from her eyes, propped herself back up, and growled in a way that made Max shiver.

"Look buster...there's only ONE thing that I'm hungry for right now, and lunch isn't it! And if I don't get it soon, I'll pin just you down, and *take* it! Now quit stalling!

Max saw an almost feral gleam in his lover's eyes, and held his hands up in a mock defensive gesture. "Your wish is my command." "And as it happens," he added silently, "*my* wish too!"

As her lover lowered himself to join her Liz finally allowed herself the luxury of a lingering perusal of his body. Very lingering. After a moment of virginal "that's never gonna fit" fright she sighed. The Greek Gods themselves had never owned a body half so good. And as good as it looked, it felt even better when he cautiously stretched out beside her, leaning into her side. She felt his hardness against the outside of her thigh and wondered if all...er...such...things...were...as....um...HOT! "Bite your lip Liz!" was all that she had time to think, then she had other things to think about and her mouth had other things to do as Max leaned in for a kiss, and his hands began to gently roam her body again.

Max was in heaven and hell at the same time. He was in bed with Liz, and there was nothing separating them any longer. Not even clothing. Her skin was so smooth under his hands and her smell so intoxicating that he was fighting a moment to moment battle to hold back long enough to let them enjoy the preliminaries of their love play. After thoroughly tasting her mouth again he moved back to her breast that he'd abandoned what seemed like a century ago.

Liz burning now. Whatever was to happen wouldn't be long in coming. She felt Max's warm breath on her right breast has his hand moved studied gentleness over her tummy, sliding lower. He was teasing her skin gently with lips, teeth, and tongue, as she had with him. Moving in small circles, but always avoiding her nipple. And it was driving her out of her mind. She was about to say so when he abandoned pretense. His mouth descended hungrily on her breast. To Liz it felt like someone was feeding high voltage into her body. Her already high state of arousal wound itself higher, reaching an impossible level. She was dancing on the edge of a precipice. Her moans keeping pace with what he was doing to her. As his tongue began slow circuits around her nipple his hand reached home, to her center. His index finger probed gently, testing her reaction. When he found the spot she bucked uncontrollably. He wasn't being subtle anymore. It took only a few quick yet gentle strokes and she was gone. Her body spasmed, her thighs clamping down on his hand, muscle tremors started in her belly and swept outward in waves along her body. She had never in her life felt anything like it before. It was pleasure, it was bliss, it was fulfillment. And most of all, it was Max. "M-A-A-X!" burst from her lips in a lingering primal wail.

Max was so intent on pleasing Liz that when she came so quickly and violently it took him by surprise. All he could do is hold on for the ride, happy that he could do this for her. And shocked that, when his name burst out of her lips, his own lust seemed to flare higher. They hadn't taken the final step yet, but as of this moment they were lovers. Even if they went no further, his soul would be content...even if his body was still filled with a fierce aching need.

He continued stroking her ever so gently as the her climax subsided, leaving small intermittent muscle spasms rippling in it's wake. Eventually he felt her move, and felt her hand in his hair. He lifted his mouth away from her breast and met her eyes. Tears shimmered there. She blinked them away and spoke in a husky voice. "Max, that was most wonderful, most intense, most....everything that I've ever known. All the times I've played this out in my imagination...in my dreams...and the fantasy paled next to the reality. She tugged at him gently, and he moved upwards to meet her in a tender kiss that quickly deepened with promise. Pulling back she lay back on the pillow. Reaching with her hand up to his face she stroked gently, and brushed an errant lock of hair back. "Thank you Sweetheart, thank you," she said softly.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 26-Sep-2002 10:47:16 PM ]
posted on 8-Sep-2002 3:50:04 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 12f
(Cement Mixing For Dummies)

Max smiled as his hand traced lazily around her breasts. "The pleasure was all mine." She pinched him and he jumped. "Well, all ours anyway. Are you okay? Still hungry?"

Liz grinned. Inside she was shuddering again, on a build up to detonation, but the input that was stoking her furnace was coming from additional sources now. The love and lust were still there, but now the uncertainty was gone. Max was totally at ease with touching her. As his hand casually stroked her body, his eyes never left hers. "Max, don't even *think* about food yet! I'm still hungry all right, but only in the carnal sense." She could feel his hardness against her hip, and she shifted deliberately to emphasize her next point. "We have unfinished business!"

Max shifted uncomfortably as he felt Liz move against him. There was no doubt that it was deliberate. "Liz, are you sure? I mean, I can wai....." He never finished because she pushed herself up, cupped the back of his head, pulling him into a kiss, and effectively silencing him. The kiss lasted a long time.

Liz was exasperated. What did he think that she was? A tease? She was afraid that if she spoke she'd kill the mood by being sharp with him, so she took the direct route, taking his mouth with hers, and thrusting her tongue in demandingly in the first instant. *That* shut him up! When she broke the kiss she backed away and tugged at him, pulling him on top of her, and spreading her thighs to accommodate him. As his hardness pressed against her softness she felt her breath catch as her heart began to accelerate again. She brought her arms up around his neck as Max looked at her trustingly. "Max, when I started this I was sure. I'm still sure. I had no doubt in my mind that when I got in this bed, I would be giving you my virginity, here and now. And we're not leaving this bed until it's yours." She began to work herself against him, and felt his answering movement. Then she pulled him down into another kiss and, as their tongues dueled, she felt him begin to assume the initiative again. She broke the kiss as the tempo of her movements increased, and gasped out..."Max, make love to me! *Now*!"

On a day whose coming that he had once scarcely allowed himself to imagine, Max was certain that it couldn't get any better than it already was....until he heard her gasping plea. He raised himself up and looked at her. There was no more time for talk. Liz stilled her urgency and met his eyes. Her own face was flushed, her eyes were so wild that he was certain he saw her need in them. She simply spread her legs further and lifted her knees. This was the moment of truth. Max still had one or two functioning brain cells left so he managed to gasp..."Protection?"

Liz understood and shook her head. "No need. My GYN put me on the pill when I was sixteen. We're safe." She kissed him and moved again, gently. "Max? Please?"

Max gave in to their mutual need. He lifted himself further and, using one hand to guide himself he sought, and found what he was looking for. He thrust forward gently and heard her gasp as he entered. He looked up, concerned, but Liz shook her head. "Please Max, go ahead," she whispered.

When Max felt himself enter her, the feeling was utterly indescribable. Like entering a silken vice. In all his imaginings of this moment, he'd never even come close to the reality. And those imaginings had never incorporated the comforting beckoning heat that welcomed him into her body The muscles in his thighs and stomach were trembling, not with strain, but with the frustrated need to take over and sheath himself completely in that heat. It took every scrap of his vaunted ingrained self-control to hold back and let his Beloved adjust to his intrusion. After a moment he eased forward further, backed off, then forward again, going deeper. The agony of need versus restraint, overlayed with unearthly pleasure, was delicious, and this was only the beginning.

Liz was holding her breath as Max stretched her to unaccustomed proportions. She almost whimpered, but bit her lip. She knew that if Max thought he was hurting her, he'd drop the whole thing....even at this point. And that was *NOT* going to happen! Her breath came in short gasps as Max moved in further, coming finally to her maidenhead. He looked up at her, for permission. Liz nodded and reached up to pull him close. Partly because she wanted him close at this moment. And partly because, if the pain was severe, she didn't want him to see it on her face. "Now Max," she said in a sweet husky voice.

Max summoned his courage and thrust forward firmly. There was a moment of resistance, and then he was inside her, completely surrounded by the woman he'd loved for so long. It was fulfillment, full, round, and complete. Every time she shifted, even slightly, her internal grip on him changed. He could feel her heart beating from the *inside*. Every pulse was transmitted through his hardness, and into his body. That, together with the heat inside, was nearly enough to set him off in that instant. Then, the glory of the moment dimmed as he heard her pained whimper. "Liz? Liz?! Are you okay?" He tried to raise himself off of her so he could see her face, but her arms refused to release him.

Liz was still holding her breath, but the discomfort was easing. The pain was passing. When Max tried to pull back she refused to relinquish her hold on him. When he asked if she was okay, she simply pulled him closer and stroked her jaw against his neck. There were tears in her eyes, but she wasn't sure if they were from the pain, or the happiness. "I'm okay Love, just hold still and give me a minute. This isn't an everyday thing. Just let me...", she moved her hips experimentally, "....drive for a minute or two. I'll be fine. *We'll* be fine!" She stroked his back gently as she continued to test their new intimacy. "I love you, Max."

Max was caught again between heaven and hell. He trembled as he held back the urge to thrust, to completely claim her as his. But at the same time the feeling of being fully inside her was beyond description, beyond any fantasy his hormone driven imagination could have created. As Liz moved her hips gently, testing their union and her tolerance for his invasion, he groaned softly. God how he loved her! He put his need firmly aside and let her have control while simply enjoying the moment, savoring every nuance. "I love you too, Liz."

After a few minutes, Liz felt comfortable. More than comfortable. Now every movement she made was fraught with pleasure. She released her grip on Max and let him raise himself up high enough to see her face. She was smiling now. A pouty sensuous smile. She pulled him back down into a loving and deep kiss, which he pursued wholeheartedly. Her hips began to move in a demanding motion. She released his mouth and whispered, "Okay Your Majesty, your turn to drive."

Max gave a stifled groan as he moved experimentally. "No MiLady Liz, we'll *both* drive!"

Liz had had enough words and tested for any remaining discomfort by bucking against him....hard. There wasn't any, or so little that it didn't matter. She sighed and relaxed, but not for long. As Max began to move, cautiously at first, she let him find his pace then strove to match him. The pace he set was slow. Torturous. Lingering. Liz drew her knees higher, lifting her feet, and crossing them over her Lover. Together they found that silken rhythm that exists for all pure lovers, that harmony that exists somewhere between perfection and eternity. They'd both waited a long time for this, and it had been worth it. Max was moving faster now, and Liz matched him. As the energy between them began to build, and inspite of their resolve to avoid fusion, the flashes came. In a rapid flickering slide show, Liz saw scenes of Max's life, their time together both the good and the bad, and one scene that she had expected....even if she would have preferred to do without it. The observatory. There was something disturbing about the image...over and above the obvious, but rather than let the past derail her, she thrust it aside and let the moment carry her along towards the end that wouldn't be long in coming. All that mattered now was the moment, the man in her arms and her body, their pleasure, and their love. Their pace was faster now. She could feel her climax building, and she made no effort to hold back. With her rapidly approaching completion she heard a wordless wail, beginning softly, but building in volume, and she vaguely recognized the voice as her own. And she didn't give a damn. There would be no more holding back, ever again. They were lovers now, they were one, and with that thought she abandoned herself to the great wave of soundless thunder that rose up out of her body to claim her conscious mind as completely as her Max had claimed her heart, her body.....and her soul.

Max had been struggling to hold himself in check from the instant he'd entered her body. After so many years of denial, the magic and wonder of this moment had placed him on the ragged edge. This was the ultimate achievement of all his hopes, his dreams, and his fantasies. More than that, it surpassed all of them. The torture of withholding his own completion was more than compensated for by the surpassing love he felt as they moved together. She was perfect, she was beautiful, and she was his. After that, the silken sensations that continued to assault his self-control were the icing on the cake, but it was *some* icing. Even as he tried to withhold his release, some barely rational part of his mind knew that he couldn't stave off the inevitable forever. So when Liz began to keen, and he felt her body begin to spasm, the sense of relief was nearly as powerful as the release itself. As she clenched him inside her body he gave in completely to his need, he simply abandoned himself to the raw exquisite ecstasy that hurled him over the precipice after her. It was more than just a climax. The French call it 'the little death'. There was nothing 'little' about this. As he felt the deep shuddering contractions of his body surrendering his essence to hers, there was only one thing his overtaxed mind could do. It blacked out.

Liz lay motionless, still wrapped tightly around her lover, unwilling to let go. She was feeling lazy and content. As she waited for her breathing and heartbeat to slow she stroked his hair and stared at the ceiling of her room. She'd looked at it a thousand times, lying in this bed. "Why does it look different now?" she wondered. Then she giggled quietly. "Oh yeah! This is the first time I'm seeing it...post-virginity!" Max had been still since, well, since they'd both come, but she wasn't worried yet. She liked the position she was in too much to worry. She felt too good to worry. Besides, their connection was intact, and if anything it was stronger, more controllable. She knew that he was out like the proverbial light, but that he was okay. It was like she could actually *read* his life signs. She smiled. "Hello," she said softly. "Meet Liz Parker, the living EEG/EKG machine." She continued to stroke Max's hair as she held him close and gently rubbed the side of her head against his. At that moment Max groaned.

Max came back to awareness in a very good place. Post-lovemaking, still inside the love of his life, wrapped in her arms and legs, and too happy for words. He could feel her hands stroking his hair, and moving over his back. And the gentle rubbing of her cheek against his. He stirred briefly and made as if to lift himself off of her, but her hold tightened, trapping him thoroughly. Liz relented enough to let him raise his head. So he could see her face. And vice versa.

Max regarded Liz silently for a moment, then spoke. "Are you okay? Did I hurt you?"

Liz smiled at him. "I'm better than okay. I imagine I'll be a little sore later, at least that's what I was...er..told to expect. It comes with the territory."

Max frowned. "The territory?"

Liz's smile morphed into a wicked grin. "Why being a newly fallen woman of course. You *do* remember what just happened here?" Her grin faded as she studied Max's face.

Max's face looked solemn now. "Until my dying day...I'm not likely to forget." He kissed her and rested his forehead against hers. "Y'know, I didn't think that it was possible to love you more than I did already. I was wrong." He paused significantly. "Liz Parker, I love you more than my own life. Thank you for loving me back."

Liz opened her mouth to answer, but her stomach beat her to the punch. It growled. Loudly. She groaned and turned pink with embarrassment at her body's betrayal. "I'm sorry!" she managed to sputter.

Max simply eyed her with amusement tinged with renewed desire. "Much as I'd love to stay here like this all day, we'd better get you some food. I want to keep your energy up....for later."

Liz's blush deepened, and she shivered at the sexy tone in his voice. There would be a later for them. If not today, then tomorrow, or the day after. But there *would be* a later. Something that she'd given up on until Isabel had intervened. Thoughts of Isabel brought reality crashing into their little bubble of paradise. Liz sighed and slowly slackened her grip on Max. He kissed her and began to move off of her. She felt a little tug at her heart as their union came apart. But now they could renew it anytime that they wished. They were lovers! Liz shifted and tried to sit up. She winced at the sudden pain.

Max saw the brief flicker of pain. "I knew it! You're hurt!"

Liz shook her head. "Max, like I said, it's normal. And nothing that I can't handle."

Max shook his head. "Call me macho and pushy, but you aren't going to 'handle' it if *I* can handle it *for* you."

So saying he gently, but firmly, slid a hand between her thighs. As the hand began to glow softly Liz sighed and closed her eyes. The warmth of the healing energy penetrated and soothed her abused tissues, relieving her pain. The healing done, he left his hand there a little longer than necessary, then began to withdraw.

Before Max could finish pulling his hand back, Liz seized it and brought to her lips. "I love you Max, and thank you." She paused, and grinned. "But if I develop a silver handprint down there, your life will not be worth living!"

Max grinned back. "Does it matter? Is anyone *else* likely to see it if it does?"

Liz blushed. "No one that *counts*...but hello! PhysEd? Locker room? Showers?"

Max laughed. "Relax Love, I used the low power setting this time! No handprint. I promise!"

Liz sighed with mock relief. "Good! I'd hate to have to field questions about the...er...unique tattoo." She stood up. "We need to shower...again. You go back and use my parents shower again, while I make a quick check on the laundry." She threw on a wrap and was about to leave when Max grabbed her.

"Ah ah little girl! Pay toll first!"

A lingering kiss settled that.

A few minutes later she'd transferred the darks to the dryer and started the cycle. After she started the underwear cycling she headed back to her own bathroom to clean up. She still thought that her bra and panties were hopeless, but it was worth a try.

Their clean up went more quickly this time. For one thing, there was less to clean up. For another, they couldn't stand being out of each other's sight for that long. Fifteen minutes later they were plundering the Parker kitchen. After a scratch lunch of sandwiches and potato salad they were at loose ends, so they went into the living room and stretched out on the couch. Both were too content, too sated, to bother with anything more than a few gentle kisses accompanied by frequent tender touching. Liz settled back against Max and let his arms enfold her. For the first time in an eternity she was one hundred percent, no doubt about it, happy....with the prospect that the aforementioned condition would go on into the future indefinitely. It was a nice place to be.

Liz sighed happily and snuggled closer as she replayed the last few hours in her mind. "Note to self," she thought. "Remember to thank Pam Troy tomorrow for the best day of my life!" Liz was feeling smug in a "cat that ate the canary" sort of way when her erotic replay brought her up against the one dark spot in her inventory. The flash. The observatory.

Prior to her complete union with Max, that flash would have blown her ego completely out of the water. Now though, secure in herself and in Max's love for her, she could regard it in a detached, almost clinical fashion. And what she saw was troubling. She thought about the implications for a moment, then she nudged their connection.

Max's arms tightened slightly around her. "~Yes Sweetheart?~"

Liz hesitated, then plunged ahead. "~Max? When we were..umm..~"

"~...making love?~" he finished for her, sounding every bit as smug as she had been a moment before.

Max gave a slight 'Oof!' as her elbow jabbed him lightly. "~Yes, that would be it. When we were making love, did you see flashes?~"

Max chuckled and gave her a gentle squeeze. "~As a matter of fact, I did. I saw you. I saw us. I saw good times and bad.~" He paused. "~I take it from your question that you saw things too?~"

Liz hesitated again, looking for the words. "~Yes, I did. And they were pretty much what you saw, with one exception. Please Love, I want you to understand that this doesn't upset me, and I don't want to upset *you*, but I saw the Observatory. You and Tess. And there was something very wrong with it!~" She felt Max stiffen behind her, and she could feel it through the connection as his buoyant mood began to sink.

"~Liz, I'm sorry. I know that it was wro...~" he began, only to have her cut him off by sitting up and turning towards him. When he saw her face he was expecting hurt, what he saw was worry.

"Max stop it!" she said aloud. "Reach out to me through our connection. Feel me. I'm not angry or hurt. I'm worried. This wasn't wrong as in, you were wrong. It was wrong in the sense of something didn't look right or feel right! Something was off, screwed up!"

Max sighed. "Show me."

She sent him the memory.

Max winced then looked guilty. "That's what I remember Liz. I'm sorry Love. I wish that I didn't!"

Liz sat there stewing. He'd just verified it as something from him. From *his* memories. But it *felt* weird. Like she'd been seeing a double negative. A picture over a picture. Blurry. Not at all like the flashes she'd gotten from his life before. She reached a decision.

Max watched Liz with some trepidation, he could sense her thinking furiously. It caused a 'roar' of white noise in their connection. Abruptly it ceased. He waited nervously.

Liz leaned over and kissed him, while snuggling closer through their connection, to calm his obvious fear. "Max, something isn't right. I think that 'memory' is a warp. At least a partial one. And I think that you can't see it because you're conditioned *not* to. It's like you can't see the forest for the trees. *But* I *can* see it, and there's an odd blurring in it that *isn't* in any of the other flashes I've gotten from you." Max opened his mouth to speak, but she hurried onwards. "I want to try something. I want to try the fusion again. But this time instead of rubbing the lamp and having the genie pop out, I want to have the 'genie' check the lamp over, and give it a housecleaning, if that's possible."

Max looked stunned. "I'd never thought of..." He paused. "It might not be safe. And besides, that blurring might just be me trying to hide the truth from myself."

Liz nodded. "You're right, it might not be safe, but the only way to find out is to try it." She scooted towards him and pulled him close, laying her head on his chest. "This is the great unknown Love. We can't afford to be timid anymore. I know you now, completely. Your mind, your heart and your body." She grinned wickedly at that last. "I know that something isn't right!"

Max chuckled. "You're inspiring, you know that? You should do infomercials on courage!"

Liz looked up. "I'll take that as a yes. When?"

Max studied her eyes and tested her intention through their connection, seeking doubt. He found none. He sighed. "Now?"

Liz nodded, "~Now!~, as she thrust her consciousness down the connection towards Max. He met her halfway.

*FUSION*

IT was awake again, and with an interesting mission. Mental hygiene. Interesting. Acting on the wishes of it's constituents it began a search, running through meme file after meme file. Comparing, contrasting, testing, and the picture that emerged would have made it curse, had it been capable of such. What a mess! The max component had damage all over his cortex and cerebrum, like heavy boot prints in soft sand. And the liz wasn't exactly pristine either! It rolled up it's metaphorical sleeves and cautiously approached the major damage in question. To It's 'sight' the mind warp appeared to be a tangled knot of foreign memes, totally obscuring the original meme pattern. Reaching out it tugged at a loose end and with a metaphorical *ping* the knot dissolved like spun sugar, leaving the original meme intact and clear of obstruction. Satisfied it began a sweep, touching a knot here, a knot there, dissolving blockages, making repairs. Had it possessed feet it would have been tapping them while whistling a jaunty tune. In moments it was done except for one troubling spot in the liz's memory. It looked like a warp, it behaved like a warp, but it had a totally different signature. Once again moving with caution it tugged at the blockage. It was stubborn. The damage was trivial and It considered leaving it, but a directive was a directive. It bore down, and the blockage shattered. There was no damage. The meme was clear. It's job was done. This time Coming had been easier, and the Going would be easier still, for the Union was finally complete. Time to sleep again.

*FISSION*

Max and Liz returned to awareness staring into each other's eyes. They both waited for the crushing exhaustion that they had known in previous fusions. It didn't come. They were tired, but no more so than normal. Why this was so was a puzzle that they could solve later. For now their connection was active, but they weren't sharing...yet. They were both too busy processing their common trove of information, both the new, and the old as seen in the light of the newly revealed. One thing was clear. They would have a LOT to share at tonight's 'family' meeting.

However it all paled against one issue that brought tears welling out of Liz's eyes as Max stared at her with tender reverence. He knew the source of those tears, for it was swelling a lump in his own throat as well. What brute fate had stolen from them their love, as well as Liz's intelligence and courage, had just restored. Liz lunged at him, kissing him desperately, her tongue imploring immediate entrance into his mouth. When the they finally separated, Liz lay her head on his chest, overwhelmed yet completely content. And through the connection Max heard these words. Her mind voice whispered them to him like a prayer of thanksgiving, drenched in happy tears.

"~*I* was *your* first too!~"




End Of Part 12.....Thank God! Cuz I need sleep!

Part 13 is underway...subtitled "Thanks For The Memories". *wink*

[ edited 4 time(s), last at 26-Sep-2002 11:16:13 PM ]
posted on 8-Sep-2002 11:29:55 AM
Good morning folks! I'm just inside cooling off. Been out working. It's going to be a real scorcher out there today. The early morning temps were already in the 80's, with high humidity. And no rain in sight.

I thought I'd pause and deal with a few things. Thanks again for the feedback folks. I'm such a glutton for feedback. *wink*

Choc Keep those rays for me. Where were you posting from, a cyber cafe?

Tabasco Liz I planted a few subtle and unsubtle hints as an exercise for the alert reader. One of those were the mind warps in Liz's head. More specifically one particular warp. One that looks like a warp and acts like a warp, but which has a different signature. Whose fingerprints are on that warp?

There are other hints....including one that no one seems to have caught yet. Either here, or on the other board. Either that, or they're ignoring it. *big* That does my sneaky writer's soul a world of good. Nothing warms a writer's heart more than running a Houdini past the readers. *wink*

Ladylou Hector, eh? Well I have no problem with that. The customer is always right. Hector it is. *big* And yes...wergild is indeed a cash reparation for a wrongful death. Nice catch there!

dzdreamer Well, take time to eat breakfast first, eh? I'll be waiting!

Well, time to go. I have one hell of a long day ahead. Starting with delivering five gallons of waste oil to a recovery center, so I can use the empty can for the oil I get when I do the change on my truck today.

Reminder to All: If you're a Farscape fan, get off your tush and do something! This Friday they'll destroy the sets. Once that's done, there's no way back!



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 8-Sep-2002 11:32:37 AM ]
posted on 9-Sep-2002 5:25:31 PM
I'm glad that you guys and gals liked that love scene. I sweated blood into it. At a certain point I realized that these relationships were special. And that their consumations required special treatment. Yes, I know that M/M are...er...active, but I haven't really had a chance to give them my undivided attention. Their turn is coming. (Pardon the pun) The result will be earth shaking. And A/I's scene will be the tactical nuke of love scenes...but you gotta wait for it. *wink*

Lorilei Nope, I'm an Ohio boy. Though I married a Kentucky girl a year and a half back. Long enough to find "ya'll" creeping into my vocabulary. *wink* But the 'hog heaven' reference is something that I've seen and heard many times in my life. Both in books and TV, as well as casual conversation. It fit, so I used it. *big*

RoswellLady It seems so obvious. The "sex was a mindwarp" thing. For one thing it's the perfect escape hatch. For another, the Max we fell in love with would not *do* something like that. No matter how bad things got. Damn JKrew anyway! I saw the out and I took it! *wink* Things just get better from here.

Trude That would be tellin'. *big*

Rim See my answer to Trude. *wink*

Gotta get back to typin' here. Part 13 is sailing along. Here's where Kyle steps out front for a turn in the spotlight. Hang tough folks, it may be a while.

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 9-Sep-2002 5:31:51 PM ]
posted on 9-Sep-2002 6:59:48 PM
dzdreamer ROTFL Lady, are you reading my mind?

Darn it girl! You aren't supposed to make the others think about such things! *wink*

Okay, in order...

IT is self-aware. 'Nuff said?

Regarding who was making love to whom, I agree the tenses were one sided. But while I was writing that, a bit of dialog from the late Bob Heinlein was floating around in my head. From a woman, on sex and men...

"If women weren't so plain flat out willing...didn't actually take men and lead them by the hand...the race would simply die out."

My wife would agree.

In this sentiment, Liz was leading without appearing to lead. She knew what she wanted, and what Max wanted, but it took some encouragement and ego-boo to get him off the dime. That included letting him think that certain things were entirely *his* idea. *wink* Ergo *he* was making love *to* her. You say tom-A-to, I say tom-AH-to. *big* Whatever either of us say, they're awfully good on a BLT.

Actually your crack about scoring and fire prior to my posting had me rolling. One of the "judges" mentioned that she wanted to give me a 10.0 of the artistic portion of the program, but the score card caught fire. I was rolling. Literally. I was so so so tempted to spoil. *snort*

Er...hmm...making love while fused. Darnit woman! Stay out of my head! Are you the one that's been plying my Muse with drinks for spoilers? Did you perhaps read an earlier post and jump to a conclusion...that comes too darned close to my backstory? Hmmm?

Oh, Richie ain't out of gas yet. Wait and see. Nor is Methos.

As for Liz torturing Max a bit. What harm? A few people privately thought that the love scene was too light hearted considering the dreadful freight those two carry. But the thing is this, and I'm totally serious here. Thanks to the Fusion, they know each other, inside and out. Including each other's tolerances for horseplay. Liz wasn't doing anything that Max wasn't prepared to put up with. What finally burned her toast was when Troy finally went overboard and got physical. Up until then it was simply good clean fun letting la Troy make a fool of herself. *wink*

Now, I'm really a little disappointed. I thought you of all people would home in on one little fact. How did little bitty Liz get that locked door open to get at Max and Pam? *big* *depressed sigh* I guess I can't have everything. *sad*


posted on 12-Sep-2002 10:51:27 AM
Everybody I guess that'll learn me! Never try to slip one over on the readers. Sooner or later they'll catch ya. Another thing is...be patient until they do! *wink*

TN, Lorlei, RoswellLady, YonkersMe, and Ladylou Thank you for being patient with the cranky old man that is I...

YonkersMe It's amazing what the proper chiding voice can get done...isn't it?

Back To Everybody Again I seem to be on a trip here, quoting Bob Heinlein. He once said of writing, that heroin addiction is easier to beat. It's a miserable existence. Writers work in solitary confinement. They avoid visitors, never return phone calls, skip meals, and live in a forest of reference work. "Their high point of the day comes just before the mailman arrives, their low point often comes directly afterwards." He tried retiring several times. But always grew cranky and irritable, and complained of itching in his hands. Only writing would relieve it. And it grew worse with time...to the point where it would take ten or fifteen thousand words a day to achieve that warm self-satisfied glow.

I can't match his output....but last night I think I reached that magical place. The results were...large.

As a reward for your putting up with me, here's an excerpt. A little tidbit, only hours from it's birth in my twisted imagination.

Max and Liz have arrived at the UFO Museum for the meeting that night.........

"They entered the museum through the back. They were on the stairs headed down to the office level when a burst of static came from the sound system, followed by...'Blue Suede Shoes'.

Max halted and sighed. He looked around, spotted the surveillance camera, and stuck his tongue out at it...which brought a faint echo of laughter from downstairs. "See what I put up with every day?"

Liz giggled. "Elvis has entered the building?"

Max grinned wickedly. "You'll pay for that later!" Just as he said it the music stopped, only to resume a few moments later..with a different tune. Liz's face flushed as Max began to laugh. It was 'The Lady in Red'. "*Now* do you see what I put up with every day?? Looks like our friends have been chatting up the old folks!"

Liz glared at the camera. "The lady in red was Pam, not me!"

Max laughed harder. "When we get near a mirror, take a look. Your face is the right color."

Liz switched her glare to Max. "Laugh it up Elvis. Keep going and you'll sleep in your *own* bed tonight!" Then she spun and began stomping off down the stairs, apparently intent on doing serious bodily harm to a few friends."


Have a good day my friends!






[ edited 2 time(s), last at 12-Sep-2002 10:57:36 AM ]
posted on 13-Sep-2002 11:16:27 PM
Lorilei Brody and Alex as the Dynamic Duo? *big* Well, this is *my* universe now. You never know *what* could happen! *wink*

Rim and MaryJean I'm hurryin'! I'm hurryin'! *wink*

Tn 'Burning Love' eh? Hmmmm! Girl, I think you may have earned yourself a cameo somewhere in here. Keep giving me ideas like *that* one. *big* Hmmm, what to do with you? A date for Richie? Flirting with Max? Hmmm! Let me think on this....

Breathless Deb, why do I feel like someone just handed me an Academy Award? Thanks a heap. Your public seal of approval means a lot!

Everyone I believe that I've mentioned before that I have a commuter marriage going? Well this weekend I get to commute down to Georgetown and hold my wife's hand as she fights to save Farscape. Part 13 stands at about 35 K of text. About one third to one half done. Though I still have a dramatic piece that I still have to write that may inflate this part a lot. Kyle fans, you're going to love this one.

Laters People. I'll check in from my wife's place later this weekend.....assuming she'll let me at the computer long enough to do anything! *wink*

Oh! Almost forgot. I promised Chris that I'd pass this along! The dismantling of Farscape's sets was halted Wednesday. They were supposed to demolish the main Moya set Friday. It didn't happen. The suits are meeting Monday to decide.

Now a little weirdness that comes out of all this. Try this on for size. Apparently the new SciFi CEO Michael Jackson was brought in by USA to reorganize SciFi, and begin running programming to attract NON-SciFi viewers. Hmmm, a channel called SciFi that doesn't run SciFi. An intriguing concept. Stupid beyond all comprehension, but intriguing none the less. Are we sure we want to trust these yo-yo's with Roswell? Even in re-run?

Also of note. Jackson is reputed to hate Farscape. In fact, some of the new upper level suits at SciFi are reputed to have set Dave Kemper down and told him that his show was c**p. Imagine their surprise when several million people declared war on them! *wink*

Off to write a bit, then bed. I have a long drive tomorrow.

Really laters this time...





[ edited 1 time(s), last at 13-Sep-2002 11:26:06 PM ]
posted on 16-Sep-2002 5:54:49 PM
Okay, I'm back home, and writing furiously. This day has sucked big. I was driving North on I-75 when an accident in front of me stopped me and held me in position for an hour and forty five minutes. And there wasn't a bathroom in sight. This weekend with my wife had a funeral air. It's not looking good for Farscape, and if the most recent news is anything to go by, we're screwed.

So what can I do with my anger, but write. That includes taking time to write a long letter to the head of SciFi to tell the dimwit what I think of him.

DZ Sorry about the sucky RL events. I had to put down my own cat once upon a time. I'm just sorry that I couldn't give you some industrial strength fic to cut the pain. Hang in there though. I'm 'back in the saddle again'.

Lorilei Maybe not...but if...somewhere in these stories I'm creating....Brody says to Alex...."To the bat cave Robin!"....it's all your fault! *wink*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Sep-2002 9:31:24 PM ]
posted on 17-Sep-2002 10:45:45 AM
ruminating

Jane and DZ Is this your way of subtly hinting that I need an A.I.V.A.S.? *big* Here's the casting F'lar is Jason. Lessa is Shiri. Robinton...gotta be Colin. I mean he's already played a lanky musician with a quirky sense of humor. Nick has to be F'nor. Kylara is easy. A blond troublemaker? Guess who? Majandra is Menolly. *wink* But who is Brekke?

Ladylou Oh dear! You have to get Dragon Flight and Dragon Quest! They are the quintessential Pern! *wink*

Everyone I'm writing. I'm writing! (pant pant gasp)

Oh...and DZ? Check your e-mail.
posted on 18-Sep-2002 7:25:58 PM
I'm workin' on it folks. It's just that things have conspired against me since that last burst of creative overdrive. I have too much to do at home to write there right now. That means I have to use my slack time at work. And there just hasn't been that much. Part 13 is still moving forward, but slowly. Bear with me folks.

Added in Edit Okay, it seems that I inadvertantly fibbed. The computer center I work in is undergoing renovation. The entire building, with the exception of the main computer room, and minimum office space, has been gutted out. The result is dust. Lots of it. My sinuses are killing me. Constant coughing. Headaches. Etc. Tonight, at home, I feel too lousy to do anything terribly physical, so I'm writing. The meeting at the UFO center is still underway. They still have some talking to do...followed by an extensive flashback sequence, then a wrap up in Seattle. I'll keep pecking away here. Take care, people.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 18-Sep-2002 9:22:23 PM ]
posted on 19-Sep-2002 10:32:41 AM
SearchingTheStars Yes, it do suck. However, there may be *some* kind of good news. My wife tells me that Dave Kemper was due to come to the SciFi chat last night to talk to the 'Scapers, but people signing on 'flooded' it out. Either that or the SciFi yo-yos are playing stupid games with the servers again...like they did when the news first broke. The skinny is that what he had to say wasn't entirely doom and gloom.

Rim Thanks compadre. I'll keep pecking away at it. I just realized though, that I may have to include a math and science foreword in this one. *big* We'll see how it flies when the time comes.

Ladylou Let me know when your immigration red tape is squared away. If you're looking for a pretty spot, I recommend Ruatha Valley. I happen to know the Lord Holder there.... *wink*





[ edited 1 time(s), last at 19-Sep-2002 10:35:23 AM ]
posted on 22-Sep-2002 7:54:15 PM
Ladylou All this talk of Pern has left me with a yen to try and crossover Pern to Roswell. *wink* Just color me demented. *big* Fire lizards are cool, but I want a dragon! *wink*

Everyone Hey gang, tonight is the first time all week I've had uninterrupted writing time, and I find myself having to go back and reread what I've already written to try and avoid continuity errors. Just hang in there. It's coming....

MJ Proper Pernese cussing calls for the use of the word "Shells!" *big* See ya 'round the threads! *wink*
posted on 25-Sep-2002 11:56:31 PM
Just a quick note to thank everyone for the bumps. I'm still writing folks, so don't think that I've forgotten you.

FYI, several people have expressed an interest in my wife's Farscape fic. Mrs. KK and a friend of hers have a web site at ScapeRoute.com which functions as a resource for Farscape fic writers and fan artists. Some of her fic can be found there. Mrs. KK's screen name is imloco2.

Party on people!


posted on 27-Sep-2002 10:28:56 PM
Duchess Thank you for the kind words. I *still* find it hard to believe that my chicken scratchings can provoke such a response in people, but as long as ya'll keep reading, I'll keep writing. BTW, what browser are you using? My wife says that it looks okay in AO-Hell. But I looked at it in Netscape and hit the same problem that you did, so she's looking into it. Meanwhile....try these links.

http://fffa.soliii.net/cgi-bin/archive.pl?a=LBA&s=1158

http://www.johnskeedvabbq.com/ficpics/seriespage-locket.html

LMiC2001 Us crossover geeks have to stick together, ya know? ;-) Besides, you've got a kickin' story going!

Everyone I took Thursday night and Friday night off to catch up on yard work during the day. I have a small mountain of brush to cut and chip my way through. However, this morning was a total bust. Rain. Bags of it, courtesy of Tropical Storm Isadore. Hence I was confined to the great indoors. Where there was nothing to do but.....write. Boy oh boy did I write! I'm closing in on the end of part thirteen as we speak. In fact I'm giving thought to saying the hell with sleep and staying up until the damned thing is done. Now, bear in mind, after the actual writing is done there's proof reading. And correction. I hate to make promises that I may not be able to keep. But this weekend is looking good for a post. We'll see. I'd offer a teaser....but this is way too intense to spoil. So you'll have to wait. Hang in there my friends. And thank you again for your feedback, your patience, and all those bumps! *big*

Laters Folks...this thing won't write itself....

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 28-Sep-2002 12:22:54 AM ]
posted on 30-Sep-2002 1:22:02 AM
Well shucks. No update damnit! Here's the scoop. Part 13 is finished....the writing of it. Just this minute. Proofreading is underway. That's the up side. The down side is that, after part 12, I promised myself to reduce the size of the parts that I write and post. Result? Part 13 is as big as part 12 was.

Somebody shoot me. Or break my fingers. Or something.

With luck I'll update sometime tomorrow. Thanks again for the patience people.
posted on 30-Sep-2002 10:30:19 PM
For those of you in the sneak brigade, the first two chunks are already up at DD. I have to get ready and go to work. I'll be back online from there in about 90 minutes (barring any disasters), where upon I'll finish at DD and then post it here.

Sorry for the long wait, but the lawnmower waits for no man.....
posted on 1-Oct-2002 1:33:22 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17


Author's Note:

noctem - noun - latin....meaning night

The butterfly effect - From chaos theory. In simplest terms it means that things will never happen the same way twice.

STILL YOURS - Part 13a
(Thanks For The Memories)

16 Miles East of Seattle On I-90....4:00 PM

For this trip Methos had left the Caddy in the garage and instead chosen the nondescript battered Ford Bronco that he used when he wanted to be inconspicuous. The only way that SUV would have attracted attention is if someone had popped the hood. It's power plant was something more than what factory specs called for. You never knew when you might need those extra horses. The Boy Scouts live by the creed, 'always be prepared'. Methos hadn't lived five thousand years by being imprudent. His own creed was, always prepared for *everything*!

"Where exactly is this place?" asked Richie from his position riding 'shotgun'.

Methos checked his watch. They only had a few hours to reconnoiter, then they had to be back for the nightly Conterras hunt. A glance in the rearview mirror told him that their tail was still there. He was good, but not invisible. "It's a couple of miles past Preston, up against Tiger Mountain State Forest. The only reason that I know about it is that I have my country place about four miles North of here off of 202. And I like to know the territory around *anywhere* that I live. Old habit."

Richie grunted and settled back trying to relax as they passed through the small town of Preston, Washington. He was understandably jumpy. Methos had spotted their tail before they'd even made it out of the city. They'd pulled over at a truck stop in Bellevue, ostensibly to let Methos relieve himself. Their tail had stopped with them. While Richie had hung around the Bronco, Methos had found some cover and used a compact, yet powerful, monocular to get the car's license number. After that, a quick call by cell phone to Joe Dawson, who had used a reliable..spell that w-e-l-l p-a-I-d...informant at the DMV to get the owner's background, turned up the fact that the car was attached to a licensed if somewhat shady private detective agency.

Richie sighed. So their enemy had local talent on the job, as well as a personal flunky. He saw Methos glance in the mirror again and felt the Bronco slow slightly. Irritated, he spoke up. "I still don't see why we aren't trying to ditch this guy, instead of making things easier for him."

Methos chuckled. "Patience young Jedi!" Then he went on in a more serious tone. "We want him to know about this place. When Musa hits town, we want him to be able to find us. I've talked this over with Duncan, and we're pretty sure that Britanicus' time table is set. That pack of jackals on his estate can't be kept on the leash for very long. So he has to follow his schedule, whether we cooperate or not. And time is probably so short now that this gumshoe of his probably won't be able to get a complete recon job done before Musa *has* to move."

Richie shrugged. "Okay, you two are the old hands at this. I just work here." He paused a moment. "They told me about what they did to Alex and his girl last night."

Methos was about to answer when he stiffened and leaned forward. "Here we are!" He slowed and cut the wheel, turning into a weed grown track that might once have been a private driveway."

They drove about three hundred yards before arriving at a rambling two story brick and masonry building. It had the look of long abandonment. The windows were shuttered and boarded up. Rank brush grew up against it. They got out of the Bronco and approached the front door. Methos removed a key from his pocket and stuck it in the heavy front door. The lock operated smoothly. "Preparation young Jedi. Preparation. On the off hand that I might one day need an emergency bolt hole I checked on this place. It's completely abandoned. The land was attached to the Tiger Mountain Reserve by eminent domain nearly fifty years ago. The roof is slate, so it's still pretty sound. A weekend of work let me swap out the door locks...for which I now possess the only keys." They entered what looked like a lobby reception area. "It's over built too. Like a fortress. The ground floor windows are high off the ground."

Richie glanced around. There was a thick coat of dust everywhere. This place was old. "What is this place?"

Methos chuckled. "It dates back to the late frontier days. It's an insane asylum. One from back in the bad old days when they didn't even try to cure them. They just warehoused them until they either died of old age, or they got better on their own. Usually the former."

Richie chuckled wryly. "A nut house? Perfect. How appropriate."

Methos grinned. "It is *that*." He gestured. "The ground floor is offices and a high security wing. The upper floor was for the less violent patients. I think that any building built to keep dangerous people *in* will also serve to keep dangerous people *out*."

Richie nodded. "And the construction doesn't hurt. It isn't fire *proof*, but it'll still be hard to burn it down on top of us."

Methos nodded. "I thought that we could set up camp here in the lobby and fall back into the high security area when the time comes. It's the most fortified part of the building. Bars on the windows, metal doors, almost like a prison."

Richie was lost in thought for a moment. Then he turned to Methos. "You didn't comment on what I said when we pulled in here."

Methos sighed. "What do you want me to say? I disagreed with it. I made my feelings known. What else can I do? They're adults, and it's not like I have *that* much influence with Cass. We aren't a couple." "Yet," he added silently.

Richie shrugged. "It's nice to know that I'm not alone."

Methos shook his head. "They were right about one thing though. We need to keep Alex's lady away for a while. Her timing in finding him was...inconvenient to say the least. If they had simply settled for giving her a temporary dose of forgetfulness, I might have acquiesced. But they were afraid that Alex would take exception to their treatment of her, so they made it a clean sweep." He sighed explosively. "All of which makes taking down Conterras imperative. If something happens to Alex, he may follow up on his threat against the girl. I don't know if Alex told her about that, but either way you play it she's a sitting duck. If Alex buys it in this mess, I'll owe it to him to kill Conterras."

Richie nodded. "If I live out the week, I'll second you." They shook on it. "Now, lets look this place over."

Methos grinned. "There's a pump for well water out back. It was rusted tight, but I took care of that. And there's a guard shack and walk on the roof, accessible only from *inside* the building..."

Together they surveyed what was to become their group's redoubt. Planning for contingencies, listing supplies needed, and laying out a plan of defense. It would serve them well. And it would be the scene of the most ferocious defense since the Alamo. It also would not see sunrise the following Monday in one piece.....


Roswell, New Mexico, The UFO Museum....6:45 PM

Max Evans pulled into the small employee's parking area behind the UFO museum to find the Sheriff's SUV, Kyle's Mustang, and Maria's Jetta already there. He got out of the car and walked around the front of the Chevelle to open Liz's door and help her from the car. Liz and he had been spared any awkward explanations about...things....when her mother called around 5:30 PM to say that they'd met some old friends at the vendor's show, and that she and Mr. Parker would be staying in Albuquerque over night to catch up on things. This seemed like both a blessing and a curse. For one thing it meant that Jeff and Nancy trusted them together, probably due in no small part to their willingness to bow to the parental demands the night before. The downside to that was that they had both heinously violated that trust this afternoon. "Still," he thought , as he opened the door and took Liz's hand, "I wouldn't change it if I could." He looked at her entrancing smile and the world went into slow motion again. She was glowing. For that matter, so was he. He was morally certain that anyone and everyone would be able to read what had happened between them earlier that afternoon. They were *so* in trouble if they couldn't get it under control before the Parker's laid eyes on them again. He sighed and smiled back at his lover and saw his thoughts echoed in her eyes. "~It feels like we're carrying a sign that that says 'Hello, we traded virginity's this afternoon', doesn't it?~"

Liz giggled, then her face turned solemn. "~I'm just glad that we're able to say that and mean it.~" Max opened his mouth to say something , but she forestalled him. "~Max, what we did today was special. It would have been special, even under the circumstances we believed to be true when we did it. But Sweetheart, I won't lie to you. I *always* wanted to be your first, as I wanted you to be mine. And the idea that Tess took that from me, from *us*, rankled. It hurt. But I was prepared to accept it because I love you more than anything, and because I blamed myself for some part of why it happened. Now I don't have to. And neither do you!~" She stepped into his arms and hugged him tight, savoring closeness, reveling in simple body contact. "~I think that what hurt me most, before we reconciled and moved past it, was that the evidence...even your memories....told me something that I knew in my heart couldn't be true. Because of that I think I started to question my faith. In myself. In us. In love. Even in God. The paradox of what *was*, but couldn't be, was breaking my heart.~"

Max couldn't think of anything to say beyond making comforting noises, and sending her waves of love and reassurance through their connection. He was cuddling her when she surprised him by laughing. He held her out at arm's length, and the question must surely have shown on his face. For she answered it aloud without further prompting.

"Logic 101. When faced with a logical paradox, look for the false assumption. Find it and the paradox goes poof. I was so wrapped up in agonizing over the paradox itself that I forgot to check the assumptions it was based on. Now we know that the chief assumption was false. POOF! No more paradox."

Max grinned. "Ever the science girl!" He pulled her close for a warm lingering kiss. After they separated he chuckled. "I feel like a man with a secret."

Liz had been taking advantage of their close proximity get in a few caresses. Her hands her on his butt, so she pinched him. "You *are* a man with a secret!"

Max beamed at her fondly. "Yes, but I'm thinking of a different secret."

Liz looked perplexed. "Which secret would that be?"

Max smirked. "That science chicks are sexy, of course."

Liz blushed and punched him in the ribs...but not too hard. "I'll let that go if you promise to spend the night with me."

Max sighed. "I hadn't planned tonight any other way. Opportunities like this one will be far and few between, and to have it come on the very day that we first....er..."

"...made love," Liz finished for him, in a parody of what he had said to her earlier that day.

Max sighed. "Yes. Made love...for the first time. Anyway, the only sentiment I can think of that covers it is carpe diem."

Liz smiled and gave him another kiss. "I agree, though I think that carpe noctem might be closer to the mark. But before we get there, we have to get through this meeting, and the others are waiting."

Max, thus reminded, glanced at his watch. "We have a few minutes to spare yet, but if you insist...lets go."

They entered the museum through the back. They were on the stairs headed down to the office level when a burst of static came from the sound system, followed by...'Blue Suede Shoes'.

Max halted and sighed. He looked around, spotted the surveillance camera, and stuck his tongue out at it...which brought a faint echo of laughter from downstairs. "See what I put up with every day?"

Liz giggled. "Elvis has entered the building?"

Max grinned wickedly. "You'll pay for that later!" Just as he said it the music stopped, only to resume a few moments later..with a different tune. Liz's face flushed as Max began to laugh. It was 'The Lady in Red'. "*Now* do you see what I put up with every day?? Looks like our friends have been chatting up the old folks!"

Liz glared at the camera. "The lady in red was Pam, not me!"

Max laughed harder. "When we get near a mirror, take a look. Your face is the right color."

Liz switched her glare to Max. "Laugh it up Elvis. Keep going and you'll sleep in your *own* bed tonight!" Then she spun and began stomping off down the stairs, apparently intent on doing serious bodily harm to a few friends.

Max followed at a sedate pace. Just before he arrived in the museum office the music ended abruptly, only to be reprised by gales of laughter. He entered the office to find a furious Liz standing, ramrod straight, her arms folded, staring down their still laughing friends. Her back was to him, so he simply walked up behind her, slid his arms around her, and gently nudged their connection open. He could feel it. She wasn't really angry, just embarrassed. She tried to resist his prodding, to maintain her pretense of anger. But his good humor, coupled with a few seriously indecent images of the two of them together, cracked her resolve. She softened and smiled, melting back against him like a cat leaning into a caress. He nuzzled her neck in a brief surge of lust, then realized something. Or rather the same realization swept through both of them at the same time. The laughter had stopped. Completely. They stepped out of their private world to find their friends studying them with knowing eyes...and in the case of the adults...worried eyes.

"Oooops!" they both thought.

Max grimaced internally. "Er...hi?"

Maria studied her two friends, then her eyes locked with Liz's. "Is there something that you'd like to share with the rest of the family, Chica?"

There was no way out of this one. Liz flushed. "Quite a lot actually," she said. Then she turned and to the adults in the group. "But first we need to bring Amy, Jim, and Brody up to speed." She nodded to the senior members of the "I Know An Alien Club" apologetically and addressed them directly. "There's been a *lot* happening in the last couple of days that we haven't told you guys, simply because 'it' kept on happening. "It" is *still* happening, but that's no excuse to keep you in the dark anymore."

Michael gave a snort and muttered something. He noticed people looking at him, paused, then shrugged indifferently. "I said, that's an understatement!"

Jim laughed. "I have more experience with this secret than the newbies do." He regarded Brody and Amy with an amused eye. "And I can categorically state that, in this little family, that's usually the truth." He looked back at Liz and Max, and nodded. "Why don't you start at the beginning?"

Liz knew that they weren't off the hook by any means. The look in Amy's and Jim's eyes told them that they wouldn't get out of here tonight without some version of "The Talk", either separately, or together. Or perhaps both. Liz winced internally, but took a deep breath and plunged ahead. "It all started last year when I got home from a trip to Madame Vivian's with Maria and Alex." Liz saw Amy's and Jim's eyebrows rise, even as Brody looked lost. For his benefit Liz explained. "She's a fortune teller. A tarot reader."

Brody looked intrigued. "What were you there for? What did she have to say to you?"

Liz flushed a delicate pink as Maria laughed. Amy joined her daughter in laughter and laid a hand on Brody's shoulder. "Oh Brody! Think like one of us...meaning girls...for a minute. What *would* we be asking a fortune teller about!? " She shot a heated look in Jim's direction, which he fielded with aplomb. "I know what I've asked her about!"

Brody flushed. "I get the message! Loud and clear! So, what did this tea leaf reader have to say about your love life?" He shot a glance at Max. "As if I didn't know?"

Liz's color deepened, but she couldn't back out. Max's arms were still around her, and they tightened in a reassuring way, encouraging her to go on. "She described my situation exactly. She said that Max was different, important...a leader. Then I told her that she was right...but that he had this whole other destiny that I couldn't be a part of."

Brody smiled. "I'm sensing a 'bigger but' in there."

Liz sobered. "Yes, you are. She said that he would choose love over destiny. That he would choose *me*!" Liz took a tremulous breath. "I can't describe how that made me feel. I didn't *want* to believe it. But I had too! I loved and wanted Max, more than anything in this world, or any other! But I'd kept him at arms length since we'd discovered his destiny. And it was killing me! I wanted a reason to give in to him. To be with him again!" She took a deep breath and sighed. "When I got home I was like a little girl playing dress up. I took a lace shawl and...and...I paraded around in front of my mirror, playing the bride!" She started to sniffle a bit. She looked up and saw that Amy understood the way her daughter always had. Some things transcend generations. She took a deep breath and went on. "That's what I was doing when everything started to go to hell....you see, that's when a visitor arrived."

Jim studied her cautiously. Whatever this was about, it was obviously highly traumatic. "Who was it?" he asked.

Liz gently rubbed the side of her head against Max's cheek as she leaned into him harder for comfort. "It was Max."


The Kingsgate Estate....7:45 PM

Britanicus had been in a foul mood since that morning. As a result everyone, even Joachim, had stayed out of his way. However, Musa's majordomo now had no choice other than to disturb his master. He paused outside Britanicus' office door, then took a deep breath and knocked on the door of his master's sanctum sanctorum. There was a long pause, then Britanicus spoke.

"Enter!"

To Joachim's experienced ear he sounded less angry than tired. He swung the door open and stepped through into the room, and assumed a rigid posture at a respectful distance from Musa's desk. Britanicus must have still been irritated, for he kept Joachim standing there for some minutes, until the frustrated majordomo cleared his throat.

Britanicus looked up sharply. He did not tolerate interruptions. "What is it?"

Joachim grimace. "I apologize Sire, but there's a call on the house line for you. A Mr. Malorte?" To Joachim's surprise Britanicus actually broke into a smile.

"Andres is on the phone?" He waved for Joachim to get out of the room and picked up the phone, punching the house line. "Hello? Andres?"

A voice with a thick Quebecois accent answered back. "Sire! Or should I call you Roland?"

Britanicus laughed aloud for the first time all day as he felt tension retreat. "Call me anything that you like old bear! How in Hades are you?"

Malorte chuckled back. "Passable, passable. But somewhat bored. Am I too late join the Cohort?"

Britanicus frowned. Andres had been his Second before Joachim. Long before. He'd found Andres as street urchin dodging Catholic orphanages in Montreal, back in 1702. Andres had grown up under Britanicus stern tutelage, and at the age of nineteen he'd died in a bar brawl, a full two years before Britanicus had planned on 'bringing him across' himself. He'd left Britanicus service nearly fifty years prior to Joachim's arrival. Britanicus wasn't sure how he could make this work. It wouldn't sit well with Joachim. And when Andres had departed his service he'd made it clear that he was tired of standing in Musa's shadow.

"What did you imagine yourself doing?" he asked.

Malorte spoke cautiously. "Well, I know that you have a capable second in the Boche Boy you picked up after the war. How about Third? Or possibly you could leave junior home and take *me* into the field as your Second? I have no ambitions towards anything permanent, I simply have a yen for the good old days. One operation and I'm gone."

Britanicus had paused to consider when Malorte added. "I come bearing gifts."

Musa cleared his throat. "Such as?"

"A couple of Quickenings ago, the no neck puke that I killed was cocky. So I took my time with him. I made him suffer before he died. In an effort to buy his life he offered me information, hell I even think he made things up in order to have something to tell me. But one thing that he told me rang true. It was a tale about an old Immortal that had tried to recruit him to join a fighting unit. His description fit you to a tee. And I just knew that you were getting ready to go campaigning again, and I got nostalgic. So I rounded up a few sheep on my own."

Britanicus developed a predatory smile. "How...thoughtful! How many swords do you offer?"

Malorte chuckled. "Including my own? Four. The usual scum of the Earth."

Britanicus nodded to himself. Four swords was a gift not to be spurned. "Come home then Andie. But do it quickly. We move out on Friday. I'll have Joachim arrange quarters for you.

Malorte was silent for a moment, then spoke. "Ave Sire. It's good to be in your service again, if only for a little while. We'll be there tomorrow morning!"

Britanicus smiled to himself. With four extra swords he could afford to make a two pronged assault. "Good-bye Andie, until tomorrow."

"Good-bye Sire," he responded, and hung up.

Britanicus slowly hung up the phone as his fertile imagination began to play with ways to modify already laid plans for attacking the various sites that he had information on, down in Washington. Had he delayed a moment longer he might have heard a muted click as another phone left the line.

Sitting alone in his small office in another part of the house, Joachim stared at the phone he'd just hung up, his recruiting poster face a mask of jealous fury. "This is *my* position, no one else's!" he thought. "What else do I know how to do anyway?" He turned away from the phone, swiveling his chair so he could stare out the window at the back garden. Normally a lovely scene, but now marred by the blackened area that marked Radu's demise. He sat gazing blankly at the view, thinking.

He was still there when darkness finally fell.


[ edited 4 time(s), last at 1-Oct-2002 3:53:05 AM ]
posted on 1-Oct-2002 4:09:47 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 13b
(Thanks For The Memories)

Roswell, New Mexico, The UFO Museum, Basement Office......7:45 PM

The room was dead silent except for the quiet sobs coming from Amy DeLuca, where she stood clinging to Jim Valenti. There was a spectrum of emotions present. Amy was the only one vocalizing hers. Liz had given them the full story. From Isabel's ambush therapy, to time travel and the end of the world, and on through to Max's and her's personal 'fireworks'. The retelling of the 'Future Max" episode had been easier for Liz this time, but it was still wasn't a cakewalk. Liz herself had nearly broken down again when she revealed that, in the original timeline, Alex had lived on. And that, as a result of her intervention, in this one he had been killed. Her listeners varied in their reactions. Max simply held her, letting their connection handle in further needed support. Maria had already heard it, and looked tenderly sympathetic. Michael looked stoic, waiting for the emotional turmoil to die down. Brody was torn between looking stunned and trying to fit time travel into his picture of the universe. Jim was looking grief stricken. He was, first and foremost, a protector. To defend those under his protection was deeply ingrained into his nature. And listening to Liz recount her agony left him with a deep sense of personal failure. He wished that she had come to him, if she couldn't go to the others.

Kyle, on the other hand, simply looked furious. He glared at Max, then shifted a more sympathetic gaze to Liz. "So that's why you asked me to help you in that charade."

Liz simply nodded.

Kyle shifted his gaze back to Max and dialed up the hostility. Max was expecting it, and met his eyes without evasion. "Y'know Evans, that's one hell of a girl you've got there." He nodded at Liz. "And between us we've caused her more grief than any ten women should have to deal with. What do you say we try and limit that in the future?"

Max sighed. "You say we, but you mean *me*.

Kyle inclined his head in a gesture that could only read...'if the shoe fits, wear it'.

Liz tried to speak, to defend him, but Max cut her off. "I'm only too well aware of that." He snorted. "Even my future incarnation had to dip *his* oar in. For the record I've already expressed a desire to kick my older self's ass, and Michael has offered to second...since according to Liz that particular thrashing, no matter how satisfying it may be, would result in my incineration."

Kyle was looking like that wasn't the *worst* news he'd ever heard when Michael broke his train of thought. "Just reminding you Valenti....'more fun than you've ever had in your life'. I believe those were your approximate words."

Kyle snorted, then deflated somewhat. "Fun for me, yes." Then he nodded at Liz. "But not for her. Or Alex. Or a lot of us here." He sighed and looked at Michael. "Don't you sometimes wish for the old days. The simple days, when we were all in our separate corners, and living in blissful ignorance."

Before Michael could answer Liz broke in while pulling Max closer. "Kyle, as much as I wish a lot of the bad things had never happened, I wouldn't trade where I am now for anything. I'd rather meet the future at Max's side, and with my eyes wide open rather than hide my head in the sand."

Kyle looked at Liz pityingly. "Liz, none of this would have happened if...."

Liz looked unbearably sad. "...Max hadn't saved my life?" she finished for him.

Kyle winced. "That's not what I meant Liz. I *don't* wish you dead! Not at any price. It's just....."

Jim cleared his throat. "Kyle, we can go on and on about this. It's a chicken or the egg argument. I think that this is covered by something your Grandpa used to say. 'Life is what happens when you aren't looking.' " Jim glanced around the room before coming back to Kyle..then he shrugged. "I'm sure that no one in this room would have wished to go through what we've gone through. Human, alien, or any combination of the two. But the plain fact is, we did. We're here now. And we're alive. We owe it to Alex, Kathleen Topolsky, and even to Nasedo's victims, to go on."

Kyle looked sullen, then sighed. "I just wonder if that invasion in 2014 would have come off, had all this stayed a deep dark secret."

Jim shrugged. "Who can say....and I can't see that it matters, son."

Brody cleared his throat and got everyone's attention. "Kyle, we can't *know*. This where the 'butterfly effect' and causality meet...and imperfectly blend. You go back and change one thing, as Max's future self tried to do, and it may be a simple targeted change, or it may effect the whole. Or it may change something that you didn't intend it to, as it did when Alex died this time around. Who can say what caused K'var to invade? Impatience? Arrogance? A belly ache at the wrong time?" Brody shrugged. "We may never know the deciding factor. And the dice on that future event are still in play. I regard it as a measure of the Future Max's desperation that he would even attempt it. Imagine the world in flames, and everyone you cared for dead, or about to *be* dead.. Wouldn't *you* grasp at *any* straw, however thin, to try and change things? Regardless of the consequences to yourself or anyone else?" Brody stared at the ceiling a moment then looked back. "Personally I feel that we're better off, that just knowing of the *possibility* of it is worth everything we've been through. Forewarned is forearmed. I wouldn't want to live in ignorance only to wake up in 2014 to find ravening alien hordes led by a demented psychopath dismantling the planet for reasons I couldn't possibly comprehend...much less do anything about."

Liz chimed in. "Kyle, I tried to change things and botched it. It's one thing to know what's coming and try to change it. It's another to know what's coming and simply let it come while preparing to meet it....and defeat it. If you try the first and blow it, you can end up with a worse mess than you had to begin with. To me, the later course is the only way to go. In fact, from now on, it's the *only way I will go*. Because I can't give up Max again. Not again!" She fell silent as Max let her lean back into him again for comfort's sake.

Amy spoke into the silence. "After hearing all this, I think that I'm swearing off of Madam Vivian. To quote that old song..'the future's not ours to see'."

Liz laughed weakly. "I wouldn't stress over a little harmless fun Amy. It's only as important as you let it be. *I* let it be important because it came at a time when I wanted to hear it."

Amy looked at Liz quizzically, and Liz shrugged. "Madam Vivian told Alex that he and Isabel would *never* be together, other than as friends. And she told Maria..."

"CHICA!" Maria erupted. "Privacy?"

Liz sighed. "Sorry Sweetie, me and my big mouth." Liz looked at Amy. "She just isn't that accurate."

Amy nodded in understanding, but Michael wasn't having any.

"Pixie?" he said softly. "What did she say...about us?"

Maria looked away. "It doesn't matter now," she said in a barely audible voice.

Michael gave her a half smile. "It does to me Maria."

Maria looked like she desperately wanted to hide, which made Liz feel worse.

"Michael?" queried Liz. "Drop it? Please?"

Michael looked stubborn. Seeing that, Maria sighed and shrugged. "She said that you and I...as you and I...would only have forty eight hours...tops. When you were getting ready to launch the Granolith, I thought that was it." She paused before going on. "When it wasn't...." she trailed off.

Michael looked visibly upset. "You've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. All this time you thought..."

Maria looked lost.

Michael was still upset, but he backed down. "We'll talk about this later Pixie, I promise. And I'm not angry, but...we'll talk." He walked over and slid his arms around her. She resisted a moment, then leaned into him. Accepting the comfort that he offered.

Watching them Amy was stricken by the salient fact that it was just possible that her daughter was a better judge of men than she was. The next twenty four hours would bear that thought out in a way that she never would have imagined. And, at one time, would have preferred not to.

Max sighed. "Liz and I are in agreement on this. Now, I'm not going pop-psych or anything, but we have too many secrets between us. That's part of the reason we called this meeting. To clear the air, and make sure that everyone is on the same page. Isabel started the process a few days ago, this is just the next step." Max regarded Jim, Amy, and Brody with a rueful grin. "A big part of that step would be catching our adult 'guardians' up on the activities of the 'I Know An Alien Club'."

Amy put on her best 'mother disgusted with her children's antics' look. "You don't say? It's about time!"

For her part Maria hadn't missed the subtle hint about secrets and leaned back into Michael's arms, silently promising herself to do better.

At the mention of Isabel's name, both Michael and Kyle had snapped to attention. They were waiting for the reason that had sparked Max's decision to call the meeting.

Max noticed and spoke to both of them. "Before we move on to what was to be the main topic tonight I need to ask a few questions. I called both Jim and Brody from school today and asked them to look into some things for me.....when I could find time while fleeing from the Pam-inator." Max's face assumed a pained look as he mentioned the events of this morning.

The group collectively snickered...Liz and Maria a little harder than the rest.

Max continued looking at Jim and Brody. "I need to know what you found out on the issues that I brought up."

Jim looked at Brody who inclined his head in a gesture that said 'you first'. Jim paused to gather his thoughts then spoke. "I checked into the records available to me and I couldn't turn anything. The topic that you were interested in was before my time as sheriff, so I called David Tracker the previous sheriff. I had to call in a favor, but I got him to admit that Alex Whitman was a foundling. He was discovered abandoned in an all night diner out on 285. The people working there hadn't noticed anyone come in with a baby. And they didn't even notice him at all until he began to cry. They called Dave in, and he was a friend of the Whitman's, who were childless. So, he cut a few corners, and lost a few reports. The upshot is that Alex was quietly adopted, and no one was the wiser."

At his words, both Liz and Maria became quiveringly alert. They both glanced at Max, who had accepted the information without changing expression. The rest of the group were puzzled, even Jim, for he had no idea of the significance of what he'd just told them.

After Jim finished Brody picked up the conversation. "Max, you asked about investigating a site underground, without disturbing it. As soon as you brought it up I recalled an acquaintance of mine. A graduate archeology student with a bent for UFO's who's working a site about forty miles West of here. The crew that he's with is using ground penetrating sonar to examine buried objects en situ, which strikes me as the definition of what you wanted. I took the liberty of waving some cash at him in order to secure his cooperation. The professor running the dig is at a seminar on the East coast for the week, so he can't object to any unauthorized use of the equipment. So my friend and a two man operating team can have the rig here on ten hours notice, once we know where you want them to go."

Liz turned in Max's arms and looked up at him smiling. "~Thank you, Max.~"

Max smiled back. "~For what?~"

Liz laid her head on his chest. "~For believing.~"

Max stroked her hair gently. "~What's not to believe? I was there too, when our Composite reached it's
conclusion.~"


The tableau was broken when Michael cleared his throat. "Ahem! Enough with the silent conversations! I thought the goal here was to share?"

Max grinned and gave Liz a quick kiss before turning to Michael. "I'll let Liz and Maria break the news. They're the ones that have been on point with this." Then he relaxed his arms so that Liz could step out of them and take the floor.

"This started a few days ago, the night that Isabel, Maria, and Michael trapped Max and I into breaking the deadlock in our relationship." She looked back at Max and smiled. Then at Maria and Michael. "I don't know if I said this that night or not...or if I've said it since, but thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you."

Maria mimed a kiss to her, and Michael simply nodded with his customary half smile, as if embarrassed to be singled out for praise.

Liz went on. "Anyway, that night Isabel had what she thought was a nightmare. One that caused her to wake up screaming..."

"And just incidentally scared me out of ten years of my life," Max added.

Liz grinned and went on. "Maria and I got into it when she had a second episode the night before last. After that Max asked us to talk to her, since she refused to discuss it with him. And he didn't want to involve his parents."

Jim cut in. "Your parents don't know about this problem of Isabel's?"

Max shook his head. "They've waited a long time for their second honeymoon, and the first thing that Mom would want to do is hop a plane home. I wanted to try and handle this 'in the family', so to speak, not only to give my folks their vacation, but because I was afraid that if something were really wrong with Izzy, we could be in some serious trouble." He paused and sighed heavily. "Have you ever stopped to think of what could happen if one of 'us' went seriously bonkers? What asylum could hold us? What drugs could help us? We might have to be killed simply to protect the rest of the group."

The others shifted uncomfortably. Jim and Brody looked grim. Amy looked stricken. Kyle's face merely looked inscrutable. It was his Buddhist training showing. But inside he was renewing his grudging respect for Max Evans.

"It can't be easy to contemplate the possibility of having to kill someone you care about for the good of the group," he thought. "I certainly couldn't do it." In that moment, and only for a moment, he was stricken, more clearly than at any time before, with the idea that Max Evans was what people call 'an old soul'. Weary and tired, but still doing the best that he can. Kyle sighed and thought, "Uneasy rests the head that wears the crown."

Liz took Max's hand and squeezed it briefly while leaning in to give him a kiss, then she turned back to address the group. "All that is incidental to the major issue. Isabel isn't crazy. Though she thought that she was on her way until she spilled to Maria and I last night." Liz took a deep breath. "What happened to Isabel wasn't a nightmare. And it wasn't a dream. It was a dream walk."

Michael frowned. "She dream walked someone, and it scared the crap out of her? Who?" He was looking directly at Maria when he asked the last question.

Maria and Liz exchanged a look. Liz shrugged and nodded. So Maria took a deep breath and told him. "Alex. It was Alex. He's alive."

The silence was deafening.

Jim looked thoughtful and Brody seemed to be afraid to open his mouth. Michael and Kyle simply looked enigmatic as they waited for the punch line. Amy looked at Maria with something bordering on pity. "Sweetheart, we'd all like to believe that, but...."

Max cut in. "Amy, it's not her that you have to believe. It's *us*." He indicated Liz and himself, as well as Maria.. "Just listen, then judge."

Amy paused, then nodded and settled back to wait.

Sensing the others' willingness to listen, Liz resumed speaking. "The night of the Whitman's funeral she accidentally triggered a dream walk while...er...communing with Alex's picture in our school's yearbook." Then, for the benefit of Brody and Amy, she explained further. "That's how her dream walks work. Get a picture of the target, touch it before going to sleep, and viola...you're in their subconcious." She paused for breath. "In any event, she accidentally launched a dream walk that shouldn't have been possible. She saw Alex, and more to the point she touched him."

Max cut in. "We have this ability to sense those that we love, and vice versa. Liz and I had it, albeit damped down, even when we were broken up. But it was still there." He gave a rueful smile. "Which should have told us *both* something." Liz smiled at him and sent a wave of reassuring love tumbling along their connection. "Anyway, *that's* what scared her," he continued. "She touched him and knew instantly, and beyond any doubt, that it was him. The genuine article, not some grief derived dream phantom. It was impossible, and it scared her right out of the dream....and scared me out of my skin when she woke up and screamed."

Liz picked it up without a missing beat. "She couldn't talk to us without proof. So she went back the next night and again the night after that. In the course of those visits she learned things. Things about Alex and the people he's with now that were pretty upsetting. After the second screaming incident, and for reasons I'll tell you about in a minute, she told Max that she was ready to talk...but only to Maria and I."

Michael chose that minute to interrupt with a note of skepticism in his voice. "I don't understand why he wouldn't let us know that he was alive. Or at least let his parents know."

Liz nodded. "Neither did Isabel at first. But the picture that emerged was clear if troubling, and a little scary. He couldn't come to us or his parents. In fact, he actively resisted Isabel's intrusion when she revealed herself to him in an effort to get answers." She proceeded to lay out what she and Maria had learned from Isabel the night before. By the time she was done, Brody was frowning, Amy looked white as a sheet, and Jim had what Max thought of as 'his cop face' on. Kyle looked like he was floundering a bit. Michael just looked pissed off.

Jim looked at Max. "What are you thinking of Max?"

Max stared back intently. "The skip trace telex?"

Jim nodded. "Bingo!" Then he added for anyone ignorant of the inquiry, "I got a telex from a skip trace outfit in Canada, looking for known associates of Alex Whitman. I deadheaded a reply back reporting a null result. My first thought was that Alex or his folks might have been into something shady that we didn't know about." The sounds of disbelief that met that statement made him nod his head. "I agree, it was a pretty low order possibility. I discussed it with Max, and we discarded it. That left a criminal using Alex's name for his own ends. Which we couldn't do anything about without learning more. However, this new information puts an entirely different slant on things. If Isabel is correct, and if what Alex told her is true, then that means that the people he's with have enemies. That telex could have been part of an intelligence gathering effort by those enemies."

Kyle seemed to have caught up with events, because he chose that moment to ask, "Why couldn't it have been from the people that that have Alex now?"

Jim leaned back rubbed his bottom lip with one hand. "Because they already *have* Alex...and because I think they've already been here, and might *still* be running low order surveillance on us." A startled oath from Michael caused Jim to swing around and look at him.

Michael looked seriously pissed now. "Someone may be investigating us again, and you're just *now* sharing this information?"

Jim sighed. "Michael, things have been fairly quiet. And after what we've been through I'm pretty careful about things. We all are. I didn't see any evidence of an aggressive effort to investigate us, except for one thing." Jim prodded Michael's memory a bit. "Do you recall those two men that came around asking about Tess, a month or so after Alex's 'accident'? I wouldn't swear to it yet, but the description of this Duncan and Richie that Liz got from Isabel sounds very close to the way they looked."

Michael's eyes narrowed as he fought to remember. After a moment his face became placid. He remembered getting hostile with two strangers who claimed to be from Child Welfare. The group had gone paranoid for a few days, but after satisfying themselves that the nosy men weren't Feds or Skins, they'd written the incident off because both strangers had left town without further probing. He nodded to the sheriff, "Yeah, I remember. But what makes you think that they're still keeping track of events here?"

Jim grinned. "Think like a cop for a second Michael. Alex's friends, if that's what they are, knew enough of current events here to bring him back for his parents funeral. How much they may know about the rest of us is anyone's guess. But I will hazard one guess. Alex knows what happened to him, and who was responsible. He certainly wouldn't be happy leaving a threat in our midst, with us ignorant of it. And being legally dead he couldn't come here himself. So they came here to check up on the situation. Which argues that they may in fact be 'friendlies'."

Brody added. "At the very least they're running internet news retrieval on this area. They may even be conducting intrusions into your department's computers Jim...or my own." Brody's eyes narrowed. "I'll be burning the midnight oil tonight looking of evidence of it. Jim...be sure to give me the passwords for your office net before you leave. It's easier to find this sort of thing if you're on the inside looking out."

Jim nodded briefly and turned back to Liz. "Just for drill I'm going to do some pattern searches on homicide activity involving edged weapons in the Seattle area."

Brody interrupted. "Let me handle that Jim. I can cover my tracks better than you can. If they're watching us, I scarcely doubt that they're *not* watching their own area for people snooping around."

Noting that Michael was still looking skeptical, Max cleared his throat, garnering their immediate attention. "There's more that we need to discuss, that bears on this. The possibility exists that the people who have Alex may *not* be all *that* friendly." Seeing that he had their attention he nodded to Liz. She picked up the conversation with hardly a pause.

"The reason that Max and I are sure about our facts is that you could say...we appealed to a higher authority. Our Composite." Seeing the adults frown Liz went on. "You will recall that while I was telling you about the visit from Max's future self, I described Isabel's ambush therapy. And what it resulted in?"

Amy answered for the rest. "You said that you 'fused'?"

Liz nodded. "Whatever it is, it's bigger than both of us put together, and it seems to be self aware. In any event, last night, after Isabel and Maria went to bed, Max and I used it to analyze the situation. It's conclusion was that Alex is indeed alive."

Michael looked ready to explode. "I thought that you two had agreed *not* to mess around with that aspect of your relationship until we knew more about it?! What happens if you go in one day and can't get out? And there's the exhaustion aspect as well. That thing is an energy glutton! The first time it nearly floored you both!"

Liz raised her hand to forestall further nagging. "For one thing Michael, we seem to have...er....found a way around the exhaustion issue." Liz was flushing red. "For another it was an emergency. I was about to go out of my mind. I needed Max. Also, we can't learn anything if we don't experiment! And finally Michael, much as I appreciate your concern, this is between Max and I."

Michael bit back further argument, but not without a parting shot. "How did you get around the exhaustion that got you both the first time?"

Liz blushed a deeper red. "I'll get to that in a minute. May I continue?"

Michael acquiesed with poor grace and nodded.


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 1-Oct-2002 4:46:56 AM ]
posted on 1-Oct-2002 4:48:35 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 13c
(Thanks For The Memories)

"Back to the friendly or unfriendly people who have Alex," Liz went on. "Aside from the murder and mayhem component with overtones of possible alien origins, there's something else that supports their 'not being from around here'. This morning when we got up, Isabel had no memory of the events that brought us there the night before."

Michael looked like he wanted to interrupt, but Max waved him silent.

Liz continued. "The first hint that I had was when I was finishing breakfast in the Evan's kitchen, and she walked in and asked me what I was doing there. I didn't know whether she was kidding or not. So I stalled, telling her that I'd spent the night with Max. It only took me a few minutes to realize that she wasn't kidding. She doesn't remember finding Alex, and she doesn't remember telling us that she did."

Everyone wore a worried frown, but Jim Valenti was leading the pack. With Phil and Diane gone, his surrogate father role had been assuming broader proportions. "Mind warp?"

Liz nodded. "She was going into dream walk him again last night. I think she ran into someone that she wasn't expecting."

Michael made an impatient noise, while still looking worried. "You don't know that. Max could have been right the first time. Iz could be jumping her cams. The rest of this could simply be coincidence."

Liz shook her head. "Michael, before this afternoon I might have given you fifty-fifty odds that you were right. But not now. Not anymore."

Michael was being forced to play the 'straight man' and he didn't like it, but his curiosity wouldn't let him keep silent. "Okay, I'll bite. Why not?"

Liz smiled without malice. "Because Max and I know who made her forget."

"Chica, don't leave us hanging," Maria said. "Just spit it out!"

Liz sighed in what sounded like defeat and seemed to be at a loss for words. Sensing her ambivalence Max took over the explanation. "Normally we wouldn't get into this in a discussion in front of the group." Liz was beginning to blush as Max continued. "And we won't again, but for the this explanation to work...we have to tell you that Liz and I took our relationship to the next level this afternoon. A physical level." He looked at Michael. "*That's* how we 'got around' the exhaustion factor in our Fusion. Apparently there was a missing element in our Composite. By cementing our relationship at last, we provided the missing component. We can now enter or leave the Fusion at will, and without ill effect." He glanced at Amy and Jim who were both studying them cautiously. "We realize that some of you will...er...want to talk to us about this, and we will listen. But please bear in mind that we waited until we were sure. And that we waited well past the time we did on the previous timeline. Whatever you want to say, just hold it until we're done."

Both adults sighed with resignation. Jim and Amy hated the idea of having to handle such things for the Evans' and the Parkers, but they realized the necessity of it. Jim nodded for the kids to go on, while he determined that neither of them would leave here tonight without a long talk.

All of this was lost on a beaming Maria. She couldn't say anything that sounded like approval in front of her mother or the other adults. But that didn't stop her from silently walking over to Liz and Max and hugging them both before returning to Michael..

Having handled the embarrassing part Max motioned for Liz to take over. Clearing her throat she went on. "While Max and I were...intimate there was an exchange of 'flashes', one of which was disturbing. It was Max and Tess, the night that they..."

Maria was glaring at Max when she broke in. "Max, how *could* you!?"

Liz made calming motions. "It wasn't his fault Maria! You know these things aren't very...umm...controllable. And besides, I'm *glad* this one came, because I saw what Max *couldn't see*. That it was a mind warp."

Maria stared at them both in startled wonderment. "You mean that he didn't.....?"

Liz shook her head. "No, he didn't. We have proof now. I suspected it because all of the flashes I get from Max are very clear, but this one was fuzzy. Like a badly focused picture, or a double exposure. So I proposed an experiment. That we activate our Composite, and let it look into the problem, and see if it could be corrected. When we emerged from the Fusion, we discovered several things. One was that we weren't both wiped out by the experience anymore. The other was that we both had resident mind warps. The Composite had cleaned house for us both. And one of the warps in my brain revealed something pretty startling, to say the least, once it was gone...chiefly because Tess wasn't the one that placed it there!"

Her listeners stirred, muttering quietly. Jim spoke up first though. "What did she do to you, Liz?"

Liz shrugged. "Nothing major. All of it dated from when she first showed up. Little adjustments in my attitude. Working on my sense of self worth and my confidence. I suspect that if she hadn't interfered I would never have been noble enough to walk away from Max the day that we learned of his Destiny." She developed a grin that was somewhat scary looking. "I'd have fought for him."

Maria grinned back. "And you'd have *won*, Chica. But what about the other warp, the one that you said that Tess didn't plant?"

Liz frowned. "That one had a totally different vibe to it, and it was harder to remove. But once it was gone I remembered. Maria, unless I miss my guess, you're carrying around a similar warp."

Michael's arms tightened around Maria. "Liz? What are you talking about?" The thought of someone messing around in his Pixie's head made him queasy.

"Relax Michael," she answered with a soothing smile. "It's not that bad." Turning to a now shocked Maria, she went on. "Don't try to remember yet, but here's what *I* remember. Back, just a day before Alex was killed, and man and woman came into the Crashdown. They were both pretty memorable. She was beautiful. Red hair and green eyes. He was handsome, and a charmer. They asked a casual question about Alex. Something about mistaking him for the son of a relative."

Kyle let out a startled curse. "I remember that! I was there that day! The woman was what first got my attention. She was a major babe! But we were all in full alert mode with the Skins thing going on, and I noticed the guy's interest in us. For a second I thought that they'd 'made' me watching them, but they were so casual that I blew it off as my own paranoia! They were driving a vintage Caddy! A big bucks car to be driving around!"

Liz nodded and turned back to Maria. "Anyway, the morning after Alex's accident you and I were coming apart at the seams. They showed up as we opened to get some breakfast, and I couldn't serve them. I was too torn up. So dad made a deal with them. He'd cook, and they'd serve themselves. The woman was actually behind the counter and had set up the coffee maker for us when I finally dragged myself out front and took over. After we served them, I went out on the floor to help you set up for the day. They didn't say anything more to us until they were leaving. The woman came to both of us, and told us that dad had told her what happened." Liz frowned intensely as she remembered. "Then she did something. Her voice changed tone. She told us that Alex loved us, and that he would be okay. That she would see to it. She promised. Then she told us to let go of our grief, and forget that she had been there." She sighed. "And we did. I still missed Alex, but that feeling of mental paralysis was gone. I could think again. And I think that's what let me reason out that Alex had been murdered so quickly. Otherwise, it would have been months before my pain eased enough to let me see it!"

Maria was frowning as she tried to remember. It sounded half familiar, but.....

Liz smiled. "They were the ones that left us a one hundred dollar bill to cover breakfast."

Maria shivered and sat up straight. "I remember! I remember! Before she told us that Alex loved us and whatnot, she did something else! Said something that froze us in place. I couldn't move, but somehow I didn't care!" She shivered again. "Liz, she knew something. She had to! She knew that he wasn't dead! Even then!"

Jim cleared his throat. "This raises some interesting questions about Alex's death, and Tess' role in it. Were these two in cahoots with her? Or just in the right place at the right time? What I'd love to do is review that coroner's report for any inconsistencies, but I'm not going to...yet. The less attention we call to ourselves right now, the better things will be while we work this out!"

Privately Max was puzzled. He'd been in that van with Alex's body. He was certain of two things. That it *was* Alex, and that he was very very dead at the time. But he wasn't saying so out loud. They had to many clues and not enough hard facts. What Liz had said about logical paradoxes came back to haunt him. This was no time to be dragging up old assumptions that might be wrong!

Max coughed discreetly to get everyone's attention. "Not to detract from the seriousness of what we've learned, but there's one more thing that we need to bring up. Tess. Now, we've told you that the sexual interlude between Tess and I was mind warp. As was the "baby in distress". There were a *lot* of warps she placed in my mind. My initial attraction to her. Memories of Antar. She even tried to kill my liking and trust for humans, Liz in particular. But there's one warp, or rather the lack of a warp, that overrides all the others. With all the warps cleared out of my head, there's one thing that I know for a fact. The baby itself wasn't a mind warp. Tess was pregnant. I felt it."

Maria gasped. "Well if it wasn't yours, then whose was it?"

Silence reigned in the office.

Kyle had been locked in thought about Alex, there was something tantalizingly familiar about the idea that Tess may have had help, bu-u-u-ut it just wouldn't jell in his mind....so he hadn't really been paying attention to Max's last few statements, thus when he looked up he was surprised to find everyone staring at him. "What's everyone looking at *me* for?"

Jim looked at his son worriedly. "Kyle, you and I agreed long ago that I wouldn't pry into the specifics of your...er...love life unless there was dire need." Jim paused uncomfortably. "Kyle, just what *was* your relationship with Tess?"

Kyle felt thickheaded. "Huh?"

"Didn't you hear what Max said, Kyle?" Liz asked. "He and I found out that he never had sex with Tess. But she *was* pregnant when she left. That means that the baby was someone else's."

Kyle developed a look of horror and disgust. "You think that it was mine? That I.....?" He shuddered. "Look people, even before I knew that she was a stone killer, I knew that I saw her as a sister."

Maria walked over and squatted down in front of Kyle, and shook her head slowly. "Look Kyle, our parents are dating. I guess that makes us psuedo-siblings or something. As your not quite sister, listen to me. There was something off about your relationship with Tess. It started when she first moved in and seemed to stop about the time that Alex left on his phony trip. There were sparks. There was chemistry. We all saw it. Then all of a sudden you both chilled, and you went all big brother. We all noticed it, we just didn't comment on it much because we hated to see you getting in over your head. We accepted Tess, but she wasn't just real popular. We were relieved."

Denial was written across Kyle's face, but Liz walked over to add her weight to Maria's. "Kyle, we just told you how we found and cleared long standing mind warps today. Who's to say that *you* don't have a few yet?"

Kyle's face calmed. "If she...used me like that, I'm not sure that I *want* to remember it."

Liz nodded, looking distressed. "I understand. I even sympathize. But we need all the information that we can get. If Tess was involved with these people that have Alex, we need to know it. It's important. Kyle, we're friends, you know that. And I'd never ask you to do this unless it was vitally important, but I need you to try and remember."

Kyle sighed morosely. "Okay, okay...what do you want to do? Do your fusion thing and vacuum out my gray matter?"


Max stepped forward. "I think that I can speak for Liz on this one. We feel okay about messing around in our own heads, but someone else's is another matter. If we had bungled our own efforts, we would have been the ones to suffer the consequences. But I'm not confident enough of our abilities to play mind mechanic in someone else's head, other than in a dire emergency. No, just try on your own. Take your mind back to the first day that you met Tess and trace your memories forward. Look for any breaks or discontinuities, and try to get around them. If you hit pay dirt, fine. If you don't then we'll put the project on the back burner until we can find another way. If there *is* a warp, then you may be able to break it with long term effort."

Max glanced at Liz, and she nodded in agreement. Kyle caught it and sighed again. "Okay, everyone just back off and keep quiet while I try this. Thank Buddha that I've been messing around with meditation and mental disciplines. If there's anything to be found, then that will be what does the trick."

Jim wanted to object, but he understood the importance of what his son was being asked to do. And, truth be told, he wanted to know too. Was he a grandfather? He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up into Amy's warmly sympathetic eyes. He stood up and pulled her into his arms.

Amy whispered, "It'll be okay Jim. I know it will."

Jim Valenti closed his eyes and let her words sink into his mind. He felt himself relax. After a moment he felt Amy give him the briefest of squeezes, then loosen her hold. They each kept an arm around each other as they turned to watch his son make his bid to recover lost memories.

The group disposed themselves quietly around the room, the couples paired off instinctively, drawing comfort from each other as Kyle closed his eyes and began the all out pursuit of buried treasure in his own mind.

********************

Kyle relaxed and began to recite a mantra in his own mind. He took measured breaths in time to the chant. Slow in - slow out - slow in - slow out. He felt the detached floating sensation that always accompanied meditation. Slowly his awareness of the world outside himself faded as his senses shut down, one by one, until he floated alone in the darkness. He was ready. He cast his mind back to the first day he'd met Tess at school. He felt the immediate attraction to her all over again. He recalled the annoyance he'd felt as Liz tried to warn him off of her. Moving forward he recalled the irritation he'd felt when he'd discovered her sleeping on their couch. But what surprised him most was the visceral rush of happiness and...yes...flat out lust that had accompanied that surprise. While he was a teenage guy bitching about sharing his space with a girl, he was also an almost man who sensed a once in a lifetime chance within his reach. He felt something for this girl. Something powerful that he'd never known before. And it rocked his world to it's foundations.

"Maria was right," he thought in a detached manner. "Something is wrong. How did I get from 'Oh boy, a major babe' to 'you're just a sister'?" Kyle pushed forward, retracing slowly. It *had* to be here somewhere....

*****************

The office was silent as they waited. Max and Liz stood wrapped in each other's arms. Liz could feel Max through their connection. She tried to assuage the guilt that was weighing him down. They were both to young to recognize the feeling, and know the source of it yet. But any experienced field commander would have recognized it instantly. It's that terrible burden that goes with sending a good man out on point into possible hostile territory, knowing that the worst can happen. They were the leaders now. And sometimes leaders have to ask people to do things that have to be done....but which they would rather not do. Guilt. It was a feeling that they would both come to know in full measure in the years to come, but which they would deal with...together.

"Hssst! Maxwell?" came Michael's urgent whisper.

Max pulled away slightly from Liz and opened his eyes. "What is it, Michael?" he said in an irritated whisper.

Michael nodded towards Kyle and whispered. "Look at him."

Great drops of sweat were appearing on Kyle's face. His breathing was still slow and even, but a frown was beginning to crease his forehead. He was obviously straining to accomplish something.

Liz bit her lip. "Should we stop him?" she whispered.

Max considered. "No, let him go on for a while longer."

********************

Kyle had found it. Or found something. A discontinuity. A Friday night date with Tess last year. Nothing big. Just the Crashdown and a movie. But that electric anticipation had been there.....then the next morning he woke up feeling differently. Or rather indifferently. And Tess had been different to. Colder somehow. Something was profoundly not right. He retraced the memory track over and over, like a hound on a scent. He began to be aware of pain. A throbbing pain in his head. "That shouldn't be happening," he thought. "Pain shouldn't reach me here." The pain made him angry, but he quickly suppressed it lest the emotion break his trance. Stubbornly, like a man trying to walk in a wind storm, he *leaned* into the pain. Trying to find what it was hiding.

The pain increased. He leaned harder. It leaped still higher. And he leaned harder still. He was going to find the truth damnit! How dare that *bitch* tamper with him like this! He was beginning to tire when he suddenly felt an energy surge. The pain receded. It was still there, but it couldn't reach him. He pushed harder. Something was beginning to give.....

*****************

Liz had been watching Kyle as Max whispered reassurances to Jim and Amy. And Michael and Maria were locked in a whispered conversation. So she and Brody saw it first. Brody voiced a startled oath, which halted all conversation. "Guys!" Liz whispered urgently. "His hands! Look at his hands!"

Kyle was sitting up right in an upholstered office chair with arm rests. His arms had been laying relaxed on the arms of the chair as he'd begun his effort. As his outward signs of distress increased, his hands had begun to grip the arms of the chair. However that wasn't the only thing apparent now. There was a definite violet glow about his hands as the plastic and metal of the chair frame began to deform under his grip......

*******************

Kyle tasted triumph. He was on the right track! He knew it! Now if he could just.....

*SLAM*

*******************

Back in the outside world there was a united gasp of horror. Kyle's eyes had snapped open. He was staring, but not seeing them. Not seeing anything. His mouth opened in a soundless scream....

Kyle had remembered.

********************

Kyle felt himself sucked into roaring darkness as the barrier he's been straining against collapsed. It was like that tunnel of light that near death patients describe. Except that this was a tunnel of darkness. A darkness that bellowed hatred and despair. In the stygian gloom fragments of memory raced by in neat little packets. {....happy birthday son....} {....Mommy's sorry Kyle but I can't stay....} {...I love you Kyle.....} That had been Tess' voice! More memories and bits of memories. {...touchdown for Valenti!....} {....I love you....} {....what do mean you guys took care of Evans?.....} {...I love you Kyle.....} {.....Where's Alex Trabek when you need him?....} Alex Trabek?

*SLAM*

Kyle came out the other end of the tunnel and screeched to a halt. The pain was gone. He could remember. It was after Copper Summit. That date with Tess had been low key. Very relaxed. They had joked, swapped food at the Crash, shared popcorn at the movies. He'd even tried tabasco sauce, and found that it wasn't half bad. The evening had been pleasant, but even though the sparks had flown, he still hadn't expected anything of it. It just goes to show ya....the best laid plans of mice and men.

When they'd arrived home, dad was at work. Kyle had made some joke about how the guy was supposed to kiss his date goodnight at the door. Tess had teased back. Something about that only counting when the datees didn't live under the same roof. All the same, she hadn't resisted when he'd stepped in close, slowly reached for her, and brought his lips down to hers for their first kiss. That's when they both got the surprise of their young lives as the sparks turned into a raging inferno. It was as if a sleeping monster had awakened and seized them both in it's grip. This was more than just hormones. This was compulsion and dire need! They stood on the porch for what seemed like forever, kissing, their tongues dueling in an ancient sort of combat that was anything but hostile.

He had hazy memories of the next moments. They were struggling to undress themselves and each other before he could even unlock the door. God only knows if the neighbors saw anything! What followed was a trail of dropped clothing and searing passion that led straight into his bedroom.

An hour later the first clear memory he had was of the afterglow. He was locked in Tess' arms, and trapped inside her body. He'd had sex before. But he suddenly realized that he'd never made love. And now that he knew the difference, he'd never settle for second best again. Tess' blue eyes were wide open, studying his uncertainly. He saw hope written there. And fear. He lowered his lips to hers. "I love you," he said softly. "I think that I've always known it...I was simply to stupid to recognize it. Forgive me?"

Tess' eyes teared up. "I love you, Kyle. I was stupid too. I was so trapped in all that crap that Nasedo taught me that I almost let you pass me by!" She'd pulled him closer and he'd felt her muscles tighten and shift inside. And he felt himself hardening again in response. She rubbed his cheek with her own and he felt her tears on his cheek. "Thank you for loving me." Then her voice lowered to a purr. "And for making love *too* me. I wouldn't know how to begin to make a comparison, but as first times go, that *had* to be a record breaker!"

Kyle had jerked. He ignored his growing desire and pulled back so he could see her face. "First time? You mean that you were...? That you'd never...?"

Tess looked as if she'd bitten into a sour lemon. "I was a virgin, Kyle. Nasedo insisted on it. The future queen of Antar can't be catting around with human boys. He even promised to kill anyone that I took to my bed."

Kyle shuddered. Some father!! "Am I allowed to say that I'm glad that he's no longer with us then?"

Tess smiled. "I don't miss him anymore. Not since you and your dad gave me a place and a family. All he was, was a poor second best. He was vile. Even for an Antarian."

Kyle smiled then, and let his hardness begin to move in her. Then a horrible thought reached out and touched him with a clammy finger. "Tess, what about protection? I was so...wound up...that I didn't even consider. I have condoms...let me...."

Tess had cut him off with a giggle. "Relax silly. I won't get pregnant unless I *want* to. We girls, Isabel and I, we were *built* that way. It's just more molecular manipulation, that's all. I can chose to get pregnant, or not. We were engineered with *very* powerful reproductive systems, both defensive *and* aggressive, and Nasedo taught me how to use mine. I can reject any attempt at fertilization inside, that's the defensive. By the same token, with even a hint of foreign DNA in my womb I can *make* myself pregnant! As long as it's the right time of month! That's the aggressive part of it! I can even get pregnant and delay implantation of the embryo if I want. I guess that the mission planners didn't want to leave anything to chance!"

Kyle sighed with relief. "Does Isabel know about this yet?"

Tess shook her head. "I don't think so. Though the way she's been talking about Alex lately, I should probably educate her. She misses him. And in a way, I don't blame her." She smiled smugly and added...."Now." She moved under him. "However Love, I can deal with later. Right now my Lover seems to have something 'pressing' that requires my urgent attention."

What followed was slow and extended time of love making. It had been a revelation for both of them. So much so that when they'd finally admitted that they couldn't go on and showered together to clean up, parting for the night had been painful. Even though they were only yards from each other, the gap had felt like light-years. All the same they were able to stay in their separate sleeping arrangements because they were both aware of a curious fact. They could sense each other. They were each hyper-aware of the other's emotional state and relative physical position. They were developing a connection.

Months rolled by in Kyle's restored memory as their secret affair continued. Hiding it from his father had taken virtuoso performances on both their parts. For they both had no doubt that, had Jim discovered them, one of them would have to move. And Kyle had no intention of seeing Tess out in the street because he couldn't keep it in his pants.

Tess and he had worked on that connection. Trying different things. Emotions, thoughts, memories. They still weren't very good at it. They still hadn't risen much beyond that initial awareness. They'd thought of approaching Max and Liz for coaching, but Tess had vetoed the idea. Her own behavior had been pretty rotten up until then, she admitted as much herself. And with the broken nature of Max and Liz's relationship at the moment, revealing their own growing romance might have been like rubbing salt in the wounds.


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 17-Oct-2002 3:51:25 AM ]
posted on 1-Oct-2002 5:03:47 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 13d
(Thanks For The Memories)

Then came that night at Buckley Point. They'd given everyone the slip, gone up there and spread a blanket, and made love under the stars. They were taking a break when Tess rolled over and turned away from him. She scooted back against him for warmth. The night was warm enough, but there was a faint breeze. Kyle pulled her close and drew half of the blanket over them both. Between that and the post orgasmic lassitude they were both as comfortable as anyone since the beginning of time. But Kyle was aware of her feelings. She was vaguely upset. Something was there. It had been there since the first time that they'd made love...bothering her.

Kyle squeezed her gently. "Penny?"

Tess sighed. "Only a penny?"

Kyle snorted. "Okay a dollar, but that's maximum bid!" He sighed and kissed her neck. "C'mon Princess, I know that something is bothering you. Spill!"

Tess sighed and rolled over. "Why did you sleep with Liz?"

Kyle gulped. He didn't know what to say.

Tess blinked slowly. "It's all over school. It was months ago, before Copper Summit. Before *us*. I know that I have no right to complain. It was before *us*. And I've been a pretty shitty person to just about everyone. But do you have any idea what it makes me feel like sometimes? Like I can't win. Like Liz Parker can take any guy I want from me just by crooking her finger. First Max, then you." She paused. "Can she take you from me Kyle? Please tell me before this goes further? It'll hurt, but it'll hurt less than if I find out later."

Kyle had sworn to keep the secret, but he didn't think that it extended to this. He wasn't going to hurt her with this. "I didn't sleep with Liz. It was a con."

Tess looked startled. "What?!"

Kyle sighed. "You know the sort of martyr she can be! Ever since you and Nasedo showed up she's been trying to drive Max away, towards you and his destiny. It was just a last ditch attempt to get the job done. She loves him. I don't doubt it for a second. But she sees it as being for his own good. So she set it up. Let Max see us in bed together, like we'd just had sex."

Tess frowned. "And you went along with this? Do you have any idea what it *did* to Max? It damned near killed him!"

Kyle looked guilty. "I was never particularly fond of Evans to begin with, even though he *did* save my life. I hated owing him. I hated that he'd taken Liz from me. But I'd learned to live with it. Besides, Liz was acting panicky. Desperate. Like that fate of the world was depending on her slipping Evans into your bed. I couldn't say no to her, and I had no particular reason to care how Max felt about it."

Tess nodded. "Well you'd *better* care how *I* feel about it!" She sighed. "It's my own damned fault I suppose. Those stinking mind warps I used are still working."

Kyle jerked back. "Mind warps? You mind warped Liz?"

Tess looked a little sick and nodded. "And Isabel. And Max. I had to. Nasedo wouldn't tolerate any delay in getting *his* plan on track. And Liz was a major road block. It was either me mind warping her, or Nasedo killing her outright. I took the former course. Though I didn't do what he wanted me to. He wanted me to drive her crazy. Or take her mind apart and put it back together in a manner, such that she wouldn't give a damn about Max Evans. I settled for accentuating her best feature and using it against her. Her nobility. Her instinct to self-sacrifice. That satisfied Nasedo enough to stay his blood lust, yet it gave me an opening with Max. What I hadn't counted on was their connection. Every time I'd make headway with one of them, the other would unconsciously reach out and bolster their other half. It was maddening. It was the same with Isabel and Alex." She sighed in self-disgust. "But, if I hadn't tried something to break them up, that murderous idiot would have simply killed every human they were involved with the first week we were in town. He hated this planet, and he loathed humans. With him it wasn't so much needing a good reason to kill them. Their being there and being human was reason enough. He simply saw it as a balance sheet, and that keeping them 'not dead' was marginally less trouble than the alternative...as long as I did his bidding." She sighed again. "I should have taken care of this mess long ago! If I'm going to stay around here, I think I owe it to them to tell the truth and clean up the damage I've caused...don't you?"

Kyle looked at her. There was frank sincerity in her eyes. "They may not believe you."

Tess nodded. "I know. And it's my own damned fault. And Nasedo's. But it might help if a certain someone made a clean breast of things as well."

Kyle shook his head. "I promised Liz....."

Tess cut him off. "Bullshit. That whole scam was predicated on the idea that Max and I have a Destiny. Guess what? Not happening! The only destiny I care about now....," she leaned in and kissed him, "....is this one! The other was Nasedo's idea. Nasedo's training!" She cuddled close. "*This* is ours! All your silence is doing now, is prolonging the agony of two people that we're going to spend a lifetime being close to...whether we like it or *not*! Let's get things back on the right foot, shall we?"

Kyle sighed, then nodded. And silently prayed that Liz wouldn't beat him to death with a shovel when the truth came out.

Tess smiled. "Thanks Buddha Boy!" She kissed him passionately. "Now I believe that when we came out here, you said something about 'seconds'?

Kyle grinned. That was his Tess! The 'cut to the chase' girl. "Or possible thirds, but lets stick with seconds for now. He ran his hand over her hip and down her thigh hungrily as she purred and pulled herself close to claim his mouth. Her thigh slid over his legs and her leg hooked him in possessively. "Let's make love again," she whispered.

An unmeasured time later they were both sated again, still joined together they were letting their hearts slow. Kyle kissed her shoulder and licked his lips, tasting the salty spicy tang of her perspiration. He was so damned happy at the moment that nothing this side of kryptonite was going to bring him down. He was about to say so when Tess screamed. Kyle felt something seize his neck roughly and snatch him out of Tess' reach. He was shaken like terrier shakes a rat and tossed against a tree where he lay groaning.

Kryptonite. Verily, verily I say unto you, ask and ye shall receive. Whether you actually *want* it or not!

Kyle returned to semi-awareness to the sound of voices in heated argument.

Tess, and someone else. A younger male.

He groaned, then he felt himself yanked up on to his knees and restrained by hands with pitiless strength.

"Well, well!" came that annoying adolescent voice, "it looks like you 'pet' is awake, Highness!

Kyle's vision cleared and he found himself looking at an adolescent boy hunkered down in front of him. Light was being cast in the clearing by a glowing ball that hovered rock steady about twenty feet off the ground. A still naked Tess was being restrained by two people. A man and a woman. Their faces betrayed no feelings whatever, and by the look of it they were as strong as whoever had *him* restrained. Tess was alternating between cursing a blue streak, and struggling. Neither one seemed to be making an impression on their captors.

Kyle shook his head. Good, nothing rattled. He focused on the boy in front of him. The description that he'd heard, matched. "You'd be Nicholas, wouldn't you?"

Nicholas nodded with a mirthless grin. "Score one for the cave man! That's right human. I was just having a word with Her Highness and you can see that her conversational skills are somewhat limited at the present moment. Now that you're awake though, the conversation will be *ever* so much more productive!" Nicholas stood up and Kyle tilted his head back to follow. "Perhaps we can get past these death threats she keeps insisting on making, and get something useful done." With that Nicholas fist whipped out and cuffed Kyle in the face. Kyle saw stars.

Tess shrieked. "Leave him alone you pimple pocked little bastard! Your business is with me!"

Nicholas made a tsking noise. "My dear, *my* business is with whomever I choose for it to be with. Don't mind my horse play with Mr. Valenti. He understands that he and I are natural enemies....and I don't mean because we come from different planets either. I've been stuck on this pest hole world in an inferior husk for fifty years now. In the beginning it was thought that my present husk configuration would be beneficial because no one notices a boy of my apparent age and appearance." His voice assumed a bitter tone. "Who knew that one of the drawbacks would be...that no one notices a boy of my apparent age and appearance. Except of course for people like our Kyle here." Nicholas wrapped his hand in Kyle's hair and yanked back savagely, his face was set in a rictus of hate. "Try being the butt of every joke that 'older' boys can think of for fifty years, while knowing that you can kill them all with a casual thought...and that you can't. It wore thin in the first decade."

Nicholas released Kyle. "But I'm not here to settle old scores, oh no. That would take burning this miserable mud ball down to bed rock. And, while I may get my wish someday, I have other things to attend to tonight!" He turned towards Tess. "My dear, I'll never understand this fascination that you royals seem to have acquired for crossing racial lines. If the human authorities knew, they'd pass a law forbidding it. They have before you know. What's the matter with your own species?"

Tess glared at him. "He's as much *my* species as any Antarian you moron! I'm half human! And he's more of a *man* than you'll ever be...in *or* out of that stinking husk."

Rather than flying into a petty rage, Nicholas smiled gently. "Perhaps. But can he do this?" Nicholas' hand caressed the top of Kyle's head gently, and pain screamed along his neural pathways. Pain so searing that it stole his ability to scream. He was only able to gasp out his agony.

Tess uttered a vile curse and struggled against the Skins holding her.

Nicholas removed his hand from Kyle and the pain stopped coming, Kyle shook his head slowly, trying to clear the cobwebs. He was panting heavily. He didn't know how many shots like that he could stand. "Just what the hell do you want with us? If you were going to kill us, you would have already. So you obviously want something."

Nicholas smirked. "You're pretty intelligent as trained monkeys go, Valenti. Though, to be honest, I want nothing from *you*. All you are is leverage. What I want is for Tess to keep Nasedo's bargain with my Master."

Tess shook her head. "Never! I might have once, but not now! I'd rather be dead!"

Nicholas shook his head in mock sadness. "Highness, that is *no* way to conduct a negotiation...not that this *is* a negotiation. This is *me* giving *you* orders! You *will* fulfill the bargain, or you'll watch your pets die! First our friend Kyle here, then his father. Your 'family' you might say!"

Tess grinned savagely. "I can't fulfill the bargain without knowing how to operate the Granolith. And the instructions are in The Book. And not only did Nasedo write it in Antarian, the sneaky bastard encrypted it as well. Who are you going to get to read those instructions? Your flunky Whittaker already killed the only person who could, this side of a super computer."

Nicholas sneered. "I'm sorry to disappoint you 'Highness', but I've already dealt with that objection." Nicholas waved his hand sharply and two more of his soldiers appeared from out of the darkness, marching someone between them. The boy stood blinking in the light. Both Tess and Kyle recognized him.

Kyle gasped. "Alex?"

Alex stood zombie-like as Nicholas walked over to him. "Save your breath Kyle. He can't hear you until I let him. It took me only a few hours to rework him into a good little servant, while leaving his skills intact."

Tess looked frightened, but held her ground. "What's to keep me from breaking the deal?"

Nicholas shrugged. "Do it, and see what happens. There will always be one or more of my people in deep cover, and within reach of the monkey boy and his father. Fail me and they die." Nicholas walked slowly around Alex, looking him up and down like a zoological specimen. "And as for tall, pale, and spindly here, he's already dead. K'var's orders. He was dead the instant he laid a hand on Vilandra. He just didn't know it. You can't rewrite memories my dear, but *I* can. And what he will remember is that *you* did this to him. So, assuming that he lives long enough to tell anyone anything at all....what he'll tell them is that *you* did it my dear. Because that's what he'll remember." Tess looked sick as Nicholas went on. "Our good friend Alex here is about to get a last minute shot at a student exchange to Sweden. I've already worked over the memories of his parents and the school administrators. As far as they're concerned he'll board a plane tomorrow night for Stockholm. Where he'll *actually* be is holed up in a cubby hole at NMSU Las Cruces with one of this planet's most advanced super computers. I've taken care of things at *that* end too. *He* will decrypt the book for you. Then he *will* die."

Tess shook her head. "Why kill him at all? Surely taking Isabel from him will hurt badly enough to please K'var?" She was trying to stall.

Nicholas flashed a sadistic smile as his foot lashed out against the back of Alex's legs, causing him to collapse to his knees. Alex's expression never changed. Nicholas circled to the front and stroked his cheek, almost fondly. "I won't kill him dear girl, you will. I've placed him under a long lasting mind warp. It's strong, but it will degrade with time...unless you give him frequent 'booster shots'. And, sooner or later, even *they* won't be enough. He'll remember what happened, or what he *thinks* happened. Then the destruct command I've placed in his subconscious will trigger a fatal brain hemorrhage. And you *can't* undo it. You lack the strength and the skill, Highness. Sooner or later you won't be able to keep him alive any longer, and he will die."

Tess began to cry now. Tears of helpless rage. "What's to stop me from simply blowing the whistle on the whole thing?"

Nicholas shrugged carelessly. "The same as before. The Valenti's will die. And besides, who would believe you. Nasedo's attitude conditioning made certain that you would have no friends here, that no one will trust you now."

Kyle spoke up now, trying to give Tess time to regain her composure. "Just exactly what is this bargain that she's supposed to fulfill?"

Nicholas turned and grinned. "Ah! It speaks! Well young Valenti, I see no harm in telling you, besides I've always had a secret longing to play the cliched villain role....even if my voice won't allow for really good sinister maniacal laugher." His grin broadened. "You'll just have to trust me on the maniac issue." He paused. "Now, where was I...ah yes...the bargain. You won't remember it soon enough to do anyone any good...if indeed you live to remember at all. You see, Nasedo didn't exactly volunteer to be here. He hated the planet, it's people, and the mission. He had a plan before he ever left Antar. After ten years of trying to stay out of the clutches of the human authorities he contacted us. He offered us a deal and we took it. When the time came he would abandon the Royal Four to their fate, with the exception of that girl with the goose bumps over there. Her he would take and train to fulfill a revised mission. One quite different from the original. When they were old enough, he would return her to them. She would then seduce Zan, conceive a child with him, and convince the others to return to Antar....where they would be executed on arrival. Tess would deliver a royal heir which K'var could place on the throne to quell lingering resentment among the commons, and peace would reign. Elegant, isn't it?"

Kyle looked puzzled. "If that's the case, why kill Jello-Man if he was your buddy?"

Nicholas grinned. His eyes held no sanity at all, at least none that any human could recognize. "It's an elemental truth in the cloak and dagger game, one that even *your* backward race understands. Ranging from your intelligence community, down to every cuckolded lover that ever lived. If someone will betray their trust to *you*, then they will probably betray *your* trust to someone else. Never trust a traitor any longer than you have to. With the long laid plans in motion, we simply didn't need him any longer."

Kyle looked him up and down. "I'm with Tess. I'd *rather* be dead than see her go through with this!"

Nicholas studied him clinically, then shrugged. "All right," he said as he walked forward with a glowing hand.

Kyle closed his eyes and waited to die. He was still waiting when Tess screamed. "Stop it Nicholas! I'll do it! Damn you to hell, I'll do it!"

Kyle's eyes snapped open, and he looked at his lover. Tess looked beaten. Resigned. Whether it was the desperation of the moment, or simply a natural occurrence, Kyle didn't know. But he'd been pushing desperately at their connection, now it flared to a full, if flickering, life. He could feel her defeat as if it were his own. Her acknowledgment that she...just...could...not...win. He answered with defiance and love, and felt her surprise as she became aware of his intrusion. Then came something else....

"~Kyle? Is that you? Can you hear me?~"

It was faint, and far away. Like a desperate cry in a high wind, but he heard it.

"~I might have known that something like this would happen~," he responded, with a wry gallows humor. "~You never told me that this sort of thing was contagious.~"

"~Stop clowning around Kyle! We don't have long! I had nothing to do with this. It's new to me too...~"

The connection faded out for a moment, then snapped back.

"~KYLE!~"

Kyle winced at the volume. "~I'm here Babe.~"

"~Thank God! I thought I'd lost you!~" came the response.

Kyle sighed internally. "~Tess, don't do this. Let him kill me...dad would feel the same way.~" He felt her despair.

"~No Kyle, I can't do that. Call me weak if you want, but I can't. Nasedo always claimed that human emotions were a weakness, and I suppose he's right. I never understood Max and Liz's need to be together. I thought that it was just sex....and I could provide that as well as she could. To me love was a theoretical concept, one that Nasedo taught me that I was better off without. In a twisted sort of way, he was right. It's a Catch-22 Kyle. If you and your dad hadn't taught me how to love, I could let you die to stop Nicholas. But then again, if you hadn't taught me how to love, I wouldn't *want* to stop Nicholas. No, we're beaten. All I can work for now is your life, and your dad's life. Someday, you can tell them the truth...I hope. I can't. I don't know if that little bastard told the truth or not, but if there are Skins in town, then I don't dare spill anything. Not even after the fact through a letter or a note. Because they could find out and act after I'm gone as well as not....and I wouldn't be here to protect you and dad.~"

Kyle winced as he caught Tess' last sentence. She'd referred to his dad as just..'dad'. As in *her* dad. "~What do you want me to do?~"

"~Don't fight back. Just let it happen.~" She paused. "~And tell them I'm sorry. About everything. Most of all about what's going to happen to Alex. I'd change it if I could.~"

"~I love you, Tess.~"

"~I love you too. Because of that, there's one more thing that you need to know. When I leave, I'll take something of you with me. You remember my lecture on my reproductive system?~"

Kyle felt an icy chill. "~Yes.~"

"~Well, as of about ninety seconds ago, you're going to be a father. I love you, Kyle.......~"

The connection died, and all efforts on his part to restore it were futile. The exchange had gone unnoticed, since Nicholas, after acknowledging Tess' acceptance, had turned to talk quietly to the to guards holding Alex. The news that Tess had decided to become the mother of his child infused Kyle with desperate strength. He surged to his feet, in spite of his captor's strength.

"NO!" was all that he managed to say before Nicholas turned and waved his hand, slamming Kyle into the tree behind him once more. Kyle collapsed. He was only half conscious when he heard Nicholas issue his orders. "Let her get dressed, then take her and the Whitman boy back to Roswell. I need some time alone with our other young friend before he'll be safe to be released." There was a pause. "Tess, the boy is your responsibility now. He'll appear normal to everyone else, but he'll be totally responsive to your orders. Don't screw this up or your pet monkey here will be deader than you were the last time."

Tess spoke gently. "C'mon Alex, let's go home."

Alex spoke for the first time, uncertainly, sounding lost. "Home?"

Tess' voice broke. "Ye-e-s, home," she quavered. She placed the barest emphasis on the last word. But it was enough.

"Just a minute," came Nicholas' voice. There was a long pause. "Highness, I'm not too sure that I trust fear itself to keep you in line. You're docile enough right now, almost too docile. I think I need more assurance that your newly discovered human side won't gum up the works." Then he seemed to be addressing someone else. "Hold her! Bring it!"

Kyle made out Tess sharp intake of breath. Their connection flickered briefly revealing mind numbing fear and disgust.

"That isn't necessary," she said. "I'll do as you say! I...." Her voice cut off in a terrible shriek that made Kyle fight harder to regain control of his rebellious body. She was sobbing now, with tones of bitter humiliation.

Nicholas laughed. "Now, that wasn't so bad, was it? And *I* feel *much* better about the situation. I see Nasedo told you about these...things. Well, if he did, then you know what happens if you resist. You will tell no one about your mission or anything pertaining to it. You won't even *think* of revealing it. Not in voice or print. Not anymore." Again he was addressing others. "Take them back to Roswell now, and don't let yourself be seen dumping them!"

Kyle was struggling to pull himself upright when he heard the sounds of departing footsteps and Tess' fading sobs. When he managed to drag himself erect the clearing was empty, except for Nicholas, two flunkies, and himself. He turned a murderous glare on the aliens, which Nicholas found terribly funny. Still laughing he motioned his men to restrain Kyle. Staying true to Tess' request he made no effort to resist. With his chuckles fading Nicholas walked up and gave a preemptory gesture. Kyle found himself slammed to his knees and held.

Nicholas stood with his hands on his hips regarding Kyle with as much bemusement, as humor. "My, you *are* house broken, aren't you?"

Kyle's glare intensified. "What'd you do to her you little son of a bitch?!"

Nicholas shrugged. "It's called a sa'erdos. In it's natural state it looks like an ounce of half congealed gelatin. It's artificial, what my race calls a quasi-lifeform. It soaks in through the skin and takes up residence in the body. It's function is simple. Pain. The threat to your life was enough to start her on the road to completing Nasedo's bargain with us. The sa'erdos will keep her from straying. As she might, if the pitiful look she was giving the Whitman boy is any indication. If she tries to tell anyone, or even write an explanation, she will experience pain. The harder she tries, the more it hurts. And if she actually manages to do it, the pain will kill her. And she still cares enough about herself, I think, to avoid that. You may have humanized her, monkey boy, but I don't think that she's had time to develop that disgusting tendency to self-sacrifice that your race cherishes so much. She won't be willing to die to thwart me...even partially."

Kyle snarled wordlessly.

Nicholas started in mock fright. "Housebroken, but not altogether tamed I see. Well, the question begs, what *am* I to do with you? I'd prefer to simply kill you, but that might make Her Highness petulant." He paused in thought. "I spoke the truth you know. I will never understand the Royals' infatuation with you monkey people. I've been more tempted than I can say to....extract the Parker girl, or the DeLuca girl, and give one of them a...test drive. Just to see what the attraction is."

Kyle's mouth broke into a savage grimace. "To use your own words pip-squeak, try it and see what happens. They've been holding back so far. Give Evans or Guerin a reason and they'll go medieval on your ass."

Nicholas foot lashed out, catching Kyle in the ribs. "Mind your manners monkey boy. I can *still* kill you!"

Gasping for breath, Kyle shrugged as well as he could. "Go ahead. That's one less hostage to keep Tess in line." It was a hollow threat. Kyle knew that, with his child inside her, she wouldn't risk her own death. Without the baby she might choose to die to derail the plan. But not now, not with another life depending on hers. Nicholas had the ultimate hostage, and he didn't even know it.

Nicholas grinned and shook his head. "Oh no...you don't get off that easily little man. Now the question is, do I erase your memories? Or do I simply warp you? With an erasure, I'll leave you to believe her a traitor the rest of your life...which may hurt somewhat. With a warp, it will wear off eventually. And you'll remember all of this. You'll know that she loved you, and that *I* took her from you. Now *that* would make thinking her a traitor look like a skinned knee! But that's still not *final* enough! Hmmmm...." Nicholas began humming to himself as he made a show of thinking it over. "I feel like I'm on Jeopardy here. Where's Alex Trabek when you need him? Alex? I'll take clueless monkey boys for five hundred! Erasure or warp?"

Nicholas stretched the moment as long as he could, gloating. Then he reached out and twisted his hand in Kyle's hair, yanking his head back. "I have the very thing. A mind warp it will be! But you're going to get the super deluxe job that the geek boy did, with all the trimmings. You'll remember all right, someday. Then a blood vessel in your brain....ab-o-o-ut...r-I-I-ght...*here*...." Nicholas used the knuckles of of his free hand to rap on the side of Kyle's skull. "....will burst like a balloon." He grinned. "It's the best of all possible worlds for me. I kill the bitch queen's pet, and you suffer the horror of knowing that she loved you and that you were too *weak* to protect her! *Then* you die! Perfect!"

Kyle gritted his teeth. "One day, I'm going to kill you."

Nicholas shook his head. "Only if you believe in reincarnation."

Kyle grinned. "I do." His grin was genuine. For he'd just realized that Tess had beaten Nicholas by the simplest of means. She was already pregnant with *his* child. There would be no royal heir. But he didn't have time to consider what might happen when the ruse was discovered.

The last thing Kyle remembered of that night's events was the feeling of Nicholas' hand against the side of his head.

And there was pain.

*SLAM*

************************


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 16-Jan-2003 10:58:21 AM ]
posted on 1-Oct-2002 5:07:39 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 13e
(Thanks For The Memories)

"KYLE!" Jim was out of his chair like a shot as Kyle's face went slack, his body was bonelessly limp as he slid from the chair. The reek of singed meat filled the air. The skin of Kyle's palms and lower arms had been burned by the hot metal and plastic of the chair arms.

Jim immediately felt for a pulse. There was a faint flutter, but it was fading rapidly. "Max! Do something! He's dying!"

Max gripped Kyle's hand and tried to connect. "Kyle! You have to look at me! Kyle!" Kyle remained unresponsive. "Damnit! I need eye contact or I can't get in! I can't help him if I can't connect!" Then he felt a hand on his shoulder.

Liz said in a soft voice, "If *you* can't, then maybe *we* can!"

Max didn't even hesitate. He hurled himself into the connection and met Liz coming the opposite way.

*FUSION*

It was awake again, but there was no time to reflect. This was a dire emergency. The kyle was dying. It forced a connection and probed. It detected the ruptured artery and the cause of it immediately. The kyle had been booby trapped! Repairing the artery was the first order of business, followed by dissolving the blood clot and repairing damaged tissue. All the while, bleeding energy into the flickering flame that was the kyle's life force. As It watched the flickering died away. The flame steadied, grew brighter. Once It was certain of It's prognosis, It withdrew. But not before repairing the damage to the kyle's hands and arms...and doing a cursory meme sweep. The kyle was clean. This had been a close call. It considered the situation thoughtfully, then It registered an opinion with it's constituents, to the effect that no more such experiments should be carried out unless It was awake and ready to consult. The emergency over, It returned to sleep....

*FISSION*


In the first moments of the Fusion there had been bedlam. Michael and Maria nearly had to physically restrain Amy from dialing 911. The call would have been futile as well as hazardous, but Amy wasn't listening to reason. Jim had eyes only for his son's face, for he believed that this might be the last time that he would look on it in life. So it was left to Brody to notice that something strange was happening. Max's right hand on Kyle's chest was glowing. So was his left hand as it reached forward to cup the side of Kyle's head. As was Liz's hand where it lay on Max's shoulder. This wasn't what caught Brody's attention though. Glowing hands were passé in the little corner of reality that they inhabited. It was the eyes. Max's eyes had lost their amber hue, and Liz's their normal warm brown. Both now had eyes the color of obsidian. Featureless black. The whites, the irises, the pupils. Black on black. This lasted for some moments before the glow faded from Max's hands, and then from Liz's. By then silence reigned as they all watched what was happening. A moment later both blinked and their eyes were back to normal, Liz kept her hand on his shoulder while Max reached forward and tested the pulse at Kyle's throat. It was strong again.

Then Max sat back on the floor and wept. Indeed tears seemed to be the order of the day for just about everyone. It lasted only a few moments before Jim offered his hand to Max.

"I owe you my son's life a second time."

Max shook his head. "It wasn't me Sheriff. I couldn't make the connection unless Kyle was awake and receptive." He reached up and took Liz's hand. "Apparently our Composite doesn't suffer from that handicap. It forced the connection, and supported his life while it repaired the damage and swept his mind for any residual tampering. There was none."

Liz laughed tremulously as she sniffled and wiped at her eyes. "Our son the doctor."

Max grinned. "It's pretty cocky. When we emerge from the Fusion we know what it's done as if we'd each done it ourselves. This time though it seems to have addressed us directly, like leaving a note."

Michael was curious. "What'd it have to say for itself?"

Liz sniffed. "It rather snootily suggested that we not try any more 'experiments' like this one unless It's with us."

Everyone laughed, and Jim added, "One day when things *aren't* life and death, you'll have to introduce us." He shook his head. "Kids! I guess that know it all 'tude extends to other species...and Composites of species as well. Some things must be universal after all!"

That brought more tension relieving laughter, which was cut off by a groan from Kyle's vicinity. "I didn't realize that me having a brain hemorrhage could provoke laughter. I'll have to have them more often."

"Kyle!" Jim shouted. Other voices added themselves as well. "Kyle, are you okay?" "Man, you scared the crap out of us Valenti!" "Kyle!"

Kyle was sitting up holding his head. He didn't hurt, but he felt dizzy. Hands helped him to his feet and into a different chair. The previous chair was now fit only for the dumpster. His head cleared and he looked up to see Max Evans studying him intently.

"I guess I owe you another one, don't I?" Kyle said.

Max shook his head slowly. "I couldn't do it alone. Liz and I had to Fuse and let our Composite handle it. You were so far gone that I couldn't connect to heal you, but the Composite could force the connection." Max paused. "You said that you had a hemorrhage. That's exactly what happened. How did you know?"

Kyle looked sour. "I remembered...everything. It was a booby trap. A mind warp. A death wish implanted in my subconscious. Remember the wrong things and...POP...you're dead. The same thing was done to Alex. And now I remember it being done to *me*.

Michael cursed vilely. "She's been gone for months and the *bitch* is *still* trying to kill people! She's like a rash that just *won't* go away!"

Kyle shook his head. "It wasn't Tess. It was Nicholas."

Everyone had to sit down after that.

Max spoke first. "I think that you'd better tell us everything that you can recall."

Kyle laid it all out for them, starting from his recognition of the hole in his memory, through his last conscious though before Nicholas went to work on him. They were silent for a long time after he finished.

Kyle had been watching his dad throughout the recounting. Jim had seemed to age visibly. Sagging in on himself. Amy was aware of it as well, and she looked worried. After letting the silence stretch a bit, Kyle spoke.

"Dad? Are you okay?"

Jim looked haunted. "Okay? Define okay. I misjudged her. I should have known."

"Sheriff, we all misjudged her," Liz said. "Me most of all."

Jim laughed hollowly. "Liz, to you it's Jim. To all of you. We've been through too much as an extended family to throw titles around." He paused. "Liz, I realize that we're all guilty to some degree or other. But for Kyle and I it's worse. We were family. We should have known. And now, somewhere far away, she and my grandchild are in the hands of a psychopathic dictator." He rested his head in his hands.

"Jim, we'll get them back," Max said. "If we do nothing else, we'll get them back!"

Michael added, "And we'll find that little prick Nicholas......"

"....and peel him like a banana," Kyle finished.

Kyle and Michael locked eyes. "I've got dibs on him," Kyle said. Michael nodded. They understood one another.

Jim sat up. He looked somewhat better, but still not one hundred percent. "The problem is, she may be dead already, and Kyle's child with her. And the assassins may still be here."

Before anyone else said anything Kyle broke in. "No dad. She's alive. All these months I've been wondering why I couldn't hate her for what she did. Now I know why. It's our connection." He glanced at Max and Liz. "It isn't very developed, but it's there enough for me to know that she's okay. And I have to believe that if she's okay, the baby is too." He paused. "As for the assassins, we know about them now. Hunting them down will be good practice for us."

Liz walked over to Kyle, bent over and hugged him. "It'll be okay," she whispered.

Kyle chuckled faintly. "I know. I have to know it or I'll go nuts." He paused. "Now I think I understand you and Evans better. It was fate."

Liz stood up and smiled at him before going back to where Max was sitting. "No, it was our destiny. Now it's your's too."

Brody chose this moment to intervene. "Well, as meetings of the inner sanctum go, this is one for the books. I assume that we are all in agreement on the Alex and Isabel issue?"

Michael raised his hand. "I still have doubts. I see no problem with doing a *careful* investigation. But this could still be Isabel jumping the tracks coupled with some coincidences. Until I see an empty coffin, I'm against charging off to execute a rescue for a dead man. Even one that I called a close friend."

Brody checked the others by eye. They apparently had fewer reservations, but were more or less in agreement. He nodded at Max.

Max stood up. "Until we have proof, one way or the other, no one mentions anything to Isabel."

No one disagreed.

Max said, "Well I think that this is enough for tonight. We've all had enough trauma to last us a while...."

Maria broke in. "Aren't we forgetting something?"

Max looked at her quizzically, and she pointed.

Kyle exploded, "*That's* the chair I was sitting in! What the hell happened to it??!"

Maria looked apologetic. "*You* happened to it..."


McCleod's Dojo......8:30 PM

Richie walked into the main work out room to find Alex and Duncan sparring with quarter staffs while Amanda was critiquing, and Cassandra played the cheering section. Methos had dropped him off out front before swinging down the alley to park in the rear. His arrival distracted Duncan which allowed Alex to thump him in the head, dropping him to the mat. That gave everyone a good tension relieving laugh...except Duncan. And they needed one right about then, because they knew exactly what Richie and Methos had been up to.

Duncan kept alternating his glare between Richie and Alex. "Alex, I *know* that we covered the rules of combat when I was training you."

Alex stood easily. "Yup, there are rules of fair play. But they don't apply if your opponent is careless enough to let you break them so easily."

Duncan shifted his glare to Amanda. "You're a bad influence on him."

Amanda grinned and shrugged. "He's right. In a real fight he'd have shortened you."

Duncan sighed and slumped in defeat. "I'm surrounded by...." His quarter staff lashed out from his sitting position, taking Alex's feet from under him. "...pragmatists."

That brought another explosion of laughter as Alex hit the mat. By the time it had died down Methos had joined them.

He pulled Duncan to his feet. "Shame on you McCleod. Letting the newbie get past your guard?"

Duncan snorted. "There was no 'let'. Your cohort in crime distracted me." He paused. "Well?"

Methos shrugged. "Ask Richie, I already think that it's perfect for our needs.

Duncan looked over at Richie who nodded. "Yup. I'd agree with that. It's in good shape for it's age...or even for a building a third it's age. It's over built, with thick walls, and plenty of brick and stone work. So it'll be fire resistant. And it's a regular fortress."

Methos chuckled. "Best of all, we were followed."

Duncan nodded. "I know, Joe called me. That means that Britanicus will know about it by tonight." He paused to think. "I think that we should start moving in there tomorrow." He looked at Methos. "You and the girls first. Richie and I will keep things running here a day longer, then we'll follow with Alex. I want Britanicus to be certain that he can find us all in one place. It'll make him confident. I hope that it makes him *over* confident."

Methos nodded. "Since I have to play point man at the nut house, how about letting me take the hunt tonight?"

Cassandra spoke up. "Are you sure? You've been out all day. You aren't tired?"

Duncan and Amanda exchanged a look. Duncan answered, "No problem. I wouldn't mind staying in tonight."

Amanda added, "You'll be sleeping alone for a while Junior. If I'm with Methos tomorrow, then I want some playtime tonight as well."

Duncan shrugged. "Doesn't bother me. You hog the covers."

Amanda mock glared at him. "Keep it up. You'll sleep alone *all* night. But *I* won't." She smiled winningly at Alex and Richie. "Want to cut cards for the honor, boys?"

Alex and Richie glanced at each other. "Not a chance in hell," Richie said with a grin. "I like my head on my shoulders where it belongs."

Amanda grinned back. "Chicken, you'll never know what you missed." She glanced at Alex who raised his hands and crossed his fingers in cruciform. "No thanks, I'm not suicidal."

Duncan grinned. "Being the alpha male doth have it's advantages."

Amanda walked over to him and pulled him into a kiss. When it was over she whispered, "Just bear in mind who the alpha female is, Junior."

Methos sighed. "Not to rain on the parade of strutting egos here, but time is wasting." He glanced at Cassandra. "Cass, are you staying the night again?"

She shook her head. "If we're moving out tomorrow I should go home and take care of a few things. We may not be free to come back for days."

Methos sighed. "Okay, I'll run you home, then come back for the hunt."

Richie shook his head. "I'll take her Adam, it'll save time."

Methos looked ready to argue, but couldn't think of a good reason to do so. So he nodded his thanks.

Amanda stood up. "Well, we'd better get this show on the road. I have to get ready to hunt, and Cass needs to get her stuff together. So we'll see you boys in a bit."

Alex had been silent through most of the conversation. "Hang on ladies, I'll go with. I want to hit the showers and get changed anyway."

They entered the elevator together. Once the door closed, Richie nodded to Duncan and Methos. "I'll see you guys later. I'm going to go bring my bike around for Cass."

Methos winced. "Oh no you don't. You *don't* take Cass on that bullet with wheels!" He reached into his pocket. Pulling his keys out he tossed them to Richie. "Take my SUV."

Richie looked at Duncan and grinned, shaking his head. With that he headed for the door to the alley to get the SUV.

Methos watched him leave then turned to Duncan. "What the hell was that about? Is there some sub-text around here that I don't know about?"

Duncan contemplated the ceiling. "Methos, the only ones with a sub-text around here are you and Cass. After five thousand years, I'd have thought that you'd have gotten past wearing your heart on your sleeve."

Methos winced. "I'm that obvious?"

Duncan looked him up and down. Thought it over for a minute and said..."Yup."

Meanwhile upstairs, Alex was about to get ready to hit the showers when he realized that his sword was still downstairs. "Damn! If Duncan notices he'll kick my ass for letting it get beyond arm's reach," he muttered. There was nothing to do but go back for it. He started down the hall towards the main loft, then slowed to a halt. The elevator was slow, noisy, and obvious. That was the last thing that he wanted to be. He reversed direction and made for the back stairs. Moving quietly he negotiated the stairs, and arrived at the door to the work out room in time to hear Methos say... "Of course I love her, but I promised to give her space and time. Now I'm breaking that bargain!"

Duncan answered. "Look my friend, Cass is a big girl. If she didn't like the protective attitude, she'd let you know. Believe me. Just let it run loose and easy. She'll come around sooner than you think!"

Methos sighed. "I'm trying. You'd think that after all these millennia I'd be able to keep from behaving like a love struck school boy."

Alex grinned. Methos had it bad!

"I just don't want this latest thing to come between us, even as friends," Methos went on.

Duncan was silent for a moment then answered. "That wasn't her fault. It was mine. I'm the one that asked her to put a damper on this Isabel's night time intrusions."

Alex froze. "Isabel?!"

Methos sighed again. "I'll bear that in mind." He muttered impatiently. "What's keeping Amanda? That dose of forgetfulness that Cass gave both of them makes it imperative that we run that little cabrone Conterras down before he follows through on his threat against the girl."

Alex was beginning to sweat. What the hell had happened? Forgetfulness?

Duncan chuckled. "Relax old man. He won't try anything as long as Alex is alive. He's too much of a coward to do anything else." He paused. "Let's go see what's keeping them. If they've started talking men...that would be you and me....they may be all night. And Richie is probably sitting at the curb by now."

Alex heard the elevator descend. He heard the doors open and close, then he heard it rise. He emerged from hiding and slowly walked over to retrieve his sword, which had gone unnoticed by McCleod. But the sword was the least of his concerns now. He turned and looked at the elevator. They'd made him forget. Forget what? And why? Conterras had threatened Isabel?

Alex's eyes narrowed. He pulled his sword from it's scabbard and studied it carefully. It needed sharpening.

He turned and walked slowly through the stairway door headed upstairs...to find his whet stone.

End of Part 13

Finally! I've been getting hammered all night at work. Getting this posted was hellish. Let me know what ya think!

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 17-Oct-2002 4:23:56 AM ]
posted on 1-Oct-2002 9:46:28 PM
Hiya Folks! Mixed reactions like I expected...

ladylou You passed up chocolate? For ME?! Good heavens girl! I never meant to make *anyone* suffer like that! I hereby order you to buy a box of Godivas and gorge! Ya here me! I don't write another cotton pickin' word until you've had a chocolate binge!

DZ LOL Aside from my wife's request, I really couldn't pass on the K/T chemistry. The pity is that her image is so damaged (along with the rest of the characters as well) by those hamhanded hacks on the show that even if I fix her properly, many people still aren't going to like her. *sigh* There've been 'Die Tess Die' fics around since season one. And I've enjoyed them. But killing her is too easy. Making her evil is the expected. Rehabing her believeably is the hard road. *deeper sigh* Just call me 'the road less traveled by' kind of guy. Regarding Kyle and Tess' baby being the one I need later....no. But keep guessin'. I'll give you a hint though. By now the prospective mother is already pregnant. *wink*

Regarding the complexities of the story...I just hope that *I* don't create any CHADS. I hated them on the show.

Duchess I'm glad that you're diggin' it. You seem to be channeling me as well. Dear Alex is going to go 'on the warpath' shortly.

My wife read your feedback. *g* She blushes and thanks you. And she sends you this link. Follow it and look for "Lost and Found" and "Lost and Found 2" by imloco2.

Thanks for the ego boo!

Tn Aw c'mon! Tell me what ya *really* think! *g* Thanks kiddo. Hope you had a good one down under! Ready for a date? What do you think Richie would like? Quiet and demure? Loud and Trashy? *g*

Tharos I didn't do it I tell ya! It was my evil twin!!!!! Ya can't do this to me! I'm too young to write foreve-e-e-er! A screaming KK is dragged away by the baliffs

MaryJean I'm just sorry I had to make you wait until today to finish it. Damn real life anyway! As for Alex...*eg*...I haven't decided yet. Though you guys will be the first to know when I do. *wink*

RoswellLady As I told MJ, I haven't decided on Alex's warp yet. I may not do so until I'm actually writing the passage. I guess I just have to follow the Muse. *wink* I've strained to keep the Composite gender neutral from my POV. But people tend to assign gender. Big and powerful=masculine. And I let the characters make that slip. Regarding a possible Evans junior...I ain't sayin'. For the same reason I'm tormenting DZ about Kyle and Tess' baby. *wink*

Everybody Thanks again for the FB and all those patient bumps. Now, for those of you of the hardline Dreamer persuasion, I'm not going to torture you with mega-doses of Tess. Her appearances will be infrequent until the last story, when it all 'comes together'. (deliberate and cold blooded foreshadowing in the name of reader torture) I just hope I remember to clean up after myself the way the writers of the show...DIDN'T. No loose threads!

Okay, all you Farscape people. I have a message concerning some fan/viewer rallys upcoming from my wife. The show is canceled, but it ain't dead yet. The fans are still fighting hard. Follow this link and spread the word. There will be VIP's there, flown in on donations, and at fan expense. Gigi Edgely (spelling corrected by an embarrassed KK...on orders from Missus KK. *wink*) among them. They will be signing autographs...but being out of work now, they'll be charging. Spread the WORD! We can still turn this around with enough attention. CNN *will be in attendence!*

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 2-Oct-2002 10:21:46 AM ]
posted on 2-Oct-2002 10:31:40 PM
Ladylou Well, whatever your favorite chocolatey goodness is, I demand that you indulge. Woman (or man) does not live by fanfic alone! *wink*

LmiC2001 I'm sketching out part 14 as we speak. *big*

Tn LoL I'd call it Oz-isms. Not to worry, I've had friends in the land of Oz (as well as Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod) before. Though hearing Aussies sing the praises of Tim Tams has made me...curious. *g*

Conachar I'm thinking of bringing Ava in at some point. I'm still looking for an opening. Plus I want to put Lonnie and Rath underground once and for all.

Rim Wait and watch my friend. The pace will increase shortly.

Malaskor Let me get this straight. I'm attracting Steve Pantovich fans? *bounce* I am soooo not worthy. *big* Alex's reaction to Tess will have to wait a long time. This is being planned as a trilogy. And her return isn't coming in this story. *wink* It will be interesting though.

Hmmmm. Where be this Journeyverse board? As for my fic in a downloadable form, it's archived at Ladybold's Fanfic Archive. Though I've lately been remiss about sending her updates. I think that it's only up to part 8 there.
posted on 4-Oct-2002 6:56:37 AM
Robbin Welcome aboard! Ya know, every time someone heaps praise on me over this story I have to look and see who's standing behind me. My feeling is one of...'Who? Me?' I'm glad that you like it. The trilogy actually might end up being a tetrology. Ya see, there's a story that I want to write...that I have to write...between this one and the next one. It may end up being really short, but it's needed. More I will not say. *wink* Thanks again for the FB.

Tn They sound yummy. *big* Anything like Oreos?
posted on 4-Oct-2002 7:15:04 AM
Conachar This series will keep me busy for a long time to come, but there are a number of stories that I have in mind. One that I burn to write is a crossover adaptation of Roswell and Hal Clement's "The Needle". Clement's story is about an alien cop chasing an alien serial killer. They both pile up their ships on Earth. The hook is that their species are symbiotes. They live in partnership with a host species. No superpowers to speak of...though they can work wonders keeping their host alive after serious injury. Like, for example, getting skewered in the heart with a barbeque spit. *wink* Anyway, the cop..named Hunter...ends up in residence in a teenage boy. The quarry ends up....well, you'll have to read the book.

Pern would be an interesting crossover, but I can't think of a suitable hook for it yet. Give me time.... *big*

Laters my friend....
posted on 4-Oct-2002 9:56:56 AM
Duchess Well, that's good to know. Her privilege, but rather silly of her. To be honest, I was discussing this with several people, and I've reached the conclusion that, the way the fic phenomenon is growing (courtesy of the internet), it's only a matter of time before the entertainment industry at large starts coming down on fic writers. Five years? Ten? Twenty? Who knows? But I see it like this, why invest emotionally in a series when some idiot can go and screw it up beyond all recognition? Or an even bigger idiot can get it canceled? As an article in an LA paper said..."Would you buy a book if you knew the last hundred pages were missing? Or see a movie if you knew that you couldn't watch the last ten minutes?" Episodic TV and books make this demand of consumers..routinely. People will, more and more, focus on the fic a series generates. Which, of course, generates no income to the series creators. Sooner or later, they're gonna follow Anne's lead and land on us with both feet. Either that, or they'll go under.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 4-Oct-2002 10:25:22 AM ]
posted on 4-Oct-2002 8:14:24 PM
RoswellLady I don't need to tell her. *wink* Even though crossovers aren't her thing, she does peruse this thread on occasion. *big* I try to be welcoming. Substantial feedback deserves a substantial reply.

My Loving Wife *kiss* Hi Honey!

Breathless Have you ever read Bob Heinlein's "Number Of The Beast"? In it, there's a concept explored that's really kinda wild. That all realities can be equally "real". Even the ones that we create here. Call me weird, but when I write I'm sort of playing God with these characters. So I take the POV that if I had to face them someday, in the flesh, would I be able to look them in the eye and know that I'd done right by them? JK didn't do right by any of the characters, especially Tess. I'm trying to do better. It isn't hard. Wonder Warthog could do better than JK and his merry Krew.

Hmmm, there's an idea in there. A dramady about a fic writer sucked into his or her own fic universe. *g* Entitle it..."A Fan-tasy"? *wink*

BTW Deb.....The fact that you manage to find time to read my mauderings, let alone leave FB, despite a demanding RL and producing two of the finest fics on this board (or any other) is much appreciated. Thank You!


Duchess I'd heard that somewhere about Rice. I seem to recall some BtVS fic writers that borrowed from her work, and ended up having to take their work down. Yet another piece of egoistic stupidity on the part of a writer. In her case though, I've gotten the distinct feeling that balance of sanity-wise, she's a half bubble off of plumb. Once I'm done with the last story, I'd welcome any writer to come and play in my Universe, with a "happy ending/conventional couple" stipulation. I'd find it flattering.

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posted on 5-Oct-2002 10:44:15 AM
Mrs. KK *kiss* Good morning Sweetheart! I saw a new member's name on the Homepage this morning, and I *knew* it had to be you! *kiss* Have a good day Hon'. I love you!

Tn and Ladylou All this chocolate talk is making me hungry. If I weren't on a diet, I'd make a batch of chocolate chip cookies to my own recipe. I swap Amareto (almond liquer) for vanilla. *wink*

Ladylou Keep on going and we'll have to declare you an honorary Yank! BTW, Max and Liz are going to be discussing naming their Composite in the next part....


posted on 6-Oct-2002 10:03:37 AM
Jane Andres is my own invention. Don't get too attached to him though. *wink* He may have a shaving accident shortly.

As it turns out, Tess was necessary. So I had to get her out of the mud and hose her off somewhat. I'm glad that you found it acceptable. As Debbi and I discussed, I don't expect anyone to gush all over Tess. I simply ask that they give her (my version of her) a chance to perform. *wink* After all, quite a few people find Isabel nearly as detestable. *big*

As for Alex, sometimes to trap a rat you need the right bait. How better than if your bait and the trap are all rolled up in one neat package?

Everyone Thank you for welcoming my wife folks. We talk every night on the phone, and she thinks you're a great bunch of people. To you Farscape folks she asked me to pass along an idea. There are quite a few Save Farscape flyer designs floating around cyberspace. To find one you might visit here. 'Scapers are desperate to generate any publicity that they can.

Anyway, all our creditors delight in sending us ads with our bills. Why not return the favor? Print a flyer off and stuff it in that bill along with your check. It might come to nothing, but who knows. The fans "in the industry" calculate that if they can pick up just one Neilsen box in each state, Farscape's ratings will go high enough that UPN will have to consider it a contender.....and they're already sniffing around according to a UPN insider. So what can it hurt to slip something extra in an envelope? It's your stamp, and you've already paid for it. *wink*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 6-Oct-2002 1:51:45 PM ]
posted on 10-Oct-2002 2:22:52 AM
Everyone I just wanted you to know that I'm not dead. I finished up two pressing beta jobs tonight. And I have a little slack at work, so I'm writing. By the seat of my pants, as usual. So be patient......I'm working on it.
posted on 11-Oct-2002 4:45:52 AM
Tn Ye-e-e-e-s! I'm still writing. And no-o-o-o, I'm not handing out teasers. *g*

Now, where was I...Max and Liz had just made love for the sixth time that night.....

Exit snickering.....

KK
posted on 12-Oct-2002 1:29:39 AM
2Crazy4Roswell Yes Kiddo, part 13 is up....in fact my demented mind is spewing out part 14 already. Keep scrolling Hon'....you'll see what those hints entailed. *big*

Everyone In a nod to Ladylou, I'm posting a teaser, hot off the grill. The scene is, Max and Liz have just finished....er...playing canasta. Yeah, that's it, playing canasta. *wink*

Max felt sleepy amusement filtering through the connection, and he gently shrugged his shoulder as he nudged her through the connection. He was to tired to actually *say* anything at the moment. The overall effect was 'What?'.

Liz yawned. "I was just thinking that we should pick a name."

Max was puzzled. "A name?"

Liz kissed his shoulder. "Yes, a name. Like a baby name."

Max froze. "Er...Liz....I...."

Liz read him through the connection and punched his side gently with her delicate fist. "No, not for a baby you idiot! I wouldn't mind having ten or so for you....one day. But I meant for our 'son the doctor'. Calling 'It' our 'Composite' is so clumsy and impersonal. After all, 'It' is *us*."

Max chuckled, and couldn't keep his relief out of the connection....it was so painfully obvious that it threw Liz into a fit of giggles. "Okay," he said, "since this is your idea, you choose."

Liz paused thoughtfully. It couldn't be something cutesy. They were adults now, and that made 'It' sort of a 'super-adult'. Something 'adult' and dignified, classical yet classy, and something that she would *never* hang on any child of hers, even by accident.

"Hector?"

Max chuckled. "Hector? Are you sure? Aren't you afraid that the other Composites will beat It up on the playground?"

Liz snorted. "Yes, Hector!"

Max nodded. "Okay, Hector it is!"

Liz pulled herself up and kissed him. "Thank you Max. Now we'd better get some sleep. We still have school in the morning."


That canasta will wear you right out. Two or three hands and you're worthless the rest of the night. *big* Party on People!

Laters Folks.....




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posted on 12-Oct-2002 1:23:35 PM
Duchess *wink* I was thinking of saying Parchessi.....or maybe Monopoly (hey, how about that free parking...eh?) But canasta struck my fancy. This shows you the twisted associations in my brain. In an old Warner Bros. cartoon there was a villain named Nasty Canasta. They were doing the Nasty...soooo....

As for the name, blame Ladylou. *big* She nicknamed It "Hector the Protector". I'm nothing if not responsive. After all, at some point I have to work Elvis' "Burnin' Love" into the story, and score Tn a date with Richie as payment. EV*big*IL. It was kinda fitting... Hector *is* a classical name. As for the male association, straight anthrocentricity. Big and powerful = Male. Regardless of actual gender (or total lack thereof). That's why so many female rulers of antiquity were portrayed as male in artwork of their era.

Time to bag a nap. I've been working all night, doing laundry all morning, and when I get up I get to go up a ladder into an apple tree and prune the hell out of it. Then tommorrow it's scrapping and painting underside the front porch roof. Oh joy!

Laters Folks!
posted on 15-Oct-2002 9:24:08 PM
Hi Everybody! I'm still alive, and still writing. Your hoped for rain never came. I got some writing done, but not nearly enough. In addition, I've had two urgent beta jobs land in my mail queue. One down, one to go. I anticipate a moderate to heavy s**t storm at work tonight. So I probably won't get anything done tonight. Measured against more recent parts, I'd say I'm just short of halfway done. I'm hoping to finish before this weekend. If I don't, it'll be next week. Because I have to go out of town to see my nephew married off on Saturday.

Ladylou The honor was mine....

Tn Already done m'dear. In addition to writing, I keep birds. I belong to several special interest net groups to that end. We have a lot of Aussies in those groups. God be with you and your country at this hour.

Again, sorry for the wait Folks.....

Laters....

KK

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 15-Oct-2002 9:29:07 PM ]
posted on 17-Oct-2002 4:50:54 AM
MaryJean I've already thanked you privately....let me add some very public thanks as well! Thank you! *wink*

Lorilei Good luck on your family project! I recall seeing a piece on a Southern historian who thought that Sherman should be tried for war crimes over what he did to Georgia and the Carolinas...even at this late date.

2Crazy4Roswell I'll be waiting right here when you come back looking for my scalp. *g* I'm glad that you're diggin' it. I have stuff in mind, before the end, that even *I* think will knock people's socks off. *big*

Off Topic My wife passed this link to me. It leads to a rather interesting article on the demise of Farscape. I recommend it highly! *big*


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 17-Oct-2002 5:32:34 AM ]
posted on 21-Oct-2002 1:12:29 PM
Duchess Be sure and report your Sis-in-Law's meltdown in loving detail, eh? *g*

Everybody This has been a busy couple of days. I've done zilch on writing since Thursday. I'm trying to get some done now, but I have to quit shortly to go around and dismantle the household heating vents and sweep them out. After that, more yard work. *sigh* I'm well past the halfway point, but it's slow going. I'll get on a roll, then my elderly mother will break my concentration with some fiddlin' chore or other. Bear with me. This is going to be a busy chapter.

The wedding this weekend was lovely. My nephew and his new wife are quite a pair. They met at OSU, so my nephew made Buckeyes as table treats at the reception. And Missy, his new wife, baked her own wedding cake. Plus dozens of small heart shaped individual cakes. *sigh* Totally in keeping with our family. Simple, and with that personal touch.

For you Aussies, a 'buckeye' is a candy. Make a peanut butter confection. Roll into small individual balls. Half dip in melted chocolate and place on a tray to cool. The result looks like a 'buckeye', also called the 'horse chestnut'. The inedible fruit of the state tree of Ohio. *big* The OSU football team is called "The Ohio State Buckeyes". And we're gonna kick the Michigan Wolverines' gluteus maximii the next chance that we get.

Laters folks......

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posted on 21-Oct-2002 10:51:12 PM
Don't mind me folks. I'm just conducting a little test using my thread. Something seems to be wonky with our new Crossover board.
posted on 23-Oct-2002 11:24:11 AM
Duchess ROTFL....if your Sis needs a primer on Highlander, contact me by b-mail and I'll pass you my e-addy so she can reach me directly. I've done some private HL tutoring since I've started writing this 'fic that is consuming my life'. Thanks a heap. (nods to Tn)

Tn What, no 'fair dinkum'? *big* Don't let the differences shake you too much. I tried watching the British teleplay "The East Enders" once. The dialect gave me a headache. And don't get me started on full blooded Louisiana Cajun. I used to have a friend down there in Beaumont country that would haul out his bayou dialect every now and then....just to mess with my head.

Everyone Okay folks, this wait has run on so long that I'm breaking my promise to myself and posting another teaser. I had to halt work to deal some other stuff....and when I got back to it I decided that the already completed material was...lacking. So I pried a hole in the timeline for this part and started writing.

Here's a leeeetle bit of what I think that it was lacking......only a rough draft you understand? *big*

Isabel awoke with a fearful start. Something was stirring in the house. She lay still, trying ignore the thumping of her heart, and listened. A few muffled thumps later she was reaching for her portable phone with one hand, while the other hand began the fluoresce faintly with her gathering powers. Then she froze as she heard the familiar sound of the shower in her parents' bathroom start running. She frowned, and then swore. There aren't many burglars that stop to take a shower. Ungrateful brothers are another matter!

She crept out of bed and quietly tiptoed down the hall. It was worth noting that her hand was still glowing...brighter if anything. Entering the master bedroom she found the bathroom door locked. A quick pass of her hand over the recalcitrant lock solved *that* problem....granting her access to the larger 'problem' in her parents shower. She stood listening to Max as he hummed in the shower, occasionally bursting into quiet song. Elvis tunes. "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You"....and "Burning Love". Three points of fact occurred to her. The first was that Max still couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. The second was that he'd obviously spent the night at Liz's....and a very good night at that. The third was that Brody was corrupting him...which moved Brody's posterior up the line on her personal 'asses to be kicked today' list.

She reached for the handle on the toilet, intending to flush it, but paused. Then she changed her mind. She quietly open her mother's small private linen closet next to the shower. Inside it was a service access that her father's forethought had placed there, to allow plumbers to service the shower's plumbing without the necessity of ripping out the wall. Opening the access she shook her glowing hand out as if limbering up for a pitch in baseball. The hand glowed brighter......then she reached in and gripped the hot water pipe. Turning it's contents to ice water.

Half a heartbeat later a siren-like howl of, "What the HELL is going on!" from the vicinity of the shower rewarded her efforts. The water shut off and a dripping Max stumbled out of the shower. Normally Isabel would have launched on him at once over his nudity and her bad temper....but her eyes were drawn to the interesting feature on his right shoulder. A delicate, not to say dainty, silver hand print. Say, about 'Liz' sized.

Max looked up and saw his sister glaring at him. The direction of her stare was plain. He was half tempted to try and cover it up. "Er....hi..Iz?"

Isabel glared a moment longer then spoke. "When you're done, I'll see you in the kitchen." Then she spun on her heel and headed out the door. Reaching the door she paused. "Be done soon Max....or you'll have erotic dreams about Rosanne Barr for the next month." Then she was gone.


Have a swell day folks.....

KK

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posted on 23-Oct-2002 6:05:16 PM
Duchess I don't have b-mail enabled? Do me a favor and try it again, because I certainly do have it enabled. I just checked my profile to be sure....and to be extra sure, I clicked on 'save edit'. Even though I made no changes. If it still shows as disabled, we'll talk to one of the Mods.
posted on 26-Oct-2002 1:26:55 AM
LMiC2001 Regarding the care and feeding of the Muse...tell me about it. Mine is about ready to go beserk. Still....I'm pulling 2 1/2 shifts at work tonight. There ought to be time in there somewhere.....
posted on 26-Oct-2002 3:55:20 AM
2Crzy4Roswell Nope kiddo....it was Douglas MacArthur. *big* See ya when ya get back! Be sure to scroll for the two teasers I've planted after part 13.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 26-Oct-2002 4:09:23 AM ]
posted on 29-Oct-2002 3:16:58 AM
Tn Getting on your nerves am I? I'm really sorry Tina, but I just keep getting clobbered lately. That, and getting sucked into reading Mockingbird's "Innocent". Okay...hint on shared powers. It's the degree of commitment that opens the door. Comprende? And after all they've been through, Max and Liz are as commited as it gets.

Regarding nookie issues....I'm afraid A/I have to wait...a long time. Almost everyone is going to get some before they do. And, if you will recall, M/L were planning an 'overnighter'. What kind of romance writer would I be if I passed that up? However, you are quite right kiddo. That handprint is a result of Liz's exercise of powers during the fusion. *wink* As you say down under (or I think you do)..."Good on ya!" (Or is this another Yank misconception of an Ozism?)

Speaking of the lingo of the land down under, I just finished writing a certain cameo in which Richie scored a luncheon date with a saucy blonde. I may have to have you review it via e-mail before I publish...I don't want the young lady to sound too much like a yank...now do I? *big*

Everybody Thanks again for the bumps and your patience. I *am* trying. One of my major problems is, I'm writing 'real time'. I'm skipping through the timeline and touching down here and there...but when I do touchdown I write content rich. Bear in mind that the main action only spans ten days...with a few epilogues planned afterwards. The current part is a toughie. I have an exact idea of where it should end....however getting there is tough. Writing the way that I do, the results will be soo damned large that I may end up breaking part 14 into part 14 and part 15....and posting both at once. *wink* We'll see. Either that, or this part will be a freaKin' record breaker!

Laters Folks....






posted on 29-Oct-2002 6:56:49 PM
Trude Hey, at least with me, ya know you'll get it. *wink* Unlike the stiffs that ran the show. However, I don't have a firm game plan that far ahead. I'll only say this....they have a ways to go, and they won't get there until the fighting is over.
posted on 5-Nov-2002 10:08:38 PM
Duchess and Everyone Er....hi. I haven't been ignoring you. Honest. I look at the thread every day. Loyal readers are a treasure beyond price. I just noticed how much thread space we were taking up OT, felt guilty, and decided to cut back a wee bit. Now, a bit of good news. I was way past common sense of the size of this part, and I still hadn't gotten to where I wanted to go. So I bit the bullet and lopped off part of it to officially become the beginning of part 15. The result is that part 14 is edited, spell checked, and ready to rock at 110 K of text. I'm simply waiting to hear back from some people that I want input from before posting it.
posted on 6-Nov-2002 4:03:17 AM
Okay...the vote is in. People want me to go with it regardless. Soooo....here's 'regardless. Let's ROCK!

Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

"Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things,
and no good thing ever really dies."
-From The Dialog Of Andy Dufrene-
"The Shawshank Redemption"


STILL YOURS - Part 14a
(Hope)

Roswell, New Mexico - The Valenti Household 9:30 PM Tuesday

Jim Valenti sat on the end of their battered overstuffed sofa and nursed three fingers of JB over ice. The pool of light cast by the pedestal lamp next to the sofa illuminated the battered photo album that lay open in his lap. With the fingers of his free hand he traced the page in front of him. Like a few of the pages immediately before it, and *all* of the pages after it, it had blank spaces. Pictures that he had removed and thrown away after Tess' apparent treachery had been revealed. Memories that were now missing from their lives. From their family history. Photos of her, or in which she had appeared. As his hand moved slowly over the page, his eyes were closed. And he would have sworn that he could *sense* the vacant spaces on the page. He sighed and opened his eyes. "I used to think, occasionally, that I was getting 'older'," he thought. "Now I feel just plain old." He laughed with bitter irony. "Hell...I *am* old. I'm a grandfather!"

He glanced down the hall towards his son's room. Kyle had gone straight to bed when they'd come home, but not before telling his father that he was taking a few days off of school. Normally Jim would have objected to his son taking off sick when he wasn't. But there was sick...and then there was 'sick'. Kyle was the latter. He'd had a ton of crap dumped in his lap tonight. Love, a soul mate, fatherhood, and alien powers. Under the circumstances taking a week off wouldn't be out of line. He sighed again. Parents, the world over, wish to protect their children from pain. Given the chance they'd die for the right to step in front of their child and 'take the hit' themselves. But, watching his son react tonight, Jim didn't think that he could have handled it any better than Kyle had. Instead of flying off the handle as Jim had expected he would, he'd reached somewhere inside and brought out a hitherto unseen reservoir of calm and strength. Jim shook his head in bemusement. He didn't know if it was his upbringing, Kyle's study of Buddhist philosophy, or something alien, but Kyle had rolled with punches that would have shattered many adults. Even so, when they'd arrived home, he'd said that he was tired, and headed for bed. Tired. No kidding.

Jim looked back down at the album. Taking a sip from his drink he sat it down and closed his eyes again. Trying to relive the memories that went with those missing pictures. He was so wrapped up in his walk down memory lane that he didn't hear a door open, nor did he hear the quiet footfalls that came up behind the couch. So, he pretty much jumped out of his skin when Kyle spoke.

"Are you okay Dad?"

Jim jumped, startled. Once his heart stopped pounding like a jungle drum, he turned to find his offspring grinning at him. Grinning. At him. "I was until you tried to give me a coronary!" He sighed. "What are you doing up Champ? After the kind of night you've had, I didn't think that I'd lay eyes on you again until tomorrow afternoon!"

Kyle's grin gentled to a soft smile. His father hadn't called him 'Champ' since his unlamented mother had blown town. "I couldn't sleep. Didn't really want to. I have so much to think about. All my assumptions just went in the dumper tonight."

Jim regarded his son ruefully. "Our friends have a way of doing that to people. Even though they don't mean to."

Kyle shook his head. "Dad, you don't need to defend them. The 'old me' would probably be ranting about the alien abyss right about now. But who am I to complain? "I *am* the alien abyss now, complete with an alien Princess who loves me." A brief flicker of pain raced across his face. "And a son or daughter." He sighed. "Y'know, I have this urge to race right out and buy a baseball mitt, and put it away for him. But what if he's a
she? Baseball mitt or Malibu Barbie?" Kyle shuddered.

Jim grinned. "Baseball mitt. Even if you *do* have a daughter, look at her parents. She'll be the tomboy to end all tomboys."

Kyle became pensive and sad. "I wonder if I'll ever see them again."

Jim sighed. "I wish I could say for a fact that you will, but I can't. But I know this, as long as you hold them in your heart, nothing can take them from you. Not time. Not distance. Not even death itself."

Kyle grimaced and swallowed against the lump in his throat. Lacking anything to say his eyes fell on the album in his father's lap. Noting the blank spaces he smiled,
albeit halfheartedly. "Watcha doin' Dad?"

Jim glanced down and ran his hand over the truncated page of photos. "Trying to recapture some of what I threw away after she left. I'd sell my soul to have the just the Christmas pictures back."

Kyle's faltering smile surged back and broadened. "Hang on Pop. I'll be right back." He turned and walked briskly down the hall towards his room. In a moment he was back with a fat brown envelope, which he handed to his father.

Jim spilled the contents out on the open album. It was the missing pictures. All of the missing pictures. Jim looked up at his son, who was grinning like an idiot. "How?"

Kyle shrugged. "I told you all at the meeting. All these months, and I couldn't make myself hate her. Now I know why. Anyway, when I saw them in the trash, I fished them out and stuck them in that envelope. Tonight is the first time I've touched them since I stuffed them under my mattress months ago."

Jim shook his head in wonder as he riffled through the photos, stopping on a Christmas shot of Tess hanging their stockings on the mantle. He sighed. "Thank you Son." He looked up at Kyle. "If you're not sleepy, why don't we go over to the dining room table and work on putting this book to rights?"

Kyle grinned. "Okay, you ditch the booze, and I'll make some coffee. Deal?"

Jim sighed. "Deal."

And so, father and son spent a few minutes working together to restore their family...if only in photos. Then they spent several hours reliving the memories that they brought back, sharing the laughter and sorrow that came with those memories. When they finally went to bed, they both slept deeply and dreamlessly, with the knowledge that they were a family again....and a family larger by one. And Kyle's last waking thought was a pleasant fantasy involving a certain, as yet unplayed, Little League game and alien power driven home runs. The only things that varied in the several reruns of the fantasy, before sleep claimed him, was the batter. Sometimes he had short curly brown hair and the steely Valenti eyes, and other times she had long silky saffron blond hair and eyes of cornflower blue. And he loved both children as much as their mother.

Kyle slept and whispered a name. Somewhere impossibly far away, someone heard him, and wept as she began to know hope again.


Liz Parker's Bedroom.......Same time

Max Evans' heart was pounding, his breath came in short ragged gasps. The pulsing energy in his body was winding down. He looked down into the sparkling brown eyes that he'd worshipped for so long and spoke. "Liz? Are you okay? Did I hurt you? I can move..."

Liz grinned smugly. When she spoke it was in short bursts, for her own breathing and heartbeat were still a little out of control. "Oh no, don't finish that sentence Max Evans! I'm your girl, your lover, I'm going to be your wife...and I am *not* made out of soap bubbles!" Her arms and legs tightened around him. They were still
joined, and she wasn't willing to give up that feeling quite yet.

Max smiled as he planted soft kisses where ever he could reach. Licking his lips, he chuckled. "I never thought that you were. You don't taste...er...soapy. Spicy yes. Sweet yes. Indescribably delicious, yes. But not sudsy." He jumped as Liz pinched him.

"You know what I mean Captain Kirk! We've made love a total of three times today, and I haven't broken yet." She pulled him close and small sharp teeth nipped at Max's shoulder. "And I'd say that I'm not going to either!"

Max sighed and relaxed, basking in the love steeping their connection, and the afterglow that warmed their bodies.

Throughout the meeting there had been a low level current of sexual tension between them. It had spiked upwards as the meeting had broken up, and remained high during the drive back to the Crashdown. By the time they'd reached her bedroom they'd both suspended their thought processes in favor of something a little more direct, and satisfying. Their first time that night had been a hormone driven blur. Rough and urgent, punctuated at the end by Liz's keening wail. They'd stayed joined for some kissing and cuddling, and their second time, just past, came shortly thereafter. It was slower and gentler, but no less urgent. And just as.....fulfilling.

Max claimed her mouth with his. When he broke the kiss, he said, "Liz, I love you. And I admire your strength, but if I fall asleep this way I'll mash you."

Liz giggled. "That's not exactly the *worst way* to die that I can imagine."

Max sighed. "Don't even joke about that Liz." He kissed her again. "Please Sweetheart, let me move off of you?"

Liz still hadn't lost her grin. "Sissy. I'll tell you what......" She shifted her arms and legs slightly. ".....you roll over, then I'll be on top."

Max sighed, clasped her tightly, and rolled.

When it was done Liz sat up and wriggled slightly...ostensibly to get comfortable, and just incidentally eliciting a groan from Max. "There," she said, "you see? You get what you want and I get what I want! Compromise is the key." She leaned forward and kissed him before cuddling into his chest like a kitten snuggling into a warm blanket.

Max sighed. "Parker, you're going to be the death of me yet. Are you under the mistaken notion that there's going to be a third time tonight?"

Liz raised her head, crossed her arms over his chest, and propped her chin up on them while regarding him half playfully. "I wouldn't say no to the possibility, after all we have a whole lost year to make up for." She sobered. "Max I don't care what happens. I *have* no expectations. I simply want as much of you as I can get, as often as I can get it, and for as long as I can get it. Look at it this way. Mom and Dad will be home tomorrow. When I come home from school they'll be here. How long will it be before we can be like this again?"

Max opened his mouth, but couldn't think of an answer that would satisfy her. He knew that it might be a *very* long time indeed. And through their connection Liz knew that he knew it.

Liz studied his face. "Now you understand." She slid her arms down and around his chest as she rested one cheek over his heart. "So shut up and quite stressing, Love. *This* is what I want right now. If anything happens to...come up later, fine. If it doesn't, fine." She turned her face into his chest and gave him a kiss, inhaling deeply of his scent. One compounded of Max, herself, and recent sex. Then she snuggled back in and closed her eyes.

Liz could feel Max's mind working through the connection. Now that...certain things....were taken care of, he was replaying the meeting. She contented herself with feeling the interplay of his emotions, knowing that he'd talk when he was ready to and not one moment sooner.

A long quiet, and contented, time later Max stirred. "Liz, were you okay with telling them?"

Even without the connection, Liz would have known what he was talking about. "I wasn't thrilled, but it was necessary. Our love life is our business, the problem is that the fallout from our love life impacts everyone else." She sighed. "If nothing else, it made Michael quit yapping about the fusion. And it spared me having Maria give me the third degree."

Max chuckled. "I was dead certain that Jim and Amy were going to go parental on us, but after our Composite healed Kyle, any thoughts of it were apparently out the window."

Liz giggled. "I tend to think that it was Kyle doing a 'Yuri Geller' on that chair that got them off track. It certainly put Kyle kinda off track!"

Max shook his head. "Not as badly as I would have expected, Sweetheart. He handled it pretty well, considering everything else that he'd just gotten hit with."

Liz sighed . "Do you think that we can get them back?"

Max shrugged. "I promised Jim that we'd try, but right now I haven't the foggiest idea of how to go about it. All we can hope for is that Larek will make one of his infrequent visits, and we can ask him to do what he can at his end." His hand stroked Liz's hair gently. "You're awfully concerned about someone who has hardly been one of your favorite people."

Liz kept her face turned away from him. "She still isn't one of my favorite people. She may never be. But, in the end, she didn't have any choice other than to go along with Nasedo's plan. And the thought of Kyle's son or daughter in the hands of K'var makes me ill." She sniffed. "Jim looked so sad and old when he found out. And he's done so much for us. If rescuing a woman that hurt us so badly is what it takes to make him smile, then that's what we'll do."

Max smiled. "That's my Liz of the tender heart." He kissed the top of her head, then tugged her chin up and around so he could take her mouth. The kiss started to heat up, and he felt his body start to respond, despite his earlier protestations. So did Liz, for she was wearing a knowing smirk when he finally broke the kiss. That damned connection again. Normally it was one of the nicer things about their love. But occasionally it was a pain, telegraphing things that he'd prefer to keep to himself. Time to play dumb. "What?"

Liz giggled and sat up, licking her lips and giving him full view of her body. She wasn't buying the dumb act, but she still saw an opportunity for a little fun. "I was thinking that turnabout is fair play. When you healed me of that gunshot wound, you marked me as yours, whether or not you knew it, or chose to admit it. Now though," she reached out with one hand to caress the petite silver hand print on his shoulder, "*I've* marked *you*, and woe to the hussy who seeks to trespass!"

Max grinned. "I can live with that." Then he sobered. "Can you? It doesn't bother you?"

Liz cocked her head. "What? Having powers? You've borne up under it all right the last twelve years, I don't see why I shouldn't." Dropping the playacting she leaned forward to kiss him as she began to slowly roll her hips, causing him to groan her name. "Understand me well Your Majesty. With or without powers, I'm yours. I'm with you to-the-end-of-road!"

Max was gasping. Desire had him nailed down, helpless. Liz was speeding up her tempo. "God," he said hoarsely as his hands came up to grip her hips,"I love you Liz!"

Liz was transported. Her head was thrown back exposing her throat, the cords of her muscles there could clearly be seen standing out, stretched piano wire tight.

Despite the fact that they'd already been down this road together twice that night already, it was a measure of their passion that the end wasn't long in arriving. And this time when the great internal wave claimed them, they were soundless. All expressed feelings were through their connection, and *that* was a coruscating light show of love, lust, admiration, joy, gratitude, and wondrous awe....

It was over, it was done.

Liz collapsed limply forward on top of Max. They lay silently, listening to each other's breathing and heartbeat. This time Liz made no attempt to 'keep' Max. As soon as she could move, she lifted herself to the side and stretched out, molding herself to his side and pillowing her head on one shoulder.

Max felt sleepy amusement filtering through the connection, and he gently shrugged his shoulder as he nudged her through the connection. He was too tired to actually *say* anything at the moment. The overall effect was 'What?'.

Liz yawned. "I was just thinking that we should pick a name."

Max was puzzled. "A name?"

Liz kissed his shoulder. "Yes, a name. Like a baby name."

Max froze. "Er...Liz....I...."

Liz read him through the connection and punched his side gently with her delicate fist. "No, not for a baby you idiot! I wouldn't mind having ten or so for you....one day. But I meant for our 'son the doctor'. Calling 'It' our 'Composite' is so clumsy and impersonal. After all, 'It' is *us*."

Max chuckled, and couldn't keep his relief out of the connection....it was so painfully obvious that it threw Liz into a fit of giggles. "Okay," he said, "since this is your idea, you choose."

Liz paused thoughtfully. It couldn't be something cutesy. They were adults now, and that made 'It' sort of a 'super-adult'. Something 'adult' and dignified, classical yet classy, and something that she would *never* hang on any child of hers, even by accident.

"Hector?"

Max chuckled. "Hector? Are you sure? Aren't you afraid that the other Composites will beat It up on the playground?"

Liz snorted. "Yes, Hector!"

Max nodded. "Okay, Hector it is!"

Liz pulled herself up and kissed him. "Thank you Max. Now we'd better get some sleep. We still have school in the morning."

Max drew his arms around her and pulled her close, without desire, yet still savoring the smooth velvet of her skin on his. "I can agree with that, especially after a certain insatiable someone has made it impossible for me to keep my eyes open any longer!" She tried to protest, but he sealed her mouth with his. After a brief gentle struggle she gave in and kissed him back.

When Max finally released her she smiled. "Insatiable, huh? I didn't hear you complaining. Before, during, *OR* after."

Max chuckled. "Love, I may not be the sharpest pencil in the box, and I may not have the stamina of a tri-athelete..."Liz pinched him"...but I am *not* stupid."

Liz giggled sleepily. "Thanks....I think."

Max rumble softly. "Goodnight Liz...I love you!"

"Goodnight Max." She pulled the covers up over them and snuggled in. "I love you too!"

Tired as she was, Liz still didn't drop off immediately. She lay there on the edge of sleep, listening to the steady rhythm of Max's breathing, which indicated that he was already in dreamland. Her conscience was nagging her.

Her earlier comments about Tess were valid. The girl had been obnoxious, selfish, and greedy from day one. And she had put Liz and Max through hell. Forgiving her all that would take a lo-o-o-ng time...if indeed it were possible at all. But, in light of what Kyle had said, Tess had been holding back...and holding Nasedo back, from taking the ultimate action to forward his plan. And the woman in Liz felt some strange kinship to her.

For that memory in Max's head, and now in Liz's head, had been clear. It showed Tess undressing a compliant, and nearly comatose Max. It showed her making him lie down next to to her. It showed her kissing his forehead with a whispered apology...then the warp had taken over. But all of that was irrelevant against the look that her face bore. Resignation and pain. She'd been crying. Wearing the look of a woman about to submit to something that she'd rather not do. Setting up the appearance of having *done* something that she'd rather *die* than do in reality.

"She looked like I felt...that night with Kyle." Liz sighed. Her heart said yes, and her mind said no. "Someday when they meet, I'll be able to forgive her...but not yet." Nonetheless, Tess' face moved Liz. As she fell asleep, her gentle heart got the better of her fuzzy mind, and she whispered...."I'm sorry". Then she was asleep against her soul mate.

The Evans Household.......Same Time

Isabel sat at the kitchen table drumming her fingers on the tabletop and trying to think. She was furiously angry, and she had no idea why. Something strange was going on, and she wasn't in on it. First, everyone had disappeared. Max had called around 5:30 to say that he wouldn't be home tonight, and asked her to cover for him if their parents called. It took no great guesswork to know where he was. The problem is that when she'd called him at Liz's, he wasn't there. In fact, *no one* was there. Ditto for the Valenti's, the DeLuca's, and at Michael's place. Calling the UFO museum had only gotten her an answering machine. And everyone had their cell phones turned off. That alone was a mystery. The DeLuca women without cell phones?

However, the real mystery was her mood. Up until a few hours ago she'd been puzzled, worried, or any of several other things. However she was ready to write it off...until she'd had the mother of all mood swings, and was suddenly howling mad. At nothing that she could see. This was like PMS on amphetamines She was a rational girl, and given to introspection. So, rather than give in to the anger and allow it to focus on those closest to her, *she* turned on *it* and tried to understand it's source. The problem was, it didn't have a source. Which only made the anger worse.

So Isabel sat there and stewed....hotter and hotter. Finally she stood up, wrote a caustic, not to mention bitchy, note for Max to find whenever he wandered home, then she stomped down the hall to her bedroom. She got ready for bed hurriedly, and without her customary grace. Once she was safely under the covers she sighed. The fury was ebbing. Slowly. Sleep was taking over. The last thing that she recalled before drifting off was the ironclad determination to get to the bottom of this tomorrow. No matter how many people she had to skin alive to do it!

The DeLuca Household....10:30 PM

Amy was trying to watch TV, without too much success. After they'd gotten home from the meeting, with a brief side trip to drop off Michael, she had called Jim and they'd talked a little bit. She had offered to come over, but Jim had demurred. He'd told her that he wanted to be there for Kyle tonight, but had asked her to go to lunch with him tomorrow. Amy sighed, and glanced down the hall towards Maria's room. Maria had gone to bed immediately after they had gotten home, despite Michael's request to spend some time with her so that they could 'talk'. Amy sighed again and went into the kitchen to make some tea. Parenting could suck sometimes. Right now she judged that Jim needed her more than Maria did, and he couldn't give in to the need, because his own son's needs took precedence. She shook her head, as if to clear it, then placed a mug of water in the microwave to heat.

The timer on the microwave had just gone 'ding' when she heard a soft tapping sound. It was repeated. It sounded like.....she tracked the sound to the front door. "Who in God's name is knocking at this hour?" she thought. She approached the door cautiously, pausing to snatch her baseball bat from the corner. Bat at the ready she flipped on the front porch light. "I might have known," she sighed. Yanking the door open she said, "Michael, Maria's in bed, and it's late. It's a school day tomorrow, and you should be in bed as well!"

Michael swallowed. "I know Maria's in bed...I...er..I checked before I came around front to knock on the door."

Amy stared at him. "You, were in this house already?"

Sensing an eruption in the making Michael hurriedly shook his head. "No! No, I stood at her window and looked at her. I know what she looks like when she's in deep sleep....and she's there, believe me!" Michael swallowed again as he watched Amy's face. Michael hadn't looked in Maria's window. He knew that she was asleep because he could *feel* it. And he wasn't about to tell Amy about the developing awareness between himself, and her daughter. She seemed to be looking for a reason to be mad. "Don't worry about looking for one Amy, I'm afraid that I'm about to give you all the reason that you could ever want," he thought.

Amy nodded. "Okay, I'm going to overlook the reference to intimate knowledge of my daughter's sleep patterns and cut to the chase. I assume then that it's me that you wanted to see?" she growled.

Michael looked scared, though not for the reasons that Amy would have imagined. He nodded. "Yeah, it's you that I needed to see. Could you grab a jacket and take a walk with me?"

Amy blinked. "Michael, it's going on 11:00, this is a hell of a time to take a walk!" she said quietly. "And besides, what do you have to say to me that can't be said right here?"

Michael gave her a half smile. "Amy I can promise you that you'll get home safely. And knowing you, this could get sort of loud, and I don't want us to wake Maria up. In part because she needs her sleep, and in part because I don't want her to know that I was here....and that you and I have talked."

Amy looked Michael up and down. Now she was worried. Michael Guerin was acting in an unaccustomed manner. Still, the only way to get her questions answered now...."Wait here, I'll just be a second." Amy closed to door and walked into the living room to snatch her sweater and turn off the TV. After walking down the hall to check on her daughter, and satisfying herself that she was as deeply asleep as Michael judged her to be, she scooped up her keys and joined Michael on the porch. After locking the door she turned to Michael. "This had better not take too long. I don't like leaving Maria alone."

Michael nodded solemnly. "Neither do I, and that's what this is about."

Together they turned and walked off into a silent night.

The DeLuca Household........45 minutes later

Michael and Amy approached the front walk, moving slowly. Amy had her arm locked around Michael's. The impression given was that they were holding each other up right. They arrived at the front door, and stood there in silence for a long moment before Amy addressed Michael.

"Are you sure about this?"

Michael nodded. "I always knew that she had abandonment issues." His mouth twisted wryly. "It takes one to know one. I guess you could say that, that's what we saw in each other. Anyway, you heard her tonight. She's been expecting me to leave her. To *abandon* her, like her father did." Michael sighed heavily. "That isn't going to happen. Amy I love your daughter. There was a time when I would have rather died than admit it, but this isn't that time anymore. I love her, and she needs to know beyond any doubt that I know it, and that where we go, we go together."

Amy blinked at moisture in her eyes. "I'm *not* happy about this right now, Michael. I've had too many bad experiences of my own, plus there's the whole 'alien warrior' factor. But I suppose that I'll get over it." She sniffed. "Do you know what tipped the balance?"

Michael shook his head.

Amy laughed softly. "You insisted on getting me out of the house." She hugged Michael. "You know *me* well enough to know that I'd get vocal, and you cared enough about my daughter to want me to do it elsewhere." She kissed his cheek and grinned at him. "Just remember the deal."

Michael looked pained and nodded. "I finish high school with respectable grades."

"And I want to see those report cards!" Amy interrupted.

Michael nodded. "Then college." He paused. "And after tomorrow night....no more until...after..."

Amy grinned and nodded. "Yes....*after*! I know that you and Maria are...active, and I think that you owe me this Michael. You're doing this to address her issues, well now you have to address *mine*." Amy's face softened, looking pleading. "You owe me this Michael. Both of you do, for all the secrets you've kept from me. For all the terrible things that she's endured for you and the others...without my knowledge. Show me your honor. Show me that you're serious."

Michael sighed and pulled Amy into a hug. "I promised Amy. I don't like it...and, whether or not you believe it, your daughter isn't going to like it worth a damn. But I promised." He paused. "I'd better get going. I'm going to have to get some sleep, because I have a busy day planned tomorrow. I'm going to have to blow off lunch at school to go shopping."

Amy giggled. "You could just skip a class, you know?"

Michael grimaced and shook his head. "Nope, I've promised an important lady that there'd be no more of that for anything other than life threatening emergencies, be they alien or non-alien." He grinned back. "It's a promise that I intend to keep."

Amy smiled fondly at him. She was glad now, that Maria had found him. And, having found him, that she'd kept after him until his defenses had crumbled. He looked rough and rebellious. Hell, he *was* rough and rebellious. But there was sound metal there, beneath the surface. He was good for her little girl, as she was good for him. She pulled him back into a hug and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"Goodnight Michael, sleep tight!"

Michael hugged her back. "You too....Mom."

Amy jerked back and grinned. "Don't get smart....Son. You have my daughter to deal with first."

Michael shrugged, as if to say 'piece of cake'.

Amy shook her head. She wished that she could warn Maria....just to give her a chance to shake the boy's complacency. But, her daughter would have years in which to do that.

Michael backed down the steps. "G'night Amy."

Amy had her hand on the front door knob. "Bye Michael....see you tomorrow."

Michael turned and jogged briskly away, down the side street where his motorcycle was parked.

Amy sighed as she heard the engine start. That bike would have to go!

She entered the house and resumed her tea making where Michael had interrupted her. Sleep tea tonight, and maybe a jolt of brandy to boot! While her water was heating she walked down to her daughter's room and cracked the door. Looking in at her sleeping angel she was struck again by the fact that she was Michael's 'angel' now as well.

"Sweet dreams Baby," she whispered. "You don't know it yet, but your day tomorrow has a life altering event waiting for you in it." Blinking back the moisture in her eyes she quietly closed the door and headed back to the kitchen, leaving her sleeping daughter oblivious to what the next day had in store.

"Yes, sometimes being a parent does suck" Amy thought. "But other days the payoff is beyond anything you could imagine. And I think that tomorrow might be one of those days." She grinned and quickened her pace, she needed to get the tea and brandy over with and get to bed. She wanted to enjoy every second of tomorrow.

Michael's Apartment....11:30 PM

Michael let himself in quietly. He'd broken all the speed limits getting home, thinking that he might as well. With all the conditions and promises that Amy had wrung from him, his days as a carefree James Dean wannabe were drawing to a close. He opened the refrigerator door and studied the sparse contents. Day old pizza, yogurt, and Maria's left over vegetarian lasagna. Michael's face twisted. Tomorrow he *had* to go grocery shopping. He settled for grabbing a bottle of water and a slice of half mummified pizza. After nuking the pizza, he carried 'dinner' into the bedroom and got ready for bed between bites.

Once he had stretched out under the covers and shut off the light, he allowed himself time to think. Tomorrow he had shopping to do, and for something more important than groceries. He'd been saving that money in the bank to upgrade his ride. "I didn't have my priorities straight," he sighed aloud. It was time to upgrade his life instead, and Maria's as well. He fell asleep with visions of engagement rings dancing in his imagination. And hoping that she wouldn't say no.


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 9-Nov-2002 7:36:55 AM ]
posted on 6-Nov-2002 4:31:09 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 14b
(Hope)

McCleod's Dojo.......Midnight

Methos and Amanda walked slowly down the alley approaching the back of the Dojo. Methos noted, with some relief, that his truck was parked there. Using his spare key he unlocked it and found the keys in the sun visor. Turning to Amanda he said, "I guess this is where we part company. I feel better now. Two of us had no better luck than I did alone."

Amanda frowned. "I'd swear that I felt something twice, but it never lasted long enough for me to be certain."

"The same damned thing that happened to me," Methos answered with a chuckle. "He's a slippery little pendejo. No doubt about it."

Amanda's frown deepened. "I don't like leaving him alive, and behind us. I'd feel much better about things if he were feeding the worms by the time Britanicus comes calling."

"Guilty conscience?" Methos chided gently.

Amanda looked at him without expression for a long moment, then nodded. "I'm not as confident about Conterras behavior as Duncan is. The only way that I can be certain that he won't go after the girl without killing Alex first, is if I kill the son of a bitch myself before he can do either."

Methos grinned. "Here I thought this Isabel wasn't one of your favorite people."

Amanda shrugged. "She still isn't, but if what Cass believes is right...then what I think of her is irrelevant. Sooner or later she'll be here, or he'll go there."

Methos laughed aloud. "And you just hate that to hell and back, don't you...momma bear?"

"Watch it old man," she said with a glare. "I have Cassandra's ear. Who knows what despicable lies I could tell her about you!"

That struck to close to home. Methos seemed to shrivel.

Amanda sighed. "Relax Adam, I wouldn't. I...just...wouldn't."

Methos' face cleared. "You'd better get inside. We have an early day tomorrow."

"Just how bad is this place?" she asked. "How should I pack?"

Methos grinned. "It isn't the Plaza my dear. It's secure and there's a water source. That's all that I can promise. So plan on roughing it. Pack as if you were going camping."

Amanda's face looked sour. "I *hate* camping. 'Roughing it' is something I've done far to much of over the centuries. When the human race developed good indoor plumbing, I promised myself that I'd never be more than an ten paces from a powder room and a hot shower again."

Methos turned and got in his Bronco. Rolling down the window he said, "After we get out of this alive, you can be as decadent as you could wish for. For right now, keeping my head has priority over personal hygiene."

Amanda stuck out her tongue. "Cass and I have a ladies only weekend planned when we get back. You'll be sorry old man."

Methos made a show of mock fright and backed his SUV out of the parking area, and Amanda unlocked the back door and went inside as he roared off down the alley.

Amanda moved quietly up the stairs. Once she reached the residential level she exited the stairwell into the hallway leading to the loft. The same hallway that had the guest bedrooms off of it. She was surprised to find light showing under one of the doors. It was Alex's room. She paused to listen. The noise that she heard caused her hackles to rise. 'Schrick!' - pause - 'Shrick!' - pause - 'Schrick!' It was the slow and measured sound of stone on steel. Amanda had raised her hand to knock when Alex spoke.

"Come in Amanda!"

Amanda pulled her hand back as if stung. For one thing Alex had known she was here. Which meant that he was picking up their training faster than they'd hoped. But what really bothered her was his tone. It was flat and lifeless, yet with a dark current of anger under it.

Amanda swung the door open cautiously and found Alex sitting, tailor fashion, on his bed, still sharpening his sword. He glanced in her direction, then turned back to his task, without even breaking the rhythm of stone on metal. 'Schrick!' - pause - 'Schrick!'

The silence stretched. 'Schrick' - pause - 'Schrick!' Amanda, unsure of the situation, spoke first. "Er....hi!"

Alex continued his focus on blade and stone. "Any luck tonight?"

Amanda cleared her throat nervously. Something was profoundly not right here. "Er...no. I thought I might have felt him once or twice. But, if it was him, he was too slippery to get caught."

'Schrick!' - pause - 'Schrick!' "That's too bad. We're running out of time ya know? Tomorrow it'll just be Duncan, Richie, and me."

The conversation tapered off and died right there. Alex seemed mesmerized by his task, and ignored her completely. Only the set of his shoulders told her that he was monumentally pissed off about something. Amanda stirred uncomfortably. There was nothing that she hated worse than not knowing what the hell was going on.

"Well, goodnight Alex," she said. "Don't stay up too late." Then she closed the door and beat a hasty retreat down the hall to Duncan's loft. She found the Scotsman sleeping soundly.

Flipping on the bedside light she shook Duncan awake, and danced out of the way as he lashed out with his arm. Living with Duncan had honed her reflexes. "Wake up Junior! Just what the hell did you do to piss off Alex?"

Duncan blinked in the light. "Huh? What? What about Alex?"

Amanda sat down on the bed. "I just got home to find him in a foul mood, and sharpening his sword in a way that was almost Zen. What I want to know is, what pissed him off?"

Duncan managed to pull himself up. "I haven't a clue. I never spoke to him after Cassandra left. He took his shower and went to bed without a word." Duncan blinked and rubbed at his eyes. "Are you sure that he's pissed?"

Amanda glared. "Look Duncan, I may be new at the motherhood gig, but after a thousand plus years, I know sullen anger when I see it! Now, what happened?"

Duncan thought for a moment, replaying the evening. "Nothing Amanda, not a damned thing. If something has set him off, then it's something that we don't know about."

The fear that Amanda had been holding at bay rose to the surface. "You don't suppose that he found out about...."

Duncan sighed. "I don't know Amanda, I honestly do not know. The only thing that we can do is let him sleep on it. I can go fishing after information in the morning. If he did find out, we'll deal with it tomorrow. For now, all he is, is sullen and angry. It's not like he's going to lop our heads off while we're asleep."

Amanda looked rebellious. "You can't honestly expect me to go to sleep while....."

"Guilty conscience?" Duncan asked wearily.

Amanda's expression turned dangerous. "Junior, Methos said that same thing a while ago, and it's even *less* funny now than it was then."

Duncan rubbed his temples. "Look, I know that you're upset at the prospect that Alex may hate our guts over this, but it's not like we didn't expect a blow up, sooner or later. The fact that it may have happened sooner is simply inconvenient timing. Because there isn't a damned thing that we can do about it....tonight. And besides that, there's no way that we could avoid it forever." He pushed himself back under the covers. "Are you coming to bed?"

Amanda growled, but she saw the sense in what he was saying. Even if she didn't want to. With ill grace she shed her clothes, climbed into bed, and rolled over. Turning her back to him. "Turn out the light," she said sharply.

Duncan sighed and complied with her demand. Sleep was already reaching for him. Long ago he'd taught himself not to stress over things that he couldn't do anything about. This was one of those things. And it would still be there in the morning.

Alex's Bedroom......Same Time

'Schrick!' - pause - 'Schrick!' - pause - longer pause...

Alex laid his sword and the whetstone aside. He'd been a fool to let his anger show to Amanda, but that's the way it was. He was too angry and hurt to hide it well from someone as old and observant as she was, so why even try to? He'd listened carefully after her footfalls had faded. She hadn't come back. Nor, apparently, had she been able to talk Duncan into doing anything. Alex nodded to himself. Everything was working out about the way he'd figured it would.

"Tomorrow," he thought. "I'll have exactly one shot at this. With Methos, Cass, and Amanda off starting to 'circle the wagons', Duncan will be shorthanded here. He'll continue the hunt, for damned sure. That means that, at some point tomorrow night, there will just be Richie between me and the outside. I'll slip out, bait the son of a bitch out into the open, and kill him....or let Duncan kill him if I can't." Alex didn't dwell on what 'if I can't' could mean. He continued aloud. "There's only one thing left to do."

He went over to the PC on his work table and halted the ongoing news retrieval program. Long ago he'd prepared a contingency plan against disaster. He checked the time. After midnight. Entering an innocuous looking folder labeled Trek Sites he clicked on an icon labeled 'Message in a Bottle'. The resulting program executed immediately and opened an e-mail form that had room for an e-mail address and a slot labeled 'set timer'. The address he knew by heart..... prettyparker32⊕aol.com. He'd chosen it for her a few years ago when she'd been on a downer about her looks.

He set the timer for eighteen hours.

Then he began to type.

"Dearest Lizzie,

This will come as a horrible shock, but I'm alive. The thing is, by this weekend, I may not be. And there's a man here, a poisonous psychopathic bastard really, that's made a threat against Isabel....and if he tries to make good on it, I have no reason to believe that he would stop with her. My friends here seem to think that the man is a coward, who won't try anything while I'm alive. Be that as it may, the odds are good that I'll be dead come Monday morning. So there will be nothing between him and the ones that I love any longer. My friends have promised to look out for you all, but if they die as well.... All things considered, if I'm to die, I'd rather die protecting Isabel and the rest of you from what my life has become. It's me that he wants....so tomorrow night I'm going to bait that SOB out into the open and kill him, or die in the attempt. By the time that you read this, it will be to late to do anything, even assuming that you could. Well before midnight, it'll be all over, one way or the other. Be alert Liz, tell the others to be alert. If I don't contact you again by midnight tomorrow, assume the worst and start watching for a handsome psychopath with an ugly scar on his face. If you take him down, be *sure* to take his head *off*....then run like hell!

All these months, I've wanted nothing more than to come home, to see all of you again, to hold Isabel in my arms again, and all these months I've known that I never can. I've missed you, and Maria, and all the others....even surly Michael. Give my love to Isabel, and tell her that if I don't see her again, I'll be thinking of her. Wherever I am. Always. Give my love to everyone. Good-bye Lizzie, you've been the best friend that a man...or a boy, could have.

In Love and Friendship,
Alex

PS....I know how you think Lizzie. And don't do it. Don't try to find me. If I make it past tomorrow, war is coming for my friends...and for me. Soon. And I owe these people a debt of loyalty and honor as great as the one that I owe you and the rest of the group. I cannot leave them...but I also do NOT want any of you in the middle of it! So DO NOT TRY IT!"


Alex paused, and re-read the e-mail. It said everything that needed to be said. Using the mouse he clicked 'Send'. A prompt appeared that said 'Timer Engaged', with two possible responses. 'Execute' or 'Cancel'. Alex hesitated briefly, then clicked...'Execute'. The prompt and the e-mail disappeared. The fat was in the fire now. He glanced at the clock. It was almost 12:30 AM. The program would run quietly in the background, unseen, for eighteen hours. Then, around 6:30 PM tomorrow, the timer would run out and it would awaken. It would have the highest priority possible. It would bump all other tasks then running, and fire that e-mail off to an anonymous re-mailer located somewhere in Finland. The re-mailer would strip off his IP and e-mail address and then forward the e-mail to the addressee.

Alex got up from the computer and stretched. He needed sleep. Going back to the bed he picked up the whetstone and tossed it into what he called his 'supply kit'. Picking up his sword he slammed it into its scabbard and leaned it against the night table next to his bed. He was in no mood to get fancy tonight, so he stripped and climbed under the covers with a minimum of fuss. Turning out the light he lay back and regarded the ceiling, thinking. His chances of embracing the long sleep, sometime in the next twenty-four hours, were looking pretty good. Alex sighed and spoke aloud. "Before I became an Immortal, I rarely thought of death in more than an intellectual way, and it frightened me. Maybe I never really grasped it *because* it frightened me. Now I have the prospect of a virtually unlimited life-span....and I've become a fatalist. I'll fight, but more to protect Izzy and the others than to protect myself. Dying doesn't frighten me the way it should. Now it's an inconvenience that I could do without." He rolled over and tried to settle in. His thoughts turned to Duncan, Amanda, and the rest of the small Seattle family. "If we get past this...and I finally forgive them, the first question I ask is going to be about their feelings about death. Their own, and others." Sleep was pulling him down now, with warm and gentle fingers of fatigue. His last thought was, "Death holds no terror for me now. Only loneliness does..."

Behind him the e-mail program in his computer's memory stood silent vigil...waiting.

And the clock was ticking.


The Evans Household.....6:45 AM

Isabel awoke with a fearful start. Something was stirring in the house. She lay still, trying to ignore the thumping of her heart, and listened. A few muffled thumps later she was reaching for her portable phone with one hand, while the other hand began to fluoresce faintly with her gathering powers. Then she froze as she heard the familiar sound of the shower in her parents' bathroom start running. She frowned, and then swore. There aren't many burglars that stop to take a shower. Ungrateful brothers are another matter!

She crept out of bed and quietly tiptoed down the hall. It was worth noting that her hand was still glowing...brighter if anything. Entering the master bedroom she found the bathroom door locked. A quick pass of her hand over the recalcitrant lock solved *that* problem....granting her access to the larger 'problem' in her parents shower. She stood listening to Max as he hummed in the shower, occasionally bursting into quiet song. Elvis tunes. "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You"....and "Burning Love". Three points of fact occurred to her. The first was that Max still couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. The second was that he'd obviously spent the night at Liz's....and a very good night at that. The third was that Brody was corrupting him...which moved Brody's posterior up the line on her personal 'asses to be kicked today' list.

She reached for the handle on the toilet, intending to flush it, but paused. Then she changed her mind. She quietly opened her mother's small private linen closet next to the shower. Inside it was a service access that her father's forethought had placed there, to allow plumbers to service the shower's plumbing without the necessity of ripping out the wall. Opening the access she shook her glowing hand out as if limbering up for a pitch in baseball. The hand glowed brighter......then she reached in and gripped the hot water pipe. Turning its contents to ice water.

Half a heartbeat later a siren-like howl of, "What the HELL is going on!" from the vicinity of the shower rewarded her efforts. The water shut off and a dripping Max stumbled out of the shower. Normally Isabel would have launched on him at once over his nudity and her bad temper....but her eyes were drawn to the interesting feature on his right shoulder. A delicate, not to say dainty, silver handprint. Say, about 'Liz' sized.

Max looked up and saw his sister glaring at him. The direction of her stare was plain. He was half tempted to try and cover it up. "Er....hi..Iz?"

Isabel glared a moment longer then spoke. "When you're done, I'll see you in the kitchen." Then she spun on her heel and headed out the door. Reaching the door she paused. "Be done soon Max....or you'll have erotic dreams about Rosanne Barr for the next month." Then she was gone.

Max swallowed. "Oh shit!" he thought. "She's pissed." He'd read her note, and had hoped to escape the house without talking to her. "So much for *that* idea!" With desperate haste he finished his shower. He hurried through his shave, and skipped the dental floss when he brushed his teeth. Ten minutes later he entered the kitchen with all the caution of a man crawling in with a short tempered hibernating bear. Isabel was sitting at the
table with a cup of tea, staring into space.

"Hi Iz. You wanted to talk?"

Isabel focused on him. "Actually I wanted *you* to talk? Where were you last night?"

Max swallowed. "I was with..."

"...Liz," she finished. "Yes, I know. I mean *before* that. Where were you and the rest of the gang? And how did you come by that nifty piece of body art?"

Max studied her carefully. Something wasn't right. It was as if she were on the edge of something. And it wouldn't take more than a nudge to put her over the edge. Time to proceed cautiously....and to muddy the waters. "We had a meeting."

Isabel frowned. "To which I was *not* invited? Why?"

Max sighed. "Iz. I can't tell you."

Isabel's eyes narrowed. "Why not?"

Max sighed. "I can't tell you *that* either."

Isabel tried counting to ten. She only made it as far as five. "Damn it Max! What did we agree to, when it comes to keeping secrets?! Damn it! I can't decide who's worse, you or Alex!"

A half-meter long icicle replaced his spine. "What did you say?"

Isabel made an irritated noise. "Are you deaf now too? I reminded you that we'd agreed, as a group..a family, that keeping secrets from each other was a *bad* thing!"

Max looked her in the eye. "I meant *after* that."

Isabel frowned...trying to remember. "Something about....about not...not knowing ...who was worse." Her face cleared. "Yes, not knowing who was worse, you or Liz."

Max shuddered. That wasn't what she had said. And she didn't realize it. The warp, if that's what it was, was breaking down. He didn't know whether to go all out and push her to remember right now, or stall until the sonar team had time to give Alex's grave the once over. Without proof Isabel's stubbornness might just reinforce the warp. And the meeting last night had taught them a stern lesson about booby trapped mind warps. This one probably wasn't rigged to kill, but that wasn't a call that *he* was prepared to make with his own sister. Not without Liz, and Hector, on emergency standby!

He sighed. "Look Iz, I can understand that you're hurt, but there was some material discussed that would be upsetting to you....and we wanted all our ducks in a row before....upsetting you."

"Upset how?" She was looking less angry and more curious now. Then she frowned. "You shut me out and pissed me off....to avoid upsetting me? Does that strike you as a contradiction in terms?"

Max shook his head. "Oh no. You aren't going to browbeat it out of me. Just keep a slot open in your day planner. Because I have a feeling that there'll be another meeting tonight. One that you'll want to be there for!"

Isabel looked sour. "Okay....but don't think that you're out of the doghouse dear brother. Or that I'll let you get away with this again!"

Max studied her. "What's really the matter, Iz?"

Isabel looked away. "What makes you think that there's anything the matter?"

"Iz, I know you. True, we kept you in the dark. But, as much as that might irritate you, it shouldn't get you *this* angry." He paused, then chided gently. "Who's keeping secrets now?"

Isabel's head snapped around. She glared for a moment, then deflated. "I don't know Max. I really don't. Last night, when I realized that you were all AWOL, I suspected that you were meeting behind my back about something. Like you said, it irritated me, but not that much. I was willing to wait, and sweat the details out of you later. Then, all at once, out of nowhere, I was mad. I mean more deeply and thoroughly angry than I've ever been in my life! For no reason!!" She sighed. "I guess this is just leftovers from that."

Max frowned. Michael would have seen this as evidence that Isabel was losing it. But he didn't. He'd have to talk to Liz about this, but.....

Isabel broke his train of thought by changing the subject. "Okay, I've told you....now, either you throw me some sort of bone about last night, or you have a date with Rosanne tonight." She smirked.

Max sighed deeply. "Okay Iz....name your price."

"That hand print on you shoulder," Isabel said with pitiless good humor. "Liz put it there?" When Max nodded she continued, "I assume that she now has powers...and that she had a reason to use them on you."

Max looked a little lost. "There's a chain of events behind that that's too long to go into in detail, so I'll give you the short version." He glanced at his watch and muttered a silent apology to the group He was the one that had insisted that they not discuss things with Isabel until they had more evidence. He sighed. "So much for good intentions," he thought. He'd have to tap dance around a few of the facts of the meeting....anything that didn't match Isabel's memories. But his sister could be as stubborn as Liz was...and she wouldn't back down. He'd just have to make sure that the others knew what he'd told her. He took a deep breath and began. "Okay, bear with me. Yesterday afternoon Liz and I...er...we made love for the first time."

Isabel nodded calmly, but inside she was in turmoil. "Yesterday afternoon was their first?" she thought. "But Liz told me...", she paused, "...no...she didn't tell me. I told *her*, and she let me believe it. Something doesn't add up!" She was forced to put her train of thought aside as Max went on.

"The upshot is this...by consummating we apparently completed something that we needed to do to make the Fusion work. We can go in and come out at will, without effort, and without the exhaustion. Furthermore, in the course....er....anyway, Liz saw a flash of the night that Tess and I supposedly...."

"....violated natural law?" Isabel finished for him.

Max winced. Yes, she was still ticked at him. "Yes, you could call it that. Anyway, she noticed something wrong with the flash. That it wasn't like the other images she'd gotten from me. So we Fused and let our Composite take a whack at it. It cleaned house on us. It turned out that Tess left us both peppered with mind warps, which It cleaned out for us. One of them was my memory of that night."

Isabel blinked, then slowly smiled. "Does that mean that you didn't...?"

Max smiled. "No. I didn't. It was a mind warp."

Isabel didn't hesitate. She jumped up and was around the table in under a second. Wrapping her arms around her brother she hugged him...hard. Then a realization hit her and her grip slackened.

Max felt it and pulled back. "Iz?" Her face was a mask of fury and hatred.

"Then the baby was a warp too," she bit out. "All of it. All lies! She killed Alex for nothing! For nothing!"

Max shook his head slowly. "No, the baby wasn't a warp. Once the Composite cleared the warps out, and my memory was clear, I knew one thing with absolute certainty. Iz, I connected with a baby inside of her. She *was* pregnant before she left."

Isabel's face was a study of wonder. "Then who......?" Her voice trailed off. "Kyle?" she breathed. "Did he....?"

Max nodded. "Yes, he did. And he didn't know that he had. It was another warp....and not one of Tess'.
Anymore than the warp that killed Alex was hers either."

Isabel staggered away from him and sat down. "Who?" she whispered.

Max's face looked hard, and dangerous. "Nicholas."

Isabel was dumbstruck as Max continued the abbreviated tale of the group's request of Kyle, while carefully editing out references to Alex and Isabel's missing memories, but including Kyle's display of powers, of his successful bid to remember, and of his brush with death as a result. And of the Fusion that healed him...resulting in the hand print that now adorned his shoulder. Once Max's brief narration was done Isabel was silent.

Out of respect Max kept silence as well. But after a few minutes of watching her he began to grow concerned. She was too calm. "Iz"?

Isabel glanced at him, then looked away with something like guilt on her face.....then her posture straightened and in a low voice she began to curse...venomously. In a way that he'd never heard from her before. When she looked back at him she looked...crushed somehow. "It's never going to end, is it? The Antarian black hole. It tries to suck away our free will. It sucks away those that we love. It makes strangers our enemies, who want to kill us...not because of who we are.....but because of who we were, in a life that we don't remember, and because of what we might become in a Destiny that we don't want!"

Max knew how she felt. "Iz, Liz and I agree, we make our *own* destiny. If that destiny includes helping Antar, then fine. But we're through letting it make us suffer because of something that the Antarians did. Whoever Zan *was*, I'm not him. Not anymore. I am *not* responsible for his alleged errors, nor for cleaning up the mess that may have resulted from them. And whatever Vilandra may have done, *you* are not *her*. You never were!" He sighed. "Hind sight is twenty-twenty. I wish that I'd had the sense to take this position back when all of this first started."

Isabel stood up and walked over to give him a hug. "It's okay Max, you couldn't have known. None of us could. You may have been the leader, but you can't make good decisions without information. And Nasedo made sure that you didn't have it. From what Kyle said, had we been stubborn, Nasedo might have killed Liz, Maria, and Alex...not to mention our parents...the first week after hitting town. The fact that we'd hate his guts over it wouldn't even have occurred to him." She gave him a final squeeze. "You still aren't off the hook completely 'little brother', but I'll leave your dreams alone until I get the full scoop tonight. No Rosanne Barr in a thong bikini." She kissed his cheek. "Now you'd better go finish getting ready for school."

Max grinned. "Gee thanks Iz, a dream like that might just drive me insane...or blind....or both. Just imagining a dream like that is enough to induce nausea. I'll talk to you tonight, remember to keep a slot open for a late meeting...if there is one."

Isabel frowned. "I thought that you said that there would be one for certain."

Max shrugged. "It's not set yet, I hadn't even suggested one to the rest of the family, and it depends on some stuff that's supposed to happen today and early tonight."

Isabel's frown deepened. "What *stuff*?"

Max sighed. "It's connected with the 'let's not upset Isabel' part of the agenda. So, can it wait?"

"If you say so Max," she conceded. "Just remember my ace in the hole."

"I know," he said wryly, "Rosanne in a thong..."

Isabel chuckled. "Absolutely...now get out of here!"

Max exited the kitchen and headed upstairs. Leaving Isabel with a lot to think about. She had a growing feeling that something was wrong. That some piece of her personal puzzle was missing. And Max's news about Tess made her wonder if she didn't have a few mind warps hiding in her subconscious, like Kyle and the others. Kyle, that made her think of what had been done to him. Isabel sighed. "I'll have to talk to him sometime today. It seems that we have a lot in common, lost-love-wise. And he might be able to give me some pointers on the self-removal of mind warps!"

Isabel grabbed her empty teacup, rinsed it, and placed it in the dishwasher. With Max done in the bathroom, she could grab a shower. There was no point in going back to bed now. She'd use the extra time to get a few loads of laundry done before going to work. She left the kitchen and went upstairs to her room. Before getting ready to clean up she paused and looked outside. The sun was up now....though not by much. It was red like fresh blood, and there were gathering clouds. A storm was coming. She'd have to remember her umbrella today.

She had no idea that, before she slept again, her world, and that of her small family, would be turned on it's ear. Even further than it already had been.

Because a storm was coming.


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 9-Nov-2002 7:57:56 AM ]
posted on 6-Nov-2002 4:57:31 AM
Title: Still Yours
Author: Kzinti_Killer
Disclaimer: The characters that count in this do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I simply borrowed them from someone else's toy box.
Category: Crossover Roswell/Highlander A/I + CC NC-17

STILL YOURS - Part 14c
(Hope)


The Kingsgate Estate..............9:00 AM Wednesday Morning

Britanicus was finishing breakfast in his study when the household intercom chirped. He frowned at it then depressed the talk button. "Yes, Joachim? What is it?"

Joachim's voice came back in what sounded like tones of disapproval. "Sire, your...guests have arrived."

Britanicus chuckled, then thumbed the talk button again. "I'll be right out!" As he gulped the last of his coffee, he was still laughing softly. Jealousy didn't become Joachim at all. "Well, a little sibling rivalry never hurt anything. If this makes him a little insecure in his position, then perhaps he'll be more alert. And deplorable incidents like that of Radu and the Lytrell girl could be avoided in the future.

Britanicus paused and reviewed the girl's biographical data in his mind. Tracy Lytrell, age 15. Father absconded. Mother raising her daughter and two younger sons by herself. Keeping the children in parochial school caused their mother to work two jobs, and part time on the weekends. Which left young Tracy unsupervised...which allowed her to wander into Radu's path. A pity. The anonymous bank draft for seventy five thousand dollars that he'd dropped in Cheryn Lytrell's mailbox would go a long way towards assuaging her grief....if indeed she suspected the reason for it's arrival. The local constabulary certainly did. But Britanicus had covered his tracks well.

"Let them fumble about," he said aloud. "I have bigger fish to fry." He walked briskly out of his office and made his way to the foyer. There he found an old friend waiting...with a surprise.

"Andres!" he boomed as he pulled his former protege into a rough hug. "You son of a dog! How are you?! How was the flight?! It's damned good to see you!"

The shorter broader Quebecer grinned through his beard as he exchanged hugs with his mentor. "Well enough Sire. The flight here was piss poor, service-wise though. Is there any chance of some breakfast?"

Britanicus chuckled. "But of course!" Turning to his majordomo he spoke. "Joachim? Get the cooks to start breakfast fo..."

"Seven." Andres finished for him.

Britanicus swung back towards Andres. "Seven? I thought..."

Andres shrugged. "Salesmanship Sire. Salesmanship. Once I had your okay, I made my pitch to five others that were waffling. Either they stayed or went, but they had to decide *now*!" Andres chuckled. "It's amazing how many poeple cave when you turn up the pressure! Three joined. Two declined, and I took their heads for making the wrong choice."

Britanicus thought it over. This nearly doubled the number of troops at his disposal. "Where are they?"

Andres shrugged. "I parked them outside. I wasn't letting them under your roof until we'd talked. "

Together they walked outside, trailed by a scowling Joachim, and surveyed the men that Andres had gathered. They were slovenly. Half of them looked like they needed a bath and a barber. They were all lounging about on the grass around the approach to his front door. "Andres was right," thought Musa. "Scum of the Earth indeed. I don't think a scruffier more unprepossessing lot since the days of Rome's barbarian auxiliaries."

Britanicus looked at his junior and raised an eyebrow in query. Andres hadn't been Musa's right hand man for as long as he had been without picking up on certain cues. Britanicus was asking permission.

Andres nodded and waved his mentor ahead. "By all means Sire!"

Musa drew breath and barked. "All right you men! Listen to me! My young friend here has gone to considerable trouble and expense to get you here! I think that the least can do is look like something other than a pack of vagrants!" None of them moved. "Yesterday I killed one of the men who was already here for breaking my rules. If you want to, you can see the scorched area that marks his Quickening around back. I'm going to count to five. Anyone not standing by the time that I finish...dies!" Musa drew his sword for emphasis. *That* got their attention. By the time Musa reached three, they were all standing....and in a line at that.

"All right," Musa said in an even voice, "you lot are going to be well paid to assist me on a 'personal' matter. You will be paid, in cash, after the mission is done. Fifty thousand dollars each. In addition, once the targets are eliminated, you can loot their property to your heart's content. Steal anything that isn't nailed down. Understand?"

There were a few incoherent mutters, and one of them spoke up. A youngish man with scraggly blonde hair. "Ya make it sound like this is the army. I thought we was just gonna kill someone and be done with it!"

Britanicus looked disgusted. "What's your name? And just how old are you?"

The man grinned. "Terry. Terry Beils. Age fifty five....been an Immortal for thirty-four years. Got about a dozen heads to my credit."

Musa studied the man. "Assuming that you aren't lying, how did you get those heads? While their owners were sleeping?"

Beils' face looked ugly. "We ain't gotta put up with this sorta crap!"

Andres cut in. "You do if you want a paycheck. If you walk now, you're out for good. And when I say walk, I mean that literally. I won't even give you cab fare." He nodded at Britanicus in apology for interrupting.

Britanicus picked it up with out missing a beat. "Decide now. In or out. Young Mr. Beils was right. If you sign on, you're in the army. My army. I have a passable personal barber, whom you will *all* visit today. You will *all* bathe daily and wear presentable clothes. If you own none, we will acquire some for you...just this once. You will be sober and well mannered. And if any of you try to take a head here, I promise you that losing your own will be the *least* of your worries! No women and no liquor allowed! There are mandatory combat drills daily! The punishment for any infraction used to be expulsion. Since I had to kill someone yesterday, it is now death. All you have to do is behave like decent human beings for a few days, then do a little job for me, collect your money, and leave."

There was some shuffling of feet, and Beils looked sullen, but he kept his mouth shut.

Musa nodded to himself. Cowards. Cannon fodder. "All right, since no one objects, I'll take that as a an unqualified yes." He waved Joachim out front. "You will pick up your gear and follow this man. He will see to your accommodations. Go where he goes, and do what he tells you." Britanicus paused. "And remember, do as you're told, and you live to collect a fat paycheck for a few days work. Screw up and I'll kill you myself!"

After the new men had filed past them and into the house Musa turned to his old second and grinned. "It's hard to find good help these days," he said.

Andres laughed. "How many do you think will still be alive come payoff?"

Britanicus shook his head. "Hopefully, none of them. But, if any do happen to make it, I'll pay them off and send them packing." He paused. "I just realized that I sent Joachim to shepherd those fools around, and he never followed up on my orders to get breakfast together for you."

Andres shrugged. "I can fend for myself. Besides, the look on Boche Boy's face tells me that there will never be any love lost between us. Any food of mine that he has anything to do with is likely to be poisoned!"

Britanicus chuckled heartily. "Quite possibly. But a little jealousy will do the boy good. We had an incident here yesterday. One of the troops abducted a young girl and brought her onto the grounds where he raped her and murdered her. I can't tolerate that sort of thing....and as my second Joachim is supposed to prevent it."

Andres grinned. "Oh ho! So, you get another capable soldier, and paddle junior at the same time! And they claim that the Greeks are devious! They have nothing on the Romans! No wonder you conquered them!"

Musa accepted the compliment with a nod. "Now, let's see about getting you some breakfast." He turned back towards the door, with Malorte pacing him. "My current cook is acceptable, but he isn't up to Emil's standards. Remember Emil? Nearly a century back?"

"I should say so," Andres said with a laugh. "The boy was a wonder! Give him any sort of dead animal, a handful of condiments, and an hour's head start.....and you had gourmet dining!"

Britanicus heaved a sigh. "Too bad that he was a short-lifer. Good domestic help is hard to find."

The two men vanished into the hallway leading to the kitchen.

Half an hour later Britanicus entered his study in considerably better spirits than when he'd left it. He'd left Andres in the kitchen, happily munching on a strip steak with eggs, and all the trimmings. Joachim had reported that the new recruits were settled in and seemed to be accepting the state of affairs. Their sole concern seemed to be how they were going to spend their pay. "Good," Musa thought. "Most of them won't live to collect it. That makes it a harmless diversion." As he sat down at his desk he noticed that the answering machine on his private line was flashing. He pressed the replay button.

"Mr. Kingsgate, this Donald Stenson of DeVries Investigations. One of our operatives has turned up something of interest. Please call me at your earliest convenience, you have my number and extension."

Britanicus frowned, and hit the speed dial on his speaker phone. It took only a moment to reach the DeVries offices, and for the receptionist to give him Stenson's extension. When the operative picked up Musa spoke first. "This is Kingsgate, you have something?"

"Good day Mr. Kingsgate," the investigator said in an oily tone. "Yes, one of my junior field men trailed two of the subjects to an isolated location near Tiger Mountain yesterday. An abandoned building. They were there for quite some time."

Britanicus leaned back in his chair. "Describe the building!" Stenson did so. "Very well, fax me the location, as well as any additional information you may have turned up. I assume that you've done some follow up work?"

Stenson chuckled. "Oh, indeed we have. We always like to give our clients value for their money. And you've paid well...and in advance. Please hold a moment."

A minute later the fax machine in Britanicus' office began to hum quietly as it spat out the information that the DeVries agency had gathered. Britanicus took the first few sheets and surveyed the information. "Well, well," he thought. "They're getting ready for something. That fat head Conterras must have tipped my hand somehow or other....because this has all the earmarks of 'forting up'. That kind of incompetence *cannot* go unrewarded! I'll take his head myself!"

At that moment Stenson was back. "The balance of the information is about thirty pages, including a map location of the site as well as the surrounding terrain. It will be along directly. As will an e-mail with some digital photos of the location."

"Thank you Mr. Stenson," said Britanicus absently. "I will no longer require your services. You may retain any unused balance of my money as a bonus for work well done."

That really got Stenson's attention. "Thank *you* Mr Kingsgate! It's been a pleasure doing business with you! Anytime you require our services, just call. You'll be marked in our files for priority service!"

Britanicus was already reaching for the disconnect when he said, "You're welcome Mr. Stenson, I'll keep you in mind. Good bye."

"Good bye Mr. Kingsgate!" came the response. Then the connection was broken.

Britanicus surveyed the collected information, then opened his e-mail account and checked on the photos that Stenson had promised. "A redoubt," he murmured. "That's what it is. Quite formidable under ordinary circumstances. But these circumstances aren't ordinary." Musa displayed a predatory grin. "This will be like shooting fish in a barrel! That clumsy fool Rafe did me a favor after all!"

Britanicus stood and walked to his window looking out on the gardens. A landscaping crew had arrived and begun work to repair the damage done by Radu's timely demise. Already, things were starting to look better. All in all this was shaping up to be a good week, and a better weekend. "Of course," he muttered, "I'll *still* have Conterras head, regardless." Yes, all things considered, things were going well indeed.

Of course Britanicus aka Roland Kingsgate was ignoring that little law, widely attributed to an intelligent pessimist named Murphy...."If everything seems to be going well, you've obviously overlooked something."


McCleod's Dojo........11:30 AM

Richie and Alex were engaging in a sparring match in front of some of the regular students, when the elevator opened and Amanda came out escorted by Methos and Duncan both of whom was carrying Amanda's luggage. A lot of luggage. The sparring match ground to a halt as Richie and Alex stared, open mouthed at the 'caravan'. Duncan glared at both of them in a silent command that said...'Don't say a word...not one word!'. Both Alex and Richie were wearing looks of angelic innocence that fairly shouted...'Who...US?'.

As the three passed out of sight down the stairs Richie turned to Alex. "Y'know, if it were anyone else, you would think that she was moving out on Duncan. But with Amanda, it's normal baggage." He shook his head.

Alex gave a half smile, he couldn't say what he wanted to in front of the students, so he settled for talking around the subject. "It's nice to know that some things don't change....no matter old you get." He'd managed to get his self-control back after last night. Making the choice to take his fate into his own hands had given him a measure of calm. He was still angry, but he wasn't going to start throwing accusations around until he had the facts. That conversation that he'd overheard suggested that, whatever Cassandra had done at Duncan's behest, his friends hadn't exactly been united on the issue. He nudged Richie and leaned close. "She's doing it again," he murmured.

Richie glanced at the subject of Alex's comment, only to have her flush faintly and try to find something else to focus on. "You're out of your mind," he whispered back.

Alex grinned. "Su-u-u-re I am. Tell you what...ask her out to lunch and see what she says."

Richie was about to answer when Duncan returned from loading Amanda's luggage into Methos' Bronco out in the alley. It was a measure of his mood that he snapped at both of them. "Are you two on a break?"

Alex glanced at the wall clock. "As a matter of fact, yes. We were about to call lunch."

Duncan blinked, then glanced sheepishly at the wall clock. "Okay, make it quick though. I have a few issues to work out."

Alex glanced at Richie. He knew what that meant. Duncan wanted a sparring partner. "Take off Richie. I ate a big breakfast, so I can afford to skip lunch to trade bumps and bruises with the boss man."

The other students were already leaving. Their lessons had been done long ago, and they had only been hanging around to watch the sparring match. Richie stared at the the receding back (side) of the expatriate Aussie blonde that had taken such an obvious interest in him. Then he jumped as Alex kicked him and made shooing motions in the her direction. Richie needed no further encouragement.

Richie caught up with her outside. "Excuse me? Miss....?"

She smiled. "Call me Tina."

Richie returned a dopey grin. "Can I buy you lunch?"

The girl grinned. "Well, a mannerly Yank! I think that yours is the first request for a date that I've had, that didn't look to have implications of ending up in the bedroom."

Richie flushed. "I'd be lying if I claimed to be any different in my hopes....I just don't have the chutzpah to think I can get there on the first date!"

The girl studied him a moment, looking noncommittal. "I'd love lunch. Where are you parked?"

Richie smiled faintly, wondering at her mood change. "My bike is around in the alley."

"A motorcycle?" Tina grinned. "I haven't been on one of those for a while. Good thing that I wore jeans today, eh?"

They walked around the corner and down the alley. When they reached the bike Richie handed her a helmet, then stepped into the saddle, ignoring his own helmet. The girl looked at him, then back at the helmet. "If you aren't wearing a brain bucket, then neither am I." She handed the proffered helmet back to Richie and slid into the seat behind him. She snuggled up close, wrapping her arms around his waist. Before Richie could kick start the bike she leaned in and whispered, "First dates aside, you never know *what* could happen on the second date..."

Richie's face flushed, and he kicked the bike to roaring life a bit harder than usual. As he pealed out in search of a place to eat lunch, his rider looked smug. Now he was off balance. This was going to be *fun*!

Back inside the dojo, Duncan and Alex were squaring off in hand to hand. After getting thrown three times, Alex bounced to his feet and smirked. "I guess you *do* have a few issues to work out! Who knew that luggage issues could bring this out!" Duncan grinned, shrugged, and while still flat footed he launched himself at Alex. Alex decided to save Duncan the trouble of *making* him hit the mat, and went down voluntarily. In a startling blur Alex fell backwards and rolled, raising his feet to catch Duncan in the stomach. Using Duncan's momentum, along with a hearty assist, Alex sent him airborne.

Duncan landed hard and rolled. Once he was on his feet again he studied his protégé carefully. "Who taught you that move?"

Alex shrugged. "No one. I improvised."

Looking skeptical, Duncan rushed him again. After two more successful throws that caused Alex to hit the floor, Alex caught him by surprise again, sidestepping an attack like a matador sidestepping a bull. Both times Alex had displayed turns of speed and dexterity that had exceeded his training...or Duncan's expectations. Duncan signaled a time out and walked over to get a drink and mop his face with a towel. "Have you been working out on the sly?"

Alex maintained a carefully neutral expression and shrugged. "Like you're the only one with issues to work out?"

Duncan looked at his student. "Er, Alex...Amanda said something last night about...."

Alex stopped him. "Duncan, I know that you're curious. Do you want to know how I died?"

Duncan froze. He was wearing a poker face, but inside he was burning with curiosity. Alex had been very tight with information about his past. "I thought that some girl cracked you on the head, stuffed you into a car, and ran you into sixteen wheeler."

Smiling grimly at the irony of the situation Alex shook his head. "Cards on the table. I overheard you and Methos talking. I know what you had Cass do." Duncan started to speak, but Alex overrode him. "So, you know that at least one of my old friends has....unusual abilities."

Duncan sighed. "We know that she's more than a friend, Alex." He winced as Alex's eyes narrowed.

Alex nodded. "Just so, but that has nothing to do with what I'm telling you now. The thing is, Isabel wasn't the only one with unusual abilities. How she came by those abilities is none of your business right now, by the way. There were also some...er...unusual enemies. " Alex walked over to stare vacantly out a window.

McCleod nodded to himself. Enemies....which implied conflict and danger. A hell of a lot of conflict and danger apparently...if Methos and Cassandra's observations of these 'children' were correct. Noticing that Alex had fallen silent Duncan prompted him. "Please go on?"

Alex tensed slightly. "A supposed friend turned out to be one of those enemies."

Duncan realized that he was on dangerous ground, and had best tread softly. "The friend who was an enemy...that would be the girl. Tess Harding? She also had these abilities?"

Alex gave a melancholy sigh. "Yes and no. She didn't have precisely the *same* ability as Isabel. Her particular...'ability'...was control. The ability to compel people to do what she wanted. To make them see things that weren't there. To suppress memories."

Duncan had a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. "She used these abilities on you?" he asked, even as he thought, "Oh shit! Richie and Methos are going to 'I told you so' us to death...and I can't even begin to imagine how Cass is going to react. She didn't want to do it to begin with!"

Alex laughed bitterly. "Man, did she ever. We referred to it as 'mind warp'. We always thought that it was limited in strength. Apparently she was sandbagging us the whole time. She had a job that she wanted done, and she nominated *me* to do it for her. Something that she couldn't tell the others about. So she 'warped' my parents and the school officials into believing I was on a student exchange in Sweden, then she used me like a household appliance. Placed me under her control and used me as her errand boy. It went on for months, until the stress of the 'warp' on my brain and mind killed me. Then, and I'm guessing here, she stuffed my corpse into that mini van and sent me head on into a truck."

Alex spun around and looked at Duncan. Duncan might have expected hatred, but there was only sadness and betrayal in Alex's eyes. "Do you see what I'm driving at here?"

Duncan was silent for a long moment. "What the hell do you say to something like this?" he thought. "Somehow 'I'm sorry' rings a little hollow." He sighed deeply. "Alex, this isn't like that..."

"Oh really??" snapped Alex. "How?"

"It wasn't intended to be permanent," Duncan responded. "Just to stave things off until after we'd dealt with Britanicus. Cass was certain that, given the nature of your 'relationship' with..." He stumbled over the name. "...Isabel, it wouldn't last long. It would break down."

Alex shook his head. "It's only a difference in degree." He paused. "I waited until the others left so you and I could talk without involving them. You were right about one thing, we can do without any distractions right now. But, make no mistake about it, *I have issues!* They'll wait until this is over, but when it is...we...all of us...are going to talk!"

Duncan nodded then spoke quietly. "One thing...Richie didn't know, and he disagreed when he found out. Methos knew, but refused to support it. Cass didn't want to, but I pressured her into it. If you're going to blame someone, blame me."

Alex was silent and turned back to the window. After a while he spoke. "I'm going out with you tonight."

"No Alex," Duncan answered. "That wouldn't be a good idea!"

Alex spun on him. "Good ideas be damned! This isn't a democracy! And we aren't voting," Alex grated out. "And while I might bow to your experience, this isn't a monarchy either! Been there done that! That son of a bitch issued a direct threat against the woman that I love....and I don't for a second believe that he'll stop with her once I'm dead. We might *all* be dead by dawn Monday. Do you believe that my friends will stand idly by while he tries to have his way with her? No. So, he dies tonight! Even if I have to die to accomplish it! Do you understand me?" Alex stopped and drew a calming breath. "I was going to sneak out after you left, and I'll do that if it's required. But I'm going out. You were right at the initial meeting. He hunts me, while you hunt him. You've been chasing him all week with no luck. That's because you haven't been doing it right. To trap the right rat, you need the right bait. Me! These are my friends, people that I love, and by God, he's not getting anywhere near them!"

Duncan sighed. "Alex, I promise you, he won't reach them. Not while any of us live. As much as I sympathize with your desire to get involved, I can't allow it." McCleod's voice began to rise. "Even if I have to tie you in a chair like I threatened to do six months ago. You are *not* ready to face an experienced Immortal in combat!" Duncan grimaced and thought, "That leaves out the fact that Amanda would castrate me if I allowed it."

Alex glared. "You keep assuming that *any* of us will be alive to stop him! And just what did you have in mind for me to do this weekend if I can't stand against an experienced Immortal yet? Be the team water boy? Be a door stop? Cannon fodder?"

Duncan looked frustrated. "You're not going out there tonight, and that's final!"

Alex 's fury lasted a moment longer, then it collapsed and he appeared to deflate. "All right," he began in a low voice. "But, so help me Duncan," Alex's voice began to soar, "if you don't bag him tonight, all bets are *off*!" He glanced at the clock. "I think I've done enough time today as your punching bag. It's almost time for the next class. I'll be in my room if you want me" He turned to leave and paused. "Let me amend that. I'll be in my room. Don't BOTHER ME!" Then he stormed off.

Duncan watched him go with a deep sigh that spoke richly of parenthood and premature gray hair. He'd have to have Richie keep an eye on Alex tonight. A close eye....just in case. The sounds of the arriving after lunch class caused Duncan to shelve the issue. He hoped that Richie wouldn't take a long lunch. He could use a hand with the students...and he wanted to talk to him about tonight.

Up in his room Alex sat brooding for a moment, staring at the computer as it silently ran it's count down. He'd tried to make Duncan see reason. Tried and failed. So be it. He was committed now, and he wouldn't have it any other way. That...thing wasn't coming within a hundred miles of Roswell, New Mexico, ever again. His decision finalized Alex took a lesson from Immortality 101. "When there's nothing else that you can do, sleep. You never know when your next chance might come." So he stripped out of his sweats and stretched out to take a nap. Surprisingly he was asleep in moments.

On his work t