posted on 9-May-2002 12:05:55 AM by Kath7
Part 14 - Page 33
AN - Page 33
Part 13 - Page 31
AN - Page 31
Part 12 - Page 27
AN - Page 27
Part 11 - Page 25
Part 10 - Page 23
Author's Note - Page 22
Part 9 - Page 19
Note - page 19
Part 8 - Page 16
Part 7 - Page 14
New Part 6 - Page 12
Author's Note - Page 11
Part 5 - Page 9
Part 4 - Page 7
Part 3 - Page 6
Part 2 - Page 5

Title: All You Wanted

all_you_wanted

Author: Kath7

Category: M/L AU

Summary: Based on a challenge by clueless. You can find it on the Fanfic discussion board if you’re interested, but you may not want to because it will spoil you a bit. I am tweaking it with her permission. She didn’t want aliens, but I can’t write a Roswell story without them. The rest of her challenge will pop up eventually. Basically, all you need to know for now is that Max Evans arrives in Roswell following a lead about who he and his sister Isabel really are and runs into a destiny he never dreamed of. This is a reimagining of the Roswell story we know and love.

Rating: PG-13 (may change - we’ll see how the fates treat this one)

Disclaimer: Story is mine, characters aren’t. Lyrics by Michelle Branch.

Author’s Note: Don’t worry. This isn’t going to take away from Sins of the Father or Union. I know I said this last time with BTSAS, but this time I REALLY mean it. LOL I just wanted to try an AU story and I loved this challenge, so humour me people! Expect a new part of Sins tomorrow and Union by the end of the weekend.

All You Wanted

I wanted to be like you
I wanted everything.
So I tried to be like you
And I got swept away.

I didn't know that it was so cold,
And you needed someone
to show you the way,
So I took your hand and we figured out
That when the tide comes
I'd take you away.

If you want to
I can save you
I can take you away from here
So lonely inside
So busy out there
And all you wanted
was somebody who cares.

I'm sinking slowly
So hurry hold me
Your hand is all I have to keep me hanging on.
Please can you tell me
So I can finally see
Where you go when you're gone.

If you want to
I can save you
I can take you away from here
So lonely inside
So busy out there
And all you wanted
was somebody who cares.

All you wanted was somebody who cares
If you need me you know I'll be there
Oh, yeah

Please can you tell me
So I can finally see
Where you go when you're gone.

Michelle Branch


Prologue - Minneapolis, Minnesota - August 1998

"We’re not going back there. Not this time." Max Evans clenched his teeth, the rage bubbling under the surface calm he worked hard to always maintain, causing him to clench his fists. He could see that it was scaring Isabel, forced himself to take deep breaths to settle down.

He was surprised he could still get so angry about the way Hank treated her. It wasn’t like it was new after all. But there had been something on their foster father’s face today - something that had told Max that if he didn’t get his sister away from him, things were about to progress past the simply disturing stage and into horrifying new territory. It was like that bastard was merely waiting for the right opportunity to do terrible things to her.

Since Isabel had turned fourteen, Hank had become more blatant in his advances to Max’s pretty sister. Max he basically ignored, considered him a quiet nuisance if he considered him at all, not the least bit threatened by the skinny teenaged boy.

But Isabel...Hank wanted her. There was no denying it any longer.

And there was no one to turn to - not anymore. There had been no one to trust, to believe in since their parents had been killed in a car accident more than five years ago now.

There was no one to help them figure out what the hell was happening to them. Because the weirdness about them both was getting worse.

Hank wasn’t their only problem anymore. What had happened today had only reinforced it.

The weirdness. That’s what they called the changes they had both started undergoing when they hit adolescence. They didn’t know what else to call it. They weren’t physical changes exactly, but something was shifting inside. They both felt it, had discussed it at length.

They had always known they were different. Both were capable of strange things. Max had once healed the wing on a baby bird as a child for example. He didn’t remember doing it, but they had found the video their mother had made of the incident among her personal belongings after she had died. They had both watched it in dumbfounded silence, wondered what their dead mother had known about who they really were.

Because it was after viewing that tape that Isabel had admitted to him that she could visit people in their dreams. They had begun to experiment. They had both found out that they could do things that others couldn’t. Like playing a CD - without a CD player. Or changing their hair colour with a snap of their fingers. Or changing the complete molecular structure of any object just by touching it and concentrating a bit.

They were freaks.

If anyone knew, they would be treated like it too. They had made a pact on that day five years ago, the day their parents had left them. They could trust no one anymore. Except each other of course.

Which was why there was no one to go to for help now.

Because the more recent changes were something else entirely, different from the amazing abilities they had always possessed.

It was as though something was waking up within them. There was no other way to describe it.

And, yet, despite their amazing powers, despite the inherent knowledge that someday they would both be more powerful than they could even comprehend, it wasn’t enough to help Max protect his sister now. While Isabel was almost too grown-up for her fourteen years, his own traitorous body was still small, thin, under-developped.
It was enough for him to wonder if the six years the state of New Mexico had decreed were his when the Evans had adopted he and Izzy nine years before weren’t merely a wild guess. He was supposedly fifteen now, but his body certainly didn’t reflect it. It was amongst the greatest frustrations of his life that he was too small to keep his sister safe.

But he would protect her in spite of it. The determination running through his veins now told him so. It was time to put his long-held secret plan into action. They couldn’t stay with Hank any longer because, after this morning, their weirdness was no longer just between the two of them.

Everything had changed when Isabel had whirled away from Hank in the kitchen when he had tried to brush up against her, still drunk at eight in the morning. She had glared at Hank so fiercely, the grizzled man had blanched.
Max had been coming in the door from his early morning paper route, so he had been just in time to witness what his sister had done next. Her anger and fear had been a palatable force, making Max feel sick to his stomach, as though he was somehow connected to it.

Isabel had made every single piece of crockery in that kitchen explode into a thousand pieces.

Even she had been shocked.

Hank had run out of the small tract house as though the bats of hell were after him.

They hadn’t even contemplated waiting for him to return. They had quickly packed their meagre belongings and had fled.

And now they were huddled together on a bench in the park near their housing development, unsure what they were going to do next.

All Max knew for sure was that his sister was never going back there. It was time to send her somewhere safe. He had been working part-time jobs since they had moved in with Hank two years ago to make it possible. He had almost flunked out of school last year because the part-time work was constantly creeping closer and closer to full-time.

But it had all been worth it. Now that it was time to leave, he was ready.

"We have no choice Max," Isabel was saying now, running her hands nervously through her long blonde hair. "We have nowhere to go. We have to stay in school."

"You have to stay in school," Max replied quietly. "I don’t. I am getting you out of this crap permanently. You are not going back there Iz."

Isabel just stared at him, not understanding. "Max, what are you going to do?"

He put his arm around his sister’s shoulders, pulled her against him.

She was all he had in the world. The only other person who understood him. The only one like him. She was going to live a healthy, productive, safe life if it was the last thing he ever did.

"I’m going to give you the life Mom and Dad would have. "

And I’m going to find out who we really are. It was a private thought, one he didn’t share with his younger sister. She would freak after all. She didn’t want to know, prefered to pretend they were normal, that if she just ignored it, it would go away.

Max would give her normal. He would help it to go away for his sister. But he would also search for the truth.

Because, until he knew who they really were, there would never be any real safe and normal for either of them.




[ edited 25time(s), last at 8-Feb-2003 9:13:20 PM ]
posted on 11-May-2002 12:32:07 AM by Kath7
Author's Note: Thanks for the feedback folks. This is a fun story to write. It's nice to be able to make up most of it myself, rather than trying to fix the mess the writers on the show created. LOL

Part 1

Roswell, New Mexico - August 2000 - Two years later

Max Evans ran a hand wearily through his dark hair as he climbed off the bus. He looked around the deserted street warily, a slight frown on his face.

So this was Roswell. Site of the infamous UFO crash. Site of his adoption by the Evans over ten years ago.
Technically his home town. Although he had learned enough over the past two years to acknowledge that technicalities rarely applied where he and Isabel were concerned. He looked around, wondered if he would remember anything.

"Is someone coming to pick you up dearie?" Max turned and sighed good-naturedly at the sight of the elderly woman who was standing nearby. Mrs. Thompson had been his seat-mate on the bus ride from Albuquerque and she had talked his ear off about everything from how pretty her grand-daughter was - "She goes to West Roswell High you know dear. You’ll probably be in her class if you enroll. You really should enroll dear. It’s not right that a boy your age doesn’t go to school." - to the best place in Roswell to shop for food - "You don’t want the A&P dear. They say their produce is fresh, but I found a rotten potato there last year."

He was about to tell her that he was on his own when the glint in her eye, the one that told him that she was about to invite him to come stay with her at her son’s - the better to meet her grand-daughter of course - caused him to lie instead. "Yeah. I know a guy who knows a guy."

Mrs. Thompson looked disappointed. "Well, that’s nice dear. But you must come by for dinner later this week." She poked him in the stomach. "You’re too skinny. We need to fatten you up. And you’ll be lonely without that sister you told me so much about."

He sighed again, knew it was easier to just capitulate graciously. "Okay." He didn’t understand why mothers and grandmothers - the ones he always seemed to sit beside on every bus trip he took - loved him so much. He was a high school drop-out after all. He figured it must have something to do with the fact that they always seemed to needle the information out of him that he was supporting his younger sister at a boarding school in Vermont. He had seen their expressions melt often enough when he finally admitted it to get them to shut up about the fact that he wasn’t in school. Because they always asked about school, couldn’t understand why a teenage boy was on a bus to a new town in the middle of the school year.

Not that school was on right now. He had picked a good time to arrive in Roswell. Summer holidays were just wrapping up. He would have first dibs on all the jobs the kids in the town had been working over the summer. His choices would be limited though. He was going to have to find a couple of jobs that allowed him time to investigate his latest lead on his origins.

Well latest lead wasn’t exactly the right term. Only lead was more like it.

The dream had come earlier in the month. Isabel had called him on his cell - his only splurge on himself and only because he needed his sister to have a way to contact him - from her friend Natasha’s, where she was spending the summer, in a panic that same night.

"Did you see it Max? Did you?"

"The dream," he had replied calmly. "It’s okay Iz. Calm down."

"Max! I can’t calm down! What was that? We were both in it - and we were…we…"

It had definitely been disturbing. "Making out with complete strangers?" Max had finished for her, swallowing hard as the tremor of desire that he had woken with ran through him again. He certainly had not wanted to be discussing things like this with his sister, but the terror in her voice…He had to be strong for her.

It had not been normal, that was for sure. Because, strangely the dream hadn’t been at all erotic. Disturbing was the way to describe it all right. He had felt an almost instant dislike for the curly-haired blonde girl he had been paired with in the dream in fact.

Peculiar. Disturbing. Freaky. All words that easily described the experience.

"Yeah. Max, I can’t stay here," Isabel had continued. He could hear the tears in her voice. "Please let me come be with you. I don’t want to be alone anymore."

"Izzy, you can’t," Max had told her gently. "You know that. You need to stay there."

"I don’t understand Max! Please! Don’t you want me with you?"

"Of course I do Iz. But you’re safe there while school’s out. And you need to go back there in the fall. You need an education."

"But it’s summer Max. I can come be with you for the summer and then I can go back," Isabel had argued.

"Isabel, we can’t afford to pay for you to fly to meet me and I’m not going to let you go any other way. The bus is too dangerous." Especially for someone who looked like his sister. Hank had only been the beginning it appeared. There was just something about Isabel that attracted the lowest common denominator it seemed. Max had tried to keep her with him for the first year after they had left Hank, but it had just been impossible. He couldn’t work to support them and protect her at the same time.

And so he had sent her to an all-girl’s boarding school. At least there she was safe from that particular threat. Although the threat about who they really were, about what it might mean, was beginning to overshadow that one a bit.

Because the making-out in the dream had sort of been incidental to the fact that they had morphed into aliens about half-way through it - aliens with the big black eyes and the grey skin and the tall bodies and the really weird heads.

The answers were coming all right. And they weren’t exactly reassuring.

He had chosen Roswell, New Mexico as his next site of investigation after a call to the agency that had handled their adoption. Why he hadn’t thought of calling there before, he couldn’t say, but finding out it was in Roswell had been a little too in your face to ignore. Particularly after the dream.

And so now here he was in Alien Central U.S.A. with nowhere to stay and no job. Oh, and currently no job either. Which was beginning to make him a little antsy because the first installment of Isabel’s tuition was due in three weeks.

He waved at Mrs. Thompson as she left in a Volvo with her middle-aged son. Max scrubbed a hand across his face, looked around again.

He had absolutely no idea where he was, but he seemed to still be close to the outskirts of the town. He wondered why he had been so stubborn. He should have asked Mrs. Thompson to get her son to drop him off in the middle of town. It was just habit to avoid owing anyone anything though. He rarely stayed long enough in any place to pay people back and he hated to feel beholden, even for something as small as a ride.

Max glanced at his watch. It was getting late, would be dark soon. He was going to have to find a place to crash for the night - somewhere cheap.

He swung his backpack up over his shoulders and started to walk.

Five minutes later it started to rain. Wasn’t he supposed to be in the desert? This was ridiculous. He continued to trudge along, kept his head low to avoid the worst of the water.

Twenty minutes later he wanted to kill himself. He was soaked to the skin, hungry and tired. Cursing himself had stopped being fun at least fifteen minutes before.

He swiped a hand across his face, glanced up to get his bearings. He seemed to be entering a more commercial zone. He could see a gigantic sign in the distance proclaiming that it was the UFO Center.

Yup. He was definitely in the right place. He snorted to himself that maybe he should try and get a job there.

Most of the storefronts on the main drag were dark by the time Max managed to reach them. Only one sign still flashed brightly in the dark, wet evening. And thank God for his stomach it was a restaurant.

The Crashdown Café.

Another place that might enjoy having a potential alien working for them Max reflected wryly. When he saw the sign in the window his heart jumped in anticipation though.

COOK WANTED

Apparently his luck wasn’t so bad after all. He had worked as a short-order cook before. He could do this.

Max glanced in the window of the café. He could see that it was still open as there was a tall, dark-haired boy sitting at the counter reading a book. He wondered if they would let him fill out an application so close to closing.

It was worth a shot anyway. He pushed open the door, rubbing his neck uncomfortably. The bell over the door rang merrily, making him jump slightly.

He hated this part. Once he was hired he always proved himself a good worker, but he sucked at the getting the job part. Speaking to strangers was not his forte - especially since he and Isabel had to hide so much of themselves. It had only emphasized his natural shyness. His sister could be quite outgoing and gregarious when she wanted to be, but he had never been that way, had never really learned how to shmooze.

But this job was for a cook. He wasn’t going to have to serve customers or anything. Maybe the owners wouldn’t hold it against him.

Max looked around, grimaced slightly at all the alien-themed decorations. It was a little strange to be standing in the middle of a space-themed restaurant in the town you had come to in order to investigate the possibility that you might be an alien.

There didn’t appear to be any people who worked in the restaurant anywhere. The dark-haired boy hadn’t even glanced up from his book. Max eyed him for a moment. The kid was practically devouring his reading material, turning the pages quickly.

"Liz! Customer!" The other kid yelled it so abruptly, Max blinked and jumped slightly. He still didn’t look up.

The name Liz…It was ringing a note of familiarity in the back of Max’s mind. He had known someone named Liz once. A little girl. Her face appeared in his mind unbidden. Pretty, dark-haired, turning a jump rope, smiling at him in a friendly way.

He didn’t remember much about his childhood before the Evans had moved he and Isabel to Minneapolis, but he did have a couple of memories, mainly impressions, feelings. And Liz was one of them. He didn’t know where he had known her, had always assumed that it had been at the orphanage.

He remembered thinking that she had the nicest smile he had ever seen. It had made him feel safe for some reason - probably just one of those weird kid things. He had often thought of her before his parents had died. Because, although they had been loving and wonderful, he had sometimes felt slightly restless with them. They had been so over-protective, so suffocating in their love.

He knew now that they had probably known the truth about he and Isabel, had been trying to protect them. But he hadn’t known it then. It had sometimes made him feel caged, like they were expecting much of him and he couldn’t let them down. Because he owed them so much.

Thinking about that little girl had calmed him down and so he had thought about her often in those first years. But he had stopped that ages ago, had never thought of Liz again after his parents died.

He had tried to forget a lot of things after they died. Because once the security and safety of their love had been gone, it had not seemed nearly as scary as it had. He still missed them so much, it hurt.

Liz was a common name though. Why that little girl had suddenly popped into his head, he didn’t know. It was unlikely that he had known her from here after all. He had barely lived in Roswell.

He realized suddenly that he had been standing in the middle of the restaurant, dripping on the floor for close to five minutes. The boy at the counter was beginning to shoot him weirded out looks, like he was wondering why Max didn’t just seat himself.

Max could feel himself reddening. He wasn’t sure why, but he suddenly felt like he might be somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be. He was glad he had a few minutes to figure out what he was going to say. He didn’t want to come across as a total idiot. He swung his back-pack off his shoulders and went to sit in a booth to await whoever it was the boy had just called.


*********************************************

"Michael! You moron! You were supposed to lock the door! We’re closed and now we have to serve someone else?"

Liz Parker sighed as her best friend Maria Deluca screeched at the cook, Michael Guerin.

"Had to clean the grill," Michael snapped back as he threw his jacket on. "Gotta go. Hockey game on." He scratched his shaggy head, bolted out the side door into the alley.

Liz just rolled her eyes. That was Michael - a man of few words. He had been working the grill since spring of their sophomore year and Liz still felt like she barely knew him.

"Damnit!" Maria muttered, thrusting her alien antennas back on her head. She had been in the midst of changing to go home. "I’m going to tell them to get lost."

"Hold it!" Liz grabbed her friend’s arm as Maria whirled past her. "Not like that you’re not." She indicated the half open set of snaps on the front of Maria’s teal uniform. "And be polite."

Maria stomped to the doorway, paused before pushing through to finish doing up her dress. Liz watched her, amused.

Maria glanced up, hands on the door to return to the dining room. Her eyes peered through the small window and she gasped. "Oh my God. Lizzie! Hottie alert! Come and see this!"

"Maria, I have a boyfriend," Liz reminded her, but she moved to join her friend at the window. It was easier to humour Maria. Arguments were to be avoided at all costs.

"Oh bah," Maria retorted. "You can still look."

By the time Liz glanced into the restaurant, the customer had seated himself in one of the booths, his back to them. All she could see was a very dark, very wet head and a broad set of shoulders.

"The poor guy’s soaked," Maria clucked. "I think we should serve him," she decided abruptly.

Liz smirked slightly. "You do, do you?"

"Liz, it’s not every day we get a new guy in Roswell. The fact that he’s hot and that we’re probably amongst the first to see him…I can’t waste this opportunity Chica. Just because you’re an old married woman…"

Liz frowned at her friend, wanted to retort that she and her boyfriend Kyle Valenti were the furthest thing from married there was, but she didn’t have time. Maria was already licking her lips in anticipation. Liz grabbed Maria by the wrist. "Hold it missy. Don’t you have a practice to get to?" She nodded her head in the direction of their other best friend, Alex Whitman, who was still sitting at the counter reading his book, patiently waiting for Maria to get off work so that they could go practice with their band the Whits. "Concert at the Crash Festival this weekend? Remember?"

"Aw Mom…" Maria whined jokingly. "Fine." She scowled. "I’ll just go say hi and then I’ll leave. You can feed him."

Liz shook her head. "Maria, you’re impossible! Two minutes ago you wanted to throw him out on his ear."

"He has very cute ears Liz," Maria told her primly. "I would never do such a thing."

"Fine." Liz sighed again. "Let’s get this over with." The hot bubble bath she had been craving ever since she had started work at noon was slipping further away with every second they blabbed after all.

"Great!" Maria chirped, pushing through the door, practically letting it slam in Liz’s face. She sighed in exasperation and followed more slowly. Liz could hear her best friend using their standard opening as she crossed the floor of the restaurant behind her. "Hi! I’m Maria! Welcome to the Crashdown!" Her voice was obviously flirtatious to Liz’s ears. Even Alex seemed to notice. His head had come up and he was watching Maria suspiciously.

Liz didn’t hear the customer respond but she went to join her friend. "I’m Liz." She was already speaking as she picked up a menu off a nearby table and turned to hand it to the customer. "We don’t usually assign two waitresses to a table, but you’re in luck tonight…"

Her words trailed off as she raised her head and found herself staring into the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.

She had seen them before, had remembered them for what seemed like forever. Dark, warm, but mysterious and wary at the same time.

And in an instant the past smashed into Liz Parker so abruptly, she gasped.

"Max?"

To be continued…



posted on 27-May-2002 10:19:01 PM by Kath7
Thanks for all the bumpage on this one folks. It's going to have to take a back-seat to Sins and Union for a couple of more days though. I'm still plotting. I'm hoping to have a new part up by the end of the weekend. Thanks for your patience.

And, yes Cookie, I am still procrastinating on Sins! LOL But I have a beginning now. It's all downhill from here.
posted on 30-May-2002 11:30:52 PM by Kath7
Author's Note: Thanks for all the bumpage folks. I think I finally have the plot of this one straight in my head, so I should be updating it more frequently.

Part 2

She had blurted the name before thinking. There was no way that this stranger could be Max Evans, a kid she had known for a grand total of two hours over ten years ago. And, yet, somehow, she knew that she was right.

He was staring at her, dumbfounded, clearly recognizing her too.

"Liz?" His voice sent a shiver down her spine. It was soft, but with an underlying sexiness that made her heart beat faster. She felt her eyes widen.

She could not tear her gaze away from his. It was ludicrous. She knew it and yet it seemed like the most natural thing in the world at the same time. It was like they were the only two people left on the planet. She realized that her breath was beginning to shorten, that she had raised her hand was taking a step towards him.

"LIZ!" She felt Maria nudge her, hard. She stumbled, blinked. As she continued to stare at him, Max did the same. He swallowed and she could see him reddening slightly as he seemed to come back to himself. "Do you two know each other?" Maria continued, sounding accusing and annoyed at the same time.

Liz bit her lip. "I think so." She smiled at him, despite herself. "You’re Max, aren’t you?"

"And you’re Liz," he replied, smiling back. "I know it, but I don’t know how I know it."

"Maybe because she just told you?" Maria inserted, sounding mildly perturbed. "Just like I told you that my name is Maria?" Liz glanced at her best friend, could see that Maria had folded her arms across her chest, did not appear pleased. Liz rolled her eyes. She couldn’t believe that Maria had decided to be annoyed at her simply because the new "hottie" in town already knew Liz.

And it wasn’t like they really knew each other at all anyway. One short meeting over a decade ago didn’t mean anything.

Except for the fact that they both appeared to remember each other - after ten years.

Max was looking at Maria, a slight frown on his face, like he was trying to figure out how he had offended her. Liz felt her heart go out to him.

The one thing she had always remembered about him was the sadness and uncertainty that seemed to hover around him like a shield. It was what had drawn her to him that day on the play-ground at the orphanage. He had looked so desperately alone, a little boy on a swing, staring off into the distance, like he had wanted to be anywhere but where he was.

He had looked like he needed a friend and so she had decided that it was going to be her.

She had never seen him again after that day, but she had never forgotten him.

It didn’t hurt that it had also been the day that her parents had adopted her sister. It had been a memorable day all around. As she listened to Maria question him about where he knew Liz from, she could see that uncertainty there, masked under a shy smile.

"The orphanage," she told him softly. "The day the Evans adopted you. It was the same day we picked up my sister. In fact, it was your parents that told my parents about her."

Alex had joined them by this time, had draped a casual arm around Maria’s shoulder to calm her down, because she had been interrogating Max like he had done something wrong.

Max nodded slowly. "I definitely remember you." The way he said it - like it was completely expected, like how could he forget her - sent a warm feeling straight to her heart. "You were playing jump-rope with some of the other kids."

And as their eyes met and held, the years seemed to fade away and, suddenly, they were both back on that playground on that warm spring day…

The day Liz’s life had changed forever.

**************************************************************

Liz sat on the step behind the orphanage, her arms wrapped around her knees, stared at some of the kids who lived there. They were jumping rope, something Liz loved to do, but she didn’t feel like it right now.

She still wasn’t sure why she was even here, wasn’t sure if she was at all happy. Her Mommy and Daddy had sat her down the night before to tell her that she was going to have a new sister, had told her that they were a family with so much love, they had figured that they had enough to share with someone else.

But Liz
liked being an only child. She liked being the one her daddy swung up in his arms when he came up from work. She liked being the only kid in town who got to sometimes wear an apron and alien antennas and be a waitress and do the cash register in her parents’ restaurant. She liked being the only one who got to have Ice Cream Day with Grandma Claudia and who made her mommy cry when she read her first book all by herself.

A sister would get to do all that too. Besides, Maria was already like her sister. She didn’t need another one.

"Play?"

Liz turned her head, looked at the pretty little blonde-haired girl who had suddenly appeared beside her. The girl was smiling shyly. She touched her chest lightly. "Isabel."

Liz didn’t answer right away, frowned. She had listened to the girl trying to talk to the other children. She always only ever used one word at a time. It was kind of weird. Liz wondered if there was something wrong with her. "Play what?" She asked finally.

Isabel motioned towards the other kids. "Rope?"

Liz didn’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings, and since she suddenly had the idea that the other girl didn’t feel comfortable going over to the other kids by herself, Liz sighed and stood up. "Okay. I’m Liz."

Isabel’s bright smile of relief made Liz feel instantly better. If someone like Isabel could be her sister…maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. Liz liked helping people. It made her heart feel good.

She took the other girl’s hand in hers, led her over to the game. She introduced them both to the other kids and soon Liz was turning the rope, laughing as Isabel gracefully out-jumped them all, although Liz had the feeling that this was the first time the other little girl had ever played.

It was then that she saw him. Actually, she felt his eyes on her before she saw him, but by the time she looked over, he was staring off into the distance. Even from across the playground, she could see the way he seemed to fold in on himself - like he felt weird that she knew that he had been watching her.

He started swinging, but not with any sort of enthusiasm. Liz had never seen anyone who looked so sad.

She glanced at Isabel, who was by now shrieking with laughter as another girl joined her in the rhythm of the jump rope. Liz smiled slightly. She had helped Isabel feel better. Maybe she could help the sad little boy too.

Liz handed over her end of the rope to another kid, made her way carefully over to the little brown-haired boy. She had a strange feeling that if she approached him too quickly, he might get up off his swing and run away. He looked that scared.

She stopped a few feet away. He was watching her again, his dark eyes even more sad than his face.

"Hi! I’m Liz." Her voice was cheerful and friendly, just like she had heard Agnes speak to customers at the Crashdown. It always made them smile.

She realized that that’s what she wanted more than anything. To make this little boy smile.

He didn’t say anything, just continued to stare at her. Liz didn’t know what to do. "What’s your name?" She asked finally.

He shrugged, looked away. Liz could see that his cheeks were turning red. She bit her lip. Nathan in her kindergarten class turned red like that whenever he had to speak to someone. Her mommy had told her that sometimes that happened to people when they were shy.

Maybe that’s why he didn’t want to play with any of the other kids. He was shy.

And so she decided that he didn’t have to talk if he didn’t want to.

"I’m getting a new sister today," she ventured quietly. He looked at her again, seemed interested, so she continued. "I don’t know her name or anything. But she’s the same age as me. Six years old. My mommy says she can’t talk though." Liz frowned. "Isn’t that weird? She doesn’t know how to say a single word! Mommy says that we’ll have to give her so much love, she’ll feel like she can say anything she wants to!"

Liz felt her heart fall when his eyes looked away again and then down at his feet.

"Well, I guess I’ll go play with Isabel again…" She said, trailing off uncertainly. She felt awful, like she had failed him somehow. But his head came snapping up at her words and he shook his head urgently. Liz was surprised. "You want me to stay?"

He nodded quickly.

"Okay." Liz moved forward, sat on the swing next to his. "But can’ t you tell me your name?"

He shook his head again, his expression miserable.

And suddenly Liz understood. "You can’t talk either!" She exclaimed, then instantly felt horrible. His eyes fell again, embarrassed. "That’s okay!" She said quickly. "My grandma always says that if you don’t have anything nice to say, then it’s best not to say anything at all." She wrinkled her nose, wondered if that sounded dumb, but he seemed okay again, so she continued, saying the first thing that came to mind. "My best friend’s name is Maria…"

She talked at him for what felt like a really long time. She swung a couple of times, but mostly she just talked. And he listened as though everything she said was the most interesting thing he had ever heard. The only other person who ever did that was Grandma Claudia.

Liz didn’t even notice that the other kids had all gone in until she heard her daddy calling her from across the yard. "Lizzie! It’s time to come in and meet your sister!"

She jumped slightly. The little boy stood up abruptly, stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans, started kicking at the dirt. She followed his gaze, saw a pretty blonde lady walking towards them. She was with Liz’s daddy.

"So this is where you got to Lizzie." Her daddy brought his arm around her.

"And you’ve met Max." The blonde lady said this, a big smile on her face. "You’re going to see a lot of each other at school."

"This is Mrs. Evans Lizzie. She’s Max’s new mommy."

Liz looked at Max, surprised. "You’re moving to Roswell?"

Max looked at Mrs. Evans shyly. She smiled at him. "That’s where we live honey. Roswell. It’s only a few miles from here."

Liz thought she saw a slight smile cross his face, but it was gone so quickly, she couldn’t be sure.

"You should bring Max and Isabel for dinner at the Crashdown later this week Diane," Liz’s daddy said. "That way the kids can all get to know each other."

"What a wonderful idea!" Mrs. Evans exclaimed. "We’ll bring them as soon as they’re settled. Would you like that Max?"

Liz felt like her cheeks were getting hot because Max nodded so quickly. She felt good though. Obviously he liked her. And he didn’t look as sad as he had before.

"Well, we better go," Mrs. Evans said. "Phillip’s waiting in the car with Isabel." She brought her arm around Max and started to lead him away.

"And Liz needs to meet her new sister," Liz’s daddy said. "Bye Diane! Bye Max! We’ll see you soon!"

"Bye Max!" Liz called. He was looking back at her, a strange expression on his face.

And then he opened his mouth and said, so quietly, Liz saw Mrs. Evans glance at him like she was hearing things, "Bye Liz." He said it slowly, carefully, but there was no question he had said it. Liz saw Mrs. Evans’ smile brighten. She reached up and brushed a tear off her face, looking just like Liz’s mommy did when Liz did something she thought was wonderful.

Liz felt a smile break out across her own face. She couldn’t wait to see him again. She had a feeling that they were going to be really good friends. Maybe she and Maria could even have a new best friend…

She watched him until he disappeared around the side of the house.

"C’mon Lizzie." Her daddy took her hand and led her back to the orphanage. "It’s time for you to meet Tess."


****************************************************

Liz had never seen him again.

The Evans had left Roswell in a rush almost immediately after adopting Max and Isabel. Liz had overheard her parents talking about how weird the whole thing had been one night, but soon the subject of the two children the Evans family had adopted on the same day the Parkers had adopted Tess was forgotten.

But Liz had never forgotten Max. Not once.

She knew that it was probably because she had met him on the same day they had brought Tess home, which had been a major mile-stone in her childhood.

But she knew that wasn’t the only reason.

The day she had helped Max had been the last time she had ever felt like she was maybe a little bit special. Because it was that day, the day that Tess had come home, that Liz’s place as favoured daughter of the Parker family had been usurped forever.

Her sister had become the golden girl and Liz had never felt special since.

Now Liz watched the memory play across Max’s face. She felt a slight pang that he had obviously not remembered her to the same degree that she had remembered him.

But he had remembered her. It was something.

He was smiling shyly. "I do remember you. I don’t have many memories from before my parents adopted me, but I remember you." It was almost like he was reading her mind. Liz felt her heart start to beat faster, felt another shiver descend her spine. His eyes were warm as they lingered on her face.

"Hey Liz! Isn’t Kyle coming over tonight?" The way Maria’s voice put the inflection on Liz’s boyfriend’s name made Liz aware of how inappropriately she was staring at Max. She felt a slight blush rising on her cheeks.

"So your family is back in Roswell then Max?" This was Alex, who was squeezing Maria’s shoulder, none too gently. "I’m Alex Whitman by the way."

Max looked at Alex, seemed unsure how to respond to this. Liz frowned. "I’m by myself," he finally told them. He gestured towards the door. "I came in mostly because of the job. I need to make some money - fast."

"It’s yours." The words were out of her mouth before she even thought about them. She heard Maria gasp, but ignored her. "Once my dad knows who you are, there’s no question."

She didn’t know what the heck she was doing, but she knew that she wanted Max Evans working in her parent’s restaurant.

She wanted it more than she had ever wanted anything in her life.

Max blinked, stuffed his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. "Great." He seemed momentarily overwhelmed. "Should I talk to your dad?"

Liz waved her hand in the air. "Tomorrow’s soon enough. Why don’t you come in after the breakfast rush? Say around 10:30?"

Max smiled again. "Okay." His eyes met hers again. Liz felt the breath leave her body. "Thanks Liz." He tore his gaze away, looked at Maria and Alex in quick succession. "It was nice to meet both of you."

With that he picked his wet back-pack up off the floor, swung it over his shoulder and sauntered out into the downpour.

But before the doors swung shut behind him, he glanced back once, right at her.

And, as their eyes met and locked for that instant, Liz Parker knew without a shadow of a doubt that her life had just changed forever - again.

To be continued…



posted on 6-Jun-2002 12:29:43 AM by Kath7
Author's Note: Thanks for all the great feedback as always folks. This story is so fun to write, you have no idea. And don't worry about Max. Tess is going to meet her match in him. But first, a little idea of what Liz has been dealing with for ten years...

Part 3

Max didn’t even feel the rain pouring down on him as he walked away from the Crashdown.

That had, without a doubt, been one of the most amazing experiences of his life.

He couldn’t really explain what had happened to him in that restaurant when he had laid eyes on Liz Parker, but the way her face had instantly lit up with recognition… it had literally made his heart stop. When it had started beating again in an uneven rhythm, it had sent blood careening through his body at warp-speed, his awareness of her tingling through every part of him.

No girl had ever done that to him. But she had done it merely by saying his name.

When she had reminded him of where he knew her from, the entire magical moment he had spent with her as a child had come rushing back so quickly, it had made his knees weak.

Or maybe it was Liz’s smile that had done that. The possibility was definitely there.

She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. And he was going to see her again tomorrow. Glancing at his watch, he felt his heart skip a beat. In just over twelve hours, he was going to see her again.

Intellectually he knew it was wrong to care, to anticipate their next meeting. He had heard that Maria girl mention that Liz had a boyfriend. He knew that it was unlikely that she had been as affected by him as he had been by her, that she was just a nice person, (as that incident when they were kids had more than proved already) saw his desperation and offered him the job because of it.

He knew that he had absolutely nothing to offer any girl. He didn’t even know who he really was, had no idea when he was going to have to pick up and move on again to follow the next clue to his identity.

But none of that seemed to matter at the moment. He knew that he had a silly grin on his face as he wandered aimlessly through the park in which he somehow found himself. He knew that he should find somewhere to crash for the night, that he had to look his best when he met his new boss, Liz’s father, the next day.

He could not stop thinking about her, going over in his mind every word that had passed between them, the way his name had sounded on her lips. He had a feeling that sleep was going to be an impossible proposition tonight.

He really should at least try and find somewhere to get out of the rain though. It was still coming down in sheets, plastering his hair to his skull and likely soaking the meager possessions he carried in his pack. He had pictures of his sister and his parents in there. He didn’t want them completely ruined.

Max looked around, tried to get his bearings. He realized that he had come out the far side of the park, was facing a huge building. Floodlights on the lawn lit up the words West Roswell High School on the side.

The high school. Perfect. He had slept under the bleachers of countless high schools when his money was low. Since he had no intention of sleeping anyway, there was no point in wasting funds on a motel room. He’d just pull out his sleeping bag and wait out the night, counting down the hours until he could head back to the Crashdown.

He was envisioning walking in there the next morning, Liz coming up to him with a smile on her face, as he sauntered across the parking lot in front of the school towards the playing fields in the back. He was jolted back to awareness by the sound of a car horn honking. He turned his head, noticed a red Mustang parked on the far side of the lot.

As Max watched curiously, the passenger door opened and a short blonde in a blue and gold cheerleader’s outfit came bouncing out, shrieking slightly as the rain came pouring down upon her. "I’ll be right back Kyle! I’ll call the tow-truck." She called behind her as she tossed her blonde curls and went sprinting towards the doors of the school. Max didn’t manage to see her face, but a flash of recognition went through him at the sound of her voice. It was high-pitched and grated on his nerves in a way that was altogether familiar.

He frowned. He couldn’t possibly be remembering someone else from Roswell? That would just be ridiculous. He had barely lived here after all and he knew that he had not even been fully capable of speaking when his parents had moved he and Izzy to Minneapolis. He couldn’t have possibly had as many interactions with others his own age as it seemed by the never-ending cycle of recognition he seemed to be feeling.

It suddenly dawned on him what the blonde had been saying. She was going to call a tow-truck. Something was obviously wrong with the Mustang.

It wasn’t usually Max’s way to approach strangers, but he was feeling strangely light-hearted at the moment, his encounter with Liz making him want to spread the wealth a bit. He knew that he could help get the car going. If there was one thing his constantly increasing powers seemed to be handy for, it was auto repair. He was already planning to head to a garage tomorrow to see about a second job.

Max sort of liked the idea of playing good Samaritan, since Liz had already done him such a good turn tonight.

It didn’t hurt that if he could help the couple in the car, he might get a better look at the blonde, might be able to figure out if he really did know her, or if the coincidence with Liz was making him see and hear things that weren’t really significant.

After all, this was Roswell. He knew better than anyone that there was apparently more truth than fiction to the strangeness associated with this town. He was living proof of that.

Max walked quickly towards the Mustang, relieved that the rain finally seemed to be letting up a bit. He expected the guy behind the wheel to roll down his window or even get out as he approached, but there was no movement from within.

Max frowned slightly, wondered if maybe he should be on his way. But for some reason he kept moving forward, knocked lightly on the window. "Hey! Can I help?"

There was a long pause and then, finally, the door opened. Max stared at the dark-haired guy sitting there. He looked completely out of it, his blue eyes hazy. He appeared to be trying to focus on Max, but was definitely having trouble. Max grimaced, wondered if he was stoned.

"Hey, are you okay?" Max asked quietly.

"Wha..what?" The guy blinked, hard, but seemed to be slowly getting it together. Max glanced at the other boy’s hand, which was tapping unconsciously on the steering wheel. "Who are you?" The other guy looked around, seemed to start when he saw that the passenger seat was empty. "Where did Tess go?"

"I think she went into the school to call the tow-truck?" Max shrugged. "I’m Max Evans. Is there something wrong with your car? Maybe I can help."

"Something’s wrong with the car?" The other guy demanded, his face paling. "My dad’s going to kill me!" He popped the hood, jumped out and went to stare down at the internal workings of the vehicle in despair. "What the hell?" He reached up, scratched his head, clearly still confused. He looked up at Max again. "Who are you again? I don’t know you. I know everyone in this town."

Max noticed for the first time that the other guy was wearing a blue and gold letterman’s jacket. The sleeve proclaimed that he was the captain of the football and basketball teams. He was the kind of guy Max usually avoided like the plague - not that he’d had much chance to run into anyone like Kyle since he had dropped out of school two years ago. "My name’s Max Evans," he repeated. "I’m new in town."

"Kyle Valenti," the other guy replied. "Nice to meet you Max. You say you’re good with cars?" He gestured helplessly towards the engine. "I didn’t even know there was anything wrong with it. I was waiting to give my girlfriend’s sister a ride home from here…" He paused. "Anyway, I must have passed out or something." He scowled. "Weird."

Max moved up beside him. "I think she went into the school," he told Kyle again. He glanced down at the engine, could see that it had been fried. He looked back at Kyle, frowning. There was absolutely no way this guy should be driving anyone anywhere. He seemed a bit more with it than he had moments before, but he was still clearly totally gone. Whether it was drugs or alcohol, Max couldn’t say, but he wasn’t going to fix the car if it meant that Kyle was going to be taking off in it. He’d likely get he and this Tess girl killed.

Kyle was rubbing a hand across his face wearily. "Shit. I’m really late to meet my girlfriend. She’s going to kill me." He turned pleading eyes to Max. "Is there anything you can do man?"

Max studied him for a long moment. The name Kyle was ringing a warning bell in the back of his mind. Hadn’t that Maria girl referred to Liz’s boyfriend by that name? Oh hell. "I think something just needs to be jiggled," he finally replied, could feel his heart sinking. "I can maybe fix it so that you won’t be late to meet Liz." He looked at Kyle steadily, trying not to make it look like he was fishing for information.

"You know Liz?" Kyle asked, sounding surprised, but not suspicious, as he was still weaving slightly on his feet. "How’s that?"

"I just got a job at the Crashdown," Max told him, trying not to sound too upset. So he had been right. She was going out with the fricking captain of the football and basketball teams.

He felt like his heart had been ripped out of his body and stomped on. His disappointment was that great. He could never compete with someone like Kyle.

Wait a minute! A small voice in the back of his mind exclaimed. Who said anything about competing anyway? You can’t get attached Evans. You are in this town for one reason. To find out who you and Isabel are. Pull it together!

Kyle blinked. "Cool," he finally said. "Well, anyway…the car?"

Max sighed. "I can fix it. But are you sure you’re okay? You seem kind of…"

Kyle rubbed his eyes again. "I know. I’m totally zoning. But I’m okay. I think I must just be tired. Hard practice today. Our first game is next week." He glanced at Max curiously. "Are you enrolling at West Roswell Evans?"

Max swallowed, felt a his face reddening slightly. It was always embarrassing to have to admit that he was a drop-out. He knew he had nothing to be ashamed of. He had no choice after all. He had to make as much money as he could to support his sister. But it still sucked to have to tell people that he wasn’t in school. The way they looked at him…like he was some sort of moron…He hated it. "No," he bit out quickly, changed the subject, knew that he had to get rid of Kyle so that he could use his powers on the car. "Maybe you should go find that girl you were with. She’s been gone a while. It’s dark."

Kyle rolled his eyes. "As if anything could happen to anyone in this boring town," he muttered, but he wandered off towards the school.

Max watched him go for a moment, then turned back to the car. He laid his hand over the engine, focused his attention on pulling the molecules apart and replacing them in a pattern that his subconscious simply knew was the correct one. He really had no idea how he did what he did - neither did Isabel - it was just natural and he had stopped questioning it a long time ago.

Plus he wanted out of here. He did not want to have to talk to Kyle Valenti again. His jealousy was beginning to eat at him. He knew it was irrational and actually slightly psycho. After all, Kyle was clearly a fairly decent guy, in spite of the spaciness. Max had even begun to believe that he was just tired and not stoned like Max had originally suspected. Besides it wasn’t Kyle’s fault that Max had felt some sort of instant connection with Kyle’s girlfriend.

A connection that it was unlikely was reciprocated anyway.

But that didn’t mean that he wanted to spend any more time than necessary in the company of Liz Parker’s boyfriend. He wasn’t a masochist after all. He knew his limitations and competing with a guy like Kyle Valenti crossed them. Messing with Kyle’s girlfriend would bring unwanted attention down on him - attention Max couldn’t afford.

He would investigate every last detail of the Roswellian Crash and then he would leave town as quietly as he had arrived. And he would pretend that whatever it was he thought had transpired between he and Liz earlier that evening had never happened. He would go into the Crashdown the next morning to tell Liz that he didn’t think that he could take the job after all and he would find something else to hold him over until he could move on.

So he had allowed himself to exist in a fantasy of what-if for a few minutes? It wasn’t a crime. But he had pulled himself back in time, had remembered that he didn’t have the right to get involved with anyone. He owed his sister his full dedication, could not break the silent vow that he had made to give her the life she deserved - which meant finding out the truth about the two of them.

He patted the engine, sent a pulse of energy through it so that it started. He listened to the thrum of the car for a moment, then turned on his heel and walked away. He could hear Kyle calling after him, obviously having returned with Liz’s sister.

Max did not turn around.

****************************************************************

Tess Parker watched the dark-haired mystery man lope away, a slight frown on her pretty face. She felt a flash of irritation that she couldn’t see his face, but he didn’t turn, even when Kyle called after him.

Tess turned to her sister’s boyfriend, who was still standing beside her, a befuddled expression on his handsome face, as was usually the case after she had just let him come out of a mindwarp. "His name is Max?" She asked, her heart beating a mile a minute.

The air in the vicinity of the Mustang was charged with something she didn’t understand - something familiar, something primeval

Something alien.

"Yeah," Kyle replied, scraping a weary hand through his hair. "Max Evans. He’s knew in town. He told me he just got a job at the Crash."

"Really?" Tess felt a twinge of satisfaction run through her veins. She would get to meet him then, would get a chance to figure out why she felt so strange. "Hmmmmm…Let’s go Kyle," she ordered, suddenly desperate to get home. Maybe Lizzie could fill her in on Max Evans.

Her sister wasn’t good for much, but she was always up on what was going on with the restaurant. Tess had no idea why she loved the stupid place so much, but then Tess didn’t understand much about Liz. All Tess cared about when it came to Liz was what she could get out of her.

And for the last hour she had been enjoying Liz’s boyfriend’s mouth and hands on her body. While Tess didn’t understand what Kyle saw in her boring sister, it was convenient for Tess when she got the itch, which had been coming more and more frequently lately. He was an athlete and his body was certainly nothing to sneeze at…even if he was only human.

It wasn’t like she was doing anything wrong after all. He wouldn’t remember it or anything. Her powers made sure of that. Tess glanced at Kyle out of the corner of her eye as she settled back against the passenger seat in the Mustang, hid her smile of superiority. Stupid humans. They were so…pliable, for want of a better word.

Moments later the Mustang pulled to a stop outside the Crashdown. Tess practically leaped from the car, threw herself through the doors. She didn’t even pause to wonder why they were unlocked at this time of night. "Lizzie! Liz! Where are you?"

She could hear raised voices coming from the back of the restaurant. "…already have Kyle! It’s not fair!"

Tess rolled her eyes as she recognized Maria Deluca’s irritating voice.

"It’s not Liz’s fault that Michael doesn’t give you the time of day." That was Alex. Tess paused outside the swinging door, surprised to hear Liz’s other best friend, Alex Whitman, sounding so mad. She actually didn’t think she had ever heard the wimp raise his voice before.

Tess grinned slightly at Maria’s screech of outrage. "That is so blatantly untrue! Michael Guerin is a pig!"

"You guys please!" Liz’s voice was pleading. "Can we just drop this? Maria, I’m sorry that Max didn’t show any interest in you, but you have to give the guy a chance. He’s new in town and was more worried about getting a job than anything else. He was just surprised to see me, that’s all!"

"Isn’t it just a little weird though Liz?" Maria demanded. "How the hell did you guys recognize each other? And why did you keep staring at each other like that? It was kind of creepy!"

"I don’t know!" Liz sounded tired. "We just did okay? Maria, this isn’t you! What’s wrong?"

There was a long pause and then Tess sighed in annoyance when she heard Maria’s voice break with tears. "I just feel so…so trapped Liz! We’re about to start our senior year and I just know that my entire future is mapped out in front of me. I’m going to be waiting tables my entire life."

"And some guy is supposed to come in and sweep you off your feet and fix that?" Alex asking, sounding slightly disdainful. "Maria, what the hell is up with that? You can get yourself out of this town. Isn’t that what the band’s about?"

"Alex, we suck!" Maria exclaimed. "C’mon! You know it’s true."

"You so do not suck!" Liz interjected. "You’re going to be playing at the Festival Maria. They don’t just hire anyone for that…"

Tess rolled her eyes again. Now was the time to interrupt, before Liz launched into full on goody-goody, supportive friend mode. It was such a bore. Who gave a crap if Deluca was having her insecurity issues again? Likely Michael had done something to show her how little he cared about her tonight and it was all coming out now.

Michael knew exactly what Tess knew. Humans were to be used and then discarded. If Maria Deluca couldn’t deal with it, it wasn’t Tess or Michael’s problem.

Kyle had come up beside Tess, was looking at her strangely. "What’s going on? Why aren’t you going in?"

Tess glared at him in annoyance. Couldn’t she even eavesdrop in peace? "Hello all!" She slammed through the swinging door. Three heads whipped around to stare at her. Tess did not fail to notice the slight sneer that crossed Alex’s face. Tess scowled back at him. Whitman wasn’t worth the trouble of warping. She didn’t care one iota what he thought of her.

She did send a slight warp in Maria’s direction. She liked making Liz’s best friend suck up to her. It upset Liz to know that Maria admired Tess so much, which made it fun for Tess. "Hi Tess!" Maria chirped, her tone completely different from the one she had been using moments before as she complained to Liz and Alex. "How was practice?"

"Oh same old, same old," Tess replied, waving her hand in the air dismissively. "They’re all pathetic," she continued, referring to her fellow cheerleaders. "But I’ll whip them all into shape before the season starts."

"I’m sure," Maria replied, smiling brightly. "You always do."

Alex rolled his eyes. "Maria, let’s go!" He whined. "We’re already late."

Maria, apparently having forgotten her upset of moments before, sighed, glanced at Tess once more longingly, as though her fondest wish was to head upstairs to have a pajama party with her. Tess knew that all she had to do to twist the knife in Liz’s heart a little bit more was to turn Maria into her best friend. She could do it, easily.

But it was much more fun to watch Liz wonder when it was going to happen, when Maria would finally take the plunge and totally ditch her. Tess liked to keep her sister on her toes.

Alex grabbed Maria by the hand, hauled her out through the swinging door that Tess, followed by Kyle, had just entered through. "Bye Liz. We’ll see you tomorrow." Tess could already hear him starting to berate Maria for her weird behavior before they had even totally left the restaurant.

Tess looked at her sister. Liz had her eyes closed, like she was searching for strength. When she opened them, she looked right at Kyle, ignoring Tess completely. "Hi Kyle."

"Hi Liz," Kyle grinned, affection evident in his tone. "What was that all about?" He asked, hooking his thumb in the direction that Alex and Maria had just left.

"Oh just Maria being Maria," Liz replied. She moved forward, hugged him tightly. Tess watched this, interested despite herself. She had never seen Liz so forward with Kyle. Whenever she was around her boyfriend, he was always the one who seemed to make the first move.

It was another reason Tess didn’t feel too guilty about borrowing Kyle from her sister on occasion. Because Liz just really didn’t seem that into him anymore. They had been dating for over two years now, but lately he seemed like more of a habit for Tess’ sister than the love of her life.

Tess had become an expert in reading Liz’s moods over the years, and if she was not mistaken, her sister was exuding guilt. Guilt in the first degree.

Somehow, some way, Tess just knew that this all came back to the mysterious Max Evans again.

"So who’s this Max?" Tess asked, knowing she sounded sly, but unable to help herself. She didn’t care what Liz thought anyway. All she wanted was information.

The way Liz practically jumped a foot at the mention of the name Max told Tess all she needed to know.

Maria had apparently been right. Something had happened between Liz and this Max.

And all Tess wanted to know was how it could be used to her advantage.

To be continued…





posted on 11-Jun-2002 12:11:50 AM by Kath7
Author's Note: Thanks for the wonderful feedback as always. I'm glad you're enjoying this. And don't worry about Max. This alien king has a lot more up his sleeve than the one we all know...and sort of don't respect anymore. LOL

I am trying to get this one really going before I start on a couple of more stories that are brewing in the back of my mind. Union you ask? Nope. Won't affect it. And only three more parts of Sins to go! Yaay.

Part 4

Liz frowned and sighed as her sister threw herself down on Liz’s bed, a speculative grin on her pretty face. "Okay, spill," Tess ordered.

"Tess! Go away!" Liz exclaimed. "I’m tired. Kyle just left and I need to go to bed. I’m on the early shift with Dad." Normally Liz didn’t mind Tess’ penchant for late night chats, but this was not one of those nights. Her jealousy of her sister did not mean that she didn’t love her. It was only natural that everyone should love Tess. She was charming, witty and beautiful. She was smart and sexy. Hell, she was kind to animals, volunteering one day a week at a local shelter.

She was everything Liz was not.

And the minute Max Evans laid eyes on Tess, whatever it was that had passed between he and Liz earlier that evening would only be a distant memory. It wouldn’t even be a memory to Max. He would forget all about her, enraptured in the golden glow of Tess Parker, just like everyone else in Roswell.

Not that she was supposed to care or anything. As the guilt crashed down on her almost immediately, Liz gave in, flopped down beside Tess wearily. Somehow this day had gone from long to practically never-ending. Guilt tended to do that to a person. Guilt over the way she could not stop thinking about Max Evans.

Guilt because of Kyle, who was one person who had been able to see past Tess to her dark-haired sister. Liz knew that he loved her, although she wasn’t sure why. He had been so exhausted after practice, he had fallen asleep during the opening credits of the movie he had let her pick out. Because he was Kyle and he was nice that way, letting her always pick their Friday night date flick and never standing her up, when he really should have gone right home to bed. She was ashamed that she could barely concentrate on the TV screen because the way Max had looked at her over his shoulder as he had left earlier would not leave her mind.

So what if Kyle was always late these days? He still showed up and he loved her! How could she be cheating on him this way, even in her thoughts? So he didn’t make her heart beat more quickly anymore. He was still Kyle and he was wonderful. And she had been relieved to see the back of him when he had left. In fact, she had even turned her head when he had tried to kiss her good night.

She was a horrible, horrible person. In fact, she was likely losing her mind. She was going out with the captain of the football and the basketball teams, who loved her and not her perfect sister, and she was thinking about another boy. A boy she barely knew.

And then there was the Maria factor. She had seemed really mad about the whole thing for some reason. Not that there was a thing, Liz assured herself quickly. Not to Max anyway. And there he was again! Popping into every second thought! It was insane. Maria! You were thinking about Maria!

Liz knew that she was going to toss and turn for hours because of her best friend. She had not realized that Maria was quite so miserable. She wondered if Alex was right - that the whole eruption had had nothing to do with Max at all, but rather with Michael. Liz knew that Maria had a thing for Michael, that they had hooked up at a couple of parties, but she had had no idea that Maria might be serious about the often sullen cook.

Liz wrinkled her nose as she analyzed Michael. Sure he was cute, in that whole never wash your clothes, really needing a haircut, bad boy way. But he had always seemed kind of distant, not teasing the waitresses like José did, or even conversing much at all. She really didn’t know him very well because of it, other than that he lived with his dad, who worked for the army or something. Michael just seemed to be putting in his time in Roswell until something better came along.

It was like he knew something better was about to come along.

Liz hoped that if Maria and Michael were dealing secretly, that Maria wasn’t letting herself get too involved. If there was anyone who was on the first bus out of Roswell after graduation, it was Michael Guerin.

Liz frowned when she realized that, despite her guilt and her concern about Maria, Max was still lurking in the back of her mind, his shy smile having practically branded itself on her brain it seemed. She wanted to pinch herself when she glanced at the clock and saw that it was after one.

Because she knew exactly why she had looked at that clock. To find out how many hours until she would see him again.

Nine hours. Just under nine hours. He was coming to the Crashdown at ten A.M. to meet her father, maybe even to start work. They were desperate after all, what with Juan quitting so abruptly and José out of town at his sister’s wedding.

She might get to spend the whole day getting to know him, because she was scheduled all weekend in order to make sure that she had the following weekend off to see Kyle’s first game and Alex and Maria play at the Crash Festival.

At the thought of her boyfriend and best friends she sighed again. How was it that Max Evans seemed to be pushing them out of her thoughts over and over again? STOP! Liz ordered herself firmly. You are being ridiculous. He is a boy who needed a job and you offered him one. That’s all there is to it.

Max flashed in front of her eyes again, smiling in a way that was not altogether innocent any longer. His dark eyes seemed to be daring her to deny that he had moved her in some almost cosmic way during the few short minutes they had spent in each other’s company.

"Lizzie? LIZ?" Tess was waving her hand in front of Liz’s eyes. "Okay woman. This is crazy! Who is this mystery man I keep hearing about? Has everyone gone completely loony-tunes?"

Liz blinked, focused on her sister. "What?"

"Max Evans! First Kyle practically acts like he was some kind of Messiah of mechanics, appearing out of the rain to fix his car…And then I hear Maria having a conniption - not that that’s anything new - over him when I came in! Who is this guy?" Tess narrowed her intelligent blue eyes. "And I think you’re thinking about him right now. Aren’t you?"

Liz looked away. "Of course I’m not. He’s just a guy Tess. I hired him to replace Juan."

Tess sat up, crossing her legs and placing her chin on her fist, a gleam of mischief in her eyes. "Just a guy huh? You have the hots for him Lizzie! Admit it!"

"Tess! I don’t!" Liz jumped to her feet, turned her back on her sister, could feel her heart pounding unevenly in her chest.

Because a strange thought had just come to Liz unbidden. A thought that was crazy, paranoid, her jealousy running rampant again…

And, yet, it remained, that kernel of truth. An inherent knowledge of her sister that Liz tried to avoid, because it just couldn’t be true about Tess. Not perfect Tess whom everyone loved.

Liz somehow just knew that if Tess had any idea how much Max Evans had affected her, Liz, she would go after him. Tess would make him hers. Just to show that she could.

Maybe not even on purpose. Tess couldn’t do it on purpose after all. She was Tess. It just wasn’t her style. She could have whatever she wanted. She didn’t need what Liz craved…

And, yet, somehow, she always got exactly what Liz wanted.

Liz closed her eyes, took an unsteady breath, as memories of the many times it had happened whirled through her mind.

Her mother’s voice. No Liz. Tess gets to go out with Grandma Claudia today. It’s their special girl time… And that had been the end of Liz and Grandma’s alone time.

Maria. Of course Tess can come to my sleepover Lizzie! It wouldn’t be the same without her… Fourth grade. The end of Maria and Liz existing apart from Tess - of Maria being Liz’s alone.

Her eighth grade teacher’s voice. The lead role in the play goes to Tess Parker. It had been Our Town, one of Liz’s favorites, but she had lost the part she wanted to her sister.

Her father. I need you on shift this weekend Liz. Tess can tell you all about the party when she gets home. Maybe she can go with Kyle... And although Kyle had come back to her, of course, he had never been entirely hers after that party in their junior year.

"Liz, I’m sorry." Tess’ hand on her shoulder caused Liz to jump about a foot. The concern in her sister’s voice sent another stab of guilt shooting through Liz. "I shouldn’t tease you. It’s just that I’ve never seen you this way before. You’re practically…" There was a long pause. "You’re practically glowing or something."

Because, of course, Tess would be concerned and interested. Tess had no idea how Liz felt about her. That Liz loved and hated her with every beat of her heart. All Tess was capable of was goodness and love. Jealousy was not even a part of her make up.

Liz turned and hugged her sister fiercely. "I love you Tessie."

Tess started to laugh in surprise. "Whoa! Where did that come from?" She pulled back, looked at Liz, her blue eyes affectionate. "I love you too of course dear sister. But that was a little sudden!"

Liz stared at her, swallowed, tears pooling in her eyes even though she fought them desperately.

How could Liz resent her so much and yet love her so much at the same time? She obviously was insane. Insane with jealousy that Tess did not deserve. She was a horrible, horrible person.

Because she knew, deep in her heart, that she hated Tess because she knew that the one person who had made Liz feel special for the first time in years, Max Evans, was about to fall in love with her sister.

She just knew it.

She needed air. She was practically suffocating.

"LIZ? What’s wrong?" Tess was exclaiming as Liz stumbled to her window and out onto the balcony she and Tess shared. Liz could see the faint glow of the lights from Tess’s bedroom shining from behind the curtains across the small expanse of concrete.

Liz took deep gulping breaths, tried to control her racing heart. She could hear her sister coming after her, concern in her voice. "Liz? Lizzie, please!"

She could not face her right now. It was just impossible.

Liz swung over the edge of the balcony and onto the ladder that led down into the alley behind the Crashdown. She ignored Tess’ frantic pleas to come back, sprinted down the alley and out onto Roswell’s main drag.

And as she continued to run, down the sidewalk and into the park across the road, Liz finally felt like her emotions were beginning to come back under her control. She could place the lid back on the truth of her feelings for her sister. Her evil, vindictive feelings.

Her hatred.

She didn’t stop though. The night breeze still held a hint of rain, unusual in Roswell at any time, but particularly in August.

She felt fresh, free - clean again. Like she could run forever.

Unless she smashed headlong into something of course. Which she did, about a second later.

Liz hit it hard, knocking the wind out of her lungs. She was so shocked and so disoriented, it took her a moment to even realize that the it was actually a he.

But the way her heart started to pound and her breath to catch for an entirely different reason didn’t keep her in the dark for long.

It was Max Evans.

To be continued…





posted on 16-Jun-2002 4:00:44 PM by Kath7
Author's Note: Thanks for the wonderful feedback on this story. Feel free to hate Tess to your heart's content! LOL That's one of the points of the whole thing!

Part 5

"Whoa!" Max held out his hands and caught Liz by the shoulders before she managed to knock both of them off of their feet. "Liz? What’s wrong? Are you okay?" He was surprised to see her, of course, but that didn’t mean he didn’t recognize her right away.

She was staring up at him in shock, like she couldn’t quite understand that it was him standing in front of her. "Liz? It’s me. Max. Are you okay?" He repeated.

"Max." Tears filled her dark eyes, causing his heart to almost break for her. She melted against him for a split second, as though some great weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

He knew that she didn’t know what she was doing. She was upset about something - obviously very upset or she wouldn’t have been running through the park in the middle of the night like the bats of hell were after her. He knew it intellectually, but his heart, not to mention the rest of his body, seemed to be ignoring this fact. Max allowed himself to enjoy the sensation of having her in his arms for a moment longer before pulling back slightly.

He had decided to go for a walk after helping Kyle Valenti fix his car, too wired and confused by the whole experience to even think about sleeping yet. The middle of the night was always a good time to explore any new town he visited anyway. He could get his bearings without too many people around and start to feel a bit comfortable. And Max liked walking through the darkened streets of a sleeping town. It was so peaceful, was often when he did his best thinking.

Needless to say, all of his thinking this evening had been about the girl presently sobbing against his chest. He had been trying to convince himself that he was right to not accept the job at the Crashdown, that he was just setting himself up for misery. Having to work so closely with Liz, while knowing that she was completely unattainable, was just one more complication he didn’t need. Not to mention that somehow he knew it would be damn painful.

But, apparently, his impending pain was not nearly as awful as whatever had happened to Liz since he had seen her a few hours before. Then she had been happy, glowing, full of life. It was so far from what he was seeing now, he didn’t quite know what to make of it. All he did know was that he wanted to help her. He needed to help her more than he had ever needed anything in his life.

He reached up tentatively, gently moved a strand of hair off her face and behind her ear. "Liz, please tell me what’s wrong. Did someone do something to you?"

Her eyes were dark with misery, but as he touched her, he saw something flash there that sent his heart pounding heavily in his chest again. He frowned. It almost looked like relief.

"I’m sorry Max," she finally replied quietly. "I’m being totally silly. I sort of had a fight with my sister."

"Oh." Max nodded understandingly. He and Isabel were extremely close, but that didn’t mean they hadn’t had knock-down, drag-out arguments before. "That sucks. Do you want to talk about it?" He realized that he was standing too close to her and that his hand was still cradling her cheek. He quickly moved it away, wondered if she had noticed.

Her eyes flashed again, but she didn’t say anything, merely sighed. "It’s actually really embarrassing," she finally admitted. "I shouldn’t even say that we had a fight, because Tess didn’t do anything. It was all me." She looked away. "I…" She swallowed, then rushed on. "I’ve never told anyone this before, but, sometimes, I really wish I’d never had a sister." He could hear tears in her voice again. "I am such a horrible person. You have no idea."

"Liz, you are not," he told her quickly. That she should even think that about herself for a split second…To him, it was just completely unacceptable. "I totally understand."

Liz looked back at him. "You do?" She asked, sounding like she didn’t believe him.

"I have a sister too you know."

Liz’s brow wrinkled slightly in a way that Max found almost too adorable. It made him want to kiss the lines away, made him want to see to it that she never frowned again. "Right. I remember. Isabel. Where is she?"

"She’s away at school," Max told her. "And I’ll tell you, if there is anyone who understands sometimes resenting a sibling, it’s me." He couldn’t believe he was telling her this. He wondered if he had ever even admitted it to himself before. He shoved his hands in his pockets, feeling uncomfortable, but the way she was watching him, like she somehow knew he could make her feel better, meant that he now had no choice but to continue. He would do anything to make her feel better. "It’s sort of weird to explain our relationship. I love her. She’s my best friend. But I’m totally responsible for her and sometimes it can be really exhausting." Liz was still frowning slightly, like she didn’t understand. "I don’t think you know this Liz, but my parents died a few years ago. Isabel is all I have left and it’s my job to make sure that she gets to live the kind of life my parents would have given her."

"Oh my God! Max!" Her hand came up, took his. Hers was small and soft and he felt the contact right down to his toes. "I’m so sorry." Liz looked pained. "That makes my problems with Tess seem totally insignificant."

Max felt horrified. He hadn’t meant to make her feel more guilty! Liz seemed to see this though because she squeezed his hand reassuringly and then dropped it. "No! What I mean is, you’re right." There was a long pause and then she continued. "I love Tess too. I know that it’s my problem."

"I don’t understand Liz," Max eyed her, perplexed. "What’s your problem?"

She looked away again, obviously embarrassed. "My jealousy," she finally whispered. "I am completely jealous of my own sister and she doesn’t deserve it."

Max blinked. That was the last thing he had expected to hear. What on Earth could Liz Parker ever have to feel jealous about? Didn’t she know how wonderful she was? He barely knew her and he knew! He didn’t even know what to say to make her feel better.

"She’s so great Max. You’re going to love her when you meet her," Liz continued, sounding a little strange now. He frowned, glanced around. Why did he have the distinct impression that they were no longer alone?

A weird feeling was beginning to come over him, like this was not Liz speaking at all anymore. He looked back at her, stared right into her eyes and saw something that made him freeze.

Her dark eyes were completely empty of the spark that he had already come to recognize as being the light of her kind soul. The intelligence and humour he had seen there earlier tonight - what he had been so attracted to - were gone as well.

And, somehow, he just knew that he had to get her away from the park. Something was not right here. He could almost feel the dark force of whatever had happened to Liz in the air, surrounding him, trying to claim him as well.

Max took Liz’s hand firmly in his, turned on his heel and started to walk swiftly back towards the high school where he had left his possessions stowed under the bleachers. He wasn’t sure why he was going that way, but it just felt right.

"Where are we going?" The sound of her voice made him jump slightly. When he looked back at her, her eyes were clear and questioning, whatever he had seen there - or not seen there maybe being a little more accurate - was completely gone. She was Liz again and, although she didn’t seem upset that he was leading her away from her home, rather than towards it, she did sound curious.

Max frowned again. What the hell was going on here?

"Do you want to go somewhere and talk?" He asked quickly, not sure why he felt that he had to keep her with him at all costs, but, somehow, knowing it was true.

Her expression softened. "Okay."

They walked along in silence for a few minutes, still holding hands companionably. Whatever unease Max had felt before was disappearing slowly, but he was going over in his head exactly what he had experienced when Liz’s eyes had gone blank like that. There had been something familiar about it, something he had felt many times before in fact.

"Where is Isabel?" Liz asked quietly, finally breaking the silence. At the mention of his sister’s name, Max suddenly remembered exactly where it was that he had felt that unease before.

Isabel. It was how he felt when his sister used her powers in his presence. He had always felt the unnaturalness of the whole business run through his entire body, making him more aware of every facet of who he was, but also scaring the bejesus out of him. Because he didn’t want any more reminders that he was a freak. He knew it for himself, thanks to his own powers.

The next conclusion was so frightening - and yet so exhilarating at the same time - it almost made him stop dead in his tracks.

If he was feeling how he felt when Isabel used her powers, and if Isabel was still at her friend’s house in Maine, then that meant that there was someone else in Roswell who was like them. And, if that was true, then he knew why he had been drawn here by his dream.

He was supposed to find this person. Whoever the other person was, they were the same as he and Izzy and they should know each other. And, maybe…just maybe…this person would be able to tell him who he was.

"Max?" Liz sounded concerned. He realized that he hadn’t answered her.

"Sorry. She’s in Maine," Max told her quickly. "At boarding school."

"And you pay for that?" She sounded impressed.

"Yeah. It’s why I needed a job so badly. She’s safe there and I want her to stay there as long as I can afford it." He knew he still sounded a bit distracted, forced himself to focus on Liz.

Not that it was that hard. He almost wished he hadn’t felt what he had. Because finding answers too soon meant that he was going to be leaving Roswell that much more quickly - which meant leaving Liz. And the more time he spent in her company, the more he knew that was the last thing he wanted.

But, then again, maybe finding answers meant that he wouldn’t have to leave Roswell at all. His quest would be complete and he could start to build a life for he and his sister in the small town in which they had been born. He could even go back to school. He tried to ignore the fact that the only real reason he would go to school would be to be near Liz, to make himself more worthy of her. In spite of being a bit embarrassed that he was a drop-out, he didn’t miss school at all. He read more than the average teen-age boy anyway, didn’t feel any less educated.

But, for Liz, he would go back. He knew he would.

For Liz, who had a boyfriend. Liz, who was beyond perfect and so could not possibly be at all interested in him.

They were walking side by side now, Liz having paused to tie her shoe, so they were no longer holding hands. He knew that he couldn’t take hers again, even though he wanted to. She had a boyfriend for God’s sake.

He wondered why he knew that he didn’t just want to take her hand because he was attracted to her. He was beginning to realize that he felt like she would be safer if he did - like somehow not only had been sent to Roswell to find answers about himself, but also to protect this girl beside him - this girl that he had known was special in some way from the moment he had laid eyes on her.

"That’s amazing Max," Liz continued. "I am so sorry about your parents." She paused. "How did they die?" She asked quietly.

Max closed his eyes for a moment, the pain of that horrible day coming back, just as it always did when he spoke of Phillip and Diane Evans. "I was ten. They were coming home from a party. It was two days before Christmas. A drunk driver ran them off the road."

He felt his heart skip a beat when she reached out and took his hand again. "I’m so sorry Max."

"Yeah, well." He cleared his throat. "It was a long time ago."

"Do you miss your home?" Liz asked, like she really wanted to know. This girl really wanted to know him. It was the first time he had ever experienced anything like it. He didn’t quite understand it, but it didn’t mean that it didn’t make his heart a bit lighter, a little less lonely. And, even though, he didn’t really like to talk about himself, rarely did, he found himself opening up to her.

"Yeah. I miss it. I miss them. A lot. They were wonderful parents." Parents who had loved he and Izzy in spite of their strangeness, in spite of their quirks. He had known for a long time that his parents had fled Roswell like they had because they had suspected the truth about their children and they had wanted to protect them. He would always love them for that, even if he knew, in his heart, that he had no choice but to find out who he really was.

"Why did you come back here?"

"I wanted to see where I came from," Max replied as honestly as he could. "I liked Minneapolis, but this is where I was born. It was time to come see what I could find out about who I was."

"I’d imagine it’s weird not to know," Liz said, sounding sad for him. "We’ve never been able to find out anything about Tess. I don’t think she really cares though. She’s happy with who she is."

Max looked at her, frowned slightly. "What do you mean?"

"Didn’t you know Max?" Liz asked, surprised. "You, Isabel and Tess were all found wandering in the desert together. Your parents found all three of you, but they could only afford to keep you and Isabel. They told my parents about Tess and they adopted her."

Max blinked, felt his heart beginning to thunder in his chest. He hadn’t known any of this. His first memory was of waking up in a bed in the orphanage. Anything before that was just one giant blur.

Tess. Liz’s sister. Could she be the one? Was she the other one he was beginning to accept existed?

He knew he should be more excited by this news, but, instead, if felt extremely unsettling, just like his dream had. Had that been Tess in his dream? If so, he was not the least bit pleased at the thought of meeting her.

He had been kissing that girl in his dream, but he had not loved her, had not even really wanted her. That was what had been the most upsetting about the whole thing. It had been as though he was going through the motions, that everything was mechanical and lacking in the kind of chemistry one would expect in such a situation.

He had not been attracted to her, nor had he loved her, but, somehow, he had known that he belonged with her. And if Liz’s sister turned out to be the girl he had dreamed about, what the heck did that even mean?

What did that mean for the way he felt about Liz Parker? Because what he already knew he felt for Liz was what one would expect he would feel for that other girl. It was all extremely confusing and almost made him want to climb on the next bus out of Roswell, almost made him want to forget that he had heard any of this.

"I didn’t know," he managed to say when he realized that he had been silent for far too long. "How weird."

"My mom and dad can probably tell you more about it," she told him, sounding a bit strange now. Max looked at her closely. He realized that she was upset.

"Liz? Is something wrong?"

She stared at him for a long moment and then sighed. "No, nothing’s wrong." He saw something in her eyes that could only be described as guilt before she lowered her gaze.

He knew she was lying. This girl in front of him, this girl he already felt so protective of, was hurting and he had absolutely no idea why.

His hand came up of it’s own volition, took hers again. He pulled her towards him until she was resting against his chest. She shuddered slightly, a tremor descending her delicate frame. He had no idea what he was doing, but all he knew was that he wanted to comfort her, wanted her to feel safe and wanted. He wanted that for her more than he had ever wanted anything.

He started to stroke her hair. It was like silk under his touch, made him want to touch her skin to feel if it was the same, but he knew that he couldn’t do that. What he was doing was okay, was not more than what he would do for Isabel, his own sister, if she was upset.

Max could be a friend to Liz, nothing more. It seemed to him, that in spite of all the people she had in her life, many of whom he had already met - Maria, Kyle, Alex - this girl was all alone. She needed him.

He would not let her down. No matter what he found out about who he was, he would not leave Roswell until he knew for a fact that Liz Parker was safe and happy.

It was completely psychotic, Max knew that she would want nothing to do with him if she understood the truth - they barely knew each other! - but, then, he had always known he was a freak. It was only to be expected.

Because, the truth of the matter was, he was already in love with her.

To be continued…







posted on 28-Jun-2002 1:16:53 AM by Kath7
Hey guys! Thanks for the bumpage. Sorry it's been so long - I just seriously don't know where the time goes. Here's where this story stands, just so you're aware.

I am going to the lake for a week on Saturday - no internet access at all, but I will be writing. I will be writing tomorrow night, but it will be the last part of Sins of the Father to wrap that up. I am hoping to maybe work on another story too - either this one or Born of the Stars, but there are no guarantees. Anyway, if I don't post tomorrow, I will have a new part up during the second week of July. After that, I will be writing every day, as I am on summer holidays, so expect updates to be more frequent.

Thanks for your patience and your support! I love you guys!

Kath
posted on 9-Jul-2002 2:35:26 PM by Kath7
Part 6

It was a rare thing for Tess to be up before noon on a Saturday, particularly during the summer, but she what she had to do would not wait. She needed to see Michael before he came into work that morning, needed to make sure that he was as ready as she was to meet the mysterious Max Evans. There would be hell to pay with Nasedo if they screwed this up.

Liz’s behavior the night before - the way she had almost completely freaked out when Max’s name had come up - it had more than reinforced to Tess that there was something up with the new boy in town, that the sense of recognition she had felt in the air near Kyle’s car last evening had not merely been her imagination.

Because, then, something even stranger had happened. As she and Liz had talked, Tess had felt something shifting within the grasp she held on her sister’s mind, in the sway she held over Liz’s emotions. It had almost been as if Liz had been privy to some new awareness of what Tess was doing to her, almost as if something - or maybe someone - was opening Liz’s eyes to the mindwarp.

It seemed impossible, that after all these years, someone close to Tess was finally fighting off the mindwarp. It was impossible. No one could resist her gift - no human anyway. She had never been able to mindwarp Michael after all. But Liz was human and her mind had been under Tess’s control for so long, it barely took any effort any longer to make her think as Tess wanted her to - that she was unworthy, that she was second best, that everything she wanted rightfully belonged to Tess. Liz had always accepted it, without question, since they had been little girls. She was so well trained now that even the mention of Tess’ name could send her into a warp.

But something had indeed changed last night. Liz had resisted her, had refused to tell her what she wanted to know about Max Evans. Later, after Liz had fled the house, Tess had tried to reach out for her to bring her back but, just as she had started to penetrate her sister’s mind, she had felt herself unceremoniously flung out. It had been like a door slamming between she and Liz. But, before it had happened, Tess had received one flash from Liz - more like a name actually…Max. She had been with Max. This boy - whoever he was - was special enough to Liz already that she didn’t want to share him.

It had freaked out Tess at first, Liz doing that, until she had thought about it some more. Because maybe Liz wasn’t doing it at all. Maybe it was Max, which only reinforced what she already suspected. Liz’s resistance had been entirely centered on him, had been entirely because of him. And if he was who Tess thought he was, he would be the one person, besides Michael, who would have the power to shut her out.

He was the one. The one Nasedo had been searching for all these years, the one he was off on one of his many trips looking for now.

If Tess was right about this, Max Evans was Zan, finally come home. She almost couldn’t believe it and, yet, she had felt him , from that very first instant, when he had been loping away from Kyle’s car. She was trying to keep from getting too excited, at least until she saw him face to face and could prove it for herself.

Tess knew one thing for sure though, even if she hadn’t yet confirmed Max’s identity. There was no way her insipid sister was going to screw this up for her, no matter the fact that Max had already apparently made Liz fall in love with him, enough anyway that she was trying to keep Tess away from him. It was only logical that it should have happened though. He was Tess’s male counterpart, her other half. It made sense that he was as attractive to human females as she was to males.

He was the Zan - the one she and Michael had been awaiting their entire lives. She would actually see him in a few hours. Because, the most ironic thing of all was that he was coming to work for her father.

But, first, Michael had to be prepared. Tess didn’t doubt that he would be disbelieving at first, but that was just Michael. He rarely believed anything she told him but, usually, let her convince him in the end. They had always understood each other after all. She only ever had to be herself with him. He knew that she was his queen, didn’t need to be mindwarped into submission. His personality was prickly on occasion, yes, but he would not forsake her. They were the same after all, in every way that counted.

Hadn’t the whole business with Maria more than proven that? Tess had no doubt that Michael had dallied with the waitress, but he was no stupid enough to become attached. All he cared about was getting back to Antar, back to their real lives, just like her. He knew humans were to be used and then discarded. It was how Nasedo had raised them after all. She might nominally be the daughter of Jeff and Nancy Parker, liked playing with the humans in Roswell while she waited for her real destiny, but she knew who she really was, would have no difficulty leaving this all behind when the time came.

Which, if she was right, was now. He had finally come. It was only a matter of time now before they went home.

Finally.

Finally she could stop the games and the deceits, could stop worrying about protecting herself and Michael with the elaborate web of lies and illusions. She could reclaim the life that had been stolen from her when she had Zan had been separated so long ago.

Tess pulled the keys to Nasedo and Michael’s house out of her purse and let herself in. She knew Nasedo was away. If she was right about this Max Evans then they could call him back soon enough, but she still had to make absolutely sure. Michael could help her confirm it. They would both know after all, as soon as they came face to face with him.

She took the stairs to the second floor two at a time, slamming in Michael’s bedroom. "Michael! Michael, get up!"

Tess came to an abrupt stop, stared in astonishment at his bed, which was still made and apparently had never been slept in.

"Michael?" She called out again, wondering if he had fallen asleep in front of the TV again. She knew that there had been a pre-season hockey game on the night before. It had been all he had talked about for the past week.

But, by the time she searched the entire house, she had to admit this visit had been in vain. Michael was not here and he hadn’t been all night.

Something was wrong.

Tess frowned to herself. Something was very wrong. Why would Michael go AWOL just when their lives were about to begin at last? Did he already know about Zan? Was there where he was - checking him out already?

But Tess knew in her heart that it was nothing like that. Michael had gotten himself into some sort of trouble. Trouble of the entirely Earth-bound kind. She just knew it. Which meant that she was going to have to find him. Because she knew that she was never going to be able to handle coming face to face with Zan on her own.

She needed Michael. But first she was going to have to fix whatever disaster he had gotten himself embroiled in this time. He was so damn impulsive, somehow she just knew that he was in trouble somewhere. The bond they shared told her so.

Tess was still muttering to herself as she backed the car her parents had bought her for her sixteenth birthday out of Nasedo’s driveway. "Idiot! Couldn’t he, just for once, be where I needed him?"

She just hoped that whatever trouble he had found, it didn’t involve the law this time. Mindwarping cops was a risky business. It didn’t mean she wouldn’t do it, but she didn’t like it.

After she save him from whatever he had done, she was going to kill him. For real this time.

**************************************************************

Michael Guerin was ready to kill himself.

He couldn’t believe he had gotten himself into such a mess, but here he was, entangled, and he couldn’t see any way out.

Hell, the reason he wanted to kill himself was that he knew he didn’t want to find a way out - which was the real problem. As he stroked his hand down the soft skin on Maria Deluca’s back, he sighed, glancing at the clock.

Six A.M. It was time to get up, to face the day. They both had to be at the Crashdown for seven. But he didn’t want to wake her yet. She was lying too peacefully beside him and he hadn’t let her get much sleep after all.

He hadn’t meant to end up at her window in the middle of the night. But when the game had ended, he had been completely wired, unable to sleep. And it hadn’t just been the game. There had been something in the air all night, something that was making him restless, something inside him that was tearing him apart. Or maybe waking up was a better word..

She was the only one who ever brought him any peace. It was ironic, that, considering the way they argued all the time, but it was true.

He needed her.

He knew that if Tess had any inkling of the hold this human was beginning to have over him, she would do something about it. It was why he kept Maria at arm’s length in public, why he did his best to drive her away when they weren’t alone. He was trying to protect her from Tess - Tess, who was merciless, who viewed humans exactly as Nasedo had always taught them to.

Exactly as Michael always had too - until Maria.

It had been a mistake to take the job at the Crashdown. He knew that now. Getting involved in the human world at all was always a mistake. But he had been bored and he’d thought he could keep a more protective eye on Tess there. She was his queen after all. He should have known that Tess didn’t need him . She could more than look after herself. How was he to know that he would find Maria there, a person who definitely needed someone. A person who had somehow ended up needing him.

He had never formed attachments, had always stayed aloof from other students at school, from all humans. He hadn’t felt the need to play with them that Tess did, had preferred to go it alone. How could he have known that the only reason he preferred it was that he hadn’t known any better? Because meeting Maria, working with her, arguing with her over the past year, talking to her, being himself with her…

It had brought him to life in a way he hadn’t even known existed.

And, yet, he had fought it. He had fought her. He had fought to stay away from her, to keep her from getting in - until he had realized what Tess was doing to her, that she was one of Tess’s pawns, one of the people she practiced her powers on all over town.

Michael hadn’t cared one way or another what Tess did with humans until he had realized that it was happening to Maria. And, for the first time ever, he had hated the only girl he had ever allowed to know him at all. He hated Tess with every ounce of his strength, with ever part of him.

But he knew that she was stronger than he was, that Nasedo would support her if Michael ever complained. He also knew that Tess would only get rid of Maria entirely if she knew how much Michael cared. And, so, in private, Michael had stopped pushing Maria away. Because he had known that the only way to save her was to love her.

Tess could never know, but at least when he was with her, he could shelter Maria for a little while. Just being with her, he could save her.

And, of course, spending time with her had only meant that he had fallen even more deeply. Which was why he had started to be mean to her. He had to drive her away, had to make sure that she didn’t feel for him half of what he felt for her.

Because he was going to have to leave her someday. There was no doubt. This could not last forever. And if he hurt her, he would never forgive himself. The important thing now was to figure out how to get Tess to leave Maria alone without raising her suspicions. Until he did that, he couldn’t cut Maria off entirely, couldn’t leave her alone.

He was able to convince himself that this was why he came to her most nights, that it was why he had come to her last night, even though he had spent their entire shift at work driving her away, with cruel words and by, worse, ignoring her. Ignoring Maria was the closest thing to killing her. He knew it, knew all about how her mother was too busy for her, how her father had abandoned her. He knew it and, yet, he had done it anyway. He knew she had been upset last night and he had left her in that state at the restaurant and then he had come to her window anyway.

He was a bastard. Tess would say that he had the complete right to use Maria any way he wanted to, that they were superior beings and were, thus, entitled to take whatever they wanted from humans, even if it was their hearts.

If they were so superior, Michael wondered now, why was it that that didn’t have the ability to make sure something like this didn’t happen? Why couldn’t he have saved himself from loving her?

He didn’t understand why he couldn’t be more like Tess, why he had this urge, this need to protect. But he did. And, so, he had come to Maria, had made love to her, had healed her.

She had welcomed him with open arms, like she always did, in spite of it all. She had done it and he had been allowed to believe what he told himself in her arms - that this was for her, that he gained nothing from it.

But, now, as he lay staring down at her, at this beautiful girl, this girl he knew loved him back, this girl who didn’t care about who he had been in another life, or who he would be someday, but about him, he knew he was a liar.

She gave him more by simply existing than he could ever give her.

Michael glanced at the clock again. Six-fifteen. Time to wake her up. Regretfully he dropped a kiss on her bare shoulder, knew that the farce of not caring was about to begin again.

"Wake up Maria!" He made his voice harsh as he forced himself to move away from her. "You’re going to make us late."

He hated himself.

And, so, preoccupied as he was by Maria and what he was going to do about her, Michael was completely unprepared for what happened later that morning.

Because, later that morning, Michael Guerin came face to face with his destiny and everything changed again.

To be continued…







posted on 15-Jul-2002 2:57:06 PM by Kath7
Author's Note: Thanks as always for the feedback and the bumpage. Enjoy!

Part 7

Liz tried not to watch the clock as she worked her Saturday morning shift. Truly. It wasn’t her fault that it stood out so prominently on the wall in the café, the minutes ticking by slowly. It was still almost forty-five minutes until Max’s interview with her father. She was never going to make it if she didn’t get a grip!

She had started work at seven. Usually it was her favorite time of the day in the restaurant, only not today because she so wanted ten o’clock to arrive. But, usually, there were very few people around, especially on at Saturday, except for the regulars she knew well, the ones she could have fun chatting with, catching up with. It was also one of the only times she got to spend alone with her father. They always worked well as a team, pulling down the chairs, making the coffee, filling the sugar dispensers. And he would always smile proudly at her when someone greeted her in a particularly friendly manner, because they always remembered her service and liked her. He was proud of her because she did a good job.

It was the one place she didn’t have to worry about Tess taking over, where she didn’t have to worry about Tess doing a better job, because Tess had absolutely no interest in the Crashdown. The only time she had ever even thought about it was when she had asked their dad to hire Michael Guerin last year.

Liz didn’t understand the relationship that existed between Tess and Michael, never had. They weren’t friends exactly, but there was no question that they dealt with each other on a fairly regular basis. In fact, Tess had come storming through the front door of the restaurant only minutes before, looking for him. Liz had been a little shocked to see her sister up, let alone fully dressed and returning from somewhere at nine o’clock in the morning on a Saturday, but she had nodded towards the back without a comment.

She didn’t quite know what to say to Tess this morning anyway. She still felt bad about running out on her sister the night before and even worse about what she had said about her to Max. But she hadn’t been able to help herself. Just being around him…she had wanted to tell him everything about herself, even her deepest, darkest secrets, the things she was most ashamed of. No one had ever seemed quite as interested as he did and he had listened so sympathetically. And when she thought about how he had pulled her against him, the way it had felt to be held against his broad chest - how safe she had felt - it had simply made her want to tell him more. It had been almost four in the morning by the time he had finally walked her home.

Liz had to admit that it was one of the reasons she was so nervous that he was coming in less than half an hour. The minutes were ticking by steadily now, business having picked up as people came in for late breakfasts or brunch. She was a little embarrassed by how much she had dumped on his shoulders. They barely knew each other after all and she had done a lot of talking about herself, was a little ashamed that she still didn’t know much about him. And, yet, she couldn’t be sorry. She had slept better last night than she had in months, for once not feeling like she was suffocating in her guilt and misery over Tess.

Max had understood the way she felt. In fact, he had seemed worried about her. And, for the first time, Liz began to wonder if maybe she had a right to feel a little resentful of her sister. Why did Liz always have to give up everything important to her for Tess?

As she smiled at the customers, filling up a coffee cup here, clearing a table there, she reflected on her relationship with her sister. Little incidents where Tess had perhaps not deserved what she had gotten over the years were beginning to return with alarming frequency, ever since her conversation with Max.

There was the matter of the new car Tess had gotten for her birthday for example, which Liz paused in her rounds to stare at through the front window of the Crashdown. She and Tess had discussed one day that, since they were both turning sixteen, they would ask for a car to share. But when the day of Tess’s adoption had rolled around, which the Parkers had always celebrated as her birthday since they didn’t know when Tess was born, suddenly there was a brand-new car in the driveway for Tess alone. Liz had stared at it, not quite sure why this had seemed wrong - she had known that there was something wrong with the scenario, but was incapable of putting her finger on it. And when her father and mother had come to her, had told her how proud of her they were that she had come to them and told them that they should buy the car for Tess - that Tess deserved it - she had merely agreed. But now the whole thing came back to her in a rush. How had she forgotten about that original conversation with Tess? And why could she no longer remember having said that to her parents?

Liz frowned, continued to stare at the car, wondered what on Earth was wrong with her. Why was she suddenly thinking about the fact that she had turned down a chance to go out with her Grandma Claudia a couple of weekends ago? Why had she done that again? Oh yeah. Because she had suddenly had the brilliant idea that Tess should go instead. To where again? Oh, the ballet in Albuquerque. Right. It was Swan Lake, one Liz loved.

Tess didn’t even like ballet. What had she been thinking? All she could remember was the fact that Grandma had been sitting on the sofa, visiting for the week, and had offered Liz the chance to come back with her to go to the ballet. She had felt the jolt of excitement, of anticipation, and suddenly she had been staring into Tess’s sad blue eyes, because she was also there, and Liz had been listening to herself say, "I think Tess should go. She deserves it."

And every single person in the room had agreed. Grandma, Mom, Dad, even Kyle. How weird was that?

Liz didn’t understand. Why was she thinking about this right now? Tess had even brought her a poster back and had told her it was boring. She hadn’t regretted giving up that chance. She had been happy to do it for her sister.

But she hadn’t been happy about it. Not at all. Why had she forgotten that until this instant?

She didn’t have any time to think about it further though because the bell above the door chimed and there he was.

Max.

She glanced at the clock, saw that he was early, and felt heat begin to rise to her face. She had been staring dumbly though the front doors at Tess’s car, which meant that she was now staring dumbly at him.

And he was staring right back.

"Max!" Her voice came out far too high-pitched. She grimaced in embarrassment. "Hi! I mean, welcome. You’re early." She could have kicked herself when she saw his face start to redden as well.

"Oh." He thrust his hands into the pockets of his jeans. "Sorry." She didn’t really hear him though. She was trying not to notice the fact that those jeans fit him extremely well. How on Earth was it possible for him to look so incredibly hot so early in the morning - especially since they had both been up so late?

Liz blinked. She really was losing her mind. And how could things suddenly be so awkward between them? They had been anything but the night before. It was her fault. She was staring at him. Of course he was uncomfortable.

But she couldn’t stop. It was as if her eyes had a mind of their own. She had no control. All she could do was gaze at him, marveling at how beautiful he was, at how he just made her want to leap on him, so that he could wrap her up in his arms again and make her feel like he had only hours before.

As continued to meet his eyes, her mouth becoming dry, she realized that he didn’t seem particularly upset about it anymore. In fact, he was starting to smile at her, which made her want to smile back, which she did. All the tension went flying away just like that and they continued to stand there grinning at each other like love sick fools.

"Liz? Lizzie? LIZ?"

She jumped about a foot, whirled and came face to face with her father. "Yeah Dad?"

"Lizzie, you have customers?" He indicated the restaurant around them, which was still hopping. Liz could see Maria looking harassed at the pass-through window. She and Michael seemed to be arguing, as usual. And Agnes was being run off her feet, which was unusual, in that she was allowing it.

"Oh right. Dad, this is Max. I told you about him. Remember? Max Evans? You knew his parents?"

Mr. Parker frowned. "Liz, what are you talking about?"

Liz stared at her father in horror, then glanced at Max, who was beginning to look uncomfortable again. "Maybe I should come back?" He took a step backwards and it took all of Liz’s strength not to grab him by the hand and keep him where he was.

She could have killed her father when he started to laugh. "I’m kidding. Of course I remember. You’re all she’s talked about all morning." Liz wanted to sink into the floor. Sometimes it was almost a blessing that her father usually ignored her. When he chose to tease her like this, it was so embarrassing! And, yet, she couldn’t help but feel a slight twinge of pleasure at the affection in her father’s voice. She hardly ever heard that, unless he was talking about Tess of course.

Jeff Parker held out a hand to Max. "I just enjoy harassing my daughter Max. It’s something you’re going to have to get used to if you’re going to work here."

Max looked slightly taken aback, but he nodded after glancing at Liz, who smiled at him reassuringly. "Okay."

"So, you’re Phillip and Diane’s son. I was very sorry when Liz told me what happened," Jeff told him, suddenly serious. "They were wonderful people."

Liz wondered if it was going to upset Max that she had told her father what had happened to the Evans, but he didn’t seem to mind. "I miss them very much," he replied simply. "Thank you for seeing me though."

"Merely a formality. Lizzie said you told her you’ve worked short-order before." Jeff waved his hand in the air dismissively. "We’ll just test you out today and see how it goes. The lunch rush is about it start and Michael’s all alone back there."

"Sure. I mean, of course!"

"Okay then. Lizzie, take him to the back and introduce him to Michael. We’ll start him on the deep fryer." Jeff was already turning away, heading to the cash register to punch up a bill.

"Well, that went well," Max told Liz as she led him towards the swinging door leading into the break room. "I don’t think I’ve ever had an easier interview."

Liz smiled slightly, her heart still beating with pleasure that it had all worked out so easily. "I told you. It’s impossible not to like you!" Oh good lord. Had she actually said that?

Max just smiled back though, clearly pleased.

"Wait until you meet Michael," Liz continued to babble, still a little humiliated. "He’ll make you earn your keep. He can be a real jerk," she whispered as she led him around the corner. Liz frowned.

The kitchen was empty, although the grill was still sizzling away with pancakes on top of it. Liz hurried forward and flipped them over before they burnt. She turned in time to see Max pulling an apron off a hook behind the door before coming up behind her to take control of the bacon.

"Where the heck did he go?" Liz asked rhetorically, because, of course, Max would have no idea. "He can be annoying, but it’s not like Michael to just bail…"

"I’m here! I’m here! Sorry." Liz nearly jumped out of her skin when Michael suddenly appeared beside her and grabbed the spatula out of her hand. She stared at him. He was completely white and actually appeared to be shaking.

"Where were you?" Liz demanded. "You can’t just leave things on the grill like that Michael."

"Don’t you think I know that Parker?" Michael snapped back. She realized that he wasn’t really paying any attention to her though. Instead, he was glancing past her at Max, his eyes wide.

Liz frowned again. Michael was weird, but not usually this weird. And she thought that this might actually be the first time he had ever spoken more than two words to her at one time. "Well, okay. This is Max. He’s starting today. To replace Juan."

"Nice to meet you Max," Michael stood back, held out his hand. Liz continued to stare at him. Had the cook taken some sort of happy pill since she had last spoken to him? He had been his usual grumpy self when he had stumbled through the door several hours earlier and had been, in fact, meaner than usual, come to think of it.

"You too." Max accepted Michael’s hand, although a little more slowly then was altogether appropriate. It was then that Liz realized that he sounded a little odd too. When she turned to him, he looked like he had seen a ghost.

She looked back at Michael, who was still staring at Max strangely. If she wasn’t mistaken, it seemed that the two guys recognized each other. But that was impossible. Wasn’t it?

"Er - okay. Well, I’ll just leave you to it then." She wondered why her heart was thumping irregularily, and not in a good way, as she left the kitchen and made her way back to the dining room. "Bye then," she called back over her shoulder, willing Max to say something to show that he was still aware of her presence.

Neither boy said anything. Her heart fell.

It hurt. She was a little scared by how much it hurt. What had changed between them so abruptly? One minute they had been smiling at each other, awareness tingling between them, and then suddenly, nothing. If she wasn’t careful, she was setting herself up for a major fall - something she knew that she just couldn’t handle right now - not with everything that was going on with her sister and her own insecurity issues.

Liz knew that she was going to have to keep her relationship with Max Evans strictly professional from now on. She had to take more care to guard her heart. Because, if she didn’t watch it, she was going to find herself head-over-heels in love with someone who clearly only considered her a friend. Although it seemed unlike Max to treat even just a friend the way he had just treated her.

Liz frowned. Something else had to be going on. Max had just behaved completely out of character. She hadn’t known him for very long, but she just knew that that had not been him. She was suddenly determined to find out exactly what was going on.

And with that, she turned on her heel and pushed her way back through into the break room and on into the kitchen, where she arrived just in time to see her sister, who had apparently appeared out of nowhere, throwing her arms around Max and kissing him like they had known each other for years.

To be continued…








posted on 19-Jul-2002 2:24:30 PM by Kath7
Author's Note: Feel completely free to hate Tess with all your heart in this fic. She has no redeeming value. It might not be realistic, but it is fun! LOL Thanks for all the feedback, as always.

Part 8

Tess had watched from behind the door as Liz had introduced Michael and Max, her heart beating a mile a minute. She had seen the expression that had crossed Max’s face when he had set eyes on Michael and, in that instant, she had known that she was right. Max Evans knew Michael - he recognized him. There was now no question of the truth.

He was Zan. Her blood was singing in her veins, her heart lighter than it had ever been. Her destiny was standing right through that door, talking in low tones to Michael, now that Liz had left again.

Tess had not missed the way Max and Liz had spoken to each other when he had first entered the Crash, but it didn’t concern her really. She could see that her sister was already madly in love with him - who could blame her really? - but that Max just didn’t know any better. He must feel something when he was around Liz, something that reminded him of Tess. It was the perfect explanation for why he seemed so smitten too. She had imprinted her essence on Liz for long enough now, through years of mindwarping. It was bound to be discernible to Max. The Royal Four had been programmed to be aware of each other after all. He was just making an honest mistake, transferring what he would feel for Tess to Liz.

She was almost nervous, Tess realized with a start. She had been waiting for this moment for her entire life…Well, at least since Nasedo had first told her about Zan. Now that it was here, it was almost anti-climactic. She snorted slightly to herself, having to admit that she had always dreamed that Zan would just walk through the door of her father’s restaurant and sweep her into a romantic kiss designed to erase all the years they had been separated…

It annoyed Tess that he had been distracted by Liz, that it had marred this perfect moment. But, it wasn’t his fault. For all she knew, Max might not even be aware of who he really was! He had to know he was an alien, but he might not have any idea of the truth.

She would teach him. He would accept they were meant to be together easily enough. She could already feel the bond between them, growing even now as she watched him. He was so beautiful! More beautiful than she could have even possibly imagined.

Tess set her jaw. She had been waiting for this moment for too long. She was not going to let a little confusion about Liz spoil things. If Max didn’t know who he was supposed to love, she would show him. She could not wait a moment longer.

With that, Tess slipped out from behind the door and into the kitchen. Max had his back to her. He and Michael were speaking quietly, but she could not hear what they were saying. Was Michael asking him about french fries? Why was he wasting words on such a thing? He had to see that Max knew who Michael was, just as Michael knew who Max was. She rolled her eyes. Trust Michael to leave all the hard stuff up to her. When she had ordered him to approach Max, he had been slightly dazed still by all that she had told him. She didn’t think he had yet processed the fact that Zan was actually standing in the kitchen with him. It was a little surreal.

It was time to bring reality back. They were all meant to be together. They had waited long enough. She reached out slowly. Michael had seen her by now, was narrowing his eyes at her warningly, but she ignored him. Her fingertips brushed Max’s shoulder lightly, causing him to turn his head. His beautiful dark eyes were bright and then…not.

Tess didn’t bother trying to identify what was in them. She was only imagining that he looked slightly disappointed. It was understandable. He had come into a restaurant to find a job and, instead, had found his destiny. He was overwhelmed. But the sooner he accepted that this was real, the sooner they could all become who they were meant to be. She snaked her arms up around his neck and whispered the words she had always imagined he would say to her, "You found me my love." With that, she stood on her toes - Lord he was tall! - and pressed her lips to his.

He was cold. It was the first thing Tess realized as she tried to deepen the kiss and he resisted. Why was he fighting her? She could feel how right this was! Her entire body was alive in a way it had never been before. It felt different then when she kissed Kyle or other boys, but that was to be expected. This was her mate! It was supposed to feel different…

It took her a moment longer to realize that he was really fighting her. As in pulling away, as in staring down at her in astonishment. He looked…he didn’t look disgusted, did he? How was this possible? Tess stared up at him in confusion, willing him to reassure her, willing him to tell her that he felt what she felt, that he knew who she was…

They all heard the crash at the same time. Tess felt Max’s body stiffen under her hands. He was staring past her, a horrified expression on his face. Tess glanced at Michael to see his perspective. His expression was unreadable though.

Tess turned her head and met her sister’s eyes. Liz was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, her face white, her hands clutching her apron. She had apparently backed into the shelving unit in her shock, sending a few pots tumbling to the floor, which had resulted in the noise they had all heard.

Tess felt her heart stop. Liz was staring at her like she had never seen her before. She was looking at her like…like she hatedher. And, for one horrible moment, Tess actually felt sorry for her sister. Almost, but not quite. Max must have meant more to her than Tess had even imagined. Tess reflected that it actually made the whole thing even more enjoyable - to actually gain another point on Liz.

They all stood frozen there for one incredibly long minute as Liz’s eyes flicked from Tess’s face to Max, who was quickly pulling back from Tess.

It could not have turned out more perfectly if Tess had scripted it. She had staked her claim to Max, had told him she was here and had dealt with Liz’s infatuation all in one fell swoop. Tess knew her sister. She would never fight Tess for a boy. She was trained well enough that she knew she would lose. And she had Kyle. Now that Max was here, Tess didn’t need to waste her time playing with human boys anymore. Her real life could finally begin.

Her sister was not a threat.

All of this went through Tess’s head during that moment. But, then, suddenly, everything was not perfect. Because Max was saying, "Liz!" His voice seemed to break the tableau in which they had all posed momentarily, causing several things to happen at once.

Liz whirled on her heel and stormed away, so quickly it caused Tess to blink. Michael turned back to the grill, muttering under his breath. Max pushed Tess away, causing her mouth to fall open, and went after Liz, brushing Tess off as she made a grab for him.

And, just like that, he was gone. He had left her standing there and he had gone after her sister.

Her mind refused to function for so long, she didn’t realize Michael was talking to her until he nudged her. "Smooth."

Tess glared at him. "What the hell just happened here?"

"You just jumped a guy who has absolutely no idea who you are," Michael replied calmly. "That’s what just happened here."

"Michael! It was him! You know it was." She looked at him more closely. Michael’s face was blank. "You do know it, don’t you?" She stomped her foot. "I know you do! I saw your face!"

Michael snorted. "You had me so convinced, I did think so for a moment. But, I was wrong. It’s not him Tess."

"What?" Tess shrieked. "I know it is! I can feel him! Even now!" And she could. She could feel the electricity that was left in the air where Max had stood, could still feel how perfectly she had fit next to his body - how it had seemed that they were made for each other.

"It’s called rejection Tess. I know it’s a new concept for you, but that’s all you felt when you saw him. For the first time, you want a human who doesn’t want you back." Michael sounded almost…amused. Tess wanted to smack him but knew better. Michael was the one person she could be honest with. She didn’t want to completely alienate him and he was easy to alienate. She grimaced at the pun, but knew that it was true. If she pissed him off, he wouldn’t talk to her for a week. He had done it before and he knew he could do it again. He knew, deep down, that she needed him. He was the only one like her. She hated that he knew that.

And, yet, she wondered why he was lying to her. Because she was sure that she had not been mistaken. Michael had recognized Max too. The new boy was Zan. There was no question. And Michael refused to admit it. Why?

Just then, Maria’s head popped up at the pass-through window. "Michael? Where are those Saturn Rings? I’ve been waiting for almost twenty minutes. They’re getting pissed off!" The waitress sounded annoyed, but Tess did not miss how her eyes softened as she spoke. She saw Tess a moment later. "Oh, hi Tess!" Her voice was as sickeningly sweet as it always was when she spoke to Tess, the long-standing mindwarp doing its magic as always.

Tess ignored Maria, looked at Michael, waiting for her friend to say something rude as he always did when Maria was around. He did not disappoint, but it was what came before that made her do a double-take. "That’s not my problem. Go away. I’m busy." He turned his back so abruptly, he almost knocked a bowl sitting on the counter into the deep-fryer. But, before that, Tess had seen the look on his face.

He had looked frightened. Truly scared. Like the last thing in the world he wanted was to be talking to Maria at that moment.

Tess watched Maria’s face crumble. "Well, just hurry okay." Her voice trembled slightly as she sent a wavery smile in Tess’s direction. "See ya Tess."

Tess frowned, stared at Michael’s back for a long moment. There was something off here, something she couldn’t quite put her finger on, but she knew she didn’t like it.

"Where were you this morning?" Tess demanded now, suspicion making her voice sharp.

"Here. I’ve been here all morning," Michael retorted, turning back, his face now a mask again. "Why?"

"I mean early this morning. Before I found you here, I looked for you at Nasedo’s. You weren’t there. And then I looked for you all over town. I thought you were in trouble."

Michael’s eyes flickered slightly, but his voice was completely flat when he said, "Oh. I went for a jog."

Tess narrowed her eyes. "You went for a jog? Since when do you jog?"

"Since today," Michael snapped. "Buzz off Tess. You’ve wasted enough of my time this morning. Stop sniping at me just because you’re pissed that you were wrong about that Max guy."

Tess didn’t say anything. She merely continued to stare at his back, her mind racing. But I wasn’t wrong Michael, she thought, scowling. And you’re lying to me for a reason I don’t understand. But I’ll find out. I always do.

In the meantime, Tess had other things to worry about. Such as the fact that Max had just pushed her away and had gone running after her sister. She could go after them, could use her power over her sister to keep Liz away from Max, to make her react to him the way Tess wanted her to…

Of she could call in reinforcements. Reinforcements she could count on, Tess reflected darkly, as she resisted the urge to pummel Michael until he told her what he was hiding from her.

Tess went to call Kyle.

******************************************

"Liz! Please wait!" Max called out after the fleeing girl. He had followed her through a door that led into the back alley behind the restaurant and was now chasing her down. Since his legs were longer, it didn’t take him long to grab her by the shoulders, forcing her to stop. "Liz! It’s not what you think!"

Liz was breathing hard, in great gasps, sobs quickly overtaking her. "I just thought that this time it would be different. I knew it wouldn’t be, but I just thought…" She started to cry in earnest, making Max’s heart break. He pulled her back against him, wrapping his arms around her as she bent forward at the waist, her delicate frame shaking.

"Liz, she kissed me! I don’t even know who that girl is!" Max pleaded. "You have to believe me."

He was lying to her. He hated that he was lying to her, that he had to lie to her. Because he had recognized the blonde, the instant he had seen her. She was the girl from his disturbing dreams - nightmares really. She was the one he had come to Roswell to find, convinced that she could give him information about who he really was.

But the experience of kissing that girl…it had been horrifying. Truly, gut-wrenchingly terrible. He had felt like he was in the presence of evil. It had reminded him forcefully about how uncomfortable those dreams had made him, how sure he had been that there was something off in them, that he didn’t like what they were telling him. Kissing the girl had only reinforced it.

Liz was calming down now. She seemed to be suddenly aware of the fact that he was holding her because he could feel her stiffening in his arms. She had been willing to accept his comfort at first, simply because she had been so upset. But now she was remembering that he was the one who had upset her.

She pulled away, making Max feel emptier than he ever had in his life. Emptier than when his parents had died. Emptier than when he had left Isabel at her boarding school, unsure when he would see his sister face to face again. He could feel Liz slipping away from him and he had barely even had a chance to know her. And, yet, he loved her anyway.

"That was Tess," Liz told him quietly. "I told you last night… I knew you were going to love her."

"She kissed me Liz. I’m telling you…" He trailed off, rubbed a hand wearily across his eyes. She was listening to him, she even seemed to buy it, but she was not going to believe that he had not been affected. He could see it written all over her expressive face.

The last thing he had ever wanted to do was hurt her. And he had. Already. Just because of who he was - because he was different. Because he had seen the expression on both Michael and then Tess’s face. They had recognized him, just as he had known them the instant he had laid eyes on both of them. He had been right. Roswell was the place where he was going to find answers. But finding out answers also meant that he was going to lose Liz, who he never would have met again if he hadn’t come to Roswell. The irony was not lost on him.

Not that he had Liz. She had a boyfriend. But Max knew that they had made a connection the night before, had seen it on her face when he had first come into the Crashdown earlier. She had been waiting for him, had been looking forward to seeing him. He had not been the only one affected by what had taken place between them, by how they had opened up to each other. He had told her things about his parents and about his sister that he had never told anyone. And seeing her again had made his heart sing, no regrets invading, even after a few hours to think about it.

And now he was losing her because of a situation that was completely out of his control. He could feel his life spinning away, had felt everything shift somehow, when he had set eyes on first Michael and, then, Tess. He knew there was nothing he could do about it, that those dreams had been prophetic, that this might be the last moment he actually spent with Liz where he could be himself.

He would never forgive himself if he didn’t at least make her feel better, if he didn’t show her that it her he wanted, not her sister. She was staring at him, tears gleaming on her lashes, a strangely accepting expression on her face. Like she had somehow always known that this was how it was going to be.

He could not allow her to feel that way.

Max took a step towards her, raised his hand and tentatively brushed a tear off her cheek. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that who I am is going to hurt you. He didn’t say the words aloud, but he willed her to hear him, willed her to understand.

He watched her eyes widen slightly, as though perhaps she had. "Max?" She sounded unsure, almost afraid.
He didn’t blame her. He was as scared as she was. The way he felt about her…It was terrifying. He barely knew her! But it wasn’t enough to make him want to run away. The last thing he wanted to do was to run away from her.

She took a step towards him, making his heart start to beat irregularly. They were being drawn together by some force that he did not understand. He watched her swallow nervously. Her tongue darted out of her mouth, licking her lips, sending shock waves of desire through his entire body.

"Liz?" It was more of a question than anything, but her face gave him the answer he wanted. Her lashes fluttered against her cheeks as she watched him through lowered lids.

Oh hell. There was no way to stop it. He knew that this was only going to hurt her more in the end, but not kissing her now would be like telling himself to stop breathing. It was just a physical impossibility.

He lowered his head and brushed her lips gently with his. He had never done this before, (well, except for the fact that her sister had just physically assaulted him, but that had not been his first kiss - he refused to acknowledge it as such) but somehow, inherently, with her, he knew what to do.

He felt her hands creeping up his arms until they were resting on his shoulders, clutching at him, as though to keep from falling to the ground. He knew exactly how she was feeling. His own knees were weakening, his blood racing through his veins at hyperspeed, every thought and feeling centered on where his body was in contact with hers.

Max brought his hands down to her waist, pulled her more securely against him. Liz tilted her head to the side and parted her lips, allowing him to deepen the kiss, which, in turn, set him on fire. He was burning for her. There was no other way to describe it.

It was then that the flashes started.

It took him a moment to even understand what was happening. Images were flying quickly through his head, but his entire concentration was still focused on the girl in his arms. It wasn’t until he realized that the images were of Liz that he tried harder to grasp what they meant.

But, by the time he could comprehend that she was giving him flashes - that a human girl was connecting with him physically in a way he had only ever communicated with his sister - she had already broken the kiss, gasping. She was staring at him, her eyes wide, not frightened exactly, but, rather, dumbfounded.

And his heart stopped beating. Because, now that his senses were finally returning, he realized exactly what the look on Liz’s face meant.

She had seen them too.

To be continued…






posted on 5-Aug-2002 6:15:22 PM by Kath7
Hey guys! Just wanted to update you on the status of this story. It is on a mini-hiatus at the moment as I work towards finishing off Destiny's Circle (which only has about four or so parts to go). I may try and get a part done within the next week or so, but I'll be away from the computer until the weekend, so that will be at the very earliest. Anyway, thanks for your support and interest and I will try and get back to this one as soon as possible.

Kath
posted on 11-Aug-2002 4:21:59 PM by Kath7
Author's Note: Okay, so I lied! LOL This one was burning a hole in my head yesterday, so I've updated this rather than DC, although it is next on the agenda. This story is actually intended to be quite a bit shorter than most of my others, so we are reaching a major turning point in this part.

PS - Try not to be too angry at Michael for what he's doing to Maria. It's all he knows at this point, but that is soon going to change.

Part 9

Michael watched Maria through the pass-through window. He managed to keep his face expressionless as he examined the strain on her face. He knew that he had hurt her again with his deliberately cruel brush off in front of Tess, but there had been no choice.

He could not let Tess know how much Maria meant to him. It was the only way to assure her safety. Tess would not allow him to develop any attachments. He knew that, knew that she was selfish that way, would not want to share his loyalty with anyone else.

It was sheer irony that it was that aspect of her character that made him hate her. A year ago he would not have said the same. A year ago he would have been loyal, no matter who she hurt, because a year ago he had not cared one bit about humans or their feelings or their safety. But now he had too much to lose.

He could lose Maria.

It was the reason he had just lied to Tess, proving to himself once and for all that Maria had taken Tess’s place as the most important person in his life.

Because, the truth of the matter was, Michael had recognized Max Evans. From the first moment he had laid eyes on the other guy, he knew that Tess was right. He was Zan. There was absolutely no question about it.

And, yet, he had lied.

It had not been his first intention. Not at all. When he had stumbled into the kitchen to meet the new cook, Michael had every intention of telling Tess what he really thought. He truly believed she was crazy after all. The odds that Zan would just show up in Roswell after all this time? Very slim.

Seeing him face to face had been another matter though. It was then that he knew she was not crazy and he had understood that his entire life was about to change.

Their conversation had been casual after Liz introduced them and before Tess had thrown herself at Max, but Michael knew that Max recognized him too. The air hummed between them, the common bond of their otherworldliness charging it to the point where it almost made Michael uncomfortable. They had actually discussed the deep fryer because Michael couldn’t think of anything else to say to him.

Because, really, you couldn’t meet a guy and then tell him that you had been waiting your entire life to serve him - and Michael wasn’t talking about Saturn Rings or Alien Blasts either. Especially when the other guy had absolutely no idea who he was. Which Michael was sure was the case with Max. Michael had seen that Max did not understand what was happening to him, did not know that Michael had sacrificed his life for Max before and would do it again, just because he was his king.

He had been almost relieved when Tess had whirled into the room and had taken the bull by the horns, so to speak. Tess could tell Max who he was. Tess could make him understand. Michael sucked at making people get things that were difficult to face. Wasn’t it why he had such a hard time with Maria all the time - that he couldn’t make her understand that he didn’t want to hurt her but that he had to because he had no other choice? She never got that he came to her in the night because he cared, never tried to see that he didn’t mean any of it. No, she just showed how hurt she was and made it all so hard.

As Michael watched Maria now though, he was trying to suppress the hope that had sprung into his heart after what had just happened between Max and Tess.

Max had resisted her. Max had turned away from her when she had kissed him. Max had run after a human, one he with whom he had clearly allowed a connection to form, although how he had had time, Michael couldn’t see. Michael had not opened up to Maria for at least the first six months of their acquaintance, had only done it when he couldn’t resist her any longer.

But, then Max probably didn’t know that he had a wife waiting for him of that ties to Earth were only going to end up hurting them all in the end. And, yet, Michael could not be sorry about what he had witnessed.

Michael had been just as astonished as Tess when Max had gone after Liz Parker of all people, but Max had and it changed everything.

There was finally someone on the scene who Tess couldn’t control. In fact, if things went as they were supposed to, Max would be calling the shots from now on and this could only be a positive for Michael. Because if Max wanted a human too, then he would help Michael to protect Maria. He would understand.

And from the expression that had crossed Max’s face when Liz had caught him with Tess in his arms, there could be no doubt about who it was Max wanted.

Michael allowed himself to quirk a half-smile at Maria when she came up to the pass-through to pick up an order. Her eyes widened in surprise, but she smiled back, obviously pleased.

Things had changed. Now all Michael had to do was make sure the both Max and Tess knew it. Then he and Maria could finally be together and he could finally stop hating himself.

***********************************************

Liz felt her heart thundering in her chest as she stepped away from Max.

He was staring at her, clearly as shocked by what had just happened as she was. He didn’t move to stop her from backing away from him, instead took a step back from her as well.

She could still feel his touch, could feel the heat where his fingers had trailed across her face, could feel his lips against hers, could feel the softness of his dark hair under her hands.

It had been absolutely nothing like kissing Kyle. She could still see the stars in front of her eyes that he had caused. And she wasn’t talking just in romantic terms.

She had literally seen stars. And she had seen him, had felt him.

She was still trying to understand what this meant, but it was true. She had, for one electrifying moment, felt their souls entwine and she had understood exactly what he was feeling. She had understood that what he told her was true - that Tess had indeed kissed him, but that he had not been truthful when he had told her he didn’t know why. He did know why. She also understood that it was she, Liz, he cared about, but that he knew that she was beyond his reach, that she was dating someone else, that she would think he was crazy if she knew how deeply he felt for her already.

"I’m sorry." She could see the fear that was beginning to cross his face as she continued to breathe erratically, trying to understand what had just happened. She didn’t understand it. It couldn’t just be because of Kyle, could it?

He couldn’t be afraid of her, could he?

But, somehow, she understood that it was the answer. Because when the kiss had deepened, she had learned everything there was to know about him. She had felt how afraid he was that someone would uncover the truth. He was different somehow. She didn’t quite understand how, but it was the truth.

"For what?" She asked quietly, willing him to explain exactly what had just happened.

He didn’t answer immediately. She could almost see the wheels turning in his head. He was clenching and unclenching his hands at his side, continued to stare at her. He seemed to be struggling with something.

"For kissing me?" She finally prompted, hoping against hope that he would say no, even though she already knew it was not that. She had felt how much he wanted to after all.

How? How had she felt that?

"No!" Max exclaimed, almost too quickly. He looked instantly embarrassed by his vehemence, but his expression slowly turned rueful. "I know I should be. I know you have a boyfriend Liz, but I’m not sorry that we kissed. I’ve wanted to do that since the first moment I saw you again."

"I know," she whispered. "Me too." She realized that her hands were clutching at her apron, her tension was so great. She forced herself to release it, smoothed it down compulsively. She swallowed. "Max, it was amazing…" She lowered her gaze, trying to find the words to explain what she had experienced.

"Liz…"

"Max, I felt things. I don’t understand. I felt what you were feeling." Liz grimaced, felt completely foolish. He was going to think she was crazy! She looked up at him, expected him to be eyeing her with disbelief, but instead he had his eyes closed, as though she had confirmed something for him.

"What did you feel?" He asked, resigned.

She frowned. "You didn’t kiss Tess. But you do know her. I don’t understand how I know that, but somehow I do." She paused and then continued in a rush. "You didn’t tell me because you don’t want to hurt me."

There was a long pause. "That’s true," he finally said carefully.

She looked back at him when he seemed to want to say more. "Max, what are you afraid of?" She took a step towards him. "Can you explain what just happened?"

Max never got a chance to reply though because the back door to the Crashdown slammed open, making them both whip their heads around to stare at Kyle and Tess.

"Hey! Tess was right!" Kyle sounded pleased. "It’s my man Max!" He grabbed Liz by the hand, pulled her towards him, planting a kiss on her forehead. Liz blinked because, even though she wasn’t looking at him, she actually felt Max flinch. "Hi beautiful! Did Max tell you that he saved my ass last night? The ‘stang was totally screwed and he fixed it. He did it so quick, I swear he must have just waved his hand over it or something."

"A miracle worker," Tess said. Liz looked at her sister, frowned. Tess was looking right back at her, a strange smile on her face. "He even got you to ditch your shift Lizzie. Daddy’s looking for you. You should go back in. Kyle has something to talk to Max about."

For one instant, Tess’s blue eyes were all Liz could see. She could feel them piercing through her, burning into her. She felt herself begin to nod. Tess was right of course. Tess was always right. She should go back in. And she should stay away from Max Evans while she was at it…

Liz shook her head, felt light-headed, unsure why the world seemed to be spinning in front of her. A moment later, her sister looked completely normal again, did not seem to be everywhere at once. It took an instant, but Liz realized that Max had reached out and had taken her hand. She couldn’t believe it. He had done it right in front of Kyle too!

But, for some strange reason, Kyle didn’t seem to notice. In fact, he clapped a hand against Max’s shoulder and said, far too loudly and a little strangely in Liz’s opinion, "I told my Uncle Toby about you. He owns a garage on the other side of town. He’d be willing to meet with you. If you want something that pays better than flipping burgers that is…" Kyle trailed off, grinned at Liz. "No offense." She just stared at him, completely confused.

What the heck was going on here? Her hand was still resting in Max’s. She could feel warmth beginning to run up her arm, the urge to throw her arms around him and kiss him again suddenly so strong, she wasn’t quite sure how she resisted it.

Liz looked at Tess, who was scowling. She realized that her sister’s eyes were locked with Max’s. It was almost as if they were engaged in some sort of silent battle - one that they both understood but that was simply beyond the comprehension of anyone else, particularly Liz. Because one thing she had somehow learned during that incredibly indescribable kiss was that, even though Max had lied about not knowing who Tess was, he had never laid eyes on her before she had jumped him in the kitchen.

How was that even possible? She felt a flash of anger that she and Max had been interrupted because she just knew that he had been about to tell her something that would have changed everything. He had been about to open up to her about who he really was.

Because, the more she reflected on it, the more she understood that Max Evans was more special than even she had realized from the moment she had first seen him.

"Thank you Kyle," Max said evenly now. "I would be interested in that. But I think I’ll keep the job here too. I need more than one anyway." Liz watched in fascination as he continued to glare at Tess. "Can we meet him later? Because I really need to get back to the grill."

"Sure," Kyle replied easily, seeming to notice for the first time that Max was wearing an apron. "I’ll come and pick you up after your shift." He stepped right up to Liz, where she continued to stand with her hand clasped in Max’s and kissed her again lightly. "I’ll see you later too."

With that, Kyle turned on his heel and sauntered away down the alley.

The trio remaining behind stood in absolute silence for what felt like forever to Liz. She could not take her eyes off of Tess’s face. Her sister was staring at Max, her skin whiter than usual, as he continued to meet her gaze steadily.

Max finally looked at Liz and she felt her heart skip a beat when his expression softened immediately. "We better get back to work," he said softly.

"Okay," she said, dumbfounded.

He opened the heavy door and pulled Liz after him. They simply left Tess standing in the alley.

The instant the door slammed shut, Max dropped her hand, cleared his throat. "I’m sorry about that."

"Max, what on Earth is going on?" Liz demanded. She tried not to reach out for him again. She felt so cold without his touch, felt shivers beginning to run through her. She knew she was trembling, could not control it.

"I want to tell you Liz. I swear I do, but I don’t even really know myself," Max told her, lowering his voice. "All I know is that your sister was doing something to you out there and when I touched you, it stopped."

Liz stared at him, unable to even form words. "Max? What are you talking about? Tess wouldn’t do anything to me!" Liz knew this with every ounce of her being. Her sister loved her. Her sister would never hurt her. Her sister was perfect…

Max picked up her hand again and Liz’s mind immediately cleared. She started, stared at him in horror.

He appeared to see the fear on her face because he reached up and gently pushed a lock of hair back from her face from where it had fallen from her pony-tail. "Don’t worry. We’re going to find out. Together." He looked over her shoulder, lowered his voice again. When Liz glanced behind her, she could see Michael staring at them both from where he was standing over the grill. "Right after work I have to talk to my sister," Max continued, "But then we’ll get to the bottom of this. I promise."

"Max, it’s not just Tess I’m wondering about," Liz called after him as he moved away from her and towards the kitchen.

"I know," Max replied, turning and regarding her seriously. "But it’s not just my secret to tell Liz. I need to talk to my sister first. If she say it’s all right, I’m going to tell you everything. I swear it." He paused, then smiled slightly. "I want to tell you. I’ve never wanted to tell anyone, but I do want to tell you. Just know, that whatever you’re thinking right now because of what happened between us, you’re not crazy."

Liz blinked and wondered how he had known that it was exactly what she was beginning to wonder.

But as he turned away and went to join Michael, who was still discreetly watching them out of the corner of her eye, she knew she was just going to have to wait. Because, somehow, she understood that now, more than ever, she had to pretend that everything was normal, that Max had not told her what she was already beginning to suspect about Tess.

There was something not quite normal about her sister and Max knew it too. And, for the first time in so long, it actually brought tears to her eyes, Liz knew that she was not alone.


posted on 4-Sep-2002 11:54:57 PM by Kath7
Hey guys!

Sorry it's been so long since I've updated this one. Since I've been back at work, juggling five fics has been a bit of a chore. Since DC and Union are well on the downward slope, I think I will be concentrating on them for a while, but I am hoping to maybe get part of this done on the weekend. Just wanted to give you a little update and thank you for your patience.

Kath
posted on 22-Sep-2002 12:03:14 AM by Kath7
Author's Note: Hey guys! Sorry it's been so long since I updated this one. It has borne the brunt of the fact that I have five on the go. Anyway, here's the next part. It's a bit transitional, but things will pick up again in part 11.

Part 10

Tess threw herself across her bed, her stomach in knots.

What had gone wrong? How had Max figured out so quickly what she was doing to Liz? And why did he care enough to interfere? Because, that was exactly what he had done. She had been right the night before. It had been Max who had thrown her out of her sister’s mind. Not only that, but he had just done it again, and apparently fully intended to do it every time she tried to control Liz.

Why? How could things have gone so horribly wrong? He was meant to be hers! It was destined. They had been made for each other. And, yet, he didn’t seem to care at all. Tess had no doubt that he had recognized her, but he just didn’t care.

It was causing panic to course through her veins, the fact that things were turning out so horribly wrong so quickly. Nasedo was going to be furious at her! None of this would have ever happened if the Evanses had adopted her that day too. She would have grown up with Max and the connection that was meant to be between them would have blossomed naturally.

Tess Parker had only ever made one mistake in her entire life and it had been when she was too young to even know any better. But, now, thinking back to when she was adopted, she knew that it had shaped the world they were living in today.

If only she had not tried out her mindwarp on Diane and Phillip Evans that day, everything would have been completely different.

***************************************************

She opened her eyes, felt a flash of fear as she stared up at the white ceiling. Where am I?

Her heart started to beat evenly again as a small hand took hers. She turned her head, met Vilandra’s eyes and the relief was so great, she smiled.
Where are we? She asked her friend, glad that she was not alone.

"Nice…" Vilandra’s dark eyes narrowed in concentration as she tried to use her voice - her
human voice - to answer her. "Nice people…" She scrunched her face up in exasperation. This is hard! She finally said, switching to the mental way they had communicated since they came out of the pods. You weren’t feeling well Ava. Very tired. You’ve slept for two days. Mr. and Mrs. Evans brought us here. It’s called an orphanage. Because, here, that’s what we are. Orphans.

Ava sat up slowly, feeling tired still. She sent Vilandra an image of Zan’s face, wondering where he and Rath had ended up. She remembered now that Zan had been with them when the Evanses had stopped to pick them up, but Rath had not.

Vilandra tried to use her voice again. "Zan…He here. Rath…" She shook her head, sending her strange yellow hair flying around her shoulders, indicating that he was not. Ava did not remember
what Vilandra was really supposed to look like, but she knew it was not like this. They were not human. She didn’t remember much besides that, but she knew that none of them were, that they didn’t belong here and that, whatever happened, they all had to stay together.

Mr. and Mrs. Evans are coming back today, Vilandra continued, mentally again, her will-power obviously exhausted for the moment. I think we’re going home with them.

Ava felt a strange flash of worry at the happy expression on Vilandra’s face.
I don’t know. Doesn’t…feel right.

Vilandra frowned.
I like them Ava. We are children here. Someone has to take care of us.

Not right.

Vilandra tossed her head again, climbed off the bed.
It is right. If they want us, we’re going with them.

We’ll see, thought Ava as she watched her friend flounce out of the room, clearly upset. Somehow she knew that it was not right that they should go with the Evanses. And she would do everything she could to make sure it didn’t happen.

***

Ava watched Zan out of the corner of her eye as he slowly dipped his eating utensil into the food in front of him, bringing the strange substance to his mouth. His brow wrinkled slightly as he chewed. Ava didn’t blame him. She didn’t remember food from their home, but she knew that it wasn’t as dull as this. Food here did not taste like anything. It made eating a chore.

I do not want to go with those people, Ava told Zan, in his head.

He looked up, his eyes shadowed.
Why?

I do not like them. And she didn’t. She didn’t like that Mrs. Evans seemed to like Vilandra better already and she didn’t like that Vilandra liked Mrs. Evans so much. She didn’t like the way Mr. Evans looked so serious - like he wasn’t quite sure whether taking them home was the best idea. Ava suspected that he was only going along with it because Mrs. Evans wanted them so badly.

I do, Zan replied, looking away. They will protect us.

What about Rath? We can’t leave until we find him.

Zan did not look up again, having already made his decision. Ava bit her lip, scowled.

There was still time to fix this - somehow. She did not like the Evanses and did not want to go with them. It was not going to happen.

***

She discovered that she could make people do what she wanted them to do later that day. It was by accident. The matron told her to pick up her nightdress, which she had left on the floor next to the bed she shared with Vilandra. Ava looked right at her and said in her head
I don’t want to.

Matron walked across the room, picked up the nightie and put it away for her. Ava stared at her, saw the blank look on the woman’s face and narrowed her eyes.

Give me ice cream…with sugar on top. It was the one taste here she liked. Sugar. It made everything better.

And matron gave her ice cream.

She had a way to make Mr. and Mrs. Evans go away.

She tried it that afternoon when they came to take them out for dinner.
You do not like us. You do not want us.

She looked right at Mrs. Evans, focused on trying to make the yellow-haired woman
think what she wanted her to. Mrs. Evans blinked her large blue eyes, stared back at Tess. Her eyes looked milky for a moment, but suddenly, did not. Ava scowled at Vilandra, who had taken Mrs. Evans’s hand.

Vilandra was glaring back at her, furious. Mrs. Evans looked frightened as she stared at Tess, which was what Mrs. Evans had started to call her, just like she called Vilandra Isabel and Zan Max. The woman’s eyes were now clear. Ava felt a flash of anger.

Ava looked at Zan, who seemed unaware that anything was wrong. He was staring down at his plate, methodically eating what the Evanses had ordered for him. Ava thought it was called a hamburger.

Ava knew that she had made mistake though later when matron called her into her room and told her quietly that the Evanses had decided that they could only afford to adopt Max and Isabel. Matron looked sad, but reassured Tess that there was another family very interested in taking her home, that she would still live in the same town as Max and Isabel, that it would be all right.

Ava had made Mrs. Evans scared. Mrs. Evans knew that Ava had gone into her mind because Vilandra had stopped it. And now Mrs. Evans was going to take Zan and Vilandra away from her.

The next day Ava met the Parkers. The day after she went home with them, but not before watching Zan and Vilandra drive away in the back of the Evanses’ mini-van. Neither of them looked back at her. She felt a hand take hers, turned to look at her new "sister" - Mr. Parker had called her Liz.

"It’s all right," Liz said quietly. "You’ll see them in a couple of days. They’re coming to our restaurant for dinner."

But Liz had been wrong, only making Ava angrier. Because Ava had never seen either of them ever again.


***************************************************

Until today.

Tess had seen Zan again today and he had rejected her as soundly as he had the last time.

She had been so lost without them, she had completely forgotten their existence in her first years with the Parkers. Remembering them had been too hard and it was only when she met Nasedo one day on the playground, when he introduced her to Michael, that she had even tried to recall. Nasedo had told her all about Zan and Vilandra and who they were to her and she had let herself yearn for them again. But she still had not remembered how she lost them.

But, now, that scene, from so long ago, played itself over and over in her head. If she had just gone with the Evanses that day, none of this would ever have happened. She would have grown up with Zan and they would be together now.

But, in the end, was it really her fault? No. It was Vilandra’s fault. She was the one who had chosen Mrs. Evans over Tess.

Tess sat up, narrowed her eyes. Vilandra. Where was the other girl? Just another mystery to be solved. What had happened to Max’s sister? Was she in Roswell too? If she was, she was the key to controlling Zan. Apparently mindwarping wasn’t going to work. But Zan had chosen to go with Vilandra rather than stay with Ava, which meant that she could be used.

But, first, she had to be found. Tess had tried this on her own, but it wasn’t working. She needed help, as much as it galled her to admit it. She still hadn’t figured out why Michael was lying about recognizing Zan, but she didn’t have time for that right now. All she knew was that he would not help her find Vilandra.

She needed Nasedo.

******************************************************

"I need to talk to you."

Max looked at Michael, who was staring straight down at the burgers he was flipping.

"Okay," Max replied mildly, imitating him by not taking his eyes off the french fries. He could hear the tension in Michael’s voice, knew that the other boy had been working up the nerve to broach the subject of their mutual recognition all morning. Max had decided not to make the first move. He was the stranger in town after all. Tess and Michael obviously knew each other and Max had already made it clear that just because he and Tess were the same, it didn’t mean that he would allow her to continue to use her mind-control power on humans. He had the power to stop her and he intended to use it.

However, he did not know how Michael would feel about that fact. If it came down to it, the other alien boy might be loyal to Tess. And, if that was the case, then Max was not going to even acknowledge the connection that he and Michael shared. The ball had been in Michael’s court since Max had returned to the deep fryer and, finally, he was lobbing it back.

"I know who you are."

Max felt his heart start to beat more quickly, in spite of his resolve to not expect too much. "Oh?"

"Yeah. And I’ll tell you too. But first I want you to tell me something."

Max could feel Michael’s eyes on him now. He pretended he didn’t, pulling the fries out of the oil, dumping them out and shaking copious amounts of salt over them. "What?"

"What’s going on with you and Liz Parker?"

Max blinked, almost dropped the salt shaker. "Why?"

"I know there’s something," Michael said urgently. "Tell me what it is."

Max looked at him now, kept his gaze steady. "Again, why?" He could feel his stomach clenching. Was Michael threatening Liz? Had Max put her in danger by challenging Tess’s control over her?

"Because, if you’re trying to keep Tess away from her, then I want to you help you," Michael replied, obviously deciding he had to be honest.

Max narrowed his eyes. "Why?" He repeated for the third time, trying to make his suspicion clear in his voice. "Aren’t you and Tess…" He trailed off, raising an eyebrow questioningly.

"I’ve never seen any way to beat her before." Michael shrugged. "But, now, with you here…Let’s just say, I have my own…concerns."

"Human concerns?"

"Maybe."

There was a long moment of silence as Max and Michael’s gazes met and held. Max stared at him, hard, trying to figure out if the other guy could be trusted. Instinctively, he knew that he could be. If Michael was concerned for another human - another potential victim of Tess’s mind-control - than he would be an ally. And if he could tell Max anything about who he was and why he and Isabel were on Earth, then he would be more than that.

He would be a God-send.

"Okay," Max finally said, looking away again. He picked up the fry scoop and dumped a large portion on a plate beside the bun already there. He handed it to Michael, who flipped a cooked meat patty onto the bun, turned and stuck the plate on the pass-through window ledge, hitting the bell as he turned back.

"After work then," Michael said a few minutes later, as though their conversation had never ceased.

"I have to call my sister first," Max said. "And then I need to talk to Liz."

But Michael’s head had snapped up at the first part. "Sister?"

Max cursed his loose lips. He had intended to keep Isabel’s name out any of this until he knew exactly who he could trust. Just because Michael and Tess were clearly like them, it didn’t mean they were trustworthy. It was already obvious hat Tess used her powers for her own gain and, while Max had felt an instant bond with Michael, it didn’t mean that he trusted him enough to tell him about Isabel yet. "Yup," he replied non-committally, knowing that he was in too deep now to lie. If he tried to back-track, Michael might get the idea that he and Isabel were the same. "We were both adopted," he added, hoping that Michael might think that Isabel was not his blood relation.

"Vilandra," Michael muttered, sounding upset.

"What?" Max asked, staring at him.

"Never mind," Michael lowered his head, threw another burger onto the grill. "Later. We can’t talk about it here."

Max let it go for the moment. Michael was right. Talking about any of this here was dangerous. He turned, looked out the pass-through at Liz, who was standing at the pop machine. She seemed to feel his eyes on her, because she turned her head and smiled at him. He felt his heart skip a beat as he smiled back.

What would she say when he told her the truth? Would she be scared? Would she want nothing to do with him anymore? But he couldn’t let his fear stop him. He wouldn’t betray her that way. She had been betrayed in every way by her sister for the past ten years. He would not continue the lies. She had the right to know the truth, especially because of the bond they had already formed.

Max didn’t know how it had happened, but he knew it was true. He and Liz Parker were connected in some inexplicable way and for some unknown reason. He could decipher no other explanation for the fact that she had gotten flashes from him when they had kissed. The thought of that kiss set his pulse racing, made his skin burn as he remembered the delicate touch of her hands on his body.

How? How could he have fallen so madly in love so quickly?

While Liz was beautiful, Max knew it had to be much more than that. If he admitted it to himself, he had likely been half in love with her since their first meeting on that playground, her kindness having spoken to his soul. He had forced himself to forget about her over the past ten years, but the instant they had re-met, his heart and soul had opened up to her again. Why? What was it about this girl?

Maybe Michael would have that answer too.

It was only a matter of time now.

Mr. Parker came to take over the kitchen at three. As he passed Max on his way out the back door, Michael muttered, "I’ll come back at five."

Max nodded, watched him go, wondering how he had managed to stumble on the key to his very existence so easily. It was almost surreal.

"So, did it go well Max?" Mr. Parker asked, making Max jump slightly. "Think you want to work here?"

Max nodded quickly. "If you want me to sir."

"You and Michael seem to get along well," Mr. Parker replied. "That’s a miracle in and of itself. He and Juan practically came to blows a few times. If you can deal with him, the job is yours. You can work the early shift tomorrow morning. We open at seven."

"Thanks Mr. Parker." Max turned, taking off is apron. He paused on his way out the door. "Michael’s not so bad," he said off-handedly, not sure why he wanted to defend the other guy, but feeling that he did.

Mr. Parker raised his head, looked at Max. "I know it Max. I’m glad you do too."

Max frowned, but nodded again. "Thanks again."

"See you tomorrow."

Max went out through the swinging door into the restaurant proper. Liz happened to be coming through in the opposite direction, so they literally ran into each other, making Max grin despite the fact that he was soon going to tell her the truth - that soon, she might want nothing to do with him.

He realized that he felt surprisingly carefree about the whole thing. Somehow he just knew that she would react well. He trusted her to accept him. It was just another mystery in a long line of them that had sprung up over the past twenty-four hours.

"Hi," Liz said quietly, her eyes meeting his.

"Hi back." Max swallowed, resisted the urge to reach out and touch her. She did still have a boyfriend after all. In spite of what had happened between them in the alley earlier, they could not pursue anything until he told her the truth - and until she broke up with Kyle. He had been unable to stop himself from kissing her before, so determined to show her that it was her he was attracted to, not her sister, but he refused to do it again until she was free. If she wanted to be free.

But, as his eyes met hers, he knew that she did.

"Have you talked to Isabel yet?" Liz asked, blushing slightly under his intense gaze. He took a step back, wondered if he was making her uncomfortable. He hoped not. But he couldn’t help it. When he was around her, all he wanted to do was look at her.

"I’m going right now," Max replied. "And, then, it’s time for us to talk."

"Okay," Liz murmured, looking down.

Max couldn’t help himself. "Are you scared?" He blurted, wondered if that was why she was so subdued. She already knew that he was different, but maybe she didn’t want to know how different.

Liz’s head snapped up instantly. "No!" She exclaimed. "I could never be scared of you Max." She paused, blushed again. "I was just thinking about Kyle."

"You were?"

"Yes…" She trailed off, looking sad. "I think I have to break up with him."

"You do?" Max felt his heart start to beat a thousand times more quickly and, yet, he couldn’t help the pang of guilt that he felt. Kyle was a nice guy. But what was happening between he and Liz…Trying to deny it would be like trying to deny that the Earth was round or that the sun rose in the east. Whatever it was between them, it was strong - and it was growing stronger with every passing moment they spent together.

"Do you want me to?" Liz asked.

"I can’t ask you to do anything you don’t want to do Liz," Max replied quickly.

"But do you want me to?" She repeated, meeting his eyes.

He closed his eyes. "God help me, but I do."

"Max, I don’t understand any of this," Liz whispered. He looked down at her, could see that she was upset and happy at the same time.

"Me neither. But once we talk about it, maybe we will." He reached out, gently traced a finger down her cheek, marveling at how soft her skin was. How could it be possible that just over a day ago this angel had not been in his life? How had he lived the past ten years without her? And what would he do if she could not accept him after he told her the truth?

He had never been a coward though, nor a liar. She would have all the facts before she made her decision. He could give her that.

And because she still didn’t have them all, he forced himself to say, "Liz, I think you should wait though."

She started, looked hurt. "You do?"

"Until we talk. You need to know what you’re getting yourself into…before you make any decisions."

Liz frowned slightly. "It doesn’t matter Max. I can’t be with Kyle when I feel this way about someone else - anyone else," she emphasized. "It’s not fair to him."

Max sighed. "Okay. I get that." He felt sorry for Kyle, but not so sorry that he regretted that Liz felt so strongly about him. The other guy was going to be devastated though. Who wouldn’t be, if they had been with Liz Parker and then lost her?

Liz leaned forward slightly, touched her forehead to his chest. "Go call Isabel."

He dropped a light kiss on top of her head. "I’ll be right back," he told her. He moved past her and out into the restaurant.

At the last minute he turned, wanting to tell her to stay away from Tess until he had a chance to talk to Michael, but she was already headed up the stairs to her apartment. He grimaced, wondered if he should go after her. But she wasn’t stupid. She had to know by now that Tess’s behavior towards her was not normal. She would stay away from her sister until she knew the truth.

It wasn’t until later that Max realized that it wasn’t keeping Tess away from Liz that should have concerned him.


To be continued…




[ edited 1 time(s), last at 22-Sep-2002 2:58:02 PM ]
posted on 29-Sep-2002 1:28:47 AM by Kath7
Part 11

Liz stared at herself in the mirror as she ran a brush through her hair. She smiled slightly as her mind drifted to thoughts of Max, as it seemed to do at every available opportunity.

Only a few minutes more and he would have asked Isabel’s permission to tell her whatever it was he had to tell her and then she would be able to tell him once and for all that she wanted to pursue a relationship with him. She couldn’t believe that it was true, but it was. She had known him again for just over twenty-four hours, but he was already so ingrained in her heart, she didn’t think it would be even possible to extract him now.

Whatever it was he had to tell her, it wouldn’t make any difference to the way she felt. She knew that without question. She wanted him and he wanted her. It was all that mattered. She didn’t understand why he had to ask his sister’s leave first, but she didn’t care. All that mattered was that nothing stand in their way.

Liz’s smile faded as she felt a flash of guilt. Of course, Isabel and whatever it was she had to agree to were not all that were standing in the way. As Liz left the bathroom she shared with Tess, her gaze fell on a picture of she and Kyle sitting on her vanity.

Kyle. The perfect boyfriend and one of the greatest guys in the world. And he loved her. Liz knew deep down that Kyle also had a healthy attraction to her sister, just like every other guy in Roswell did, but he had remained loyal to her all along. And now she was going to toss him aside without a thought. She felt like a complete witch because of it, but she knew that it would be even worse to continue to pretend with him. Kyle deserved someone who loved him entirely. That just wasn’t her anymore.

She remembered what Max had suggested - that she wait to break things off with Kyle until she knew "what she was getting herself into" as he had put it. But Liz knew that she had to break up with Kyle anyway. Even if things didn’t work out with Max, although Liz couldn’t even imagine what he might tell her that would change her mind and her heart about him, she had to stop seeing Kyle. It was the only fair thing to do.

Liz swallowed, her stomach suddenly alive with butterflies. She absolutely hated the thought that she was going to hurt him, but it couldn’t be helped. It was best to call him now and arrange to see him later tonight. If things went as well as she suspected they would with Max, the sooner she ended things with Kyle, the better.

She picked up the phone, dialed her boyfriend’s number from memory. Liz sighed when the answering machine picked up, Kyle’s father’s voice sounding in her ear. She left a short message, asking him to call her. Her ears perked up as she finished. Was that the doorbell?

Max. He was here. Her heart started to thump with excitement. She glanced into the mirror once more, sighed again. Well, nothing had changed. She was still no Tess. But Max seemed to like her just like she was. For the first time she was glad she was who she was, was glad that she had shoulder-length brown hair instead of blonde curls, that her eyes were dark and not shiny blue. Because she was the one Max Evans wanted. He had firmly rejected her sister and had chosen her.

At the thought of Tess, Liz frowned once more. Something strange was going on with her sister, there was no doubt. Liz didn’t understand what had happened between she and Tess earlier, but it was obvious that it had to do with Max. The fact that Liz had literally felt dizzy and ill when her sister had been rejected by Max…It had to be because she had felt guilty about it. But, now, Liz could not call back that feeling of being sorry that Tess was going to miss out. The sense that she had always lived with - that Tess deserved everything she got - had disappeared as Liz acknowledged her connection to Max.

Because, for the first time in her life, Liz was not going to give up something she wanted because Tess wanted it too. While Liz knew that it was her Max wanted, she couldn’t help but fear that Tess had no intention of giving up. And, if it came down to it, Liz knew that she would choose Max over Tess.

She would not lose him to Tess. Giving him up would be like giving up her own soul. And if that meant that she might lose her sister’s love, Liz was willing to take that chance.

*******************************************

"Hi Max. Come on in."

Max started, then eyed Tess warily. Liz’s sister was standing holding the door, which she had opened when he had rung the bell.

"I guess you’re here to see Liz?" Tess continued, turning and walking away. She sounded nonchalant, like she hadn’t practically jumped him only hours before. Max frowned, followed her carefully.

"Yes," he acknowledged. "She’s expecting me."

Tess glanced over her shoulder. "Cool." She paused, stopped and then said, "That bag looks heavy. Why don’t you stick it in the closet? You can pick it up when you and Liz come back."

Max blinked. She was referring to his back-pack, which as always, was slung over his shoulder. He took it with him everywhere after all. It contained all his worldly possessions. And Tess was right. It would be easier to just leave it here. "Thanks," he said, still slightly suspicious, but knowing that there was no real reason to be concerned about his effects. It wasn’t like there was anything in there worth stealing.

"No problem. Why don’t you go wait in the living room while I go tell her you’re here? My mom and dad are in there watching T.V." Tess continued on her way down the hallway.

"Okay." Max stared after her, trying to understand what Tess’s game was. Because he didn’t doubt that she had one. His conversation with Michael, cryptic as it had been, more than confirmed it.

Well, he didn’t have time to worry about it at the moment. He allowed himself to feel a slight twinge of relief. At least Tess wasn’t going to try and interfere with him seeing Liz. He didn’t think that he’d be able to handle it if he had to wait much longer to tell her the truth. Now that he had decided so firmly on his course, he knew with every part of his being that it was the right one.

The dreams had brought him to Roswell for a reason. And that reason wasn’t Tess Parker, whether she was like he and Isabel or not. As much as he was glad that he might get some answers from him, the reason wasn’t Michael Guerin either.

He had been destined to find Liz Parker again. The way he felt about her…There could be no doubt. She was the key to his existence on this planet. He just knew it.

But, first, she had to know the truth. Every bit of it.

The fact that Max had been unable to reach Isabel - she was out Natasha’s mother had informed him - could not change his mind. He knew that Isabel trusted him to make the right decisions for both of them and this was the right decision. He had no doubt.

Now if she would only come out of her room! Liz didn’t seem like the type of girl who needed a lot of time to primp, Max thought, frowning again.

A sudden flash of concern ran through him. What if Tess was doing something to Liz? The thought appeared so unexpectedly, Max knew that he had to be right. He had to get to her!

But, as he took one step in the direction Tess had disappeared, a voice behind him stopped him. "Max! What are you doing here?"

Max turned guiltily, slightly embarrassed to be discovered by Mr. Parker about to go snooping around his home.

"I’m here to see Liz," he replied quickly. "We’re…we’re going out."

"Ah," Mr. Parker said, amused, but apparently not displeased. "I see. Well, why don’t you come in and sit down while you’re waiting? You can meet Liz’s mother and we can have a little chat."

Max glanced once more in the direction in which Tess had headed, indecisive. He couldn’t very well go barreling off that way now though. He was just going to have to hope that Liz had taken his warning to heart, that she was being careful around her sister. Would she trust him? She had known Tess for years, him for only a day. What if she decided that he wasn’t worth losing her relationship with her sister over, no matter how screwed up it was?

If Mr. Parker decides he doesn’t like you, you’re the one who’ll be screwed, a small voice in the back of his head reminded him. You’re going to have to trust that, for the moment, Liz can take care of herself.

He trailed Liz’s father into the living room.

Liz and Tess’s mother was seated on the couch, watching the news. She glanced up as Max and Mr. Parker came in, a curious expression on her face.

"Nance, this is Max, the new cook," Mr. Parker explained. "Max, this my wife, Nancy Parker."

Max reddened slightly under Mrs. Parker’s frank examination. "Hi Max. Welcome to Roswell," she finally said. "I was so sorry to hear about your parents. Diane and Phillip were wonderful people."

"Thanks Mrs. Parker," Max replied, feeling awkward. He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. He shifted from one foot to the other.

"Have a seat Max," Mr. Parker insisted. Max complied, perching on the edge of an arm-chair near the door. With every moment that passed, his concern for Liz became more acute. What on Earth was taking her so long? Was Tess hurting her?

"So, what brings you to town?" Mrs. Parker asked conversationally.

"I…" Max searched his mind for a response. "I just wanted to trace my roots I guess."

"Seems like a strange time of year to do that," Mrs. Parker replied, frowning slightly. "School’s about to go back. Don’t you have to…"

Mr. Parker interrupted. "Nance, that’s really none of our business."

Max grimaced slightly. But he knew that he was going to have to tell Mr. and Mrs. Parker the truth eventually. After all, he was hopefully going to work for them full-time and he really hoped they weren’t going to have a problem with him spending time with Liz. If he tried to hide the fact that he was a drop-out…They might view it as even worse. "It’s okay," he said quietly. "I don’t actually go to school Mrs. Parker."

Mrs. Parker blinked. "Really? Why?"

"Nancy!" Mr. Parker flared. "I’m sorry Max."

Max almost felt sorry for Mr. Parker, he seemed so embarrassed by his wife’s question. But Max didn’t blame Mrs. Parker. She was only concerned about her daughter. And Max couldn’t help but notice that Mr. Parker was trying to hide that he wanted to know the answer too. "It’s really okay." Max shrugged. "I need to work," he explained, trying to ignore the heat that he knew was rising in his face. "My sister…Her school is really expensive. I can’t afford to pay for it and go to school at the same time. I try and read as much as I can though," he continued, knowing it sounded lame. "I hope to go back someday." Although he really didn’t. He had a feeling that his destiny did not lie in Earthly education. But he couldn’t exactly tell Liz’s parents that.

"I see," Mrs. Parker said after a long pause. Max wondered at the way that Liz’s parents glanced at each other. "Where is your sister?" She asked.

"At boarding school in Vermont," Max told her reluctantly. "It’s the only place I could think of to send her that she’d be safe."

"Max, you’re not of age," Mrs. Parker told him. "Why are you and Isabel on your own? The state should be taking care of you." Max felt his eyes widen that Mrs. Parker remembered his sister’s name, even after all this time.

Max swallowed, shifted uncomfortably in his chair. He looked anywhere but at Liz’s mother. How could he tell her about what Hank had wanted to do to Izzy? How could he tell her that they could not afford to have too many questions asked about who they were, which certainly would have happened had either of them remained in the system, less and less able to hide the changes they were both undergoing?

"Max?"

"We were in foster care," Max finally allowed, not seeing any way to avoid answering at least that far. "It…it didn’t work out." He paused. His eyes met Nancy Parker’s and he felt his stomach clench at the compassion he saw in her blue-eyed gaze, which was so different from Liz’s, and, yet reminded him of her. "My sister is really…well, she’s really pretty." He shrugged again. "She’s safer where she is. And I have to make sure that she can stay there."

The Parkers exchanged another glance, making Max frown again. Were they going to forbid him to see Liz? He knew that it sounded like he wasn’t much of a prospect for their daughter, particularly as he was their employee, but he didn’t know what he would do if they told him they wanted him to leave.

"Even working full-time at the Crash isn’t going to keep Isabel at an expensive boarding school," Mrs. Parker finally said. "Especially if you’re paying rent and the like."

Max relaxed slightly, hearing from her tone that she wasn’t judging him, but, rather, that she was concerned. "I’m going to get another job," Max explained. "Kyle Valenti said he might be able to fix me up at his uncle’s garage. I’m pretty good with cars."

"Well, it sounds like you have a plan all right Max," Mr. Parker told him. He smiled slightly. "No wonder Lizzie is so impressed by you."

Max felt his cheeks turning red again. "Er…Thank you sir." He felt a pang of relief run through him as movement in the doorway heralded Liz’s arrival.

He stood up quickly, his heart starting to beat more quickly, just at the sight of her. She didn’t appear to be hurt in any way, he was pleased to note. Max wondered what it meant that Tess seemed to have backed off so abruptly. It didn’t seem to jive with the blatant agressiveness she had demonstrated earlier in the day.

But, as Max’s eyes met Liz’s and a shiver of desire ran down his spine, he decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth. There would be plenty of time to figure out Tess Parker and exactly what kind of threat she represented later.

"Ready?" Liz asked, her voice low.

Max nodded, not trusting himself to speak. His voice would betray to Liz’s parents exactly how much their daughter affected him and, while he thought they liked him, he didn’t think they would be very pleased to know exactly how much he was already in love with their daughter.

Because Max was fully aware of how absolutely crazy it was that he did love Liz. They barely knew each other. Yet, he knew that it was true. And, because of that fact, he was about to trust her with his life.

Liz smiled warmly. "Then, let’s go. Bye Mom. Bye Dad. I won’t be late."

And, as Liz’s hand closed around his, pulling him after her towards the door, he knew that he wasn’t a bit afraid.

**********************************************

Tess heard the front door slam behind Max and Liz, allowed herself a small smile of triumph.

She knew that she should be concerned, that she shouldn’t be happy that her sister was off with her future husband, but she was. It would give her time to follow Nasedo’s orders.

The shapeshifter had, needless to say, been shocked to hear that Zan had shown up in Roswell on his own. Tess had been forced to hold the phone away from her ear, Nasedo had crowed so loudly.

"Finally! It’s only a matter of time until we can go home now Ava."

"Wait! You don’t know everything," Tess had interrupted. "Michael…well, he’s acting weird."

"Weird how?" Nasedo demanded, still sounding unconcerned. "Weirder than usual?"

"Just weird," Tess sighed. "And Zan…he’s not quite what I expected."

"No one ever is," Nasedo replied dismissively. "He’ll fall in line. He is obviously ready to follow his destiny or he never would have come to Roswell. I knew setting off that orb would work! It brought Zan and Vilandra straight home. I wish I had thought of it years ago. It was a risk, but it obviously paid off."

Tess rolled her eyes in exasperation. Her guardian rarely allowed himself to feel anything. His complete lack of focus about what she was telling him…It showed Tess more than anything else could that he had truly been losing hope that he would ever find the two missing members of the Royal Four. All the shapeshifter had ever wanted was to fulfill his mission - to bring the saviours of Antar home. He was obsessed with it - so much so, Tess had never fully understood why he had allowed the four of them to slip out of his grasp as children in the first place.

It had been Michael who had finally explained it to her. Nasedo had never told him, but Michael had figured it out on his own. "He wasn’t there when we came out of the pods because he couldn’t be Tess."

"What do you mean?" Tess had demanded.

"Why do you think he’s so paranoid about the government finding us?" Michael replied impatiently. "He knows first hand what they’ll do to us if they get their mitts on us."

And Tess had finally understood. Nasedo had experienced for himself exactly what it was the government would do to alien life-forms. She had nightmares for many nights after that, visions of needles and scalpels, like the ones in the alien autopsy display at that stupid UFO Museum across the street from the Crashdown, haunting her. She woke whimpering in the night, had only found peace when Liz had heard her one night and had crawled into bed with her. She had allowed her sister to hold her in her arms and to comfort her and she had finally managed to move beyond it.

After that though, Nasedo’s single-minded purpose had never seemed foreign to Tess again. They were not safe on this planet. They didn’t belong here. It only made Tess even less remorseful about using humans any way she could to make her time here a little more pleasant.

They all deserved it after all.

"You don’t understand," Tess had continued on the phone, trying to make Nasedo focus. "Zan rejected me."

"Hmmm…" Nasedo murmured, distracted. "Well, I’m sorry, but he’ll come around in time."

"Vilandra isn’t here!" Tess finally shrieked, so annoyed by now, she could barely see straight.

That had gotten Nasedo’s attention. "What?" He demanded. "Where is she?"

"I don’t know," Tess admitted. "Max hasn’t mentioned her."

"Well, you’d better find out where she is, hadn’t you?" Nasedo bellowed. "Tess, you had better not screw this up."

"How is it my fault that Vilandra isn’t with him?" Tess flared. "Maybe they were separated!"

"They weren’t," Nasedo replied flatly. "I’ve never told you anything about my journeys, but I do know that after Phillip and Diane Evans died, Max and Isabel were put into foster care. They disappeared out of the system two years ago though. Completely. He must know where she is." There was a long pause. "You have to find out Tess. I will go get her, but you have to get me the information."

Tess had smiled to herself at that. What she wanted to do had now been fully sanctioned by Nasedo. He was even going to help her. She would find out where Vilandra was all right, but not for the shapeshifter’s sake at all, but for her own. Because somehow Tess knew that Vilandra was the one person that would make Max forget all about Liz.

All Tess had to do was get Vilandra on her side. And if that didn’t work, she would use the other alien girl in a different way entirely. The important thing was to get her to Roswell. How she would be used could be determined later.

So, let Max and Liz have their fun. It wasn’t going to last. Max Evans’s destiny was eternally bound to Tess’s and she was not going to let him go, especially not for the sake of her stupid sister.

Tess had barely been able to contain herself until Max left with Liz. She had wanted to rip that knap-sack out of his hands the instant he stepped through the door, but she had managed to control herself. Now, as she hurried back towards her room, lugging the heavy bag after her, she could feel her heart starting to beat more quickly.

It was only a matter of time now. Soon she would have all the control back because she always knew exactly where weakness lay. It was her talent. She could decipher it in anyone and there was no question that Vilandra would be Zan’s. Because, just like Tess clung to Michael, the only one she had ever known who was like her, Zan would have done the same with Vilandra. Somehow, she just knew it.

Tess dumped the knap-sack on her bed, carefully opened the top and started pulling things out. She laid them carefully on the bed so that she could put them back in the same order she had removed them. She didn’t want Max suspicious until she had Vilandra well in hand.

It was in the pocket that she finally hit pay-dirt. A small notebook was tucked inside, a few tattered pictures stuffed between the pages.

Tess sat back, pulled the photos out. She recognized Phillip and Diane Evans in one. They were smiling happily at the camera, their arms around a much younger Isabel and Max respectively. They were all dressed up, like it had been a special occasion.

Tess flipped the picture aside impatiently, glanced at the next one. It was a school snap-shot obviously, the boring background proving it. The blonde girl smiling up at her was probably the most beautiful Tess had ever seen. She felt a pang of jealousy run through her as she recognized that here was a face that outshone hers.

It didn’t matter though. What they looked like on this planet was insignificant. It would all change when they went home anyway.

Tess dropped the picture of Vilandra on top of the first one, tossed the others aside and then stared down at the first page of the notebook. Scrawled upon it were a collection of phone numbers: Iz’s cell; Iz at Natasha’s; Izzy’s dorm.

She allowed a smile of satisfaction to curve across her face.



posted on 22-Oct-2002 9:27:16 AM by Kath7
Hey guys! Time for an author's note on this one. Sorry it's been a while between updates. The problem lately is that I am not in my own place at the moment and all my stories are saved on my hard-drive, which is presently unaccessible. Not to mention, RL has been bonkers lately. It's my own fault for having too many committments, but it has seriously cut into my writing time. I hope to have that problem rectified by this weekend, so updates should become more regular.

Thanks for your patience!
posted on 17-Nov-2002 7:04:47 PM by Kath7
Author's Note: Hey guys! Sorry it's been so long since this was updated. Thank you for your patience and your bumpage. Now to let Tess's villainy continue! Hee.

Part 12

"So where should we go?" Max asked. Liz felt a shiver of desire descend her spine as he smiled at her, his pleasure at being in her company more than evident. She could see the underlying edge of nervousness he was trying to hide though. He had thrust his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket and was rocking slightly on the balls of his feet, both clear signs of jitters. Liz wondered if it was because he was still unsure about what he was going to tell her or if it was because he was just scared about doing or saying something to turn her off - that whatever it was he wanted to say to her would make her stop liking him.

As their eyes met and locked briefly, Liz smiled back and knew instinctively that there was absolutely no chance of that. She wasn’t going anywhere - no matter what. He could tell her he was planning to rob a bank and she would simply ask him how she could help. She knew this was not necessarily a good thing, but she also knew that there was no way it could be wrong.

There was absolutely no way that how he made her feel could be wrong.

Her smile made Max relax visibly, as did her next words. "Anywhere we can be alone," she told him quietly. He needed to know that she trusted him. She barely knew him, but she had complete confidence in him. Whatever it was that had happened when they had kissed earlier that day had more than told her that she was not mistaken about him. He was a good person and he would never do anything to hurt her.

Max reached out, sending another tremor through her body. She felt a flash of disappointment when he simply tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. A faint blush rose in her cheeks when she understood that she had been hoping that he was planning to pull her into his arms. Liz forced herself to focus when she realized that he was talking to her. "…your decision. I don’t really know this town very well."

"Oh, right." She shook her head slightly, trying to clear it. It reminded her a bit of how she had felt around Tess earlier. Almost like she had been momentarily in some kind of trance. But this time it was in a good way.

The thought of Tess sobered her mood though. She didn’t understand what was going on with her sister, nor what Max had to do with it, but this was really no time to be thinking about the fact that all she really wanted to do at the moment was jump Max’s bones. The physical feelings he awakened in her…they were almost beyond her control. She had never - not even once - felt this way about Kyle.

Liz looked away from Max, trying to gather her scattered thoughts. Privacy…they needed somewhere private. And it had to be within walking distance because he obviously didn’t have a car. Finally she said, "We could go back to the park. There are some really quiet places there."

"Okay."

They crossed the street towards the UFO Centre in companionable silence. Liz reflected on how different this journey was from the one she had taken in the same direction the night before, completely out of her mind with fear and guilt. She knew that it was all because of the boy beside her. Last night she had felt so alone that she hadn’t even been able to think straight but now, somehow, she knew that with Max in her life she was never going to be alone again.

Liz didn’t really understand why she had been so lonely. She had Maria and Alex and her parents and, in particular, Tess. But the slowly dawning realization that her sister might not be exactly who Liz had always thought her to be was much more upsetting than Liz could even contemplate at the moment. Neither Maria, nor her parents would ever understand. Alex might, but he already despised Tess. He would take Liz’s sudden concern and he would run with it, something Liz wasn’t ready for. Max was the only one who did not have an investment in her relationship with Tess. He would listen without prejudice and would help her to come to the right conclusions.

Because, in the end, Liz loved her sister. She just wanted to find out why she suddenly had the overwhelming sense that maybe Tess did not feel the same way about her.

"What are you thinking about?" Max asked quietly. It took Liz a moment to realize that she had stopped walking at the magnitude of the thought that had just struck her. Tess did not love her. Liz wasn’t sure where the revelation had come from or why at that particular moment, but she knew absolutely that it was true.

"I’m thinking about Tess," Liz admitted, frowning slightly. "Things are just so screwed up between us Max. I can’t figure out what’s wrong with her." She was startled anew when Max’s expression darkened.

"I think that what I have to tell you is going to clear up a lot of your questions," he told her reassuringly.

"I don’t understand," Liz said. "How do you know so much about this? I know you don’t really know her." And she did know. Whatever it was that had happened between them when they had kissed had told her so.

He sighed. "It’s so complicated Liz. You’re right that I don’t know her - not really. But I do know what’s going on with her." He grimaced, muttered. "I don’t even know if you’re going to believe me. You’re going to think I’m crazy."

Liz shook her head vehemently. "Max, I know you won’t lie to me. It’s just that none of this makes sense."

Max stared at her for a long moment. She was surprised when he glanced over her shoulder and then back at her face. Liz turned her head, saw that they were still standing in front of the entrance to the UFO Center. "What’s wrong?" She asked softly, could see that he was really struggling with something.

"Do you know much about the Crash of ’47?" He asked, so abruptly, Liz blinked. Why was he changing the subject and so weirdly too?

"I’ve lived here my whole life and I work in one of the biggest tourist traps in town," she replied with a slight grin. "Does that answer your question? Why?"

"I think we should go in here," Max told her.

Liz stared at him. "You do? I thought we needed privacy? It’s going to be crazy in there Max. Not only is it Saturday, but the Crash Festival is later this week and the weirdos are already starting to invade." She grinned at him teasingly. "Wait a minute! Are you a closeted alien freak? Did you really come to town for the Festival?"

She was surprised when Max’s expression remained completely serious. "I’m not here for the Festival." It was only later, looking back on this conversation, that she remembered that he didn’t dispute the "closeted alien freak" part.

"We can go in if you really want to," Liz told him quietly, sorry that he was apparently upset about something she didn’t understand.

Max seemed to realize that he was behaving a little strangely because he forced a smile. "It’s really not what you think Liz." He raised his hand, pointed slightly to the left of the double doors leading into the museum. "Look."

Liz’s eyes lit on the sign posted there. Temporary Help Wanted.

"Oh," she said, then shrugged. "I guess they need more help for during the Festival." She looked back at him, frowning slightly. "You want to apply?"

"Might as well. Any work is good work."

She narrowed her eyes at him. "Max, I thought you were going to apply at Kyle’s uncle’s garage." She felt worried that he might be overdoing it. "I mean, two full-time jobs is probably…"

"It can’t hurt to apply," Max insisted, cutting her off. "Do you mind?"

Liz looked at him, wondered why she felt that none of this was really about a job at all. For some reason he wanted her to go into the museum with him. She couldn’t figure out why, but finally decided that it wasn’t that big a deal. "Okay. I’ll introduce you to Brody. He’s the owner. We bring him lunch almost every day." She could see from the way he was shifting from foot to foot that he was nervous. "Don’t worry. You can use my dad as a reference. If you really want the job, I’m sure Brody will give it to you."

Max swallowed visibly. "I just think it might be fun," he said, opening the door and holding it for her as she walked through. "Do you really think your dad would put in the good word for me?" He asked as they walked down the wide staircase into the museum proper. "He barely knows me."

"He likes you," Liz replied. "I can tell."

Max paused on the stairs. "But why?" He sounded truly perplexed.

Did he really not know how amazing he was? Liz wondered in astonishment. How could her father not like him? His goodness positively shone out from the dark eyes she could barely control herself from staring at most of the time. So she told him the only thing she thought he might understand. "Because I do."

His eyes met hers and he smiled. "Oh." Reaching out he took her by the hand and squeezed. "I like you too." Her heart pounded in her chest and for one awe-inspiring moment she absolutely knew that he was going to kiss her again - right on the stairs leading down into the UFO Centre, right in public with everyone watching. She could feel her eyes fluttering shut as his lips inched closer to hers…

"Liz!"

She just about fell down the stairs she was so surprised. Liz blinked and turned her head, staring down in the direction of the voice and felt her knees go weak as her gaze met Kyle’s. He was standing below them at the bottom, his arms crossed and a scowl on his face. His eyes shifted to the left, taking in the way her hand was linked with Max’s.

Uh oh. The look on his face…While he had for some strange reason been fine with Max holding her hand earlier, in the alley with Tess, now he looked about ready to spit nails. She dropped Max’s hand, ashamed that it was reluctantly, in spite of the fact that the last thing she wanted to do was hurt Kyle.

But she had known that this moment was coming. He had missed the obvious signs that morning, but there was no way that Kyle was going to misinterpret this.

"Kyle, hi!" She glanced at Max guiltily. "What are you doing here?"

"My dad roped me into working security for Brody next Friday. I came to pick up my uniform," Kyle ground out. Liz noticed the dark shirt and yellow vest tucked under his arm, confirming his story. "What are you two doing here?" He looked from her to Max, his eyes narrowed.

"Max is here to apply for a job," Liz replied quickly. "In fact, he’s just going to do that. Right Max?" She didn’t give Max time to say anything though, descended the stairs, leaving him behind and taking Kyle by the arm. "I’m glad I found you Kyle. I really need to talk to you. Did you get my message?"

"No," Kyle snapped, following her willingly enough. He did not sound pleased though. The instant they were concealed behind a display of model UFOs, he pulled away from her. "Was it my imagination or were you holding hands with that guy?" He demanded.

"Well…"

"Liz! I can’t believe this!" Kyle’s voice was raised, but Liz could hear the underlying hurt.

"Kyle, you saw me holding hands with him earlier," Liz said, looking at him carefully. It was only now, with Tess and her strange behavior not at the fore-front of her mind, that Liz began to realize how odd that had been. "It didn’t seem to bother you before."

Kyle’s expression changed slightly, confusion appearing in his blue eyes. "I did?" He shook his head, as though to clear it. "Are you crazy? I haven’t seen you since yesterday. I don’t even know what you’re talking about!" His scowl returned. "Liz, what’s going on?" Liz realized that he was now looking over her shoulder. "He’s staring at us!" When Liz turned her head, she could see that Max was indeed watching them, looking concerned. "I can’t believe that guy!" Kyle continued. "I offer to help him get a job and he steals my girlfriend!"

Liz looked at him strangely. "So you do remember offering him a job?" She asked him. "Kyle, you did that this morning! You saw both Max and I together this morning."

He blinked. "No I didn’t!" He exclaimed, then trailed off, apparently confused again. "Wait. When did I do that again?"

Liz reached out, gently touched him on the shoulder. "Are you okay?"

Kyle flinched away, ran a shaking hand through his dark hair. "What the hell…" he muttered, turning away from her. "What’s wrong with me?"

Liz moved towards him, put her hand on his back. "Kyle, what’s the matter?"

"I’ve got a splitting head-ache," Kyle said quietly. "I can’t deal with this right now. I…I need to go home." He looked back at her, his gaze fierce. "But don’t think this is over Liz. I’m not going to lose you to some random loser. I love you!"

"KYLE!" Liz called after him desperately, felt like crying as she watched Kyle stalk away. What kind of evil person was she, hurting Kyle like this? He was the last guy on the face of the planet who deserved it. Just because he had seemed totally oblivious to the fact that she was losing interest in him, it didn’t mean that she didn’t owe him some kind of explanation and apology!

"Liz, are you all right?" Max’s quiet voice penetrated her guilt, making her feel even worse, because even the sound of it made her heart start to beat more quickly, only reinforcing how horrible she felt.

"No," she admitted. "I am an awful person Max. I have absolutely no right to be here with you while I’m still technically going out with Kyle." She swallowed, brushed angrily at her eyes. "Did you see the look on his face?"

From the tone of his voice as he said "I’m sorry" Liz knew that he had.

"It’s not your fault," Liz replied, sighing. "Things haven’t been right between us for a long time." She glanced at him sadly. "What…what I feel for you, it’s only made it so that I can’t hide from it any longer. For a long time Kyle Valenti was the only person who made me feel at all good about myself and it was hard to let go of that. But I never wanted to hurt him Max."

"I’m sure he knows that Liz." He paused, then said, "Maybe we should just call it a day…" She could hear the reluctance in his voice, but his willingness to put off their conversation if it was what she wanted.

"No!" Liz exclaimed, surprising even herself at her vehemence. "I need to go after Kyle, but then we’re going to talk. Max there was something seriously wrong with him."

"Okay. If you’re sure."

"I am," Liz told him firmly, moving away. "You go find Brody and see about the job. I’ll meet you outside in a few minutes."


***************************************

Michael sauntered up to the Crashdown at the time he and Max had specified, trying to hide his anxiety by scowling even more than usual. He hid briefly behind a nearby parked car when he felt Tess’s presence. The alien queen came whirling out of her parent’s restaurant, looking for all the world like a woman on a mission. Tess with that look on her face was never a good thing and so Michael avoided her deliberately. Besides, he didn’t want her to know that he was meeting Max Evans privately. It was just none of her damn business.

It wasn’t because he was scared of her reaction should she find out. Not at all.

After he was sure Tess was gone, he leaned up against the railing which divided the restaurant’s patio from the sidewalk, trying to control his impatience. He didn’t want to start things off with his king on a bad foot. If this was going to work - if he was going to make Max his ally against Tess - then he was going to have to be diplomatic.

He was also going to have to make sure that he could trust the other guy before he risked telling him the whole truth about who he was. Because there was still no guarantee that once Max found out that he had been married to Tess in another life, that he wouldn’t suddenly change his tune and not find her so bad after all. It wasn’t like Tess was a complete dog. Max might find it nice to have someone completely willing and ready for him, to not have to work at a relationship with a human. Because human girls were just damn confusing when it came right down to it. Michael still didn’t know what the hell Maria saw in him or why she put up with the way he treated her. He couldn’t even stand himself when he did it.

Which was why this had to go well. He didn’t know how much longer he could pretend not to care about her. It just became harder every single day.

Michael continued to watch the late Saturday afternoon traffic on Roswell’s main drag, which was much heavier than usual. He shook his shaggy head in dismay at the number of freaky tourists he could already pick out. He hated the week before the Crash Festival. There were more morons around than was even normal for this creepy town. He knew that Nasedo hated it too, that it was one of the reasons his guardian always chose to be gone at this time of year.

He was so bored, he was watching the biggest nerd he’d ever seen (he had Lone Gunman wannabe written all over him) try and back his huge camper into a small parking space in front of the UFO Center, when a flurry of movement near the door caught his attention. Michael’s eyes widened as Kyle Valenti came bursting through the doors across the street, a ferocious expression on his face.

What the hell?

Michael shrugged, rolled his eyes. It was none of his business after all. He took a step forward a few moments later though when , somehow already sensing that this was going to end badly, Liz came shooting out after Kyle, calling his name. She paused at the street and looked both ways, started to cross. "Kyle! Stop! Please!"

It was as though Michael was watching it in slow motion. He knew what was going to happen even before it did and there was absolutely nothing he could do to prevent it. The cars whizzing by stopped him, but they didn’t stop Liz. She darted out into the street, her obvious intention to get to Kyle as quickly as possible.

And somehow Michael absolutely knew that she didn’t see them. He scowled, glanced around and was rewarded by the sight of Tess standing nearby, staring hard at her sister, who was causing cars to swerve left and right to avoid her.

"LIZ!" Michael could see that Max had come out of the UFO Center after her. The horrified expression on his face seemed to indicate that he was just as aware as Michael of what was about to happen. Kyle had not even turned around, was already getting into his car.

"LIZ!" Michael yelled. "Liz! Look out!" She didn’t even glance in his direction. The mind-warp was just too strong. Michael knew that he couldn’t get to Liz, but at least he could stop Tess. He turned on his heel and started towards the blonde at a dead run. She was only a couple of blocks away.

It was why he missed what happened next. He heard it though - heard the screeching tires and the sickening thud of a car smashing into human flesh.

Michael grabbed Tess by the arm an instant later, shook her, hard. "What did you do? Are you crazy?"

Tess’s eyes snapped back to awareness and she stared at him for a long moment. "Michael?" She narrowed her blue-eyed gaze. "What’s the matter with you? Let go of me!"

Michael, now sure that Tess was no longer warping, whirled and hurried towards where he knew Liz had to be lying in the road.

He should have known though that it wouldn’t be Liz lying there. Because he would have done exactly the same thing, had it been Maria. There was absolutely no way he would have let her be hurt if he could take it on himself. Which was why, in the end, he was in no way surprised that it was Max.





posted on 4-Jan-2003 5:40:35 PM by Kath7
Hi all!

Thanks for all the bumping on this. I really appreciate it. And, yes, I am working on a lunatic amount of stories, which is one reason that this one has been left to fall to the wayside slightly. I am pleased to report that with Destiny's Circle now complete, another little fic that's been haunting me mostly down on the computer screen (not yet posted!) and BOTS well in hand, I should be getting back to this shortly. I realize that I've left it with somewhat of a cliffhanger at the moment, but isn't if fun to try and figure out what's going to happen? No? LOL

Anyway, look for something in the next week. I promise. This one is becoming insistent in my mind again so I will do my best to answer the call.

Thanks again!

Kath

posted on 18-Jan-2003 3:39:29 PM by Kath7
Author's Note: Sorry about the lengthy delay on this folks and thanks for the patient bumpage. I really appreciate it. I hope to have more up soon.

Part 13

"Max!" The yell made Liz jump and freeze. She recognized the voice, but didn’t understand why Michael of all people would sound so upset. She felt a shiver of fear run down her spine.

Her entire focus had been on reaching Kyle, who had, by now, driven off. She shook her head, unsure why she suddenly felt ill. She blinked a couple of times, her world spinning and then abruptly righting itself.

What the heck was she doing in the middle of the road? She heard tires screeching, a door slamming, managed to look over her shoulder and what she saw made her blood run cold.

"Max!" She whirled, fell onto her knees at his side. "Oh my God! Max!" Her panic was instantaneous. She still didn’t understand what had happened to her, why she had started across Main Street when there had clearly been cars coming from both directions, but none of that mattered at the moment. All she knew was that Max was lying in the road, unconscious, obviously having just been hit by a car.

The driver was hovering over them, his tone upset when he almost yelled at Liz. "What were you doing? He ran out after you! Why did you cross?"

"Tess! Fix this! Now!"

Liz looked up, shocked. Michael was standing next to the driver, Tess slightly behind him, a strange look on her face.

She felt inexplicable relief run through her entire body. Tess. Her sister was here. She could help her deal with this, help her understand. Tess could fix anything. Tess deserved everything because of it.

Liz blinked again, almost passed out when she felt pain rip through her head. It was almost as if something had been wrenched out of her brain.

"Stop it! Stop your God damn games Tess, I am not kidding." Michael was bellowing, having grabbed Tess roughly by the elbow as Liz watched in shock. "Fix this!"

Tess snarled at him, but closed her eyes and scrunched up her face. Liz stared at her, then shook her head again. What on Earth was going on?

Tess’s eyes snapped open an instant later. "I can’t do it," she complained. "They’re too many people who saw it. We’re on the main street for God’s sake Michael! I can’t do it to all of them. We’re going to have to do something at the hospital."

Liz stared from one to the other, having absolutely no clue what they were talking about. And why were they talking about it now when Max…

Max! It took her another moment, but she realized that she was still kneeling at his side and he was still unconscious. How could she have forgotten that, how could she have let her mind wander?

What was wrong with her?

"Liz. Liz, you have to listen to me!" She looked up at Michael, who was now kneeling on Max’s other side. "An ambulance will come. We can’t stop that now. There are too many people around, someone will have called. But whatever happens, you need to just go along with me. Do you understand?"

"Michael…" she began. "What…what’s going…"

He cut her off impatiently by swiping his hand through the air. "Liz, tell me you understand. Max’s life depends on it. I’ll explain everything later."

She felt her eyes widen, picked up Max’s limp hand. She would do anything for him. "Okay," she whispered, tears of confusion and horror filling her eyes. She could hear the sirens already, but it barely registered. She was wondering why she trusted Michael Guerin of all people. She barely knew him. Sure she had worked with him for close to two years, but she didn’t know him at all.

And, yet, somehow, she could feel his concern, could tell that he cared about Max just as much as she did.

"What’s going on here?"

Liz looked up, saw Sheriff Valenti walking towards them. She turned her head when the man whose car had hit Max began to talk, "He came out of nowhere Sheriff. I couldn’t stop."

"Who is this young man?" Liz realized that Kyle’s father was addressing her.

"He…he’s new in town. His name is Max. He works at the Crashdown," she stuttered, looked at Michael for his approval. The cook nodded his head imperceptibly. She bit her lip, swallowed over the lump in her throat. "He saved my life," she whispered, her awe at this fact only now beginning to overtake her. She had no idea how she had ended up in the position that had made it necessary, but she could tell that it was true. She felt a flash of fear that he might die because of it. How would she ever live with herself if he did? How would she live without him?

How could she know, after only having met him again twenty-four hours ago, that if she lost him, she would lose herself? She closed her eyes, started to pray that he be okay. She needed him, needed to know exactly what this was between them.

"Liz…"

Liz’s gaze snapped down in shock. Max’s eyes were open and he was staring up at her.

"Max! Oh my God! Thank God!" She leaned down, pushed his bangs off his forehead, flinched at the large cut that was visible there from when he had hit the pavement. "Are you okay?"

And it was then that it happened. As Liz watched in fascinated disbelief, the cut on Max’s forehead started to fade. In fact, a moment later, it was completely gone.

He squeezed her hand where it still rested it his. She felt Michael’s hands on her shoulder, felt him pull her to her feet as the ambulance attendants rushed forward. "Let me go!" She exclaimed. "I want to go with him!"

"Tess needs to do it," Michael told her in a low voice. "Liz, she’s the only one who can save him now. We’ll go to the hospital, but Tess needs to be in the ambulance with him."

Liz turned. "What? She doesn’t even know him Michael! He’ll want me!" And she knew it was true. Max would always want her.

Michael just sighed. "Liz, you said you would trust me. You have to trust me on this one."

She glared at him. "Are you going to explain? I need an explanation here Michael!"

It was then that she remembered that Max had been trying to give her an explanation about something all day. The whole reason they were even together had flown from her mind after what had happened with Kyle, but she had promised him that she would return after she dealt with her boyfriend.

What had he wanted to tell her? What was going on? And how were Tess and Michael involved? Why did it seem like Michael Guerin of all people knew what was different about Max Evans?

"Liz, I can’t tell you much. That’s up to Max. He’s going to be all right," Michael reassured, placing his arm around her shoulder and leading her away from the accident scene.

"I know," Liz whispered, still shocked that she did. "Michael, he had a cut on his forehead…"

"Yeah?" Michael asked. "What of it?

"Michael, it healed itself."

Michael’s face whitened. "Liz, we need to get to the hospital. Now."

"Okay," Liz replied, glancing over her shoulder. The sheriff seemed to have forgotten all about them, was still questioning the man whose car had hit Max. An ambulance attendant was just closing the door behind Tess, who had obviously climbed into the back with Max.

Why/ What could her sister do for him that she couldn’t?

She needed to get to that hospital to figure out what was going on here. "I’ll drive," she told Michael firmly. "Let’s go."

**********************************

"Vitals are stable," the attendant said, his fingers around Max’s wrist as he took his pulse. The other attendant leaned forward, peered into Max’s eyes with one of his instruments. "Pupils slightly dilated. We better rule out concussion."

"I’m fine," Max muttered. But the attendants didn’t seem to be paying attention. They continued their ministrations, oblivious. He glanced past them at Tess, who was sitting at his feet, her forehead creased slightly. "Can you talk?"

"Yes," she said quietly. "They’re idiots. Weak minds. I can warp them and talk at the same time." She paused. "They see you as unconscious. I’ll keep it that way until we get to the hospital and I figure out what they plan to do with you."

Max narrowed his eyes. "Are you sure you can manage it? Because if you can’t, I need to get out of this ambulance. I can’t let them do the tests they’re going to want to do."

"I can do it," Tess said firmly. "I won’t let anything happen to you."

"You expect me to trust you after what just happened? You just about killed your sister," Max snapped. "What kind of monster are you anyway? And who do you think I am that you were willing to do that to Liz?"

"You’re my husband," Tess told him, not even hesitating. "You’re mine and no one is going to stand in the way. I’ve waited for this for too long."

But Max was still staring at her because of the first part of her statement. "I’m your what?" He managed to say, although his throat had practically closed up in his shock. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"I wanted to tell you under different circumstances," Tess whined, causing a flash of irritation to run down Max’s spine. "It wasn’t supposed to be like this!"

"Like what?" Max demanded.

"Like this! All this has been totally screwed up because of her. She’s always messed everything up. All she has ever been is a major pain in my ass."

Max just stared at her, completely horrified by the absolute lack of remorse this girl was displaying. If he hadn’t been there, she would have killed Liz, the person she had been raised with. In fact, he could have been killed too, although it took a lot to really hurt him. Neither he, nor Isabel had ever been sick, but his constitution was even stronger than his sister’s, likely a result of his main gift of healing. His body seemed to know exactly how to protect itself and how to fix anything that might go wrong. Right now for example, he felt a little sore, but knew that it would get better pretty quickly.

By the time they got to the hospital, he probably wouldn’t have a scratch on him. He eyed Tess, the thought that she knew why he was like this, what it meant, impossible to suppress. He despised her and, yet, she could give him answers.

"I’m sorry you got hurt."

Max could tell that she meant it. He felt so much disgust, he could barely look at her. "I’m not really hurt," he finally said.

"I know."

"Do you know why?" Max asked.

"Because you were created that way. You are meant to be virtually indestructible. You can die, but it has to be instantaneous. Even if your body endures major trauma, as long as you are still alive, you’ll live. It was meant to avoid what happened to us last time because it was your death that killed us all. As long as you live, the four square lives. We’re all intimately bonded that way. It makes us stronger as a unit."

Max felt his heart start to pound. He did not understand a word she was saying. "What do you mean I was ‘created’ this way?"

"You’re a clone," Tess replied carefully. "You have lived before. We all have. When you died, we all died too and our essence was mixed with human DNA and were sent here until we matured enough to go back and fight for our planet. I can’t really tell you more than that right now. Nasedo will be able to explain it better."

Max felt sick. He was a clone? Why did she say it like it was somehow normal? This was far worse than he had ever expected! Not only was he an alien, he wasn’t even real. "Who is ‘we’?" He asked quietly, his head pounding.

"You, me, Michael and your sister…" Tess trailed off. "I know she’s with you still. Vilandra. She’s one of us. Nasedo has gone to bring her back."

Max sat up in shock. Isabel! He turned and stared at the attendants, who continued to work on him as though he hadn’t moved. It was majorly creepy. Tess scowled at him, scrunched up her face. "Lie down!" She ordered, through clenched teeth. "The more you move around, the harder this is."

Max complied, although he was now furious. "I don’t want my sister brought into any of this!" Even though he had no idea what ‘any of this’ was.

"That’s too bad," Tess replied, settling back on her heels again. "Because she is in it. It doesn’t matter what you want. None of it matters. We exist for one reason and one reason alone. To be together and to save our planet. None of us has a choice in that."

"That’s ridiculous," Max said fiercely. "No one can force me to do anything I don’t want to."

"It’s what you were made for Zan," Tess told him. "You do not have a choice. And if we have to go to extreme measures to make you do what you will only end up doing anyway, we will."

"What?" Max felt his blood run cold. "What are you talking about?"

Tess stared at him for a long moment, her eyes narrowed. "It doesn’t have to be this way," she finally said, her voice quiet.

"What doesn’t?" Max could feel panic setting in though, because he had a feeling he knew exactly what Tess was talking about.

"You are too open with how you feel," Tess said, rather than answering his question directly. "It’s something that is going to have to change Zan, for when we go back." She paused, then said, "You have more than shown me already what you care about, what can be done to make you cooperate. You risked your life to save Liz. You freaked at the mere mention of bringing your sister into any of this."

Max’s heart was thundering in his chest. He closed his eyes, forced himself to take deep breaths. "Are you threatening me?" He finally demanded, trying to keep his voice strong.

"No," Tess snapped. "Not you. And I mean it too."

"You just told me that you need Isabel," Max told her. "You will not hurt my sister."

"No," Tess allowed. "But lots of things can be done to her without killing her." She smiled slightly. "She really is a pretty girl, isn’t she? I’ve seen pictures."

Max’s blood ran cold, Hank’s face crossing his mind so quickly, it shortened his breath again. After all he had done to protect his sister, this witch was threatening to make it all in vain. "You wouldn’t dare," he said, although his voice reflected that he understood that she would.

He was beginning to understand Tess Parker very well. In fact, he almost felt something familiar in it all - like this was not the first time she had used his sister to keep him in line. He wondered at it, remembered what she said about them having lived before. It would make sense that this was the way she had behaved in their past lives, if she wasn’t lying about that. Because he couldn’t for the life of him imagine that he would have married anyone like her unless he had been forced into it somehow.

Max forced himself to focus on her again when he realized she was still talking. "But Isabel will only be a last resort," Tess was saying. "I do want to be close to Vilandra again some day. No, I have other avenues to explore first." She met his eyes. "Avenues I have access to on a regular basis might I add. Being as I live with them and all. Being as they trust me and always have."

"You would hurt your own sister?" Max demanded, refusing to allow her to see how much her threat against Liz was affecting him. She was right. He was too open with how he felt about her already. He had known all along that he couldn’t risk any sort of relationship with her and he was only now beginning to understand why. The dreams of Tess - he knew now for certain it had been she in those nightmares - had warned him. The way she had made him feel in those visions, how he had awoken feeling dirty, that something wasn’t right…It had been a warning.

"I don’t have a sister," Tess retorted. "She’s only a human Max. You’re going to have to start adjusting to the fact that they are unimportant in the grand scheme of things. But, for now, it’s good that you care so much. Because I can use it. And I will. Know that I will."

"What do you want from me?" Max asked wearily. "I can’t just pretend I’ve fallen in love with you. I’m not a good actor. You’ve already said as much. I can’t hide my real feelings like that."

"Well, you better learn Zan…"

"Stop calling me that," Max interrupted, his barely checked rage almost exploding. But he knew now was not the time. She was still using her mind control on the ambulance attendants and he really didn’t want to test the limit of her skills. If there was one thing he didn’t need right now, it was a hospital finding out the truth about him. He was going to have to keep his anger under control until he was in a position of security on that front.

"You better get used to that too Zan." She emphasized the name fiercely. "Because it’s who you are and it is who you will always be." She stopped talking for a moment, her gaze locked on his. "You’re angry. I can see that."

"And you’re brilliant," Max shot back sarcastically. "It takes a lot to figure out that you threatening my sister would piss me off." He deliberately left Liz’s name out of the equation, already starting to play her game. His anger increased ten-fold that he had to deny that it was Liz that he was even more worried about.

Tess sighed, "I don’t understand why you’re being so difficult. Just shut if off. Shut off the emotions. It is possible."

"Not for me it isn’t."

"Then you’re going to suffer," Tess told him, shrugging. "I don’t want you to Zan, but if you choose the hard road, there’s nothing I can do to stop it." She obviously had more to say, but she trailed off as the ambulance started to slow down. "Okay, just lie there," she instructed. "I’ll take care of everything. We’ll have you out of this damn place in a jiffy."

Max closed his eyes, waited for the stretcher to be moved. He was clenching and unclenching his fists in an attempt to control his fury, without much success. He was already beginning to see that there was only one way to make sure that this witch stayed away from Isabel and Liz. He couldn’t quite grasp that he was even considering it, but she, literally, had given him no choice. And, in the end, if it came down to outright murder versus the safety of the two people he most cared about in the world, there was no choice anyway.

He would kill her and he would smile doing it.

I know what you’re thinking.

Max’s eyes snapped open again. The stretcher was out of the ambulance and was being rushed into the hospital, Tess racing along beside him. And, yet, in his eyes, she was completely calm, collected. And she was damn well talking to him in his head.

I see you’re surprised. Don’t be. I know you better than Liz ever will. We are the same Max. The fact that you want to kill me more than proves it.

You know nothing about me. He was amazed that it was possible to growl telepathically.

I know you want to kill me because it’s what I’d want to do in your position. She smirked at him. But don’t even think about it my love. We’re still linked, you and I, just like last time. It is impossible for me to die unless you do. So unless you’re feeling particularly suicidal, which I don’t think you are, forget about it and accept what is. There was a pause. And even if you do decide that it’s worth it to do away with yourself to get me out of Liz’s life…Well, don’t forget your dear sister. I die, you die, we all die together. The last was thought in a sing-songy way that literally brought bile to Max’s throat.

Max closed his eyes against the tears that abruptly pooled there. He had never felt so helpless in his life - not when his parents died, not when Hank was threatening Isabel, never.

He had come to Roswell to find his past and, instead, had stumbled into a future that literally made him ill. And the most ironic part was that, for the last twenty-four hours, his future had seemed so bright. Thanks to Liz, he had felt that maybe, just maybe, he didn’t have to be completely alone anymore, that maybe he could let someone in. Because it had happened without him even trying anyway. Liz had become a part of him so quickly, it was almost beyond his comprehension.

She had given him strength enough to believe that he could save her from the horror that was her sister, that he was strong enough to fix the mistake that had been made when Tess had been allowed to go home with the Parkers.

It had all been a lie. He was the one who was going to hurt Liz in the end. He had allowed their relationship to progress to the point that she was going to be devastated by what he was now going to have to do. Max had absolutely no idea how he was even going to start to pretend that he had changed his mind about her. Tess was right after all. He was the world’s worst actor.

But this was a role he could not afford to screw up. He would not allow who he was - what he was - to hurt Liz. Better to cut things off now, while she still had Kyle, while she still might be able to forget him. For the first time, he was grateful that she still didn’t know the truth about him. Not because he didn’t want her to know, but because it meant she was still slightly shielded. It was small consolation, but at least it was there.

In this case, a little knowledge was indeed a dangerous thing. A deadly thing. The less she knew now about he who he really was, now that there was no hope for them at all, the safer she’d be.

Max knew that he was about to permanently break his own heart, but if it meant keeping Liz Parker safe, he would do it. Because, in the end, if it meant a choice between Liz’s life and his own happiness, the choice was already made.

To be continued…




posted on 5-Feb-2003 11:38:16 PM by Kath7
Might I just be allowed to gloat? Look what Chrissy made for me!!! I am ecstatic with joy!

She has inspired me to get my ass in gear on this one. It's not like the next few parts aren't lurking in my brain. I've just been a wee bit preoccupied. Anyway, expect the next part sometime this weekend. Thanks for your patience all!

all_you_wanted

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 5-Feb-2003 11:38:50 PM ]
posted on 8-Feb-2003 9:12:23 PM by Kath7
Author's Note: Please be sure to check out the dreamy banner above, courtesy of ChrissyP47. Thanks again Shannon!

Part 14

Tess followed the doctor out of the private room she had mindwarped him into insisting Max needed. "So you’re really sure he’ll be all right?" She asked, making her voice sound uncertain. Of course she already knew that Max was perfectly fine - even she was a little amazed at the healing powers his body possessed - but she had made it seem a little more serious to the doctor, just so that he wouldn’t suspect anything. After all, a human should be at least somewhat physically affected by being hit by a speeding vehicle.

It would be a real problem were anyone to understand that Max was almost completely healed already. But it had been taken care of for now. She just had two more things to do to ensure that their secret would be perfectly safe. And then she could pretend that none of it had ever happened, that she had not actually almost made a fatal strategic error. God. If Nasedo found out how close it had been, that she might have been responsible for Zan’s loss so quickly after having found him…

A shiver ran down Tess’s spine.

"He’s really okay," the doctor reassured her. "I can’t quite believe he was hit by a car actually. But there’s no internal damage at all. We just have to do a couple of blood tests and he can be released. He’ll be sore for a few days, but that should be it." The handsome young resident grinned at Tess, obviously responding to her innocent-looking beauty just like every other pathetic human male did. "Your boyfriend will be fine. He’s a lucky kid."

"He’s not my boyfriend," Tess corrected, lowering her lashes demurely. He’s my husband. Her mind shrieked. And he will damn well accept it if it is the last thing I ever do.

As expected she heard the doctor mutter under his breath, something that sounded like, "Well, then he’s an idiot." She grinned to herself. She wondered if she would ever get tired of messing with human minds. It was just so…empowering.

"He’s a lucky kid," the doctor repeated. "For having such a good friend."

"Thanks," Tess smiled at him. The young man’s colour rose slightly. And she had barely tweaked his mind at all. Sometimes her smile did all the work. "So, the blood test?" She asked, realizing that it was time to get back down to business. "Will that take long?"

"Nah," the doctor reassured her. "I’ve sent it off to the lab. We should have the results in a couple of hours."

Tess nodded, narrowing her eyes. "Okay then. I’ll be in the waiting room. Max is asleep anyway."

Of course Max wasn’t asleep. But the doctor thought he was and Tess had told Max mentally to pretend it was true. Even she was beginning to weaken a bit. Sure she mindwarped all the time, but not usually when it mattered so much. She needed to rest.

Max didn’t argued. Instead he had just glared at her for a long moment. It hadn’t frightened her, but she was slightly annoyed to know that he had not even started to accept what was meant to be. It was frustrating to know that she was going to have to continue to be patient with him.

In time, when he had gotten past his fascination with Liz, when Tess’s sister hated him enough that he would have to let it go, he would see how stupid he was being. She had waited so long for him, it wouldn't hurt her to wait a bit longer. And once they were all back together - once Nasedo showed up with Vilandra and they could begin the preparations to return home - all the pieces would finally fall into place.

But, in the meantime, there was the blood to be dealt with. Nasedo had always told she and Michael that it was their blood that would give them away should they ever be captured. They were pretty much human in all the ways that counted, but their blood was not. It was their otherworldly blood that meant that they would be able to return to Antar, that in spite of their human aspects, they would be able to survive there.

Which meant that the same had to apply to Max and which also meant that Tess needed to get his blood back. She had tried to warp the doctor into believing that he had taken it already, but she had been distracted when another patient had been brought into the room. When she turned back, it was just in time to see the young doctor capping off the tube that held the sample. It had been an irritant, but she knew she’d be able to get it back easily. It wasn’t that big a deal.

As she wandered away from the doctor, Tess glanced over her shoulder. When his back was turned, she darted quickly down a nearby hallway, one which was graced by a sign that pointed that the lab was in this direction.

She had briefly considered finding Michael and making him do it. She knew that he had to be somewhere in the hospital by now. But she had dismissed the idea almost immediately. First of all, she didn’t trust Michael to take care of it properly. And secondly, she was beginning to realize that she no longer trusted Michael at all.

She could not forget the expression of absolute fury on his face when he had shaken her out of the warp she had been using on Liz. All of her suspicions from earlier in the day - how Michael had refused to acknowledge recognizing Zan, although his concern about Max after the car accident indicated that he certainly did now; how she had caught his eyes wandering after Maria Deluca in the restaurant as well - were adding up to something she hadn’t thought she would ever have to face.

Michael was turning against her.

She didn’t know it for sure, but she felt it somewhere deep within her. And, for that reason, she knew that she could not depend on him. She was on her own until Nasedo returned. She wouldn’t let Michael know what was going on, but as of this moment, he was no longer her confidant. And she would keep Michael away from Zan too. The last thing she needed was the two of them joining forces against her. It didn’t frighten her particularly, but it did make her slightly uncomfortable to contemplate it.

When Tess reached the lab, she grimaced. She had arrived just in time to see a middle-aged woman in a white coat enter and shut the door behind her. She was carrying a tray of blood samples and was obviously just about to start testing them.

Damn. She was going to have to mindwarp again. She sighed. She really was tired. The magnitude of the control it had taken to protect Max for the last hour had been extremely wearing. Not to mention there had been that whole little incident where she had made Liz walk into traffic. But where there was a will there was a way. And the thought of Nasedo’s fury should anyone catch on to Max’s alien status was enough to send Tess straight to that closed door so that she could pound on it.

The door opened almost immediately and the technician stared out at her in surprise. "Can I help you?"

"You’re being paged," Tess told her quickly. "They have a rush job for you. Didn’t you hear it?" She glanced at the tech’s I.D. badge for her name and then sent out a thin mindwarp, making the woman jump slightly as Tess made her hear a PA announcement that didn’t exist.

"Oh I do," the tech replied. "Thanks dear." The woman hurried off down the corridor, not even bothering to close the door behind her.

Tess rolled her eyes. Idiot. It was at times like these that she knew why she didn’t even feel guilty about mindwarping humans. They were inferior. The fact that she could do it at all had proven this time and time again. She couldn’t do it to Michael and obviously not to Max either. They were her only equals.

Which was what made the whole fact that she couldn’t trust either of them so much fun. For once in her life, she was actually feeling the exhilaration of a real challenge. When she won Max’s heart and Michael’s guilt for his disloyalty, it would make all of this irritation worth while.

Tess slid into the lab, closing the door behind her. Her eyes went instantly to the tray sitting on the table in front of her, the technician obviously just having had enough time to lay it down before Tess knocked.

She bent over the tray, her eyes lighting on the tube with Max’s name written in bold almost immediately. Tess picked it up and thrust it into her pocket, not even bothering to replace it. After all, by the time the hospital realized it was gone, she would have made sure that Max had checked himself out. Any suspicions they might have would never be confirmed now.

Tess allowed herself a small smile of satisfaction as she left the lab, pausing to pull her cellular phone out of her pocket. Only one more step to go and everything would be exactly as it should have been all along when Nasedo returned. He need never even know about her silly little slip-up in front of the UFO Museum.

She knew now that letting her jealousy get the better of her had been a mistake. She hated making mistakes. She wouldn’t again. To make sure that she didn’t, she was going to have to keep Max Evans under close observation. And she knew just how to make sure she could.

Tess started to dial her phone.

"Hey!"

She whirled, her heart in her throat. Tess stared at the lab technician who was standing behind her, a suspicious look on her face. "You’re back!" She squeaked despite herself. It annoyed her and she allowed herself a momentary glare in the woman’s direction.

"They didn’t need me after all," the tech replied, her gaze narrowed. "What do you think you’re doing?"

"What do you mean?" Tess demanded, holding up her mobile. "I’m standing here about to use my phone. Is that a crime?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact," the woman retorted, pointing at a sign nearby. Tess blinked and found herself staring at a notice that cellular phones were not to be used within the confines of the hospital. There it was, right under the No Smoking sign.

"Oh. Sorry." She shook her head. "I’ll just go outside then."

"You do that," the woman ordered.

Tess glared at her, barely resisting the urge to mindwarp the woman into a satisfactorily subservient attitude. She could not stand when people were unnecessarily rude.

That would be a waste of resources, a small voice in the back of her mind reminded her. Stay focused Tess. You can’t afford to make any more mistakes.

She would not let her temper get the better of her. So she forced a pleasant smile to her face and said sweetly, "Thanks for the warning. Have a nice day."

The woman stared at her in surprise but ended up smiling back. Tess barely refrained from rolling her eyes again. Really, how was she expected to feel any sort of accomplishment when these humans were so stupid and easy to charm?

"You too sweetheart."

With that, Tess turned on her heel and flounced away.

********************************************************

"Michael! Just tell me what you know!" Liz exclaimed in frustration as she followed him into the hospital. Well, scurried after him might be a more appropriate description she thought in annoyance. He was walking in long strides, not making any attempt to allow her to catch up.

"No Liz," Michael snapped. "I need to talk to him first. Alone. I’ll come and get you in a minute. Stay here."

"If you think I’m just going to stand out here and wait, you’re crazy!" Liz flared back. "Michael!"

But he ignored her, went to the admissions desk in order to find out where Max could be found. Liz glared at his back, her panic beginning to overtake her again. She absolutely could not figure out any of this. All she knew was that she wanted to see Max so badly, it hurt. She just knew that seeing him would put her mind at ease.

She needed to see that he was okay. She didn’t care about anything else, didn’t care about those weird visions he had given her earlier, or the fact that his cuts and bruises from the accident had healed themselves right in front of her eyes. She didn’t care that he seemed to have some sort of connection to Tess and Michael that she couldn’t even begin to understand.

None of it mattered. That he be all right was all that was important.

Liz crossed her arms and started to pace as she waited for Michael to get the information they needed. There was no way she was going to let him see Max first. He had to be crazy if he thought she would allow that. She turned her head in order to glare at him again and then did a double-take.

He was gone! What the heck! She had only turned away for an instant!

"Lizzie."

Liz whirled, found herself staring at her sister. Tess was watching her, no expression on her face. "Tess!"

"Are you okay?" Tess asked, her blue eyes widening. "Why did you run out into the street like that? You could have been killed!" She reached out and hugged Liz tightly. Liz felt a shiver run down her spine, flinched away. Tess looked at her in surprise. "What’s wrong?"

Liz swallowed, didn’t know what to say. All she knew was that things were not right between she and Tess. She remembered the epiphany she had experienced at the UFO Centre, the absolute belief that had claimed her that her sister did not love her. Looking at the other girl now, Liz did not know where it had come from. Tess’s concern seemed so real…

Max doesn’t trust her either. The thought came unbidden, reminded her that she was not going crazy. She had been ignoring this feeling for a long while now, but all that had happened over the past twenty-four hours had only reinforced it and made her face what was true.

Tess was not normal. Max wasn’t either and, at this point, she had to guess that Michael was also in on whatever was going on with the other two.

And, yet, it was only Tess she was scared of. Her sister - the one she should have been able to trust above all others. Liz was afraid of her.

Tess reached out and touched her shoulder. It took every ounce of Liz’s strength not to shudder. "Lizzie?" She asked again. "I called Daddy. He’s coming to get us."

"Max?" Liz forced herself to act normal. Until she talked to Max, she had to pretend that she knew nothing. She did not know what she was dealing with here. The girl in front of her still looked like the Tess she had been raised with, the perfect sister she had always wanted to be like, the one she could not help but love in spite of her envy of her. "How is he?"

"He’s okay," Tess shrugged. "He’ll be fine. I wouldn’t be surprised if they released him today. Apparently he only has some cuts and bruises."

Liz frowned. "Well, that’s good I guess." And, then, because she couldn’t resist, "Tess…Why…I mean, why did Michael say that you had to go with Max? You barely know each other."

Tess sighed. "I don’t know Liz. I guess Michael just thought Max would want me with him."

"Why?"

"Who knows," Tess replied, looking a bit embarrassed. "I guess because of what happened earlier at the Crashdown. You know…When Max kissed me. Maybe Michael thinks he likes me or something." She smiled teasingly. "You have more experience with boys than I do Lizzie. You’re the old married lady after all. You and Max seem to be good friends too. Do you think Michael’s right?"

Liz felt a flash of pure, hot rage run through her entire frame. For one split second, all she wanted to do was throttle her sister. She actually felt like she might be able to kill her. Why was she lying? What was wrong with Tess? Why had all of this happened?

"Liz, Max wants to see you."

Michael’s voice broke through the red force Liz was barely managing to control. She could not lose it! Not until she knew exactly what was going on here.

Michael’s hand was on her shoulder, bringing comfort and the sense of security that being with her sister should have inspired.

She barely knew Michael Guerin and, yet, she felt safer with him than she did with her own sister, whose expression had shuttered again at Michael’s appearance. "Where is he?" Liz asked, his words finally penetrating.

"Room 25. Down that hallway." Michael pointed.

"Do you want me to come with you?" Tess asked.

"NO!" Liz exclaimed, too loudly. "I mean, no, thanks." She refused to meet her sister’s eyes. Could not let Tess know how confused, scared and angry she was, just being around her.

"Liz, wait!" Tess called after her. "Let me come!"

Liz glanced over her shoulder, saw that Michael had Tess firmly by the wrist but that her sister was struggling. She broke into a run. Somehow she just knew that she had to get to Max before Tess caught up with her. Her very sanity depended on it.

She found Room 25 without much trouble. Liz was almost breathless as she knocked quickly and then pushed her way in. "Max?"

He was sitting up in the bed closest to the door. His eyes met her instantly, relief flooding them and making her heart start to beat more quickly. Reflecting on the whole incident later, she knew that in that instant, he was glad to see her. And Michael had said that he had asked for her. He glanced over her shoulder warily, then back at her. "Liz."

Liz hurried to his bed-side, picked up his hand. "Max! Are you all right? Wait. Don’t answer that. I can see that you are. How? I mean, I’m happy about it, but I don’t understand it. What’s going on? I don’t understand any of this!" She knew that she was babbling, seemed unable to stop. She was just so glad to be with him again.

He squeezed her hand once then dropped it. She felt him do it though. And, yet, when she looked up at his face, his expression was shuttered, still.

"Max?"

"Everything’s fine Liz."

She searched his face, felt a shiver descend her spine at the coldness she could feel coming off of him. "Max, I thought…I mean, didn’t you have something to tell me? Michael said you wanted to see me."

"Just be more careful next time," Max said quietly. "Okay? You could have been killed. I could have been killed. It’s just a good thing Tess was around," he added. "She saved my life."

Liz stared at him. "She did?" She shook her head though, because that made no sense and she felt like she had no time to deal with it at the moment. Somehow she just knew that if she didn’t get him to open up to her right now, she was going to lose him. "No, I meant before. At the UFO Centre…" She trailed off uncertainly, so unused to anything other than pleasure in his company that she didn’t quite know how to talk to him. He had turned his head away, as though he was angry, wasn’t looking at her. "Max? What’s wrong?"

But he never got a chance to answer because Tess came bursting through the door at that moment, Michael hot on her heels. Liz gasped in surprise, took a step away from Max.

"Tess!" Max’s voice was warm, welcoming. "Hi!"

Liz stared at him. She took another step back, kept going until she was pressed against the wall beside Max’s bed. Tess was glancing from one to the other suspiciously.

"Hi," she replied carefully. "What’s going on?"

"I was just telling Liz how good you’ve been to me," Max answered. Liz watched his expression soften as he gazed at her sister. Her stomach clenched in dismay and shock.

Liz looked at Michael, who was now standing mute near the door, defeat in every line of his tall body.

Tess’s eyes were still narrowed, but she smiled anyway. "Well, I mean, you saved my sister’s life Max."

"I really had no choice," Max assured her. "I like Liz. Besides, I knew how upset you’d be if anything happened to her." Liz listened for any underlying sarcasm, but there was none. When she looked at her sister, the blonde seemed utterly satisfied.

Liz couldn’t take it anymore. She really couldn’t. The one person she had depended on to clear up her confusion and fear was presently looking at her sister like she was the only one in the room. It was the final straw. She had been holding herself together by the very thinnest of threads. Now she knew that if she didn’t get out of that room immediately, she was going to completely lose it. Whether that meant that she would burst into tears or kill both Max and Tess, she didn’t know.

All she knew was that she did not like feeling this way, so completely out of control and uncertain of everything. She needed to get out.

"I…I need to go," she managed to stutter before walking swiftly to the door.

"See ya Liz," Max called after her. "I’m glad you’re okay." His tone was so dismissive, it brought tears to her eyes.

"Liz!"

She managed to pause, could hear the urgency in Michael’s voice as he followed her. "I just need to be alone for a minute Michael," she said, her voice sticking in her throat as she struggled to suppress her sobs. The very last thing she wanted to do was to start bawling in front of Michael Guerin.

"Liz, she’s doing something to him. I just know she is." Michael had grabbed her by the elbow, forced her to turn around and look at him. "When I went in to see him, he was totally freaked. He’s afraid she’s going to do something to you if he doesn’t act this way. I just know he is. I didn’t have time to get him to spill, but I just know it."

Liz stared at him. "Michael, what are you even talking about?" She did not dispute that her sister might do something to her. At this point, she was willing to believe anything about Tess. She still didn’t know why - because, in the end, what had her sister ever done to make her feel this way? - but she believed Michael. "He just acted like I didn’t even exist," Liz continued, her heart absolutely begging Michael to convince her.

Michael closed his eyes, took a deep breath. "Which is why I know she threatened you. Liz, I know Tess and I know why Max is doing what he’s doing. I just don’t know how she threatened you, because he’s done a pretty good job of keeping her away from you up to now. When I get a chance to talk to Max and figure out what’s going on…" He met her eyes. "Liz, you’ve got to trust me. I swear I’ll get this straightened out."

"Why Michael? Why are you doing this?" Liz asked, licking her lips, unsure when or why Michael Guerin had become her closest ally.

"Because I need him as much as you do," Michael replied gruffly. Liz frowned. What the heck was that supposed to mean? "I’ll take him home with me," he continued. "Na…I mean, my dad’s out of town. Max can stay with me for a while and I’ll find out what’s happening."

"Okay." She knew she sounded resigned, like she didn’t care. She couldn’t help it. She felt like her entire world had shattered in the space of seconds. The one person she had depended on to put her before her sister had just totally betrayed her faith in him. Even if Michael was right and Max was doing it to protect her, how could she ever trust him again?

Michael shook her slightly. "Liz? Are you listening to me? You need to stay as far away from Tess as you can. I’m telling you…you have to. Do you think you can go and stay with Maria for a couple of days?"

"What?" She asked, distracted by something behind Michael. Was that…It was! What was her dad doing here?

She remembered abruptly that Tess had said that she had called their father to come and pick them up. "Daddy?"

"Hi Lizzie! I came as soon as Tess called. How’s Max doing?" Her dad reached out and pulled her against him. Liz allowed herself to relax slightly, for one instant allowed herself to take comfort in her father’s arms.

"He’s okay Dad. Just some cuts and bruises," Liz replied, hoping to God she sounded normal. The last thing she needed at the moment was to deal with her dad thinking there was something wrong with her. "I have my car though. You really didn’t have to come."

"Sure I did Sweetie." Jeff pulled back. "I know that this boy means a lot to you already. The fact that your sister told me he saved your life too…I need to thank him in person." He looked over her head. "Hey Michael."

"Hi Mr. Parker." Liz could hear the impatience in Michael’s voice, his desire to get her alone again so that he could continue trying to convince her that her worst nightmare hadn’t just come true. That Max, just like everyone who had come before, had been charmed into liking Tess better.

"Listen Liz, your mom and I were talking," her father continued, making Liz focus on him. "We got the impression from Max earlier that he was sort of at loose ends."

"What do you mean?" Liz didn’t understand where her father was going with this.

"Well, does he have anywhere to go?" He asked. "He’s going to need somewhere to stay while he recuperates."

"He said he’d crash with me," Michael inserted quickly. Liz’s eyes met his. She could see his urgency that she agree with him, but just as she opened her mouth to do so the door to Max’s room opened.

"No he didn’t." Tess’s voice made all three of them turn their heads. She was still gently shutting the door behind her. "I asked him Daddy and he said yes." She looked directly at Michael. "He didn’t say he had anywhere else to stay." Liz heard the slightly threatening quality in her sister’s voice and she could tell that Michael did too.

"Asked him what?" Liz demanded, although she was pretty sure she already knew where this was headed.

"If he wanted to stay with us," Tess replied, smiling innocently in her direction. "It’s the least we can do Lizzie. After all, he did save your life."

"Great!" Mr. Parker exclaimed. "Then it’s all settled."

And just when Liz was sure that things could not possibly get worse, they did. Not only was she going to have to accept that Max was going to fall in her love with her sister, she was going to have to do it with a front row seat in her very own home as she watched it happen.

To be continued…