posted on 10-May-2002 9:29:18 PM by Angel
Title: Ruins
Author: Angel
Category: M/L with everyone else
Rating: R for language and violence
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything…no suing, please
Summary: Based on events in Graduation, although it doesn’t end the same. Sorry. You know me…I gotta have my angst. Everything up to and including 4 Aliens and a Baby is true. Something goes terribly wrong at graduation, after Liz has premonitions that they're all going to die. It destroys everyone in Roswell, and they have to find a way to work together again to get back their loved ones and outrun the people who are after them.

Author’s note: For those of you who read Forget (and thank you tons, by the way), I know I updated it every day…don’t expect that for this one. LOL I had Forget pretty much completed before I started posting it…this one is a work in progress (I only have 3 parts written so far and I have no idea where it’s going) so please let me know what you think about it. Your feedback encourages me to write faster!

Love Among the Ruins

The sky was falling, heaven was calling.

When danger crashes, rose from the ashes.

Like two statues hidden inside ancient rock,
we were praying for the secrets to unlock.

And when the sun had turned its back on us,
in the dark our love kept track of us,
pushed together by the lack of love.

We held each other tightly through our hell of dreams.

I still hear the never-ending echo of those screams.

But it's a life not made for reliving,
it's a life that makes your soul forgiving.

We sealed our bond from the beginning.

Aching affection, vulnerable protection;
falling, captured, crawling, rapture.

10,000 Maniacs

Part 1~

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Washington, DC


Assistant Director Gerard is tired. The last place he wants to be is in his office looking at the man in front of him. The last thing he wants to be looking at is the pile of familiar pictures scattered on his desk. The last thing he wants to be listening to is Agent Meyers’ debrief. And the absolute last thing he wants to be talking about is aliens. For 30 years he’s been tangled in this entire alien mess and he’s ready for it to be over. He wants to go home and stay there and forget that aliens ever existed.

Sighing, Matt Gerard looks wearily down at the photos spread in front of him as the droning, nasal monotone of Meyers buzzes around his head like background noise. Kids. He’s looking at pictures of kids. After 3 years, he still finds it hard to wrap his head around that. The others were adults…mature. But he’s seen the evidence and the reports. He saw remains of the Air Force base in New Mexico. He saw videotaped proof of their powers. He listened for hours to first hand reports from Air Force personnel describing the public display of their powers. And he was the one who sifted through any remaining vital information from Pierce’s acquisition two years ago. There’s no room for denial. All the evidence points to the same conclusion. The kids who are smiling in the photos in front of him are aliens.

“How confident are you in your assessment of the hierarchy?” Gerard asks Meyers, interrupting him.

Meyers flips through the thick file he’s holding in his lap. “85%, at least, sir.” He picks up one of the photos on Gerard’s desk and holds it up. “This is the leader. There was a shift in power a few months ago, we know that for a certainty. After it all settled, though, we became reasonably sure that this one is the leader now.”

Gerard nods, glancing at the photo then back to Meyers. Sighing, he thinks about Tim Meyers and wonders for the 100th time if he shouldn’t have pushed harder for another lead agent for this case. He’s younger than the others, but bureaucratic tape placed him as the next in line. The man is ambitious and hungry, he wonders if Tim Meyers truly grasps what that means…what he’s next in line for. Agents Pierce and Burns found out the hard way.

Gathering the photos in a neat pile, Gerard says, “Is everyone in position?” At Meyers’ affirmative nod, “You know what you have to do. These creatures will never bother anyone ever again.” He stands up, indicating that their meeting is over and tosses the pile of pictures at Meyers on his way out the door.

Roswell, New Mexico

“Are you sure, Liz? We can wait…we are getting married tomorrow.” Max Evans says as he leans over and looks down at Liz Parker on a blanket spread out in the nighttime desert.

Smiling, Liz looks up at Max and says, “I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.” as she pulls his head down to hers.

As the once troubled couple makes love for the first time, the moon shines down on them in the desert. Unfortunately, it provides enough light for spying eyes 200 yards away behind a large rock formation.

“Miller, we have a go ahead. Does your team have them all on surveillance tonight?” Jack Miller puts his finger up to his ear piece as he receives this latest information. He raises his wrist to his mouth and quietly says into his watch, “Yes, sir. All the subjects are accounted for.”

“Good, notify me of any unusual movement. We move tomorrow. I’ll meet you in position at 1400.” Miller listens to Meyers’ instructions as he raises his binoculars again to the couple in the distance.

~TBC~

[ edited 37time(s), last at 16-Jan-2003 8:56:35 PM ]
posted on 11-May-2002 12:31:33 PM by Angel
Part 2~

The next day:
1pm


The West Roswell High gymnasium is slowly filling up with parents, family and friends. On stage, there’s a large banner saying ‘Congratulations Class of 2002’ flanked by huge columns of balloons. Milling around in the crowd is the occasional maroon-gowned graduate.

Max Evans is distracted as he stands with his parents and tries to smile for pictures. He has his eye on Liz, who is on the other side of the gym and strains to look around the occasional group of people blocking her from his view. He’s nervous, not about graduating but about making it through the day alive. If Liz’s premonition is right, they’ll all be gunned down today.

Catching Liz’s eye again, he gives her a small smile and glances around the room to take a head count of everyone else. Maria, check. Kyle, check. Isabel, check. Jesse, check. Michael…where the hell is Michael. Max has been anxiously waiting for Michael to get there for the last half hour. He knows Michael’s ok, but sometimes he wishes he’d just cooperate and show up where and when he’s supposed to.

As he looks once again over to Liz, he can’t help but feel elated at the same time. If they live through the day, he’ll be marrying her tonight. He asked her two weeks ago and got the surprise of his life when she said yes. A goofy grin appears on his face as he remembers last night and daydreams about an entire life spent with Liz.

“Max, honey? Please…just one more.” He’s snapped out of his fantasy world by his mother, who has been trying to get a decent picture of him for the last ten minutes. “Phillip, go stand next to him…just one good smile, that’s not too much to ask, is it?”

Max looks over to his mother apologetically and feels his Dad step in next to him and put his arm around his shoulder. “Ok, Max,” Phillip Evans says. “Let’s get this over with. You know she won’t stop until she takes the whole roll.”

Posing with his Dad, Max can’t help the apprehensive feelings coursing through him. He keeps looking around, searching for anyone who looks suspicious. If he had it his way, none of them would be here today, but there was no way for all of them to avoid going to graduation.

Isabel makes her way over to Max. “Have you seen Michael yet?”

“No.” Max tells her, watching as his Mom puts another roll of film in her camera.

Phillip turns to Max and says, “Max, what’s going on? Why do you seem so tense?”

Looking at his Dad, he says, “It’s nothing.”

“Don’t worry, Dad. Max does that enough for all of us.” Isabel smiles, trying to lighten the mood. Turning to Max, she says, “So, are you ready to finally graduate?”

Max notices everyone moving toward their seats and says, “As ready as I’ll ever be. I’ll see you guys later.” He smiles at his parents and makes his way toward his assigned seat with the rest of his class.

As the principal and others make their speeches, Max keeps his eye on all the entrances and the crowd as much as he can. Maria is sitting a couple of seats over from him and catches his eye, asking a silent question. He shrugs his shoulders at her and looks over to find Liz and Kyle looking at him as well.

They’re all on edge, he can see it in their eyes as they look to him for some kind of reassurance that everything is ok. He feels the person next to him nudge him and he looks up, realizing that they’re calling his name to come to the stage for his speech. Standing up quickly, he makes his way to the front and moves behind the podium. He shouldn’t be the one standing here, Liz should. But her grades fell, because of him…and his alien problems, and he can’t help the guilt that washes over him as he thinks that she should be the one making the valedictorian speech instead of him.

She helped him with what he was going to say and as he looks up at the audience in front of him, he pulls out the note cards that she made for him. As every one quiets down, he looks up to begin his speech and hears a loud noise coming from outside. Michael’s motorcycle. He hears it rev a couple of times and looks over at the door to see it open quickly…Michael driving right through and pointing at him on stage.

The next five minutes seem to happen in slow motion for Max. It’ll be five minutes that he’ll relive over and over again in his head for the rest of his life. He catches Michael’s eye and knows that every one else looks over to see the interruption as well. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Liz and Kyle stand up and move toward the far wall, making their way to an exit as Michael tears into the gym.

The loud, questioning noise from the crowd escalates as several groups of armed soldiers follow Michael in through the door. He hears screaming as a loud voice tells them, “Get down!” People are scrambling from their seats in panic as Michael makes his way to him on stage. He looks over to see Isabel yelling something to Kyle and Liz as Maria climbs over chairs, trying to get out.

When the first shot rings out, everyone drops to the floor screaming and Max looks over at Liz. He tries to yell at her to get down but she can’t hear…she’s looking at him with wide eyes and yelling something back at him. Panicked, he sees Michael pull up next to him and yell at him to get on. Soldiers are running toward the stage, toward him and he looks back over at Liz and meets her gaze right before he sees her lurch forward. Helplessly, he watches Kyle drop to the ground suddenly and before Liz gets her footing, she lurches forward again and that’s when he sees it. On the front of her gown is a hole that’s rapidly oozing blood. He yells, “Liz!” right before the side of her chest seems to explode outward, spraying blood all over the man standing in front of her. A look of shock comes to her face as she drops to the floor next to Kyle and Max loses sight of her as he screams, “Nooo!!”

The gymnasium is in chaos…people screaming and running…as Max yells at Michael to get him to Liz. There are soldiers swarming around the last place he saw her and someone has turned on the fire alarm. All he can think about is getting to Liz. Fifty more feet…thirty more feet…ten more feet. As they get closer, he scrambles clumsily off of Michael’s bike and climbs over chairs and people to make his way to her.

But when he gets there, she’s not there. He looks around frantically, trying to find her in the crowd and he pushes his way through the mass looking for any sign of her. People are streaming out through the open doors as the gym gradually clears out, but he still can’t find her. Maria runs over to him, screaming incoherently about something that Max can’t quite make out. All he can her is a buzzing noise and his head is filled with nothing but the sight of Liz right before she fell to the floor.

He thinks she must be fine, he had to be seeing things. She’s not where she was…she must have been ok if she got out. He repeats this over and over to himself as he continues to search through the thinning crowd. Not finding her inside, he runs out the door into the parking lot and scans it for her. As he makes his way through the crying, shocked crowd, he roughly grabs anyone in a maroon gown and turns them around…searching for Liz’s face.

When he doesn’t find her outside, he rushes back inside to look again…asking anyone he passes if they’ve seen Liz. He gets nothing more than blank looks or shakes of the head as he makes his way. As he approaches the place he last saw her, he sees Maria on the floor, her face buried in her hands and Michael talking to Jim Valenti. They all look up at him when he gets closer and through the haze in his mind he hears Jim say, “Max, we need to get out of here.”

“Where is she?” he hears himself say and he can tell by the look on their faces that they don’t know either.

Michael moves over to pull Maria up off the floor and that’s when Max looks down and sees the blood. It’s puddled and smeared all over the place…footprints carrying it off toward the doors. He stares at it as Michael tries to comfort a sobbing Maria. She keeps saying, “No, no, no, no…” repeatedly.

“Max,” Jim tries to get his attention. “I think…I saw them take Kyle. I think they took Liz, too…I…” he can’t continue as he buries his head in his hand and turns away.

“They killed them! Max, you have to do something…they killed them. They shot them and then they took them away!” Maria is sobbing and shouting at him and grabbing his arms. “Do something!”

Michael pulls her away and tells Max, “We have to get out of here. Max, are you listening? We have to leave.”

But Max doesn’t hear anything. He just stands there, staring at the blood on the floor…so much blood. All he can hear is the loud, rapid beating of his heart. He can feel it everywhere…his entire body is throbbing with each beat of his heart.

Absently, he looks over to see Sheriff Hanson trying to get them out of the gym as other officers block off the area of the floor with the blood on it. As he turns around, he sees a large group of local police officers rushing around the gym and talking to people outside through the open doors.

His gaze catches the light reflecting off something on the floor and he looks down to see a necklace with a ring around it covered in blood. In horror, he realizes that it’s the ring he gave to Liz just two weeks ago. The one that she didn’t want her parents to see so she put it on a necklace to wear around her neck. “Then you can put it on me yourself after we graduate, and I’ll wear it for the rest of my life.” She had said. Slowly, he bends down to pick it up off the floor and looks at it in his hand as it drips blood to the floor.

Somehow, the next time he looks up he sees that he’s outside being pushed toward Maria’s car in the parking lot. Michael has a hold of his arm with one hand and Maria’s hand with the other as he tries to steer them away from the crowd. He lets Michael shove him into the backseat as he does the same to Maria before getting into the driver’s seat. Through the fog he hears Michael say something about Valenti’s and he looks out the window as the car leaves the school parking lot. “Liz…Liz will be at Valenti’s.” he thinks as he rolls the bloody ring between his fingers.

~TBC~
posted on 12-May-2002 8:44:46 PM by Angel
Hi guys! Before you read this part, I just want to apologize in advance for my ignorance in all things military. lol All the base security in this story is pretty lax...but I've never even been on a military base so I have no idea how tight it is. So, please forgive me my stupidity and try to suspend belief for the things I get wrong.

Thank you for all the great feedback! This part is long...but the more I write of this story, the more I find needs telling. So, please, let me know what you think!

Part 3~

It’s dark. She tries to open her eyes but she can’t see anything…she can only feel the pain and she feels like throwing up. She feels it coming as she tries to move her head to the side as the vomit comes. Groaning, she can feel it running down the side of her face and she feels pressure on her chest…someone’s hand. “Max.” she says softly and she can see out of the slit of her open eye that it’s not him.

Realizing that she’s moving, she turns her head and sees someone else beside her. Isabel…she’s not awake and she has blood running down over her eye and down her face. The last thing she sees is a man dressed in black combat gear standing over her as she fades out of consciousness.

Roswell
Valenti house


Max stumbles through the front door, being pushed by Michael to move. He falls onto the couch, still grasping the bloody necklace in his hand as he stares at it and he’s vaguely aware of others moving around him and talking but he doesn’t even try to listen to what they’re saying.

Feeling the cushion sink next to him he sees out of the corner of his eye that it’s his Mom. She’s crying and shaking her head…asking him something it seems. But he can only stare at the necklace. He should be on his way to getting married right now. He should be on his way to marrying the only girl he’s ever loved…the other half of his soul. It was all arranged…he can’t wait to see the dress she got. She wouldn’t let him see it. He needs to remember his suit, it’s hanging on the closet door at Michael’s apartment. They need to leave in time to check in their hotel before going to the little chapel that she picked out.

He’s knocked out of his thoughts by a hand roughly grabbing his chin. “Max! Wake up!” Michael yells at him and shakes his head back and forth roughly.

He looks up, startled, and sees Michael standing in front of him. When their eyes meet, Michael lets go and backs away to sit on the coffee table and Max looks around to see that he’s sitting on Valenti’s couch and the living room is full. Jim is on the phone, Maria is sitting in a chair at the table rocking back and forth and crying silently, his Mom is sitting next to him, his Dad is on his cell phone close to the front door, and Jesse is standing behind Michael looking at Max.

“Are you with us?” Michael demands. “Because we really don’t need you off in la la land right now.” And he runs his hand through his hair.

Max slowly nods his head…realization forcing its way back in through the fog of his mind, and asks, “Where’s Isabel?”

When he hears his mother’s cries get louder and sees the look on Jesse’s face, he knows and nods his head in understanding. “Anyone else?”

“Don’t think so.” Michael answers him. “Maria’s Mom is with Liz’s parents right now at the police station.” He moves to sink down on the floor.

Max nods his head again and looks down at the blood on his hand.

“Max, what’s going on? Who were they? Why would they do that…why would they take Liz and Kyle, too? This is because of who you and Isabel are, isn’t it?” Diane Evans cries next to him.

Max turns to his Mom, a look of absolute devastation on his face…he has no answers for her.

“I followed them to the school, they came from everywhere. I don’t think they had enough time…the police showed up and they all took off.” Michael tells him from the floor. “That’s the only thing I can figure.”

“Did anyone see the direction they went?” Max asks looking around at everyone.

“I tried to run after them, but the police were all over the place and I couldn’t see.” Jesse tells him. “They were definitely military…probably working with the FBI.”

Max looks up as Jim gets off the phone and walks into the room. “I saw Kyle and Liz go down…Liz was…shot…at least twice. I think Kyle was hit right before she was. Did anyone see what happened to Isabel?”

Jesse shakes his head. “I don’t know. We heard Liz shouting over at us and Isabel ran over to her when we saw Kyle go down. Then I lost sight of her. Before she ran off she said…she screamed at me to get down. Then she was gone.” His voice catches as he stops his pacing.

“What did you find out?” Max asks Valenti.

Running a shaky hand through his hair, Jim says, “Not much. They’re pretty busy down at the station. Hanson told me at the school that they got a call about a disturbance at the school and when they got there they saw military vehicles moving out and people running out of the gym. He’s on the phone with the FBI trying to get answers right now.”

“We can only assume that these are the same people that found Tess’ crashed ship. But if they were after Liz and Kyle, too…the FBI has to be involved.” Max thinks aloud.

Phillip puts his phone back in his pocket and turns to Max. “The FBI? Why would they even care about Liz and Kyle?”

“Because I healed them.” Max tells his Dad. “I healed them and made them…different. The FBI knows this…they know about all of us. They have for a while.”

“But…how can you be sure? You can’t be positive that they know all about you.” His Dad persists.

Max stands up, not wanting to have this discussion right now. “Because they had me, Dad. They had me…2 years ago…they tortured me. I can’t…we’re not talking about this now. Believe me…they know all about us, and everyone we know. Did you think I was joking when I told you were a marked man now?”

Seeing the shocked looks on his parents’ faces, he turns to Jim. “I need a list of all the military facilities within 100 miles. They’ll have to stay close…because Kyle and Liz will need…medical attention.” He can’t get past his desperate thoughts that if he were with them he could heal them…make sure they were ok.

Tears pool in Jim’s eyes as he asks, “But how do you know…that they’re even…that they’re alive?”

Looking at the floor, then up to Jim, Max says, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know if Kyle’s alive or not. I’m working on the assumption that they’ll want them alive and will do anything to keep them that way. But Liz isn’t dead. I would know it…she’s alive…I can still feel her.”

He looks over to Maria as she says, “Are you sure? Please tell me you’re sure, Max.”

He walks over and puts his hand on Maria’s shoulder and nods. “I’m sure.”

Phillip clears his throat and says, “I was on the phone with a judge I know…he has contacts. I told him what happened and he’s getting in touch with his military and government contacts to see if he can find out anything. The government just can’t take U.S. citizens against their will. They’ll have to tell us where they’re at.”

Max looks at his Dad and sees how confident he is…how confident he is that their government is honest and works within the boundaries of the law. It’s what his entire career has been based on, and Max knows it’s going to be hard for him to accept the fact that it’s not true. “Dad, I know you want to believe that, and I appreciate you trying…but you don’t know.”

“No, Max…I know that this is against the law. They have no right.” Phillip insists.

Max meets his father’s gaze and says, “They weren’t exactly ringing your phone off the hook when they took me, were they? And what about when they came after Zan? They searched your house…they don’t care about the law…in their mind, we don’t have any rights.”

“We should go back to that place they took you, Max. We should go tonight.” Maria says in all seriousness. “Eagle Rock? It’s not too far away.”

Shaking his head, Max says, “No. They wouldn’t take them there. It’s too obvious…they know we know where it’s at.” Turning back to his parents, he asks, “You’re sure they won’t find Zan? You made sure of that, right?”

“No…they won’t find him. We took him…he’s not even in this state, Max. There’s no way anyone can trace him back to us.” Phillip assures him.

“Isabel…can’t she use her powers…or something…to contact you?” Jesse asks them wearily.

Michael looks over at Jesse. “She can dreamwalk. But not if she’s unconscious.”

“Everyone needs to be ready tonight in case she tries. Keep something to write on by your beds…hopefully she’s well enough.” Max clings to this as their only real hope of finding them.

He doesn’t say any more as he walks down the hall and into the Valenti’s bathroom. Shutting the door quietly, he sinks to the floor and lets the sobs he’s held back over take him. He meant it when he told them he wouldn’t wish the white room on his worst enemy…even Tess. And now…now the two people he loves most in the world are probably there. Why couldn’t they have taken him instead? He’d trade himself in a minute if Liz and Isabel could be safe. Liz…he can’t stop thinking about the look of shock on her face…the explosion of blood coming from her chest and his heart aches like it’s never ached before. His body starts shaking uncontrollably as he clutches the bloody necklace to his face. Today…today was supposed to be the best day of their lives…and it turned out to be the worst.

In the living room, silence descends when they can hear Max’s sobbing coming from the bathroom. Not able to listen to it anymore, Jim walks out the front door…his hand covering his face. Phillip moves to the couch to embrace his wife as Michael moves to the table and pulls Maria up out of her chair and sits down, pulling her back down in his lap. He rubs his hand over her back and she cries as he tells her that they’ll find them.

Through her sniffles, Maria says, “She was so excited…today was…it was supposed to be her wedding day.” and she cries even harder.

Looking sharply up at Maria, Phillip says, “What?! Liz…and Max…were going to get married today? Without telling us?”

Nodding, Maria says, “They had it all planned…after the graduation ceremony. They were gonna drive to Vegas by themselves…to just have this one thing…for themselves.” Letting out another sob, she continues, “But not now…she’ll never get to have her cheesy Elvis wedding now…” She fades off, overcome with tears.

Michael tries to comfort her and looks over at the once-again shocked Evans’. They’ve certainly had a lot to absorb in the last month. Finding out Max has a kid, that their kids are really aliens, hiding Max’s son for safety, having their daughter abducted by the government, and that Max was going to get married without telling them. Michael’s surprised they’re still sane.

Jesse is caught up in his own thoughts. As he sits in a chair, head hanging in his hands, he feels like he’s been kicked in the chest. Kicked in the chest with a powerful dose of realization…and guilt. Now he understands. He and Isabel had been on the road to reconciling, even though he still resented being pulled into the alien mess and the fact that she lied to him. But now, now he fully understands why she did what she did. This is what they’ve been scared of their whole lives and it finally happened. His wife was in the hands of…of what? He doesn’t know what happened to Max when they captured him, but he knows it was bad. He just wants his wife back, he wants to tell her how sorry he is and spend the rest of his life making it up to her.

32 miles east of Las Cruses

Isabel slowly wakes up, the throbbing in her head so painful she doesn’t want to open her eyes. She wonders where she’s at and peeks one eye open to see that she’s in a medical type room…lights glaring down at her. She looks down to see that she’s wearing the clothes she put on this morning and wonders if it’s even the same day. The events of graduation start to seep in and she panics, looking around her. She’s not bound and slowly tries to sit up.

She can see another room on the other side of a glass wall and gasps when she sees Kyle lying on a gurney in the middle of it. His shirt is off and he’s covered in bandages with a tube down his throat. There are several machines surrounding him, she recognizes a heart monitor and a respirator. There’s an IV hooked into the top of his hand.

Wincing in pain, her hand flies to her head as she slides off the gurney she was lying on. She steadies herself and walks to the glass to look at Kyle and is startled when someone enters his room. He looks like a doctor and she looks hopefully at him as his gaze meets hers. When he sees her, he turns around quickly and says something into the hall that she can’t hear and her door opens…two soldiers rush in and start toward her.

Then she realizes…they’re not in a hospital. Her eyes open wide as the men approach her and reach for her arms. Shaking her head, she sees one of them has a syringe and she screams as he jams it into her arm and pushes the plunger down. She immediately becomes drowsy and her knees buckle as they carry her back over to the gurney. Her eyes droop shut as she calls out silently for Jesse.

When she wakes up again, she tries to stay still as she moves her head slightly to look over at Kyle. He’s still there, motionless as his chest rises and falls with the respirator. A single tear slips out of her eye as she straightens her head and closes her eyes. She needs to contact Max and she hopes she’s not too nervous or pumped full of drugs to dreamwalk him.

She turns her head to the other side, looking into the dark room behind the glass. Whoever took them just took her and Kyle. Why Kyle? Where are they?

Trying to concentrate, she relaxes as much as she can and pictures Max in her mind. Reaching out to him, she hopes that he’s asleep. She reaches him easily…almost like he was waiting for her and finds herself in the Crashdown. She looks around and sees Max sitting in a booth in the corner, his eyes on Liz as she waits on other customers. Isabel sits in the seat across from him and tries to get his attention. “Max. I’m here.” But his eyes are glued to Liz as she looks over and smiles at him. “Max!”

His eyes fly to her and open wider in realization. “Isabel! Where are you?”

“I don’t know, Max. What happened? We’re in some kind of medical building…I’m not sure.”

“We? Is Liz there?” He asks frantically, interrupting her.

“Liz? No…she’s…just me and Kyle. Do they have Liz, too?” She asks, confused.

His face falls and he nods his head, looking back at dream Liz. “They shot her…twice, I think. There was so much blood.”

Her gaze falls to Max’s hands and she sees that they’re covered in blood and he’s clutching a necklace. “No…I haven’t seen Liz. Kyle’s in the next room. He looks bad, but he’s alive. He’s hooked up to a bunch of machines. Max, you have to get us out of here!”

He looks back at her. “Are you ok? Did they do anything to you?”

“I’m fine. I have a killer headache, but I’m fine. They injected me with something…to make me sleep earlier.”

He nods in relief and asks, “I need to know where you’re at, Isabel. Have you seen anything…or remember how long it took you to get there? Anything?”

Shaking her head in frustration, she says, “No…I woke up here. There were military guys in here earlier…but besides that I don’t know anything.” She brings her hand to her head, trying to think. “Garrott!”

Max looks at her, confused.

“One of the guys in here earlier had the name Garrott on his uniform. I didn’t see the other one. Is that enough? Can you look up someone in the military named Garrott?” She looks at him hopefully.

“I don’t know, we’ll try. Contact me if you find out anything else…or if they…do anything.” He looks at her sadly.

She nods as he looks back over at dream Liz.

“Max…tell Jesse…tell him I love him. Would you?”

He looks back at her and says, “Yah. I’ll tell him. He’s worried about you.”

“Thank you. I have to go now, Max. Tell Mom and Dad that I love them, too. I hope I see you soon.” She reaches for his hand and pulls back, seeing the blood again.

“I love you Isabel…and if you find Liz, tell her…” His sentence fades as he smiles back at dream Liz.

“I’ll tell her. Please find us, Max.” She says as she gets up from the booth and walks out of Max’s dream.

Roswell
Michael’s apartment


Waking up with a start, Max falls off the couch and he tries to hold on to and remember what Isabel told him in the dream. He blindly reaches for a piece of paper and a pen off the side table, knocking everything off of it including the lamp. As he frantically writes down the name Isabel gave him, Michael runs out of his bedroom and asks, “What the hell, Max.” as he rubs at his eye.

“Isabel dreamwalked me.” Max tells him as he writes down everything he remembers and Michael rushes over to him.

“Where are they? What did she say? Are they ok?”

Max shakes his head and holds up his hand, silently telling Michael to let him finish writing. When he’s done, he leans back against the couch and lets out the breath he was holding. “All she could give me was a name. She woke up wherever they’re at…she’s only seen Kyle.”

Maria runs out of Michael’s room then. “Did you see Isabel? Did she tell you where they are? Is Liz alright?” She runs over to sit on the floor next to Max, looking at the paper he’s holding.

“She doesn’t know…and she hasn’t seen Liz, just Kyle.” Max tells her wearily. “I need to call Valenti…get this name checked out.” He gets up to get the phone.

After he calls Jim, he calls his parents and tells them what he told Michael and Maria. After assuring them that Isabel is fine, he hangs up and calls Jesse. He picks up after the first ring and Max asks him to meet him at Valenti’s in 30 minutes.

Max, Michael and Maria arrive at the Valenti’s the same time as Jesse.

“What’s going on, Max? Did Isabel contact you?” Jesse asks him as soon as he steps out of his car.

Max walks over to Jesse and says, “Yes, she’s fine…she hasn’t been hurt. She wanted me to tell you that she loves you.” as he puts a hand on Jesses shoulder.

Jesse sags in relief and takes two big gulping breaths.

“We’re gonna find her, Jesse. She gave me a clue.” Max tells him as they walk into the house.

When they walk in, Max sees Jim is on the phone and motions for them to have a seat. Max can’t sit, though…he can’t sit still. He hopes that this name will lead them to something…anything…that will get him to Liz. He can still feel her and it comforts him somewhat to at least know that she’s still alive.

When Jim gets off the phone, he joins the others in the living room waving a piece of paper. “Craig Garrott…Army. He’s stationed at White Sands. That’s all I got. There was another one…a Ronald Garrott, but he’s stationed in Germany.”

“White Sands. We can be there before dawn.” Max says, hope finally flooding through him. “Jim, Isabel told me she saw Kyle in the room next to her. He’s alive…unconscious, but alive.”

Jim falls onto a kitchen chair and says, “Thank God. What about Liz?”

“She didn’t even know Liz was taken…she hasn’t seen her.” Max says sadly.

Jim shakes his head. “Max, look…White Sands is crawling with people. My bet is, if they’re there, they’re deep within…probably separate from the main base. We should go now, but just to check it out tomorrow and decide on what to do then.”

Nodding, Max says, “You’re right. Michael, let’s go pack and Jim? Bring a gun for yourself.” as he stands up and heads toward the door.

“Wait…I’m going with you.” Jesse says, stopping Max at the door.

“No, you’re not. You’ll only slow us down and I can’t worry about protecting you.” Max tells him.

“I can take care of myself, besides, Valenti’s going.” Jesse bristles.

“Valenti’s done this before…and his son is in there.”

“My wife is in there. I’m going with you.” Jesse says as he walks past Max out the door. “I don’t take orders from you.”

Admitting defeat, Max walks back to his car with Michael.

The next night
White Sands


Dressed in army fatigues, the four men lie on the ground outside a fence looking at a large grey building and the activity surrounding it.

“I have the name of the CO…that should get us past security at the door. From there, we’re blind…we’re gonna have to work with whatever connection you have to Liz.” Jim says to Max as they look through binoculars.

“It’s fading…we have to move now.” Max tells them.

They make their way back to the army jeep they stole on their way and drive to the first gate that will take them inside the base. They’re surprised when they’re waved through without any problem and park outside the grey building.

Approaching the security checkpoint, Jim steps forward and says, “Lieutenant James here to see Peterson.” The guard looks at the four of them, pausing to look at Michael closely and says, “Go ahead. You know where you’re going?”

“Yes.” Jim answers as he moves through the door with Max, Jesse and Michael following close behind.

Once inside, Max takes the lead down a long passageway. Keeping their eyes forward, they try to blend in with everyone else walking the hallways. Max makes two left turns and another right before opening a door and walking down three flights of stairs. They come out to a hallway that looks mostly deserted and Max looks both ways before turning right.

“Something’s not right.” He tells the others as he opens a door and they enter a large room with eight doorways along its walls. In the middle is a station, similar to a nurse’s station and Michael walks behind it. “Why isn’t anyone here?” Max asks as he makes his way around the room and looks through each windowed door. He’s confused, he was sure they would be in here…could almost feel it.

He stops at one door and opens it. Walking in, he sees a gurney surrounded by medical equipment and looks around to see that the two connecting walls are made of glass. Looking into the room next to the one he’s in, he sees another gurney. The room on the opposite side is dark. He walks back to the gurney and lays his hand on it…and is immediately hit with a flash of Kyle…hooked up to IVs and monitors. He pulls his hand away and walks back into the main room…dazed.

Jim is standing by the main door, keeping an eye out for anyone who might question them.

“Kyle was here.” Max tells him. “He was in this room…alive. They had him hooked up to a respirator and a heart monitor…he had an IV, maybe two.”

Jim walks over to look in the room as Max makes his way to the room next to it. When he walks in he heads straight for the gurney and lays his hand on it, but doesn’t get any flashes. Quickly, he makes his way around to all eight rooms and in the last one, he lays his hand on the gurney and sees a quick flash of Liz. He cries out and stumbles away, grabbing onto the doorway for balance.

Michael rushes to him and grabs him for support. “What is it?”

“They’re not here…they were, but not anymore. I can’t feel her anymore, they’re gone.” Max says as he leads the others out and back up to the main level.

Once they’re a safe distance from the base, they abandon the jeep and change back into their regular clothes in a gas station bathroom. They take a cab back to the motel they stayed at the night before and retrieve Jim’s truck before heading back toward Roswell.

“Max, did you see anything…that might tell us where they took them?” Jim asks the shaking young man next to him.

“No.” Max says shortly. He can’t stop his body from shaking and his eyes are burning with unshed tears as he looks out the side window next to him. He can’t feel Liz anymore and it feels like he’s empty and cold inside. She’s gone…she could be dead for all he knew and the thought chills him to the bone. From what he saw in the flash, she was in bad shape…she had been surrounded my doctors and the sound of machines beeping. They were operating on her and there was blood everywhere. Where are they? Where did they take her? He just wants to be able to go to sleep and hope that Isabel can dreamwalk him.

Somewhere over Oklahoma

Isabel sits, cuffed and strapped into a seat on a small jet…with no idea where they’re going. She can see the sun coming up over the horizon out the window and she guesses that they’re going north east. But east to where? In front of her lie two hospital gurneys…one containing Kyle and the other containing Liz. They look pale, Liz worse than Kyle. She has bruises around both eyes and her lips look purple. They took Kyle off the respirator, so at least he’s breathing on his own. She knows that Kyle was shot, she saw it and she can see the bandages on his upper torso that confirm it for her. She never saw what happened to Liz and she can’t see anything underneath the paper gown they have her in.

Dropping her head back on her seat, she tries to close her eyes and dreamwalk Max again. But either he’s not asleep, or they’re too far away because she’s been trying all night and she can’t get through. Turning her head to look out the window, her chin quivers as a lonely tear makes its way down her cheek. If she can’t reach Max, they’ll never find them…and as she watches the sun rise higher in the sky, she begins to lose all hope of ever going home to Jesse again.

In the cockpit, Agent Meyers is on the phone with Washington. “Three, sir.” He shrinks in his seat as he gets an ass-chewing by Gerard. “The local police showed up early…we had to evacuate.” He tries to explain. “But we did get their leader.” He says proudly, hoping this will overshadow the failure of the rest of the mission. “We also got Isabel Evans and Kyle Valenti. Parker is still unconscious, but she’ll be at full strength within the month, guaranteed. Without their leader, the others will make mistakes and we’ll be there to catch them when they do.” Grinning as he hears Gerard’s praise at capturing Liz Parker, Meyers looks into the main cabin and looks toward Liz, thinking, “You’ve just made my career…thank you very much.”

~TBC~
posted on 14-May-2002 10:34:32 AM by Angel
Part 4~

Six months later
Roswell


Max looks over at the clock beside his bed for the tenth time that morning. Finally, he whips the covers off and throws his legs over the side as he rubs his face wearily. He moved back in to his parent’s house a few days after graduation…they wanted him closer to them and frankly, he was tired of sleeping on Michael’s couch. He’s spent the last five months working full time at the UFO Museum and saving money to get his own apartment.

As he glances at the notepad by his bed, he curses silently at another night gone by without any contact from Isabel. The last entry on the pad of paper is also the first. He hasn’t heard from Isabel since that first night and right now, it looks like that’s their only hope left. Nobody has gotten any word about the whereabouts of Liz, Kyle or Isabel…no one is talking. Not that he thought they would, but his parents were so sure that they’d be able to find out something.

His Dad had threatened to go to the press, but Jim urged them not to…it would only bring unwanted attention to the rest of them and it wouldn’t help them in the end anyway. There had been a huge investigation right after graduation. The town of Roswell was outraged that something like that could happen and the FBI even came to town…to investigate their own kidnappings. It was laughable. They put on a good show, though, interviewing everyone…even Max himself. In the end, the official explanation ended up being terrorists. Max knew then that they would never find out anything through official channels.

Terrorists. Max had to laugh bitterly when that came out. He thought it was pretty ironic that the U.S. government was calling itself terrorists. In the days that followed, Maria retreated into herself and not even Michael could break her from it. She lost both her best friends…almost exactly a year apart. She didn’t talk to anyone anymore and she quit her job at the Crashdown to help her Mom at her alien themed store. Max hasn’t talked to her since…she refuses to see him.

Michael kept his job at the Crashdown and got another one at the local one hour photo. The last Max knew, he had been working on his powers out in the desert on the weekends. He can’t remember the last time he talked to Michael in person.

Jim got a job in the sheriff’s department again…as a deputy. It gives him better access to information without having to go through Hanson. He spent the first few weeks after graduation remodeling Kyle’s bedroom. It needed it anyway after Tess’ visit and subsequent damage. He also contacted UNM, where Kyle had gotten a football scholarship for the fall, and talked them into holding their spot for him. They, of course, knew that Kyle had been taken from his high school graduation by ‘terrorists’ and were more than happy to accommodate his father.

Jesse stayed where he was…still working for Phillip at the law office. He was frantic the first few weeks…beating on Max’s door and demanding that he do something. But he finally gave up and retreated into his own world.

As for himself, Max spent a solid three weeks in bed…sleeping as much as he could, hoping to hear from Isabel. During his waking hours, he stayed in his room and stared at the walls…wallowing in his depression. After three weeks, though, his Mom wouldn’t allow it to continue. She broke the lock on his door and forced him out of bed and out of the house. He had become pale and lost close to 20 pounds from surviving on warm soda and tortillas.

Max still calls everyone once a day…well, their answering machines at least…to let them know that he didn’t hear from Isabel during the night. That’s the only contact he has with anyone. He can’t bring himself to be around them, knowing they’ll just look to him for answers he doesn’t have. He doesn’t want to face them, anyway…face their disappointment, their defeat. He has enough of that for himself.

Standing up and walking to the bathroom, Max dreads another long day at the museum. As he showers and dresses, his thoughts are filled with what they always are…Liz. What would they be doing if she hadn’t been taken? Would they be living in their own place…getting ready together for their day ahead? He would probably give her a kiss goodbye after eating breakfast together and be looking forward to the end of the day when he’d see her again.

He would have made sure she went to school while he worked to support them. He could sit with her in the kitchen while she studied at night and help her study for tests and lying in bed at night, he could wrap his arms around her and tell her how much he loves her.

Shaking himself from his daydreams, Max leaves the house and drives the short distance to the UFO Museum. Trying not to look over at the Crashdown and the memories it stirs in him, he unlocks the door and prepares to open for the day. As he walks down the stairs, he sees Brody bent over the Alien Autopsy display, shoving the intestines back in the prone plastic alien.

“Good morning, Max.” He says as he notices Max walk in.

Max nods at him and says, “I can take care of that, Brody. You don’t need to fix the displays.”

“It’s alright…I was restless this morning.” Brody explains. “I spent the night following information from some of my connections.”

Max’s eyes open wide in curiosity. “Anything interesting?”

Walking back over after finishing the display, Brody says, “Just some unusual government activity…following some eyewitness accounts of strange incidents that some believe are alien related.”

His mind working overtime, Max asks, “Where at? What kind of incidents?”

Laughing quietly, Brody says, “I knew you’d be just as curious as I was.” He leads Max to his office and opens up some files on his computer. Bringing up several different pictures of the same building…all different angles, Brody fills him in. “From what I’ve heard, several different people saw some odd things coming from this area right outside of Washington DC. Bright lights mostly…but the interesting thing is this.” He pulls up one more picture and Max freezes, feeling his heart stop. It’s a picture of the same building at night, but it’s surrounded by a green energy field…with what looks like electrical currents running through it. “This happened two nights ago for ten minutes and this guy got a picture of it.”

“Look at that, Max. That has to be something alien, don’t you think?” Max faintly hears Brody asking him as they both stare at the picture.

Snapping out of his daze, he asks Brody if he can have a printout of it before asking him for the next few days off.

“You’re going there, aren’t you?” he asks. “Do you remember something from your abduction? Do you recognize this?”

Looking at Brody absently, Max nods his head and says, “Yes. I think so.”

Handing the printout to Max, Brody says, “I understand you need to go…but don’t be disappointed when it turns out to be nothing.”

Staring at the picture, Max slowly backs out of the office and says, “Yah…um…I have to go now.” And as he turns away he hears Brody call after him, “Take care of yourself Max.”

He practically runs out of the museum and looks around helplessly as he reaches the street. He needs to do something….what. Right…he should call…he should call Michael and the others. He looks around, confused, not sure where he should go. Every intelligent thought has flown out of his head and he starts to panic before forcing himself to calm down and take deep breaths.

He looks at the picture again to reassure himself that he’s actually seeing what he thinks he’s seeing. The green energy surrounding the building looks exactly like the green energy that Liz had earlier this year. The same green current that ran through her body so badly before she left for Vermont. The same green energy that she blasted Tess across Michael’s apartment with.

Fishing his cell phone out of his pocket, he dials the sheriff’s station and asks for Jim as he gets in his car and drives there. When he walks into the station, Jim is waiting for him and leads him to a conference room.

“It’s ok to talk in here.” Jim tells him as he closes the door.

Max throws the picture down on the table in front of Jim and says, “I need to know where exactly this is…who’s in it…what agency is there and how many people work there. As much as you can find out…it’s outside of Washington DC and I’m assuming it’s a government owned building.”

Jim looks at the picture in awe and asks, “What is this Max?”

Pointing to the green field surrounding the building, Max says, “Liz. Liz is here.”

Jim looks up at Max in surprise for a few moments before he says, “Can I make a copy of this?”

Nodding, Max watches as Jim leaves the room and gets out his cell phone again. He dials Michael’s apartment and gets his answering machine. “We’re meeting at your apartment in…” he looks at his watch. “…three hours.” And he hangs up.

Jim walks back in and hands the original back to him and says, “I’ll find out what I can.”

“We’re meeting at Michael’s in three hours. Get as much information as you can and meet us there.” Max says before adding, “It’s her, Jim. That’s her energy…and if she’s there, there’s a good chance that Kyle and Isabel are too.”

Jim is speechless as he looks down at the picture. They’ve had so little to go on, that he grasps on to what Max is saying with all he is. “I’ll be there.”

Max leaves the station and drives to Amy’s store while dialing his Dad’s office. When Jesse picks up, Max says, “Can you be at Michael’s in three hours?”

“What’s going on? Did Isabel contact you last night? I thought you said on my machine this morning that she didn’t.” Jesse asks, confused.

“No…but I have something else. Just try to make it…tell my Dad.” Max tries to explain without saying too much over the phone.

Jesse agrees just as Max pulls up in front of the store. Tucking his phone back in his pocket, Max looks out his windshield into the front window of the store and sees Maria inside, sitting behind the counter. She’s reading a magazine and twirling her hair around her fingers when she glances out the window and sees Max. Max hasn’t even seen Maria since they came back from White Sands…she avoided him and he…he avoided everyone. He tried to see her once, but she turned him away. They stare at each other, one dreading the news that she’s sure she’s about to hear…the other dreading being turned away in anger by his once best friend.

Max finally breaks away and gets out of the car, walking up to the front door and stepping through. He watches as Maria stands up behind the counter with a look of fear all over her face. Glancing around the store, he looks for anyone who might be there browsing.

“There’s no one here.” Maria says softly.

Nodding, Max steps toward her and pulls the folded picture out of his back pocket and lays it down on the counter in front of Maria.

“I think I found her.” He says as he pushes the folded paper toward her.

Maria brings her hand up to her mouth to hold in the sob that threatens to escape as she slowly unfolds the paper with her other hand.

“Oh God.” She cries when she sees the picture and the cries come out full force. She looks up at Max, then back to the picture. “That’s her! That’s her….her weird alien green stuff!” She looks back up at him with tears streaming down her face.

He nods at her and says, “I think so.”

Maria sinks down in her chair and lets out a deep breath before asking, “When was this taken?”

“Two days ago…outside of DC.” He tells her. “We’re meeting at Michael’s in three hours…Valenti is getting information for me.” He steps closer to the counter. “I thought you’d want to be there.”

Still looking at the picture, she says, “I’m going with you. I don’t care what you say, I’m going.” She looks up at him. “You are going, right? Today?”

“Yes, I am. We’ll go over the details at Michael’s.”

Surprised, Maria cocks her head at him. “You’re not gonna tell me I can’t go?”

“No, I’m not.” He gives her a small smile before grabbing the picture back up and turning to walk back toward the front door. Before he steps back outside he hears Maria say, “Thank you, Max.” He turns and smiles at her once more before leaving and getting back in his car.

Pulling out his phone, he calls the airline and buys five tickets to Washington DC. There goes all the apartment money he was saving. Oh well. When he reaches his house, he rushes in the front door and fills his Mom in on the meeting, counting on Jesse to tell his Dad before going to his bedroom and packing a bag.

~TBC~
posted on 15-May-2002 11:27:29 AM by Angel
Part 5~

Outside Washington DC

From the confines of her small room, Isabel can hear the screaming and crashing of things being thrown in the room next to her. Shaking her head, she curls up on her bed and wishes that Liz wouldn’t fight them so much. Every day it’s the same…they come to get Liz from her room and she fights them tooth and nail as they chase her around the room, trying to restrain her. It always ends the same, and Isabel just can’t understand why she keeps fighting.

Soon, the noise ends and she hears a door slam shut. “Assholes!” she hears Liz scream as they leave. It’s the last thing she hears, though, knowing they drugged her to get her to calm down.

Sitting up, she can hear the familiar footsteps in the hall and forces a smile on her face as an attendant walks into her room. “Good morning, Isabel.” The woman says to her.

“Good morning, Sharon.” Isabel says back, as nicely as she can. “Will I get to see Kyle today?”

“I think so.” Sharon tells her as she makes her way around Isabel’s room, gathering used towels and her morning breakfast tray. “I think they’ll allow it.”

Sighing in relief, Isabel sags back on her bed. She learned quickly, that if you were cooperative and pleasant, you were rewarded. Sometimes she gets to go outside and once a week she gets to see Kyle…that is if he behaves himself. She didn’t get to see him for an entire month after they first got here because he was recovering, then he fought them when he had the strength. They let her write him a note, begging him to cooperate and maybe they’d let him see her. Soon after, they brought Kyle to her room where they got to talk for over an hour.

She wrote a similar note to Liz, but after six months, she still wasn’t giving in. She tried dreamwalking Liz, to try to reassure her and get her to stop fighting them…but she couldn’t get in.

As Sharon moves to leave the room, she turns back to Isabel. “They’ll be here in about 30 minutes…nothing too major today.”

“Thank you, Sharon.” Isabel says sweetly as the door to her room shuts. Her smile drops immediately and she rolls her eyes as she lies back down on her bed. Nothing too major. Right. Last time she heard that, they pulled one of her molars out, right before sticking a cable with a small camera on the end of it down her throat.

She’s stopped trying to imagine what they’ll do to her next. Sometimes it’s worse than what she imagines…sometimes better. So she decided it’s best to not let herself get her hopes up that it’ll be painless and she just stopped trying to guess. Besides, she can’t even think of what else they could do to her.

It didn’t take her long to accept the fact that they were never leaving this place. She gave up trying to dreamwalk anyone she knew months ago. She tried night after night to contact Max, Michael, Jesse…even her parents. But it didn’t work. They were too far away. She still tries about once a week…just for the hell of it. Kyle still holds out hope…still believes that they’ll finish with them and have no choice but to let them go. Isabel smiles and nods at him, not wanting to take that little hope away from him.

But Liz…she hasn’t seen Liz since the day they got there…as she was unloaded from the plane and wheeled away. She hears her every day, though…her screams of fury. She doesn’t know for sure what they’re doing to Liz, but several times, she’s been startled to see her room bathed in a green, electric-like energy. It happened two days ago and she’s positive it’s coming from Liz. The large usage of power always surprises her, knocking the wind out of her. Kyle said he saw it when he was being walked down the hall…he told her it looked like the entire building was covered with it. The angrier Liz gets, the stronger her powers seem to get, is all Isabel can figure out.

She’s interrupted from her thoughts by her door opening and a white clad orderly coming in. He motions for her to get up and she calmly follows him out the door and down the hall. At least they trust her enough now to not restrain her anymore. For two months they dragged her out of her room with her arms and legs bound. But they stopped that when they realized she would go willingly.

They walk past the same doorways she passes every day and she smiles kindly at the familiar faces that walk by. As she enters the exam room, she says goodbye to the orderly, Scott is his name, as he leaves. She sits on the end of the padded exam table and waits for the inevitable entrance of Dr. Weston. A fortyish man with graying brown hair and a receding hairline. When he walks in, he’s looking at a clipboard and says, “How are you this morning, Isabel?”

“Fine, Dr. Weston. Thank you for asking.” She says sweetly. “So what do we have scheduled today?”

He looks up at her and smiles…it makes her skin crawl. “Just a little minor surgery. We’ll put you into light sleep in a moment.” And he turns to the desk that’s placed against the wall, setting his clipboard down.

Isabel swallows and watches the door, waiting to see who else will be joining them. After a few moments, a nurse and another man walk in carrying a try, which is covered by a cloth, hiding what’s underneath. She scoots back on the table to lie down as the nurse walks over to her and inserts an IV into her arm. Within 30 seconds, the room goes dark as she loses consciousness.

When she wakes up, she’s in her room. Wincing as she tries to sit up, she raises her shirt and sees a bandage over the right side of her abdomen. She lifts it up and sees a four inch incision, sewn up with stitches and she covers it back up. One more to add to her collection.

After a lunch of pudding and a milkshake, she’s surprised to see Kyle being led through her door. “Kyle!” she exclaims and tries to get up from her chair, only to wince in pain and sit back down. “Sorry, surgery this morning.” She tells him as she points to her side.

He nods and looks at her concerned for a moment…touching the same spot on the right side of his abdomen absently...before jerking his head toward Liz’s room. “Any news from the red headed step child over there?”

Laughing softly, Isabel says, “Not really. She threw a fit this morning, but it’s been quiet ever since.”

Shaking his head, Kyle looks down at his hands folded in his lap. “I wish she wouldn’t do that. I wish I could see her…make sure she’s ok.”

“I know…me too.” Isabel looks at him sadly.

Kyle stands up and walks over to sit on Isabel’s bed, leaning against the wall. Isabel watches as he goes through the now familiar routine.

He knocks his fist on the wall and says loudly, “Liz! Can you hear me? It’s Kyle!” He listens for a few moments, his ear against the wall and he hears her yell something he can’t understand…and he tries again. When he doesn’t get an answer he gets up and sits back down next to Isabel. “I have to try.” He says as he shrugs his shoulders.

“I had the best dream last night.” Kyle changes the conversation.

Isabel looks at him enthusiastically. “Oooh…do tell!” Telling each other their dreams has become an escape for them. Every time they get together, they narrate their dreams…telling every detail they can remember.

“Remember Vicky Delaney? I went out with her a few times our sophomore year…lost my virginity to her.” He smirks.

Isabel rolls her eyes at him and motions for him to continue.

“We were hanging out right after a football game…I caught two touchdown passes and everyone was all over me, congratulating me for winning the game.” He closes his eyes and smiles as he continues. “Anyway, Vicky, to celebrate, decided she was gonna give me a little strip tease.”

“Ok, I don’t want to hear your sex dreams, Kyle…you got anything not relating to sex?” Isabel laughs at him, holding her hand up.

“Hmmm…” Kyle looks around the room in thought. “Nope, sorry. What do you got?”

“I dreamed about Alex the other night. We were at the prom…but we were the only ones there. We danced all night and…talked.” Isabel tells him dreamily.

“Riiiiight…talked.” Kyle says with a smirk.

Blushing, Isabel says, “Yes, talked. You want some pudding?” as she points to the leftover pudding on her tray, abruptly changing the subject.

Laughing, Kyle says, “Sure…you can never have too much pudding.” He grabs a spoon and helps himself.

They talk for the next hour about insignificant things…and about home, wondering what everyone’s doing and making up stories about everyone they know…weaving an imaginary life for their friends and family. They never talk about what happens to them…what tests are performed. They know by their matching scars and healing wounds. Isabel looks over at the scar that runs down the side of Kyle’s neck…it looks just like the one she has. They have no wish to discuss anything the people here are doing to them or what they’re doing with the results.

But they talk about Liz…what may be happening to her. They both worry about her well being since neither of them has seen her. Kyle hasn’t seen her since graduation.

Their visit ends all too soon and someone comes to retrieve Kyle. He leans over and hugs Isabel, giving her a small kiss on the cheek. “See you next week.” He tells her as he’s led out of her room.

Lying down on her bed, Isabel starts counting down to the next time she’ll get some time with Kyle.

Roswell
Michael’s apartment


Max waits on Michael’s couch for everyone to show up as he looks down at the green covered building in the picture he’s holding. Michael is sitting at the kitchen counter when they both look up to see Maria walk through the door.

She sees Max and glances at Michael before walking further in. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Max says. “We’re just waiting for everyone else.”

She nods and looks back over at Michael before sitting down and clasping her purse in her lap.

The three sit in awkward silence until Jesse and the Evans walk in. “Max…what’s going on?” Phillip says as soon as he walks through the door.

“Let’s wait for Jim, Dad. Then I’ll tell you everything.” Max says.

They don’t have to wait long before Jim comes rushing through the door, carrying a stack of papers. “Sorry I’m late, I had to wait for a few faxes before I came over.” He says as he shuts the door behind him.

He sits down next to Max and hands him the papers as Michael gets up to sit in the living room. “So you wanna tell us why you dragged us all away from work, Maxwell?”

Max looks up at Michael and says, “I think I know where they are. Brody showed me this, this morning.” He passes the picture over to Michael. “That’s Liz…they’re there.” He turns to Jim. “What did you find out?”

“It’s all there, Max.” he says as he points to the papers. “That building belongs to the FBI…all the information you asked for is in there.”

“What building? What’s this about Max?” Jesse asks irritably.

Michael passes the picture to Jesse and his mouth drops open. “What is this?”

“That’s Liz. That’s her energy…the power she got from…me.” Max tells him as he sees his parents looking over Jesse’s shoulder at the picture in shock.

“Oh my God…what…this green glow came from Liz?” Phillip asks Max.

Nodding, Max explains. “It showed up earlier this year. We think it’s from me healing her. At one point, her entire body was covered with that and it was…hurting her…it’s why she went to Vermont. She hoped it would go away if she got away from me.”

“Did it? Go away? She looked fine to me when she got back.” Diane says, still looking at the picture.

“We thought so…but it came back when Tess was here. We think it has to do with her emotions…whether it appears or not.” He continues. “We’re going, today. I got tickets…the flight’s in two hours.”

“Going where?” Phillip asks.

“Washington DC. That’s where that building is. That’s where they’re at.” Max says before continuing. “You need to stay here…it won’t be safe and you can’t help us.” He says to his parents.

“I’m going.” Jesse says quickly.

“I know.” Max answers him just as swiftly. “I got five tickets.”

Nodding, Jesse hands the picture back to Max. “I’m gonna go home and pack.” He says as he turns to leave. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

As they watch Jesse leave, Phillip says, “I’m not sure about this, Max. I don’t feel right staying here and waiting for you to…to do whatever it is you’re going to do.”

“It’s better if you don’t know, Dad. You can’t be involved in this…it’s not safe, for either of you.”

Jim stands up and says, “I’m going to pack, too. I’ll meet you at the airport?”

Max stands up and says, “Yah…be there in an hour…and any police issued weapons you can get for yourself and Jesse…bring them.”

“What about me?” Maria asks, offended that she was left out.

“You’re not carrying a gun.” Michael tells her. “You’ll end up shooting us.”

She rolls her eyes and says, “Well, don’t get in my way!” She turns to Max and says, “I’m going home…I’ll see you in 45 minutes. You need to pick me up.” and she walks out the door.

Max turns to his parents. “I’ll call you when we get there and if we find anything. Don’t worry…we’ll be fine.”

“Alright, Max. Just…please bring Isabel back home.” Diane cries as she hugs Max.

“Be careful…don’t do anything stupid…like get yourself caught.” Phillip says to Max over Diane’s head. He reaches out and puts his hand on Max’s shoulder before extracting Diane from Max. “Come on, Diane…let’s go home.”

Max watches his parents leave and turns to Michael. “You know I’m gonna do whatever I have to do to get them out of there.”

“I know.” Michael says, watching Max.

“They come first.”

“I know.”

“If something happens to me, your priority is to get them out.”

“Ok.”

Max looks at Michael, confused that he’s agreeing with everything he says.

“What?” Michael says finally. “You’re pissed when I argue with you, you’re pissed when I don’t. What the hell do you want me to say?”

“Nothing.” Max shakes his head. “I just…I was expecting you to…never mind.” He sighs deeply. He and Michael have drifted apart so much, that Max doesn’t recognize him anymore.

The two of them look at each other…the air thick with challenge, anger, sadness…and understanding. Finally, Max says, “I better go…get Maria. Unless you want to.”

Laughing sarcastically, Michael says, “No way…she’s all yours Maximillion.”

With a grin, Max walks out the door and heads to his car.

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Washington DC


Wearily rubbing his eyes, Gerard looks at the report in front of him. “So what are you telling me, Meyers? Tell me this report is wrong.”

“I don’t know what to make of it, sir. The girl, Liz Parker, is completely human. I don’t know how to explain it.” Meyers tells him.

“So…this human girl can fling things around without touching them and engulf an entire building with green…energy of some sort? And she’s not alien in any way whatsoever?” Gerard is baffled, looking at Meyers in disbelief.

“Yes, sir. We’ve performed every test…repeatedly…and they all say the same thing. The same with the boy.”

Squeezing the bridge of his nose, Gerard mutters, “We’re fucked! So the other one, Isabel? She’s alien, right?”

“Oh yes…definitely. Funny though, she’s the most cooperative out of the three.” Meyers informs him.

“I don’t see what’s funny about it.” Gerard snaps at him. Shoving the report away from him in disgust, he looks up at Meyers. “Let the boy go. Drop him. I want more tests on the girl…get a neurosurgeon in there to look at her brain. I want answers, and I want them yesterday.”

“Yes, sir.” Meyers says as he stands up and gathers the folders on the desk in front of him before turning to leave Gerard’s office.

When he’s alone, Gerard leans back in his chair and mutters, “Leader my ass. She’s a goddamn human…” How could the surveillance information be so wrong? All reports clearly indicate that she’s the one in charge…the one making the decisions…the one the others look to before doing anything. He takes a deep breath and rolls his head on his shoulders…thinking. The next logical choice would be Max Evans. But after the incident at Meta-Chem, and the transfer of power to Michael Guerin…it’s been clear that Max Evans is no longer in control.

~TBC~
posted on 16-May-2002 1:27:47 PM by Angel
Part 6~

FBI building
Outside Washington DC


Waking up with a start, Liz sits up in bed with a gasp. She looks around wildly as the realization of where she’s at settles over her. She pushes her matted hair off of her face and listens to the knocking coming from the other side of the wall. She listens to the voice calling out to her and looks curiously in that direction. Why won’t they stop that annoying knocking? Every week, it’s the same thing…it just infuriates her more.

She can feel the anger coursing through her and she walks over to the door, pounding on it, screaming, “Let me outta her! Hey! Assholes…open this door!”

Looking back at the wall, she listens to the knocking again and the voice calling out behind it. She slides down the door and slumps on the floor as she thinks, “Who the hell is Liz? And why does that guy think that she’s in here?”

Holiday Inn
Washington DC


Max sits on the bed in his hotel room and looks over the papers Jim gave him again. He’s memorized everything on them and he’s trying to formulate a plan to get them inside. Hearing a knock on his door, he gets up and opens it to find Jim and Jesse. Stepping back to let them walk in, he shuts the door behind them and turns.

“I think we should go stake the place out tonight, Max…find out when the least amount of people are hanging around.” Jim says.

Nodding, Max sits back down on the bed. “We need a cover to get in the building…or at least inside the gates. Any ideas?”

“I think I can help.” Jesse looks at Max…meeting his questioning gaze. “I have a buddy…works at the Hoover building. He’s not high enough to know anything, but I bet I can get some passes from him…without questions.”

Surprised, Max says, “That would be perfect. Anything that can get us inside.”

“I’ll call him in the morning and see what he can do.” Jesse says.

“Ok, you want me to get Michael and we’ll head out there?” Jim asks, heading to the door.

“You better get Maria, too. She won’t let us leave her behind.” Max tells him.

As he leaves, Jesse asks, “Do you feel anything…any connection with Liz?”

Shaking his head, Max says, “No.” He had hoped that as they got closer to DC, he would feel her again…but he doesn’t feel anything. He doesn’t want to think about what that means so he changes the subject. “Maybe Isabel will try to dreamwalk me tonight…we’re close enough she should be able to. I just hope she’s still trying.”

Standing up, Jesse says, “I’m gonna go change into something a little more stealthy.” as he smiles and leaves the room.

45 minutes later, the five of them are standing on the side of hill that overlooks the building in Max’s picture. Max is looking through the night vision binoculars that Jim brought. “Two guards at the gate…3 more at the main door. I see…12 cars parked in front and…wait. Someone’s driving in. He’s flashing the gate guards a pass. He barely stopped, now he’s parking…getting out of the car…the guards at the door are making him sign in and pass a card through a security reader at the door.”

Looking over at Jesse, he says, “See what you can do about a security card, too. It’s only five guards, but I don’t wanna have to take them out if I don’t have to.”

Nodding, Jesse takes the binoculars from Max and looks over the building.

They watch for two and a half hours, not seeing any more movement in or out of the building and they decide to pack it up and go back to the hotel. But before they turn to go, Max and Michael stumble back and Michael grabs his head. “What the hell?”

“What is it?” Jim asks as Maria supports Michael and Max falls to the ground on his knees.

“I don’t know…someone’s using a lot of power…” Max says as he looks toward the building.

Jesse’s jaw drops as he sees a thin stream of bright green light shoot out of the roof. “What the…”

“Liz…” Max whispers…getting up and taking a step toward the building.

Jim grabs his arm, steadying him, and says, “Well, I guess we know she’s in there.” He can’t tear his eyes away from the sight.

Maria has her hand over her mouth in shock as Michael leans on her.

For 15 minutes, they all stand on the side of the hill…watching the steady stream of energy flow up into the night sky…like a beacon.

Max clenches his jaw as he watches the stream drop back down into the building…stopping. Maybe she knows they’re there…maybe she can feel him, but he can’t feel her. Is it a signal to them? Or…are they doing something to her to make it happen?

“What are they doing to her?” Maria whispers. “How can she do that?”

Turning, Max starts back toward their car…not saying anything.

Watching Max walk away, the others fall in behind him and silently make their way back to the car. Each with thoughts of what kind of torture the people in that building could be performing on their loved ones at that very moment.

Inside the building
20 minutes earlier


Dr. Weston enters the testing room to find Liz already strapped onto the table. Her arms suspended straight up toward the ceiling with restraints…wrists bent back so that her palms face up. He doesn’t bother with the pleasantries…knowing the response he’ll get. But he warily watches her as he crosses the room and her eyes follow him. If he had to pick one alien out of the bunch, this one was it. The test results make no sense at all. There’s no way this girl is human…and he’s going to prove it.

He has a bio-protective suit on, with a tinted sheet of bulletproof plastic on the hood that he can see out of. His breathing becomes rapid as he approaches her and picks up the electrodes, greasing them and attaching them to the sides of her head, holding his hand on her forehead to keep her head still. When he’s finished, he attaches two more to her sides and turns to the machine next to him after picking up his clipboard to take notes.

Turning the dial to 3 before making a note on the level, he flips the switch and listens as the machine hums to life. He stands back and waits for what he knows is coming and isn’t disappointed when her body arches up and her hands strain against their restraints before a bright green light shoots straight up out of them and up through the ceiling.

He backs up even more and watches the monitors for heart rate and EKG before turning his attention to the light show going on in front of him. All her readings remain normal for the next 10 minutes, except for a slightly elevated heart rate. He makes more notes on his clipboard and looks back up at her face. Shocked, he sees her head turned straight at him…her face a mask of hatred. After several more minutes, her heart rate starts to elevate and blood pressure drops. He turns to the machine and flips the switch back down and her body falls back to the table, exhausted. The light disappears and she closes her eyes…her face covered in sweat.

Making a few more notations, he turns to the intercom. “You can come take her back now.” He says into it before taking one last look at the sleeping girl and leaving the room. She’s an enigma to him. They’ve looked at this girl from the inside out and everything says that she’s human. But she exhibits such incredible power…the green energy field and the ability to fling things around without flinching. They learned after she recovered from her gunshot wounds to not leave breakable, heavy, or damaging objects in any room she’s in. She killed one of the orderlies by pummeling him to death without lifting a finger. Since then, they’ve had to drug her to keep her sedated and clear her room out.

She doesn’t communicate at all…except to yell at them to let her go or to swear and spit at them. The shock treatments are probably the cause of her continuing slide into wild behavior but he’s been ordered to continue the treatments…against his better judgment. If they continue at this rate, she’ll be a vegetable within a few months. Of course, he has to remind himself that a normal human would have been a vegetable long before now…confusing him further about her human status.

They know that she was healed somehow by one of the others, but it doesn’t explain how she has these abilities…since they also know that the boy was healed as well and doesn’t exhibit any kind of special ability. Shaking his head, he heads down the hall to his office to write a report on the tests performed today.

~TBC~
posted on 17-May-2002 12:08:40 PM by Angel
Thanks for all the wonderful feedback! *happy*
edit: Well, I can't get into the first page of this thread to edit the title. Anyone else know how to edit the subject line?


Part 7~

Holiday Inn
Washington DC


Michael lies in bed, his hands clasped behind his head as he thinks about what they all saw earlier. He can’t even think of the ramifications of Liz having that much power. How is it possible. None of them even have a fraction of that kind of power. What does it mean? Do they…and they just haven’t tapped into it? Or is Liz special because of Max healing her? The questions swirl around in his head as he hears a soft knock on his door.

Getting up, he opens the door to find Maria standing there…tears on her cheeks. She flies into his arms and he holds her tight…carrying her into the room and shutting the door.

“I’m so scared, Michael.” Maria whispers through her tears.

“I know…me too.” He tells her as he sets her down and rubs her back, soothing her.

She looks up at him. “What are they doing to her in there? What have they been doing to all of them?”

He looks up at the wall as she buries her face in his chest. “Can I sleep in here…with you tonight?” she asks in a small voice.

“Sure.” He strokes her hair and leads her to the bed, pulling the covers down. He tucks her in and walks around to get in the other side. As he pulls the covers up, Maria moves in next to him and cuddles up against his side. He wraps his arms around her and strokes her arm as he leans over and kisses the top of her head.

Max is lying in bed, curled up on his side, his eyes shut tightly. He’s trying to block out the thoughts of what happened to him in the white room…trying not to imagine them doing the same things to Liz. He needs to sleep, needs to see if Isabel will try to dreamwalk him but he can’t will himself to.

“Liz, Liz, Liz, Liz…” He whispers her name over and over again, desperate for some kind of sign of his connection to her, some kind of spark. Why can’t he feel her? Ever since he healed her and reversed the connection for her, he’s been able to feel her presence…just a small feeling within him, telling him she’s near. Why can’t he feel her now? She’s close, so close.

Lying in bed, Jim stares at the ceiling as Maria’s words run through his head. “What are they doing to her?” Are they doing the same things to Kyle? Are they performing experiments on him? His stomach rolls as he thinks about what Kyle has gone through the last six months. He wonders if Kyle will start to exhibit the same powers Liz has…if he will. Max healed all three of them…will he and his son change as well? If they do, they’ll never be safe again.

Finally dozing off to sleep, he’s woken a few hours later by the sound of his cell phone ringing. He stumbles out of bed and grabs his phone out his jacket pocket and answers sleepily. “Hello.”

“Jim, its Hanson.”

“What can I do for you, Hanson?” Jim wonders what latest crisis has popped up in Roswell. Since he started working at the station again, Hanson has relied more and more on Jim’s input…knowing that he’s the more qualified man as sheriff.

“We got a call…from Kyle.” He stutters into the phone, clearly shaken up.

“What?! When?! Where is he?!” Jim is suddenly very awake.

“He’s at a phone booth at a convenience store in Ohio…says he was just left in the middle of nowhere.”

Panicking, Jim asks, “Give me the number.” And he writes the numbers Hanson ticks off on a Holiday Inn envelope. “Thanks, Hanson…I’ll call you back.” He hangs up the phone and picks it back up, shaky fingers dialing the number in front of him.

It rings three times and Jim is scared that Kyle isn’t there anymore before he hears a breathless Kyle answer. “Dad?”

“Kyle! My God, is it really you? Where are you? Are you alone?” Jim sinks on his bed, tears falling down his face.

He hears Kyle holding tears back on the other end as he says, “I’m alone…right outside of Columbus. They just…just came in and took me while I was sleeping and brought me here in a helicopter and just…left. I don’t have any money or ID or anything…you have to come get me, Dad.” And then the sobs come.

Rubbing his eyes, Jim says, “Ok, listen to me Kyle. Hanson said you were at a convenience store…do they have a Western Union?”

After a few seconds he hears Kyle say, “Yah…there’s a sign in the window.”

“Ok, give me the address of where you’re at…then I’m gonna hang up and call you right back…don’t move.”

“Ok, Dad.” Kyle says, telling Jim the address before he hangs up the phone.

Jim scrambles to pull out the phone book from the night stand before going to get his wallet. He calls the Western Union number and gives them his credit card number, arranging to have money sent to the address Kyle gave him. After he hangs up, he calls the phone booth again.

“Kyle, wait about five minutes then go in…there should be money there for you. The code word is Roswell.” Jim instructs his son.

“Then what?” Kyle asks.

“Then I want you to call a cab and go to the airport there. I’m gonna call American Airlines and get you a ticket and tell them that you’re traveling on official police business, that it’s an emergency and you don’t have any ID. I’ll be waiting for you when you get off the plane.”

“I…I don’t have any shoes…” Kyle absently says.

Jim’s heart constricts at the helpless and confused sound of Kyle’s voice. “Buy some…they should have flip flops in the convenience store…or buy some at the airport. Kyle, you’ll be flying to Dulles in DC, not Roswell.”

“O…ok. Dad? I…I missed you.” Kyle’s voice breaks.

“I love you, son. I’ll see you soon.” Jim says to him softly. “I have to call the airline now…I’ll see you real soon, Kyle. Now, get to the airport as quick as you can…I’m gonna book you on the next flight out of there.”

“Ok, Dad.” Kyle says weakly before hanging up.

Jim calls Hanson to tell him to expect a call from American Airlines verifying that Kyle is flying on police business before hanging up and calling the airline. After several agonizing transfers, he’s finally able to get Kyle booked on a flight that leaves Columbus in an hour for Dulles. He gives them the number for the Roswell police station and Hanson’s name and badge number.

Max is woken up by a loud banging on his door. He stumbles to it sleepily and opens it to find a wild looking Jim standing on the other side. Jim pushes his way in and blurts out, “They let Kyle go…he’s in Ohio. I just talked to him and he’s on his way to the airport. We need to meet him at Dulles in a few hours.”

“What?” Max asks, confused. “He’s in Ohio? What…is he alone?”

“He’s alone. They flew him there in a chopper and just dropped him off outside Columbus and left him there alone.”

“Does he know if they let Liz and Isabel go, too?”

“No…he said they just grabbed him while he was sleeping and took him.” Jim says as he sits on the bed.

“Ok…ok…good.” Max looks at Jim and nods at him reassuringly. “That’s good. Is he ok?”

“He sounded ok…confused…and scared. But he’s ok enough to call me.” Jim drops his head in his hands and his body shakes with sobs of relief. “I can’t believe it…I can’t believe they just let him go.”

A thousand different thoughts are running through Max’s head as he wonders if they let Liz and Isabel go, too. Were they dropped off somewhere else? Is his phone going to ring and Liz’s voice spoken to him from the other end? He picks up his phone to make sure it’s on and stares at it…willing it to ring for a few moments before dropping it back on the desk.

“Ok…let me get dressed…you get the others up and we’ll go to the airport.” Max tells Jim as he walks into the bathroom.

An hour later, the five of them are in the car headed toward the airport. Everyone is talking at once, asking Jim what exactly Kyle said…theories about what’s going on are flying.

They quickly park the car and rush into the airport to the American Airlines counter. Jim flashes them his badge and confirms with them that Kyle made his flight. Sighing in relief, they make their way down the terminal and stop for some coffee and something to eat while they wait for his flight to get in.

When the time approaches for Kyle’s arrival, they make their way to his gate and wait…watching the plane pull up to the gate. The stand as a group and watch the attendant open the jetway door as passengers start to file through.

Suddenly, they see him. They see Kyle step through the door and look around, his eyes falling on them. Max notices that he’s wearing green hospital scrubs and flip flops on his feet. His hair is long and he has dark circles under his eyes…the skin on his face pale…almost yellow.

Jim rushes forward and pulls Kyle to him roughly as they both sob in relief at seeing each other again. The others watch the reunion with a mixture of relief and sadness. Each is caught up in thoughts of Liz and Isabel…wishing they were there, too.

Jim leans back and takes Kyle’s face in his hands. “You don’t know how happy I am to see you, Kyle.” He says as tears stream down his face.

“Me too, Dad…me too.” Kyle smiles through his own tears.

Hugging him again, Jim doesn’t want to let go. But after a few moments, he leads Kyle away from the gate and to the others waiting.

Maria rushes forward and hugs him fiercely. “Kyle! It’s really you!” She stands back and takes in his appearance, running her hand down his neck, over the scar there and down his arms as Michael steps forward and grabs Kyle’s hand in both of his.

“Glad to have you back, man.” Michael tells him.

Kyle nods and looks at Jesse…avoiding Max’s piercing gaze. He can’t look at Max yet…doesn’t want him to see the look in his eyes when he asks about Liz. Jesse puts his hand on Kyle’s back and says, “It’s good to see you, Kyle. Really good.”

“Isabel is fine, I saw her yesterday…and she’s…she’s ok. I got to spend time with her a lot…she misses you.”

Jesse sinks down in a chair and nods his head at Kyle. “Thanks, man.” He tells Kyle before bringing a hand up to rub his face.

Kyle glances at Max, then looks to the floor before he hears Maria ask, “What about Liz? Is she ok? Did you see her?”

He looks at Maria, barely able to look in her eyes. “I…she was there…in the room next to Isabel.” He takes a deep breath before continuing. “But I…I don’t know. I haven’t seen her since graduation.” His eyes flicker to Max before looking back down to the floor. “She…she…we tried…” his voice drops off as he looks away, tears pooling in his eyes.

Jim puts his arm around Kyle and says to the others, “We should go back to the hotel…we can talk there.”

At everyone’s agreement, they walk away…Max trailing behind…thinking the worst possible thoughts at what Kyle told them. What about Liz? Why couldn’t Kyle look at him? Tried what? Why did he get to see Isabel and not Liz? His body is flowing with fear and apprehension at what he’ll tell them.

On their way back to the hotel, Kyle says, “You know…as comfy as these things are…I’d give my right arm for some normal clothes. You think we can stop somewhere and get me something to wear? I’ve been wearing these for six months.”

“Sure…Max, pull into that Target over there…we’ll get you something there.” Maria says as she hangs on to Kyle’s hand…not wanting to let go.

While Jim and Maria run in to get Kyle some clothes and shoes, Kyle, Max, Michael and Jesse stay in the car. After a few minutes of silence, during which Kyle leans his head back on the seat and closes his eyes, Jesse turns to look at Kyle. “Can you tell me about Isabel?”

Lifting his head, Kyle catches Max looking at him in the rearview mirror before he looks over to Jesse. “Yah…Isabel’s doing good. Or she was as of yesterday anyway. She wasn’t hurt too badly at graduation…I think she was awake from the beginning. I didn’t see her until after about a month…it took a while for me to recover…they shot me twice at graduation.” He stops when everyone in the car turns to look at him in concern.

“It’s ok…they patched me up. One in the shoulder…another one in the side.” He tells them as he points to the places on his body where the bullets hit him.

Looking back at Jesse, he continues. “Anyway, if it wasn’t for Isabel I’d probably be in the same boat as Li…” he cuts his sentence off abruptly when Max whips his head around to look at him. “Right…I’ll get to that…um…later.” Clearing his throat, he tells Jesse, “She figured out early that if she was cooperative and nice to them, they’d give her anything she wants. They treat her like she’s staying there as a guest or something. They gave her a CD player and some books and sometimes they even let her go outside. If I was cooperative, they let me go see her about once a week…for an hour.” He smiles at Jesse reassuringly. “She’s fine….oh! They let us play monopoly once…that was cool.”

When he stops talking, the car goes back to silence before Kyle speaks up again. “So…uh…why are we in DC?”

Michael looks back to him questioningly before he looks at Max and Jesse, then back to Kyle. “This is where you were, man. We’re about 10 miles from the building they were holding you at.”

Max watches in the rearview mirror as Kyle’s face pales even more, if that’s possible, and his eyes go wide. “What?! Why the hell would you be here?! Why the hell would you bring me here?!” Kyle looks around wildly and sinks down in his seat.

“They have no way of knowing you’re here, Kyle. Relax. They obviously decided to let you go…it’s ok.” Max tries to calm him. “You’re safe with us.”

Kyle snorts. “Right! Jesus! You’re all trying to get me killed, aren’t you?”

Jesse puts a hand on Kyle’s shoulder. “We came here to get you…to get all of you. Max found out where you were the other day.”

Kyle takes this in and says, “Wow…weird timing, huh?” He relaxes slightly and continues, “So…you’re really gonna try this? To go in and get them out?”

Jesse nods at him and looks out the window to see Jim and Maria walking back to the car carrying bags. Jesse scoots over to let Jim in the backseat as Maria gets in the front on Michael’s lap. She turns around and grabs Kyle’s hand again and says, “We got you a stylin’ Target wardrobe, buddy.” And she winks.

“Great…I can’t wait to see what you picked out.” Kyle rolls his eyes at her as Max starts the car and drives back to the hotel.

~TBC~

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 17-May-2002 12:15:39 PM ]
posted on 20-May-2002 10:32:25 AM by Angel
Part 8~

Back at the hotel, everyone gathers in Jim’s room as Kyle goes in the bathroom to shower and change clothes. Jim reluctantly orders a pizza to be delivered, at Kyle’s request. 8:30 in the morning, and the kid wants a pizza. But he’s more than willing to give him what he wants.

When Kyle emerges from the bathroom he finds five pairs of eyes trained on him in expectation and he sits in the chair at the desk. “So…maybe you should tell me how much you know and I’ll fill you in on the rest.”

Max immediately speaks up and says, “We don’t know anything. The FBI told everyone after the investigation that you were taken by terrorists.”

Kyle rolls his eyes and laughs sarcastically. “Riiiiight.”

Jim pulls out Max’s picture from the folder on the bed and hands it to Kyle. “Max found this the other day…from one of Brody’s contacts. That’s why we’re here.”

Kyle looks at the picture in awe before he looks up at Max. “Wow. I saw it…inside…but I had no idea…” He looks back down at the picture and says, “I saw it…maybe 10 or 11 times. I knew it was Liz…it looks just like what she had before…you know…in the desert.” He glances back at Max before handing the picture back to his Dad.

“Isabel told me she could feel it…that she could feel the power being used. She didn’t know it was Liz until I told her.”

“We saw something last night…we were staking the building out and we saw a stream of this shoot up into the sky from the building.” Michael tells him. “Do you know why, or how she’s doing this?”

Kyle shakes his head as he looks over at Max. He takes a deep breath and figures that he can’t wait any longer. “I haven’t seen her, man. We know she’s there because we can hear her…screaming at them. She fights them constantly…Isabel told me she can hear them fighting in Liz’s room, that she screams and yells and throws things around. They let Isabel write her a note, begging her to stop fighting them…but it never stopped. They wouldn’t let us see her. Whenever I’d go to Isabel’s room, I’d try knocking on the wall and talking to her, but she never responded.”

Looking at his Dad, he confesses, “I overheard two guys talking in the hall one day. I think she killed someone…one of the orderlies that went in her room to get her. They said she beat him to death…but I don’t know what happened.”

He looks up at Maria…at her shocked face…her hand covering her mouth. And Max…his head is hanging in his hands as Jim puts a hand on his shoulder.

Jesse looks at Kyle and asks, “They did things to you.” He motions to Kyle’s neck. “Can you tell us what they did? What they’re doing to Isabel?”

Kyle nods and looks at the ground. He sighs and sits straighter in his chair…not wanting to talk about it, not knowing how to tell them. He’s so used to avoiding the subject with Isabel that he doesn’t know where to start. “I can’t tell you for sure about Isabel…we…we never talked about it.” He pauses and says, “But I think they did the same things to us…she has the same scars I do…that I could see.” Standing up he says, “Maybe I should just show you…” and he lifts up his shirt and pulls it off.

Maria gasps, a sob escaping her lips. “Oh my God!” she rushes to him and runs her hands down his chest and asks, “Does it hurt?”

He shakes his head and says softly, “Not anymore.”

Max stares in shock at the marks marring Kyle’s torso. There’s large scar just below his shoulder…from the bullet…a square patch of skin on his chest where it looks like the removed skin. His gaze lowers as he sees multiple incisions on his abdomen…some fresh…and a white bandage taped over one area. Bile rises in his throat has he sees another bullet wound in his side surrounded by other incision scars. The scar on his neck is about 7 inches long and runs from the top of the side of his neck to the juncture of his shoulder. Kyle explains what he can.

Kyle sees Max looking at the round burn marks on his side and his temple. “Shock treatment…I got it three times.”

“Turn around, Kyle.” Max chokes out as he stands up.

Jim groans as Kyle turns and they see his back. His hand flies to his mouth as he rushes to the bathroom to vomit. Jesse looks in horror at the scar running down the center of Kyle’s back…from the base of his neck to the bottom of his spine. On each side of his back are symmetrical, round scars…four on each side.

As Jim comes out of the bathroom, Kyle looks at him in concern. “They knocked me out for most of it…it’s ok, Dad.”

Jim looks over to Max and asks, “Can you heal him, Max?”

Max looks at Jim, then at Kyle. He swallows and nods slightly. “Yah…just…just give me minute.” And he sinks down on the bed…trying to calm his rolling stomach.

Kyle looks down at himself as he turns around and says, “It looks pretty bad, doesn’t it? I don’t know what they were looking for, but I think they were pretty disappointed to find out I was completely human. They kept trying to get me to use my powers…even after I kept telling them I didn’t have any. I’m pretty sure they were expecting something to happen during the shock treatments…they’d stand around looking at me like they were waiting for me to do something. I guess that’s why they let me go.”

Jesse can’t help but ask, “Did they do that to Isabel? The shock treatments?” as he points to his temples, indicating the burn marks there.

“Yah…she had them, too. But I don’t know how often or what happened…we didn’t talk about that stuff when we were together.” Kyle tells him, watching Jesse’s face fall.

Michael stands up suddenly and says, “I bet that’s what they’re doing to Liz…it explains her power surges.”

Maria and Max look at him in shocked realization as Kyle quietly says, “Yah…that’s what I guessed…after the first few times.”

Just then, there’s a knock on the door and Maria goes go to pay for the pizza and brings it in…setting it on the desk before Kyle rips off the top and pulls out a slice. “Oh man…pizza. It’s been so long since I had something good to eat.” And he stuffs half of it in his mouth.

Jesse stands up and says, “I’m gonna go to my room and give my friend a call about those passes.”

Max looks over at him and nods, still reeling from everything Kyle told them. As Jesse leaves, Max leans back to lie on the bed and throws his arm over his face. He reaches out, hoping to grasp on to any connection and he still can’t feel one. As the voices around him drone in the background, he slowly drifts off to an exhausted sleep.

His dream transports him out to the desert, to the night he and Liz made love the night before graduation. Kissing Liz, he drowns in the feeling of her surrounding his senses. She’s running her hands over his back, under his shirt and he moves to her ear to whisper how much he loves her.

He’s interrupted from his drug-like Liz state by a throat clearing in front of him. His head comes up and he sees Isabel sitting on the sand in front of them. “Max…please don’t make me watch anymore.” Isabel rolls her eyes at him.

He scrambles off of Liz and says in surprise, “Isabel!”

She stands up in front of him and says sadly, “Max…I’ve been trying to reach you for so long. I thought I’d never see you again.” And she steps forward to hug him.

He holds her tight and says, “We’re coming to get you, Iz. We’ve seen the place they’re holding you.”

She steps back in surprise. “What?! Are you serious? How did you find us?”

Shaking his head, he says, “It’s a long story…there’s no time. We’re in Washington DC…the plan is to get you out tonight. You need to be ready.”

Isabel nods her head and says, “I don’t know where we are, Max…but Liz is in the room next to me. I think Kyle is being held in a room down the hall.”

Max shakes his head and tells her, “They let Kyle go. He’s here with us. They let him go last night.”

Her eyes open wide. “They did? I just saw him yesterday! Oh God…they let him go…is he ok?”

“He’s fine…are you sure Liz is still there…that they didn’t let her go, too?”

“She’s here…I heard her…about an hour ago.” She looks down at the prone form of dream Liz on the desert ground.

Dream Liz is smiling up at Max and reaching her hand up to Max. “Max…come back.” She moans to him.

Max looks down at dream Liz and the corner of his mouth quirks up in a smile as he reaches his hand down to grab hers.

He looks back up to Isabel, his eyes full of unshed tears. “Can you try to get through to her? Let her know we’re coming?”

“I’ll try, Max…but I haven’t been able to yet. What time?”

“Hopefully a little after 1am. Be ready for anything, Isabel…we’re not leaving tonight without you.” Max tells her seriously.

She nods and steps forward to hug him again. “Be careful, Max. You’re bringing Michael and Valenti, right?”

He nods and looks into her eyes, “Maria and Jesse, too.”

“No! You can’t bring Jesse in here, Max! And Maria?! What are you thinking?” She asks him in horror.

“I can’t stop them, Isabel. I would have had to tie them up in Roswell to keep them away…you know that. Besides, we’re gonna need everyone we can get.” He tells her.

“Tell Jesse I love him, Max…and that I can’t wait to see him.”

He nods and she continues. “And tell Kyle that I’m glad he got out…tell him…tell him I had a really good dream that I wanna tell him about.” Tears fill up her eyes and she breaks away. “I have to go now…I just laid down for a nap…I have to wake up before they come. Be careful.”

Max watches as Isabel disappears and he looks back down at dream Liz before he lowers himself back to the ground…getting caught back up in his dream.

Liz moans as he kisses her neck, “Oh, Max…Max…”

“Max!”

He wakes up with a start to see Michael standing over him. “Wake up…we don’t need to listen to your moaning while you have sex dreams.” He walks back over to the desk and picks up a slice of pizza.

Max’s face flushes as he sits up and rubs his face. “Isabel was there…she dreamwalked me.”

“Ewwww…” A look of disgust crosses Maria’s face and Max looks around to see everyone else’s matching look of disgust.

“No! Gross! I was dreaming about Liz…and Isabel showed up. You guys are sick.” Max explains.

“Oh…well, ok then.” Maria says. “What did Isabel say?”

“Not much…I told her to get ready, that we were coming tonight.” He looks over at Kyle and says, “I told her you were with us…she was surprised. She told me to tell you that she had a good dream to tell you about?”

Kyle nods and a smile crosses his face. “Cool.” He stands up and says, “If you guys don’t mind, I’m gonna go take a nap. I’m beat. We’ll talk about how to get around when you’re inside when I get up, ok?”

“Sure…you want me to heal those before you go?” Max stands up and asks Kyle before he leaves.

Kyle nods and sits down on the bed. “Do your magic.”

Jim watches as Max passes his hand over Kyle’s chest, neck and abdomen before moving to his back and swiping his hand down…leaving smooth skin in its wake. When he’s done, he sits down and says, “Good as new.”

Kyle stands in front of the mirror and twists around, admiring the smooth skin and says, “Wow. That is so cool. Thanks, man…you know…it’s kinda handy having you around.” He smirks at Max. Putting his shirt back on, Kyle says, “So…if you don’t mind…” he nods toward the bed and looks at everyone.

“Oh…right.” Maria says as she stands up. “I guess we’ll move our party to another room. Come on guys.” She grabs Michael’s hand and motions for Max to follow her. She kisses Kyle’s cheek as she passes him and says, “I’m so glad you’re ok, Kyle.”

He nods to her and walks toward the bed, falling onto it before looking over at his Dad. “Wake me up in a few hours if I’m still sleeping?”

Jim walks over to him and puts his hand on his shoulder. “Sure thing. Sleep well…I’ll be right next door if you need anything.”

He turns out the light and steps out of the room, shutting the door behind him before following the others to Max’s room.

~TBC~
posted on 22-May-2002 1:27:49 PM by Angel
Part 9~

When Isabel wakes up, she looks around and smiles in anticipation. She finally has hope that she’ll get out of here. Thinking about Jesse, she hopes that he doesn’t do anything stupid and get himself hurt. But she can’t help but feel elated that he insisted on coming with Max…it must mean that he still loves her…that he wants to be with her as much as she wants to be with him.

She paces her room as she tries to come up with a plan to see Liz. There has to be a way to get through to her. Her thoughts are interrupted by her door opening. She smiles and calmly follows the orderly out of the room and down the hall, into the exam room. When Dr. Weston walks in, she tries to control her anxious fidgeting on the table and smiles sweetly at him. “Good morning, Dr. Weston.”

“Good morning, Isabel. How are you feeling today?” he looks her over before walking to the desk.

“I’m good, thank you for asking.” She follows the routine small talk that they go through almost every morning before breaking from the normal. “Dr. Weston, can I ask you a question?”

He looks at her, surprised with the unusual question. “You can ask.” Letting her know that he probably won’t answer.

She takes a deep breath and says, “I heard Liz this morning…fighting with the orderlies.”

He nods at her and waits for her to continue.

She smiles at him and says, “I was just thinking…that maybe I could try to talk to her…maybe I could get her to calm down and cooperate with you more.” She offers this suggestion hopefully and tries to smile at him in understanding. “I know how much easier it would be for everyone if she would stop fighting you. I just hate knowing that there’s so much conflict between us…and you…I think you know I want our stay here to be as pleasant as possible.”

He looks at her curiously. She’s never resisted them…has been quite pleasant, in fact. If only the others could be more like her…he laughs to himself at his little joke. If only they could be more like her…alien. “We tried that already…we allowed you to write to her.”

Nodding, Isabel tries to stay upbeat. “Yes, and thank you for that. But…with the state of mind that she seems to be in…I can’t help but think that she might not have believed that it was really from me. I just think that if I could talk to her for a few minutes, I could get her to see that things could be a lot easier for her. After all, you’ve been so nice to me…I feel so guilty that she’s doing this to herself.” Please let that be sappy enough, she thinks to herself as she gives him a self-deprecating smile.

He regards her for a moment, thinking over what she’s asking for. It certainly doesn’t matter to him how Liz Parker behaves, but if he could get her to calm down…to cooperate…he could get the orderlies and nurses to stop complaining to him.

“Well, Isabel…I think you might have a good idea. Maybe it would do Liz some good to see a friendly face. I’ll arrange some time when you leave to stop by her room…hopefully you can get her to see how things work around here…that it won’t help her to keep fighting us.” He says as he steps up to her. “Ok, let’s get a look at that incision…see how it’s healing.”

Smiling, and jumping for joy internally, Isabel raises her shirt and lets him look at the incision on her side. “Thank you, Dr. Weston…I’ll do whatever I can to help.”

Thirty minutes later, Isabel is following an orderly back down the hall and wiping her hands on her pants nervously. Hopefully they’ll leave her alone with Liz…she just needs to tell her that they’ll be getting out soon…that Max will be here tonight.

Waiting anxiously as the orderly stops at Liz’s door, Isabel watches as the he passes a card through a security reader. She doesn’t have one of those on her door…but it doesn’t matter, it’ll be easy enough to manipulate with their powers. As the door opens slowly, the orderly quickly pushes her through it and shuts the door behind her after quickly saying, “You have ten minutes. Bang on the door if you need help.”

Barely registering what he says, Isabel stands shocked…looking at the room around her. It’s bare. A bed is next the wall and she sees that it’s been bolted to the floor. On the ceiling, there’s a single light that’s surrounded by a metal cage. That’s it. It’s nothing like her room...where she has lamps, books, a stereo, and other odds and ends lying around. Her eyes are drawn toward the corner where she sees Liz and she gasps, her hand flying to her mouth, her eyes opening wide. “Liz?” she says softly.

Liz is hunched on the floor in the corner, her head on her knees, arms wrapped around her calves. Her hair hangs to the floor and is so matted and tangled that it takes Isabel a moment to realize that it actually is Liz. As Liz raises her head, Isabel can tell she’s been drugged because her head wobbles a little on her neck. The dark circles around her eyes are so dark it looks like she has two black eyes. Her lips are dried and cracking and the eyes that look back at Isabel are dead…there’s nothing there…none of the life that used to be there. There’s also no recognition.

“Liz? It’s me…Isabel.” Isabel moves to take a step closer to her and drops to her knees, not wanting to scare her. “Can you hear me, Liz?”

Narrowing her eyes, Liz looks at Isabel and says, “Who are you?”

Freezing, Isabel says, “I’m Isabel…remember? Max’s sister.”

Liz eyes her, looks at her clothes and says, “You’re not one of them.”

“No…I’m…I’m in the room next to you.” She nods toward the wall next to the bed.

“You’re the one that keeps knocking…I heard a man’s voice coming from your room.” Liz looks at her suspiciously.

“That’s Kyle…your friend, Kyle. We were so worried about you.” Isabel is hit with the fear that Liz doesn’t even know who she is as she subtly moves closer to Liz. “Do you remember me? Do you know your name?”

Liz calmly watches as Isabel moves closer to her across the floor. “You keep calling me Liz. I don’t know you, or Kyle.”

Shaking her head as tears pool in her eyes, Isabel says, “No, it’s you, Liz. Please…just…just try to remember. They’re not giving me much time in here…and I have to tell you something. Please try to remember…remember Max? You two are so much in love…you were gonna get married right after graduation. Remember graduation? It was right before they brought us here. Max loves you so much…he always told me you were his soulmate.”

Liz watches the girl in front of her…watches the tears fall down her cheeks as she talks about this Max person. This girl must be crazy…she doesn’t know any Max and she was never anyone’s soulmate. But she feels a strange warmth inside her every time this girls says his name. It’s almost like it’s swirling through her body and she vaguely recognizes the feeling. Max…the name seems familiar…but she doesn’t know anyone named Max. She doesn’t know anyone besides the monsters in this place because she’s always been here.

Shaking her head, Liz says, “I’m sorry…but I don’t know Max…and I don’t know who you are or what you think you need to tell me. But unless it’s that you found a way out of here, you better just go back to your room.”

“That’s exactly what I came to tell you…Max is coming…tonight. He’s coming to get us out of here.” Isabel whispers to her.

Liz’s eyes open wide in disbelief, then curiosity. “Are you like me?”

“Like you?” Isabel asks.

“You know…different?”

Isabel nods and says, “Yes, I am. Max is like us, too. You need to be ready…he’s coming tonight around 1am. We’ll get this all sorted out when we’re out of here.” When she sees that she has Liz’s attention, she continues. “Please just…try to cooperate with them for the rest of the day so they don’t drug you tonight. You need to be awake when he gets here.”

She barely gets to finish the sentence when she hears the door open and the orderly peek inside. When he sees that Liz is still on the floor, he walks in and motions for Isabel to join him.

Isabel gets up off the floor and walks toward the door, turning back to Liz. Liz is looking up at her, confused and Isabel says, “You understand? Do you understand what we talked about?”

Liz nods at her before shooting the orderly an angry look and he leads Isabel out and shuts the door behind him.

When she’s back in her room, Isabel falls onto her bed with a sigh. Could things be any worse? Liz doesn’t even know who she is…what did they do to her? She can only hope that she got through to her.

3 hours later

Liz is still huddled in the corner, thinking about her strange visit from Isabel. She has no idea what the girl was talking about but she holds onto the only important thing. Someone was coming to break them out of this place tonight. And hell, if they’re willing to break her out with the rest…who’s she to argue. She may not know much about herself, but she knows one thing…she doesn’t belong in this place.

She looks up as an orderly opens the door and walks in her room, followed by another. He’s holding a syringe and they’re looking at her warily. It’s the usual routine when they come to get her. If it were any other day, she’d be rushing at them, kicking and screaming. But today isn’t any other day. Holding her hands up, she slowly rises off of the floor and remains still…holding her hands out to them. “I won’t fight you today.”

At their disbelieving looks, she rolls her eyes and says, “Really. Here, you can cuff me…I don’t feel like fighting with you today…I’m tired.” And she turns her head to the side, assuming as peaceful stance as she can.

They approach her slowly and one of the orderlies pulls out some handcuffs, quickly snapping them on her wrists. As they roughly pull her forward, she says, “It’s ok…I know how to walk…you don’t have to pull me.” as she falls into step beside them.

As they walk down the hall, the two men on either side of her grip each of her arms…confused at her sudden acceptance. They lead her into the exam room and move to stand on either side of the door until the doctor comes in.

Dr. Weston is surprised when he walks in the room and sees Liz Parker calmly sitting on the edge of the table. He looks at the guards in question and they say, “She cooperated fully, sir…no resistance.” as they leave the room.

Looking at her curiously, Dr. Weston makes a note on his clipboard and says, “Did you enjoy your visit with Isabel?”

She looks up at him surprised. He’s never talked to her directly. “Yes.”

He nods and says, “Good. I see you took her suggestion seriously.”

She doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but assumes it has to do with not fighting them. “Yes…I think it’ll be better this way.”

“I’m glad, Liz…you’re right…you’ll make your life a lot easier.” He tells her as he tentatively approaches her. “Isabel figured that out a long time ago…and she’s very happy here.”

Her face turning red with anger, she controls it and only looks at the floor. “Yes, sir. I hope to be happy here, too.” Happy here…how delusional is this guy? How could anyone be happy here? Then something else he said hits her…he called her Liz. Is she Liz? The name doesn’t sound familiar to her, but apparently everyone believes that she’s this Liz person.

“Ok, can I take a look at your incision…see how it’s healing?”

She nods and willingly lifts up her shirt with her cuffed hands and lets him examine her…hoping that Isabel was telling her the truth. Because she won’t be letting anyone here touch her again after this.

After she willingly lets them lead her back to her room, she holds out her hands to let them remove the cuffs from her wrists. Once they’re off, the orderly anticipates a reaction but doesn’t get one. As he makes his way to the door, he turns to see her calmly sit on the edge of her bed and he leaves her room, surprised and very confused.

1am

Dressed in black suits, Max, Michael, Maria, Jim and Jesse sit in a large, black Expedition down the street from the main gate of the building that holds Liz and Isabel.

Earlier that day, Jesse met his friend at a restaurant where he was able to get an ID badge, a gate pass and a security card. Jesse told him they would alter the badge so his name and picture weren’t on it and was thankful that he didn’t ask too many questions.

Max made copies of the badge and altered it so that each of them is now wearing one clipped to their lapels. The security card most likely didn’t open any doors in the building they were going to, but they just needed it to look like it did…alien powers would do the rest.

Max stared out the windshield, going over the map that Kyle drew for them earlier in his head. “Are you ready?” He asks the rest of them as he looks at the gate in the distance.

“Let’s go.” Michael says from the passenger seat. Max changed Michael’s hair at the hotel…making it shorter and more conservative. They couldn’t afford suspicion.

Driving forward, Max approaches the gate and slows as he flashes the gate pass out the window to the guard. The guard glances at it and waves him through and they all breathe a sigh of relief as Max pulls forward to park next to the row of cars already there.

As expected, the only other people around are the three guards at the main door. Max pulls the car in a spot toward the corner of the building, as close to the side door they saw there as possible. As they get out of the SUV, Maria smoothes out her skirt and they make their way to the door.

Coming to a stop in front of the small table, the guard sitting behind it eyes each one of their badges and nods his head to Max toward the clipboard lying on the table. “Sign in.”

The other two guards are eyeing them warily as Max bends down to sign a random name from an Iowa FBI field office that Jesse’s friend gave him. Maria smiles at one of the door guards and leans on the table, waving her hand in front of her face. “Whew! It’s warm out tonight, isn’t it?” and she reaches up to unbutton the blouse she’s wearing under her suit jacket.

The guards nod at her as they watch her expose more of her chest. Michael clenches his jaw and does everything he can to keep his eyes on Max as he straightens from the table and reaches in his jacket. Pulling out the security card, he swipes it through the reader…his hand glowing slightly before it beeps and flashes a green light. None of the guards see this as they’re too busy watching Maria pull the top of her blouse away from her skin…fanning herself.

When the door clicks open, Max steps forward and pulls it open…everyone following behind. As Maria passes the guards, she shoots them a friendly smile and says, “You boys keep cool out here.” and she follows Jesse in through the door.

Once inside, Max doesn’t slow his pace as he follows the route in his mind. Trying not to look conspicuous, Jim walks next to Max with Michael and Maria behind them about 20 feet and to the right. Jesse walks at a slower pace behind Michael and Maria and hopes that anyone who sees them won’t see five people storming through the halls together.

At this hour, they see few people walking the halls, and the people they do see don’t give them a second glance as they go about their business. Max walks through a door that leads to a stairwell and they make their way down two flights of stairs before coming out to a dim hallway. There’s no one here…the corridor dim and silent. Michael stays by the door as the rest follow Max.

Max leads the way down the hall and stops at the door that Kyle said was Isabel’s. Just as he reaches for the handle, an orderly turns the corner…yawning and holding a cup of coffee. He narrows his eyes at them and says in a loud whisper, “Hey…what are you doing?”

As Max walks toward him, he says, “We were sent here to…” he doesn’t finish as he raises his hand quickly to the orderly’s forehead and the man slumps to the floor…spilling coffee all over it. Looking around to see if anyone else is coming, Max walks back over to Isabel’s door and waves his hand over the handle, hearing it click open.

Quickly, he moves to the door next to it and waves his hand over the security card reader, then the door handle. As it clicks open, he sees Isabel run out and into Jesse’s arms out of the corner of his eye. Michael, Maria and Jim are stationed at different positions down the hall, keeping watch as Max swiftly opens the door in front of him. He stands motionless…his feet frozen to the ground as he looks into the room.

Faintly, he can hear Isabel whisper to him. “Max…she doesn’t…” but he doesn’t listen as he walks into the room. “Liz?” he chokes out in a whisper. Standing in front of him is something he never expected in his wildest dreams. It looks like Liz, but…not. He can barely recognize her through the thick, mangy hair that hangs almost to her waist, the bruises on her face and the dark circles ringing her eyes…which are looking back at him blankly, and an angry scar splitting her upper lip. He can’t think about this right now…they have to get out of there. Shaking away his shock, he whispers, “Let’s go.” and motions for her to precede him out the door.

As Liz steps into the hallway, she looks to the left and sees Isabel standing with another man. She notices for the first time that they’re all wearing FBI badges and she backs away, her eye’s widening in fear and moving to Isabel in accusation. Isabel steps toward her and whispers, “It’s ok…they’re fake…they needed them to get in.”

Nodding, Liz looks back up at the group of people surrounding her. They’re all looking at her like she just sprouted a second head. She doesn’t have time to think about this, though, before they start moving. As they quickly make their way down the hall, Liz sees another girl looking at her…her face a grimace and her eyes filled with tears. Liz shoots her a look that says, “What the hell are you looking at?” before looking away. Are all these people like her?

She doesn’t have time to ponder that question as they climb up two flights of stairs and come out on a level where a few people are lingering around. She falters…sure that they’re going to be stopped as she feels a hand gently urging her forward. She looks up into an older man’s eyes and he motions to her to keep moving.

They quickly make their way through the hallways and she almost thinks they might actually pull this off when a loud alarm sounds and red lights start flashing. “Shit!” she hears someone say and they start running…hands pulling her arms to run faster. At the end of the hall, she can see a door with a red exit sign above it and she repeats in her mind, “Go, go, go, go, go…”

When they’re almost to the door, she hears a shot ring out behind them and they all freeze. She turns to see Dr. Weston with a group of military men around him…all with guns pointed at them.

“Stop…or we will shoot.” One of the soldiers says.

Liz looks at Dr. Weston, sees the determination on his face…and something else. Maybe fear…and desperation. She feels power surging in her as she looks at him in hatred…and her hand slowly starts to rise.

Dr. Weston says, “Liz…don’t do anything rash…no one will hurt you.”

“You won’t hurt me?!” Liz snorts as she brings her arm higher, aiming for him. “I’m going to kill you, you sick bastard.”

But she feels someone grab her arm and force it down, pushing her back…the dark haired guy who opened the door to her room…and he moves in front of her.

What Liz sees next makes her stumble back into someone who steadies her. The guy who stopped her from blasting the soldiers in front of them holds his arm up and bright green energy shoots out of his palm and flattens in front of them like a barrier. Guns go off and she can see that it’s some kind of shield as the bullets bounce off of it. She doesn’t get a chance to look for very long before she feels someone grab her arm and pull her outside.

The next thing she knows, she running toward a big black SUV and everyone is diving in as the engine starts. She looks up and sees the guy with the green shield running toward them and he dives in after them into the back and they peel backward out of the parking spot.

Someone yells in the truck to get down and she ducks as she hears gunfire and bullets hitting the outside of the SUV. She peeks up from the floor to see them flying toward a gate…a guard pointing a gun at them. Her eyes open wide when she sees the man in the front seat lean out the window and shoot the guard...and they crash through the gate.

Crouching on the floor in the backseat, Liz wraps her arms around her head as they fly down the road, turning corners so fast she’s sure two wheels leave the ground at one point. Suddenly they stop and she feels herself being pulled quickly out of the SUV and into an alley. Everything’s a blur as she’s pulled to another car and they’re driving again. When she looks around she sees that not everyone is in the car with them and she turns to look at the driver…shield guy, she named him…in panic.

“They’re in another car…we had to split up.” He says when he sees her looking around in confusion.

She nods and looks in the backseat to see Isabel and the guy she saw her with when she came out of her room. She looks at Isabel and asks, “Is that Max?” she points to Jesse.

Isabel looks over to see Max whip his head at Liz in confusion. She shakes her head at Liz sadly and points to Max, “That’s Max.”

Liz looks over at shield guy and says, “Oh.”

Max looks at her, then the road and back to her. His face has confusion written all over it and he looks at Isabel in the rearview mirror for an explanation.

“She doesn’t remember, Max. She doesn’t even know who she is. She doesn’t know who any of us are.” Isabel informs him.

Max swallows and stares out the windshield as he drives, clenching his teeth.

Jesse is stroking Isabel’s hand and asks, “Wait, she doesn’t remember anything? How did that happen? What did they do to her?”

“I…I don’t know. They let me see her for the first time earlier today and she didn’t even know who I was.” Isabel says, leaning her head on Jesse’s shoulder.

Liz sits in the front seat, her knees drawn up to her chest as she stares out the passenger side window as their car speeds through dark streets. These people act like they know her. Do they? She doesn’t even know anymore…she doesn’t remember her life before that place. Maybe Isabel was right…maybe she is Liz. Everyone else seems to think so…even Dr. Weston called her that earlier today.

She doesn’t know where they’re taking her…but she’ll stay for the ride as long as they get her away from here. She continues to watch the passing scenery as Isabel and the other man talk about her in the backseat. She starts to get angry that they’re talking about her like she’s not there…but doesn’t have the energy to say anything.

~TBC~
posted on 23-May-2002 11:28:08 AM by Angel
Thanks for the great feedback, Angel eyes, roswellluver, LEL, Scottie, marteloise, mitra, pandas2001, Wayliz, Spicy trini1, nickeygurl13, tamira, LittleBit, Tabasco Liz, lgoral, Cinder, calishali, angeleyes, Angelalien, TrueLoveConquersAll, frenchkiss70, mandyhanford, Shama, AvengingAngelIQ, jeremiah, Dia, ISLANDGIRL5, and Lelea!

It means a lot that you take the time out to let me know you're reading. I've had a bad week, I got laid off from my job last Friday and I'm kind of flapping in the wind trying to figure out what I'm going to do now. Right now, my heart just isn't in this, but seeing your great feedback really inspires me to write more. I hope you enjoy the next part. *happy*

Part 10~

An hour later Max pulls the car onto a dirt road in the country somewhere and Liz sees that they’re driving toward what looks like an abandoned barn in the middle of a field. He pulls up front and gets out to open the barn door before getting back in and driving inside. He turns the car off and gets out to shut the barn door as everyone gets out of the car.

Liz looks around the barn, her arms hugging herself, as Max opens the trunk and unloads the contents. Isabel and the other man are hugging and kissing…whispering to each other. She turns and watches as Max lights a kerosene lamp and sets it on the trunk of the car and she looks down to see a pile of rolled up sleeping bags at his feet, guessing that means they’re sleeping here tonight.

Looking over at Isabel, she sees her wrapped up in the other guy’s arms and she guesses that he must be her boyfriend. She feels eyes on her as she turns her head and sees shield guy staring at her…Max…his name is Max, she needs to remember that. She feels drawn to him in a strange way and the warmth she felt yesterday stirs once again in her. It coils out from her chest and down her arms and legs…she can’t pull her eyes away from him and she feels like her entire body is humming. Isabel said she was going to marry this guy…before she was taken. Is it true? By the look on his face, she can tell he’s in pain…that he wants her to remember him. But she can’t.

Isabel walks over to Max and hugs him, saying, “Thank God you found us, Max. I’m so happy to see you.”

He hugs her back, not saying anything as they hear a car approaching outside. Max pulls away from Isabel and goes to the door, looking out through the crack. As the car gets closer, Max opens the door for them and they pull in before he closes the door behind them.

Maria is the first one out of the car and she runs over to Liz, grabbing her and pulling her close for a hug. “Oh God, Liz…I missed you so much!”

Isabel watches as Liz stiffens and struggles to push Maria away. “Maria…Maria!” she yells at her to get her attention.

Maria backs away, confused at why Liz is pushing her away and looks over at Isabel.

Isabel walks to Maria and gently pulls her away from Liz, giving an apologetic look to Liz before saying, “She doesn’t know who you are…give her some space.”

“She doesn’t know who I am?!” Maria exclaims. “What do you mean she doesn’t know who I am?!” she looks over at Liz and sees the look on her face…a mixture of anger and fear.

“She doesn’t know who any of us are…she doesn’t know who she is.” Isabel tells her.

Michael and Jim walk over to Max, glancing over at Liz as they help unload the second car’s trunk.

Maria stares at Liz for a few moments and takes in her appearance before turning to Max. “Max…aren’t you gonna fix her?!”

Liz looks over at Max and wonders what ‘fixing her’ would entail. Suddenly, she’s not too sure she should be here with these people. They could be more dangerous than the people she just escaped from. They got her out of there, but who knows where they were taking her? She looks at Isabel and says, “Look, I’m really grateful that you all got me out of there…and I…I don’t know who you people are. But I don’t think I wanna know. So…um…I think I should just…go…and um…yah.” She’s slowly inching her way toward the door.

They all stare at her…afraid to make any sudden movements and scare her when the door bursts open and Kyle walks in.

They all jump and look toward him. “Jesus, Kyle!” Michael yells at him. “You scared the shit out of us.”

“Sorry. But I need to pull the bike in.” He turns and walks the motorcycle he rode there into the barn before turning to close the door.

From the corner, Liz watches Kyle rush over to Isabel and hug her. She sees Isabel look in her direction and nod her head toward her. Kyle stands back and looks over at Liz, his eyes going wide and his mouth dropping open in shock.

Liz cowers further into the corner as Kyle walks slowly over to her. She hears Isabel saying something to him but he doesn’t stop. “Liz…thank God you’re ok.” He says to her as he approaches.

When he moves to touch her arm, she doesn’t flinch away and he says, “Liz?”

“Kyle? I…I know you.” she says, confused…remembering his voice as the one that talked through the wall to her.

Everyone stares at them, shocked, as jealousy knifes through Max. She remembers Kyle and not him.

“Of course you know me.” He smiles, confused at her response at seeing him.

“You’re the one who talked to me…through the wall.” She says quietly.

Thoroughly confused and hit with a sudden realization, Kyle says, “You don’t know who I am, do you?” His shoulders sag at the knowledge and his hand drops from her arm.

She shakes her head and she sinks to the floor, bringing her knees to her chin and wrapping her arms around them. Her tears come quickly and she starts rocking herself back and forth as she cries. All these people know who she is. Shouldn’t she know? Why can’t she remember? What’s wrong with her?

Kyle backs away from her as Maria comes up to him and grabs onto his arm. They all watch helplessly as Liz rocks herself on the ground and her head comes up to look at Isabel. “Isabel?” she cries.

Isabel rushes over to her and kneels on the ground beside her as Liz looks at her with big, brown eyes and asks, “Why don’t I know who I am?” as she sobs harder and buries her head in her knees.

Tentatively, Isabel reaches out and puts her arm around Liz…not knowing how she’ll react to her touch. When she feels Liz lean into her, she wraps both arms around her and whispers, “Shhhh…we’ll figure it out. It’ll be ok…we’ll figure it out.” and Isabel gently rocks Liz back and forth as she runs her hand down her hair.

Max watches helplessly, as his sister comforts Liz. He had been so scared that she was gonna run for it before Kyle showed up. Now that it looks like he doesn’t have to worry about that, he notices that Michael is saying something to him. “…get some sleep…and change our appearance...cars.”

“What?” Max turns to him, trying to concentrate on what Michael’s saying.

“We should get some sleep, Max. We need to get up early and change our appearance and the cars.” Michael repeats himself.

“Right.” Max says as he bends down to grab the sleeping bags. He throws two over to Jesse and one to Kyle, Jim, Maria and Michael.

Jim walks over to Max and quietly pulls him aside. “Do you know what’s wrong with her, Max?”

Max looks over at Liz and Isabel and slowly shakes his head. “No.”

“She looks worse than Isabel and Kyle…do you think you can, you know, help her?” Jim asks.

“I don’t know. I can heal her physically…but I don’t know about her memory. And right now, I doubt I could get close enough to do anything.”

Jim notices the devastated look on Max’s face and puts a hand on his back. “It’ll be alright…we’ll figure it out when we’re on the road.” He walks back over to Kyle and they whisper quietly together.

Everyone numbly moves to unroll their sleeping bags…silence falling over the barn like a blanket…as Isabel looks up. She looks over at Liz and says, “We need to sleep for a while…ok?” She runs her hand over Liz’s hair and bends down to look at her face. “It’ll be ok…you’re safe with us. We all love you, and we’ll figure out why you can’t remember, I promise.”

Liz nods her head and sniffles, letting Isabel pull her up and lead her over to where Jesse is. “Max, throw me another bag.” Isabel asks him when she sees that Jesse has already unrolled both of theirs.

Max looks at Liz sadly before reaching for a bag and tossing it to Jesse. He unrolls his bag in front of the door…he’ll be able to keep an eye out for anyone coming…and moves to turn the light of the lamp down low. As everyone gets settled, Max climbs into his bag and watches as Jesse unrolls the sleeping bag for Liz next to Isabel’s and she gets in. He stares up at the rafters, watching the flicker of the lamp light play in the shadows.

A few feet away, Maria watches Liz get in her sleeping bag and Isabel whispers something to her before she closes her eyes. Michael zipped their bags together and she lies on her side with Michael’s arms around her. Sensing what Maria’s thinking about, Michael leans in and whispers in her ear. “I’m sure Max can heal her…it’ll be ok.”

She nods, not taking her eyes off of Liz…as they drift closed and she falls asleep.

Liz wakes up slowly, aware of voices around her. She cracks open her eyes and it takes her a few moments to register where she’s at. Daylight is streaming through the cracks in the walls and she shifts to lie on her back…opening her eyes fully when she sees Max sitting on a bale of hay a few feet away…watching her. She sits up slowly, bringing her hand to the recent incision on her side and wincing…her eyes fall to the cup that he’s holding in his hands.

“Coffee…reheated…but it’s ok. Want some?” He asks her, desperate to check her over…find out what’s in pain and heal every mark on her body…but knowing she probably won’t let him near her.

She considers his offer, looking from him to the cup. “Do I like coffee?”

He looks at her for a moment…then smiles slightly as he stands up and walks away…returning with another cup. He sets it down on the ground next to her and says, “Yah. You like coffee.”

She watches as he sits back down and she picks the cup up and takes a tentative sip of the hot liquid. Deciding that she does indeed like coffee, she takes a longer drink and looks up at Max. “You’re right.”

Max watches her as she looks around and a look of shock and confusion crosses her face…the cup freezing in place on the way to her lips. She looks back to him as he says, “We have to change how we look.” He tells her, knowing that she’s looking at the others, wondering why they all have different hair.

“Oh.” She says as she looks at the cars. They’re both different colors than they were last night. She looks back over at Isabel…who now has long, red curly hair. She sees that the other girl has long, straight brown hair now, instead of the short red hair she had last night.

When Isabel sees that Liz is awake, she walks over and sits next to her on the ground, glancing up at Max before looking at Liz. “Hey. Did you sleep ok?”

Liz nods her head and takes another sip of her coffee. She looks at her hair and says, “You look different.”

Isabel smiles and says, “That’s the idea.”

As Liz continues to look at Isabel’s hair, she absently brings her hand to her hair and pulls it around to look at it…frowning when she sees how awful it looks. Looking back at Isabel, she asks hopefully, “Can you change mine?”

Isabel’s smile gets bigger and she says, “Yup. How do you want it?”

Liz looks down at her matted hair, then up to Max…suddenly embarrassed at how she’s sure she looks. Her cheeks flaming, she looks at Isabel and asks, “How did it used to look?”

Isabel looks over at Max to see that he’s looking down in his cup sadly. She turns back to Liz and says, “You have beautiful hair…I was always so jealous.” She smiles and waves her hand over Liz’s head. Leaning back and grabbing a makeup compact out of her bag, she opens it and turns it toward Liz.

Taking the mirror from Isabel, Liz stares in shock as she turns the mirror every which way to see all of herself. The first thing she sees is the tired looking, sick eyes looking back at her and her dry, cracked lips. Then she sees shiny, straight brown hair cascading over her shoulders. Dropping the mirror, she looks down and grabs a hand full of her hair and says, “Wow…it’s soft.” as she looks up at Isabel’s smiling face.

She looks over and sees Max watching her in longing. The look on his face stirs something in her…something familiar and she knits her brows together…it’s almost like she can feel what he’s feeling. He swallows and quickly looks away, misreading the way she was looking at him.

“We’ll have to change it.” Isabel gets Liz’s attention. “To another color, maybe.”

Liz looks back at Isabel and nods. “Whatever you think is best.”

Isabel waves her hand over her hair again and changes it to a light blonde with waves in it before handing the mirror back to Liz.

She looks at her new reflection and notices that not only is she blonde now, her hair is now up to her shoulders. “Can you fix my face, too?” she looks back at Isabel.

Nodding, Isabel waves her hand over Liz’s face as she looks in the mirror. Magically, her skin glows healthily and the dark circles disappear from around her eyes. She looks at her lips and sees that they’re no longer cracked but a healthy pink color. Looking up she says, “Thanks.” and smiles slightly.

“No problem.” Isabel smiles back before standing up. “Come on…there are some clothes over here for you.” She grabs Liz’s hand and helps her up.

Liz glances over at Max as Isabel leads her away and she says, “Thanks for the coffee.”

He watches her go and stands up, going to help Jesse and Michael load up the cars.

As Liz changes into jeans and a t-shirt in the back of the barn she asks Isabel, “So, who’s the guy with the dark hair…the one that you slept next to?”

Isabel smiles and says, “That’s Jesse…my husband.”

“Your husband?!” Liz says in shock. At Isabel’s look she adds, “I mean…I didn’t think you looked old enough to be married.”

Laughing, Isabel says, “I’ll take that as a compliment.” Then she adds, “I should introduce you to everyone else…so you know their names. Is that ok?”

Stepping out from behind the stacked bales of hay, Liz says, “Yah.” and follows Isabel to the group of people gathered around the cars.

As the approach them, Liz sees everyone looking at her closely…noticing her hair and clothes. She looks down at the ground in embarrassment as Isabel leads her closer.

Isabel walks up next to Kyle and says, “Ok…you know Kyle…from last night?” At Liz’s nod she continues, “He was there with us…they let him go the night before last.”

Liz looks at Kyle and asks, “Why?”

He shrugs and says, “I don’t know…I guess because I’m human.”

Her eyes open wide in surprise and she smiles at him. “Yah…what else would you be?”

He looks at her in confusion and glances around at everyone else’s confused looks. “Um…right. I don’t know.”

Isabel shifts her eyes…not expecting that and continues, moving to stand next to Michael. “Anyway, this is Michael.” Liz repeats his name to herself and nods at Isabel to continue. “And this is Maria…your best friend.”

Liz looks at Maria a few moments before saying quietly, “Maria…my best friend.” as she nods, signaling Isabel to move on.

Isabel move next to Jim and says, “This is Jim…Kyle’s father.”

“Jim, Kyle’s father.” Liz repeats as she looks at him then back to Isabel.

Isabel stands by Jesse. “This is Jesse…my husband.”

Liz looks at Jesse and the way Isabel puts her hand on his chest. “Jesse…Isabel’s husband.” She repeats quietly before her gaze moves to Max. “And Max…my…fiancé?” she looks to Isabel for confirmation.

She sees Isabel nod slowly at her as she turns back to look at Max. She loses herself in his eyes for a moment before she shakes her head and snaps out of it. She glances around at everyone and says, “So…do I know an Alex?” knitting her brows together in confusion.

Not understanding the look of shock on everyone’s face, she looks to Isabel for an answer and sees tears in her eyes and she stands closer to Jesse as he pulls her close.

“You remember Alex?” Maria says softly.

Looking at Maria, Liz says, “No, not exactly…I dreamt about him…last night. He seemed to know all of you…he told me that I could trust you, that you would help me. It was weird…I remember the whole dream.”

No one answers her and when she can’t stand the silence anymore, she looks at Max and asks, “What? Is it something I said?”

He shakes his head and says, “Alex…Alex is dead. He was your best friend…you, Maria and Alex…you were best friends. He died a year and a half ago.”

“Oh.” She says softly, looking down to the ground, then back up to Maria. “I’m sorry.”

Maria shakes her head and says, “It’s ok…I…I was just surprised when you said his name.”

Liz looks at Maria sadly as Max says, “We should go.”

Jim steps forward and says, “Kyle, Michael and Maria…you can ride with me. The rest of you with Max.” he turns to Max and says, “We’ll meet at the next checkpoint in…9 hours?” he looks up from his watch, back to Max.

Max nods and moves to open the barn door as Maria says, “I wanna ride with Liz.” as she looks over at Liz, then Isabel.

Isabel nods at Maria and asks Liz, “Is that ok?”

When she sees Liz panic slightly and look between Maria and herself, Isabel adds, “I’ll be there tonight…when we stop. It’ll be ok.” with a reassuring smile.

Liz nods and looks over at Maria and Michael. “Ok.”

After both cars pull out of the barn, Max gets out of the car and walks back inside, waving his hand over the motorcycle…aging and rusting it to make it look like it’s been there for a while. He takes one last look around to make sure they didn’t leave anything and shuffles his feet over the hay, erasing any evidence that there were cars in there.

Closing the barn door, Max gets back in the car and they drive back to the road…both cars turning in opposite directions.

~TBC~
posted on 24-May-2002 1:04:00 PM by Angel
Part 11~

After over two hours of silence, Liz turns to the backseat to Maria and Michael and asks, “Are you guys married?”

Michael chokes on the sip of soda he was taking and spits some out…coughing as it goes town the wrong way.

“Oh my God, no!” Maria laughs…slapping Michael on the back.

Looking embarrassed, Liz says, “Oh…I was just wondering…you know…I was surprised when Isabel told me she was married.”

“Yah, well…we were all surprised at that one.” Maria smiles at her. “You were her maid of honor.”

Liz opens her eyes in surprise. “Really?”

Maria nods and says, “Yah…that was about your same reaction when she asked you then, too.”

Shaking her head in confusion, Liz turns around in her seat and looks back out the windshield before thinking of something else and turning back around. “How old am I?”

“18…you’ll be 19 in April…April 20th.” Maria tells her.

Turning around in her seat, Liz whispers to herself, “18?” She looks over at Max and inspects his profile as he drives. She was gonna get married at 18? To him? Not that she should complain…he’s not exactly bad to look at. But 18? She looks from his eyes, down his nose and to his lips. She’s so caught up in her perusal that she’s surprised when she looks back up at his eyes and sees them looking back at her.

Blushing furiously, she turns back to look out the windshield, glancing back over at him and tucking her hair behind her ear. “I…I’m sorry.” Thoroughly embarrassed, Liz looks out the passenger window.

Another silence descends upon the car before Liz breaks it again. “So what’s the plan? Where are we going? Are we going home…to where I live? Roswell…right?” She glances over at Max shyly before looking back out the window.

“We’re driving to Kentucky today…the western edge. We’ll meet up with the others tonight and tomorrow we’ll switch cars and drive to Dallas…then on to Roswell. The original plan was to only stay there a couple of days…my parents want to see Isabel…and…your parents…” he glances over at her quickly before continuing, “I think we need to talk when we stop tonight…decide what to do…about your memory.”

“So…what was the plan after Roswell?” She asks.

“We have to disappear…it’s not safe in Roswell…for anyone.” He tells her.

She thinks about what he’s saying and what it means for her. She barely knows these people and she’s supposed to disappear with them…run off to who knows where for the rest of her life? “What if I don’t want to go with you? Would you let me go…on my own?” She asks as she looks out the passenger window, wondering how free she really is.

Max wasn’t expecting that and his eyes dart to Maria’s panicked ones in the rearview mirror. He looks over at Liz for moment and says, “If that’s what you want…when the time comes, you’re free to do what you want. You just can’t stay in Roswell…they’ll be looking for you there.” He swallows and tightens his grip on the steering wheel.

She can hear the anguish in his voice and she turns to him. “I’m not saying that’s what I’ll do…I was just wondering.”

He just nods, keeping his eyes on the road. She can’t leave him…not now…not when he just got her back. His heart is beating rapidly, adrenaline pumping through him. He feels full fledge panic setting in and he gets off the highway at the next exit. “We need gas.” He tells everyone…looking evilly at the betraying half full gauge.

As they pull into the gas station, Max turns off the car and tells everyone to get what they need as he gets out. Michael and Maria climb out of the backseat and stretch.

“Do you wanna go inside?” Maria asks Liz as Michael walks toward the mini mart.

Nodding her head, Liz glances back at Max as he fills the car with gas and turns to follow Maria inside. As she wanders down the isles, she feels guilty about what she said to Max. Thinking back, she realizes it probably wasn’t the best thing to ask him. She feels…deep anguish and sadness…and it’s not coming from her. For some reason, she knows it’s what Max is feeling, and she’s confused about how she knows that…or why she’s feeling it at all.

Maria walks up to her and asks, “See anything you want?”

Shaking her head, Liz looks over the selection of snacks…not recognizing anything. “I…I don’t know.”

Maria leans over and grabs a package of Oreos…handing them to Liz. “These are your favorite.” She smiles as she walks over and grabs two cans of Cherry Coke from the cooler.

As they meet back up at the cash register, Michael dumps his selections on the counter and motions for Maria and Liz to do the same. After he pays for it all, they walk outside and Liz tells Maria she’s going around to the bathroom.

As she looks at her reflection in the dirty, distorted mirror above the sink, Liz contemplates what is going on…what’s happening to her. She feels jumpy and anxious…she has so many questions floating through her mind but she doesn’t know where to start in getting answers.

When Liz walks back out to the car, she sees Maria, Michael and Max standing together talking. Apparently talking about her because they stop as soon as they see her and they all get back in the car.

As Max pulls back out on the highway, Maria hands Liz her package of Oreos and one of the cans of Cherry Coke, handing the other one to Max.

Liz turns her head and watches as Michael passes Max a small bottle of some sort of red sauce and Max pours some in his open pop before passing the bottle back. She watches, curious, as he raises the can to his lips and takes a long drink from it.

She looks down at the can she’s holding and wonders if she’s supposed to put something in it. She turns to Max and asks, “Am I supposed to put something in here? Like you?” She holds her can up to him in question.

“Oh…uh…” Max looks down at his pop, realizing she saw him put Tabasco in it. “No…I just like something extra…you usually just drink it plain.” He hopes that it’s a good enough explanation.

She just shrugs her shoulders and says, “Ok.”

During the next two hours, Liz asks Maria questions…slowly feeling more comfortable talking to her. Max doesn’t say much and Liz wonders if he’s usually this quiet. After Maria tells her about the Crashdown and stories about the two of them working together, Liz asks, “Do my parents know…that I’m…different?”

The car goes silent when everyone looks at her, then away. When she immediately doesn’t get an answer, she continues. “Isabel said that her and Max were like me…are you guys? What about Kyle and his Dad and Jesse?”

She looks at each of them, waiting for some kind of answer. Finally, Max says, “Your parents don’t know.”

Nodding, she looks at him, waiting for more. “I mean, I know you and Isabel are like me…she…she did that thing with my hair, and my face. And you…I saw you with that shield thing.” She says as she holds her palm out, mimicking what he did during their escape. Turning to Maria she asks, “What about you…and Michael.” She looks over at Michael, who’s looking at her funny.

She sighs, frustrated at their lack of response and looks back at Max. “Do you know what it is? I…I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it and I can’t figure out what it is. How do we do those things? Where does it come from? I can move things with my mind…and there’s this…energy, like electricity…that shoots out of my hands. I’m not really sure what it does, but…”

“We’re aliens.” Michael blurts out from the backseat.

Maria smacks him upside the head and says, “Michael!”

“Jesus, Michael…nice.” Max rolls his eyes and looks over at Liz.

Liz has turned in her seat to look at Michael…her wide eyed gaze moving to Max. “What?” She laughs in disbelief. She looks back at Michael and says, “You’re not serious?”

He just looks back at her and shrugs his shoulders.

“I…I’m not an a…alien.” She says, looking back at Max.

Sighing loudly, Maria says, “No, you’re not an alien.” And she smacks Michael again on the head.

She looks back at Max as he says, “It’s…it’s complicated. Can we talk about this when we stop tonight?”

She nods her head and sits facing forward in her seat again. Her mind is swirling with unanswered questions, and she knows that these people have the answers. Michael had to be joking…even she knows there’s no such thing as aliens. She may not know what her favorite snack food is but she does know that aliens don’t really exist.

They make two more stops before finally pulling into a roadside motel in Kentucky. As Michael gets rooms for everyone, Max talks to Valenti on his cell phone, confirming where they are. He ends his call and meets them in front of the motel office. “The others should be here within a half hour.”

Michael walks out carrying a handful of keys. “I think we took every room they have.” He hands a key to Max and another one to Liz. “Come on…let’s get the bags from the car.” And he turns to walk toward the car.

Fifteen minutes later, Liz is sitting on the edge of the bed in her room…staring at the blank TV. Maria said she was going to take a shower and Michael disappeared inside Max’s room. So here she sits…waiting for the others to get here. She looks at the clock next to the bed and sees that it’s only 8:30. She hears her stomach growl and tries to remember the last thing she ate before the package of Oreos in the car.

As she continues to stare at the TV she hears a knock at the door and stands up to answer it. Maria’s on the other side and she walks in carrying a small bag. “I brought some things for you…shampoo, conditioner, soap, a razor, toothbrush, toothpaste…” She hands it to Liz. “And I have some pajamas for you, too.” She puts the stack of clothes on the bed.

She stands back and says, “Come on over when you’re finished…if you want…it’s still early. Unless you want to go to bed.” nervously biting her lip, hoping Liz feels more comfortable with her after the ride today.

Liz smiles at her and says, “Yah…thanks…for bringing all this.” as she holds the bag up. “I’ll be over when I’m done.”

Smiling, Maria says, “Great. If you need anything, call 126, that’s my room.” And she turns to leave Liz alone.

Once she’s alone, Liz opens the bag and looks inside at the contents…trying to remember a time that she showered by herself. All she can remember is being drugged as a nurse roughly scrubbed her down in a large shower. She holds up the razor and vaguely remembers that she should shave something with it. She remembers that conditioner comes after shampoo, though. Maybe it’ll all come back to her once she’s in the shower.

Feeling confused…and hungry…she sets the bag on the bed next to the stack of clothes and looks at it. She feels so helpless and struggles to remember basic things she must have done on her own…before. She picks the bag back up and pulls out one of the plastic bottles inside. She holds it up and sees that it’s Shower Gel. Furrowing her brow, she tries to remember what you use Shower Gel for. The answer escapes her as she throws it down on the bed.

She looks over to the phone and thinks about calling Maria. She’s embarrassed, though, and wonders if Maria will think she’s a freak because she doesn’t know how to shower herself. After debating with herself for another few minutes, she picks up the phone and dials 126. It rings 6 times and she hangs up when no one answers. She thinks she must be dialing the phone wrong and she tries again…no answer. She can hear the phone ringing through the thin walls, so she knows she’s doing it right.

Maria must be in Max’s room. Picking the phone up again, she dials 127 and Max picks it up on the first ring. “Hello?”

“Um…Max?” She asks, hesitantly.

“Liz? Are you alright?”

“Yah…um…is Maria there?”

“Sure…hold on.” She hears his voice, muffled as the phone is passed to Maria.

“Liz? Do you need something?” Maria asks, concerned.

Pausing for a moment, Liz says, “Yah…um…I think I need your help. I’m not sure what to use this stuff…I…I don’t know what to do with it.” She cringes at the helpless tone of her own voice.

“Oh, sweetie…I didn’t even think…I’m so sorry. I’ll be right there.” And she hangs up…seeing the concerned look on Max’s face.

“She…uh…doesn’t remember…how to take a shower.” She says sadly, seeing the pained look cross over Max’s face. “When the others get here, someone needs to get some food.” She says on her way out the door.

When Liz lets her into her room, Maria’s heart goes out to her when she sees how devastated Liz looks. “It’s ok…we’ll get you all fixed up. I’m your best friend…there’s no reason to be embarrassed.” She says as she gathers up the shower things from the bed and guides Liz to the bathroom.

Maria turns and pulls the shower curtain aside and turns the water on to warm up. Turning to Liz, she says, “Ok, let’s get your teeth brushed.” She picks up the toothbrush and squeezes some toothpaste on it, running it under the water in the sink before handing it to Liz. Maria smiles and nods encouragingly as Liz slowly brushes her own teeth. It feels weird to her to do it herself and she does it slowly, watching herself in the mirror. When she spits out the toothpaste, Maria hands her a cup of water and says, “Swish and spit.”

Liz laughs sarcastically and says, “Well, I managed to brush my own teeth…rah rah.”

Smiling, Maria says, “Ok, shower time. I’ll stay in here…ok?”

Liz nods as she undresses and Maria cringes as she sees the myriad of scars on her body. Looking away, she doesn’t want Liz to see the look on her face. Once Liz steps over the tub ledge into the shower, Maria grabs the bottle of shampoo and tells Liz to get her hair wet. She hands the shampoo to Liz and says, “Squeeze some out in your hand and run it over your hair.”

Liz does what she says and hands the bottle back to Maria as she smears the shampoo on her hair.

“Ok, now do this.” Maria makes a shampooing motion on her own head as Liz copies her movements. After her hair is good and sudsy, Maria says, “Ok, turn around and tip your head back under the water and squeeze the shampoo out. When Liz is done, they repeat the process with the conditioner.

Maria hesitantly holds up the razor to show Liz and says, “Be careful…this is sharp. Just use it this way.” And she demonstrates on herself before handing it to Liz. Liz nods and takes the razor, lifting her arm up and looking at the hair there. She slowly drags the razor up and pulls it away, rinsing it off in the water when Maria tells her to. Eventually, she gets both underarms done and smiles at Maria triumphantly as she hands the razor back to her.

“You shave your legs with it, too…but we’ll worry about that later. No one’s gonna see them anyway.” Maria says as she hands Liz the bottle of soap. “Here, squeeze some of this out and rub your hands together until it’s sudsy.”

Liz does as she says and rubs her hands over her body. She looks at Maria for a sign that she’s doing it right and Maria nods and says, “Make sure you get it everywhere.”

When she’s done, she rinses off and Maria leans over to turn off the water. Helping Liz out of the tub, she hands her a towel for Liz to dry off with and she helps her wrap it around her body, showing her how to tuck in the ends so it stays up. She takes another towel and tells Liz to bend at the waist. She guides Liz’s hands as she shows her how to wrap the towel around her head and twist it around on her head when she stands up.

They stand in front of the sink and Maria says, “The hard part’s over…let’s just wash your face and put on some deodorant, then you’ll be good to go.” She turns on the faucet and hands Liz a small bar of facial soap, motioning for her to rub it in between her hands. “Be careful not to get this in your eyes…just wash your cheeks, forehead, nose and chin, then lean over here and splash some water on your face to rinse off.”

When she’s done, Maria turns the water off and hands her a small towel to dry her face and picks up the deodorant. She shows Liz how to put it on and hands it to her. When they’re done, Maria turns to Liz and smiles. “See…easy as pie. You did good.”

Tears pool in Liz’s eyes as she says, “Thank you…Maria.”

Maria’s chin quivers as she says, “You’re welcome.” and reaches up to tuck back the end of the towel wrapped around Liz’s head. “Now…you get dressed and come on over to Max’s room when you’re ready. There should be food there by then.”

Liz’s eyes brighten at the mention of food and Maria laughs. “I know…I’m starved.” She walks toward the door and says, “See you in few, chica.” and walks out of the room.

Liz stares at the door, frozen by Maria’s parting words. She remembers hearing that before…she remembers those exact words, coming from Maria at another time…another place. But it escapes her as she walks toward the bed and gets dressed.

When Maria walks back in Max’s room, she sees that the others are there. Max notices her red eyes and asks, “Is Liz alright?”

She sniffles and says with a smile, “Yah…we just had a bonding moment, that’s all.”

Michael looks up and asks, “Did that bonding moment happen with both of you in the shower?”

She shoots a look at Michael and rolls her eyes as she turns to the others. “Do we have food yet?”

Isabel tells her that Jim left to go get some pizza from a place they passed down the street as Max sits on the bed with a map spread out in front of him.

“How’s Liz?” Isabel asks, having heard from Max and Michael about the shower.

“She’s good.” Maria tells her. “So…do we get new hair tomorrow?” She asks as she sits in a chair by the TV.

Michael looks at her and says, “Yah…and new cars. Three tomorrow.”

Maria flips on the TV and turns it to CNN. She absently watches the reporter talk about conflict in the Middle East as she thinks about the next few days.

A few minutes later, Liz knocks on the door and Maria gets up to let her in just as Jim pulls up and walks in with three boxes of pizza.

Everyone attacks the pizza and Liz feels everyone’s eyes on her, making her self conscious. She nervously tucks her hair behind her ear and looks over at Max, quickly looking away when she sees him looking at her.

After her third slice of pizza, Liz leans back in her chair and says, “Wow…that was good.”

Kyle agrees and says, “I think I’m only going to eat pizza for the rest of my life.”

When they finish eating, Isabel stands up and says, “We’re going to bed…we’ll see you in the morning.” And she smiles as she pulls Jesse toward the door. Looking at Liz, she asks, “You’ll be ok by yourself?”

Liz nods at her and smiles back as she drags Jesse out of the room.

Max looks at Jim and Michael and says, “We need to go dump those cars and get three new ones before we crash. You ready to go now?”

They nod and stand up as Max tells Maria, Kyle and Liz, “We’ll be back soon.”

After they leave, Liz yawns and stands up. “I’m really tired…I think I’m gonna go to bed. Is that ok?”

Maria stands up and says, “Of course…it’s been a long day. Will you be ok alone? I can sleep in the other bed if you want.”

“No…that’s ok. I’ll be fine by myself…thanks.” Liz says as she looks over to find Kyle looking at her.

“I know everyone wants to talk, but I think I’m talked out for the day.”

Kyle smiles and says, “Understandable…you did ride all day in a car with Maria.”

Maria gives him a look of indignation before turning to Liz. “That’s ok. We can talk when we get to Dallas tomorrow.”

Liz smiles and opens the door. “Ok…I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Good night, Liz.” They both say as she walks out.

A couple of hours later, Liz finds herself hypnotized by the TV. She had every intention of coming back and going to sleep, but she turned the TV on and saw a show called Gilligan’s Island and she’s been watching it ever since. The announcer said that they’re having some kind of marathon and Liz has been sitting on her bed laughing at the antics of Gilligan and the castaways. This is the funniest thing she’s ever seen.

She hears a soft knocking at the door and walks to it, unable to tear her eyes away from the TV. She opens it and turns, still smiling, to see Max standing there. “Max.” she says, surprised.

“Hey…did I wake you up? I heard the TV and thought you might be awake.”

She moves aside, letting him in and says, “No…I’ve been watching this.” She smiles as she looks back at the TV.

Max sees what’s on and watches as Liz laughs at Gilligan and the Skipper. He smiles and says, “You know, that thing will turn your brain to mush.”

She doesn’t look up as she says, “Can’t make it any mushier than it already is.”

Max frowns and Liz looks up at him, her smile fading. “Sorry…bad joke.”

“I…I was hoping we could talk. There’s something I want to do, but I can’t do that until we talk.” He says to her.

She nods and looks to the TV, then back to him…torn between the two. Max smirks and walks over, turning the TV off. “They show reruns of this all the time…you can catch up with it later.”

“Oh…ok.” She says in relief as she sits down on the bed. “So…” She starts for him as he hesitates.

He sits down on the other bed, facing her and says, “We need to talk about your…powers. And who we are.”

Nodding, she waits for him to continue.

Letting out a long breath, he says, “And I thought this was hard the first time…”

“What was hard the first time?” she asks.

He looks at her and says, “I…I’m not exactly…human. I mean, I am…just not…completely. Michael was right in the car.”

He watches the emotions flicker across her face and she swallows, cocking her head to the side. “Michael said ‘we’. Who’s ‘we’?”

“Me, Michael and Isabel.” He tells her. “We’re part alien.”

He waits for her reaction…waits for the fear he knows is coming.

Instead, she asks, “Part?”

He smiles at the fact that her scientific curiosity popped up first. “The people…from our planet…mixed our essence with human DNA. They sent us here and our ship crashed in the desert. We were in…incubation pods and broke out of them in 1986 looking like 6 year old human children. That’s the short version.” He explains.

She just stares at him and says, “You do know how crazy you sound right now, right?”

He nods as he looks to the floor, then back up at her. “I know. But it’s true.”

“Right…so, if I’m not…an alien…then why can I do these things, too?”

“Three years ago, you were shot…while you were working at the Crashdown with Maria. You were shot in the stomach…I was there when it happened. And I…I healed you.” He looks into her eyes and says, “When I did that, I changed you somehow.”

“You healed me? As in, poof…all gone?” She asks, disbelieving.

He nods his head and says, “It’s not exactly as simple as ‘poof’ but yah, I healed you. It’s one of my powers.”

She’s suddenly overwhelmed and lies back on the bed, bringing her hands up to her head. She wearily rubs her eyes and asks, “And I knew you were an alien? Before they took me…I knew about you, Michael and Isabel?”

“Yes, I told you the next day at school…you dragged me into an empty classroom and demanded that I tell you what I did to you. You had a silver handprint on your stomach…from my healing you.”

She sits back up and asks, “So, Maria, Kyle and his Dad knew, too?”

Shaking his head, he says, “No…you were the only one who knew. We kept it secret...vowed to never tell anyone. You told Maria, and Kyle…later that year, Kyle was shot when they rescued me from the FBI. I healed him too. That’s how he and his Dad found out.”

“They took you, too?” she asks in surprise.

“Only for two days before you got me out.” He explains. “You went to Jim, he was the sheriff then, and asked him to help you.”

“So who else knows?”

“Besides my parents…no one.” He tells her. “They just found out earlier this year.”

She looks at the floor a few moments before looking back up at him. “So…we got together…dated for three years? And we were gonna get married after graduation?”

His face falls and says, “Not really…I mean, we weren’t together for most of those three years. I…I made mistakes…big ones. It would take me a week to list them off for you…but you forgave me eventually. And yes, we were going to get married right after graduation.”

He sees her gaze drawn to the necklace around his neck and he reaches up to unclasp it. He holds it in his hand and says, “This is yours…it came off…when you were shot at graduation. I found it on the floor.”

She leans up and peeks into his hand and he holds it out to her. She looks at the ring that dangles from the chain and looks at Max.

“That’s the ring I gave you…you didn’t want your parents to see it before we got married, so you put it on a necklace to wear.”

She looks back down at it and slips it off the chain. Looking at the diamond she watches the light reflect off of it as she turns the ring in her hand. “It’s pretty.” She says as she looks up at him.

Still holding it in her hand she says, “You want to try to heal me, don’t you? To heal my brain?”

He nods. “I think that maybe, what they did to you…the shock treatments? I think it might have damaged some parts of your brain.”

“Will it hurt.” She asks.

“No…but you’ll…see things. From me…my memories. And I’ll see yours.” He tells her. “You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. It might not even work.”

She takes a deep breath and says, “We should try, though…right?” She looks at him a few moments and gets lost in his eyes before looking down at the ring in her hand. “Ok…so…how do we do this?”

He moves to sit next to her and says, “You need to look at me…and I’ll have to touch you.”

She nods and turns to the side, facing him. She looks up into his eyes as he brings his hands up to each side of her head. “Just…try not to think of anything.” He tells her as her breathing starts to match his own.

She feels the warmth of his hands as she looks into his eyes…after a few moments she feels herself fall and suddenly she’s bombarded by images and feelings…from Max. They’re coming so fast, she can’t make sense of any of them until she sees herself in various scenes…standing with a group of people in front of metal lockers…riding in a car with her hair blowing around her…wearing a strange blue dress with weird silver things sticking up out of her head…lying in the desert at night with Max, kissing him…standing on a bridge at night, getting ready to jump off of it with Max…crying in the desert…lying in bed with Kyle…holding Max’s hand as snow falls around her…dancing with Maria…yelling at Max as she gets in a car…crying again, this time at night…pulling a black mask over her face…sitting behind bars…dressed in a red dress, standing next to Isabel at her wedding…hovering over the desert at night, green energy all over her body…falling out of a window…holding a baby, looking down at it sadly…lying on the desert ground, making love with Max at night…dressed in a cap and gown, her chest exploding…standing in her room with long, matted hair…rocking on the barn floor and crying as Isabel holds her…Isabel changing her hair to what it used to look like.

She sees other things…people she doesn’t recognize…places she doesn’t know. She sees an older couple…a strange looking man with red hair stuffing something into a plastic alien…a long black table surrounded by strange people…Michael on the floor, his face covered in blood…Max making love to a girl with blonde hair…a bald man lying next to a pool…

The flashes come faster and faster and all the emotions are overwhelming. She feels herself continue to fall and everything goes black.

Breaking away from Liz with a cry, Max breathes heavily and watches as Liz falls back on the bed, the ring in her hand dropping to the floor. He puts his head between his knees and wipes the sweat from his face. When his breathing slows and his nausea passes, he looks over and sees that Liz is sleeping. He watches her chest rise up and down with each breath as he slowly stands up.

Moving to the other bed, he pulls the covers down and turns back to Liz. He picks her up and tucks her in, pulling the covers up over her and pushing the hair off her face. He watches her for a few moments and steps back, noticing the ring on the floor…picking it up and setting it on the nightstand in front of the clock.

He sits on the other bed and watches her sleep for almost an hour…images of Liz’s life and her feelings rolling through him. When he’s confident that she won’t be waking up soon, he gets up and brings his hand to her cheek, brushing the back of his hand across it before turning to leave.

~TBC~
posted on 26-May-2002 11:11:36 AM by Angel
Part 12~

The next morning, Maria is impatient as everyone but Max and Liz waits in her room. “That’s it, Michael…come with me.” And she walks out of her room, over to Max’s. “Unlock his door.” She tells Michael.

He passes his hand over the lock and she grabs the handle, opening the door and walking over to the bed that Max is lying on…with all his clothes on. She shakes him and says, “Max! Max…wake up!”

When he doesn’t respond, Michael walks over and lifts up his shoulders…shaking him. “Max…get up!”

“What’s wrong with him, Michael?” Maria asks worriedly.

“He must have tried to heal Liz last night…he sleeps like this after he’s used a lot of power.” Michael stands back and says, “We should check on Liz.”

They rush from Max’s room to Liz’s and open the door to see her tucked into bed, sleeping. Maria sits beside her and shakes her gently. “Liz…Liz…wake up.” When she doesn’t respond, she looks at Michael defeatedly.

“Well, we need to go. I guess we can carry them out to the car.” He turns and leaves the room to go back to his own room and tell the others.

They all stand around the newly acquired cars and watch as Michael carries Liz out and puts her in the backseat of a green Taurus. Maria gathers Liz’s things from her room and her eye falls on the ring lying on the nightstand. She picks it up and puts it in her purse and takes one last look around before leaving.

Michael carries Max out and puts him in the backseat of a black Camry and shuts the door. He turns and asks everyone, “Do we have everything?”

At everyone’s nod, he looks at Jim and Jesse. “We’ll meet in Dallas tonight. Keep your cell phones plugged in.” He looks at Isabel and says, “You need to change Liz’s hair.”

She nods at him and gets in the passenger seat of the Taurus as Jesse gets in the driver’s seat. Michael watches as they pull out and drive away from the motel.

Michael gets in the black Camry as Maria gets in the passenger side and he watches Jim and Kyle pull out of the parking lot in a Honda. Looking over at Maria, he sees the worried look on her face. “It’ll be ok. I bet he healed her and when she wakes up, she’ll remember everything.” He gives her a small smile and squeezes her hand.

In the Honda, Jim looks over to see Kyle staring out at the passing landscape through the window next to him. “You alright, son?”

Kyle nods and says, “Yah…you know…just thinking.”

Jim doesn’t want to push him so he nods and continues driving…hoping Kyle will open up.

“I just…” Kyle begins, looking over at his Dad to see if he’s listening. “I’ve tried…really hard…to make myself at peace with this whole alien situation. It’s just totally not fair the way our lives have been completely changed because of them. But then I think about something Alex and I talked about…a couple of years ago.” He sees his Dad look over at the mention of Alex’s name.

“We were stuck in that cave with the blue crystals…” Kyle laughs sarcastically. “I mean, listen to me! Killer crystals. Anyway, we were running out of air and really thought we’d die in there and Alex was talking about how amazing it was that we were a part of this…that we had this knowledge. He said he’d rather die now, knowing that, then to go back to his normal life.” He’s silent for a few moments before looking over at his Dad. “Do you think he’d still think that now? Do you think that?”

Jim looks at Kyle and thinks for a moment before saying, “Yah, son…I do think that. And I think Alex would still believe it, too. Granted, we’ve been through some terrible things because we know this secret. But I’d rather know, than live the rest of my life in ignorance.”

Kyle goes back to looking out the window and after a couple of minutes, Jim nudges him and grins while wiggling his fingers. “And hey…soon, we’ll be able to pop our own popcorn without sticking it in the microwave.”

Kyle stares at his Dad in shock before bursting out in laughter. “Yah…we got that going for us.” And they both laugh so hard, Jim has to pull over on the side of the road until it subsides.

Late that same afternoon, Liz wakes up to find herself lying on the backseat of a car. Confused, she turns her head and sees a woman with short black hair in the passenger seat. When the woman turns her head, Liz relaxes when she sees that it’s Isabel.

Isabel sees Liz stir in the backseat an turns back to look at her. Smiling, she says, “Hey.”

Liz sits up and rubs her face before looking down to see she’s still in the pajamas she was wearing last night. “What time is it?” she asks.

“Four in the afternoon.” Isabel tells her.

Liz’s eyes open wide and she says, “Wow…I must have been tired.” before she remembers what happened last night. She falls back in the seat, remembering everything Max told her and everything she saw when he tried to heal her. Bringing her hand up to her head, it throbs slightly as bits and pieces start coming to her. She brings her hand quickly up to her chest when she remembers the vision of her chest exploding. Then she remembers seeing Max on stage, yelling at her and trying to get to her.

Shaking her head, she’s overcome with confusion…trying to sort out Max’s memories from her own. Max wouldn’t have a memory of seeing himself yelling at her from stage, would he? Images rapidly flood her mind as she bends over and tells Jesse, “Stop the car…I have to puke.”

Jesse quickly pulls over and Liz scrambles out of the car and kneels next to it in the grass…throwing up. She remembers this, too. Except she’s on the sidewalk at night, falling to her knees and vomiting after Alex died. She feels Isabel kneel next to her and hold back her now long, auburn hair.

She continues to empty her stomach on the side of the road and hears Isabel tell Jesse to call Michael as she’s hit with images of Max and…Tess…and she heaves again. “Tess…where’s Tess?” Liz chokes out.

Isabel looks at Liz in confusion and says, “Tess is dead.”

Not remembering that, Liz sits back on her heels and wipes her mouth with some napkins that Isabel hands her. She hears Jesse talking excitedly into his cell phone and looks up to see him looking at her saying, “…on the side of the road. I think she’s done now.”

Just then, another wave of images and emotions hit her and she leans forward to throw up again. She hears Jesse say, “Oh…I guess she’s not. I think you should meet us at the next rest stop.”

“No!” she yells back in between heaves. “No…I don’t want…I don’t want to see Max right now.” She looks at Jesse and he nods and says into the phone, “Yah…ok. I will…ok. We’ll see you tonight, Max.” and he ends the call, looking back down to Liz.

She closes her eyes and sits back on her heels, realizing that Max heard her. Leaning back against the car for a few moments, she looks at Isabel. “I think I’m ok now. Can we stop at the next gas station so I can freshen up?”

Isabel nods and says, “Sure.” She puts a hand on Liz’s shoulder and she stands up. “Take your time.” And walks over to the other side of the car and gets back in the passenger seat.

Max lies down on the backseat, his arm thrown over his face as Michael drives the Camry through Arkansas.

Maria turns around and checks on him…she saw the look on his face when he was making arrangements to meet Jesse because Liz was sick. Because they’re not meeting Jesse, Maria can only assume that Liz didn’t want to meet them. “Max…are you ok?” She asks him softly.

He doesn’t answer her as Michael looks at him through the rearview mirror. “Did it work? Did Jesse tell you if Liz was getting her memory back?”

“I don’t know.” They hear his muffled voice from the backseat.

But he knows…not for sure…but by the sound of her voice when she yelled at Jesse that she didn’t want to see him, he’s guessing that she at least remembers something. Or maybe she’s remembering the flashes she got from him. He hopes with everything he is that she didn’t see him and Tess in the observatory. He remembers every single flash he got from Liz…all her memories of her time with the FBI…and it makes him nauseous. He felt all her pain, her loneliness and her helplessness as they performed horrifying procedures on her. He felt her hatred at the ones who held her captive and he saw her rage as she killed a man in her cell.

He opens his eyes and feels that the car has sped up and he tells Michael, “Keep it at the speed limit…we don’t need to be pulled over.”

Michael slows the car, unaware that he had pressed the gas pedal further to the floor. “Do you wanna stop…get something to eat?” he asks.

“No…just keep going. I want to get to Dallas as soon as possible.” Max tells him from the back.

In the Taurus, Isabel watches Liz in concern and turns to Jesse. “Maybe we should call Max again?” and she looks back at Liz.

She’s lying on the backseat, hugging her arms around her stomach and rocking back and forth as she cries and moans broken phrases. It seems like she’s reliving her life…from the bits and pieces that Isabel can understand…as memories come back to her. “I don’t know what to do.” She tells Jesse, helplessly.

He looks at Liz and says, “I don’t think there’s anything we can do. If she’s getting her memory back, I think she has to go through it all again.”

Isabel nods sadly and says, “Alright, but if she gets worse, I’m calling him.”

They continue driving as the sun sets and at 9:30, Isabel can see the lights of Dallas in the distance ahead of them. Exiting the highway, Jesse pulls the car into the parking lot of a Comfort Inn and Isabel sees Michael and Max waiting for them by the door. Jesse rolls his window down and Michael says, “Pull around to the side, I have the rooms already.”

As they park, Jesse sees that Jim and Kyle are here already, too. He gets out of the car and watches as Michael pulls in next to him. “Sorry we’re late. We had to stop a few times.” He looks to the backseat where Liz is lying.

Isabel gets out of the car and Jesse opens the back door…Michael and Max standing behind him. “Liz…we’re here.” He says as he leans his head in.

She opens her eyes drowsily to Jesse and sees Max standing behind him. Shaking her head back and forth deliriously, she holds her hand up and cries, “No, no, no, no…”

Jesse looks up at Max and watches as his face contorts in pain and slowly backs away from the car. Michael moves forward and says, “I’ll get her.” And he reaches in, pulling her forward and gathering her up in his arms.

Max watches as Michael turns and starts carrying Liz toward the side door of the hotel. Liz is grabbing onto the front of Michael’s shirt, crying, “Alex! No…..Alex.”

Isabel walks over to Max and puts her arm around him. “She’s been like that all day…I can’t get through to her. Max, you have to do something…she’s delirious. I tried giving her water a few times and something to eat, but she just ended up throwing it up.”

As Michael carries Liz down the hall, Maria runs up and says, “Oh my God…Liz!” as she looks past them to Max. She rushes forward and opens the door to one of their rooms and stands back to let Michael carry Liz in and lay her on the bed.

Kyle and Jim walk in and they all stand around the room, watching Liz writhe on the bed as she cries.

“Max?” Jim says. “What’s wrong with her?” He walks over to sit on the bed next to her and gently wipes the hair from her sweaty forehead.

“I…I don’t know.” Max mumbles as he looks up at Jesse.

Jesse meets his gaze and says, “I think she’s getting her memory back…it seems like she’s reliving everything all over again.” and he looks back down to Liz.

Suddenly, everyone turns as Liz laughs from the bed, “Kyle is not a poodle!” before her body jerks and she starts muttering something about aliens.

Kyle’s eyes open wide and he exclaims, “A poodle?!”

Everyone looks at Kyle as Maria lets out a laugh and covers her mouth, looking guiltily up at Kyle. All eyes turn to her and she says, “Oh my God…I forgot…that day in the Crashdown…the day Liz was shot. We were talking about you.”

“And you called me a poodle?!” he asks her in shock.

“Well…not really.” She looks sheepishly over to Max, then back to Kyle. “I told her that Max was staring at her again and she didn’t believe me…then she went on to say it didn’t matter because she was with you and she started listing all your good merits…loyal, trustworthy…blah, blah, blah. I told her you sounded like a poodle.”

Kyle looks at her, put out, and says, “Gee…thanks a lot.” and he rolls his eyes.

Max looks back down to Liz as Jim stands up and says, “Well, I guess Jesse’s right…maybe we should just wait and give her some time.” He looks over at Max and says, “If she doesn’t snap out of it soon, maybe you should try something.” He shrugs his shoulders, having no idea what that ‘something’ would be.

As everyone moves to leave, Maria says to Max, “Why don’t you go get something to eat and get some rest? I’ll stay here with her.”

He looks at Liz and nods as he backs toward the door. “Call me if anything happens.”

She smiles sadly at him before turning to pull a chair up next to Liz’s bed.

They all decide to go down to the Waffle House next to the hotel and as their food arrives, Max looks down at his plate of pancakes and absently rolls the sausages links around with his fork.

Isabel watches her brother across the booth with concern as she feels Jesse absently running his fingers along the scar on her neck. He brings his hand to her back to the long scar he knows is there…running down her spine. She looks over at him and says, “I’ll have Max heal it before we get to Roswell.” her eyes returning to her plate in memory of how it got there.

Max looks up at her words and says, “I’m sorry, Iz. I should have done it that first night. I don’t think I can tonight…but I’ll heal you first thing in the morning.” concern in his eyes.

She nods, not looking up at him. “Thanks, Max. I don’t want Mom and Dad to see.”

He nods in understanding before turning his attention back to his food. When they’re done and walking through the parking lot back to the hotel, Jim moves to Max and says, “Can I talk to you for a minute, Max?”

Max turns to him and says, “Sure.” as they walk through the side door of the hotel and make their way down the hall.

When everyone files through one of the doors into a room, Max looks over at them and says, “We’ll be there in a minute.” and leads Jim into another room.

Sitting in a chair at the desk, Jim says, “We need to talk about what we’re gonna do when we get back home.”

Max nods and sits on the edge of the bed. “I know.”

“We have to decide tonight…we can’t go waltzing back in town tomorrow night with Isabel, Kyle and Liz. They’ll be recognized by anyone.” Jim says before continuing. “I know the cover story we came up with, but now…with Liz…the way she is. I have to know what to tell Hanson when I call him tonight.”

Max wearily rubs his face and says, “Her parents can’t see her like this. I should have waited to try to heal her until after…then we could have at least coached her on what to do and say.”

Jim sighs and leans back in his chair. “If she doesn’t get better, I think our only option is to hide her and just tell everyone that they only let Kyle go.” Their cover story was going to be built on the fact that Kyle called Hanson from Ohio. He was going to tell Hanson that when he got there, all three kids were there…having been let go in the middle of no where. But now…with Liz the way she is, there might not be a need to tell anyone that she and Isabel were let go, too.

“I agree. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t come to that. I’d really hate for Liz to not be able to see her parents before we…disappear.” Max looks up and sees the sadness in Jim’s face. They were all going to leave, Jim staying behind in Roswell. He was going to have to say goodbye to his son…after he just got him back.

Max looks down at his hands and says, “I’m sorry, Jim. You don’t know how sorry I am that you and Kyle have had to be dragged into this mess.”

“Don’t be sorry, Max. If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t even be alive. I owe my life and my son’s life to you.” Jim says.

“No…you don’t. Neither one of you would have been put in that kind of danger if it wasn’t for me in the first place. You don’t owe me anything.” Max looks up at him. “But I’m grateful…for everything you’ve done to help us. I don’t know what we would have done without you.”

Standing up, Jim says, “Let’s wait a few hours and see what happens with Liz before I call Hanson.” He looks at the young man in front of him and his heart goes out to him. He’s been through ten lifetimes of experience and pain and he carries so much responsibility on his shoulders. Wishing more than anything that they could have the normal life they so desperately want, and deserve, he knows that they’ll never get it. It’s beyond his understanding how they’ve lived their short lives, constantly worried about discovery and capture…knowing that the rest of their lives will only be more of the same.

He squeezes Max’s shoulder as he passes him and heads to the door, Max standing and following behind him. As they enter the hall, they see Michael and Isabel running out of their door, Kyle and Jesse close behind. Michael turns and sees Max as Max asks, “What’s going on?”

“Liz…we heard her screaming next door.” Michael says quickly as he rushes to the next room.

When Michael gets the door open, they hear Maria saying, “…be ok…Liz, please calm down.” as they walk in and see Maria standing by the bed looking toward the back of the room. Maria looks over at them helplessly when they walk in and all eyes fall on Liz, who’s standing back by the bathroom door shaking her head at Maria and saying, “No….no, no…he’s dead. Max is dead…I know it.”

Max walks in behind Michael and looks over at Liz, her gaze moving to his as she takes a step back in shock and her eyes open wide. Not a second passes before he sees her running full force at him and launches herself at him, knocking him back into Kyle before they hit the ground.

Kyle struggles to get out from under Max as Liz lies on top of both of them, kissing Max all over his face and crying, “You’re here…you’re alive.” Max can taste her tears as she crushes his mouth with hers and he wraps his arms around her, bringing a hand up to cup the back of her head.

“Oh, Max…” Liz moans before thrusting her tongue into Max’s mouth, causing him to groan.

“Ok, ok…how about everyone stop making out on top of me and LET ME UP!” Kyle yells helplessly from underneath Max.

Kyle’s shouting finally penetrates Max’s mind and he opens his eyes, trying to gently pull back from Liz. He rolls them to the side so Kyle can get up and he struggles to his feet…Liz not making a move to let go. As he walks over to the bed, he vaguely registers that everyone is moving out the door. Maria takes a last look at the two of them as Max moves toward the bed, Liz wrapped around him…her legs around his waist and arms wrapped tightly around his neck…before shutting the door to leave them alone.

As they walk back next door, Maria hears Kyle say, “Geez…I think I need a shower.” and watches as he shakes dramatically. She smirks at him as she passes him, walking into the room.

Everyone is silent as they think about what they just saw. Finally Jesse asks Maria, “What happened? Do you think she’s better now?”

Shaking her head, she says, “I don’t know. Suddenly, she seemed to snap out of it…she was pretty coherent…except for the whole ‘Max is dead’ thing.”

“I wonder if she remembers everything, now.” Isabel says as she leans on Jesse.

Silence descends again as everyone sits back in their own contemplation.

~TBC~
posted on 28-May-2002 1:17:35 PM by Angel
Part 13~

Washington DC

Gerard sits in his office at 10pm, his elbows on his desk…head in his hands. This week couldn’t possible get any worse. Just as he was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel…his chance to finally retire…everything started spiraling out of control. He had them all…they were practically right in front of him. Then that idiot Meyers only gets three…and then they find out two of them are human and the leader they thought they captured wasn’t the leader at all.

When he got the call from Meyers the other night telling him that the two remaining subjects had escaped, his world crashed down around him. He’s delayed making his official report to the Deputy Director, hoping that Meyers can recapture them. But it’s not looking good.

He picks up the phone and dials the familiar number. When Meyers picks up, he says, “Call off the search and stand down.”

“Stand down, sir?” Meyers says.

“Yes. Move your teams to the office in Albuquerque and wait for me there. I’ll be there in two days.” Gerard instructs him.

“Yes, sir. Can I ask why?”

“I’m coming to oversee this operation myself. I’d bet my left nut that they’re headed back to Roswell. That’s where we’ll get them…and this time, we won’t make any mistakes. Understand?” Gerard says, irritated with Meyers’ incompetence.

“Yes, sir.” Meyers says. “We’ll see you in two days.”

Dallas, Texas

Max closes his eyes and wills his body to calm down. He’s lying on his back on the bed, Liz on top of him, her head resting on his chest. She fell asleep about a half hour ago and he’s been lying here since, stroking her back. He listens to her light breathing, thinking about how she cried herself to sleep, holding on tight to him and refusing to lighten her grip. Through his worry for her, he can’t help reveling in the feel of having her in his arms again…being able to touch her and hold her.

As he drifts off to sleep, he puts both his arms around her tiny body and leans his head down to kiss the top of hers.

Liz wakes up slowly, seeing sunlight through her closed eyelids. Taking a deep breath, she stretches slowly…freezing when she realizes she’s not lying on a bed. Her eyes pop open and she sees that she’s lying on top of someone…Max. Bits and pieces from yesterday start coming back to her as she lifts her head and pushes her hands into the mattress, rising up on her arms.

She looks down at Max’s face and sees that he’s still asleep. Trying not to wake him, she slowly climbs off of him and rolls onto her back next to him. A million thoughts and memories are rolling through her mind as she stares at the ceiling and they gradually come to some sort of order. She thinks she can distinguish between her own memories and Max’s now as the pieces start falling together but she can’t be sure. Confused, she knows that there are still chunks of time that are missing…things that she can’t remember that are just out of reach.

Her memories tell her that Max is dead…he died when she was in Vermont. But obviously he’s not…she remembers graduation…or at least she has a memory of it. It might not be hers, though, but he was there…and he’s here now, next to her…alive and breathing. She searches for something to explain the huge chunk of time in between that she’s missing but comes up empty. There are other things that don’t make sense. She remembers being in jail in Utah, but not how she got there and not how she got out. She remembers playing a pinball machine in Las Vegas, but not what she was doing there or who she was with. Did they all go to Las Vegas? Did she go alone? No…she can’t imagine that she would, considering she should have gotten married there in another timeline.

She feels the bed shift as Max turns on his side and slides his arm over her stomach. Looking at his hand before looking back up at the ceiling, she struggles to remember how her and Max got to the point where they were gonna get married after graduation. There’re only a few months between the time she went to Vermont and the day they graduated…what could have possibly happened to turn things around between them so completely, and so quickly? Did Max find his son? She vaguely remembers Isabel telling her on the side of the road that Tess is dead…but when did that happen?

Chewing on her lip, Liz tries to remember what happened to Tess. She knows that Max slept with her and got her pregnant. But what happened to them? And why the hell would she even consider marrying Max after that? He’s got a kid out there somewhere…she knows that Max was looking for him. But she doesn’t know why. Did Tess leave? No, wait…she’s dead. But how? That can’t be possible…everything she did, she did so that Tess wouldn’t leave…so the end of the world wouldn’t come. There’s just too much to try to process so Liz focuses on the ceiling and the patterns in the plaster.

Max opens his eyes to see Liz lying in front of him, staring at the ceiling and biting her lip. He doesn’t move as his eyes move down to his arm resting on her stomach. Slowly, he slides it off and Liz turns her head to see that he’s awake.

She looks at him without saying anything and they stare into each other’s eyes. Liz is slightly embarrassed as she remembers how she behaved the night before upon seeing him alive and Max is hesitant…wondering if she even remembers anything about yesterday. They’re broken out of their trance by the rumbling of Max’s stomach and Liz’s stomach answers with a gurgle of its own. They both smile and sit up as Max turns to her again. “Do you…can you remember?” He asks hesitantly.

Looking down at the bed, she nods and says, “Some. I…I think most…but there’re…gaps…that I can’t remember. Some of it’s kind of fuzzy.”

“What’s the last thing you remember…before you were taken?” He asks her.

“I remember parts of graduation…but…I don’t know how I got there from Vermont. The last thing I remember before that is that I…I felt you die.” She looks up with tears in her eyes.

Furrowing his brow, he says, “Oh…” as he looks away, thinking of all the things that happened between then and now…all the things she obviously doesn’t remember. She doesn’t remember him proposing…or them making love in the desert. He reaches up and rubs the sleep from his eyes and turns back to her, running his thumb across her cheek to wipe a tear away.

She pulls back from his touch…feeling suddenly uncomfortable. “I…Max, something is wrong. What happened to Tess?” She grabs her head and continues, “I’m just…really confused right now. I don’t think my memories are right…or in the right order, or something.” Suddenly, she brings her hands down and they both see green energy swirling around her skin. As if annoyed, Liz shakes her hands out and whispers, “No.” and Max watches as the energy disappears.

“You’ve learned to control it.” Max says quietly.

Liz looks up at him, distracted, and she shakes her head. “Um…yah.” Getting up from the bed, she paces the room a few times and looks back over to Max.

“Liz…let me help. What can I do to help you?” Max stands up, but keeps his distance.

“I don’t know…I think I’m missing some major things that happened…obviously. I…I need…” She walks around the room and rummages through the drawer on the desk, pulling out some paper and a pen. Sitting down in the chair, she starts writing as Max walks over and squats next to her to see what she’s writing. He watches as she creates some sort of timeline.

When she finishes, she looks over to Max and says, “I need you to tell me if I got all these things in the right order…and help me fill in what’s missing.”

Picking up the paper, he glances at it and sees that quite a bit is missing from her timeline and she has some things in the wrong place. He moves to sit on the bed as he reads what she’s written and he looks up at Liz. “Liz…I…there’s so much…” He runs his hand through his hair and hears her stomach rumble again. “Maybe we should get something to eat and we can talk after that.”

“Right…later.” Liz’s shoulders sag defeatedly and she stands up. “You’re right…we have more important things to worry about right now.”

“No, Liz…this is important. You’re important. You just need to eat…and…I need to figure out the best way to fill in your gaps for you.”

Nodding, Liz shifts uncomfortable and tucks her hair behind her ear. “Ok…well…”

He nods and stands. “I’ll…um…get Maria to bring you your stuff so you can get dressed. Then we can go over and have some breakfast, ok?”

Watching Max walk toward the door, Liz stops him. “Max?”

He turns to look back at her and she says, “I’m…sorry.” knowing he’s disappointed that she can’t remember everything.

He shakes his head, telling her silently not to be sorry and walks out the door.

A few minutes later she hears a knock at the door and opens it as Maria rushes in and drops the bag she’s carrying on the floor before pulling Liz in for a hug. “Oh, Liz…do you really remember?”

Liz nods her head and hugs Maria back tightly. “Yah…some of it, anyway.”

Maria pulls back and wipes the tears from her cheeks and says, “I was so scared.”

“I know…me too.” Liz tells her and bends down to pick up the bag. “I really need to take a shower…will you wait for me?”

Maria nods and smiles at her and Liz says, “I think I can manage by myself this time.” as she smiles and walks toward the bathroom.

A half hour later, Isabel knocks on Liz’s door and Maria opens it. “Does she really remember?” Isabel asks her as she walks in.

“Yah…I think so.” Maria says. “She’s in the bathroom right now.”

“I came to change you guys before we go eat.” Isabel says as she sits on the bed.

Liz walks out of the bathroom in jeans and a black t-shirt…her wet hair hanging down her back and she sees Isabel. “Hey, Isabel.” She stops outside the bathroom door.

‘Hey, Liz. How are you feeling?” Isabel asks, her eyes filled with concern.

Liz nods and says, “Good…a little confused, but good.”

Isabel smiles and says, “Good. We were really worried about you yesterday.”

“I was pretty out of it…thanks for taking care of me.” Liz says as she walks over to sit in a chair and put on her shoes. She looks up at Isabel again and says, “Thank you…for everything.” as she gives Isabel a meaningful look.

Nodding, Isabel takes a deep breath. “So…what will it be today?” Isabel changes the subject and wiggles her fingers at them.

Maria smiles and says, “I was thinking black and curly…maybe just tie it up.”

Isabel waves her hand over Maria’s hair and changes it so that it’s black with corkscrew curls hanging down past her shoulders. Maria walks over to the mirror and gathers it up on top of her head. “Cool!”

Turning to Liz, Isabel looks at her questioningly as Liz shrugs her shoulders. “I don’t really care…just not blonde.”

Isabel smiles and walks over to Liz, waving her hand over her hair and giving her a short, light brown bob that comes just above her shoulders. “Perfect.” She says, then asks, “You guys ready? Everyone’s waiting to go eat.”

Liz leads the way out of the room, carrying her bag and sees an auburn haired Michael standing next to Max and she freezes, her bag dropping to the floor. They look over at her in concern as Isabel asks, “Liz? What’s wrong?”

She stares at Max’s hair with wide eyes…his long, dark hair that’s tied back on the top in a pony tail…and says, “Change it. Change Max’s hair to something else.”

Isabel nods her head, confused and walks over to Max quickly and waves her hand over his head making his hair shorter and black. She looks back to Liz, concerned, and asks, “Better?”

Liz nods and rubs her hand over her face as she bends down to pick up her bag. As she continues to walk down the hall, she feels everyone looking at her in confusion and she looks at Maria before explaining. “Max…from the future…that’s what his hair looked like.”

Maria’s eyes open wide in understanding and she looks over at Max…he’s looking at Liz, his face a mask of confusion and asks, “What…from the future? What are you talking about?”

Maria looks at Liz, surprised, and asks, “You haven’t told him?”

“Told me what?” Max demands.

Liz shakes her head, glancing at Max and says, “I guess not…I don’t know. I thought I had…but…can we talk about it later? I need to eat before I pass out.” and she walks toward the cars, leaving a confused group of people behind her…all but Maria and Kyle who whisper together as they follow her.

As Jesse loads the cars up, Max discreetly changes the license plates on each car. “Let’s go down to the IHOP and eat, then we’ll head out.” Getting into the driver’s seat of the Camry, he waits for everyone else to get in. He’s surprised to see Liz get in next to him…he didn’t think she’d want to ride with him…and he pulls out of the parking lot, driving down the road a couple of miles to the IHOP.

Throughout breakfast, Max’s eyes hardly leave Liz as he thinks about what she said earlier. Why did she react that way when she saw him? What did she mean ‘Max from the future’? And why did Maria seem to know what she was talking about? His gaze moves to Maria and when she sees his questioning look, she turns her head away quickly.

“I called Hanson last night…he’s expecting us to arrive tonight.” Jim says as he turns to Max. “I only told him about Kyle…I kept the conversations short.”

Max nods and says, “Good. Did you ask him if he noticed any strange activity in town?”

“He hasn’t seen anything, but we can’t count on them not being there. We need to keep a low profile when we get there.” Jim tells him.

“If they are there, they’ll be watching all our houses. We’ll drive through to Midway and stay at a motel there. The less time we spend in Roswell, the better.” Max says before bringing a bite of pancake to his mouth.

He finishes chewing and says, “I’ll call my parents today and have them meet us there.” He looks over at Jim and says, “Tomorrow, you and Kyle can take Maria and Liz into town to see their parents. Don’t be obvious. You should probably call the Parkers and Amy before you leave in the morning and warn them.” Looking at Liz, he says, “You can stay for a day…two at most. But try to stay inside and out of sight…I’ll be keeping an eye out for any activity in town while you’re there.”

Kyle speaks up and asks, “What does it matter, Max? When Amy and Liz’s parents find out they’re back, the whole town will know. And Hanson already knows I’m coming.”

“I want to delay everyone knowing for as long as possible…especially the newspaper. Hanson already knows to keep it quiet and Jim’s gonna ask Amy and the Parkers to not say anything for a few days. Hopefully, by the time everyone knows you’re back, we’ll already be gone.” Max explains.

“Why go back at all, then? It seems like it would be easier if everyone just kept thinking that we’re still gone.” Kyle asks.

“Because Maria and Liz should get a chance to see their parents…to have a chance to say goodbye.” Max says as he looks over at Liz.

Liz thinks about what he’s said and says, “Max…it seems like a needless risk if that’s the only reason we’re going back. I…I don’t have to see my parents. Maybe I could just write them later and tell them I’m ok.”

Max looks at her and says, “It’s up to you. We have to go anyway…I have some things I need to get…and we’re leaving Jim in Roswell. You can decide tonight what you wanna do.”

Liz nods and looks over at Maria. She knows Maria wants to see her Mom, but she also knows that she wouldn’t want to put them all at risk just to do so.

When they leave the IHOP, Liz stops Max at the car and says, “Can I drive? I just…want something to do.”

He nods and they both get in the Camry and drive west.

An hour later, they’re outside Dallas and driving west in silence. Max turns to Liz expectantly and she says, “I guess you wanna know about what I said earlier. When I said that…at the hotel…I assumed that you knew already. I can’t remember the months leading up to graduation, but I just assumed that if we were getting married…in Las Vegas…that I had told you.” She glances over at him and says, “You know, we kind of have bigger things to worry about…this can wait until later.”

Max shakes his head and says, “We’ll be in this car all day, you might as well tell me now. And besides, you have me beyond curious now.”

She glances over at him, then back to the road…taking a deep breath she decides to start at the beginning. “You remember when you sang to me…with the mariachi band?” She looks over at him to see him flush with embarrassment.

“Yah.” He says…thinking how stupid that was. He was desperate to get her back and was willing to try anything to do it.

“You learned that song from Mr. Delgado at the hardware store.” She tells him.

He looks at her in confusion. “How did you know that? I never told you.”

Keeping her eyes on the road, she says, “You told me…you were up on the balcony with me that night.” When she glances over at him and sees that she’s making him more confused, she continues, “You came back from the future that night…14 years in the future. You…he came right before you showed up in the alley…he told me you would be coming. He told me about Mr. Delgado and he told me that when you threw the roses up to me, you remembered at the last minute that I liked white roses better, so you changed them.”

“How…what did…how did he get there?” Max stutters, thinking back to that night and how it looked like she was talking to someone else up there with her. He thought it was her Dad…

“He told me that they figured out how to alter the Granolith to create a tear in time.”

“They?” He asks.

“Someone named Serena…she became a friend somewhere along the way…and me.” She tells him.

He looks over at her and asks, “You’re with me 14 years in the future?”

Nodding, she says, “Yes, in that future I was.”

“So…I’m assuming I didn’t travel through time to warn you that I was coming to sing to you.” Max says, waiting for her to continue.

“No.” She smiles sadly. “He said that where he came from, when he came from, Earth had been taken over by your enemies. You couldn’t fight them because you, Michael, Isabel and Tess made a complete unit and Tess…left…leaving the three of you vulnerable. In his timeline, Tess left town after you and I got…closer. He came back to make sure that in this timeline, Tess stayed with you…he told me that he needed me to make you stop loving me, so Tess would stay.”

“And before you ask, no…he couldn’t go to you because if the two of you met it would destroy each of you.” She adds quickly, knowing what he was going to ask.

Max thinks for a few minutes and says, “He obviously didn’t know about Tess…didn’t know her plan.” Looking at her, he says, “So, that night that you tried to set me up with her and I caught you…that’s why?”

She nods, confused about what Tess’ ‘plan’ was, and says, “It was so hard…you were so stubborn. I didn’t know what to do…I didn’t want to hurt you. I told him that I couldn’t do it…to find someone else to help him, but he told me that in his timeline, Isabel had died two weeks before and Michael died in his arms right before he came. He was desperate to change things and he said I was the only one who could help him…the only one he trusted.”

Thinking back to the events that took place after that day, Max starts putting the pieces together. “So you came to me and told me that you wanted to date normal boys…and have a normal life.”

She nods and glances over to see him looking out the passenger window. “But it didn’t work. We were sitting on my balcony after that and he started to disappear. He said that if I was successful, he wouldn’t exist anymore…his timeline would be changed and the one he knew wouldn’t exist. But he didn’t disappear. I didn’t know what else to do…I had done everything I could think of to push you away. But, then Maria told me about how she walked in on Michael and Courtney and how betrayed she felt…that she could never go back to him after that and it gave me an idea.”

“Kyle…that’s why you set it up to look like you slept with Kyle. You knew I’d be coming to your room that night to take you to the concert…he told you I’d be coming…that’s how you knew.” He finally understands.

She nods and says, “You…he…disappeared a few hours after that.”

They drive in silence for a few minutes, each wrapped up in their own thoughts. Finally Max turns to her and asks, “Why then? Why did I choose that time to come back? Did I tell you?”

She looks at him, making the decision to tell him everything and says, “We would have made love that night…the night you came to take me to the concert. After that, he told me you pushed Tess further and further away until she left town.”

Leaning against the door, Max brings a hand up to cover his eyes. “Tess is still gone…nothing’s changed. What’s gonna happen now?”

“Yah…about that. I don’t remember Tess leaving town. What happened?”

Max sighs and pulls out the paper Liz wrote her timeline on out of his pocket. “So you don’t remember Tess leaving…or why?” He glances over at her, hoping he doesn’t have to tell her again that he slept with Tess and got her pregnant.

Liz shakes her head. “No…I…I know she was pregnant, with your son…right?” She looks over at him with pain in her eyes.

He can’t look at her and instead looks forward and says, “She told me he couldn’t survive on Earth…that he was dying. And when you found Alex’s translation of the book and it had directions on how to use the Granolith to get home, we decided to leave.”

She’s silent for a few moments as he allows her time to process what he’s said. “So…obviously you didn’t…go, I mean.”

“No…it was a trap. She planned on delivering me, Michael and Isabel to Khivar…for execution.” He looks over at her before he tells her, “You stopped us…you…you found out that she killed Alex.”

“So you let her go…by herself.” Liz says woodenly.

Max nods and looks out the window again.

“Now it makes sense…that’s why you were looking for your son. That’s why we were in Utah…and I…I just followed you around while you looked for him.” Liz’s words are tinged in anger as her memories of the last year fall into place. After a few minutes, Liz says, “Alex wasn’t supposed to die. He died because Tess stayed in town and she killed him. You…he…told me that in his timeline Alex was at our wedding.”

“Our wedding?” He whispers…not really surprised, considering they were gonna get married at 18.

“He said that when we were 19 we got married at the Elvis Chapel in Las Vegas.” She explains. “Maria, Michael, Isabel and Alex met us halfway at some bar after.”

“The vision I had…in Vegas. It was real.” He whispers, almost to himself.

“You went to Vegas?” She asks him…wondering if that’s who she went with.

Max looks over at her and says, “You don’t remember.” When she shakes her head, he fills her in. “We all went. Michael had a bunch of money he wanted to blow and we all went to Vegas. It was right before the Junior Prom. When we were there, I had a vision…of us dressed up like we just got married. I told you about it, but you didn’t say anything.” He thinks about how that fits in with what she told him. They were 19 in that vision…and Alex was still alive. They had looked so happy, and he couldn’t help himself from finding Liz and telling her what he saw. Look at them now…how drastically different they are.

Max looks over to Liz, seeing the blank mask she’s adopted. He’s doing it to her all over again…hurting her. And now he finds out about yet another mistake he made. Another one to add to his list…probably his biggest…this one definitely belongs at the top. Alex…not only is he responsible for his murder…he did it two times over. By coming back in time, he changed Alex’s fate…and by not keeping a closer eye on Tess, he let her murder him. Obviously he doesn’t get much brighter in the future.

“Max…stop blaming yourself. There was no way you could have known what would happen by changing the past.” Liz says, knowing what he’s thinking about.

“I should have had a better plan…I should have tried something else, or gone to another time.”

“No, Max. It wasn’t your plan anyway…he told me I made him go to that time…that I was the one who came up with the plan.” Liz tells him. “If anyone’s to blame…it’s me.”

He looks at her in wonder, all of her actions…all of her words after that night suddenly making sense to him. She did it all for him…and she kept it a secret…shouldering all the responsibility herself. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he whispers.

“How could I? The goal was to get you to stop loving me…to turn to Tess instead. It worked…there was no point in telling you.” She grips the steering wheel harder and struggles to keep her eyes on the road. “But it doesn’t matter anymore…Tess is gone, the Granolith is gone. It was all for nothing and all we have to show for it is a lot of pain and heartache for ourselves and Alex is gone. Now we’re right back where we started when he came.”

Max silently thinks about everything he’s heard…the ramifications turning over and over in his mind. He saw things in Liz’s mind when he healed her…things that didn’t make sense. But he dismissed it, thinking it was a fantasy or a dream of hers. He saw glimpses of her dancing on her balcony with someone who looked like him…but wasn’t. Now he realizes it was him…it was a version of him who got to marry Liz and spend years with her. “We danced…you danced…on your balcony.” He says, wistfully…not really aware that he was talking.

She looks at him sharply and answers, “Yah…right before he disappeared. I asked him for my wedding dance…since I wouldn’t get one. He disappeared in the middle…I didn’t even know until he was gone.” Her sentence fades as she looks back toward the road, remembering the loss and devastation she felt when he was gone. She continues to drive, keeping her eyes on the road. There’s too much to think about right now…and she just doesn’t want to talk to Max anymore right now. The anger of how she let him walk all over her is fresh again. She knows that they obviously got past that, but right now…it’s as real to her as if it happened yesterday.

Max wishes he could sink right into the car seat and never make Liz look at him again. After all that…and the way he treated her…the things he did…he has no earthly idea how she could have still loved him. She did nothing less than save all their lives, she put everyone above herself and all he did was betray her. He couldn’t feel more worthless and pathetic right now if he tried. Turning his face to the side to look out the window, silent tears fall. They fall for Liz…and Alex.

~TBC~

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 28-May-2002 4:30:42 PM ]
posted on 29-May-2002 7:10:11 PM by Angel
Hey guys...thanks for all the great feedback! Just wanted to let you know that I'm going out of town tomorrow, so the next update won't be until next Monday. Hope this part can tide you over until then...

Part 14~

As they get closer to Roswell, Liz recognizes the towns they drive through and the landmarks. They skirt around Roswell and she drives into Midway and pulls into a dingy motel parking lot. Putting the car in park and turning off the engine, she looks up at the neon sign that says Desert Inn…at least half of the letters dark and a couple more blinking. She looks over at Max…he hasn’t spoken a word to her since she told him about the future version of him dancing with her on her balcony…he hasn’t even looked at her.

This is why she never wanted to tell him. She knew he would blame himself and hate himself for the things he did. But she’s also kind of relieved that they haven’t talked more about her missing memories. She’s afraid of what she might say…the anger she feels at him right now is too strong. “So…I guess we’re the first ones here. Should we go get rooms?”

He turns his head toward her slightly without really looking at her and nods as he opens the car door and gets out.

Liz watches him go sadly…wondering where they can go from here as she gets out of the car to stretch. Her mind is telling her that they had apparently worked out their problems after Vermont…so much so that she agreed to marry him. But she can’t remember how that happened. She looks around at the deserted highway that runs in front of the motel and takes a deep breath smelling the familiar desert air. Leaning back against the car, she lets her head fall back and looks at the stars. She starts to think how good it feels to be home, then realizes that she doesn’t really have a home anymore. They can’t stay in Roswell and she has no idea where they plan on going after this…where she plans on going.

Max walks out of the office and glances up at Liz to see her leaning back against the car looking at the sky. He stops when he sees her t-shirt pulled up a few inches above her jeans…angry red scars covering her stomach. Swallowing hard he grimaces and looks back up at her face. She has her arms raised and her hands clasped behind her head…he can’t tell by the look on her face what she’s thinking about.

He moves forward again and says, “Can you…um…pop the trunk?” as he walks to the back of the car.

She leans down and pulls up the trunk lever on the floor and pulls the keys out of the ignition before closing the door. She watches as Max pulls their bags out of the trunk and closes it, turning toward the long row of doors on the outside of the motel and she follows him.

Stopping in front of a peeling green door, Max inserts a key to open it and carries Liz’s bag in, setting it on the bed after turning on the light. Liz steps in through the door and takes in the dilapidated interior. The lumpy bed is covered by a threadbare green blanket. The room is lit by a single lap by the bed and the entire room smells like smoke. She’s afraid to even think about what the bathroom looks like.

Max is taking in the room as well and he walks back to the door, stopping next to Liz. “I’m sorry it’s so bad…we’ll only be here for a couple of days.” He walks out the door and picks up the bag he set down outside. “I’ll be next door.” He says softly as he walks down to the next door.

As he walks into his own run down room, Max thinks about how immature he’s being. He just doesn’t know what to say to Liz and he briefly entertains the thought that maybe she won’t want to stay with them. She asked about it that first day…asked if she wanted to go on her own if he’d let her. The thought of doing that fills him with panic and he doesn’t know how he’ll survive if she chooses to leaves him. He wouldn’t blame her though…he’d want to leave him, too.

Lights shine through the crack in his drapes and he opens the door to see Isabel, Jesse and Jim pull up. He waits for them to get out and pulls out two room keys from his pocket, handing them over.

Isabel watches her brother with concern as she sees his pale face and sunken eyes. He looks tired…and sad. Before she can ask him how he is, though, he says, “Isabel…come in my room and I’ll heal you.” as he walks toward his room.

She looks over at Jesse and asks, “Do you want to come?”

He nods his head and follows her into Max’s room before shutting the door behind him. He watches Isabel sit on the corner edge of the bed and she says, “Ew. This place is a pit, Max.”

Max doesn’t answer her complaint, instead he says, “You need to take off your shirt.”

Sighing and rolling her eyes…not relishing the idea of being naked in front of her brother…she looks over at Jesse reassuringly before lifting her shirt over her head. “I knew we should have stopped for underwear today.” She smiles nervously…hating being so exposed.

Max stands behind her and raises his hand to her neck and slowly moves it down her back…healing the skin as he goes. The marks on her back match those that Kyle had and he wonders what the symmetrical circular scars are from on each side.

He walks around to the foot of the bed and looks at the door. “You wanna…cover yourself with your hands? I don’t need to see my sister’s breasts; it might traumatize me for life.”

Isabel laughs and says sarcastically, “Please, Max…let me save you from the embarrassment.” and she rolls her eyes, bringing her hands up to her chest.

Max throws her a small smile before kneeling down in front of her. He sees that she has far fewer scars on her stomach than what he briefly saw on Liz’s in the parking lot. Isabel’s scars mimic almost exactly the ones Kyle has, all but the bullet wounds. Isabel’s are placed a little differently, but they number the same. Realizing that this is his sister and he’s spending way too much time looking at her, he quickly raises his hand to her chest.

Jesse watches in amazement as Max’s hand starts to glow and moves it slowly across Isabel’s chest…leaving perfect skin in its wake. His eyes follow Max’s hand as it moves down to Isabel’s stomach and sides. Jesse saw Max heal Kyle, but he’s still amazed as he watches him heal Isabel. He can’t imagine what it would be like to have the ability to heal…and not be able to use it on anyone you wanted.

Max stands up and turns around as Isabel puts her shirt back on. She stands up and turns him around for a hug. “Thank you, Max.”

He nods and steps back and she notices that he looks distracted. “Max...” she starts to ask him what’s wrong but he shakes his head and says, “Nothing, Isabel. Don’t worry about me.”

She gives him a concerned look as there’s a knock on the door. Max walks over and opens the door to find Michael. “You got keys for us?”

Max reaches into his pocket and hands two keys to Michael and watches him walk away, stopping to hand Kyle one of the keys. Isabel and Jesse leave Max’s room, throwing him one last worried look before she shuts the door. He waves his hand over his hair, turning it back to normal as he walks to the bathroom and takes a shower.

When he gets dressed, he walks over to the bed and lies on top of the covers, staring at the ceiling. Liz…all he can think about is Liz. Why did he treat her that way? Why did he believe the lie she set up for him…he knew it wasn’t true…in his heart he knew. And he just treated her like shit. He let Isabel and Michael treat her like shit. And he fell right into Tess’ trap. How can he be so stupid…repeatedly making mistakes. Liz is the one that’s always held them together…that became clear to him when he pushed her away. After that, they all fell apart. He was always so desperate to hold onto her that he never stood back to see what he was doing. Everything she’s done…she’s done it for him. While everything he’s done has been for himself, too. There was never anyone looking out for Liz. He realized that when they got back from Vermont and he vowed to devote the rest of his life to making her happy. He gave up the throne, ignoring anything alien around them…and he focused only on Liz. Being dead made him realize what was important in his life…and he knew as soon as she brought him back…she is his life. And he set out to spend the rest of it proving it to her. But she doesn’t remember that…she doesn’t remember him being anything but the selfish bastard he was for so long.

He doesn’t know how much time goes by but eventually he hears a knock on his door again. Rolling out of bed, he walks over to open the door and sees Liz standing on the other side. “Liz.” He looks both ways outside the door, but doesn’t see anyone. “Is everything ok?”

“Oh…yah…um, no.” She fidgets before continuing, “Max, don’t you think we should talk…about…” she doesn’t get to finish before Michael opens the door to his room and steps out.

Seeing Max and Liz, he says, “Hey, Maxwell…come on, we’re waiting for you.” and he walks back in his room, leaving the door open.

Looking at Liz for a moment in apology, he walks back in his room and grabs a folder from his bag before stopping to plug his cell phone into the wall to charge. When he turns back to the door, Liz is gone. “Damn it…why are you such an idiot?” he mutters to himself as he walks out the door, slamming it behind him.

They all have to sit on the floor of Michael’s room because, although their rooms are pretty big, the only furniture in them is the one bed with a nightstand and a small dresser with a TV on top. Max walks in and sees that everyone is there…obviously having been waiting for him. “Sorry.” He says sheepishly as he sits down indian style and puts the folder on the floor in front of him.

“Well, I guess you all have some decisions to make. I’ll tell you what I’m doing…then we can talk about where to go from there.” Jim speaks up after Max sits down. He looks at Max for a silent go ahead to tell the others what the two of them have been talking about for several days.

“I think you all know by now that I’m staying in Roswell. I’m staying with the sheriff’s department…it’ll allow me to keep a close eye on what’s going on around town. For those of you who are leaving…Max can tell you the procedure to follow to contact me…the best thing is for me to not know where you’re at. Max and I will have a system in place for me to contact him in case of an emergency.” Jim looks over at Max for him to continue.

Clearing his throat, Max opens the folder in front of him. “Isabel, Michael and I have to leave Roswell…and I’m sorry, Liz…you can’t stay, either. I don’t mean to order you to leave, but the people who had you will find you if you stay in Roswell.” He turns to Kyle. “Your situation has changed, though, since they released you. Your Dad and I talked and we both think that if you want to stay in Roswell, that it would be safe for you. You’d be taking a risk that they’ll change their minds, but it’s your decision.”

He takes a deep breath and looks at Jesse, then Maria. “You guys are the ones with a big decision…I need to know by tomorrow morning…about whether you’re staying in Roswell, or going with us. Think hard…because if you decide to come with us, you might never be able to come back. You might never see your families again. I need to know tomorrow so I can make arrangements for you.”

Taking copies of maps and pictures from the folder, he passes them around to everyone. “This is where we’re going. We’ll leave two nights from now.”

“Veracruz, Mexico?!” Maria exclaims as she looks at the pictures of the beaches.

“Don’t get too excited, we won’t be there long. This is the only location Jim will know about…that’s why we can’t stay there.” Max tells her, not wanting her to think of this as a vacation. He looks around at the bent heads studying the information he gave them, all but Liz…who has laid the papers on the floor and is staring out the window.

His thoughts on what that might mean are interrupted by Jesse. “Well, I’m going with you, I guess. Wherever Isabel goes, I go.”

Isabel looks up at Jesse and says, “Jesse…maybe you should think about this. You’d be running for the rest of your life…you’d never see your Mom again.”

“I don’t need to think about it. You’re my wife…I love you. So I guess you’re stuck with me.” He lifts the corner of his mouth at her right before she flings herself into his arms.

Naturally, everyone turns their heads to look at Maria to see if she’s decided…everyone but Michael who has suddenly found a stain on the carpet really interesting. She looks at Max and says, “I…I don’t know. I need to think.” She gets up and walks outside. Michael follows her out the door with his eyes and once it’s closed again, he studies the spot on the carpet in front of him once more…clenching his teeth.

Liz gets up and follows Maria out the door…throwing a glance back at Kyle before she shuts the door. Letting out a deep sigh, Kyle stands up and says, “Guess we’re having a human pow wow…Dad, Jesse? Care to join us?” When they both shake their heads, Kyle follows Maria and Liz out the door.

When he’s gone, Max turns to Isabel and says, “Are you ready to call Mom and Dad?”

At her nod, he gets up and grabs Michael’s cell phone from the top of the TV and dials his Dad’s cell phone. After talking to him for a few minutes, and telling them to make sure they’re not followed, he turns to look at Jesse. “I’ll need your driver’s license, a birth certificate and your social security card tomorrow. You can go get it, or tell me where they’re at and I’ll get them. Dad’s bringing our birth certificates, Isabel…I just need your license and social security card.”

Jesse gets up off the floor and says, “I’ll go in the morning…I need to grab some other things anyway.”

Max nods and tells him, “Only get what you need…you’ll draw attention to yourself if you start dragging suitcases to the car.”

Jesse pulls Isabel up from the floor and they walk to the door. “I’m gonna wait for Mom and Dad outside, Max” Isabel says as they walk outside.

“Max, are you coming in with me in the morning?” Jim asks.

“Yah…just let me know when you’re ready.” Max tells him before turning to Michael. “Michael, can I talk to you?”

At Max’s words, Jim stands up and says, “Well, I better go check on the ‘human pow wow’, see how they’re doing. You need to get a list of the places we need to go and what we have to get for everyone who’s not going with us tomorrow, Max.”

Max nods at him and watches as he walks out the door, and past the window that faces the highway. He makes his way to the lumpy bed and sits down as he looks at Michael. “Shouldn’t you be talking to Maria?”

Michael looks up and furrows his brow. “What for?”

Max studies him for a few moments before saying, “I just thought that you’d want to talk to her before she made her decision. You know…she’d come with you…all you have to do is ask her to.”

Michael stands up and says, “Look, Maxwell…I don’t need your relationship advice. I’d say you have enough problems in that department.” and he storms out of the room.

Smirking as he watches Michael walk in the direction Maria went, he knows that he’s going to talk to her. Max shakes his head at how stubborn Michael is…how unwilling he is to admit that Max is ever right. Suddenly noticing that he’s all alone, he hears a car pull up and walks outside to see his parents jumping out of their car and grabbing Isabel into a hug and crying.

Max turns his head and sees Michael pulling Maria toward him and they brush past him into the room and shut the door. In the direction they came from, he sees Liz, Kyle and Jim sitting on a cement parking divider and talking…Kyle’s arm around Liz. Jealousy barely has a chance to shoot through him before his Dad grabs him and pulls him in for a hug. “I’m so glad you’re all ok, Max.”

The two men hug and Max pulls away, saying, “I think we should all go inside…we shouldn’t be out here.” loud enough so Kyle, Liz and Jim can hear him.

Wanting nothing more than to talk to Liz alone, Max doesn’t get a chance to say anything to her as he leads his parents, Isabel and Jesse into his room. He sees the three humans walk to Liz’s room before shutting the door. She didn’t even look at him. He knows what they’re talking about…Jim brought it up to him the night before as they ate at Waffle House. Jim doesn’t feel that it’s safe for Kyle to stay in Roswell and suggested that if Liz and Kyle didn’t want to leave with Max and the others, then he would bring up the idea of them going on their own together…maybe try to get Maria to go with them.

He stares at the closed door for a minute…wondering what decisions are being made behind it. Decisions that will either kill him or make him fall to his knees in relief. He’s itching to walk in and ask to talk to Liz…he knows she wanted to talk earlier and he’s overwhelmed with guilt at not talking to her all day. He should have taken advantage of their time alone to tell her how he feels…he should have let her know that he loves her and wants her with him. She could be making the decision in that room right now to walk away from him forever…and he can’t do anything about it.

“Max!” he hears Isabel call him into the room and he takes one last look at Liz’s door and walks into his room, shutting the door behind him.

~TBC~
posted on 4-Jun-2002 9:47:54 AM by Angel
Hi guys...I know I said Monday, but it took me forever to get back home yesterday and I was too exhausted after that. Hope you like this part...

Part 15~

The Evans’ leave a couple of hours later, but not before hugging and fussing over Liz and Kyle…letting them know how happy they are that they’re safe. As Max watches their car disappear into the night, he sits on the curb of the sidewalk that runs in front of their motel room doors alone. Jesse and Isabel had gone into their own room as soon as his parents left, Michael and Maria were still in their room, Jim had gone to bed an hour ago and Liz…she was in her room with Kyle.

Before he can even contemplate what might be going on in there, though, Maria walks over and sits next to Max on the sidewalk when she sees him outside. “Hey.” She says softly, stretching her legs out in front of her.

Max looks at her face to see if he can read it before looking back out across the highway. “Hey.” If she’s made a decision about what she’s gonna do, he can’t tell what it is from her expression.

She looks around, noticing all the closed motel doors and stops back at Max. “Where’s Liz?”

“In her room…with Kyle.” Looking down at his shoes, he wishes his voice didn’t sound so pathetic.

Maria nods in understanding and leans back with her hands behind her. “Tell me you’re not jealous.”

“I’m not jealous.”

“Liar.” She smirks at him and rolls her eyes. “You know…they were in that place…together. Nobody understands better what they went through than each other…and Isabel.”

“I know. Are you coming with us or staying in Roswell?” He abruptly changes the subject and looks up at her.

Her eyes open wide and she jerks her head back in surprise. “Nice segue way, Max.”

His gaze stays on her and she sighs loudly, looking away. “I don’t know.” He knows that she won’t tell him, but he can’t help from asking, “What did…”

But she knows what he’s gonna ask before he even starts talking. “Don’t ask me, Max. I’m not gonna tell you what we talked about. When Liz makes her decision, I’m sure she’ll let you know.”

He nods and looks back down to the ground. “You knew…about me coming back from the future, didn’t you?”

“Yah…she wasn’t going to…”

“So you and Kyle knew about it all this time…while I…” He doesn’t finish as he gazes out to the blackness across the highway.

“Yah, well, Kyle didn’t find out until after Tess left in the Granolith. Liz kinda had a mini break down the next day…panicking because Tess was gone…and Kyle was there. We had to tell him.” She looks over as he puts his hands over his face. “So, she told you today.”

He doesn’t say anything and she sees that he’s trying hard not to cry but his shaking shoulders give it away. She puts her hand on his back, knowing that any words she might give him would be unnecessary and tilts her head up to the sky to gaze at the stars.

Quickly pulling himself together, Max takes a deep breath and stands up. “Are you coming back to town with us tomorrow?”

Maria stands up as well and says, “Yah. Guess I better go get some sleep…I have the feeling you’re gonna get me up at some god-awful early time.” as she smiles at him and squeezes his arm before turning and knocking on Michael’s door.

Max watches as Michael lets her in and wonders what Michael told her…if he asked her to stay with him. He admits that he hopes Maria goes with them, or he’ll really miss her. Not able to delay it any longer, Max steps toward Liz’s door and knocks. When Liz opens the door, Max takes in her red puffy eyes as she wipes her nose with a Kleenex. “I’m sorry…to interrupt. But, um…I…I need to know if you decided about whether or not you’re going to town with us tomorrow. If you’re not, I need you to make me a list of anything you want me to get while we’re there.” He looks over her head at Kyle sitting on the edge of the bed, his head cradled in his hands. “I…I can come back later.” He looks back at Liz and turns toward his room.

“Max…” Liz says as Kyle gets up and joins her at the door.

“That’s ok, Max. I was just leaving.” Kyle turns to Liz and puts his hand on her arm. “I’ll see you in the morning.” Before he walks away he looks at Max and starts to say something, but changes his mind and walks away.

Max watches him…not sure if he’s ready to hear what Liz says as his gaze lingers on Kyle, watching him enter his room and shut the door behind him. Finally, he turns and sees that Liz isn’t even standing in the door anymore, but the door is open so he steps inside and sees her at the sink splashing water on her face. When she turns around after drying her face with a hand towel, she says, “Can you…turn me back to normal? My hair, I mean.”

“Sure.” He walks over to her and raising his hand, he passes it over her hair and turns it back into the long brown hair that he loves. Stepping back, he watches as she walks to the bed and sinks down to sit in front of it.

“Thanks.” She says as she tucks her hair behind her ear. Watching as he sits on the floor a few feet away from her, she fidgets with the hem of her black t-shirt. She’s still thinking about the gaps of her memory that Maria, Kyle and Jim filled her in on. Kyle told her about Tess coming back with Max’s son and how his parents took him away to hide him. And they told her how Tess turned herself over to the military and blew up the base before they could capture her and that she was the one who drove her there…at Tess’ request. She still can’t understand what happened with Max and how they ended up back together, though. The others didn’t have any answers for her about that, other than Max had changed after he died…that he didn’t want anything to do with anything alien. That he had even given up trying to find his son before Tess showed up.

“So…have you…remembered anything…more?” Max asks as he absently pulls at the unraveling carpet in front of him.

“No…I, um…maybe. I’m not sure anymore.” Liz says. “I’m still processing. I think I at least have my memories separated from yours, though. I’ve been…confused.”

His head snaps up to look at her when she says this and he’s suddenly scared. He doesn’t say anything but she knows what he’s thinking…seeing the pain and fear in his eyes before he looks away.

“I saw you, with her.” Liz tells him softly, knowing that’s what he’s wondering.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to see that.” He says, not able to meet her eyes.

“I saw other things, too…things that I don’t remember. It’s strange.” Her stomach growls and she tries to remember the last thing she ate. “I’m having trouble trying to get everything to fit...trying to understand what I’m remembering, what I saw from you and what everyone has told me. It’s all a little jumbled.”

Swallowing, he asks, “How many times did they give you shock treatments?”

She watches as he looks up at her and looks at the circular burn marks on her temples. “I lost count…maybe 10, 15 times. I’m not really sure.”

He grimaces, remembering when they did that to him in the white room. He starts to ask her more about what they did to her, but she stops him.

“Max…I…I really don’t want to talk about any of that right now. There are more important things we need to talk about.” She takes a deep breath and continues. “We need to talk about…us…I guess.”

“Liz, I…” He starts, but she interrupts him again…holding her hand up.

“No…just, let me say this first.” She pulls her legs up under her to the side and forges ahead. “I know what you’re feeling, and I know that you’re feeling guilty. That’s why I didn’t want to tell you about the coming back from the future thing, Max. I knew you would take responsibility and feel even worse for how things were between us after that. We both made mistakes…can’t we just leave it at that?”

Max looks up at her and says, “I can’t even tell you how sorry I am. Just when I think the things I’ve done to you…the things that have happened to you because of me…can’t get any worse, they do…colossally worse. I just can’t believe that I can’t manage to do anything right or good for you.” He brings a hand up to rub his face before continuing. “I know I’m just feeling sorry for myself, but even more than that…I feel sorry for you, that you have to have this life because of me. You deserve so much better than this, Liz.”

“I chose this life, Max.” Liz tells him. “If I remember correctly, you did everything you could to keep me out of it…but I wouldn’t let you.”

“But if I wouldn’t have…”

“What, Max? If you wouldn’t have healed me in the first place, I’d be dead. And I can’t regret that.” She stops him before he says it. “No, we didn’t always make the best decisions, but hind sight is 20/20. We’re only human, and contrary to what the microscope says, where it matters you are human.” She pauses a moment before telling him, “I’ve made a decision…about what I’m going to do. We just can’t seem to manage to do anything right between us. As hard as we try, we end up hurting each other more and more…and I can’t help but think that you’re partly right. We both deserve better. I know that somehow…things changed between us. You’ve told me…everyone else told me. But I don’t feel it, Max. I can’t let you hurt me anymore. I don’t want to hurt you anymore, and I think the only way to do that is…is to go on my own…to not go to Mexico with you and the others. I feel like, right now, that’s the best thing I can do for us…for me.”

Max’s face contorts with pain as tears pool in his eyes and he buries his face in his hands. Choked sobs escape from his throat as his body starts to shake and Liz crawls across the floor to him, wrapping her arms around him. As soon as he feels her touch, he cries out, “Oh God, Liz…please…please don’t.” She immediately pulls away, misunderstanding…thinking he doesn’t want her to touch him.

Tears fall down her cheeks as she backs away from him and says, “I’m sorry, Max. I’m trying to do the right thing…and…and as much as it hurts, I really think this is the right decision.”

Max slowly rocks back and forth. This isn’t happening…this can’t be happening. She wants to leave him...he can’t lose her. Not now. He’s lost her…forever…he’ll never see her again, never feel her again, never…so many nevers.

He stumbles to his feet and looks at her…unable to control the emotion, the anger in his voice. “I love you! How can you do this to us?! Tell me you don’t love me!” His tears flow freely down his face and he watches her stand up to face him. “Tell me!”

“I do love y…” She tries to say something to him but he takes a step toward her.

“No! You can’t…you can’t love me! You wouldn’t be doing this. You’re destroying us…everything we are…everything we could be. You can’t do this and tell me you love me. We were getting married…the day after graduation…you said you would marry me.” His voice suddenly drops as he realizes he’s yelling at her, only reinforcing her decision to leave him. He looks into her big eyes, spilling over with her tears, and feels disgusted with himself.

She cries out to him, “Max…” and takes a step toward him, only to see him take a step back. He shakes his head back and forth and croaks, “I’m sorry.” before turning and running from her room. As her door slams open into the wall and Max disappears around the corner, Liz sinks to her knees on the floor and cries…leaning forward onto the floor, burying her face in her hands.

Michael steps out from his room when he hears yelling and gets shoved to the side as Max barrels past him. He watches Max disappear around the corner of the motel as he turns his head in the direction of Liz’s room…hearing her cries. As he moves forward toward Liz’s door, he feels Maria run up beside him. “What’s going on?” She asks as her pace quickens.

They both stop in the doorway, seeing Liz collapsed on the floor. Maria steps forward and says. “Liz?” as they hear her cry, “Leave me alone…please…just go.” Maria stops and turns to Michael, worried. He motions for her to join him and he closes Liz’s door quietly as he leads Maria back to their room.

“What’s going on, Michael? Did you hear what Max was yelling about?” Maria asks him as they stop in front of their room and Maria looks back toward Liz’s room.

“I don’t know…but we need to leave them alone right now.” He tells her and walks back in the room, waiting for her to join him before shutting the door.

~TBC~
posted on 5-Jun-2002 10:03:20 AM by Angel
Thanks for the feedback everyone! I know things look dreary right now...but I'm pretty sure they'll start to look up at some point in the future. I think. *wink*

Part 16~

When Max wakes up, he immediately becomes aware that he’s outside and lying in the dead brush on the side of the motel. Standing up and brushing the sand off of him, he rubs his face wearily before running his hands through his hair and he walks back around to the front of the motel and heads toward his room. He looks at his watch and cringes when he sees it’s already 9am.

Before he reaches his room, he realizes that one of the cars is missing and stops at Michael’s door to knock on it. Michael immediately opens it and takes in Max’s appearance. “You know, we paid good money to stay at this palace…you could at least sleep here.”

“Shut up, Michael. Why is a car gone?” Max doesn’t have patience for Michael’s sarcasm right now.

Michael looks past Max’s shoulder and scratches his eyebrow. “Liz asked Jim to take her into town…Kyle went with them.”

“Shit. Is Jesse still here?” Max turns around in frustration.

“Yah, I’m pretty sure he’s up…waiting for you.”

Max takes a calming breath and sees Maria in the room behind Michael, packing her bag. He looks up at Michael, who raises his eyebrows at him before turning back in the room and shutting the door in Max’s face.

Max goes to his room and showers quickly before getting dressed and grabbing his phone. He leaves his room and goes to get Jesse. “Are you ready?” Max asks him when the door opens.

“Yah…let’s go.” Jesse says as he turns to tell Isabel goodbye and walks toward one of the cars. On the way into Roswell, Max dials Jim’s cell phone and waits for him to answer.

“Max?” Jim answers after the second ring.

“Where are you?” Max asks him.

“Well, right now we’re parked in the alley behind the Crashdown. Liz climbed up to her room to get a few things…her parents are down in the café, she doesn’t want them to see her.”

“What’s going on, Jim? Why did you leave without me?”

“Max…we’re going back to the motel after this and they’re taking this car and leaving…Maria’s going with them. Liz wanted to get an early start…she said she didn’t want to wait for you. I’m sorry.” Jim explains before Max hears a car door open and Liz say, “Ok, let’s go.”

“I gotta go, Max. We’re heading back.” And he clicks the call off before Max has a chance to say anything.

“Damn it!” Max yells as he throws the phone down on the seat.

“What’s going on?” Jesse asks as he pulls in behind his and Isabel’s apartment.

“Liz is leaving…with Kyle and Maria.” Max tells him. “Hurry up, we need to get back.”

As Jesse runs in his apartment, Max leans his head back on the seat and closes his eyes. She’s really leaving…she’s leaving without him. Why didn’t he talk to her yesterday in the car? Why didn’t he reassure her and tell her that everything would be ok as long as they were together? Why did he lash out at her last night? He doesn’t have long to ponder the whys and what ifs before Jesse is getting back in the car, throwing a bag in the backseat.

They go to Michael’s apartment next and Max runs in to get the box that has all their alien things in it and a few personal things of his and Michaels. Taking one last look around, he shuts and locks the door before running back to the car.

“Ok, let’s go.” Max says as he jumps in the car.

As they get closer to the motel, Max sees Michael, Isabel and Jim standing out front. They park and Max immediately gets out of the car. “Where are they? Where’s Liz?”

Michael walks into his room as Jim says, “They’re gone.” and he nods his head down the highway.

Max turns his head and sees a car in the distance, driving away from them…the Camry. He watches as it disappears and turns to Jim. “Where are they going?”

He shakes his head sadly and says, “I don’t know…they didn’t tell me. I gave them instructions on how to contact me, though.” He walks away and into his room, shutting the door behind him.

She left…without saying goodbye. He’s stunned with the realization and can’t move from where he stands as he looks back in the direction the Camry went. He could get in a car and chase them down…but then what? What could he possibly say to get her to change her mind? What could he possibly say to make up all the awful things he said to her in a few short minutes?

He turns his head and realizes that Isabel has walked over to stand next to him. She has tears in her eyes and she hands him an envelope. “She wanted me to give this to you.” She hands it to him and looks at him a moment before letting Jesse lead her back in their room.

He stares at the blank envelope for a minute before turning it over and fishing the folded piece of paper out. Unfolding it slowly, he begins to read…

Max,

I know you’re upset, but I also know that deep down you have to understand that this is the only way. I took the opportunity to leave without seeing you because I knew that if I saw you, I wouldn’t be able to go. I would let you talk me into staying with you. You were right last night about one thing. All we manage to do is hurt each other…and I know that at some point we must have moved past that…but I don’t remember. When I look in your eyes, all I can see is the pain you feel because of me. I don’t know how to make us work and I don’t know how to move past every thing we’ve done to each other.

But I can tell you that you were also wrong last night. I do love you…so much it hurts. And it hurts even more to leave you. Please don’t hate me for doing this, but I had to. Tell Michael that I’m sorry for taking Maria away from him. I begged her to stay with him but she insisted on coming with me. She’s worried about me, but hopefully, someday soon, I can talk her into joining you. Please don’t come after me. It’ll only make it harder, for both of us. As much as I want to be the person you love and asked to marry you, I’m not her. Not now.

Please take care of yourself and stay safe. I don’t know what I’d do if something happened to you. I love you with all my heart, and one day maybe the fates will work to bring us together again. But until then, I have to figure out who I am, look for myself through all the chaos that my life has become, and how to be happy again with what I find.

Be safe, Max.
Love,
Liz


Max can barely read the end through his tears as he stands in front of the motel, letting the desert sun and wind beat down on him. As he rereads her words, he wonders how things could possibly get worse than they are right at that moment. His emotions have been all over the board for a week. First excited and anxious to find Liz, then complete happiness when he found her which was followed immediately by sadness and fear that she couldn’t remember anything. Intense joy followed when she regained her memory right before the all familiar regret and guilt kicked in. And now…he stands in the middle of the desert broken and completely devastated. It’s all his fault, he didn’t say enough…he didn’t do enough. But that was always his problem with Liz, wasn’t it. He never did deserve her love…and when she accepted him back into her life when they got back from Vermont, he vowed to spend every day making sure she didn’t regret that decision. That was the turning point, that was when the proverbial light bulb went on in his head. From that moment on, Liz was his entire life.

But she doesn’t remember that. She doesn’t remember anything beyond him trying to kill her in Vermont…right after almost killing her in the desert. And they’ll never get those precious months back, the precarious time when he was finally able to show Liz how important she is to him. She’s gone…she left him…and he didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. He didn’t get to heal her scars. He didn’t get to feel her lips against his one last time, or feel her breath on his face.

He doesn’t notice that Jim has come back outside with a bag. He’s still staring down the highway where his love disappeared from his life. Suddenly he feels himself being grabbed and turned around.

“Max! Are you listening?” Jim says, raising his voice…trying to snap Max out of whatever daze he’s in.

Max looks at Jim, realizing that he has no idea what he’s been saying. “What?”

“I’m going back to Roswell, you need to take me to the airport to get my truck.” Jim tells him again. “And we need to talk…things are different now.”

Nodding absently, Max thinks that things are definitely different now. “Right…ok.” He continues to stand there, not really knowing what he should be doing. “I should…tell someone…I’m gonna tell Isabel that we’re going.” He turns and walks over to Isabel’s door, knocking lightly as his hand drops back to his side.

When she steps out, he tells her that he’ll be back later and to call him if they need anything. In a daze, he walks over to the Taurus and gets in the passenger seat. Once they’re on the road, Max looks down and notices that he’s still gripping Liz’s letter in his hand and he looks at Jim in embarrassment as he stuffs the letter in his back pocket.

“She’ll be fine, Max. Kyle will take care of them.” Jim tells him as they get closer to the airport.

Max stares out the passenger side window. If Jim only knew how little that comforted him. Kyle…Kyle would always be everything that he wanted to be. Kyle had the life that Max yearned for. A normal life…with Liz. It wasn’t normal anymore, though…thanks to him. Kyle couldn’t even live the life Max envied for so many years…not anymore…Max took that away from him.

“Max…” Jim’s voice brings Max back to the present. “We need to agree on what I’m going to tell Hanson. Liz and Maria didn’t see their parents, and I’m wondering if it would be better for us to stick with the story that we only got Kyle back…and that he and Maria left to travel for a while. Amy’s gonna wring my neck.”

“I think that would be best. I’m sorry you have to clean up the mess, Jim…I really appreciate it.” Max says as he watches Jim pull into the airport parking lot. “We’ll be leaving late tonight…I’ll contact you from Veracruz when we get there.”

As Jim brings the car to a stop next to his truck, he turns to Max. “I guess I don’t have to tell you to be careful.”

“No, you don’t.” Max says as he opens the door and gets out. He watches Jim throw his bag into the back of his truck and turn back to Max.

“Well, I guess this is it. Seems to me we’ve done this before.” Jim smirks at Max.

Nodding at Jim, Max says, “Yah…so how about we don’t say goodbye this time…just ‘see you later’. You’ll contact me if you start…you know.” Max wiggles his fingers at Jim, talking about alien powers.

“You can bet on it.” Jim says before becoming serious. “Thank you, Max…for saving me. I don’t think I ever got a chance to tell you that. I’ll do everything I can to keep everyone off your trail…you just make sure you stay out of sight. I don’t wanna pick up the paper and read about a string of miraculous healings in Mexico.”

“I’ll try to keep my hands to myself.” Max says, jokingly.

“Right. Well, you better get going.” Jim pulls Max into a hug before pulling away and turning toward his truck. Max watches as he pulls out of the parking space and drives toward the lot exit. When his truck leaves sight, Max gets into the car and heads back to the motel.

When he gets back, he sees that his parents are there and he makes his way to Isabel’s room. Isabel opens the door and gives him a sympathetic look as she lets him in.

Max spends the next two hours explaining their plan to his parents. He tries to answer all their questions as much as he can…but refuses to tell them where they’re going and tells them to contact Jim if they need to get in touch with them.

When they leave, Isabel is crying and holding onto Jesse as their car disappears toward Roswell. Max tells them to get ready because they’re leaving that night and he walks over to knock on Michael’s door. It takes a few minutes before he answers and he walks back in the room, leaving the door open for Max.

Max shuts it behind him and watches as Michael falls back onto the bed…where he’s apparently been lying since Maria left that morning.

“I wanted to go with them.” Michael says abruptly, his arm thrown over his eyes. “And I was going to…Liz wouldn’t let me, though…said I had to stay with you.”

Max thinks about this latest information and looks at the floor. He’s not surprised. “I’m sorry, Michael.”

“So what…I’m stuck with you for the rest of my life now?”

“No…you can do what you want. I told you before, I’m not your boss…I’m not gonna start acting like it now.” Max says…still looking at the floor as he leans against the wall. “If you want to leave, I won’t stop you.”

Max watches as Michael lies on the bed in silence and he says, “We’re leaving tonight…if you’re coming.” and he turns to walk out the door. He knows Michael…knows he’ll leave by himself. In a few short hours, everything has fallen apart…all of his plans…his entire life. And right now, he just doesn’t care anymore.

South of Albuquerque

The buildings of downtown Albuquerque come into view as Kyle slowly makes his way along with the traffic heading in. “I think there was an accident.” He says as he cranes his neck to get a view of the highway ahead of them. “I see an ambulance.”

He doesn’t get a response from Liz or Maria…not that he’s expecting one. They’ve both been silent for most of their drive so far. “So…have we decided on a place yet?”

Liz stirs in the seat next to him and says, “Let’s just get to the airport and see what we can find.” They had narrowed down their choices earlier to somewhere in Europe. Paris, London or Rome were at the top of the list. Someplace crowded where they could blend in easily.

They finally make their way to the airport and Kyle parks the Camry in long-term parking…knowing they’ll never be back for it. Liz quickly changes the color and the plates before they grab their bags and catch the shuttle to the terminal.

Once inside, Liz leads them over to the ticket counter and after talking to the agent for several minutes they decide to get the next flight to New York and catch a connecting flight there to London. Liz purchases their tickets with the money that Isabel made for them back at the hotel and they make their way to a secluded are of the terminal.

Fishing the three passports out of her bag, Liz opens each one and changes the pictures to look like them. She knows that Isabel got them out of Max’s room, but she doesn’t know how he got them. After changing the names and birth date information, she hands Kyle and Maria theirs before they walk down the terminal to their gate.

As they’re waiting for their flight to board, Liz stands at the window and looks out over the New Mexico landscape. She wonders if Max has left for Mexico yet and debates for the hundredth time today whether she made the right decision. She feels her gut twist with confliction and thinks to herself that it’s not too late…they could still leave and meet the others in Veracruz. Thoughts of going back to the ticket counter to change their tickets are interrupted by Kyle’s hand on her arm.

“That’s us, Liz.” He says just as another announcement is made, announcing their flight being boarded.

She shakes her head of her earlier thoughts and says, “Right…let’s go.” As they walk toward the gate door, Liz thinks that this is the right decision. What was she thinking? She made this decision and it’s definitely the right one. Maria steps in next to her and grabs onto her arm as they walk. Liz winces as she sees the look on Maria’s face. She’s so sad…she left Michael behind for her. She feels so guilty for dragging Kyle and Maria along with her when she’s not even sure about her decision to break off with the others.

Watching the door to the jetway get closer and closer, Liz vows to start a new life as soon as they pass through it. She’ll no longer be a girl from Roswell, New Mexico. She can be anyone she wants to be...do anything she wants to do. They hand their boarding passes to the agent and Liz grabs Maria and Kyle’s hands. “Are you ready? Are you ready to start over?”

They look at her tentative smile and back to the door. “Ready.” They both say at the same time and the three friends move forward and walk toward their futures.

~TBC~
posted on 6-Jun-2002 11:02:30 AM by Angel
17b will be posted later today. *wink*

Part 17a~
* italics indicate flashbacks

Three years later…

The sun slowly sets on King Street just outside Hyde Park in Sydney, Australia as the cars, bikes and mopeds slowly make their way to their destinations under a red and orange sky. It’s October and the days are starting to become warmer with the onset of Spring. Sitting in front of a popular Internet Café, Max watches people walk by on the sidewalk in front of him as he waits for Michael, who is inside checking for email from Maria.

They’ve been in Sydney for just over six months and have been trying to decide where to go to next. Before Sydney, they were in Buenos Aires and before that they were in Hong Kong. Max can’t believe it’s been three years…three years since their lives changed so drastically. He was extremely depressed when he left with Isabel and Jesse for Veracruz, but was pleasantly surprised to find Michael there a few days later.

Michael had left the motel in Midway before them, intending to go on his own, but in the end he decided that he couldn’t leave Max and Isabel on their own. They were his family and although he tried to deny it, he couldn’t be away from them for very long.

Once they reach Veracruz, the three of them rent two rooms a block from the beach. After three days of roaming the city, Max takes what is quickly becoming his regular evening stroll along the beach. He wishes Liz could see it, it’s beautiful. The bright blue waves crashing in on the pristine white beaches…the roar of the water is soothing to him. His thoughts are constantly filled with Liz. Where is she at? What’s she doing? Is she ok?

He takes off his shoes and wades in the surf, watching the waves crash in toward the shore. There are so many things he did wrong when they got Liz back. Hell, there are so many things he did wrong even before that. But his memory is fresh of recent events…of getting her away from the FBI. So many things he said and didn’t say. He was just so scared for her…for them…and he was overwhelmed with the responsibility of making sure everyone was safe. He just can’t believe what an idiot he is…what an utter and complete idiot he is. He was so busy feeling sorry for himself, as usual, that he didn’t think about what Liz was going through. Maybe he should have tried to heal her again…tried to help her regain the rest of her memories. If he really digs deep, he knows that they never got past the incidents surrounding Alex’s death and how he treated her. He was confused at how easily she forgave him, but it became clear when she got her memory back that she never really did.

He can’t stop thinking about her and he hopes that wherever she is, whatever she’s doing, that she’s happy. He knows that he could make her happy…if she’d give him another chance. But his chances were used up a long time ago and he can’t even hope that he’ll ever get another one. He doesn’t want to be responsible for anyone except himself and Liz. He doesn’t want to be in charge…or the one everyone looks to for answers. He’s not a king.

He’s startled out of his revere by a voice behind him. “You know…you’re a real asshole.”

Max whips his head around to see Michael standing a few feet behind him…smirking. He didn’t even hear him walk up. “Michael! What…what are you doing here?”

“Yah. Good to see you too, man.” Michael smiles at him.

Max walks closer to him and doesn’t answer his sarcastic response. Instead, he just looks at him.

Michael takes in Max’s appearance…the dark circles around his eyes…the stubble on his face…his disheveled hair. “So…a week without me and you go to shit. I had to come and whip your ass into shape.”

Max quirks up the corner of his mouth and walks closer to Michael to pull him into a hug. “I’m glad you’re here.”


The four of them traveled from city to city for the first year…barely able to remember where they were. Their stays had been getting longer lately, and they found it harder to leave the places they’d become familiar with.

About a year ago, Michael received a message from Valenti telling him that Maria wanted to make contact with him and he got her email address. Ever since, they’ve been emailing each other regularly…never saying anything about where they are. She provided little information about Liz and Kyle…only that Liz had been trying to talk Maria into joining Michael. Michael never told Max much about her emails…only when she mentioned something that wasn’t personal…which wasn’t often.

After getting an email from Maria, Michael usually fell into a depressed funk for a couple of days…not talking to anyone. Max knew he wanted to be with her and he told him several times to just go to her…or ask her to join him. But after Michael yelled at Max that it wasn’t any of his business, Max dropped it.

As he finishes his bottle of water, Max watches as Michael exits the café and sits at the table next to him. Max takes another look around…he’s had a weird feeling of being watched lately…but after scanning the crowd in and outside of the café, he decides it’s just his imagination. They sit in silence for a few minutes, watching the traffic on the street in front of them until Michael says, “When are we leaving?”

Max looks over at Michael and shrugs his shoulders. “Whenever you guys are ready to go.” There’s been no indication that anyone knows where they’re at but they still don’t like spending more than six months in one place, and they’ve been in Sydney for over six months.

“Let’s go back and talk to Isabel and Jesse.” Michael says as he stands from the table and turns to walk back to their apartment.

They walk the five blocks back to their apartment and Max finally asks, “How’s Maria?”

“Good.” Is all Michael offers…not that Max expected much more from him. It’s ok, though. As long as Michael is still able to communicate with Maria, that means they’re safe and Max always breathes a sigh of relief when Michael tells him that he heard from her.

During dinner, Isabel says, “I don’t want to leave yet. We’ve been ok for three years now…can’t we stay somewhere a little longer this time?”

“We could always move…maybe to a place over off Harris Street.” Jesse offers…he knows that Isabel likes it here and they’ve talked about staying even if Max and Michael decide to leave.

Michael looks over to Max to see him shrugging his shoulders. “I don’t see a problem with it.” Max says. “Whatever you guys decide.”

Michael breathes an internal sigh of relief…right after dismissing his brief anger at Max’s ever-present complacence…as everyone looks at him for his opinion. “Sure. I don’t care.”

Max looks over to Jesse and says, “I think moving is a good idea, though. Why don’t you guys go scout out places tomorrow?”

Isabel beams at her brother and practically bounces in her seat. “Great! We’ll start first thing!”

Max smiles indulgently back at her and says, “I’m going for a walk.” And he gets up from the table, grabbing a jacket on his way out the door.

Once the door is shut, Isabel looks at Michael worriedly. “He’s acting strange. He doesn’t…”

“No.” Michael says abruptly. “He’s just in one of his moods.”

Isabel nods, relieved, and says, “So what did Liz say in her email? Did you get one?”

Michael looks at Jesse, then Isabel. “Yah…she said they haven’t had any activity…no one’s followed them that they know of since they left the states three years ago. They’re pretty vigilant about it…more than we are.” He frowns, wishing Max would be more careful about going out in public and keeping an eye out around them. But he always brushes Michael off and says, “I may be running from the FBI, but I’m not spending the rest of my life living like a fugitive underground.”

“Good.” Isabel says. “So…”

“Two weeks. She wants to do some more reconnaissance before they move.” Michael interrupts her…knowing what she’s going to ask.

“I’m glad he decided we could stay.” Jesse says as he clears their plates from the table.

Isabel buries her face in her hands and says, “Oh God…he’s gonna to kill us when he finds out they’ve been in Sydney for three months.”

~TBC~
posted on 6-Jun-2002 3:07:16 PM by Angel
As promised...

Part 17b~

Royal Botanic Garden

An hour later, Max finds a bench that overlooks the Harbor and sits down to look at the ships. There are quite a few people out tonight because the weather is mild. He passed several couples walking hand in hand on his way through the gardens and it made his heart ache. It’s been bad for the last several weeks…he’s felt like he can sometimes feel his connection with Liz stirring but he knows it’s only because he still misses her with his entire being. He always thinks he sees her in the crowds, but it’s never her. Too much time on his hands makes his imagination work overtime.

He lies down on the bench and looks up at the stars as he pulls the old, torn letter out of his jacket pocket. He’s carried it around with him ever since he read it outside of the motel in Midway. It’s worn and stained with his dried tears but he still pours over every word…every familiar stroke she made with the pen. He has it memorized, down to the last dotted I. Looking at it makes him feel closer to her and when he’s finished reading it, he carefully folds it and holds it against his chest as he looks back up at the stars.

She said that maybe the fates would work to bring them together again, but he has little hope of that ever happening. She’s probably moved on by now…maybe even started dating…or maybe her and Kyle…he hates to even think of that. But Kyle’s a decent guy and he knows her secret…it would make sense. And they’ve spent the last three years together…he can’t help but think that their old feelings for each other would rekindle. Kyle could be good for her…he’d treat her the way she deserves to be treated.

Who the hell is he kidding? The though of her with anyone else…especially Kyle…makes his gut burn in bitter jealousy. But he just wants her to be happy…with whoever she chooses to be with. Even if it makes him sick to think about it. In a way, he’s glad that Michael doesn’t tell him anything about Liz and what she’s doing. He’s not sure he could handle it if he heard she’d found someone else.

After the moon rises high in the sky, he stands up and turns to head back to the apartment. Maybe he’ll stop at the coffee shop before going home. He walks back through the gardens, rarely bringing his gaze up from the ground at his feet. He doesn’t want to see people in love. He doesn’t want to see them cuddling under the trees, or stealing kisses as they walk.

Halfway through the park, he gets the feeling of being watched again. Apprehensive, he stops and slowly looks around him…looking for anything out of the ordinary. He comes here almost every night and tonight is no different…everything looks as it should. Slowly, he starts walking again but he remains alert to everything around him. He starts to get nervous when he can’t shake the feeling that he’s being watched. He increases his pace until he hears footsteps and stumbling behind him. Whipping his head around, he narrows his eyes in the darkness and sees a figure just running behind a tree.

He stays still as his gaze darts to the areas around him. There’s no further movement and he looks back at the tree he saw someone ducking behind. Maybe it was just kids. He decides to wait, though, and make sure so he doesn’t move an inch as he stares at the tree waiting for whoever it was behind it to step out. After a few minutes and no sign of anyone coming out, he walks carefully over to it and steps to the side. He makes his way around the entire tree and looks around him. There’s no one there. And there’s no sign of anyone else in that area. He shakes his head and decides…hopes…that it must have been kids playing. Taking one last look around, he quickly makes his way out of the park and straight home.

When he walks into the apartment, he sees Isabel and Jesse sitting on the couch watching TV and Michael through the glass door, reading a book on the balcony. “I think we’re being watched…or I am, at least.” He announces as soon as the door is shut.

Isabel and Jesse look up at Max in question as well as Michael, who walks into the living room.

“Someone was watching me…following me. I’m not sure, but I saw something in the park.” Max says as he sits down at the kitchen table. “I think it’s been going on for a few weeks. I’ve felt like I’ve been watched…it’s just a weird feeling.”

Michael walks over to the table and sits down next to Max. “Did you see who it was?”

“No. It was dark.” Max runs his hand through his hair. “Maybe we’ve stayed here too long.”

Isabel looks quickly over at Michael then to Jesse. No one says anything and Max says, “I’m pretty sure I didn’t imagine it…someone was following me.” He doesn’t understand why they’re not as panicked as he is right now. With the way Michael harasses him about being careful, he’d think he’d be pacing the room in agitation right now.

At Isabel’s glare, Michael clears his throat and says, “Um…I’m going out. I’ll be back in thirty minutes. Don’t do anything until I get back.” He walks to the door and quickly leaves a very confused Max behind him.

Max looks over to Isabel and Jesse and notices that they won’t look at him. “What’s that all about?”

Isabel shrugs and looks at Jesse. “Um…I’m not sure.” And she hesitantly and slowly makes her way to the bedroom…unsure of what to do. Jesse takes one last helpless look at Max and follows Isabel.

When Max finds himself alone in the room, he throws his hands up in the air in exasperation. What’s wrong with everyone? Is he over reacting? Michael’s been on his ass for three years about being to blasé about being followed and where he goes…and now he acts like it’s no big deal that Max found someone watching him. Confused, he walks out onto the balcony and sits down in the chair that Michael was sitting in. He looks out over the street below and watches the cars drive by.

Outside, Michael makes his way down the street to a phone booth a block and a half away. He pulls a piece of paper out of his pocket and dials the number he wrote on it. After the first ring, someone picks up.

“Hello?”

“He saw you.” Michael says abruptly.

“What?! Who? Where?”

“I don’t know…he saw someone following him tonight and I’m guessing it was you guys.”

“Shit!”

“Yah…” Michael starts but hears voices in the background. After a few muffled moments, Michael hears the voice in the phone again.

“Ok…I think you’re right. What should we do?”

“I don’t know. Maybe step up the schedule. He’s going to think something’s wrong if I don’t get too upset about this.” Michael says as he runs his hand through his hair.

More voices on the other end, then Kyle gets back on. “Ok…can you stall him until tomorrow? Meet us at 3 at the place we talked about before.”

“Ok. See you then.” Michael says right before the line goes dead.

Swearing as he slams the phone down, Michael wonders how the hell he’s gonna calm Max down and stall him until tomorrow as he walks back toward the apartment.

When he walks in, Max rushes back into the living room. “Where did you go? What’s going on, Michael?”

Isabel and Jesse walk back in when they hear Michael get back and Michael says, “Everything’s fine, Maxwell. You have to trust me…think you can manage to do that for one night?”

Max eyes Michael for a few moments and looks around the room at a loss. “Of course. What’s your plan?”

Michael looks at Isabel and Jesse, then back to Max. “I took a look around and didn’t see anything. Maybe it was just you being paranoid. I don’t think we need to move just yet…but Isabel and Jesse should still look for a new place tomorrow.” He walks into the bedroom, hoping Max will leave it alone.

Max walks in after him and asks, “What’s with the cryptic, Michael?”

Michael doesn’t look at him as he changes his clothes, putting on a pair of black jeans and a v-neck sweater over his t-shirt.

Sighing, Max sits on the bed and asks, “You think I’m paranoid?”

“Maybe.” Michael says as he walks into the bathroom. “We don’t need to panic just yet.”

“Alright…I trust you.” Max says as he watches Michael get ready to go somewhere. “Where are you going?”

Michael walks out of the bathroom and says, “I’m going to the bar across the street. I’ll camp out there for a while and keep an eye on the street, see if anyone shows up that doesn’t belong.”

Max gets up and stands in front of Michael, changing his hair to a short, black cut. “Be careful.”

Nodding, Michael leaves Max alone in the bedroom and walks out of the apartment. Max walks back out to the living room to find Jesse sitting in the living room. “You guys haven’t sensed anything lately?”

Jesse looks up at Max with a strange look on his face and says, “Nope. Nothing.”

Max gets the feeling that they’re all hiding something from him, but he just chalks it up to his apparent paranoia and goes out to sit on the balcony once more. He looks down to the street and sees Michael cross it and grab a table out front of the bar…sitting down and pulling a book out of his back pocket and trying to look nonchalant.

Down in front of the bar, Michael knows that Max suspects something…but he hopes that he made Max question his feelings enough to think that maybe he’s just being overly cautious. He sighs as he opens his old paperback and pretends to read. Liz…he knew that she was the wrong one to be staking out Max. He told them that she’d get too close…that he’d know she was there. But she insisted, and when she insists on doing something there’s no arguing with her.

Just like when she insisted he not go with them like he wanted to in the first place and stay with Max. He didn’t exactly live up to his end of the deal…but eventually he did.

After Max tells him that he needs to go talk to Maria…ask her to stay with him…he stomps out of the hotel room, furious that Max had to tell him what he knew he wanted to do. He walks over to the small group of humans sitting in the parking lot and grabs Maria’s hand, pulling her back into their room and shutting the door on Max.

“So…” He says awkwardly.

“So…” She answers him, getting that look of defiance in her eyes that he loves so much.

He sighs and sits down on the bed before looking back up at her. “I’m going with you. You are going with Liz, right? She’s gonna go off on her own.”

Maria looks at him, surprised that he can tell what Liz is thinking. “How did you know that?”

“I just know. I don’t want to talk about Liz. I want to talk about you.” He says shortly.

Maria nods and moves to the bed…sitting next to him and looking at the same spot on the floor he started looking at. “You’d do that? You’d leave Max and Isabel to come with me?”

“I did it before…why wouldn’t I do it again.”

Looking over at his face, Maria feels tears start to gather in her eyes. “I…I don’t know what I wanna do. I mean, Liz needs me. I can’t let her go off on her own…not now…not after…” She drifts off and looks back to the floor. “You still wanna be with me?” She says meekly.

Michael turns his head to look at her. “What part of ‘I love you’ don’t you understand? I think I’ve made my feelings for you perfectly clear. You’re it for me…there’ll never be anyone else. I told you that.”

Maria smiles at the memory. “Yah, you did.” She looks up to meet his gaze. “I love you so much, Michael. And I can’t tell you how sorry I am for how I treated you this year…how I cut you off like that.”

Michael shrugs and quirks up the corner of his mouth as he scratches his eyebrow. “Yah, well…I guess I wasn’t always the boyfriend you wanted, so I suppose we’re even.”

Maria leans her head on his shoulder and says, “What are we gonna do?”

He wraps his arm around her and lays her down on the bed where they wrap their arms around each other and lie in silence until they hear commotion outside their room. “Sounds like the Evans’ are leaving.” Maria says as she sits up and looks out the window that looks out over the parking lot.

“I’ll be right back…I’m gonna go see if Liz is outside.” Michael watches Maria as she gets up and walks out of their room.

Closing his eyes, he can hear muffled voices outside…Max and Maria. He doesn’t know much right now, but what he does know is that he’s going wherever Maria decides to go.

When Maria walks back in, she stands just inside the door and looks at Michael lying on the bed. “Tell me we’ll always be honest with each other. Tell me that we’ll never end up as miserable as Max and Liz.”

Michael sits up and looks at Maria for a few moments, wondering where this is coming from. “Come here.” He tells her, holding out his hand to her.

When she reaches the bed, he pulls her down next to him and crashes his lips down on hers. Their limbs tangle together and they’re caught up in their own passion when they hear yelling coming from next door and a door slamming against the wall.

Michael bolts out of bed and says, “What the hell…” as he storms out of the room…only to be knocked into by Max, making a hasty retreat from Liz’s room.

Maria joins Michael as they go to check on Liz, but when they see her crumpled on the floor and she tells them to go away, they quietly leave her and go back to their room.

They spend the rest of the night making love…reassuring each other of their love.

Early the next morning, Michael wakes up to a soft knocking on the door. When he answers it, he finds Liz standing on the other side looking uncomfortable. “I’m sorry to wake you up, but can I talk to you guys for a minute?”

“Sure.” Michael says as he steps aside to let her pass.

She stands next to the TV as Michael makes his way back to the bed next to Maria. As soon as he sits down, Liz says, “I’m leaving…this morning. Kyle’s coming with me.”

Michael sighs, knowing that’s what she would decide. “I take it Max didn’t take the news well.”

Liz looks at the floor and says in a soft voice, “No…he didn’t.” She looks back up at Maria and says, “You should stay with them…with Michael. Don’t think that you have to come with us.”

Shaking her head, Maria says, “I can’t do that, Liz. I can’t lose you…I’m not letting you go without me.”

“I’m going with you.” Michael says, watching Liz’s eyes open wide in shock at his statement.

“No! You can’t! Michael, you have to stay with Max…I won’t let you leave them to come with us.” Liz says passionately. When she sees that he’s not really listening she continues, “I won’t allow it. Max and Isabel need you…they need you to protect them. I’m serious Michael, I won’t let you. Max needs you…he needs you more than we do.”

Michael runs his hand through his hair in frustration and looks at Maria. She has tears in her eyes, clearly torn between her best friend and him. “Go. Go with Liz. It’ll be more dangerous with us anyway…you’ll be safer with her and Kyle.” He tries to make her decision easier…knowing that in the end, she’ll want to be with Liz. She’d only be miserable if she wasn’t.

“Maria…please…stay with Michael. You don’t have to…” Liz starts before Maria interrupts her.

“Enough!” Maria yells in frustration at the two of them trying to make decisions for her. She looks at Liz, then over to Michael. “Michael…I have to.” She can’t say anymore as she buries her face in his chest and begins to sob.

Michael looks up at Liz in defeat and watches as she hangs her head and leaves them alone. He wraps his arms around Maria and says, “Shhh…it’ll be ok. It’ll be ok.” He rocks them back and forth as he feels his own tears slip from his eyes.


Gently setting his book down on the table, Michael looks up and down the street and doesn’t see anything. He didn’t really expect to, knowing who Max’s watchers really are. He’s flooded with anticipation of seeing Maria again. The last three years have been torture without her and he begins a countdown until he can finally see her…touch her…at 3pm tomorrow afternoon.

~TBC~
posted on 7-Jun-2002 10:43:30 AM by Angel
This part should answer some of your questions...not all...but some. *wink* I couldn't go and do that now, could I?

Part 18~

The sounds of early morning traffic invade Max’s sleep as he notices the sunlight beating down on the other side of his eyelids. He fell asleep on the balcony again. It happens a lot…he’ll nod off in the lounge chair as he reads or looks up at the stars.

He sits up and rubs his hands wearily over his face and looks down at the street below. In the light of day, he decides that his imagination was going wild last night. There have been no signs of anyone knowing they’re there. If they knew, they’ve had plenty of opportunities to move in on them and they haven’t. Shaking his head as he stands up, Max decides that he needs to get a grip on himself.

After he showers and changes clothes, he steps into the kitchen to find Michael there. “Morning.”

“You working today?” Michael asks, looking at his coffee shop uniform of khakis and a white button down shirt.

“Yah.” Max answers, walking over to the fridge to grab a bottle of water.

“Can you meet me at 3? At the bookstore?” Michael asks, hoping he’ll get off work by then.

Max looks at him questioningly for a moment and says, “Sure…why?”

Michael shrugs and says, “Just meet me there…I need to talk to you about something.”

Knowing he won’t get anymore out of him, Max turns and heads to the door. “Sure. See you later.” He walks out of the apartment and down the street to the coffee shop a few streets over that he’s been working at for 4 months.

The day passes quickly and before he knows it, it’s 2:45. Taking off his apron and tossing it in the corner, Max grabs a muffin and a bottle of juice before clocking out and leaving the shop. He walks slowly down the few blocks to a small bookstore that they all frequent. Wondering why Michael wants to meet him there, Max is taking a bite of his muffin when he sees someone run around the corner down the block.

He freezes as his eyes meet what he is sure must be a hallucination. It can’t be. It can’t be…but it is…it’s Liz. What is she doing there? She’s wearing all black and her hair is shorter, but after blinking a few times, he’s sure that it’s really her. Swallowing, he quietly says, “Liz.” But she can’t hear him, she’s too far away…and she’s running, stumbling slightly when she sees him standing there. Her eyes are wide open and wild…and…is that a gun in her hand?!

She’s waving her arm at him and shouting, “Get out of here!” as she runs and he’s so confused at the entire situation that he can’t move. He’s further shocked when she stops and raises the gun in his direction and he drops his juice and muffin on the ground when he hears her fire off a shot in his direction. Ducking in reaction, he sees a man behind him fall on the ground but he doesn’t have time to process that as he’s tackled from the side and a car squeals up to the curb next to them.

Struggling as another man joins the first to restrain him, he glances over to see Liz running toward him shouting, “No!” and holding the gun in front of her. “Get away from him!”

Before he knows it, he’s being thrown into the backseat of a car and the door slams as he hears more shots being fired off from outside. The car peels away and he sees Liz braced on the sidewalk, firing her gun at the car as it speeds away. He hears the bullets hitting the back of the car and he’s huddled down in the seat when the back window explodes.

But nothing can stop them, and the car flies away from the bookstore as someone in the front seat leans out the window and fires back in the direction they came from. As two men restrain him in the backseat, he hears shouting coming from outside and he turns his head to see Michael, Isabel, Kyle, Jesse and Maria chasing the car down the street. Suddenly, the car shakes from some kind of impact…that can’t be from a gun. Then he hears a tire explode, maybe two, and the car careens out of control…swerving all over the street. Max is thrown over the back seat and onto the floor as the men in the car start swearing and shouting.

Max is thrown forward, painfully, into the backs of the front seats as the car slams to a sudden stop. When he senses that they aren’t moving anymore, he peeks up to see one of the men in the front seat slumped over with blood running down his forehead. The two men in the backseat struggle to get upright and one keeps his gun pointed at Max distractedly as he looks around out of the broken back window. There are shouts coming from outside that are getting closer and the other man in the backseat starts arguing with the driver about what they’re going to do.

Struggling on the floor, Max leans down and kicks the gun out of the man’s hand and immediately puts his shield up in front of him. He picks the gun up off the floor and pokes in into the back of the seat behind him and yells, “Don’t move!”

The back door opens suddenly and he falls out of it, still keeping his shield up in front of him and he looks up to see Michael standing above him with his arm out in front of him pointed toward the car. “Put it down, Max, before someone sees you.” He yells at him, looking wildly up and down the street for curious pedestrians.

Max puts his shield down and keeps the gun pointed at the two men in the back seat as Michael covers the driver. They’re joined within seconds by Liz, Kyle, Maria, Isabel and Jesse and they surround the car. Max is still sprawled on the ground, shaking with confusion and fear. He looks at the men in the car and shouts, “Throw your guns out…now!”

Two guns fly out of the car and land on the pavement at Isabel’s feet and Max watches Liz open the passenger side door and feel around the unconscious man in the front seat, grabbing his gun and standing back. He can hear sirens in the distance and he hears Michael say, “Now what?”

Liz walks back to the rear door and opens it, leaning in and putting her hand to the forehead of the man sitting there. Within seconds, he slumps forward and she walks around to Max’s side of the car and does the same to the other man in the back seat and the driver. “They’re out for now. We need to get out of here.” She says before turning away and running down the street, the others following as Michael helps Max to his feet.

They run back to their apartment and Kyle tells them, “You guys go up…grab what you need. Be back down here within 3 minutes…we can’t stay here.” as he stands to the side of the stairs leading up to their apartment. Max looks over to see Maria and Liz splitting up and crossing the street to stand under the awnings of the buildings directly across from Kyle. Max feels Michael pull him up the stairs as he watches Liz tuck two guns in the back of her pants as she looks up and down the street…on alert.

He stumbles in the apartment as Isabel and Jesse rush into the bedroom to grab their essentials. “What the hell just happened?!” Max cries out. “What are they doing here? Did you know they were here?” Max fires off questions as the other three run around the apartment in a flurry.

“We don’t have time, Maxwell. Grab your shit…we have to go.” Michael yells from the other bedroom.

Max goes to the desk and gathers their passports, money, and other papers they’ll need before going to his bedroom and throwing those things and some clothes into a backpack. Walking back into the living room, he takes one last look around to make sure there’s nothing there that would indicate they were there and he follows the others out the front door.

When they reach the sidewalk, Max notices a large SUV parked at the curb and sees Liz, Maria and Kyle getting in. A young red-headed girl is driving and she looks at them and says, “Get in.”

Michael, Isabel and Jesse head toward the SUV as Max looks at Kyle in the backseat in confusion. “It’s ok, Max. Just get in…we’ll explain later.”

Hesitantly, Max walks over to the SUV and squeezes into the backseat next to Kyle before it takes off down the street. Max sits back in the seat and looks up to see Liz and Maria squished into the passenger seat together. Liz is looking out the front and side windows and Kyle is next to him looking out the back. They drive in silence for over an hour before Maria snorts in laughter in the front seat.

Everyone looks at her and she turns to glance at Max. “Christ, Max. You’ve had the FBI on your ass for over a week and where do we find you? Casually strolling down the streets of Sydney eating a muffin and drinking a damn orange juice! What the hell were you thinking?” She turns back around shaking her head and she looks over at the girl in the driver’s seat. “Serena…meet our fearless leader…Max.”

Serena looks at Max in the rearview mirror and says, “Nice to finally meet you, Max.”

Max’s face turns red in anger and he looks over at Michael. “Did you know they were here?” He doesn’t let him answer before turning to the front seat. “And what are you doing here? How did you know the FBI was following me? Is anyone gonna tell me what the hell is going on…wait. Did you say Serena?” He looks back over at the girl driving.

Serena looks at him again in the rearview mirror and smiles. “That’s right…the one and only.”

For the first time since they made their getaway, Liz turns her head slightly to look at Max. He sees her nod her head slightly, looking at him meaningfully before turning to look back out the windows. “Does she…” His voice drops off…not wanting to say more than he needs to.

“She knows.” Kyle looks at him quickly before glancing out the back window again. “She’s been with us since London…since we left Roswell. You can trust her.”

“Where are we going?” Michael asks suddenly.

“Melbourne. Then Paris.” Liz says shortly from the front seat without looking at him.

Max doesn’t get any more of his questions answered as they arrive at the Melbourne airport and Liz purchases tickets for them to Paris. Max stands huddled with Michael, Isabel and Jesse as Maria, Kyle and Serena spread out around the ticket area, keeping an eye on Liz at the counter.

“You knew they were here and didn’t tell me.” Max says to them.

Isabel looks down in guilt as Michael says, “Yah. I’ve known for a couple of months. Liz ordered me not to tell you.”

“She ordered you?” Max asks in disbelief.

“If you haven’t noticed…she’s the one in charge here.” Michael rolls his eyes. “She knows what she’s doing. You’d be on your way to DC courtesy of the FBI right now if it wasn’t for her.”

Max picks up the irritation in Michael’s voice…knowing he’s been on him to take a more active roll in leading over the years. He looks over at the efficient way Kyle, Maria and Serena stake out the ticket area. Who is this Serena? Is she the same one the future version of him told Liz about? How did they meet her? How did she find out about them? How did Liz know the FBI was after him? Max has so many questions and he can’t wait to get some answers.

Liz walks back over to them and Kyle, Serena and Maria join her. She shuffles through the tickets in her hand and says, “Get out your passports.”

Max pulls them out of his bag and hands them to Michael, Jesse and Isabel and they hold them out in front of them. Liz touches each one, changing their names as she hands each one of them a ticket. Max looks down to see that she’s changed the name on his passport to match his ticket. Dick Jones? She named him Dick? He looks up at her, raising his eyebrow and she shrugs, quirking up her lip at him as she moves on to the others.

As they make their way down the terminal, Liz stops at the bathrooms and says, “Change yourselves and meet at the gate when you’re done. Don’t stay in a big group…we can’t be seen together.” And she turns to walk into the women’s bathroom. Max makes his way into the men’s room and he admires Liz’s authority and how everyone does what she says…no questions asked.

Fifteen minutes later, Max arrives at the gate and glances around. He sees Liz…with strawberry blonde hair…standing next to a now brunette Serena. He spots Isabel and Michael…both looking different. And over by the windows, he sees Kyle, Jesse and Maria sitting casually on the floor…looking like college students. He walks over to a row of chairs that face the terminal and sits down, watching as the gate slowly fills up with waiting passengers.

About a half hour later, the gate agent starts making announcements that their flight is boarding and he stands up. Looking around, he catches Liz watching him and he stands silent and frozen locked in her gaze. What is she thinking? Why did she come to Australia? Was it to be with him…or did she know they were in danger? He’d give his right arm to find out what she’s thinking about right now, but his musing is interrupted by another announcement by the agent calling for the group of rows that he’s in.

As he walks down the jet way, he sees Kyle and Maria in front of him a few feet and he makes his way on the plane and to his seat. His seat is in the aisle and he sees that he doesn’t know anyone else in his row as he sits down and buckles his seatbelt. Now facing forward, he watches as everyone else boards the plane and takes seats scattered throughout it. Not too much time passes before he hears the engines gear up and the plane backs out of the gate.

An hour later, they’re airborne and on their way to Paris. Relaxing in his seat, he looks over at the elderly couple sitting next to him. They’re holding hands and looking out the window. He’s patting her hand in comfort and Max smiles slightly at the sight before turning to glance around the plane. Sitting across the aisle and two rows back is Maria and she gives him a small smile before turning at something Kyle is saying to her.

A few hours later, Liz is restless and she gets up to stretch. She waited to be one of the last people on the plane and she didn’t see anyone or sense anyone suspicious. She would know it if there was someone on this plane who was out to get them. After stretching, she walks toward the middle of the plane to the bathrooms and cringes as she squeezes into one of the small spaces. It’s cold in there and she finishes quickly before rushing out and gasping as she bumps right into Max, nearly knocking him to the floor.

Raising her hand to her mouth, she exclaims, “Oh…I’m sorry! It was so cold in there…I had to get out fast.” as she steps back from him a couple of steps. She can’t be too close to him…it’s making her distracted, and she can’t afford to be distracted. Three years…she’s spent three years thinking about him…about his voice…about his smell…about…STOP IT! She chides herself internally as she shakes her head.

“It’s ok.” He says quietly, watching as she looks everywhere but at him. Trying to catch her eye, he says, “I don’t think anyone suspicious got on.”

She looks up at him and says, “Me either. I’m pretty sure we’re safe now.” God, his eyes look just the same.

He looks her over and notices how tired she looks. She’s lost weight and has dark circles around her eyes. His gaze drops to her neck and he sees nothing but smooth skin…the scar that was once there is gone now.

She knows what he’s looking at. “I healed it. I can heal now.” She brings her hand up to the side of her neck.

He looks back up at her face in shock. “Wow. Really?”

Smiling slightly, she says, “Yah. It comes in pretty handy actually…especially when Kyle wrecked on his motorcycle and broke his back and leg.”

Max’s eyes widen in surprise and she continues, “He thinks he’s doubly cursed with alien voodoo now since he’s been healed twice.” She grins, remembering how he freaked out, thinking he’d get all kinds of crazy alien powers afterwards.

Smiling at the way her smile lights up the space around him, he says, “So…how are you…how…how have you been?”

Nodding and tucking her hair behind her ear the way he always remembered, she says, “Good. We’ve been good. You?”

“Yah…good.” He says distracted as he becomes mesmerized by her movements. She looks so beautiful and he can’t believe that he’s actually standing here in front of her. There are so many things he wants to ask her, but he finds it difficult to form any words. “So, can we talk about what happened back there? I have to admit that I’m seriously confused right now.”

“We should wait until we get to Paris and have some privacy.” Liz says quietly, knowing that Max has a million questions swirling around in his head.

“Right. That’s probably a good idea.” Max agrees and shifts on his feet.

“So…I um…better get back.” She turns to move away from him.

“Liz…” He calls out to her, not wanting her to leave but not knowing what to say. “Thank you…for saving my life. You were amazing.”

She smiles slightly and nods her head before turning away and walking back down the aisle to her seat. Max sighs and steps into the bathroom, shuddering as he shuts the door. She was right, it’s freezing in there.

~TBC~
posted on 10-Jun-2002 11:26:31 AM by Angel
Sorry about the delay with this part you guys! It's my birthday tomorrow, so I've been busy with parties and birthday festivities. *happy*

Thanks for all the bumps mitra!!

Part 19~

The rest of the flight passes uneventfully and Max even gets a few hours of sleep. Liz watches him from across the cabin and longs to go talk to him. But there are too many people and this isn’t the right time. She looks over to see Michael and Maria passing glances and smiles back and forth. At one point, she sees them both get up and head to the back of the plane.

She’s happy that she could finally do this for Maria. For the past three years, she’s tried to talk Maria into going to Michael but she wouldn’t listen to anything she said. She said that she was staying with Liz, and until Liz decided she was ready to go back and see Max again she was staying with her.

It’s not that she’s decided to go back to Max, but she figured out about a year ago that they’d all be better off together. Serena helped her sort out her feelings for Max and Liz finally realized that she could try to be friends with him again. She missed talking to him and just being near him. She’s far from being ready to be in a relationship with him, but she thinks that she might be ready to try at being friends.

She doesn’t realize she’s biting her lip until Serena nudges her and nods toward her mouth. “Stop that.” She whispers.

Smiling, Liz stops her lip gnawing and grabs the in-flight magazine from the seat in front of her. She distractedly flips through the pages and goes over her plan in her head again for when they get to Paris. They’ve been to Paris before and she found that it’s a great place to disappear. It’s so crowded with people covering every square inch of the city, that it would be almost impossible for anyone to find them. Besides, she thinks with a smile, she loves Paris.

Her smile disappears when she thinks about Max being taken earlier in Sydney. It was a stupid mistake agreeing to meet them when she knew it wasn’t safe. It wasn’t the right time to make contact, but after Michael told them Max saw her they had no choice. She had been aware of someone watching them for a couple of weeks. While she followed Max, Isabel and Jesse around the city, she saw others who were doing the same thing. It seemed as if they were focusing on Max, but she couldn’t ever be entirely sure that it wasn’t her they were following. She became pretty sure that it was Max being followed the same night that Michael called to tell them that Max saw someone. It was her. She was following too close and he turned around when she wasn’t expecting him to, obviously seeing her make a lame attempt to duck behind a tree.

As the others were on their way to rendezvous with Max, Michael, Isabel and Jesse, she was tailing the men she had seen following Max over the last few weeks. But to her horror, she overheard their plans to move forward with an ‘acquisition’ and after following them for a short time, she knew where they were going. The bookstore. They planned on grabbing Max. It was too late to warn him…thank God Michael was there to blast out their tires or they would have gotten away. Her heart starts beating harder at the thought of how close they were to losing Max. The only thing she couldn’t figure out was how they knew Max was going to be at the bookstore at that time. Did they have extra surveillance on him that she didn’t see?

Hopefully, everything would be fine now. They were all together and they had the added bonus of having 3 aliens and 2 humans with alien powers on their team. She repeated that mantra over and over in her head until she eventually nodded off the sleep. Everything would be fine now.

The plane arrives in Paris sometime after dark and they all file out of the plane into the terminal dragging their feet wearily. When Michael steps through the doorway, he’s met with Kyle, Serena and Max. He looks around but can’t see Maria, Liz, Isabel or Jesse. “What’s going on?” He asks Kyle.

“We’re meeting the others at a rendezvous point.” Serena says as Kyle leads her away and looks back to make sure Max and Michael are following.

Michael looks over at Max as they walk through the terminal. His expression is a mixture of confusion, weariness, and frustration. “I’m sure Liz has everything under control.” He tells Max. He feels really bad about not telling Max what was going on back in Sydney and he knows Max is pissed.

Max nods shortly at him as they continue to follow Kyle and Serena out of the airport and into a waiting cab. After almost an hour in the wildest cab ride he’s ever been on, Max watches as they pull up in front of a row of buildings in what looks like a busy area. Kyle pays the cab driver and surprises Max and Michael by speaking to him in French.

Once they’re on the sidewalk, instead of walking to one of the doors facing the street, Kyle and Serena start walking down the street. A few blocks down, they turn into a small alleyway that leads between two buildings and it suddenly opens up into an interior courtyard. There’s a large fountain in the middle and among all the small trees, bushes and flowers are several benches and a circular path leading around the fountain. The buildings around them are three stories high and there are several balconies looking over the courtyard. Max stares in awe at how beautiful it all is. There’s ivy growing up the sides of the buildings and through the wrought iron balconies and most of the windows have soft lights coming from inside.

Making their way up some side stairs, Kyle knocks on a door with the number 23 on it and it opens shortly after revealing Maria. She stands to the side as they all enter a bright, airy living room with little furniture. Along one wall is a row of windows with a door leading out to the balcony.

Now that they’re in the safety of their privacy, Maria walks over to Michael and wraps her arms around him. They stand in the middle of the room hugging as Isabel comes up to Max and hugs him. “I’m so glad you’re ok, Max. I was so scared when I saw them take you.”

She releases Max and walks over to Kyle. “And you! I’m so happy to see you!” She pulls him into a hug as well. “I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve seen you.”

Just then, Max sees Liz walk into the room from the back of the apartment with Serena and they sit together on the floor, their backs against the wall, quietly talking. After Isabel joins Jesse on the floor, Jesse says, “I think we should explain to Max what’s going on before he explodes.”

Max gives Jesse a grateful smile before sitting next to his sister and throwing his backpack next to him. Max looks over at Michael and Isabel who are looking at Liz, then him, with a mixture of relief and fear in their eyes. They can’t meet his gaze very long before they look down at the floor.

Liz looks up at Max and says, “Yah…um…first, I guess you guys should know that this place is safe. We kept it after we last Paris the last time as a safe house.” She wipes her hands on her pants before tucking her hair behind her ear.

Looking at Michael, she then looks back at Max and takes a deep breath. “We’ve been in Sydney for three months…watching you guys.”

“What?! Three months?!” Max exclaims before looking at his sister and Michael, neither of which can look at him.

“Michael and Isabel knew, Max, but I told them not to tell you. So don’t be mad at them.” Liz can see the anger in his eyes as he looks at Michael. “Max, I wanted to make sure it was safe before we made contact. And frankly, I didn’t think that if you knew we were there that you would just sit back and wait. I didn’t want you to know we were there because if it didn’t work out, if we weren’t able to make contact, I knew it would be harder.”

Max knows that she’s right, but he’s pissed that she was so presumptuous about how he would react and he’s upset that at least Michael didn’t tell him. What about Michael? He would be just a devastated if he knew Maria was so close and didn’t get to see her.

“I was gonna find a way for Maria to stay.” Liz says suddenly.

Max’s head whips over to Liz. How did she know what he was thinking? Can she read minds now?

Liz nods at him and says, “Yes. I can.” before turning to look at the others. “I decided that we would all be better off if we were together, instead of in two groups. We’re all in the same situation…it makes sense for us to be together.”

Still reeling from Liz’s mind reading capabilities, Max is vaguely aware of Isabel asking about Serena and he looks over at the girl sitting next to Liz. She’s young, at least as young as they are. What is her story?

Maria, not letting go of Michael’s hand, says, “I met her at a job I had in London.” She smiles at Serena and says, “Remember what a crappy job that was?”

The two girls laugh and Liz continues. “When I met her, you can imagine how shocked I was.” She looks over at Max before saying, “But I didn’t know if she was the Serena so we kept her at a distance.”

“Wait…what do you mean, the Serena?” Jesse asks.

“When Max came back from the future, he told me that she was a friend of his…and his Liz…and she was the one who helped him use the Granolith as a time machine.” Liz explains to Jesse and the others, glancing over at Max and seeing that he’s looking at the floor. “Anyway, we kind of hung out with her for a few months and Kyle and her got…close.”

Everyone shoots a look at Kyle and he says, “What? I am capable of dating girls without telling them your secret.”

Smiling, Serena says, “Actually, it was Liz who spilled the beans.”

Elbowing Serena, Liz says, “Great…thanks. Yah…obviously I’m the one with the loose lips in this group. She looks around at the not-so-amused faces around her and clears her throat. “So, anyway, I was on duty one night…”

“Duty?” Isabel asks, saying what Max, Jesse and Michael were thinking.

“Patrol…stake out…on guard. Whatever you wanna call it. We take shifts…there’s always one of us on duty keeping an eye out.” Liz explains as she sees Michael shoot an accusing look at Max, who rolls his eyes and looks back at Liz.

“Ok, you were on duty.” Max prompts her to continue.

“Right. So, I was tailing Kyle and Serena while they were on a date and when they were crossing a street, a truck came out of nowhere. I think they guy driving it must have been drunk because he would have hit Serena. But I um…used my powers to throw her out of the way. The cat kind of got out of the bag then.” Liz looks over at Serena and they smile at each other, remembering that night clearly.

“She took it pretty well. We were surprised she didn’t run screaming.” Kyle adds.

“Apparently, from what I heard, I took it a little better than Maria did.” Serena smiles over at Maria.

Maria rolls her eyes. “Ha ha. As much as I’m loving the walk down memory lane, I’m really tired. Can we pick this up tomorrow?”

Isabel stands up and says, “Yah, I’m beat. Where do you want us?”

“We have three bedrooms. Isabel, you and Jesse can take mine. It’s the last door on the right…the bathroom is on the left. If you need anything, let us know.” Liz says as she stands up.

Kyle walks over and puts his hand on Serena’s back. “Well, night guys…it’s really good to have you here.” He looks at the three aliens and Jesse. “See you in the morning.”

“It was nice to finally meet you guys.” Serena says before she disappears with Kyle into the back hallway.

Before Maria takes Michael back with her, she turns to Liz. “You ok for duty, sweetie?”

Liz nods and smiles at her. “Yah…go on. I’ll be fine.” She makes a shooing motion with her hands toward Michael and Maria. When they disappear, she turns to Max and says, “I’m sorry, but you’re stuck with the couch.” She gives him an apologetic smile as she goes to the closet and pulls out a pillow and blanket for him.

“You’re staying up?” Max asks her, figuring that’s what Maria was talking about.

“Um…yah. It’s ok, I know you must be tired. I’m just gonna go outside and keep and eye on things.” Liz says as she digs through one of her bags.

He watches as she pulls a gun out of her bag and tucks it in her waistband at her back. “How’d you get that through security?”

She wiggles her fingers at him and throws her jacket on. “If you need anything, I’d ask Kyle if I were you. He’s the first door on the left.”

Max watches as she heads toward the door and he says, “Liz, wait.” She turns to look at him and he continues, “Do you want some company?” He holds his breath, hoping she says yes.

She studies him a few moments and says, “You want to talk.”

“Um…well, yah. I was hoping we could.” He shoves his hands in his pockets, thinking that she probably read his mind again. “If you want. If you don’t, that’s fine. I can just…um…” ‘God, shut the hell up you idiot!’ He thinks to himself.

“Sure, Max. If you’re sure you’re not too tired.” Liz says, smiling at his nervousness. She walks back to the closet and gets out another jacket and tosses it to him. “It’s Kyle’s, but it should fit.”

He puts the jacket on and follows her out the door, watching as she locks the three deadbolts before heading down the stairs. They walk silently through the courtyard and out to the street where Liz steps close to the building on the right and checks out the street in front. Apparently all looks clear because she turns and walks back to the courtyard and sits on one of the benches in the shadows.

She motions for Max to sit next to her and she sits back, taking a deep breath. “This is why I picked this place. The courtyard is the only way in or out…plus it’s beautiful here.”

“It’s nice.” Max says, cringing at his lameness.

They sit in silence for a few moments before Liz says, “This is weird, isn’t it?” When she sees him look at her out of the corner of her eye, she continues, “I’ve imagined a million times what would happen and what I’d say when I saw you again. The way it happened was definitely not how I envisioned it.” She laughs softly.

He smiles and says, “Yah…um…I think I’m still in shock.” He looks down at the hands tangled in his lap and glances over at her. “So, how was it supposed to go?”

She rolls her eyes and smiles. “Well, you would have seen us in the bookstore and you would be surprised of course.”

“Of course.” He smiles, amused at her story-telling tone.

“Then, you would fall to your knees…sobbing…because you’re so sorry for being such a bastard and because you’re so grateful that I’m gracing you with my presence. You would beg for my forgiveness. And I’d think about it, right before I make you lick my shoes.”

Max raises and eyebrow. “Lick your shoes?”

“Yah…it’s either that, or kiss my shoes. I thought the licking was more degrading.”

“Ah, yes.” Max nods his head. “And then? After the shoe licking?”

Liz smiles and says, “And then, after making you wait for an agonizing, terribly large amount of time, I’d tell you that all of that’s in the past. And I’d say that even though you’re a selfish, inconsiderate, self-absorbed jerk, I’d like to try and be friends again.”

Max can’t help but be mildly shocked by this new, outspoken Liz. But he likes it. And he can’t help the smile that comes to his face when he realizes that she said she wanted to try and be friends. That’s the best news he’s heard in three years. “It’s too bad the FBI interfered before that little drama could be played out.” He smiles at her.

“Yes, it was a mild inconvenience.” Liz chuckles.

“You know, it probably sounds really lame right now…especially after your very detailed, and entertaining interpretation of how it should have gone…but I am sorry. More than I can say.” Max looks over and catches her gaze. “And I do hope that we can work on that friends thing.”

Liz smiles and says, “That could be doable.”

“But I’m still angry at being kept in the dark. I’m not a child…and I really should have known what was going on.”

Liz looks over at Max and senses that he’s angrier than he’s saying. “I know, Max…and I’m sorry. Please don’t be mad at Michael. He would have done anything to see Maria and I kind of used that against him. I know it was wrong, but I wanted complete control over the situation.”

Max smiles and says, “And you guys always told me I was the control freak.”

Nodding and looking down at the ground, Liz continues, “And if I’m really honest with myself, I didn’t want you to know because there was every possibility that we wouldn’t be able to bring the two groups together. And if I knew that you knew we were there…I don’t know that I would have been able to leave without seeing you.” She feels her face flush at her admission and looks up at him. “Does that make sense?”

Max nods in understanding. It makes more sense than she knows. If he had known Liz was in Sydney, that the connection he had been feeling was real, he would have spent every minute tracking her down. There was no way he would allow her to just leave without being able to see her. He looks over to see her studying him and he realizes that she can hear everything he’s thinking. “I don’t think I can get used to you being able to read my mind. When did that start?”

“About a year ago…probably earlier, but I thought I was just imagining things. It’s a little strange.” She smiles and looks back at the fountain.

“So, can you hear what everyone is thinking? Or can you tune it all out? Do I even need to talk?” Max grins at her as she looks over at him.

She grins back and says, “Well, I appreciate the talking…without it, I’d just look like a crazy lady having one-sided conversations.” They both laugh before she continues. “For most people, I can only hear their thoughts if they’re close by. But for mental signatures that I’m familiar with, like Maria, Kyle and Serena, I can pick up their thoughts sometimes from a couple miles away.”

“Wow…it must be strange.” Max says.

“Yah, especially since most people don’t say what they think. Like you…just now…you were thinking that you wished you could hear what I was thinking. Instead, you said it must be strange. Usually, I try to tune out what people are thinking, and just listen to what they’re saying. Or else I get confused and answer their thoughts instead of their voice.”

“Oh God…this is bad. See, now, I’m thinking about all the things I don’t want to be thinking about because I don’t want you to hear.” Max is distressed, hoping she doesn’t know everything he thinks about.

Liz laughs and puts her hand on his arm. “Max…it’s ok. I can tune it all to the background. Besides, most people think about more than one thing at the same time…I have to concentrate to make out a single thought. Don’t worry…I try really hard not to invade people’s privacy.” She tries to reassure him. “It helps us out a lot, though, because I can instantly tell if there’s anyone around out to get us. Like on the plane…when you said you didn’t see anyone suspicious get on. I knew there wasn’t anyone suspicious…without even looking.”

Max relaxes and thinks about how advanced Liz is with her powers. If she can heal, read minds, manipulate structure, and blast people…she’s more powerful than any of them. How did that happen? He must have altered something in her brain when he healed her…maybe healing her twice made her powers stronger, just as Kyle feared. Does she have other powers that he doesn’t know about? And what about Kyle? What powers does he have?

He realizes that he’s been silent for a while and looks over at Liz, expecting to see her looking at him…knowing everything he’s been thinking. But she’s leaning back against the bench, watching the water in the fountain.

After a few more moments of silence, Max says, “I think Michael’s jealous.” Liz looks at him questioningly and he says, “He’s been on me for years about being more vigilant, to be more alert to what’s going on around us. Seeing how on top of things you guys are, I think it validated his argument.”

“Max, I hate to say it, but Maria was right in the car. How could you be so oblivious to what’s going on around you? We’re not really safe anywhere.”

Max sighs and leans back on the bench. “I know…I guess I just always knew that Michael would watch out for us. I don’t really know why I was so careless…I guess I thought that if we left the states, we’d be fairly safe.”

“I don’t mean to lecture you, but all it would take is one mistake and it would all be over. It was too close in Sydney.”

Max looks down at the ground. He’s embarrassed at how clueless he’s been while Liz knew everything that was going on. He’s surprised when he sees her put her hand over his.

“It’ll be ok now. We’ll be ok.” Liz looks over at him and gives his hand a squeeze before letting go. She reaches around and grabs the gun from her back and holds it in her lap. “Who would have thought that I’d be toting guns around regularly?”

“When I saw you in Sydney and you pointed that at me…I thought you were trying to shoot me. And the strange thing is, I didn’t even wonder why.” Max says as he looks at the gun in her lap.

“Max! Why would I wanna shoot you?”

“I can think of about 10 to 20 reasons off the top of my head right now.” He gives her a side glance before looking back at the ground. “Have you ever had to kill someone?”

Liz frowns and after a few moments says, “I think I might have killed the man behind you in front of the bookstore. Besides that, there was the orderly at the base.”

Max looks over at her but doesn’t say anything.

“We’re being hunted. I won’t hesitate to kill someone who threatens any one of us. But I still have a hard time coming to grips with killing that orderly. Granted, we were being tortured but he wasn’t the one doing it. He was just doing his job. Everyday, I wonder if he had a family or children and I know that I took him away from them.” She looks out over the courtyard to the fountain. The trickling water is always soothing to her…she’d forgotten how peaceful it was here.

“Liz, he may have just been doing his job, but he knew what his job was. It was to hold you prisoner while others tortured you. He wasn’t innocent and you were fighting for your life.”

“I know. But I still think about it and I regret it every day.” Clearing her throat, she changes the subject. “Anyway, I want you and Michael to go to the shooting range with me soon. You should both know how to be comfortable carrying one and firing it. I’d like Isabel to go as well, but only if she wants to. If I remember right, she doesn’t really like guns. ”

“Do Maria and Kyle carry one, too?” Max asks.

“Yes. At all times, I insist. We can’t be too careful. I know you and Michael can use your powers, but it helps to have a backup. ” Liz says matter of factly.

He looks at her few moments before saying, “Wow. I’m really embarrassed right now.”

“You should be.” Liz says seriously, looking back at him for a second before a grin breaks out on her face and she slaps his arm. “I’m kidding.”

He laughs and shakes his head before looking back at her. She looks different…more self-assured, more confident. It shows in her expressions and how she holds herself.

“You should have seen Maria learning how to fire her first gun…” Liz laughs and tells him how Maria dropped the gun as soon as she fired it and landed on her butt. They spend the rest of the night telling each other stories of what’s been going on in their lives over the last three years. They talk about the cities they’ve been to, the things they’ve seen, and the people they’ve met.

Before they know it, the sky starts to lighten and they can hear birds singing in the trees. Liz stands up and stretches as she says, “Someone else should be up by now…we can probably go in.”

Max stands as well. “Liz…” When she looks over at him, he quietly says, “Thank you.”

She nods and starts to walk away, but turns her head back to look at him. “Thank you.” And she grins at him before walking over to the stairs and climbing them up to the apartment.

Max watches her go in admiration…a small smile on his face…and he follows her up the stairs.

~TBC~
posted on 11-Jun-2002 10:57:47 AM by Angel
Part 20~

Washington DC

“Yes, honey. I have the list right here. I love you, too.” Matt Gerard ends the call with his wife as he glances over the week’s reports sitting on his desk. They’re having a party at the house the next weekend and she wants him to okay the seating arrangements.

As the pile of reports gets smaller, he finally comes to the one that always makes his stomach roll. The damn aliens. The report is from his team in Australia and he’s not surprised to read that the aliens have eluded them again. He only had a small team there, one of a dozen spread out over the globe. There weren’t enough resources to send in reinforcements when the reports came in about the small group of aliens there.

He lets out a breath of frustration as he remembers the ass chewing he got from the Deputy Director after their failed attempt to capture them three years ago in Roswell. In response, he had Meyers taken off as the lead agent and replaced him with another. He hates to admit that the new guy isn’t doing much better.

Cringing as he reads through the report, he sees that his agents made a sloppy attempt to capture Max Evans in Sydney. Obviously, they moved too soon.

He picks up his phone and calls Agent Noll. When he picks up, Gerard says, “I want you to concentrate on Europe. From our previous reports, that’s where our other group feels most comfortable and I’d bet that’s where the other group has gone as well after your botched attempt in Sydney.”

“Yes, sir. Any particular place in Europe you want me to concentrate on?” Noll asks.

“That’s your job to figure out.” Gerard says and hangs up.

Setting the report aside, he picks up the list of seating arrangements his wife sent him and glances over the names on it. No, he can’t have his neighbors sitting next to his boss…they’re idiots. He picks up his pen and starts rearranging names.

Paris

Early morning light filters in through the window and Michael can hear the sound of birds singing outside as he turns his head to see Maria sleeping beside him. He glances around the room and its sparse furnishings before leaning over her and kissing her softly on her forehead.

Maria blinks her eyes open slowly and smiles. “Michael. Are you really here?”

Michael makes a show of looking down at himself and feeling his face. “Yup, I think so.”

She giggles and snuggles in closer to him. “Good.”

“So what’s the plan now? Do you think Liz wants to stay here?” Michael asks.

“I don’t know if there’s enough room here for all of us.” Maria answers as Michael starts kissing her neck.

“Mmm…I think there’s plenty of room.” Michael says as he makes his way up to her lips.

Down the hall, Serena and Kyle are getting dressed and Serena says, “So what’s up with you and Isabel? I caught a vibe there…should I be jealous?”

Kyle looks up at her in surprise and says, “Me and Isabel? If you didn’t notice, she’s married.”

“I know…but it seems like you two have a history together.”

“As friends. That’s it.” He walks over to her and wraps his arms around her. “You have nothing to be jealous about.”

She plays with the hair on the back of his neck and says, “That’s good. We should go check to make sure Max and Liz didn’t kill each other last night.”

“Well, I didn’t hear any yelling or blasting going on, so I think it’s safe to say they’re both ok.” Kyle pulls back and pulls her hand toward the bedroom door. “Let’s go…I’m starving.”

When they walk out into the living room, Kyle sees Max asleep on the floor next to the couch where Liz is sleeping. “Still alive.” He says to Serena on his way to the kitchen. “Oh, there’s no food…we should go get some before everyone wakes up”

When they get back, Kyle sees that Max and Liz are still asleep but everyone else is up and sitting outside on the balcony. Opening the door, he hears Isabel say, “But Liz said that it was safe here.”

“I just think we’ll need a bigger place since we’re staying together now. I don’t think she’ll want us to split up.” Maria says.

“We come bearing breakfast.” Kyle says, setting his bag down on the table.

Everyone hungrily tears through it, grabbing the bagels and croissants and juice greedily. “Help yourself.” He says with a chuckle.

“We were just talking about our living arrangements.” Maria offers between bites.

“I think this place is great…it’s beautiful here.” Isabel says as she looks over the balcony out into the courtyard.

“Yah, Liz likes it here. It’s well hidden.” Kyle says as he sits next to Serena.

“We’ll have to talk to Liz. I don’t know if room will be an issue since there’s always someone up keeping watch anyway.” Maria says.

Isabel ruffles slightly at Maria’s comment. “Well, I think we should see what Max says.”

Grabbing Isabel’s hand, Jesse says, “I think we can all talk about it. We don’t have to have a power struggle to see who’s in charge…we can all make decisions together.”

“Well I don’t want Max making any decisions…I think we all saw how well he was doing in Sydney.” Maria snorts.

“That’s not fair!” Exclaims Isabel. “We were just fine until you guys showed up and led the FBI right to him.”

Raising her voice, Maria says, “The FBI was already there, we didn’t lead them to him, we saved him from them.”

“Hey, hey…come one. We don’t need to argue about this.” Kyle cuts in, hoping to diffuse the situation. “Everyone’s ok now, that’s all that matters.”

Isabel and Maria glare at each other but don’t say any more. Maria’s still pissed about how Max treated Liz when she decided not to stay with him. And Isabel’s angry at how everyone is treating Max like he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Inside, Max and Liz are awake, listening to the argument outside. Neither one knows the other is awake as they both stare at the ceiling and cringe at Maria and Isabel’s words.

Liz glances over at Max and sees that his eyes are open. She frowns and sits up. “I’m sorry about Maria. She’s just used to me making the decisions for all of us.”

Max looks over at Liz and says, “It’s ok. If I know her, she’s pissed at me for how I acted before you guys left and she probably blames me for her not being able to be with Michael.” He sits up and rubs the sleep from his eyes.

Smiling at how well Max knows Maria, Liz knows that’s why she’s mad at him, too…she just didn’t want him to feel bad.

He sees Liz smiling at him and he says, “See, and I didn’t even need to be able to read minds to know that.” He grins at her and stands up. “Where’s the bathroom?”

“On the left. There should be some towels in the cupboard if you want to take a shower.” She answers.

Nodding, he makes his way to the bathroom as Liz goes outside to get some food.

When he joins the others on the balcony a half hour later, Max is happy to see Liz and Isabel quietly talking together off to the side. After Isabel’s defensive tone earlier, he’s glad to see that she doesn’t have any animosity toward Liz just because Liz has been making all the decisions for them since they left Sydney.

There’s a chorus of “Hey, Max.” as he sits down next to Michael and he grabs a croissant out of the bag on the table. “Morning.”

After a few minutes, Maria can’t help but speak up. “So, Max…I guess we’ve all been waiting to hear what you have to say about what we should do.” She can’t help the slight annoyance that seeps out in her tone.

Max looks at Maria sadly and takes a deep breath as he looks around. “Um…well, I think that you guys know what’s going on around here better than I do. I’ll agree with whatever Liz thinks is best.”

When he sees everyone just looking at him, he continues, “Look, I’m not gonna give anyone orders, or tell you what I think you should do. I’m not in charge here…we make decisions together. That’s how it’s been for the last three years and I don’t plan on changing it now. If you guys feel more comfortable with what Liz says, that’s fine. She can get my advice whenever she wants it.”

Everyone then looks over at Liz and she says, “Well, I think we all agree that this place is too small, right?” At the nods from the group, she says, “So, I was thinking, maybe we can look into the apartment next door that’s vacant. Maybe we can have both places and spread out more. I like it here because it’s secluded and not out in the open. What do you guys think?”

Max is the first to speak. “I think that’s a good idea.”

Everyone else quickly agrees and Liz says, “See, that was easy. I’ll talk to the landlord today and see what we can do.”

“So what do we do about the FBI? How did you guys know they were in Sydney?” Michael asks.

Kyle waits for someone else to answer him and when they don’t right away, he says, “We’ve known for a while that the FBI has several groups spread out looking for us. We saw one group in London, and another in Brussels. We assume that there are more and weren’t really surprised when we saw them following you in Sydney.”

“Why didn’t you say anything in your emails?” Michael asks Liz.

“The emails you were getting were from Liz?” Max asks.

“Yah.” Michael says, looking sheepishly at Max. “The last few were…we also talked on the phone a few times.”

“I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure if they were following you guys or us. I didn’t know for sure until the night Max saw me in the park.” Liz explains. “I didn’t want to tell you until I was sure which one of us they were after.”

“How long were you following us?” Max asks her.

“Almost the whole time we were there…three months. We took shifts but it was easier for me…because of my…abilities.” She answers.

“Abilities?” Jesse asks. “You mean your powers?”

“My mind reading abilities. It was easier for me to follow because I could stay further out of sight but still know where you were at.”

“You can read our minds?” Michael asks, horrified.

Nodding, Liz meets Max’s gaze and they smile at each other before she looks back at Michael. “Don’t worry, I try not to do it on purpose.”

“So you know what I’m thinking right now?” Jesse asks incredulously.

Liz looks over at him for a moment, then nods her head. “Yup. You’re wondering if Isabel can do it, too, and just never told you.”

Jesse’s jaw drops open as Isabel whips her head around to glare at him. “Jesse! I wouldn’t keep something like that from you!”

“I know….I just…it was just a thought.” Jesse looks back at Liz helplessly.

“You guys, it’s not a big deal…really. Most people’s thoughts…you can’t take them seriously. And most of the time I tune them out. It’s just really helpful in telling if there’s anyone around who’s looking for us.” She hopes that they don’t get too freaked out by it. “I mean, jeez…think about it. If I had to listen to Kyle’s thoughts all the time…well, I’d have killed him by now.” She laughs with everyone else.

“Hey! I’m a guy…what do you expect?!” Kyle exclaims at everyone’s laughter.

“Oh my God…you should have seen Liz’s face when she first realized she could tell what we were thinking. She kept running from the room and yelling at Kyle, ‘Stop thinking!’” Maria laughs and kicks at Kyle. “Remember that?”

“Remember? Yah, I remember that she couldn’t look at me for almost a month.”

After the laughter dies down, Liz grins. “Just don’t…think at me really hard and we should be fine.”

“So, you don’t think the FBI is a threat here?” Michael changes the conversation.

“I wouldn’t say that…I just know that we’re safe here for now. I’m gonna go patrol today and see if I pick anything up, but I didn’t sense anything the last time we were in Paris…and we were here for several months before we left.” Liz says to Michael. “But I’ll tell you now, we live on the assumption that the FBI is always a threat. We never let our guard down.”

“We’ll do whatever you want us to.” Max says. “And it’ll be easier now…with all of us here, we can spread out the patrolling duties.”

“Yah, we’re all in this together now.” Isabel grabs Liz’s hand and smiles at her.

“One more thing.” Michael says as everyone turns to look at him. “How did they know Max was going to be at the bookstore? Did they just follow him there?”

Liz looks around at them and admits, “I don’t know. I picked up that they received a tip, but not from who…or when.”

Isabel looks alarmingly at Max. “Who else knew besides us?” She looks around at everyone on the balcony suspiciously.

Max thinks for a minute and says, “Beth.” as he looks at Michael. “That morning, I told Beth that I needed to leave early to go meet someone at the bookstore.”

“Who’s Beth?” Liz asks. And why would Max be talking to her in the morning?

“My boss at the coffee shop I worked at. She’s the only other person who knew…it had to be her.” Max says, smiling internally at the hint of jealousy in Liz’s voice.

Liz shoots him a look, letting him know she knows what he’s thinking. “Well, that seems to be the best explanation. I bet the FBI contacted her and was using her to get information about you. Who knows how long that was going on.” She looks over to see the sad look on Max’s face, and knows that he’s feeling betrayed by someone he thought was a friend.

“I guess this proves that we can’t trust anyone.” Jesse says.

“Shit, Maxwell, didn’t you go on a date with her? I wonder if she was working with them then?” Michael asks.

Max’s eyes fly to Liz to see her looking at Michael in shock, then back to Michael. “It wasn’t a date.”

“Whatever. “ Michael rolls his eyes.

Max’s shoulders sag as he sees Maria giving him the evil eye and he looks down to the ground. “We just went to a movie.” He says defeatedly.

After a few moments of silence where everyone looks at each other with a sense of expectation, Liz clears her throat and stands up. “I’m gonna go see if I can find the landlord, then I’ll patrol the neighborhood.” She looks at Isabel, Jesse, Michael and Max. “If you guys go out, can you take Maria, Kyle or Serena with you? I’ll feel better if you don’t go on your own.”

When they nod, she turns to walk inside.

Kyle sees Maria still looking at Max like he’s the devil, so he says, “Come on, Maria. It’s not like Liz didn’t have guys asking her out. They weren’t even together…and they were apart for almost three years.” He feels like he should defend Max for some reason…must be written in the Guy Code.

Maria glares at Kyle and lets out an exasperated breath before standing up and storming inside. She expects to see Liz inside and is disappointed to see that she’s already gone. Pacing the living room, she looks back out the window at Max. She shakes her head and starts pacing. How dare he? He’s off, living a nice little oblivious life…dating…while Liz spends three years patrolling for FBI, keeping her and Kyle safe, and investigating anything and anyone that might pose a threat to them.

There was a time when she wanted nothing more than her two best friends together and happy. Now…now she doesn’t want him anywhere near Liz. All he’s going to do is hurt her. Her thoughts are interrupted when Max walks through the balcony door and into the living room. “Maria.”

She stops in her tracks and faces him with her hands on her hips. “Don’t you come in here with your cocker spaniel eyes, Max.”

“I just thought…hoped…that maybe we could talk.” Max says gently.

She eyes him for a few moments and raises her eyebrows. “Talk.”

“Can we go somewhere…else?” Max looks back toward the balcony, then back to her.

She sighs and walks to the closet where she takes out a gun, “Alright…but don’t make me use this on you.” and tucks it inside a jacket as she puts it on before turning and walking out the door, not waiting for him to follow her.

Max follows her for several blocks, looking around at all the old buildings and the crowds of people making their way up and down the streets. It’s a sunny day and Max has to remind himself that he’s really in Paris. He looks off in the distance and can see the Eiffel Tower and wonders if it’s true that you can see it from any point in the city.

Several blocks away, Maria steers them toward a small park area and she sits on the side of a fountain. Looking up at him, she says, “Well? You wanted to talk?”

Sitting down next to her, he takes a deep breath. “I know you’re pissed at me.” He hears her snort, but continues, “And you have every right to be.”

“Damn straight.” Maria harrumphs and looks away.

“I’m an ass.” Max says.

“Yup, you got that right.”

“And a selfish jerk.” He continues.

“Uh huh.”

“And a self-absorbed, spoiled idiot.” Max smiles when he sees the corners of Maria’s mouth move up as she tries in vain not to smile.

“You forgot childish and controlling.” Maria says, still not looking at him.

Nodding, Max says seriously, “Right…completely childish and a terrible control freak.” He nudges her with his shoulder and says, “Come on…Liz already had me licking her shoes, can’t you at least look at me?”

Maria turns her head in surprise and says, “She really made you do that?”

Max laughs and says, “Apparently our first meeting didn’t go quite the way she planned…so no shoe licking.”

“I can’t believe she told you that!” Maria finally smiles at him.

“We talked for a while…all night, actually.” Max tells her.

“And did you apologize?”

“Of course. And I meant it. We agreed to work on being friends.” His gaze moves to the throng of people moving down the sidewalk.

“Well, friends is more than you deserve…I hope you know that.”

“I know. I’m sorry, Maria…really. I’m sorry you were away from Michael for so long because I was an idiot.” Max looks back at her sadly.

“Stop looking at me like that, it makes me wanna scratch you behind the ears. And it’s not totally your fault. Liz decided to go on her own before your little tirade…and I chose to go with her.” Maria relents. She never could resist his sad look.

“It wasn’t a date, you know. She kept asking me out after work and I told her I was already in love with someone else, but I’d go to a movie with her…as friends. I swear. I’ve been properly pining away for Liz all this time…you can rest easy.”

“Well, that’s good to know. Now, tell me what you’re gonna do to fix this whole mess.” Maria says.

“What mess?”

“You and Liz. What are you gonna do to win her back? You have a plan, don’t you?”

“Maria, there is no me and Liz. Like you said, I’m just lucky she wants to be friends. I can’t even hope for more.” Max looks down at the ground, feeling the futility of it all at actually hearing the words come from his mouth.

“I have to tell you…that’s not much of a plan.” Maria shakes her head at him.

“It is what it is. Besides, we have bigger things to worry about right now.”

Maria sits back and rests on her hands. “We always have that to worry about. Life is short, Max, you only have today…tomorrow might not come. If I learned anything over the last three years, living like a fugitive, it’s that.”

He looks over at her and says, “When did you get so wise?”

“Ah, I’ve always been wise…you just chose not to listen.” She smirks at him before changing the subject. “So, what do you think of the whole Serena thing? Weird, huh?”

Max nods his head and says, “Yah, a little. I mean, if it really is the same Serena it puts a whole new spin on my belief in fate.”

“What do you mean?” Maria asks.

“I mean, in the original timeline, I doubt that Liz met Serena in London like you guys did in this one. How did they meet in the last timeline? Was it sooner or later? Maybe in the other timeline we did go to London, but I kind of doubt it. I used to think we were in charge of our own fates, but obviously we were meant to have Serena in our lives.” Max looks over at Maria. “It’s all a little disconcerting, don’t you think?”

Maria nods and says, “Liz and I talked about it…a lot. And I can’t say for sure if she’s the Serena, but I think she is. I felt close to her from the beginning…like we’d known each other in a past life or something. Even if it isn’t her…you can trust her.”

“If Liz trusts her, so do I.” Max says.

Maria studies Max for a moment before asking, “So, you’re really on this I-don’t-want-to-be-in-charge kick, aren’t you?”

He nods and asks, “Do you really want me in charge? Come on…I think we all know how bad my decision making skills are.”

“It’s not that you’re a bad leader, Max. You just make better decisions when we’re all working together…when you’re working with Liz. She helps you stay…strong…in balance.”

“Yah, well, I think Liz does just fine without me. She seems to be doing a good job so far…I don’t need to step in and screw everything up.”

Maria sighs and says, “You know, Max, Liz isn’t infallible. She’s not perfect. In fact, she’s made several mistakes along the way…but she learns from them and moves on. You need to get it out of your head that she’s better than you. Or better off without you.”

“Well, we can’t all end up happily ever after like you and Michael.” Max says, hoping to steer the conversation away from him and Liz.

“That’s true.” Maria stands up, indicating that she’s ready to walk back. “But Romeo and Juliette doesn’t have to end as a tragedy, either.” She turns from him and walks toward the street.

~TBC~
posted on 12-Jun-2002 12:17:36 PM by Angel
Part 21~

“So what’s this I hear about you falling off a motorcycle and breaking your back?” Max asks Kyle as they move bags to the apartment next door.

“Oh man, did she tell you about that? About a year and a half ago, we were out riding a motorcycle I’d picked up in Portugal.” Kyle begins.

“We? Who was with you?” Max interrupts.

Kyle looks at him strangely and says, “Liz was with me. Didn’t she tell you?”

Max drops the bags he was carrying onto a bed and says, “No. She left that part out.”

“Figures. Anyway, we were out riding in the country…just relaxing…you know. And this dog comes out of no where, running right in front of me, so I swerved and ran off the road over the side of a bridge and into a creek. Total wipeout. Hurt like hell.”

“You went over a bridge?!” Max exclaims. “What happened to Liz?”

Kyle rolls his eyes and says, “Well, with the broken back and all, I didn’t really notice where Liz went. I think I blacked out for a while, but when I woke up, Liz was kneeling over me with her hands doing that glowy thing on my chest. That’s when we found out she could heal.”

“Wow. You’re lucky.” Max says.

“You’re telling me.” Kyle walks back over to the other apartment with Max following close behind. “There’s a certain sense of…calm relief…knowing there’s someone around who can heal you if you get hurt. You know?”

Smirking, Max says, “Yah, I know.”

“Right.” Kyle says before turning to Serena. “Ready to go get supplies?”

“Yup. Come on…I wanna get back early so we can head down to the Seine before sunset.” Serena says, looping her arm through his. “See you later, Max.”

Max watches them go, smiling at their apparent comfort with each other. That’s how Liz finds him when she walks into the room. “Judging by the smile on your face, you must really like that door.” She teases him.

He turns to look at her, blushing with embarrassment and ducking his head while he unconsciously scratches behind his ear. “Yah, well, you know how I love a good door.” He smirks back at her. “Kyle and Serena decided to move to the other apartment, which leaves a bedroom here and two over there for us.”

Liz thinks it over and says, “I think we should take both the bedrooms over there. We’ll be evenly spread out that way. What do you think?”

“Sounds like a good plan.” He says. “I can only hope the door over there is as nice as this one.” He smiles and leaves a laughing Liz behind him as he walks out to the balcony to join Michael and Maria.

Walking outside, Liz says, “Michael, I wanna take you and Max to a shooting range today and get you comfortable firing guns.”

“Why? We have built in guns.” He raises his hand to her.

“You might find yourself in a situation where you can’t use that one. It’ll be safer having backup protection.” She tells him.

He shrugs his shoulders and says, “Ok with me. When do you wanna go?”

“We can go now. Maria can stay here with Isabel and Jesse.”

Michael stands up and turns to Maria. “You’ll be ok for a while?”

Maria smiles and says, “I think I can manage.” She turns to Liz. “Be careful.”

Nodding, Liz walks back in the apartment and out the door, Max and Michael following behind after she grabs a bag from the closet. They arrive at a shooting range just outside the city by cab and make their way inside where Liz speaks with a man behind the counter in French and grabs three headsets before walking down a hallway and into a large warehouse-type room and sets her bag on a table.

She pulls three guns out and over the next hour, shows Max and Michael how to clean, load and fire them. After their last round, she puts the guns away and says, “Any time you go out, take one with you, especially if you’re going alone. We also have walkie talkies that we carry with us at all times. We’ll need to buy more now that there are more of us.”

Michael smirks and says, “So do we have a curfew, too?”

Liz smiles back at him and rolls her eyes. “No. But let someone know where you’re going and try to be on time for your duty shift. We’ll make up a schedule when we get back. We try to have someone on duty 24 hours a day…and it’ll be easier now with the four of you.”

“Impressive.” Michael says as they make their way to get a cab back to the city. “You’ve really got things under control.”

“Yah, well, it took a lot of trial and error to become the well oiled machine that we are.” Liz jokes. “Maria used to whine all the time about having to stay up all night and Kyle used to be late for his shifts and we’d be worried sick about him until he came back. It got easier when Serena eventually came to stay with us…and now…” She tilts her head up in thought. “We should only have to have duty about once every other day. Not bad.”

“You must not have gotten much sleep.” Max says.

“I don’t need a lot of sleep anymore. I think it may be a side effect…I don’t know…but I only need about four hours of sleep, sometimes less.”

“Wow…then you’ll think I’m really lazy when I tell you I need 9 or 10 hours.” Michael says.

Liz laughs and says, “Well, then, you and Maria should be happy. She’s the same way.” As they make their way through the city, Liz says, “We should practice a few more times, and I like to take everyone back about once a month for a refresher.”

“Geez.” Michael says under his breath as Max shoots him a look to shut-up.

When they get back to the apartment, Liz finds Serena in the new apartment putting away supplies that she and Kyle had gotten earlier. “Hey, Serena.”

“Hey, Liz.” Serena smiles at her. “Have fun playing with your guns?”

“Yes I did.” Liz says with a playful smile. “You going down for the sunset?”

“After I get this stuff put away. You should take Max.” Serena gives Liz a knowing smile.

“Oh…um…I have some stuff here to take care of. You guys can take him if you want. Maybe Isabel and Jesse, too.” Liz reaches into a bag and pulls out some bread and a bag of Cheetos. She lifts the bag up and says, “Kyle?”

Serena smiles and nods as she rolls her eyes. “Well, I doubt Max would want to enjoy a romantic sunset on the Seine with us, but I’ll see if the others want to go with us so you two can be alone.” Serena smiles even wider as she continues to stock the refrigerator, knowing she’s got Liz trapped.

Liz looks at her in surprise. “No. I mean…” She lets out a frustrated sigh and says, “Fine, we’ll all go. Jerk.” And she throws the bag of Cheetos on the counter before stomping to the bathroom.

Laughing, Serena walks across the hall to the other apartment and says, “We’re going on a field trip, everyone.”

Maria claps her hands and looks out the window. “Is it time?”

“Yup, grab your jackets everyone. You’re about to see the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your life.” She walks over to Kyle and puts her arm around his waist as he turns his head to smile at her.

“Not the most beautiful thing.” He tells her.

“Awwww…how sweet.” Maria says as she puts on her jacket. “Can I barf now? You two are as bad as Liz and Ma…” She looks up at Max, embarrassed at her outburst, as Liz walks in. “I mean…um…yah, let’s go.” She quickly grabs Michael’s hand and drags him out of the apartment.

Kyle looks over at Max as they head to the door and shrugs his shoulders, giving him a half smile, and walks out with Serena.

Isabel and Jesse follow them and Liz waits for Max to walk ahead of her so she can lock both the doors before they all file out of the courtyard and down the street.

As Liz walks with the others, she feels her face flush as she thinks about what Maria said. She was right, her and Max used to be like that. He was always saying the sweetest things, making Maria mad that Michael wasn’t more like Max. She looks ahead at the couples walking in front of her, then over at Max. He’s walking next to her, looking as uncomfortable as she probably looks at their obvious pairing. It can’t be helped, though. There are three couples, and her and Max. She better get used to being paired with him for everything. She knew this when she decided that they should all be together again as one group.

As they make their way closer to water, Max can see more and more people gathering on the bridge up ahead. “That’s the Ile Saint-Louis.” Liz says to him, nodding up ahead. “See, up there on the left is Notre Dame. You know, every place in France is measured from a starting point there. They call it Point Zero.”

Max looks ahead in wonder at the sight ahead of him. The sun is just starting to set, casting a golden color over the city and as they find a place next to the stone edge of the bridge, he gazes out over the water. It’s so peaceful here and Max suddenly realizes why Liz loves it so much. He looks around at the people…the couples…surrounding him, and knows why they say it’s the city of lovers. Serena was right, it’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. Then he looks over at Liz and changes his mind.

She’s leaning on the railing, her gaze sweeping out toward Notre Dame, the sun turning her skin into gold. There’s a breeze that whips her short hair around her face and she looks over at him and smiles. “Isn’t it incredible?” She asks him.

He nods slowly at her, then understands through the fog in his head that she’s talking about the view, so he turns to look in the same direction she is.

“See the garden over there?” She points for him to see. When he nods, she says, “I used to go there all the time…it reminds me of your garden in Sydney.” She smiles over at him and he doesn’t think she’s ever looked more beautiful than she does right now.

“I’ll have to go check it out, then.” He says, restraining himself with every fiber of his being from reaching out to touch her hair, or feel how smooth and warm the skin is on her face.

He takes a deep breath and takes a small step away from her. What is he thinking? He needs to get himself under control…being here with her is wreaking havoc on his senses. He shouldn’t be thinking about her like this. They’re barely friends again...and even that’s on shaky ground right now. He breathes an internal sigh of relief when Michael walks over and says he wants to go because he’s getting cold and he quickly agrees to go back to the apartment with him.

The others decide to stay, Maria going with Max and Michael. Liz watches them walk away with a frown on her face. What was wrong with Max? She thought she saw him take a step away from her a minute ago, like he didn’t want to be near her. Was he uncomfortable being around her? She looks back out over the water and sighs, hoping that she’s wrong. Several minutes later, she makes her way back to the apartment with Kyle, Serena, Isabel and Jesse.

“That was wonderful…thank you for showing us. I think we’ll be going back to see that every night.” Isabel says dreamily as she and Jesse walk with their arms around each other.

“You can come with us…we did this almost every evening when we lived here.” Serena tells her.

That night, they sit around a table in the kitchen and come up with a schedule for duty. After a couple of hours, they finally have one neatly written out and they attach it to the refrigerator.

“Looks like I’m first up.” Max says, getting up and making a sandwich before putting a jacket on. “See you all later.”

Liz watches him go and she gets up to start gathering her things to move to the other apartment. When she’s done, she goes out to inspect the balcony and looks out over the courtyard. She can see Max sitting below eating his sandwich and she sits in one of the chairs to watch him in the dark. She feels guilty for doing it, but she can’t help but reach out to see what he’s thinking about.

A smile comes to her face when she sees that he’s thinking about her on the bridge as the sun was setting. He’s thinking about how beautiful he thought she was and also how he had to get away from her before he touched her. So that’s why he stepped away from her. She watches as he finishes his sandwich and slumps back on the bench, swiping his hand over his face. His thoughts go back to the night she told him she was leaving without him and tears come to her eyes as he remembers begging her not to leave him.

Not feeling right about intruding on his thoughts like this, she shakes her head and quietly gets up to go back inside. She can hear Kyle and Serena rustling around in their bedroom and she walks into the bedroom she picked for herself, unpacking her few things and putting them into the dresser. Thankfully, the apartments here come furnished. It’s not the best furniture, but it’ll do. She looks up when she hears a knock on her door to see Serena.

“Whatcha doin’?” She asks Liz.

Liz shrugs her shoulders and says, “Just unpacking.”

“I saw you…out on the balcony sitting in the dark. You were reading his thoughts, weren’t you?” Serena walks in and sits on the bed next to Liz.

Liz nods and looks down at the floor, ashamed.

“It’s ok. You’re allowed to be weak, you know.” Serena tries to assure her. “It’s only natural for you to want to know what he’s thinking.”

“Yah, but it doesn’t give me the right to intrude like that…without him knowing.”

“Well, no. But geez, it’s gotta be hard to resist when you have the ability…for anyone. Don’t beat yourself up about it…no harm, no foul.” Serena puts her arm around Liz and smiles. “What I wouldn’t give to read Kyle’s mind sometimes.”

“Believe me, you don’t wanna know what’s going on in there.” Liz jokes.

“So…what’s the scoop? How are you…being around him again? Doing ok?” Serena asks, concerned for her friend.

“I’m ok. It’s weird…especially since everyone else is all couply. But we talked last night…it’s all good.” Liz smiles at Serena, assuring her she’s alright.

“Did you tell him…that you have all your memories back?”

Liz shakes her head and says, “No…it never came up. I guess I should.”

“Serena!” Kyle calls from the other room. “I need you…to um…help me.”

Smiling knowingly, Liz says, “You better go.”

Blushing, Serena gets up and walks to the door. “Get some rest, Liz. You don’t have to stay up…Max will watch out for us.” At Liz’s nod, she turns and heads to her bedroom…and Kyle.

Liz lies back on her bed and sighs. She’s not the least bit tired…she’s used to being the one to stay up all night on watch. After a few minutes, she gets up in frustration and walks back out to the living room. She walks out on the balcony again, promising herself that she won’t look into Max’s head again, and sits down. She even makes some noise so Max will know she’s up there, further ensuring for herself that she won’t read his thoughts.

Max looks up when he hears a noise above him and sees Liz sitting out on the balcony. He gives her a wave and a small smile before looking back out over the courtyard. Figuring that she can’t sleep because of what she told him and Michael earlier that day about how little sleep she needs, he wonders why she doesn’t come down and stay up with him. She’s probably used to being alone. Or maybe she’s tired of being around him so much. His musings are interrupted by more noise coming from up above. He looks up and after a few moments, he realizes that it’s coming from an open window next to the balcony that Liz is sitting on…and the sounds he’s hearing are Kyle and Serena…having sex.

He looks over at Liz in shock and they both start laughing as Liz covers her face with her hands and shakes her head. After yet another “Oh God…Kyle!”, Liz turns her head toward the window and says loudly, “Oh God…Kyle…SHUT THE WINDOW!” They hear a loud thump and some muttered curses before the window slams shut.

Max is still laughing and looks over to see Liz laughing, too. After their giggles die down, Max says, “Can’t sleep?”

“No.” Liz answers. “Especially not now.” She nods her head toward the window and smiles.

“Wanna come down and keep me company?” He asks her.

She looks at him for a moment and nods. “I’ll be right down. You want something to drink?”

“Sure.” He answers and watches as she disappears inside.

A few minutes later, she walks down the stairs and sits next to Max on the bench, handing him a can of Cherry Coke. “Is this ok?”

“My favorite.” He says, taking it from her. “You used to stay up at night, didn’t you? Is that why you can’t sleep?”

“Yah. It was more convenient for everyone since I don’t need a lot of sleep.”

“So I stole your job.” He jokes with her.

She smiles at him and says, “Looks like it.” Fidgeting with her can of pop, Liz tries to block out the thoughts that are drifting to her from above. Maria’s up, and she obviously knows that Liz is down with Max…she can hear Maria practically shouting in her head ‘Don’t fall for the puppy eyes! I got sucked in earlier and it’s just plain embarrassing now!’ Liz lets out a short laugh and sees Max look at her, curious.

She realizes that she just laughed at nothing, she points to her head and says, “Maria…she um…she’s just thinking really loud.” as she shrugs her shoulders and rolls her eyes at the absurdness of that statement.

Max smiles in understanding and looks out over the courtyard. He had almost forgotten that she could read his thoughts, and he thinks back over the day wondering what she could have picked up from him.

Liz looks over at him and sees his brow furrowed. She knows what he’s thinking without having to look. “Max…don’t worry. I’ll try not to read your thoughts without your permission.” Except for earlier, but he doesn’t need to know about that.

He turns his head to her and says, “Then how did you know that’s what I was thinking?”

She smiles and says, “Because I know you. I can tell what you’re thinking just by looking at you…without using any powers.”

Max nods and smiles slightly. He looks up at the trees in the courtyard as a breeze runs through the leaves. It’s chilly tonight and he wonders how cold it gets in Paris in the winter. After a few minutes of silence, Max says, “So, Maria said you had a lot of guys asking you out…why didn’t you go out with them?”

She looks at the fountain and says, “I didn’t want to get too close to anyone…and I…” She stops suddenly.

“What?” He asks.

She looks at him and shrugs her shoulders. “I just didn’t want to.” She says softly before looking away.

He nods and looks back out to the courtyard. When he doesn’t say anything more, she can’t help but say, “But you did.”

Looking over at her quickly, he says, “It wasn’t a date. I made it clear to her before we went that…that I was in love with someone else.” as he looks down to the ground. “We were friends…or at least I thought we were.”

“I’m sorry…that it looks like she was tipping the FBI off on you.” Liz puts her hand on his arm in an effort to console him.

He shakes his head and says, “I should have been more careful. Just because we were friends…I shouldn’t have trusted her.” He looks over at Liz. “I just…it was nice, having a place somewhere away from Michael, Isabel and Jesse where I could pretend to be normal. Don’t you wish you could have that sometimes?”

Liz nods her head. “Yah. But I guess this is our normal now. So, you made a mistake…we all make them.”

“Not like me.” He smiles at her.

“Well, one mistake in three years isn’t anything to beat yourself up about.” She smiles back at him and takes a sip of her soda.

“So, tell me about the powers you and Kyle have.” Max says.

Liz sits back and wraps her arms around herself against the chill. “Well, I can heal…pretty well as far as I know. And the mind reading thing. I can change molecular structure and move things…with my mind. Like when I shoved Serena back from that car. I can also blast things with that green energy thing…but I don’t like to, it’s not a pleasant feeling…kind of like electricity shooting through my body.”

“Wow…that’s a lot. I wonder if you can do more. Have you ever tried to do more with your mind, like dreamwalk or mindwarp?” Max has to ask…knowing that if she has so much mental power, she might have more than she knows.

“I tried to dreamwalk once, but it didn’t work. And I haven’t ever tried mindwarping.”

“Maybe Isabel can help you try to dreamwalk again.” Max looks over at her and says, “Have you tried that thing…like you did when I was in New York…where you project yourself somewhere else?”

Shaking her head, Liz says, “No, I haven’t tried it since then. I don’t think I’d know how to do it again.”

“Well, it’s not like you don’t have more powers than all of us combined already.” He nudges her with his elbow. “We’re supposed to be the aliens, you know…and you’re making us look pathetic.” He smiles when she snorts out a laugh.

“Yah? Well that was my goal.” She smirks at him, enjoying their banter…feeling good about her decision to combine their two groups. “So, I think the others are expecting a duel between us over who’s gonna take charge. Should we pick our weapons now?”

His smile fades slightly as he studies her face for a few moments. “Well, you’ve certainly inspired the loyalty of the troops, even Michael…which shocks me. I don’t know…Isabel and Michael have always looked to me to lead them. I think it must be ingrained in them or something, and Michael hates that I haven’t been doing what he thinks I should. Of course, I don’t think it would matter…he’d fight me no matter what I did. I lead, he hates my decisions…I don’t lead, he hates that I’m being passive.” He looks out over the courtyard and rubs his hand over his face. Why did anyone have to lead, why can’t they make decisions as a group? He looks back at her and meets her gaze. “I’m not a king, I never wanted to be one. I’d feel totally comfortable if you wanted to stay in charge.”

Liz thinks about what he’s said and she knows that he would be a good leader. He was before, before they all got sidetracked and torn apart by Tess and her manipulations. He just made some bad decisions in trying to keep everyone together…and he ended up just tearing them all apart more. But she knows that if they all work together, he could be a good leader again, he just needs their support. “How about we do it together. Then everyone’s happy.”

Max looks at her surprised. “Are you sure?”

“Yah, I think we’d be good together, don’t you?” Liz smiles, then realizes how her statement could be interpreted and she blushes.

Max is taken aback by what she says and he tries to calm the pounding of his heart. That’s not what she meant…she meant together as in leading together, not being together. He shakes the thoughts that have suddenly invaded his head and says, “Yah…I do. I think it’s a good idea.” And he gives her a small smile before looking away. God, why is it so hard to get himself under control when he’s around her?

He clears his throat and stands up. Stretching as he walks around the courtyard, he says, “So, Kyle told me about his accident. Were you hurt?”

“Oh, he told you I was with him?” When Max nods, she hesitantly says, “Yah…um…I kind of cut my leg and broke my arm.” She decides he doesn’t need to know that the cut on her leg ran the whole length of it and was so deep she could see bone and muscle.

“And you healed yourself?” Max is horrified at what could have happened to her and he wouldn’t have been there to help her.

Liz nods and says, “I didn’t even know I was doing it. I was holding onto my arm and it just…happened.” She shrugs and continues. “I was pretty shocked when my arm suddenly wasn’t broken. Then I realized what happened and I healed my leg before going to look for Kyle.”

“I just can’t believe that you can heal now. That’s so…weird. What can Kyle do?” Max asks.

“He can change things, and blast things. I know he can do more, but he doesn’t like to work on his powers…I think he’s afraid of them.” Liz tells him. “I’m pretty sure he can do something to other people…like change their way of thinking.” At Max’s puzzled look, she tries to explain. “Like, one time we were trying to get this guy to lower the rent on an apartment we wanted. He just wouldn’t budge. Then I noticed he looked at Kyle and” she snaps her fingers, “just like that he agreed on the price we wanted. There’ve been a lot of things like that happen and I don’t think Kyle realizes he’s doing it.”

“He won’t talk about it?” Max asks. Liz shakes her head and he sits back down. “It’s too close to what Tess used to do. I bet he just doesn’t want to admit that he can do things like she did.”

“That’s what I thought, too. So I don’t push him.” She says as she looks away. “I can’t blame him…it’s why I’ve never tried to mindwarp. Anytime I think about trying, I think about Alex.”

“I can understand that.” He looks over at Liz and hesitates. “But…”

“But we could really use the ability to mindwarp…I know.” Liz finishes for him as she looks up. “I just need to get past it. I should get past it…she did sacrifice herself for you guys. You know…that night, when she told me she wanted to do one good thing with her life…I really believed that she meant it. I never told you that.”

She looks at him to see a look of surprise on his face. “You remember that night?” He asks, wondering what else she remembers. He never even thought to ask if she had any more of her memory back, he just assumed that she didn’t.

“Yah, I remember everything.” She says quietly as she meets his gaze.

~TBC~
posted on 13-Jun-2002 5:38:49 PM by Angel
Part 22~

Michael feels the bed shift again and he turns over. “For God’s sake, Maria, leave them alone.” He reaches a hand up to feel for her blindly.

Maria swats her hand at Michael from her perch at the head of the bed where she’s gripping the window sill and watching Max and Liz in the courtyard down below. “Shhh.”

“Come on.” Michael whines as he reaches for her again.

Shaking her head, Maria mutters, “She’s gonna cave, I know it. Be strong, chica.”

Michael peeks his eyes open and groans when he sees Maria’s ass wiggling right above his face. With a growl, he reaches up and pulls her down to the bed and pins her beneath him.

“Michael!” Maria gasps. “I need to keep an eye on Liz…make sure she doesn’t…” But she can’t finish when she feels Michael press his arousal into her.

“Doesn’t what?” Michael asks as he leans down to suck on her earlobe.

“Ohhhh…um…” She moans and closes her eyes. “I don’t remember.”

Meanwhile, in the courtyard, Max can’t think of anything to say to Liz’s announcement as his jaw drops open slightly. He had hoped, dreamed that she would somehow get the rest of her memory back someday and he’s glad that she has those parts of her life back. “That’s…that’s great.” He finally croaks.

“I should have told you last night…it just kind of…slipped my mind.” She cringes at her choice of words and now feels incredibly bad for not letting him know sooner. “I’m sorry…I…I guess I’m still trying to get used to the fact that you’re really here.”

“It’s ok…I…” He swallows before continuing. “I’m glad you told me.” He suddenly feels antsy and can’t sit still.

Liz watches as he squirms in his seat and knows that he’s uncomfortable. She longs to know what he’s thinking, but refuses to invade his privacy.

“How long…have you remembered?” Max asks, still not able to look at her for some reason he can’t quite explain.

“About a year.” She says softly. “It happened gradually, but I finally remembered everything about a year ago.”

Max takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he runs his hand through his hair. “I’m glad…I just…”

“It’s weird. I understand.” Liz finishes for him. “Believe me, I feel the same way.”

He looks at her, confused, then wonders if she’s reading his thoughts…not that it would do her any good, because he’s not really sure what to think right now.

“See, before, it was easier for you to keep your distance from me…knowing that I couldn’t remember.” Liz explains.

Max raises his eyebrows and says, “Should I find a couch to lie on, Dr. Parker, before you continue your psychoanalysis?”

She smiles at his teasing and says, “No, that’s only for the movies…you can just sit.” She clears her throat before continuing. “So, as I was saying…it was easier for you to be here with me now and keep your distance from me, try to be just friends, because I couldn’t remember our relationship anyway…not the end, at least. It was easier because it wasn’t like I was rejecting you after everything that happened between us, because I didn’t know everything that happened. But now that I remember you asking me to marry you…the night we made love…it adds this whole level of awkwardness to our situation now.” She tries to catch his gaze. “Am I right?”

“Liz…I…I don’t want this to be awkward. I meant it when I said I wanted to be friends, and even though I’m glad you can remember everything, I won’t push you for anything more. I know that it’s impossible…I’ve spent the last three years coming to terms with that.” Max meets her gaze and she can see that he means every word he says.

After a few minutes of sitting in silence, Liz smiles and stands. Max watches as she takes a few steps toward the stairs and turns back to him. She reaches her hand into the neck of her shirt and pulls out a thin leather rope tied around her neck as she says, “I think I should go get a few hours of sleep now. I’m glad we could talk, Max, but remember…nothing is ever impossible.”

Max looks down and sees the moonlight reflecting off the ring he gave her so many years ago as it dangles on the end of the piece of leather. He looks back to her face to see her smiling at him before she turns and walks up the stairs, leaving him alone in the darkness.

At 5am, Max sees Kyle walking down the stairs and over to him. “Ready to be relieved?”

Max stands up and stretches as he yawns. “Yah…thanks. Do you know if Liz is sleeping?”

“Yah, she was in bed when I came down.” Kyle tells him.

“Ok…thanks.” Max says as he makes his way up to the apartment. He’s exhausted and he peels his jacket off, falling into bed with all his clothes on.

Liz wakes up with a start and looks at her watch. 7am. Groaning, she rolls out of bed and digs out some running clothes out of the dresser and heads to the bathroom. She pauses in the doorway of Max’s bedroom and sees him sprawled on the bed, fully clothed, sleeping. It’s still chilly this morning and she goes in, grabs a blanket from the closet and drapes it over Max. She smiles at the peaceful look on his face and turns to go to the bathroom.

After changing and pulling her hair up in a small ponytail, she leaves their apartment and walks down the stairs to see Kyle sprawled out on a bench in the courtyard. Rolling her eyes, she walks up to him and pokes his arm with her foot and watches as he bolts awake. “I’m up, I’m up.”

“I’m going for a run…I’ll be back in a while.” She tells him as she clips a walkie talkie to her waistband. “Try to stay awake.” She grins at him as she stretches and takes off jogging out of the courtyard toward the street.

Kyle rubs his face and says to himself, “I hate guard duty.” as he stands up and paces around the courtyard trying to stay awake.

After a few minutes, Liz falls into a comfortable pace as she jogs through the streets of Paris. She relishes her early morning runs, it helps her to clear her mind. But she’s having a hard time doing that this morning…her thoughts can’t break away from Max. As the sun climbs higher in the sky and her heart rate increases, she peels off her sweatshirt and ties it around her waist and her feet continue to hit the pavement.

As she runs, her gaze is constantly on her surroundings…on every person she passes…every car. It’s a subconscious activity now, always keeping her mind open to the thoughts of the people around her. She thinks back to her conversation with Max the night before and her pace quickens. She feels so conflicted about being around him again. She’s torn between wanting to stay as far away from him as possible, fearing that all that can come from them being together is pain…and the urge to fling herself into his arms and never leave.

By the time she circles back to their block an hour later, she’s covered in sweat and breathing hard from her exertion. She runs into the courtyard and doubles over, touching the ground and stretching her legs. She stretches for several more minutes and smiles at Kyle, who looks up from the book he’s reading, before running up the stairs and into her apartment. Stopping just inside the door, she isn’t expecting to see Serena and Max awake and sitting together at the kitchen table drinking coffee.

Max looks up when the door opens and he feels like he’s just been hit with a sledgehammer when he sees Liz standing there…covered in sweat, wearing a small sports bra that shows stomach muscles he knows she didn’t have before. Her hair is pulled back but pieces have fallen out and are plastered to her face, which is flushed. He notices her arms newly well-muscled, too, before he realizes that he’s staring at her and he drops his gaze to his coffee, flushing with embarrassment.

Serena smiles when she sees Max’s perusal of Liz, and Liz’s embarrassment at being so exposed. “Have a good run?” She asks Liz.

Liz shakes her head from her daze and looks at Serena. “Oh, um…yah.” She walks over to the refrigerator and grabs out a bottle of orange juice and gulps the whole thing down, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand before letting out a satisfied, “Ahhhh.” She leans against the counter and rolls her head on her neck, stretching the muscles there.

“Liz here puts us all to shame by running like a maniac every morning.” Serena says to Max as she rolls her eyes. “I tried to go with her a couple of times, but I can’t keep up.”

“You need to go more than twice, Serena…or you’ll never be able to keep up.” Liz smiles at her. “You and Maria…you two think exercise is turning the pages to the latest Vogue.”

“Yah, well, I have my own exercise regimen…it involves two people if you know what I mean.” Serena winks at her.

“I’m painfully aware of what you mean.” Liz rolls her eyes. “I get to listen to it every night.”

“Well, my exercise is a lot more fun than yours…what are you up to? An hour every morning? Honey, that hour could be put to so much better use.” Serena smiles at the blush that creeps up both Liz’s and Max’s faces.

Liz dumps her orange juice bottle in the trash and says, “I’m going to shower.” before she walks down the hall toward the bathroom.

Serena looks at Max and says, “She’s so uptight.”

“I heard that!” They hear Liz yell from the bathroom. “And I am not!”

Serena laughs and sees a smile come to Max’s face. “So tell me an incredibly embarrassing story about Liz when she was in High School.” She asks Max with a gleam in her eye.

Max looks up at her and furrows his brow. “I don’t know any.” He shrugs his shoulders and says, “She never did anything embarrassing.”

“Nothing?” Serena exclaims. “I can’t believe that.” She eyes him doubtfully before saying, “Ok, then tell me one of your embarrassing stories.”

Max sits back and lets out a long breath. “Well, there was the time Kyle got me drunk…on one sip from his flask.”

A big smile crosses Serena’s face and she claps her hands together. “Oh, do tell!”

“It was Valentine’s Day, our sophomore year and the radio station set Liz up on this blind date thing. So Kyle shows up at my house with a car load of his friends, all drunk, and makes me drive them around and we ended up standing with a crowd in front of the restaurant Liz was at with her date. Kyle figures we both need to drown our sorrows with liquor and after one sip, I was drunk and before I know it we’d snuck into Liz’s bedroom and he was rummaging through her underwear drawer while I was using my powers all over the place.”

Serena puts her hand up to her mouth and gasps. “Did he see you? This was before he knew about you, right?”

“Yah, but he was too drunk to notice. Anyway, Liz and her date show up and catch us…it was a mess.” Max laughs with Serena and takes a sip of his coffee.

Serena grins at him expectantly and says, “Well…what happened then?”

“She was worried about me using my powers or saying something to Kyle about who I am so we took off…leaving her date and Kyle in her room. The radio station people were chasing us and I was busy trying to impress Liz with my powers.” He rolls his eyes as he laughs before continuing. “Anyway, we ended up at this concert the radio station was putting on and the DJ made Liz, me, Kyle and her date all stand up on stage and told us we all had to get Liz to pick which one of us she wanted.”

“Oh my God! You didn’t…do anything stupid, did you?” Serena is finding it hard not to burst out laughing.

“I don’t really remember what her date said, but when it was Kyle’s turn he had to go puke.” They both laugh at that before Max tells her, “And I just kissed her.”

“Wow. So, I’m assuming she picked you.”

“Oh…well, I um…kind of ran off after that. It was complicated.” Max says.

Serena rolls her eyes and says, “Seems like it’s always complicated between you two.”

Max looks up at her. “Yah, it is.”

“Too bad…it doesn’t have to be.” She gets up to refill her mug before turning back to Max. “More coffee?”

“Sure.” He hands her his mug. “So, what made you decide to join Liz, Kyle and Maria?”

She sits back down and hand him his coffee. “I don’t know…I just felt really drawn to them. I don’t have any family and when I found out their, your, secret…I decided that they could use my help. I can’t really explain it.”

Max studies her for a moment and says, “Liz told you…about who we think you are?”

“Yah…how weird is that? I can’t tell you if I’m the same person, but it’s a strange coincidence, don’t you think?” She looks over at him to see him nod. “It’s all kind of surreal, I mean, a few years ago I was in London studying for my Engineering degree, happily and obliviously living my life, then BAM! It all changes in a minute.”

“Engineering, huh?” Max asks with a knowing smile.

She smiles back and says, “Yah…guess that adds to the evidence for me being her. Not that I know anything about alien technology…but who knows…in 14 years, I might be a genius in the field.” She looks back toward the hallway and after hearing the water in the shower still running, she says, “I think it’s a good thing that you’re here.”

Max just looks at her and shrugs his shoulders. “At least Michael can stop brooding over Maria now. And I think Isabel is really gonna like it here. Liz was right…we’ll be much stronger as one group.”

“That’s not what I was talking about.” Serena says as she nods her head in the direction of the bathroom. “Look, we don’t know each other very well, but I feel connected to all of you for some odd reason and I’m a call-it-as-I-see-it kind of girl. I’ve been with Liz for almost three years, so I think I know her pretty well. And what I know, is that she needs you.”

Max shakes his head and looks down at his coffee.

“And from what I hear about you, you’re the king of passive-aggressive. So, I’m just gonna give you this one piece of advice.” Serena waits until he looks up at her before continuing. “You give Liz what she needs, not what she thinks she wants.”

Suddenly, the front door burst open and Maria sweeps in. “Where’s the coffee? I was so disoriented this morning when I got up and there wasn’t any coffee.”

Serena smiles and says, “Sorry, Maria. Maybe I can make some over there for you in the mornings so it’ll be waiting for you. Oh! And maybe, I can make breakfast and serve it to you in bed…along with the morning paper? How’s that sound?”

“I can’t do smart-ass in the morning, Serena.” Maria rolls her eyes and accepts a cup of coffee from Serena, drinking from it greedily as she drops down in a chair. She looks around and asks, “Where’s Liz? Don’t tell me she’s sleeping.”

“In the shower.” Serena tells her.

“Well, I guess today is job day.” Maria laments.

“Yah…I suppose some of us should start making some money. How are we on funds?” Serena asks.

Maria looks up in thought and says, “I don’t think it’s critical yet. But we have this extra place and more mouths to feed.” She looks at Max and says, “You guys know how to speak French? You won’t be able to work if you don’t.”

“No, but we can learn pretty quick. We already know Spanish…it shouldn’t take too long.” Max tells her.

“Liz is usually the one who brings in the big bucks…she knows how to bartend so she gets pretty good tips.” Maria says.

A couple of hours later, Max is finally showered and dressed and he walks out to the living room to find Isabel, Jesse, Maria, Michael and Serena sitting out on the balcony. When he joins them, he sees Liz down in the courtyard talking to Kyle.

“Max, talk Michael into going shopping with us today. He needs more than what he’s wearing on his back. What has it been…three days that you’ve been wearing that?” She looks at Michael in disgust.

“Shopping. Not exactly a Michael thing to do.” Max tells her with a grin. “I’m sure you can just get him some things.”

“No!” Michael immediately says and Max gives Maria a knowing smile. “Fine…I’ll go.”

Maria stands up with a satisfied grin on her face and says, “Ok…let’s go.” She turns to Max. “We’ve been waiting for you…Liz is waiting outside.”

Max follows his sister through the door obediently. He didn’t even know they were going shopping, but he knows better than to object. He’s pretty sure it was Isabel and Maria’s idea. When they get to the courtyard, his breath catches in his throat when his gaze meets Liz’s. He’s surprised that she’s going with them, but they probably have other supplies to pick up other than clothes for him, Michael, Isabel and Jesse.

An hour later, they’re all sifting through the racks in a second hand clothing store and Isabel already has an armload of clothes. Max looks over at her and smiles as she enthusiastically shows Jesse another find. He’s not having much luck, having only found a pair of jeans.

“Want some help?” He turns to find Liz standing next to him.

“Oh…yah, sure.” He says as he looks at the rack in front of him. It’s filled with colorful shirts that make him cringe.

She smiles and walks to another rack to look through. A couple of minutes later, she walks up to him with several plain, dark shirts and hands them to him. “These look more like you.” She smiles down at the colorful display in front of them.

“Yah…thanks.” He says with relief.

“Come on…there are more pants over here.” She grabs his hand and pulls him to another section of the store.

He happily lets her lead him and they soon find another pair of jeans and some brown slacks. As they’re laughing over a pair of gaudy plaid pants, they hear Michael a few feet away, “But what’s wrong with this shirt?”

Max looks over to see Michael holding up a brown and yellow polyester shirt to a scowling Maria. He looks down at Liz to see her trying not to laugh.

“There are so many things wrong with that shirt, I don’t even know where to start.” Maria says before pulling it out of his hands and slamming it back on the rack.

By early afternoon, they’re all carrying more bags than they can manage…clothes, underwear and socks, shoes, four new walkie talkies, and more food…and they slowly make their way back to the apartments.

When they unload all their bags and drop down in exhaustion, Liz says, “I’m going down to that bar we saw earlier…see if I can get a job. I should be back in a little while.”

“Want some company?” Max asks her.

She shrugs her shoulders and says, “Sure.” And they both leave everyone sprawled around the living room.

“Man, she’s got too much energy.” Michael complains from the couch.

“Exhausting, isn’t she?” Kyle says as he lies on the floor.

After a few moments of silence, Isabel says, “So, who wants to start the pool?”

Five pairs of eyes fly to her at once and Maria says, “I’ve got ten bucks says they’re together within a week.”

“I’ve got ten on three days.” Kyle throws out.

They all throw in their dollar amounts and time tables and Maria gets up to write it all down before stuffing the paper in the back of a drawer next to the refrigerator.

Prague

Assistant Director Gerard steps off the private jet and meets Agent Noll at the bottom of the stairs. “So what’s the situation?” He asks immediately as the Agent falls into step beside him.

“We’ve got six teams. Rome, Madrid, London, Dublin, Paris, and Amsterdam. Nothing yet.” Noll tells him.

“Good. I want daily updates.” He tells him as they enter the small terminal. “Take me to the hotel and get Washington on the phone with me. I want complete cooperation from all the governments involved. I don’t plan on going home empty handed.”

“Yes, sir.” Noll rushes ahead, cell phone pressed to his ear as he makes the necessary arrangements.

~TBC~
posted on 14-Jun-2002 3:29:17 PM by Angel
Part 23~

“Ok, so I have everyone’s work schedules and duty shifts on this color coded chart.” Liz stands in the kitchen pointing at a large graphic chart taped to the refrigerator. “It’s pretty straight forward, so if you have a change at work that conflicts with your duty, make sure you find someone to cover you.”

Michael and Jesse are slumped down in the couch, their heads propped on their hands. Maria, Serena and Kyle are sitting at the kitchen table, trying to look like they’re paying attention to what Liz is saying…not wanting to hurt her feelings. And Isabel is standing guard in the courtyard as Max patrols their neighborhood.

“I think Max volunteered for duty tonight because he knew Liz was having a meeting…lucky bastard.” Michael whispers to Jesse and Jesse tries to cover the smile on his face.

“Look, I know this looks ridiculous, but there’re eight of us…and I just want us to all know what’s going on at all times.” Liz gives Michael a knowing look, letting him know that she heard him. “I don’t want someone waking up in the middle of the night and freaking out because someone’s missing…only to find out they’re at work.” She looks around at all the bored faces and asks, “So, any questions?”

When no one says anything, she nods at them before going to change before her shift at work. It’s been a little over two weeks since they arrived in Paris and the atmosphere has gotten a little tense with all of them spending so much time together.

As Liz changes clothes, she hopes that now that most of them have jobs things will start to ease up. She has to admit that she’s felt a tad Closter phobic having so many people around her all the time. Her job at the bar has been going well and it works out great because she works nights. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she’s been pulling in about 200 Euros a night in tips.

When she walks out into her living room to get her jacket, she finds Michael there alone.

“Look, I know you’re just trying to make things easier for us and I’ve been an ass lately.” Michael sticks his hands in his pockets and looks up at her.

Liz stops in her tracks and cocks her head at Michael before smiling. “Wow…did you just apologize?” When he scowls at her she throws her hands up and says, “Ok, ok…I’m sorry. Maybe I’ve been a little bossy. Are we good?”

He nods and says, “Yah. Be careful at work tonight.”

“I will. See you tomorrow.” She heads out the door and walks out into the courtyard.

“Hey, Isabel. How’s it going out here?”

Isabel looks up at Liz and says, “Good…boring, but good.”

Smiling, Liz tells her, “I’m off to work. Be glad it’s boring…that means everyone’s safe.”

“Oh, hey, would you mind going to help me tomorrow? There’s something off with my aim and I was hoping you could help me.” Isabel asks.

“Sure, if you don’t mind stopping by the Internet Café. I wanna check in with Valenti.” Liz was surprised when Isabel approached her about learning how to shoot a gun. She was sure Isabel wouldn’t want anything to do with them, but she’s been practicing with Jesse and from what he says she’s doing really well. She knows Isabel’s request for Liz to help with her aim is only a ploy for girl time…Jesse could help her with that. “See you later, I’m late.” Liz heads toward the street, waving back at Isabel.

She hurries around the corner and practically jogs down the street. If she hurries, she’ll make it on time. She stops suddenly, feeling his pull, and when she turns around she sees Max a half a block behind her hidden in the shadows. He’s watching her and she slowly raises her hand in a wave just as he does. She smiles and turns back around to rush to work.

A few hours later, The Hideout…one of the best Irish Pubs in Paris…is packed with wall to wall people. Liz has been swamped with the four other bartenders she’s working with and she feels like she’s covered in beer. But she loves it. The atmosphere energizes her and the busier she gets, the happier she is, which is why most of the drunken patrons clamor for her attention at the bar.

There’s a jukebox in the corner blasting music constantly sometimes causing the customers to sing aloud, drunkenly to it…especially to the popular tunes. Liz can’t help but laugh at the moment because it seems the entire place has decided to sing along with Cake’s version of I Will Survive at the top of their lungs. Some are even standing on the tables dancing and Liz immediately looks over to the table that Maria, Michael and Max occupy almost every night that she works.

At first, she protested, telling them she they didn’t need to watch out for her, but she soon realized that Maria loved the atmosphere there and was dragging Michael along with her. She has a sneaking suspicion that Max volunteers to tag along just to watch her work. When she sees them, a large smile comes to her face when she sees Maria up on the table dancing and singing with the rest of the bar.

As she lights up an order of six Flaming Root Beers, the entire bar starts cheering at the fiery display and Liz rolls her eyes, smiling, when she hears the bell behind the bar clanging. It signals that a customer has requested a drink of their choice with the bartender. For 50 Euros, a customer can ask to do a shot of their choice and a dance with the bartender of their choice as they stand on the bar…usually resulting in lots of cheers and catcalls from the crowd.

Muttering under her breath as she fills two draws of Guiness, “Please don’t pick me. Please don’t pick me.” Liz suddenly feels one of the bartenders tap her on the shoulder and say, “You’re up.”

“Shit.” She says as she climbs up on the bar and hears the crowd start cheering. Waiting for her is a young man, maybe mid-20s, and he’s leaning over telling the head bartender his song request. The current song stops suddenly and a roar erupts in the bar when Build Me Up Buttercup starts playing. Liz leans over and grabs two shots of Jaggermeister and hands one to the guy in front of her. As the crowd chants, “Drink! Drink! Drink!” Liz tosses the shot back and cringes as the liquor sears its way down her throat. More cheers ring out and the crowd starts singing along loudly to the song as she dances with the customer, letting him twirl her around on the bar. She feels like her face will explode from embarrassment as they guy falls to his knees, singing the last part of the song to her while she dances. His friends have crowded in front of the bar to cheer him on and when the song ends, shouts and cheers fill the bar and the jukebox continues where it left off before.

The customer thanks Liz politely for the drink and dance and jumps back down into the crowd as Liz climbs back down behind the bar. Completely embarrassed, Liz starts to get back to work when the head bartender comes over and hands her 25 Euros. “Here’s your half. You were good…got three more requests for you.” He tells her proudly.

At the mortified look on her face, he laughs and says, “No worries. You only have to do it once a night…we don’t want you getting drunk.” And he walks away as she breathes out a sigh of relief. She glances over at the table her friends are at and sees Maria and Michael laughing so hard, tears are running down their faces and she mock-scowls at them which makes them laugh even harder…then she sees Max staring at her like he’s burning a hole through her with his eyes.

She can’t tear her gaze away from him until she hears a customer leaning over the bar yelling his drink order to her over the roar of the crowd and music. Shaking her head, she gets back to work. The rest of the night passes quickly for her and by the time they’re cleaning up and closing, she feels exhausted, but good.

As they sit at the bar counting out their tips and splitting them up, the head bartender says, “Looks like we have a star on our hands.” jokingly to the others as he gets up and pats Liz on the back as he walks past.

Groaning, Liz says, “Oh God, it was so embarrassing.”

The other girl she works with walk over to her and says, “It’ll get easier. And you don’t have to do it if you don’t want…just tell Harry and he’ll tell the customers that you’re not available.”

Liz gives her a grateful smile and finishes counting out her money. She tells everyone goodbye as she walks out the door and takes a deep breath of the fresh air outside.

“Hey.” She’s startled when she looks over to see Max leaning against the side of the building.

“Max, you scared me.” She watches him push away from the wall and walk toward her. “What are you doing here?”

He shrugs and says, “I thought I’d walk you home…help fend off anymore potential serenaders.”

She rolls her eyes and smiles as they start walking. “That was so embarrassing…I can’t believe you guys had to see that.”

“It was…entertaining.” Max grins at her.

“Yah, I saw how entertaining Maria and Michael thought it was.” Liz says. “They didn’t hurt themselves laughing too hard, did they?”

He laughs and they walk another block in silence. When they turn a corner, Liz immediately tenses when they see a group of people walking down the street toward them. It’s 4am, and she’s instantly on alert. Max feels her tense beside him and he warily watches the group approach them. Turns out it’s a bunch of drunk girls and Liz hears one of them say loudly, “Look…it’s him…that’s the one I was talking about!”

A tall, thin blonde walks up to them, her eyes on Max and she says, “You were at The Hideout earlier, weren’t you?”

“Uh…yah.” Max says quietly.

She smiles at him and reaches out to touch his arm. “We’re on our way to an after hours party. Wanna come?” Saying this as she steps closer to him, brushing up against him.

Liz watches in shock as the girl rubs up against him and leans in to whisper in his ear. She sees Max’s eyes grow wide and he stands like he’s a deer caught in headlights.

Grabbing the girl’s arm, Liz pulls her away from Max and says, “No, we can’t make it to the party. We’re on our way home.”

The girl looks at Liz, like she’s just noticed her standing there and she says, “Oh…I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there.” She looks back at Max and says, “Well, maybe I’ll see you there again sometime.” as she turns to rejoin her friends.

Max and Liz watch as the group of girls giggle and stumble down the street and Max turns to look at Liz. Her brows are furrowed together as she watches them go and he’s secretly pleased at her obvious jealousy.

“Hey, what if I wanted to go to that party?” Liz whips her head over to Max angrily before she sees that he’s teasing her.

She gives him an evil glare and a half smile as she swats him on the arm. “Shut up.” And she starts walking back home, making him jog to catch up with her. She walks even faster when she hears his laughter behind her and she turns, not able to stop her own laughter. “Shut up!” She yells at him, before breaking out in a run.

As they both run into the courtyard laughing, Max finally catches up to her and he reaches out for her arm. “Liz…come on…I’m sorry.” He pulls her to a stop and turns her to face him. “I couldn’t help it…you’re just so cute when you’re jealous.” Their smiles fade as they stare into each other’s eyes and Max slowly reaches up to push her hair back from her face before they hear a loud throat clearing off to the side.

They spring apart like two magnets repelling each other and look off to the side to see Kyle standing up from a bench in the shadows.

“Hey.” He says. “So, um…work was ok?”

Liz immediately straightens and shakes her hair back from her face. “Yah…it was fine. How are things here?”

“Quiet.” Kyle answers her, throwing an apologetic look at Max.

“Good.” Liz says before looking at Max…all business now. “Thanks for walking me home.” She doesn’t give him a chance to answer before quickly walking up the stairs and into the apartment.

When she disappears, Max lets out a slow breath and turns to look at Kyle. “Well, good night.” He makes to walk toward the stairs.

“Hey, man.” Kyle stops Max before he leaves. “Sorry…I uh…it looked like you were having a moment there. Sorry I interrupted.”

Max shrugs his shoulders and says, “There wasn’t a moment…so don’t be sorry.” He turns back to climb up the stairs, leaving a confused Kyle in the courtyard.

Kyle sighs and sits back down. He just doesn’t understand those two. He doesn’t understand why they don’t just do what they both so obviously want to do…and what everyone else can see they want to do. He stands up again and walks to the pathway leading to the street to check it out. Everything is quiet and he returns to the courtyard, pacing around the fountain to keep himself awake.

Inside, Max sheds his clothes and throws on a t-shirt before lying down in bed. He can hear the water running in the shower and he closes his eyes, wondering if Kyle was right. Was there a moment? What would have happened if Kyle hadn’t been there? Does Liz have feelings for him that reach beyond friendship?

The next three weeks pass much quicker than the last two weeks. There’s hardly a time when all eight of them are together anymore, each with their own jobs and schedules. Michael got a job at a small café as a waiter and between his job there and Maria’s waitressing job at a restaurant, they had a constant supply of leftovers for everyone.

Isabel got a job in a clothing store on the Champs Elysees and Jesse was working close by at a tourist shop. They tried to schedule their shift together because Jesse didn’t like Isabel taking the Metro alone at night. Max got a job at a small bookstore close to their apartment and he was often left alone to run it by himself. This provided a good check-in point and when Max worked, he could look forward to most of the group stopping in at different parts of the day…either on their way out, or on their way back home.

Kyle took a job from the owner of their apartment building and the buildings surrounding it as a repairman. It provided the perfect opportunity to get to know their neighbors and keep an eye on the people around them. In the nearly six weeks since they’ve been in Paris, they haven’t run across anyone suspicious or seen anything to indicate that they’re being followed or watched. Everyone was careful not to get too close to their co-workers…especially after what happened to Max in Sydney. They didn’t even give their real address to their employers, using PO Boxes instead. They didn’t have a phone in either apartment and they used their walkie talkies to communicate with each other if they needed to. Isabel and Jesse were the only ones who worked more than two miles away…outside the range of the walkie talkies…and that was another reason they tried to schedule their shifts together.

Everything was running smoothly and the group automatically turned to Max or Liz when big decisions had to be made. So in early December, Max was startled to see Kyle rush into the bookstore, pale and looking panicked. Max is immediately on alert and asks, “What is it?”

Kyle drops into a chair next to the counter and buries his face in his hands. “I don’t know what to do.” He groans.

“Do about what. Has something happened?” Max looks around the store, relieved to see that they’re alone.

Kyle wipes his face and Max thinks he looks like he’s gonna be sick. “It’s Serena…I…I think she’s pregnant.”

Max is stunned into silence as the blood drains from his face. “You think? You mean, you’re not sure?”

Kyle stands up and starts pacing in front of the cash register. “I don’t know for sure. But…but she’s been tired…and for the last few days she’s been throwing up. She says that nothings wrong, that she’s just sick.”

“Maybe that’s all it is.” Max offers.

Kyle shakes his head and says, “No…no, that’s what I thought, too. But I just heard her in the bathroom throwing up and she was crying. She didn’t know I was there and I heard her…she was in there crying…you don’t cry like that if you’re just sick.”

“Why don’t you just ask her?”

“I’ve tried!” Kyle cries out. “There’s something else.”

Max looks at Kyle expectantly as he steps in front of Max and looks at him closely. “She has powers now.” When Kyle sees Max’s eyes widen in shock, he continues, “I saw her change her shirt one day…she was standing in front of the mirror and she looked like she was shocked when the color changed. Then she rushed to the bathroom to throw up again.”

Max stands frozen, in shock and Kyle narrows his eyes at him. “So, now all I can figure is that she’s pregnant, and the baby is giving her powers. How did that happen, Max? Who else besides you and Michael could have a baby with powers? You and Serena have gotten awful close lately.”

Max takes a step back and says, “Christ, Kyle…what are you saying? Just…just think about this for a minute.”

Kyle just looks at him and says, “Think about what? You sleeping with my girlfriend?”

“What?!” They both turn to see Liz standing just inside the doorway with a look of horror on her face.

Max feels the room tilt on him as Kyle looks back at him and says, “Serena’s pregnant…and I think Max here got her that way.”

Max looks from Liz back to Kyle and says, “I didn’t sleep with Serena! Listen to what you’re saying…you just need to calm down.” Max wipes his face with his hand and says, “Kyle, did you ever think she has powers because you do, too?”

Kyle looks down at the counter, as though that thought just occurred to him. “Oh. I didn’t think of that.” He looks back up at Max and says, “I didn’t think about that.”

“No shit.” Max says angrily. “How could you think that I’d ever do that?”

“Maybe because you can’t seem to keep your alien paws off of any girl I’m remotely interested it…first it was Liz…then Tess…” He stops, looking over at Liz as if just realizing she’s there.

Liz has a look of pure anger on her face and she looks from Kyle, over to Max, then back to Kyle. “Does anyone wanna tell me what’s going on here?”

Kyle sits back down and says, “I’m sorry…I…I’m just a little freaked right now.”

“Kyle thinks Serena’s pregnant…and apparently she has powers now.” Max offers when Kyle doesn’t make a move to explain anything.

“And he thinks you slept with her because…” Liz asks.

“Because he thinks the only explanation for her powers is that she’s pregnant with either mine or Michael’s baby.” Max explains. “Conveniently forgetting that he has powers, too.”

Liz walks closer to them and asks, “Is Serena at home now?” When Kyle nods, she says, “Alright, I’m gonna go talk to her.” She looks at Kyle and says, “I think you owe Max an apology, don’t you? How could you think he’d sleep with her?”

“I don’t know…I…I just thought…” He looks up at Max. “I’m sorry, man…I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Liz turns for the door, but not before they hear her mutter, “Men.” under her breath and walk outside.

“Thanks a lot, Kyle.” Max says angrily as he turns to a stack of books to sort.

Liz hurries down the street and when she enters the courtyard, she sees Michael sitting on the side of the fountain talking to Maria. “Hey guys.” She says quickly before rushing up the stairs and into the apartment.

“Serena?” She calls out. “Are you here?”

“Back here, Liz.” Serena calls from her bedroom.

When Liz walks in, she sees Serena lying in bed, her eyes are red from crying. “What’s wrong, sweetie?”

“I don’t know.” Serena says defeatedly. “I don’t feel good.”

Liz strokes her hair back off her forehead and asks, “Are you pregnant?”

Serena’s face crumples as tears fall from her eyes. “I…I think so.”

Liz leans down and hugs her, laying her head on Serena’s shoulder. “It’ll be ok. Shhhh…don’t cry.”

“Kyle doesn’t know…I mean, I think he might…but I haven’t told him.”

“He’s worried about you.” Liz raises her head and wipes the tears from Serena’s cheeks.

“I know…I just didn’t know how to tell him.”

“You need to talk to him…he’s down at the bookstore…ready to kill Max.” Liz smiles.

“What?! Why?” Serena says with alarm.

“He saw you using powers…that combined with his suspicions of you being pregnant…he assumed the baby was Max’s.”

“Oh my God! That jerk! He thinks I’d sleep with Max?!” Serena sits up and angrily wipes her face.

“Don’t be too hard on him…he’s a wreck.”

Serena sighs and says, “I should have told him…poor Max.”

“Yah, well, Max will be fine. You just worry about talking to Kyle. You want me to go get him?” Liz grabs Serena’s hand.

Nodding her head, Serena scoots to the side of the bed. “Yah, just give me a minute to fix myself. I must look awful.”

Liz smiles at her and says, “You look beautiful. Congratulations.” She leans over to pull Serena into a hug. “A baby! I’m so happy for you.”

Serena pulls away. “Really? It’s not exactly great timing.”

Liz shakes her head and says, “There’s not better time than the present…remember that.” She stands up and says, “I’ll send Kyle up.”

“Liz…” Serena stops Liz at the door. “Thank you.”

Smiling, Liz turns and heads back down to the bookstore. When she walks through the door, both Max and Kyle turn to look at her expectantly.

“Well?” Kyle asks her.

“Go talk to her, Kyle…she’s waiting for you.” Liz tells him cryptically.

“Is she pregnant?” Kyle asks.

“Just go talk to her.” Liz tells him, shooing him out the door.

When she turns back around, she sees Max sorting through some books on the counter. He looks angry and she walks slowly toward him. “Max.” She sees him look up at her briefly before turning his attention back to the books. “She’s pregnant.”

He looks up at her again and she sees a mixture of anger, regret and frustration in his eyes. “So, I guess this is how it’s gonna be. Every time someone gets pregnant now, I’m gonna be blamed. Am I gonna have to pay for that mistake for the rest of my life?”

“Max, no. Kyle was just upset…and confused. I know he didn’t mean it.” Liz walks closer to him.

Max sags his shoulders in defeat and looks down at the counter before sitting on the stool behind it. He leans his elbows on the counter and buries his face in his hands. How did this day turn out to be so bad? He jerks when he feels Liz put her hand on his shoulder and he raises his head to look at her. All he can see on her face is compassion and she steps in between his legs and wraps her arms around him in a hug. “He didn’t mean it, Max. You don’t have to pay for anything.” She says soothingly to him and he buries his head in her neck, wrapping his arms around her tight.

He feels her stroke his hair with one hand and move up and down his back with the other and he can’t think of anything besides the feel of her touch. Breathing in the scent of her, he sighs and says, “God Liz, you feel so good.”

He clamps his mouth shut and silently curses himself for saying that out loud as he feels her stiffen and pull away slightly. Looking at the floor, preparing to apologize, he’s shocked when she brings a hand up to his face and brings it up to meet her gaze. She strokes his cheek with her thumb and smiles at him before taking a step back and saying, “I should go…I um…I have some errands to run.”

He can’t do anything but nod as he watches her turn and walk out of the store and he drops his head to the counter, banging it repeatedly and muttering, “You idiot.”

~TBC~
posted on 16-Jun-2002 2:16:12 PM by Angel
Part 24~

Kyle walks into the apartment to a very angry looking Serena sitting in the kitchen. He stops just inside the door as her head comes up, his eyes open wide in fear and concern.

“How could you, Kyle?” Serena asks him. “How could you think I’d sleep with Max?”

Kyle takes a startled step back against the door and stutters, “I…uh…I…”

Serena stands up from the table and puts her hands on her hips. “You what? You think that I would do something like that to you? You think Max would do something like that?”

Kyle looks down at the floor, knowing she has every right to be mad at him, knowing that it was an absurd accusation. He doesn’t know what to say to her to explain because he has no excuse. “I’m sorry.” He whispers, not knowing what else to say.

“Kyle…” She waits until he raises his head to look at her. “We’re having a baby. I’m gonna have your baby.”

He lets out a deep breath and looks down at her stomach and raises his eyes back to hers, a slow, hopeful smile appearing on his face. He swallows once, trying to quench the dryness that’s taken over his mouth before rushing forward and gripping her into a fierce hug. “I love you…so much.” He whispers into her hair.

A quiet sob escapes from Serena as she falls into him and she says, “Oh God…Kyle…I thought you’d be so…upset, or mad. That’s why I didn’t tell you…I should have told you as soon as I suspected. I’m so sorry for making you worry.”

“I don’t care…everything will be ok now. I’ll take care of you, both of you.” Kyle tells her, his face buried into the crook of her neck.

Maria walks out of the courtyard to patrol the street and finds Liz sitting on a bench about a block away, her head in her hands. She sits down, suddenly overcome with intense fear and asks, “Liz? What’s wrong? What are you doing here?”

Liz sits up and looks out over the street in front of them. “Serena’s pregnant.”

The breath leaves Maria’s body in a big whoosh and she slumps down. “Oh God…I thought you were gonna say that they found us.”

Liz looks over at Maria’s relieved face and says, “I’m sorry.” She grabs Maria’s shaking hands and smiles at her. “I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Shaking herself, Maria says, “It’s ok…when I saw you here, I thought the worst.” After a few moments, she asks, “So, Serena’s pregnant?”

Liz nods and says, “I’m scared. I’m scared for them…for us. I have no idea how we’re gonna deal with this.”

“Well, I guess this is proof.” Maria looks up the street at the oncoming traffic.

Liz looks at her questioningly. “Proof?”

Maria looks over at Liz and smiles. “That life goes on…regardless of our crises. Regardless of how much we wanna put it on hold.”

Liz grimaces and says, “Oh God, Maria. I’m just…what are we gonna do? There are so many things to think about, so many things to consider. I wasn’t expecting this at all.”

“It’ll be alright. Really, Liz…we’re all here to make sure that it’ll be alright.” Maria tries to reassure her friend, knowing that she’s shouldering the responsibility of their safety even more now that there’ll be a baby.

Gathering her wits, Liz sits up straight and smiles at Maria. “You’re right. Everything will be fine.” She nods her head, not entirely convincing herself, but making an effort to show Maria that she believes what she says.

Later that night, when Max gets off work, he walks into the courtyard and internally groans when he sees Kyle sitting outside. He knew Kyle had duty tonight, but hoped that due to recent events someone else would have taken over for him. He walks slowly toward the fountain and avoids looking at Kyle as he makes his way to the stairs, but Kyle stops him.

“Max.” He says as he stands up.

Max stops but doesn’t turn around. He waits for whatever else Kyle wants to say to him, or accuse him of.

“Max…could you…look, I’m really sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking…I…I don’t have any good excuse.” Kyle offers haltingly.

Max turns to look at Kyle. “Don’t worry about it. You were right…not about me sleeping with Serena…but about the rest.”

“No…really…I had no right to say that stuff to you.”

Max raises his eyebrow and asks, “Really? You can honestly stand here and tell me that every word you said earlier isn’t something that you really think?”

Kyle sighs and runs a hand through his hair before saying, “Ok, maybe I have…you know, had some kind of resentment toward you.” He throws his hands out and says, “God, it used to be so much easier to hate you…then you had to go and save my life and my dad’s. Then I had this stupid loyalty toward you that screwed it all up.”

“Well, don’t. You and your dad wouldn’t have been put in danger if it weren’t for me anyway. You don’t owe me any kind of loyalty because of that. Besides, you would have done the same.” Max tells him.

“But see, that’s where I get conflicted. Would I have? I know you’ve never trusted me…let alone liked me…but you saved me anyway. I don’t know that I would have done the same thing in your place.” As Kyle talks, Max can see that this is something that’s eaten at Kyle for a while.

Max studies him for a minute, thinking about their differences…thinking about how he’s always been jealous of Kyle. And he remembers healing Kyle…the flashes of images and feelings from him that he pushed away at the time because of the danger they were in. “You would have.” Max tells him. “I saw you…the real you. And in that moment, I knew we could trust you.”

Kyle’s mouth drops open at this revelation and all he can do is look at Max for a few moments before shaking his head and saying, “Well, anyway…I wanted to apologize. You didn’t take Liz from me. She’s wasn’t mine to take. And Tess…well, I guess you had that whole alien thing going on and it’s not like we were together. Like I said, I didn’t really know what I was saying.”

Max nods and asks, “So, the next time someone announces they’re pregnant, you won’t be accusing me of sleeping with them?”

Kyle smiles and says, “Nope…I swear. No more accusations. Unless it happens to be Liz.”

Max rolls his eyes and walks to the stairs…listening to Kyle’s laughter on his way up. “Go guard something, Kyle.” He calls back over his shoulder.

Upstairs on the balcony, Serena sits back in her chair in the dark and smiles. She overheard everything Kyle said to Max and she’s proud of him for admitting how he feels about Max…his confusion about it. She’s known that Kyle has always had personal issues with Max that she never really understood…something that goes beyond Liz. And from what it sounded like down there, they just took a first step toward mending whatever barbed wire fences stand between them.

When Max walks into the apartment, it’s dark and silent and he assumes everyone must be either at work or over in the other apartment. He grabs a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and walks back to his bedroom. Taking off his jacket and throwing it in the corner, he walks back across the hall and pushes the bathroom door open with his hip as he takes off his shirt.

“Max!” His head whips up and he drops his shirt and bottle of water on the floor, startled to see Liz sitting in the bathtub, her knees up to her chest.

“Shit…I’m sorry!” He exclaims as he turns around. “It…it was dark…I…I thought no one was here.”

“It’s ok…Maria was just going to get…” Liz says, but is cut off by Maria storming down the hallway.

“I got your candles, Liz. Oh! Max!” Maria stops in the doorway and sees a half-naked and embarrassed Max with his back to Liz. “Did I interrupt something?” She grins at both of them.

Liz rolls her eyes and says, “Maria…just bring me the candles.”

Maria squeezes past Max and says, “Max…I think you dropped something.”

Max turns around and sees a grinning Maria pointing to the floor. He grabs his shirt and water and says, “Oh, yah…sorry.” completely flustered as he glances at Liz before jerking his head away and practically runs from the bathroom.

“I think you scared him.” Maria says before she sees Liz roll her eyes at her. “Ok…I’m leaving now.” She turns to walk out the door but stops and turns her head toward Liz. “I bet Max would scrub your…um…back for you.” She laughs and runs from the bathroom as a wash cloth flies at her.

On her way out, Maria stops in Max’s doorway. “Hey Max.”

He glances at her as he pulls a t-shirt on. “Maria.”

She steps into his room and sits on the bed. “So…you hear the news?”

Leaning against the dresser, he says, “About Serena? Yah.”

“So what do you think?” She asks him.

He shrugs his shoulders and says, “It’ll be complicated…but we’ll work it out.”

She looks up at him and says, “Liz is worried…really worried. She kinda freaked out earlier when she told me.”

“Really?” He asks, surprised. “She seemed fine with it when I saw her earlier.” But when he thinks about it, he thinks that she was probably more worried about him and what Kyle said to him at the time. It didn’t really hit him until she left what Serena being pregnant would mean for the rest of them and he worried about it for the rest of the day.

Maria nods, as if expecting to hear that Liz took it well. She stands up and says, “We’re all hanging out across the way if you wanna come over.”

“Ok, thanks.” Max watches Maria head to the door. “Maria?” She turns and he says, “It’ll be ok.” He assures her, thinking that she came in to talk to him because she’s worried about the baby.

“Oh, I know. I just thought that Liz might need to hear that, too.” She winks at him and leaves his room.

Max sits down on his bed and stares out the window. He did it again. He was so busy thinking about himself and what Kyle had said to him that he didn’t think that Liz might be worried about the situation. Of course she’d be worried about their safety…worried about Serena. He waits in his room until he hears Liz let the water out of the tub and walk back to her bedroom. After a few minutes he gets up and goes to her door, knocking softly.

“Come in.” Liz says from inside.

He opens the door and peeks his head in. “Are you decent?”

She laughs and says, “Yah…it’s safe.”

He walks in bashfully and says, “Hey…I thought maybe we should talk about the…uh…recent development.” He becomes mesmerized watching her rub lotion on her legs.

Liz glances up and follows the line of Max’s gaze. She quickly pulls the legs of her pajamas back down and stands up, setting her bottle of lotion on the dresser. “So…uh…yah, I’ve been thinking.” She looks to see that she has his attention. “We can do this, Max. She’ll just have to have the baby somewhere private…maybe we could find a house in the country, Amilly or Avon. I can deliver the baby…I’ll just…just…read everything I can and…”

Max steps forward and puts his hand on her arm. “Liz…” When she stops talking and looks up into his eyes, he says, “It’ll all be fine. We’ll be ok…we have some time.”

Liz sees that he’s completely calm about the situation and she feels her tension begin to melt away. He’s right. They can both heal and… ”But we only have a month, maybe less.” She thinks suddenly.

“Maybe…maybe not. They’re both human, it might be a normal nine month pregnancy. We should try to get a look at it. Do you think Serena will let you try to connect with her?” He says as he soothingly rubs his hand up and down her arm.

Liz nods her head as she looks at the far wall. “Both human…you’re right. I didn’t think about that.” She looks up into his face and says, “Yah, I’m sure she’ll let me. I’ll ask her tomorrow…after I get some books.”

“I’ll get them for you from the store in the morning.” Max tells her.

She smiles and says, “Thank you, Max. I’m just a little…worried.”

“I am too.” He smiles and takes a step back. She’s too close…he can smell her all around him and if he doesn’t leave this room right now, he’s going to do something he shouldn’t.

Liz sees the look in his eyes change…almost like they become glassier and darker. She sees him swallow and feels herself flush with the way he’s looking at her. She can’t help but catch a few stray thoughts from him, they’re so strong, and she takes a deep breath from her slightly open mouth.

Her flushed neck and face kick Max into action. “I…uh…I’m going over to the other place. Maria said that um…everyone’s over there.” He takes a couple of steps back along with a deep breath.

Before she knows it, Max is out the door and she can hear his footsteps heading toward the front door. Liz realizes in that moment that if her and Max’s relationship ever evolves past friendship, she’s going to have to make the first move. Sitting down on the edge of the bed trying to get her hormones in check, Liz can still feel her connection with Max swirling around her like a storm.

She stands up and shakes her arms. What is she thinking? Get a grip, Parker…there are about a hundred more important things to think about other than how to put the moves on Max. She’s distracted and distracted is dangerous. How could she think about starting a physical relationship with Max? Especially now that they have a baby on the way. She needs to be on alert, has to make sure they’re all safe. And Max…Max will definitely consume her, distract her, and she’ll become a puddle of useless goop anytime he’s around.

Throwing on a sweater, Liz straightens…both her head and her resolve. She shouldn’t be thinking about Max right now. She takes a deep breath and walks out into the living room. As she glances out onto the balcony, she thinks to herself. “There are more important things right now than how much I wanna jump Max.” She steps out quietly and says, “Hey Serena.”

Serena looks up and smiles. “Hey.”

“So, I was talking to Max and he had a really good idea.” Liz says.

Serena raises her eyebrows and teases, “Then what are you doing out here talking to me…and dressed?”

Liz smiles, but Serena sees that it doesn’t reach her eyes. “No, he thought I should try to connect with you…and the baby. I can make sure everything is ok, and maybe see how long the pregnancy will be.”

Serena nods and says, “Yah, that’s a good idea. Mine sounds like more fun, though.” and she grins.

“Serena…” Liz sighs. “…please. Nothing’s going to happen between Max and me. We’re friends…and right now, that’s good. And that’s all it’s gonna be.”

Serena sees that she’s pushed Liz too far and says, “I’m sorry, Liz. You know I’m just teasing you.”

“Yah, I know.” Liz stands up and fidgets. “I think I’m gonna go for a run. Go get some sleep, Serena.”

Serena nods and says, “See you tomorrow.” and watches Liz practically run to her bedroom. There goes one seriously sexually frustrated girl.

Liz quickly changes her clothes and grabs a walkie talkie before running out the door. She stops in the courtyard to tell Kyle where she’s going and he watches her take off.

“Where’s she going?” Kyle hears from above and he raises his head to see Isabel and Jesse on the balcony.

“Running.” He tells Isabel.

“Does she usually go so late at night?” Isabel asks, concerned.

“Not usually…sometimes.” Kyle answers her.

Isabel gets up and walks inside where Maria, Michael and Max are playing cards. She looks at Maria and says, “Liz just left to go running.”

Max drops his cards and looks over at Isabel. “What? It’s 10:30 at night.” He looks at Maria and Michael and says, “She shouldn’t be out running by herself this late.”

Maria shrugs her shoulders and says, “She does it sometimes…I’ve tried to talk her out of it, but you know you can’t talk Liz out of doing something she wants. She can take care of herself…and I’m sure she brought a radio.”

“Well I don’t like it.” Isabel puts her hands on her hips as Jesse walks inside, too. She walks over to the table and picks up a radio.

“Liz…Liz, are you there?” She depresses the talk button and pulls it back, turning up the volume so she can hear Liz respond.

It takes a few seconds, but they all finally hear Liz say, “Isabel? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing…besides you running in the middle of the night in Paris by yourself.”

“Isabel, I’m fine.” Liz responds. “Was there something else you needed?” They can hear Liz’s voice shake as her feet pound the pavement.

“Well, I think you should run with someone else at night. Where are you…I’ll catch up.” Isabel says.

“You can’t be serious.” They hear Liz exclaim into the other end. When Isabel doesn’t say anything back, they hear Liz bark, “Fine. I’ll circle back…I’ll be in front of the bookstore in five minutes. You better be able to keep up, because I’m not waiting.”

Isabel puts the radio back on the table and turns to Max. “Well, you better get moving…you only have five minutes to get there.”

“What?” Max’s eyes widen. “You said you were going.”

“Yah, but I just took a shower…come on…you’re already dressed for it.” Isabel pouts at him.

Rolling his eyes and walking to the door, he turns around and catches Isabel and Maria grinning at each other. He turns back toward the door, shaking his head, and walks down the stairs into the courtyard. He sits on the side of the fountain to tighten his shoelaces and glances up at Kyle.

“I’m going running, I guess.” Max tells him.

“With Liz? You better run fast if you wanna catch up to her.” Kyle smirks at him.

“She’s coming back…Isabel didn’t want her running alone.” Max stands up and walks out toward the street, leaving Kyle in the courtyard.

As Max stands in front of the bookstore waiting, he has a slim hope that Liz isn’t wearing what she usually wears to run. But when he sees her round the corner, that little hope is dashed. She has on one of her little tops with spandex pants. He groans inwardly as she approaches him.

As she gets closer, her eyes go wide and she says, “Max…what are you doing here? I thought Isabel was running with me?”

“She just showered…so she sent me.” He tells her.

Great, she thinks. How was she supposed to get Max out of her mind if he was running with her? She passes him, not slowing and calls back over her shoulder, “Well come on.”

He runs after her and falls into step beside her…their feet hitting the sidewalk in a joint rhythm. After a half hour, they feel rain drops start to fall and Max pants, “Maybe we should head back.”

She looks over at him and grins. “A little rain won’t kill you.” And she keeps running.

Another fifteen minutes and the rain is pouring down. Liz thinks it feels good as the rain cools her sweating skin. She runs slightly ahead of Max and as he watches her run with the rain pouring over her body, he feels his body react to the sight and he stumbles.

Liz senses that Max isn’t next to her anymore and she slows as she turns. She sees him about twenty feet back, leaning over with his hands on his knees. Turning around, she runs back to him and says with concern, “Max? Are you ok?”

When he looks up at her, she gasps at the look on his face. It contains pure desire and as he stands up, she looks down and can see why. She looks back up at him and can’t tell if she’s breathing hard because she’s been running or because of how she’s feeling right now seeing him like this.

They both stand in the rain, panting and looking at each other like two predators about to pounce. Liz blinks back the rain from her eyes and within moments feels Max grab her and crash his lips on hers. They devour each other like they’ve been starving for months as Max tangles one hand in her hair and presses the other against her lower back, pulling her to him. Liz lets out a whimper as she brings her hands around to grip at his back like a lifeline.

Moaning into each other’s mouths, they stumble to the side of the sidewalk and fall against the wall as Max grabs her, lifting her as she wraps her legs around his waist and he presses her back into the wall. Max is oblivious to anything around them except Liz’s heat surrounding him…the heat of her hands on his back as she yanks his wet shirt up…the heat of her breath in his ear as she bites his earlobe and moans in his ear as she grinds the heat between her legs into him.

Liz is completely lost in the feel of Max. She can feel the stone of the wall on her back as Max holds her to him with one hand on her ass. His other hand is on her breast, kneading it through the wet material as his mouth moves to her neck. She throws her head back into the wall when she feels him biting at her neck hungrily and she moans loudly.

She’s helpless to stop his thoughts from crashing into her head and as they rub frantically together, all she can hear in her mind is, ‘Liz, Liz, Liz…Oh God…Liz, Liz, Liz…’ She feels the vibration of his moaning against her neck and she grinds against him more incessantly.

Distantly, they hear voices coming from down the street…urgent voices speaking rapidly in French scrambling to get out of the rain.

Breaking away, the reality of where they’re at crashes down on Max. He lightens his grip on Liz and looks at her flushed face…her swollen lips…and says, “Liz…” as he shakes his head and lets her slide down to the ground, eliciting a groan from both of them.

She brings her hands to his chest and rests her forehead between them as she tries to calm the desire coursing through her. What is she doing? She came out here to run…to get Max out of her mind…and look at her. She’s in the middle of the street practically ready to rip his clothes off and jump him right there on the sidewalk. And not an hour ago she was telling herself she couldn’t start a physical relationship with Max.

Stepping back from him slowly, she hears a crackling sound coming from her waist. It takes her a moment to register that it’s coming from the radio and she picks it up, turning the volume up.

“Liz?” She hears crackle from the other end.

“Yah…I’m here.” She looks up at Max, suddenly overwhelmingly embarrassed at her behavior as his hands drop from her waist.

“We were just worried…it’s raining pretty hard. Maybe you should come back now.” She hears Maria say.

She nods and says, “Yah…we’re heading back now.” and clips the radio back on her waistband.

Max watches her wipe the rain off her face and glance up at him before looking down at the sidewalk and closing her eyes briefly. He has no idea what she’s thinking, but he hopes that she’s not getting ready to apologize. He doesn’t think he can take it if she regrets what happened.

Finally, she looks up at him and says, “Max…I…we um…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”

He doesn’t let her finish. He shakes his head and holds his hand up. “Don’t, Liz. I don’t wanna hear your apologies.”

She sees the anger come to his face as he turns and starts walking back to their apartment. Why is he mad? She’s pretty sure he wanted her as much she wanted him. Her eyes widen suddenly when she realizes he thought she was apologizing for what happened between them and she takes off down the street to catch up with him.

“Max!” She yells behind him as she catches up to him and grabs his arm. “Max…I…I didn’t mean…”

”I know, Liz. I get it.” Max pulls his arm away from her.

“No, you don’t get it. I wasn’t apologizing. Well, I was apologizing…but not for what happened…just for getting too out of control.” She steps closer to him and brings her hand up to his chest. “If you wouldn’t have stopped us, I’m pretty sure I was minutes away from ripping your clothes off and taking you right there on the sidewalk.”

Liz looks up into his face just as his lips come down on hers. She hears him groan, “Oh God, Liz.” into her mouth as she grabs fists full of the shirt on his chest.

Max feels her pressing against him again and he grabs her hips to still their movement. Breaking away from her mouth, he says, “Liz, if you don’t stop that…God, I need you…so much.” He rests his forehead against hers and takes several deep breaths before pulling away.

The rain still pouring down around them, Liz raises her hand and traces Max’s lips with her fingers. He closes his eyes and peeks his tongue out to lick the tips of her fingers before grabbing her hand and pulling her index finger into his mouth. She stumbles forward at the sensation and moans as she watches him. Feeling his tongue gently sucking on her finger, her knees buckle and he opens his eyes to see her head thrown back and her lips slightly parted. She looks up at him and their eyes lock together as Max releases her finger. “I need you too, Max…now.”

Liz grabs his hand and pulls him down the street. “Come on…let’s go.” He smiles at forcefulness and struggles to keep up with her pace with the state of his arousal.

They walk back to the apartment in silence, and see Kyle waiting for them where the pathway to the courtyard meets the street.

“Geez…are you guys crazy? Running in the rain?” Kyle shouts at them as they get closer.

Liz smiles at Kyle and says, “Since when is a little rain gonna hurt? I don’t think we’ll melt.”

He rolls his eyes and follows Max and Liz into the courtyard. He watches them increase their pace and practically run up the stairs. Where are they going in such a hurry? Shrugging, he pulls his hood over his head and sits back under the natural umbrella of a tree…trying to avoid getting wetter than he already is.

~TBC~
posted on 17-Jun-2002 6:16:16 PM by Angel
Hey guys...sorry for the delay. I usually try to get out a new part once a day (except for weekends), but this next part is causing trouble and I can't get it exactly how I want it. Grrr. Argh.

Anyway, thanks mitra and juliana for all the bumps! They give me the warm fuzzies. *happy*

juliana, I just noticed that you nominated me and this story in the nomination forum! Thank you! And as for what's more romantic than kissing in the rain? Why, kissing in the rain in Paris of course. *wink*

Eccentric One, Ah, but someone did win the bet...you'll have to wait and see who it was.

ConsultantTam, Unfortunately, no NC-17 nookie in this fic...it comes close...but not with too many details. I'm keeping this one R. And of course, bad stuff will catch up with them...I gotta have my angst. *wink*

Breathless, I didn't want to rush things between Liz and Max...but then I started thinking I was making them stand in mud. lol

abarfeld, hmmm...no, yes, maybe? Is that answer good enough? *wink*

Hopefully I can get this part finished this evening and post it.

Thanks for your wonderful feedback also, kittens, Grathki, mpls muse, Cinder, and Tea!
posted on 17-Jun-2002 9:19:46 PM by Angel
Part 25~

When Maria hears Max and Liz’s voices drift up from the courtyard, she walks to the door and looks out the peephole and she gasps. “Oh my God.” As Liz tries to unlock the door across the hall, Max stands behind her, his hands on her hips as he bends his head down to kiss her neck. She leans back into him as her head falls back. When she sees Liz’s hand reach back behind her and Max grinding himself forward into her, Maria stumbles back from the door with her hand over her mouth.

Everyone looks at her in confusion as she turns to look at them with huge eyes. “Max and Liz are mauling each other in the hallway.” She whispers loudly before racing over to the drawer next to the refrigerator and fishing out the paper in the back.

She walks back into the living room as she reads over the paper. “Well, Jesse guessed two months. The next closest was Isabel with one month, but since it’s been six weeks, I’d say Jesse is the winner.”

Jesse smiles widely and says, “Ha! I won!” He looks triumphantly at everyone. “And you guys say you know them…for shame.”

Michael slumps down in the couch and says, “Damn. They couldn’t wait two more weeks? Then no one would have won.”

The next morning, Liz wakes up to see Max’s eyes on her. He’s leaning on his elbow looking down at her and he says, “Good morning.” with a smile.

She stretches lazily and smiles back at him. “Good morning. What time is it?”

He looks over at his watch on the table next to the bed and says, “8 o’clock.”

Her eyes open wide and she says, “Oh my God…I slept for so long.”

“You must have been tired.” He says as he pushes her hair back off her forehead.

“Mmmm.” She closes her eyes to the feel of his hand on her face. “Must have been.”

He leans over and places a kiss on her forehead before moving down to her nose, then her mouth. He kisses her long and slow before moving down to her neck.

“Max…” She moans. “We should get up.”

“Mmmm…I am up.” He says as he moves down to her chest.

She laughs and says, “No…I mean, up out of bed.” as she makes an effort to sit up.

He shakes his head back and forth and she can feel the stubble on his face scratching her skin. “Nope. I’m sorry Miss Parker, but after six weeks of being tortured by you, I’m not letting you go anywhere.”

She manages to look astonished. “Me? Torturing you? Who’s the one running around here all the time without a shirt? Who’s the one who sits and watches me work all night? Who’s the one who can’t keep from looking at me like you’re about to devour me?”

Max lifts his head in the middle of her tirade and smiles when she finishes. “Are you saying that you’ve been lusting after me for all these weeks?” He grins further and says in a teasing tone, “I have to agree…I am hard to resist.”

Liz opens her mouth and swats his shoulder in protest before saying, “Ok, ok…I admit it.” And she rolls her eyes at him. “But I didn’t do anything to taunt you…I kept a respectful distance from you.” She raises her nose in the air in mock indignation.

He nods his head and smiles sarcastically. “Uh huh. You’ve just about killed me walking around her with your little jogging outfits, all sweaty. Combine that with a little touch here, a little smile there…” He stops his teasing, sighs, and looks at her seriously. “Actually, you don’t have to do much more than just walk in the room to make me want you. And a lot of the time, you don’t even have to do that.”

Her smile immediately fades as his head disappears beneath the covers and she sinks back into the bed, completely lost in what he’s doing with his mouth and fingers.

She can hear the sound of rain falling on the window above her head and she opens her eyes a few hours later to see the gray sky beyond the panes of glass. Smiling, she turns to see that she’s alone in bed and she glances over to see that it’s past noon already.

Groaning, Liz rolls onto her back and stretches her well used muscles. She can’t remember the last time she felt so…good. Grabbing the pillow next to her and inhaling deeply, she can smell Max all around her. Her skin tingles as she thinks about how they made love all night and then several times this morning and she sinks down further into the covers, still grasping his pillow to her.

How weak she is…just yesterday she was convincing herself to stay away from him, that he would just be a distraction. Now look at her…rolling around in the scent of their love making. But oh, how sweet it was to surrender…it’s been almost four years since the last time she and Max made love. The first and last time she and Max made love. She’s broken out of her musings by the sound of her bedroom door opening and she peeks her head out from under the covers to see Max standing there.

He’s struggling with two cups and a plate filled with fruit and bread as he walks over to the bed smiling. “You’re up.” He says as he sets the cups down and sits next to her.

As she sits up, he leans over and kisses her gently before he hears her stomach rumble with hunger. He smiles as she says, “I’m starving.”

He holds the plate up to her and says, “Then it’s good that I brought food.” He brings a piece of melon up to her lips and she grabs it with her teeth hungrily.

As she chews the melon, she looks over at Max, wearing nothing but boxers, and says, “One of us is way overdressed.” as she licks her lips and looks at him suggestively.

Max grins and slowly pulls the covers down, exposing Liz to the waist, before setting the plate on her chest. He quickly sheds his boxers and leans across her stomach, picking up a strawberry from the plate in front of him and feeding it to her. “Better?” He asks.

She nods and happily chews the strawberry as Max watches, transfixed. He smiles at how her hair is sticking up all over the place and thinks that he’s never seen her look more stunning. “I love you.” He says suddenly.

She stops chewing and just looks at him as she licks strawberry juice from her lips. For a moment he’s worried that he spoke too soon, but she swallows the strawberry and leans forward, bringing her hand to his cheek. She smiles and says, “I love you, too.”

He sighs internally with relief and grabs her hand, kissing her palm and spending the next hour feeding her the rest of the plate of fruit as they laugh and talk and kiss. Eventually, Max sits up and asks, “So…what am I thinking?”

Liz brings a finger to her lip and looks up as if in thought. “Hmmm…Oh!” Her eyes go wide in shock and she looks at Max slyly. “But Max…we’d need handcuffs for that!”

Max laughs and swats her butt. “I wasn’t thinking that.” He grins at her and rolls on top of her. “But now that you bring it up…” He starts nuzzling her neck and she starts laughing.

She raises his head and says, “You were thinking about taking a shower.”

He thinks for a moment and says, “Oh…right. A shower.” He lowers his hand and runs it down her body and as her laughter stops and she moans, he says, “You’re very dirty.”

“Mmmm…oh, really? Then maybe you should wash me.” She says before tracing his ear with her tongue.

He bolts up and gathers her in his arms before draping the sheet around them and rushing out of the bedroom as she giggles. They stop in the hall suddenly when they run into Maria. And their laughter dies when Maria lifts her eyebrows at the sight in front of her. “Oh my…well, good afternoon you two. Sleep well?” She asks them with a grin on her face.

She doesn’t get an answer…instead, she’s left in the hallway as they rush into the bathroom leaving giggles in their wake. Once the door to the bathroom is shut, she shakes her head with a smile and walks back into the living room.

“The sex maniacs are awake.” She announces as she walks out onto the balcony. Kyle, Serena, Isabel and Jesse are all sitting around the small table talking and they look up at her statement.

“It’s about time…I don’t think I’ve seen Liz sleep so long in, well, forever.” Kyle says.

Serena laughs and says, “I doubt they were sleeping very much.” as she waggles her eyebrows up and down.

Isabel doesn’t want to hear any more about the whys, whats and whens of Max and Liz having sex. She had enough of their speculations last night. Groaning, she stands up and says, “Well, we have to go to work.” She looks at Jesse as he raises a reluctant hand to Isabel.

“Ugh. Retail is definitely not my forte.” He stands up and as they walk into the living room, he calls out, “We should be back by 10.”

“So, is Liz gonna try to connect with the baby today?” Maria sits in the chair Isabel just vacated and looks over at Serena.

“If she ever comes out of that bedroom.” Serena smiles. “I am a little anxious to find out what she sees.” She’s worried about how this pregnancy will affect her and what her having powers means. Does this mean the baby has powers? How are they going to deal with that?

Kyle lays a hand over her stomach and says, “I wonder if it’s a boy or a girl.”

“I don’t care…I just hope it’s ok.” Serena lays her hand over his and looks over to see Kyle giving her a reassuring smile.

Smiling at her friends’ happiness and wonder, Maria gets up and says, “Well, I’m gonna go check out the neighborhood…see if everything’s ok before I have to go to work. See you guys later.” She’s really happy for them but hopes that everything works out ok. A baby will definitely complicate things, and it’ll be harder for Serena to blend into the crowd if she’s pregnant. People always notice pregnant women, don’t they?

An hour later, Max and Liz finally emerge into the living room to find the apartment empty. Liz raises her eyebrows and says, “Wow…I thought for sure someone would be here.”

“Does this mean we can go back to bed?” Max asks her jokingly as he wraps his arms around her from behind.

She smirks at him over her shoulder before wiggling out of his arms and grabbing a bottle of water from the refrigerator. “Sorry…no. I need books now. Nookie later.”

He gives her his best pouting look and says, “You promise?”

She walks up to him and runs her hand down his chest and stomach. “If you’re a good boy…I’ll think about it.” She reaches up and pecks him on the lips before turning to the door.

Taking a deep breath, Max falls in behind her. She has no idea what she does to him and right now, the last thing he wants to b