posted on 28-May-2002 10:08:06 AM by shelbecat
Title: Coming 'Round Again
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. I have simply borrowed them for the duration.
Summary: Maria is attacked. She reacts severely and the results of the attack are unexpected. It's CC but mainly M/M since I'm a total candy. It takes place after Departure (but it's not specifically about that).
Author's Notes: This fanfic was months in development. It changed courses several times and is mercifully finally finished – at least for now!


Part 1

Maria slowly felt herself returning to consciousness. Her head felt tight, like a band was squeezed around her forehead. She tried to force her eyes open, cringing as the bright sunlight entered her right eye and a sharp pain ripped through her left. Her one open eye focused on the sand in front of her face and she wondered for a split second why there was sand in her bed. The cobwebs quickly cleared from her head and she shuddered from the cool morning air as another wave of pain washed over her. The events of last night came rushing back to her and she closed her eyes again. She had to get up, get out of here.

Maria rolled over and pushed against the ground with both hands to try to reach a sitting position. A sharp pain started in her left shoulder and traveled all the way down her arm. She pulled her arm away from the ground and collapsed back on her right elbow.

“God,” Maria sobbed. “I have got to get out of here!”

She glanced around and saw her purse lying just out of reach on her right side. She lay back down on the sand and reached out to grab it. Fumbling inside she found her phone and turned it on. Without thinking she dialed Michael’s number.

Ring.

Ring.

Ring.

There was no answer. Michael… where are you?

Maria pressed END and dialed Liz. She should have called her first anyway. She needed someone with a car.

Ring.

Ring.

Ring.

Maria let out a sob and pressed the phone to her forehead. Where is everyone?

She thought for a moment before dialing the next number. She knew she could call her Mom but a freaked out mother was the last thing she needed right now. She grimaced against another wave of pain and dialed the only other number she could think of.

The Evans.

“Please let it be Max, please let it be Max.” Maria repeated the phrase as the phone rang.

“Hello?”

Shit…

“Hi Isabel, it’s Maria.”

“Oh, hi.”

“Um listen, I was wondering if Max was home?”

“No actually, he’s out with Dad.”

“Oh, um do you happen to know where Michael is?”

“Well, it’s 9:00 in the morning so I would imagine he’s sleeping. Like I was.”

“Oh, I didn’t realize what time it was. You’re probably right.”

Pause.

“Well anyway, I guess I’d better be going.” Isabel was not impressed with the wake up call.

“No Isabel, wait. Um, do you think you could do me a favor?”

“Now?”

“Yeah…”

“What is it?”

“I need a ride.”

“What? Where?

“Uh, home I guess.”

“Home? Where are you?”

“I think I’m in the desert.”

“You think you’re where?’

Maria bit down on her lip to stop the tears that were welling up. “In the desert. Near the caves.”

“What are you doing out there?”

Maria bit down even harder but it was too late. A sob escaped from her lips.

“Maria, are you okay?”

“Um, no.”

“What’s going on?”

Maria let the tears flow freely now. “Do you think you could just come and get me?” she sobbed.

Isabel felt her skin grow cold. Something was seriously wrong. No way Maria would call HER for no reason, especially not at 9:00 in the morning.

Isabel spoke hurriedly. “Look, I’ll be right there okay? You’re near the caves?”

Maria swallowed hard. She managed to gasp, “Yes”, into the phone.

“Hold on, I’ll be right there.”

[ edited 12time(s), last at 9-Jun-2002 4:07:01 PM ]
posted on 28-May-2002 10:09:06 AM by shelbecat
Part 2

When Isabel got to the caves she couldn’t see Maria anywhere.

“Where is she?” she muttered under her breath as she climbed out of the jeep.

As Isabel turned to look towards the caves a flash of red off to the left caught her eye. She turned to look in that direction and saw what looked to be a person lying on the ground.

“Maria!” Isabel shouted as she began to run towards the figure. She ran up and knelt down beside the half-unconscious girl. The first thing she noticed was the bruising on her face resulting in her left eye being swollen shut. As her eyes traveled over Maria’s body she made note of her torn, dirty shirt. Her fingernails were broken and covered with dried blood. Her skirt was hiked up around her hips. Isabel pressed her hand to her mouth to suppress a gasp as she saw the vicious bruising on her inner thighs. Rape. Oh my god, Maria had been raped.

“Maria,” Isabel gently shook her by her shoulder. “Maria, wake up.”

“Hmm,” Maria moaned as her right eye slowly opened. Her lips cracked with dried blood as she opened them to speak.

“Shhh, don’t speak. C’mon let’s get you home.” Isabel moved to put her arm around Maria’s back. “Can you sit up?”

“I… I think so.”

With Isabel’s help Maria made it into a sitting position and then stood up. With Maria leaning heavily on her, Isabel made it to the car and helped her get inside.

Isabel sped away from the caves towards her house.

~~~~~

She pulled up in front of her house and jumped out of the car. She ran over to where Max was waiting on the front steps.

“What’s going on? Why the cryptic phone call?”

“I don’t have time to explain. Are Mom and Dad home?”

“No, they left a few minutes ago.”

Isabel turned back towards the car. “Quick, help me get Maria inside.”

“Maria?”

Isabel turned back to glance at her brother. “She’s hurt. It’s bad.”

Max had figured something big must have happened. Isabel had called him from her cell phone and said to wait for her in front of their house. She said it was important but she hadn’t mentioned any specifics. He never thought someone was going to be hurt. And Maria? How did Isabel fit into Maria being hurt?

Max rounded the fender of the car and saw the now fully unconscious girl slumped in the passenger seat. As he took in her battered body he felt his stomach tighten.

“What…” he managed to mumble.

“I’m not sure. She called and asked to me to come get her but when I got there she was almost unconscious. She passed out somewhere between here and the caves.”

Max picked the limp girl up in his arms and hurried towards their house.

“The caves?” he questioned.

“I don’t know Max. She didn’t get a chance to tell me anything.”

Isabel opened the door and made way for Max to lay Maria on the couch. As Max stood back to take in the full damage to Maria’s body, Isabel stepped to his side and pointed towards Maria’s thighs.

“Look, I think she was raped.”

Max nodded slowly. “Let’s bring her back and see if she can tell us anything.”

Max knelt beside Maria and placed his hands over her face. A glow started beneath his hands and spread out to encompass her head. Slowly he moved his hands down her body, watching the cuts and bruises disappear beneath the glow.

When he finished he turned to Isabel. “Now we just have to wait for her to wake up.”

“We should call Michael. And Liz.”

“They’re going to need a ride. You call and tell them I’ll pick them up.”

“Okay, I’ll tell them you’re on your way. Hurry.”

Max grabbed his car keys from the table and ran out of the house. Isabel went into the kitchen to get the phone and then returned to the living room so she could keep an eye on Maria.

She called Liz first, then Michael. The first phone call was decidedly easier then the second.
posted on 28-May-2002 1:30:33 PM by shelbecat
I know what you mean about reading about rape but trust me - all is not as it seems! As for your questions:

Questions : are there aliens in this story ? are the couples CC ? and will stay CC ? the unexpected results, a baby ? will there be a happy ending, or will it turn out to be a angst fic ?

Yes, there are aliens - it's conventional
Yes, the couples are CC and will stay that way
The unexpected results... I can't say
And finally, yes, there will be a happy ending (and if you like that sort of thing, all my endings are happy - I just think life is better that way)

Thanks for the questions, I modified the Summary at the top to answer these questions for more people up front.

Hope that helps... and that you decide to keep reading!

S.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 28-May-2002 1:34:21 PM ]
posted on 29-May-2002 8:58:30 AM by shelbecat
Thanks for all the feedback - here are some new parts...

Part 3

Isabel was sitting next to Maria on the couch pressing a cold cloth to her head when she started to awaken.

“Mmm,” Maria moaned as she opened her eyes.

“Hi there. You’re awake.”

Maria’s eyes fluttered a few times before finally focusing on Isabel’s.

“Where am I?”

“At my house.”

Maria struggled to a sitting position. “God my head hurts.”

“Try to relax,” Isabel said as she pushed Maria back against the cushions. “Do you remember what happened?”

“What?” Maria looked puzzled. “I’m not sure how I got here, that’s for sure.”

“You called me this morning. From the desert.”

“The desert?” Maria still had a puzzled look on her face. Slowly the realization of the events of last night came back to her and her facial expression changed to one of shock.

“Oh my god, those men.” Maria’s voice dropped to a whisper. “They grabbed me. I… I couldn’t get away.” Maria moved forward, trying to get off the couch.

Isabel reached out and held Maria by the shoulders. “Shhh, it’s okay. Max fixed everything. You’re going to be alright.”

Tears sprang to Maria’s eyes and she continued to struggle against Isabel. Isabel moved to sit beside her on the couch and wrapped her arms around Maria’s shoulders. “Just relax. You’re going to be okay now.”

She rubbed her hand up and down Maria’s back as the smaller girl’s body convulsed with sobs and tears ran down her face. She felt tears spring to her own eyes as she thought about the horrific experience Maria must have been through.

“It’s okay now. It’s over. You’re safe now.” Isabel spoke whatever comforting words she could think of into Maria’s ear.

Her sobs were finally quieting when Isabel heard the car pull into the driveway.

“They’re here.”

“Michael?” Maria said.

Isabel smiled at Maria. “Yeah, Max went to get him and Liz.”

Michael was the first person through the front door and didn’t stop moving until he held Maria in his arms.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong? Are you alright?”

Maria laughed through her tears at his earnestness. Isabel picked herself up from the floor where she had fallen when Michael grabbed Maria from her arms.

“I’m okay. Max healed me.”

“Healed you? What was wrong?”

Maria looked at Isabel. “You didn’t tell them?”

“No, they almost came through the phone at me, but I thought you should tell them.”

Maria reached her hand out to caress Michael’s face. “It’s alright. I was hurt but I’m all better now.”

Liz crossed the room behind Michael and reached for Maria’s free hand. “What happened?”

“I was attacked. Last night when I left the Crashdown.”

“Attacked?” Michael and Liz spoke in unison.
posted on 29-May-2002 9:02:36 AM by shelbecat
Part 4

Michael and Liz sat on the couch with Maria, one on either side. Isabel and Max took seats across from them. They all listened intently as she recounted the events of the previous evening.

She had closed up the Crashdown with Jose the night before. He had left through the front door while she went into the back alley where her car was parked. As soon as the door closed behind her, a man had grabbed her from behind and pressed a cloth to her face. She had been aware that he had put her into the back of a van but after that her memory got fuzzy. She remembered waking up in the desert at one point, although at the time she did not know where she was. She was lying on her back and she could hear two men talking nearby. She had tried to make out what they were saying but could only catch snippets.

“One of them…”

“Create a link…”

Maria had just begun to fully awake when one of the men noticed her. Then she could her him clearly.

“Finally, she’s awake. Now we can have some fun.”

Both men had been huge, Maria estimated that they were over 6 feet tall and more than 250 lbs each. They had taken turns kissing and fondling her body before finally penetrating her. She had passed out after both men had raped her. They had hit her repeatedly in the face and upper body until mercifully she slipped into unconsciousness. That was all she could remember until waking up the next morning.

Her four friends were naturally shocked and disturbed at her story. Michael’s reaction as she told them varied from initially consoling her to finally jumping up and muttering “I’ll kill them.”

Max, as always, remained cool. “Let’s relax for a minute. We’ve got to figure out who did this. Let’s start with the Crashdown, that’s were they grabbed you, maybe we’ll find something.”

“Maxwell, I swear… just find out who did this and I’ll… ” Michael was quickly losing control of his emotions.

Max stood up to meet his friend’s gaze. “Michael,” he spoke softly. “I think your efforts would be better spent comforting your girlfriend right now.”

Michael glanced over his shoulder to see Maria huddled in Liz’s arms on the couch.

“Stupid,” he muttered under his breath.

Michael stepped across the room and reached out to Maria. As soon as he touched her arm she flinched and moved away from him.

“Maria?”

Maria looked up at him. “I’m sorry. I’m just a little on edge.”

Liz met Michael’s gaze with equal concern. She turned to speak to Maria. “Why don’t you let Michael take you home now?”

“What?” Maria was in another world, far away from the Evans living room.

“Home,” Michael spoke up. “Come on, I’ll take you.”

Michael reached for her arm again and she jerked away from him. “Sorry,” she muttered as she stood up.

Michael stood up with her. He placed his arm firmly on her elbow and led her towards the door.

“You don’t have to do this. Just bring me to the Crashdown so I can get my car.”

“I’m not letting you go home by yourself.”

“Michael, I’m fine. I just need to go home. Take a bath. Get some sleep.”

Max stepped up to the bickering couple. “I’ll bring you both to the Crashdown.”

Max, Liz, Michael, and Maria left while Isabel tried to tidy the living room before her parents returned. She shook her head as she straightened the pillows on the sofa. What was up with Maria? First she was all upset, naturally, then as soon as she told us what happened she clammed up, especially with Michael.

Isabel sighed and rolled her eyes. Hopefully Michael would get her home and have a chance to talk with her. She was definitely going to need someone to talk to.
posted on 29-May-2002 9:18:11 AM by shelbecat
Part 5

Maria sat in the front with Max and didn't speak a word on the way to the Crashdown. When they got there she got out of the car and headed straight for the Jetta. Michael had to scramble out of the back seat where he was sitting with Liz to catch up with her.

"Maria, wait!" he called out as ran towards her car.

She continued towards the car and opened the door.

"Wait. Let me bring you home." Michael turned Maria around by grasping her elbow.

She stared at him for a few seconds. "Let go of me."

Michael dropped her arm but didn't move away. "What's going on? Let me take you home."

Maria turned away from him and got in her car.

"Let me help you."

Maria started to pull the door shut. Michael reached out to grab it with his hand. She looked up at him, "I don't need any help. Now let go."

Michael's face dropped with the realization that she had no intention of letting him help her.

He pushed the door shut and stepped away from the car. As he watched her drive away he shook his head sadly. The pain she must be going through, he thought. He could only imagine what it must have been like for her last night, but to shut him out! He knew he had to find a way to get through to her.

He was startled when Max touched his arm.

"I guess you heard that, hey?"

Max nodded, "Yeah."

Liz looked at Michael and he saw that her face was streaked with tears. "She just shut you out?" she said in amazement.

Michael nodded.

"She's upset, naturally," Max was ever the voice of reason. "Why don't you give her some time to collect herself and then give her a call? Both of you."

"You don't know her like I do. This is not like her at all," Liz said, shaking her head. "She's always the one to pour her feelings out."

Michael nodded in agreement.

"I'm worried about her," Liz continued.

"Look, I understand what you're saying but think about it from Maria's perspective for a minute. She was completely violated last night. It's going to take some time for her to open up about it." Max paused, "Even to you two."

"Well, if she thinks I'm going to just wait around while she's a wreck she's got another thing coming." Michael started off away from the Crashdown.

"Where are you going?" Liz called after him.

Michael kept walking without responding.

"Let him go. It's probably better if he's alone."

Max shook his head sadly as he watched his friend walk away. He knew this had to be hard for Maria. He just hoped that she realized the effect it was having on her friends too.
posted on 29-May-2002 9:22:07 AM by shelbecat
Hi "xmag",

No you are not the only one obsessed with reading a fic. I can't stand it when someone just leaves the story hanging for an eternity. I promise that you'll receive a couple of parts every day (well maybe not on the weekends) but you won't have to wait long. And stick with it, as you said, maybe she was kidnapped on purpose. I can only tease you with "all is not as it seems" again!

Hope you keep reading!

S.
posted on 29-May-2002 9:33:39 AM by shelbecat
Do you want me to tell you everything *happy* or do you want to wait and read it for yourself???

Glad to see such a strong reaction to something I've written!
posted on 30-May-2002 9:17:00 AM by shelbecat
Part 6

Maria didn't return any phone calls that day or the next. Her Mom was out of town so she was completely shut off from the rest of the world. Michael had taken up permanent residence outside her bedroom window at night. The first night he had approached the glass but when she saw him she coolly told him to leave. After that he had kept his distance but remained in sight of her window. Liz's luck was no better. She left a barrage of messages on Maria's answering machine and nearly drove Max crazy with her concerns. She was shocked when Maria showed up for work on Monday evening.

"Maria!" Liz exclaimed when she walked into the back room to find her friend putting her apron on.

"Hey," Maria replied.

"What are you doing here?"

"Getting ready for work," she smiled at Liz. "I'm on the schedule right?"

"Well, I… uh… yeah, you are. I mean you were," Liz stammered. "I asked Agnes to cover for you when you didn't return my calls."

"Oh," Maria reached for her apron straps. "So you don't need me?"

"Well actually I do," Liz smiled back at Maria. "Agnes didn't show."

Maria allowed herself a small laugh. "Figures," she said as she moved to enter the restaurant.

Liz reached out and grasped her arm, "Are you sure you up to this?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," Maria shrugged away from Liz's hold on her.

"You don't have to work if you don't feel like it."

Maria looked straight at her best friend and stated firmly, "I said I'm fine."

Liz shrugged, "Okay."

Maria entered the restaurant and got right to work taking an order. Liz stood back for a minute shaking her head in bewilderment. She was always able to read Maria like an open book. She usually wore her emotions right on her sleeve, but now… this was having a huge effect on her and Liz didn't like how she was responding to it; not at all.

More than three hours passed before Maria had a chance to take a break. She was just sitting down with a Diet Coke when Michael, Max, and Isabel entered the Crashdown. They didn't see her at first but she noticed them and quickly hid the small bottle she held in her hand. Liz was serving a table near the booth they chose to sit in so she walked over to talk with them.

"Hey."

"Hey, Liz."

"So, you don't seem as surprised as I was."

"What?" Max looked at her with a confused look.

"Maria, you don't seem surprised to see her."

Michael jerked his head in Liz's direction. "She's here. Where?"

"At the counter. I thought you saw her."

He stood up immediately and walked over to her. She saw him coming and stood up to face him.

"Hi," Michael said.

"Hi."

"How are you?"

Maria sighed, "Fine."

"I called."

"I didn't feel like talking to anyone."

"We were worried about you. I was worried."

"You don't need to worry about me. I'm a big girl Michael."

Maria turned away from him and walked into the back room. Michael followed right behind her.

"Maria, wait," he called after her.

She turned around to face Michael again.

"What's going on with you? Why are you avoiding me?"

"I'm not avoiding you. I'm talking to you," she insisted.

"You know what I mean. You've been avoiding me since Saturday."

Maria folded her arms across her chest, "Look, I just needed some space okay?"

"Space? I want to help you. I know this must be difficult."

"Difficult? You think this is difficult for me? I'll tell you what's difficult Michael. Difficult is having to listen to 30 messages from your friends wondering why you aren't returning their phone calls after you've just been raped! Difficult is having to lay awake at night being afraid to close your eyes because you can't erase the memory of two men violating you! Difficult is not knowing what the hell is happening to your body." Maria's voice broke and she started to cry, "Difficult is…"

Michael stepped towards Maria and embraced her. She tried to wiggle out of his hold but he held her tightly.

"Don't. It's okay. You can cry. It doesn't matter," Michael smoothed the back of Maria's hair. "Shh, it's okay baby. It's okay."

Maria allowed herself to collapse into Michael's embrace. "It's not… not okay," she sobbed.

"I know it's not. I know," Michael continued to rub Maria's back with gentle, firm strokes.

"No, no, no…" Maria repeated into Michael's chest.

"No!" she said loudly as she wrenched herself away from his arms.

He reached after her but his hands grabbed at empty air. Maria was across the room and opening the door to the alley.

"I can't do this. Tell Liz I had to go."

"Wait!" Michael yelled after her.

Maria turned back to look at her boyfriend for a moment, "I'm sorry. I can't do this. I don't want to see you anymore. Please, if you want to help me just leave me alone. Please!"

Maria turned and ran down the alley. Michael couldn't move. He just stood there staring at the rain entering the Crashdown through the open back door.

"Maria," he whispered. Tears began to fall down his cheeks as he repeated her name softly to himself.
posted on 30-May-2002 9:17:29 AM by shelbecat
Part 7

By the time Maria reached her house her eyes were almost swollen shut from crying. As she pulled in her driveway she noticed the darkened windows and realized with a sob that her mother had left town again for another convention. She lowered her forehead to rest on the steering wheel and began to cry softly.

Meanwhile back at the Crashdown, Liz had heard Maria screaming at Michael from the back room and, after things grew silent, went to check things out. When she saw Michael standing there alone she entered and stood near him.

"Is she okay?" Liz asked, knowing the answer already.

Michael shook his head and wiped clumsily at his eyes. He turned to look down at the brunette by his side.

Liz's eyes filled with tears at the sight of his face. A sob escaped her lips, "What are we going to do?"

Michael bit his lip and looked away from her again, "We're going to leave her alone."

"What?"

Michael shook his head again, "Liz…"

"Michael, that is the last thing she needs. We have to…"

"No," Michael stopped her with a firm voice. "She said that she wants to be alone, that she needs it, and we have to respect that."

"But she's upset, she doesn't know what she wants. We can't just abandon her."

Michael turned to grab Liz's shoulders, "Listen to me. I have no intention of abandoning her. We'll keep an eye on her, make sure she's doing okay, but until she's ready to talk… we have to give her some space."

Liz knew in her heart that Michael spoke with reason but still she protested, "But she's so lost."

Michael straightened his body, letting his hands drop from Liz's shoulders, "Since when have you known Maria not to confide in you?"

Liz raised her eyes to meet his, "Since… never."

Michael nodded, "Exactly. And this will be no different. Give her time and eventually she'll come around."

Liz nodded, tears still escaping from her eyes. She leaned in to hug Michael, his body stiffening at the unfamiliar touch but then relaxing enough to rub her back quickly with his hand.

"Come on," he said, leading her back into the restaurant.

~~~~~

Maria sat in her car, staring at the dark house. Ever since the attack she had been afraid to be alone, but hadn't wanted to tell her Mom what happened so she had left today on her trip as planned. She chided herself on her foolishness, what reason did those men have to come back here? They had got what they wanted, right?

A second voice sounded in her head, well then why had they even taken her in the first place? She tried to suppress it, filling her head with glorious thoughts of the comforting bath awaiting her inside. She gathered herself and quickly ran through the rain to the front door. Stepping inside she took a deep breath and ran through the house turning on the lights in every room. When the entire house was blazing like a roaring fire she stripped off her wet clothes and started the water in the bathtub. Adding a few drops of lavender oil she went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. She took a mug out of the cupboard and retrieved a tea bag from the canister. Placing it in the mug she reached for the kettle and poured boiling water over it. She stirred the tea and sipped it absentmindedly. She reached for a small bottle near the stove and added a few drops to her drink. Content that it tasted better she took it into the bathroom with her. It wasn't until hours later that she realized she had never even turned the kettle on.
posted on 30-May-2002 9:37:55 AM by shelbecat
Happy to oblige! I posted a new fic over a Polar Playground too if you're interested.

http://pub36.ezboard.com/bpolarplayground

(I know you know the link but any traffic I can drive there for Kari the better!)

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-May-2002 10:00:04 AM ]
posted on 30-May-2002 2:56:00 PM by shelbecat
I guess I made her "shock" be exhibited by closing herself off from everyone, even Liz. Don't worry she'll eventually open up. And she didn't have powers to use against the men, because she simply didn't have them! It's real world so no powers for Maria.

Sherry
posted on 30-May-2002 7:54:59 PM by shelbecat
Okay - let's settle something... what I said was that she didn't have powers when she was being attacked, hence unable to stop the men from having their way with her. I didn't say she would NEVER have powers... *wink*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-May-2002 7:56:04 PM ]
posted on 31-May-2002 10:06:42 AM by shelbecat
Part 8

Maria successfully avoided any lengthy conversations with her friends over the next few weeks. Liz smiled and said hi each time they passed, even venturing to ask her how she was doing a few times. Each time Maria was polite but curt, wishing that Liz would just steer out of her way as Michael did. Every time she approached him he turned and walked the other way. It felt weird to see him backing off from her but in a strange way it made her feel better. She felt dirty and ashamed about the attack. Like it was somehow her fault that it had happened. Seeing Michael give her the cold shoulder made it possible to imagine that he was punishing her for getting raped. In her mind she knew that he was only obeying her wishes, but sometimes she was able to fool herself into thinking that she deserved the treatment.

Liz had kept them on opposite shifts at the Crashdown, at Maria's request. She still passed Michael in the back room during shift change but neither of them spoke to the other until one Friday, almost a month after the attack.

She was just tying her apron strings, getting ready for her shift, while he threw his apron in his locker, finishing his.

"So, you working tomorrow?" he asked.

Maria glanced up, surprised to hear his voice, "Um, no. Got to love a Saturday off."

Michael smiled, "For sure."

Silence settled between them as Michael wondered if he should push his luck. "Got any plans?"

Maria turned to face him again, "For tomorrow?"

He nodded. She shook her head, "No."

He continued to nod, "Do you wanna like… get a movie or something?"

"A movie?"

"Yeah, if you want, I mean Max and Liz are always off somewhere and Isabel is busy with school so I just figured…" Michael's face started to feel hot and he wanted to stop before he progressed to full on blushing, "Forget it." He shut his locker and turned to leave.

"Wait," Maria called after him. Her head told her to be strong, don't let the walls that she had constructed fall, but her heart screamed out for contact with Michael.

He stopped halfway to the door but didn't turn around.

"A movie sounds… nice," she continued, her heart racing.

Now he turned to face her, a smile lighting up his face, "Great, around eight?"

"Sure."

"Okay, I'll get the movies, food, just show up."

Maria nodded and then called after him as he turned to leave again, "Michael?"

"Yeah?"

"On second thought, why don't I get the movies?" She smiled at him as she turned to enter the Crashdown.

Michael thought his heart was going to burst.
posted on 31-May-2002 10:07:05 AM by shelbecat
Part 9

Maria showed up at Michael's the next night promptly at 8:00. She had brought two movies, Serendipity and Joyride, both great date movies. Serendipity would bring out the romantic in almost anyone but Joyride? There was nothing quite like a scary movie to drive two people into each other's arms.

She looked impressively around the sparkling apartment. "Wow, you must have been cleaning all day."

Michael shrugged his shoulders, "No big deal."

"Used your powers?" she asked.

He laughed, "Got me."

Maria laughed in response, handing him the movies. He placed Serendipity in the VCR, better to get the chick flick out of the way first and get on to the real movie he thought, and turned to see her already sitting on one end of the couch. He sat on the other side, as far away from her as possible. His heart racing at being this close to her; he didn't think he would be able to control himself if he sat any closer.

They settled into a comfortable silence, broken only by Michael's getting up to supply drinks and chips from the kitchen. By the end of the movie, tears were streaming down Maria's cheeks and Michael was nearly asleep from boredom.

She looked over at him as the credits rolled, laughing as she wiped away her tears. She got up to compose herself in the bathroom while he shook his head at her emotional outburst. To himself, he smiled while he changed the tape. The significance of the movie wasn't lost on him. When two people were meant to be together, they would be together; they just had to get over the obstacles first. Him and Maria had already been around this circle a few times, each time coming back to each other. He wasn't sure how this time would play out but somewhere deep in his heart he knew that they'd come around to each other again.

She exited the bathroom, only a faint puffiness around her eyes revealing that she had been crying. Michael took his seat on the couch again, pressed up against the side while Maria sat closer to the middle. He squeezed his body to the right, feeling the arm rest press into his hip. How could she be so casual? His heart was racing and he thought he would die a sweet death when the scent of lavender crossed his nose. He breathed deeply in her scent, willing his heart to slow.

They settled in as the movie started, slowly at first, not scary at all. About 20 minutes in, the tell tale ominous notes began to play, and Michael found himself engrossed in the television; transfixed by the terror-inducing 18-wheeler.

"Boom!"

The music crashed and Maria screamed. Michael started to laugh but was cut off as she threw herself at him. She landed in his arms, burying her face in his chest. He awkwardly placed his hands on her back.

"Is it gone?" her muffled voice pleaded.

Michael swallowed hard and glanced at the TV. He wouldn't have been able to recount the last 10 seconds of the movie for any amount of money, but they had moved on to a sunny daylight scene so he rubbed her back gently, "All over."

She laughed again as she turned over, still in his arms, and leaned against his chest. "God, what a fright!"

Michael opened his mouth to speak but no sound came out. He placed his arm cautiously on her stomach, resting the other on his leg.

His body had just started to relax again when the next scary scene played and she jumped again, this time clutching his left arm to his face. He tried to keep his heart rate down as the process repeated itself throughout the 2-hour movie. When it was finally over neither of them made a motion to move.

Maria was lying down by this time, her head in his lap, and she turned to look up at him. "This feels nice," she said, smiling.

Michael nodded, "It does."

They looked at each other for another moment. "I missed you," both of them spoke at the same time.

Michael leaned down as she raised herself up to meet his lips. He felt emotions surging through him and was surprised at the realization that he had missed her physically, as well as emotionally, over the past month.

The kiss deepened as he leaned in closer. Suddenly there was a flash behind his eyelids and he saw Maria lying in the desert wearing tattered clothes. Another flash and she was lying in a hospital bed. FLASH and she was in the Crashdown alley, struggling in the clutches of a strange man.

Maria yelped and pushed Michael away from her. She jumped up to stand near the couch yelling, "What did you do that for?"

"Do what?" he yelled back.

"Kiss me!"

"Kiss you?" Michael looked at her incredulously, "You kissed me! And where'd those flashes come from?"

"Oh, oh, oh," Maria shook her hands in front of her chest, walking back and forth from the couch to the TV. "You saw it, you saw it, oh, oh, …"

Her arms started waving faster and as she flung them to her sides to stop them, the TV exploded into flames.

"Maria?" Michael yelled standing up. "What are you doing?"

He looked at her in anger and saw fear written all over her face.

"Michael…" she said fearfully.

The realization at what had just happened hit him and he turned to look from Maria to the TV and back again. "You did that?" he questioned.

Maria started to cry, "I think so."

"Holy shit."
posted on 31-May-2002 1:48:45 PM by shelbecat
I know the fic leaves you hanging with unexplained "happenings" but I did that to hook you ::insert evil grin::. All will be explained in due time... *happy* I promise you won't be left hanging in the end.

Sherry

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 31-May-2002 1:49:41 PM ]
posted on 31-May-2002 4:00:42 PM by shelbecat
Just cause I'm such a nice person*happy*!

Part 10

Michael paced around his living room, running his hands through his hair. Maria had run into the bathroom and shut the door. He forced himself to stop and think for a moment. Okay, I was kissing her and saw flashes – my flashes? No, there's no way I could have known those things, so did I draw them out of her? Man, what the hell is going on?

He resumed his pacing, trying to sort through his muddled thoughts. Okay, so if I didn't make a connection with her then… did she make one with me? No, how could she… and then the TV? Oh my God. Michael stopped in the middle of the room and turned to stare at the bathroom door. Suddenly he realized what this must be like for her and ran to the bathroom.

Knocking on the door he called out, "Maria?"

"Go away," she cried.

"No, let me in," Michael insisted, continuing to knock.

"Leave me alone, Michael," Maria yelled back.

He stepped back from the door and stretched his arm out. "I can get in anyway, you know," he called out.

He waited for a few seconds and was just summoning his powers when the door opened slowly to reveal her standing there. Michael shook his head at the shame written on her face. He was incredibly confused over what had just happened but he took her in his arms and whispered whatever comfort he could think of in her hair.

She leaned into his chest, fresh sobs wracking her body.

"It's okay, it's okay," Michael whispered, rubbing her back. After a few minutes he pushed her away from her and stared into her eyes, "You wanna talk?"

Maria nodded her head as if to say 'Yes', while out loud she said, "No."

Michael laughed at her indecisiveness. "It's okay. I'm not mad."

Maria looked up at him; her eyes squinting, "Mad?"

He instantly regretted his words; of course he shouldn't be mad. "Wait," he said to silence her before she yelled at him again. "What I mean is that I know this isn't your fault and I want to help."

Maria continued to stare into his eyes.

"Okay?" he asked.

She nodded quickly and moved past him to sit on one of the stools at his kitchen counter. He moved to take the other and tried to wait patiently for her to begin. When she didn't say anything he stood up and went back into the living room.

"Where are you going?" she asked.

"To call Max."

Maria jumped up and ran to his side, grabbing his arm as she said, "No, don't."

Michael looked down at her. She was clutching his arm tightly, her nails digging into his flesh. He removed her hand from his arm, rubbing it, "Why not? We need to figure this out."

"No, I don't want anyone else to know."

Michael looked at her with wide eyes, "Maria, we have to tell them. We can't just ignore it."

Maria set her mouth firmly, "I don't want to ignore it. I just want to figure it out on my own first."

He looked at her for a few seconds, realization dawning on him, "Is this why you've been avoiding me?"

Maria turned away from him but he grabbed her by the arm and jerked her back around to face him, "How long has this been going on?"

Maria winced at the strength of Michael's grip. "Since the … since I… since I was raped, okay," she admitted.

He removed his hand from her arm, trying to comprehend her words, "You should've told me."

She turned again and walked into the kitchen, "I couldn't. There's all these strange things happening and I just wanted to sort through them before I told anyone. I didn't want you to find out."

"Well why did you agree to come over? Something was bound to happen."

Maria's lower lip started to tremble, "I was scared."

Michael chided himself for giving her such a hard time and went to her again. "I'm sorry," he said taking her into his arms. "Tell me what's been happening."

She sat down on the stool again and related the events of the past month to Michael. It had started with a craving for Tabasco that quickly grew to an uncontrollable need to have it. She was up to four bottles a day and still felt like she couldn't make her food spicy enough. Or sweet. She was combining the hot sauce with liquid honey at almost every meal.

Then had come the unexplainable things. Like the kettle incident where she poured boiling water into her mug without ever actually boiling it. And the bathtub; she could soak for hours now without the water getting cold. There were other things too, like the TV switching stations if she even thought about the current show being boring.

Michael sat quietly and listened to everything she said. "It's mostly uncontrollable. I never know when something's going to happen but sometimes, if I concentrate, I can force something."

"Like?"

Maria shrugged her shoulders, "Like…" She turned to look around the room. "Like this," she said closing her eyes. The stereo came on blasting Metallica music. She squeezed her eyes tighter and the volume decreased as the channel changed and a pop song floated out of the speakers.

Michael stood up and walked towards the stereo, transfixed. "Holy…"

Maria got up to stand behind him, "I know."

He shook his head, "We have got to tell the others."

"No."

"Maria, we can't…"

She shook her head again, "No, we can't, not yet." She turned away from him but not before he caught a glimpse of something in her eyes.

He moved to block her path, "There's something else."

She shook her head and tried to sidestep him. "Maria," he said firmly.

She winced at his voice, "I don't know."

"What else?"

"I can't remember; there are these… images."

"What?"

She sat down on the couch, Michael by her side. She turned to face him, drawing her legs up in under her. "I've been having these dreams, only they're not really dreams, more like lapses, where I see these images of something that I can't remember."

"What do you see? Michael asked.

"Mainly me in a hospital bed."

Michael's eyes widened.

"What?" she asked.

"Are you lying on top of the bed, like not covered by sheets or anything?" he asked.

She nodded, "Yeah."

"I saw it too."

"You what?"

"When we kissed, I saw these flashes and one of them was you on a hospital bed."

"Did you see anything else?"

"Yeah, first you were lying in the desert, I guess this was after…" Michael cleared his through, unwilling to bring up the rape. "Then there was a hospital bed, a needle, and then the alley."

"Wait, a needle?"

"Yeah," Michael paused, trying to remember the details. He continued slowly, "You were lying on a hospital bed and someone was putting a needle in your arm. Did that happen?"

"No, and I've never dreamt about it before either."

"Okay, now I'm confused."

Maria sighed impatiently, "Don't you see? The alley and desert images really happened, I can remember them from that night, but the hospital thing is just a dream, it never happened, but you saw it. And you saw more than I even thought of so… how is that possible?"

"Well, are you sure it's a dream?"

"What do you mean?

"Well, you don't remember much of that night, right?" Michael asked.

"Right," Maria nodded.

"So, maybe this is what really happened and you are just starting to remember. Like you repressed it or something."

"Maybe," she said slowly.

Both of them sat back on the couch, deep in thought. Maria broke the silence first, "So do you think that you saw the needle image because it's really in my mind but I just can't remember it?"

Michael shook his head, "I don't know."

"But it's possible, right?"

He turned to look at her, "I guess so."

Her voice was increasing in volume as the idea solidified in her mind, "So, if we connect again, maybe you'll see more."

"I don't know," he sounded hesitant.

"You want to help, right?"

"Of course."

She shrugged her shoulders, "Well?"

He thought about the possibilities, it was very likely he would see things that he didn't want to, that she didn't want him to, but if it would help her remember… he nodded his head, "Okay."

Maria scooted closer to him on the couch. "Okay, so how do we do this?" she asked as she placed her hands on either side of his face.

"Um…" Michael's voice was cut off as a powerful jolt passed through their bodies. Images were flashing before his eyes at lightening speed. He couldn't make out everything but what he could see moved in reverse order again, starting with her lying in the desert and then in the hospital bed. This time he could see that the person with the needle was the same man he had seen from the alley. A few more images flitted through his mind but nothing that he could grab onto. He gasped as the connection broke, standing up to gulp air into his body.

"God, that's so…" Michael bent over and rested his hands on his knees. "You're so strong. Way stronger than me. You could even give Max and Isabel a run for their money."

Maria was sitting on the couch, hardly fazed by the experience. "It doesn't tire me, it just feels all warm for a few minutes and then it's over."

Michael shook his head to clear it, "Geez, I'm telling you something is not right."

Maria smiled at him, "When is it ever right with us?"

He looked at her knowingly and sat down again. She reached out to take his hand, "So, tell me what you saw."
posted on 31-May-2002 4:01:25 PM by shelbecat
Part 11

Michael recounted the visions he had seen to Maria and they sat and discussed why he was receiving them when they still had no meaning or memory to her. She struggled with sorting the images into some logical order. It was as if two events had happened to her that night, at the exact same time. She didn't feel like there was enough time between her being grabbed and waking up in the desert before the attack for the entire hospital experience to have happened. It just didn't fit.

When Michael looked at the clock he was startled to see that it was after 2 am.

"Oh shit, your Mom's gonna kill you!" he exclaimed.

Maria was curled up in the corner of the couch, lost in her thoughts. "What?" she mumbled.

"Your Mom. She's gonna have a fit, it's late."

Maria looked at the clock Michael pointed to and waved her hand, "Don't worry about it. She's out of town… again." With the motion of her hand the clock dropped to the floor, the batteries spilling out onto the carpet.

Michael shook his head but laughed at Maria's embarrassed expression as he got up to put it back together. He hung the clock back on the wall and turned to her, "Well do you want me to take you home?"

Maria looked at him innocently, "Can I stay here?"

Michael gulped, "Uh, yeah, sure." He got up and went into his bedroom, which looked like a tornado had recently passed through.

Maria had followed him and when she peered over his shoulder she commented, "Didn't have time to work your magic in here?"

"Well, I didn't think we'd be in here."

Maria giggled as she brushed past him, "So, you got a shirt I can wear?"

"Yeah," Michael turned to grab a clean shirt from the basket of unfolded laundry. He tossed it to her and motioned to the bed, using his powers to sweep the pile of dirty clothes onto the floor.

"The sheets are clean," he said, grabbing one of the pillows and a spare blanket before turning to go back into the living room. "If you need anything…" he let his voice trail off. While he was tidying, she had slipped out of her top and jeans. She stood in front of him now, her tiny frame dwarfed by his oversized T-shirt.

"I do," she said.

"You do what?"

"Need something."

"Oh, what?"

"You."

Michael stared at her. She moved towards him taking the pillow and blanket from his hands. She pulled him to the bed and lay down, still tugging on his arm.

"Are you sure?" he asked tentatively.

She nodded silently.

"But, don't you have… memories?"

"Exactly, and they're terrible, but I don't want that to be my last sexual experience." She looked at him with assurance, "I want to remember what it feels like to be with you… with someone who loves me."

There was no way he could say no to her request. He slipped out of his clothes and climbed in beside her.
posted on 31-May-2002 7:45:27 PM by shelbecat
You've already read it all silly girl!!! Thanks for re-reading (are you?) and at least for posting such great feedback!
posted on 3-Jun-2002 9:16:44 AM by shelbecat
Thanks to everyone who is posting feedback on this fic. I hope you are enjoying it!

Part 12

The next morning Michael woke up alone in his bed. For a moment it felt normal but then her sweet scent crossed his nose and he reached out for her. Finding nothing but empty space he sat up, noticing that the shower was running. He got up and started breakfast, grinding coffee beans and scrambling eggs. When it was ready he set the food on the counter and went to get her.

Knocking on the door he called out, "Anyone hungry in there?"

There was no response and it was only then that he realized the shower was still on.

He knocked again, harder this time, "Maria, you okay?"

Still no answer.

Michael unlocked the door and pushed it open slowly, still calling her name. He didn't see her in the bathroom but the shower curtain was billowing out from the tub, allowing water to spray all over the room. He ran for the tap, reaching in to turn it off. Then he noticed her - naked, wet, and shivering in the corner of the tub.

"What happened?" he cried out, climbing in to grab her in his arms.

Her face was buried in her knees and she was unresponsive. He stood up, lifting her in his arms and carried her into the bedroom. Placing her in his bed he covered her with blankets and rubbed her body roughly to increase her circulation. Small moans escaped from her lips as he tended to her.

After a few minutes of frantic worrying, he saw her eyes open and she looked up at him. His eyes asked a million questions of her but none crossed his lips. She looked shattered, broken.

"Michael," her teeth chattered as she tried to speak. "I can't…"

Maria closed her eyes again and tears slipped from beneath her lids.

"Shh, it's okay," he whispered.

"No, it's not… not okay," she murmured.

Her body was still shivering so he threw back the covers and climbed in beside her. He wrapped her small body in his, peppering her back with kisses. "I'm right here, it's okay," he whispered over and over into her hair.

She calmed at the touch of his body and quieted for a few minutes. Finally she spoke again, "It's getting worse."

He was startled by the sound of her voice, "What?"

"The memories, they're getting worse."

"What do you mean?"

Maria turned in his arms to face him, "I mean that I'm remembering more and more and it's awful."

"But you want to remember, don't you?"

"Not if it's terrible. Michael, they didn't just rape my body that night, they raped my mind too."

Michael closed his eyes at her admission. He pulled her close to his chest and buried his face in her hair. She let small sobs escape into his chest as he held her.

"You can't let them win, if you ignore the memories then they really did rape your mind."

She pulled away from him and looked up into his eyes. A silence settled between them and he wondered if he had said something terribly wrong to her. She nodded, "You know? You're right." She paused to collect her thoughts, "God damn them anyway."

Michael could see a spark flicker in her eyes and he felt a surge of hot energy coming from beneath her hands where they rested on his chest.

"The only way to beat them is to remember, isn't it?" she asked.

He nodded, "You are stronger than this, I know it."

"I don't feel very strong."

"Look, they hurt you, obviously, and they took something from you that you can never get back, but they gave you something too."

Maria nodded, "My powers."

"Yep, it's the only explanation. Whatever they did to you it resulted in you having powers. Now we have to use them to fight back; to remember what happened."

She accepted his reasoning with a small nod. "Can we do it now?" she asked.

"You want to tell me what you remember first?"

"Let me show you," she said, reaching up to clasp his face in her hands.

Instantly, Michael felt himself falling, spiraling downward into a tunnel wallpapered with images from her mind. He landed at the bottom with a mind-induced thud. He looked around and saw Maria lying in the desert; the familiar image of her broken body attacked his eyes and instinctively he jerked his body to run to her. The realization that he was in some sort of dream state hit him; this was different from any connection he had formed before, it felt like he was actually there, but his body had no form, like he was looking through a window into her mind. The scene shifted, backwards in time, and she was in the hospital bed. He saw a man sitting by her. His hands were resting on her head and his eyes were closed in concentration. Then someone pressed rewind again and the image shifted to the same man, still sitting, but now leaning in to inject her with a needle. Then he noticed that the man was leaning down, like her bed was on the floor and he was sitting over her. He looked around and realized the room was small, no bigger than a… than a van. One final shift and he saw the same final image of his previous connection, she exited from the back door of the Crashdown and the man jumped her from behind.

The connection broke and he pulled away from her, falling out of bed onto the floor. He grasped at his chest with his hands, struggling for breath. She leaned down to touch him, "Are you okay?"

Michael gasped for air as he nodded his head, "The van, it was the van."

Maria shot him a confused look. "Not a hospital… a van," he continued.

The memory clicked into place for her and she gasped, "Oh."
posted on 3-Jun-2002 9:20:46 AM by shelbecat
Part 13

It still didn't make complete sense but the images were starting to fall into order for Maria. There must have been a gurney in the back of van where they performed whatever procedures they did on her. In her mind's eye she still saw it as a hospital but as the afternoon wore on the idea that the van was actually a converted ambulance of some kind started to make more sense to her.

What still didn't fit was the timeline. She had been unconscious, that much she knew, but when she woke up in the desert, just before the men attacked her, it was still very dark out. She hadn't left the Crashdown until after 1:00 so it couldn't have been more than a few hours until she awoke. The whole hospital/van experience felt like it took 5 or 6 hours, much more time than she could account for.

She had left Michael's that morning and gone home to change only to return in the afternoon so they could connect again. Four times in total that day and each time a new piece of the puzzle fell into place. The connections were very similar; they always started with her in the desert and then moved to the van, where various details were played out before Michael's eyes, finishing with her initially being grabbed before the connection ended.

That night they made love again before drifting off to sleep in each other's arms. Maria still had a lot of unanswered questions racing through her mind but when she was in his arms she was able to quiet the noise, if only for a few moments, and revel in the comfort she found there.

Around 3 am Michael woke from his sleep with a shout. "I got it," he yelled, sitting up in bed.

Maria had been lying with her head on his chest and now she flopped against the pillows. Sleepily pushing her hair out of her face she struggled to return to consciousness, "What?"

Michael had a dazed look in his eyes and he stared at her for a moment as if surprised to see her lying there. He turned so that he was sitting sideways and began to speak animatedly, "I figured it out."

"Figured what out?" Maria sat up now as well.

"That night," he said impatiently. "I figured out what really happened."

Maria waited for him to continue, "Well…"

"You weren't raped."

She stared at him in silence for a minute before standing up to walk away from the bed.

"Maria," he called after her.

She stopped halfway across the room, a ray of moonlight from the window falling across her bare back. "Don't," she whispered.

"What?" he asked obviously confused by her reaction.

She turned to face him, her mouth set in a firm line, fire glimmering in her eyes, "I can't believe you. You said you wanted to help me."

"What? This is good news, right?"

"Good news? You just said you don't believe me."

"No," Michael scrambled out of bed to grab her arms. She pulled away, "Don't touch me."

"Maria, no, don't…"

She turned and starting grabbing her clothes off of the floor. "I can't believe you would say something like that. Do you have any idea what that night was like for me? I was raped, Michael. And if you don't want to believe that then…

"Maria, wait," there was a forcefulness in his voice that made her stop and look at him. "I didn't say I didn't believe you, I said that you really weren't raped at all."

Hurrying before she could cut him off he continued, "I think you really believe that you were raped, but I don't think it physically happened, I think whoever gave you these powers also changed your memories so that you would believe you were raped. I think they replaced the memories of being in the van with those of the rape so that you'd forget about the van part."

Maria was standing still in front of him, the faint light in the room casting a glow on her skin. "What?" she whispered.

Michael stepped to her wrapping his arms around her, "Think about it for a second. You can't remember the van part but that's all I see when we connect. I think that's what really happened and the other stuff was just planted. What could be more traumatic than that? It was meant to make you forget something that happened in that van."

She remained silent so he continued, "I never saw one image of the actual rape. Just the after effects when you were lying there. If you think about it, it isn't really that hard to fake."

She wrestled herself out of his grasp, "No, it was real. It really happened." Her body started to shake uncontrollably, "You weren't there, it was real, it was real…"

She collapsed into a heap on the bedroom floor. Michael fell with her, gathering her into his arms. Cries continued to shake her body, "It has to be real; I need it to be real."

"No you don't. You are remembering more and more. If you can put this behind you and focus on what actually happened then we could probably figure it all out. It's just supposed to be a distraction."

She shook her head. "No," she moaned.

"Yes," he said more firmly, pushing her away from him so he could look into her eyes. "You are so strong. Look at how much you've overcome already, you can do this, get past this."

She stared into his chocolate eyes. "It didn't really happen?" she said in a tiny voice.

He shook his head, "No."

Maria took a few deep breaths, the flow of tears slowing. "I think we should tell the others now."
posted on 3-Jun-2002 12:20:24 PM by shelbecat
There are 24 chapters so everything will be explained ever so painfully slow! You've got a lot of great guesses though, you are partially right about a few things but I'm not saying...

Thanks for reading - here's another part for you (but don't be mad at me)!
posted on 3-Jun-2002 12:21:19 PM by shelbecat
Part 14

Maria and Michael skipped school on Monday but called Liz, Max, and Isabel during lunch and asked them to meet at Maria's house that night at 7:00. Liz had questions, naturally, Maria had barely spoken three words to her in the past month, but she accepted her explanation that all would be revealed tonight and left it at that.

Meanwhile Maria and Michael worked on making up for lost time in their relationship all day and had to scramble to get to her place on time. They arrived at 6:45 and walked in the darkened kitchen, flipping on the light as they entered.

They were thrown backwards by the force of the explosion, the house erupting into flames around them. The fall knocked both of them unconscious and they lay still as flames licked at their clothing.

A fire truck screamed past Max, Isabel, and Liz in the car as they drove toward Maria's. Max pulled over to let it pass but didn't pay it much attention. The three of them were discussing what Maria could possibly have to tell them that night. And Michael was with her, when did that happen? They didn't see the clouds of smoke billowing from the Deluca house until they pulled up right in front of it.

Max slammed the car into park and the three of them piled out, running toward the burning structure. Sheriff Hanson and two other officers grabbed them as they bolted across the lawn. "You can't go in there kids," one of them shouted.

Liz was yelling Maria's name, while Isabel was too numb to speak. Max was the only one who could form a coherent thought. "Was anybody hurt?" he asked.

"We don't know that yet, son. Do you know the Deluca's?"

Max nodded, his voice catching in his throat, "We were supposed to meet them…" He stopped as his gaze fell on the Jetta parked in Maria's driveway. He fell to his knees on the lawn. "No, no, no," he repeated, his voice rising to a scream.

Isabel and Liz both looked down at Max and saw his arm extended, pointing toward the driveway. Liz bolted away from the officer holding her, running at full speed toward the house.

"Liz, no," Isabel called. She started to run after her but Liz only got a few feet before her legs gave out as well and she collapsed to the ground. Isabel stumbled to her side, clutching her in her arms. The two girls, who had never been close, cried uncontrollably as Max slowly crawled his way over to them and joined in their mourning.

They remained there for almost an hour until the fire was under control enough for firemen to enter the charred structure. They watched with a realization of the truth in their eyes while a faint hope still lingered in their hearts. When they saw two stretchers being carried out, displaying two black body bags, the thankful numbness that had set in earlier vanished and grief struck them deeper than ever.

Jim and Kyle had arrived at some point and were standing helplessly over the trio when the stretchers were removed from the house. Jim told Kyle to get Max and Isabel to the coroner's office and he went to join his former colleagues. Kyle gently touched Max on his shoulder. "Hey, c'mon man, we gotta go. Coroner's."

Max looked at Kyle through a veil of anguish. He couldn't comprehend the words at first but at Kyle's urging he detached himself from the girls and helped Kyle lift them to their feet. Kyle took over, loading them into Max's car and, finding the keys still in the ignition, started it and drove behind his father.

Jim met them at the back door and led them inside. His explanation that they would have to run DNA tests to identify the bodies fell on deaf ears. When he saw that Max was obviously in a state of shock he shook him by the shoulders. "Max, buddy, I need you to focus for a second, okay?"

Max raised his eyes from the body bag lying on the slab in front of him. He met Jim's gaze and nodded almost imperceptibly. "I need you to change Michael's DNA, or whatever. They'll be able to tell he's different, right?"

Max nodded and stepped toward the table. Liz stepped forward from where she was standing with Isabel and Kyle, "Wait."

Max turned to look at her. "Jim's right, you have to change it, in case, but…" she stopped as her voice faltered.

Max closed his eyes, "Don't…"

Tears were running down her cheeks, forming small, even streams in the layer of soot covering her face. "Max, it might not…"

"Liz, don't," he pleaded.

"No, it might not be them, you don't know for sure," her voice dripped with pain.

"She's right, Max," Isabel spoke up.

Jim shook his head sadly, looking to Kyle for support. His son was too grief-stricken to say anything.

"Isabel, don't do this," Max said.

Liz moved closer to the table where her best friend lay. She touched Max gently on his arm, "Just take a sample, so we can be sure, then… do whatever."

Max sighed but nodded and Jim looked around for something to put a bone scraping in. He was the only one capable of looking at the bodies so he opened the bags and scraped pieces of bone fragments from each into small vials.

"We only need Michael's," Max said.

"Sometimes, in these situations," Jim paused searching for the right words to say. "Well, if they were together then…"

Max nodded in understanding; some part of their bodies might be mixed up with the other. He stepped up to the bags, now closed again, and placed his hand over each in turn. Concentrating on changing the DNA to resemble pure human form.

Jim gently turned him away from the table, leading him toward the door. Liz let her gaze linger on the bags for a moment longer and then turned to follow the others outside. Her entire being felt cold, like something inside of her had died. In less than a year she had lost both of her best friends to tragic accidents. The thought of it was just incomprehensible.

Kyle drove them again; this time to Liz's where her parents met them at the door, crying for the grief their daughter must have felt. When they saw the others with her they stepped back, allowing them to congregate in Liz's room alone. The best support they could give their daughter was probably the comfort of her friends, even if it that included the boy who had gotten her arrested only a few short months ago.

Once her parents left the room, Liz pulled a microscope out of her closet and went to work preparing slides of the samples in the vials. Kyle stood nervously by the door, his hands shoved deeply in his pockets. Max and Isabel sat side-by-side on the bed, their legs touching but neither paying any attention to the other.

She looked up from the first sample. "It's him," she said, the telltale alien cells staring back at her beneath the microscope slide.

Isabel burst into a fresh onslaught of tears and Max turned to look at her with torment in his eyes. Something inside if him screamed that he should hug her, provide some comfort but his body felt paralyzed. It was really Michael. He just couldn't believe. Wouldn't believe.

Kyle watched this and moved to try and comfort her. Isabel buried her face in his arms without even knowing to whom they belonged.

Liz turned from the second slide, "I can't tell."

Max stood up, "What?"

"It looks just like the first one, like Michael's," she said.

Max pulled her to him, "Liz, you can't think…"

She nodded her head against his chest. She didn't have the proof in front of her but it had to be Maria, no one else would have been in that house with Michael when it exploded.

Max rested his chin on Liz's head and stared out her window at the darkened sky. Only a few short hours ago his confusing world had actually seemed to make a bit of sense. Now… it would never be the same.
posted on 3-Jun-2002 1:25:27 PM by shelbecat
Yes, you are right... in some parts!!!!! Hee hee, this is soo much fun - dragging you along. Glad you are willing to follow *wink* I hope you can wait until tomorrow, and okay, I'll try and post 3 parts then too!
posted on 4-Jun-2002 9:31:01 AM by shelbecat
Part 15

Max closed his eyes, willing sleep to release him from the torture that had consumed the past three days. He was lying on the couch at the Valenti's. After Amy had been contacted and brought back to Roswell, Jim had brought her there; she had nowhere else to go. They had been taking shifts watching her, making sure she was never left alone. Not that she even knew they were there; her doctor had prescribed a heavy medication that left her sleepwalking through her days.

Max heard a rustling and opened his eyes to see Liz returning from the kitchen. The sight of her pale face and thin form struck at his heart. She wasn't strong enough for this. He had thought she wouldn't survive losing Alex a year ago, but now this? He closed his eyes again, giving her a few moments alone. She'd deal with it eventually, he told himself, hardly believing the words.

His eyes opened again as he heard a small clanging noise. They had held the cremation ceremony earlier that day. Not that there was much left to cremate, but Amy wanted Maria to live in a river or flower bed for eternity and Max and Isabel, the only semblance of family Michael had ever had, were glad to have his actual bones gone forever.

He watched as Liz emptied the contents of one of the identical urns sitting on the mantle into a ceramic bowl.

"What are you doing?" Max asked her.

Liz jumped at the sound of his voice, almost spilling the precious contents. She glanced back at him for a moment and then wordlessly returned to her task.

Max watched as she placed the first urn back on the mantle and picked up the second, adding its contents to the bowl.

"Liz," Max said cautiously.

"Max, don't tell me not to."

"You can't," he said.

She turned to face him again. "Amy wants to spread Maria's ashes in the garden. You and Isabel want Michael's out by the pod chamber." She stirred the combined ashes with a wooden spoon and began the slow process of scooping them evenly back into the two urns. "This way they'll be together forever," she finished.

Max stood up to stand beside her, resting his hand on her shoulder. He waved his hand over the bowl, filling the urns with the ashes again.

Liz turned to look up at him.

"They already are together," he said softly.

Truer words were never spoken.
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:21:17 PM by shelbecat
Thanks Kari - you're secretly a candy aren't ya!

And thanks to Mon for re-reading *happy*

And of course xmag for her never-ending questions!


Part 16

Maria woke slowly from her drug-induced sleep. She was lying on her stomach on a hard surface. She opened her eyes to see steely gray concrete staring back at her. She pushed with her arms until she was in a kneeling position and then used the edge of a nearby cot for support as she stood. She surveyed her surroundings; she was in what appeared to be a jail cell. There was a cot in one corner and a toilet and sink in another. The walls were brick, the same cold gray as the floor. She turned around to see the fourth wall composed of steel bars. She went to them, grasping them with her hands, trying to see into the hallway outside.

She was startled as a guard stepped into her line of vision and removed a ring of keys from his belt. Opening the cell door he motioned her into the hallway, using a closely guarded rifle as enforcement. She moved in the direction he gestured, noticing that there was another guard seated outside the neighboring cell. She glanced inside as she passed to see Michael's still unconscious form lying on the floor.

"Michael," she yelled, running to grab the bars.

The guard firmly planted the butt of his rifle into the small of her back, sending her crashing to the floor.

"Michael," she whimpered.

"Get up," the guard finally spoke.

Maria could see that Michael was out cold. Her back screamed as she staggered to her feet but shrugged out of the guard's grasp when he grabbed her arm. She continued down the hallway in front of the guard and quickly lost her sense of direction as they moved through a maze of corridors.

They stopped outside an office door, which the guard rapped on before pushing it open. Maria stepped inside, her eyes taking some time to adjust from the concrete jungle of the hallways to the lush furnishings of the office. A man stood up from behind the desk to greet her. She recognized him immediately. She'd know him anywhere.

"You," she muttered under her breath, clenching her hands into fists at her sides.

"Ah, yes, Miss Deluca. Have a seat," he motioned to a chair in front of his desk. When Maria made no move the guard found the same sore spot on her back and forcefully pushed her towards it.

She stumbled forward, catching herself against the back of the chair. Straightening herself again she asked, "Who are you?"

"You mean to tell me you haven't figured that part out yet," he stopped to stare at her, squinting his eyes as they bored into hers. Tilting his head to one side he continued slowly, "No… you haven't, have you."

She stared at him stonily.

He laughed at her silence, "Now you're thinking 'How does he know what I've figured out?'" He laughed again, louder this time. "I'm right, aren't I?"

Maria began to get a panicked feeling, what was this guy's problem?

"My 'problem' Miss Deluca, is that you are too smart for your own good." Taking a seat behind his desk he continued, "You know, you've got most of it figured out; enough of it to cause me to worry anyway. Please, sit."

Maria's mind was racing; her sole thought was of escape. Her mind started to run backwards through the corridors she had traveled to get here. Where was the exit, she needed a weak, unguarded place.

"It's no use," the man continued. "There is no escape from here, you might as well sit down and listen to what I have to say."

Maria froze with the realization that he had basically been carrying out a conversation with her mind for the past few minutes. Slowly she rounded the chair and sank into the plush covering. Fear now crept into the corners of her mind and she tried to shut it out, aware that somehow he could sense what she was thinking.

"A-ha," he yelled, slamming his hand down on the desk. "Finally, the last piece clicks into place. You've got it now, don't you."

Still silence from Maria.

"Why don't I fill in the gaps for you, hmm?" Without waiting for her consent he continued, "My name is Kivar, you recognize that don't you? I took you from that vile little eatery that night and gave you a transfusion - a pure injection of my DNA. It only takes a few hours to incorporate itself with your own and then we're linked. Quite remarkable really."

Maria continued to stare at him as the story unfolded. He continued, "In theory it works in both directions but you don't have the power to control it. Once the link was formed I was able to read all of your thoughts, past and present. You've proved quite useful to me over the past month, unfortunately you were a little stronger that we anticipated."

"Why?" Maria finally managed to utter.

"We needed a vessel. Kind of like a one-way communication device we could use to find out about the Royal Four, or the three remaining members as it were, we already have Ava safe at home with us. She's the one who recommended you actually. There's a Liz girl, but she was too smart according to Ava." Kivar raised his eyebrows, "Apparently Ava isn't the greatest judge."

"But it didn't work," Maria said.

"Well, it wasn't a total failure. We found out everything you knew about them, much more than Ava was ever able to find out. I read your complete brain waves that night and have been checking in regularly ever since. Obviously you now know that we masked those memories with the rape," he stopped to smile at her. "That was a personal touch from Ava."

Tears formed in Maria's eyes, she couldn't believe what Kivar was saying. Everything she knew, every secret Michael had ever trusted her with, all gone because she was stupid enough to let Kivar use her.

"Oh no, not stupid at all," he corrected. "As I said quite useful, just not to the right people." Looking at the guard near the back of the room he said, "Take her away now, I have no further use for her."

Maria struggled as the guard grabbed her roughly by the arm, "It's no use you know; you can't keep us here forever."

"Oh no," Kivar responded with raised eyebrows.

"They'll look for us, they'll find us."

Kivar laughed again, "On the contrary my dear, I don't think they'll look for you at all."

His vicious laughter echoed in Maria's head as the guard led her back down the maze of halls to her cell.
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:21:47 PM by shelbecat
Part 17

By the time Maria got back to her cell she was a complete mess. She had spent Monday relishing in the discovery that she hadn't been raped at all, and although her memories had been taken, she had regained most of them. All in all it felt like she was coming out on top.

Now she felt as though she had fallen into a bottomless pit of self-loathing and despair. Not only had Kivar raped her mind all over again, but he had used her to rape the minds of her friends too.

As she passed Michael's cell she saw him sitting on the edge of his cot, his elbows resting on his knees, head in his hands. When he saw her he jumped to his feet, rushing to grab the bars.

"You okay?" he asked frantically.

Maria's heart was too heavy to respond. As she met his gaze she saw the concern he felt for her and her torment flared even stronger. She averted her eyes as the guard locked her in the next cell.

"Maria," Michael yelled, pounding on the wall separating them with his hands. "Are you okay? Did they hurt you?"

Maria stood just inside her cell door. She stared at the wall between her and the boy she loved. She couldn't bring herself to answer him. She buried her head in her hands as the tears fell faster and harder.

"You bastards," Michael yelled at the guards, turning to pound on the bars. "If you hurt her…" he stepped back, placing his hand out in front of him and concentrating all of his energy on forcing the metal bars open.

One of the guards nudged the other and they both laughed. "Good luck," one of them called.

Michael's powers were useless. Not taking the time to figure out why, he flung himself at the cell wall, calling out to her again. He reached his arm outside of his cell and felt along the bricks separating them until he felt the edge where the wall jutted into her cell.

As he repeated her name over and over, she turned to look at the wall again. Oh God, what had she caused? She saw his fingertips at the edge of the cell and silently moved towards them. He was panicking, worrying, and the sound of his voice only magnified her anguish.

She reached her hand out, hovering inches away from his. His voice ran out of energy, falling to a low rasp, "Maria, what's wrong? Please, are you okay?"

The sound of his voice was too much for her and she closed the gap between them, clasping his fingers in hers. "Oh God," she heard him say. "You're all right?"

She tried to compose herself, to speak calmly, but the terrible thoughts of what Kivar had told her kept interrupting her efforts. She sank down to the ground, still holding his fingers, pulling his arm down with her. Michael followed his hand down to the ground, sitting with his back against the bars, his arm still stretched out to her. Maria did the same, cherishing the additional contact of his full arm against hers. They sat quietly for a minute while she gathered her thoughts and tried to figure out how she was going to tell him what she had learned.

"Keep your eyes straight ahead. They can't hear us can they?" she asked.

Michael risked a glance over his shoulder at the guards who were standing together talking, thankful for the cease in Michael's ranting.

"I don't think so," he replied in a near whisper.

"Okay, I know who the man who attacked me was."

"Who?"

"It's the same guy that brought us here."

"Do you know who he is?"

"Yes it's…" Michael was silent as Maria relayed everything Kivar had told her. He was in a state of complete disbelief when she ended with, "And then he taunted me saying, 'I don't think they'll look for you at all'. What could that mean?"
posted on 5-Jun-2002 7:54:12 AM by shelbecat
Hey - thanks for all the feedback. Glad to see I'm intriguing people! And xmag... you are getting warmer... I don't want to spoil anything but you'll scream when all is revealed!!!

Here's some more fill your candy craving for today...

Part 18

Maria had no sense of what time it was, but hours after sitting quietly with Michael she must have dozed off. She woke up to the thump of something hard against her back. She was lying down on the floor by the bars of her cell, her head resting on her left arm that was still wrapped around the brick wall, clutching at Michael's shirt. She stirred and pulled herself into a sitting position when the thumping wouldn't stop.

"What?" she snapped before realizing where she was.

"Get up," the guard commanded, still shoving the butt of his rifle against her back.

The process from earlier was repeated as Maria was led from her cell and through the maze of hallways to Kivar's office. Taking a seat in the same chair she waited anxiously to discover what new torture Kivar had dreamed up for her this time. She was surprised when he asked her, "So, have you told your little boyfriend all about me yet?"

Her first reaction was to snap a response at him, 'None of your business' or even 'F⊕%k off', but she bit her tongue. Why was he asking her? He could read her mind right, so…

She decided to take a chance, "Of course I didn't. How would I?"

"Hmm," Kivar nodded. Maria stared back at him, willing her brain to think about the fabricated answer rather than the true conversation she had had with Michael. She found that she had little control over her thoughts and had to grip her hands against the arms of the chair for strength.

Kivar squinted his eyes at her, boring into her very core with his icy glare. When he was satisfied that what she was telling him matched her thoughts he sat back, "So, Miss Deluca, I need you to do me a favor."

"What," she mumbled through a clenched jaw.

"Well, I guess it's not a favor really, more of a request. I need you to give me something."

"Haven't you taken enough?" she snapped.

"Not nearly," Kivar replied, standing up to walk across the room. He slowly rounded the chair where Maria sat, pausing behind her. He leaned in to speak directly into her ear, "I need you to give me the truth."

In one swift move he wrapped his left arm around her neck and pressed the palm of his right hand to her forehead. Maria grabbed at his arm with her hands and cried out in pain as every thought she had formulated in the past day flew from her brain directly into his. What was actually only a few seconds felt like hours to Maria and when Kivar released her she slumped to the floor.

"Not a smart move," he said as he moved away from her to open the office door. He beckoned to one of the guards to come inside and motioned to Maria's crumpled form on the floor. As the guard picked her up, Kivar leaned in and grasped her chin in his hand. He wrenched her jaw forcibly until it cracked loudly. "That'll teach you to speak lies," he murmured, a smile already spreading across his face.

~~~~~

When Maria woke up she was back in her cell, this time lying on her cot. At first she felt nothing, only a dull numbness throughout her body. Then as she tried to move she felt a jolt of pain shoot through her face and quickly raised her hands to her jaw. She moaned as she struggled to turn over, keeping her left hand pressed to the left side of her face. Her jaw had to be broken; she didn't think she had ever felt such an immense pain. As the thought passed through her mind she remembered very clearly the last time she had felt pain like this; it was the last time she was victimized by Kivar. The memory of the artificial pain he had inflicted on her filled her mind and she cautiously removed her hand and tried to work her jaw. This was not a repeat of the "fake" rape. This pain was too real and she fell back onto the bed, crying out through clenched teeth.

She pressed her hand to her face again, closing her eyes and willing the pain to subside. As she concentrated she felt a surge of heat moving through her body and one thought moved to the center of her mind – heal. The hot feeling remained for a few moments and then left as quickly as it had come. Maria sat still on the bed for a few moments, still supporting her face with her hand. A thought flitted through the back of her brain that she should try it again. Slowly she removed her hand and repeated the process of moving her jaw. Her eyes few wide open as the realization that she could move it without pain flooded her mind. She jumped up and ran to the wall where Michael sat.

He had seen them bringing her back into her cell and drew blood across his knuckles from pounding on the brick wall with his fists. He had finally collapsed on the floor next to the wall, all of his energy spent. Now he felt someone grabbing his hand, "Michael."

He opened his eyes, "Maria? You okay?"

"I am now, I've got to tell you…" her voice dropped off as she noticed blood on her hands from his wounded knuckles. "What did you do?" she cried.

Michael tried to pull his arm back into his own cell but Maria grabbed after it, pinning it to the floor between them. "Michael," she said sternly.

"It's no big deal, you should see the wall," he joked.

Maria pulled his hand back toward her and stared at it thoughtfully. She wasn't sure she could repeat the process but she wanted to try. She laid his hand flat on the floor outside of the cell bars and reached both of her hands out to wrap them around his. She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on healing his cuts as she had her jaw. She waited but didn't feel the hot feeling again. Opening her eyes she looked in dismay at his still bleeding hand.

"It's not working," she mumbled.

"What're you doing?" he asked.

"Wait," she said, closing her eyes to try again. Still nothing. "Damn it," she cried.

"What is it?" Michael asked.

Maria leaned her head against the bars of her cell, "Kivar broke my jaw."

"What?" the anger flared in Michael's voice as he strained against the bars of his cell. He felt like a caged animal, helpless to protect her.

"No, it's okay, it's fine," she said. "I think… I think I healed it."

"What?" Michael repeated, his voice softer now, almost a whisper.

"I don't know, I woke up and it hurt and I just thought about it being better and it was." Maria's voice was excited as she relayed her story to him but then disappointment crept in as she continued, "But maybe it was just a fluke because I can't heal you."

"Is that what you were just doing?"

"Yeah," she muttered.

"Here," Michael said, stretching his arm to its limit until his hand brushed against the bars of her cell. "Is it inside?" he asked.

"Yeah, just your fingers though. Why?" Maria asked.

"Keep your hands inside the cell and try it," he instructed her.

Maria clasped Michael's fingers between hers and concentrated on thoughts of healing him. Almost immediately the now familiar warm feeling spread through her body and the image of his uninjured hand became her focal point. As she opened her eyes, Michael pulled his hand away, out of her sight.

Maria pressed herself against the bars, "Did it work?"

He didn't respond. "Michael?" she cried.

Slowly she saw his hand creeping back around the corner of her cell. It was turned palm up so she couldn't see his knuckles. He turned it over so slowly that she couldn't stand it and reached out to grab it and flip it over. "Oh my God," she gasped as she looked at his unblemished hand.

"I know," Michael responded.

"But how, why?"

"I've been trying to break out of here since I first woke up but my powers don't work," he explained. "I figured it would be the same for you, there must be something in the bars that prevents our powers from working outside of them."

"Okay, that explains some of it, but I can heal?" she asked.

"Now that I don't have an explanation for," he answered.
posted on 5-Jun-2002 1:11:43 PM by shelbecat
Maria could heal herself because her powers work inside her cell. That's why she could only heal Michael once his hand was inside as well. The "Now that I can't explain..." line was in reference to why her powers are growing and developing more and more.

As for which theory you were warm on... it's... NO, I can't say. The next part (later today I promise) will let you know.

Sherry
posted on 6-Jun-2002 9:36:07 AM by shelbecat
Oh but the torture is so much fun!!!

Part 19

Maria and Michael were huddled next to the bars, still discussing her new power when they received a visitor. Sitting on the concrete floor had quickly grown uncomfortable and Michael had instructed her to push her cot to the front of the cell while he did the same. Now he was lying on his stomach, his arm still extended to Maria, while she sat curled up in the corner of her cell.

They heard footsteps approaching and looked up to see a woman in a white lab coat standing over them.

"Hi, I'm Kathy," she said. "The medic."

Both Michael and Maria eyed her warily; unsure of why a medic was visiting them. She motioned to the guard who approached and let her into Maria's cell. Surprisingly, Maria didn't feel any danger from the woman, she looked too pleasant to cause her any harm. Still she kept her body rigid, pressed as far as she could against the cell wall.

Kathy moved to sit on the cot near Maria. Noticing the prisoner's guarded expression she smiled, "Relax, I come in peace." A large smile spread across her face.

Some of the tension evaporated from Maria's body but still she made no move towards the stranger.

"I work here, servicing the employees. Kivar… um, he said you might have a broken jaw and sent me down to check on you," Kathy explained.

Maria was quick to pick up on the catch in Kathy's voice as she said Kivar's name. The thought crossed her mind that maybe Kathy wasn't on Kivar's team per se, but just an innocent employee. Maybe she didn't know what he was up to.

As quickly as it came, Maria discarded the thought. Here she was living in a cell for Christ's sake, this woman had to be stupid if she didn't think Kivar was up to something malicious.

Silence settled between the women. Finally, Kathy spoke, "So… can I check you over or…"

Maria felt fine of course, but realized that Kivar was fairly confident that he had broken her jaw and that she should play along if she didn't want her new power to be discovered. She moved to sit on the side of the cot next to the medic.

"I'm fine, really," Maria said.

"Well, I'd like to take a look anyway."

Maria sat still while Kathy put gloves on her hands and leaned in to feel along Maria's jawbone with her fingers. She asked, 'Does this hurt?' a few times while gently maneuvering Maria's jaw around until she was satisfied that it was not broken.

"Well, looks fine to me," she said. She removed her gloves and grasped Maria's hand to take her pulse.

As Kathy's hand made contact with hers, Maria felt a sudden surge of emotion rush through her. She jerked her arm away from the woman who looked at her, startled.

"Are you okay…" Kathy's voice trailed off.

Maria shook her head, inhaling deep breaths. In that instant she had heard Kivar's voice ringing in her head, 'You will stay here and do what I tell you or you'll never see your family again, understand?' Maria looked up at the woman, "You don't work for Kivar, do you?"

Kathy's mouth transformed into a nervous smile, "Yes I do, I told you…"

Maria didn't let her continue, reaching out to grab the woman's hand she continued, "No, you work here but not of your own free will. 'Never see your family again', does that sound familiar?"

Kathy stood up, backing away from Maria. "How… how did you…"

Maria stood up to walk towards the woman, "It's okay, don't be afraid, I can just… sometimes I just hear things. I don't really understand it but it has to do with Kivar somehow, something he did to me."

"The injection," Kathy said.

Maria narrowed her eyes, "You know about that?"

Kathy gulped heavily and turned away to face the opposite wall. "I'm so sorry, I didn't know what his plans were."

Maria walked around the woman until she was facing her again, she grasped her arms and looked directly into her eyes, "Please you have to tell me. We have to get out of here, maybe we can help each other."

Kathy closed her eyes against Maria's stare, "No, he'll kill me, and my family, if I tell you anything."

"It's okay, he can't hear us in here, he won't find out."

Kathy opened her eyes, "No he can hear, he can read your mind."

Maria smiled, "I know, but not in here, the bars prevent us from using our powers outside of here, and I guess his can't get in either."

Kathy stared at Maria and the young girl thought she was accepting the explanation until she spoke, "Your powers?"

"Oh God," Maria sighed. "Come here, sit down," she motioned Kathy to the bed and sat down to explain the long saga of how her and Michael came to be there. Something told her that this woman was the key to escaping from Kivar's clutches, even though Maria knew she would have to reveal Michael's identity to do so. She went to the corner of the cell again, kneeling on the bed and softly calling out to Michael. He had been listening to the whole conversation and simply replied, "Do what you have to, but just me and you, okay? Not the others."

Maria voiced her agreement and turned around to face Kathy. She paused before starting her tale. She wasn't sure how to begin. It wasn't like she could just blurt out 'See, Michael's an alien' and expect Kathy to nod her head and smile.

She took a deep breath, "Ok, so like, Kivar is not from around here."

Kathy nodded her head, "I know, he's an alien."

Maria's mouth gaped open, this wasn't going to be so hard after all, she thought. She gave Kathy a quick version of Michael's lineage leaving out any mention of Max and Isabel. She filled her in on what she knew of the attack and brainwash that Kivar had performed on her, ending with them being imprisoned by him. When she stopped Kathy had tears in her eyes.

"I never should have helped him," she said. Turning to face Maria she said, "I was too weak. He threatened to kill my family if I didn't."

Maria moved closer and rubbed her hand across the woman's back, "Don't blame yourself, he's evil."

Kathy nodded, "Still I helped him create a concentrated DNA sample." She looked deeply into Maria's eyes, "I should have know what he was going to do. I'm so sorry he hurt you."

Maria shook her head, "It's not your fault. Like I said, he is pure evil. You couldn't have known what his intentions were."

Kathy stood up and paced across the cell. She stopped and checked her watch, "Oh God, I've got to go. He'll have a fit if he finds out I've been down here this long." She moved towards the cell door.

Maria jumped up and ran after her, "Wait, can you… will you help us?"

Kathy turned back to look at her. The guard was approaching with the keys to the cell. "Be patient, I'll try." The guard neared and Kathy turned away from Maria again.

"Get back," he growled at Maria before opening the door.

She stepped away from the cell door, allowing Kathy to exit freely. As Kathy passed by Maria's cell she stopped and reached back in. "You'll be okay, I promise," she whispered fervently before turning and heading out of sight down the hallway.
posted on 6-Jun-2002 9:36:45 AM by shelbecat
Part 20

Maria and Michael didn't see Kathy, or Kivar, again for another week. Time passed slowly in their prison, punctuated only by the delivery of three meals each day.

Maria's powers continued to develop ever so slowly. She found that with little effort she could control her own thoughts from switching to a different topic. She felt confident that if Kivar called her to his office again she would be better able to control her thoughts and he would believe whatever she threw at him.

Well maybe not supremely confident, but she hoped that would be the case.

Finally one day there was a break in the monotony. This time however, Michael was called away. Maria was beside herself when they took him. She convinced herself that Kivar had figured out that she could block him from reading her mind and now he was going to try it on Michael. She wasn't so concerned with Kivar reading Michael's thoughts, rather with the injury that he would surely inflict on her boyfriend once Michael reacted to the invasion.

What she didn't know was that it wasn't Kivar who sent for him but Kathy. When Michael entered the examining room and saw her, his body almost collapsed from the release of tension.

"Mr. Guerin, have a seat," Kathy greeted him formally and pointed to the hospital bed in the room. She motioned for the guards to leave and once the door was closed turned to him and smiled nervously. "Now, we don't have much time so you have to just listen and try to remember what I'm going to tell you exactly."

Michael nodded curtly and kept quiet.

"Kivar has instructed me to take a sample of your semen," Michael's eyes widened but he didn't say anything. "He plans to take you back to Antar with him but wants to make sure there is an alien/hybrid baby created before you leave."

Michael stood up and moved toward the door, cursing under his breath.

"Michael," Kathy's voice crackled with frustration. He turned to face her again. "You have to listen to me. I'm on your side, okay?"

Michael swore again, "So, he wants me to get Maria pregnant?"

"Well, not you, me technically," Kathy raised her hand as she saw Michael's expression change to one of bewilderment. "With the sample," she explained. "He knows you'll never submit to actually making her pregnant yourself, so I have to inject her."

Michael ran his hands through his hair. "So, then, what are we going to do?"

"We're going to play along."

"What?" Michael yelled.

Kathy sighed, "Listen, I've got a plan, okay? Sit down." Kathy motioned for Michael to take a seat again and he obeyed. Five minutes later she had relayed her plan to him and left the room while he tried to fill the sample jar she had given him. At first he had protested that he couldn't just do it without stimulation, but after 10 days in a cell without any release, he had very little trouble producing the required amount and then some.

After he cleaned up he knocked on the door and Kathy entered, sending Michael into the hallway where the guard waited. As he passed her she touched his arm lightly. "Don't do anything stupid," she cautioned.

"Not likely," Michael murmured as he headed back to fill Maria in.
posted on 7-Jun-2002 9:58:02 AM by shelbecat
Good question about Maria being able to dreamwalk - I think she should be able to but I tried to solve that by not having her powers work outside the cell. Like any "signals" she sends out would just bounce off the walls and not reach anyone. Hope that's believable!


Part 21

Michael was returned to his cell where he relayed Kathy's plan to Maria. Of course he didn't do it with as much tact as she had and the phrase 'He wants me to get you pregnant' reduced Maria to tears.

Michael was eventually able to calm her by explaining the rest of the conversation, interspersed with numerous curses and references to himself as a stupid idiot.

Maria finally asked, "So when is all this supposed to happen?"

"I don't know," he replied. "Soon I think, maybe tonight."

"Oh," Maria replied nodding to herself. Tonight, she thought. I am going to be pregnant with Michael Guerin's baby tonight. Somehow the thought brought comfort instead of fear.

Sure enough a few hours later a guard approached Maria's cell and motioned for her to follow him. The fear she had avoided earlier was back in full force and her legs trembled as she stood. By some weird twist of fate, Kivar's attack on her had given her the very skill it would take to destroy him; and in a few short hours she intended to do just that.

As she passed Michael's cell he reached out to touch her hair, whispering, "Be strong. You can do this."

She made no acknowledgement of his words or actions, afraid the guard would inflict some punishment on her, but they filled her with a renewed sense of confidence. It was all on her shoulders. If she didn't perform as expected tonight Michael would be taken to Antar, most likely never to return. That, quite simply, was just not an option.

She was brought into the examining room and instructed by Kathy to undress and put on the gown that was laid out. Kathy left the room with the guard returning a few moments later alone. Maria was sitting nervously on the bed, clutching the paper gown to her body.

Kathy smiled as she entered. "It's okay, it's not going to hurt," she said.

"It's not this I'm worried about," Maria replied.

"That'll be okay too, you'll see," Kathy said, turning to pick up a speculum from the counter. Grabbing a syringe filled with Michael's sperm she moved to the bed again. "Okay, have you ever had a pap smear?" she asked.

Maria nodded.

"Well this is basically the same thing. Put your feet in the stirrups, relax your legs," Kathy leaned towards Maria and she could feel the cool metal device entering her. A second later and it was all over.

"All done," the older woman said, standing up and turning to place her instruments aside. When she looked back, Maria had curled up in a ball on the table, tears streaming down her face.

"Oh," Kathy mumbled, moving to Maria's side. "What's wrong? Did I hurt you?"

Maria shook her head, unable to speak.

The medic smoothed the young girl's hair off of her face. She knew exactly what was wrong with her. She reached down and gathered Maria in her arms. "It's okay, shh," she murmured. "We can reverse it, later, we just have to convince Kivar first."

Maria allowed a sob to escaped and nodded, "I know, it's just, just… I'm pregnant."

"I know honey," Kathy said, rocking the small girl in her arms gently until she fell asleep.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-Jun-2002 10:00:49 AM ]
posted on 7-Jun-2002 10:01:19 AM by shelbecat
Part 22

Michael had paced in his cell after Maria was taken. Kathy had told him it should just be an hour before the pregnancy was evident and Kivar could be convinced of it. He knew of the plan to reverse it later but he still couldn't keep himself from thinking of Maria lying in that room, probably pregnant with his child at that very moment. It was just too much to comprehend.

The guard took his mind off of it when he opened Michael's door and motioned for him to follow. He was led to Kivar's office. As the guard pushed him inside, Kivar entered from a door on the right side of the room.

"Well congratulations Rath," he said. "You're going to be a daddy."

Michael's mouth gaped open. Holy shit, it had really happened, she was pregnant.

Kivar watch the expression of pure joy encompass Michael's face. "Disgusting," he muttered. "Come on then, Let's get this over with. I hate traveling don't you?" Kivar rambled as he walked to a door on the left side of the room. "Jet lag can be such a bitch, especially once you cross more than a thousand time zones," Kivar laughed at his own joke.

"Wait man," Michael called after him.

The alien overlord turned to look at Michael, his eyes blazing, "What did you say?"

"Look," Michael swallowed hard but steeled himself against Kivar's gaze. "Me and you… we used to be tight."

"We were never 'tight', let me assure you."

"Yeah, well maybe it was all a ploy to get us off the planet but I believed you. We were friends."

Kivar sighed as he looked at the young man. How could Rathier, the great Antarian warrior, be reduced to this bumbling 17-year-old child? "Fine, fine, we were friends. Now if you don't mind, we've got a light beam to catch," Kivar opened the door next to him, revealing a white shaft of light, about 2 feet in diameter, running from floor to ceiling.

Michael was taken aback by the sight of it. The realization that his ticket home was less than 10 feet in front of him set in. After Tess had left in the Granolith, he had given up hope of ever getting back to Antar.

He shook his head. No, he wasn't backing down now, not with Maria in the other room ready to sacrifice her happiness for him. "Look," he said to Kivar. "I need a favor."

"Oh my God," Kivar said, exasperated. "When are you people going to get it? Me evil, bad, the enemy. I don't DO favors!"

"Listen, on Antar, before we left, you came to Is… uh, Vilandra and had your good-byes. I saw you and knew that I could try to stop you but it meant a lot to her so I stood down." Michael paused, "Just let me say good-bye to her man."

Kivar ran a hand through his hair. "Little punk," he muttered. Turning, he took five huge strides and was at the other door within a second. "Come on then," he said.

Michael followed Kivar, unsure of what would happen in the next few moments. The door opened into a small room with a computer monitor displaying a sonogram image.

"Is that…?" Michael asked.

"Take a good look. It's the last time you'll ever get to see her."

'Her', Kivar's words echoed in his head. He looked up at his fellow alien as he opened the door to the examining room.

As Kivar opened the door Maria started screaming, silently. The examining room had also been insulated to prevent their powers from penetrating the walls; however, once Kivar opened the door she had a direct link to him and, before he knew what was happening, she hit him with the screams of a thousand banshees.

"Okay Rath, you've got 30 sec…" Kivar was saying when Maria started screaming and his expression changed to one of intense pain as he clasped his hands to his ears and crumpled to the ground.

Michael looked past Kivar into the room where Maria stood by the bed, Kathy at her side. She had a look of intense concentration on her face; her eyes squeezed shut. He looked down to where Kivar lay at his feet. He was still cringing from the auditory assault. Michael nudged him with his foot and then spit directly in his face. Leaning down he spoke with hatred in his voice, "And by the way, it's Michael now."

He stood up, satisfied that they had stopped Kivar for now when he heard a piercing scream from behind him. He turned to see Maria's knees buckle beneath her and she fell to the floor. Ochre red blood was spreading out around her, staining her ivory skin a bright crimson. He ran to her, "Maria!" Michael knelt beside her, gathering her limp form in her arms.

"What's wrong with her?" he screamed at Kathy.

"She's hemorrhaging," the medic replied, rushing to Maria's side with towels to stem the flow of blood.

"How? Why?"

"It's the pill. I gave it to her to end the pregnancy but this wasn't supposed to happen."

Burying his head in Maria's hair, Michael cried, "Oh God."

"Look," Kathy said.

Michael raised his head to see a white light spreading out from the source of the blood. He couldn't speak, but watched intently as the light encompassed her entire body before fading as quickly as it had come. He looked down at her face and reached to caress it with his hand. It was covered in her blood and he hesitated before marring her flawless complexion with the offensive substance.

"Michael," he heard a soft voice mumble.

He looked at her face again to see that her eyes had fluttered open.

"Did we get him?" she asked, her voice growing stronger with each syllable.

He couldn't answer her question; he was too busy reveling in the fact that she was okay to waste his energy thinking about Kivar.

She knew exactly what he was thinking and smiled as she reached up to touch his cheek. "I'm okay baby. We need to stop him now."

Michael nodded and turned from Maria to blast Kivar. He was no longer slumped in the doorway and Michael swore as he stood up. Maria was right behind him and leaned on him for support as they stood in the examining room, looking out through the smaller room, into Kivar's office and beyond, into the room were the light beam was waiting to transport him back to Antar. They could see that Kivar had somehow managed to crawl through the rooms and was just about to close the door on the transport room, effectively saving himself from their attack.

"No," Michael yelled, putting his hand out to throw a blast in Kivar's direction.

"Michael wait," Maria said tugging on his arm. He glanced down at her quickly. "If you blast him you'll risk destroying the room too. It's your only way to go home."

Michael nodded at her and turned to fire a blast. Kivar and the light beam exploded into a million pieces of bloody alien matter and sparkling light particles. He looked back down at Maria, hugging her tight to him, "I am home."
posted on 7-Jun-2002 10:22:37 PM by shelbecat
Thanks so much for all of your feedback - it's great to see people reading this! And you didn't forget that they are supposed to be dead - here's "the reaction".

Part 23

Kathy didn't want to take any chances on Kivar's minions rising up to try and keep them prisoner, so she grabbed Maria's clothes and some medical supplies and hurriedly led the teens out of the building. Fittingly enough, Kivar had been holding them in an old prison. It was abandoned and in a deserted part of the dessert so he had little trouble keeping curious eyes from prying on his operation. Kathy filled them in that she lived in a small cabin about an hours drive away, and that they were in northern New Mexico, not too far of a drive away from Roswell.

She asked Michael to drive her Chevrolet Blazer and got in the back seat with Maria to examine her. Of course she was completely fine with no traces of injury except the bloodstains left behind when she had healed herself. Maria closed her eyes in concentration and they dissipated instantly. Kathy shook her head in amazement, "I don't think I'll ever get used to this."

It was late, after midnight, and they were all exhausted by the time they got to her cabin. She led them inside and showed them to a spare room. Maria wanted to call her mother right away, "She must be worried sick about me."

She was just picking up the phone when Michael interrupted, "Wait, call Valenti first, tell him to get the police over to that prison, pick up whoever's left there."

"Good idea," Maria agreed and dialed the familiar number.

Kyle answered the phone sleepily, "Mm-ello."

"Kyle, it's Maria, is your dad there?"

"Who is this?"

"Maria, I need to speak to your dad."

"That is not funny. I'm hanging up now."

"Kyle!" Maria yelled. "What's the matter with you?"

"Maria?" he asked.

"Duh," she replied.

"But… how?"

Maria sighed, obviously fed up with the cryptic conversation Kyle was forcing her into, "Look, we were captured, me and Michael, you didn't notice we were missing?"

"Captured?"

"Honest to Buddha. Yes, captured, by Kivar. Look I just called to talk to your Dad…"

Kyle cut her off, "But you're dead."

"… because I need to tell him to… WHAT?" Maria replied.

"You're dead, you and Michael," Kyle explained. "We found your bodies in your house, there was a fire. We had a funeral and everything."

"Kyle, I am not dead," Maria replied, her voice starting to quiver.

At this Michael stood up and came to her side. Maria looked up at him and large tears formed in her eyes. "Michael tell him," she said, holding out the phone to him.

"Valenti," Michael said into the receiver.

"Holy shit," Kyle, fully awake by now, stood up from his bed, wearing nothing but his boxers. "It's really you man."

"Listen, I don't know what crap you've been feeding Maria, but she's over there crying. Just put your frigging father on the phone."

"Michael, man, I'm serious. You and Maria were in her house and it exploded. They found your bodies."

"Well Valenti, I don't know what to tell you, but we've been living in a prison cell for the last 2 weeks and I am very much alive."

"Okay, I'll get my Dad but he's going to freak."

"Wait, so does everyone really think we're dead?" Michael asked.

"Man, Liz even tested your bodies to be sure and we cremated you. Spread your ashes, the whole bit," Kyle explained.

"Well we're not so you might as well spread the word."

Kyle had a sudden burst of inspiration, "When will you be back in town?"

"Um, tomorrow, around three."

"Okay, don't tell anyone else, I'll get them to meet at the Crashdown, come there first."

"Sure, whatever, now where's your Dad?"

After waking Jim from a heavy sleep and animatedly explaining to him that, yes, Michael was really on the phone, Kyle paced until his father got all the directions to the prison from Kathy and hung up.

"So, Michael and Maria are really alive, huh?" Jim said.

Kyle was bouncing around the room, "Yep."

Jim rubbed his unshaven face sleepily, "I don't think I'll ever get used to this."
posted on 7-Jun-2002 10:22:57 PM by shelbecat
Part 24

Michael had a hard time keeping Maria from phoning her mother when he got off the phone with Jim. He explained to her that, considering what Kyle's reaction had been, her mother would probably pass out from the shock. "She's not going to believe you Maria. You're better off seeing her in person," he finished.

Maria couldn't argue with his logic and so they settled in to get a few hours of sleep. Maria could barely contain herself and chatted in Michael's ear for what seemed like ever. She couldn't wrap her mind around the fact that somewhere out there, there was a body, or at least some dust now, that her friends and Mom thought was her. It was just too weird.

The next morning, Kathy gave them the keys to her vehicle with promises that they would call once they got there and make arrangements for it's return. Meanwhile, back in Roswell, Kyle woke early on Sunday morning and called Liz. He made the suggestion to her that it was time for them to stop mourning Maria and Michael's deaths and instead celebrate their life. He wanted to know if her Dad would agree to close the Crashdown that afternoon so they could have a private party.

Liz jumped at the idea. Just last night she had felt a peace settle over her, like Maria was telling her that it was okay to be sad but that she needed to get on with her life. She told Kyle that it was on and hung up to call Max and Isabel.

They all arrived around 2:00 and sat at a table in the center of the restaurant. Kyle was facing the door, with Isabel on his left, Liz directly across from him, and Max on his right. They spent the first few minutes awkwardly talking about nothing in particular before Liz jumped into action.

"Listen," she said, slamming her hand down on the tabletop. "This is ridiculous. They died and that's horrible but I feel like we're doing them a disservice if we keep moping around here. Today is supposed to be about remembering the happy times, right Kyle?"

Kyle nodded, a knowing smile spreading across his lips, "Right."

Liz nodded her head, "Right, so I'll start. I remember when we were 5 years old. Me, Maria, and Alex were…"

Liz finished her story, bringing laughter and even a few tears to the friends' eyes. They took turns, each getting caught up in the high jinks that the two of them, Michael especially, had pulled over the years. Isabel was just in the middle of a story when Kyle saw two figures appear in the doorway. He reached out to touch her arm, stopping her in mid sentence, and then pointed beyond Liz towards the door. All eyes followed his hand. Isabel stood up abruptly, knocking her chair over behind her.

Liz and Max slowly made their way to their feet while Isabel ran across the room, jumping up to grab Michael around the neck. "Oh my God," she cried. Tears were pouring down her face as she released him and engulfed Maria in an even larger hug.

"Easy, girl," Maria said, laughing through the tears that were falling down her own cheeks.

Behind her, Max approached, walking up to Michael. He reached out slowly to touch his face. "Michael," he said, his voice cracking with emotion.

"Maxwell," Michael said seriously, nodding his head at his best friend.

Max grabbed Michael in a hug, his chin trembling as he fought back tears. Michael thumped him hard on the back, then tried to push away, "Gee Max, I didn't know you cared."

Max laughed at the same old Michael. Swiping at his eyes he turned to Maria who was still being smothered by Isabel and stepped in for a hug. Isabel stepped back to Michael who was now being welcomed by Kyle, only without as many tears.

Once Max released Maria she looked past him to see the lone figure still standing at the table. Liz stared at her friend, not believing what was in front of her eyes. Maria slowly walked towards her, her own body wracked with sobs at the sight of Liz's distraught face.

When she reached her Liz didn't make a move at first, "Is it really you?"

Maria nodded. "Yes," she said, sobbing.

Liz flung her body forward into Maria's arms, "Oh my God Maria. I… I thought you were dead."

Maria tried to speak but couldn't. A few minutes passed before she was able to get any words out, "No honey I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere."

"I just thought, I just thought, with Alex…" Liz's sentence was cut short by fresh sobs, and she buried her face in Maria's chest.

Maria suddenly realized how hard it had to be for Liz to lose her two best friends and cried even harder, "I'm so sorry to put you through this."

Liz finally pulled away, "Look at us, this is good, right? And we can't stop crying."

"I know," Maria agreed, laughing as she wiped at her soaking wet face. "What a couple of chicks, hey?"

The two of them made their way back over to where the others were standing and Maria reached up to hug Michael again while Liz nearly collapsed against Max.

Michael had just finished saying, "What I don't get is how you thought we were dead. I mean, how did you think those were our bodies?"

Max started to explain, "Well Liz tested the cells and they were alien."

"Both of them?" Michael asked.

"Yeah, we just figured we got a bad sample from Maria. They found you lying together so…"

Isabel spoke up, "Okay, so if you're not dead, then whose bodies did we cremate? And why were they alien?"

Maria shrugged, "I guess Kivar changed their structure…"

"Wait," Isabel shook her head. "What does Kivar have to do with all this?"

Michael smiled and looked down as Maria looked up into his eyes.

"Well Spaceboy, looks like we've got some explaining to do."

The End
posted on 9-Jun-2002 4:06:34 PM by shelbecat
Hey there, thanks to everyone who read this fic and left feedback - it's a great push to keep writing when you see people actually enjoying what you produce. I just posted another, Consequence of Feeling, so check it out!

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