posted on 16-Jun-2002 4:30:39 PM by Pathos
Title: To Have & To Hold
Author: Pathos
Disclaimer: I don't own any, anything - it all belongs to people who don't deserve it.
Authors Note/Summary: This story has been stuck in my head since the finale so I finally decided to just write it down and get it out there. It's sort of my way of fixing some of the things that drove me nuts the last two years of the show. Starting with the fact that Max and Liz suddenly forgot how to have a conversation! (LOL)

I'm something of a technological quaker so I'm just gonna pray this works...Hope you like, let me know what you think...

1-1-5

Incredible Banner courtesy of TeddyBehrJKT. Thanks, hon!


*********Prologue, 2005******
The dark haired little boy sat quietly on the floor playing with the toy plane. He concentrated on hearing the drone of its engine in his head as he attempted to ignore the loud clashing voices that filtered through his imagination from the other room.

‘And where are we going to get the money to do that?’

‘We can’t have gone through the life insurance money yet! God, what do you do with it?! You’re never home. You can’t spend all your time at the Base…is there a woman? Is that what you’re spending my sister’s life insurance on?!’

‘Please! Do you think I need another shrew screaming in my ear? You keep forgetting that along with all that money came that freaky brat.’

‘Will you be quiet. He’ll hear you!’


The voices were hushed now, but the little boy hadn’t missed the sudden fear that had come into his Aunt’s voice. Or the fact that his Uncle, who never lowered his voice, suddenly had. He hadn’t meant to scare them. He just…had. Scared himself too. The planes trajectory hitched a little as it came to rest on the carpet and his troubled eyes closed wearily. He didn’t remember his Aunt’s sister. Mom. Or Dad. He was too little to remember the people who his cousin said made him a spoiled brat. He didn’t remember the car accident but he’d been told that there had been one. They had been going to pick him up from the baby sitter. He’d been told that too. Right now what he saw clearly was the look of horror on his Aunts face when he’d shoved Richie across the room. Without touching him.

--------yesterday--------

‘Gimme that plane you little brat!’

‘I’m playin’ wit’ it!’

‘It’s mine!’

‘You got lots’.

‘I want that one.’ Richie had reached for the plane and the sudden fury on the older boys had scared him. Without thinking he had extended his hand. And his cousin had stumbled back into the wall on the opposite side of the room. And then his Aunt was staring at him. He could see her fear.

‘I…I’m sowwy…’

‘Richie come to Mom.’

‘Mom, he…’ Richie’s eyes were wide.

‘Now, Richie!’ She had engulfed her son in her arms and pulled him from the living room.


Sighing softly the little boy opened his eyes and began playing with the plane again, watching it bank and turn as it followed the path set by his hand. Richie was staying with friends. He wished he had friends to stay with. He returned his attention to the plane and wished he could climb in. He’d seen the real planes on his Uncles base. He could fit in one of those. Maybe one day he would fly away.

“Alexander!”

Startled, Xan lost his concentration. He watched as, across the room the suddenly unsupported plane fell with a thud onto the coffee table. He turned to look at his Aunt who was standing with her back against the wall, eyes widened in fear.

“I’m sowwy.” Xan tried to apologize. His aunt waved it off, but he knew it wasn’t OK. “I’m not gonna do it ‘gin.” Again Lori waved him off and Xan felt a lump settle heavily in his stomach.

“It’s OK Xan. Really. Ok. Come have dinner with me and then we’re gonna go meet your Uncle and some of his friends.” This little boy wasn’t normal, she cautioned herself. Had never been. She told herself that she and Walter were doing the right thing. She had her own son to think about, after all. Walter was right. There were people out there better equipped to handle Xan. She could feel Xan staring at her with that startlingly perceptive gaze so she continued babbling to cover her nervousness. “You like the Base, don’t you sweetie? You’ll be able to see the planes, OK?” Lori continued brightly.

********Part 1*******

Max watched his wife through the window of the restaurant with an odd sense of déjà vu. His wife. He couldn’t help the smile that suddenly lit his features. It had been three years but he didn’t know if he’d ever get used to the fact that he’d married Liz Parker. Liz Evans he corrected himself, smile widening. Or actually Liz O’Connor considering the last name they were using at the moment. He saw her glance briefly over her left shoulder as she finished taking an order. She twirled a lock of long dark hair around her fingers and sent a small smile in his direction. He loved when she did that. Loved that they were finally safe enough for her hair to be free of dye and long enough to spill around them when they made love. Sighing against a sudden piercing hunger he pulled the door open and went inside, heading to the bar to wait for her shift to end.

“Fergit it, buhddy.” A slightly slurred voice advised from his left.

Max’s brows furrowed slightly. “Forget what?”

“Thah schick aint in’trest’d.”

Max’s eyes narrowed as he fully faced the balding, middle aged man sitting next to him. “How would you know?” He asked with cold curiosity.

Oblivious to the danger sitting directly beside him the man continued “I tried ta ohrder her fer dinner.” He laughed in inebriated amusement at the irony of ordering his waitress for dinner. He sobered briefly as he remembered the waitresses gentle dismissal. “Buht she wasn on da menuh. Married. Like Ih’m not!” The man huffed.

Max relaxed as he realized the guy was harmless. “Married, huh?”

The guy nodded.

Max watched as Liz collected the last of her tips and headed for the backroom. “Maybe I’ll try my luck anyway.”

“She wohn’t lishen to yew eidder.”

Max smiled as he slid from the barstool and headed for the backroom. “She might. I have the matching ring.”

Walking through the swinging door Max was hit by another wave of déjà vu when his wife walked out of the changing room and asked “What are you doing here Max? I thought you were dropping Iz off at the airport.”

Liz was focused on the stubborn clasp of the necklace she was fastening around her neck and so she missed the intense darkening of her husbands eyes. His arms came around her from behind, pulling her against the heat of his body. “What if I told you I had orders from my planet to take over the Earth?” His whisper caressed her ear and she shivered involuntarily. She forgot about fastening the necklace, choosing instead to drop it into her pocket as she turned into Max’s embrace.

Kissing him lightly on the mouth she whispered “Besides that.”

Liz’s smile was lost as Max lowered his head and claimed her lips for a long sensual kiss. His tongue slipped into her mouth, caressing hers and eliciting a small whimper. Max stifled a groan as her hand reached around to cup his ass. He suddenly wished for the table that had been so conveniently located in the back of the Crashdown.

Liz broke the kiss, breathing heavily as her eyes met Max’s own passion filled gaze. “There’s a couch.” She whispered before capturing his mouth and gently pushing him farther into the room.

Happily following her prompting, Max shuffled backward, until the back of his legs hit the couch. Sinking down he pulled Liz onto his lap. “Mmmmm, I love the way your mind works.”

“Jeez! Isn’t the honeymoon over yet?”

Max and Liz froze as the voice intruded on them. Breaking the kiss Liz took a second to steady her uneven breathing then twisted around. Max captured her hand before it could come to rest in any place that would render the other presence in the room null and void, then took his own steadying breath and shifted to look over Liz’s shoulder at their intrusion. “Hello, Maria.” He said dolefully.

Giving Max a sympathetic half smile and a quick kiss Liz climbed from his lap before addressing her best friend. “And to answer your question, I don’t intend for this honeymoon to ever be over.”

“Well God help the rest of us then.” Maria smirked and then turned to look at Max. “You don’t look too happy to see me here, Max.”

“I can’t imagine why.” Max muttered. Maria raised an eyebrow in question and he looked at her innocently “What are you doing here anyway?”

“Well, see someone was supposed to be taking their sister to the airport and so I was going to walk that someone’s wife back to her apartment before my set so that someone didn’t worry.” Maria paused and then continued with a pointed look. “Like that someone asked me to.”

“Oh.” Max caught Liz’s look of amusement and had the grace to look embarrassed. “I just feel better knowing you’re not alone.”

Liz just shook her head. “Yeah, ‘cause I know how intimidating Maria is to all those people out there who want me dead.”

“First of all, no joking about people wanting you dead and second of all, that’s what I said.” Maria responded.

Max sighed “Liz, I just…”

“I know, I’m just teasing.” Leaning down Liz brushed her lips softly against his own. “I like that you worry about me.” Max smiled and reached to cup her cheek as he pulled her closer and deepened the kiss.

Maria rolled her eyes. “I wish someone would worry about me.” She grumbled.

“I worry about you….Ow!” Michael grabbed his forehead and then reached out to steady Maria, who had her hand clutched to her chest in fright.

“Jesus, Michael! Wear a bell, you nearly gave me a heart attack!”

“Yeah, well, watch the flailing arms will ya? You probably did give me a concussion.” Michael ground out, still recovering from her unintended backhand. He nodded at Liz and then looked curiously at Max. “What are you doing here? I thought you were taking Iz to the airport.”

Max let out a suddenly frustrated sigh. “Jesse got out on an earlier flight so she put herself on standby and ended up getting out early too. So I decided to come see my wife. Is that against the law?”

“Everything we do is against the law.” Michael muttered. He flinched briefly as Maria hit him in the arm. “Well, since we don’t have to walk Liz back to the apartment do you wanna head straight over to Tiny’s?” Michael hoped briefly she’d tell him they didn’t have to go at all. He hated the damn place. Tiny’s was a dive if ever one existed. But it was so far removed from the beaten path that they didn’t have to worry about anyone recognizing her. Or recognizing her talent and offering her a recording contract. Michael refused to let Maria go anywhere near the place unless he was there to watch her back. And her front, come to that. But Maria wanted to sing. And even as he cursed himself for doing it he was still reaping the benefits of being the one who had brought the opportunity to her attention

“Oh, God! I’m gonna be late!” She threw a look at Max and Liz “I’ll see you guys tomorrow, I can’t be late.” She grabbed Michael and pulled him out the door before Liz could tell her to ‘break a leg.’

Max watched in wonder as Maria pulled Michael behind her. And Michael simply followed. “Wow. Hurricane Deluca strikes again.”

“She’s just excited Max. You know, I mean we were all scattered for so long. And then you factor in the whole ‘in the same place for more than two weeks’ and it’s a hurricane waiting to happen. Plus she’s singing again…”

Max nodded in understanding and teased. “And now that she’s a redhead she’s got a mystique to live up to.” He and Michael had secretly agreed that Maria had always been a redhead on the inside and had been living up to the mystique her whole life.

Liz snorted at her husband. “It’s like she’s been working on overload for the last few months.” She replied, settling herself back on Max’s lap. “Speaking of overload…where were we?”

Max groaned before giving Liz a light kiss on the lips and standing up, setting his wife firmly on her own feet. “Getting interrupted.” He said dryly. At Liz’s pout he leaned down and began lightly nibbling her ear lobe. “You know, I hear there’s this apartment right down the street with a really big bed.” Max stopped talking long enough to kiss his way down the beating line of her pulse. “Wanna hear the best part?”

His whisper skated along the sensitive skin of her throat and Liz took a deep breath before answering “There’s something better than the bed?” She teased, taking the opportunity to press her lips to the hollow at the base of Max’s throat, enjoying the reflexive leap of his adams apple.

“Yeah, there’s a kitchen table, living room carpet – hey, there’s a couch there too, a fire escape…”

“Max!” Liz pulled away, blushing a little and slapping at his arm. “We are not doing it on the fire escape.”

Max pretended to consider it for a second. “You’re right, there’s not a whole lot of room to move. But we haven’t gotten to the best part yet.”

“Oh yeah?” By now Liz was standing in front of him, her hands planted on her hips and her head tilted in curiosity. “So what’s the best part?”

“The very big lock someone’s husband so thoughtfully provided for the front door.”

Liz laughed “There is that, yes.”

“So what’s your pleasure?”

“You.” Laughter mixed easily with desire as she slipped her arms around his neck and stood on tip toe to give him a swift kiss. “Let’s go home.”






Should I keep going?

[ edited 42time(s), last at 10-Feb-2003 2:29:50 AM ]
posted on 18-Jun-2002 5:42:30 PM by Pathos
Thanks so much for all the great fb guys! I was so excited to see that people actually read this. And I'm really glad y'all are enjoying it. Here's the next couple parts - let me know what ya think...
(Disclaimer and all that at the beginning)
*********Part 2*********

Xan swung his legs against the edge of the bed and sighed in boredom. Dr. Dave was sitting next to him, trying to convince him he wanted to play with the puzzle. Or the ball. Or the train. Or the plane. Xan just stared at him quite convinced that he really didn’t want to play with any of those things. He didn’t even feel like drawing on the pristine white walls anymore.

“I wanna go ou’side.”

“Alright, Alexander. Show me how you can make the train move and maybe later I can get you some time outside.”

“I wanna see da planes.”

“Alexander, I said later. Now…”

Xan’s eyes narrowed. “You always say dat. And we nevewr do. Is NEVEWR latewr!” Xan’s voice rose in anger while his left arm reached out and swept the puzzle from its place on the bed next to him. “I don’t wanna be hewre now. I wanna GO HOME!”

Dr. Dave’s voice was calm to the point of coldness as he reminded the little boy. “This is home.”

“Nuh-uh! I live wit Aun’ Lori and…”

“Not anymore, Alexander. Your Aunt is letting you live here now.”

“NO! She tol’ me. I’m just here fowr tests. To get bettewr. I…I’m sick. I need andibe…anit…med’cine. Den I GO HOME!”

“There are no antibiotics for you Alexander. And your Aunt can’t take care of you. We can.”

“NO! I WANNA GO HOME!” Xan jumped from the bed as Dr. Dave made a move to touch him. “Leave me ‘lone. Yowr not da boss of me!” He kicked the soccer ball at the Doctor, but the heavy ball didn’t go far. He watched apprehensively as Dr. Dave approached him.

Kneeling down so that he was eye level with Xan, Dave gripped the child’s upper arms firmly. He needed to get control of him if this project was going to continue.. He kept his voice low and controlled. “Your Aunt doesn’t want you there anymore, Alexander. She’s afraid you could hurt her little boy.” Xan opened his mouth to protest but Dave pressed on. “Now I know you would never do that. Not on purpose. But we don’t want there to be any accidents. That’s why you have to stay here. We’re going to protect you, Alexander. Show you how to control what you can do. Then, when you’re older you’ll help us back.”

“Don’ wanna help you.” Xan whispered rebelliously as his lower lip trembled and the tears that he’d held back for the last week started to flow. He whimpered a little as Dr. Dave’s grip on his arms increased.

“You will.” Dave released the little boy, stood up and walked to the door. He knocked to have it opened and then whispered to the guard outside. A second later the only light in the room was that which spilled from the hallway through the open door. “You will find Alexander, that I am the boss of you. But for now you need to learn to be good.” Dave stepped through the doorway, ignoring Xan’s wide, tear filled eyes as he allowed the door to close behind him.

As the shadows swallowed the little boy the doctor heard a desperate wail which translated vaguely into ‘No’ and then the unmistakable sound of the plane, the train, the puzzle and the ball all hitting the door at the same time. Dave smiled to himself and then pulled out his pocket recorder. “Subject is unwilling to perform telekinetically when requested. However, when emotional stress, particularly manipulation of the fear response, is applied his inclination tends towards said mental capacity.” Clicking off his recorder Dave started to head to his office to make a more detailed report.

“Uh, sir?” Troy hoped he had disguised the disgust that was practically choking him as he spoke. At 6’ 4” and 225 pounds of muscle there weren’t many situations that made him uncomfortable. In fact, he was fully aware that his bulk coupled with his dark skin often made others uneasy. But this was making him sick. ‘Three more weeks’ he counseled himself sternly. Three more weeks and he would be back in the air. Assuming he didn’t fuck up this cushy guard shit.

“Yes Troy?” Dave turned to look at the guard stationed at the door.

“When should I turn the lights back on?”

Dave shook his head. “It’s 8:30 now. Let him sleep through the night. Turn them on at the regular time tomorrow.”

“Sir, I, uh, I think he’s afraid of the dark. Sir.” Think? Hell, Troy knew the kid was afraid. He could hear him screaming through the door, promising to be good if they just turned the lights back on. Troy bit back the temptation to promise the same thing.

“He needs to know who’s in charge here. Besides, it’s not like we’re beating him into submission. Turn them on at 7 am. Goodnight Troy.” Dave rolled his eyes at the guards ignorance. Kids needed rules and punishment when they broke those rules. Alexander would cry himself to sleep soon anyway. A little darkness wouldn’t hurt him in the long run.

“Night sir.” Troy took a deep breath and silently prayed that the kid would cry himself to sleep sooner rather than later. He wished to hell he’d never gotten wounded flying over that god forsaken desert. Then he wouldn’t have been grounded. And then he wouldn’t be stuck in front of some door while ‘Dr. Dave’ tortured a little kid in the name of national security.


***********Part 3*********

Max unlocked the door to the apartment and stepped inside, scanning the interior quickly before stepping aside to allow Liz to enter. Her brows furrowed at his sudden tension. Staying behind him Liz dropped a quick kiss on his shoulder as she gently ran her hand up and down his arm.

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Nothing, I guess.” He replied absently. Max quickly noted that the living room and kitchenette areas were clear. He strode down their small hallway, surreptitiously checking the two bedrooms and small bathroom as he washed his hands. When he emerged Liz was leaning against the counter in the kitchen watching him with her arms folded across her chest and a knowing look in her eye. “What? My hands were…”

“Getting antsy?”

“My hands?” He asked innocently. Sighing, Max gave in to Liz’s suddenly pointed gaze. “Maybe a little. I guess I just got used to, I don’t know - to not getting used to someplace. We’ve been here four months. I just feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.” He offered a self deprecating smile. “Crazy, huh? I got used to being chased by crazed military commanders and now that I’m not I feel like I should be.”

Liz couldn’t help the small smile that flit across her lips. “Crazed military commanders? No more ‘Farscape’ for you.” Her voice softened as she continued. “And no, I don’t think you’re crazy. I’d think you were crazy if you dropped out of Alien Defcon 5 and didn’t blink an eye.”

Max raised his brows “Alien Defcon 5? You’ve been hanging out with Kyle too much.”

“Hey! I’ll have you know I made that term up myself years ago.”

Max strode towards her, stopping when he was a breath away from touching her. “Oh yeah?” he challenged softly.

“Yeah.” She sighed into the sudden warmth of his kiss. She started to press closer to him ready to finish what they’d started back at the restaurant. Surprisingly Max pulled away.

Resting his forehead against hers Max closed his eyes for a second before opening them and catching her gaze. “Are you ok with this?”

She nodded, unsure what had brought the sudden vulnerability to his eyes. “Very ok.” She whispered, shifting slightly to kiss his forehead, the tip of his nose, then finally capturing his lips. “Very, Very OK.”

Max smiled at her, but shook his head. “Not with this. I mean with ALL of this. With me. With the way our life is now.” He took a step back to give her a little space, but kept her in a loose embrace. Now that they weren’t constantly looking over their shoulders the realization of everything she’d given up had been nagging at the back of his mind for what seemed like forever. Everything had worked out for him. She was in his arms. Just having her beside him gave him the reason and the confidence to take on whoever threatened their odd extended family. But she had given up so much. “Liz, you’d be graduating college in a year. You’d be on the way to making all your dreams come true. I just, lately I’ve just been realizing how much I’ve held you back.”

“Max…”

Liz was shaking her head, but Max continued doggedly. Needing to say this. Needing to hear her response. “I know Kyle wishes he hadn’t come with us. Especially since his powers have been AWOL this whole time. But you, Liz you really didn’t have a lot of options when we left.”

“Max stop.”

She reached out a hand to cover his mouth but Max simply captured her fingers. He brushed them lightly with his lips before continuing softly. “What about Northwestern, what about your dreams?”

“Would you have gone with me?”

“To Northwestern? Of course. I was completely serious about that.”

“Then I would have been OK. Max, my dreams changed when I met you.” At Max’s somewhat deflated look Liz shook her head. “Hey, that’s not a bad thing. And I did have choices Max. I didn’t have to marry you. And all those times the group had to split up I could have gone with, I don’t know, Isabel – don’t you dare laugh - if I didn’t want to be with you. Or I could have gone out on my own. My point here is that yes, college would have been nice, but only if I could share it with you.” Her delicate hands reached forward to cup his face, her right thumb brushing softly against his lower lip before continuing. “I can stand on my own Max, but I’m not complete unless you’re standing with me.”

Max allowed himself to feel the sincerity that seemed to emanate from every fiber of her being. The love she felt and her willingness to go anywhere as long as it meant they were together amazed him, as it always did.

“Northwestern isn’t going anywhere. And if I never go, I never go. Losing out on college is nothing compared to how much it would hurt me to lose you. I can always find another dream to chase Max. And I know you’ll be there to help me catch it.” Liz willed him to believe her this time. To believe that this was enough for her. To know that HE was what she wanted. Her heart broke as she felt how completely he still blamed himself for things that were beyond his control. Wrapping her arms around his neck Liz pulled him into her embrace and whispered softly in his ear. “Baby, don’t you know by now what you are to me? What you’ve always been? What you always will be? You’re the love of my life, Max.”

“Liz.” Her name was a promise, a vow. An epiphany. It was all Max was able to whisper before his lips met hers for a passionate kiss. His tongue mated with hers and all the doubts melted away as he felt her mold her body to his. His arms tightened around her, willing her closer if that were possible and forcing a slight whimper to escape from her lips. He allowed the kiss to break only when oxygen became an issue, but he couldn’t let go. Especially when he became aware that she was holding him just as tightly.

“I love you so much.” He whispered raggedly, his eyes searching out her own luminous gaze. “So much! I know its selfish and I know I don’t deserve you.” He threaded his fingers through her hair and rested his forehead briefly against hers. “I wish so much that things could be different, that we could have a normal life. But if living like this keeps you safe in my arms then I can’t complain. And I won’t ever let you go.” He raised his head to capture her gaze in his own as he admitted “You make me - me. Without you I have no direction. No balance. You, Liz. You’re my heart and my soul. You won’t ever lose me, because I could never bear losing you.”

He crushed her lips to his, savoring the welcome when she opened them for him and stroked his tongue with her own. He needed to feel her, to be inside her. His hand slipped below her shirt, gliding upward to caress her breast over the fabric of her bra. Too many clothes! “Max” God he loved it when she moaned his name like that. He felt her small hands fumbling with the edges of his T-shirt. “Max!” He gave in to her demand, relinquishing his hold on her in order to pull the shirt over his head and dump it on the kitchen floor. He felt her sigh. “So beautiful, Max.” she murmured. He had to be glowing. He couldn’t be this warm, feel this light, this good and not be glowing. He felt her trace his collar bone with her tongue, then lick a path down his chest to his right nipple. She sucked on the tightened nub, then grazed her teeth lightly over the sensitive flesh as her hands caressed the ridges of his abdomen before reaching for the button of his jeans.

Reaching down Max captured her hand. “Not so fast.” He whispered. “We have all night.” He kissed her deeply once again. “And you’re still dressed.” He waved his hand down the front of her shirt, unbuttoning it and undoing the front clasp of her bra with his powers.

“Show off.” Liz’s husky amusement turned to a moan as Max swept the shirt and bra from her body and cupped her left breast, brushing his thumb over the already sensitive nipple. He unzipped her slim black skirt and pushed it to the floor. Gripping her waist Max lifted her to sit on the counter then moved to stand between her legs and caught her mouth in a deep savage kiss. His skilled fingers stroked across her nipple and then tweaked the sensitized flesh sending a jolt of energy straight to her core. “oh God” she moaned as his lips slid down the column of her throat and found the curve of her breast licking in ever decreasing circles towards her nipple while his hand slid past her panties into the liquid heat gathering between her legs. Liz gripped the edge of the counter with one hand and tangled the other in Max’s hair as he found her nipple and suckled gently. “God! Max! What happened to…right there…to ‘not so fast’…Max!”

Max lifted his head from her breast long enough to whisper “Later.” She nodded but then her eyes closed as he found her clit again and began to stroke teasingly over it. Her voice had risen an octave and he was pretty sure she’d lost her train of thought. There was no small amount of masculine pride in the unbidden thought that he was the only one who saw her like this. The only one that could do this to her. ‘The only one that ever would.’ He thought possessively. Her hips bucked against his hand and his fingers were slick with the wetness of her arousal as he wisely kept the last thought to himself. He began kissing his way down her stomach, circling her navel with his tongue and marveling at the small tremor that rippled against his hand. He felt her fingers tighten in his hair and noticed her trembling thighs. And the heavy feeling of his own almost painful arousal. He looked up into her dark hungry eyes, caressing her softly. “Easy. I want to taste you.”

Liz shook her head. “Later.” She panted. He was driving her crazy. “No more teasing Max, please? I need you.” She pulled his head up until their lips met again. She softly traced his bottom lip then darted her tongue in and out of his mouth. Touching, but never lingering. Her suddenly clumsy fingers finally popped the button on his jeans and then quickly forced the zipper down. The growl that had been building in the back of his throat came out in a groan as he cupped her face and pulled her to him for a real kiss. She took the opportunity to use the last of her sanity to push his pants and boxers down to his ankles and grasp the hard length of his manhood. Max hissed into their kiss. She stroked him up and down, her thumb brushing over the head of his cock as he thrust against her hand. “Please, Max?”

“Yes.” He pulled her from the counter and turned toward the table, almost tripping over the pants gathered at his ankles. “Damn it!” Max quickly shucked his work boots and then stepped out of his pants. He looked up to find Liz reaching for the cookie jar. “Liz?” She turned around and held up a condom triumphantly. He couldn’t contain his sudden grin. “Do I wanna know why?” He asked gesturing toward the cookie jar.

Liz blushed. The reason was ridiculous. They were married for Pete’s sake. People knew they had sex. “Maria came in while I was putting away the groceries…I don’t know why but I suddenly felt like…”

“A kid with her hand caught in the cookie jar?” Max asked dryly. His smile widened at her embarrassed nod. Only Liz.

Tired of Max’s amusement she sank to her knees in front of him. “Problem with that?” she asked leaning forward to stroke his cock slowly before sucking the head into her mouth.

“God no!” Max closed his eyes, tangling his hand in her long hair and enjoying the sensation of her mouth sliding over the length of him as she fixed the condom in place. He groaned as he slid completely from her mouth and she carefully stood up flush with his body.

“I need you inside me.” She whispered urgently, wrapping her arms around his neck. She felt Max lift her up and settle her on the kitchen table, stripping the wet fabric of her panties from her body in the process. Stepping between her legs Max rubbed himself against her slick heat. Her hips bucked and she clutched his shoulders tighter. She heard his whispered ‘I love you’ and then he was inside her in one long smooth thrust. “Oh, yes!”

God yes! He’d go through anything as long as he could always come home to this, to her. To her warmth wrapped around him. Her love enveloping him. There was no one else that could ever make him feel this. She was home. He lost all coherent thought as he pumped into her, feeling her arms roaming his back, over his ass, Her legs lifting to twine around his waist, pulling him closer to her, deeper inside her. Branding him as a part of herself as much as he knew she was a part of him. Complete. Whole. He’d never known it until Liz.

Max! He was in her, around her. Holding her safe against himself, always. He thrust harder and Liz felt her stomach clench in preparation as her hips lifted instinctively to match each deep stroke. God, this was right. She was only ever whole when they were together like this. No one else did this to her. No one else ever could. She was so close. She felt him reach between their bodies and lightly stroke her clit.

“God Max! Yes! please…harder…don’t stop…harder”

“Cum for me baby…I want you here with me…God, I can feel you”

“YES!” They saw stars as their mutual orgasm washed over them. It was minutes before either could do anything more than concentrate on breathing.

Max groaned as he made a small attempt to push himself away from Liz but she tightened her arms and legs. “Not yet.” She whispered. “Stay with me a little longer.”

Completely sated Max nodded against her throat. So this was happy. This woman in his arms. She was absently rubbing patterns up and down his back, sighing in the midst of her own contentment. Forcing himself to raise his head from its position cradled in the crook of her neck, Max cupped Liz’s face, brushing lightly at the hair sticking to her temple. “It’s going to be awful uncomfortable waking up like this.” He pointed out.

Liz wrinkled her nose at him but agreed. “That means you first.” She couldn’t help her moan of loss as he slipped completely free of her body. Sitting on the table she took the time to admire the way the muscles worked across his back and butt as he disposed of the condom and gathered their clothes.

Yawning Max turned back to Liz. “Ready for that big bed I promised you?” A portion of his exhaustion was lost as he watched his wife slide slowly from the table. Seeing Liz covering a yawn of her own he ushered her back towards their bedroom as he checked the front door lock one last time, lending it a little extraterrestrial oompf.

Liz threw one of Max’s T-shirt’s over her head and then slid under the covers when she reached the bed. She was almost asleep when her husbands teasing voice pulled her back to consciousness. “We need to have a talk about some of those fantasies, sweetheart.”

Blushing tiredly Liz asked “What’d you see now?”

Max yawned against her hair as he settled against her body saying. “I always knew you were wild but long hair and leather?” He chuckled lightly and pressed a soft kiss against his wife’s shoulder, noticing her sudden tension and chalking it up to embarrassment. “I tease because I love.” And with that he settled down to sleep as Liz swallowed convulsively and tried to convince herself she was still tired.





Ok, so I figured I'd give y'all a happy M/L part considering that it's gonna get kinda bumpy from here. Hope it was ok...

posted on 19-Jun-2002 4:10:40 PM by Pathos
Thanks for the fb guys - I promise that the questions about Xan's human/non human status will be answered...well, later actually *wink, wink* I'm going to have to leave him for a bit and concentrate on Max and Liz. This starts the converation I would have loved to see last season. Oh, well. Let me know what you think and thanks for reading.

*************Part 4***********
“Hey! What’re you doing home?” Max asked in surprise as he stepped through the front door and saw his wife working busily in their small kitchenette.

“I called in sick. Thought I’d stay home and make dinner for my husband.” Liz replied.

“Lucky guy.” Max said with a grin, walking past the kitchen and heading for the bathroom. “Lemme go take a shower, I’m disgusting.” He grinned as her ‘You’re never disgusting’ floated down the hall after him. She could say that but after working construction all day Max knew she was lying.

Fifteen minutes later Liz heard Max step behind her. Glancing at him she said “That was quick.”

“You gave me a great incentive. So what’s for dinner?”

“Well, I figured you wouldn’t want anything too heavy considering the heat so how does egg salad with relish and Tabasco sound to you?”

“Fabulous, thanks.” Max sat down at the table as she handed him his plate and took the seat to his right. Taking a huge bite Max chewed contentedly then swallowed. “Perfect. I knew there was a reason I married you.” He glanced towards the untouched sandwich on her own plate. “Aren’t you gonna eat?” He asked before taking another bite. Swallowing quickly he reached for the chocolate milk she’d set in front of him. He smiled as he tasted the exact right amount of Tabasco mixed in. His eyes suddenly narrowed as he chewed thoughtfully on another bite of his sandwich. Swallowing he said “There wouldn’t happen to be rocky road with Tabasco for dessert would there?”

“Yeah. There’s also some hot fudge to heat up if you want.” Liz said brightly.

Shit. Max put his sandwich down. “Did Langley call? How bad is it?”

“It’s nothing like that. It’s not bad. Not anymore, I mean…” Liz stopped. Taking a calming breath she raked the hair back from her face and looked at Max. “Langley didn’t call. This is about, um, you remember the night you saw Kyle and I? The night of the uh, the Gomez concert?” She was really going to do this. Liz was suddenly glad she hadn’t eaten because at the moment she felt like she was about to throw up.

Max’s eyes were guarded as he pretended nonchalance. “Yeah.” He swallowed a bite past the sudden lump in his throat and then put his sandwich down again. Did he remember? Was she kidding? And why was she so nervous?

“There’s, there’s something I need to tell you about that night.” She saw Max nod in what she knew he thought was an encouraging manner. She also saw that he quite suddenly looked more green then she’d ever seen him in his life. She bit her lip to quell the almost hysterical giggle that welled inside her throat at the thought of her alien husband suddenly turning green then pressed on. “I mean you know nothing happened.”

Max nodded emphatically. “Of course. It was a long time ago, Liz.”

Who did he think he was kidding? It may have been a long time ago but she could feel the shadow of his pain and confusion even now. The look he’d shot Kyle the afternoon he had found them both sitting, fully clothed on her bed when she’d first started experiencing her changes flashed suddenly across her mind. He may have moved beyond it but she wasn’t sure he was over it. Pulling herself back to the conversation she continued. “Yeah, it was but, um what you saw – you know the flash with the long hair and the leather – it has to do with that night. Actually it started the night of the serenade.”

“Huh?” Max’s brows drew together over very confused amber eyes. What was she talking about? “What does the serenade have to do with Kyle? And you know, about that flash, it’s been bugging me all day. The more I thought about it today the more it didn’t seem like a fantasy.” He reached out and lightly caressed her hand where it rested on the table. “Liz, there’s so much pain attached to that flash. I don’t understand how a fantasy…”

“It wasn’t a fantasy.” Her voice was so quiet Liz wondered if Max heard her. She felt his hand still against hers. Yep.

“What do you mean, sweetheart? How is that possible?” Max lowered his voice to match hers. She looked so scared. And he could feel the tension coming off of her in waves.

Liz took a deep breath as she opened her mouth to do something she had promised never to do. “The night you serenaded me, you also came back to me from the future. What you saw, the long hair and the leather, that’s what you looked like when you came to me that night.”

“It was not.” Max sat up in his chair, seeing the complete seriousness in every line of his wife’s body. The dark hidden depths of her eyes willed him to believe her. She nodded. He shook his head. “I came…Why? To critique my own singing?”

“This is not funny.” Liz crossed her arms protectively across her chest.

Max cringed at the harsh fragility of her voice. “Sorry, bad time to joke.” He took a deep fortifying breath. “Ok. Just, just start from the beginning.”

The beginning. Right. She could do that. “So Maria dragged Alex and I to go see Madame Vivian. She’s a psychic.”

“The psychic she dragged Michael to?” Max asked in confusion.

“Yeah. Max, I really need to just say this ok?” He nodded and gestured for her to continue. “So, ok, Madame Vivian tells me that I’m going to marry my true love and live happily ever after and not be left wanting. And she says she’s never seen the cards fall the way they did for us, me and I am like completely ecstatic.” She paused for a second, taking in the shocked expression on Max’s face. When he made no move to ask her a question after he snapped his mouth shut she continued. “So I go home and I’m standing in front of my mirror practicing my wedding vows, ya know ‘I Liz Parker take you Max Evans’…” Liz noted the small smile that lit his features at that last part and prayed that he keep a little of that good humor through the rest of this. “So anyway there I was and suddenly there was this light and then you were at my window, only you had long hair and you were wearing leather. You looked like you had come from this war zone, which actually you had…”

“Wait, war…sorry.” Max raised his hands in supplication, nodding for Liz to continue. He was going insane. Or she was. But he could hear it in her voice and feel it in his bones. She was telling him the truth.

“So anyway to prove that he really was you he told me that you, present day you was going to be stopping by to serenade me in like 3 seconds. And I told him you’d never do anything that cheesy and then, then you did.”

“I should have known that would never work.” Max muttered under his breath. He could still remember the hope he’d held so close against his soul as he walked away that night. He’d thought she was softening.

Liz took a deep breath, battling the shadow of his pain and her own as she reached forward and lay her hand over Max’s own. “No. See that’s just it, Max. It really kinda would have. Only you, the future version of you said that if we got together then…if we got together then the world would end.” She felt Max’s hand slip from her grasp as shock forced him completely back in his chair.

“What?”

“That’s why you came back from the future Max, you had to break us apart. You told me that I had to make you fall out of love with me or in 14 years our enemies would take over the Earth. Everything I did, telling you those horrible things, saying I wanted to date normal guys, saying I wouldn’t die for you. Helping…helping Tess. It was because you said I needed to. The Future you said I needed to do that so nobody would die and the Earth would be safe.” She knew she had rushed that. Even as the words were leaving her mouth she realized they sounded ridiculous. But she also knew that Max could feel she was telling the truth. The problem was that all she could sense from him was a sudden confused aching numbness. “Max?”

“How could our being together cause the end of the world?” Max asked, trying to find some logic in all his confusion.

Liz bit her lower lip, averting her gaze briefly before looking back at him. He seemed completely calm and she’d never been more worried in her life. “In his timeline we grew closer to each other after the serenade. We were together and I guess we, I guess Tess just got fed up and she left. You, Future you said that without Tess your unit wasn’t strong enough to defeat our enemies. You said it was, Future you said we had to keep Tess in Roswell otherwise…”

“It would mean the end of the world. Why didn’t I see that one coming?” Max muttered sardonically.
“So how long do we have?”

“Max.” Liz looked over at him sharply, begging him silently to believe her, to accept this. To understand.

Max shook his head, desperate to clear it. He knew he’d be able to follow along if he could just get the blood the stop rushing so loudly through his brain. He felt like he’d just been handed a riddle printed in invisible ink. The feeling was ages old and suddenly too close for comfort. “Sorry. I take it this other me had no idea Tess was a traitor.”

“Guess not.” Liz whispered.

“Why didn’t he come to me? Why didn’t you?”

Liz could hear the confusion in his voice. She knew Max was trying to work this all out in his head and she knew he was getting nowhere. And she knew how he felt. “You, he said you could never know. He couldn’t go to you because you couldn’t be near each other. If you touched you would have destroyed each other.” She ignored Max’s ironic snort, desperate suddenly to make him see that she’d had no real choice. “I wanted to go to you Max. I did. So many times. But he said that you could never know. That you had to fall out of love with me and you could never know.”

“So you pretended to sleep with Kyle to make me fall out of love with you?” He asked incredulously and saw Liz nod. “And you thought it worked?”

Liz’s eyes snapped to meet Max’s gaze. She had expected the hurt, but the thread of anger she heard in his voice and felt under her skin took her a little by surprise. “Not now, but then…”

“Really?” He bit out. “Then that wasn’t me. Believe me, no matter what, I would have known that there was no way for me to fall out of love with you.”

His voice had been quiet but more anger had seeped into his tone. It was beginning to have an adverse affect on her own tightly strung nerves. “You’re different now, Max. The version of you that came to me, once we changed the future, you would no longer ever become that same version of you. Just like I’m not the same person that his Liz was. Not after everything that happened.” A soft bitterness had crept into her own tone as Liz suddenly flashed on all the things that had happened since the night Future Max had turned her life upside down.

“So what was he like? This future version of me?” He didn’t know why that was suddenly the most important question he could think to ask, but it was.

Something about his tone set Liz further on edge. She shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know, I mean he was good. He was desperate. I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know what you want me to say, I…”

“Just tell me this,” Max struggled to control a suddenly raging temper. When he heard Liz’s sharp intake of breath and felt the sudden prick of her own temper he knew he hadn’t been successful in keeping his anger hidden. “Just tell me how you could listen to that stupid son of a bitch.”

Hadn’t he been listening? “It was you, Max.” She offered helplessly.

posted on 21-Jun-2002 5:34:46 PM by Pathos
Glad you guys are enjoying this. Thanks for all the fb. I promise not to leave Xan in the clutches of the military for too much longer but for now here's the next couple parts. Please let me know what you think.

And now, on with the show...

***********Part 5************
Max allowed his head to fall into his hands as the weight of her statement hit him square in the gut. It was him. His jaw clenched as he forced himself to rein in his temper. He remembered that time so clearly. The pain, the confusion. The mistakes that had followed one after the other. And it was him. He felt like Wile E Coyote must feel after getting hit in the head with an anvil. Now if only he could find the cliff so he could jump “But…Did he even understand…were we together? Was he even married to his…version of you?” He asked lifting his head to watch his wife. He couldn’t have been, Max thought. He knew he would never give her up. Not knowing what he knew now.

Liz nodded carefully, taking a deep breath to calm her own anger. Her eyes narrowed as she tried to read the emotions that were playing out across his face. “We got married at 19. In Vegas.” She could see the pieces fall into place behind his eyes.

“The Elvis chapel.” Max didn’t bother to wait for her nod. All this time everything was right in front of him and so completely out of his reach. He swallowed hard, as the enormity of what she was describing finally penetrated his addled brain. “Were we happy?”

Liz shrugged again and Max raised an eyebrow at the lack of response. “He said nothing came between us until the end of the world.” Liz admitted softly. “Max…” She wished suddenly that she’d told him this years ago. Not for the first time she damned Future Max for coming to her in the first place.

“Why didn’t you tell me before this? Why didn’t you come to me?” Max looked into her eyes and was abruptly catapulted back four years. It was the same plea he’d always seen in her eyes. That long ago night when he’d seen her with Kyle, and every day for months after that, he had felt her soul calling to him. Even as his own heart broke he felt her begging him to figure it out. To understand what she couldn’t convey and didn’t truly understand herself.

Liz moved her hand closer to where his rested on the table. She wanted so badly to touch him. To force the connection she knew they were holding back to flare to life at the contact. Ever since they’d first made love they had been connected, their emotions blending effortlessly. She remembered the wonder each had felt as they realized that they could sense one another. That each could feel what the other was feeling and that no matter the distance, each always carried a piece of the other deep inside them. It was strongest when they touched, almost as if it were a warm blanket cocooning them safely from the world.

Liz needed to feel that safety now. But she was suddenly afraid he didn’t want the contact. “I couldn’t, Max. It broke my heart. But you begged me. You said Isabel and Michael died. You said the world ended. What did you want me to do?” She asked harshly as the hurt she was feeling bled into her words.

“Talk to me Liz, let me help you, that’s all I ever wanted.” Max replied softly as her pain seeped into his consciousness. The last spark of his anger was replaced with a sudden disgust for his Future Self. She was staring at him with such wide frightened eyes. He hated to see her afraid. Particularly of him. He wished fervently that ‘Future Max’ was standing in front of him. Bastard. Son of a bitch had manipulated his wife. Forced her to endure a heartache that he suddenly realized had been as devastating as his own.

He reached out and took her hand. Uncertain, until he touched her, that she wanted the contact. “I wouldn’t have let him force you to do that Liz.” He offered. “I’m so sorry that he…that I…”

Liz reached out and cupped his cheek with her free hand. “I don’t blame you, Max.” She needed him to feel the honesty in her words. “I’ve just been so afraid of this for so long.”

Max shook his head. “Baby, why?” he asked softly. “It doesn’t change anything.” The truth of his words echoed through their connection to her. The feeling no longer shocked him as it had in the beginning. But he was suddenly reminded of the way Liz had looked that first night. Wrapped in his arms and sated from their first true lovemaking she had gazed shyly at him and commenced to explain the secrets of the universe. He could still see her eyes, glowing with a deep happiness against the darkness, as she’d whispered confidently to him her theory of soulmates. The two of them belonged to each other. She’d always known it and their connection was the proof. They were one. It remained a lingering moment of truth etched forever in his mind. “We belong together, remember.”

“I love you.” Liz whispered brokenly. She closed her eyes against tears as she realized that his anger had evaporated. She heard his chair scrape harshly against the floor as he moved it back from the table. The soft tug on her hand was all it took to pull her from her own chair into the comfort of his strong arms.

Their connection blended them even more closely together. And as always he was grateful for the tangible reminder of their commitment. “I love you too.” He whispered against the top of her head. “So why are you still so afraid? He can’t hurt us now, Liz.”

Liz wrapped her arms around Max’s waist. “I thought you’d agree with him.” She admitted softly. “I thought you’d leave.”

Max stepped back and looked down at his wife incredulously. He could sense that she was serious but… “Liz, I could never leave you!” He said fiercely as he pulled her against him once more. “I’m sorry about the way I reacted. That wasn’t fair, but you’ve got to know…no matter how angry I get, nothing could ever make me leave you.”

Liz nodded, taking a deep breath as she allowed his words to settle in her own soul. “But, Max…everything that happened later…it happened because I changed the future. I mean…and Tess…”

Max shook his head. “Liz, the things that happened, happened because of choices everybody made. It wasn’t your fault. And everything worked out…” He fell abruptly silent as he felt the tearing guilt and pain that was emanating from his wife. What did she have to fell guilty about? He could feel her trembling against him as he reviewed everything that had happened since the serenade so many years ago. The Skins, all the humans disappearing from Roswell, kidnappings, ganderium, Vegas, Alex’s death, Tess’ betrayal, Xan… “Oh God Liz…Alex?”

Liz nodded against his chest. “He was supposed to be at our wedding.” Tears streamed silently down her cheeks. “It’s my fault, Max. All those things I said to you, I blamed aliens when the truth is that…”

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence, Liz!” Max demanded harshly as tears pricked his own eyes. He tightened his arms around his wife, soothing her as she wept. “Don’t. Tess killed Alex. You can’t take the blame for her actions. You had no way of knowing…”

“I changed the future. He was supposed to be at our wedding!” Liz said angrily as she pulled from Max’s embrace. “Don’t you see? If I hadn’t changed anything he’d still be alive.”

“And if I hadn’t been such a colossal idiot and gone back in time you never would have changed anything. We can play the what if game until Hell freezes over sweetheart but it doesn’t get us anywhere. What if I’d stayed away from you after saving your life, like Isabel and Michael wanted? What if some stupid scientist never podded us to begin with? A thousand decisions got us here Liz, you can’t take responsibility for things that are out of your control. You’re not alone in this.” Max willed her to believe him, to accept the truth of his words. He could feel her long held guilt slide a little, shadowing the portion of her mind where it had once been omnipresent. He realized it would always be part of her. Just as his own guilt over the danger she was in would always shadow a piece of his mind. But he could feel her breathe a little easier.

Liz sniffed a little as she wiped at her tears. “Where have I heard that before?” She queried softly, recognizing her own advice to him. Which he never heeded.

Max shrugged innocently. “I have no idea.” He took her hand and pulled her after him to the living room couch. He sat down quickly and then tugged her into his lap. He gloried briefly in the way they fit together and then looked down at her. “No more secrets Liz, right? I mean, I understand why you didn’t tell me, I do but if I ever do that again…” He felt the brief surge of animosity from Liz and smiled softly. “After you knock the Future Me on his ass tell me…Present Me.” His brows furrowed as he tried to work his mind around the notion of more than one him running around at a time. It was a bad Twilight Zone episode.

Liz nodded her head against his chest as she fiddled with the button at the top of his shirt. “Promise. No more secrets, Max..” It felt so good for him to know. She’d held it back for so long. Even after they’d discussed everything else she’d been unwilling to risk that he wouldn’t understand this. But he did. She lifted her head and looked at him quizzically when she felt a solemn tone spark through his mood.

Max sighed. He was still working everything out in his head but the fact that would bring him to his knees was that his tiny little wife had saved the world. She’d sacrificed so much in silence. “You amaze me, you know that?”

“Because I don’t have any more secrets?” Liz asked lightly, uncertain where this was headed.

Max shook his head. “Because you’re selfless and brave. Because your courage humbles me. Thank you.” He leaned down and kissed her lightly when she opened her mouth to interrupt. “Shh. I’m sorry for the way I reacted before. I don’t know…you were answering questions that I’d had for so long and…it just threw me so completely to know I’d had a hand in the whole thing. But, he was right, ya know. Not, not about the breaking us up part – that was monumentally stupid. The part about going to you. Because if he had tried to lay that burden on my shoulders I would have told him to go to hell.”

Liz felt tears fill her eyes as his understanding and acceptance began to filter through to her heart. She felt lighter as she finally allowed the fear that he could never understand her sacrifice to dissipate. She shook her head at him. “You would not have told him to go to hell.” She replied softly.

“Liz I swear, he could have had pie charts and I wouldn’t have let myself believe him. I wouldn’t have been able to let you go.”

“I couldn’t let you go either.” Liz said quietly, wanting to be clear. “I know I promised him I would but I couldn’t. You’re a part of me Max. I know this sounds stupid but I could do what I did because he was with me. He was like you. It was your voice, your face…I didn’t understand the finality of it. I mean my head did but my heart…when you looked in my window that night…” She swallowed as she remembered the look on his face. She took a shuddering breath and let go of the past as Max reached down and twined his fingers with her own, tracing the outline of her wedding ring with his thumb. She could feel his love blending with her own as it shoved everything else to the background. “The only reason I didn’t run onto my roof after you was because he was there. After Kyle left he was there to comfort me. Like you would have comforted me. And I needed you so badly then. I know it’s stupid to say, I know that but…”

“Not stupid. The heart doesn’t always make sense, Liz. God knows we’ve learned that.” He kissed her nose and leaned back against the couch as his arms tightened around his wife. “But if I ever see him I swear to God I’m gonna…”

“You don’t need to worry about kicking your own ass, buddy. He disappeared from my arms when the future changed. He’s gone.” Liz said dryly.

“Good.” Max paused as what Liz said permeated his brain. “Disappeared? From your arms?” he asked casually.

Liz couldn’t help the giggle. “Are you jealous of yourself?” She bit her lip as she felt his jealousy. And his annoyance at her amusement. “It wasn’t like that, baby. I wanted to know what our wedding dance would feel like, even if I didn’t think we’d get the wedding.” Shifting slightly in his lap she reached up to cup his face in both her hands, forcing him to meet her gaze. “It was nothing compared to the real thing.”

Max moaned lightly as his jealousy disappeared with the silken feel of Liz’s lips against his own. He deepened the kiss and then shifted to lay her under him on the couch. The sudden blaring of the TV startled them both. Liz swore softly and reached under to her to look for the remote as Max glanced at the Hallmark commercial.

A little boy was washing a car with his father, then they were at a baseball game buying hotdogs and then the boy was being tucked into bed. ‘For all the things Dad has always done for you, remember him this Fathers Day…’

The TV clicked off and Max blinked before sitting up and trying to clear his head.

Liz looked at him sharply. “What is it?” The ache she’d felt had been quickly masked but she could still read the shadow of it in his eyes. “What?”

Max shook his head. “It’s nothing.” He said, getting up from the couch and heading in to the kitchen to avoid her narrowed gaze.

Liz followed doggedly. “It’s not nothing.”

“Trust me, you don’t want to know.” He grabbed the remnants of their aborted dinner and began to clean the kitchen

“I do. No secrets remember.” Liz raised her brows expectantly.

“Liz, really…”.

“Spit it out.” She snapped. The sudden guilt she felt from him was making her more than a little worried.

Max gestured at the TV. “I just…it just made me think of…”

“Your son.” Liz finished softly.

He nodded. “I’m sorry, I won’t bring it up again.” At her incredulous look he explained quietly “I don’t want this to come between us. I know that you don’t really want any part of it. I…”

Liz snapped her mouth shut after realizing it had fallen open in shock. “Lemme get this straight. You don’t think I love all of you?”

Max looked up from where he was wiping the counter. He was startled by the vehemence of her question and by the anger he felt sparking across their connection. “That’s not what I said.”

“Right. I just don’t WANT all of you.” Liz crossed her arms over her chest.

Max stared at his wife. “Why do you want to hit me?” He asked cautiously.

“Because you’re an idiot.” Liz said quietly and then headed for their bedroom.

He raised his hands into the air in a gesture of surrender. “Now what’d I do?” he called after her.

***********Part 6***********
Xan was awakened by the sound of his door being opened. He kept his pillow bunched against his chest and pressed back against the harsh coolness of the wall as he moved slightly to peek out from under his blanket. He was grateful that the lights were on but his eyes widened when he realized that the man who entered his room wasn’t Dr. Dave. Dr. Dave was short and skinny. This guy was huge. Xan pressed further into the wall as the man moved into the room with a tray and set it on the small table opposite the bed. Xan hoped the guy didn’t know he was awake.

“Hey little man, how you doin’ today?”

Xan gasped and covered his head more fully with the blanket. He felt the bed sink a little. He could just tell the guy was sitting next to him. Trembling a little Xan closed his eyes in an effort to make himself more invisible. The man didn’t say anything but Xan could hear him clicking something back and forth in his hand.

Troy was about to give up. It had been 10 minutes since he sat down on the bed and the kid hadn’t made a move to come out from under the blankets. He had lain awake all last night fighting to fall asleep against the persistent echo of the little boys voice. Long after Alexander had cried himself to sleep, Troy could hear him in the stillness of his barracks room begging someone to turn on the lights. Then his conscience had started screaming at him, sounding suspiciously like his mother. He’d sweet talked the nurse into letting him bring the meal in so that he could make sure the kid was ok. Sighing, he glanced once more at the blanketed mound curled up in the corner of the bed. Troy’s brows raised in surprise when he saw wary eyes staring at the flashlight he had been continually flicking on and off. “Hey there. Alexander right?”

Xan nodded but didn’t say anything. He fixed his gaze on the flashlight and wondered if he could get the man to share. The light snapped off and stayed off. Xan blinked and looked up into the man’s dark face.

“Alexander’s a pretty big name for such a little guy.” Troy waited. The poor kid looked awfully conflicted.

“Xan.”

The word was so quiet Troy almost thought he imagined it. But then he saw that the blanket had lowered to allow Alexander’s mouth to show. Xan? “Oh…people call you Xan, huh?” At the boys nod Troy continued. “That fits you a little better. I’m Troy.” He reached out his hand and then cringed when Xan sat back quickly. He dropped his hand. “Sorry kiddo, I’m not gonna hurt you, I just wanted to shake your hand. Thought maybe we could be friends.”

Xan stared at the man in front of him. He was big but his voice was soft. “Hi Twoy.” He whispered.

Troy smiled at the slight lisp. “Hi Xan” He would have laughed at the longing with which Xan stared at his flashlight except he knew the reason for it. His jaw clenched instead. “So, I was thinking. You know this room gets pretty dark at night and I remember when I was your age I hated the dark.” He leaned closer, as if telling the little boy a secret and smiled when Xan leaned in as well. “Actually, I was scared. So I used to sneak an old flashlight into bed with me. And when I got scared I’d turn it on under my blankets and I wouldn’t be so scared anymore. Now, I know you’d never be afraid, you look like a pretty tough kid. But I figured, you know just in case, you might like to have your own flashlight.”

Xan couldn’t believe his ears. He scooted forward on the bed, almost able to reach out and touch the light. “Weally?”

Troy nodded “Really.” He handed the small black flashlight to Xan. The relief on the kids face was damn near heart breaking. “Remember, keep it under your pillow. Just in case.” Troy stood up. “I gotta go back to work now, but your breakfast is over there so eat up ok?”

Xan nodded absently as he flicked the flashlight on and off experimentally. “Twoy? Do fwiends play ou'side togedewr?” He asked cautiously.

Troy shook his head sadly. “I wish we could go outside little man, but I don’t think Dr. Dave would let us. I gotta go. I’ll see you later.”

Xan nodded and bit his lip as he watched Troy leave. He trembled a little as the door closed and locked with a loud click. He’d known that would be the answer. He could hear the planes outside but he couldn’t see them. Only the crisp white walls. He didn’t want breakfast, he wanted OUT. He fell against his pillow, sliding his flashlight underneath as he began to cry. He couldn’t get out. And if he couldn’t get out he’d never be able to fly away.


posted on 24-Jun-2002 4:09:24 PM by Pathos
First of all I just want to say 'thank you' to all you guys hanging in and reading this. I'm thrilled that people are enjoying this. And the fb is just great. The next 3 parts were kinda short...for me, anyway *happy* so I figured I'd post them all together.

And just as a little preview...I couldn't torture Xan anymore (the poor kid was starting to haunt ME) so we'll be moving into a rescue any time now...

BTW - if anyone could tell me how to get the damn italics to transfer from Word to the board I'd be forever grateful. For some reason it just isn't working for me. Told ya I was a technological quaker.

Ok, now that the incredibly long authors note is over...here's the story

********From Part 6********
Liz snapped her mouth shut after realizing it had fallen open in shock. “Lemme get this straight. You don’t think I love all of you?”

Max looked up from where he was wiping the counter. He was startled by the vehemence of her question and by the anger he felt sparking across their connection. “That’s not what I said.”

“Right. I just don’t WANT all of you.” Liz crossed her arms over her chest.

Max stared at his wife. “Why do you want to hit me?” He asked cautiously.

“Because you’re an idiot.” Liz said quietly and then headed for their bedroom.

He raised his hands into the air in a gesture of surrender. “Now what’d I do?” he called after her.

*********Part 7*********
Max followed Liz into their bedroom. “Liz what’s the matter?”

Liz took a deep breath, fighting to control her hurt and anger as she felt how truly confused he was. “I cannot believe that you said that to me.” She answered.

Max’s brows drew together in confusion. He could tell she was fighting to control her temper. And he also felt the telltale spark of her hurt feelings. “Said what?” He asked again.

Liz shook her head. Until this very moment she would never have said that Max was stupid. “That you know I don’t want any part of this. ‘This’ being the way you feel about your son.” Liz said tightly.

“You don’t.” He replied stubbornly. “You don’t want to know that I still think of him. That I wonder what he looks like now or if he likes baseball or basketball. If he’s happy.” His voice was hushed. He hadn’t meant to say so much. Just saying it out loud made it so much worse than simply knowing it.

“Excuse me?” Her eyes were wide. He couldn’t really believe that. Could he? Did he really think that she DIDN’T wonder about Xan?

“Liz I really don’t think we need to talk about this.” The topic alone upset him. It was devastating enough to know that the only thing that could ever come between he and his wife was…his son. He loved his son but he couldn’t risk losing Liz by shoving the child he’d had with another woman in her face.

“We do need to talk about this.” Liz said quietly. Her anger dissipated with the desperate need to let him know he was wrong, that he’d completely misjudged her feelings. She’d never even imagined that he felt like this. “Do you really think so little of me?” she asked gently.

Max stared at his wife, astonished. “Liz, you know how very MUCH I think of you. I…it’s not about that. I know how much I hurt you. I know how hard it was for you, knowing Tess was pregnant. And then my looking for him. I just don’t ever want you to feel like you need to run away from me in order to breathe. Not ever again.” He hadn’t even realized exactly what he was afraid of until that moment, when he’d said it out loud.

“I’m not running, Max. And I could never leave you. You’re a part of me, remember?” Liz took a deep breath as she let him take in the truth of her words. Tears filled her eyes as she felt how deeply he’d hidden his pain from her. For her sake. “You big idiot. You’re been here for me every time I was depressed or upset. You’re always there for me. Why won’t you let me be there for you?” She whispered brokenly. Catching the glint of tears shining in his eyes she reached out and wrapped her arms around his neck, resting her cheek against his heartbeat as returned the embrace. “Tell me when you hurt. Let me be there for you, please.”

“I don’t want to hurt you.” Max stroked her hair gently, feeling her frustration and also her determination to get him to see reason.

“You won’t. I know how much it hurt you to give him up. I can feel it sometimes, how much it still hurts.” Liz whispered. She leaned in and kissed him softly. “I didn’t say anything because I didn’t think you wanted to talk about it.”

Max could feel his fear falling away as his wife remained securely in his arms. They were talking about his son and she hadn’t even stepped away. “I’m sorry. I was just so afraid. I thought you’d…I don’t know…” He admitted, slightly ashamed as the rest of the truth swam forward. He felt her gasp a little and then brush away the brief spark of hurt.

“Max, I could never be glad you had to give up your son! I could never dislike a baby. Especially yours. Sweetheart, he had your eyes and, and your ears. And I’m sure you would have given him your heart. When I saw you hold Xan in your arms, when I saw him…he was a baby, Max. He wasn’t, you know a concept anymore. And he needed you. I could never punish you for taking care of your son.” Liz almost cried with the need to make him understand, to have him believe her and then she almost cried when she knew that he did.

Max pulled Liz more tightly against him, molding her body to his even as he felt their connection tighten around them. “I love you so much.” He whispered against her ear. “Thank you.”

“For what? For better or worse, Max. It’s always been that for me.”

“For us.” Max corrected, pulling away so he could see her face. As always, his truth was anchored in her eyes. The stress of the evening fell away, leaving only the sudden desire to be close to each other. For each to remind the other of the love that would carry them through everything. Max lowered his lips to brush against hers as he whispered. “But I much prefer the having and holding.”

“Yeah, I like having and holding too.” Liz sighed as Max molded his mouth to hers. Leisurely caressing her lips with his own. His touch light, teasing, loving. “Maaaxx.” She moaned against his lips. Her body was coming to life under the sensual assault. She could feel his own passion build and knew that they were reaffirming everything between them. The joy of their love, the fears they’d shared with each other, the light that had found its way into the darkest corners of their soul. She had the fleeting thought that Grandma Claudia had been right. He wasn’t a soulmate if it wasn’t complicated. But God, this completeness was worth any complication life threw at them. Then she stopped thinking of her grandmother.

Max thrust his tongue into Liz’s mouth. The teasing beginning to fade as his passion became more demanding. His tongue found hers and rubbed against it, loving the wet velvet feel and the taste of her desire. He loved the little whimper he heard muffled at the back of her throat. She was his, completely as he was hers. He could feel his desire building off hers and hers off of his. He loved the sharing, the unity that their coming together always brought. He growled roughly and broke the kiss only to attack the slender column of her throat. Her head fell back as his name whispered from her lips, a benediction.

Liz felt the world tilt deliciously as Max lay her back onto the bed. She felt his hands find the hem of her shirt and slide underneath, felt his gasp in the hollow of her throat as he realized that she wasn’t wearing a bra. He shifted away for an instant to rip the shirt from her body and once she was free of the material she took the opportunity to reach out and start to unbutton his own shirt. But her fingers were trembling too much. “Max, I need to touch you!”

Her frustrated demand touched Max like a silken caress. His erection twitched in his pants, becoming almost unbearable against the tight denim. “Your wish is my command.” He whispered reaching to unbutton his shirt. But his own fingers were clumsy and with a frustrated curse he simply ripped the two halves apart. Buttons flew as he shed the shirt. He saw Liz’s eyes darken even further as she licked her lips in unconscious invitation.

“I love it when you lose control.” Liz sighed. She took a second to just look at Max and admire the play of muscle and sinew that seemed to almost glow in the moonlight. He was so strong. Strong enough to crush things, to break them in his hands. But he was always so gentle with her. She sat up brushing her hands along his broad shoulders, leaning in to lick at the hollow of his throat and then suck gently at his pulse. He pulled her to him and she reached greedily for his kiss rubbing her breasts against the warm skin of his chest, gasping at the sensation.

Max thought maybe he could go slow and then he felt her nipples pressing into his chest. And her fingers were reaching for the button of his jeans, popping it and reaching inside to stroke his erection.

Liz purred against his lips as she found what she was looking for. The thick shaft was hard, hot against her hand, and her core throbbed at the thought that soon he would be inside her.

Max broke the kiss and gently pushed Liz down onto the bed. He stood for a brief second to remove the rest of his clothes and then stared down at his wife. She was reclining on her elbows, her breasts moving up and down with the shallow panting breaths she was taking. He reached out and unbuttoned her jeans, dragging them and her panties off her body in one move. He crawled onto the bed to kneel between her thighs. “Do you know how beautiful you are?” He asked as he traced a finger up the inside of her leg, drawing random patterns as he went. He felt her thigh muscle twitch and saw her eyes close for a second before she shook her head.

“Not as beautiful as you.” Liz looked up at her husband. Max’s eyes, those beautiful eyes seemed to glitter a dangerous gold in the moonlight. His smile was knowing, feral.

“Flattery will get you everywhere.” He said and then he bent his head to taste her. God! She was already so wet. Her hips bucked slightly when she felt his hot breath hit her mound. And then his tongue reached out and lightly traced the aroused nub of her clitoris and she nearly came off the bed.

“Oh God! Max!” Liz could feel herself slowly coming undone. Then Max spread her legs further apart as he positioned his head comfortably at her core. His tongue teased her clit and then stroked down into her folds leaving a trail of fire and need in its wake. “Baby don’t stop” She felt a finger circle her passage teasingly before entering slowly. She tried to buck her hips against him, to move the rhythm faster, harder, but his other hand held her body to the bed. She tangled one hand in his hair and kneaded her breast with the other moaning her frustration. “Harder, please!” He added a second finger and allowed his tongue to circle back to her clit, licking lightly as his fingers entered her harder. She rode his hand. So close. So close. And then he sucked her clit hard, his teeth scraping against the sensitive nub and she came in one long undulating wave. “YES! Max! God!” She could feel Max lapping gently at her juices as she came back to Earth. She could feel his utter satisfaction at being able to make her come apart in his arms. She didn’t feel like arguing with his ego.

Max gently kissed his way up the middle of Liz’s body keeping her legs over his elbows as he made his journey. He reached her lips and leaned down for a gentle kiss. He could feel her pleasure still washing through her in the strength of their connection and in the trembling of her limbs but he knew she needed more. He could feel how much she wanted him inside her. Almost as much as he needed to be there. His cock throbbed, aching to be buried within her. He rubbed himself against her nether lips, teasing the sensitive folds and feeling the flesh jump as she moaned against his throat. She was wide open to him, her knees jerking reflexively against his biceps. He closed his eyes and hissed as he settled into the tight wet depths of her body. She moaned and closed her eyes at the pleasure. He began to move gently within her, feeling the muscles of her inner walls gripping him tightly at every retreat and welcoming him home with each thrust into her body. Her head fell back in invitation and he happily plundered her sensitive neck as her head tossed and she moaned deep in her throat.

She reached up to pull him to her, her arms roaming his back as he thrust deeply into her, almost pushing her knees back to the mattress.

He could hear her keening whimper as she arched up to meet each of his thrusts. He was as incoherent as she was, his moans echoing loudly in his own ears. His hips moved faster, slapping against hers as he felt her need building to a crescendo. “Come on baby, that’s it…” Her inner walls trembled and clenched, vibrating deliciously against his hardened flesh.

“Max!”

Her sheath tightened blissfully around him as she came. He felt his balls tighten as the waves of her orgasm pulled him towards his own satisfaction. “MAX!” He lost control, pumping his own release frantically into her welcoming body. “LIZ!”

Liz felt Max collapse on top of her and welcomed the weight. He shifted free of her body as he lay his head on her breasts wrapping his arms tightly around her waist. Her right hand rested lightly at the nape of his neck while her left clutched his shoulder. She knew he released her legs because they slid down the sides of his body to the bed but that was as far as her coherence would take her. She knew he felt the same way. Minutes later Max raised his head to kiss the space above her heart. As they drifted to sleep, blanketed in the shining rays of the moon, they knew nothing would ever stand between them again.

***********Part 8***************
The next afternoon found the two of them still wrapped in each others arms. Liz loved when they did this. Called in sick to whatever jobs they happened to have and just lost themselves in each other. They were on the living room couch, Max stretched out with his feet up on the coffee table while Liz was curled up at his side, their fingers intertwined and resting lightly on his stomach.

“What are you thinking about?” Max asked

Liz grinned up at him impishly. “Waking you up this morning. What are you thinking about?”

Max's eyes darkened as he remembered waking up to the velvet feel of her mouth and the throbbing ache of her desire. “Going back to bed so you can wake me up again.” He responded with a laugh, leaning in to kiss her nose then falling back against the couch with a contented sigh. “Actually I was thinking about getting real jobs.”

“Cause working construction and waitressing are fake jobs?” Liz teased lightly.

“No. Because I’m getting used to being in one place. I mean, maybe you could take a few classes. I’m sure Langley could come up with a transcript for Liz O’Connor. If you’re nice to me I can even make him give you a better GPA and SAT scores than your real ones.” Max cajoled. He knew she was happy with him but he still worried that the transience of their everyday life would wear her down. As it had Kyle. Or maybe Isabel had worn Kyle down. The last time they’d split, Kyle and Isabel had opted to go it alone instead of staying partnered together as they always had before. It had worried Max to no end but his sisters eyes had warned him to keep his mouth shut. It was Kyle who had actually arrived in Illinois first and Max knew he was reaching desperately for some sort of normalcy even as he asked constantly about when they’d have to leave.

“Hey.” Liz tightened her fingers around Max’s, feeling his mood shift slightly. “I’m not Kyle.”

Max looked at her askance. “You sure you can’t read my mind.”

“Just your heart.” Liz whispered. “You always feel like that when you worry about Kyle. And right before that you were worried about me so…”

“Liz this can never be normal.” He didn’t realize he’d echoed her own words until he looked down and saw the smile on her lips.

“And now we revisit the eternal question, posed to me once by a very wise, very drunk alien…What’s so great about normal?” Max leaned in to kiss her and Liz backed away for a second. “And, for the purposes of our life, I think you need to reevaluate your definition of normal.” She finished, reaching up to kiss him. “By the way I don’t mind our jobs. Actually, see I have this thing for well developed construction workers.”

Max smiled down at her. “I see, so you love me for my body, huh?”

Liz nodded. “Your body.” She moved to straddle his lap. “Your mind.” She kissed his fore head lightly and then caressed his mouth in a lingering kiss. “Your heart.” She placed her palm over his heartbeat, taking comfort as she always did in the steady rhythm. Then she grinned at him “Your body.” She whispered as she claimed his lips in another kiss.

They broke the kiss quickly as the front door opened without invitation. Max swore and raised a hand to slam it shut, pulling Liz to her feet behind him as he activated his shield.

Michael’s put upon sigh sounded loudly through the door and then they heard. “I told you we should knock, Maria.”

Max lowered his shield looking at Liz in frustrated astonishment. “How does she do it? I swear it’s like a radar.”

“I’d say it’s a gift but…” Liz trailed off as she moved to open the door.

“I’m getting a bigger lock.” Max muttered.

“Why, did someone try to break in?” Maria asked eyes fluttering innocently as she walked in. She looked at Liz. “I was worried. Michael said you didn’t come in to work. Are you feeling alright?”

“She was feeling fine a minute ago.” Max griped under his breath as he headed for the kitchen.

Liz felt her lips twitch as she heard Max’s comment. Sighing deeply she looked back at her best friend. Maria really did look worried. “I’m fine Maria, really. We just took the day off.”

From the kitchen she heard Max call “Since you’re here and you don’t appear to be leaving, can I…”

“Actually Max we are leaving.” Michael interrupted.

Max came around the divide. “So soon?”

Maria snorted “Not me and Michael, O King of Hospitality. You and Michael.”

“What?”

Michael nodded at him. “We’re picking Julie up in ½ hour.”

Liz frowned. “I thought you guys weren’t leaving ‘til Friday.” Julie Barrows was a waitress from the restaurant where both Michael and Liz worked. She’d been stalked by a violent ex-boyfriend and after a premonition from Liz they’d been able to save her life and get the boyfriend arrested. Julie had decided to move back in with her parents in New York to start over. Max and Michael were driving her there over the weekend.

“We’ve got to get her out of town now.” Michael stated fervently.

“Did you have a premonition?” Liz asked hopefully. She didn’t think she’d ever get used to the power and even the aliens remained baffled by it.

“Sorry Nostradamus, you’re still it in the crystal ball department. Her scum boyfriend came in to the restaurant. Bail sucks.”

Max sighed and went to grab a few essentials. Fifteen whirlwind minutes later the group was saying their goodbyes.

Michael pulled Maria to him kissing her deeply and then verifying that she’d be spending the next few days with Liz at the apartment. And that she would be careful and stay in populated, will lit areas.

“And I won’t take candy from strangers or drink from a cup that’s not mine or run with scissors.” Maria promised, crossing her heart playfully. “I promise Spaceboy, I’ll be fine. You be careful. And keep Julie safe.” Maria smiled as Michael pulled her into a brief hug and nodded against her hair. It was a pretty amazing thing, how they’d all taken so easily to Max’s vow of evading the law and doing good things. It made them part of something bigger than themselves, bigger than the alien abyss when they pulled someone out of trouble. Kyle joked about them being the A-Team, trouble shooters from outer space. Joking aside though, it seemed to give all of them the direction they needed. And an odd sense of peace.

Michael sighed into Maria’s hair and forced himself to let her go. He glanced at Max and knew they’d never get out of here if he didn’t hurry this along. “Chop Chop Max, we gotta get going.”

Max ignored Michael. He slid his fingers through Liz’s hair pulling her to him for a deep sensual kiss. Pulling away he rested his forehead against hers as he gazed into her eyes. “I wish Julie wasn’t afraid to fly, but I promise I’ll be home as soon as I can. I’ll miss you.”

“I miss you already.” Liz whispered back, leaning in to press her lips against his.

“Maxwell!”

Michael’s voice invaded their world and Max sighed. “I’ll see you in a few days.” He dropped a kiss on Liz’s nose and picked up his bag as they headed out the door leaving Maria and Liz behind. Liz’s melancholy sigh turned into a giggle as she heard Michael’s disgusted voice float down the hall. “Max, she’ll be here when we get back, OK?”

Liz turned to Maria and Maria turned to Liz. “Girls night!”

********Part 9**********
Liz opened her apartment door the next evening and glared at Maria. “I cannot believe that you make enough money singing when you only work four nights a week.” She moaned as she threw herself down on the couch and closed her eyes.

Maria grinned. She and Liz had been up pretty much all night and while she got to sleep in, Liz had to make it in to the restaurant for an early shift. “At least they believed you were sick.. You look like crap.”

Liz forced her eyes open long enough to glare at Maria. “Thank you. So much.”

Spying the shopping bag next to her friend Maria asked. “So you’re completely wiped but you decided to go shopping. What’d you get?” She picked up the bag and pulled out a black lacquered picture frame and a photo that had obviously been enlarged at the local drug store. She tilted her head and glanced curiously at Liz. “So we’re putting the spawn on display now?”

“Maria!” Liz gasped. “That’s Max’s son you’re talking about.”

Maria searched Liz’s face. “And Tess’s.” she pointed out. She tried looking at the picture objectively. Max was smiling down at the baby cradled in his arms and Xan was gurgling up at him. She had to admit there was something incredibly sexy about a guy holding his baby. Until you factored in that the baby’s mother was a back-stabbing-murdering-intergalactic-whore who had caused her best friend no end of pain and then left the little bundle of joy in the picture as a reminder. Not for the first time Maria wished she could see Tess rotting in hell.

“I know that Maria.” Liz said tightly. “But I can hardly expect Max to pretend like it never happened. And that’s what he’s been trying to do. For my sake. I want him to know I’m ok with…”

“With the fact that he had a kid with another woman?” Maria asked incredulously.

“No. I don’t know Maria. I just need him to know that he doesn’t have to hide the fact that he, you know, that he loves his son. It’s not the baby’s fault that Tess was…”

“A back-stabbing-murdering-intergalactic-whore?” Maria interrupted sweetly.

“I was going to say ‘his mother’ but yeah. Thank you for that Maria.” Liz said sarcastically as she took the picture from Maria’s hand.

-- flash --

A teenager with a gun being assaulted by a number of toys as they flew through the air propelled by unseen hands.

A clock on the wall, noting date and time. Military clock? A man in a lab coat. Doctor. A military uniform, dark. Stars on the collar. General. Both backing away from the teenager as he shifted the bed away from the wall without touching it, revealing a terrified little boy pressing himself as far as he could into the wall.

The little boy stared up at the older kid. He was trembling, tears flowing from wide amber eyes.

“You little brat. Did you really think you could take my place? Did you really think he could Doctor? He can’t even control his powers! Do you know what I can do?! Do you even understand?!”

And then he pulled the trigger. The gun sprayed bullets throughout the room hitting the General who collapsed into dust, the Doctor who fell to the floor and the little boy who was briefly pinned to the wall by the impact and then lay still, his beautiful eyes staring at her sightlessly as blood pooled around his head.

-- end flash --

“Liz? Liz!”

Liz blinked, suddenly aware that Maria was calling her name. She tried to answer but her throat was too tight. She swallowed, looking at the picture in her hand and then back at Maria in horror. “Xan.” She whispered. Maria stopped and looked at her like she was insane. She stood up, dropping the picture on the coffee table. “Oh my God, Maria! They’re gonna kill Xan. In three days Maria! What do I do? I’ve gotta call Max.” Liz was frantic, but as soon as she picked up her cell phone she snapped it shut. “I can’t call Max, can I?” She muttered to herself.

“Whoa!” Maria interrupted “I don’t know exactly what you saw, but if it has to do with Xan you have to call Max.”

“What am I supposed to say Maria? Hi Honey, how’s New York? Just thought you’d like to know your son is gonna die in three days?!” Liz was practically wringing her hands around the phone. Suddenly she looked up. “Langley.” She said nodding at Maria and dialing the number before Maria had a chance to tell her not to. “I know he knows where Xan is.” At Maria’s odd look she continued. “It’s his job Maria, I know he’s held it over Max’s head before…pick up the damn phone you shapeshifting son of a…” She stopped yelling when she heard Langley’s sarcastic greeting on the other end of the line.

"Good morning to you too Majesty. What do you want this time?"

“Are you insane…” Maria trailed off. Liz wasn’t listening, had in fact turned her back. Shit. “Here we go again.” She muttered.






[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Jun-2002 4:13:25 PM ]
posted on 26-Jun-2002 4:15:03 PM by Pathos
Thanks for all the awesome fb guys. I just love that ya'll are getting so into the story.

Anyway, here's the next couple parts...

*********From part 9*******
“Whoa!” Maria interrupted “I don’t know exactly what you saw, but if it has to do with Xan you have to call Max.”

“What am I supposed to say Maria? Hi Honey, how’s New York? Just thought you’d like to know your son is gonna die in three days?!” Liz was practically wringing her hands around the phone. Suddenly she looked up. “Langley.” She said nodding at Maria and dialing the number before Maria had a chance to tell her not to. “I know he knows where Xan is.” At Maria’s odd look she continued. “It’s his job Maria, I know he’s held it over Max’s head before…pick up the damn phone you shapeshifting son of a…” She stopped yelling when she heard Langley’s sarcastic greeting on the other end of the line.

"Good morning to you too Majesty. What do you want this time?"

“Are you insane…” Maria trailed off. Liz wasn’t listening, had in fact turned her back. Shit. “Here we go again.” She muttered.

**********Part 10**********
Liz closed her eyes in relief. “Thank God, Langley…”

“Look, I’m a little busy right now, I’m getting ready to leave for a few days so if this isn’t an emergency…”

Liz glared at the phone. She disliked this man/being/alien with a passion. “Actually it is an emergency.”

“No, actually it isn’t. No one is moving on your position. None of you are in any danger and that means my time is my own so…”

“Don’t hang up on me!” Liz heard Langley’s aggravated sigh and rushed to get her request out. “I need to know where Xan is. Now.”

Langley paused and then questioned. “Xan?”

“Max’s son.” Liz shot back impatiently. “He’s in danger. I need to know where he is so I can…”

“No.”

“Langley…”

“What’s the matter? Max too busy to make the call so now he’s sending you to order me to fix his mistakes?” Langley couldn’t help the sneer that graced his voice. These people were the bane of his existence and completely unworthy of the protection he had no choice but to provide.

“He’s only ever asked for your help.” Liz responded sharply. Cal Langley made her skin crawl. He had ever since the night they’d made it into L.A. when they’d first started running. Langley had paced in front of Max, loudly noting every humiliating mistake he’d ever made. Saying things to him that no one but the people in their group had any right to say. And Max had simply stood there. He’d kept Michael and Isabel quiet with a gesture. All the while gripping her hand tightly, silently willing her mouth shut. She had felt his anger, but also his willingness to be humiliated if it meant they’d all survive the week. The entire 36 hours they’d spent with Langley had been his lesson in humiliation. And when they’d left Liz couldn’t hate the men chasing them more than she hated the being sworn to protect them. “All Max has ever done is ask…”

“That would end the moment he was refused and you know it.”

“We were going to be killed, what choice did he have? We needed your help.”

“An expedient argument for slavery, Majesty.” Langley snapped, his patience nearing the end.

“Why do you call me that?” Liz snapped back, ignoring his mention of slavery. Langley was overdramatic but he was hardly a slave.

“It annoys you. You dislike being reminded that you married a King and that you have other responsibilities.”

Liz flushed angrily. “Max gave up…Stop! We are not doing this now. Xan’s life is in danger, I need to know where he is so I can protect him.”

“So you can protect him?” Langley asked in disbelief. “Don’t worry about the little Prince. I’m heading to the Base now to remove him from custody.”

“Base?” Liz felt sick. Max was going to…she shook her head. She couldn’t think about Max’s reaction right now. Taking a deep breath she asked “Where am I meeting you?”

“Forget it.” Langley said flatly. No way was he taking her with him. Max would kill him if anything happened to her. The King had made that much perfectly clear to him one evening a few years ago.

Liz shook her head. There was no way she was trusting Xan’s safety to Langley. Hell, she didn’t really trust her own to Langley. “Tell me where to meet you. I can be on a plane in two hours. Then we can go…”

“You can’t get on a plane. They took a little more notice of Isabel then I thought they would.” Langley muttered, hoping he didn’t sound as sheepish as he felt. He fell silent as he waited for her next move.

“Are you even listening to me?” Liz asked as the silence wore on. She took the aggrieved, drawn out sigh on the other end as an affirmative. “I don’t care how you do it, but you find a way to get me on that Base with you.”

Langley felt the movement of angry energy as he wished that Liz was in front of him so he could have her pinned to a wall. And then he felt a chill run up a spine he didn’t really possess as his Queen played her trump card. “What do you mean you saw me die?”

Liz could tell that she had his full attention. “You failed to protect Xan and then I saw you die. I saw you get shot. I saw you turn to dust. I saw your uniform and the stars on the collar.” She paused “Planning a coupe, General?” She asked sweetly, absurdly pleased with the fact that for once she had more information than he did.

Langley looked down at the uniform he was wearing. He could swear he felt his chest tighten. A part of him thrilled at the sensation while the rest of him felt the weight of impending doom. “Be at Midway in an hour and a half. I’ll call you in 40 minutes with who to talk to there.” His mind raced as he amended his plan to include this new wrinkle. “Dress in black, big hat, sunglasses, try a blonde wig. Think Hollywood starlet trying to avoid the press.” More to himself than her he added “It’ll be like she’s traveling in for an audition. I’ll drop a few names…you won’t even have to hit security…bye Liz.”

Liz took a deep breath as she hung up the phone, glad the conversation was over. Her stomach plummeted as she realized that this whole mess had really only just begun. Now she had to tell Max.

*************Part 11***********
Max drummed his fingers against the table in the interrogation room. His patience, paper thin to begin with, was nearing the breaking point. The detective across the table was staring mutely at the pad of paper in front of him, going over his statement. Max sighed deeply, fighting to keep his sudden claustrophobia from taking over. He hoped the detective chalked any nervousness up to the situation that had brought them here in the first place.

“Ok, so you’re saying that Mr. Shields pushed his way into the premises threatening to kill Ms. Barrows?”

Max nodded, gritting his teeth. Jesus, they had to have gone over his story15 times already! “Yeah. He was waiting for us when we pulled into the driveway. We got Julie into the house but he was right behind us.”

“Behind you and Mr. Uh, Smith?”

The detective stumbled a little over the surname and Max winced internally. Thank God he’d talked Michael out of using ‘Doe’ as a last name. “Yeah.” He took another deep breath and forced his expression to remain neutral. Why it took the police four hours to take a statement he'd never know. And something was wrong. He could feel it. Had been able to feel it for the last few hours. And it had to do with Liz.

Their connection had thinned with the amount of distance between them, making it more difficult for him to read her but he had felt the familiar adrenaline spike when she had her premonition. Had felt her reach desperately for him and then pull herself back, almost shushing the anxious fear she was feeling. And he had promptly begun worrying himself into an emotional meltdown as he’d felt her presence slip farther away from him. He knew she was on the move and a thousand macabre scenarios floated across his brain. All of them ending with his wife strapped down in a sterile white room.

He refocused briefly on the detective and once again explained how he and Michael had subdued Julie’s ex boyfriend in the Barrows’ living room. He wondered vaguely how Michael was enjoying repeating their story over and over for the last three hours. He almost wished for the explosion that, three years ago, would have been Michael’s temper. But in one of the supreme ironies of their existence Michael had developed an almost Machiavellian patience for situations like this. Dubbed ‘close encounters’ by Kyle’s gallows humor, police interrogations regarding their roles in helping other people no longer sent Michael into a tailspin. Instead he had become incredibly adept at waiting patiently for a legitimate threat before loosing his temper with keen aim against it. Max took a deep breath and let it out slowly, well aware that if anyone’s temper was going to explode today it was going to be his.

Half an hour later the detective determined that they had enough information to prosecute Julie’s ex boyfriend and then added insult to injury by saying that he thought the jackass would cop a plea anyway. Max gritted his teeth as he moved to join Michael on the steps outside the police station, yanking his cell phone from his pocket as he went.

Michael’s eyes narrowed as he took in Max’s angry strides. “What?”

Max glanced over at his best friend as they headed for the car. “Liz is on the move.”

Michael swore softly, his heart thudding painfully in his chest as he thought of Maria. “Is Maria with her? Are they ok?”

Max glared as he accessed his voicemail. “I don’t know, Michael. I was in with you talking to Pinky and the Brain, remember?” Max replied harshly.

Michael held up a hand in truce and pulled out his own cell phone. He had never truly wished for a connection like Max and Liz’s until this moment. He was grateful when Maria’s shrill voice demanded his location before the echo of the first ring had died from his ear. “We’ll be on the road…wait Liz did WHAT?” Michael glanced over at Max. Fuck.

Max looked up briefly as Michael roared his question. And then Liz’s voice finally sounded in his ear. “I got your message. What’s going on? Where are you?” Just hearing her voice seemed to jump start their connection and Max could feel her anxiety with a sudden, sharp clarity.

Liz swallowed hard. “Ok, Max…I’m on a plane.” She answered his next question before he could ask. “No one found me. I, uh, I had a premonition.”

“So you got on a plane?” Max asked in disbelief. “What kind of premonition was it?” He answered his own question without taking a breath. “If it got you on a plane it has to be too dangerous for you to handle by yourself. Where ever you land just, just stay there. I’ll meet you.” He looked at Michael. “Check out the nearest airport…what do you mean I can’t get on a plane?” Max asked Liz harshly, her own anxiety fueling his. “You’re on a plane.” He pointed out.

Liz nodded and then remembered that he couldn’t see. “Yeah. Um about that…I’m on Langley’s private jet. He got me through the airport without having to go through security. But a commercial flight is too dangerous. They took more notice of Isabel than he thought they would and now they’re watching the airports.”

“Is this about Isabel? Is that what the premonition…”

“No, Max. Isabel’s fine. Langley’s already contacted her about getting home safely. The premonition…ok, you have to promise me you are not going to flip out.” She cursed her own stupidity as she remembered how well that request had worked the last time she’d made it.

“L-I-z.” Max drew her name out in warning.

Liz took a deep breath. “It was about Xan. He’s being held by the Air Force.”

“What?!” Max whispered. He felt like he’d just been kicked in the gut. ‘Not possible’ he wanted to shout. But he couldn’t make a sound. His son was supposed to be enjoying a normal life. His son was supposed to be safe. How did…? His entire world view shifted on its axis as he imagined what the military would do to a baby. Bile rose in his throat. And then his conscience started to tear him apart as he suddenly realized what Liz intended to do. “Liz, you can’t. Just…just wait for me…” He felt Michael guide him to the car and he leaned heavily against the roof. He couldn’t let her do this. This was his responsibility.

“There’s no time Max.” Liz said softly. She could feel his desperation and his overwhelming fear for both his son and herself and with a sinking heart she knew that there was no way she could comfort him. Not this time. Not until this was all over. Not until they were both safe.

Max closed his eyes as he felt her utter certainty that this was the right thing to do. And also her stark determination to see it through. He could feel her trying to offer comfort but his own fear batted it back effortlessly. His shaking legs caused him to slide down the car, his back coming to rest against the wheel well as he shook his head. “Liz, NO. Forget it. You can’t do this. I won’t let you. Stop where ever that plane lands and you WAIT. Wait for me to get there.”

“Max…” Liz shook her head, wishing that he would just give in so they could focus on making this work.

“Langley will just have to…”

“Langley is setting up our cover. He said he’ll be incommunicado until he picks me up at the airstrip. Max there’s no way for you to get to California in time.” She closed her eyes against the pain she knew she’d be feeling in a second. “If I don’t go now he’ll be dead in three days.”

He felt as if his brain had just shut down. His lungs constricted harshly until he was reminded of the importance of oxygen. And his heart bled painfully as it was torn in two. He couldn’t ask her to do this for him. Couldn’t risk her life. But how could he tell her not to when to do so would mean his son’s death? “Liz, I…” He shook his head. Nothing. He had no idea how to fix this. And as usual Providence remained eerily silent. Then his wife stole the decision from him.

“I’m not asking permission, Max. I can’t sit back and wait for what I saw to just happen.” Liz could feel his turmoil and his helplessness. His desperate need to keep her safe and the opposing need to keep his son alive. Tears filled her eyes. “I’m sorry.” She whispered.

Max felt tears prick at the back of his own eyes. He had nothing else to give her but the truth. “I can’t lose you. And I can’t lose him.”

“I know. You won’t.” Liz wiped at her eyes, swallowing hard. “Langley has a plan..”

“That’s not actually helping, Liz.”

“I know. We’ll be fine…both of us. I promise.” Liz hoped she sounded confident but knew that it wouldn’t matter. She’d be carrying this ache in her soul until Max had her back in his arms and his son was free and safe. “ I gotta go, we’re coming in for a landing.”

Max nodded. There was nothing else he could do. “Just call when you get there and when…”

“I can’t. It’s too risky. I’ll be staying on the Base and Langley says that they could be monitoring transmissions. But I promise, as soon as we’re safe I’ll call you. I love you, Max but I gotta go.”

“I love you too.” Max hoped desperately that she’d heard him before she hung up. He looked at Michael who was squatting next to him on the ground. “The Air Force has Xan and in another few hours they’ll have Liz. I’ve got to…we need to...” He shrugged under the weight of futility. “What am I going to do?”


posted on 28-Jun-2002 4:01:00 PM by Pathos
As always thanks for the fb. I'm hoping this next part answers some of the questions y'all have had about Xan's human/non-human status and also what Liz is going through at the moment.

Just a warning - I am NOT a scientist. Unlike Liz I only just barely passed Bio but this makes sense to me so if I'm really far off scientifically just...go with it. *wink*

So here's the next part. Hope you enjoy!

**********Part 12**********
Liz stared at her reflection in the mirror, searching desperately to see where Elizabeth Evans had gone. Through everything she’d always managed to look in the mirror and see herself. Short hair or long, red, black, brown, heavy make up or none at all – it didn’t matter. She’d always recognized the determination in the gaze staring back at her. Always present was her acknowledgement of the one certain truth in her life. That what she was fighting for was worth the risk. And if on a few occasions she’d seen more fear than determination or uncertainty where there should have been confidence she’d simply turned to her husband. All she had to do was look at Max and she would find herself somewhere in the melting heat and safety of his warm amber eyes.

But Max wasn’t here. And looking back from the mirror was a terrified 21 year old who was about to infiltrate a US Military installation. At least the uniform fit. And her hair was pulled back in a neat bun at the nape of her neck. She looked the part. Now if only she could force herself to breathe. Tess’ voice whispered through her brain with the shrillness of a banshee ‘Look, you want the truth? You’re a liability.’ Liz closed her eyes against the memory of another time, another Base. Maybe this was Tess’ revenge. Bitch had probably overthrown Satan and taken over Hell. And now she was planning Liz’s demise and Max’s destruction. The former which would undoubtedly accomplish the latter. Liz could only imagine the risks he’d take if she were captured. Or worse.

Oh, God. Xan was a lure and after three years they would all go down. She could see it almost as clearly as…wide amber eyes streaming with tears. As clearly as a terrified little boy who looked too much like his father, being held against a wall by a spray of bullets. As clearly as blood pooling…Liz opened her eyes and wiped away angry tears. Fuck the Air Force. Fuck the fear. And fuck Tess. This would work. She would make it work. She looked in the mirror and recognized her anger. And her determination. This WOULD work she counseled herself.

Taking a deep breath Liz stepped through the door of the airport lounge just as Langley stepped forward to knock. She gasped and once again took in his new appearance. General Payton. A dignified, career military man. Nothing of the Hollywood producer existed in the tall hardened lines of his body. She caught his gaze and shuddered lightly at the familiar shade of ice blue. The face was different but the eyes were the same. Damn it! She had to get focused. Liz took a deep breath and made a deal with her own personal devil. ‘Tell you what…stay out of my head and I’ll keep your kid safe.’

Langley glanced to his right, feeling Liz out and attempting to get a read on her emotions. But he had never been very good at reading her. All that ever really registered with him was her unswerving loyalty to and protectiveness of her husband. At the moment she seemed to be vacillating between terrified and determined. He sighed and led her to a black Lincoln Town Car. She may have been the one with the premonitions but he had a truly bad feeling about this.

Liz strapped her seatbelt on and then looked at Langley in surprise when he dropped a file in her lap. “What’s this?”

“Briefing time Liz. Project: Missing Link.” Langley began.

“What does Xan have to do with monkeys?” Liz asked, wrinkling her nose in confusion. “This isn’t one of those freaky theories that says we’re all descended from aliens is it?”

Langley sighed in frustration. “Ok, here’s the plan. No – here’re the rules. I’m gonna brief you and you’re gonna sit there and listen. When I’m done you can ask questions. We’ve only got about an hour before we reach the base so…just shut up and listen.”

Liz had to bite her tongue to keep herself from telling him what he could do with his god complex and instead raised her brows in challenge when he remained silent.

Langley took in Liz’s expression and continued. “Right. Project: Missing Link has nothing to do with monkeys. Or, oddly enough, aliens.”

“What?”

“I knew you’d never keep your mouth shut.” Langley muttered. “Xan isn’t being held by the Special Projects Unit that’s hunting you. This project was developed independently of the Air Forces investigation into the existence of extraterrestrials. Actually, neither project knows the other exists.” He said thoughtfully. “You gotta love ‘need to know’.” He finished as all hope of moving through this explanation quickly evaporated.

“Langley what…” Liz shut her mouth when Langley raised his hand. But Jesus, how many Special Units would they have to deal with?

“Ok, first thing. From now on I’m ‘General Payton’. ‘General’. Or ‘sir’. You can’t blow this Dr. Cambridge.” At Liz’s confused look he continued. “Second thing. You are Elizabeth Cambridge. You’re a child psychologist and you’ve been brought in by me as a consultant to evaluate Dr. David Lawrence’s new test subject. Alexander Crawford. That’s Xan. Because you’ll be evaluating the child’s mental state you’ll be spending the majority of your time with him. You are at the Base to work and while you are polite you will have very little to do with anyone but myself, Xan and Dr. Dave. You have previously worked in both Somalia and Northern Ireland collecting data on the impact of violence and war on children. If anyone asks – it’s not good. Don’t get into too many conversations. We don’t need anyone getting too curious about you. Once you give your final report - which I’ve already written – it will be clear that the project under Dr. Dave’s supervision is going nowhere. Xan will be transferred to my custody and base of operation for continuation of the project. And of course he’ll never get there. We’re going to get him off the Base without firing a shot.” Langley finished, proud of the plan.

“We only have three days Langley.” Liz warned. At his annoyed look she rolled her eyes. "General."

“A week would be better. But if you can get Xan to work with you then Dr. Dave won’t have enough to file a complaint. Of course, the project is under my purview anyway.” Langley admitted thoughtfully. A week really would look better on paper in case of a future review. He sighed, consigning the concern to his ‘Things to Worry About Later’ file.

Liz nodded as she went over the plan. It was simple enough and she was grateful that it wouldn’t just be the two of them taking on the Air Force in a military strike. And then another thought struck her. “Who the hell is ‘Dr. Dave’?” What idiot went around calling himself Dr. Dave?

Langley shrugged and answered wryly. “He’s the one in charge at the moment. Dr. Lawrence thinks it makes him more accessible to children. Frankly, I think the sadism blows it but…”

“Wait. He’s hurt Xan?” The flashes she’d seen from Max of his time in the white room suddenly raced across her mind. God, what would that do to a four year old?

“No. Physically the child is unhurt. You’ll see briefing materials on methods used to…encourage performance when we reach the base.”

Liz nodded, swallowing hard as she accepted his answer. For the moment. “So get back to the Missing Link…”

“Project: Missing Link was designed to map the evolution of the human brain. The missing link they’re actually looking for is the gene, or the hormone, or whatever it is that triggers the so called sixth sense in some human beings. The project studies people who are psychic in some way.”

“Why?” Liz interrupted.

Langley shook his head. “Use your imagination. Think about what the military could do if they could trigger say…Michael’s power. Imagine a unit that could blow things up without weapons.” He saw Liz nod thoughtfully and continued. “Xan is the youngest telekinetic that they’ve found. They came all over themselves when they realized that they’d have almost a full human life span to study the kid, to watch his ability grow. See how his brain develops.”

“Yeah, thanks for that image but they have to have realized by now that Xan isn’t human. Studying him won’t give them any answers.” Liz reasoned.

Langley looked from the road to stare quizzically at Liz. The gaps in their knowledge always amazed him. “Who said Xan wasn’t human?”

“No one.” Liz answered in surprise. “In fact Tess claimed that he was completely human. She said that’s why Khivar rejected him.” Her mind raced as it tried work out the seeming conundrum.

Langley snorted. “Khivar didn’t want him up there because a legitimate heir to the throne was as much a threat to his position as Max is.”

“That makes no sense. Why make the stupid deal with Nasedo to begin with if an heir would be a threat?” Liz asked in sudden frustration. The stress of what she was about to do coupled with the stress Max was feeling because of what she was about to do, was making her incredibly irritable.

Langley shook his head. “You people really suck at this, don’t you? Always give yourself a man, or in this case a woman, on the inside.” He advised sarcastically. “If Tess had succeeded in getting everyone back on Antar. Khivar would have held them all for public execution, Xan and Tess included. That’s rule number one of being a tyrant – never be afraid to betray an ally.”

“Ok, so how did she escape if Khivar was planning to execute her?” Liz challenged. Langley was never this open with information, she was determined to get what she could. Of course this could all be the script for his next movie…though it did lack his usual sense of drama.

Langley glanced sideways at Liz, wanting to enjoy her reaction to his next statement. “Tess could play the game. Out of all of you, she was the smartest. She contacted the Royalists before Khivar knew she was coming in for a landing. As a compromise they demanded Xan be recognized as Khivar’s successor. After 60 some odd years of fighting Khivar didn’t have the resources to face the battle that would have ensued if he said no. He had nothing to lose by keeping the kid under his thumb. Plus it shut the Royalists up.” He was disappointed. His Queen simply raised a brow and stared at him coldly.

“Tess wasn’t that smart. She ended up back here. And dead.” Liz pointed out as she felt her blood boil. Why Langley went out of his way to bait both her and Max she didn’t know. But she couldn’t shake the feeling that he was just waiting for some hidden technicality that would allow him to ignore his genetic programming and betray Max.

Langley acknowledged the point scored with a sarcastic nod of his head. “Yeah well, Khivar couldn’t just execute them and wait for another uprising. He just made certain she and that baby were in the way for every ‘accident’ that happened in the palace. He would have gotten them eventually.”

“Why wouldn’t she just go to the Royalists?”

“Because Khivar had been playing this game since long before her cute little ass was hatched. He made sure that word of her betrayal of the King reached the right ears. Xan, as the heir would have been spared, but treason is still punishable by death. And the Royalists would have seen that punishment carried out.” Langley smiled slyly, enjoying the frustrated confusion that was stamped on Liz’s face. So important, their little lives and they didn’t know one damn thing! He was suddenly angry.

“But she was the Queen…”

“No.” Langley continued in a tone of voice that implied Liz was a small child unable to grasp a fairly basic concept. “She was his bride. Her position would only be acknowledged and accepted as long as she were married to the King. That didn’t happen. And even if it did, trying to kill him would have negated the marriage contract and all her rights to the throne. Xan had the blood. She had nothing.”

Liz shook her head. “But if Xan has the blood how can he be human?” Liz ground out in frustration.

“He’s human. More human than you probably.” Langley said snidely, his patience pushed past the breaking point as it always was when dealing with her. She was too much a part of Max for Langley’s resentment not to bleed over onto her.

“Look, damn it! Just tell me what you know.” Liz said in a near shout. She was sick of his holding out on them. Teasing them with information that he never truly revealed.

Langley’s eyes narrowed in anger as he assessed the girl next to him. He wondered vaguely if she’d ever realize that her position as Max’s wife gave her the same right to his loyalty and life as the King himself. “I was under the impression that you all knew their powers were human. I thought you were the scientist, Liz? You did pass biology didn’t you? Use Punnet’s square if you have to.” He mocked.

Liz glared but kept her mouth shut. She had know idea what mapping dominant and recessive genes had to do with this but the son of a bitch was on a roll and she might get information she could use.

“Let me explain. I’ll use small words. There are very few differences between ruling class Antarians and human beings. Physically, genetically they’re very compatible. The only real difference exists in the portions of the brain utilized by Antarians. They’ve naturally evolved into their psychic abilities. Humanity is headed in that direction. It’s why Earth was chosen as a cradle. The Royal Four would blend in and develop safely, much as they would on Antar.”

Liz shook her head. “But alien blood…”

“Is not what flows in Max’s veins.” Langley anticipated her next objection. “It looks different because of the ganderium jumpstart. We used Human DNA as a base when we made them but we couldn’t have the Royal family unable to access their powers, could we? On Antar that would qualify them as retarded. The ganderium was used to bridge the minor genetic gap between humans and Antarians and fuse the DNA. What it did was trigger the human brains ability to access psychic capability. It forced a mutation. And yes, in the first generation hybrids it left a residue. But the genetic mutation is passed on naturally to the next generation. The ganderium doesn’t present. So, in a way Majesty, I guess Xan is both human and Antarian.” He tapped the unopened file in Liz’s lap. “Look at the file, Liz. His blood is more oxygen rich, his electrolytes higher, his metabolism is faster. He’s more than human. But not so much more that he’ll be strapped to an autopsy table.” Langley finished bitterly as he remembered that, not being of the ruling class, his own genetic makeup insured that he would be, if he were ever recaptured. Falling into silence he watched through hooded eyes as Liz opened the file and began to read.

Liz stared at the file as she tried to ease some of the shock. It made sense. And scared her for some reason. She thumbed through the file and noted that Langley was right. All the tests and X-rays showed that Xan presented as completely human. Any discrepancy in his bloodwork or brain wave patterns was written off as relating somehow to his telekinesis. She scanned through a few pages of Dr. Lawrence’s notes, shaking her head when she read how he used Xan’s fear to get him to perform. She stopped abruptly when she came to the full color photo of the little boy. His face was serious, his eyes wide and sad, though their amber depths were still captured as beautifully on film as Max’s always were. Despite the resigned expression. His dark hair fell across his forehead and she noted with a shadow of amusement that he most definitely had his fathers ears. She swallowed a little as she saw Tess in the fullness of his lips and the pertness of his nose. Maybe the roundness of his face. “He’ll develop other powers.” It was a statement but she saw Langley nod. “Which ones?”

Langley shrugged. “Whichever genes are dominant. I can’t tell you which ones those are. There’s no way to know how the Human/Antarian mix will affect it. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.” He finished, enjoying Liz’s discomfort.

“Why haven’t you ever told us any of this? And how do you even know what happened on Antar? Why are you telling me this now?” Liz demanded in quiet anger. For some reason she wanted to discount this whole conversation.

“I’ve been in contact with Antar from the beginning, my captivity notwithstanding. And it wasn’t my job to tell anyone. If Max wanted to know he should have asked. It’s not my fault that the teachers were killed in the crash. My job is to protect you, that’s it. That’s all you get, Majesty.” Langley said harshly, his anger over that fact clear in his voice and his borrowed face. “And as for ‘why now’? You asked.” Langley nodded toward the gate that was coming into view. “Get ready Dr. Cambridge, we’re here.”

Liz stared at the guard post in shock. She quickly attempted to compose her face into some semblance of a smile as she clipped her badge to her uniform collar. She felt Max flitting anxiously along the edge of her consciousness, his love and worry amplified slightly when she reached out for him. He could sense her trepidation, her anger over the conversation and her confusion. But that only jumbled his own emotions even more. And his conflicting need to keep both herself and Xan safe began to make her a little schizophrenic. Liz shushed him as gently as possible as she and General Payton passed through the gate. She was doing this. She took a deep breath and looked down at the picture of Xan. The innocent little boy she was here to protect. The little boy who would either grow up and heal like his father or mind warp like his mother.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 28-Jun-2002 4:05:12 PM ]
posted on 30-Jun-2002 8:24:55 PM by Pathos
First, as always, thankyou, thankyou, thank you for all the fb. I loved the way y'all reacted to Langley. It's hard to write someon who so completely doesn't like Max and Liz. But the character intrigued me from the beginning (And not just because I think the actor that portrayed him is fabulous. LOL). I just loved the idea of someone forced to obey Max and keep him breathing but not forced to stay in any sort of close proximity. Odd for a body guard. You gotta wonder if he was this nuts on Antar or if the captivity did something to his loyalty.

And for everyone worried about how the plan is going to work out - this is Roswell, does anything ever go smoothly? All I'm promising is that they'll all be in one piece when this is over with. Maybe. *wink*

Ok, without further ado...

**********Part 13***********
Michael sighed again as he looked across the small formica table at Max. He’d never seen him like this before. There was a blankness in his expression that pointed to his mind being somewhere else entirely. He hadn’t even looked at the plate of food the waitress had set on the table in front of him. The air of hopelessness formed a lump in Michael’s stomach. Pushing his own half finished plate away he asked “How you doing over there, Maxwell?”

Max stared across the table at Michael. “My wife and my son are somewhere I vowed neither one would ever be. Having God knows what done…how do you think I’m doing Michael?!” he demanded in desperate anger.

Michael took a deep breath and glanced around to make sure no one was staring at them too hard. Luckily their skinny blonde waitress had dropped a plate and then bent over to pick it up, causing her skirt to ride up into territory that was currently holding the attention of everyone seated around them. He looked back at Max. At least his expression was no longer blank. “Sorry, man.” Michael scratched his eyebrow uncomfortably. “How is she…feeling? Is she…” He had no idea what the right thing to ask was and from the annoyed expression on Max’s face guessed that hadn’t been it. He raised his hands in silent apology.

Max shook his head. He forced his unreasonable anger back. It wasn’t Michael’s fault. “No. I’m sorry. I just…” He took a deep breath. “She’s terrified. And determined.” He saw Michael nod in understanding and after a brief silence added. “And she’s thinking about Tess.”

Michael blinked. He wanted to ask how Max knew that but he knew that now wasn’t the time to delve into the mystery of Max and Liz. Now was the time to point out that of course Liz was thinking about Tess. “Well, Max she’s going to pick up Tess’ son. Of course…”

“She’s picking up myson Michael.” Max replied tightly, his eyes blazing darkly.

“Look, truce, ok?” Michael said with quiet intensity. He saw Max’s temper subside and gestured to the waitress for the check. They better get out of her before Max blew something up. “Look, I get it. I wouldn’t be any better if Maria did something like this. But you gotta…”

“Liz needs back up. And we need a plan. We’ve got to figure out where she is and get there.”

Michael started to point out that that wasn’t what he was about to say when Max abruptly stood and headed for the car. Dropping a few bills on the table to cover their late lunch Michael headed after him. He had a bad feeling about this. “Max, Liz has got Langley there to…”

“I don’t trust Langley. Not even with that stupid biological imperative.”

Michael sighed. He didn’t trust Langley either. But he trusted Liz more than he’d ever admit. And she didn’t run blind into situations like this. She wasn’t stupid. And he also knew that if Langley had agreed to take Liz it was only because he was certain he could keep her safe. “I know. But Langley knows what will happen to him if anything happens to her .” Michael reminded Max.

Max nodded and rubbed a hand tiredly over his face, remembering a night three long years ago when he’d pretty much cemented Langley’s hatred of him.


------LA 2002-----
Max leaned a shoulder against the wall as he stared out the window, feeling a little claustrophobic in the huge game room. In the glass he could see Liz speaking softly to Maria. His heart thrilled a little even in the midst of his tension when he felt her presence, still lodged so deeply within him. His wife. It didn’t matter that they hadn’t exchanged vows yet. She was his and he was hers. Their connection was til death. Beyond, if he had anything to say about it. His emotions roiled as he pleaded fiercely with the cosmos to give them more than a few days before he was tested on that. He saw Liz stumble a little over what she was saying, the feeling of him stroking through her consciousness still too new to simply accept without pause. Max sighed and ducked his head guiltily as he saw Maria’s glare. He and Liz had been getting that same glare from everyone in their little band of fugitives. Not that he could really blame them. They were running for their lives. Yet all it took was a quick glance or a random thought and he and Liz just got lost in each other.

“I’m gonna go get some air.” Max said, gesturing vaguely as he walked to the door.

“Don’t go too far.” Liz requested.

Her voice was quiet and gentle but Max could feel her underlying fear. It was as if she thought he would disappear if he were out of her sight for too long. “Never.” He said firmly. “I’ll be right outside if you need me.”

“I always need you.”

“I’m the one who’s going to need air soon if you two don’t quit it.” Maria huffed pointedly.

Max knew his blush infused Liz’s cheeks as well. “I’ll see you guys later.”

Leaving Liz and Maria in the game room of the mansion Max wandered for a bit and then found himself out on the balcony at the back of the house. He closed his eyes, needing to truly experience the silence that surrounded him before he went back to worrying about how they were going to evade the special unit hunting them. He may have given up the throne but it seemed that the weight of a crown he’d never worn still lay heavily on his head.

“Hard to believe the villagers will be storming the castle soon, hmm Your Majesty.”

Max opened his eyes and focused on the million pin pricks of light that dotted the tapestry of the night sky. He forced himself not to respond as Langley began his zillionth acidic lecture. A few more hours and they’d be on the road again. Running, but with someone watching their backs.

“All this peace and quiet and a war is brewing just around the corner. And you with a target stuck to your forehead.” Langley studied his King slyly, knowing he was listening by the tension that held his body rigid, though he hadn’t said a word. “It’s going to be hard enough to protect you. But Liz…I don’t think you even know the danger you’ve put her in. I don’t know how I’ll be able to keep her safe.” Langley finished, shaking his head in mock sadness.

He didn’t even consciously make a decision to move. Max simply turned and pinned Langley to the back of the house using his shield. His voice came out in a growl as he allowed his frustration free rein. “Don’t ever threaten Liz again. Say what you want to me. Hate me – that’s your right. But if anything ever happens to Liz because of something you do to prove how poorly I’ve run my life. Or if, in any way, you ever fail to protect her…I promise you, there is not one corner of this planet you can hide in or a shape you can shift into, that I won’t hunt down and destroy.” He tightened the shield around Langley for an instant and then dropped it, allowing the shapeshifter to fall to the ground.

He silenced the part of himself that was ashamed over his behavior. He knew somewhere deep inside that he’d needed to make his point that dramatically. If nothing else Langley respected the drama. Max turned at the sound of footsteps on the pavement. He relaxed slightly as he saw Michael take up a position behind him, both watching his back and lending support.


Max shook his head and pulled himself back to the present. He could feel that same anger welling inside himself now. How dare anyone threaten his wife? His anger at Langley’s in-house threat had been almost palpable. But is was nothing compared to the sudden alien desire to loose his power against the fools that were threatening his wife and his child. He felt Liz reacting to his anger and forced himself to calm down. Taking a deep breath he turned to his best friend. “Yeah. But we still need to do something, Michael.”

Michael nodded tiredly as they got into the car. “Fine. But first I need a nap.” He shook his head as Max tried to interrupt. “We have been driving all over creation for two days and you are not getting behind the wheel of this car. You jump every time Liz’s emotions shift, and you’re just as exhausted as I am. You won’t help her by dying in a car crash, Max.” He waited for the frustrated acknowledgement that he was right. “Then we need to get back to the others. Once we regroup…we’ll come up with something then.”

Max felt like hitting something. “I’m going to call Kyle and get him started on searching out her probable location.” He pulled out his cell phone and then pointed to an hourly motel on the side of the road. “Four hours. Sleep fast.”

Michael nodded, deciding not to ask how he was supposed to sleep fast. He was more interested in how he was going to keep Max sane.





Hope you enjoyed...next part should be out tomorrow.
posted on 2-Jul-2002 5:17:54 PM by Pathos
Ok guys here are the next couple parts. Thanks for all the great fb - glad to see y'all are still enjoying this.

***********Part 14*************
Liz stood next to Langley…General Payton and hoped she was doing a fair impression of someone who was used to having conversations in the dead of night. On a military base. About top secret projects. She glanced surreptitiously at Dr. David Lawrence who was standing to her right. He was short, maybe 5’8” and almost painfully skinny. He reminded her of Ichabod Crane in the old Headless Horseman cartoon. She lowered her head to hide her sudden amusement. She could feel Max’s utter astonishment that she could find anything even remotely amusing and then she found that funny. She swallowed hard, knowing her hysterical laughter was a result of the stress. And also knowing that it would not be a good time to start giggling.

Langley’s eyes narrowed slightly as he took in Liz’s bowed head. He was surrounded by amateurs! “Dr. Cambridge, you mentioned to me that you wanted to start reviewing the briefing materials for the project immediately.” He hinted.

Liz’s head snapped up and she met Langley’s annoyed gaze with her own guilty one. “Uh, yeah…yes, I would like to start as soon as possible. That way I can get an early start with Xa…the subject tomorrow.”

“It’s almost midnight.” Dave pointed out in surprise. He had been working late and he didn’t want to have to chaperone this new person. In fact he didn’t want this new person around at all. But General Payton had made it clear that for the next week all project materials, specifically Alexander Crawford were under Dr. Cambridge’s control. He wouldn’t even be allowed to see Alexander.

Liz saw both Dr. Dave and Langley staring at her, waiting for her response. She could tell this was her cue and she guessed that if Langley were any closer he’d kick her into saying something. She nodded politely. “Yes. So if you’ll just show me where I’ll be working I’d appreciate it.” She softened her tone a little at Dave’s expression. “I was supposed to be here earlier but my original flight was late.” She offered by way of explanation.

Dave nodded as he opened the door to the observation room, where he kept all his research and reports. “Where were you coming from?” he asked curiously.

Langley raised his brows expectantly and Liz blinked. She shrugged. “Sorry. You gotta love ‘need to know’.” She improvised wryly, stepping past Dave as he held the door open.

Langley struggled not to shake his head as Dave’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “You wouldn’t think a psychologists whereabouts would be classified.” Dave mused.

“No.” Langley said, breaking in before this whole mission screwed the pooch before take off. “You wouldn’t. But they are. About the briefing materials…”

Dave flushed a little at the Generals cool tone. “Right. Well everything is in there. I took the liberty of pulling the relevant surveillance tapes. Interaction with the subject, examples of him using his abilities etc. It’s all right there.”

Langley nodded. “Now then, I know it’s late but why don’t we let Dr. Cambridge get to it while we get the tour out of the way.” He watched Dave nod and head down the hall. He turned quickly to Liz. “Don’t improvise!” he hissed and then headed after the Doctor.

Liz sighed in grateful relief when the door closed behind the two of them. She looked from the tapes and files on the table to the darkened glass of the one way mirror. She couldn’t make out the details of the room beyond but she knew that Max’s son was sleeping just behind the wall. Shaking her head a little to clear it she picked up a file and began to read.

Knowing Max would be interested, Liz paid close attention to Xan’s adoption records. He had been placed with Cara and Jeremy Crawford, both in their late thirties. The only condition being that he keep his given name – Alexander. Xan for short. Liz saw Phillip Evans’ name listed as a consultant on the case and guessed that was his idea. She skimmed the state required psychological evaluations, interview transcripts and personal recommendations. By all accounts the Crawford’s were the perfect adoptive parents. They’d tried for years to have children and when it became clear that they couldn’t, had decided to adopt. They were well off, with a large home in Hartford but more important than that they appeared to be loving and kind. Their six month evaluation and various check ins had shown a happy family and a thriving little boy. Liz was reminded somewhat of the Evans’. At least there was something good she could tell Max. Then, a little less than two years after Xan’s adoption they’d been killed in a car accident. And Xan had gone to Cara’s sister, Lori Verra.

Lori and Walter Verra. The file listed Walter as career military – Air Force. Liz shivered with a sudden prescience. That was how they’d found Xan. The Verra’s had one son, Richie, eight. Evidently they only wanted the one child because they had begun looking into foster care just a few months after Xan had come to live with them. Then Xan began to exhibit what Lori called ‘frightening tendencies’. He could move things with his mind. He’d pushed her son into a wall, though Richie hadn’t been injured. He could fly a toy plane without touching it. Lori claimed to be afraid for her sons safety. Liz’s eyes narrowed at the idea of ‘frightening tendencies’. She shook her head as she fought to ignore her instinctive dislike for this woman. Xan was different not demonic. Then she blinked uncertainly and reread the last paragraph.

Jesus! Walter and David Lawrence were friends. The Air Force hadn’t found Xan. He’d been handed over to them by someone who was supposed to protect him. She closed her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger in an attempt to stop her headache from growing. She glanced briefly through the rest of the files. Mostly medical charts. She read through them quickly, grateful that she’d be able to tell Max that none of the procedures he’d suffered through had been performed on Xan. Glancing at the clock Liz figured that Langley and Dr. Dave would be back soon. She grabbed the first tape and slipped it into the VCR.

“I tought we wewre gonna see da planes.” Xan said, completely unaware of the camera as he turned to the woman next to him, looking thoroughly bored.

The woman, who the tape manifest listed as Lori Verra, shook her head, causing her dark auburn ponytail to swing to and fro with the motion. “Xan you’re going to stay here for a while.”

“Cuz why?”


Liz felt her heart ache a little at the openly curious expression on Xan’s little face. She felt a little ill, suddenly certain she didn’t want to see anymore.

“Well, see…you’re sick kiddo.”

Xan looked down at himself in surprise. “I am?”

“See, honey, those things you can do…” Lori Verra stared as the little boy squirmed uncomfortably in his chair. Unable to meet her gaze he looked to the floor as Lori continued. “It’s not right what you can do. So you’re going to stay here and the Doctor’s going to make you some antibiotics. And then you’ll get all better.”

“But…cuz maybe I don’ wanna stay.”

A soft gasp escaped her lips as Liz saw a frightened little boy reach out for comfort while the woman he reached for flinched away from his touch.

“I pwomise I’ll be good. I won’ do it ‘gain” Tears began to fall from Xan’s eyes as he pleaded not to be left behind. But Lori simply shook her head and once again avoided Xan’s grasp as she headed out the door..

Swallowing the anger she was feeling Liz pushed the eject button savagely. She couldn’t watch any more. And she wanted five minutes alone with Lori Verra. Who did that to a child? What kind of woman just walked away so callously? How could she leave a four year old with the military? To be studied? Tortured? How could anyone walk away while a little boy cried? She felt her energy spark angrily under her skin and forced a few deep breaths in and out of her lungs. She looked at the rest of tapes in distaste and finally chose the last one. She didn’t think she’d be able to stomach much more.

As she watched the tape dated a few days ago Liz wondered how David Lawrence had ever been allowed to work with people, much less children. She watched him interact with Xan and couldn’t believe how cruel, not to mention completely inept he was.

“I wanna see da planes.”

“Alexander, I said later. Now…”

“You always say dat. And we nevewr do. Is NEVEWR latewr!” Xan’s voice rose in anger while his left arm reached out and swept the puzzle from its place on the bed next to him. “I don’t wanna be hewre now. I wanna GO HOME!”

“This is home.”

“Nuh-uh! I live wit Aun’ Lori and…”

“Not anymore, Alexander. Your Aunt is letting you live here now.”

“NO! She tol’ me. I’m just here fowr tests. To get bettewr. I…I’m sick. I need andibe…anit…med’cine. Den I GO HOME!”

Liz felt tears prick the back of her eyes at the thoroughly lost expression on the child’s face. He looked so desperate. And so ashamed. She didn’t know how anyone could look at him and not want to hug away the hurt. But Dr. Dave apparently could. She could swear he was almost enjoying Xan’s distress

“Don’ wanna help you”

She was momentarily thrown to see Tess mirrored in the mutinous pout on Xan’s face. From far away she heard the Doctor point out that Xan would eventually want to help them and then he told the boy that he had to learn to be good. Liz blinked as the lights in the room were turned off and then the door closed behind Dr. Dave.

In the instant before the surveillance camera switched to night vision Liz saw how complete and enveloping the inky blackness was. It was from the depths of that shadow that she heard Xan scream ‘No!’ Her heart thudded painfully in her chest as the terror in that one word reverberated through her mind. With the night vision activated she saw the toys in the room all fly at the door as Xan stood unmoving where he had been left, arms out and feeling through the darkness as he tried to figure out if it was safe to move.

“I’ll be good. I pwomise! I’ll be good. It’s dawrk in hewre. Please…I’ll be good” Xan pleaded desperately. It wasn’t until he couldn’t speak around his sobs that he stopped pleading. And then he stumbled blindly through the room until he found the bed.

As she listened to him cry out his fear Xan ceased to be Tess’ son. Or even Max’s. He was a four year old little boy. He was a child being abused. Tortured. Liz wished that she could force herself to turn off the TV, but she couldn’t. She felt an odd obligation to acknowledge his pain. To be there for him somehow because no one had been here to save him before. She was beyond tears a half an hour later when he finally drifted off to sleep. She pressed stop and closed her eyes briefly. Her anger only hardened her resolve.

“As you can see, he’s a difficult child.”

Liz rose slowly from her seat and turned to face Dr. Dave. With an intensity that almost frightened her she wanted to lock him in a room. A dark room. A very dark room. For a very long time. Just to see how long he’d hold out before terror took hold. From the corner of her eye she saw Langley shaking his head furtively.

Dr. Dave continued, completely unaware of the danger posed by the petite woman in front of him. “He’s stubborn. I’ve been using the darkness as an extreme ‘time out’, if you will but he persists in being uncooperative.”

Liz knew she should just nod but her temper wouldn’t allow her to remain silent. “He’s four. What you’re doing is torturing him.” She felt she deserved points for not throwing his smug ass through the wall. She could see that Langley was not of the same opinion. He looked like he wanted to clap a hand over her mouth.

Dave was shocked by Dr. Cambridge’s blunt assessment. “It’s psychological conditioning.” He argued.

Liz’s brows rose, almost hitting her hairline. Was this son of a bitch serious? “He’s not a dog, Pavlov. He’s a little boy.”

Dave glared. “I suppose you think you can do better.”

Liz stared at him for another second before dismissing him completely. “I really should get some sleep before morning, General.”

Langley nodded, grateful for any excuse to get Liz out of the same room as Dave. “I’ll show you to your room, Doctor.”

Before she crossed the threshold Liz turned back to Dr. Dave. “General Payton made it clear that you are to have no contact with the subject during my evaluation, correct?”

Through his clenched jaw Dave managed to answer her. “Yes. He made that clear.”

“Good.” Liz turned and headed into the hallway. She felt almost guilty, walking away from Xan. She apologized silently. Just a few more days, she promised him. I'll get you out. Just hang in there a few more days.

***********Part 15***********
Dave watched General Payton walk Dr. Cambridge down the hall to one of the empty rooms. The General had requested a room in the project building for the Doctor, stating that it would be easier for her to conduct her evaluation. He narrowed his eyes as he wondered what it was about her that really didn’t sit right with him. It was more than the fact that she hadn’t been mentioned when the General’s project evaluation had first been announced. It was the way she had looked at him just now. As if he were scum. Her dark eyes had sparked angrily as she stared at him and he could see everything she hadn’t said lurking in their depths.

Walking back to his office Dave sat down at his computer and opened the Air Force personnel database. He typed in her name and then, as an afterthought, added her physical description. Couldn’t be too careful. Maybe she was a spy, trying to steal information from him. He was almost excited by the hint of sexy intrigue that thought conjured but his hopes were dashed a moment later when her profile came up. Just like the one listed in the evaluation syllabus. The only oddity was that there was no picture available. He shook his head, laughing at his own James Bond fantasies and turned off the computer. Hell, his picture was unavailable. And her physical description matched. He headed for his room. A week and then she’d be gone. And then he’d see what Alexander could really do.

------------Andrews Air Force Base-----------

The lieutenant glanced down at the icon blinking urgently at the bottom of his screen. No fucking way! Clicking swiftly he read the information and then called General Corwin. “Sir, we have a possible sighting.” He was surprised when the General advised he’d be in the control room within ten minutes and further surprised when the man arrived in five.

General Corwin looked around the small control room deep in the bowels of the Base. It had gotten progressively smaller over the last three years. Even though he’d almost caught those alien bastards. Of course ‘almost’ only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. And it was becoming increasingly difficult to receive funding for a project that had yielded no appreciable results. He walked over to Lt. Crawly. “What do you have Lieutenant?”

“Elizabeth Evans. Someone over at Simons entered her physical description in a search of Air Force Personnel.”

“Simons?”

“Research mostly, sir. Jet repair as well.”

Corwin frowned. “They got her?” He’d be pretty pissed if someone else landed his fish.

“No, sir.” The Lieutenant was suddenly embarrassed. It was ridiculous to think that an alien had just waltzed onto an Air Force Base. “She’s…she’s consulting on a project. I mean the…woman who matches her description is. Sir.”

Corwin turned to the lieutenant. Kid was somewhat new. And he’d obviously seen Independence Day a few times and was now eager to rid the world of alien scum. He looked over the kid’s shoulder and read the information on the screen. “You’re telling me that Elizabeth Evans walked onto an Air Force Base posing as Dr. Elizabeth Cambridge in order to consult on a project…a project you need Top Secret clearance to access?”

“No sir.” Crawly answered quietly. “I’m saying someone matching her description did. Someone suspicious enough to warrant that kind of a personnel search.” He anticipated the General’s next question. “There was no picture available. There’s no way to verify unless someone goes up there. Sir.”

General Corwin stared at the screen. He was getting desperate. This was the only lead they’d had in months considering that the Isabel Ramirez sighting had gone no where. Of course they’d lost two days wading through red tape so who knew if it had been legit. “Gather the unit.” It was ridiculous. But he couldn’t ignore the possibility that Providence was handing him a miracle.

The lieutenants brows rose in surprise. “The whole unit? That’ll take most of the day.”

Corwin nodded. “Where she is, Max Evans isn’t far behind. I’m not making the same mistake twice.” He left the control room as the lieutenant began making arrangements. He’d left without a full unit once. And then filed accident and disability reports for the next two months. No. He’d never underestimate Max Evans again. His gut told him the lead was good. He’d waited almost two years for a rematch. He could wait 24 hours.








Just as an FYI-next comes the long awaited Xan/Liz meeting.
*happy*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 2-Jul-2002 5:21:36 PM ]
posted on 5-Jul-2002 7:59:31 PM by Pathos
Well - here's the next couple parts. As always the fb is much appreciated. Hope you enjoy!


*********Part 16**********

Liz clutched the stack of coloring books and large box of crayons protectively to her chest. She was suddenly extremely nervous. The man standing guard outside Xan’s door wasn’t helping her state of mind. He was huge. Like a professional wrestler. His dark skin stood in sharp contrast to the stark whiteness that seemed to permeate the project building. And even though he had a gun she suspected that he didn’t need it to do real damage to someone. Liz shuddered, her imagination running wild as she wondered what possible use a guard like that could have outside a little boys room. Yet there he was, staring at her with something akin to distaste flashing in his eyes.

From the corner of his eye Troy watched the new Doctor speaking with the duty nurse. He didn’t know what to make of her. She wasn’t anything like the other scientists that wandered through the project building. For some reason she seemed nervous. He prayed for Xan’s sake that she was kinder than Dr. Dave. He sighed under his breath. At least she was a damn sight better to look at.

Liz listened with half an ear as the duty nurse explained that Xan had been fed and then reported that as usual he’d only finished half his breakfast. She nodded her thanks for the report and then glanced at Langley, who nodded impatiently at the door, waiting for her to enter. She took a deep breath, counseling herself to just reach out and open the damn door. Taking another deep breath she forced herself across the threshold.

“Hi, Xan. I’m Liz.” She said brightly, not really seeing the little boy as she concentrated on moving from the door to the little table that sat across from the bed. She sat down at one of the little chairs and spread the coloring books out in front of her. Then she turned, bracing herself a little as she finally looked at Xan.

He was dressed in small white hospital scrubs and for a moment her mind occupied itself with the fact that she hadn’t realized that scrubs came in child sizes. And then she saw him. Xan had backed himself against the end of his bed, pressing against it in an attempt to make himself as small as possible. Her heart clenched as she took in the small hand curled tightly around the rails of the baseboard, knuckles whitened under the strain. His wide amber eyes stared at her, wary and frightened as he chewed nervously on his bottom lip. Liz’s own nervousness disappeared in an odd wave of protectiveness. He looked so frightened. And he was only four. Still a baby, really.

Clearing her throat Liz smiled softly at the little boy. “How are you doing today, sweetheart?”

Xan shrugged. “Kay, I guess.” He watched the woman carefully, not really sure what to make of her. She was wearing a white coat like Dr. Dave’s so she must be a Doctor. But Dr. Dave never called him sweetheart.

Liz nodded. “Me too. So, anyway I woke up this morning and said to myself, self - today seems like a coloring kinda day.” She watched Xan nod a little hesitantly when she paused. “Well, what do you say, do you want to come over here and color with me?” she asked, nodding her encouragement.

Xan started to shake his head and then he thought better of it. She’d just make him do it. With a small sigh he walked over and sat down next to her at the table.

Liz watched Xan sit down. The poor kid looked so resigned, like he didn’t think he really had a choice. She searched through the stack of books until she came to the one she was looking for. “I heard you liked planes.” She pulled out a coloring book that had pictures of all the military planes and set it between them. “Can you show me your favorite?”

Xan stared at the woman next to him suspiciously. She didn’t have a mean voice like Dr. Dave. She seemed almost nice, but she was still wearing that same coat. Sighing again he reached out and slowly pulled the coloring book in front of him.

Liz watched him thumb silently through the pages until he came to the lumbering army transport plane. She pointed at the picture. “I like that one, what about you?” She asked brightly, trying to draw him into a conversation. Xan looked at her askance and shook his head. The next picture was of a smaller supply plane. “Now this one looks like fun, what do you think?”

“Nuh-uh.” Xan couldn’t help himself. Why would a supply plane be his favorite?

“Why not?” Liz asked, feigning surprise.

“Dat plane just bwings people stuff.” Xan explained. “I like da fi-tewr planes.” He flipped through the book a little faster, becoming more interested in the conversation as he went. He pointed to the outline of the Stealth Bomber. “Dis ones good. At night it blends wit da stawrs. You can’t even see it.”

“Really?”

“Uh-huh.” He showed Liz the F-16. “Dis is my favewit” He watched her appraisingly for a second and then continued. “I saw it once. Up close. An’ when dey take off…” His hand coasted up as he mimed a plane taking off, adding a sound effect to imitate the accompanying whoosh of afterburners.

“Wow.” Liz laughed, completely enthralled by the way his eyes were suddenly shining.

Xan smiled at her shyly. “An’ den when dey awre in da sky – is like a tiny dot.” He held up his hand, keeping his thumb and forefinger a millimeter apart to illustrate his point.

Liz smiled. “That small, huh?” Her heart ached just a little as she imagined the circumstances that would cause a four year old to want to blend in with the night sky or be a speck in the clouds.

Xan nodded as he got up and lifted his toy plane over his head. “It goes way up high.” He twirled a couple times and then brought the plane down, staring at it in annoyance. Dropping it to the floor he announced “Wichie had one and da wings moved.”

“Well, we’ll have to see about getting you a new plane.” She saw Xan shrug and knew he didn’t believe her. She sighed. “How about coming back over here and coloring?”

Xan shook his head and climbed onto his bed, placing his elbows on his knees and settling his head in his hands. “I don’ weally wanna.”

“What do you want to do?”

Xan looked at Liz for a long minute, knowing he shouldn’t bother but desperate to try. She was in the same uniform as Dr. Dave. But her eyes were different. They were soft and kind. And she looked like she really wanted to know. “I wanna go ou’side.” Xan said glumly.

Liz smiled at the little boy. “Give me a minute.”

Xan watched her knock on the door and then step outside once it was opened. Was she really gonna let him go outside? He stared at her suspiciously when she returned ten minutes later, still smiling.

“It’s bright and sunny, Xan. Let’s go out and play!”

Xan’s eyes widened “Weally?” He whispered.

Liz had to grin at the shocked expression that crossed his face. “Yes, really.” She held out her hand to him. “C’mon silly, we’re wasting play time.”

Xan slid from the bed, staring at her hand for a long moment. He searched her face briefly and then seemed to come to a decision. He smiled shyly at Liz then reached out and took her hand.

************Part 17**********

“I won! I won!” Xan smiled widely as the soccer ball slipped past Liz and headed between the rocks they’d set up as a goal.

“You’ve got a pretty strong kick, Xan. I thought for sure I’d be able to stop that one.” Liz said, giving an exaggerated sigh as she sat down on the ground. After wandering the grounds for a little while they’d come upon a clearing that wasn’t being used. It was a little barren but Liz had hoped that Xan would simply enjoy being out. And he did. He’d been cooped up for so long that the fresh air seemed to send him into energy overdrive. After a long game of tag and a water break they’d grabbed the soccer ball from his room and headed back out. Xan had settled happily into the game but even with Liz purposely letting goals slip past it had taken them a good hour and a half to play to the ten goals he’d needed to win. She couldn’t help laughing out loud as he did an exuberant victory dance in front of their makeshift goal.

Xan glanced at Liz shyly and then joined in her laughter. He looked over to where the soccer ball had come to rest. “I’ll get da ball.” He volunteered, even though it was her turn because he’d scored the goal.

Liz watched him jog toward her, awkwardly kicking the ball ahead of him. She was almost in awe of the transformation that had taken place since this morning. The shadows in his eyes seemed to have been relegated to the back of his mind and his infectious grin came more and more easily as time slipped past. It was as if the sunshine had turned Xan into an entirely different little boy. She raised her brows in question as he kicked the ball past her and then threw himself on the ground by her side. He took a deep breath and then relaxed with his feet crossed at the ankles and his left hand cradling his head while his right rested lightly in his stomach. Her breath caught in her throat a little as she saw Max so clearly emulated in the pose.

“’Member what you said? If I win?” Xan prompted, hopefully.

Liz pretended to think for a minute. “What did I say? If you won?”

Xan frowned, wondering if he’d pushed her too far. Liz was nice and he didn’t want to make her mad. “Cuz…’member you said…”

Liz reached over and tickled Xan gently. “Hey, I was just teasing sweetie. Of course I remember. It’s your turn. What do you want to do now?”

Xan giggled as he rolled over to avoid further tickling. He looked at Liz, relaxing again once she told him she was teasing. “I wanna see da planes.”

“Oh.” Langley hadn’t been thrilled at her request to take Xan outside. She was fairly certain that he would pitch a fit if she asked him for clearance into the hangers. “See, sweetie…”

“Uh, ma’am? I know a mechanic. He’d probably let us take a look.”

Liz stared wide eyed at their guard. He’d been trailing them the whole morning. More as an adornment than an actual participant in their fun. “Well…”

Xan turned pleading eyes to Liz. He could feel her wavering between yes and no. “Please, Liz. I’ll be good. I won’ touch nothin’” he promised solemnly.

Liz sighed deeply. Xan had obviously inherited his fathers ability to turn her better judgment to mush with one puppy dog look. “Ok. But we need to be quick. People are working and we don’t want to interrupt too much.” She couldn’t help but smile at the way Xan jumped up and raced to the sidewalk, waiting there impatiently for her to catch up. She turned to their guard. “Thank you. He’s really going to enjoy this, uh…”

“Troy, ma’am.”

Liz nodded. “Troy. Lead the way.”

Troy stole covert glances at Dr. Cambridge as he led her and Xan towards the hangers. He’d watched her all morning and now he was more confused than ever. He wasn’t sure what was worse, Dr. Dave torturing the kid outright or Dr. Cambridge manipulating his feelings. Xan was so desperate for any hint of human kindness that it would be easy for Dr. Cambridge to take advantage of his vulnerability. Of course, watching Xan smile up at the Doctor he suddenly wasn’t sure who was manipulating who anymore. Sighing, he gestured at the hanger in front of them. “Give me a minute.”

Fifteen minutes later Liz was once again cursing her inability to say no to aliens with big, beautiful eyes. “Xan, don’t lean too far out…” She called as she watched Xan wave to her from the open cockpit of an F-16. Troy had convinced his friend to let him take the little boy up to check out the controls. But they really were pretty far up. Her eyes narrowed as she saw Xan and Troy share a look of purely masculine amusement at her concern. “I mean it…” she trailed off. She could just see herself explaining to Max how his son had fallen to his death from the cockpit of a parked jet. While in her care.

Seeing Liz’s look Xan tried to make her feel better. “Is ok, Liz. Twoy’s got me.” He saw her nod so he returned his focus to the controls, trying to remember everything Troy was telling him about flying. The lesson ended far to early for his tastes and he soon found himself heading back towards the project building with Liz.

Liz glanced down as Xan’s steps faltered and he began to lag behind. “Hey, aren’t you ready for lunch?”

“Do we gotta go back dewre?” Xan whispered, stopping a few feet from the building that loomed oppressively in front of him.

Liz squatted down next to Xan, fighting the urge to pull him into her arms and run for the gate as she saw the previously joyous little boy disappear in favor of a child who seemed to be retreating into himself before her eyes. “I’m afraid so, sweetie. We can’t spend all day outside.” She said gently.

Xan glanced from Liz to the building, tears welling in his eyes as he saw Dr. Dave step from the shadows of the doorway into the bright sunlight. “Cuz why?” he whispered, taking an unconscious step closer to Liz. “Cuz maybe I don’ wanna go back dewre.”

Liz forced herself to smile even as she watched his expression crumble. Just a couple more days she reminded herself. Now, if only she could tell him that. “I don’t really want to go back there either.” She whispered back, leaning in so only he could hear her. Xan blinked against his tears and leaned his dark head closer to hers. “Sometimes we have to do things that we don’t like. But do you know what helps me when I have to do something I don’t want to ?” She waited for Xan to shake his head and then continued. “I look on the bright side. Like now, even though we have to go back in there I’m pretty happy that we won’t ever have to do anything with Dr. Dave ever again.” She had to give him something. She couldn’t tell Xan that he’d be leaving soon. But at least she could tell him that he was safe from that monster.

Xan stared at Liz. He could tell from the look on her face that she was serious. “We don’?” he asked hopefully.

“Nope. From now on it’s you and me. That sound ok to you?” Liz asked brightly. She gently wiped the moisture from Xan’s cheeks, her heart breaking as he leaned in for more of the light contact. He nodded his agreement to their deal and Liz stood up and reached for his hand. “Ok. Let’s head in and get some lunch.”

Xan didn’t even hesitate, he clutched at Liz’s hand, staying close to her side as they moved past Dr. Dave and headed down the long hallway to the elevator. As the doors closed Xan saw the expression on Dr. Dave’s face. His grip tightened around Liz’s fingers as he recognized the anger written across the man’s features.

Liz looked down as she felt Xan grip her hand more tightly. As she looked through the closing elevator doors she saw the expression on Dave’s face and knew that was what had frightened him. “Remember what I said Xan. I won’t let him near you.” She soothed.

Xan frowned. He wanted desperately to believe her. “Pwomise?” He asked, searching her face.

Liz nodded and met his surprisingly astute gaze. “I absolutely promise.”


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 5-Jul-2002 8:03:49 PM ]
posted on 7-Jul-2002 6:24:16 PM by Pathos
Hi all - I am breathing just a little sigh of relief here. I am so glad that everyone liked the Xan/Liz interaction. The kid's grown on me too. As always, the FB was so sweet. I really, really appreciated it. I promise one day I'll get around to responding to everyone personally but...not so much today. *smiles apologetically* Don't hate me too much...I have new parts.

A couple people have mentioned that they totally hated the baby storyline on the show but they like my story (Thank you SO much for that, BTW) - I just wanted to say that I was right there with you. I was pretty ticked that JK wouldn't just make the whole thing a mindwarp - I would have taken bad dream. Anything to make it go away. LOL It was like he was afraid it would be a cop out. And then he copped out and got the kid adopted after a week. Sheesh! Anyway, I had a point...right. I was so ready to hate that kid right up until Max was standing in his kitchen just staring at his son as he talked to his father. It was the first time I felt like there was any real emotion there and it wasn't just another thing to keep Max and Liz apart. Needless to say when he actually gave the baby up I was in tears. And then I just kept hearing Max say that maybe things would be different in the future, so...voila! Of course, it helped a whole hell of a lot that Tess was blown to smitherines. *big*

Again, thanks for all the FB
*crossing fingers that I can live up to the expectations*
I'm officially done rambling now so...back to our story, already in progress...

************Part 18*********

Liz spent the rest of the day faking her way through various simple psychological tests, doing her best to make the inkblots as much fun as possible. And over the course of the next several hours Xan relaxed into his earlier good mood. But by 7:00 she could tell that he was actively fighting sleep. The duty nurse had offered to put him to bed but to Liz the woman looked like a cross between Kathy Bates in Misery and Olga from the Russian weight lifting team, so Liz had taken care of it herself. Which was how she’d come to be sitting on the edge of his bed tucking him in.

Xan blinked sleepily, sighing a little as he felt Liz tuck the covers around him. “Awre you gonna be hewre when I get up?” he mumbled.

“I’m going to try to be. But if not right when you wake up then really soon after that.”

Xan frowned as his exhaustion evaporated into worry. “Cuz why?” If she didn’t come back did that mean that Dr. Dave was in charge again?

“Because maybe I’m going to have a surprise for you.” Liz reached out and smoothed the hair out of Xan’s face. The hand she was leaning on hit something hard at the edge of his pillow and frowning slightly, she slid the object out from under the covers. A flashlight. She looked at Xan and smiled reassuringly as his expression became even more worried. Shoving the light back under his pillow Liz said “Actually, I have a surprise for you now.”

Xan’s eyes widened as Troy came in carrying a lamp and a couple tools.

Troy winked at Xan and then held up the lamp for Dr. Cambridge’s inspection. “This what you’re looking for ma’am?”

Liz nodded. “There’s no way for it to catch on fire or anything right? He can’t hurt himself?”

Troy shook his head as he walked toward the far wall. “No ma’am. Thing was made for use in a foxhole. Works on an energy cell so it doesn’t spark. There’s no way a kid could break it.” He drilled the hook in high on the wall next to the door that led to the little bathroom and then hung the lamp. There was no way Xan would be able to pull it down. Hell, he doubted Dr. Cambridge would be able to reach it.

Liz smiled. “Thanks Troy.” She looked down at Xan. “Do you want to say thanks to Troy?” she hinted gently.

Xan nodded, his eyes still locked on the glowing lamp. “Tanks Twoy.”

Troy shrugged as he headed out the door. “Anytime little man but it was Liz’s idea.” He was still baffled by that woman. She was entirely too nice to be involved in this kind of shit. And she’d asked him to call her by her first name. There wasn’t a scientist in this building that didn’t hide behind their title. He turned out the lights and slowly let out the breath he had been holding. Xan hadn’t let out his nightly cry. Usually it took him a good five minutes to get into bed and find the flashlight. Troy nodded to his replacement and headed for the barracks. At least he’d be able to sleep tonight.

Liz smiled at Xan as he stared around the room. The glow from the lamp illuminated everything. “What do you think?”

Xan stared at Liz, nodding happily as she ruffled his hair a little. “Is good. I don’ weally like da dawrk.” He admitted softly. He bit his lip as he forced his eyes to stay open. “You weally comin’ back?” he asked cautiously. He frowned a little when all she did was nod. “Pwomise?”

Liz would have smiled at what was becoming a familiar request, but the desperation in Xan’s voice gave her pause. “I promise.” She responded softly. Without consciously deciding to do it, she stayed on the edge of the bed, watching while his eyes drifted closed and sleep claimed him. She adjusted the covers around his shoulders as he shifted restlessly onto his stomach, whimpering slightly. Remembering how her mother used to soothe her Liz rubbed his back gently, hoping to keep his nightmares at bay. She felt the vague desire to camp out here to make sure he was safe but she discounted it quickly. She could just imagine what Langley would say. Sighing a little Liz slipped quietly from the room, praying that Xan’s dreams were of planes and clear blue skies. Not dark rooms and hidden monsters.

***********Part 19***********

“There wasn’t a whole lot of psychic phenomenon going on today Dr. Cambridge.”

Liz took a deep breath as she forced herself to ignore the sarcastic tone of Langley’s observation. Why was it that every conversation with this man turned into a confrontation? “He’s not a trained monkey…General. I can’t just snap my fingers and make him…”

“Well that much is clear.” Langley muttered, watching as Liz’s eyes narrowed angrily. At least his day wasn’t a total waste.

“Look. I’m not going to treat him like Dr. Dave does. I’m not going to scare him into…”

“Fine. Don’t. But I need something I can use to back up this report and you’re the one that insists we need to get him out of here in the next two days.” Langley raised his voice, speaking over any objection Liz was about to make. “I need evidence of telekinesis. From someone.” He lowered his voice as he saw Liz catch his meaning. “As long as it looks like it came from him.” He warned, keeping his voice low even though he’d already taken care of the monitoring system in the room.

Liz nodded thoughtfully as she caught on to Langley’s plan. She could use her own powers if it came to that. Considering that she wasn’t going to push Xan into anything she figured it would. “That can be arranged.” She glanced over Langley’s shoulder curiously. “What’re those?”

Langley took a deep breath, as annoyed by her presence as he always was. Even though it was her room they were currently occupying. “The files on the rest of the project participants.” He answered curtly

Liz stared at the shapeshifter’s head. “There are more kids?” she asked, as she was suddenly overwhelmed with the idea that they’d have to modify their plan to include more children.

Langley rolled his eyes as he saw Liz pale a little. “No. All of the other participants are volunteers.” He shrugged wryly as he set aside the file he’d been reviewing and opened another. “Just ordinary people doing their patriotic duty…what?” he asked as he saw the way Liz was staring. wide eyed at the file he’d just opened.

“That’s him!” Liz pointed excitedly at the picture affixed to the left side of the file. “That’s the kid I saw in my premonition. The one with the gun.” She reached out and swiped the file from the desk. “Albert Jenson. Says he was Dr. Dave’s prize specimen…until a few weeks ago. There haven’t been any new notes made in the file since…”

Langley grabbed the file from her hands. “That’s classified.” He announced, ignoring Liz’s raised eyebrows and the glare she shot in his direction. Scanning the file quickly he finished her original sentence. “Looks like Dave hasn’t had anything to do with this kid since Xan came to the base. Seventeen years old…living on the streets before his ability was noticed, living here for the last three years, no next of kin found…psych evaluation indicates he’s eager to impress people with his powers, thinks of Dr. Dave as a father figure.” Langley snorted at that and then raised a brow as he looked at Liz. “Looks like there’s a little case of sibling rivalry going on.”

Liz shook her head and waved off the commentary. “Whatever. Now that we know who he is you can put him in custody. Keep him away from Xan and then we don’t have to worry about him getting hurt.” Her excited relief was short lived as Langley shook his head. “Why?” she demanded.

“This kid hasn’t done anything wrong yet, I can’t just lock him up. Do you…”

“What?!” Liz interrupted angrily. “You’ve decided now is the time to invest in a moral compass?!”

Langley’s eyes narrowed at her implication “No. But if I just lock him up that draws attention to us. I need an actual reason…”

“Make something up!”

“Fine!”

“Thank you!” Liz took a deep breath and pushed an errant strand of hair back toward the bun still affixed to the nape of her neck. “I need a plane.”

Langley stared at her wide eyed. She hadn’t just said that. “Excuse me?”

**************Part 20***********

“Well?” General Corwin demanded, taking a mental inventory of the Unit caravan stretched out behind him.

“I copied Liz Evans picture to Dr. Lawrence via e-mail.” Lieutenant Crawley glanced at the General and explained “He’s the one that posted the inquiry in the first place. So far there’s been no response. I also e-mailed General Payton the order requiring her arrest and containment.” He shrugged and rechecked his laptop. “No response there yet either.”

Corwin snorted. “I know Lou Payton. He’s out glad handing politicians and drumming up support from the private sector. Probably hasn’t checked his mail yet. If he costs me this capture…” he let the statement rest there, the implied threat clear enough.

“Sir.” The Lieutenant replied smartly. He’d learned long ago that the reply covered most occasions when a response was required but to respond honestly could be hazardous to ones health or career. And from the way General Corwin’s eyes were gleaming he guessed the less said the better.

Brad Corwin glared out into the darkness. They were starting later than he had intended, the requisite red tape having almost choked the mission once again. But as time had passed he’d become more and more certain that they were on the right track. He glanced at the vehicles behind him and then pressed the ‘talk’ button on the walkie talkie. “Let’s move out people!” He barked. Driving through the night they’d arrive at Simon’s sometime tomorrow afternoon. “Enjoy breakfast, Liz.” He muttered maliciously. “It’ll be your last meal as a free woman. Or whatever the hell you are.”

Crawly raised his brows and chose to offer no response whatsoever to the General’s last statement. Better not to call attention to the fact that the old man was talking to himself. He glanced behind him as the black SUV he was riding in lurched forward to obey the Generals order. Five SUV’s identical to the one he was in eased smoothly from the curb to follow them. The shiny black vehicles with their darkly tinted windows carried some of the deadliest men on the planet. It reminded him vaguely of an X-Files episode. He shivered in anticipation. This wasn’t fiction. It was real and he couldn’t wait to join the fight.

--------------

Langley sank down into the plush chair, exhaling in annoyance as he saw the mailbox icon blinking insistently on his computer screen. He debated briefly the merits of opening it now or waiting. It couldn’t be that important, hardly anyone knew he was here. And he had been under a lot of stress in the last few days. And he was looking forward to a peaceful sleep.

He stretched lightly, allowing himself to shift a little into a more relaxed form under his uniform, careful to maintain Payton’s face. Liz was right. She was crazy but she was right. Though he’d never mention that to her. He’d had Albert Jenson confined to his room under the guise that he was stealing from the medicine supply cabinet in the infirmary. They now had the full week Langley had originally wanted to make her evaluation look thorough. He turned off the screen and headed to bed. He’d look at it in the morning.



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-Jul-2002 6:32:39 PM ]
posted on 11-Jul-2002 9:26:57 PM by Pathos
Hi all. Had a few minutes so I thought I finally get back to y'all. I really do appreciate all the FB I've gotten throughout this story.

Adrianna, Becca1974, JaneLane, Sydniepaige, gonenuts, QueenCyane, Jeremiah, ConsultantTam, AvengingAngelIQ, bockers, believer_evans, mareli, NATEVANS, RosWool, behrstars, Asabetha, limegreenli, Tabasco Liz, Snowdove 30, Angelus84, BLS40, mlaixz, Tigereyes, slewell, Realistic Dreamer, Susan709

Thank you all so much for taking the time and leaving FB. Hope you' re all still reading and enjoying.

Minanda: I know - Langley annoys me too. And I'm writing him! LOL. Thanks for reading - hope you like the next few parts.

Mitra: Always happy to see someone new. Thanks so much for all the bumps. Your work was not in vain. Here's some new parts*wink*

Lelea: Glad to see you're still reading and enjoying. I just love your comments.

roswellluver: Uh-oh. I don't want to be responsible for driving you nuts so I'll let you in on a secret...I'm a softie at heart so I'd never really let anyone get hurt. Well, not too, too much anyway. LOL

Spicy trini1: I see you're with everyone else in wanting to hang Langley. Can't say I blame you - he is a royal pain! *big*

narly21: Thanks so much for giving my Xan a chance. That's about the best compliment I could get. I was a little worried about posting because I know how much I hated the baby storyline. Thanks for sticking with the story.

TeddyBehrJKT: You love this story?? Thank you so much. Considering that Among Us is my favorite story on the board I would have been tickled if you'd even liked this just a little! *Pathos is blushing and shaking her head in amazement* And thanks for saying you like the dialogue. I drive myself crazy trying to make it sound right and I'm not always sure it works. Hope you enjoy the rest of the ride!

Ty01: You are just so sweet! Thanks so much for all your comments and bumps. I just love that you're so into the story. Enjoy the next few parts.

mandyhanford: You're always so GREAT about bumping! Thanks so much.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 11-Jul-2002 9:31:00 PM ]
posted on 11-Jul-2002 9:36:59 PM by Pathos
And now back to our regularly scheduled program *big*

**********From Part 20***********

He’d (Langley) had Albert Jenson confined to his room under suspicion that he was stealing from the medicine supply cabinet in the infirmary. They now had the full week he’d originally wanted to make her evaluation look thorough. He turned off the screen and headed to bed. He’d look at it in the morning.

**********Part 21***************

Albert Jensen paced the floor of his room, following the same seam in the linoleum back and forth. Forth and back. He paused briefly to check the door. It was still locked. And the guard was still there. He fumed silently. This was such a load of crap. Who the hell was General Payton to do this to him? Didn’t that old bastard know who he was?! He was the closest thing to the Holy Grail these scientists had. Without him they were nothing. Without him they had theories. Supposition. Fucking fiction, that’s what it was. He was the answer to their prayers when he walked into this place. Everything you ever wanted to know about telekinesis but were afraid to ask. He was the fuckin’ bomb!

And then they found the goddamn Christ child. And suddenly he was forgotten. What kinda shit was that? Albert continued his pacing. Left, right. Left, right. Hold it in. Hold it in. Smile at Tommy. You don’t mind that the doors’ locked. Everything’s just fine in here. Albert nodded to the guard, smiling easily as he seethed inside.

The Doc didn’t think he understood. Doc thought he was stupid. Like he didn’t know what it felt like to be screwed over. He’d survived the streets, he knew what it felt like to have to take it up the ass. He knew what it felt like to be used. Doc didn’t know. Doc didn’t know anything. Didn’t know who the fuck he was dealing with. That’s for goddamn sure. Doc actually came to him this morning to brag about the fact that he was gonna get his project back under control. He was gonna arrest the chick that had taken his place with the kid. Doc was bragging about that to him. To him! Couldn’t be bothered to spend five minutes with him for the last three weeks and that’s what he wants to talk about when he finally shows his sorry ass. Fuck him!

Albert felt his power surge again with the anger. He grabbed the metal baseboard on his bed. It twisted in his grip, groaning and vibrating under the pressure. He took a few deep breaths and forced the power back down as he resumed his pacing. Back and forth. Forth and back. It was him they should be concentrating on. Him they should be working with. Not that fucking baby. Kid didn’t know half of what he did. He just needed to make Dr. Dave see that. Doc needed to see that he was growing stronger. It wasn’t all in his head. He just needed to get rid of that kid.

He stopped pacing and looked at the door appraisingly. Doors couldn’t hold him. But Tommy knew him. Tommy would be ready. He smiled angelically at his guard and began pacing again. The night guard was new. He wouldn’t be expecting anything. Albert knew he needed to do this quickly. Tonight. Law of the jungle. Strike quickly and only the strong survive. He was gonna get out. And he was gonna make sure that kid never got in his way again. And tomorrow things would be back to normal. He’d be on top and the kid… Albert smirked. The kid would be six feet under.

************Part 22***********

Xan dropped his spoon and watched it sink into the mush before him. He wrinkled his nose at the unappetizing oatmeal and ignored the metallic creak that signaled the door to his room being opened. It was probably just that old lady who came every day to bring him his meals and then take the dishes away. She always clucked at him and said he should eat more but nothing she brought ever tasted good.

“Morning Xan.”

Xan gasped a little at the sound of the voice. “Liz! Hi!” He’d been half afraid she wasn’t coming back. And even more afraid that Dr. Dave was. “Whewre wewre you? I been up since fowevewr.” He finished dramatically as he slid from his chair and moved to stand in front of her, shifting excitedly from one foot to the other.

Liz couldn’t stop her delighted laugh at his antics. She forced a deep breath into her lungs to combat her giddiness. She couldn’t help it. Albert Jenson had been confined to his room. She didn’t have to worry about Xan being killed. All she had to do was get him off the base and everything would be ok. She ignored the voice in her head that wanted to ruin her good mood by pointing out that that would probably be easier said than done. “Since forever huh? The nurse said it’s only been an hour.”

Xan shrugged, nodding seriously as he said. “It was a long time.” He paused to smile at her. “But is ok, cuz youwr back.” He added magnanimously.

Liz smiled. “Of course I’m back, silly. I always keep my promises.”

Xan stared up into Liz’s smiling face. She kept her promises. “Good.” His eyes narrowed curiously as he became aware of the fact that she was holding something behind her back. “Wha’s dat?”

“This is your surprise.” Liz said, relishing the excited widening of Xan’s eyes. She moved his breakfast tray out of the way and then set the box she’d been holding behind her back on the table. “I thought you might like this one better than your other one.”

Xan’s mouth dropped open in surprise when he looked through the cellophane and saw the toy plane inside. He touched the box lightly and glanced uncertainly at Liz. “Is for me?”

Liz nodded. “Of course it’s for you.” She laughed as he took her at her word and dragged the box from the table. Sitting on the floor he began to fight with the packaging.

“L-I-z…” Xan looked up at Liz as he drew her one syllable name out in frustration. “It won’ come out.”
He said, pulling at the stubborn box flap which refused to untuck and let his plane go.

“Ok, ok…we’ll get it out, don’t worry.” Liz sank down next to Xan, sitting indian style as she took the box from his hands. She forced the box apart and then pulled the toy out.

Xan shoved the empty box out of the way as he watched Liz undo the plastic ties holding the plane to its cardboard backing. He leaned in close to her side as he waited impatiently for her to work his plane free. “Can we fly it ou’side?” he asked excitedly.

“Well, sweetie its raining right now so we’ll have to wait until later.” Liz answered as she fought with the plastic ties. What was wrong with the people who manufactured toys? The box had said ‘for ages 6-8’ and at the rate she was going Xan would be 6 or 8 by the time… “Here we go!” Liz exclaimed as she separated the plane triumphantly from its backing. She shared a grin with Xan. “You were right, it really didn’t want to come out.”

“Yeah.” Xan agreed as he took the offered plane. He listened closely as Liz explained to him how to work the wings and landing gear. It even had sound effects. “Is bettewr dan Wichie’s!” Jumping to his feet he made a few experimental passes around the room. He laughed happily as he came to a stop in front of Liz, who was still seated on the floor. Without thinking he threw his arms around her neck, his excitement clear in his voice. “Tank you!”

Liz blinked in surprise. Her arms closed reflexively around Xan’s body while shock held her motionless for a second. Then she felt Xan relax against her and she followed suit. Hugging him gently she said “You’re welcome, sweetheart.”

Xan sighed happily as he took a moment to rest his head lightly on Liz’s shoulder. It felt so nice to be hugged. Then he pulled away, refocusing his attention on the plane. Hoisting it over his head he said “Is like a weal one.” Giggling happily he pressed the button that sounded the afterburners, adding his own rendition as he twirled in a circle, guiding the plane in a wide arc.

Liz nodded absently, still a little shell shocked from the impromptu hug.

Her inattention was lost on Xan. Pressing the sound effect button again he launched the plane into the air, steadying it as he guided it toward the ceiling and laughing in delight when he saw the back engines light up as if they really were jet propelled.

Liz blinked as she saw the plane lazily circling a foot from the ceiling. “Wow. It’s a good thing there’s a ceiling.”

Xan’s eyes widened as he realized his mistake. He dropped his hand quickly, letting the plane fall to the bed as he whirled to face Liz. “I’m sowwy. I…I won’ do it ‘gain.”

Liz watched in surprise as tears filled Xan’s eyes. Two seconds ago he had been giggling. “Sweetie, it’s ok. You didn’t do anything wrong. You don’t have to be sorry.” She said, keeping her voice low and gentle so as not to scare him further.

Xan sniffled, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand as he took in the gentle smile that was still on Liz’s face. She didn’t look like she was afraid of him. “Yeah?” he asked cautiously.

“Yeah.” Liz replied. She was reminded suddenly of Max. Of how uncertain he’d looked the first time he’d asked her to trust him. Almost as if he were sure she’d say no when he offered to show her who he really was. Reaching out she captured Xan’s hand and pulled him gently towards her. Xan took the invitation a step further and dropped into her lap. She wasn’t so surprised by his forwardness this time. Wrapping an arm around his shoulders she cupped his chin, tilting his head up so that he would meet her gaze. “I want you to listen to me. You didn’t do anything wrong.” She felt Xan cuddle a little closer and shifted so that he fit more comfortably on her lap. She wished she could wipe the wariness from his features. “Actually, I think it’s pretty cool that you can get that plane so high. I can’t even do that.”

Xan stared up at Liz. She was still smiling at him. And hugging him. Her hair fell in a loose ponytail over her shoulder and he couldn’t resist the sudden impulse to reach out and see if it was as soft as it looked. He concentrated on wrapping one long lock around his fingers as he asked softly “You’wre not scawred a me?”

“Of course I’m not scared of you.” Liz forced a breath into her lungs as she fought the urge to hunt down his aunt and knock some sense into her. That bitch had poor Xan believing he was some kind of monster. Liz hugged him just a little tighter. “Why would I be scared?” she asked gently.

Xan shrugged as he worried her hair more tightly around his fingers. He didn’t want to give her any ideas. He didn’t want her to push him away.

“Xan?” Liz prompted gently. She hated to push but she needed him to understand that she wasn’t afraid of him.

“Cuz…Cuz maybe…you tink dat…I’d…huwrt you.” Xan whispered. He lowered his gaze, afraid to see her face as he tried to convince her she was wrong. “But I would’n! Not evewr…”

Liz blinked back the moisture that was gathering in her eyes. He’d sounded so afraid. As if he thought she’d suddenly realize he was a dangerous animal. “Of course you’d never hurt me.” She said, tipping his chin up. She brushed at the corner of his eye, catching the tear before it fell. “I know you’d never hurt me.”

Xan stared at Liz in surprise. “You do?” he asked. She sounded pretty sure. And she was still holding him. But maybe she really didn’t mean it.

“Of course I do. You’re too sweet to hurt anyone.” She felt him shrug and knew he wasn’t really buying her response. “You didn’t hit me with your plane when you were flying it did you?” she asked, gently brushing the hair from his forehead as he shook his head. “And you didn’t let it fall on my head when you dropped it did you? Thank you, by the way because that would have hurt.” Liz teased, jostling him into a small smile.

“You’wre weally not scared a me?” Xan asked. He could almost believe what he saw in her eyes but he wanted to hear it one more time.

Liz shook her head. “I’m really not.” She tickled him lightly, smiling in relief as he giggled. “You’re too cute to be scared of.” Seeing the plane resting on the bed it occurred to her that the best way to prove she wasn’t afraid was to show him. She stood him gently on his own feet as she pushed herself up from the floor. “Let’s get your plane.”

Xan pulled the toy from his bed and looked from Liz to the jet and back again uncertainly. His fingers slid over one of the buttons and the wings extended with a click. His bright shiny new jet was just begging to be flown.

“I bet there’s lots of little boys who wish they could fly their planes like you do.”

Xan looked at Liz in surprise, that thought having never occurred to him. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“I can make it go highewr.” Xan bragged shyly, glancing down at the plane and then watching for Liz’s reaction through his lowered lashes.

“You can?” Liz asked in exaggerated surprise. “I don’t know. You had it pretty high last time.”

Xan nodded. “Yeah, but watch.” He launched the jet once again into the air. He concentrated and pushed the toy to within a couple inches of the ceiling.

Liz clapped lightly. “That is definitely higher.”

Xan grinned, the last of his uncertainty falling away in the face of an appreciative audience. “Tol’ ya.”

“Holy shit.” Troy stared, open mouthed at the toy jet that was hovering just below the ceiling. He looked at Xan and it was suddenly clear why a four year old needed an armed guard.

Liz whipped around when she heard Troy’s voice. She wanted to bang her head against the wall when she caught the expression on his face. And then she saw Xan’s expression and she wanted to bang Troy’s head against the wall.

Xan dropped his hand quickly when he saw Troy’s face. He barely registered the sound of the plane crashing to the floor. “Twoy…” He bit his lip as Troy backed away.

“I just…came in for the…tray. I’ll just get the tray and…I’m gonna go…” Troy grabbed the breakfast tray from the table and backed out the door, tripping a little over an empty cardboard box.

It wasn’t until the door closed behind him that the look on Xan’s face filtered through to his conscience. Troy leaned against the wall, letting his head fall heavily against the concrete as he closed his eyes. Christ. The kid was four. What the fuck was wrong with him?

*************Part 23***********

Langley cursed himself as he reread the two e-mail messages. Specifically he cursed his biological imperative. The goddamn imperative that was waking, cranky and cruel after more than fifty long years. It was bad enough that Corwin was on the way. Langley checked the clock again and his mind went into overdrive as it sought to come up with a reasonable plan to keep the Queen and the heir safe. But it wasn’t General Corwin that had him rising from his seat and heading out the door. It wasn’t General Corwin who had awakened the thing inside him. The thing he’d never wanted to feel again. That honor belonged to David Lawrence.

Dr. Dave's e-mail seemed to circle his mind as the imperative burned through him. Protect. Dr. Dave was a fool. More than that he was a threat. Langley still couldn’t believe that everything had fallen apart overnight. Yet Dr. Dave’s e-mail, stating that he’d been contacted regarding one Elizabeth Evans, was all the proof he needed. The good Doctor had responded to General Corwin, eschewing the chain of command by not going to General Payton first. And then he’d sealed his own fate by confirming that Liz was in fact on the Base. Anger and anxiety rolled through him in waves. Protect. The Doctor had solidified his own status as enemy by stating that he was going to remove Xan from Liz’s custody and have her held.

Over his dead body. The thought came unbidden and Langley wanted to weep. More than that he wanted to scream. To break something. To run away. But none of those things were an option any longer. Protect. That was his only option now. The drive within him was growing stronger. It heralded more than danger. It was the precursor to a sacrifice he didn’t want to make. The feeling was almost a flashback, calling to mind his own capture and imprisonment. Even without Liz, the heir alone would have forced the feeling. But both of them. Within the required proximity…the only thing he could choose to do was hate them. Hate them as he died for them, if necessary.

Protect. Training, generations old, was coming back to him. He pushed the fear away. They wouldn’t capture him again. And he could do this. He would do this. He had seven movies in production, he couldn’t die now. Prioritize, Langley. He counseled himself as he strode from the officers quarters into the wet, gray morning. Prioritize. And when this is over go home and drown in a vat of Marguerita’s you can’t taste while nubile young actresses do things to you that other men only dream of. Prioritize, ok. One. Obliterate the threat posed by David Lawrence. Done. That was easy enough once he was found. Two. Nullify the threat posed by the Special Unit….without getting killed. Shit. It was going to be a long morning.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 11-Jul-2002 9:50:54 PM ]
posted on 18-Jul-2002 1:04:18 AM by Pathos
Hi all.

Just wanted to drop in and let everyone know I'll have new parts up tomorrow. Should be around 8:30 pm board time. Promise.

Sorry for the delay but RL has just been kickin' my butt. And then Max went on strike! I hate it when the characters rebel. *shrugs innocently* I don't know why he doesn't trust me with Liz and Xan...

Thanks for all the bumps and I'll see ya tomorrow...ok, later today. LOL *wink*


Pathos
posted on 18-Jul-2002 9:49:59 PM by Pathos
I'm ba-ack! Ok, thanks first - story later...*happy*

narly21: Glad the Xan/Liz scenes still ring true for you. I'm still blushing from the praise. Thanks so much. And as for lengthy parts...never fear. I've never been able to keep it short in my life! LOL

ty01: Always so nice to hear from you. Blows my mind that you're still so into this. Thanks! As for Langley...let's just say that his head's finally in the game. *wink* And thanks for the bump.

NATEVANS: Yeah. Max is going just a little crazy. I promise not to leave him on the edge for too long. He get's cranky when I do that. *happy* Hope you like...

mandyhanford: All I can say about Troy is that he has a big heart...and I'm too much of a softie to leave poor Xan hurting for too long. (Ok, quit laughing!*wink*) As for Dr. Dave...must wait and see. BTW, thanks for all the bumps and I'm just loving the new Jason pic. Talk about inspiring! LOL

Minanda: Glad you enjoyed this. It was really hard to write Troy's reaction but like you said, it is typical. Working on a fix as we speak. So glad you liked the Langley part. I'm trying hard to get into his head and make him three dimensional and not just annoying. *happy*

mitra: Yeah. I never could stand T...what's her name, myself. LOL 'Tanks' for giving Xan a chance. As for Max...I didn't forget him, he's just been completely uncooperative. But I finally whipped him into shape. (How's that for a visual? LOL) Hopefully you'll like the next couple parts.

roswellluver: Yep. Langley's finally playing for keeps. And as for Troy...keep reading. *wink*

Lelea: I had to laugh. I'm so glad that somebody likes Langley. Have to admit, the more I get into his head the more he grows on me. (I'm thinking I should probably be worried. LOL) Like you said ages ago...every story needs a jerk. Especially one with superpowers and the ability to shapeshift!

ConsultantTam: Thanks so much for the compliment. As for Max et al...they'll be making their return appearance soon. Hope you like the next couple parts.

Spicy trini1: Thank you for all the FB. I just love hearing that the Liz/Xan scenes are still enjoyable. And it's a whole new ball game now that Langley had his butt kicked into gear! Enjoy.

Tabasco Liz: Someone else who likes Langley! Yeah. He's not the easiest to write but I think he's worth it. *happy* And another vote for Dr. Dave's demise...hmm...

frenchkiss70: So glad you found my story. I love seeing new people. And it always warms my heart to hear people say that they hated the baby storyline but they liked my story. Thanks. Hope the new part lives up to the hype. LOL

TeddyBehrJKT: First of all - I'm ducking. I'm a little worried that your TH&TH imperative is as cranky as Langley's. LOL It was all Max's fault. Honest. He's been mad at me since Part 11. I kept trying to put out the new parts and he kept demanding rewrites.

Phew! *wipes brow* it's safe now, right? I have new parts...

I just have to say thank you so much for all your encouragement. I so value your interest and your opinion. Your replies always melt my heart and get me working on getting a new part out that much quicker. You're like my FB angel. *angel* Considering how in awe I am of your talent I'm just blown away that you like this so much.

Speaking of - when is your beta coming back? Waiting (im)patiently for the next chapter of Among Us.

And Niki, Latin? Can we say Catholic school flashback? You could see the smoke as the rusty gears started moving for the first time in...well, years. LOL That was latin, right? Or something close? I mentioned really rusty gears right? I can see Sr. Mary and her ruler now.*big*
Hope you like the next parts. As for a Liz/Max reunion...let's just call it imminent.

Limegreenli: Back with more, as ordered. Sir. LOL Hope you like the next parts.

Roswelllady: Glad you're liking the story. And another vote for Dr. Dave's death...I get the feeling ya'll are trying to tell me something. LOL As for the lunatic patient - decided not to go with an alien on this one. He's just nuts. *happy* Enjoy the next parts.

Realistic Dreamer: You're too kind. I just love that you're so into this story. I know how it is though, when the little one's cry. It just breaks your heart. *sad* Hope you're at least enjoying your visit with your Dad. And here are new parts, as requested.

Sophia: Thanks so much. Hope these next parts live up to your original summation.*big*

MickeyRos: Thank you. I'm still blushing from all the praise. I know what you mean...I wish there was a way to bring Alex back. Always glad to see new people. Hope you enjoy the next parts.

Juliana: Always happy to see a new face! And thanks so much for the bump. Sorry the new part took so long to get out, I know I told you yesterday but I couldn't resist one more editing session. LOL

Tigereyes: Glad to see you. Hope you enjoy the read and here's a little something more...*wink*

Check next reply for new parts *big*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 18-Jul-2002 10:11:57 PM ]
posted on 18-Jul-2002 10:01:10 PM by Pathos
***********Part 24********

Liz stared angrily at the closed door for a moment before turning to look at Xan. His crestfallen expression tore at her heart. She watched in silence as his little shoulders slumped in defeat as he sat down at his table, resting his head heavily on his folded arms. She opened her mouth and then closed it again, uncertain as to how, or even if, she could make him feel better. And then she saw his shoulders start to shake and the decision was made for her.

Xan knew Liz had come to kneel next to his chair but he refused to lift his head. His tears came a little less painfully as he felt her rubbing warm circles on his back. At least she hadn’t walked out with Troy.

“Sweetheart, don’t cry.” Liz pleaded softly. “Troy didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. He was just surprised. Give him some time and I’m sure he’ll be back to tell you that himself.” She said, vowing that he damn well would be back to apologize. Even if she had to convince Langley to shift into Troy to do it.

“Yeah?” Xan risked lifting his head to look questioningly at Liz.

Liz nodded as she used the cuff of her lab coat to gently wipe the moisture from Xan’s cheeks. “He was just…”

“I don’ tink he likes me anymowr.” Xan said softly, interrupting Liz as he shrugged sadly. He had seen Troy’s face. And he was pretty sure that ‘surprised’ was the wrong word.

“Of course he does.” Liz rushed to contradict. She brushed the hair gently off his forehead. “What’s not to like about this face?”

Xan shrugged. “I tink he’s scawred.” He whispered.

Liz shook her head seriously. “Troy? Scared? I really don’t think Troy is scared of anything.”

Xan nodded. “Uh huh. Cuz a what I can do.” He stared at Liz as tears filled his eyes again. “I don’ mean ta do it. I jus’…”

“Hey…listen to me, sweetie. There’s nothing wrong with what you can do.” She breathed a sigh of relief when the tears that had been swimming in his eyes receded. Liz cupped his cheek gently, wanting him to meet her gaze. And lost a piece of her heart when Xan relaxed a little and tilted his head to better take advantage of the contact. His unblinking amber eyes focused their hopeful attention completely on her. And she was unwilling to let him down. “Xan, what you can do…that’s a talent. It makes you special, sweetheart. Not bad.”

“Wha’s talen'?”

Liz couldn’t help the small smile that crossed her lips at the way Xan’s brow furrowed while he mulled over the new word. “Well, it’s like a skill. It’s something that you can do but not everyone else can do it.” She saw the continued confusion on his face and searched for an example. “Like…ok, you know how Troy flies a plane but not everyone in the world can fly a plane. That’s sort of his talent. Or, or the way some people can sing really well but other people can’t sing at all. Everyone has a different talent. It’s what makes us interesting.”

“I don’ wanna be intewestin’” Xan said earnestly.

“I know you don’t, sweetie. I know it’s hard sometimes but…” Liz paused to look at him appraisingly. She leaned forward a little. “Can I show you something?” She whispered.

Xan nodded seriously, his curiosity piqued as he watched Liz extend her hand toward the box of crayons sitting on the table across from them. His eyes widened as the crayons moved across the table slowly, coming to rest directly in front of her. “You can do it too.” He whispered in awe. He looked from Liz to the crayons and back again, his excitement building. “You can do it too!”

Liz felt her smile widen at the sudden enthusiasm dancing in Xan’s expressive amber eyes. She nodded easily. “I can do it too. I don’t know about you but I think it’s pretty cool that we have the same pow…uh, talent.”

Xan nodded emphatically as, for the first time in his life, he began to believe that he wasn’t alone. Warm relief shot through him like adrenaline. “Me too!” He grinned up at Liz as he jumped to his feet. “Can you fly a plane like me?” he asked curiously as he suddenly remembered his new toy. Searching the room his gaze fell to the jet, lying in several pieces on the floor. “Is bwoke!” he cried out.

Liz glanced down at the plane, silently debating whether or not she should try to fix it. Considering that her ability to manipulate molecules was somewhat less than outstanding she decided against it. She didn’t think that Xan would be too impressed if she melted the rest of his plane. “We’ll just have to get you another one then.” She smiled, easily guessing what his next question would be. Wrapping an arm around his waist she hugged him gently and dropped a light kiss on his temple. “I promise.” She said.

Xan smiled back and nodded happily. He leaned against Liz experimentally, resting his head lightly on her shoulder as he stood next to her. He sighed contentedly when she didn’t pull away or even drop her arm. “Kay.” He gasped in surprise a moment later when a gentle knock sounded on his door. Nobody ever knocked.

Liz’s eyes narrowed slightly at the knock. Who would…her glare became much more pronounced when Troy stepped fully into the room. Xan pressed himself more fully against her, tugging on the material of her lab coat as he tried to hide his face behind it. Liz couldn’t help the protective tightening of her embrace. “It’s ok, baby.” She promised. The look she shot at Troy warned him not to do anything stupid. She’d just gotten Xan calm and happy again. She would bang Troy’s head against a wall if he screwed that up.

Troy held his hands up in surrender. He almost took a step back when he saw the anger that lit Dr. Cambridge’s eyes but he decided to hold his ground. “Look, I just wanted to say…I mean, I didn’t mean…I, uh…” Troy knew he sounded like an idiot but the fact that Xan couldn’t even look at him was breaking his heart. He shrugged in defeat. He guessed he deserved it. “I’m sorry, little man. I was just…I mean, it was…”

“You were just a little surprised.”

Troy nodded emphatically, grateful that Dr. Cambridge had apparently decided to put him out of his misery. “I was. I was surprised. I just didn’t know you could do that, is all. I’m really sorry I upset you Xan.”

Xan shrugged, glanced at Liz and then returned his attention to fiddling with a button on her coat.

Troy looked at Liz, his eyes clearing begging her to help him out. Liz sighed and gently captured Xan’s hand in her own, stilling its nervous movement. “Xan, Troy was just surprised.” She lowered her voice to whisper in Xan’s ear. “Like how you were surprised when you found out what I could do. But you weren’t afraid, right?” She smiled as Xan shook his head quickly and then looked at Troy as he considered her point. “You’re not afraid of Xan are you, Troy?”

Troy shook his head. Even if he was terrified he didn’t think he’d be able to say that in front of Dr. Cambridge and live. “Scared? He…ck. You don’t scare me.” He walked over and knelt down next to Xan and Liz. He still towered over the both of them. “Look at me. Do I look like I could ever be afraid of you?”

Liz had to smile. “He’s right Xan. It would take a tank to hurt Troy.”

Troy saw the beginnings of a smile on Xan’s face and scoffed. “Tank? Tanks are scared of me.”

“Tanks awre not afwaid a you.” Xan said, his grin turning into a giggle as he saw the exaggerated expression of disbelief on Troy’s face.

“Are you laughing at me, little man?” Troy asked while he reached out and tickled Xan mercilessly. The kid fell back against Liz, squirming hysterically to get away. Just as his younger brother always had

Liz grabbed the table and steadied both herself and Xan while letting out a relieved sigh as she listened to his laughter echo through the room. “Ok you two, how about we get off the floor. My knees are killing me.”

Troy stood and then reached down to help Liz to her feet. “Dr. Cambridge, really…”

“I told you, it’s Liz. And you fixed it so you’re safe.”

Troy nodded and then glanced at the door. “It’s not really raining anymore. Just a little drizzle. I was thinking maybe Xan would like to see the planes again. Ya know, so I could make it up to him.”

Liz blinked as Xan nodded happily and added a drawn out ‘please’ to Troy’s own puppy dog look. “Ok the tag team effort is just unfair.”

Xan frowned, uncertain whether that meant he was going to see the planes or not. “Wha’s tag team?”

“Well…uh, you know what? Troy will explain it while he gives you your flying lesson.”

‘Drizzle my ass’ Liz thought twenty minutes later as she combed her fingers through her damp hair. At least Xan was still smiling. She pasted a smile on her face as she waved back to him. That cockpit was still entirely too high for her tastes.

“You’re spoiling him Dr. Cambridge. That’s not going to help anybody.”

Liz stiffened as she turned to face Dr. Dave. “What are you doing here? You know you’re not supposed to have any contact with Xan until…”

“Yes. Until Dr. Cambridge finishes her evaluation. But nobody said anything about you doing an evaluation Mrs. Evans.”

*************Part 25********

Max sighed deeply as he dragged a hand across his face. He could feel Kyle staring at the back of his head. Probably mentally imposing a target over the area, if the number of times the other man had reverted to calling him 'El Presidente' were any indication. What did they want from him? Logical or not he couldn’t just sit pateintly and wait. He needed a plan. And he needed their help. But if he heard one more person tell him that they didn’t know where Liz was he was going to turn them into dust. He knew he didn’t know where his wife was. He knew. . And it was killing him because every logical argument for staying in one place stemmed from his ignorance.

1. They couldn’t plan a surgical attack on the Base where Xan and Liz were because they didn’t know where Xan and Liz were. He was sick of hearing that California was a big state. Jesus Christ! It’s not like they were in Texas. Of course, his utterance of that sentiment was what had earned him the first 'El Presidente'.

2. They didn’t have the firepower to go around attacking random Air Force installations in California. He didn’t really have an argument for that one. And he was still waiting for Michael’s answer as to what exactly they did have the firepower to attack.

3. Even if they did decide to Butch and Sundance it, if they attacked the wrong Base everyone’s cover was blown. An attack on one US military installation would tighten security on all of them. Liz would still be in danger. And she’d be cut off from any help they might be able to lend her because of the intensified scrutiny. True. So they had to make sure they had the right base from the get-go.

4. If by some miracle they pinned the tail on the correct Base, there was no way to coordinate their plan with the one that Liz had already implemented. Without that kind of coordination the plan they’d cobbled together to save Liz could end up being her downfall. Ok. He was willing to scrap any plan that ended with his wife’s downfall. But there had to be a way around that.

5. Little green men were not going to fall from the sky to grant them the firepower, tracking ability or communication skills necessary to negate any of the above four reasons. There were moments where Max felt he really could do without Kyle.

6. Isabel would be home soon and even if they captured Liz they wouldn’t kill her. They’d be able to rescue Liz and Xan just as they had Max, himself. Right! Considering everything that had happened to him between capture and rescue…no. Better not. Nightmare images of Liz and his son being tortured were steadily encroaching upon his sanity even without conscious consideration. Frankly, there were times when he could do without Michael as well.

Max clenched his jaw to keep the growl of frustration from erupting. He hated this. Hated the fact that he and Liz were so far apart. He could feel the distance in the faintness of their connection and the odd surges of emotion he was hard pressed to interpret. He needed to touch her. To know if what he thought, was really what she was feeling. Four days. It had been four days since he’d held his wife in his arms. Or was it five? Days seemed to bleed into night, into day and he couldn’t tell anymore. It seemed like a lifetime. A long cold empty lifetime. He’d lived his life from day to day for too long no to understand that every moment mattered. And every moment lost was to be mourned.

Max flexed his fingers then forced his hand to remain still at his side. His fingers itched to touch her. God, he would give anything to hear her voice. Anything to know she and Xan were safe. The vague prayer went unanswered, just as he’d known it would. He was left to simply catalogue every moment he was unable to speak with her, touch her, hold her. To feel the passage of time in the stark realization that there was nothing he could do to help her. Or even comfort her. He cursed his sister briefly for turning off her phone to get away from ‘all this alien crap’ in order to speak candidly with Jesse. As Maria had finally admitted she had.

He glanced over at Maria, then turned to stare out the window. She was in the kitchen making sandwiches. Ostensibly as rations that may be needed when Liz called for backup but really, in order to keep her shaking hands focused on a task. Any task. Even one as mundane as making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Which no one would ever eat. She’d been doing it for two days. By now there had to be enough to feed the nonexistent army that Michael, Kyle and logic all insisted they needed to raise before they could move. Maria had been his only ally in the debate about whether or not to go after Liz. And even she had finally succumbed to logic. So everyone was waiting patiently for proof that Liz’s plan had failed while Maria made sandwiches and he slowly lost his mind.

His wife and his son, the two most important people in his life could be lost to him at any moment. And he was too far away to do more than mourn. It struck Max, not for the first time but with the same crushing impact, that Xan didn’t know what he meant to him. His son didn’t know how much he loved him. And what kind of father was he? He didn’t even know what his son looked like. Xan had to be walking and talking by now. He was four years old. Would Liz tell Xan how much he loved him before…or would his son…without ever knowing…and who would tell Liz?

Taking a deep breath to still his plummeting thoughts Max glanced away from the window to find Maria looking at him. Her gaze skittered away guiltily but not before he saw the look in her eyes. She may have been his ally but he couldn’t miss the shadow of blame and blind accusation. Guilt lodged in his throat. She wasn’t wrong. He should have been here when Liz had the premonition. He should have been able to convince her to wait for him. He should have ignored her warning and gotten on a plane. He should have made sure his son was better protected. He should be the one protecting Xan now.

He should be the one…danger. Panic skittered suddenly through his entire being. Danger. His numb mind whispered the word through his consciousness even as the desperate feeling of being well and truly cornered struck and almost brought him to his knees. Danger! He grabbed the sill for support. Oh, God. Liz! Please, not Liz!

But it was Liz. He knew it. Felt it in the very marrow of his bones and in every neuron that fired frantically through his brain. And it wasn’t logic telling him. It was Liz.







Still not quite sure the Max part worked but I've edited it to death so...hope it was ok. Next part should be out sometime late Saturday or Sunday.

Pathos

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 18-Jul-2002 10:22:55 PM ]
posted on 21-Jul-2002 10:19:58 PM by Pathos
Hey guys -

Just wanted to let ya'll know that the new parts should be up tomorrow around 9:00 pm board time. I know I said tonight but I'm having a minor meltdown getting them to work to my satisfaction. I think Max's control freak tendencies are starting to rub off on me! LOL.

Until tomorrow,
Pathos *happy*
posted on 22-Jul-2002 10:03:46 PM by Pathos
Ok. So this is like the third time I'm trying
posted on 22-Jul-2002 10:13:49 PM by Pathos
The board HATES me. *deep breath* Ok. I think
posted on 23-Jul-2002 11:51:52 PM by Pathos
WHOO-HOO!

Ok guys. I have made the necessary sacrifice to the computer gods (that would be my sanity, BTW) and given much chocolate to my computer genius sister - *sheepish grin* evidently the problem was on my end. Soemthing about...to be honest I felt my eyes glaze over and my mind start to wander when my sis tried to explain the problem. Told you - technological quaker. LOL. The point is that now the computer gods are smiling down upon me and I can post again!

*Pathos does brief dance of joy*

But here's the thing...since I had an extra day I pretty much finished part 29. And it goes too well with the preceeding 3 parts not to post them all together. So, new plan is: posting parts 26-29 tomorrow night. (Barring death, acts of God, sabotage or any other unforseen catastrophe. LOL)

Sorry about all the drama. I don't mean to be such a tease. *happy*

I'm not above bribing for patience either - these parts are even longer than normal...

Thanks for all the patience. And the bumps. And the rating...jeez. Totally honored. And feeling totally guilty about not having new parts up yet. *wink*

Thanks again and I'll see ya'll tomorow. 'Pwomise'

Pathos
posted on 25-Jul-2002 12:57:05 AM by Pathos
Ok people. I'm back. And I'm actually going to post new parts! LOL.

But - you knew there was a 'but' right? - I'm only posting 26 & 27 tonight. I have to do just a little more editing to make 28 & 29 flow right. And work acutally made me *horrified gasp* work today so I didn't get nearly as much done as I wanted to. Good new is that they're almost ready so they'll be up tomorrow about this time. I just felt too guilty to leave ya'll hanging when I promised new parts today. (Ok, I know it's after midnight board time but it's happy hour somewhere right? *big*)

We'll do the thanks first & then I swear, new parts...

Minanda: Glad to hear you thought the Max parts worked. Royal pain in the butt is still trying to rebel. LOL Hope you enjoy the next part.

Mandyhanford: Don't worry. Dr. Dave will definitely get his. Soon. *wink* Until then here's a little something to tide you over. As always, thanks for all the bumps.

TeddyBehrJKT: Still blushing, Niki. Thanks so much for all the praise. Didn't I warn you about my ego? LOL. So glad you enjoyed Max's list. It's hard to write them 'married' with them being so far apart. I just love to hear that it's working. Of course, I'm running out of ways to do that so I guess I'm going to have to get them in the same room soon, huh? LOL. BTW, nothing wrong with a little levity. Helps to keep the situation in perspective. *happy* And yeah, definite Catholic school refugee...er, alum here. LOL (Sacred Heart - all girls! *shudder*) Now, about Among Us...sending happy thoughts your way...*big*

roswellluver: Pretty sure Dr. Dave is on his last legs. Believe me, I'm as sick of him as you are. *wink* Read on. Hope you like.

juliana: Happy to see you're enjoying this. & don't worry, I plan to include Max in the rescue...somehow.

narly21:You are just too sweet. Thanks so much for all your wonderful fb. I'm so tickled that the Xan/Liz relationship has come alive for you like that. I loved hearing that you could see a shift in the reasons Liz had for protecting Xan. It's hard for me to know when I'm being too subtle and when I'm just blowing the whole thing by letting the cat out of the bag too soon. Your fb let's me know I'm doing something right. LOL And yeah, the 'sorry excuse of a protector' probably has something up his sleeve. Whether it works or not...

Mitra: See below about the butt kicking Dr. Dave is overdue for. And this is just the beginning. *wink*Hope you like what I've got planned.

RoswellLady: Dr. Dave will get what's coming to him. *insert evil laugh here* Thanks so much for all your comments. Glad you're enjoying the show.

ConsultantTam: Had to laugh - I could just here that robot from Lost In Space. Troy is definitely an asset. Here are the new parts. Hope you like...

Tigereyes: Hope you're still enjoying the story. Here's some more...

Limegreenli: Oh, yeah. Catholic school - ALL the nuns scared me. I'm still plagued by the occasional nightmare. LOL

Sophia: Glad to see you came back for more. Hope you like the new stuff.

frenchkiss70: Read on for the Dr. Dave update. *big* And there's more where that came from. Enjoy.

Realistic Dreamer: Thanks so much for all your fb. I love it when people get so into the story. Thanks for your faith. & don't worry...Dave's comeuppance only starts here.

MickeyRos: Glad you're liking this so far. Hope you enjoy the new parts. And thanks for the bump.

Tabasco Liz: That's Langley for you. A day late and a dollar short...he just might make up for it though...

Snowdove30:Thanks for the bump, sweetie. Enjoy.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program...
posted on 25-Jul-2002 1:02:37 AM by Pathos
************Part 26***********

“Maxwell!” Max didn’t even flinch. Michael took a step forward and then stopped, silently debating whether or not he should intervene. He watched the rest of the window spider crack slowly, almost deliberately, from the place where Max’s palm rested against the glass and shook his head. He doubted that Max even knew he was doing it. If it had been him the glass would have exploded out into the angry, rolling clouds which had been threatening rain all day. Trust Max to be in the middle of a breakdown and still maintain his anal retentive control freak tendencies.

Michael glanced behind him when he heard the knife Maria was using clatter loudly against the kitchen floor. He swore softly as he saw her expressive green eyes widen fearfully as she looked at Max. And then she turned to him. He could feel Kyle’s silent gaze as well. “What?” he demanded, as the two of them continued to stare pointedly from Max to himself. What did they want from him? Max wasn’t ok. But nothing
he said or did was going to change that.

Maria shook her head at Michael and then turned her back. “Fine.” She muttered, gripping the counter so tightly that the edge bit into the heel of her hand. She loosened her grip with an effort. Everything she did today seemed to end up hurting.

Michael let out a frustrated breath as he watched Maria turn away from him. Shit. Clenching his jaw slightly he reined in his temper. He stared at Maria’s bent head for a minute and then silently gave in. Four long strides brought him to her and he gathered her easily into his arms.

Maria felt her trembling increase slightly as Michael pulled her against him, the emotions of the last few days simply too much for her to hold back any more. This was all just so unfair! She’d finally started to feel normal again. Safe. But it had all been one massive illusion. She burrowed further into his embrace. “Tell me she’s ok, Michael. Please? Lie to me and tell me this is going to be ok.” She cursed her voice for the rebellious tremor that fought its way to the surface even as she blinked her frightened tears away. She refused to cry until she knew there was a reason.

Michael sighed against the top of Maria’s head, feeling a little guilty about the comfort he took simply from having her safe, in his arms. Almost reluctantly he glanced at Max. Unbidden, his brain touched briefly on the chance that Max may never get to hold Liz in his arms again. He shook his head to clear it as he tightened his hold on Maria. “It’s going to be…”

“No it’s not!” Maria pulled away a little and looked up into his face. “Look at him, Michael. She’s…oh, God! Michael something happened to her. What if she’s…” The tears she had been holding back spilled against her will. She remembered all too clearly what it had felt like to lose Alex. She couldn’t even begin to wonder how she’d deal with losing Liz. And Max…this whole thing may have been his fault but not even she could deny that if anything happened to Liz, he would be the one to pay the price. “Maybe Max is right. Maybe we should just…”

“We wait. You know that’s what we have to do.” Michael forced the words out, still completely uncomfortable with the fact that he, himself was the one still advocating patience. While Max had been demanding action, any action, for the last few days. The irony of their respective positions hadn’t been lost on him and it had taken the situation from surreal, to an episode of the Twilight Zone, in the space of two seconds flat. “Liz isn’t dead.” He met Maria’s tear filled eyes. “She’s not dead.” He said forcefully. “This is going to be ok.” He finished, as if his will were enough to make it true.

Maria sniffed, wiping at her eyes with the back of her hand and nodding as she held Michael’s gaze. “How do you know? How do you know she’s ok?” she whispered, needing to hear the answer.

“Because he’s still standing. And so is the building.” Kyle said, breaking his own silent vigil and nodding pointedly in Max’s direction.

Maria looked over to the window. Max was still standing there. His entire body seemed on the brink of exploding into action even though he hadn’t moved a muscle in the last few minutes. He seemed completely unaware of their presence. .She relaxed slightly when she recognized the expression on his face, the unfocused quality of his eyes. They’d all seen that look before. On his face and Liz’s. He had lost himself in their connection. Lost track of everything in the world except for Liz. She took comfort in the sudden, angry thought that it was the least he could do. Concentrate on Liz while she got herself killed taking care of his son. She closed her eyes and hugged Michael more tightly as her brief anger gave way to fear, once again. Usually the look on Max’s face was accompanied but a sappy smile or some other suitably love struck expression. Right now he looked frustrated. And afraid.

Kyle shook his head angrily. He knew Maria was taking refuge in blaming Max. And while he would have loved to follow suit, he simply couldn’t. While it was true that this wouldn’t be happening if Max hadn’t gotten Tess pregnant, the fact of the matter was that Max wasn’t the only one she’d fooled. Even now her name ripped a frission of angry pain through his brain. He knew what it was to be taken in by Tess. And what it meant to see the truth. He may have once forgotten the feeling of carrying Alex’s dead body, but the weight was now something he was almost constantly aware of. No matter how many times he washed his hands. He clenched his jaw and swore silently. And now that bitch just wouldn’t stay dead. He could only imagine what Liz was feeling. Or how Max was coping, knowing what Liz was feeling. He met Michael’s gaze over Maria’s head and let out a heavy sigh. “We’ll know when something happens. Until then…”

Michael nodded as he looked at Max. “We wait.”


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 26-Jul-2002 12:27:04 AM ]
posted on 25-Jul-2002 1:20:04 AM by Pathos
*************Part 27**********

Liz froze. Her whole body tensed as David Lawrence moved to stand in front of her. Through the haze of panic that had descended immediately after hearing her name, she saw the smug expression on his face. Bastard was enjoying this. Enjoying her fear. She felt a spark of anger. She’d be damned if she gave him the satisfaction. Raising her chin defiantly, Liz forced herself to stand a little less rigidly. “Who is Mrs. Evans?” she asked, shaking her head in confusion.

Dave snorted. “Don’t play with me Liz. I’ve already contacted General Corwin. He knows where you are. And he’s on the way.” He watched the emotions chase across her face as she tried to stare him down. She recovered quickly, he’d give her that. But he could still see her fear. He nodded in satisfaction. He had been unable to resist the opportunity to gloat. Or the opportunity to further his career by taking Liz into custody. It always paid to help people in high places. Dave stared at the small woman before him, wondering briefly how anyone could consider her dangerous. He dismissed the e-mail’s warning out of hand. Elizabeth Evans was smaller than he was. How hard could it be to subdue her? “What did you think you were doing, coming here? Did you think no one would find out who you really are?” he asked, with vicious curiosity.

Liz raised her brows in challenge, hoping desperately that all those poker lessons from Max would pay off now. It was one thing to play well enough to win Kyle’s cache of M&M’s but this could very well be the bluff of her life. “I’m here because General Payton requested my expertise. What does he have to say about your delusions?” She replied haughtily.

“He’s been informed of your real identity. If he’s smart he’ll be grateful I took care of this little situation before it got too out of control.” And then he’ll stay out of my way, Dave added silently.

“You don’t know General Payton.” Liz muttered wryly, amused in spite of herself at the idea of Langley being grateful for anything. She forced a breath into her lungs. Ok. Langley knew. That was something, at least. She glanced up at Troy and Xan. Neither had noticed Dave’s presence. That was something, too. She didn’t need Xan getting upset. What she did need was…what? What was she going to do? Glancing quickly over her shoulder she noted that no one was heading through the open hanger door. Where the hell was Langley?

Liz focused on her breathing, desperately fighting the urge to give in to her fear. She needed to hold it together. For Xan and for herself. She needed to calm down and get Langley. Then everything would be ok. Maybe. Please? She breathed an internal sigh of relief when she felt Max rein in his own initial fear. Their combined reaction had been close to sending her reeling into a panic. Breathing normally now, she focused on the empty office at the back of the hanger. She looked at Dave triumphantly. “Let’s find out exactly how grateful General Payton is.” She said, the promise of safety now merely a phone call away. A sharp surge of anger irrationally shoved her panic to the side. She stalked past Dave and headed for the office. Things had been fine this morning! She ranted silently. What the hell had changed? How had everything fallen apart so completely in the space of a few hours?

Dave watched Liz step past him, eyes narrowing angrily as he realized she’d just dismissed him out of hand. “The MP’s are on their way.” He called out as he headed after her. He’s be damned if the little imposter acted like he was nothing.

Liz felt herself hurry just a little more as Dave’s words threatened to catch up with her. She glanced around the hanger, almost expecting the Military Police to materialize in front of her to block her path. She needed to get to a phone. So she could call Langley. So he could fix this. And he damn well wasgoing to fix this. And when this is all over she was going to kill him herself. Hurrying into the office she grabbed the phone from the desk by the door, sighing in relief when the dial tone sounded in her ear. She’d been half afraid that the phone wouldn’t work.

Dave strode into the office as Liz picked up the phone. He grabbed it from her hand and replaced the receiver. He wasn’t ready to let her off the hook yet. “I’m more curious about how pissed he’s gonna be when he finds out who you really are. Do you know the penalty for espionage? Two words, Liz. Firing. Squad.” He crowed, watching eagerly for her reaction. He liked that about Liz. You could see everything she was feeling in her eyes.

Liz flinched a little at his words. She knew full well that a firing squad was the least of her worries if General Corwin were to catch her. She forced herself to ignore Dave and reach for the phone. She gasped in surprise when Dave grabbed her arm roughly and jerked her around to face him.

“Do you honestly think that Payton is going to back you when he finds out you’re an imposter?” he taunted. He had been enjoying the fear in her eyes. But the hard look that suddenly replaced it gave him pause.

Liz stared angrily at the man in front of her. With an odd detachment she realized that her feelings for him went beyond disgust. She hated him. He used science, curiosity in its purest form, as an excuse to hurt people. He hid behind his authority to frighten and torture little boys. And the sick son of a bitch enjoyed it. He’d done that to Xan. And now he was trying to do it to her. Outrage replaced fear. She refused to be afraid. Dr. Dave deserved whatever he got. She placed her palm flat against his chest. Then she pushed.

David Lawrence flew across the office, hitting the wall with a solid thud and sliding to the floor. The freestanding wall shook a little from the impact and Liz blinked in surprise at the outline of his body, splintered into the wood. It reminded her briefly of a cartoon. Or the chalk outline the police employed. Taking a deep breath she walked over to the doctors still form. She found the pulse in his throat and didn’t know whether to be disappointed or glad she didn’t have to hide the body.

“Liz?”

Liz gasped at the voice that seemed to come out of nowhere. Looking up, she found Troy staring at her. More specifically he was staring at her leaning over Dr. Dave’s unconscious body. “Uh, I…where’s Xan?” Liz rose swiftly to her feet. Her attempt to find a suitable explanation cut abruptly short when she realized Xan was nowhere to be seen.

“He’s with that buddy of mine. John’s teaching him how to rebuild a jet engine.” Troy’s eyes narrowed as he took in the scene before him. And the deer in the headlights look that was plastered across Dr. Cambridge’s face as she tried to nonchalantly disregard the body laying at her feet.

Liz nodded as her heart started beating again. Xan was fine. Now if she could just come up with a reasonable explanation for the body. Nope. She looked up at Troy and stalled as she tried to kick her brain into gear. “Right. Uh, that’s a little advanced don’t you.…”

“Liz!” Troy lowered his voice a little once he saw that he had her attention. “What is going on?”

“Troy…”

“What did he mean, you’re an imposter?” Troy asked suspiciously. He’d seen Dr. Dave come up behind Liz and then he’d seen them head back into the office. His whole body had tensed in recognition of the sudden danger. Which was why he’d left Xan with John and headed back here to help Liz. His gaze fell on the splintered human outline against the wall and he gaped. Apparently she didn’t need it. “What…”

Liz shrugged, trying her best to look innocent and frightened. She suddenly didn’t have to work too hard on that last part. “I don’t know what he meant. I’m not sure he was thinking straight.” Her words came faster as inspiration struck. “He just started saying I was somebody else. And, and threatening me. I came in here to call General Payton. So he could send help before Xan got upset. And then…then he attacked me.” She lowered her voice. “I didn’t know what to do, Troy. I was just defending myself.” Liz mentally marveled at the ease with which she was performing this little farce. All that time with Langley really was making her overdramatic. She wasn’t entirely certain that was a good thing. But if it worked…

Troy watched Liz carefully, all the while slowly nodding his head as he allowed her story to sink in. It made sense. The story did. The human imprint in the wall didn’t. “Uh-huh. And so…what? You’ve got a black belt in Tai Kwon Do and just…hi-ya!” Troy asked, miming a karate chop with his right hand as he watched Liz lower her gaze to look at Dr. Dave’s body. He wondered briefly if she was trying to avoid looking at him.

“Something like that.” Liz muttered.

“Something like…” Troy stared at the petite woman before him. Dave wasn’t a big man but she still shouldn’t have been able to throw him against a wall. His mouth fell open a little as the truth hit him like a ton of bricks. “You’re like Xan. Aren’t you? You did that with your mind. Didn’t you?” Troy stiffened, straightening to his full height. Xan was four. He was a kid. And he had no idea how to control what he could do. But Troy was pretty sure that this woman did. His eyes narrowed when silence was her only response. “Didn’t you?!”

Liz jumped a little at Troy’s tone of voice. She chanced a look at his face and wished she hadn’t. He was angry. Very angry. She nodded slightly. “Yes. But, I didn’t have a choice, Troy. Honestly. He grabbed me and…I just…I didn’t know what else to do.” She finished miserably, desperate for him to believe her and suddenly too exhausted to come up with another lie. She shook her head. Everything had been fine this morning. And now…

“There’s more, isn’t there?”

Liz could almost feel her energy sparking under her skin. Her exhaustion gave way to a wave of panic. Troy was fishing a little too close to the truth for her liking. She didn’t want to hurt him. But she wasn’t sure she could trust him, either. “I don’t know what more you’re talking about.” She took a deep breath and lowered her voice, trying desperately to project believability. “Troy, he attacked me. I don’t go around throwing people against walls. But he just…I didn’t have a choice.” She saw Troy relax a little as he took in what she was saying. She hated the tremor in her voice but she knew it had worked to her advantage. “I just…I need your help.” Liz saw him narrow his eyes suspiciously but he didn’t interrupt so she plowed ahead. “To, uh to secure him.”

“You want me to…secure him?” Troy shook his head, duty and conscience raging against one another as he found himself seriously considering her request. There was something so completely wrong with this situation. And Dr. Cambridge. But he wanted to trust her. Her eyes were so honest. Desperate. She had obviously been scared. Probably still was. And Troy, himself had seen how upset Dr. Dave had been the last few days. He supposed it was possible…Troy gave his head a hard shake, hoping to clear it. Jesus! Now he was trying to convince himself. What was wrong with him?

“LIZ!”

Liz glanced toward the door as she heard Xan shout her name. She looked at Troy and motioned to the closet opposite the human outline. “Please, Troy can we do this later?” She pleaded “I don’t want to upset Xan.”

Troy opened his mouth and then snapped it shut again. Fuck. That was a low blow. He stalked over to Dave’s body and glared at Liz as he hefted the Doctor off the floor, wondering all the while exactly what the hell he was risking his career for. Follow his heart. Stupid fucking advice. Frankly, he and his stupid fucking heart needed to have a long talk one day soon. He ignored the piece of his brain that pointed out that he’d have all time in the world to talk to himself when they locked his ass in the brig. He shoved Dave’s body into the closet and shut the door before turning to look harshly at Liz. “This conversation isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot.” He waited for Liz’s curt nod before continuing. “And this door isn’t going to hold him when he regains consciousness. There’s no lock.”

Liz nodded again, choosing to ignore his assertion that the conversation wasn’t over yet. “That’s ok, I’ll handle that. Just, please take Xan back to the project building. I’ll follow in a minute.”

Troy opened his mouth to argue when Xan burst into the room followed by a harried looking mechanic.

“Liz! Look wha I got!”

Liz raised her brows questioningly and forced herself to smile as Xan slid to a stop in front of her. “What, sweetie?” She squatted down on the floor next to him as he held something out for her inspection.

Taking advantage of the fact that Liz was now on his level Xan leaned lightly against her side as she studied his newly acquired treasure. He sighed happily when her arm slid around his waist. “See? Is a Aiwr Fowrce patch. Says I’ma be a fitewr pilot when I gwow up.” Xan grinned proudly when Liz nodded her head, looking suitably impressed.

Liz studied the patch. She supposed it was like the wings pilots gave kids on commercial flights. Somehow though she found this souvenir slightly more menacing. ‘Property of the US Air Force’ Over my dead body. “That’s pretty cool, Xan.” She couldn’t help but smile over his enthusiasm as she handed the patch back to him. “We’ll have to make sure we take good care of that now.” Liz chanced a look over Xan’s shoulder at Troy. He was still staring coolly in her direction. She looked away.

Xan looked up from his patch when Liz’s arm tightened around him. Suddenly recognizing the tension in the room, he leaned further into her side. “Wha’s a mattewr?” he asked worriedly.

Liz blinked in surprise. She met Xan’s suddenly serious gaze and shook her head a little. “Nothing, baby. Everything’s going to be just fine.” She tweaked his nose gently, smiling as he scrunched his face at her. “I promise.” She dropped a light kiss on the top of Xan’s head and then stood up. “You getting hungry?” She raised her brows when she heard Xan’s stomach growl. “Is that a yes?”

Xan shrugged sheepishly. “Uh-huh.”

“Ok. Let’s go feed that tummy.” She squeezed his hand gently and then handed him off to Troy. “You go with Troy and I’ll be up in just a minute.”

Xan frowned and shook his head. “Nuh-uh. I wanna stay wit you.” He said plaintively.

Liz nodded. “I know, and I want to stay with you but I need to do a couple grown up things and I don’t want you to be bored.”

Xan shook his head again. “I won’ be bowred.” He promised. “I won’!” He tried to tug free of Troy’s restraining hand but to no avail. “Tw-o-y.” Xan drew the name out in frustration.

Troy shook his head. “Sorry little man, you’ve gotta come with me.” He said, grateful to be taking Xan away with him. Even if it was only for a minute, he needed the time alone to think.

“But…I can be good.”

Liz felt her heart break a little at his declaration. “Of course you can be good, sweetie. I know that. But right now I need you to be good and go with Troy. Xan, I promise, I’ll be back in your room just a few minutes after you are.”

Xan bit his lip as he stared at Liz. “You’wre gonna be wight back?” he questioned. “You pwomise?”

Liz nodded solemnly. “I promise. Now the sooner you go with Troy and see about lunch, the sooner I can do my grown up things.” She ruffled his dark hair affectionately. “And the sooner I’ll be back upstairs.”

“Kay.” Xan mumbled glumly, finally allowing Troy to lead him from the room. He glanced over his shoulder briefly. “’Member. You pwomised.”

“I remember, baby. I’ll be right there.” Liz waited until Xan and Troy had left the hanger before trying to call Langley. Voicemail. Where the hell was he?

*Thud*

Liz whipped around as she heard Dr. Dave regaining consciousness in the closet.

Shit! She scanned the office for a chair to slide under the handle, but they were all on wheels.

* Creak*

Her eyes widened as she saw the door begin to open. Rushing forward she slammed it shut again, adding a burst of power and taking a certain amount of satisfaction in the thump of Dave’s body against the back of the closet. Concentrating fully on what she was about to do she swiped her hand over the knob. Opening her eyes she stepped back and inspected her work.

She could almost see Max shaking his head in tutorial disappointment as he prepared to tease her. And he would tease her, if he could see the mess she’d made of the door handle. He’d make the same mock solemn vow that he always made. ‘I’ll help you get it if it kills me.’ Then she’d sigh in frustration and glare at him a little while she waited for the rest. She knew just how his broad shoulders would slump in defeat. And how he’d shake his head sadly, loudly lamenting the fact that at the rate she was going, it probably would kill him. And then he’d smile at her until she couldn’t help but smile back. And then he’d kiss her.

Closing her eyes against the sudden crushing weight in her heart Liz leaned her head against the closet door. She’d give anything to be able to see him. To really hear him. Even if he was teasing her. Tears came unbidden and she blinked them away, angrily. God, she needed him right now! She needed to know that he was with her. That she didn’t have to be afraid because he was there. She needed to know she wasn’t alone.

And then suddenly, she wasn’t.

A soft whimper of relief escaped her lips as she suddenly felt Max more strongly than she had in almost five days. He was an almost tangible presence. If she kept her eyes closed she might begin to believe that he was simply in the next room. Not hundreds of miles away. She allowed herself a few minutes to simply relish the feeling of having him near. To drift in the spell he was weaving through her tired soul. She wasn’t sure how he’d managed it, but he’d thrown his fear to the wayside and all that remained was his razor sharp focus. On her. On them. As if the they were the only two people in the world. She allowed herself the brief respite as she clung greedily to the security of his presence. But she was unable to completely hide the fear that had been stealing up on her all morning. She couldn’t hide the fact that she was suddenly exhausted. And terrified that she and Xan weren’t going to make it out of this.

She heard footsteps and fought against the intrusion of the real world. She didn’t want to open her eyes. Didn’t want to know that Max wasn’t really there. Didn’t want to remember that she was alone. She exhaled a long shuddering breath as she felt Max shush her gently, adamantly refusing to let her fear spark his own. Refusing to let her give up.

You’re not alone. I’m here. I’ll always be here.

She didn’t need the actual words to know what he was thinking. To know what he was telling her. She felt it in the way he pushed forcefully to the forefront of her consciousness. Reminding her that he was very much a part of her. Vowing that that would never change. She nodded, her spirits buoyed at least enough for her to open her eyes and face the rest of the world.

“Enjoy your nap, Majesty?”








Lemme know what you think and tune in tomorrow for Parts 28-29. Same bat time, same bat channel. *wink*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-Jul-2002 1:27:00 AM ]
posted on 26-Jul-2002 12:23:37 AM by Pathos
Hey all -

Hate to do this to you again but work just kicked my ass today. Just got in, so I'm heading off to bed. To dream of a world where stupid people are not in positions of power. LOL

Really sorry guys. New parts tomorrow.

Pathos
posted on 28-Jul-2002 10:15:33 PM by Pathos
Ok. I'm really back. And I won't just be leaving an annoying Authors Not behind! LOL. Really, really sorry about stringing you guys along, work just exploded this week. But I come bearing peace offerings....new parts below!

As for the next posting - since the gods seem to take any promise I make as a direct challenge to their authority, I'm just going to casually suggest that ya'll check back here Wednesday or Thursday. *happy*

So, anyhoo - you know the drill. Replies to FB and then the story.

Thanks again for all the patience. And now without further ado...

narly21: I'd feel guilty if I didn't write back to ya'll. LOL Anyway, you're always so great about leaving FB and letting me know your reaction to the story I just have to respond. Glad you liked the last couple parts, (I'm fond of bad ass Liz myself) they were kinda driving me nuts so your FB really put my heart at ease. Hope you like the next couple as much. *happy*

Minanda: The best, huh? Totally blushing here. I was soooo worried about the last couple parts so your reaction generated a huge sigh of relief. Hope you enjoy the new posts.

Isis777: Yeah...if only I could get them out of there before the troops show up. Hmmm... *big* Hope you emjoy the update. Thanks for reading.

TeddyBehrJKT: Ok. Totally melting here. *Insert Wayne/Garth I'm not worthy here* Seriously Niki, you;re too kind and I'm still blushing. Your FB is always like a shot of adrenaline, reminds me that the writing is worth it even when the characters are conspiring with RL to make me pull my hair out. Thank you so much for always being here *many cyber hugs sent your way* even when I'm kinda AWOL. Big sigh of relief that Michael came off right. I wanted to give him some growth but still keep him Michael. Thanks bunches. And as if I weren't feeling guilty enough about the delay - Rereading? Aw, jeez. Typing my little fingers off to make sure the new update comes out on time. Enjoy the new parts! BTW - will finally be heading over to Among Us to tell you how much you ROCK! *wink*

frenchkiss70: So glad you enjoyed part 1 of 'Dr. Dave the Revenge' LOL. Hope the rest lives up to the buildup.

Sarah_helen: Love to see new people. Here's the update you request. Enjoy!

Tobasco Liz: Yep. Liz finally got to do what we've all wanted to do to Dr. Dave. couldn't forget about Max in this...and as for Langley - read on. Hope you like. *big*

MickeyRos: Langley's gonna do his best. LOL Although...the course of true love never did run smooth (or words to that effect.) *wink*

Tigereyes: Nice to see you. And, although it may not look it (*cringes* sorry about that) - your timing is perfect. I'm actually a little ahead of myself so the rest of the updates should go much more smoothly. No more screeching halts on my end! *Crosses self, makes mental note to go out and buy garlic and holy water* *tongue* Loved all your FB - although I was positively blushing when I was done reading. You helped kick my butt back into gear. LOL. I just loved hearing that you got so into the characters. Thanks for all your kind words and I promise to do my part to save your fingernails. Rescue is fast approaching...

mitra: Read on regarding Dr. Dave. And don't worry, the rescue is next on the agenda. Little technical detail - Max couldn't be contacted because it was too dangerous to do so from the base. And of course Liz knows that if Max knew where she was he'd say the hell with not getting on a plane. But I promise - Max is very much a part of this from now on.

roswellluver: Yep. Langley to the rescue. *cue Lone Ranger music* LOL. Promise not to have Troy in too, too much hot water.

Roswell Lady: Definitely Langley. *big* Here's more. Hope you enjoy!

Sophia: Thanks much. It's always great to hear that I've gottent the emotional balance right. Hope you like the next couple parts.

Realistic Dreamer: Agree with you on Troy. Working on getting him to see everything from our prespective. LOL As for Dr. Dave - I think my mean streak can give yours a run for its money. Let me know what you think. Loved your honesty, BTW. Here's more. *happy*

Lelea: Definitely time that Langley woke up. His shapeshifting butt is finally out of bed! LOL. And keep that psycho patient in mind...

Ice Rose: You're not kidding about money buying anything! *wink* Glad you like. Here's more.

Ty01: Thanks so much, sweetie! Good to see you and I'm so glad you're still loving the story. Don't worry - promise not to do permanent damage to Liz or Xan. After the way Max has been acting though...kidding! Enjoy the new stuff.*happy*

We now return to our story, already in progress...Finally!

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 28-Jul-2002 10:24:29 PM ]
posted on 28-Jul-2002 10:34:05 PM by Pathos
**********Part 28***********

Max heard the soft buzz of voices as his friends carried on a conversation. A conversation that probably revolved around him. He wished suddenly that they would leave him alone. Go for a walk, jump off a bridge. At this point he didn’t really care. He was having enough trouble keeping the forlorn tone of Liz’s emotions from sparking his own desperation into a blazing panic. He didn’t need the added distraction of everyone staring at him like he held the secrets of the universe in the palm of his hand. He gave himself a hard mental shake and forced the faint buzz further to the back of his mind. Along with all the fear and desperation he’d been feeling over the last few days. Liz was reaching out to him for comfort. She needed his support. And he’d be damned if she didn’t get it.

Using the same iron clad control streak that Michael disdained and Liz teased him about, Max focused every last ounce of energy at his disposal on his wife. Forcing his own emotions to the side he concentrated instead on Liz and the love he felt for her. The love they shared. The vows they’d made. Anything he could think of to combat her sudden loss of confidence. He’d panic later, if he needed to. Liz came first. And right now she needed his comfort and reassurance. Max bleakly acknowledged that it was the least he could do. And the most he was capable of from this far away.

He concentrated on remembering the awe he always felt when he touched her, when he got lost in the beauty of her soul. The completion he knew when he felt her love wash over him. He focused on the pure unadulterated joy that sparked through his soul every time she let him see her. Let him know her like no one in the world ever would. Just as she knew him. He allowed a portion of his fear to show through as he pleaded with her not to take that away from him. Begged her not to give up on them.

Max’s heart raced as he searched his memory for anything that might offer her comfort and strength in his absence. He called to mind the utter contentment he felt because she had filled all the empty spaces in his heart with her love. And his sheer amazement that she trusted him to fill those same spaces in her heart. Memories of their time on the run flooded his brain. Memories that made him smile in spite of himself because the one thread that held them all together was also the one complete certainty of his life. As long as they were together every sacrifice they made and every battle they fought was worth it.

The memory of the first time their group had split up floated past his minds eye. He remembered suddenly that that was the only time he’d ever felt anything like the exhausted despair that was presently dampening her spirit. She’d been so numb that night as they’d stumbled into that run down motel. There wasn’t even a spark of victory over the fact that they’d finally lost the military vehicle that had been tailing them for the last four hours. She was remembering Maria. Remembering the tears her best friend had wept as she’d clung to her, unwilling to say good bye.

Liz had been so strong. Gently assuring the other girl that they’d see each other soon. Soothing Maria’s fear as she’d given her over to Michael’s care. Even his sister had taken comfort from Liz’s calm acceptance of the need for their split. Isabel had watched Liz say goodbye, physically pairing the couples as she let go of Maria and Kyle, then moving to stand calmly next to him. Nodding a little at her sister in law, Isabel had stood just a little taller, swallowed hard and accepted the logic of splitting up without the frantic panic that both he and Michael had expected.

Max had known then that the strength his petite wife possessed would never cease to amaze him. He had felt her wrenching pain at the thought of leaving everyone to fend for themselves. He knew firsthand her fear that she’d never see Maria, or the others, again. And the terror she was trying to hide from him that someone, somewhere would tear him away from her. But none of those things had shown on her face. There was only the serene, determined strength that he had always admired. That he admired even more, now that he knew what lay underneath

But he’d respected her decision not to speak of it. In silence they’d entered the little motel room. Each of them sighing a little at the unkempt appearance. In silence they’d both headed into the bathroom for a shower, neither willing to leave the other’s side. It was only when she stepped into the tub that he noticed her flinch over the pain of a sprained ankle. She shushed the comment he would have made through their connection, trying to convince him she was fine. He’d followed her quickly into the blessedly hot water and immediately pulled her body flush against his own, more out of the need to give and receive comfort than from the desire that always flared between them when they touched. And the instant she’d felt his arms wrap around her she’d broken down. Her tears mixing with the water as she’d cried against his chest and railed against the unfairness of it all.

‘Better?’ He asked softly, a short time later when she was hiccupping away the last of her sobs

She nodded, almost sheepishly. ‘I’m sorry. I don’t know what…’

He shushed her apology with a finger pressed gently against her lips. He knew her sudden guilt stemmed from the fact that she had felt him holding back his own tears. She didn’t want to weigh him down. He shook his head softly. ‘You don’t ever need to be sorry. That’s what I’m here for. Big manly man, remember? I’m pretty sure I can handle it.’ he teased gently, surprising a laugh from her. He pulled her closer, grateful for the easing of her fear as she relaxed against him.

‘They won’t take this away from us Liz’. The vow was instantly as sacred as the ones he’d spoken at their wedding.

He reveled in the luminous solemnity shining fiercely in her eyes as she looked up to meet his gaze. ‘Never.’ She promised.


The memory flooded his mind. The emotions as honest and true today as they had been all that time ago. Remember, sweetheart. Please, Max begged silently. He tightened his hold on her, pouring his love through their connection as he remembered the hours they spent wrapped up in each other. Happily ignoring the coldness of the world in favor of the warmth they created every time they were together. Finally, finally Max felt her flagging spirits revive enough to assure him that she lived for those moments as well.

Everything’s going to work out. You and Xan will be fine. We’ll have more of those moments. A lifetime more, Max promised. He knew she couldn’t understand the words but she would know what his heart was saying. He felt the chill in her soul warm a little as she responded to him. She was the strongest person he knew and she could do this. He trusted her. Trusted her with his son’s life and trusted her to come home safely to him. With every ounce of his soul he focused on conveying the depth of his unwavering faith.

Their connection was razor sharp. Almost burning in its intensity. He let out a shuddering breath as he fought what was coming. Not now. Not now! She needed him too much. He forced a deep breath. Forced himself to concentrate. His breathing calmed, his mind drifted, focusing so completely on Liz that he didn’t feel the slight pinching tear. But he did feel the deep shiver that wracked his body in response. And that was the last thing he felt before he realized that his body was falling away. He gripped the window sill convulsively in an attempt to keep himself grounded. Attached to something. Anything.

Max’s focus disintegrated as he felt the nothingness looming just beyond the realm of his concentration. Just as it had the night he’d died. And just like that night he knew with complete certainty that the separation of spirit from bone and sinew and muscle was only a few moments away. Pinpoints of light began to flash like heated strobes behind his eyes. He started to reach for Liz as a point of reference but realization struck like thunder and instead he eased their connection gently. His breath came in harsh pants as he tried to focus on Liz while still concentrating on keeping himself firmly anchored to his body. He felt his fingers tingling where they gripped the old wooden sill. And then he felt Liz. A soft calming presence in the midst of his fear.

She seemed to seep into his soul, her worry for him clear in the tone of her heart as she told him to let go. Her own distress was forgotten as she fought to convince him that she was ok now. She didn’t need him to do this. She was safe and she needed to know that he was as well. Shaking his head a little he realized that she was with someone. And while he could sense her annoyance with this other presence, he also felt her relief. She
felt safe again. Annoyed, but safe. Langley.

Max hesitated, torn. And then he did as she asked. Because to not do so would keep her worrying about him. And she had enough to worry about because of him. He cursed his strange alien makeup which made astral projection a matter of life and death. He wished desperately that he could be there for Liz as she would have been there for him, if their situations were reversed. He felt helpless. Ashamed of both his fear and his inability to access a power that might have given her such comfort.

He wanted to fight her. To remain as closely connected as they had been. But he knew what came next. And he knew he wouldn’t survive the night without her to hold him together. Sighing, he did as she silently requested. He backed off, letting their connection fall back into his consciousness until it was merely a comforting hum at the back of his mind.

Max bowed his head as he forced his body to relax. He’d been holding himself rigidly in check this whole time and the sudden shift in position caused a rebellious ache to flood through him. His eyes slipped back into focus and his brows drew together in confusion as he looked at the window in front of him. The whole thing was fractured, giving an oddly distorted view of the world beyond and looking as if a gentle breeze would shatter the glass. Waving a hand over the surface Max smoothed the molecules together easily. Sighing loudly he wished for the millionth time that astral projection were that simple.

Over the last three years Liz had become more comfortable with and more adept at, using her powers. He couldn’t deny the slight thrill of pride he got whenever she did. And he loved the heightened connection that existed between them whenever he felt her energy spark. But even beyond that, there was something about the way she could just appear to him out of nowhere, her soul drawn unerringly to his, that had called to him. Made him want to try. The first time she’d done it, all those years ago, he’d been so surprised by the fact that she’d simply appeared, that he’d done little more than stare. She’d been like an angel falling to Earth, saving his life and then disappearing.

At the time, he hadn’t understood what the tingling in the back of his mind had meant. Hadn’t been willing to give in to the instinctive desire to reach for her. And then one day a couple years ago he’d felt that same tingling. Standing at the sink in some dingy kitchen in yet another run down apartment, he’d felt it. And without thinking his mind had simply reached for her. Their connection had flared and then she was standing before him. Yet, not. And this time he could hear her. There was something startlingly intimate about the whole experience. Even more so when they realized that while she could project her image to other people, he was the only one who could hear her. She’d said it felt like flying.

So he’d tried it. To see what it felt like for his soul to soar as it sought her own. The experience had nearly killed him. Again.

Even now the memory sent a shudder through his system. He remembered the night he died with a clarity that eclipsed even his recollection of the white room. And when he’d tried to project to Liz he’d been sucked back into that nightmare. Suddenly it was that night. And he was right back where he started, touching that old man and feeling as if all of his power was pouring into nothingness

For one brief instant it had felt good. He had known that he wouldn’t survive, and it was almost a relief. He’d let so many people down. His parents. His son. Liz. He’d honestly believed that maybe this was for the best. She’d be able to breathe again if he weren’t around to drown her in his problems. For one brief instant he’d honestly believed that he could do the noble thing and let her go. He’d even said good bye. And that was the instant he’d felt the enormity of his mistake. He’d felt her sudden roaring pain as she became aware of what his goodbye meant. And he’d felt her horrified certainty that she’d never be able to breathe easily again. He’d never felt such a fear of loss. Not even that day at the Crashdown when he’d been afraid that he’d lost her before he even had her. And then, with her pain reverberating through his soul, he’d felt his own death. Felt everything he knew and every physical thing that he was fall to the wayside. Leaving him nowhere. Nowhere to go and nowhere to return. There was no white light. No tunnel. Not even a sign saying ‘Go to Hell’. He was merely sense without substance. Left in some godforsaken land of in between.

And as always, when there was nothing else for him to believe in, no one else to turn to for safety and guidance, his panicked consciousness had sought out Liz. He had felt the pieces of memory that made up who he was falling easily away from him. As if they were simple sparks in a blazing inferno, utterly irrelevant and unimportant. But not Liz. He’d clung to Liz. To her smile, her eyes, the touch of her lips on his own. The feel of her hands, resting lightly on his chest, clinging tightly to his neck. Pulling him to safety. Calling him home.

Even now, he hated thinking of it. It made the experience all too real. So he’d forced it from his mind and refused to think about it. Until he’d tried to project to her. And it had happened all over again. He could only thank whatever fate had been watching over him that the strength of their connection had once again been enough to guide him back. As always, when he yearned for safety her warmth and love were there to provide it. He wondered briefly how what he was doing could ever be enough to do the same for her. Or Xan.

What was his son thinking? Was he crying at night? Lonely for the parents that had raised and protected him. Was he calling for the strong arms of a father…who wasn’t him? Was he missing the man who took him to ball games and read him stories at night? Who did Xan call out for when he was too afraid to be silent? Max took a deep breath and squelched his sudden possessive jealousy. He had no right. He had understood what it meant to give his child up. His head did, at least. He closed his eyes against the pain that seemed to batter him from every angle. He couldn’t be there for Liz. And the truth was he’d never been there for his son.

Max was jerked back to the present when he felt a jump in his connection with Liz as she mentally shoved him from the path his thoughts had been following. He sighed, unhappily acknowledging her point. That wasn’t helping. Shaking his head a little he forced himself to leave his brooding thoughts for another time.

Everything’s going to work out. Xan and I will be fine.

Max relaxed a little as he felt a familiar bemused reassurance. He could almost see the look Liz always got on her face when she threw his words back at him. And the way she’d shake her head over the fact that he never seemed capable of taking his own advice to heart.

It will all be over tomorrow.

Max stiffened, his relaxation forgotten as he felt the telltale signs of Liz steeling herself for the implementation of an escape plan. He’d felt it more times than he cared to count. She was gathering her energy, steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the creeping fear that lurked at the edge of her consciousness. She always did that, choosing instead to focus on making the plan work. It was only when they were safe that she allowed herself to be afraid. He promised her softly that he would be there for her when she was ready to fall into his arms and rail against the unfairness of it all. He’d hold her while she screamed. Or cried. And no one would ever be the wiser.

Any thought of himself was pushed aside as Max once again tucked his fear into the back of his mind. He forced himself to allow only the weight of his support and the strength of his faith and love to carry across their connection. At the same time he was careful to keep himself firmly grounded. He didn’t need to panic her in the middle of her escape. He soothed her sudden nervousness, knowing she’d understand the truth behind the words he offered her.

I’m here. I’ll be here. Always.

Pushing himself from the window Max moved slowly past Michael, Maria and Kyle. At any other time he’d probably be amused by the way the three of them turned as one to watch his progress. None of them saying a word. Sinking heavily onto the couch Max ran a weary hand through his hair. Resting his elbows on his knees, he caught his head in his hands and without looking up he answered the question that had been written across all of their faces.

“She’s fine. For now.” Staring at the carpet he said the words that caused his heart to clench painfully in his chest. “It’s happening tonight. Whatever they’re doing...they’re doing it tonight.”

“Well, what are they…I mean…How do you…?”

Max bit down on his temper. He knew Maria was frightened. He couldn’t blame her for asking. Taking a deep breath he concentrated on staying positive for Liz. “I just know Maria.” By tomorrow morning this would all be over. One way or…NO. Max crushed the thought mercilessly. Tomorrow morning his wife and son Would. Be. Safe. They had to be.


[ edited 4 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 7:55:46 PM ]
posted on 28-Jul-2002 10:43:42 PM by Pathos
**************Part 29************

Langley sighed his boredom into the coldness of the room. It made for an odd contrast, the heat of the imperative and the chill in the room. He shifted restlessly in his chair. He supposed there was nothing he could do about the chill. The underground facility hadn’t been used in the last ten years. It was practically forgotten. Which made it perfect, though unheated.

Sparing a glance at the body on the floor Langley noted that the good Doctor still wasn’t up. He almost chuckled as he remembered why. He’d never say his Queen didn’t make a worthy adversary. He could still see the imprint of Dave’s body in the wall. And he hadn’t been surprised to see something similar in the back of the closet. Jackass was lucky Liz hadn’t killed him. Langley paused and shook his head as he reassessed that opinion. Considering what was coming, probably not. He forced a deep breath into his lungs, tightening his hold on what remained of his control. He had to do this right. Now, if Dr. Dave would just wake up and co-operate! Dipping his head he glanced at his wrist. Only to remember that his watch was no longer on it.

He released his pent up breath, cursing his Queen as he did so. This was her fault. He could still feel her anxiety. It sparked angrily along his skin and called his imperative to life. It demanded active protection of her, even as his mind fought to maintain the charade until they could leave safely. He had everything under control. Really. He did. Not that Liz had been willing to see that.

------- One Hour Earlier -------
Langley strode angrily into the hanger. Christ. He left her alone for a second and suddenly MP’s were hunting her down. He’d sent them back to the barracks. Without killing them. Even though his imperative was screaming for the blood of any who threatened his Mistress. Instinct without conscience. That’s all the imperative was. But it was strong. And fighting it was quickly sapping Langley’s strength. This imperative was driving him mad. He cursed it bitterly, wishing that he could put it back to sleep. But he knew from experience that it wouldn’t rest until Liz and Xan were safe. Langley bit back a growl of frustration. He just KNEW he should have stayed away from them.

Glancing around the office he saw Liz leaning against the door. He studied her bent head for a moment before taking another step forward. When she finally turned to look at him he noticed that it took her eyes a moment to refocus.. “Enjoy the nap, Majesty?” She blinked at him a little, as if she’d just come back from someplace very far away. Awwww. “And how is His Highness?” he asked snidely. Those two were like the modern day Romeo and Juliet. Or Bonnie and Clyde, depending on your perspective. Didn’t really matter. Both couples had ended up dead.

“Where the hell have you been?” Liz demanded.

Langley noticed that once focused, she had no problem keeping him sharply in her cross hairs. “Busy. I had to clean up…”

“You’ve been busy?! Doing what? It certainly wasn’t keeping us safe!”

“Hey! I’ve just spent fifteen minutes keeping the MP’s from taking you and…”

“I don’t want to hear it! General Corwin is on the way.”

Langley shook his head. “Did everyone get an e-mail yesterday?” He muttered.

“You knew about this yesterday?” Liz demanded angrily.

“No…I…Look. I’ve got it covered…”

“Covered? Langley, Dave TOLD him I was here!” Liz pointed at the closet and Langley blinked as he realized that Dave had evidently taken up residence there. “There is no ‘covered’. We have to leave now!”

Langley stared, slightly surprised by her desperate vehemence. She had been holding herself together pretty well, but he suddenly saw that she had reached the end of her rope. “Ok, look…we can’t leave yet. We…”

“You’re trying to kill us aren’t you?” Liz accused.

Langley took a step back, as much from the fact that the imperative wouldn’t let him stay still to save his life as from the force of her belief. He nearly growled in frustration. “What?! I’m here…”

“You’re going to try to make it look like some kind of accident.” Liz continued. “I can just see it. ‘Oh, sorry, Max but the General just showed up and…”

“Liz.” Langley fisted his hands at his sides to stop himself from grabbing her shoulders and shaking.. He didn’t think that would get him very far. The human imprint on the wall suddenly caught his attention and he gave a low whistle. “Liz!” He took a deep breath and thanked the fates that she finally stopped ranting at him to take a breath. “If I were trying to kill you, you’d already be dead.” He knew that his words weren’t nearly as comforting as they could have been. But at least they were the truth. “We are leaving. It just needs to be low key so that when people look at it they won’t get suspicious.”

Liz shook her head emphatically. “Forget it. The General is on the way. He knows what I look like. He won’t have to be suspicious because I’m right the hell here!”

“I told you. I have it covered. I’m going to make a few calls and…”Langley raised his voice as Liz moved to interrupt him. “He’s not going to make it to the base Liz. Not while you’re on it.”

“Really?” Liz asked skeptically. “How is that possible? Dave said he was on the way.”

“He was. He won’t be when I’m done.”

“Because…” Liz prodded.

Langley could tell she wasn’t going to drop this. He sighed. “Because I’ve got someone on the inside.” Langley reveled briefly in the Queen’s dumbfounded expression. “Remember the first rule, Liz. How did you think I kept you guys a step ahead of the Air Force?”

Liz narrowed her eyes and nodded slowly as she took a step back. Her entire body tense. “Right. But see, I didn’t forget the rest of your little lesson, either. ‘Never be afraid to betray an ally’ Is that…”

“You’re not an ally. You’re my liege!” Langley ground out angrily, his temper spiraling out of control as his imperative snapped like a flag in the wind. He could feel it building inside him. Rising to a slow boil, fired by her anxiety and fear. “I couldn’t betray you people if I wanted to. Believe me!”

Liz blinked a little with the force of his admission. “So then you…”

“It. Is. Under. Control. All you need to do is go back to the project building and not draw attention to yourself for the next few hours. Can you do that, Liz?” Langley finished. He could see her holding herself more rigidly as his angry sarcasm slapped her hard.

“Should I just close my eyes and pretend to be invisible?” Liz returned, her own sarcasm loud and clear.

“That would help.” Langley snapped.

“Fuck you.” Liz’s said coldly, her mind obviously made up. “I don’t care what you say. I want off this base. I’m taking Xan and We. Are. Leaving.” Liz raised her head, the look in her eyes daring him to disagree. “And we’re leaving now. I don’t care what…”

“Tonight, Liz. We’re leaving tonight.” Langley spilled desperately. He calmed his tone, knowing that if he pushed her any harder she’d walk out regardless of what he said. And he’d be forced to follow her. “Liz, if we leave now a whole lot of people are going to be questioning it. Give me the time to make those calls, I’ll put in the report that I prepared…Corwin won’t be here until tomorrow night. At the earliest. By then we’ll be long gone and he’ll have nothing to chase. Just a few more hours and we can make it out scott free.” Langley hated the fact that he was pleading. Hated that he was reduced to begging her to see reason as opposed to simply telling her what they were going to do. But he had no choice. All she had to do was order him to leave and they were screwed.

Liz stared at Langley. Noting the odd desperation in his eyed and the fact that his entire body seemed restless somehow. “Tonight?” She questioned. “As in we’ll be safe in the morning.”

“That’s the plan.”

Liz nodded. She didn’t look particularly convinced but she had apparently realized that she couldn’t do this without his help. “Fine. But if you screw this up…” she warned.

Langley sighed heavily as he motioned her impatiently out of the hanger. He turned to the closet door and shook his head at the damage she’d done. “If I screw this up there won’t be a damn thing you can do to me. I’ll be dead.” He muttered, shrugging to himself as a picture of his King floated across his brain. “Which will save Max the trouble.”


Langley was pulled back to the present by the pained groan that came from Dave as he struggled towards consciousness. Finally! The force of the imperative was now anticipatory. It knew what was to come and so did he. He thanked the fates for the sudden predatory calm that overtook his body, giving him a breather as he waited for Dave to figure it out.

David Lawrence rolled over onto his stomach and then pushed himself to his knees, his head hanging low as he tried to keep it from spinning too fast. That bitch! She’d actually thrown him across the room. His addled brain pointed out that maybe he should have paid more attention to Corwin’s warning. He lifted his head, immediately gripping it tightly between his hands to still the spinning. Maybe when Corwin was done he’d be willing to share Liz. She’d make an incredible test subject.

He shook his head and immediately collapsed back onto the floor. Shaking your head was supposed to clear it. In novels. Not so much in real life he realized.

Langley rolled his eyes. Or rather, he tried to. The eyes he was wearing at the moment were not really made for such expressions. He sighed loudly and watched Dr. Dave glance around the room, searching for the sound. Fool didn’t bother to look behind him.

Dave blinked his eyes back into focus as he struggled against his sudden nausea. He could have sworn he heard something. But all he saw were sterile white walls and an unmercifully bright light. He closed his eyes, moaning a little when the lights behind his eyes continued to explode. He pushed himself to his feet. He had to find the door. Get Dr. Cambridge into custody…did she put him here? He snapped his eyes open and spun around, searching for the door, suddenly fearful. Then his heart stopped.

Langley nodded in satisfaction as he captured Dave’s gaze with his own. It was worth taking the extra time to fix the room with his powers. Mood is everything. He thought, watching the Doctor’s eyes widen in shocked surprise as he took in the cell. And his appearance. He allowed the silence that permeated the cell to stretch into the realm of the ominous. And still he said nothing.

Dave stared, unblinking at the being before him. His eyes began to water but even through the haze of moisture the figure remained. Unmoving, breathing steadily and very, very real. All he could think was that they were supposed to be ‘little green men’. This being was neither green nor little. And those eyes. Those huge black eyes. Utterly emotionless black eyes. He shrank back against the wall. “Who are…what are…what do you want with me?”

“Isn’t this a research facility?” Langley inquired politely. It was difficult to form the words without a human tongue. Though from the trembling that had suddenly taken control of Dr. Dave’s body he supposed the voice was working to his advantage. Shifting into his original shape had been a sudden inspiration. And while it had the desired effect, he did wonder about his sudden sentimentality. After all, it was tradition rather than necessity that demanded this form.

“Yes, it...NO! No it isn’t. It…” Dave stuttered as every story he’d ever heard about alien abduction came back to haunt him. Dots of color began to appear in his field of vision as fear took hold of his body and he felt suddenly faint.

Langley smirked a little. More of a grimace, considering the facial muscles he was working with. He would have laughed at the way Dave flinched but it probably would have ruined the mood. “You don’t know? This is where you study human beings. I’ve seen this. I’ve been watching.” He paused allowing his words to sink into Dave’s frightened psyche. “I would like a turn.” He stated coolly.

Dave held out his hands defensively. “No! No. We don’t do what you do. I’m not a good subject…I …you don’t want me…”

“True.”

Dave stared as hope bloomed in his breast when he heard the aliens response to his babbling. He let out a relieved sigh. Which caught in his throat as the being continued.

Langley studied the condemned for a moment, noting the way he sagged against the wall before continuing. “Do you know what they do to people like you where I come from?”

Dave shook his head. The question not really permeating the fog surrounding his brain as his breathing came a little faster. People like him?

“An eye for an eye. It’s an incomplete translation. But it will do.” Langley heard Dave’s breathing coming faster, in short gasping pants as he raised his hand. He didn’t need to touch the Doctor to make a connection, Dave hadn’t been able to take his eyes off Langley’s own iridescent gaze the whole time he’d been awake. The connection had been live for some time now and it was a simple thing to sever the Doctor’s optic nerve. He didn’t react as Dave let out a short panicked yell when he was plunged into a darkness even more complete than Xan’s had been. “Isn’t that your preferred method of punishment Doctor?”

“I…Why are you doing this?” Dave asked, even though he knew. He suddenly knew that this had to do with Alexander. And Dr. Cambridge. He’d bet his life on it. He whimpered a little as he began to feel along the wall, desperately searching for a way out.

Langley watched Dave struggle along the wall for a second before stepping forward silently. He traced one long finger along the back of Dave’s neck. Knowing the shock it would be. His skin looked cold and clammy. But in reality it was moist and supple. Hot to the touch, really, in order to keep his molecules primed for shifting. Considering he’d just done it, the path of his finger must have felt like fire. “An experiment.” Langley whispered softly, his breath coming just behind the Doctor’s ear. Dave stumbled forward, tripping over his own feet as he tried to get away. “I would like to know if you’re afraid of the dark. Be good now, and tell me the truth.”

Langley shook his head a little as his imperative thrummed impatiently through him. He didn’t have the time to punish Dave properly. He couldn’t hold him in darkness for the exact number of hours Xan had been tortured because he could still feel Liz’s anxiety echoing through his body. He was more worried than he had been. She may not have gotten an actual premonition but she was prescient enough that her fear may actually stem from a legitimate threat. And it wasn’t as if the Antarian Executioners Review Board would be charging him with dereliction of duty anytime soon. He took a deep breath and steeled himself for what was to come. He hated this part. But then that was the point of making the executioner feel the death he was invoking. Murder was never something to be enjoyed. Even when it was deemed necessary.

“I didn’t hurt him! That kid is fine” Dave burst out, desperate for anything he could muster in his own defense. He was quite suddenly aware that he needed one.

If Langley had eyebrows they would have shot to his hairline. “An interesting interpretation. Also inaccurate and irrelevant.”

Dave whimpered at the harshness of the alien’s tone. “I didn’t do anything wrong.” He whispered.

“Liz would beg to differ. And her word is law.” Langley took a breath and passed sentence.

Dave relaxed for an instant as a musical language poured from the beings mouth. It couldn’t be that bad. Not if it sounded this beautiful. And then the being offered a translation.

“It has been determined that you assaulted a member of the Royal Court with violent intent. The threat posed by your continued existence is not to be ignored. It is with the utmost seriousness and consideration that an order of execution was thereby sought and granted by Her Royal Highness. May the fates grant you the mercy we cannot.” It had been eons since he had executed anyone. But the words came back to him easily. He caught himself before actually reaching for the Order of Execution that would have been handed to him if he had been at court. Idly he supposed that if he had been at Court, Liz would have actually had to give her permission. Fuck it. The speech sounded good. He could see Dave coming out of his fog. He supposed impending death would do that. Shrugging a little he finished the ceremony he’d begun. “Have you any words of repentance you would like to offer your Queen?”

“That bi…” Dave started, then stopped himself. He pressed himself further against the wall, trembling as he felt the air around his position shift menacingly. He flung his head blindly from side to side, searching for the threat.

“You might want to watch what you say about Her Royal Highness.” Pausing, Langley reconsidered. “Then again, it won’t make any difference. Judgment has been reached, penalty decided. And now your execution will be carried out.” Reaching out he cupped David Lawrence’s face in his long thin hands. Forcing the connection deeper he followed the path of blood until it flowed into the man’s heart. He focused sharply, building and building on the existing blockage he could sense.

Langley’s breathing was harsh and erratic as he felt Dave’s terror and pain as his heart slowed. He shuddered along with Dave as his death loomed, just beyond reach. He gasped as time passed too swiftly, measured in the stilling beats of the Doctor’s heart. Langley collapsed to the floor with Dave when the Doctor’s knees gave out. With a wrenching groan he jerked away from the body when he felt the Doctor finally collapse into the great beyond.

Lying on the floor Langley panted heavily as the body next to him cooled. Exhaustion seemed to settle into every cell of his body. And still the imperative pushed him, though it was somewhat less demanding now that the immediate threat had been taken care of. Swallowing hard, he finally pushed himself to his feet, his limbs trembling at the exertion. He shook off the feeling of being a visitor in his own body and reached the door. Still breathing heavily Langley made an early New Year’s resolution. He would exercise more. He would practice his shifting. He was too young for one damn execution to make him this tired. He knew he was completely shot for the night. Thank the fates he’d taken care of the Corwin problem before he got here. Bastard would never be able to resist stopping to interrogate a traitor.

----------------------

Sergeant Clark’s emerald green eyes stared at the scene before him with a certain amount of disgust and a great deal of gratitude. He’d been sabotaging the caravan from the beginning. And then his orders had changed. He’d sacrificed one of his own in order to keep his cover intact. Staring at Lt. Crawly he felt guilt over his actions eating away at the lining of his stomach. Not enough to offer General Corwin the truth, however.He flinched as the Lieutenant screamed.

“The next level Sgt.” Corwin ordered.

Clark blinked a little. “Sir, that could kill him.” Could? Shit, the ‘next level’ was going to fry this kids brain. He swallowed the guilt he felt at targeting Crawley as the leak. He hadn’t really believed Corwin would actually stop the caravan to interrogate him. But he had. And poor Crawley hadn’t known one damn thing. And why would he? The kid was a pawn, innocent of everything but a belief in what Corwin was trying to prove. Aliens! Whatever. General Payton was right. This man needed to be stopped before he went too far in his quixotic quest.

Corwin stared hard at Sergeant Clark. “I am going to find out what he knows. Next. Level.”

Clark glanced at Crawley’s tear streaked face and bloodshot eyes, immediately wishing he hadn’t. The General had already gone too far. He vowed that Crawley’s death wouldn’t be in vain and switched the voltage to the next level. He pursed his lips and stared past the kid as his body vibrated with the electricity. Christ! May God have mercy on your soul. Swallowing hard the double agent added, And mine.


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 8:12:34 PM ]
posted on 2-Aug-2002 12:02:53 AM by Pathos
Thanks for your patience guys. And all the great FB. I'm going to once again casually suggest (LOL) that everyone check back Sunday for the next part.

Until then -

replies first and then the story.

Enjoy!
Pathos

roswellluver: Had to redeem Langley just a little. LOL And, yeah, Max would definitely rather be part of the action. Working on that as we speak.*happy* For now though...

narly21: So glad you liked the connection. It took me forever to get that part done to my satisfaction. (I'm not anal, really. LOL) Happy you're enjoying Langley. He's turning out to be a blast to write. Swear I'm working on getting them off the base...*wink*

kittens: Langley has a few...issues. LOL Hope you enjoy the next part.

Lelea: Glad you liked Dr. Dave's demise. And, yeah. Langley needs someone to tell him to Fuck off every once in a while. Hey, everyone's got their quirks right? *big* And, you almost cried? That's one of the nicest compliments I've ever gotten. Thanks. Hope you like the next part.

Tabasco Liz: Amazing? Totally touched by the praise. Glad you enjoyed Langley. Had to give him at least one good point. LOL About the edge of your seat...um, will you just accept my apology now?

mitra: Thrilled to see that you liked Dr. Dave's demise. Working on getting Xan and Liz back to Max.

Spicy trini1: Glad to see you back. Happy you enjoyed Langley 'acting in an official capacity'. Probably the last time we'll see that. LOL Hope you enjoy the next part.

MickeyRos: Langley on the ball really is something to see! Hope you like the next part.

Tigereyes: Again your FB was just totally inspiring. I agree about Max. I always figured that what was going on in his head would surprise most of the people around him (I've been there myself. LOL). Glad you liked Dr. Dave'd comeuppance. And, uh...about Liz getting off the base...should I just apologize now? *wink* It'll be soon, if that helps. No kick start needed, (though I appreciate the bump). I swear I'm typing my own nails off to get it out. *happy*

RoswellLady: Glad you liked the Doctor's death. I promise reunion and nookie...eventually. LOL Until then...

mandyhanford: Hope you enjoyed your vacation. Working on the reunion. Just need to get through the rescue...*tongue* Enjoy!

TeddyBehrJKT: Just totally speechless after all your wonderful FB...ok, that's over now. LOL As always your words just warm my heart (don't worry, I don't swing that way either *tongue*). Your response is like the litmus test for my chapters. Thanks so much for all the love and hugs. I absolutely promise that Max and Liz are the heroes. I swear I'm a die hard dreamer...can't imagine why Max no longer believes that. He's been trying to rebel again! LOL I'll get him whipped into shape and get the new parts out asap. Until then...hope you like! BTW - is it still Thursday where you are?

Minanda: Can't help it, huh? Cal grew on you too. LOL Enjoy the next part.

Sarah_helen: Langley is just a little ahead of himself...here's the new part.

Lindsey: Thanks for the bump. Here's a new part.

frenckiss70: Breathtaking? You're so sweet! Thanks for the compliments and here's more. *happy*

merchez: Thanks so much for the wonderful FB. Was so happy the astral projection part worked for you. Drove me nuts to write it. *wink* Glad you're loving the story. Hope you like the next part.

Ty01: Glad you liked Dr. Dave's demise. Long time coming, huh? *big* Here's part one of the rescue...
Enjoy!

Lttlemrmade: Always love to see new people. Welcome and hope you like the next part.

sweetygurl: Know what you mean about the government but I'm glad you're liking the story.More dreamer parts are coming...just, um, later. LOL Hope you like the next part.



And now back to our story....

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 2-Aug-2002 12:15:58 AM ]
posted on 2-Aug-2002 12:11:58 AM by Pathos
************Part 30***********

Albert Jensen surveyed the hall outside his room. It was glaringly bright and blessedly empty. He glanced inside the room one more time, admiring his handiwork as he smirked at the now dead guard. Tommy never would have fallen for his seizure ruse. But this happy idiot had rushed into the cell without a second thought. Well, they say no good deed goes unpunished. Pausing to lock the door behind him Albert took a deep breath and strode purposefully into the hall. One floor down and around the corner. One floor down and around the corner. That’s where the little shit was sleeping. He continued down the hall. Left, right, left, right. He was vaguely insulted and somewhat disappointed that there was only the one guard. Well, he’d just have to show those stupid bastards what he could do. They’d never underestimate him again. Not after tonight. He punched the elevator button, sliding the guards stolen key card between the magnetic strips to authorize his descent. One floor down and around the corner. In his old room. That’s where the little bastard was sleeping. As if he owned the whole goddamned place. As if that kid was better than him. As if he were goddamned royalty. Whatever. Just a few more minutes, he thought gleefully. A few more minutes, then goodnight, sweet prince!


-----------------------------


Xan frowned in his sleep and rolled onto his side, facing the wall to avoid the bright light that spilled from the hallway into the room. Leaving the door open behind her, Liz headed quickly to the bed. She set the small pile of clothes to the side as she sat down. “Xan, it’s Liz. I need you to get up now.” She whispered, gently shaking his shoulder. “Come on sweetheart, we need to get you up and dressed.” She was rewarded by the sleepy flutter of his lids as he struggled towards consciousness. “That’s it. Open your eyes, baby. Look at me, Xan” She encouraged softly.

Xan blinked owlishly as he looked up at Liz. His brows furrowed in confusion as his dreams receded and he realized she was really here. He knew she was coming again tomorrow, but his room was still dark. “Is it ‘amowwow?” he asked, allowing Liz to pull him gently into a sitting position.

Liz nodded. “It’s very early tomorrow. We need to get you dressed so we can go.” She said, holding a steadying hand under one arm to keep him from sliding bonelessly back onto the pillow. “Can you put your hands over your head for me?”

Xan raised his arms as requested, yawning and stretching as he did so. He shivered a little when Liz tugged his shirt over his head and the cool air hit his bare skin. “Whewre we goin’?” he asked as she replaced his white shirt with the black one he’d worn when he first arrived at the base.

“Home.” Liz answered absently, prodding Xan gently to his feet so she could pull the white cotton hospital scrubs from his body and replace them with his jeans. She couldn’t help the small smile that crossed her face when he grabbed her shoulder to keep his balance and then took the opportunity to rest his head heavily in the crook of her neck.. The poor kid was obviously still half asleep.

Xan sighed comfortably against Liz’s shoulder then jerked his head up, eyes wide as what she’d just said registered in his brain. “You’wre goin’ home?” he cried plaintively.

“Shhh.” Liz placed a finger lightly over Xan’s lips. “We need to be really quiet, ok?” Xan nodded but she could see the fear in his eyes and the moisture that was gathering there. “Sweetheart, don’t cry. You’re coming with me.”

“I am?”

“You are.” Liz pulled the little boy into a quick hug, hoping to allay his fear, then she sat him down on the bed so that she could put on his shoes and socks. Skipping the double knot Liz finished quickly and then patted his leg. “Ok sweetie, we ready?”

Xan slid from the bed, clutching Liz’s hand as the lights came on, making him blink a little at the sudden brightness. He felt Liz squeeze his fingers reassuringly. Even still he drifted closer to her body when he saw the tall, angry man in uniform step into the room.

Langley glanced from Liz to the boy. The kid drifted closer to her, looking up at him uncomfortably. He knew Liz was glaring at him. Whatever. “Are we ready to go?” He snapped. His anxiety was a fire breathing monster demanding sustenance and gaining it from the tightly coiled nervousness Liz was hiding so well from the boy. It was a living thing that had taken up residence in his body and wouldn’t be leaving until the Prince and his Queen were out of danger. Biological imperatives were a royal fucking pain in the ass.

“Yeah. I just have to…” Liz looked down at Xan who was shifting from one foot to the other as he glanced at the bathroom door. “Do you have to go?”

Xan nodded. “Yeah. Kinda.” He mumbled.

“Kinda?” Langley asked incredulously. He was desperate to get on the road and the kid wasn’t sure? The fates really did hate him.

Liz glared at the shapeshifter, then forced a smile as she looked at Xan. “Ok. You go ahead.” She waited until Xan disappeared into the bathroom. “I have to get the surveillance tapes from the last two days. I’ll be back in a sec. Be nice to him when he comes out.” Liz slipped quickly out of the room. If she was fast enough she’d be out before Xan came back into his room. She was almost glad he liked to play in the sink. She opened the tape bank, running a finger over the edge of the videos as she searched through the last few days. She blinked as she came to the empty spaces where the tapes containing her image should have been stored. “What…”

“Looking for these Dr. Cambridge?”

Liz gasped loudly, her hand drawn to her throat in surprise as she whirled around. What was he doing here?

Troy stepped from the shadows, his eyes glittering dangerously in the dim light. “You weren’t planning to leave without saying goodbye, were you?”

“Troy…” Liz trailed off, glancing through the observation window at Langley and then turning back to the man before her. She couldn’t think of anything to say. Nothing he’d want to hear, anyway.

“Yeah.” Troy studied Liz for a second, wondering briefly how he could have been so completely wrong about her. He wasn’t usually taken in by just a pretty face. “At lease you know who I am.” He shook his head a little and drew himself up to his full height, hardening himself against the plea he saw in her gaze. Forget it. Her big doe eyes weren’t going to work this time. “We had a conversation to finish. Or did you forget?”

Liz shook her head. She wished suddenly that Langley would walk in and then, with the same thought prayed fervently that he wouldn’t. If he did it was all over for Troy. “No. I didn’t forget.” She whispered. She’d been avoiding him all day, figuring that come morning there would be nothing he could do. It would save her having to lie to him again. But she was beginning to think that had been a mistake. She should have just…what? It’s not like she could have told him what was going on. She certainly couldn’t ask for his help. If it had been just her life, maybe. Maybe, she would have taken the chance that she was right. That he was trustworthy. But not with Xan. His life was too important for her to be willing to risk it. “I didn’t forget. But there’s really nothing to say.” She offered with an apologetic shrug.

“Nothing to say?!” Troy repeated incredulously. “nothing to…who are you? Start with that!”

Liz blinked, shaking her head a little. “Troy you know who I am. I…”

“Dr. Cambridge. Right. Here’s the thing. Since I had all this time today I went over to see a buddy of mine. Guy’s great with computers. He says to tell you he’s very impressed.”

“What are you…”

“Your file dates back to 1998. Just like it should. There’re pages and pages of info on you. Couldn’t find anything that wasn’t backed up.” Troy said, his voice surprisingly light.

Liz wanted to breathe a sigh of relief but she could tell from the look on his face that it would be premature. “And?”

“And your file is only a week old.” Troy held her gaze meaningfully. “Almost like someone just stuck it in there, in case anyone decided to look.”

Liz caught her breath sharply. “I wish you hadn’t done that.” She said softly.

“Why? Who are you with?” Troy asked, glaring harshly at Liz. “What are you planning to do with that poor kid?”

Liz’s brows drew together in honest confusion. He thought she was going to take Xan to…experiment on him? She shook her head. “Troy, I’m not going to do anything to him. I could never…”

Troy held up a hand to stop her. His jaw clenched in reaction to the innocent expression on her face. He was nuts! She’d infiltrated a military base. He should be turning her in to the MP’s. He ignored the snide voice of his conscience which prompted him to wonder why, exactly, he hadn’t. No! He wasn’t falling for this again. He knew full well that you couldn’t simply hack into the Air Force’s secured database. That’s why the damn thing was secure. You’d need a hefty amount of clearance to add a bogus personnel file to the database. And one hell of a classified reason. He wasn’t naïve. He’d heard whispers of shadow organizations, ones even worse than this. Ones with exactly the right amount of influence to do just what ‘Dr. Cambridge’ had done. So why did he have trouble believing that someone with her eyes was capable of that?

She infiltrated a military base. This girl…woman! This fully-capable-of-throwing-people-through-walls woman had hacked into a secure military database. And entered lies. But the eyes are the windows to the soul. Nope. Forget it. One of the million stupid cliché’s his mother had pounded into his brain. This wasn’t the time for cliché’s. She wasn’t good. She was…the enemy. He didn’t care what her eyes said. “I can’t believe I didn’t realize that you were just like Dr. Dave. Hasn’t Xan been through enough?” He forced out. He was not falling for her act again. Unless…what if it wasn’t an act? He cursed the question which came on the heels of the innocent hurt that flashed across her features.

“I am nothing like Dr. Dave.” Liz said, her voice hushed and angry.

“Really? You think that the place you’re taking him is going to be any better. Tell me Liz, will you still take him outside to play when he’s your little experiment.” Troy shook his head, answering his own question. “Forget it. You’re not taking him anywhere!

“He’s not an experiment! Troy…”

“You’ll have to go through me.” He said, ignoring her interruption and staring at her with the certainty of someone who was willing to stand there and let her try. “Save yourself the trouble. Walk away and leave that kid alone.” Troy waited, wondering what her response would be. And unwilling to wonder too deeply why it was so important to him. Christ, he should have just turned her in.

“I’m taking him someplace safe!” Liz ground out, beyond insulted that he could think her capable of that. She was tired of lying to him. And ‘General Payton’ was right behind her if she needed back up. “I’m going to get him away from here.” Liz blurted, her desperation apparent. She raised her chin and met Troy’s determined gaze with one of her own. She didn’t want to hurt him but nothing was going to stop her from taking Xan with her when she stepped off the base.

Troy stared, dumbfounded. “Get him…how? And what exactly do you plan to do with him once he’s ‘away’?” He could feel himself starting to believe her. The honesty and desperation were simply too clear in her eyes. Fuck. So much for ‘not this time.’

“We’re going home.” Liz said, taking a deep breath as she saw Troy relax his rigid stance some. She paused for a moment as what she’d just said registered in her mind. Having never really thought beyond getting him off the base she blinked a little at her own response. But…yeah. Home. “Troy, I’d never do anything to hurt him. I couldn’t.” She said, her sincerity daring him not to believe her.

Troy stared. He could feel his military career slipping away. God help him, he did believe her. It explained so much about her reaction to Xan. And Dr. Dave. Probably wouldn’t explain all that much to the military review board but… “What do you need me to do?” he asked, sighing heavily in defeat.

Liz exhaled softly, relief rushing through her at his words. She had been right about him. She caught his wrist in her small hand. “Just tell him goodbye and then walk us to the car.”

Troy nodded, still a little angry with himself. Although, if he were being completely honest he’d have to admit that he’d been heading in this direction from the beginning. He knew full well that if he had been serious about turning her in he simply would have. Letting out a heavy sigh Troy glanced through the observation window into Xan’s room. And noticed General Payton pacing the same few squares of floor tile and looking about as frustrated as he felt. “Is he in on it?” Troy asked, nodding at the General.

Liz opened her mouth to answer and then snapped it shut on a gasp when the entire room was suddenly plunged into darkness.


-------------------------

Langley glanced at his watch impatiently and expelled a harsh breath. The imperative coiled and leapt within his body. A constant reminder of everything he’d been bred to be. It was everything he hated. A living, breathing avatar. He ground his teeth together in frustration. This room was beginning to get to him. Standing here alone, the imperative straining without mercy to the edge of his sanity, reminded him too much of the three years he’d spent in captivity. The three years that had seen Nekar haunting his dreams and taunting him with waking nightmares. He shook his head against the image that rose, unbidden before him, of that smile. The cool, triumphant smile that Nekar had offered before slipping from the compound. And leaving him behind.

He’d never forget the pure shock brought on by the sudden waking of his protective nature. He’d fought by Zan’s side and never felt the sudden wiry strength of that purpose coursing through his veins. Hadn’t felt it until the true identity of a traitor came to light. Leaving him helpless to protect. And even as he’d fought against it, his imperative asserted itself and proclaimed itself his only purpose. His own survival had taken a back seat as he’d been torn apart from the inside out. And the outside in, when the researchers were feeling lucky. Which, after Nekar had escaped, had been less and less often.

For the entire three years Langley had gone slowly mad. Every day began with the nightmare image of Nekar’s triumphant smile. And was replaced only by his newfound fear of the breadth of the human imagination in its quest to dissect and categorize. As time marched forward he became convinced of the utter hopelessness of his situation. He was cursed by the certainty that even if he failed, this drive would never cease. Humanity aside, his own alien nature would kill him.

Filling his lungs with a shuddering breath Langley shook his head angrily at his own thoughts. History was history. All he had to do was get Liz and Xan off the base and he’d be free to go back to his life. He silenced the hiss that whispered to his brain that he would never be free and focused instead on the sounds coming from the bathroom. He could hear Xan splashing in the water. But where the hell was Liz. They should have been on the road by now. They should have been on the road ten minutes ago. Clenching his jaw, he forced himself not to drag the kid bodily from the bathroom before hunting down Liz to find out what the hell had distracted her. Jesus Christ! How hard was it to find a few tapes? He felt the imperative spark dangerously as he answered his own question. Not very. Fuck. He felt his hackles rise and warning pricked its way across his skin. Goddamn it! He started for the door and halted suddenly. He couldn’t leave the heir unprotected. A low growl sounded in the back of his throat. He hated this. Hated them. Fuck.

Forcing himself to take a cleansing breath, Langley attempted to breathe calm into his body. I am calm. I am calm. I am handling this situation. I am going to fucking blow this place up if I don’t get out soon. Right. So much for that crap. The shapeshifter wiped a tired hand over his forehead. He was exhausted that’s why it was shaking. Not because of the memories. And not because of the sudden leap of protective fear that swept his system when the lights went out.

“LIZ!”

Hearing the sound of the door creaking Langley sighed and headed towards the bathroom, figuring he’d have to take care of the Prince until Liz showed up again. He breathed an odd sigh of relief that the room was no longer so bright. And white. Instead it was bathed in the eerie red glow of the emergency lighting. He made a mental note to get the bulb color. It would be great mood for his new horror flick.

Langely’s internal ramblings ceased abruptly. He cocked his head sharply to the side when he suddenly realized that the creak he’d heard hadn’t been the bathroom door. Swinging around he found himself face to face with Albert Jensen.

And then he heard the bathroom door open.


----------------


Liz stared through the observation window as Xan eased carefully through the bathroom door, calling for her as he stepped into Albert Jensen’s line of fire. This wasn’t happening. Where the hell did he get a gun? This couldn’t be happening. She should be in there. Albert was under house arrest. He shouldn’t be in there. With a gun. This couldn’t be happening. She was here so this didn't happen. Jerking herself from her thoughts Liz whirled around and headed for the door.

“Liz? What…” Troy grabbed hold of Liz’s arm as she tried to sweep past him. He noted her sudden loss of color absently as he swung into combat mode. You didn’t just walk in on someone holding hostages at gunpoint. And as they stood now, the General and Xan definitely qualified as hostages.

Liz turned to answer Troy only when she was unable to break his grip on her arm. “Troy, let go! We have to get in there!”

“Who is that?”

“Albert Jensen.” Liz could feel her heart beating, almost painfully in her chest as her premonition played out once again in her mind. "He’s going to hurt Xan. He’s going to…oh, God, Troy we have to stop him!” She could feel her panic slowly overtaking her as Troy remained standing where he was, with her wrist still securely manacled in his large hand.

Troy narrowed his eyes through the emergency lighting at the kid in the cell. He was pointing a gun at the General. And by extension, Xan. The hair on the back of his neck stood up as he caught the look on the kids face. This was bad. “How did he even get in here? This is a secure…”

Liz swallowed. “He…he’s like Xan. He can move things with his mind. He probably just…” She trailed off, biting her lower lip hard as she watched the odd standoff that was taking place in the other room. She could see Xan looking around and she knew, she just knew , he was looking for her. “Troy…Let go!”

He heard the panicked desperation in her voice. And also the determination. She wasn’t waiting. “Ok, look. I’m gonna head in. Just before I open the door, I’m gonna trigger the alarm. That should startle him enough to let me get off a shot.” He waited, wondering how she was going to react to something that would bring the whole base down around her ears.

Liz nodded in agreement. She couldn’t care less how many guards that alarm called down upon them. Langley would just have to deal. And if it saved Xan’s life it was worth it. “Troy…he’s telekinetic and he’s crazy.” She warned.

Fuck. Sometimes it was better not to know the odds. Like now. Troy took a deep breath and shook his head, clearing it of everything but the coming confrontation. “Don’t worry. No warning shots. And I’ll only need the one.” He waited for Liz’s nod before moving her out of the way. “Stay here.”

Liz was shaking her head before he completed the order. “Forget it.”

“Liz…”

“No! I’m not going to just stand here and watch while Xan…I’m going.” She blinked back her tears as she silently begged God not to let this happen. All this time she’d believed Langley when he said this was going to be a bloodless coupe. Please, not Xan. Please. She raised her head and met Troy’s gaze squarely when it looked like he was going to argue. “We don’t have time.” She fought the sudden desperate urge to cry. "Xan doesn’t have time. I’m going.”

Troy opened his mouth and then closed it again with a snap. He drew his weapon and tucked Liz in behind him. “When I give the word you hit the alarm.” He waited for Liz’s agreement. “When that door opens you get Xan. Leave the nutcase to me.” He ordered.

Liz nodded, feeling ridiculously relieved that they had some kind of plan. Even if it was what Kyle referred to as Hail Mary plan.


[ edited 8 time(s), last at 18-Nov-2002 8:05:40 PM ]
posted on 5-Aug-2002 1:37:51 AM by Pathos
Hi all.

Jeez! Where did the time go? I swear, guys...it was Sunday when I started this post. *wink*

This next part drove me nuts, the psycho brat started giving me attitute half way through the editing process. LOL But, I can't edit it any further without simply throwing it out and since we need this to get to part 32...here it is. *happy*

Part 32 on Tuesday...probably.*wink*

Hope you like,
Pathos

Minanda: *breathes huge sigh of relief* I was worried that the Troy part would sound contrived. Thrilled to hear that his inner conflict rang true.

roswellluver: Troy's just a big softie at heart. As for the Hail Mary plan...

narly21: *ducking* I'm sorry for leaving you hanging...er, if I promise not to do it again - after this part - will you forgive me? *happy* And yeah, Langley definitely needs a little professional help. Do you think that therapist Max was seeing is still in practice? As for the rest...you'll just have to keep reading *wink*

Tabasco Liz: Albert is a several sandwiches and an apple short of a picnic! LOL Escape from the 'twisted idiot' (I love the way you turn a phrase) in progess.

Mickey Ros: Sorry to leave you hanging like that...I'm just gonna apologize in advance now. Conclusion soon, if that helps. LOL Hope you like the new part.

Tigereyes: *ducking again* I promise not to leave you hanging like that again...er, after this. *big* Had to laugh when you mentioned a debate over that line. I have a running debate with a friend of mine over whether the saying is pessimistic or simply accurate. LOL So glad you like Langley. More of him coming up. Liz is definitely glad to have a plan but...this is Roswell. The best laid plans of mice and men and all that. And um, yep almost off the base. Hope you like.

WayLiz: Hold on for just a little longer. We're heading into the final showdown. Hope you enjoy the nex part.

RoswellLady: Glad you like Troy. Had to laugh at the 'almost' vote for Langley. Too funny. I promise to be...well, gentle is...ok, just remember I'm a dreamer. LOL

mitra: Yeah, Albert was sort of my way of illustrating what could have happened to Xan. Definitely was a victim. But that boy is long past the point of no return now. *sad* Glad you enjoyed the last part and hope this lives up to it. *happy*

TeddyBehrJKT: Thrilled that you're still enjoying the roller coaster. Thanks so much for all your kind words. Feel like my heart's gonna burst from all the praise - but in a good way.*bounce* As always, your support means so much. And I'm so glad that Troy's struggle rang true. I was a little worried about that. Had to throw in the Shakespeare, simply too fitting not to. Oh, and to answer your question, yep. Nekar = Nasedo. Figured Langely would use his real name. (Totally cool that the word for hell is so close, BTW) There'll be more on that later...

frenchkiss70: Sorry about that...and this. LOL Promise no more cliffhangers for a while after this. Enjoy the next couple parts.*big*

katmcken: Hope work wasn't too bad after only a couple hours sleep. Honored that you spent so much time with this story. Hope you enjoy the next part.

merchez: Thrilled that you liked the last part. And, yeah. I still shudder at the word 'destiny'. As for Max, didn't forget about out hero. He's got a part to play in this rescue to. Glad you're enjoying the Liz/Xan interaction. Hope you enjoy the next part.

Ty01: Sorry to keep you on the edge of your seat, sweetie. And about this next part...really, just trust me, ok? *wink* As for a reunion...heading in that direction.

b4echstarrynite: Welcome! So glad you're liking the story. As requested, here's more.

mandyhanford: Hi hon. Thanks for the bump!

Fallen Angels: thanks for the bump





And now without further ado......

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 5-Aug-2002 1:49:11 AM ]
posted on 5-Aug-2002 1:44:40 AM by Pathos
************Part 31*********

The fates hated him. Langley had suspected as much for a long time. He was now absolutely certain. He glanced over his shoulder and saw Xan, staring wide eyed at Albert. Or rather, staring at the gun in Albert’s hand. Which was pointed at his little body. Langley shuddered against the weight of the imperative as he began to ease slowly in front of Xan. He could see the wild look in Albert’s eyes and it wouldn’t do to startle the psychotic little punk. He cursed the rash decision to execute Dr. Dave formally. After so many years it had taken too much energy. And he was exhausted.

Langley took a deep breath, forcing the imperative to heel as he glanced at the one way mirror. Liz had to know there was a problem by now. Maybe she’d make herself useful. All he had to do was negotiate. Keep the kid talking. “What can I do for you?” Langley asked, quietly. He was relieved to find the imperative calm slightly as he stepped completely in front of Xan. Relieved? He curtailed the sudden urge to laugh hysterically at himself. He’d just stepped in front of a gun. A gun which according to Liz, was going to kill him. And stupid, indentured bastard that he was, he felt relief.

Albert’s eyes narrowed angrily as the General stepped purposefully in front of his target. He walked more fully into the room, standing directly opposite the old man. Who the fuck was this kid to deserve such protection? From a goddamn General?! “What can you do? Step out of my way.” He ordered, snidely mimicking the General’s own tone of voice.

Langley’s temper sparked angrily at the mockery. Bone tired as he was he raked the dregs of his remaining energy. He reined in his frustration as he felt it gathering too slowly. Just give me a few more minutes you little shit, I’ll show you what I can do. “First, I’d like to know what you’re doing here.” Langley forced his voice to remain calm, conversational. He’d deal with this prick soon enough, all finesse be damned. But for right now he had to keep him talking. Where the fuck was Liz? She was the one who was so big on protecting Xan. Now might be a good time, Liz. “If you wanted to speak with me all you had to do was let your guard know. I would have been happy to stop by.”

“Really? You’d have come see little old me?” Albert’s voice rose in pitch and he blinked his eyes in mock flirtation. Did this old fool think he was an idiot? “Isn’t that just the nicest thing I’ve ever heard. I think I’m gonna cry.”

Langley kept his growl lodged in the back of his throat. You’ll be crying by the end of this you punk ass little shit. Just a few more minutes. Keep talking, kid. It’s your funeral. Just keep talking.

Albert snorted at the impudent fury he read in the older man’s eyes. “Look, old man. I don’t got time for this. Now I was nice about it before but now…Get. The. Fuck. Out. Of. My. Way.” Albert gestured vaguely with the gun.

Another minute and you’ll pay for that ‘old man’ remark. Langley reached behind him and grabbed Xan’s shoulder, gritting his teeth when the little boy fought against his hold. He could tell the kid was crying. He didn’t dare take his eyes off Albert but he could hear Xan’s frightened whimpers growing louder. Where the hell was Liz? He was too tired to deal with this crap. Crying children and psychotic teenagers. It was like flying coach. “Like I said, what are you going…”

Albert felt his temper boil over. Who the fuck did this old man think he was?! Didn’t he know who was in charge here? It certainly wasn’t his wrinkled ass. “I’m gonna blow his fuckin’ head off, you stupid son of a bitch!” Albert shouted, leveling the gun at Langley’s chest.

Langley stared. At least the fucking whacko was honest. He cursed silently. He guessed dying for the Prince qualified as following Liz’s order to be nice to him. So. This was it. It suddenly seemed anticlimactic.

He cursed Antar. And the scientists who had podded the Royal Essences. He cursed a genetic predisposition that forced his movement and corrupted his life. He cursed the idiot King. And more than that he cursed his Queen. Langley gritted his teeth and threw the Prince in for good measure as he tightened his grip on Xan, who was struggling even more fiercely against him after Albert’s pronouncement. Swallowing hard, Langley steeled himself. He knew that what little power he had left was now gathered. And he knew full well it would never be enough. Angrily he raised his hand.

Albert’s shocked yell echoed through the room as he flew back wards. He hit the wall next to the door, overturning Xan’s little table as he grabbed for it in an attempt to keep his balance. Without looking, Langley quickly shoved Xan under the bed and then headed toward Albert. Little bastard should have been knocked unconscious. At least. Instead he was bracing himself against the wall, rubbing his head a little and glaring out from under his greasy mop of light brown hair.

Fuck! Langley cursed as he stumbled, falling to his knees between Albert and Xan. The rest of the world rushed away. The only things he knew were the frantic cries coming from under the bed and the click of the safety release as Albert once again aimed the gun at him.

The imperative tore through his body, leaving fire in its wake and Langley struggled to his feet. He needed more time. More time to gather his energy. More time to think of a way out of this. More time for Liz to get her royal ass in here! He paced backward, careful to keep himself in front of the bed as Albert stalked forward menacingly. The back of his legs hit the mattress and he abruptly ran out of room. He felt his whole body tighten, coil like a tightly wound spring as he gathered himself. Shit. He was going to have to do this the hard way.

He glared at this enemy as the imperative rose and crested within him. His lip curled in a savage display of anger. Stupid! He was stupid. He never should have let Liz come. He definitely should have ignored Xan’s existence. And he should never have let Max find him, in the first place. He should have said yes when Nekar asked him to join the resistance. He never should have gotten on that goddamn ship to begin with. And he sure as hell should have taken Zan’s original offer of freedom. God knows the Mighty King had never thought to offer again. Stupid! To believe a King’s death would reward a glorified bodyguard. Stupid. All he’d gotten was this lovely vacation. ‘In Recognition of Dedication & Service’. Fuck you!

Langley’s thoughts retreated to the back of his mind as his whole world was reduced to the feel of cold steel against the hollow of his throat and the imperative burning hot through his heart. With an inhuman growl he sprung forward, shoving the gun to the side as he felt the bullet slice through the air past his ear. He shoved with the last of his strength, sending Albert careening into the side wall. But the struggle had thrown him off balance as well and he stumbled to the wall opposite the bed, falling heavily to his knees. Once again it was Albert who recovered first. What the fuck was that kid made of?! Looking up, Langley caught the gaze of the man who would undoubtedly take his life. Son of a bitch looked almost as angry as he was.

“Nice try, General Payton. You’re a little old for the Superman stuff though, huh?” Albert crowed, he pushed away from the wall as he watched the man before him struggle a little for breath. Nice. That’s what the fucker got for ordering him contained. This was gonna be fun. “Any last orders? Sir.” He mocked

Langley wished the Royal Family to hell. “For hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” He quoted with mocking bitterness. “Call me Langley.”

Albert cocked his head to the side. Star Trek. How interesting. “Say hi to Khan for me.” He said, holding the gun gleefully in both hands as he set his sights on the General’s heart.


-----------------------------


Liz looked at Troy and Troy looked at Liz. Then they both looked up and down the hallway.

Liz removed her hand from the alarm. She felt the mounting tension as silence echoed through the hall and mocked her good intentions. From the moment she tripped the alarm Liz had been waiting for some sort of claxon to sound, some harsh grating sound to filter through the hall complete with bright, flashing, red emergency lights. She glanced at Troy again, biting her lip at the expression on his face. Apparently he was waiting for the claxon as well. Her heart plummeted and her panic slipped its leash. “Please tell me that’s a silent alarm.” She said tightly.

Troy glanced down at Liz. Her eyes were huge and frightened, a light sheen of tears making them luminous in the dim light. He let out a heavy sigh. “It’s not supposed to be.” He muttered.

*crack*

Liz jumped as the gunshot reverberated through her entire body. “Troy!”

“Quietly. I want to get a fix on everyone before…I’ll just need a sec.” Troy waited for Liz’s frantic nod and then pushed her behind him as he took a deep breath. Grabbing the door handle with one hand, he gripped his weapon in the other and ticked off the count for her. “1…2…3…Now!”

Liz followed just as quietly. She was careful not to shove Troy off balance as she stepped quickly from behind him and searched the room frantically for Xan.

“For hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Call me Langley.”

Liz noted and discounted Langley and Albert. Her heartbeat thudded dully against her ribs when she didn't immediately see Xan. She could hear him crying but she didn’t know where…she caught her breath when she realized that he was under the bed. Her premonition played out behind her eys and she had to force herself not to panic. He was alive. He was alive and she didn’t see blood anywhere. Right now she’d take what she could get. Her brow furrowed a little as she took the time to wonder why the hell Langley was quoting Moby Dick.

“Say hi to Khan for me.”

“FREEZE!” Troy commanded. He had a clear shot at Jensen but he couldn’t risk taking it with the kids gun straining against General Payton’s throat.

Liz’s eyes widened as she finally allowed her attention to move from the bed to Langley. And focused on the fact that Albert was pointing a gun at him. And he was about to pull the trigger. “NO!” Raising her hand she concentrated her energy and forced the gun upwards, holding his arm in place as she shoved him back against the wall. She flinched as the few shots he got off entered the ceiling, raining plaster and dust down upon them. She heard Xan scream when the gun went off and the sound went straight through her heart. “Sweetheart, it’s going to be ok. I promise.”

Langley gaped at his Queen, mentally checking all vital systems. Yep. Everything was still there. And working. Holy shit! He was still alive. He’d never been so happy to see Liz in his life. Hell, he’d never been happy to see her at all.

Albert stared at the tiny woman in front of him. Quickly recovering from his surprise he smirked at her while he began to fight the hold she had on his arm. “Who the hell are you?!” He bit out.

“Liz?”

Her heart clenched as she heard Xan’s whisper. He could barely say her name around his tears. “I’m right here, sweetie. Just…” She gasped in surprise as Albert fought her grip in earnest and succeeded in shoving her backward against the wall. She shivered a little at the malice that crossed his features.

“I hope you’re getting this all on tape, Doc.” Albert said, raising his hands in triumph as he looked at the mirror over Liz’s head. Then he took a mocking bow. “I told you I was strong. I told you I was better…”

*crack*

Troy fired. One quick round, aimed at the target’s torso. Then he waited, watching for the impact of his shot. He saw the bullet suddenly, as if it were moving in slow motion. Fighting to get through the odd distortion that suddenly materialized around Albert Jensen. The air seemed to shimmer, like a thick haze on a hot summer day. Jesus Christ! It was moving in slow motion! He stared as it sank. Falling heavily through the air and never reaching its intended target. He felt a shiver race up his spine as he raised his eyes to meet Albert Jensen’s gaze.

He’d never really been afraid of Xan. Surprised, hell, yeah. But not afraid. Even Liz. When he’d found out about her he’d felt angry, vaguely used. But never afraid. Her heart resided too prominently in her eyes. Troy was caught in a sudden epiphany. He realized that his mother’s cliché was absolutely correct. The eyes really were the windows to the soul. And Albert Jensen’s eyes…were the abyss looking back at him. Unlike Xan, this kid… this kid scared the shit out of him. Forcing the thought aside he focused on the task at hand. He needed to get off one more shot. Just one. And then…

“I knew you were there, jackass.” Albert stated coldly. Then he lifted his hand and shoved.

“Troy!” Liz watched in horror as Troy was thrown from the room, he hit the wall opposite the open door with a sickening thud. His head smacking the concrete wall before snapping against his chest as he slid down the wall to lay slumped on the floor. Oh, God, no. No, NO! “Langley?” She asked desperately.

Langley struggled to his feet as the imperative responded to the fear in her voice. He shook his head. “Shifted too much.” He whispered. His sudden shame had nothing to do with the imperative. He wondered vaguely if he’d have the time to explore that.

Liz stared, dividing her gaze between Albert and Langley. “You’re a shapeshifter!” She cried. “How can you shift too much?!”

Langley gathered his energy as he watched Albert approach. “Look. Can we talk about this later?” Langley circled slightly until he was completely in front of Liz. Just another minute, that’s all he needed.

Albert stared at the General. “Go to hell.” He said angrily. He saw the old man’s eyes widen when he realized what was coming. He grinned as the General raised his hand defensively. “Too late.” He whispered gleefully as he threw the General into the one way mirror. The glass cracked, whining at the impact but didn’t shatter. He shrugged. “Uh-oh. Three and a half years bad luck?.” He turned back to Liz, who had fallen against the bed to avoid Langley’s body, and sneered. “Just you and me now babe. Care to go for round two?”

Xan scrubbed at his tears with one small fist. He could hear her. But he could also hear things crashing around the room. He cried harder. “Liz?”

Her name came out on a sob and Liz’s heart stopped as she saw Albert’s twisted expression light up. “Don’t you have anything better to do than terrorize children?” She taunted, desperate to get his attention off of Xan. “He’s four…”

“He stole my life!”

“Liz!” Xan choked on his tears.He had to get out. If he could just get to Liz he could go home with her. Like she promised.

Liz’s eyes widened when she heard a slight rustling as Xan started to crawl out from under the bed. “Baby, I promise, I’m right here. But I need you to stay there, ok?” She tried to keep her voice light, hoping to soothe his fear a little. But then her breath caught in her throat when she noticed Albert’s suddenly amused gaze.

“I don’ wanna!” Xan cried desperately. “I wan you.”

God, she needed to get him out of here! She watched Albert warily, trying to keep herself between him and the bed. “I know, sweetie. Just…”

“Oh come on Liz. Liz, right? Why not let the little shit come out and play?” Albert concentrated briefly, pushing the bed away from the wall, exposing Xan to his predatory gaze. “Fe, fi, fo, fum…” Albert laughed at his own joke

Liz stumbled forward a little as the bed slid away from her. She heard Xan scramble to his feet behind her and then he crashed into the back of her legs. She dropped a hand to the top of his head as he buried his face against her and sobbed. “Leave him alone. We’re leaving. Just let us go and you can have all this back!” she cried desperately. She stroked Xan’s hair gently and felt him press more fully against her as she tried to still the frightened trembling of her own body. Taking a deep breath she pooled her energy as Max had taught her.

Liz swallowed hard. Albert Jensen stood directly in front of her, the challenge clear in his eyes. Steeling herself she focused on pushing him as hard as she could. She could almost hear the rush of power as she released a huge burst and sent Albert careening into the wall, out of her way. Without stopping to check on him she grabbed Xan and jumped for the open door. It slammed shut as she reached it. She bit back an angry sob as she heard her freedom disappear with the harsh, metallic slamming of the door. The thought flashed briefly through her mind that he was stronger than she was. And she was alone. No back up. And no plan. She whimpered a plea as she backed into the corner of the room, keeping Xan between herself and the wall. Please, please don’t let this happen. Her eyes widened as the he leveled the gun. Oh, God.

“Just step out of the way and…” Albert glared as Liz shook her head. “Your call.”

Liz took a deep breath, desperately trying to gather her frantic energy before Albert got that shot off. Oh, God. Please, Max!


[ edited 9 time(s), last at 9-Aug-2002 8:43:34 PM ]
posted on 5-Aug-2002 1:46:07 AM by Pathos
*************Part 32 - A*************

Max paced his bedroom, the sanctuary he’d finally retreated to in order to keep from murdering three of his best friends. He’d been prowling the length of the apartment, his anxiety rising with every passing moment. And they’d simply followed his movement, watching silently as he paced. As if he were the ball in some demented tennis match. Something was wrong. Very wrong.

He ran a hand through his already disheveled hair and let out a frustrated breath. He realized suddenly that the bedroom had been a mistake. Liz was here, in the room. Her presence was in everything around him. The necklace she’d left laying on top of the dresser. The light scent of her perfume, which seemed to linger forever in a room. The picture and frame which she’d thrown haphazardly onto the nightstand. Those little touches only served to isolate him. Taunting him with the knowledge that she was hundreds of miles away.

Max took a deep breath, hoping to still his rapidly beating heart as Liz’s roiling anxiety flooded his senses, her panic skittered through him, causing goose bumps to rise across his skin. He could feel all his good intentions fall to hell as her fear ignited his own panic.

MAX!

Max stumbled a little as the force of Liz’s emotion knocked into him. He didn’t need to hear her voice to know she was calling for him. He could feel her desperately reaching for him. Her panic went beyond a loss of confidence or even fear of failure. This was a pure undiluted terror. He could almost feel her body shaking helplessly in its grip.

“LIZ!”

Max wasn’t aware of the shout that echoed through the small apartment. And it was only from a distance that he took any notice of the people who had suddenly invaded his sanctuary. He could hear them buzzing on the outskirts of his consciousness. But he ignored the distraction. His breathing came in heavy panting gasps as he palmed the wall, focusing on his connection to Liz as he sought franticly to understand what was happening. He could feel her desperate plea to the cosmos, which seemed to evaporate into the silent vacuum of space. Which, quite suddenly, he could also feel.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 5-Aug-2002 7:37:13 PM ]
posted on 7-Aug-2002 9:37:59 PM by Pathos
*steps out from behind tree holding half finished parts 32 & 33*

Hi all -

Um, so anyway...I was all ready to post the next part but then I re-read it and it, um...it sucked. So I'm in the middle of a major edit right now.

Here's the new plan - parts 32 and 33 (see how I'm going to give ya'll an extra part for your patience *big*) on Saturday. I swear, this Saturday. *wink*

Anway, thanks for your patience and all the bumps. Be back soon.

Pathos *happy*


posted on 11-Aug-2002 12:28:15 AM by Pathos
Hi guys!

So sorry that it took so long to get this out, this part was just a royal pain to get right. Still not sure I did but this is as good as I can get it sooo....

Also, just wanted to say thanks so much for all your patience and the bumps. You guys are just the best! New parts Tuesday or Wednesday. Since in my world 1 am tends to count as the day before figure sometime late Tuesday/early Wednesday. LOL

Anyway - hope you guys like the new parts - hey three parts to reward your patience (and my inability to tell time - I feel like the author who cried wolf. LOL).

So here you go. FB replies first and then the story...

Pathos

b4echstarynite: Love to hear that you're addicted. Hope these next parts answer your questions.

Tabasco Liz: Yeah - Albert is looonng gone at this point. Sorry about keeping you on the edge of your seat for so long. These parts should help. *happy*

ConsultantTam: Sorry for leaving it like that. Forgive me? *Pathos wheedles* Three parts...*wink*

narly21: Glad you enjoyed the last part. Yeah, Max isn't big on sitting back and leaving Liz in danger. As you'll see...Enjoy!

Mickey Ros: Reduced you to speechlessness? Cool! *big* Hope you like the new parts.

mitra: Not a bad idea to have Xan help. But the poor kid is a little too traumatized right now. But, hey - ask and ye shall receive, as they say. LOL Hope you like my resolution

Snowdove30: Here - let me pull you back from the edge. LOlL Hope you enjoy the next few parts.

RoswellLady: Sorry about the whole edge of your seat thing. (Jeez, I'm apologizing alot. LOL) Don't worry, all is revealed down below. Well, not all but...hope you like

mandyhanford: Weell, there may not be blasting - per se - but...*big* Here're the next few parts. Hope you enjoy!

Tigereyes: *ducking* so sorry. Really. I feel totally guilty. But see - three parts. (I'm obviously not too proud to bribe for forgiveness. LOL) Oh and there's a little breather coming up. Forgiven yet? *wink*

frenchkiss70: LOL Really, I'm not trying to kill you. Promise, sweetie. And no more edge of your seat...for a little while. Hope you enjoy the new parts.

believer_evans: Glad you're back. Hope you like the next few parts!

TeddyBehrJKT: First of all - so glad to hear you're feeling better. When you see *squeezes* know I was thinking about you. *angel* So glad you're still enjoying this and Langley, so much. I'll admit it - you totally get his character. But feel free to throw chocolate anyway. It can only help! LOL

Lelea: You go, girl! LOL Faith is always rewarded. At least in my world. Enjoy! *happy*

Ty01: Sorry about leaving you hanging. But this should remedy that situation. LOL Hope you enjoy! *wink*

Alien614: Welcome. Totally blown away that you spent so much time with this. Glad you're enjoying and here's more!

Minanda: Glad you're still loving Langley. As for Max...our hero refused to be left out so...here ya go. *tongue*

Merchez: Always go with your instincts. LOL Don't worry about the misspelling. I just thought it somehow poetic that Xan's full name is Alexander. (the whole life for a life thing with poor Alex.) Plus, I needed a way to distinguish him from King Zan in Langley's mind. Enjoy the next few parts!

roswellluver: Cue Superman music...Max just refuses to be left out! LOL

Isis777: Thanks for the support. Totally appreciated it! But believe me, before the rewrite...*shudders* it was bad. LOL Enjoy the next three parts!

Sophia: Sorry, sweetie. But, hey - three new parts! Forgiveness?

Spicytrini1: Glad you liked the last two parts. Er- not exactly Saturday still but...*happy*

And now back to our story, already in progress...

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 11-Aug-2002 1:28:42 AM ]
posted on 11-Aug-2002 12:33:25 AM by Pathos
Previously on To Have & To Hold...

***********From Part 32A**********

MAX!

Max stumbled a little as the force of Liz’s emotion knocked into him. He didn’t need to hear her voice to know she was calling for him. He could feel her desperately reaching for him. Her panic went beyond a loss of confidence or even fear of failure. This was a pure undiluted terror. He could almost feel her body, shaking helplessly in its grip.

“LIZ!”

Max wasn’t aware of the shout that echoed through the small apartment. And it was only from a distance that he took any notice of the people who had suddenly invaded his sanctuary. He could hear them buzzing on the outskirts of his consciousness. But he ignored the distraction. His breathing came in heavy panting gasps as he palmed the wall, focusing on his connection to Liz as he sought franticly to understand what was happening. He could feel her desperate plea to the cosmos, which seemed to evaporate into the silent vacuum of space. Which, quite suddenly, he could also feel.


*************Part 32B**************

Max ignored the brilliant explosions of light that sparked behind his eyes. His sole focus was Liz. She called to him like a frantic Siren and he was helpless to deny her. He reached out tentatively for her. His whole body tense as he stretched across their physical distance to strengthen their connection. He tried to wrap his presence around her, as he had before. To offer her what he could of comfort and support. Dread swept his whole being as he realized that this time, it wouldn’t be enough. He gasped at the intensity of her frightened soul grabbling hold of his.

He was almost completely unaware of the chill numbness that invaded his body and set his limbs to trembling, even when his legs gave out beneath him. Any fear he felt was drowned out by the wave of emotion that was crashing through him. It caused a chain reaction in his own being. Because even more than he feared the nothingness of the void, he feared the nothingness of his life without Liz. Cold and empty didn’t even begin to describe it. He struggled under the weight of her fear, trying to determine where hers ended and his began. Their connection tightened around him, catching him in the harsh grip of her desperation. Dimly, in the back of his consciousness, he knew he should gentle it. He needed to back off or…but he couldn’t. He could feel her panic and knew that she was only hanging onto her control by a thread. He was that thread. And she was pulling him closer, her entire being clinging to him. Begging him for…something. She needed him. Now. There.

The void spread out before him, a savage, shadowed cacophony of iridescent black . The only evidence of light was in the deepening of the inky darkness into a purer ebony along the farthest reaches, giving some illusion of depth. He felt the pull but there was no time for fear. No time for thought really, because it wasn’t the void that tugged at his heart and soul. It wasn’t the void begging for his presence. It wasn’t the void that needed him. It was Liz. All of it. Her terror. Her panic. Her simple, frantic need for him.

Max felt his spirit slip easily from the physical hold of his body and there was a brief moment of panic. An instantaneous questioning of motive and possibility. But he knew Liz would never hurt him. He doubted she even understood what she was doing. And it was that fact which frightened him more than anything else. It spurred him to action. If she was that terrified the only thing he was suddenly afraid of was that he’d be too late.

Her emotion lit through him, illuminating her presence as the only beacon visible within the obsidian void. Max felt her soul clinging desperately to his, pulling him to her. Needing him. So he stopped fighting. He ignored the sensation of leaving his body. Willing the panic away as he concentrated. Stubbornly aware of nothing but the course before him. With a destination so clearly in mind and a path so unmistakably marked by Liz’s distress, Max couldn’t spare the time to be concerned by the void which flashed by on either side of him. Or the small, nagging fear that when this was all over, he would be stuck here, with no way home. Determination steeled his course. It didn’t matter because without Liz, home didn’t exist.



---------------------



Albert stared at the woman before him, his finger motionless on the trigger as he enjoyed the picture. Her eyes were huge. Wide and frightened and shimmering beautifully in the dim light. He smiled at her. Even better. A deer in the headlights. He liked that look on her. He admired the way her chest was rising and falling, keeping time with the panicked, gasping breaths she was taking. He wished suddenly that he could hear them. But all he heard was the echo of that brat screaming his head off. “Shut up.” He ordered. Nothing. He shook his head angrily and forgot about keeping the gun trained on them as he covered his ears to conceal the harsh, grating sound. The little bastards sobs felt like they were breaking his ear drums. “Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!”

Liz pushed Xan a little further behind her as Albert Jensen went even further around then bend. “Leave him alone!” She demanded, cursing the tremor in her voice. “Just let us…”

“No. NO! The only thing I’m gonna let you do is pay for what you put me through.”

Liz blinked as Albert dropped his weapon to his side and paced back and forth in front of her. Taking advantage of his sudden inattention she sidled slowly toward the door, trying desperately to gain enough control over her roiling emotions to control her energy. If she could just calm down! She bit her lip as she moved to step around Langley’s prone body. It only served to remind her that she was alone. Liz reached more frantically for her reticent energy, grasping and coiling the wisps of power as Max had taught her, only to find them sliding from her fearful grip. Her frustration mounted and she wished desperately that Max were here with her. That she had listened and waited for him. That there was a way for him to be with her now. But there wasn’t. The echo of her own fear, which she felt emanating so strongly across their connection, said as much. The sudden hopelessness of the situation weighed down upon her, trying to crush her resolve. She tightened her hold on Xan.

“Don’t move.”

Liz froze as she looked up to see Albert once again pointing his gun directly at her. Her blood chilled at the expression that lit his eyes.

Albert grinned, his entire face twisting into a manic expression. He inhaled deeply through his nose. Her fear rejuvenated him. Almost as much as his meds had. He couldn’t wait to tell Doc that he’d been right. The dosage was too low. That was the problem. That was why the meds hadn’t worked before. But now…nothing could hurt him now! The feeling he had now…Fuck! This was better than X. He could feel his gifts racing through his entire system, sparking through his blood. He was a giant vessel of unreleased energy. His excitement grew. Jesus. He could sell this stuff on the street. Make a shit load. He giggled a little at the kicker. It would be the latest designer drug and it was 100% all natural. Pure adrenaline. Wasn’t even bad for you. Not everyone maybe could take as much as him but then that was to be expected. He was stronger than other people. He’d always known it. Just like he’d told Doc. He needed more. Even the four doses he’d secreted over the last few days and then taken a little while ago didn’t seem like enough. He frowned a little. Doc had told him it would hurt his system. He’d be sure to find that son of a bitch when he was done here. Explain to his stupid ass who was in charge now. His attention was drawn once more to the woman and child before him. He just had to finish here first.



------------------------



Max could feel Liz getting closer. And it was a wondrous thing. Her fear wasn’t simply reaching across their connection anymore, he could feel it as if it were his own. He knew her overwhelming exhaustion stemmed from the fact that she hadn’t slept in the entire time she’d been away. He could almost see her reach for her power and then lose hold of it. His protectiveness rose angrily as he felt her become even more afraid. He hated when she was scared. And when she was scared her ability to control her powers slipped. His heart, or what passed for a heart in this state, ached for her. Scared and exhausted was exciting her energy to the point of uselessness. Without thinking, he reached for it. Allowing his own power free rein to stroke through it’s static sizzle calmly, gentling it.

Liz knew he was there. Max felt it in the sudden, immediate flood of relief that seemed to rush through her whole body. His focus scattered briefly in the intensity of her reaction but then he responded, wrapping his presence more firmly around her, as if he were a warm blanket on a cold winter night. Max was so in tune with her emotions that it took him a second to realize that he had reached his destination. It was the low hum of her energy that focused his attention. He knew the sound. The main note of her power was the same as the one which thrummed through him whenever he used his own gifts. He followed the sound, gently easing his way toward her well of power. He could feel the stranglehold she’d had on his energy ease as he settled home, her heartbeat echoing through his spirit.

Reality fled as Max held his metaphysical breath while his whole soul soaked her presence in. He reveled in it, a hushed awe falling over his emotions as he realized that he was truly with her, now. Part of her. He banked his energy sharply as his instincts warned him not to drown her energy with his own. He knew somehow that if all of his energy poured into her, he’d force her own, weaker energy out. Just as he had with Clayton Wheeler. Without the blind panic that had obscured his last trip into metaphysical territory, Max could feel the anchor of his own physical body. A fragile, life saving thread that stretched across the void and bound him to his own well of power. With relieved clarity he realized that his power was available to him. He couldn’t transfer all his energy because it would be permanent. But as long as he kept his power well firmly within his physical body, he’d be able to find his way back.

With his relief came the freedom to simply bask in his wife’s presence. Max was amazed. He had always known that her soul was beautiful. But to see it from this angle… Sense and memory fell by the wayside as he tried to memorize the feel of her. He felt her so clearly, his own power drawn unerringly to the source of her energy. With a thrill of pure joy he listened to the note that echoed softly from her well of power, the same note that was echoing across the void from his own. Only the tone was different. Pure Liz. More of a trilling pulse while his was still thrumming like a heartbeat at the lower end of the scale. Musical. Yet, not. As if their souls played out in harmony, stemming from the same scale and digressing only in pitch and tempo. Variations on the same theme. Beautiful. Max dwelled happily in the symphony they created as he blended his energy with her own, loving the feel of her as she responded. Threading instinctively through his energy and tickling his consciousness with her presence.

He was jolted from his reverie by the sudden clenching of her already fearful heart. His consciousness recalled the reason for his projection with painful clarity. Liz! Xan! They were in danger. Focus restored, he concentrated on gently easing his way further through her system. Blending, not replacing. Bolstering her spirit and her power. Max found no resistance only her grateful acceptance of his presence and her plea for his help. There was none of the fighting that had occurred when he’d claimed the old man’s body for his own, no internal struggle. But then, he wasn’t trying to push Liz from her body. He wasn’t going to let her die. He concentrated on her hands. He needed to add his strength to her own. He still couldn’t see. Most of the five senses were lost to him in this incarnation. But as he carefully stretched his energy through her, he could feel. God, he could feel everything.

If Max had been able to draw a breath, it surely would have caught in his throat as he felt the weight of a little body pressed against the back of Liz’s legs. Xan. He could feel his sons small arms wrapped around her thigh as he pressed himself against her. Shuddering as if he were crying. He could feel the silkiness of Xan’s hair under Liz’s hand as it rested on his head comfortingly. He knew she had angled her body so that she was standing protectively in front of him.

Fury ripped through his spirit as he felt her steeling herself for some kind of blow. He couldn’t see this threat. Didn’t know who or what it was. And he didn’t care. No one was going to hurt his family.



------------------------



Troy groaned as he pushed himself back toward the door to Xan’s room, using the wall as a brace. The last eight feet in front of him had stretched into miles and he wanted, more than anything to stretch out on the floor and go back to sleep. It was lucky he had such a hard head. Or not, considering that if he’d died when he cracked his skull his goddamned hard head wouldn’t hurt like this. He glared at the door. This had to be the longest fucking hallway he’d ever been in! He ignored the voice in his head which pointed out that it was his own fault for going to the observation room instead of simply reopening Xan’s door. Damn, annoying voice. Knew full well he needed to get an idea of everyone’s position before he walked back into the OK Corral. Even knew he’d held out the vague hope that Liz and the General had somehow taken care of everything. Yeah, right. Like fate was ever that kind.

Gritting his teeth, Troy forced himself to continue even though his throbbing head was arguing loudly with that plan. He had to get to that door. From what he’d glimpsed through the broken one way mirror things had gone from bad to worse. More than anything, the look on Liz’s face frightened him. He’d seen men in combat with that same look. It happened when the stress was too much and the fear just took over. You couldn’t think straight. Years of training just flew out the window in favor of panic.

He fretted slightly as he considered what he should do. He knew with complete certainty that the outcome of this fight had nothing to do with guns or physical strength. His whole understanding of conflict and battle had nothing to do with this fight. The realization was more than frightening for him. This fight had to do with will and power. He had one, but the other was completely beyond his grasp and there was little he could offer in the face of this foe. That kid could and would kill him if given the chance. And he wouldn’t even get the close enough to lay a hand on him. Troy knew with an odd unbiased clarity that the most he could be was an annoyance. A distraction.

Troy nodded a little as his vision cleared slightly. He’d have to trust Liz to use that distraction wisely. She would. She was too strong to simply fold. She may be taking a breather now, but she hadn’t quit. Quitters didn’t invade military bases on their own to rescue little boys. It would work, his distraction. She’d make it work. He wished he could let her in on the plan, but there was no way. And no time. And when he thought about it, this hardly qualified as a plan. But it was the only way. He swallowed hard and drew himself to his full height. There were worse things than dying to protect an innocent little boy. Now he just had to reach the door.




[ edited 7 time(s), last at 11-Aug-2002 12:40:36 PM ]
posted on 11-Aug-2002 12:37:00 AM by Pathos
***************Part 33*************

Liz caught her breath sharply as she felt Max…here. She chanced a glance over her shoulder, half expecting him to be behind her. He wasn’t. But…suddenly her fear gave way to an amazed relief as she felt him all around her. Inside her. She inhaled an awed breath as she felt him wrapping his presence around her, cocooning her in a warm protectiveness that stole her breath. Liz lost track of herself for a second. Max. Was here. With her. Part of her. Her relief was all encompassing. Hope blossomed in the echo of his presence, along with the incredible realization that he’d come for her. She didn’t know how, didn’t care. He was here. She wasn’t alone.

Stroking her fingers through Xan’s hair comfortingly, Liz had to consciously fight the desire to simply get lost in the wonder of Max threading through her soul, pulling her together as he added his strength to her own. The weight of his presence settled, became an almost fixed entity within her and the world dimmed a little as she felt him gathering the rebellious strands of her own energy. She shivered a little as Max seemed to call to her power, coaxing, demanding as he readied it for her use. She reached tentatively for it and felt it spark obediently. Liz let out a calming breath as her fear subsided and she was suddenly the one in control again. She was never going to tease him about being a control freak, ever again! She wanted to weep with relief. Instead she lifted her head and stared at Albert Jensen, her gaze hardening angrily as Xan sobbed against her.

Hugging Xan more closely behind her, Liz felt a surge of powerful energy spark through her as Max added some of his own power to hers. Liz gasped with the sudden well of energy. She was amazed at both her husbands control and the amount of energy that he had at his fingertips. It was like she’d been running on batteries this whole time and had just been plugged into a direct current. Max. God, she loved him!

Albert paused as he saw the woman before him suddenly lose all trace of fear. Fuck this. He was done playing with her. Taking careful aim, he fired.

Liz stared, almost giddy as the bullet collided with the light green shield that had sprung to life the instant she lifted her hand. Her palm tingled slightly as Max’s energy flowed through her fingers. Max’s energy! She wanted to laugh suddenly. Or cry. She felt his love and his desperate strength bolster and soothe her tired soul. He was really here with her. She knew suddenly. Absolutely knew. She and Xan were going to be fine.

Langley shook his head, forcing himself to consciousness with the help of the imperative. Jesus Christ, his head hurt. He wanted to go back to sleep. For the next year. But the imperative had other ideas. Cursing the pain in his head he pushed himself to his feet and looked at Liz, staring blankly for a moment at the shield that spread from her palm, encompassing him in it’s protective perimeter. She was doing fine. He could go back to sleep. Langley shivered in the grip of the imperative. Or not. He watched as Liz flinched a little with each of the consecutive shots that Albert fired, but the shield held as did the angry strength in her eyes.

Liz glanced at Langley as he struggled to his feet. “Take, Xan.” She ordered, shifting so that Langley could do as she’d requested. Her heart ached as Xan’s sobs increased and he clung more tightly to her. Shield still up, Liz used her other hand to gently break Xan’s grip. “Just give me a minute, sweetheart.” She didn’t think he’d even heard her. He was struggling against Langley. She took a deep breath and forced herself to focus on Albert. She was so through with him.

Langley stared. Her sudden air of command was more than a little startling, considering the fear that had controlled her before he’d been knocked unconscious. He held onto Xan, studying the look on her face. Why did he think that this had something to do with Max? He shook the thought from his head. It didn’t matter. He glanced at Albert, trying futilely to fire a gun with no more bullets. The stupid prick looked high. “Liz, I can’t…”

“Just protect Xan.”

Yes, ma’am. He thought wryly, working up the energy to pull Xan further away from her. He thanked the fates that he had no external nerve endings as the kid kicked out and struggled against him, fighting his hold as he called for Liz. Langley gritted his teeth and took the opposite direction Liz had, keeping Xan behind him as they circled around either side of Albert Jensen in the small room. He was sick of this goddamn room.

“I’m right here, Xan. I’m not leaving without you. I promise.” Liz said softly as she dropped the shield.

“You think?” Albert glanced to his left and then his right. And back again. He snorted. Did these people think he was stupid? Like he was just gonna stand there and let them get behind him. Whatever! He moved forward and turned, focusing on Liz as he stood in front of the cracked mirror.

Liz glared at Albert, taking a deep breath and pooling her energy. She couldn’t help the small smile that brushed her lips as she felt Max add his own energy to hers. Again boosting her power, blending his soul with hers. Her anger had sparked his own and she knew that this was going to end here. Now. Finally.

“Oh, I think you’ll be going somewhere, bitch!” Albert taunted, when Liz didn’t respond. The faraway look in her eyes unnerved him a little. Where had the fear gone? He glanced at the General. Nothing. The guy wasn’t even responding to the way that brat was kicking at him. “Do you really think you can stop me from killing them? Do you have any idea how strong I am? Don’t you know what I can do you stupid bitch?!” Why wasn’t she afraid?!

Liz shook her head calmly, feeling Max’s fury spark when he felt her reaction to Albert’s words. She could feel the power flowing under her skin awaiting a command. “I don’t care what you can do.” She said. “I know what I can do.”

Albert blinked and then his head snapped toward the door as it flew open.

“FREEZE!”

Liz didn’t hesitate. She raised her hand, releasing the coiled power and sending Albert Jensen flying through the one way mirror into the small observation room beyond. She heard the dull crack of his body as it hit the opposite wall. Swallowing her nausea, Liz refused to feel guilty. Son of a bitch deserved it.

Troy glanced around the room, eyebrows raised as he took in the fact that he was still alive. He nodded a little as he slumped against the doorway. “You ok?” he asked Liz, gesturing vaguely with his gun hand as he held his throbbing head in the other one. He glanced at Xan. “How you doin’ little man?”

Liz nodded absently at Troy, her relief flooding through her even as her heart broke for the sobbing little boy who was still fighting Langley’s grip. She walked over and quickly sank to her knees beside Xan. Not even noticing Langley stepping away. She could feel tears burning her eyes as she reached out and pulled the little boy into her arms. “It’s over, sweetie. It’s ok, it’s over.”

Max could feel his entire soul trembling in the aftermath of the confrontation. He was exhausted suddenly. He could feel his physical self calling to him, pulling at him. But there was no way he was leaving yet. He felt everything. Liz, the coolness of the floor under her legs as she dropped to her knees. The amazing, beautiful weight of his son’s small body as she pulled him into her arms. He could fell Xan struggle, but he knew as Liz did, that it wasn’t against her. He was too scared to know who was holding him. And then he felt his little boy stop fighting. His grip would have made a python proud. Max basked in the feel of his child’s arms clinging to Liz for comfort and safety. It was as if Xan were clinging to him. He knew a sudden searing, relief that echoed the strength of his own as Liz tightened her grip on Xan, verifying that he really was ok. Her embrace an almost unconscious vow that she’d never let anything happen to him.

If he’d had a heartbeat, it would have been racing. The pull back to his physical body was getting stronger but he wanted desperately to stay. He wanted to be able to see her and touch her. To know if he was interpreting what she was feeling correctly. To know if…but he didn’t have the strength anymore. His power was sapped, and it was time to go. He couldn’t resist wrapping his love around them both one last time. It was glorious, the feeling of them both, sheltered in his arms. He felt Liz respond, her soul thanking him, loving him back, clinging until the last possible second just as he did. And then he had no choice. With one last squeeze he slid away from everything he’d ever wanted and returned to himself to wait.

“It’s me Xan, it’s Liz. Shhhh. Sweetheart, please. It’s ok. It’s ok now.” She continued to whisper soothingly, rocking him gently as she felt Max say his goodbye. In the aftermath of her fear and the warmth of his hug, her relief was almost jarring. Xan settled against her, taking great heaving breaths around his sobs. His small arms were wrapped around her throat, clinging to her as if he’d never let go. By now her own tears were streaming down her cheeks. But she didn’t care. “Baby, it’s me. You’re ok. I promise, sweetheart you’re safe now.”

“I’m sowwy. I di’nt mean to make him mad.” Xan whispered brokenly as he grabbed onto the warmth and safety that came with being held snugly in Liz’s arms. He was safe. He’d never needed to believe anything in his young life more than he needed to believe that. And so he did.

Liz felt her heart break as she hugged Xan more tightly against her. “You didn’t do anything wrong. He was mad at Dr. Dave sweetie, he just took it out on you. But you didn’t do anything wrong.” Liz soothed, rubbing slow circles against Xan’s back the way her mother had when she was little and had awakened from a bad dream.

Xan lifted his head from where it rested in the crook of Liz’s shoulder. Looking up he saw her tears. He relinquished his hold on her neck and touched her face. “Awre you ok?” He asked, biting his lower lip. His own eyes filling with tears of commiseration.

Liz nodded and wiped at her face, trying to summon a smile as she used the long sleeve of her black t-shirt to wipe Xan’s tears away. “I’m fine sweetie, I was just so scared.” She tried to calm down but her control sagged and she felt another wave of tears hit. Choking them back she hugged Xan closer to her. “I was so scared he was gonna hurt you.” She smiled a little at his muffled ‘me too’ “Are you ok?”

Xan nodded, burrowing further into her embrace. She was so warm and nice. He couldn’t resist reaching out to play with the long lock of hair that fell over her shoulder, liking how soft it was as he folded it over his fingers.

Langley glanced over to Liz, noticing the way she sat on the floor curled protectively around the little boy as she soothed his tears away. “We need to get outside, Dr. Cambridge.”

Liz acknowledged Langley’s statement by shoving to her feet, using the wall behind her to balance Xan’s added weight. She started to walk out the door but then turned and strode back to the bed and reached under the pillow for the flashlight and the patch. She handed Xan the flashlight and tucked the patch into his jeans pocket. “Now we won’t have to come back here for anything.” She told him with a gentle smile. Xan nodded, wrapping his arms tightly around her neck as he settled his head against her shoulder. Liz glanced around the room. “You’ll never have to see this room again.” She vowed.

“Pwomise?”

Xan’s voice was muffled against her throat but she heard his desperation. And his hope. “I promise, sweetie. You’re coming with me.” She looked over at Troy as he sighed loudly and pushed himself away from the doorway. “Thank you, so much. Are you ok?”

Troy shrugged. “I got a hard head, I’ll be fine.” He glanced at the General, who had stalked by him a second ago and was now staring pointedly from Liz and Xan to the fire stairs at the end of the hallway. “Let’s get you two the hell outta Dodge.”


[ edited 10time(s), last at 11-Aug-2002 2:12:18 PM ]
posted on 11-Aug-2002 12:39:36 AM by Pathos
*************Part 34************

Max was overtaken by a delicious contented exhaustion as he traveled back through the void. He couldn’t do more than simply follow the pull of his body as it led him back.

It was an utterly surreal sensation, settling back into his body. It felt a few sizes too small for a second and then his energy seemed to remember how to make it fit. With a sharp gasp his lungs constricted painfully as they filled with air. He coughed a little, his whole body tingling as he settled into it and all five of his senses returned. He allowed it to happen, his mind too tired to take note of much except the comforting presence of his connection with Liz. Everything was ok now. He took a deep breath and smiled.

“Maxwell!”

“What?” Max grumbled irritably, his voice hoarse as it worked through his dry throat. He gasped at the sensation of Michael gripping his shirt and hauling him into a sitting position. When did he lay down?

“What the hell was that?!” Michael demanded.

“What?”

“You…this…the whole…you weren’t …it was like…”

Michael glanced at Maria as she sputtered to a halt. He shook his head. Max’s collapse had freaked them all out, Maria more than he and Kyle because she was sure that it meant Liz was dead. From the smile on Max’s face though he figured Liz was fine. That wasn’t going to keep Michael from killing Max however, for scaring the shit out of him. “Thank you Maria.” He was glad that he wasn’t stammering. Someone in the room had to be calm.

“What she’s trying to say is what the fuck was that? What just happened? One minute you’re shouting. The next second you’re collapsing? What is that, man?” Kyle questioned, his voice a little too high pitched for his liking.

Michael shook his head. How was it that once again he was the calm one in the room? He glanced at Max and noticed that his own hands were still fisted in his friends shirt. He let go. Maybe he wasn’t the calm one, after all. “Maxwell. Say something!”

“I was with her.”

“Who, Liz?” Maria asked, hope blooming suddenly at the dreamy expression on his face.

Max nodded, the tail end of an exhausted smile drifting briefly across his face. “Uh-huh. I was there. With her. In her.”

“Uh, that might be a little too much info there, Max.” Kyle grumbled.

Michael glared and looked back at Max. “You were here the whole time, Max. There’s no way…”

“I was there. My body was here. But I was there.” Max closed his eyes on the whole conversation, his smile widening. “She’s fine. He’s gotten so big.” He couldn’t fight the exhaustion anymore, sighing he fell into a deep sleep.

Maria shook her head. “Oh, no buddy. You are not…”

Michael grabbed her before she could shake Max awake. He had no idea what was going on but he knew Max needed sleep. “Tomorrow. You can attack him tomorrow.”

Kyle shook his head as Maria huffed. “Things are never easy with you people, are they?”

Michael raised a brow. “You're just figuring this out?”


--------------------------------------


Liz bit her lower lip a little as she looked at Troy. “I can’t even thank you enough. And now…”

Troy shook his head, gritting his teeth as it protested the movement. “You just make sure that he’s ok from now on, ‘hear?”

Liz held Xan with one arm and executed a jaunty salute. “Yes sir.” She glanced over at Langley, who was gesturing angrily at the car. “We really have to go now. Xan, can you say goodbye?”

Xan looked up at Troy as he kept one arm wrapped firmly around Liz’s neck. “Bye Twoy.” He said softly.

Troy reached out and cupped Xan’s small face in his hand, then tousled the kids hair a little. He had a concussion, that was why there were tears in his eyes. It made perfect sense. He cleared his throat. “Bye little man. You be good for Liz now, ‘hear”

Xan nodded, letting out a sigh as he let his head fall back against Liz’s shoulder. “Kay.”

Troy nodded at the car. “You, uh, better go.”

“Yeah.” Liz held back her own tears. “Thank you, again.” She said softly as she finally did as Langley was so pointedly requesting and stepped into the car. She took a deep breath as they headed from the Base.

Xan stared out the window, watching silently as they passed plane hangers and buildings before finally heading down the driveway to exit the Base. He looked at Liz as the guard house came into view. “Awre we weally goin’?” he whispered.

Liz looked down at the little boy in her arms. His eyes were so hopeful. Desperate almost, as he became aware of the freedom that loomed just beyond the gate at the end of the road. “That’s right, sweetie. We’re going and you’ll never have to come back here again.”

Xan shifted so his body rested more comfortably against Liz. Her arms were around him loosely and he curled his fingers around her right hand before looking up into her face again. “You pwomise?”

Liz smiled at Xan and her fingers tightened around his smaller ones. She couldn’t resist leaning down and kissing the top of his head. “I absolutely promise.”


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 11-Aug-2002 2:23:20 PM ]
posted on 13-Aug-2002 9:41:06 PM by Pathos
Hey guys -

Just a little note to say it's going to be tomorrow for the update. You've all just overwhelmed me with the fabulous fb that I'd feel too guilty just posting part 35 without part 36.

So, thanks for all the FB and for the continued patience and I'll be back tomorrow.

Pathos*wink*
posted on 14-Aug-2002 11:08:55 PM by Pathos
Good Lord, I really am the author who cries wolf. Hate to do this to you guys again (you're all totally amazing in terms of dedication and patience) but, see my 'editing' session sort of turned into a 'rewriting' session.

Gonna try to get everything squared away tonight and tomorrow so I'm going to say look for new parts Thurs or Fri. Or, since this is me (LOL) early, early morning Sat.

Thanks again for all the patience and great FB. Who knows - I may even be able to throw in another part...still, bribing. *shakes head* It's sad, I know. *big*

Pathos
posted on 19-Aug-2002 2:00:53 AM by Pathos
Hey all -

It's me! And I come bearing actual parts to the story! Don't anybody go and faint from shock or anything now. LOL

Anyway, sorry it took so long to get out. RL sort of reared it's ugly head. Poor excuse, I know. *big* *wink*

So here's the thing, I'm almost embarrassed to post these two parts after all the incredible FB I got for the escape. (Thanks so much, BTW) These two are mostly transitional but...you need these to get to the reunion so...hope you like!

Pathos *happy*


narly21: Was breathing a huge sigh of relief when I read your response. So glad these parts worked for you. Getting closer to the reunion, I promise. *happy* And thanks for the bump.

Spicy trini1: So glad you liked this. Glad you liked Max’s joining the party. And yeah, this is definitely just a breather. The General is still out there, after all.

b4echstarrynite: Happy to hear you liked my three parts. I do aim to please. LOL And I’m kinda fond of Troy too, so…

Lelea: Happy to hear you enjoyed the last few parts. Reast easy, Albert is definitely dead. As for Troy…I just can’t seem to let go of him, myself. LOL

ConsultantTam: Phew! *wipes brow* Thanks for the forgiveness. I promise the reunion is coming. Soon…well, sorta soon. *happy*

merchez: Your FB was just so sweet! And I’m like you…I like to see my hero and heroine work together whenever possible. *big* And don’t worry about Troy. I’d never let him get into too much trouble.

mitra: Glad you liked my plan, sweetie. And don’t worry, they are safely off the base so the next few parts should be much less stressful. Hope you enjoy! *tongue* And thanks for the bumps.

mareli: It was my pleasure. Glad you enjoyed it.

Ty01: Thanks for all your kind words. The reunion is definitely on the way. Until then…

Wayliz: Thanks! Working on making them completely safe as we speak. LOL

mattie788: Wow! Thanks. I just love hearing that you’re enjoying this. Here’s more…

NATEVANS: I promise – reunion is in the works. Trying to make it memorable. *wink*

frenchkiss70: They are safe…for the moment. But it’s a long moment! LOL Working on the reunion, sweetie.

Destinee: Thank you so much for your FB. I was just totally blown away. I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying this. And one of your fave fics? Totally blushing here. Glad to hear that you like Langley. The cranky old man’s really grown on me. And of course, I LOVE hearing that you’ve fallen for my Xan. Hope you enjoy the next couple parts.

TeddyBehrJKT: My FB angel! *THUD* That would be me, falling to the floor because my ego has swelled to heretofore unknown proportions and I can no longer stand upright. Sweetie, I know I’ve warned you about my ego before. LOL You are just too, too kind. Totally felt the warm fuzzies in this reply. Goddess? Back on the floor again! *big* And I wish I could quit my job and just write fanfic. Of course, I write at work any way so… Hope you enjoy the new parts and thanks for all the bumps, sweetie.

Tigereyes: Your FB is always like a little jolt of creative adrenaline. Thanks so much. I’m so glad you enjoyed the connection and the kick ass Liz and Xan…LOL And thanks. It’s good to know I’m forgiven. And yes, they are really safe. For the moment *big* Hope you like your reprieve parts. Sorry to drag the posting out like that *ducking* it’s pretty much Monday anyway…

Woobabys: Thanks for the FB. So Glad that you like little Xan. Working on the reunion…

Realistic Dreamer: So glad you enjoyed the Max/Liz connection. It drove me crazy to write it but all the great FB has made it SO worth it. Working on that reunion ( and Langley) as we speak. *happy*

Alien614: Reunion is in the works. Hope you enjoy the new parts until then.

limegreenli: Working on those ‘happer times’ LOL Enjoy!

roswellluver: Max just wouldn’t stay away. LOL Glad you enjoyed. Reunion is pending, I promise.

Minanda: awe-inspiring? Too, too sweet. And I’m totally blushing. I promise, reunion is on the way…um, soon.

RoswellLady: Reduced you to babbling? Totally taking that as a compliment. I’m so glad you enjoyed the last few parts. Sorry I couldn’t get these new parts up before now. And don’t worry – Roswell keeps you young, LOL And congrats on having such a talented kid.

YonkersMe: Wow! I’m just totally blown away by your FB. Too kind. So glad you enjoyed the story. I just love hearing that you’ve fallen for Xan. The reunion really is on the way. And don’t worry Troy really is ok. None of the complications will be physical. *wink*

mandyhanford: Thanks for the bumps. Sort of a pseudo-reunion coming up. I promise a real one soon.

Mickey Ros: So glad you enjoyed the last few parts. Here’s more…a little less stressful. LOL

katmcken: Here ya go, kiddo. Hope you enjoy.

wimsey: Wow! This is recommended somewhere? Glad you decided to check it out. Thank you so much for all your sweet compliments. Hope you enjoy the next couple parts. *happy*

Razz214: Glad you’re enjoying this. Hope you like the next couple parts.

icerose, MaryJean, schmidta thanks for the bumps guys!



posted on 19-Aug-2002 2:12:10 AM by Pathos
Before I jump into the story - everyone go check out the totally fabulous banner Niki (TeddyBehrJKT) made for this story. This is the link: http://www20.brinkster.com/roswellextras/5.html

I'm trying to get my computer genius sister over so that I can actually put it in the story (or if anyone can tell me how to link it, I'd be totally appreciative) but, until then it's worth the trip over to Fungus Amongus.

Er, just remember to come back. LOL *wink*


************Part 35***********

Langley sighed, his whole being exhausted in the wake of the imperative. It was gone. Finally. Subsiding to it’s normal dull roar with the last sight of Simons Air Force Base. Now he just felt wrung out. Shaky and used. And even more strangely, a being out of time. The soft whir of the pavement under the Lincoln’s wheels reminded him suddenly of the drone of an engine during spaceflight. An eerie sense of déjà vu wrapped around his soul. If he closed his eyes he’d be back on that ship, the vibrations lulling him to sleep as the stars passed by, silent promises in their bright winking regard. He’d always loved traveling through space. Loved the freedom of it. His enthusiasm had amused Zan, to whom space travel was an everyday occurrence. The simple means to another planetary conference. Another meeting. Another responsibility. Not for the first time he cursed Zan for taking his enjoyment away from him. The last flight he’d taken had been in lieu of his promised freedom, and this damn responsibility had yet to end. And now, in the shadow of his lost imperative, he couldn’t seem to wipe that day from his mind.

Liz watched the world pass by aimlessly as she stroked Xan’s hair. He was sleeping fitfully against her, the mornings adventure having taken its toll on him. She shifted him a little, hoping that if he stretched out it would calm his restless slumber. But Xan wanted no part of that. His fist curled even more tightly in her t-shirt and he whimpered. “Ok, baby. I’m sorry. It’s ok” She whispered, rubbing gentle circles across his back and relaxing as he did. She smiled softly as he cuddled even closer, loosening his grip a little but refusing to let go completely as he anchored himself firmly within her embrace. The profundity of the moment struck her as the first rays of dawn swept the horizon. Right at this moment she was all he had in the world to hang onto. And she was adamantly unwilling to betray that trust. Ever. Liz took a deep breath, shielding Xan’s face as the sun streaked mercilessly across the sky. Illuminating the world and reminding her that this was a brand new day. The first day of the rest of Xan’s life. “I need to call Max. Do you have a cell on you?”

Langley shook his head, pulling himself from his thoughts long enough to glance at Liz. “No. You’ll have to call him when you get back to the house.” He glanced down at the heir, sleeping so securely in her arms. “What’s the plan for the little Prince?” he asked, too exhausted to truly work up the venom his question would normally have contained.

Liz glared at the shapeshifter half heartedly. “I’m taking Xan home.” She said tiredly, raking her hair back from her face.

Langley blinked a little. Well. That was unexpected. In fact, he had several adoption agencies waiting to place the kid. “Really? When did you and Max decide that?” he asked curiously.

Liz opened her mouth to tell him to go fuck himself and then snapped it shut again as her memory betrayed her with alarming clarity.

I have to ensure Xan’s safety and the only way to do that is to get him away from me. The further away the better.

Liz swallowed hard, unable to stop her arms from tightening around Xan. That was three years ago. Things were different. Sort of. “Shut up, Langley.” She ordered without rancor.

Langley’s eyes narrowed. Yes, your Majesty. Your wish is my command, he groused internally. He sighed and pressed the accelerator a little closer to the floor, thanking the fates that they were getting close. He blinked as the crimson brilliance of the dawning day pulled him back through time. Even as they’d streaked through the sky towards an almost certain destruction he had marveled at the beauty of this alien sky. Even as he worked feverishly with the scientists to insulate the pods for the coming crash his eyes had been drawn to the portal, seeing the fiery atmosphere as the perfect communion for the acrid smoke that was already filtering through the corridors

I’m entrusting you with my posterity. You and no one else

Langley gritted his teeth as he fought the exhaustion that was making it difficult for him to breathe. Shut up, Zan.

“Langley!”

Liz stared as Langley pulled the Lincoln back into the right lane. She glanced behind her, looking for a reason for his suddenly erratic driving. Nothing. The pavement behind them was still blessedly empty. She glared at the shapeshifter as her breathing returned to normal. “Were you driving when they crashed?” She asked, completely aware of the sweet sarcasm that laced her words.

Langley ran a tired hand over his face, focusing determinedly on the road as he shook his head in the negative. “Lejahd.” He answered. Lejahd with her loud mouth and happy scowl. Lejahd who’d been complaining bitterly about the monarchy for months. Lejahd who had been murdered as he fought to unpin himself just two rooms away. “She was the best pilot I’d ever seen. But then, we were all the best at something.” Lejahd. Whom he’d betrayed by believing Nekar when he’d slandered her name and her loyalty.

Liz stared, working hard to keep her jaw from dropping. She could swear he’d just given her an honest, non sarcastic answer. “Are you ok?” she asked, uncomfortable with the shadows that suddenly lit his darkened eyes. Shadows she’d never noticed before.

Langley blinked, her question once again reminding him to live in the present. What the fuck was wrong with him? He was tired. That’s all it was. He needed a good nights…a good months sleep. A vacation. That’s what he needed. A months sleep and a vacation. He glanced to his right as he became uncomfortably aware that Liz was staring at him. Right. “I’m fine. Tired. I haven’t used that much energy in years. I really need to start working on that again.” He added by way of awkward explanation.

“Excuse me?”

Langley glanced over at his queen, once again caught in the crosshairs of her narrowed gaze. Christ, what the hell was wrong with him? Why was he saying these things to her? He was just so tired! He normally knew better than to babble himself into a corner. “Nothing.” He sent a silent prayer of thanks to whatever deity was watching over him as he finally came upon his destination. “Look. Just let it go.” He requested through gritted teeth. He pulled to the side of the road behind a Blazer with darkly tinted windows and opened his door quickly. “Stay here.”

Liz watched Langley with sudden suspicion. Something in his tone worried her. She shifted Xan to her shoulder as she tried to see through the Blazers back window. All she could make out was the vague outline of a child’s car seat in the middle section. Her curiosity got the better of her and she opened her door carefully, shifting Xan to her hip as she walked to the Blazers open passenger side door. Langley was securing something in the drivers seat and as he moved from the space between the front seats towards the back she saw clearly what it was. Her eyes widened and she stifled a scream. “Oh my…”

Langley’s head whipped around at Liz’s astonished whisper and he turned quickly, trying to shield the car seat from her view. “Liz…”

Liz shook her head in horrified disbelief as she saw the contents of the seat. She covered Xan’s face protectively, not caring that he slept on, completely oblivious to the scene before them. “Oh my God!” Shock wore off and was replaced with disgust as Liz whirled and headed back to the Lincoln. She felt Langley grab for her elbow and without thinking she jerked around. Raising her hand, she released enough energy to send him sprawling ten feet away. She reached the Lincoln and tucked Xan into the passenger seat then moved quickly to the drivers side.

Langley swore softly as he dusted himself off and rushed after Liz. Didn’t she know what ‘stay here’ meant? He caught up with her as she was opening the drivers side door. “Liz look…” He raised his hand in surrender as her own raised in mute threat. He looked around, grateful that this side road had so little traffic. “It’s not what you think.”

“Not what I think?” Liz asked incredulously. “Not what I think, you murdering son of a bitch?” She glared at their ‘protector’. He was just like Nasedo. Human life obviously meant nothing to him. “Those are bodies, Langley. Bodies! That woman and…and that little boy couldn’t be any older than…” she glanced back at Xan briefly. “What is wrong with you? What could they possibly have done to warrant that?” She asked angrily as the grisly scene replayed itself in her mind. Both the woman and child looked as if they had hit a brick wall. There was no blood, but even her quick glance had shown their limbs hanging at odd angles, bones crushed and flattened where faces should have rounded. She shuddered. “Tell me why!” she demanded.

“I didn’t kill them, Liz.” Langley ground out. “They were killed in a car accident two days ago. I saw it on the news…”

“And, what? You needed friends?” Liz asked sarcastically.

Langley narrowed his eyes. “At the time it seemed like a better idea than actually killing you and the Prince.” He returned. Liz was staring at him as if she wasn’t sure what to believe or where he was going with this. “This is what’s going to happen. In a little while there’s going to be a car accident. Tragically there will be two fatalities. Dr. Cambridge and Alexander Crawford.” He watched while her narrowed gaze searched his own borrowed features. He was disgusted with his own unaccountable desire to have earned her trust by now. Fuck it! This was just too much. “No one will ever look for him, or the mysterious Dr. Cambridge once they’re dead.” He explained in spite of himself.

Liz exhaled slowly. She couldn’t help but acknowledge the truth of his statement. And the fact that it was a good plan. She swallowed some of her anger with difficulty. “And if they hadn’t died in a car accident?” She challenged, not sure what to believe.

Langley stepped forward angrily, bristling at the insult, intended or not. “I’m not Nekar!” he spat.

Liz’s brow furrowed in confusion. Nekar? Her eyes widened. “Nasedo?” She asked.

Langley nodded. “Nasedo.” He sneered. “Traveler my ass!. Traitor, Liz. Traitor. That’s all that worthless piece of DNA ever was!” His voice mocked every human fool who’d ever trusted Nekar. Mocked himself as well. “Arrogant bastard.”

Liz blinked, uncertain if he was speaking of Nasedo or himself. “Langley…”

“I’ve never betrayed my king! Whether he deserved my loyalty or not.”

“Oh, please!”

Langley raised his voice over Liz’s interruption, his anger and resentment breaking free as they hadn’t in his entire time on this planet. “I’ve never left behind a member of my unit and I’ve never killed for the pleasure of it. Or because it’s easy. I kill threats. And I won’t apologize for that. It’s my job.” He took a deep breath. “Get it out of your head, Majesty. I am not that arrogant, overdramatic treacherous fool.”

Liz glared. ‘Never betrayed my King.’ Not arrogant or overdramatic. My ass! “Really? What would you say…”

Langley ignored Liz, muttering almost to himself. “Intergalactic little prick went around drawing attention to himself hoping to get me caught. As if I were foolish enough to fall into that kind of amateurish trap! Leaving handprints all over the place like some demented Windex commercial.” He turned back to Liz who was watching him as if she were afraid he may have lost his mind. Did she blame him?! “There are easier, cleaner ways to handle threats, Majesty. But Nekar did so love his drama and intrigue.”

Liz stared. Was he serious? “Right. Isn’t that a little like the pot calling the kettle black?”

“I save my drama for the screen.”

“And those people in the Blazer? What do you call them?” Liz challenged.

“Serendipitous. If they hadn’t died or if I hadn’t seen that news report I would have simply lost the two of you in paperwork. It’s disturbingly easy to do. Easier than this, in fact. Just not as effective.” He felt a tremor deep in his chest and knew his anger was making it hard to hold this shape. Taking a deep breath he forced himself to hold the form. “Serendipity, Majesty. The opportunity presented itself and I took it.”

Liz studied the shapeshifter closely. His skin had taken on an odd cast. And earlier he had seemed legitimately insulted that she thought he was a murderer. “What did General Payton threaten you with?” she asked quietly. It had been bothering her since she’d first seen his shape. He hadn’t been worried about running into the donor. It was clear to her that Payton was dead.

Langley blinked in surprise. “Nothing.” He shook his head as he understood what she was implying. “I’m going to say this again…” Langley started with sarcastic condescension. “I don’t need to kill to get what I want. He died of cancer 15 years ago. I offered him the luxury of living like a king until his death in return for his identity.”

“And he just…”

“You’d be amazed what people will betray when confronted with their own mortality, Liz.” He sighed and turned toward the Blazer. “And I’ve done some pretty impressive things with his military career so everybody won. Now, I need to get back to me so…”

Liz averted her eyes as Langley used the Blazer to block him from the street and shifted back into the Hollywood producer she was used to seeing. She shook her head as Cal Langley took shape. She didn’t think she’d ever understand him. He was both vengeful and insane. But still…good at his job. When he decided to do it. “Thank you. For your help.” She offered.

Langley stared, his anger having inexplicably shifted with his form, leaving him once again exhausted. “It’s my job.” He answered gruffly. “God knows you wouldn’t have gotten him out on your own.”

She caught his gaze and offered a truce. Though she was certain that he would break it as soon as he could. “Still…thank you. For everything.”

Langley had heard the words before, but for the first time he almost heard sincerity. He shook his head at this obvious evidence of his exhaustion. Nonetheless he nodded, accepting her truce. For as long as it lasted. He walked back to the Lincoln. Closing his eyes he focused and changed it’s color to a dark red. He walked to the rear of the car and swiped his hand over the license plate, exchanging the military tag for a normal plate. “The directions to the mansion in LA are in the visor. Drive there quickly.” He ordered.

Liz nodded as she climbed into the car. She rolled down the window as something occurred to her. “Won’t the coroner know that they didn’t…” She broke off as Langley spread his arms as if to say ‘this is me’.

“Liz, please. I know people. Trust me, the coroner will report what I want him to. Quit worrying and get going. Meredith will be waiting for you. Safeword is ‘collateral damage’. Wait there for me. And call Max. Ask him what he wants me to do with the kid.”

Liz felt her stomach drop with Langley’s last request. She was glad he didn’t wait for her response, just turned and headed back to the blazer. What would Max want her to do?

I just want my son to have a normal life. Away from all of this.

She closed her eyes as her husband’s voice echoed through her memory. He’d said that so many times during the one week he’d had with this son. The week he’d held his baby as he waited to let him go. Her heart burned in sudden empathy. She knew that the promise of a normal life for Xan was the only thing that had made giving him up even remotely bearable. And now the military would think Xan was dead. They wouldn’t be hunting him. She swallowed her nausea as she looked down at Xan. She was surprised to find him staring back at her with wide, worried eyes.

“Who’s Max?” He questioned softly.

Liz opened her mouth and then closed it. Max is your father, Xan. Ok, that’s just entirely too ‘Star Wars’. Her brain stuttered over a response. She couldn’t just blurt it out. Max needed to be there for that announcement. But the longer her silence lasted the more Xan chewed at his lower lip. And she could see tears form in his eyes. Truce was over. She was gonna kill Langley. “Max is my husband sweetie. We just need to call him to let him know we’re ok.” Liz said brightly, hoping to ease some of his concern.

“Cuz why?” Xan looked down and fiddled with the hem of his shirt. How come Max got to decide what to do with him? Why didn’t Liz.?

“Well, because he’s very worried about us.” She cupped his chin, gently bringing his gaze up to hers. “What’s the matter?”

“You said I was goin’ wit you.” He reminded her desperately.

“You are going with me.” Liz said, nodding to emphasize her point. “We’re going to drive to Langley’s house and then we’ll call Max and then…”

“Dat’s not faiwr!” Xan whined, as tears filled his eyes. “How come Max gets ta ‘ecide?”

“Baby, don’t cry…. sweetheart, listen. Max and I just need to talk. Baby, that’s just what grown ups do, that’s all.” Liz cringed at the way that sounded even as she hoped desperately that a four year old would simply accept her explanation. She pulled Xan closer, hugging him as she attempted to soothe the worry from his eyes.

Xan crawled up into Liz’s lap, needing to be closer than simply by her side, and wrapped his arms around her neck. He sighed against her shoulder, grateful for the safety of her arms and the comfort of her hand lightly rubbing his back. “Cuz maybe…cuz maybe you could ‘ecide.” He whispered against her ear. He felt Liz nod her head and decided not to push.

Liz was grateful that Xan remained quiet in her arms. She wasn’t certain what else to say. She really did need to talk to Max. She couldn’t just make this decision for him. Over Xan’s shoulder she saw Langley standing with his hands on his hips staring at the car in frustration. She sighed deeply and gently pulled Xan away from her. She wiped his tears from his face, kissing his forehead softly. “Baby, just trust me. Everything is going to be fine. Ok?” She smiled as Xan nodded at her. “Good. Now let’s get you into a seatbelt so we can hit the road.” Liz settled Xan in the seat next to her and then fastened the seatbelt around him, adjusting the shoulder strap so he didn’t choke. She pulled the directions from the visor, reading through them quickly to get the gist and then handed them to Xan. “Ok, sweetie you be a good boy and hold onto these.” She smiled brightly. “That makes you co-pilot.” She said, hoping to lighten the mood as she pulled the car back onto the street.

Xan nodded and then looked at Liz uncertainly. “But I can’ wead yet, Liz.” He pointed out.

Liz laughed at the expression on his face. She reached down and tickled him, grateful when she heard his giggles fill the car. After he’d caught his breath Liz said. “I know. You just make sure we don’t lose the piece of paper and I’ll do the reading. Deal?”

Xan nodded happily as Liz turned on the radio. “Deal.”

posted on 19-Aug-2002 2:20:23 AM by Pathos
************Part 36************

Liz smiled as Meredith ushered her through the foyer and past Langley’s study. She was so glad to be out of the car. And safely behind the mansion’s gates. Xan gripped her hand tightly and she glanced down to see him staring, wide eyed at the house. He’d slept for pretty much the whole trip and was still feeling a little shy after his nap. “You ok, sweetie?”

Xan shrugged. He just knew that this was one of those places where he shouldn’t touch anything. He looked at Liz and saw that she was waiting for him to say something. “Is big.” He said, moving behind her when the other lady, who had let them in, burst out laughing.

“It is pretty big.” Meredith agreed. “But that’s a good thing, because there’s a whole big room of stuff just for you.” She looked up at Liz when Xan just stared at her.

Liz squeezed Xan’s hand gently. “Let’s go check out that room, huh?” She blinked, a little surprised when Xan looked from Meredith to her and then held up his arms, clearly wanting to be held. “Ok.” She whispered, pulling Xan into her arms so that he could rest against her shoulder. She brushed his bangs out of his eyes. “He’s still getting over his nap.” She explained to Meredith as they continued down the hallway.

“I understand. My grandson is the same way. Let’s see if we can’t wake him up.” Meredith said, opening the door to one of the ballrooms and stepping back so Liz and Xan could see the mansions new playroom.

Liz stared, utterly speechless as she took in the room before her. She looked at Xan and saw that he had an identical expression on his face.

“Mr. Langley instructed me to go out and buy anything within a four year olds age range.” The older woman shook her head a little. “You don’t think it’s too much do you?” She asked, gesturing vaguely into the large room where Toys R Us seemed to have exploded.

Liz shook her head mutely, reminding herself to close her mouth.

“Dat’s all fowr me?” Xan asked, awe coloring his voice as he stared at all the toys. He’d never seen so many in one place. Not even at the store. He glanced over at Meredith when she started laughing again. “Liz?”

“It’s ok, sweetie. Meredith is a friend.” She stroked a hand through his hair as she waited for him to feel comfortable enough to want to get down and play.

Meredith smiled at Liz. She’d always liked the young woman. And her little boy was just darling. “That’s right. And yes, these toys are all for you, kiddo.”

Xan looked up at Liz for confirmation even as he craned his neck to get a better look at all the toys in there. “Weally?”

Liz smiled down at him, coming out of her brief stupor as she heard the skepticism in his voice. “Really.” She confirmed, setting him gently on his feet. “Why don’t you go see if there’s anything in there you’d like to play with.”

Xan stepped into the room, careful to keep Liz in sight

Liz nodded encouragingly before turning back to Meredith. “This is just…wow. Thank you for doing all this.”

Meredith shrugged, a little embarrassed by the praise. She’d worked for Mr. Langley long enough not to expect any. He paid her to be available when he wanted her and to do what he said. He tended to show his appreciation with year end bonuses that made her blush. “It was no trouble. I never mind shopping on someone else’s dime.” She said lightly. “I set up the room across from your usual one. It’s a little smaller, but it has an adjoining suite. Mr. Langley said that he didn’t think you’d want to be too far from your little one.”

Liz shook her head, her heart hiccupping a little oddly at the realization that Meredith thought Xan was hers. She briefly debated explaining the situation but decided it was easier simply to let it go. And besides, she really did want to keep Xan close. “You’re right, I don’t want him too far. That’s great, Meredith.”

“Oh, and I noticed that you were traveling light again so there’s some clothes up there for you and of course, for Xan.

Liz laughed a little, knowing full well that Meredith’s latent maternal instinct would see to it that she had a months worth of new clothes. Xan would probably be set for the rest of the year. She couldn’t help her thrill of amusement at the fact that Langley was probably going to have a fit. “Thank you Meredith. I know you’re heading out but, do you happen to know where my cell phone is?” She’d retrieved her purse, which Langley had sent to the mansion from his private jet almost a lifetime ago. But her phone wasn’t in it. "I need to call Max.”

“It’s charging in the study. I’ll go get it.”

“Oh. No, you don’t have to. I just…”

“Liz, don’t worry about it. Besides, that poor dear is giving himself whiplash making sure he can keep you in sight. Stay here and I’ll be right back.”

Liz smiled, thanking Meredith and looking over at Xan who was, indeed watching her closely. “I’m not going anywhere sweetheart. What have you got there?” She asked stepping over to where he was kneeling on the floor in front of a toy garage.

Xan grinned as he looked up at Liz. “Watch dis.” He placed the matchbox car at the top of the garage ramp and giggled as it raced to the bottom.

Liz nodded, more impressed by Xan’s happy expression than the toy. “Very cool, sweetie.”

“My grandson loves that one to. He can sit for hours with it.” Meredith said as she offered Liz her cell phone.

Liz smiled. “Thanks. Let’s hope it keeps him busy for a while.” She gestured to the phone. “I’m just going to give Max a quick call.”

Meredith nodded. “I was just about to go to the grocery store but if you want me to stay…”

Liz shook her head as she dialed. “We’re fine.” She was suddenly anxious, desperate almost to hear her husbands voice. “We’ll be better in just a minute.”


------------------


Max forced himself to keep his eyes open. He’d awakened an hour ago to find himself still utterly exhausted and restless all at the same time. He needed to talk to Liz. He knew she was ok. But he needed to hear her voice. Needed to feel their connection spark. It was entirely too quiet at the moment. His exhaustion, coupled with her own was keeping it at a low hum. After the incredible closeness that they’d shared it was making him crazy not knowing what she was feeling. He turned and glanced at his closed bedroom door. He could almost feel Maria staring at him pointedly. And he knew his continued peace had more to do with Michael positioning himself directly in the line of fire, just outside the door than with Maria’s good will. He was still vaguely surprised by Michael’s sudden protectiveness of him. Not that he was foolish enough to complain about it. He simply didn’t have the energy to answer Maria’s questions. Not when the only question he needed answered was‘were his wife and son really ok’?

The ringing of his cell phone started his heart pounding. Damn it! Why hadn’t he brought it into the bedroom with him? He groaned as he forced himself to a sitting position.

“Omigod, Liz! Are you ok? You’re not hurt or anything right? When are you coming home? What are…” Max shook his head as Maria’s voice filtered through the door.

“Maria give me the phone.”

“Michael, do yourself a favor and walk away. Max isn’t even up.” She paused. “Liz, really I don’t think he is.”

“Maria…”

“Don’t growl at me spaceboy! This is my best…” Max winced at the outraged gasp he heard, figuring he and Michael were both going to pay for this later. “I can’t believe you just grabbed…”

“Glad you’re alive Liz. Here’s Max.”

Max looked toward the door as Michael wrenched it open, throwing the cell phone at the bed.

“You owe me big.” Michael announced, pulling the door closed behind him.

Max shook his head, picking the phone up quickly, as the rest of the world fell to the back of his mind. He could almost hear her smile and he couldn’t resist the answering one that swept across his lips.

“I’ve got him, Max. And, yes. We’re both fine.”

She’d never sounded more beautiful to him than she did in that moment. A relief three years in the making swept through his body at her words. He swallowed the sudden lump in his throat. Six simple words. She had him. They were fine. Those words would take their place next to the first time she’d said ‘I love you’ as the most profound he’d ever heard in his life. “Liz…” HE couldn’t even begin to say everything he wanted to say. Everything that needed to be said hovered just beyond his reach. But he couldn’t stay silent, either. “Thank you. I don’t even know…you’re ok? You just said you were. Of course you are. When are you coming home. No. Wait there. I’ll be on the way in ten minutes…Where are you? Are you ok with him? Is he being good?”

Liz laughed, almost giddy at the sound of his sleep roughened voice as his words tumbled one over the other. She felt their connection spark a little as they spoke and breathed a sigh of relief as she felt it strengthen. It had been too quiet over the last few hours. “Hey, Maria. Take a breath.”

Max sighed, his nervousness falling away with her teasing. “Sorry, I just…I don’t know. You’re ok. You’re both ok.” He knew he was repeating himself. He simply needed to hear it out loud. To glory in the knowledge that it was true.

Liz could feel the slightest shadow of his wonder and couldn’t help the tears that filled her eyes as she caught hold of his profound relief. And love. For her. For Xan. “We’re both fine. Really, Max…” She walked swiftly into the hallway, unwilling to let Xan see the tears she was wiping from her face. She couldn’t help it. She wished he were closer so that she could feel his strong arms wrap around her. So that he could hold her while she told him everything. But right now, this was the closest she could get to being held in Max’s arms. It would have to be enough. She sniffled a little as she focused on the warmth of his voice, soothing her from a thousand miles away as it carried across the phone line like a caress.

“Don’t cry, baby please.” Max closed his eyes against his own tears. He could feel her fighting for control and he worked to send out enough energy to offer her his support. He wasn’t sure if he was making it better or worse. “I’m so sorry. So sorry that you had to go through all that by yourself.”

Liz took a deep, shuddering breath, her whole being lighting up as she remembered the feeling of him so deeply within her. She shook her head, forgetting that he wasn’t right there to see her. “I wasn’t alone Max. You were there when I needed you. Just like always. God! I can’t believe you did that! Max, anything could have happened. You could have…”

“Shhh. Don’t you know by now? I would do anything if it means being with you.” He could feel her entire being melt at his response while she poured every ounce of love she had across their connection.

“I love you.” Liz whispered, her whole being focused on showing him that, on feeling his love for her flow across their connection. A gentle balm to her still tired spirit.

“I love you, too. God, Liz. So much. I miss you. I need you home.” Max whispered. “It’s so empty here without you.”

Liz blinked back her tears. She could feel his need pressing across their connection and knew he could feel her own. “Me too. We’ll be home in just…”

“LIZ!”

Max wasn’t even aware that he was holding his breath. She’d said ‘we.’ Before he could even begin to grasp what that meant, his whole world suddenly stopped. The little voice that had just carried across the line belonged to his son.

Liz laughed at Xan’s enthusiasm even as she gently prodded Max’s suddenly numb psyche. “What? What have you got there?”

“My plane! Jus’ like you pwomised.” He grinned up at her.

Liz blinked. I’ll be damned. The plane was the only toy in the room still boxed. And it was identical to the one she’d given him at the Base. Which meant that Langley had asked for it specifically. She shook her head. Just when she wanted to orbit the bastard. “Look at that.”

Max opened his mouth, inhaling as an afterthought. “Liz?” He wasn’t sure what he was asking. He was only aware of the fact that that voice belonged to his son.

Xan held his plane’s box out awkwardly as he shifted impatiently from one foot to the other. “Please?” he asked, his eyes straying to the vaulted ceiling of the foyer with a happy gleam. “You gotta get my plane out so I can fly it.”

Liz nodded and took the box, putting it on the side table. She held up a finger when Xan started to protest. “Hold on one second, ok.”

Max felt his mouth drop. She wasn’t going to…was she?

“You remember how I told you about my husband, right sweetie.”

She was.

Xan nodded slowly, wondering where this was going. “Uh-huh.”

Liz tweaked his nose, smiling when he scrunched his face and giggled, shoving at her hand in protest. “Good. You say hi to Max and I’ll get your plane out, ok?”

Xan shrugged. “Kay.”

“Liz…” Max was shaking his head though for the life of him he didn’t know why.

“Shh. There’s someone here you need to say hi to.”

Xan took the phone from Liz, putting it to his ear when she nodded encouragingly at him. “Hello?”

Oh my God. Max cleared his throat. “Hi Xan.” Christ, his baby was talking. “Uh, what…what are you up to?” He shook his head in disgust. His first words to his son in three years and they were the stuttering equivalent of ‘what’s up’. What was wrong with him. He was grateful that Xan didn’t seem to notice.

“I’m gonna fly my plane.”

Max could hear the excitement in Xan’s voice and he couldn’t help smiling. “You like planes, huh?”

“Uh-huh.” Xan hesitated. Max didn’t sound mean. “I’ma be a fitewr pilot in da Aiwr Fowrce when I gwow up.” He offered.

Max choked out a laugh. The Air Force? They’d have to talk about that one. Later. “Oh, yeah? So you’re gonna fly your own jet, huh? Very cool.”

Xan grinned. “Yeah. An’ Liz got me a fitewr plane. But not a weal one.” He explained.

“Did she? One that flies all by itself?” Max asked, wondering briefly if Xan were old enough for that kind of toy.

Xan nodded, forgetting to be worried about Max. He sounded nice. And he liked planes too. “I can fly it myself.” He bragged. “I jus push it thwew da aiwr. I can get it weal high, too.”

“I bet you can. You’ll have to show me…”

“I can show you when I get dewre.” Xan frowned a little, suddenly needing to make his position clear. “Liz likes me.”

Max blinked at the 180 degree shift in the conversation. “Of course Liz likes you. You’re a very likable little boy.” He said, forcing the words out past the sudden tightening in his chest. God. He was actually talking to his son!

“Weally? How do you know?” Xan asked, surprised at the warmth he heard in Max’s voice.

“I just know.” Max cleared his throat, sensing a sudden shift in Xan’s attention. “How’s Liz coming with that plane, pal?” he guessed

“Is out.” Xan hinted.

“You go play, you can show me how you fly it when you get…here.”

“Kay. I pwomise.” Xan traded the cell phone for his plane and headed toward the foyer, nodding absently at Liz when she told him to be careful of the chandelier.

Liz held the phone to her ear. Her smile widening into a grin as she felt Max’s pure awe roil through him, teasing through their connection. “Pretty amazing, huh?” She asked softly

“He’s…” Max didn’t even know where to start.

“He’s adorable, Max.” Liz paused, glancing over at Xan as he happily circled his plane around the crystal chandelier. She smiled at him when he looked back at her. “He takes after his dad.” She whispered.

Max felt his breath catch in his throat at the soft swell of her affection. Affection that he could swear wasn’t directed at him. A world of hope seemed to spread out before him. “I love you, so much. Liz?”

“Max, I think…we just…um, we need to talk. When Xan and I get home, not over the phone.”

“You and Xan?” Max asked. He felt like his head was spinning. She was really coming home. With his son. She was bringing Xan home with her. His mind could barely wrap around the concept, much less the fact. He hadn’t allowed himself to think beyond their safety…until just now.

Liz smiled as she felt Max try to tame his roiling emotions. Foremost among them was such love. Love for her. For his son. She tried to tell him this was going to work.

I have to ensure Xan’s safety. The only way to do that is to get him away from me.

Liz pushed the memory echo to the back of her mind. She took comfort in the pure, warm joy she felt moving slowly across their connection. As if he’d never even let himself consider the possibility. But now… “Yeah. I can’t leave him with Langley, can I?” she tried to tease but her own throat was tight with emotion. “I figure we’ll start for home tomorrow. It should take about four days. Think you can get the other room set up by then?” she asked.

Max blinked, feeling as if the world had started to spin just a little faster. “Yeah. Of course.” He paused. He didn’t even know how to tell her what he was feeling. He could barely process it himself. “I just…”

“I love you too, Max. Always.”

“Always. Are you sure you don’t want me to…”

Liz shook her head. “I want to get out of LA as soon as possible. Just a few more days Max, I promise.”

Max sighed. She was right, he knew. He just wanted her home so badly. And Xan…

“Stop worrying. We’ll talk about everything when I get home.” Liz ordered with mock severity. Her voice gentled as she tried to send him all her love, her certainty that everything was going to work out. “Everything’s going to be fine, Max. I promise.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Max heard the click, but he felt it more sharply within the sudden distance of their connection. Without her voice to help bridge the gap he was left to guess at what she was feeling. And the adrenaline that had surged through his body for the last few minutes left with astounding swiftness. He wanted to go back to sleep. He wanted…so many things suddenly.

“Well?” Maria demanded from behind Michael’s arm at the doorway.

Max glanced over and saw Michael give a half hearted shrug, clearly telling him to be grateful that Maria wasn’t on the bed with him with her ear pressed to the back of the phone. He lay back against his pillow. “She’s fine. They’re both fine. They’re leaving for home tomorrow.”

Kyle blinked from his position behind Maria. Did he just say…? “They’re both coming back?” he asked.

Max nodded, unable to stop his smile. “Yeah.” He closed his eyes, desperate to hold onto this feeling for just a minute, a lifetime, more. His wife and his son were coming home to him. “She says he takes after me.”

“Well, thank God!”

“MARIA!”

Maria glanced at Max who had either fallen back to sleep or was studiously ignoring her. Then she turned to glare at Kyle and Michael, a little put out by their combined censure. “What? You know you were thinking the same thing.”

posted on 26-Aug-2002 2:45:29 AM by Pathos
Hi all -

Back with more - sorry it took so long. We're still in transition, real stuff should be out next Thursday. Hope this satisfies until then.

Thanks for all the FB and bumps - ya'll are the best.

Pathos *big*

b4echstarrynite: Glad you’re enjoying this. And don’t worry – Max finally got some sleep. Hope you like the next couple parts

Lelea: No kidding about Michael. Gotta love the guy. *happy* As for Langley…poor guys just having a little bit of an alien breakdown. Like Max and Liz promise he’ll end up in one piece.

narly21: Glad you like the last couple parts. Max is still in shock at the moment but this is Liz…she’s sort of planning for the worst case scenario. LOL Glad you liked the phone call. Your FB is always so supportive. Helps keep my creative butt moving. LOL So thanks! And, promise…there really is a reunion coming. *big*

ConsultantTam: So happy you liked the last couple parts. You’re not the only one glad Xan didn’t turn out like Tess! I’d never do that to a kid. LOL Hope you enjoy the next couple parts

icerose: Thanks! Glad you’re enjoying. Here’s some more.

Tigereyes: Tiger – about that hammer…*wink* Sorry this took so long to get out. Hope this doesn’t count as an ‘extended length of time’ LOL And just had to say wow! Were we ever on the same wavelength! I wrote the whole, Liz/Xan care scene with Max’s WR escape in mind. I just love the moment where she reaches out and runs her fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck.. As for Langley – definitely some issues to work out. Hope you like the next couple parts and thanks for all the bumps.

prue_18: Glad you’re enjoying this. Hope you like the next couple parts.

Jane8302: *blushing* Sweetest M/L story ever? Thanks so much. The actual Max/Xan meeting is coming. Already written actually – just need to get from here to there. LOL Here’s some more in the meantime.

believer_evans: Glad you liked. Reunion is coming. Really, it is. Just not quite yet. *happy*

Spicy trini1: Golden? Thanks, sweetie! Glad you enjoyed the last couple parts. Langley’s having a few more issues than usual…promise not to traumatize the guy too, too much. *tongue*

RoswellLady: The whole ‘Liz likes me’ thing really is just such a kid thing to do. Glad you liked it. Sorry to drag out the update but thanks for all the bumps. *happy*

Realistic Dreamer: Had to laugh at the cosmic slap on the wrist…*hold up hand guiltily* I have done the exact same thing. And I completely understand the embarrassment that happens in an open office space. I’m so glad you enjoyed the last couple parts though. BTW – I have a couple stories I’m working on. I’ll keep writing as long as people keep reading. *happy* And don’t worry about Langley – even I realize he’s not a ‘likable’ character in most senses of the word.

roswellluver: Xan says ‘tanks’ and I’m glad you’re still enjoying Langley. Sorry these next part took so long. Hope you like.

Pipernsalt: Yeah, you definitely gotta love Maria. I always thought she was the character on the show that pretty much said what we were thinking. Well, her and Kyle. And as for no bumps…um, asking forgiveness is advance, sweetie. *happy*

frenchkiss70: I think we’re all with Maria! LOL Hope you like the next couple parts.

merchez: Glad you liked the Xan/Liz interaction. And definitely expanding on Langley. He’s just keeps growing on me as I go. (He’s a little pushy) Thanks for saying I captured Maria’s energy. It’s a fine line with her. *sigh of relief* Thanks again for the FB – hope you like the next couple parts.

TeddyBehrJKT: Hi sweetie! Glad you’re enjoying Langley. I just can’t help myself. I see something that needs fixing and I just can’t leave well enough alone! LOL ‘ About the whole ‘The being out of time’…don’t mean to be too cryptic. Just that he’s remembering and feeling things he’s buried for years – in a way running out of time. And just not feeling like himself. No FMax for him though – promise! LOL Glad you liked the phone reunion. And Max and Liz say you can babysit anytime. After the real reunion – which I promise is actually coming. *big* Thanks for the shove – sometimes just what I need.

Mickey Ros: Glad you like Langley. The reunion really is coming. *holding hand in girl scout swear* Honest. But until then…*happy*

YonkersMe: Happy to hear you’re enjoying my Langley…couldn’t help myself. His character just begged to be fleshed out. Actually gonna hit on the whole actress thing later. SO glad you like Xan. He was the biggest gamble in this whole story. LOL Thanks again for all your kind words. Sorry the new parts took so long. (thanks for the bump) Hope you like. *big*

Minanda: Had to give somebody the last line and it just seemed perfect for Maria. LOL Glad you liked. Here are the next couple parts.

mandyhanford: Mandy - Thanks for the bumps. I swear there’s a reunion, sweetie. Sorry it’s taking so long. If I promise it’s going to be explosive will you forgive me? *wink* And since you ask politely…LOL

Alien614: Thanks, sweetie. Hope you like the next couple parts.

mitra: Glad you liked. And I think you’re right – the Evans men will definitely have to come to some kind of agreement about Liz. LOL Hope you enjoy the next couple parts. And thanks for the bump.

MaryJean: Thanks for bumping! Sorry this took so long. Hope you like.

Ty01: Glad you’re enjoying this so much, sweetie. And thanks for all the bumps. Feeling totally guilty that this took so long to get out. *happy* hope you enjoy the new parts!

LivinInCin: Glad you’re enjoying this so much. I love to see new people. And thank you so much for telling me how to get the banner on there. Totally appreciated it. *crossing fingers that I can follow directions* LOL. Hope you enjoy the next couple parts!

kurtsook: Always love to see new people! Glad you’re liking this. Agree with you about family…now I just need to get everyone home…*wink*

bubbles: Glad you’re enjoying. Here’s some more…

Angel eyes: Welcome! And here are the new parts…

schmidta: Don’t worry sweetie, not quite done yet. Hope you enjoy the next couple parts…

posted on 26-Aug-2002 2:52:05 AM by Pathos
thath2Ejpg-or

*crossing fingers that the banner comes out*

Thanks to Niki for the banner and LivinInCin for the directions.

And now back to our story...

*************Part 37***********

Xan bit his lower lip as he tapped the black crayon lightly against the tabletop in the kitchen. He surveyed his drawing critically, shaking his head a little when he saw that it still wasn’t right. Picking up a midnight blue crayon he shaded the paper with broad strokes. Better. But still wrong. He glanced over his shoulder at Liz, turning back to his picture when he was satisfied that she was still working at the sink. Resting an elbow against the table he returned to his picture, adding some silver touches and then picking up the black crayon again. He swung his legs restlessly, letting the heels of his sneakers thud against the chair he was sitting on and becoming more frustrated at his lack of success. How come he couldn’t make it look like he knew it should?

Liz finished putting the last of their dinner dishes in the dishwasher and wiped her hands on a towel as she watched Xan coloring. She smiled a little at his serious expression. He’d been happily coloring there for the last fifteen minutes as she’d taken care of straightening the kitchen after their dinner, having given Meredith the rest of the night off. She frowned slightly as she recalled that he hadn’t eaten much at dinner. Or earlier, during their late brunch. He caught her watching him and smiled around the yawn that he was trying to hide. She supposed she couldn’t fault him for not being too hungry, considering the morning they had. “Getting tired sweetie?” she asked, walking over to stand behind him, her eyes falling on his picture.

Xan shook his head, hiding another yawn as he muttered. “Nuh-uh.”

Liz blinked a little at the sheet of paper that was covered in a matte of blue black, lightly shot through with spikes of silver. Frowning a little over the darkness of it, she stroked her fingers through his hair, smiling absently as he looked up at her. “Oh really?” she asked lightly, leaning down to whisper in his ear. “I think maybe it’s time for bed anyway.” She said gently. It wasn’t all that late but it had been one hell of a long day. “Come on, Xan. We need to get an early start in the morning.”

Xan sighed. “Kay.” He grabbed his picture and reached for her, sighing happily when Liz lifted him from his chair into her arms. He rested his head on her shoulder and handed her his picture. “I dwew it fowr you.” He said shyly.

“You did?” Liz smiled down at the little boy in her arms. She shook her head at the way he was regarding her from beneath his lowered lashes. Kissing his forehead lightly she said “Thank you. I just love it!”

“You gonna put it on da fwidge?” he asked.

Liz felt her smile widen at the expectant expression on his face. “I am going to put it in my purse so that I can put it on the fridge when we get home. How does that sound?”

Xan nodded happily against her shoulder. She was really taking him home with her. “Good.” He whispered.

“I think so too.”

An hour later Liz was still staring at Xan’s picture. She’d read in some psych textbook that abused children often drew pictures like this. Pictures that were drowning in dark, oppressive colors representative of their pain and fear. Sad illustrations of innocence lost. Her heart broke a little at the thought of Xan doing that. She shook her head in disgust and wondered for the millionth time how anyone could hurt that little boy. How could you hurt a little boy who got so excited over the airplane pajama’s he’d found on his bed? How could anyone hurt the sweet little boy she’d just soothed to sleep?

Taking a deep breath Liz forced those thoughts to the back of her mind and clicked off the light on the bedside table. She couldn’t change the past, though for the first time in over four years she honestly wished she could. Instead she would make sure that Xan never went through anything like that again. She glanced through the open door to the adjoining room where Xan was snoring quietly, making sure that the soft glow of the nightlight offered a clear view of the path between their rooms. She closed her eyes. He could get to her if he needed her. And tomorrow they’d head home.

Liz jerked awake as Xan’s terrified scream rent the air. Oh god! She stumbled out of bed, muttering a harsh curse as her feet got tangled in the bed linens. He screamed again and her power coiled angrily as she raced into the adjoining room, fully prepared to blast whoever was attacking back through the wall. She slid to a halt as she entered his room to find everything exactly as it should be. No dark intruder hovered over Xan, the window was still closed and the nightlight still glowed softly to illuminate the shadows. She allowed her power to recede as she looked at Xan. He was twisted in the covers, crying out against a nightmare that still held him firmly in its grip. She sighed, wishing this were something she really could dispose of with her powers. Sitting down on the edge of his bed she prodded him gently. “Sweetheart, wake up. You’re safe, Xan. Wake up.”

With another shout Xan’s eyes opened in wide panic. “LIZ!”

“Easy, I’m right here, sweetie.” Liz caught him in a hug as he threw himself into her arms, clinging to her neck. She rubbed his back soothingly, her heartbeat returning to normal as his crying subsided to the occasional sniffle. “Better?” she asked gently, still rubbing his back as he relaxed against her.

“Uh-huh.” Xan whispered, one hand tangling in Liz’s hair as he sank into the safety of her arms. He had been so scared. For a second he had thought that Dr. Dave and that other boy were back. But they weren’t. And Liz was still here. She hadn’t left, like he’d thought. “I tought maybe you wewren’t hewre anymowre.” He said softly.

“I’m here, baby. I’m right here.” Liz soothed.

“Pwomise?” Xan whispered, releasing his grip a tad unwillingly as Liz nodded and pulled back to wipe the tears from his face. She kept one arm wrapped firmly around him so he didn’t complain. Instead he glanced through the open door that led into her room, biting his lip at the thought that she was going to go back in there where he couldn’t see her. Where she might forget and leave without him.

Liz followed Xan’s worried gaze to her bedroom and suddenly remembered what Meredith had said about him being careful to keep her in sight. She could feel him snuggling closer, obviously wanting to stay with her but he remained silent. Almost as if he were afraid she’d say no if he asked. “Hey, can I tell you a secret?” She felt Xan nod and continued. “I wasn’t sleeping very well either. I don’t like the dark very much.”

Xan looked up, surprised by her admission. “You don’?” He looked down again, vaguely ashamed of his own fear. “Me neider.” He whispered.

Liz nodded. “Here’s where I think we can help each other. See, I usually have Max to keep me company when I get scared. But he’s not here right now. So maybe you’d like to come lay down with me? That way, maybe I won’t be so afraid. Would you do that for me?”

Xan’s eyes widened. She wanted him with her? He nodded emphatically. “I can do dat. You won’ have to be afwaid.” He said earnestly.

Liz smiled. “Thank you sweetheart. She glanced over his head at the entertainment center across from his bed. Meredith really had gone a little crazy. The entire Disney collection was on the shelf next to the DVD player. She looked at Xan appraisingly. He was calming down, but he had yet to loosen his death grip on her hair. Watching a movie might help him get his mind off his nightmare. And Disney was perfect. She and Maria still loved those movies. “Why don’t we go pick out a movie? We can watch it in my room before bed.”

Xan shrugged, willing to go along with anything as long as she didn’t make him stay here by himself. “Kay.”

Liz smiled, leaning down to drop a kiss on his forehead. “Ok.” Correctly interpreting the small arms that tightened around her neck, Liz kept Xan in her arms and headed over to the video library. Now what should they watch? Bambi. She reached for the DVD and then stopped. All she remembered from Bambi was crying hysterically when the doe was killed by the hunter. Not Bambi. Ooh, Dumbo. That could be confidence building. She dropped her hand before her fingers touched the case. Didn’t they end up chaining his mother in a dark stall away from him? Definitely not Dumbo. Ok. The Lion King! She and Maria had loved that one. It was in her hand before the stampede scene flashed through her mind. With a disgruntled frown she shoved the case back behind the others. There was no way she was going to subject Xan to poor little Simba trying to wake his dead father. Tarzan? Oh, for God’s sake! Two dead parents and a dead baby gorilla in that one. What the hell was wrong with the people at Disney?

Xan watched as Liz searched through the DVD’s. He lifted his head from her shoulder when a familiar cover caught his attention. “Liz?”

“Hmm?” Liz answered absently, still searching through the collection for a movie that wouldn’t further scar Xan for life.

“Liz?”

Liz focused her attention on Xan as he used one hand to tug excitedly on the collar of her nightshirt.

“Petewr Pan.” Xan said, pointing at the movie once he realized that he had Liz’s attention.

“You want to watch Peter Pan?” Liz asked, considering the film thoughtfully. No violent parental deaths, everyone makes it home safely. Nothing to be afraid of. Well, Tick-Tock but that poor crocodile never did manage to kill Capt. Hook.

Xan nodded happily as Liz pulled it from the shelf. “Petwer’s my favewit.”

“Peter Pan it is.” Twenty minutes later Liz was working to keep the amused twitching of her lips from turning into full blown laughter as Xan happily chanted ‘We can fly’ along with Peter and the kids as they took off for Never Never Land. She dropped a kiss on the top of his head as he finished his song and then sank back into the mound of pillows propping the two of them up on her bed.

Xan sighed happily as he cuddled closer to Liz. His expression grew pensive as he looked from the Liz to the screen and back again. “Is dat weally how you get dewre?” he finally asked.

“Where sweetie?” Liz asked gently, wondering at his serious tone of voice.

Xan pointed at the screen. “Nevewr Nevewr land.”

Liz paused. How you get there? “Oh. Second star to the right and straight on til morning?” She asked. Xan nodded, his eyes searching her gaze, innocently confident that she’d know the answer. Liz nodded. “Yep. I’m pretty sure that’s how you get there.”

“But…how do you know wha’s da secon’ stawr?” Xan questioned.

“Well, you just have to count.”

“Oh. Ok.” He glanced back to the screen and watched the movie for a couple more minutes before turning back to Liz. “You’ll help me, wight?”

“Count? Absolutely.” Liz sighed, watching his expression lighten as she promised her help. She wasn’t sure if his wish to visit Never Never Land was part of a normal 4 year olds imagination or if it was because he was desperately attempting to avoid reality. “So, you want to visit Never Never Land, huh?”

“Uh-huh. Cuz dat’s whewre da guy lives.” Xan stated, as if that explained everything.

“What guy, sweetie?”

Xan rolled his eyes. “Da guy fwom da stawrs. Dat’s whewre Nevewr Nevewr Land is Liz, in da stawrs.” He said, explaining that fact to her as if it were common knowledge.

Liz felt her heart do an odd flip at his mention of the stars. “The stars?” she repeated numbly.

Xan nodded, then glanced at the bedside table where his picture rested. He reached over and grabbed it, then handed it to her. “He’s fwom hewre.” He explained. He looked at Liz’s face, biting his lip a little at her expression. “You don’t gotta be afwaid a him.” He said, holding up one small hand in a thoroughly adult ‘don’t worry’ gesture.

Liz nodded, forcing a comforting smile to her face as she reassessed his drawing. ‘Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.’ It wasn’t a nightmare image of monsters lurking in the shadows that she held in her hand. Stars. Winking silver stars against the darkened background of the night sky. That’s what Xan had drawn. Liz was suddenly catapulted back three years to the day Max had held his son for the last time. To the hand that had swept Xan’s forehead, leaving a trail of glowing stars in its wake. “Do you like this guy?” She asked lightly.

Xan nodded easily. “Uh-huh. I nevewr seen him.” he admitted, his brows furrowing a little. “But he wants me ta be safe.” Xan raised his gaze enough to once again study Liz’s reaction through his lowered lashes. “Cuz he loves me.”

Liz nodded, her heart breaking just a little more for both Xan and her husband. She pulled the little boy closer. She remembered being just as curious as Diane Evans when the stars had flashed briefly across Xan’s forehead. But she’d seen the look in Max’s eyes. She hadn’t needed their connection to know he hadn’t wanted to discuss it. But Mrs. Evans either hadn’t noticed his reticence or, with a mothers tact had simply ignored it and asked him what it was.

Just a memory.

Liz shook her head. How like Max to make certain that his son knew he was loved. And that he wanted him safe. How like her husband to leave the memory open enough for Xan to accept new parents but deep enough so that he’d never have to question his own worth. Sometimes a memory was just a memory and sometimes it was just so much more. “Well, you’re very easy to love, sweetheart.” She whispered.

Xan nodded happily, settling himself more comfortably within Liz’s embrace as he relaxed against the pillows to finish watching his movie.

Ten minutes later Liz glanced down to find that Xan’s heavy lids had lost the battle to remain open. His breathing evened out into the soft, steady rhythm of sleep. Liz brushed the hair from his forehead as he slept with absolute trust in her arms. She knew in that instant that she was bringing Xan home to stay. She didn’t honestly believe that Max have a problem with that.

It’ll never be over.

Liz pushed the memory to the back of her mind. That was three years ago. So much had changed. She’d felt his all encompassing joy and love when he’d spoken to Xan on the phone.

I have to ensure Xan’s safety.

Liz understood his fear. She did. But she was also fairly certain that after the last week she could make a good case for Xan being safer with them. Further, she knew that there was no way Max would be able to tell her they had to give Xan up once he’d seen him. If she were being honest, she supposed that had been the plan all along. The reason she wouldn’t talk about the future over the phone. Once Max saw Xan, once he heard him giggle or felt him reach out for comfort there was no way her husband would be able to let him go again. She was vaguely amazed at the strength it must have taken to do that in the first place. She knew, as she held Xan’s sleeping form safely in her arms, that she couldn’t do it. It was dirty pool, she supposed but it was also right. Max would see that. He had to. They would leave tomorrow as planned. And in a few more days Xan wouldn’t have to worry about making it to Never Never Land to meet ‘the guy from the stars’. She settled herself back against the pillows, plan firmly in mind and watched as Wendy began her bedtime story for the children of Never Never Land. She was asleep before the lost boys.

[ edited 6 time(s), last at 26-Aug-2002 3:12:14 AM ]
posted on 26-Aug-2002 2:54:53 AM by Pathos
*********Part 38***************

Max awoke and for the first time in two days felt somewhat refreshed. His soul flight had drained him more than healing ever had and, much to Maria’s chagrin he’d spent the day after Liz’s phone call sleeping it off. She’d finally cornered him yesterday as he’d headed to the kitchen after his shower. Putting her fears over Liz’s safety to rest had sapped the last of his energy and so he’d ended up heading straight back to bed. But today…he smiled suddenly as he felt her. She was getting closer. Today he felt good. He couldn’t help the goofy grin that spread across his face at the thought that in just a couple more days his wife and son would be walking through his front door. Today he felt damn good. The smell of French toast and bacon assaulted his senses, reminding him that he hadn’t eaten in over forty eight hours. His stomach growling, he threw the covers off and headed for the kitchen.

Kyle shook his head in disgust as Michael poured syrup and Tabasco over his French toast. “Could you not do that in front of me?” he asked, knowing full well what the answer would be.

Michael smirked, taking a large bite of his French toast and chewing pointedly at Kyle. “It’s not my fault your taste buds haven’t evolved enough to enjoy this. Turn around if you don’t like it.”

Max shook his head as he headed past the kitchen table, straight for the coffee pot. Michael and Kyle argued like brothers. Which was strange in and of itself when you considered that they were an orphan and an only child respectively. Add to that a self possessed alien and a pragmatic Buddhist and you should be asking for trouble. Oddly though, it worked. But then again if someone had told him a few years ago that he would consider Kyle Valenti one of his closest friends he would have been hard pressed not to laugh himself into a seizure. He added Tabasco and sugar to his coffee and turned back to the table to find the two of them staring at him. He was vaguely uncomfortable with the scrutiny. “Morning?”

Kyle snorted. “It’s two in the afternoon. We thought maybe you’d died. Again.” He added as an afterthought.

Michael rose from his chair, slapping Kyle lightly upside the head on his way by. “Shut up.” He muttered. He’d never admit it but seeing Max collapse had taken about ten years off his life. He reached into the oven for the plate of French toast and bacon that had been warming there and handed it to Max.

Max took the plate, gaping a little over Michael’s actions. He wondered briefly if his best friend had been possessed by his mother. “Who are you and what did you do with Michael?” he asked suspiciously

“Funny, Maxwell. Funny.” Michael said, waiting about 12 seconds before waving at the plate. “Eat, already!”

Kyle grinned at the expression on Max’s face. “I’d do what he says.”

Max nodded, taking a seat at the table and grabbing the Tabasco and syrup. “So, why are we having breakfast at two in the afternoon?”

Kyle took a drink of his coffee, his stomach turning as he gave a long suffering internal sigh at the sight of Max and Michael actually eating their Tabasco laden meals. “Because Michael promised me breakfast if I was the one who went to explain to your boss why you haven’t been at work for the last few days.” He correctly interpreted Max’s questioning expression. “You have mono.” Kyle nodded. Yep. Definitely worth the trouble to see Max choke on his French toast. He took a bit of his own meal. Plus he got fed.

“Mono?! Kyle…”

“It’s a mild case. You should be back sometime next week.” He shrugged weakly under Max’s glare. “I didn’t hear any other ideas.” He said defensively. “And it took me a while to explain everything. Hence breakfast at two.”

Max nodded glancing around the apartment. “Where’s Maria?” he asked.

Michael glanced at Kyle, whose look clearly told him this was his question. “She’s taking Liz’s shift.”

Max looked from Michael to Kyle and back. “There something I need to know?” he asked, watching Michael shift uncomfortably in his chair. Ok, something was definitely wrong. He wondered briefly if Maria was still mad at him. He had never been returned to official girlfriend status. A fact which he understood, but regretted nonetheless.

Michael shrugged innocently. “Not that I know of.” He saw Max’s still suspicious expression and decided to cut this conversation off at the pass. “How are you feeling?”

Max sighed, guessing he’d have to wait for Maria to blow up at him or Michael before he was clued in to what was wrong. “Fine. A little tired is all.”

Kyle nodded. “How’s Liz?”

Michael rolled his eyes. Three, two, one. Uh-huh. He shook his head tiredly, guessing things were finally getting back to normal as a ridiculously sappy smile spread across Max's face.

Max smiled as he tugged briefly on their connection, just to feel her respond. Closer still. “She’s good. Getting closer as we speak.”

Kyle nodded thoughtfully. “So… you just like called her up just then and…asked?”

Max blinked a little at the question. His brows furrowed slightly at the avid interest Kyle was suddenly displaying and the more subdued interest Michael showed as they both waited for his answer. “Uh, not exactly. I just get feelings mostly. Impressions.” He answered, shrugging somewhat uncomfortably. He opened his mouth to change the subject but Michael wouldn’t let him.

“Don’t know how you do it Max. Maria’s emotions? 24-7?” He shuddered lightly. “I’d shoot somebody.”

“Yourself or Maria?” Kyle asked with a smirk.

Michael grinned. “If I shot her she’d just haunt me.” He turned back to Max. “Aren’t you ever ready to snap?”

Max shook his head. “It’s not like that Michael. She’s not in my face all day, it’s more…I don’t know, like in the back of my head.” He paused. “What’s with…”

“Maria’d be in my face all day.” Michael stated.

Kyle grinned. “No kidding. Actually, I’m pretty glad this whole alien thing hasn’t popped up with Kelly.” He paused, remembering the last date he’d had with her. “Although, it might be helpful to know when she was getting mad. Help me avoid an argument.” He mused.

Michael’s grin turned sly. “Maria likes to argue.”

“And you’re smiling why?”

Max and Michael shared a look. “Make up sex.” Michael explained.

Kyle snorted. If that was the way it worked ‘make up sex’ was probably the only kind Michael and Maria had. He looked at Max. “What do you know about make up sex?” He asked. “You and Liz never fight.”

Max shrugged, once again completely uncomfortable with the conversation. “Have you two been watching Dr. Phil again?”

Michael and Kyle leaned forward. “What have you been fighting about?” Kyle asked, wondering if maybe Maria was right about this whole Xan situation.

“Nothing.” Max said. It was the truth but he realized how defensive he sounded.

Kyle backed down, suddenly not really wanting to know. He looked at Michael. The glare told him to re-lighten the mood. “Most fights are about sex or money.” Where the hell had that come from?

Max sighed. “You’ve been watching Dr. Phil again."

Michael nodded at Kyle. “Well, they don’t have any money so…” he trailed off, thoroughly enjoying the embarrassed expression on Max’s face.

Kyle nodded. “C’mon Max, tell us. Does the well really run dry after you’re married?”

Max glared. “No.” he ground out. Why had he gotten out of bed this morning?

“You can tell us, Maxwell.” Michael prodded gleefully, watching as the tips of Max’s ears got even more red.

“When did you guys become women?” Max asked, desperately.

Michael shrugged, turning to Kyle. “Doesn’t Buddha say something about keeping in touch with your feminine side?”

Kyle nodded. “Buddha says keep in touch with any feminine side you can.” He advised.

Max got up from the table and headed into the kitchen to deposit his dishes in the sink. “I’m going to take a shower.” he muttered, knowing from experience that if he didn’t get out of this conversation now he’d get dragged into something he’d regret. And today wasn’t a day for regrets. Liz and Xan were coming home. He ignored the long suffering sighs that greeted the smile that suddenly spread across his face as he turned and headed to the bathroom for a shower. They were coming home. They were safe and they were coming home!


-----------------------


General Corwin’s eyes narrowed as he surveyed Dr. Lawrence’s dead body. The anger growing in the pit of his stomach told him he was too late. “Anything?” he barked to the soldier examining the body.

“No handprints, scorch marks…nothing to indicate an alien did this. Could be a heart attack…there’s nothing really out of the ordinary. Sir.”

Corwin raised a brow. “Except the body of the one person who confirmed Elizabeth Evans’ presence lying dead in the morgue.”

“Er, yes sir.”

“You don’t find that slightly out of the ordinary?”

The soldier bowed his head slightly at the cool sarcasm in the Generals tone. “Of course, sir.”

Corwin nodded. “Damn right.” He strode from the morgue, barley acknowledging the bright sunlight as he stepped into the daylight. He turned to gaze at the project building David Lawrence had been stationed in for the last five years. The one where Elizabeth Evans would have been if she were acting as a ‘consultant’ on the project. The only building his unit had been unable to search thoroughly due to the sensitivity of the project located on the two uppermost floors. “We’ll leave the body, for now.” He ordered, nodding at the building across the Base. “I have the sudden urge to see Payton’s pet project.” He’d talk to Lou Payton after he figured out what he was hiding.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 26-Aug-2002 3:20:24 AM ]
posted on 2-Sep-2002 6:54:18 PM by Pathos
Hey all -

Just a little note to let you know that, no I haven't died. And, no I haven't forgotten the story. *happy* New parts will go up tomorrow. I'm hoping for sometime in the early evening but...this is me, so I'm sure you guys know that it'll be sometime late tomorrow night. *wink* One of these days I'll learn.

Thanks for all the bumps and the FB! I'll see ya'll tomorrow.

Pathos
posted on 4-Sep-2002 1:25:42 AM by Pathos
Hi all -

First of all I'm going to apologize. I'm sort of posting on the fly tonight so I don't have time to respond to the FB. Sorry about that, (it was either this or wait until tomorrow night when I had the time - figured you'd all want the story so...*big*). Promise to be back into the normal routine next time. Just know that I truly appreciate all of your wonderful and inspring (butt kicking into gear, LOL) comments. And I totally love that ya'll are still so into this story.

I swear *holds hand over heart* there is a reunion. In fact it's already written...just need a few more (5,6...8 maybe *wink*) parts to get there. Gonna ask you to trust me for just a little while longer. If I promise that the nookie muse is working over time will ya'll bear with me? *tongue*

Thanks again for all the patience, FB and bumps. You guys are da best!

Gonna post the story now before ya'll rebel. LOL.

Pathos


**************Part 39*************

Troy folded his arms behind his head and sighed as he stared at the ceiling, getting no further in his debate with himself than determining that there were 52 chips/cracks in the plaster. At least he had been left alone to wrestle with his conscience. Rank has its privileges, he thought with an amused snort. Not that he had much rank, or that many privileges, but when a single room had opened in the barracks he’d been given first choice or right of refusal. Which was how he came to be laying on this lumpy bunk, staring at an unfamiliar ceiling and considering General Payton’s offer.

“Sir?” Troy asked, his numb brain working hard to compensate for the sudden shift in his world. Half an hour ago he’d been interrogated, accused of treason and threatened with a Court Martial by one General and now another one was offering him…a promotion. He thought. Maybe.

“I’ve room on my team for a man like you, I wanted to know if you were interested.” General Payton repeated, his voice betraying his impatience over the necessity for it.

Troy nodded. Right. “Doing what, exactly?” They’d been speaking for the last twenty minutes but Troy had yet to figure out what exactly the conversation was about.

“I can’t tell you that.”

Why am I not surprised? “How long is the assignment?”

“I can’t tell you that, either.”

Course not. “Until I agree.”

“Precisely.”

Right.


On the surface the promotion was too good to be true. His buddies would think he was certifiable if he passed it up. Of course, there was probably a hidden clause somewhere in the new rulebook he’d be given barring him from telling anyone what he did for a living. ‘I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you.’ He shook his head as a line he’d only ever said in jest suddenly became completely unamusing. Who was he kidding? Payton wasn’t the type to give him a rulebook. But he’d sure as hell be penalized for breaking a rule.

And then there was the obvious. ‘If it seems to good to be true, it probably is’. He took a moment from his circuitous musings to wonder if his mother had ever given a piece of advice that didn’t include a cliché? Not that she’d been wrong yet, he acknowledged grudgingly. There was something about this whole thing that just didn’t sit right with him. Ok, there were a lot of things about this situation that didn’t sit right with him. Starting with General Payton and ending with, at least for the purposes of this round of thought, General Corwin. He felt like one man was trying to buy his silence while the other was trying to force his tongue.

Troy’s heavy sigh was lost in the darkness. Two weeks ago he had been almost completely anonymous. He’d done as ordered, to the best of his ability. He’d pleased his commanding officers, made his mother and father proud and loved what he was doing. And he’d done all that without once questioning the course of his life. Or becoming the focus of attention in some James Bond acid trip. How the hell had he gotten here? Oh, right. He’d followed his goddamn heart. Stupid fucking piece of equipment.

“Lt. Logan, you’re listed on a guard rotation for a project code named ‘Missing Link.’”

Tell me something I don’t know General Corwin. Like how you got hold of that roster to begin with. And why you’re asking me about things I don’t have the clearance to know.

Corwin stared at the man sitting across from him, taking his silence as the cue to continue. “What was she doing here?” He asked, taking a picture of Liz from the file folder in his hand and sliding it across the table. “Elizabeth Evans. Why was she here?” Corwin demanded more forcefully Reaching into the folder he ripped out another photo and threw it down on the table so that it landed half over Liz’s. “Max Evans. Was he with her?”


Corwin must have thought he was an idiot. Otherwise he wouldn’t have sat across the table, waiting so patiently for him to betray a four year old. He’d been both insulted and cautious. The same gut instinct that pushed him to trust Liz warned him to tread carefully around this man. The almost fever bright gleam in the General's eyes warned that the wrong step would not only be detrimental to his career, but quite probably his health as well. He felt like the joker in a deck of cards, fully aware that a larger game was being played but damned if he could figure out what it was. Or where exactly Elizabeth Evans fit into it. He hadn’t been shocked to hear that Cambridge wasn’t Liz’s last name. But the picture of her husband had thrown him ever so slightly. Xan clearly took after him and not Liz. A few more pieces of the puzzle fell together. No wonder she’d risked everything. And then there was Max Evans. The only thing he could say without hesitation or doubt was that it was Max Evans that Corwin wanted to get his hands on, though Troy was damned if he could figure out why.

“Why were they so interested in this project?!” Corwin ground out, his patience thinning at Troy’s continued lack of cooperation.

They didn’t know about Xan. He’d allowed himself a small sigh of relief, then he’d steeled himself against the rest of the interrogation. He’d be damned if he said anything that got Xan taken away from his rightful family. Not after everything they’d gone through to be together. He’d be damned if he’d betray them that way. Troy closed his eyes against the darkness. So far the only thing he’d concluded was that he’d be damned.

General Corwin leaned over the table and Troy had to fight the urge to back away from the smell of old coffee and stale cigarettes. Instead he adopted the bored expression that had driven his high school teachers insane. Corwin had gritted his teeth but kept his cool “Let me tell you something. Withholding information from me constitutes harboring a threat to national security. You do understand treason, don’t you? Court marital? It’s not just your career you have to lose Lieutenant.”

He’d honestly believed that that had been enough to think about for one day. And then he’d been called into General Payton’s office. The man hadn’t said one word about his interrogation, which gave Troy the sneaking suspicion that Payton was well aware of everything that had gone on in that room. He was like fucking James Bond. Eyes and ears in places that normal people wanted no part of.

“You can’t fly forever. It’s time to start thinking about your future Mr. Logan.”

Why had that one sentence made him so uncomfortable. It wasn’t simply the omission of his rank, though that hadn’t gone unnoticed. It was almost as if the General were trying to buy him off, reward his silence somehow. Which was both insulting and unnecessary. He’d committed to his actions the moment he’d moved to help Liz. And backed them up by refusing to offer any information to General Corwin.

“My team doesn’t answer to General Corwin.”

It almost seemed as if the General were holding out an olive branch, offering safety from Corwin’s threats. Troy shook his head, unable to completely rid himself of the somewhat more ominous suspicion that what General Payton was offering was both a stern warning and a valid threat. He shivered a little. There was no doubt in his mind that Payton was capable of making people disappear. Particularly if he considered them a threat. The question was, what did General Payton think he was? An ally? Or the enemy? Liz had been an ally, Troy would have staked his life on that. Before the news of her death had reached his ears.

“Just one thing, sir…Dr. Cambridge and Xan…They’re not really dead, are they.” It was a statement, not a question and it caught General Payton slightly off guard.

“Let me be very clear. Elizabeth Cambridge and Alexander Crawford are dead. All the proof the world needs is sitting on my desk.” General Payton stated unequivocally.

Right. What about Liz and Xan Evans? Troy bit back the question, nodding instead and still feeling like he was half a step behind every other player on the scorecard. “Understood. Sir.”


Troy exhaled sharply as he leaned up and bent his pillow in half, folding it under his head as he adjusted his position and tried to get comfortable. How the fuck had he gotten into this? He didn’t doubt that he’d done the right thing. But how had the right thing led to these lies and half truths? This place where every conversation meant something else and, as he was suddenly, chillingly aware, where a wrong move would bring much more than the usual disciplinary sanctions down upon his head. But what was the wrong move? Accepting this new position? Or turning it down?

“Fuck!” Troy said, satisfied as the curse cut through the darkness. Better to light a candle than to curse the…shut up, ma. I’m beggin’


[ edited 6 time(s), last at 5-Sep-2002 1:14:02 AM ]
posted on 4-Sep-2002 1:35:39 AM by Pathos
**********Part 40***********

Max narrowed his eyes, staring from the picture in his hand to the small bed frame on the floor. Less gun metal silver. More…steel grey. He waved a hand over the panel, nodding as he changed the color. And maybe a rivet here…and here. He studied the picture again. And here. Taking a step back Max studied his handiwork critically before giving a final nod of satisfaction. That bed looked more like a jet than it ever had a racecar. And according to the directions it was supposed to be a racecar. Don’t make plane beds my ass! He was almost tempted to take a picture and show it to the annoying salesman at the store who had insisted that his son would love the racecar bed just as much as a plane bed. He smiled a little as he looked around the room. The dresser and toybox he’d picked up at the Salvation Army store had cleaned up well, with a little help from his powers but…the color was wrong. He quickly changed it from the bright white he’d originally decided on, to a softer grey to go with the bed and then shaped the handles into rivets. Satisfied with the furniture he lifted the mattress onto the bed and quickly shoved everything into place. Perfect.

One more day. They were stopped for the night but by this time tomorrow they would be home. The whole room suddenly seemed to be holding its breath, waiting, and as excited as he was to meet its new occupant. It stood silent and unlived in at the moment. But in just one more day…one more day and his son would be here. Standing in this room. Playing here. Sleeping in his plane bed. Not 50 feet from where he, himself would be sleeping. Max took a deep breath, forcing his excited energy to calm a little. During one of their daily phone calls Liz had explained that Xan’s adoptive parents had died in a car accident. And while his aunt evidently had legal custody, the cold animosity Max had felt whirling through his wife at the simple mention of the woman’s name told him clearly that she wouldn’t be handing Xan over to his ‘Aunt Lori’. Ever. She was bringing him home.

Xan was so excited about coming to live with them. Max could hear it in his voice, even though he sensed a slight hesitation. And Liz…Liz remained steadfast in her refusal to discuss anything until they were face to face. He could sense the slightest hint of anxiety in her whenever he alluded to the future and it was causing his own concern to increase slowly as the two of them got closer and closer to home. Of course, she never flinched away from calling this Xan’s home as easily as she called it her own. His chest felt suddenly tight. Filled to bursting with the anxious love and odd trepidation that had been building in his system over the last few days.

They spoke on the phone every night. He and Xan. He and Liz. Max knew he felt something. Affection? Her affection for his son was clear in her voice and her heart, every time she spoke of him. Or to him. But there was something…more to it all. Something that hinted at a deeper connection. Something that teased him with hope and possibility. Maybe… Max was pulled from his thoughts as Maria’s raised voice filtered in from the kitchen.

“Oh. And I guess you think she should just bring the kid home and let Max keep him. Yeah!” Maria snorted. “I can see that working extremely well.”

“Maria, I’m not saying…”

“Well than what are you saying, Michael? You and I both know that’s what Max is thinking. He’s in there right now…”

“Doing what Liz asked him to do.”

“No. He’s getting his son’s new room ready. She asked him to make sure that the other room was livable.” Maria pointed out.

“I think Max knows what Liz meant.” Michael muttered.

“Really? Because I don’t think he wants to know what Liz meant. What he wants is his son…”

“Do you blame him for…”

“No, but you don’t know what it did to her, watching him search for that kid. Max didn’t even realize what was going on with her. Because he didn’t want to. And he isn’t going to want to now.” Maria asserted desperately.

Max blinked. That’s not what he was doing. Was it? Was he just transferring his own emotions onto Liz? Interpreting her feelings to suit his own wishful thinking? He shook his head stubbornly. No, he knew better. He had been wrapped inside her spirit when she’d pulled Xan into the safety of her arms during their escape. What he’d felt then still warmed his heart. It was real. It had to be.

“Look. I don’t want to argue about this. It has nothing to do with us.” Michael said wearily.

“I’m her best friend.” Maria gasped, outraged

“He’s her husband.” Michael bit out.

“So? Somebody’s going to have to say something. You and I both know that she’ll do this for him. If he asks she won’t be able to say no, no matter what it does to her.” Maria stated.

Michael sighed tiredly. “I just don’t want them to do the right thing for the wrong reasons, Maria.” He muttered.

“Right thing? Michael, there is no right thing in this situation. What about the fact that we’re still being hunted? What are they going to do with a four year old?” Maria asked triumphantly.

Max felt his heart constrict painfully in his chest. Xan probably would be safer…away from him. He paused on the thought, his whole being rebelling at the notion. The Air Force had found Xan anyway. His sacrifice, which had been devastating and soulwrenching, was also, in the end, utterly meaningless. They’d still found his son. Max sighed, all pretense slipping away as he acknowledged the simple truth. He couldn’t do it again. He couldn’t let go of his child when all he wanted to do was hold him safely in his arms. It had been hard enough the first time, standing still while Xan slipped farther and farther away from him. More completely lost even than when he’d been a universe away. It had taken every last ounce of control he’d possessed not to pull his son away from his mother and grab Liz to run as far and as fast as they possibly could. Instead he’d watched his parents drive his son away from him as he clung to Liz. Taking shelter in the strength of her embrace as she held him together. Just as she always had.

Liz. His wife. His soulmate. The woman he needed the way he needed the air to breathe. The woman…who wasn’t Xan’s mother. How would she feel with a living, breathing reminder of his betrayal staring her in the face every day?

Max shook his head angrily. Second guessing himself and his wife was driving him crazy. He knew he felt something. He’d felt it every time he’d spoken to her over the last few days. And it wasn’t resentment. It was…it was growing stronger, rooting deeper, every day. He felt it, damn it! He knew he was right. It was there. It wasn’t simply his own selfish wish. Was it?

“God, Michael! Liz hated babysitting for even a few hours at a time!”

Michael snorted. “When did Liz ever babysit?”

“Circa 1998 lba.”

“LBA?” Michael asked warily.

“Life before aliens!”

Max sucked in a breath as one of his fondest memories resurfaced to betray his already shaky confidence. The summer before freshman year. Jesus, Liz had hated to babysit. He knew it. Because the Flynns had lived at the end of his block and he’d found himself conveniently mowing the lawn whenever she was walking home.

--------------1998-------------

Max stared, barely aware of the way the edge of the lawnmower spit mulch at him when he got a little too close to the bushes. He adjusted the mower absently. Was that…? The familiar rumbling of his stomach confirmed it. Liz Parker was walking down the sidewalk towards him.

“Hey, Max.”

It should be illegal for someone to smile like that. “Hey, Liz.” Max nodded self consciously and she mimicked his movement. He glanced to the side of the house as she stared at the sidewalk, the silence stretching awkwardly between them. “What are you doing here?” He finally blurted. Good going Evans! Way to make her feel welcome.

Liz didn’t seem to notice. She pointed to the house at the end of the block. “I was babysitting.” She muttered darkly.

Max gave a low whistle. “The Flynns?” He questioned in surprise. “Glad to see you made it out alive.” Liz giggled a little, setting his stomach to rumbling again. He felt his ears begin to burn and he prayed she hadn’t heard.

“It wasn’t always a sure thing, believe me. I swear that kid could make me believe that there really are evil aliens in Roswell!”

Max forced a smile, his body stiffening a little at the mention of evil aliens.

“Oh my God. I…I didn’t mean it like that. I mean the kids only six…he…” Liz trailed off, biting her lip a little.

“We call him the demon seed.” Max deadpanned. “When we’re being polite.”

Liz stared for a second before bursting into that contagious laughter of hers. “Jerk. And here I was feeling guilty.” She paused, smiling at him. “ But you’re right. Twenty dollars an hour, Max. Not that I’m complaining but don’t they realize that there’s something wrong with overpaying someone so they can escape their own child for a few hours?”


They’d laughed. They’d laughed for a few minutes every week that summer, until she finally couldn’t take it anymore and quit.

“They made him. They should deal with him.” She’d told him, shaking her head in disgust.

He’d agreed, though his heart had plummeted a little at the thought that he wouldn’t be seeing her again, like this. “They deserve the torture for inflicting that kid on the rest of the planet.” He'd replied lightly.


At the time he’d treasured their shared laughter. It didn’t seem so funny now.

Max took a deep breath, forcing the thoughts from his head and focusing on the present. That was years ago.

“I’m serious, Michael!” Maria stated, her voice rising to echo through the small apartment. I’m not going to just stand by and watch while she gets her heart trampled by him again!”

“Maria!” Michael hissed. “He’s extraterrestrial, not deaf!”

“I’ve gotta go.” Maria snapped.

Max breathed a small sigh of relief when he heard the door close behind her as she headed to the restaurant to take Liz’s shift. He was vaguely amused to hear Michael echo it loudly in the kitchen. Turning back to the room he placed his palm on the wall. Get the room ready. That’s what he had to do now. Breathing deeply, he focused. A little less robins egg…more powdery…not so sky bright…a little more baby blue. He stepped back, satisfied with the color. But maybe white would be better with the border he’d chosen. He changed the color back and forth a couple times, considering.

“So, uh…did you…”

Michael. “Extraterrestrial, not deaf.” Max replied lightly.

Michael cringed. “Yeah. Sorry about that.” He watched Max shift the color back and forth for a second before taking a deep breath. “Look, I…”

“What do you think – blue or white?”

Michael glanced at the wall. “I don’t…blue. Max, I meant what I said. This is between you and Liz.”

Max lowered his hand, his head bowed slightly as he studied the worn carpet. “Yes.” He said softly. “It is.”

“But…” Michael sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Liz will do this for you, if you ask her. You know it and so does everyone else.” He paused, struggling with how to say what he needed to say. “But, Max…kids…kids know when you don’t love them. They know when you’re raising them because…for a reason other than because you love them.”

Max started, raising his head quickly and catching Michael’s unwavering gaze. He could almost feel the effort it took for his best friend to hold eye contact. To leave himself that vulnerable, with a wealth of lessons bitterly learned swirling behind his eyes. Max had no choice, could do nothing less than acknowledge them. “You’re right.” And Michael was right. But he’d swear that so was he. He had to be.

Michael nodded, lowering his gaze as he glanced around the room. He’d said what he needed to. He could only hope that Max listened. Or that Maria was wrong. He sighed. “Ok. So what border is going up?”

Max nodded at the roll of paper resting on the end of the bed. He was beyond grateful that Michael wasn’t taking this conversation any further.

Michael grabbed the border and only then did he truly see the shape of the bed. “An F-16?!” He asked in disbelief.

“He likes jets.” Max replied defensively.

“The Air Force!” Michael bit out in disgust. He continued to mutter darkly about the general wrongness of an alien kid sleeping in anything having to do with the Air Force as he unrolled the border. Then he fell silent and gaped at the pattern of jets dog fighting across the paper. “Maxwell, you’re killing me.”


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 4-Sep-2002 1:44:21 AM ]
posted on 4-Sep-2002 1:49:55 AM by Pathos
************Part 41**********

Langley sank back into the comfortable squabs of his leather wingback chair, sighing contentedly as the smoke from his Cuban cigar lingered over his head. Rank did have its privileges. This was a good day. His first in way too long. Tomorrow morning would see General Corwin facing Court Martial for the murder of one of his own men. And his project would be undergoing an Executive Review. Of which, he was the chair person. How beautifully ironic. And manipulated with a skill that almost made him blush. Langley inhaled deeply, breathing in the scented smoke that was one of the few things that actually permeated his senses. Just a few more days and the Air Force Special Unit would be well on its way to being grounded. God, sometimes he even impressed himself!

“Something I can do for you?” Langley asked wryly when General Corwin stormed into his temporary office. He was tempted to just call in the MP’s but he’d wanted to savor the moment. It wasn’t every day one beat ones nemesis soundly. Not that Corwin was much of a nemesis…but a victory was still a victory.

Corwin leaned over the desk, restraining himself, barely, from pulling Payton from his chair. “Where is she?”

“Who?”

“Elizabeth Evans. I know you received my containment order. And I know she was on this base. Now where is she?”

Langley smiled placidly. Good, the stupid bastard had found a few of the clues he’d left behind. He stood up. “Yes, Brad I did receive your containment order. And if Ms. Evans had been on the base I would have been happy to contain her. However, your sources were clearly mistaken. Dr. Cambridge was not…”

“Really? Then why were Liz Evans fingerprints found in your project building?” Corwin asked triumphantly. “What are you hiding?”

Langley’s eyes narrowed. “I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” He paused, cocking his head in seeming curiosity. “What were you doing in my project building?”

“Tracking down a dangerous fugitive.” Corwin said, throwing down the picture of Elizabeth Evans on his desk. “This bitch and the people she’s with have been an issue of security for three years. If you’re harboring…”

Langley snorted, picking up Liz’s picture and raising his brows in innocent surprise. “Her? She’s your great threat to national security?” He pretended to study the photo. “She’s what…110 lbs soaking wet? Jesus, Brad, is she even out of High School?”

“That’s an old picture.” Corwin muttered.

Langley’s eyes widened. “Let me get this straight…” He shook his head in disbelief. “You’ve been chasing a teenager across the country for three? Three years…and you haven’t caught her yet? And you still have a budget?”

“Don’t fuck with me Payton. Where is she?”

Langley gritted his teeth. “I have no idea where Ms. Evans…”

“Fine. Where’s Elizabeth Cambridge?”

Langley sighed. “Unfortunately there was an accident. She was killed instantly.”

Corwin’s eyes narrowed. “How convenient.” He snapped.

Langley shrugged. “Not really. It sets my project back several years. Which gets me back to the question of what you were doing in my building.”

Corwin ignored the question. “I know you’re lying. Why are you protecting her?”

Langley gave a long suffering internal sigh. Damned if I know. “What exactly did Elizabeth Evans do to have you hunting her down like a dog? Don’t tell me she cheated on her SAT’s?” Langley countered sarcastically, enjoying Corwin’s deepening color probably more than he should.

“All you need to know is that I have the backing of the Pentagon on this. She is to be brought into custody or, barring that possibility terminated.”

“What is she charged with? There’s nothing in the record…”

“It’s need to know. You don’t. About your little project, why was she so interested in it?”

“As far as I’m aware she wasn’t.”

“I have her fingerprints you jackass. Treason is still punishable by death and if you’re harboring her I’ll be giving the firing order at your execution.”

Fingerprints, my ass. You have one. I planted it myself. It’s a shame you didn’t find the 15 seconds of video. Some of my best work. Just a shadow. It could be the next Bigfoot tape. Game over. This is getting boring. “I wouldn’t be threatening me with anything. I’m not the one who broke a Top Secret clearance seal in order to gather this so called ‘evidence’. I’m not the one who’s been wasting tax dollars chasing children. ” He held up a hand when Corwin attempted to interrupt. “I’m not the one who tortured one of my own men to death. And I’m not the one who’ll be facing a Court Martial tomorrow morning.” He stepped around the desk to open his office door. He allowed a victorious smile to grace his borrowed features as the MP’s swept into the office “Secure the General.” He ordered.


Years of work. Langley sighed. It would all be worth it when this was finally over. It would be a while longer but still, eventually, his life would be his own again. He wouldn’t be at the beck and call of his King. He closed his eyes, trying to picture all the things he’d do with his freedom…nothing. Langley’s eyes snapped open and then narrowed as he chewed on the end his cigar. He was tired, that’s all. He’d bask in his freedom later. But he was getting his life back. And he’d be able to leave Their Royal Highnesses to deal with theirs. Kind of. For the most part. Langley blew the cigar smoke angrily into the air. Damn it! Where the fuck had his mood gone?

Langley let out a frustrated groan as the cell phone in his travel bag rang with shrill insistence. Now what? Sighing he reached out a hand and waved it at the bag, pulling the cell phone from its side pocket with his powers and catching it easily. “What!” he demanded. His eyes widened as he recognized the voice on the other end. No. This wasn’t happening now. He sat up straight in his chair, the cigar dropping from his fingers, into the ashtray, unnoticed. “What?” he whispered. “That’s not possible…well, how did he get that information?!…Really? Why the fuck did it take you so long to let me in on it?!…Right….what should you…STALL you worthless piece of…don’t get all sensitive on me. Just do it!” Fuck!

Langley flung the phone away as he pushed himself to his feet. He opened his laptop quickly, keying in the code which opened the tracking device in the Lincoln and gave Liz’s present location. It blinked at him from the screen, unmoving. Madison, WI. The last hotel Meredith had booked for her trip had been in Madison. He glanced at the clock. She was stopped for the night. Safe. For the moment. He debated calling Max, but the instant he did that he lost the ability to choose the best course of action. He knew full well that Max would order him to his wife’s side. Damn it! He was too close to shutting down the Special Unit to disappear before Corwin’s Court Martial. But he couldn’t leave Liz unprotected. His mind raced as he discarded several possible ways out of this before finally settling on the most likely scenario. He picked up the phone and dialed, cursing the fates as he did so. Did they think he’d been bored? Was looking for a challenge? For the love of Antar wasn’t what he’d been dealing with enough? To hell with the fates. When this was over he was going to become a Buddhist. And where the hell was…finally! “Meet me in Hanger 19.”


-------------------



Liz completed her current circuit of the small hotel room, her thirtieth in about as many minutes, and let out an anxious breath. She hugged herself, rubbing her arms slightly as she attempted to dispel the odd chill that had settled in her bones. Finding no relief from the unseasonable cold, Liz crossed to the bed and rested her hand lightly over Xan’s heart, relaxing a little as she felt it beating strongly against her palm. His chest rose and fell steadily with his breathing and Liz shook her head at her own concern. She’d known he was breathing. She could hear him snoring quietly through the stillness of the room. Her lips twitched a little. The snoring he hadn’t gotten from his father. The thought faded from her mind without even a shadow of resentment and Liz blinked a little at the realization. It was such an amazing freedom. To know, without a shadow of a doubt, that there was nothing to be scared of anymore. That, really, there never had been.

Forgiving Max hadn’t been an issue, really. Maria had been right, she had to forgive him or let him go. It was hardly a choice. But life is rarely that simple and in hindsight she could admit that there had always been a small piece of herself that was somewhat daunted by this other person who had as much claim to her husbands heart as she did. She wasn’t jealous exactly. There had never been a doubt that Max loved both she and Xan beyond measure. But in the darkest recesses of her mind she’d worried about the same thing that Max had. That his loving both of them somehow necessitated a choice. She’d always known, in a purely intellectual sense, that Max couldn’t make that choice. But now she understood why. Because she couldn’t make it, either. And she didn’t want to.

She watched Xan sigh in his sleep, rolling over to rest on his stomach and moving restlessly against the pillow. Reaching down, she rubbed his back gently, soothing the frown from his face and letting him know that she was right there. Promising him silently that she’d always be there. There were no other options open to her. The only thing she could do was follow her heart. And since she’d already tendered a rather sizable chunk of it into Xan’s custody that meant keeping him where he belonged. With her and his father. She couldn’t wait to see Max’s face when he finally met his son for the second time. Liz stood up, taking a deep breath as the anxiety rolled through her again. So why was she suddenly so afraid she wasn’t going to be seeing Max’s face tomorrow?

Her eyes snapped to the door, her attention drawn by the sound of people moving about in the hallway. She found herself holding her breath, her hand raised uncertainly as voices filtered through the door. A high pitched female giggle was followed quickly by throaty male laughter and the voices disappeared past her room. She shook her head, exhaling sharply and lowering her hand. What the hell was wrong with her? They were almost home. They’d be home before noon tomorrow, assuming she got enough sleep to drive straight.

And still her anxiety rose. Without even deciding to do it Liz walked to the door and melted the lock. She felt slightly safer and she’d worry about getting them out tomorrow. She circled the room again, restlessly, noting that her anxiety rose as she passed the window. Pausing, Liz lifted the curtain away from the glass and peered outside. She was almost expecting a face to be watching her from the other side of the window and she let out a relieved breath when all it revealed was the parking lot beyond. Swallowing her trepidation she searched the darkness that lay just beyond the streetlights. The shadows seemed to shift on their own, becoming more ominous and menacing the longer she watched. Liz shivered and quickly melted the locks on the windows, then drew the curtains back into place with a snap. She stared, a little surprised by her own actions, then fell back against the wall, grateful that Xan insisted that they sleep with the lights on. The shadows outside seemed filled with an undefined danger. Something that was almost drifting closer to them. At least the brightness of the room offered an odd illusion of safety and right now she’d take what she could get.

Letting out a trembling breath Liz headed back to the bed and stretched out next to Xan, smiling a little wanly as he cuddled up next to her. She wrapped her arm around him, adjusting him comfortably against her side. This is ridiculous. Get a grip, Liz. She commanded herself. It felt as if she were on the brink of a premonition. As if it were lingering just out of reach and she needed to find the right object or person to touch, in order to trigger it. It was one of the reasons she kept checking Xan. If this anxiety had anything to do with him she wanted to know now, rather than later. So far, nothing. A fact for which she was both grateful and annoyed all at the same time.

This was ridiculous. She was over tired, that’s all. She was worried and excited about Max’s reaction. She was just reacting to that. Close your eyes and get some sleep. Liz counseled herself, taking a deep breath and letting her lids drift shut. You’re just excited about tomorrow. Her arms tightened around Xan protectively as a wave of apprehension swept through her, forcing her eyes open to scan the bright interior of the hotel room again. Or not. To hell with it. She sat up carefully, rubbing Xan’s back gently when he whimpered a protest of her movement. She’d sleep tomorrow, when she got home.


--------------------


He sighed, itching at his neck under the cotton T-shirt as he stared at the window of the hotel room. He’d gotten lucky. They’d only expected to find the kid. Instead…there she was. Completely alone. It had taken him a few days to really be confidant of that fact. But it was true. Just Max Evans’ wife and son. He glanced through the night vision scope of his rifle. The light was still on. He shrugged. Couldn’t do anything until he received further orders anyway. Of course, he was fairly certain what those orders would be. Terminate Elizabeth Evans with extreme prejudice and take the kid into custody. He scratched a little harder at his neck as the mosquito’s buzzed and his cell phone remained silent. Shit. Looked like he’d be waiting until morning

[ edited 6 time(s), last at 4-Sep-2002 10:15:57 AM ]
posted on 8-Sep-2002 10:20:13 PM by Pathos
Hey all -

Just a little note to let everyone know that I'll be getting new parts up tomorrow night. Oh, and my obsessive editing has finally worked in your favor. Decided that half the stuff I'd originally written didn't fit so...look for the beginning of the reunion tomorrow night. *wink*

Have a good night and see ya'll tomorrow.

Pathos
posted on 9-Sep-2002 11:47:38 PM by Pathos
Ok, guys, I'm back -

You know the drill, responses to FB first, story next. And since you're all ready to hit me after leaving things the way I did I'm just gonna jump right into it. *wink*

Hope you enjoy the new parts!

Pathos


Lelea: Happy to see you’re still enjoying the story. I couldn’t help myself, I had to bring Troy back. I just like the guy too much. And of course, Michael goes without saying. LOL Hopefully this part will make up for the cliffhanger ending. *happy*

b4echstarrynite: Looks like you had a better idea about when the reunion would be than I did, hon. *wink* Thanks so much for all your great FB, hope you enjoy the beginning of the reunion.

ConsultantTam: Honestly, sweetie, I’m not trying to kill you. Little foray into torture…kidding! And hey, I took pity. *insert announcer voice here* The reunion begins tonight. LOL Hope you like. *happy*

merchez: Totally agree with your interpretation and I’ll admit that even when this story was just a vague idea I knew that Liz had to be away from Max in order for this to work and be real. I’m big on actually dealing with the reality of a situation. Just hope I can live up to the expectation. Oh! And don’t give up on that nookie just yet…*big*

BLS40: Thanks for the fly-by. LOL Happy to hear you’re enjoying and I hope you like the next few parts.

frenchkiss70: Sorry to leave you hanging like that, sweetie. Hopefully this part will begin to make up for it. And thanks for the bump.

rossiaddicted: Just a teeny roller coaster. LOL It won’t be another 40 parts, I promise. Max threatened to go on strike if I did that. Hope you enjoy the next few parts!

Snowdove30: All shall be revealed…er, just not all at one time. *big* Hope you like the next parts.

Jane8302: Ok, so I guess 8 parts was a bit of an exaggeration. Particularly after the editing I did. *happy* Hope the beginning of the reunion lives up to the build up. Enjoy!

Tigereyes: Evil? Moi? *insert echoing evil laughter here* Hopefully I’ll be upgraded after the next few parts. LOL No need to resort to whining, sweetie, I caved. Or rather, my maniacal editing tendencies got you to the reunion more quickly than I expected. Have to say thanks for the hammer. Finally just beat the heck outta the RLS. And thanks for all the bumps. Always appreciated. Oh, and there’s a little author’s note for you at the end regarding Madison, WI. I swear there’s a method to my madness. Somewhere. *big*

Asabetha: So glad that you’re enjoying the story. And you know Langley, he’d delegate the imperative, if he could. LOL Hope you like the next few parts.

Scottie: Hi! And Welcome! I always love to see new readers and I’m so glad you’re enjoying the story. Promise to clear up the present confusion as soon as possible. But, um this is me so…hope you enjoy the next few parts in the meantime! *wink*

mitra: Ask and ye shall receive…hope you like the first part of the reunion. There’s a tiny bit of danger but I promise it’s worth it. Hope you like! *happy*

roswellluver: I don’t know about safely but…hope you like the next few parts.

RoswellLady: I’ll take ‘wow’. *wink* Thanks so much for the FB. Glad to hear you’re over your computer bug. I had problems this week myself and I understand your pain. LOL Hope you enjoy the next few parts.

YonkersMe: And I’m evil again…have decided to take that in the best way possible. LOL Have to say I felt totally guilty about posting the jump back into danger after your FB saying how much you enjoyed the little reprieve. Sowwy. But hey – I promise that Max and Liz will find their way into the ‘wonderful room that love built’ very soon. But until then…hope this makes up for last week. *happy* And, ooh..chocolate sauce and a cherry? You do know how to bribe me.

prue_18: Here you go. Hope you like the next few parts.

Minanda: I agree that Max and Liz need to talk - think of that conversation as coming soon, just not now. LOL Trust me for just a little while longer and I promise to cut our dreamers a little slack…soon. *wink* And there’s a small author’s note at the end for you regarding Madison, WI. There really is a reason for them being there. LOL

jeremiah: Glad you liked the last few parts. The beginning of the reunion is down below. Hope you like. And thanks for the bumps.

TeddyBehrJKT: At the risk of me sounding repetitive – I love that you love this story! Still totally amazed, but loving it just the same. LOL And I couldn’t help myself, after IMAA I decided that Max’s latent interior design talent just had to be exploited. *wink* Still trying to find a way to get Mrs. Logan into the story -I’d like to meet her too. Thanks so much for all your supportive, inspiring FB. Totally appreciated. And as for that sniper…well, you know. LOL

mandyhanford: Mandy – I told you there was a reunion! I know, you’ve been waiting for the last month (ok, longer) LOL. Hope it lives up to the expectation. *happy* I promise – there’s more. Thanks for the bumps.

schmidta: Here you go kiddo. Hope you enjoy.


narly21: I love your FB, hon. Thrilled that you’re still so into the story. Agree with you that there needs to be a real conversation soon. Not even their connection can beat open, honest communication. Oh, jeez. Now I sound like I’ve been watching Dr. Phil! *big* Hope you enjoy the beginning of the reunion. And really hope that school is treating you better this week. What can you say? Its a necessary evil. *wink*

MaryJean: Thanks for bumping! Hope you enjoy the reunion.

Ty01: I just love hearing that you love the story so much. And sorry to make you wait but here’s three new parts for you. Hope you enjoy the beginning of the reunion! *big*



posted on 9-Sep-2002 11:54:00 PM by Pathos
***************Part 42*************


Max stared out the window of the Michael’s Thunderbird, watching the scenery on the side of the road blur as they sped along the highway. They were still going too slowly. “Can’t we go any faster?” He wasn’t surprised at the silence that greeted his question. Michael had stopped answering him about an hour ago. He sighed harshly, trying to take comfort in the fact that he could sense Liz, ever more clearly, the closer they got to her. Of course, considering that what he felt most strongly was her raw, aching fear that he was going to be too late, there was little comfort to be had.

-----------Two hours earlier-------------
Sitting up Max swung his legs over the side of the bed and rested his head in his hands. Exhaling roughly, he finally gave in.. This was getting ridiculous. If Liz didn’t call him soon, he was going to call her. He could feel her bone deep anxiety, punctuated with sharp spikes of real fear. She was trying to convince herself that it was nothing but she wasn’t succeeding. Which did nothing for his own fiercely unsettled state of mind. He’d been beating his pillow into submission for the past three hours. Nothing. The bed still felt too big and his wife was still way too far away. Fuck it. He reached for his cell phone an instant before it started ringing. “What’s the matter?” he demanded.

“I don’t know.” Liz whispered. Even with Max’s concern sparking anxiously through their connection she was oddly comforted by the simple sound of his voice. “Really, Max, I don’t know. I just have this…feeling.”

“You had a premonition?” Max asked, his confusion evident. If she’d had a premonition how could she not know what was wrong?

“No. That’s just it. It feels like there’s one, like, just out of reach. Like I haven’t touched the right person yet or something. But…I don’t know.” Liz whispered desperately. “It just feels like something is…just really, really wrong, Max. I just…I can’t shake it.” She paused. “What are you doing right now?”

Max almost snorted. She’d been going for nonchalance. And fallen way short of the mark. “Going crazy.” He answered, reaching for the jeans he’d discarded earlier and holding the phone between his ear and shoulder to pull them on. He stepped into his work boots quickly and waved a hand at them to tie the laces before wrapping his fingers around the phone again. “Liz, look, I know you said…”

“Could you come meet us?” Liz interrupted.

Max let out a sigh of relief. He’d been half convinced that she was going to argue with him. Which wouldn’t have changed the fact that he was walking out the door in two minutes whether she wanted him to or not. “I’m on the way.” He growled a little as the t-shirt he had pulled over his head got stopped around his neck when it came up against the cell phone and his bent arm. Swearing softly he pulled the t-shirt off and threw it on the floor before reaching quickly for a button down and sliding it over his free arm.

“Max, calm down.”

“You’re kidding, right, Liz?” Max asked sardonically as he headed into the living room, his shirt still hanging from just one shoulder. “Gimme thirty seconds to run mapquest…where are you, by the way?” He asked as he opened the laptop sitting on the kitchen table.

“Comfort Inn, in Madison.”

Max keyed the address she gave him into the computer, briefly thanking whoever was looking out for them that she wasn’t too far away. “Ok, I’ll be there in three hours. Less if I have anything to say about it.” He closed his eyes as her relieved sigh floated across the line. “Are you two going to be ok ‘til then?”

“We’ll be fine, Max.” Liz paused. “Just get here, please?”

“I promise.”

“We’ll see you soon, then.”

Max nodded. “Soon.” He hung up reluctantly. Not soon enough. He knew it was what Liz was thinking, though she’d refrained, as he had, from voicing the thought. Damn it! The clock above the stove claimed that it was morning, even though dawn had yet to sweep the curtain of stars from her path. This was NOT how he’d pictured this day going.

“What are we doing?”

Max started, whirling around to find Michael standing behind him, reaching for his wallet and keys and yawning around his question. He’d completely forgotten that Maria and Michael were sleeping in the pullout bed in the living room. The entire group had been unwilling to leave him alone until Liz was safely home. He supposed wryly that it was lucky Kyle hadn’t awakened from his makeshift bed on the floor in Xan’s room.

“Somebody forget to invite me to the meeting?” Kyle asked, as he stared from Max to Michael, his gaze narrowing at the sense of urgency that seemed to fill the air. “What?”

“What the hell are you three doing?”

Oh, good. Maria. “I’m going…” Taking in Michael’s pointedly raised brow Max amended “We’re going to meet Liz. We’ll be back around lunch.” He said, trying to sound as casual as possible and still get out the door. He wasn’t getting into this with everyone.

Kyle nodded slowly. “You planning on actually getting dressed first?”

Max glanced down at the shirt hanging from his wrist and gritted his teeth against his frustration as he pulled it on all the way, buttoning it quickly. “Can I go now, mom?” he asked, heading for the door with Michael at his heels.

“Wait, we’re going with you.” Maria said as she climbed from the pullout bed.

“No. You’re not.” Michael said, turning briefly to stare at her, his voice indicating that there wasn’t going to be a discussion about this.

Kyle studied Max a second more before jumping in ahead of Maria. “Go. We’ll wait here, just let us know what’s going on” He shook his head at Maria’s outraged expression while Michael and Max took their cue and left before Hurricane DeLuca could be upgraded to a tsunami. He shook his head again. “Maria, the last thing they need is to worry about us too.” He watched as she sank down onto the edge of the bed, his words stealing the fight from her and, he was sure, causing all sorts of nightmares to flash through her extremely capable imagination. He sat down next to her and slung a friendly, comforting arm around her shoulders. “It’s gonna be fine.” He felt Maria nod against his shoulder and jostled her a little. “It is.” He averred. “There’s a reason the military is scared shitless of those two, remember?”


Max took a deep breath, trying without success to calm his nerves. He glanced over at Michael again. “Can’t we go any faster?”


------------------------


Troy double checked his instrument panel as the airport’s running lights finally came into view. He allowed himself one easy breath before he remembered that he wasn’t on the ground yet. It aint over ‘til it’s over. And he couldn’t be sure this whole thing wasn’t just some elaborate ruse Payton had thought up to get rid of him until he landed this jet.

“I thought you said I’d have some time to think about this.” Troy said suspiciously as he stared at the jet, primed for flight just behind the hanger door. All he had to do was give the word and he’d be flying before the next hour was up.

“This has nothing to do with my offer.” Payton stared at him appraisingly, pausing to consider his next words carefully. “Liz and Xan are in trouble.”

“I thought they were dead.” Troy challenged.

Payton met his hard stare, his mouth twisting in wry amusement. “No you didn’t. But, without your help, there’s every chance they’ll be assassinated.”


Shit. What the hell was he supposed to say to that? Even knowing that there was a chance the jet he was flying would explode within seconds of takeoff, how could he risk a little boy’s life? And honestly, something about the desperation in Payton’s eyes tugged at his gut, told him that this wasn’t a lie and this wasn’t a ruse. Payton was worried. Troy would almost say…scared. The General honestly believed there was a possibility that the next day would see Liz and Xan…assassinated. Troy mulled that thought over in the back of his mind as he contacted air traffic control and asked for permission to land.

Assassinated. It was an odd word to use, but that’s what Payton had said. Liz and Xan were going to be assassinated. As if they were political figureheads. Banking sharply, Troy circled above Milwaukee, waiting for the go ahead to land. It was granted and he lowered the landing gear. And waited. Nothing. No smoke filling his cabin. The controls still responded. And he’d felt the tell tale shift in the planes center of gravity as the gear lowered smoothly, cutting into the wind. His relief was almost immediately overshadowed by the sudden fear that raced through his system and took up residence in his heart. Assassinated. He glanced at his watch. And prayed that he got to Madison in time.


-----------------------


Liz smiled wryly at Xan as he happily finished off his second helping of Tabasco laden scrambled eggs. She couldn’t believe that just a few days ago she’d actually been worried about his appetite. Now that he’d discovered Tabasco, he couldn’t seem to find enough to eat. She wondered vaguely what part of the brain taste buds were attached to and what they had to do with Antarian biology. She blinked a little when Xan’s expectant expression cut into her train of thought. “I’m sorry, sweetie. What was that?”

Xan frowned a little at Liz’s distraction, wondering why she looked so worried. “Awre you ok?”

Liz’s brows rose in surprise at Xan’s question. She’d thought she’d hidden her anxiety well enough but if the worried expression on his face was any indication, she hadn’t hidden it at all. Taking a deep breath she wrapped her arm around him and squeezed him into a brief hug. “I’m fine, Xan. I’m just a little tired, that’s all.”

Xan relaxed, feeling better now that he was cuddled close against Liz’s side. “You din’t sleep good?” he asked.

“Not really, sweetie.”

Xan looked up at Liz’s face. “Did da ligh’s go out?”

“No…”

“Did you have a bad dweam?”

“Not exactly…”

“Den why couldn’ you sleep?” Xan asked, his brows furrowed in confusion as he waited for her answer.

“Well, I was…I was just excited about seeing Max again.”

“Oh.” Xan reached for his plastic fork and dragged it across the styrofoam plate in front of him. “Max is comin’, wight?” He nodded along with Liz and then whispered “Cuz why?” He thought they were supposed to see Max at home, so how come Max was coming to get them now? “I t’ought I was goin’ home wit you.”

Liz felt her heart thud painfully in her chest as Xan’s big bright eyes searched hers fearfully. She hugged him more tightly to her. “Oh, sweetie, you are coming home with me. Max is coming because…because he was just so excited to meet you that he didn’t want to wait.” She cupped his chin and gently raised his head so that he would meet her gaze. “Baby, he can’t wait to until we’re all home. Remember, he told you all about how he was fixing up your room?”

Xan nodded, his worry laid to rest with the sincerity and warmth shining from Liz’s eyes. She never lied to him. “What colowr is it?” He asked curiously. He hoped it didn’t have those stupid clowns all over the place like his room at Aunt Lori’s

Liz smiled more easily as Xan relaxed. Gathering her purse she slid from the booth and stood, waiting for Xan to follow her. “I’m not sure, sweetie. We’ll have to ask Max when he gets here.”

Xan nodded, slipping his fingers into her outstretched hand as they headed for the parking lot. “An’ I can show him my plane.” He added, hanging onto Liz’s hand as she helped him up into the Lincoln.

Liz shook her head as Xan continued to chatter on happily as she drove around the corner, back to the hotel. It warmed her heart to see him smile so easily. She was glad she’d decided to head over to McDonald’s for breakfast. Getting out of the hotel room had done wonders for the unrelenting anxiety she’d been feeling all night. She had almost convinced herself that it really was just a case of nerves. Something she and Max could laugh about when he got there. Which, if she were any judge, would be within the next half hour or so. She thrilled at the renewed strength of their connection. It had been too long since they were even this close. She couldn’t wait to wrap her arms around him and…she caught her breath sharply as she opened the car door and felt the now familiar dark anxiety steal over her when she stepped from the vehicle. Feeling almost numb with the return of her fear, Liz placed a restraining hand on Xan’s shoulder, keeping him in the car as she scanned the parking lot. The sudden ringing of her cell phone startled a gasp form her lips. Shaking her head a little she answered

“Liz? It’s me. I just wanted to let you know we’re almost there. There was a little traffic and…what’s going on?” Max asked, deciding to forego the small talk and get to the point. For the last hour he had felt her gradually calming down, relaxing into the way she normally felt. But her feelings had shifted an abrupt 180 degrees just a second ago, sending his protective instincts into overdrive yet again.

“It’s…back. When we were having breakfast it felt like everything was ok but now, it’s back.” she said, searching the parking lot for any sign of danger and seeing none, finally allowing Xan to slide out of the car. She shuddered a little as she glanced around the open parking lot and realized how utterly exposed they were. “Max…”

Max closed his eyes against the aching fear that was currently threading tightly around his heart at her slight whimper. “Baby, I’m almost there. Just hold on for a little while longer.”

Liz nodded, taking a deep breath. He was close, she could feel that herself. She helped Xan from the car and turned to head for the hotel. “Right. I’m going to get Xan inside. Just…Max, just hurry.” She hung up the phone after Max’s soothing promise to do as she asked.

“Liz, wha’s dis?” Xan asked as he held up the thin scrap of something he’d picked up from the pavement for her perusal.

Liz wrinkled her nose. “Sweetie, put that down, it’s dirty.” She reached to brush what looked like a moldy candy wrapper from Xan’s fingers, when it saved her the trouble

Xan blinked in surprise, his mouth falling open a little as whatever it was he’d been holding disintegrated into ash. He wiped at his shirt as the wind caught the dust and brushed some of it against him. “Yuck.” He looked to Liz for help, half expecting her to have a wipe out already to take care of his dirty hands.


-----------------------


The assassin swore heavily, his finger tightening on the trigger as, through the scope on his rifle, he watched the heir pick up a discarded piece of his husk. He could tell from the Queen’s sudden pallor that she knew exactly what it meant. Goddamn it! He glanced at his cell phone. He still hadn’t received any orders. And his backup had yet to arrive. Which really didn’t matter. He knew what his orders would be. And he knew what Nicholas would do to him if he fucked up this opportunity. No one had heard anything from the amended ‘Royal Four’ for the last three years, he couldn’t just let the Queen go. Not when the heir was hovering just within reach. And not when taking her out and holding that kid would bring them to within inches of everything they wanted. Including Max Evans’ destruction. He grinned evilly. Nicholas would make him rich for this. Shifting into a more comfortable position the assassin centered his scope on Liz Evan’s head, wondering vaguely how Nicholas would send her to the once and future king. Knowing Nicholas, probably in pieces.





[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Sep-2002 7:54:41 PM ]
posted on 10-Sep-2002 12:08:35 AM by Pathos
**********Part 43**********

Liz stared. Skins. For one brief instant her heart seemed to stop, to pause between beats so that she might fully grasp the situation before having to deal with the almost painful pounding against her ribs, which occurred the instant her heartbeat resumed. Oh. My. God. Not now. This wasn’t happening now. She looked at Xan and quite suddenly her pseudo premonition made sense. Her fear snapped into clear, frightening focus, underscored by the frantic rushing of blood through her veins. Pulling Xan up into her arms, she turned back to the car, pressing the unlock button frantically. She heard the lock click open as her trembling fingers dropped the keys. Shit! Shaking her head she forced herself to concentrate on one thing at a time. Ripping the door open she shoved Xan inside. “Get down on the floor and stay there.” She ordered before turning around to search the ground for the keys. Shit, shit shit! She couldn’t help but look up when she heard a motor gunning, sounding suspiciously as if it were headed straight for her. Gasping sharply, she jumped back a little, her hand raised defensively as a black Suburban screeched to a halt directly in front of her.

“Liz?”

“Xan, stay down!” She said, forcing herself to stay calm as she coiled her energy tightly within her grasp, steeling herself as the window of the Suburban rolled slowly down. This was not going to happen. Her energy sparked, even as her brows furrowed and she exhaled a surprised, relieved breath. “Troy?”

“Get down!” Troy ordered, just as the snipers first shot slammed into his side of the Suburban with eerie quiet. Silencer. He saw Liz’s eyes widen, but she made no move to hit the ground. “Down, Liz! Get down!” He breathed a small sigh of relief as she finally complied. Opening his door carefully he used it as cover and took aim on the foxhole the sniper was using, thankful that the man was slightly more exposed than Troy, himself would ever have allowed. The two drivers’ side tires leaked air as the sniper switched targets and took aim on the vehicle. Stealing their means of escape. Fuck. “I need you to come around by me. I’m gonna put down some cover and you’re gonna get Xan inside. Liz?”

“Got it!” As surprised as she was by Troy’s sudden appearance Liz could feel herself calming down slightly, a relief as sharp as adrenaline flooded her body as she realized that she wasn’t facing this alone. And Max was going to be here in just a few minutes. This was going to be ok. It would. It had to be. She crawled across the pavement, unsurprised to see Xan inching his way out of the car, his eyes huge and frightened. Grabbing his arm, she pulled him to her, holding him securely against her body as she stroked his hair, careful to keep them both as close to the ground as possible as she slid around the Suburban, staying molded to the vehicle as she tried to get Xan ready for what they were about to do. “We’re going to be fine, Xan. See? Troy’s here to help and we’re just going to run really fast inside ok?”

Xan sniffled against Liz’s throat. “Kay.” He said, wrapping his arms more tightly around her neck and closing his eyes.

“That’s it, sweetie.” Liz soothed, cupping the back of his head gently as she moved in behind Troy. She nodded a greeting at him when he turned to look at her. “What are you doing here?” she whispered, not sure why she was bothering to keep her voice down.

“Payton sent me.” Troy pointed at the lobby door, just across the way. They needed to get inside and find a place to hole up. “We’re going that way. You first and I’ll be right behind you. Too bad the damn things not open.” He muttered. His eyes widened when Liz held out a hand and the door swung inward invitingly. He blinked. Open sesame. Right. “Ok, then. Can you make it?” He stared hard at the woman before him. She’d been through so much already, and he had to be certain she was going to hold it together for just a little while longer. Troy wasn’t surprised to see that she simply squared her shoulders and tightened her hold on Xan. She returned his look easily, obviously steeled to do whatever was required of her. He pressed a hand to Xan’s back. “You just hang on little man. Everything’s gonna be fine.”

Liz felt Xan nod mutely against her throat but she could also feel the tears streaming from his eyes. She hugged him more tightly to her, fighting her own tears. When were they going to catch a break? Pushing that thought to the back of her mind she nodded at Troy. She was as ready as she’d ever be.

“GO!”


---------------------


“Michael, GO!” Max pointed to the street sign a few blocks up, frantic fear rushing through him as he fought the urge to use his powers and force the accelerator further against the floor. He glanced at Michael’s grim features and forced a deep breath. Any further against the floor and it would hit the street below. Please. Just twenty more minutes. Please give me that. It was the closest he’d ever come to truly praying. But even as he begged he knew that there wasn’t a prayer in the world that would give him the time he needed.


------------------------------


The assassin swore heavily, cocking his head a little as he pulled the current layer of drying husk away from the healthier ‘skin’. It burned a little and was still sensitive even a few seconds later. He forced a deep breath, focusing on his targets rather than the fact that he was running out of layers on this husk. Moving quickly past the disabled Suburban he headed into the hotel, turning the corner towards the Queen’s room. He jumped a little as his cell phone went off, vibrating against his thigh.
“What!” He barked in a harsh whisper.

“Rumor has it that you’ve got Liz Evans cornered. With the heir.”

He closed his eyes. Nicholas. “Yes, sir.” he stuttered out. “I’m uh…” he trailed off, suddenly aware that he hadn’t received orders.

“You’re going to kill his Queen and bring me that child.” Nicholas ordered silkily. One seal was as good as another and he’d be damned if that little brat got away from him again.

“Yes…”

“GO!”

“Right.” The assassin realized he was speaking to dead air and quickly shoved the phone back in his pants angrily. There were times when it was easy to forget who Nicholas really was. Like when you focused on his pre adolescent husk. And moments when the war lords angry power reached out and slapped you in the face, leaving no doubt. His eyes narrowed as he slid after the trio, his back against the wall. He wondered vaguely why the Air Force was involved in protecting a fugitive and then let the thought slip from his mind. It didn’t matter. It would just be another body to dispose of.

----------------------


Troy pushed Liz and Xan ahead of him, walking backwards as they rounded the corner that led to their room. He knew the sniper was following them. He could hear the other man’s footsteps echoing through the halls in an eerie recreation of a horror movie he’d seen years ago. His heart had pounded mercilessly then, but he was oddly calm now. Completely focused on what he had to do. He glanced over his shoulder at the tiny woman holding her little boy protectively in her arms as she rushed down the hallway. He couldn’t afford fear and he couldn’t afford second thoughts. Liz and Xan couldn’t afford his second thoughts. It was them or this man following them and, with an odd discomfort, he realized that in this particular instance he had no problem making that choice. The footsteps got closer and he leveled his weapon.

“Troy!” Liz glanced over her shoulder as she got the door to the hotel room opened and stepped quickly inside. He was still a few feet away. Her breathing quickened as she saw a shadow fall against the wall, rounding the corner before its owner. “Hurry up!” she hissed frantically.

Troy nodded and hastened his retreat, making it to the doorjamb before the sniper rushed his position. He wasn’t even vaguely surprised to see the silencer on the man’s gun. It matched his own. Cynically, he supposed they were standard issue for people in his new line of work. So they could do things like this right under the noses of the peaceful, God-fearing people sleeping just a few feet away. Shaking himself back into the situation at hand Troy took a second to check Liz’s position. From the corner of his eye he saw her push Xan behind her and raise her hand. Sliding to one knee Troy stared down the assassin, taking aim at the left side of the man’s waist, the exact spot General Payton insisted he hit. He fired a second after the sniper pulled the trigger. He let his breath out slowly as the shot went wide, missing him completely. And then sucked his breath back with a shocked gasp as the man disintegrated before his eyes.

“What the fuck?” Troy breathed out harshly. He blinked purposefully. The man was still gone. And not just the man. Gun, clothes, shoes, not even a pair of dirty underwear marred the dust littering the hallway. Convenient, his shocked mind decided

“Twoy!”

Turning back to Liz and Xan he demanded “Ok. What the fuck was that?!” And then he saw why Xan had so desperately called his name. Liz was kneeling on the floor, trying to use the bed to steady herself enough to gain her feet. Her right hand was fisted so tightly in the sheets that her knuckles were white. And her left arm hung uselessly at her side, blood dripping from the wound in her shoulder and pooling on the floor. “Shit, Liz!”


-------------------------


“Liz!”

Michael jumped as Max went from focused silence to a raging roar without warning. “What?! What happened?!”

Max turned his angry, tortured gaze on his best friend. “She’s hurt.” He was trembling with the feeling that was ricocheting through him, filtering across their connection and echoing Liz’s sudden, wrenching pain. “Go. Faster.”

Michael gestured vaguely at the traffic in front of them. “Max, I can’t go through…”

“Try! Just…Michael, please just GO!”

Michael nodded. The desperate fear in Max’s voice cutting through his common sense. Gunning the engine he pulled over to the left, riding the yellow line and just barely missing both oncoming traffic and the eighty year old woman trying to see through her dashboard as she continued along at a rocking 15 miles per hour. He slipped back onto the right side of the road, weaving in and out as if he were channeling Speedracer.

“Left there.” Max ordered.

Michael nodded, taking the turn on two wheels.

Max braced himselfwith a hand against the roof as Michael continued to barrel down the road. He debated trying to reach Liz metaphysically but he quickly discounted the idea. He knew he didn’t have the focus to achieve it. And they’d be at the hotel soon. He forced a deep breath into his lungs, trying to focus on the fact that, although she was hurt, it wasn’t life threatening. He could feel that. But it hurt. God, it hurt her so much. “I’m coming, Liz. Just hang on.”


----------------------


Shit. Slamming the door shut on the mystery in the hallway Troy rushed to Liz’s side. He was careful to avoid her injury as he gathered her against him and then eased her back onto the bed. Xan ran around to the other side of the bed and tried to crawl up after her but Troy leaned over and grabbed his arm. “I need you to stay on the floor, Xan. You’ll hurt her if you’re up on the bed.”

Tears spilled from Xan’s eyes as he stared at Liz and then shook his head at Troy. “Nuh-uh. I’ll be good. I jus’…”

“No.” Troy said firmly, pushing Xan back by the bedside table so that he was out of the way but could still see Liz. “Stay there little man.” He warned, then turned his attention back to Liz. She was taking shallow, panting breaths and gritting her teeth against the pain. “How are you doin’ Liz?” He asked loudly, hoping to keep her conscious as he stripped a couple of the pillow cases from the pillows and ripped them into a makeshift bandage.

Liz opened her eyes and glared at Troy. “I was shot! How do you thiAAGHHH.” Liz forced her scream to a dull whimper as Troy gripped the neck of her t-shirt between his hands and ripped it, exposing the wound for his inspection.

“Twoy, stop!” Xan cried, his tears flowing faster as he saw the tears that were slipping from beneath Liz’s closed lids. Then he caught sight of all the blood that was spilling from the wound at her shoulder and cried even harder, burying his face against the bed.

Liz reached out her good hand, gritting her teeth against the pain as her movement jostled her shoulder. “Xan, baby, listen to me. I’m going to be fine. I just…it’s just…”

“A flesh wound.” Troy supplied, hoping that would calm Xan slightly. It didn’t. The poor kid looked up at him and wept even harder while Liz glared at him. He shrugged at her, folding his makeshift bandage into squares. “What?”

“Xan, listen. It’s just…a booboo, that’s all.”

Xan blinked at Liz through his tears. He was four, not stupid. “Is a BIG booboo, Liz.”

“I know. But, um Max is going to be here in just a few more minutes and then it’ll be like it never happened.” Liz forced out hoarsely, praying it was true.

Xan whimpered unable to stop his tears completely but feeling slightly better now that Liz was talking. His brow furrowed at this new information. “Is he gonna kiss it bettewr? Cuz, I could do dat, Liz.” He offered tearfully. Troy would have to let him on the bed for that.

“You can kiss it better, later, Xan. Keep both feet on the ground, for now.” Troy warned. He turned back to Liz. “The bullet went straight through…I don’t suppose the hospital is an option?” He swore softly, knowing she’d shake her head even before she actually did. Right.

Liz tried to take a deep breath but the pain that shot through her body at that action caused her vision to blur around the edges. Where the hell was Max?! She tried to force her irrational anger back. She could feel him panicking and she didn’t need to add to that. Of course, she was the one shot, damn it! And right now seemed like the perfect time to be irrational. And Troy! Flesh wound my ass. Whoever had come up with that stupid…. “AAAAAGGHHH.”

“This is gonna hurt.” Troy said, holding Liz more firmly with one hand as he manipulated her collar bone back into place so he could bandage it properly.

Going to?! Liz felt Xan grabbing the hand she’d fisted in the sheets as she bit back against the scream that wanted to burst from her throat. She knew he was crying, she just needed to catch her breath and then she would tell him it was ok. But then she felt the broken ends of her collarbone scrape against one another. She gave up fighting the darkness that wooed her, more than willing to accept the offer if it meant relief from this searing pain. Her last thought before slipping into unconsciousness was that she liked Max’s way of doing this so much better.


--------------------



“Liz!”

Liz turned her head and caught Maria’s frantic, frightened gaze. She wondered briefly what had so completely freaked out her best friend. And then she saw the gun pointed at the man. And then it was pointed at her. She saw him pull the trigger. And that was the last thing she saw. It wasn’t like in the movies. There was no slow motion reel. No theme music playing in the background. Just the intense white heat radiating through her body. But even that was too intense to feel for very long. She could feel herself disengaging, shrinking from the pain and focusing instead on the restaurant mat under her head. And then not even that. Although, she could hear him. Even through the rush of blood in her ears she could hear him arguing softly with someone. Ordering an ambulance, though he knew she wouldn’t need it. This was a familiar dream. One that had long ago ceased being a nightmare.

“It’s gonna be ok.”

She briefly registered the warmth of his knuckles as they brushed under her chin and then she felt his hand, warm and strong, threading through her hair to cup the back of her head, supporting it as he coaxed her back to life.

“Liz. Liz! You have to look at me.”

She wanted to, she really did. But her lids were so heavy. And then she couldn’t resist his plea.

“You have to look at me.”

She opened her eyes a little, almost expecting to see the gun again. But the gun was no where in sight. Instead there was the most amazing pair of eyes staring back at her. Frantic and worried. Determined. Her lids drifted shut again, briefly. They were like the shadows at sunset, those eyes. Not too dark. Lit from behind as if the sun were still streaking through in places, leaving the air all around so incredibly warm. She focused on the echo of his whispered promise. All she had to do was look in his eyes and everything would be alright. Forcing her lids open again she caught his gaze. And she couldn’t look away. She was like a mosquito caught in amber. And she wanted to remain, held fast, forever. She waited expectantly, knowing she’d feel it in just a moment. The warmth. Not burning, healing. Max. But it didn’t come. Max?

Her breath came in harsh pants as she opened her eyes wider. She could see him through the café doors. Her father. She’d forgotten that he’d banned Max from the Crash. Daddy, please. Max… He was shouting for her. Demanding she open her eyes. That she follow, that she get up and come to him. She shook her head. It felt so heavy. She couldn’t move. But Max wouldn’t listen. He was pulling at her through their connection.

“You have to look at me.”

“Open yowr eyes.”

Liz whimpered, the pain seeping in and becoming less peripheral as Max tugged insistently on their connection.

“Please open yowr eyes.”

“You have to look at me.”

She wanted to, but she couldn’t. She hadn’t felt the warmth. She wasn’t healed. God, it hurt! Max was still outside. Daddy, please. I need him. Just let him in.

“You have to look at me!”

“Open yowr eyes! Please!”


“MAX!” Liz jerked awake on a sob. And promptly sank back against the pillow as the shadows closed around her vision and tried to pull her back into unconsciousness. She gritted her teeth against the pain in her shoulder, breathing shallowly in an attempt not to jostle her wound any further. She opened her eyes when she became aware of the harsh crying that was coming from her right. Turning her head she saw that Xan was crying, holding tightly to the fingers of her right hand and struggling against Troy’s heavy handed grip on his shoulder. Swallowing the confusion that still lingered in the aftermath of her dream, she whispered “Baby, what’s the matter?”

“You din’t wake up.” Xan accused hoarsely, tears clogging his small voice.

Liz tightened her hand around his fingers. “I’m awake now. It’s ok, sweetheart. I promise.” She looked at Troy as Xan tugged more insistently on her hand. She could tell that he was desperate to get on the bed next to her. “You can let him up.” She said.

Troy wasn’t sure that was the best idea for Liz, but he knew Xan needed to be as close to her as possible. He kept a restraining hand lightly on Xan’s shoulder as he moved to help Liz into a more comfortable sitting position first. "OK little man, lets let Liz sit up and then you need to be real still so her shoulder doesn’t hurt OK?"

Xan nodded impatiently. The instant Troy lifted him onto the bed he threw himself at Liz, falling into her side and causing her to inhale sharply against the pain in her shoulder. "I din’ think you wewre evewr gonna wake up." He whispered.

Liz fought the sudden wave of dizziness that came with the jolting pain and tried to fix another smile on her face. "Of course I was, sweetie. I was just a little tired that’s all." She glanced around the room, closing her eyes against frustrated tears as she realized that Max wasn’t there yet. Close but not here. She glanced up at Troy for assistance.

“Xan, what did I tell you?”

Xan looked stricken as Troy moved toward the bed again. He clung tightly to her shirt and pressed himself away from Troy, desperate to stay at Liz’s side. "I’m sowwy. I fowgot. I won’ do it ‘gain. I pwomise."

With her free arm Liz reached for Xan, his fear and desperation cutting through the pain to remind her that he was only four. "Don’t be sorry sweetie, I love hugs when I first wake up." She could see that he needed to be held. He’d been through so much in the last week and he needed to know that everything really was going to be ok. She tightened her arm around him, gritting her teeth against the pain as he inched forward until he was nestled against her right side. Liz ignored the throbbing pain that came with the slight jostling, taking a long, deep breath as Xan finally stilled against her.

"You weally OK?" Xan asked, cuddling carefully against Liz, his desperate fear stilling when he felt her arm come around his shoulders. He looped his right arm over hers, hoping to keep it in place.

Liz smiled down at him and kissed the top of his head. "I’m fine, Xan. Really." Xan nodded, but she could feel the him trembling against her side.

Liz knew this whole adventure was catching up with him. Gently wiping his bangs from his forehead she planted a bright smile on her face she whispered. "Hey. Everything’s fine now.” She bent down, pressing her temple to the top of his head to cuddle him closer. “Max is gonna be here in just a few minutes and then we’ll be heading home. It’ll be like this never happened, sweetheart.” She felt him nod, his trembling calming a little as he let her soothe him. “I’m sorry for scaring you, baby."

Xan rested his head lightly against her side and played absently with a lock of her hair. "Don’ do it ‘gin, kay?"

"Ok."

"Pwomise?"

"Of course." She looked at Troy who looked back at her as if she’d lost her mind. She rolled her eyes at him. What else could she have said? And then she felt it. "Oh, thank God." She smiled at Troy. "Max is here."

Troy looked at her in confusion, then jerked around as he heard the door fly open without the benefit of a key.

"Michael!" Liz didn’t need a premonition to see the accident that was waiting to happen. Troy stepped around the bed, drawing his weapon just as Michael stepped more fully into the room. "No!" She wasn’t sure who she was shouting at but neither of them listened

Michael could see Liz and a little boy who had to be Xan from the doorway. He felt Max shove past him as, from the corner of his eye he saw a large black man in a uniform. With a gun. Without thinking he threw the guy against the opposite wall. He followed the man’s trajectory down the wall until he settled in an unconscious heap on the floor. He glanced around the rest of the room and seeing that it was empty, took a moment to silently congratulate himself on a nice shot. Then he turned his attention back to the bed. Just in time for the vase that had been sitting on the dresser to bounce off his chest with surprising force. "Ow! What the fuck was that for?"

Michael glanced at Max wondering if he knew but Max was standing next to the bed staring with odd fascination at the two people on it.

"We gotta go, Liz!" Xan stood up and pulled at Liz’s arm but he couldn’t get her to move.

"Sweetie, listen to me, it’s ok now. Xan, listen…" Liz tried to get him to calm down and look at her but he wouldn’t. His terrified gaze was riveted on Michael.

Xan shook his head. Hadn’t Liz seen what happened? "Nuh-uh. Is NOT ok!" He clutched at Liz’s neck, pointing at Michael. "He killed Twoy!" He whispered urgently, tears filling his eyes.

Liz swallowed against the pain radiating from her abused shoulder as the sudden vibration of the lamp on the bedside table caught her attention. Shit. This was not going well. "Michael, duck!"

Michael scowled. "What? Why?" His eyes widened as he saw the lamp coming at his head. He stepped out of the way in time for the lamp to crash harmlessly against the wall next to him. "Look, Nostradamus I know we’re a little late but gimme a break, will ya?"

Liz rolled her eyes, fighting the sudden nausea the gesture created. Ok. Don’t do that again. "It’s not me Michael."

"Then who…" Michael stared at Xan who was currently trying to mold himself to Liz and pull her from the bed at the same time. "Fuck."

"Yeah." Liz glanced at Max who was still staring at her and Xan as if he thought they were a mirage. Her patience was wearing thin and frankly so was her pain tolerance. "Max! Snap out of it! Please." She whispered. God she hurt.

Max blinked. He stepped forward but Xan glanced at him with such wide, frightened eyes that he stopped. He watched his son grip Liz’s face in his small hands and turn her head towards him.

"Liz! We gotta GO!"

Max could hear the tears and the fear clogging Xan’s voice and his heart clenched. He saw the alarm clock on the bedside table vibrate slightly and then come to rest.

"Everybody Freeze!"

Max blinked, Michael scowled and Liz sighed loudly.

"Twoy’s not dead." Xan whispered in wonder as he sank down next to Liz to watch what was going to happen next.



posted on 10-Sep-2002 12:21:14 AM by Pathos
*******Part 44*************


Troy squinted at the group assembled before him. He was pretty sure there weren’t as many people in the room as he was seeing. He was getting pretty goddamned sick and tired of being thrown against walls. Sighing Troy tried to keep himself from swaying drunkenly on his feet. He was fairly confident he’d succeeded until the tall shaggy guy asked "How many of us do you see anyway?"

Michael glanced at the gun, noting that it wasn’t pointed at anyone in particular. He could knock this Air Force freak against the wall again and even if he got a shot off it was only going to hit a wall. Probably.

"Michael, I’m pretty sure you could take him but Liz and Xan are sitting not five feet from that man. And his gun. I’m gonna ask you not to do anything just yet to piss him off and get them shot." Max knew Michael wouldn’t have any problem knocking the guy out again, but he didn’t want to upset Xan any further.

"Spoilsport." Michael muttered but backed down.

"Ok, look, can we just knock the testosterone back a notch. We’re all on the same side here." Liz could feel the throbbing in her shoulder getting worse. She could also feel herself getting lightheaded. She blinked her eyes back into focus and looked over at Troy. "Troy, this is my husband Max. I told you he was on his way."

Troy relaxed slightly. Now that he was looking, he recognized Max from the picture. He squinted at th other kid. "What about the freight train that hit me?" He concentrated on focusing and could swear the bastard was smirking at him. He tightened his hold on the gun.

"That’s Michael." Liz looked over at Michael who was smirking in obvious challenge. "Michael, please would you just be nice for twelve seconds?" Liz heard her voice break and cursed silently as four sets of male eyes swung to focus on her.

Max shook his head, trying desperately to order his jumbled thoughts. But he couldn’t stop staring. At his son’s frightened face. At the arm Liz kept slung so protectively around Xan’s waist. Liz! What the hell was wrong with him? Now that he was coming out of his own fog he could feel her pain and dizziness. His eyes widened as he caught sight of the bloody bandage that covered her left shoulder. "God, Liz what happened?" He sat on the bed next to her and noted the slight sheen of sweat lining her forehead. "Why, didn’t you say something?" He cupped her face gently as she shrugged her good shoulder at him, trembling slightly. "Ok. Ok, I’m here now, we’ll fix it."

Liz’s eyes filled with tears. Max was here and everything was gonna be fine. "I’m cold Max. And it hurts. I don’t think it hurt so much last time."

Michael straightened and regarded Troy coldly. "What did you do to her?"

Troy blinked and tried to focus on Michael’s renewed threat. "Nothing. She’s lost some blood and she’s probably in shock. Fractured her collarbone…wouldn’t let me take her to the hospital."

Xan’s eyes had widened at Michael’s tone of voice and he tried to burrow further into Liz’s side. She glanced down at him. "Michael please, calm down. Troy didn’t do anything to me. He’s done nothing but help us." She inclined her head pointedly so Michael could see the way Xan was staring at him. Michael sighed and nodded, visibly backing away from Troy and leaning against the wall. Liz would have smiled at the ‘Sorry, man.’ he threw at Troy as an afterthought but she didn’t quite have the energy. "See Xan, Michael’s not gonna hurt anyone. He was just trying to protect us. He didn’t know Troy was on our side." Xan nodded but she could tell he wasn’t so sure about it.

Max interrupted her train of thought. "Put your arm around me sweetheart." He said standing and moving around the other side of the bed to take her in his arms from her good side. "Xan, I need you to move so I can pick Liz up and…" He trailed off as his son regarded him without speaking and shook his head.

"Xan, it’s ok." Liz said as her head began to spin. The adrenaline that had kept her focused for the last few minutes was abruptly gone and her eyelids felt so heavy. And she couldn’t seem to stop her limbs from trembling against her sudden chill. "Someone turn off the air, please…it’s cold."

"Liz…" Max felt her slip into unconsciousness and swore silently. He gave up on moving Liz and instead reached for her shoulder.

Michael watched Max try to position himself around Xan to reach Liz’s wound. He knew instantly that he’d given up on the idea of moving Liz to the bathroom to heal her away from Troy. Michael sighed. He shouldn’t be surprised. Crowds had never bothered Max before. Pushing away from the wall he grabbed Troy and spun him towards the bathroom. "Man, you look like you’re gonna puke!" He shoved the larger man through the door and closed it behind him, waving his palm over the handle to keep the door locked. He looked back at the bed when he heard a little voice order Max not to touch Liz.

"Huwts when you touch hewr dere!" Xan reached out quickly and pushed Max’s hand away from Liz’s shoulder then moved back to his original position at her side hoping she’d wake up soon.

Max took a deep breath, his worried frustration falling away abruptly when he saw the tears welling in Xan’s eyes. He lowered his voice, hoping to soothe his son. “Listen to me, pal. I’m going to make her better, ok?” He waited for Xan to nod his agreement before continuing gently. “But I need to touch her. I’m not going to hurt her, Xan. I’m going to help her.”

Xan stared up at Max, relaxing a little at the soothing familiarity of his voice as he explained what he was going to do. He wanted to believe Max but…he bit his lip a little, wishing Liz would wake up. “But…Twoy said it huwts hewr.” He whispered worriedly.

Max nodded. “Tell you what, you watch me and if she starts to hurt I’ll stop, ok?” Max could see Xan considering the offer. He leaned forward a little, reaching to pick Xan up. His son regarded him solemnly and Max stopped just short of touching him, almost holding his breath as he waited for his little boy to decide whether or not he was going to trust him. He breathed a small sigh of relief as Xan leaned forward, shifting just slightly away from Liz and grabbing hold of his forearm to keep himself balanced.

Xan sighed heavily as Max picked him up, shifting him gently away from Liz into the warmth of his strong arms. He studied Max’s face carefully. “But…you’ll stop if it huwts, wight?” he asked, relaxing a little when Max nodded seriously. “An’ den we can go home?” he whispered.

Max swallowed hard, the feel of his son in his arms causing his heartbeat to thunder in his chest. It was as completely shattering as it had been the first time he’d done it, three years ago. He brought one hand up to cup Xan’s cheek, brushing gently at his drying tears. “That’s right, pal. Then we’re going home.” He whispered.

“Kay.”

"Maxwell, I got him." Michael said, softly, reaching out to take Xan into his own arms. He didn’t want to intrude but he also didn’t want to leave Liz lying unconscious while father and son got reacquainted.

Max took a deep, handing Xan carefully into Michael’s keeping before turning back to his wife. There’d be all the time in the world to hold his little boy. Right after he healed Liz.

Xan’s eyes widened as he was handed off to the big guy who’d thrown Troy against a wall. He froze for a second before starting to struggle against the strong arms that held him.

Michael tightened his grip on the squirming boy and tried to calm him down. "Easy. It’s ok. I’m not gonna hurt you, I’d never hurt a kid. Trust me." Xan shook his head. Michael blinked, shocked at the response. The squirming continued and Xan added kicking as well. "Hey! Remember, Liz said I was on your side." Michael pointed out in desperation as one little foot grazed a very sensitive area.

Xan stilled and looked back down to the bed. Max was touching Liz’s bad shoulder and his hand was glowing. Xan’s eyes widened "He’s huwting hewr." He whimpered.

Michael looked down into Xan’s frightened eyes. "Easy kiddo. He’s helping her. I swear, he’d never hurt her."

Xan wanted to believe what Michael said. And Max had said he wouldn’t hurt her. He was just so tired. And Liz wasn’t awake. And he was so tired. He sighed, watching closely as Max’s hand continued to glow. But Liz wasn’t crying. Maybe Michael was right.

Michael shifted Xan’s weight more firmly against his chest as he felt the exhaustion radiating off the kid. He followed Xan’s heavy lidded gaze to the bed where Max was finishing the healing and nodded a little, thanking whichever god wanted to claim the miracle that Maria had been wrong. He nodded gruffly at the kid. “Everything’s gonna be fine now, Xan.”


----------------------


Liz couldn’t help the smile that lit her face when she opened her eyes to see Max staring down at her, his somber amber eyes filled with concern. This was so much better than the last time. She sighed happily as she felt him brush the hair gently back from her temple. Relief brightened his features as he saw her looking up at him. Her soft smile widened as she captured his gaze "We’ve really got to stop meeting like this. People will talk." Liz teased huskily.

Max took a deep breath. She was ok. He knew she was ok, he’d healed her. But God, it felt good to hear her voice. "Maybe some day you could learn to duck when the bullets start flying? Please?" He teased back before crushing her against him in a tight hug.

Liz laughed. "What fun would that be?" She asked, sighing happily when he pulled away to thread his fingers through her hair and then captured her lips in a gentle kiss, eloquent of all the love and longing that resided in his soul.

Max pulled away, brushing his lips against hers one last time to convince himself that she really was here, safe, in his arms. Breathing deeply he rested his forehead against her own. “I think we need to work on your idea of fun.” He whispered, his deep voice husky with emotion.

"Ow! Look, see Liz is fine."

Max and Liz jerked apart, turning to where Michael was holding a suddenly squirming little boy.

"Hey! Calm down."

"I want Liz!"

Michael held Xan away from himself for a second trying to rearrange his squirming body. Which turned out to be a mistake. Xan kicked out and caught him in the gut. "Fuck." Michael dropped the kid on the bed and clutched his middle. Let Max deal with him. He looked up to see Liz biting her lip to keep from laughing. "It’s not funny!" He ground out.

Xan skirted around the edge of the bed and stopped behind Liz’s right shoulder. He grabbed a fistful of shirt with his left hand then pointed at Michael with his right. "He gwabbed me!" He accused.

Michael’s eyes widened. "You kicked me! And anyway, he grabbed you" he said, nodding at Max. "I just held you."

Xan looked back at Max, deciding to ignore Michael’s point. "Is she bettewr?” he asked.

Max blinked, nonplussed. This was his son. He knew three years had passed since he’d seen him. Hell, he’d spoken to him on the phone. But for some reason he was still shocked to find Xan walking and talking. A little person in his own right. He cleared his throat. "All better. Just like I promised." He answered softly. He didn’t know why but he suddenly felt shy.

Xan nodded and then looked down at Liz. The bloody bandage still covered her shoulder. He sent a skeptical glance at Max before turning back to Liz for confirmation. “Awre you weally bettewr?” he asked softly, searching her face.

Liz nodded, smiling at Xan. “Almost completely.”

Max paused in his memorization of Xan’s features to stare at his wife. Almost? But…

“You know what would make me 100% better?”

Max and Xan both shook their heads. Xan was curious and Max, dumbfounded as to what would make her ‘100% better’.

Liz reached behind her and untangled Xan’s hand from her shirt, pulling him around to face her. “Is that offer of a kiss still open?” She asked, tweaking his nose, just to tease a smile from his too-solemn features.

Xan grinned slowly. His chest puffing out a little with pride. She needed him. “Uh-huh.” He kissed his hand loudly and then placed it gently over Liz’s heart, concentrating on making her better and looking up into her eyes to see if it worked.

Liz gasped. “Max…” she whispered.

------flash-------
A mobile of pastel animals circling lazily overhead.

-----flash-------
A feeling of safety and warmth as a woman’s voice murmured in his ear.

----flash-------
A desperate loneliness as he watched his new family interact as if he weren’t even there

----flash------
Shame when his aunt found him flying his plane and was afraid

-----flash-----
Terror at the base. Fear that maybe he belonged there.

----flash-----
Herself. A feeling of safety and warmth as he curled up next to her. His joy that she was taking him home.

And threaded through everything, the comfort of the stars. The knowledge that he was loved.


Max’s brows furrowed when he heard Liz’s gasp. He saw tears falling gently from her eyes but he knew she wasn’t in pain. It was something more…profound. Something she couldn’t wait to tell him. He glanced down at Xan’s hand and saw that it was glowing. His brows shot to his hairline. Glowing? He made a tentative move to break the contact but then Xan dropped his hand, taking half a step back from Liz.

“Is it bettewr?” Xan whispered hoarsely. He was suddenly even more tired than before. He sighed happily as Liz pulled him into a tight hug. He rested his head against her shoulder and wrapped a lock of hair around his fingers. “Yow’re cwyin’” he said worriedly.

Liz nodded, rubbing his back gently. “Happy tears, baby. Happy tears.” She met Max’s gaze meaningfully over Xan’s shoulder. “Thank you. It’s all better now, sweetheart.”

Xan nodded, yawning loudly as he slipped down to nestle against Liz’s side. He hid his face a little when he saw Max staring at him. "Hi." He said, using two fingers to pluck shyly at Liz’s t-shirt.

Max smiled, awed and utterly lost at the amazing scene unfolding before him. He was sure that if he blinked he was going to find himself waking from the most incredible dream. He cleared his throat, reaching out tentatively to trace his finger down Xan's pert nose. "Hi. How you doing, pal?"

Xan wrinkled his nose, smiling a little at Max as he yawned again. "I’m tiwred." He felt safe. And Liz was awake now. "Don’ tuwn out da lights." He whispered as he closed his eyes and allowed sleep to claim him.











Li'l Authors Note to Minanda & Tigereyes regarding Madison, WI -

Ok, so um, ya caught me. LOL There actually was an explanation in the story but I, er, edited it out. Oops. Anyway, first, I do realize that Madison is not part of a straight shot trip from LA to Chicago but I figured Langley, being paranoid, would not send Liz and Xan the normal way. He opted to send them high, (ie: cutting through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota etc to WI) because a straight shot takes them awfully close to New Mexico. I chose Madison as the last stop point because it was far enough away from Chicago (about three hours) that after traveling all day with a four year old you'd still want to stop for the night. But it's still close enough that Max could get there in a reasonable amount of time. Also, because of the airport in Milwaukee Troy could make it in time to get rid of the skin. And *waving to all you other midwesterners* I'm actually from Chicago so I'm familiar enough with how long it takes to get to Madison from both Chicago and Milwaukee that I could chart out the different routes and action without having to do too much math. LOL

Hope that makes sense. Probably answers the question with way more information than you wanted but...this is me. Won't say in two words what I can say in ten. *big*

Pathos

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 10-Sep-2002 12:50:35 AM ]
posted on 11-Sep-2002 11:44:07 AM by Pathos
quote:
Hey Minanda...I dunno about Pathos, but you guys just name the time and place and I'm so there!


Just let me know and I'm in.
*big*
posted on 15-Sep-2002 1:27:14 PM by Pathos
Hi guys -

Just a little FYI to let you know that I'll be posting later tonight. See ya then.

Pathos
posted on 16-Sep-2002 1:08:57 AM by Pathos
Hey all -

I'm back with more of the reunion. You know the deal, replies first and then story. Hope you all enjoy!

Pathos *happy*

roswellluver: Gotta love Troy, right. Oh and as for a ‘complete’ reunion…depends on your definition of complete. *big*.

Lelea: Yeah, I noticed the lack of sincerity in Michael’s apology too…gotta work on him. *wink* I agree that it wasn’t Max’s most shining moment…Liz probably would have kicked him herself if it hadn’t hurt so much. LOL Just chalk it up to the stress. Hope you like the next few parts.

ConsultantTam: Glad you thought that was worth the wait. Can’t wait for your reaction to the next few parts. *happy*

mitra: Max did have a hard time getting over his shock. He’s moved past that now, though. *happy* Hope you enjoy the next few parts.

jeremiah: Glad you enjoyed the beginning of the reunion. Hope you like the rest.

frenchkiss70: Speechless? Aw, thanks, hon. You’re so welcome. And thanks for the bump. Hope you enjoy these parts as much.

behrobsession: Glad you’re liking this so far. Here’s some more! *happy*

YonkersMe: Must thank you for all the FB and bumps. You make me feel so loved! *big* Just to clarify  Michael locked Troy in the bathroom. And, er, was he supposed to have a coherent plan when he did it? Cmon, this is Michael. LOL You so got it  definitely trying to connect out little family in every way possible. SO glad it didnt come across as forced. Oh, and Im back to giving you a little reprieve, hope you like. *happy*

Tigereyes: Phew! Glad I avoided the whiny post. Kidding - I appreciate all your posts, sweetie, whiny or not. *big* I’m glad Xan continues to tug on your heart strings. And I loved that you picked up on the Michael/Xan interaction. I rewatched 4AAAB and that subscene came to me because of the look on Michael’s face when Max first handed the baby to him. And lemme just ask ‘frelling’? Tell me you love Farscape, too! And totally up for a Midwesterners meeting. Just lemme know when and where. I already know how to get to Madison…LOL

Scottie: Glad you enjoyed the last few parts. Couldn’t let Troy get too hurt, and like you said, Xan got Michael back for him. LOL Don’t worry, I’ll get Xan all the way home to his room soon but for now, hope you enjoy the next few parts. *happy*

BLS40: Not to give too big of a spoiler but – I could never sacrifice Troy! I’m glad you like him as much as I do. Hope you like the rest of the reunion.

mandyhanford: SO glad you liked the reunion, sweetie. After all the buildup I was worried that it wouldn’t hold up. As for nookie….er, keep reading. And as for how many chapters are left…not really sure. At least another 15 but…if you can stand me for a little longer, I am planning a sequel. And, as always, thanks for the bumps.

believer_evans: Thanks, sweetie, glad you enjoyed part 1 of the reunion. Hope you like part 2. *wink*

Mickey Ros: So happy to hear you liked that last part. Here’s the rest of the reunion. *happy*

TeddyBehrJKT: Yeah Troy was pretty happy to be back in the action and not relegated to guard duty. He’s a man of action, ya know. LOL Have to say, Liz’s scientific tangent was totally inspired by you. Thanks, sweetie. And, I’ve said it before but thanks so much for the thumbs up on the healing. You know how worried I was that it would seem too cornball, but per usual, you were right. Totally worked. So, more ‘tanks’. And as for the nookie…enjoy! *big*

Minanda: So glad you liked the first part of the reunion. Hope you enjoy part 2 just as much. And like I said to Tiger, just let me know when you guys want to get together and I’m there. *happy*

Jane8302: Happy to see that you liked the reunion. Yeah, it’s a safe bet that Michael never did any babysitting. He’ll get the hang of it though. And lord knows he’ll never make that same mistake again. LOL Hope you enjoy the reunion, part 2. I promise to get Troy out of the bathroom soon. *wink*

icerose: Here you go! Happy to see you’re still enjoying this.


Asabetha: We’re moving towards Troy’s induction…it’s just gonna take a little time. *happy* Although, he definitely has his suspicions. Hope you enjoy the new parts!

Tabasco Liz: Thanks, hon. Hope you enjoy the next few parts just as much. *happy*

merchez: Yep, Xan is definitely not letting go of Liz any time soon. Once Max gets over his shock I’m sure he’ll realize that. *happy* And as for the ‘not enough nookie’ complaint…never let it be said that I don’t listen to my readers and respond to their needs. LOL. Hope you enjoy!

b4echstarrynite: Yeah, Xan kinda thinks of Liz as his, you know? Xan knows Max from the phone calls but he hasn’t connected him to the stars…yet. *wink*Sorry about life getting in the way, hon but don’t worry, happens to everyone. Glad you liked the last few parts and hope you enjoy the next part of the reunion.

Blanca: Was so nice to hear from you. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying this. And as for Xan giving Max and Liz some alone time…he is asleep right now…*wink* enjoy!

Spicy trini1: Glad you enjoyed the reunion so much! Hope you like the next few parts.

posted on 16-Sep-2002 1:15:30 AM by Pathos
************Part 45*************


Max stared for a moment, utterly captivated by the little boy cuddling with his wife. His little boy. His son. He reached out, tracing his knuckles gently over the curve of Xan’s cheek. It wasn’t a dream. Xan sighed deeply as he shifted to curl more fully against Liz’s side. Max let his hand slide to his son’s back, resting there briefly to take comfort in the deep, even breaths rising and falling under his hand. It really wasn’t a dream. His eyes drifted from his son to his wife when he felt Liz rubbing his arm gently.

"Max?" Liz called softly. Her poor husband was looking just a little lost and all the emotions roaring through his system were making it very difficult to read him. Although, she doubted she were any easier to read. The tender emotions evoked by the flashes were still echoing intensely through her own system, leaving her hovering once again on the brink of happy tears. “You ok?”

Max shook his head. “Yeah.”

Liz bit back a wayward smile. “Which is it?”

Max shrugged. “I don’t know.” He continued to stare at his sleeping child. “He’s really here Liz.” He nodded along with her, knowing he sounded ridiculous but unable to help himself. “He’s beautiful.” He whispered.

Liz nodded again, reaching out to place a gentle hand against her husbands cheek. She met his longing gaze with tears glistening in her own. “Yeah, Max. He really is.”

Michael sighed heavily. If the way those two were staring at each other was any indication it would be a while before they remembered the rest of the world spinning around them. He could still hear the Air Force guy…Travis? Trey? Troy? Troy…retching in the bathroom. He shook his head. “I’m gonna go check the parking lot. Make sure…” He trailed off, completely unsurprised when neither Max nor Liz glanced in his direction. Whatever. Sighing again he walked out the door. He shook his head at the semi melted knob. Evidently, Liz had been practicing again. He shut the door, securing it behind him and fixing the damage Liz had inflicted without blinking an eye.

Max ignored the sound of the door opening and then closing. Sighing, he closed his eyes, allowing himself just a moment to enjoy the feel of his wife’s warm fingers caressing his face. “He’s gotten so big, Liz.” He opened his eyes and stared at her helplessly. “And he’s walking. And talking. I mean, I know he’s talking. I’ve talked to him before. And…of course he’s walking but…but it’s just so, he’s just so…amazing.” He whispered.

Liz nodded. “He is, Max. Completely amazing.” She said, her voice rich with emotion. “What?” She asked softly, studying his face as she sniffled a little, forcing herself to calm down and give Max a chance to take this all in.

Max shook his head again. He had no idea where to start. So many questions were fighting to be asked he almost couldn’t wrap his mind around a single one long enough to voice it. He felt his whole being settle a little as Liz reached out and once again, stroked up and down his arm, gently lending her own profound calm to the situation. “What was that, before? His hand was glowing…did he…did he try to heal you?”

Liz nodded, smiling a little at the memory. One that had already taken its place next to the first time she’d seen Max as one of the most incredible of her entire life. “I don’t think he even knew what he was doing, Max.” She said softly. “It didn’t feel like he was really in control of his power, he just wanted to kiss my booboo better and then…”

“What?” Max questioned softly, he couldn’t help returning his wife’s softly content smile with a confused one of his own. “What happened then?”

“I got flashes.” Tears glistened briefly in her eyes and she was grateful when her husband gently threaded his fingers through her own, offering both his support and the impetus to continue. “He’s so beautiful, Max. Like you. He’s so happy to be going home with us.” She whispered.

Max nodded, feeling tears filling his own eyes at her words. He glanced down at Xan, frowning a little when he realized that his son hadn’t moved at all in the last few minutes. “Is he ok? He seems to be sleeping awfully…I don’t know, heavily.”

Liz nodded. “He’s fine, Max. Just tired. I think using his powers like that just really takes it out of him, you know? I could feel how exhausted he was right before he dropped his hand.”

“Right.” Max relaxed, completely accepting her explanation as he remembered how exhausted he’d been after healing Liz. It had been such a happy exhaustion. “He’s going to want to sleep for a while.”

“Probably.” Liz’s brows furrowed a little when she caught Max’s pensive expression. “What?”

“Does he…like me?”

"Oh, Max. Yes. Of course he likes you." Liz shook her head, taking a deep breath and tipping his chin so that he was looking into her eyes. “There’s so much I need to tell you. About, about what he remembers…about what I saw…”

Max nodded, not really hearing what Liz was saying. He was suddenly consumed by the thought that had snuck up on him and stolen any equilibrium he’d gathered in the last few moments. "Liz, the people who held him…what did they…do…to him?" Liz had already told him that Xan hadn’t been hurt but quite suddenly visions of his own capture flared with stunning clarity behind his eyes. He had to swallow against the nausea curling in the pit of his stomach at the thought of what people like that would do to a four year old. His baby! He hadn’t possessed the ability to fight back, how helpless did that make his son?

Liz shook her head, feeling his sudden abject horror and the heaviness in the pit of his stomach which was currently stealing his breath. "Max, listen. They didn’t hurt him. Not, not like…you. They just scared him. Left him alone in the dark. That’s how they got him to ‘perform’." Liz could feel her own anger growing as she recalled the videotape she’d viewed. "Bastard." She muttered.

Max’s brows furrowed. "Who?" Considering the softness of her emotions up to this point, her sudden anger was a little jarring.

"Dr. Dave. He was the one in charge. He couldn’t get Xan to move things with his mind unless he scared him into it. Then it was pretty much instinctive." Liz shook her head. She didn’t realize that she’d closed her right arm protectively around Xan, but Max caught the gesture and allowed a soft smile to reach his lips. "Stupid fucking son of a bitch!"

"Jeez, Liz tell us how you really feel." Michael said, closing the hotel room door behind him and moving closer to the bed. He hadn’t realized Liz could put words together like that.

Liz glanced up and saw Michael’s startled expression. She smiled ruefully "I really wish I’d thrown him through the wall instead of just into it.” She muttered, shrugging daintily when Michael and Max both stared at her as if she’d grown another head. "Long story."

Michael nodded with an odd respect. "Little guys ok though?" he asked gesturing at Xan.

Liz glanced at Michael for half a second and then caught Max’s gaze once again. “Yeah, he’s ok.”

Michael rolled his eyes. “Don’t make me separate you two.” He warned before holding up the snipers’ rifle he’d found for their perusal. “We seem to be in the clear for now, looks like there was only one guy out there.” He nodded at the bathroom door. “What are we gonna do about the fly boy?”

Max sighed, pulling himself from his wife and son with an effort before standing up to meet Michael’s question with a shrug. “I don’t…”

“We’re not doing anything about Troy.” Liz announced, her eyes narrowing as she took in Michael’s almost immediate rejection of her statement and felt Max leaning in that same direction. “Look, he saved my life. More than once. He’s not…”

Michael shook his head. She couldn’t be serious. “Liz, I don’t know if you missed the uniform he’s wearing but just to recap – he’s Air Force. Which doesn’t exactly scream ‘I come in peace’. How’d he get involved in this anyway?”

“He was Xan’s guard at the Base.”

Max felt a white hot surge of anger as his narrowed gaze focused on the bathroom door. “He held Xan on that Base?” he asked quietly.

Ok. That was the wrong thing to say. Liz struggled off the bed, laying Xan down gently before grabbing hold of Max’s wrist, holding him still while she tried to convince him to ignore her verbal blunder. “It’s not like that. He tried to protect Xan. Max, listen!” She breathed a small sigh of relief when her husband finally looked at her. “Troy protected him. Before I even knew there was a problem, he was looking out for Xan. And then he saved both of us. He went against orders and he almost got killed, but he still did it. Without him I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now. Troy is not the enemy.” She released the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding when she felt Max relax a little, his anger falling away as he listened to what she was saying.

Michael shook his head. This was insane. “Liz, he’s Air Force. That alone makes him the enemy!”

“Michael, Langley sent him.”

“Yeah, that helps.” Michael muttered sarcastically “All that means is that he didn’t want to risk his own worthless ass.” He shook his head at Liz when she began to remove the bloody bandage from her shoulder. “Oh, no! Keep that thing on. It’s bad enough we’re not gonna just knock him out and leave. I don’t want to be explaining how you’re suddenly miraculously healed.”

Max nodded. That, at least, was a good point. “Liz, we won’t do anything to him but Michael’s right about…” He gestured at her shoulder. “We don’t want to raise his suspicions any more than we already have.”

“Max, he saw a Skin disintegrate, I don’t think we can raise his suspicions any more than we already have.” Liz said, pausing in her movements anyway when she saw both Max and Michael turn to stare at her as if she’d lost her mind. What…oh. “Um, yeah. The guy who shot me was a Skin.”

“And you’re just telling us this now, because….?” Michael asked tightly

“I was a little distracted.” Liz replied defensively. She glanced over at her husband, she could almost feel the wheels turning frantically in his head. “Max?”

“Can I assume Troy killed this Skin?” Max asked.

Liz nodded, wondering at the deep, angry breath he inhaled as soon as she did. “He shot him. Why?”

“It wasn’t a lucky shot, was it?” Max ground out.

Liz shook her head. “It didn’t…look like it. Max…” Her brows furrowed at the anger sparking across their connection. He was angry, but not at her.

“Son of a bitch couldn’t be bothered to come himself so he sent the Air Force to protect you!” Max said angrily. “I need to…” The almost polite knocking interrupted him.

Liz sighed loudly when everyone simply turned to look at the bathroom door. "Do you wanna let him out now?" She glared as Michael shook his head. "Michael he saved our lives. He’s been keeping watch over me. And I need a shower." Getting no response she turned to Max. "Max?"

Max sighed "Michael come on, let him out. I’m going to call Langley and see what he has to say for himself."

“And I’m going to do what with Mr. Air Force in there?” Michael asked.

“Just…stall him until I get back inside.” Max answered, turning to look at Liz. “Let’s get you into the bathroom.” He paused, knowing she wasn’t going to like this. “Liz, there’s no reason to tell him anything about…us, just yet. I want to find out what Langley has to say and…”

“And we need to find out if we should be expecting more company.” Michael added.

Max nodded. “Exactly.” He could feel that Liz wasn’t thrilled with continuing to lie to Troy but he needed a little more time before he willingly blurted out his life story to someone in an Air Force uniform. He waited for his wife’s grudging acceptance before he gestured to Michael to open the door.

Michael let out a long suffering sigh as he moved to the bathroom door. "Fine. But I’m taking his gun."


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 17-Sep-2002 10:17:59 AM ]
posted on 16-Sep-2002 1:27:22 AM by Pathos
*********Part 46************

Troy’s eyes narrowed as he watched Max make a show of helping Liz into the bathroom. He noted that her color was vastly improved, her movements much less stiff and painful than they had been. Less stiff and painful than they should have been, he mused silently. He wondered briefly about the apology he read in Liz’s eyes as she passed the chair he had sunk into after being released from the bathroom. He closed his eyes, suddenly unable to watch all the conspiratorial nodding going on between Max and Michael without feeling dizzy. He opened them to Michael’s vaguely hostile stare. He glared back. This whole situation had suddenly jumped on his last nerve. Payton wasn’t going to give him any straight answers and now it looked like Liz and company were going to try to get away with the same thing. Well, they could just forget it! He was damn sick and tired of being a pawn in this odd game of chess while everyone else called the shots. He was going back to that Base and Payton’s half truths with some information he could use. Even if it killed…him. Well, hopefully it wouldn’t come to that. He raised an inquiring brow when Max stepped from the bathroom a moment later.

Max closed the door behind him and regarded Troy warily. "She’s soaking." He explained "I’m gonna go to the care and grab the stuff I need to rebandage her wound and disinfect it and…stuff." He noticed Troy’s eyes narrow but the other man said nothing. Max sighed. “We’ll talk more after I’m done with that.” He glanced at Michael as he headed out the door and then nodded imperceptibly at the bed. Michael nodded back and moved to sit on the end of the bed, positioning himself between Xan and Troy as Max left to go to the car.

Michael groaned inwardly. Troy was staring at him with angry distrusting eyes. He just knew what was coming next. Damn! How was it that he was always stuck with the goddamned explanations? He wished suddenly that they’d brought Kyle. Kyle was good at crap like this. Or at least good at talking in so many circles that people didn’t realize they hadn’t been given an explanation.

Troy stared at the kid in front of him. Sandy brown hair glittering hazel eyes and attitude to spare. The thought passed through his mind that boot camp would probably do him good. "So. He’s a…doctor?”

“Something like that.” Michael answered noncommittally.

Troy watched Michael shrug unconvincingly and sighed. Fuck waiting for Max to get back. “Tell me what’s going on here."

Michael just stared back at the black man in front of him. Dark eyes, close cropped, military hair cut and wearing a signature Air Force uniform. Bastard. "You don’t want to know fly boy." He said coldly.

Troy’s eyes snapped but he bit back on his temper. "I sure as hell do." He said, careful to keep his voice low, not wanting to awaken Xan. "My life has been turned completely upside down. I’ve broken more regulations than I care to think of, disobeyed orders…I damn well do want to know what’s going on!" Troy felt the tension ratchet up a notch as the anger in Michael’s eyes became dangerous, though he didn’t move from his position on the bed.

"Nobody asked for your help." Michael said coldly.

Troy gaped. This kid wasn’t serious. He stood up, using his 6’ 4" frame to tower over Michael. "Liz and Xan wouldn’t be here without my protection.”

"Protection?!" Michael glanced back to make sure Xan was still asleep as he stood up. He pushed Troy backwards a step as he glared into his eyes. "We know all about how your kind protects people like him." Michael sneered.

Troy blinked. He’d almost pushed a kid into a brawl. He was 35 years old for Chrissakes, what the hell was he thinking? He took a deep breath and shook his head to clear it, raising his hands in truce before backing up another step. Troy took a deep breath and tried a different tact. "I’ve protected them this far. What makes you think I’d turn them in now?" He asked.

"The uniform you’re wearing says you will."

Troy glared. That’s it. "This uniform says I’ll protect them with my life if I have to." He bit out angrily. "I risk my life to protect people every time I get into a plane. Just like I risked my life helping Liz when she needed it. I aint saying the Air Force is perfect but generally speaking we are the good guys. Don’t you dare spit on something you don’t understand." Troy finished. He’d be damned if the punk in front of him acted like he was nothing after everything he’d done.

Michael stared at the man in front of him, trying to gauge the honesty of his words. Fuck. Figured he’d be stuck with the last honest man in the goddamned Air Force. The Mom and apple pie speech was crap but he knew that Troy believed it. As deeply as Michael believed in protecting his own family. He relaxed a little and nodded at Troy. "Most of the time, when someone in your uniform is in front of me they’re pointing a gun." He allowed and sat back on the bed. “Max and Liz can explain this stuff better.” He said gruffly. It was bad enough that he’d probably have to admit to Liz that she’d been right. He’d be damned before he got roped into giving this explanation.

Troy nodded back and once again sank into the chair across from Michael’s position on the bed. He stared into Michael’s stormy hazel eyes and saw a bitter experience beyond his twenty something years. He was vaguely surprised that Michael had said anything at all and he knew for a fact that he wasn’t going to get anything else out of him just yet. Letting out a long sigh he settled in for the wait. He’d still be damned if he left here without some kind of explanation.


-------------------------------


Langley refused to acknowledge the brief surge of relief when he saw Liz’s cell phone number flash across the caller ID on his phone. “Liz, I take it everything worked out?” Good. He sounded calm. Jovial, even.

“That’s not a question you should be asking, is it Langley?”

Langley swallowed hard at the harsh coldness of Max’s voice. “Your Highness…” Did his voice just crack? His whole face closed in an expression of disgust. This was great. Just fucking, great!

Max ignored the title Langley threw across the cell line. “You should know whether everything worked out because you should have been here to make sure that it did.”

“I sent Troy to…”

“To face the Skin that almost killed my wife! Liz was shot.” Max said angrily.

Langley blinked. “She’s ok, though, right?” he asked as he felt his entire focus shift while he waited for the answer to a question he hadn’t ever wanted to ask. Because the answer would determine whether or not he was alive next week.

If anything ever happens to Liz because of something you do to prove how poorly I’ve run my life. Or if, in any way, you ever fail to protect her…I promise you, there is not one corner of this planet you can hide in or a shape you can shift into, that I won’t hunt down and destroy.

Langley was fully aware of the fact that Max hadn’t been kidding. And suddenly even more aware of the fact that if something truly had happened to the Queen, he would deserve any punishment the King deemed fit, for failing to do his job. Had they been on Antar he would already be in custody for dereliction of duty. If he were being completely honest with himself he’d have to acknowledge that it would have happened years ago. And sadly, he was being honest with himself. It was a habit he’d only recently reacquired. “Highness?” Langley rolled his eyes at the humble concern he heard in his own voice. Disgusting. He really had to divest himself of this new honesty crap.

Max snorted. If he didn’t know better he’d say that Langley actually cared. Fortunately, he did know better. “She’s fine. Now. But you should have been here to make sure she wasn’t hurt in the first place. Tell me what was more important than Liz’s life?” Max demanded silkily. He reached Michael’s T-Bird and opened the trunk, raising a brow at the amazing array of medical supplies he found there. Maria had gone just a little overboard. There was enough there to stock an emergency room.

Langley shook his head emphatically, refusing to fall into that particular trap. “I didn’t think anything was more important than Liz’s life. I’m close to shutting down the special unit. General Corwin’s court martial starts today, I needed to be here to coordinate…”

“You were laying low in order to avoid being killed.” Max stated as he pulled a myriad of bandages from the trunk for the upcoming charade.

“No! I sent Troy because I knew he was capable of protecting them. He’s done it before, without any prompting. In fact, I’ve offered him a place on my team. He’ll be a great asset…” Langley was almost glad when Max interrupted. When had he started this new babbling thing?

“That’s nice Langley.” Max said, cutting off the shapeshifter’s uncharacteristic babbling. “We’ll deal with this later. What about the Skins?”

Langley paused. “What about them?”

Max pulled the phone away from his ear for a second to glare at it. “Can we expect more?” He asked through gritted teeth.

“Oh. No, they’re actually on their way into Mexico right now.”

“Why?” Max asked suspiciously.

“I’ve got someone on the inside, wants to catch a ride back to the home planet…”

“We’re not going back to the home planet.” Max interrupted.

Langley shrugged. “What he doesn’t know, helps me.”

Max sighed. “Go on.”

“He’s already informed Nicholas that the Royal Four have made a break for the border and His Pre-Pubescentness has moved to follow you. So, as long as you don’t end up in the news, you’re free to head back to your previous location.”

Max nodded, feeling relief stealing through his system at the thought that he wouldn’t have to tell everyone they’d be moving again. “So we don’t have to worry about anyone else showing up here, right?”

“Right.” Langley said. That wasn’t so bad. Looked like he was going to get out of this one with just…

“This isn’t over, Langley. Call me when you’re back in LA.”

Langley swallowed at the renewed harshness of Max’s voice. “Right.”

Max paused for a moment and then asked. “What have you told Troy?”

“Nothing.”

“What are you going to tell Troy?”

“Just what he needs to know.”

“But you trust him?” Even as the question was leaving his mouth he wondered at his own idiocy. He didn’t trust Langley, why the hell would he trust his judgment?

Langley blinked. Did Max just ask for an opinion? He shrugged. “As far as I need to.” He answered.

Max exhaled a sharply frustrated breath. “Helpful, Langley. Just like always. I’ll talk to you when you get back to LA.” He hung up without waiting for a response and took a deep breath. Thankfully, they now had the luxury of time. And if Liz was right, an ally he might actually be willing to trust. At the very least it would make a nice change.

posted on 16-Sep-2002 1:37:28 AM by Pathos
***********Part 47**************


Max walked back into the hotel room to find the staring contest between Michael and Troy still going strong, if slightly less threatening. He glanced at the bed and breathed a little more easily when he saw Xan still sleeping peacefully. He pulled a change of clothes from Liz’s suitcase, oddly touched to see Xan’s small t-shirts and jeans mixed in with Liz’s own clothes. Pulling himself together he stepped toward the bathroom, shaking his head when the staring contest remained uninterrupted even when he passed through the middle of it. He raised his hand to knock on the door.

"Come on in Max."

Some of the steam escaped as he stepped inside and his mind immediately went places he knew it shouldn’t when he saw his wife standing in front of the mirror wrapped only in a towel. He could see Xan’s small silver handprint reflected in the glass, directly above his wife’s heart. A warm surge of paternal pride swept his system. Then his eyes traveled a path to her shoulder, where his own, larger handprint glowed softly in the bright light. And felt something else entirely surge through his blood. Something primal, which came to life at the thought that he had marked her that way. He hardened in sudden arousal as he became painfully aware of each and every minute that had passed since he’d last held her in his arms. Biting down on his desire, he locked the door behind him.

"Caveman." Liz teased softly. She’d felt the welling of possessiveness and arousal the minute he’d laid eyes on his own handprint. His eyes darkened as they continued to watch her in the mirror and she felt her response beginning to pool between her legs. And he hadn’t even touched her. Yet. “Everything ok?” She asked breathlessly.

Max nodded silently, reveling in the feel of Liz’s reaction to his presence. The hazy desire he could feel coming off her in waves. And more than that, the frantic energy moving restlessly within her. He knew her happiness and relief that he was finally here. Felt a brief shadow of her pain and fear. And something else. The frenetic signature of his own healing energy. It was almost calling to him. She was calling to him. And he felt something from deep within himself answer. It was as if he needed to be one with her, feel her body wrapped around him to complete the healing process. He drifted towards her. He needed to touch her. Just a little, he told himself.

Liz felt Max reach out and run his finger teasingly up her arm. She shivered at the contact and smiled at him in the mirror. Then he stepped closer behind her and engulfed her in his embrace, pulling her body flush against his own. The frantic energy that had rushed between them thrummed briefly and then subsided as they sighed contentedly.

Max felt Liz brush her butt lightly against his erection. He inhaled sharply and leaned around to kiss her temple softly. He loved the feel of her body against his, loved the blending of their emotions. But they couldn’t do this. There were people in the next room. The angel on his left shoulder pointedly reminded him that Xan was sleeping out in the next room. The devil occupying his opposite shoulder took aim and knocked the angel from his perch with a well placed swipe of his pitchfork and Max was suddenly reminded that while everyone else was in the next room, it was only he and Liz in the bathroom. They could be quiet.

"Was it like this before, the energy?" Max asked softly, tracing her collarbone lightly and smiling at the way her breath came a little faster.

"I don’t know. I remember being wired. God knows I couldn’t sleep! But I’m not sure if it was because of the energy or because my gorgeous lab partner had just healed me." Liz held Max’s gaze in the mirror. "You pretty much blew my mind and then you never really stopped."

"Healing you or blowing your mind?" Max teased huskily, unable to resist leaning down to kiss her jaw and then the pulse point at her throat. He stroked her hair, wanting to calm some of the restlessness.

"Both." Liz whispered solemnly. He did. He healed her with his presence and his hands. And his love. "Max, I need you."

"Liz, we can’t. There are people…" He cut himself off as he moved the hair away from her neck and kissed her softly, his desire spiraling upward as it meshed with her own.

"I know. I know we shouldn’t but…I need you so much right now." Liz said desperately, leaning back and tilting her head to give him better access to her throat as she tried to make him understand. "I feel like we’re not done. Like we won’t be done until… ” She felt Max’s hand slide under her towel, cupping her ass and kneading roughly. "Yes." She whispered rocking back against him and reaching up to lose the towel.

Max’s hands seemed to have a mind of their own. He quickly undid his jeans, sliding them to rest low on his hips as his erection sprang free. He was so hard, he ached. He bent her further forward over the sink, loving the sight of her naked arousal. He caressed her lightly, dragging a finger through her wetness. She was so wet. As ready as he was. He grabbed a condom from his wallet and slipped it on to rub his shaft against her wet heat, eliciting a long moan. He waved his hand at the faucet in the tub and turned the water on to cushion some of the sound he knew they’d be making. "We’ve gotta be quiet Liz" He warned.

Liz dropped her head over the sink, nodding. This need was going to kill her if he didn’t hurry up. She was already so close. "I promise, Max. Anything"

He leaned over her back, relishing the slide of her body against his, gently threading his fingers through her hair and pulling her head up so he could capture her gaze in the mirror. He needed her to understand. "I can’t go slow sweetheart." He kissed along her jawline, thrilling at the way her breath hitched in her throat. He swallowed hard, his own breathing reduced to a harsh panting. "I need you so much, Liz.” He whispered hoarsely. “I just can’t…”

Liz nodded her eager agreement, unable to say anything coherent as she felt his arousal teasing her opening. And then he was inside her. Oh God! She bit her lip to keep from screaming as Max thrust into her just as he’d promised. Her eyes closed against the pleasure. "Yes, harder…faster!" She whimpered softly and gripped the edges of the sink, using it as leverage to thrust back against him. And then he lifted her leg slightly, resting her foot on the tub and angling his penetration as he continued to thrust, hurtling them both towards ecstasy. Ohgodohgodohgod! "Max" she panted. He was so hard and he touched her so deeply. Her walls trembled around his manhood as she felt the beginning of her climax deep in her belly. His harsh breathing told her he was close too. Oh, God, this was almost too much. She was unable to stop the moan that escaped her throat. And then he threaded his fingers through her hair again and pulled her around for a tongue dueling kiss, just as his other hand found her clit, rubbing a hard circle over the sensitive bundle of nerves and sending her over the edge. Her scream of release was lost in his mouth.

Max tasted her scream and then broke their kiss, exhaling sharply as he buried his head in the crook of her neck, biting down on a shout as he felt her walls tighten in excruciating pleasure around his shaft. He lost himself as he poured everything he had into her body.

Liz was clutching the edges of the sink, trying to remain upright as her mind floated leisurely back to reality. She could still feel the shadow of her orgasm in the subtle vibration of her inner walls and the twitching of Max’s cock, still buried within her but quickly growing soft. His arms were wrapped around her waist holding her tightly too him as they waited for their breathing to even out. Then Max was smoothing her hair behind her ear. She looked up and met his smoky, sated amber gaze in the mirror. "Hi." She whispered.

Max kissed her temple gently, smoothing her wet hair back as he breathed in the pure, heady scent of her. One side of his mouth quirked up in a lazy half smile. "Hey." He rested his head against hers, tightening his arms around her body. “Missed you.”

Liz nodded, relaxing back into his embrace and allowing all the fear and stress to fall away into the shadow of the warm glow she was currently basking in. “Missed you, too.” She whimpered a little as Max pulled completely from her body, then sighed contentedly as he turned her around to face him and brought her firmly back into his embrace. His lips claimed hers for a soul melting kiss which had her clinging to his shoulders for support. They were both breathing heavily when the kiss finally broke. “I love you.” Liz whispered, her arms sliding down his body to wrap tightly around his waist as she rested her head over his still pounding heart.

Max closed his eyes, tightening his hold on her as he allowed his head to rest in top of hers. “I love you, too. God, Liz. I don’t know what I’d do if anything ever happened to you.”

“I’ll never leave you, Max.” Liz relaxed against him as she felt his sudden fear fall away with her words. The voices from the other room carried through the bathroom door and Liz sighed as Max raised his head. Nodding a little she stepped from his arms and turned to look for her towel. Max handed her a pile of her clothes instead.

"You need to be rebandaged and…I’m supposed to be getting you dressed." He said sheepishly.

Liz grinned up at him. "Boy did they send in the wrong guy for that job."


------------------------


Max sat on the edge of the tub playing idly with a roll of cotton bandage as he watched Liz get dressed. She stood up and posed before him, fully dressed except for the tank top in her hand.

"Ready."

Max grinned, reaching out he lightly traced a path between her breasts, pausing at the front clasp of her bra. "Again?" he teased.

Liz slapped at his hand. "The bandage Romeo, before someone comes in looking to see if we drowned in the tub."

"Use me and abuse me." Max quipped setting to work wrapping the bandage around her shoulder to cover the handprints. He made sure to pad it enough to make it look like it covered a gunshot wound and then slid her tank top on. He made a sling so her ‘broken’ clavicle looked like it was being supported and then slipped a light sweater over her shoulders and stepped back to inspect his work. "Well Mrs. Evans it was tough going there for a while but I think you’ll live."

"Why thank you doctor." Liz teased batting her eyes playfully at Max.

Max leered back. "Don’t thank me yet, you haven’t gotten my bill." At Liz’s pout he dropped a quick kiss on her lips. "Don’t worry I’m sure I can think of a payment plan if you need to…work it off in increments."

"Jerk." She said, slapping at his arm playfully. They froze as their banter was interrupted by Xan’s outraged wail.

"LIZ! Whewre is she? Whewre’d you put hewr?" Xan’s demand was muffled through the closed door but they could hear the panic in his voice.

"I didn’t put her anywhere." Michael muttered. "She’s in the bathroom with your…with Max."

"He’s just changing her bandage." Troy piped up soothingly.

"Hey, buddy watch the kicking." Michael warned

"Ow!"

"LIZ!"

The sound of a little body falling against the bathroom door snapped Max and Liz out of their collective stupor. Max reached for the door, swearing softly as the knob turned frantically against the lock.. He opened the door and Xan fell into the room, shoving past him to throw himself at Liz’s legs.

Troy stood next to the chair he had been sitting in, holding his shin and gritting his teeth. Michael fell back against the bed, closing his eyes tiredly. "Told you the kid had lethal feet. I vote we take his shoes."

"No shit." Troy returned, straightening and looking toward the bathroom.

"Whewre’d you go?" Xan sobbed, clutching desperately at Liz.

Liz reached to steady herself but was hampered by her sling. She threw a grateful look in Max’s direction as he grabbed her ‘good’ arm to keep her from falling. Then she sank down to sit on the edge of the tub. "Sweetheart I’m right here. I was just taking a bath." She soothed, rubbing his back as he took advantage of her sitting down to crawl into her lap.

Xan reached to steady himself against Liz’s left arm but Troy saw where the kid was headed and called out. "Xan! What did I tell you about her shoulder?"

Liz felt Xan freeze when he heard Troy’s warning and then he started to slip. She reached to steady him with one arm, grateful when Max placed his son securely in her lap. Wrapping her right arm around Xan she glared at Troy. "Sweetheart it’s ok, I’m right here. Why all the tears, huh?"

Xan settled against Liz and turned to glare at Troy.

Troy glanced back at Michael. "What’d I do?" He asked incredulously, adding the fact that Liz, who should be fainting from pain, was instead glaring at him to his list of oddities to question. And on top of that, feeling the weight of a four year old death glare.

Michael didn’t even open his eyes. "Just apologize, it’s quicker." He advised.

Xan hiccupped as he lay his head back against Liz’s chest. She couldn’t reach to wipe his tears but before she could say anything Max squatted down and gently wiped Xan’s face with a hand towel. She jostled the little boy a little so he’d look at her. "So, you maybe want to tell me why the tears?" she asked.

"Cuz maybe I tought," He looked up at Liz, tears filling his eyes again. "Cuz maybe you left me." He whispered, unconsciously tightening his grip on the lock of hair he had been rubbing between his fingers. "I woke up and you wewren’t dere. Just Twoy and, and…"

"Michael." Max supplied softly, reaching out to brush Xan’s hair off his forehead.

Xan nodded at Max before turning his attention back to Liz. "Michael. Cuz den I tought…"

"You thought maybe I left." Liz felt Xan nod as he turned himself further into her arms. She glanced quickly at Max before leaning down to kiss the top of Xan’s head "Never happen." She soothed softly.

Max blinked, surprised by the certainty he heard in her voice.

"Nevewr?" Xan’s voice was muffled against Liz’s chest.

Max stared at Liz. Once again half afraid this was a dream. "Never." He whispered.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 16-Sep-2002 1:47:51 AM ]
posted on 25-Sep-2002 11:25:00 PM by Pathos
Hey all -

AWOL author here...*wink*

Sorry it's taking me so long to get the next part together but neither it, nor RL (Tiger, where's that hammer? LOL) are cooperating. But, hey, there is a light at the end of the tunnel - hopefully it's not a freight train - and it looks like the next few parts will be ready on Saturday. Actual goal is Friday but...

Anway, til then, thanks so much for all the bumps and FB. You guys are fabulous!

See ya Saturday,
Pathos *happy*
posted on 30-Sep-2002 12:52:19 AM by Pathos
Hi All -

*ducking from the various and sundry items being chucked at me when everyone sees that this is another authors note.*

I am so sorry but if work hadn't done me in this week, than the cold I caught sure as hell did. Anyway, just an FYI to let you know that I'm finally healthy, and coherent, (I swear Nyquil ought to be reevaluated as a controlled substance. LOL) and so the new parts are almost done except for - you guessed it, I can hear the collective moan now - the editing. *wink* The new parts should be up sometime late tomorrow night.

Thanks again for all the bumping and FB. It's totally appreciated and it keeps my creative butt in gear. *big*

See ya tomorrow,
Pathos

OH! Minanda I don't think I got the latest b mail from you. The last one I got was a week - ten days ago.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-Sep-2002 12:53:38 AM ]
posted on 1-Oct-2002 1:57:58 AM by Pathos
Hey guys -

This is gonna be sort of a flyby post again but I promised you something tonight so here goes...*big*

I'll do responses to FB when I post the next couple parts, either tomorrow or Wednesday night. You know me and the editing. LOL Just know that I totally appreciate all the FB and bumps. And thanks for the well wishes, I am feeling much better. I've said it before but it's still true - you guys are the best!

See ya soon (hope this tides ya'll over til the next couple parts *happy*)

Pathos

*************Part 48************

Troy almost felt as if he were intruding as he watched the impromptu family reunion taking place in the bathroom. Xan was still being cuddled between both of his parents. Max had gently rested a hand on his little boys back and Liz was holding him securely against her, despite the pain it should have caused her. He opened his mouth and then closed it again, unwilling to interrupt when he saw Max reach up with his free hand and brush Liz’s hair behind her ear, his thumb tracing across her cheek as he did so. There was nothing overtly sexual in the gesture, but the intimacy gave Troy pause. He could see a light sheen of tears in Liz’s eyes and if he had to guess, he’d bet that the same sheen glittered in her husbands gaze. The two of them were staring at each other, locked in their own world and completely unaware of anything beside themselves and the little boy who was resting calmly between them. Burning questions or no, he didn’t have the heart to interrupt. He looked away, biting down on his impatience as he gave the little family some privacy.

Michael opened his eyes and sat up, taking in the scene before him. Max and Liz were doing a ‘look into my eyes’ thing that would have made Kreskin jealous but for the first time since the two of them had found their connection, Michael noted that they hadn’t completely lost track of the rest of the world. They were aware of at least one other person. Max’s position, on the floor in front of Liz, shielded most of his wife and son from Troy’s view, but from where he sat on the bed Michael could see that neither was oblivious to Xan’s presence. Max was rubbing slow circles against the little boys back and Liz had him squeezed gently against her, and every once and a while she’d reach down with the hand in the sling to brush his bangs from his forehead or smooth a hand over his hair. Xan had his eyes closed but Michael guessed he wasn’t sleeping by the way he shifted as the minutes passed, gradually moving so that he wasn’t burrowed so tightly against Liz while he relaxed into the soothing hand Max had placed on his back. Glancing over at Troy, Michael saw the other man’s slight discomfort. He sighed, then cleared his throat loudly. “Hey, other people in the room guys.”

Troy looked up, surprised at the ease with which Michael interrupted the tender scene. “You don’t gotta do that, man.” He said quietly, although if he were being honest he’d have to admit to a certain relief.

Michael shook his head, rolling his eyes slightly at the embarrassment he heard in Troy’s voice. “If we don’t interrupt now it only gets worse.” He shuddered briefly. “Trust me, I was on their honeymoon.”

Troy blinked. “Why were you on their honeymoon?” he asked, thoroughly confused.

“Long story.”

“Speaking of..” Troy hinted as Max and Liz seemed to pull themselves back to the world at large.

“Yeah. Speaking of…” Max sighed as the world intruded on his family. He stood up and steadied Xan while he slid from Liz’s lap onto the floor, noting the way his son kept a tight grasp of her free hand the entire time. Then he helped Liz stand up before turning to look at Troy. He wanted nothing more than to stay wrapped up in his wife and son but there were questions to answer and explanations to give. And frankly, he was impatient to get on the road. He wanted his family home. He assessed Troy seriously, feeling Liz offering her encouragement as she moved into the room behind him. He sighed again. “Why did you help them?” he asked quietly.

Troy blinked. This was how they offered an explanation? He looked from Max to Michael. Both of them were studying him openly, each attempting to determine for themselves whether or not he was trustworthy.

Liz shook her head, hating the sudden tension that filled the room. She glanced down at Xan who had drifted to stand behind her, one arm wrapped firmly around her leg as he watched the proceedings with wide eyes. “Max…” she warned quietly, dropping her hand gently onto Xan’s head.

“It’s ok, Liz.” Troy said. He nodded a little, recognizing that it was a legitimate question. He met Max’s gaze squarely with his own. “Because they needed it.” He answered.

“The Air Force might not see it that way.” Michael said, playing Devil’s advocate as he searched Troy’s face.

“They should.” Troy replied firmly. “Look, I’m guessing that ya’ll have a legitimate reason to hate my uniform but…it aint all bad. And it aint just about following orders. There’s a code. And it’s all about knowing right from wrong. And once you know what the right thing is, you do it. It’s that simple.” His gaze fell on Xan, who was clinging tightly to his mother as he searched his fathers face, wondering at the sudden tension in the room. “It aint right to keep a kid away from his parents.” He met Max’s eyes again. “I don’t care what he can do. He belongs with his family.”

Max glanced at Michael and then looked back at Troy, relaxing as he recognized the stark honesty in the older man’s eyes. He waited, almost holding his breath, for one long heartbeat while he wondered if Liz was going to correct Troy’s assumption. And then he felt his whole being soar at the continued evidence of her feelings for his son, when she didn’t. “I couldn’t agree more.” He said quietly.

Michael stared from Max to Liz and then shook his head. He wasn’t overly surprised that neither of them moved to correct Troy’s assumption about Xan’s parents. Still… He sighed, his stomach surging helplessly with the knowledge that he was about to reveal his alien origins to someone in an Air Force uniform. It didn’t matter that he had given Max his tacit agreement that Troy was trustworthy. It didn’t even matter that he truly believed Troy was trustworthy. It was just…wrong. He really fucking hated having to give explanations. At least Max and Liz would be here to help smooth everything over.

Liz relaxed slightly as she felt the tension in the room begin to dissipate. She could feel Xan’s grip on her leg loosen as everyone seemed to take a deep breath. She looked down, smiling reassuringly when she caught Xan searching her face. He offered a small smile in return and then looked from Max to Troy, his gaze skittering past Michael as he tried to determine if it was really safe to relax completely. Chewing her bottom lip a little Liz decided that it might be best if they left the room for the next part of this conversation.

Taking Xan’s hand, Liz moved to the door that joined her room with the one next to it. She was suddenly grateful that Langley’s paranoia had him reserve a block of rooms with the intention of giving them, both a buffer, and a fallback position if need be. She squatted down next to Xan, kissing the worried furrow from his forehead before pulling him into a hug. “Sweetheart, why don’t you grab your movie and we’ll go watch it in the other room while Max and Michael talk to Troy.” she said, smiling brightly, hoping to relieve some of his concern.

Max stared as his son nodded against Liz’s neck and then took a deep breath as he reluctantly left the safety of her arms to go searching through one of their bags for a movie. Max shook his head, praying that his vision never cleared. Because if this was a dream he wanted to stay in it forever.

Troy sighed, his entire body stiffening as he tried to decide exactly what it was he’d gotten himself into. Why did Liz feel like she had to remove herself from the room? What could they possibly tell him that would be so bad? He wasn’t afraid, really, there was no doubt in his mind that Liz would never just hang him out to dry. And if he’d read Max correctly, and he was fairly certain that he had, there was no way the younger man would be able to hurt someone who had gone out of their way to protect his family. Now Michael…Michael would wait to see what the outcome of this conversation was. The problem was Troy had no way to gauge what that outcome would be. And no way to defend against the unknown.

Xan searched through his ‘fun bag,’ ignoring the return of the tension along with the myriad of coloring books, sing along CD’s and other small toys that had made the trip across country bearable, until he finally came upon the video he’d been looking for. He glanced over at Liz. “We’wre gonna watch Monstewrs, kay?”

Liz nodded as she stood up. “Monsters, Inc. it is.” She ushered Xan through the door, anxious to get him safely out of the way now that both Troy and Michael were watching her movements. She had the sneaking suspicion that her husband had forgotten about the conversation all together as she felt him reeling through the emotional spectrum.

Xan headed for the adjoining room and then turned back to Liz. “You comin’?”

Liz nodded. “I’ll be right there, just let me grab some snacks and juice from the fun bag.”

“Kay. Bwing da tomas…tobis…tabo…” Xan frowned as the word got away from him, yet again.

Liz smothered a smile . “Tabasco, sweetie.”

“Yeah, dat.”

Liz turned back to the room at large after Xan was safely next door. She sighed when she noticed the suspicion lurking in Troy’s gaze. “Troy, please, just listen to them. This is nothing bad…I just, I think maybe Xan and I should skip your…surprise this time around.” She offered gently, if a little awkwardly.

Troy lowered his gaze, slightly ashamed as he realized that Liz wasn’t worried about catching shrapnel, rather, she was worried about Xan’s tender feelings. He wished for the millionth time that he’d reacted better the first time he’d seen Xan use his gifts. Maybe then Liz wouldn’t think she needed to protect the kid from him. “Liz, I…”

“Troy, it’s ok. What you’re about to hear…it’s…surprising. I want you to be able to react any way that you…need to without worrying about Xan’s feelings. You deserve that.” Liz explained softly.

Troy nodded, relaxing more completely as he read the honest concern for him in her worried gaze. “Ok, I understand that. But it’s not going to change anything. I mean, Liz, you could tell me that he’s…that he’s Bugs Bunny and it wouldn’t make a difference.”

Michael snorted. “How do you feel about Marvin?” He muttered drily.

Troy’s brows furrowed in confusion. Even after he placed the reference. He looked over at Michael. “The martian?”


[ edited 5 time(s), last at 1-Oct-2002 10:13:55 AM ]
posted on 6-Oct-2002 11:12:05 PM by Pathos
Hey guys, it's me -

aka The Author Who Cries Wolf *wink*

I know I said I'd be posting back on Wednesday but my Company Outing/Team Building Extravaganza went all wrong. Being outside in rainy 68 degree weather will do that to ya. Anyhoo - the cold roared back to life and knocked me on my butt once again soooo it's taken me this long to get back to normal.

Now that I'm done with the really boring excuses - just wanted to let you know that I'll be posting new parts tomorrow. And for all the patience and supportive bumps it'll even be more than the one part I was going to post originally. <--Please notice and appreciate the attempt at bribery. LOL

Thanks again guys and I'll see you tomorrow.

Pathos *big*


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 6-Oct-2002 11:13:20 PM ]
posted on 9-Oct-2002 12:01:33 AM by Pathos
*Pathos steps out of the shadows, hiding behind half finished parts 49-50*

Ok, I'm back.

REALLY sorry guys, but this part is just not cooperating with me. And since its been pointed out to me that everyone would notice if I just jumped from 48 to 51...I need just a leetle more time.

Yonkers you crack me up - I feel more like I'm walking the plank with this part rather than skating on the edge. Gonna hold you to the no harming a hair on my head, though. Course, since I'm pulling my hair out on my own anyway...

Gonna put this down and pick it up tomorrow in the hopes of jump starting the muse. And I'll just leave this by saying 'New parts soon'. Really. I swear, people. *big*

Thanks for the patience.

Pathos.
posted on 14-Oct-2002 12:24:52 AM by Pathos
Ok, people -

I'm back. With real, honest to goodness parts! LOL. And...since the villagers are about ready to storm the castle just gonna say 'hi' and get the new parts posted! *big*

Really, guys, thanks for the patience and I hope you like the induction of the newest member of the I Know an Alien Club.

Pathos


frenchkiss70: Glad you enjoyed the last part and thanks for the bump. Here’s some more…Finally! LOL

Jane8302: Yeah, I’ve always enjoyed Michael’s slightly skewed view of thing. Hope you enjoy the next part.

Mickey Ros: I don’t know about not freaking Troy out but…hope you like. *happy*

Scottie: You’re right about this changing poor Troy’s life for good…hope the feelings translate as well in the next couple parts. Enjoy! [Wink]

behrobsession: Thanks for posting, hon. I love hearing that you’re enjoying this. And thanks for the bump and the well wishes. Here’s some more…*big*

jeremiah: You’re so welcome, sweetie. Glad you’re still enjoying the story. Thanks for the bumps and the understanding. Hope you like the next couple parts!

mandyhanford: Gotta love Michael. So happy to hear you’re still liking this. Thanks for the bump and here’s some more…*cringing* finally! LOL

Tigereyes: Glad you liked the last part – sorry this part took so long to get out. Appreciate all the well wishes – and believe me, the threat of more chicken soup was enough to get my butt in gear. If I never see chicken soup after the last few weeks it will be too soon! LOL Well, here’s Troy’s reaction, in all its glory. Crossing my fingers that it lives up to expectation. Oh, also gonna e-mail you and Minanda. I feel like I’m about a month behind the rest of the world… Anyhoo – Enjoy! *big*

roswellluver: Totally agree that Troy deserves the truth…and here’s the poor guy’s reaction too it…*wink*

chinablueeyes: Gotta love Michael’s signature smirk. LOL Well, here’s some more. Hope you enjoy!

Ty01: Here’s a longer part than the last time. Sorry it took so long to get out. You know what they say about the road to hell and good intentions! LOL. Thanks for the bumps and hope you like the new parts!

maxzhot:Had to put the family bonding moment in there. *happy* And Troy is definitely in for a surprise!

NATEVANS: I love hearin’ that you’re still lovin’ this. *big* Hope you like the next couple parts!

Minanda: Well, finally back to feeling 100%, thanks for the well wishes. Will be e-mailing you back as well. Like I told Tiger, I’m still about 3 weeks behind the rest of the world. I hate being sick! LOL. As for the talk and Troy’s reaction…hope you enjoy! *happy*

Lelea: Troy is definitely a little nervous, LOL. The poor guys been through a lot in the last week. And definitely going to put off the ‘son, you’re an alien’ talk. Like you said, Xan’s got enough going on. *wink*

Realistic Dreamer: Glad you enjoyed the little family snapshot. And I love Troy and his integrity too. *happy* And now for the induction of the newest member of the I Know An Alien Club…LOL

TeddyBehrJKT: *phew!* Didn’t think this part would ever make it to the board and must now thank you profusely for keeping me from pulling (too much) hair out of my head. LOL This ones for you, Nik. Couldn’t have done it without you. Edited slightly more since the last time you saw this (I know, I need a twelve step program *big*) – enjoy!

YonkersMe: Hon, thanks so much for keeping me going when I was ready to chuck these next couple parts out the window. Your posts always make me smile. Totally appreciate all the FB and might take you up on the beta’ing offer when I get to my next meltdown. (Planning for the worst and hoping for the best, here. LOL) And you totally had me ROTFLMAO talking about Pam Troy and the Trojan horse. I wish I could lay claim to being that deep thinking in my symbolism. But, hey, who am I to argue with a reader, right? LOL Anyway – hoping to keep the momentum going…keep your fingers crossed. *big*

ConsultantTam: The home and happy parts are coming soon, I swear. But you know me, it always takes me twice as long as anyone else to get there. LOL Hope you like the next couple parts. *happy*

RoswellLady: Aw, glad you liked the last part so much and thanks for the well wishes. Hope you like the next couple parts.

behrynice: Thanks for the compliment and the bump…about that cheesecake…LOL Here’re the next couple parts. *happy*

AlienDreamer101: Glad you liked Marvin…that situation needed a bit of humor. Enjoy the next couple parts.

mitra: Thanks for the bump. I can take a hint…LOL, so here’s the next part.

Lizwell: Happy to see you’re all caught up and thanks for the compliment. Hope you enjoy the next couple parts!

Alien614: Glad you’re still liking this and thanks for the bump! Here’re some new parts for ya.

narly21: Pathos reporting for duty and falling into line, sir! LOL Wouldn’t want you guys to get too restless so…here ya go.*wink*

posted on 14-Oct-2002 12:33:21 AM by Pathos
***********Part 49*************


Liz’s brows drew together as she tried to hear what was happening in the other room. Her task was made considerably more difficult by the fact that no one had said anything in the last ten minutes. Sighing around a yawn Liz let her heavy lidded gaze flicker from the door that closed on the other room to the dark haired little boy who was asleep and cuddled securely against her side. She could feel Max’s uncertainty increasing exponentially the longer the heavy silence continued and she knew he was hinting strongly for her presence. But she didn’t think it wise to leave Xan alone again. He was obviously still exhausted. The poor kid had fallen asleep before Mike and Sully had even realized that Boo was on the Monsters, Inc premises. Liz guessed that the only reason he’d awakened a little while ago was because he sensed that she wasn’t next to him. Which was why she remained stretched out on the bed instead of next door helping Max and Michael with Troy. As much as she might want to see what was going on, Liz wasn’t going to risk Xan waking up at the wrong time and getting caught in the crossfire.

Shifting to a more comfortable position on the bed, Liz swallowed a yawn and allowed her gaze to wander to the adjoining door once again. Even with Max’s concern echoing softly through their connection she was finding it more and more difficult to keep her eyes open. Apparently, she acknowledged ruefully, this whole adventure was catching up with her, as well as Xan. She felt like she hadn’t slept in months. Sending as much encouragement as she could muster across the connection to Max, Liz allowed her eyes to close. Just a few minutes. She just needed a few minutes and if they were still settled in this odd impasse when she opened her eyes…well, then she’d see what else she could do. She really wasn’t that concerned. No one who really sat down and talked to Max could ever consider him evil or dangerous. And Troy simply didn’t have it in him to hate anyone, alien or human. She sighed deeply, drifting a little between waking and dreaming. They just needed a few more minutes she decided, and then everything would be fine.


----------------------------


Troy shook his head, trying desperately to clear it of the white noise that was currently playing havoc with his ability to process information clearly. He glared half heartedly at Max and Michael when they took his gesture for a denial and nodded at him. He almost wished Michael would open his mouth and say something smart assed. Or that Max would continue his fits and starts explanation. But, no. The two of them simply continued to regard him silently. He shook his head again, looking for the words to describe what he was feeling. Coming up empty, he finally retreated to a mental inventory of his mothers cliché catalogue, searching for something familiar, something reasonable, to apply to this situation. Reasonable? Troy offered a mental snort. He’d been through the whole catalogue three times. Nothing. Nothing applicable. And certainly nothing reasonable.

Right. Ok. So reasonable was out. Maybe logical was a better way to go. All he had to do was concentrate on something real, something…normal. If he started from there maybe this whole thing would end up making sense. It was a possibility. Maybe. “So…ya’ll are from, uh, Roswell?” He asked conversationally, feeling a little better when Max and Michael both nodded. Weather balloon incidents aside, Roswell was real. An actual city, in one of the known states on the continental United States. And then Michael opened his mouth.

“Not originally.”

Troy nodded thoughtfully. Right. “And…originally you’re from…uh…” He couldn’t bring himself to say it, so he pointed an index finger at the ceiling. For one brief second Troy felt his numbness evaporate as his eyes followed the small gesture and then focused meaningfully on the cosmos beyond their small hotel room. Inhaling deeply, he looked back at Max.

Max swallowed, raising his chin almost defiantly as he forced himself to hold Troy’s searching gaze while, once again, offering the truth. There was something incredibly terrifying about admitting it, even though everyone in the room had already heard it. “Yeah.” He acknowledged softly, breaking eye contact to follow the direction Troy was pointing in. “Originally we’re…we’re not of this earth.”

It wasn’t a weather balloon. Troy forced his mouth closed as, once again, Max’s gaze met his own. The Air Force had lied. It wasn’t a weather balloon. His heart wanted to reject the notion as impossible. The Air Force didn’t lie. They were the good guys. He was one of the good guys. His simple, innocent belief in that had been one of the bedrocks of his existence. But there was no room in this situation for innocent belief. Not anymore. Not after everything that he’d been told in the last hour. God! Had it only been an hour?

It wasn’t a weather balloon. And with the understanding of that one simple fact…the entire world changed. The almost sudden belief, which finally accompanied the revelation that humanity was not alone, would have toppled him, if he weren’t already sitting down.

Troy stared. Jesus Christ! What they were telling him qualified as the most significant revelation of the 21st Century. Hell, any century. He wished vaguely they’d waited another hundred years, the world just wasn’t ready for this. Yeah, right, Logan. It’s the world that aint ready for this. Troy refocused on Max and Michael, and found them staring at him expectantly. Right. It was his turn to say something.

“Do you want me to change it again?” Michael asked, not unkindly, though with perhaps more enjoyment of Troy’s discomfort than was wise as he gestured to the hotel room wall. During their original explanation it had once again fallen to him to give the visual aids so he’d changed the paint color on the wall several times. Almost against his will, Michael acknowledged that Troy had taken the whole demonstration much better than Jesse Ramirez.

“Michael…” Max warned quietly, glancing uncertainly at Troy as he tried to figure out how far they could push him before he flipped. Letting out a slightly disheartened sigh, Max studied the man before him. And realized that he didn’t really want to find out. He reached across their connection for Liz and sighed a little when he felt how deeply she was sleeping. He was humbled by the faith she obviously had in him. If she’d been in the least bit worried about the outcome she wouldn’t have allowed herself the luxury of slumber. Exhausted or not. Unfortunately he was beginning to feel slightly unworthy of her confidence in him. Because quite suddenly he wasn’t certain that this was going to work out nearly as well as Liz believed it would.

Troy shook his head, his eyes narrowing slightly on the two men, the two aliens sitting before him. “Nah. I got it the first time.” He replied testily. One of the most important things in his life suddenly seemed like a joke. Shit! Every fuckin’ X Files freak he’d ever laughed at, or thought mildly deranged, had apparently had a better understanding of the Air Force than he did. And he had joined the fuckin’ thing! Troy glared as he took in Michael’s vaguely amused expression. At least somebody could laugh at the joke. He sure as hell wasn’t. He took a deep breath. And then another one. Logical. That was the plan. He just needed to take it one step at a time. Taking another deep breath, Troy started from the beginning. “Ok. So…”

Max nodded encouragingly. “So.” He blinked a little at the glare that greeted his nod. O-kay.

Troy sighed. “So, you’re a king.” He refused to be comforted by the discomfort that was clear in Max’s expression when the younger man shrugged. At least he wasn’t high on his own power. “And your people sent you here for your protection…so you could grow up and then go back and save them from the evil tyrant who stole your throne.” Troy finished, the words flowing monotonously as he repeated the cosmic fairytale he’d been told. He paused briefly to wonder how he’d missed Rod Serling’s announcement that he’d entered the Twilight Zone.

Max and Michael shared a guarded look as they both nodded, uncertain how to interpret the complete lack of emotion in Troy’s voice. Shouldn’t he be…surprised, angry, freaked…something?

“And that’s all you know about the home planet. That they’re waiting for you.” Troy asked, disbelief lending the first hint of color to his questioning.

“Pretty much.” Max answered, feeling the burden of both his ignorance and his responsibility as Troy laid the situation out so bluntly.

“No…information on this…Khivar? Khivar’s strengths and weaknesses? Troop details? Implemented military campaigns? Basic strategy? Allies?” Troy shook his head incredulously along with Max and Michael as they answered in the negative. “Nothing? They gave you nothing to go on…but they expect you to come to the rescue?” He exhaled harshly. They were nodding at him again. “That’s a suck plan.” He muttered.

“No shit.” Michael muttered glumly, earning a glare from both Troy and Max. He glared back and shrugged at them both. What? It was a suck plan. He wished that they’d just gone with his original plan of knocking Troy out and leaving quietly. Michael subsided, sighing a little in surrender, when it occurred to him that Max’s idea of diplomacy might work better than his in this situation.

“So you don’t know anything about any defenses you may, or may not, possess, but you do know that there’s a whole race of people who moved to Earth just to find you. And kill you.” Troy stated, his voice clipped as he added that to the record.

“The Skins.” Max acknowledged, clearing his throat. “That pretty much covers everything we…”

Troy’s brows rose in disbelief. That didn’t even begin to cover everything! “Don’t let’s forget the shapeshifter that’s posing as a General.” Troy interrupted coldly, his mind turning dangerous corners as the future laid itself out before him. “How many shapeshifter’s do you have in positions of power?”

Max inhaled sharply and glanced at Michael. Understanding dawned with an almost frightening clarity as he saw where Troy was headed. “We only have one protector.” He rushed to explain. “And he’s only in that position so that he can keep us alive.”

“And the skins?” Troy asked silkily. “How many positions of power do they occupy?”

Michael felt every muscle in his body tense as he met Troy’s suddenly angry gaze. Congresswoman Whitaker was dead but…“We don’t know.” He admitted

Troy exhaled harshly. They didn’t know. He wished Liz were in the room. Maybe then she could explain what she’d meant by ‘it’s nothing bad.’ Right! Aliens had infiltrated the US Military but - it was nothing bad. There was a war going on right under the Pentagon’s nose but – it was nothing bad. It was quite conceivable that the Earth’s future hung in the balance of an otherworldly conflict between a King and a Tyrant. And humanity knew nothing about it. But it was nothing bad! And to top it off - they didn’t know.

The all encompassing numbness that had seen Troy through the initial revelation disappeared and he was suddenly seething. He’d done everything in his power to help these people and in turn, they’d ripped whatever feeling of security he had right out from under him. Being in the military had forced him to long ago acknowledge that it was humanity which posed the biggest threat to its own continued existence. It was hard enough living with that. But now…now there was a bigger threat. And the world slept on, completely oblivious. His head swam with the enormity of it.

“You don’t know? Well, that’s great! Just great. You people just…you just…and…you just don’t even get it, do you?!” Troy shouted,

Michael’s eyes narrowed angrily and his own frayed nerves forced his tongue. “What exactly don’t we get? You think we don’t get what it is to live our lives on the run? You think we don’t get what it feels like to be hunted just because we’re breathing?”

Max shook his head, reaching out to grip Michael’s shoulder. This couldn’t turn into a confrontation. Not if they were going to keep Troy as an ally. “Michael…”

“No, man.” Michael shrugged off Max’s restraining hand and rounded, once more, on Troy. The cold temper flaring in the other man’s eyes just pissed him off that much more. “C’mon tell me! What is it we don’t understand? Maybe you think we missed the fact that everyone we care about is in danger because of us. Or maybe…”

Everyone they cared about. Troy felt his heart ache a little as he realized that Liz and Xan still weren’t safe. He had yet to reconcile the innocent, human child that he’d helped rescue with the 3 feet tall and green stereotype that he’d couldn’t quite shake from his mind. Xan just couldn’t be an alien. He was too much…too much like every four year old he’d ever known, Troy thought desperately. But then Max and Michael were about as human as anyone he might see walking around the base on a daily basis. He stared, his mind warring between surging anger and continued confusion. Maybe them looking human was just all part of ‘the plan’. And there had to be a plan. A better one than that which was described.

Invasion was what first crossed his mind, although Xan was definitely not invasion material. And, come to that, neither were Max or Michael. But the rest of those people. The Skins. Even the shapeshifter…Troy groaned and dropped his head into his hands. He felt like he had been going in the same circles for the last month. And his brain was tired of being dizzy. Maybe that was the plan. Confuse all the humans and then just…take over.

“Look, I know this is a lot to take in and you have a lot of questions but…I don’t know what to say…” Max said, cutting into Troy’s musings and cutting Michael’s rant short so that he could keep the conversation from getting too far away from him.

Troy raised his head from his hands and glared at their continued lack of understanding. “That’s not good enough.” He ground out.


*****CONTINUED IN PART 50 ON PAGE 71*****






[ edited 1 time(s), last at 14-Oct-2002 12:42:08 AM ]
posted on 14-Oct-2002 12:40:13 AM by Pathos
**********Part 50************


Max stared, feeling his own temper spark at the assessment. Not good enough? “Excuse me?”

Troy nodded angrily. They should have stayed on their own planet. Intentional or not they’d put the Earth in an indefensible position. Fuck! If the aliens didn’t know how to distinguish the enemy how were humans supposed to? “This isn’t about you.”

Michael watched Troy’s expression closely, noting the wary anger that was written across the older man’s face. He barely contained the anger that hovered just under his own skin, begging to be released. He glanced at Max and noted the resigned expression on his face. Fuck. He knew they should have kept their mouths shut.

Max’s eyes narrowed as he studied Troy then glanced at the closed door to the adjoining room. He wondered if he should wake Liz. Inhaling deeply, he decided against it. She was right to keep Xan away from this. Whatever this was. He clung to Liz’s assertion that Troy was trustworthy, holding onto her pure belief that, Air Force or not, he wouldn’t turn on them. Taking a deep breath Max tried to inject some calm into the situation. “Troy, look…”

Troy turned to glare at Max, the soothing tone of voice he’d chosen to employ grating harshly on Troy’s last nerve. Humor the mad man, is that it? As if he were the one that were mad! He shook his head, his angry gaze flickering between Max and Michael. They didn’t get it. They didn’t even want to! The implications for the rest of the world were staggering. This wasn’t about them. It wasn’t even about him. His career, his life, were small in comparison to what could be lost. “This isn’t about you people.” Troy repeated quietly.

Michael snorted, ignoring Max’s warning look. “Sure feels like it’s about us. We’re the ones you people keep shooting at!” He bit out angrily.

‘You people’ is a phrase bought and paid for by ignorance. There is no ‘you people’. Everyone is an individual. Don’t ever make the mistake of judging a group instead of a person. That’ll just show you to be as ignorant as every other fool in the world, son.

No! Oh, no. That didn’t apply. His father didn’t understand. He hadn’t been talking about this situation. This was different. These people were…hell, they weren’t people! Aliens! Aliens who couldn’t even claim to have come in peace because their goddamn war had come with them. Shapeshifters and…and people who looked like…people, but were really husks bent on destruction…Troy shook his head, avoiding Michael’s anger and Max’s penetrating gaze as he stood up to pace the room, his blood pumping restlessly through his veins as adrenaline shot through his body. His mind reeled as he attempted to make a brief inventory of everything the Earth needed to defend itself. And didn’t have. Max and Michael were watching him, their quiet, angry disappointment making him even more uncomfortable. What did they want from him?

“What do you want from me?” Max challenged quietly. “Do you think I haven’t thought about what could happen? Do you think I’m not aware of the danger? Or the fact that it exists because of me?”

Troy quashed the understanding sympathy that welled, against his will, and against his better judgment. He ignored the glaring disappointment and the shadow of fear that lurked in Max’s eyes. And his own stabbing guilt as he imagined how difficult it had been for Max to tell him the truth, knowing his probable reaction. Troy paused briefly on that thought. There was nothing probable about his reaction anymore. Max had been right.

No! He couldn’t afford to be sympathetic to the enemy. Not anymore. His heart ached as he realized that he’d have to put Liz and Xan in that category. Eventually. Not today. He couldn’t do it today, but eventually. Because he had a greater duty. To a cause larger than himself. Larger than the individuals in this room. Earth hung in the balance. He’d sworn an oath. It wasn’t a choice.

Was it?

Michael shook his head. Because of me…“Us, Maxwell.” He corrected coldly, moving to stand directly in front of Troy. The last thing he needed was Max on some kind of martyr kick. “Trust me, we know the stakes. But there’s only so much we can do at one time. You got any ideas, feel free to share, fly boy!”

Troy opened his mouth and then snapped it shut again. He didn’t have any ideas, actually.

If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem.

Fuck! Now his mother decides to join the party, Troy thought in disgust. His common sense made one last attempt to rally, pointedly reminding him that without the aliens presence on Earth there wouldn’t even be a problem.

“Max? What’s going on?”

Liz. Troy swallowed, forcing himself to look over to the door which was now hanging open, framing Liz’s petite form as she searched the room anxiously. Taking a deep breath he met her gaze squarely. She had her family back. He’d done all he could for her. He had! Which was more than he should have done. And even now, in light of what he’d found out, he couldn’t imagine not doing it. Alien or not, Xan deserved to be with his family. But Liz shouldn’t have expected anything else from him. She couldn’t.

“Max?” Liz moved to stand next to her husband, taking in his closed expression and Michael’s angry one before turning to Troy. She blinked a little at the coldness of his features. It couldn’t have gone that badly. Could it? “Troy?” she questioned softly.

“Troy needs to get back.” Max answered quietly, taking Liz’s hand and tucking her in behind him before moving them back slightly so that they were both blocking the doorway into the other room. He didn’t really believe that Troy would try to hurt them but he wasn’t about to take any chances.

Troy didn’t miss the fact that Max had moved to stand directly in front of his wife. And then blocked the path to his son when he scooted her backwards. He sighed deeply and shook his head. He could never hurt them. Jesus, he’d risked his life to save them. He stepped forward, wanting to at least explain…say goodbye. But Michael placed himself squarely in the way. Troy shook his head, the gesture an attempt to convince them that he wasn’t a threat.

But, in a very real way, he supposed he was.

Troy sank back into his chair, wondering how he’d turned from ally to enemy so quickly. Through the thick silence that permeated the room he could hear Xan snoring softly next door. Completely oblivious to the intergalactic conference taking place around him. Completely trusting his parents to keep him safe. From the look on Max’s face Troy had no doubt that he was up to the task. It was clear in the gentle hand he’d laid on his wife’s arm. In the clear warning that lurked in the steel of his gaze, in the positioning of his body, in front of the door, as he blocked the path to his wife and child. There was no doubt in Troy’s mind that Max Evans would die before he let anyone hurt his family. It was an utterly human impulse and there was an honor in that which Troy completely understood. He knew that there was nothing more dangerous than a parent protecting their child. It was one of the strongest instincts a human being possessed.

Troy blinked, feeling his stubbornness losing the battle, though it rallied briefly. In actuality, he didn’t really know for sure that they even felt things the way other people did. Right. Troy offered a mental snort. He could spend the rest of the night trying to convince himself of that one. And he still wouldn’t be able to. These people seemed more human than some others he’d met who could lay claim to the title through pure genetics. He shook his head again as he remembered the love that had been so evident just a couple of hours ago when Max and Liz had cradled Xan between them. Perhaps love really was universal. It was something that he’d like to believe. Something Max and Liz seemed to prove as effortlessly as some people hated.

Liz bit her lip a little as she watched Troy continue to fight some inner battle. She wanted to reach out to him but she wasn’t sure how he’d react. And she knew Max wasn’t going to let her out from behind him without a fight. “Troy, are you ok?”

Liz’s soft question pulled him from his thoughts, but it was Max that Troy addressed. “What would you do if I said I was headed back to the base to tell them what I know? What if I said I didn’t want to help you?”

Liz gasped, her mouth falling open a little as she tried to reconcile the gentle, solemn expression on Troy’s face with the coldness of his question. She never should have left them alone. She moved to do some damage control but Max shushed her gently through their connection. He needed to be the one to answer this. She supposed he was right but still…taking a deep breath, Liz nodded and twined her fingers through his in a gesture that both lent support and took comfort. Steeling herself, she offered a silent prayer for everything to work out.

“You saved my wife and son. Without you my family…” Max shook his head, briefly wondering why Michael looked so relaxed. “I would never repay your kindness by harming you. You deserved the truth. You got it. What you do with it is up to you.” He answered earnestly, shrugging off the insult

Troy looked over at Michael. “You agree with that?”

Right. Keep it up Captain Stoic. Michael shook his head. Troy wasn’t stupid. He sure as hell would never make the mistake of telling someone he was about to betray them. Especially when that someone had his fire power. He knew full well that Troy was fighting both his will and his better judgment. And losing. Michael sighed. He really was gonna have to admit Liz was right. This guy was stuck following his heart. Sucked to be him, he mused silently. “We don’t kill people for no reason. And we don’t kill people who help us. We’re on the run anyway. You’d just be one more body in a uniform.” He replied quietly.

Troy sighed, recognizing the truce. “Had to get that last dig in, huh?”

Michael shrugged. “The opportunity was there.”

Troy snorted. “Yeah.” He took a deep breath. He couldn’t expect them to take responsibility for the whole universe. Maybe just their part in it. And maybe it was time for him to step up and take responsibility for his own part. “We really do need to do something about the skins. The battlefield is here, it’s Earth. We can’t just sit back and wait for them to make a move.” Troy squirmed a bit under the startlingly perceptive assessment of Michael’s light hazel eyes.

“You’re preachin’ to the choir, man.” Michael said. Hell, he was all for being proactive. “But…” he glanced over at Max, who was studying Troy seriously. “We haven’t exactly had a lot of down time to come up with something.”

Max nodded, feeling Liz relax against his side as the tension in the room dissipated with the last of Troy’s anger. “What do you have in mind?” he asked curiously. It struck him suddenly that having a military ally had more than a few practical applications.

Troy didn’t even try to fight the budding belief that the untried king standing before him would, if given half a chance, fight to stop his greatest fears from coming true. The thought struck him with all the subtlety of an anvil and now he understood that Max Evans and Michael Guerin, alien bloodline and responsibility aside, would fight to save Earth for the same reason Troy, himself would. It was home. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And if he were any judge of character he’d bet…well, hell, he was betting his life on the fact that these people would be part of the solution. Troy smiled. “Lemme get back to you on that.”





[ edited 4 time(s), last at 1-Nov-2002 10:23:24 AM ]
posted on 14-Oct-2002 5:45:24 PM by Pathos
Tigereyes -

Thanks for the chuckle. *big* Wouldn't feel right if you didn't give me a little bit of a hard time. LOL

Talk to ya
Pathos
posted on 31-Oct-2002 4:49:42 PM by Pathos
Hi all -

Checking in with a mini Mea Culpa. I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted...sowwy. RL has been playing havoc with me lately. Good news is that I've got new parts done - will post tomorrow night because that's going to be the first time I have more than a second to sit down at the computer.

Tiger - appreciate the, um gentle nudge. LOL. BTW, did you get my last e-mail? Oh, and Yonkers - totally inspired to call on Cookie Monster. He's still my fave Sesame Street character and you set me to giggling. *big*

Gonna get going now before the boss catches me not working. See ya'll tomorrow and thanks for all your patience and bumps!

Pathos *happy*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 31-Oct-2002 4:50:33 PM ]
posted on 2-Nov-2002 1:47:17 AM by Pathos
Hey all -

Just a quick fly by post before I head off to bed. Sorry it took so long to get this up - I know I said it would be up on the 1st but...I swear this day contained more than the usual 24 hours! LOL And you know what they say about the road to hell and good intentions. *big*

Anyhoo - will be back to posting individual responses to fb next time but for now I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you for all the wonderful, positive fb for the last couple parts. It was incredibly hard to write Troy's reaction and the general consensus that it was realistic and legitimate just made the whole process completely worth it. You guys really are the best and I just wanted to say thanks so much for all your patience, investment in the story, and supportive bumps.

Hope you enjoy the next couple parts & I hope to be back soon. (Hey! Stop laughing. *happy*)

Pathos *wink*

And now...without further ado...

*************Part 51**********

Troy sighed heavily, flipping through the, all too few, pages of hotel stationary. His barely legible scrawl detailed everything Max, Michael and Liz had told him about the Skins, noted every question he’d asked. He was more than a little dismayed to see that the questions outnumbered the answers. And yet, he was also oddly elated. A part of himself wanted to chuck his notes in the garbage and run from the room repeating ‘this never happened’ until he actually believed it. But the greater part of himself, the truer part of himself, felt the pull of fate for the first time in his life. He held in his hands, hope and possibility. History in the making. It was daunting and enervating all at the same time. Writing history, instead of reading it. He was both honored and scared shitless by the responsibility that had been thrust upon him.

Shuffling the papers together again, Troy glanced over at Max and Liz. They’d moved Xan back into the original hotel room a little while ago and Liz was sitting at his side. There to soothe him whenever he whimpered or shifted restlessly in his sleep. Which wasn’t often.The poor kid was so worn out that he’d barely stirred when his father had moved him from one bed to the other. Max had then taken up a position opposite his wife so that Xan was once again resting safely between them. At some point during the quietly terse conversation their fingers had twined tightly together and in the exhausted silence of its aftermath, Max and Liz appeared to have left the rest of the world behind and gotten lost in each others eyes. “They always like that?” Troy asked softly, glancing at Michael.

Michael shook his head. “Nah. They’re being polite. Usually they’re much worse.”

Troy couldn’t help his sharp bark of laughter. Michael looked more than slightly put out by that fact. Shaking his head a little, he got up and stretched, easing the kinks he’d gotten from being hunched over the desk for the last three hours, as he did so. “I need to get going. I want to get back to the base and see what General Pay…Langley has to add to all this.” He glanced at Max, who had finally remembered that there were other people in the room. “You’re going to talk to him, right?”

Max nodded, squeezing Liz’s hand gently before rising from the bed. “Yeah. He’ll be ready to help when you get back.”

“Just be ready for the attitude.” Michael advised sardonically

“Right.” Troy sighed and then glanced down at the bed where Xan slept on. Still completely oblivious to the intergalactic war room conference that had gone on around him for the last few hours. Which was only as it should be, Troy decided. He was just a little boy. And he, as well as every other child on the planet, deserved to grow up without worrying about things like alien invasions or chaos descending over the world. He’d never realized the freedom that came from such innocence. Steeling himself with still more resolve, Troy vowed to do everything in his power to make sure that not one child on the planet lost that innocence. Or that freedom. He looked at Liz. “Can I…can I just say goodbye?”

Liz smiled, moving to stand next to Max at the end of the bed. “Of course.”

“Hey, Xan. Wake up a sec…”

Xan sat up sleepily and rubbed his eyes. Troy was leaning over him, softly calling his name. "Wha’?" he asked drowsily, searching out Liz’s form at the end of the bed.

Troy smiled and sat down on the bed. "I gotta get going. I just wanted to make sure I said goodbye."

Xan nodded and yawned. "When you comin’ back?"

"Not for a while, little man. I gotta get back to the base."

"Cuz why?" Xan asked, frowning. Why would anyone want to go back there?

"Because that’s my job. I’ll get in trouble if I don’t get back soon."

"Dey gonna put you in da dawrk?" Xan asked suddenly very worried for his friend.

"I hope not." Troy muttered with a brief smile.

Xan chewed at his lower lip while he regarded Troy. Coming to a decision he reached under the pillow and pulled out his small black flashlight. He looked at it and then back to Troy, hesitating briefly before holding the light out. "Hewre. Jus’ in case."

Troy took it and then reached out to ruffle Xan’s hair lightly. "Thanks little man. You be good ok?" He watched Xan nod and tried to convince himself that the kids image wasn’t blurring slightly around the edges. Those were not tears in his eyes. He bombed countries for Chrissakes!

“I’ll miss you.” Xan offered quietly.

Troy took a deep breath. Well, hell! Unable to resist, he pulled the little boy into a hug. “I’ll miss you, too. But I’ll see you again soon.”

“Pwomise?” Xan asked expectantly, looking up into Troy’s face once he was released from the bear hug.

Troy nodded, smiling at the little boy who had been through so much. So much more than any child should have to go through. And yet he was still innocent enough to believe in the binding strength of a promise. Troy refused to be the one to let him down. “I promise.” He replied solemnly.

Max watched Troy with his son and felt the sting of tears behind his own eyes. He moved to stand next to Troy and then reached to shake his hand. "Thank you for taking care of my family.” He held the older man’s gaze meaningfully. “For everything.”

Troy took Max’s hand and shrugged off the gratitude. “No problem, man.” He ignored Liz’s slightly incredulous look and continued meaningfully. "I’ll talk to you soon."

Max nodded. "I’ll be waiting." He watched Troy nod stoically at Michael and Michael nod stoically back as Liz led Troy to the door. Shaking his head over the odd exchange he turned to his son. He could see how much Troy meant to Xan and any unwanted jealousy over their obvious closeness was replaced by his concern for his sons feelings. "You ok there, Xan?" Xan looked up at him and nodded, shyly pulling the covers closer to his chin. Max sat down carefully on the edge of the bed. "What about your flashlight?"

Xan shook his head. "Is ok. Liz sleeps wit da lights on." He glanced at Michael then leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially to Max. "She tol’ me hewr secwet."

"She did?" Max leaned down and whispered back "Which secret?"

Xan rolled his eyes "You know. ‘Bout how she’s scawred a da dawrk.. She said you gotta hug hewr to make it bettewr."

Max couldn’t help the small smile that graced his lips as he nodded seriously. "Oh, that secret."

“Uh-huh.” Xan regarded Max silently for a moment, curious assessment clear in his sharp amber gaze. “Wanns see wha’ I got?” He asked shyly.

Max nodded. “Sure. What do you have?” His brows furrowed a little as Xan sat up and then shoved his hand into his jeans’ pocket.

Sitting up on his knees Xan handed Max his patch. “See?”

Plastering a smile on his face, Max re-read the patch ‘Property of the US Air Force’. Over my dead body. “Very cool, Xan.”

Xan nodded proudly. “Yeah. It says I’ma be in da Aiwr Fowrce when I get big.” He paused, moving a little closer to Max as he bragged. “I been on a plane, ya know.”

“Really?” Max asked, hiding his wayward smile and forcing a suitably impressed expression onto his face.

Xan nodded seriously. “Yeah. Twoy took me.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“Yeah.” Xan scooted even closer to Max when he heard Michael snort. Throwing a brief scowl over his shoulder he leaned against Max, feeling safe, as he pointed to the silhouette of the plane emblazoned on the patch. “Was like dat. Only biggewr.”

“It’d have to be bigger. To fit you and Troy in there.” Max teased gently, thrilling at the way Xan was inching closer, becoming more comfortable in his presence.

Xan smiled. “Yeah. But Liz was wowwied.” He rolled his eyes, grinning when Max laughed at the gesture. “She tought dat I was gonna fall.” Xan sighed over that fact and then glanced at the end of the bed before starting to settle back against the pillow. And then he realized that Liz wasn’t standing there anymore. He pushed himself to his feet and looked at Max "Whewre’d she go?" He demanded. He started to run down the bed but Max caught him in his arms "LIZ!"

Max rubbed his son’s back gently hoping to still the sudden panic he could feel emanating from him. "Liz is with Troy…"

Xan pushed back in Max’s arms "She’s leavin’?!"

Max shook his head quickly as Xan stiffened in his arms, and pushed at his shoulder. "Xan. Liz is not leaving. Look at me pal." Xan stilled and met Max’s gaze, biting his lower lip. "Liz is not leaving, she’s just walking Troy to the door so she can say good bye. She’ll be right back."

"I want Liz." Xan whispered, his eyes pleading with Max to understand.

"Christ, it’s genetic." Michael muttered with a sigh.

"Michael." Max warned, then turned back to Xan, nodding in agreement. "I know. And she’s gonna be back in just a couple minutes."

"Pwomise?"

Max nodded solemnly. "I promise."

Xan studied Max’s eyes for a long moment before allowing himseld to relax slightly. The hand rubbing his back felt good. And Max was nice. He believed Max. And Liz trusted Max. He knew that somehow. Knew she trusted him completely. He folded his arms over Max’s left shoulder and settled his head there to watch the door.

posted on 2-Nov-2002 1:49:04 AM by Pathos
**********Part 52*********


Liz could almost feel the panic in Xan’s voice when he called out her name. But, thrusting his uncertainty and trepidation aside, she also felt Max move to handle to situation, so she was hesitant to interrupt. She exhaled a small sigh of relief when she felt Max relax and knew that Xan had done the same. Refocusing on Troy, Liz found him regarding her with an odd expression.

"How long did it take you to be so…ok with all this?" Troy asked, gesturing vaguely in Liz’s direction as she returned her attention to their conversation.

Liz shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess the way I learned about it helped, you know? I mean, Max saved my life and…” Liz trailed off, wondering how to explain that her husband had shown her who he really was. That she’d known from the beginning that he was incapable of all the B-movie plotlines that cast aliens as evil crestures bent on taking over the world.

Troy nodded. “And it helped that he loved you so much he couldn’t see straight.” He finished.

Liz felt a light blush steal across her cheeks. “Yeah.” She said softly. “Troy, he is the last person who’d ever want to hurt anyone. He’s more human than a lot of people I’ve met.” Liz explained earnestly, feeling the odd need to add her reassurance to Max’s. Just in case.

“Liz…”

“Really, Troy…”

Troy shook his head. “Liz, stop. I know.” He nodded at her to illustrate that he was serious. “I know. You don’t need to worry, I’m not going to betray you guys.”

“I know that.” Liz replied softly. “I just don’t want you to wake up tomorrow and regret this.”

“I won’t.” Troy averred seriously. “Liz, this is all still sinking in but…do you know what it means to be a part of this? To be working towards something as big as keeping the world safe? And….and, Jesus Christ, it’s even bigger than that. We’re talking about the difference between intergalactic war and peace. I mean, the possibilities…” He grinned, trailing off when he saw Liz smiling at him, listening as he got completely caught up in the situation.

Liz nodded, any lingering fear put to rest. “I knew we could trust you.”

Troy shrugged sheepishly. “I just needed to get over my…”

“Surprise.” Liz interjected.

“Yeah. My surprise.” Troy shared another smile with Liz and then pulled her into a gentle hug, still amazed that her shoulder showed not even a hint of tenderness. Max really was pretty damn handy to have around. “I’ll talk to you guys soon.” Troy said, releasing her to step back and attempt to smooth the wrinkles from his uniform. Sighing at the utter futility of the task, he gave up and let it go. “Try to stay out of trouble, huh?”

Liz grinned. “We’ll try. Thank you, so much, for all your help.” She said solemnly, catching his gaze. Good things were going to come from this. She simply knew it.

Troy nodded easily. “Anytime.”

Leaning against the door, Liz watched Troy walk down the hall to the elevator. He threw her a jaunty salute and then stepped inside. With a small sigh Liz opened the door quickly, feeling Max calling to her as Xan became restless.

After closing the door Liz turned toward the bed. And immediately stopped to take in the scene before her. A surprising well of emotion brought a sheen of tears to her eyes and it was with no small amount of wonder that she watched Max and Xan continue their conversation, facing each other with matching expressions of earnestness. Xan rested his elbow easily on Max’s shoulder, leaning against his father as he spoke. Seeing the child so safe and comfortable in Max’s arms held such a profound sense of rightness that Liz was fairly floored by the intensity of it. Max had to be feeling the same thing. His emotions were jumbled and hard to make out but the incredible, soul deep, sense of love and relief that seemed to hold everything together reached out for her. Her own understanding reached out in kind, letting him know she was there. Always.

"Has it been a couple minu’es?” Xan asked hopefully. He knew Liz didn’t want to leave him. But the longer she was out of his sight, the harder it was for him to remember that. “Cuz, ‘membewr you pwomised." He reminded Max.

"Almost, Xan." Max replied softly, rubbing his son’s back gently. He was loathe to give up the feeling of Xan settled safely in his arms.

"Cuz maybe we could check. I could check." Xan offered hopefully.

Max smiled. The expression on his son’s face informed him that Xan’s patience had come to an end. "Why don’t you check the door again, pal." He suggested, knowing Liz was right behind him.

A smile was lighting Xan’s face even before he looked toward the door. He just knew she would be standing there. "Liz!" He turned back to Max. "Tanks."

Max nodded. “You’re welcome.” He said, setting Xan on the floor so he could scamper around the bed to grab Liz’s hand.

"I tought you wewre gone, but Max said you wewre comin’ back.” Xan said, sighing happily when Liz squeezed his fingers gently. “Awre you ok?"

"I am feeling much better." Liz told him, releasing his hand as she removed the light sweater from her shoulders and debated taking off the rest of the bandage. Sighing, she decided against it. She knew her tank top would never cover Max’s handprint or Xan’s smaller one.

"Liz? I jus’ woke up." Xan’s brows furrowed slightly. Well, it was a little while ago but still…

Liz glanced down at Xan, surprised to hear the uncertainty in his voice. She smiled at him reassuringly. "I can see that, kiddo. Your hair is sticking up all over the place." Liz held back a chuckle as Xan’s eyes crossed when he tried to look up at his hair. Then he looked at her in frustration.

"Cuz, maybe I like hugs when I wake up, too." Xan whispered, wondering if Liz would take his hint.

Liz looked down into Xan’s worried eyes, her heart breaking a little over his concern. Catching him in her arms, she pulled him into a tight hug. "I’m sorry sweetie, I thought you saw me walk to the door. I just went to say goodbye to Troy." She leaned her head back a little to look into his eyes. "I wasn’t leaving you. Ok?" Xan wrapped his small arms around her neck and buried his face against her shoulder. She could feel him nod and slowly begin to relax against her. "I bet Max would have given you a hug when you woke up. He gives great hugs." She mentioned.

Xan shrugged against her shoulder and then picked his head up to look at Liz. " He did, kinda. He wubs backs good."

Max smiled, unable to resist moving to stand next to his wife and son. “Thanks.” He said, smoothing Xan’s hair gently into some semblance of order, slightly embarrassed that it hadn’t occurred to him to do so, before now.

Liz caught Max’s eye and offered him a secret smile. "He has magic hands." She said to Xan.

"Weally? Wha’ can you do?" Xan asked, looking at Max with renewed interest.

"I’ll show you later." Max promised. Xan nodded and put his head back down on Liz’s shoulder relaxing completely as he wrapped a lock of her hair around his fingers. Max had never allowed himself to even consider that…that what he was seeing was even possible. But there it was. Liz dropped her head, letting her temple rest lightly against Xan’s as she cradled him gently in her arms, easily reassuring him without even saying a word. The picture was made all the more profound for having never been imagined. It was right, Xan resting so securely in Liz’s embrace, as if he belonged there. And Max could feel the most amazing sense of contentment hovering just within his grasp. ‘Awe’ wasn’t strong enough to describe what he was feeling but, then, Max didn’t think that any word could adequately describe everything he was feeling. “Thank you.” He whispered solemnly. Unable to stop himself, he gently leaned in to claim his wife’s lips in a kiss that was filled with all the eloquence lacking in his suddenly limited vocabulary. He couldn’t wait to get them home.

Liz smiled, sighing happily and catching her husbands gaze as he rested his forehead against hers. This was perfect. This moment. The three of them together. The fact that…

“I’m hungwy.”

Max and Liz blinked, brought back to reality by the little boy still resting happily between them. Max cleared his throat. “You are, huh?”

Xan nodded, his stomach growling as if on cue. “See?”

Max grinned at the sheepish expression on his sons face. “Yeah, pal, I see.” He glanced over at Michael. “Let’s get the car packed and then we’ll stop at McDonald’s or something before we hit the road.”

Michael shrugged. “Works for me. I could use something to eat and it’ll give me one more hour of peace before I have to face Maria.” At the puzzled expressions that greeted his announcement Michael explained “I’ve been ignoring her call for the last few hours.”

Liz shook her head. “Michael…”

“Hey, I told her everything was ok hours ago. And we were kinda in the middle of something.” Michael pointed out defensively.

“You could call her now.” Liz replied, ignoring Michael’s scowl and setting Xan on his feet when he whispered that he had to go to the bathroom.

“Why? Do you want to talk to her?” Michael asked, placing the ball firmly back in Liz’s court.

Liz opened her mouth and then closed it again. She knew her best friends temper and if Michael was unwilling to risk her wrath, even over the phone… “We’ll be home in a few hours.” Liz muttered, turning to repack her suitcase.

Michael snorted. “Thought so.”

Max barely heard the exchange, he was too busy fighting the worry that suddenly threatened his newfound contentment. Maria. She’d been wrong. He knew that, felt it even now, in the obvious affection Liz had for his son. He’d felt it grow across their connection to become as tangible and immediate as her feelings for him. But it suddenly struck him that, even as he made plans for the rest of their life, he’d yet to talk to Liz about them. She may love Xan but what if she thought he’d be better off in a normal household? What if she thought he’d be safer somewhere else? What if she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do? It wouldn’t be fair to push her but…

“Max, what?” Liz asked sharply, her own anxiety rising as she felt his contentment slip away in favor of a gut wrenching concern.

“We need to talk.” Max muttered. He hadn’t meant to just blurt it out like that but, quite suddenly, he needed to know exactly where they stood. Before they got back and the rest of their group decided to add their two cents worth. Or, worse yet, put it to a vote.

Liz swallowed. He couldn’t have convinced himself that Xan would be safer without them. Not in 45 seconds. She suddenly wanted to avoid the conversation altogether. Taking a deep breath she tried to shrug off her concern. It was ridiculous. She knew that Max wanted to keep his son. She’d felt his deep longing stretching across their connection since the first time Max had heard Xan’s voice. Hell, she could feel it now. So why was she so worried? Liz sighed. This sucked. She knew Max was right. They couldn’t avoid this converation forever. And it was definitely better to get it out of the way now before they got back and everyone else decided that they should be a part of the decision. There was no way she was letting the group vote over whether or not Xan stayed. And, if she were being completely honest, she’d have to admit that the only vote she’d allow Max was ‘yes.’ But then, she knew he wanted Xan to stay so, if anything, all she’d have to do was convince her husband that everything would work out if he did. Liz nodded. “Ok, just not in front of Xan.” She paused. “After we eat. There’s a playground at the McDonalds that should keep him occupied.”

Max nodded. “Right.”

“Yeah.” Liz nodded back, pasting a smile on her face as Xan walked out of the bathroom.

Oh for Christ’s sake. Michael shook his head as he watched the exchange. Sometimes he’d lay money on the fact that the two of them liked to worry. It would be clear to a blind man that they both wanted the same thing. Now all they had to do was realize it.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 2-Nov-2002 2:26:14 AM ]
posted on 13-Nov-2002 12:39:20 AM by Pathos
Hey guys -

Doing a little bit of a test run. I just want to make sure that this works...


1-1-5

Crossing my fingers, here...check out the incredible banner that TeddyBehrJKT made for this story!!! Thanks, hon. *bounce**big**bounce**big*

Pathos

PS. New parts tomorrow *happy*

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 13-Nov-2002 12:22:37 PM ]
posted on 14-Nov-2002 12:21:22 AM by Pathos
Hey All -

Ok, I'm really back. And there is a real part down below. LOL Thanks for all the patience and bumps. And thanks to TeddyBehrJKT once again for the banner. And thanks to the computer gods for letting me post it without me having to offer up more clumps of hair as a sacrifice! LOL Hope ya'll like the new part!

Pathos


Snowdove30: Troy’s tough, he’ll be fine. LOL Hope you like the next part!

Minanda: Crossing my fingers that the conversation rings honest and true. I swear, writing conversation is harder than writing the connection. *wink*

Lelea: You totally set me to giggling when you said Maria has no mute button – aint that the truth! *big* Michael will be paying for this later (think part 54 *wink*) - poor guy. LOL

Unknown_Star: Thanks so much! I’m thrilled that you’re enjoying the story. Sorry it took so long to get this part out but…here it is. *happy*

Asabetha: Xan is definitely getting the parents he deserves. Thanks for the continued faith in Troy. Hope you like the next part.

NATEVANS: Here ya go! (you can say it – took long enough! LOL)

roswellluver: Michael called it – sometimes they like to worry! LOL Hope you enjoy the new part.

MamaDee52: Gotta love Michael, right? Oh and just to clear up the confusion – Troy is going to be working toward a way to defeat the Skins. That way Earth and the fugitives stay safe. And believe me, I’m as worried about the explanation Max is gonna give as you are. I’m already working on that conversation and it’s…well, a little ways away. LOL Keep the ol’ fingers crossed for me…*big*

behrobsession: So glad you’re still enjoying this. Hope you like the next part.

Becca1974: Sorry this took so long, hon. Here ya go! [winl]

RoswellVixen03: Thanks! Hope this next part lives up to the compliment. Enjoy! *happy*

Lizwell: Conversation is definitely about Xan…cuz I’m evil and I like to draw things out. LOL Kidding. And I’m thrilled that you appreciate my Michael. I’ve always loved him. Hope you like the next part.

mareli: Aww, sweetie thanks so much for the compliment. I hope the story continues to live up to such high praise. *happy*

frenchkiss70: Gotta love Troy, right? *big* And, well you know Max and Liz…sometimes they just overthink things. LOL

Spicy trini1: I’ve always loved Michael’s take on things. Glad you’re enjoying it too.

Mickey Ros: Yeah, Maria definitely doesn’t qualify as a happy camper at the moment…LOL Hope the conversation lives up to the hype! *big* Enjoy!

narly21: I’m just glad that you found the update! LOL Happy to see that you enjoyed the update nonetheless. And don’t worry, promise more Max/Xan bonding in the near future. *big*

slewell: One of your faves? Aww, thanks! As for the ‘I’m your father conversation…coming somewhat later to a fanfic near you…*big*

TeddyBehrJKT: As always my FB angel! As for being AWOL *Pathos raises her hand* Still guilty. I’ll be remedying (sp? It’s late, can ya tell?) that ASAP. Pwomise. Thanks as always for the FB and support.

Scottie: I’m a firm believer in conversation, myself. (No matter how difficult tpo write! LOL) And you are SO right about McDonalds playgrounds being where adults go to talk. Where else would they go? *big* Hope you enjoy the update.

RoswellLady: You made me so happy when you mentioned the flow of the story. Sometimes I worry that it starts and stops too abruptly…I like you’re assessment better. LOL Hope you like the next part *happy*

YonkersMe: Thrilled to hear that you like the way Xan and Max’s relationship is growing. Have to fight the urge to rush it sometimes. I know what you’re thinking – does the girl even know how to rush? One of these days I’ll shorten the time between posts…er, hopefully. *wink* Oh and a quick update on fics Im writing. The first part of Mean Moon ( a challenge by Katrina and cowritten with TeddyBehrJKT) has been posted on the board already. Thats a much darker fic. And I will also be posting the first part of Demanding Heavens Gate within the next few days. Which is a post HOM fic. If you get a chance please check them out. And now that shameless self promotion is overon with the story. *big*

Tigereyes: Thanks for the bumps, hon. And, look – I remembered how to post! *big*

brook: Thanks for the bump, sweetie. Here’s more.

IamLongTimeFan: Glad you’re liking this. And as for a proper reunion…the nookie muse is cued up. LOL

mitra, alienmom, frenchkiss70, Angelus84, YonkersMe & narly21: Sorry to be such a tease guys. Thrilled that you like the banner though. And see…new part as promised. Enjoy!

posted on 14-Nov-2002 12:30:55 AM by Pathos
1-1-5


**********Part 53**************

Michael scanned the restaurant one last time, satisfying himself that there was no sign of the Skins or the military, before turning his attention back to the little boy crawling through the large plastic tunnels of McDonalds’ indoor playground. Xan was happily exploring every twist and turn of the tunnels, though he did stop every few minutes to check and make sure that Liz was still sitting just beyond the glass partition. Michael glanced over to the small table. She was. She and Max were both sitting at a table growing out of a fiberglass tree with a frighteningly friendly face, hands entwined as they stared at each other. Silently. Michael rolled his eyes. If they didn’t hurry up and start talking Xan was going to lose interest in the tunnels before they were finished. And when he decided he wanted Liz, Michael guessed he’d be hard pressed to convince the kid to wait patiently for a little while longer. Michael eyed Xan warily before turning to try and glare Max and Liz into their conversation. If he got kicked again, he was kicking them.


-------------------


Max swallowed hard, feeling the silence surround him as it hadn’t in years. He tried to convince himself that this was just a formality. He knew what Liz was feeling and that ought to be enough to reassure him. It probably would have been, too, had it not been for the fact that the only time he’d ever completely misread her feelings, was when he was searching for Xan. When he’d been in the midst of his quest to bring his son home. He still didn’t know what he’d been thinking, pushing her away as he had. Oddly, though, he hadn’t even wanted to. At least not consciously.

From the moment Liz had stepped into his life, Max had known that he wouldn’t survive, soul intact, if she ever stepped out of it. But, after everything that happened with Tess…it was so hard to believe that they could get back to where they’d been. That kind of happiness, that completion just seemed completely out of reach. Because on some level he’d known that she was suffocating. Again. His very presence in her life was hurting her. And he knew that everntually she’d realize that. He’d been caught in a hell of his own making. Unable to let her go and unwilling to completely let her in, while he waited for her to reach for her freedom. Taking a deep breath, Max fought the desperate, and somewhat irrational, fear that Liz would be reaching for her freedom before their conversation ended.

Liz fought against tears that weren’t her own as Max’s grip on her fingers tightened convulsively. It was almost as if he thought she’d run if he let go. Blinking back his fear, Liz watched as his thumb traced her wedding ring solemnly. He was suddenly so afraid. As if he believed that he was about to lose everything, even as he stood on the cusp of true happiness. Taking a deep breath Liz tightened her own grip, telling him silently that they were in this together.

“Liz, I know I gave him up so he could have a normal life but…”

"Max, I know you want him to have a normal life but…”

Max swallowed hard as they both started the conversation and then ground to a halt at the same time. “You first.” He whispered.

“He belongs here, with us." Liz finished quietly.

Max blinked. He’d known. He’d always known what she was going to say. But now that she’d said it…now that he’d actually heard her give voice to the dream he’d cherished so close to his heart, he was held fast in the perfection of the moment. He knew he had to respond to the worry he felt running off of his wife in waves. And he would. As soon as he could speak again.

Liz bit her lip, uncertain about how to interpret Max’s sudden stillness. Ok. She could convince him. “Max, I know you want Xan to have a normal life and I understand that. I do. And you, you did the right thing three years ago. You did. But he’s already exhibiting powers and…and wouldn’t it be better to have him with us rather than put him with a family who doesn’t know what to look for or how to control what he can do? Or what kind of danger he could be in?" She gripped Max’s hand tighter when it looked like he was about to interrupt. She couldn’t worry about dissecting his feelings right at the moment. She needed her argument to be logical. "Max, the Air Force already found him once and that was by accident. There was no way anyone could have foreseen that before but now…now that we know…"

Max was almost afraid to blink. Half convinced that if he did, the scene before him would shift and Liz would be telling him that he had to give Xan up again. But the scene didn’t shift and his wife continued to set forth her argument for keeping Xan. He didn’t think she’d ever cease to amaze him. Holy shit. Not only did she want to keep Xan with them. She had an entire argument ready to convince him to do it. As if that were necessary! "Wait. Wait. Ok, you…you’re saying that you think he should stay with us?" Max shook his head. He hadn’t meant to sound so incredulous but…

Liz nodded. "I do, Max."

"You’re serious.” Max whispered, a smile forming as he took in the sincerity shining from the depths of his wife’s chocolate brown eyes. And the love. So much love.

Liz caught Max’s gaze and allowed her own smile to form. The pure relief that was suddenly coursing through her veins made her almost giddy. She’d been worrying for nothing. She nodded. “I’m serious.”

Max pulled her hand to his lips, worshipping her fingers gently as he allowed himself to relax for the first time in what felt like forever. "I’ve spent the last week worried about how I could possibly ask you to let him stay. I figured it would be too much. Maria thinks it’s too much.” He paused, hating the words that he was about to speak, but needing to say them, nonetheless. “Liz, I just…I know what it did to you.” Max swallowed hard before forcing himself to finish, his regret over his actions clear in his voice. “Finally. I know how much it…how much I hurt you. I don’t want you to ever feel…I don’t want to hurt you by…”

“Max, stop.” Liz shook her head, understanding his fear that Xan would hurt her by becoming a lingering reminder of Tess and the pain of his betrayal. She tightened her fingers around his own, gently forcing the guilt from their conversation. She needed him to understand that it had never been his shame that she’d sought, only his understanding. “Listen to me. The only thing Xan reminds me of is that good things, amazing things, can come from painful situations. Tess is dead, Max. All I ever wanted was for her to pay for what she did and that happened years ago.” She took a deep breath as she shared one of the incredible truths that had snuck up on her in the last week. “And, Max, I could never wish Xan didn’t exist.” Liz whispered. “Not now. And…I can’t let him go.” She finished helplessly.

Max drew in a deep, shuddering breath as her words allowed the last of his fear to dissipate, lightening his soul. “Ever since I knew you had him it was like…you remember those stupid commercials ‘it’s 10:00 do you know where your children are’?" His voice was low but he knew she heard him. Her fingers tightened around his, holding him together as she always did. He looked up and fell into the warm safety of her eyes. "It felt so good to be able to answer that, Liz, to know he was safe. With you. I just didn’t know how I was gonna tell you that I didn’t think I’d be able to let him go again." Even as he relaxed into the serenity of their joint decision he could hear both Michael and Maria’s warnings echoing through his head. He kissed Liz’s hand and took a deep breath. "All I ever wanted, was for him to be ours.” Max whispered hoarsely. “But, Liz, I don’t want you to think you have to do this for me…" He stopped when Liz shook her head.

"Max, really, I…this is gonna sound weird so just kind of bear with me, ok? I know Xan is your son but my wanting to keep him really has nothing to do with you. I mean, it does. Without you he wouldn’t even be in my life, but…" She smiled softly, shrugging a little at Max’s surprised expression. "Ok, see, it’s just that once I spent time with him…he’s a four year old little boy looking for somewhere he belongs. I could see it in his eyes when I first met him. And my heart just went out to him. He looked so lost in that room. I just wanted to wrap him in my arms and tell him everything was going to be ok, ya know? And then when he tried to heal me and I…I got those flashes."

Tears filled her eyes and Max felt his own heart bleed a little. "Tell me." He said softly.

"He’s so lonely Max. His aunt and uncle took care of him but he knew they didn’t really love him. Not like they should. And then when she dropped him off at the base…She just left him there, Max! She told him he was sick because of what he could do." Liz’s voice broke and she took a deep breath to calm herself. She still couldn’t believe how heartless that woman had been. She couldn’t believe that anyone could just leave a little boy with the military as if they were dropping a puppy at the pound. Liz stopped herself from going any further and focused on Max. "He was scared enough of his power and then he was so ashamed. You should have seen his face when he realized I wasn’t scared of him. Of what he could do. He didn’t deserve that. He could never deserve that. And I couldn’t live with myself if he ever hurt like that again. Not when we can prevent it."

Max closed his eyes. "I did that to him. I was supposed to be protecting him and…"

Liz shook her head adamantly. "No! Max you did the right thing. The last few years…we wouldn’t have survived with a baby. They would have gotten hold of him even sooner.” She pointed out softly. “And Max, he may not remember his adoptive parents but he remembers feeling safe. And loved. He wasn’t always sad. You couldn’t have known they’d die in an accident. Or what would happen from there." She tugged lightly on Max’s hand, forcing him to look at her. "Don’t feel guilty about something you couldn’t control. Focus on what we can control and how we can protect him from now on."

Max could feel her surrounding him with her love, almost forcing him to let go of the guilt before he got a good hold of it. He shook his head at the odd optimism that was seeping into his soul. "I know I’ve said it before but you really do amaze me." He whispered. "I could feel you starting to care for him but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I didn’t want to push you into anything." He nodded to Liz, acknowledging her unspoken assertion that she had chosen of her own free will. "I’m so glad you’re on my side." Max whispered brokenly, blinking back the sudden tears that clogged his voice. "Because I don’t think I could do it again. I couldn’t give him up now that I’ve seen him and held him. Not when he’d know I was leaving him behind."

Liz got up quickly, moving around the table to pull Max into her arms. He pulled her onto his lap before she had the chance to settle next to him. "I’m always on your side, Max. Always." She rested her head against his shoulder, loving the security of his arms and the sudden communion of their souls as they finally shared the worry of the last week and then allowed it to fade in the face of the decision they’d just made. "You’ll never have to let him go again, Max." Leaning up, Liz pressed a soft kiss to his lips as she studiously ignored the very real possibility of Xan being taken with the rest of them if they were ever captured. She knew Max was doing the same. With a harsh sigh Liz relegated her concern to another day, another time. Right now belonged to her family. "Let’s go home."


-------------------------


Michael took a deep breath and shook his head, finding himself suddenly amazed at the sheer amount of conversation one four year old, with a limited vocabulary, could generate. Xan seemed to be getting more comfortable as the day wore on, though he remained firmly anchored to Liz. It was pretty clear to Michael that no matter how much Max might want to pull his son into his arms, it was going to take a crowbar to pry the kid from Liz’s side. He looked over at Max to catch his reaction and saw only a shadow of contentment as he watched his wife and son interact. Bright boy. Thank God Maria had been wrong.

Of course, it wasn’t as if Liz was leaving Max to hover on the outside of this newfound relationship. He had to admit to a vague admiration for the way she gracefully pulled Max into the conversation, helping father and son get more comfortable with each other even as she remained steadfastly supportive of both of them. Michael shook his head again, catching Liz’s gaze in the rear view mirror and smirking a little when she rolled her eyes in his direction. He could have told them that there was no reason to be worried.

And then his brows furrowed when Liz handed a CD up to Max. His eyes narrowed as he tried to read the jewel case. Xan had stopped talking long enough to reach into the ‘fun bag’ Liz had insisted they keep with them and pull something out. For some reason he was suspicious. "What is that?" Michael asked grumpily.

"Wee sing silly songs." Liz mumbled from the back seat.

Michael blinked. Wee sing silly songs? "What?" He couldn’t have heard her correctly. Although considering the smirk on Max’s face he probably had. "Forget it. I don’t do silly songs." Whatever the hell they were.

"Michael…" Liz began to argue when Xan grabbed her hand and shook his head, his eyes wide.

Xan stared at Michael from the back seat, chewing his lip a little as he tried to convince Liz not to get him angry. Liz said Michael was a friend but the way he was scowling right now was a little scary. "We don’ gotta." Xan whispered to Liz.

Michael glanced in the rearview mirror and saw Xan watching him worriedly. He wondered briefly what had upset him now. He felt completely helpless when it came to the kid. He had enough trouble not upsetting the people his own age much less a four year old. He was grateful when Liz spoke up.

"Sweetie Michael’s not mad, he was just…teasing."

Michael would have snorted but Max smacked him in the arm. And Max hit harder than Maria. "Ow…yeah, rugrat I was just teasing. Silly songs sound…great." Michael added a joviality to his voice he hadn’t used since the year he’d convinced Isabel to let him be Santa, along with what he hoped was a comforting smile. He felt like he was grimacing but he saw Xan relax in the backseat so he guessed it worked.

Xan nodded and then frowned. "I’m not a wugwat." He announced.

Michael glanced back at the little boy. "Do you know what a rugrat is?" he asked. Xan shook his head, his brows drawing even more closely together. "Then how do you know?" Michael teased with a genuine smile at the look on the kids face.

Xan blinked, suddenly concerned. He knew what rats were. What did it mean to be a rugrat? He looked at Liz. "Am I gonna gwow a tail?” He asked worriedly.

"Grow a…why would you grow a tail?" Liz asked

"To be a wugwat."

Liz rolled her eyes at the back of Michael’s head and then raised a brow at Max when he tried to stifle his own laughter. She almost smiled herself but poor Xan was looking genuinely upset. "No sweetie, you’re not growing a tail. Rugrat is just…it’s like a nickname."

"Oh." Xan looked at Michael again. He and Max were laughing. Michael wasn’t nearly so scary when he was laughing. "Does he got a mickname?"

Liz started to shake her head when Michael piped up, still laughing. "Well, rugrat you can call me sir."

Max snorted and Liz shook her head. Xan scowled slightly as he shifted to a more comfortable position the back seat. "I don’ tink so." He muttered. He lost the scowl when Max reached back and tweaked his nose.

“You tell him, pal.”

“Kay.” Xan said, settling back against Liz as he returned Max’s smile. “Awre we almos’ home?”

Max swallowed against the lump that wanted to settle in his throat. He nodded at his son, clearing his throat and feeling his smile widen when Liz tightened the arm she’d slung casually around Xan’s shoulders, at the same time fighting the tide of her own emotions. “Yeah, Xan. We’re almost home.”







YonkersMe: Well...they're out of the parking lot...*big* Promise they'll actually get to the apartment in part 54.

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 14-Nov-2002 12:40:19 AM ]
posted on 20-Nov-2002 12:36:31 AM by Pathos
Hey all -

I'm ba-ack. And it's early. Well, for me anyway. LOL Yo know the drill - fb first and then story. Enjoy!

Pathos *big*


roswellluver: The little wheels in Xan’s head are turning on that nickname for Michael! *wink* Enjoy the next part.

ConsultantTam: Working on that next big convo as we speak…and no kidding about those catchy silly songs. There were days I couldn’t get them out of my head. LOL

narly21: Just LOVE hearing that you have a hard time being mad at Max. I promise to keep him lovable.*big* And don’t worry – Max/Xan bonding is on the way…

Becca1974: Thanks, kiddo! Here ya go. *happy*

frenchkiss70: You know Max – that guilt is always there. And as for a little brother or sister for Xan…let’s let them get home first. And I still have that sequel… *wink*

BLS40: *phew* SO glad that the conversation came off as realistic. And I completely agree that there’s no one better for Xan than Liz. *happy*

Angelus84: Thanks! Here’s more. *big*

Scottie: Had to giggle over ‘On Top of Spaghetti’ – I think I listened to that one for almost 16 hours straight driving for one summer vacation with my family. I’m still scarred! LOL As for bad things…well, ya’ll get a little break…

behrobsession: SO happy to hear you enjoyed the talk. And I promise – I’m working towards a happy family.

chinablueeyes: Glad you liked the last part. And I promise some Xan/Max bonding in the upcoming parts.

mareli: Hon, can’t tell you how much I love hearing how much you love this story! *happy* Just warms my heart. Hope you like the next couple parts.

mitra: Glad you enjoyed the last part and I promise – you will get to see Xan’s reaction to his bed. *wink*

IamLongTimeFan:Thanks. Hope you enjoy this part as well. *happy*

MamaDee52: You set me to giggling with ‘sappy happy’ – can’t help letting my dreamer heart run wild every once in a while. LOL Still working on the next big conversation…thanks for the faith. *wink*

Tigereyes: Always happy to put a smile on your face. I giggled a little myself over the rugrat conversation. Dontcha just love Michael? *big* And thank YOU, hon. You’re the best!

YonkersMe: Loved hearing that my Michael and Maria remind you of S1. I myself was so disappointed with what happened to their characters (don’t even get me started on Who Died & Made You King *shudder*). And see – I wasn’t gone SO long this time. *happy* Oh, and as for someone putting Maria in her place - some days were just on the same wavelength. *wink* Enjoy!

Lizwell: Maria always has something more to say about the situation! LOL Glad you liked the last part and hope you enjoy the next one!

AlienDreamer101: Thanks for the bump!

Alien614: Thanks, hon. Enjoy the next part!

skyiris: Here’s some more, hope you like it!

RoswellLady: Thanks so much for the compliment, it really means a lot. LOL right back atcha. *happy* And I promise – I’m working towards that normal family. Well, as normal as any other Alien King’s family…

Araxie HRH: Happy to see you. I’m glad that you gave this fic a chance and just thrilled that you’re enjoying it. I tend to agree that Maria is definitely sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong but…when has that ever stopped her? LOL And her intention are good… Hope you like where I’ve taken that. And don’t worry – Langley’s coming back in the picture soon. I always love hearing that people like him. *big*

mpls muse: Blushing from all the compliments but I’m so glad you enjoyed getting caught up. And I’m totally with you on some things being meant to be! *big*

Minanda: Breathing a huge sigh of relief that the conversation came off realistically. Some conversations are just tough. Also happy that Xan is still coming off true to life. Sometimes it’s harder to get into a 4 year old mindset than anything else! LOL

LindaCrazy4Jason: Wow! One sitting? I’m not sure I could get through it in one sitting. LOL Thrilled to hear that you’ve fallen for little Xan, though. And Troy and Langley. *big* Thanks so much for all your compliments and…here’s more!

posted on 20-Nov-2002 12:46:08 AM by Pathos
1-1-5

********Part 54*********

Maria paced back and forth across the living room in Max and Liz’s apartment. Michael had called twenty minutes ago to say they were fifteen minutes away and she was now convinced that the space-time continuum had somehow shifted, making the last five minutes a tortuous eternity. "Everything’s fine Maria. They’ll be here any second. There’s nothing to worry about…except the fact that you’re having a conversation with yourself!" She counseled. She took a deep breath and held it, intending to let it out slowly, calmly…but then, familiar, muffled voices filtered through the front door. "Thank God!" Maria sputtered, exhaling loudly as she opened the door, desperate to pull Liz into a hug. Instead she found herself running into Michael’s chest.

Maria paused as Michael gave her a quick, hard kiss and then ushered her back inside the apartment with his body, grunting as he dropped the two bags he’d lugged from the car, next to the couch. Maria craned her neck around her boyfriend’s body and saw Max striding slowly through the door, glancing behind him as he shouldered two more bags into the apartment. Where the hell was…Maria’s eyes widened when she finally caught sight of Liz, a suitcase in one hand and a little boy trailing from the other. Hell with it. "Liz! Get in here, girl!" Maria demanded, shoving Michael out of her way and rushing to engulf Liz in an embrace. "You scared the hell out of me! Are you ok? What happened? Who the hell shot you? And…"

Liz laughed. It was good to be home. "Maria! Maria, breathe." She nodded at her best friend as Maria inhaled deeply and then exhaled dramatically. "There you go. I’m fine, just let me get in the door and then I’ll tell you what happened." She looked down at Xan who was now clutching her leg and staring at Maria wide eyed. "Sweetie, I’d like you to meet a friend of mine. This is Maria, Maria this is Xan." With a hand on his shoulder Liz gently prodded Xan from his hiding place and then squatted down behind him. "Can you say hi to Maria?" she whispered gently.

Maria squatted down next to Liz and stared, dumbfounded, at Max’s son as he leaned back against her best friend. "Hi Xan." She said, remembering to work her face into a friendly smile.

"Hi Mawia." Xan looked at this new girl curiously then turned back to Liz. "Do we like hewr?"

Liz’s smile grew wider as she saw the look of surprise on Maria’s face, move into shock. "Yep. She’s like my best friend in the whole world and I bet she’ll be your friend to."

Xan nodded. "kay."

Liz stood up. "Let’s get inside. I heard a rumor there was gonna be pizza."

Maria stood as well, shaking her head as she watched
Xan reach up with the obvious desire to be held. Liz didn’t even blink, she just reached down and pulled him up to rest in her arms. "Yeah, uh…I sent Kyle to pick it up. He was pacing, driving me nuts." She glanced from the little boy in Liz’s arms back to Max who seemed content to just let the scene unfold before him.

Xan glanced around the apartment, rolling a piece of Liz’s hair through his fingers as he took everything in. "Dis whewre you live?" he asked cautiously.

Liz hugged Xan a little tighter and kissed him on the cheek. "This is where we live sweetie. You, me and Max."

Xan relaxed fully now. "Yeah?"

Max stepped forward. "Yeah, I even got your room ready, pal. You want to see? It’s got a plane bed." He tempted.

Xan’s ears perked up at that. He’d never seen a plane bed before. "Plane bed? Does it weally fly?"

Max grinned at Xan’s enthused expression. "Not exactly, you just have to use your imagination. Let’s go see, huh?"

Xan nodded and slid from Liz’s arms. He took Max’s hand and then reached back for Liz. "C’mon we gotta see da plane."

Maria shook her head and made a grab for Liz. "Actually kiddo can I borrow Liz to help me set the table?"

Xan looked from Liz to Maria and tightened his hand around Liz’s fingers, drifting closer to her body. "Nuh-uh."

Maria’s brows rose at the response and Liz moved to avert an incident. "Why don’t we go see that bed, sweetie. Maria I’ll be right back out." She knew the look in Maria’s eyes. Her best friend was keying up to lecture someone. Liz wasn’t sure if it was Max or herself but now wasn’t the time. She cast an appealing glance in Michael’s direction as they headed toward Xan’s new room.

Michael stepped in to intercept Maria. "Not now." He hadn’t been able to resist the desperation on Liz’s face but if this got him into an actual fight with Maria he was gonna be pissed.

"What do you mean ‘not now’?" Maria hissed. Now was the perfect time. She couldn’t believe everyone else was ok with Max making Liz take care of his son. It was bad enough that Liz was the one to go drag the kid from military custody. She couldn’t believe her best friend was just going to let that one go.

Michael sighed. He knew Maria was worried about Liz but if she’d just look, she’d see. He gentled his voice. "Maria, please. Just look at them before you flip. Max isn’t forcing Liz into anything." He pulled Maria into his arms, holding her gently in an effort to calm her. From the continued stiffness of her body, he guessed it wasn’t working. "Believe me, Maria, please. Just watch them."

Kyle opened the door and juggled the three large pizza’s into the apartment. "Pizza’s here everyone…" he trailed off as he took in Michael holding an angry Maria in his arms and then noticed that Liz, Max and Baby Boy Evans were nowhere to be seen. He sighed "Ok, what’d I miss?"

Maria jerked away from Michael and took the pizza boxes from Kyle. "They’re back." She announced and headed towards the kitchen.

Kyle blinked. "Good trip?" he quipped.

Michael raked his hair back from his forehead. "Until about two minutes ago." He muttered. Noticing Kyle glance inquiringly around the room he said "Max and Liz are showing the rugrat his room. They should be out…"

"Hey Kyle."

"Liz! Thank God you’re ok." Kyle whirled around and reached to pull Liz into a hug. Only to be stopped cold at the sight of the little boy resting in her arms. Eyes a familiar shade of dark amber were staring, distrustfully at him in an expression eerily reminiscent of the one Max had thrown his way on more than one occasion. "Wow."

Liz smiled "Kyle this is Xan, Xan can you say hi to Kyle?"

Xan stared at the guy in front of him for a second and then shook his head. He could feel the tension in the room. Michael was scowling again and the Maria girl looked angry too. He wondered what Kyle had done. He glanced at Max and then wrapped his arms around Liz’s neck, hiding his face in her hair.

"He’s tired." Liz apologized as Kyle’s eyebrows shot to his hairline. "I’m gonna go get him into his jammies, you guys go ahead and start dinner, we’ll be out in a sec."

Kyle watched Max hesitate for a moment before silently following Liz into their bedroom. He looked at Maria "What the hell was that?" he stage whispered as he walked into the kitchen and opened a pizza box.

"That was Liz letting herself get walked all over. Again." Maria responded, glaring at Michael as she grabbed a slice of pizza. "That kid has been attached to her since they walked in the door and all Max does is watch them. He’s perfectly happy to just sit back and…"

Michael interrupted before Maria could get up a full head of steam "That’s not what he’s doing. Xan is more comfortable with Liz. She’s the one that got him off the Base and I’m guessing that he trusts her more than anyone else on the planet right now. Jesus, Maria! What do you want Max to do…"

"Take care of his own mistakes!" Maria hissed quietly, mindful enough of the size of the apartment to keep her voice down. "Liz has always stepped in to clean up after him and now she’s doing it…"

"Liz isn’t the one throwing a fit." Michael ground out quietly. "She’s not the one having a problem with this arrangement." Michael took a deep breath, desperate to hang on to what was left of his temper.

"No. She just fell into line like she always has for you guys." Kyle’s voice was no where near as angry as Maria’s had been but he was just as concerned.

Michael shook his head, wishing desperately for Max to come back out so they could just sacrifice him and get it over with. "Look…"

"It’s true. I don’t know what kind of spell Max put on her but every time it comes down to her or him she chooses him." Kyle pointed out. Maria was inching up the reichter scale and he felt almost honor bound, as the only other human in their group, to be on her side. Particularly since he was leaning towards her way of thinking to begin with.

Michael’s temper snapped with an almost audible crack. "I don’t know when you guys suddenly lost your faith in Liz’s ability to speak for herself but you can just get the hell over it." He whispered harshly. They knew each other better then this. And damn it, he was tired. He was hungry. And he was damn well done with this conversation. "And this isn’t about Liz. Or Max. That kid is four years old for fucks sake. He was held by the Air Force longer than Max was held by the FBI. He watched someone he cared about get shot right in front of him and had everything he’s ever known taken away. He trusts her. He feels safe with her and, if he wants to hang around her neck until he feels comfortable with the rest of us, then that’s what he’s gonna do." Michael growled, stalking past Maria and grabbing a box of pizza. He turned on his heel and sat back down at the kitchen table, shaking his head at the sheer lunacy of this whole situation.

Maria stared at Michael. She’d never seen him like this. There was more to it than just anger. The underlying current of hurt in his voice struck a chord in her own heart. ‘I’m just worried that they’ll do the right thing for the wrong reasons Maria. Kids know when you don’t really want them.’ At the time she’d been worried about pointing out that there was no clear cut ‘right thing’ for Max and Liz to do. She could see with sudden clarity that Michael’s concern had always revolved, almost completely, around Xan’s well being. Tears glistened briefly in her eyes as she watched Michael, piece of pizza sitting untouched before him, staring darkly at the empty space between herself and Kyle. She sighed, wondering vaguely if anyone else truly saw the enormity of his heart. "You’re not worried about him anymore, are you?" she asked softly.

Michael looked up at Maria, as surprised by her tone of voice as he was by the sudden question. He shook his head. "No. Look, guys I know you’re worried about Liz but just…all you gotta do is look at them." He didn’t know what else he could say.

Maria nodded, holding her hands up in mock surrender and moving to the kitchen table to sit across from Michael. "Ok." She looked at Kyle who seemed vaguely disgusted as he shrugged his agreement. "We can do that. But Michael, if Max…"

"If Max fucks up as royally as last time I expect you on my side to kick his ass into next week." Kyle finished. He was satisfied with Michael’s nodded agreement until Max’s sarcastic reply almost gave him a coronary.

"Thanks, Kyle."

Kyle looked up to see Max watching him, dark eyes glittering dangerously. He nodded cavalierly, fairly certain Max wasn’t gonna kill him with Liz in the next room. "You're welcome. Michael, about you being on my side…"

Michael shook his head and dug into his pizza "He hasn’t fucked up yet."

Maria looked at Max feeling suddenly guilty. "Uh, how much did you guys hear?"

"Nothing. Which was enough for us to realize there was a problem." Max sighed. He didn’t want to fight with everyone. Frankly, he didn’t want to do anything but spend time with his wife and son. But there were a few things that needed to be said. "Look, Liz and I talked earlier and we’re keeping Xan with us." He held up a hand, not sure if Maria were about to interrupt or if she was just shifting in her chair. "No, we haven’t worked out every single detail. No, we haven’t thought of every single problem. But we both agree this is best. And Maria, I would know if she weren’t completely with me on this. No one pushed her into anything." Maria nodded, looking more open to the whole situation than she had only a few minutes ago. He turned to Kyle. "If you’ve got a problem with me, that’s fine. See me about it. Don’t take it out on my son." His gaze shifted to include Maria in his demand.

Maria nodded "Don’t worry, if I need to kick somebody’s ass it’ll be you I come after not Xan." She said lightly, though her seriousness wasn’t lost on Max.

Kyle added his own condition "Just don’t hurt her again, Max."

The tension in the room dissipated as everyone tentatively agreed on the way to move past their disagreement. It spoke volumes for the miles they’d traveled together. The danger, and the laughter that they’d shared growing into this family.

Max nodded as he stepped into the kitchen and reached for a slice of pizza. "Believe it or not Kyle I learned that lesson a long time ago."


posted on 20-Nov-2002 12:59:39 AM by Pathos
*************Part 55************

iz finished brushing through Xan’s hair and dropped a quick kiss on top of his head to dispel his disgruntled expression. "Ok handsome, you ready for dinner?" She was grateful that she could finally feel Max telling her it was ok to head into the kitchen.

Xan nodded. He giggled when Liz tickled him while pulling his airplane pajama’s, which had ridden up, down over his stomach as he slid from the bed. He reached out and took her hand. "We’wre havin’ pizza? We got Tasas…tobi…tamas" He sighed in frustration and looked up at Liz as they walked into the hallway.

"Tabasco, sweetie. Ta-bas-co."

Xan nodded "To-mas-co." He mimicked seriously.

Liz felt her lips twitch but she held her smile at the expectant look on Xan’s face. "Pretty good. Now, are you ready for pizza?" She laughed as she heard his stomach rumble.

Xan grinned back at her and pointed at his stomach. "My tummy is!"

Liz stopped abruptly when she became aware of the way everyone in the apartment was staring at them. Xan drifted closer to her, his hand tightening around her fingers when he realized they were the center of attention. "What?" she asked.

Max shook his head. "Nothing." He smiled at Xan who was watching them somewhat warily. "Hey, pal I’ve got a piece of pepperoni pizza with Tabasco sauce on it just for you. What do you say, hungry?"

Xans stomach growled again and he looked from Max to Liz and back again.

Liz squeezed his hand gently and continued into the kitchen. "Let’s feed that tummy sweetie. You know, Max knows just the right amount of Tabasco to put on pizza because he likes it too."

"Yeah?"

"You bet." Max gestured to the chair between him and Michael. "Have a seat."

Xan climbed into the chair with Liz’s help and watched with interest as Max lifted the layer of cheese and pepperoni away from the crust, added some Tabasco then replaced the top layer. Xan kept an eye on Liz’s movements as he picked up his piece and took a bite. He nodded at Max and smiled as he chewed happily on his new favorite food. "Dis is good."

Max grinned as he watched Xan inhale his piece of pizza "Glad you like it."

Liz slid into the chair across the table from Xan and next to Maria. "Didn’t I tell you Max knew just how much to put on?" She asked, relaxing in her chair and biting into a slice of cheese pizza.

Xan nodded. "Uh-huh. But does he know ‘bout chowclit milk?" he hinted, shooting a quick glance at Max before looking down shyly.

"He certainly does." Max answered, getting up and heading for the refrigerator.

Happily anticipating chocolate milk Xan finished off his piece of pizza and then looked towards the box for more. "Liz I need anoddewr piece."

"I got it, I’m already done." Michael said as he drew another slice from the box, added Tabasco and set it in front of Xan. "There ya go rugrat."

Kyle’s eyes widened as he watched the little boy dig into another piece of pizza. "Kid eats like Isabel." He muttered.

Max snorted as he sat down and set a half full glass of Tabasco-chocolate milk in front of his son. "Don’t let her hear you say that."

"Considering the fact that you’re on your fifth piece Mr. Valenti I don’t think you’ve got any room to talk. It’s gonna take Xan a while to catch up with you." Maria pointed out.

Xan looked at Kyle with new respect. "Five pieces?" He looked at his tummy and then back at Kyle shaking his head. "I could nevewr eat dat much."

As the laughter died down Kyle said "Ok, ok. Now that my egos been crushed by a four year old how bout you tell us what happened, Liz."

"Yeah." Maria agreed. "We got the cliff notes version of everything leading up to the part where, ya know, the Air Force shot you."

"Dey din’t shoot hewr." Xan piped up as he carefully took a sip of milk. He blinked uncomfortably as everyone turned their attention to him. "Dey din’t. Da guy fwom da pawrking lot did. He huwrt hewr." He added softly. He suddenly remembered being in the parking lot and then, the frantic rush to reach the safety of their hotel room. Only it wasn’t safe. There was a loud bang, like a firecracker, only worse. And then Liz falling down. And there was all that blood. He knew Liz was sitting right across the table but suddenly she was too far away. He needed her to hug him close. To make him feel safe.

Max blinked a little over the speed at which his son’s face crumpled. Tears filled Xan’s eyes and began a slow, steady glide down his cheeks before anyone had a chance to react. He felt Liz move to comfort Xan while, from the corner of his eye, he saw her rise from her chair. Even still, he was unwilling to leave his son alone with the sudden, raw fear that had left him in tears. Lifting Xan onto his lap, Max cradled him loosely in his arms. “It’s ok, pal. Liz is fine. You’re safe and everything’s ok now.” Xan’s cheek rubbed against his chest as he nodded. Sighing a little, Max looked up, knowing that Liz was hovering at his elbow. He relinquished his son to her embrace, knowing that he needed her reassurance right now. He watched Liz take Xan in her arms and fought to ignore the sharp pang of uselessness he felt over the fact that there was nothing more he could do to help.

Liz bit her lip, her heart aching for Max as she sat down in Xan’s vacated chair and then pulled the little boy onto her lap. Max waved off her concern, more worried about Xan than his own feelings and Liz nodded, offering a small, encouraging smile. They’d talk about it later. She hugged Xan to her, rubbing his back while he clung to her neck.. "Baby, I’m fine now. Everything’s ok." She soothed as she cuddled him close, rocking him gently as she continued to rub his back.. "Remember, you were so brave and you helped take care of me? And now I’m all better. Why not tell them about that." Liz suggested quietly

Safe in Liz’s arms Xan felt his fear slowly slip away. "I kissed hewr boo boo bettewr." He whispered to everyone.

"That’s right, you did. And you helped Troy bandage my boo boo too, remember?" Liz encouraged, wanting him to recognize that everything was ok now.

Xan nodded, settling himself in her lap so that his side rested comfortably against her. He relaxed as he wrapped a lock of hair around and around his fingers. "And den Max did sumtin." He glanced up and caught the surprised look on Liz’s face. "’Member, cuz his hand glowed?" he prompted, holding out his own hand as an illustration.

Liz glanced at Max, suddenly worried. It was obvious that Xan didn’t have the same instinct for self preservation that had kept Max, Michael and Isabel from speaking of their powers. "I…I remember sweetie, but…"

"But that’s something that we only talk about with each other. We don’t tell anybody else." Max said quietly.

Xan looked at him for a second and then nodded sagely. "Cuz den dey’d put you in a woom, like me?"

Max took a deep breath. The fact that his four year old even knew about that room tore at his heart. "Yeah. Something like that." He didn’t want to scare Xan but his son needed to understand how important this was.

Xan looked from Max to Liz. They both looked so serious. And Liz’s arms had tightened around him as if she were suddenly afraid to let him go. "Sometimes dey tuwrn off all da lights." He confided to Max, his voice whisper soft. "I din’t like dat." Xan shifted more closely against Liz, worrying her lock of hair more tightly around his fingers.

"I wouldn’t like that either." Max replied softly, reaching out to cup Xan’s face briefly. “We’re not ever going to let them do that to you again, ok?” He smiled at Xan’s nod, satisfied that his son understood the importance of keeping the secret as much as a four year old was capable of understanding. He glanced around the table, his look promising that they’d get back to the original subject later, after Xan was asleep. "You know what I think everyone would like to hear about? Tell them about Michael and Old MacDonald."

Xan began to smile and Michael groaned. Maria looked at the two of them curiously. "What about Old MacDonald?"

"He said Ol’ McDonal had a ghost." Xan laughed "He din’t know any aminals."

"A ghost?" Maria turned to Michael "What kind of farm has a ghost?"

"It was the first thing that popped into my head." Michael said defensively.

"Cow, horse, pig, chicken, llama, goat…" Kyle listed, quite capable of going all night.

"Yowr good at dat." Xan said, further impressed by Kyle. "Michael’s not." He announced, almost sadly.

"Hey, no one said there couldn’t be a ghost." Michael pointed out, wondering why he was so insulted. "And anyway after an hour of Wee Sing Silly Songs I was wishing I was a ghost." He muttered.

Xan watched Michael’s face as everyone else at the table laughed over his ghost. "Is ok Michael, you did awight wit Da Wheels On Da Bus." He consoled brightly.

Maria was heading into a full tilt giggle fit as she pictured Michael, who only ever rocked out to Metallica, singing The Wheels On The Bus. "Oh. My. God. You didn’t." she gasped.

Max nodded, thoroughly enjoying Michael’s disgruntled expression. "He did. After he announced that the government had foreclosed on Old MacDonald’s farm and we’d have to pick a new song."

Michael shook his head as everyone dissolved into almost hysterical laughter. He looked at Xan. "You and me, rugrat. Tomorrow you and me are gonna have a talk about real music."

posted on 20-Nov-2002 1:08:14 AM by Pathos
*********Part 56******************

Xan sighed deeply as he shifted into a more comfortable position, his legs stretching out so that his feet rested on Max’s knee, while his head rested heavily against Liz’s thigh. Liz continued to rub gentle circles against his back, moving in time with the rhythm of his deep, even breathing. She looked up at Max and smiled softly at the awe that was once again lining his features. She could feel how completely amazed he still was that Xan hadn’t disappeared. As if this were a dream and he was going to awaken any minute. She reached out and took his hand in her own. "He’s not going anywhere, I promise." She whispered.

Max nodded and grasped Liz’s hand more tightly. The whole group had moved to the living room after dinner to watch TV until Xan fell asleep and they could talk about what had happened, without fear of upsetting him. He knew he should start that conversation. But right now all he wanted to do was let this moment stretch on into forever. He was sitting in his living room with his wife and his son. It didn’t get any better than this. Any more normal. Or any more perfect.

Kyle and Maria shared a look. Each of them recognizing the contented intimacy that surrounded the three people ensconced on the couch. Maria reached down blindly from where she sat, on the arm of Michael’s chair, and took his hand in her own. She had to admit that when he was right, he was right. She’d never seen Liz like this. She really had hated babysitting. And now she was so…maternal. Maria could finally see that Max wasn’t the driving force behind Liz’s actions. Every time she had reached for Xan this evening, every time she’d spoken to him or touched him had been completely natural. Because Xan had needed it. Or even more mind boggling to Maria, because Liz had.

Michael looked up in surprise when Maria took his hand. He saw the light sheen of tears in her eyes and looked quickly to see what had upset her. He took in the Norman Rockwell picture sitting across from them and then looked back at Maria as comprehension dawned. He smirked and pulled her from the chair arm into his lap. Kissing her temple he whispered "Told you."

Maria sniffed and rested her head in the space directly under Michael’s chin which seemed to have been created just for her. Sighing, she replied "Yeah, I guess you did."

Kyle shook his head, hating to admit it but coming to the conclusion that he really had no choice. Michael had been right. It was the weirdest thing in the world to see someone you’d grown up with, someone who was your age, suddenly cross the line and become a parent. Parents were old, parents were responsible. Parents grounded you because they caught you at a beer blast. They didn’t hold your head to keep you from puking on their shoes. It was amazing. And considering the circumstances that had led them all to this room, it should never have happened at all. Liz had spent all of a week with this kid but he’d stake his life…well, maybe Max’s life, on the fact that she had fallen completely in love with him. He sighed. Maybe it really wasn’t all that surprising. It had taken her less time than that to fall for the kids father. He glanced around at the couples in the room. This was one of those times he wished he could bring Kelly to these meetings, just so he could have someone to hang onto. He cleared his throat "So, Liz, can you tell us what happened now or…" he trailed off as he gestured at Xan, unsure if the boy should even be in the room for this.

Max sighed internally as reality intruded on his mood. He looked at Liz. "Do you want me to put him to bed?" He asked, gesturing towards Xan’s room.

Liz looked down at Xan. His long lashes fanned his cheeks and his hair fell across his forehead as he inhaled deeply, muttering something in his sleep. For an instant his brow furrowed and then a soft whimper escaped his lips. Liz rubbed his back gently and leaned down to murmur that he was ok. She relaxed visibly when Xan’s face smoothed once more into peaceful sleep, and shook her head at Max. "No. I don’t want him to wake up alone and think we left him." Liz kept a hand on Xan’s back as she looked at her husband. "Actually, I think he’s gonna be sleeping with us for the next few days until he gets used to being here."

Max nodded easily. "I can share for a few days." He teased lightly.

Liz looked at Kyle. "As long as we’re quiet he should be fine." She took a deep breath and then launched into her explanation. "So there we were in the parking lot at the hotel…"

Two and a half hours later all questions had been asked, and answered, and everyone had been caught up on Liz’s road trip. She listened with half an ear as the group decided to camp at the apartment for the night and then figured out sleeping arrangements. With one arm resting around Xan’s shoulder and the other cradling her head against the arm of the couch, she knew she was about two seconds away from falling asleep herself. Glancing at the clock she saw that it was only 11:30. It felt like 3 am. Evidently the last week had taken a bigger toll on her than she’d suspected.

Liz blinked sleepily when she felt Max gently slip her hair behind her ear as he leaned down to brush his lips across her forehead. Sighing, she nodded her agreement to his whispered suggestion that they head to bed. Sliding Xan carefully off her leg, she stood and stretched, her body protesting the movement after being in the same position for so long. She stepped back, giving Max room to take Xan into his arms and then smiled softly over Max’s eagerness to hold his son once again.

Max reached down and picked up his sleeping child. It had been three years but it seemed that some things never changed. He still felt the same simple joy, the utter contentment that came with picking Xan up and holding him close.

Xan blinked sleepily as he felt the softness of the couch replaced with a warm, strong shoulder. "Whewre we goin’?" he asked, his tired eyes searching Liz out.

"It’s bedtime, Xan." Max said quietly

"Kay." Xan rubbed his cheek sleepily against Max’s shoulder as he reached a hand out to Liz who was standing next to them. "Liz has ta come. She needs me wit hewr." He announced, watching for Max’s reaction through his lowered lashes.

"Of course Liz is coming. We don’t want her to get scared do we?"

“Nuh –uh.” Xan yawned, sighing contentedly from the security of Max’s arms when Liz reached up to brush his hair back from his face.

"I’m right here, sweetie." Liz said, her heart warming over the ease with which Xan seemed to have acceped Max’s embrace. She turned to her friends. "You guys know where everything is so we’ll see you in the morning. Goodnight."

"Sleep tight, guys. Kyle don’t break the plane bed." Max ignored Kyle’s good natured muttering about using alien mojo to fix a coin toss and jostled Xan a little. "Want to say goodnight to everyone, Xan?" Xan managed to throw a ‘G’night at the group through his yawn and then he fell back against Max’s shoulder, his eyes staying open only wide enough to make sure Liz was following them into the bedroom.

Liz closed the bedroom door and changed swiftly into her pajamas. Max had deposited Xan on their bed and the little boy was now sitting up and rubbing his eyes as he waited for her, so he could go to sleep. She pulled the covers back and slid into bed, settling Xan beside her.

Xan sighed happily as he felt Liz’s arms come around him. Then he frowned uncertainly as he looked over at Max. "Whewre’s Max gonna sleep?" he asked.

"With us, sweetie." Liz said giving him a reassuring smile as Max climbed into bed on Xan’s other side.

Xan chewed his bottom lip, suddenly worried as he remembered that Max was the one who used to hug Liz when she was scared. "Cuz why?" he whispered anxiously.

Liz glanced over at Max, worried that he would take offense but he was more amused by Xan’s question than anything else.

Max reached out and gently ruffled Xan’s hair. "Because this is my bed too." He answered softly. "But don’t worry pal, I don’t mind sharing." His son was home. He was going to wake up in the morning and Xan would still be there. His to take care of. To watch grow. To love. To keep safe from the enemies that still hunted them. He sighed against the almost overwhelming emotion. Mixed in with profound relief and love he also felt the weight of responsibility and an almost desperate fear. What if he failed? Why should he believe that this was going to work? That next week wouldn’t find them all in some room…

"Because we’re a family now. And we take care of each other. I think that means that we’re all gonna do just fine together. What about you Xan? What do you think?" Liz had been speaking to the little boy in her arms, answering his original question. But her eyes held Max’s own as she attempted to dispel the fear and worry she felt gnawing at him with the confidence she had found somewhere within her own soul. This was right. They were together. That was what mattered. They were together and somehow, they’d make it through.

Xan looked from Liz to Max, pretty sure he was missing something but too tired to really wonder what it was. Liz’s soothing voice was lulling him to sleep. He was with Liz now. And Max. Of course they’d be ok. "I tink so too." He whispered as he started to drift to sleep.

Liz looked at Max, her brows raised in silent question as she dared him to tell her she was wrong. She felt his sheepish capitulation even before he opened his mouth.

"Me too, pal." Max said softly as he leaned forward to brush a kiss lightly across his wife lips. Unable to resist he kissed Xan’s forehead as well. "I’m really glad you’re home, Xan."

"Me too." The words drifted out on a sigh as Xan fell asleep.

Liz threaded her fingers through Max’s own, bringing his knuckles to her lips in a gesture of comfort. "We’re gonna be fine Max. I just know it somehow."

Max looked surprised. "You got a premonition?"

Liz grinned and shook her head. She placed his hand over her heart, covering it with her own. "No. I feel it, here. It’s the same way I always knew how right it was to love you. The same way I’ve always known that no matter what the danger, as long as we’re together, everything will be ok."

Max nodded, watching Liz shift a little as Xan burrowed further against her side. Resting her temple lightly against his son’s dark head, she murmured something soothing and then kissed his cheek tenderly. He could almost feel the image being burned into his brain. His fear was suddenly replaced with a fierce protectiveness. A decisiveness that would have surprised almost everyone but Liz, rose from his heart and he vowed that he’d destroy anyone, or anything, that ever threatened to take his family away from him.

Liz sighed happily, closing her eyes as Max’s arms came around her, sandwiching Xan protectively between them. She’d felt his fierce avowal and knew that there would be no more doubts. They’d do what they always did. They’d deal and they’d survive. Together and intact. "I love you." She whispered, happily allowing sleep to claim her as she settled into the safety of Max’s embrace.

"I love you, too.” Max whispered even as he felt Liz drifting into a deep slumber. He tightened his arms around the two most important people in his life. “They’re never going to take this away from us Liz. I promise." He vowed fiercely.

posted on 25-Nov-2002 11:52:38 PM by Pathos
Tiger!

Sorry to hear that RLS has been so crazy - you need that hammer back? *happy* Don't worry about it a'tall m'dear, I'll talk to you whenever you get a free second. For your sake, hope it's soon. LOL

Pathos
posted on 3-Dec-2002 12:31:52 PM by Pathos
Hey guys -

Just a quick flyby post to let you know that new parts are coming tomorrow. Thanks for the patience. Ya'll are da best!

See you tomorrow.

Pathos *happy*
posted on 5-Dec-2002 12:03:46 AM by Pathos
Hi guys -

Wow! Totally didn’t expect that part to be so controversial (I figured all that stuff would come up more with Demanding Heaven’s Gate)…but anyway, I’m feeling oddly complimented that it was. LOL It means a lot that everyone has gotten so into the story.

Lelea: First off you have all my respect for being able to enjoy any of the episodes at the end of S2. *shudder* I finally got to the point where I was pretty sick of everybody and had come to the conclusion that they all really were pod people and had been taken over by invasion of the body snatchers. *big* Have to admit that I tend to favor the side that says that Max would have handled things a lot differently had he been let in on what turned into the biggest decision about his life but I have to agree that when it comes to S3 it was Lizs guilt that turned her into a doormat. To be honest I always thought Max betrayed Liz more by his lack of consideration in S3 than by sleeping with Tess. Anyway  I do respect your position and I just want to say thanks for sticking with Xan anyway. It means a lot. Also have to say that I dont like thinking about what went into making him either but nurture over nature has become my mantra! LOL *wink*

YonkersMe: Have to say – I'm happy to help fill Max’s Levi’s. And there’s an image that’s gonna stick with me…*big* And second  lemme add an Amen! And where were you when I was watching S2 and shouting those same things at my TV? Im thinking that I would have seemed slightly less insane if I had someone backing me up. LOL As much as I cried with Liz over her broken heart I also bled with Max, who hurt so much and had no idea why. By that point the kid was strung tighter than a tightrope anyway and in an odd way I think he did snap. And Im still trying to figure out what the writers were going for with the whole Max is King but lets not have him find out anything pertinent about whats going on around him. Never found that ironic  always thought it was stupid, lazy storytelling. What could have been a heart wrenching yet beautiful storyline (ala S1) just turned nauseatinggonna stop now before the rant takes over. Its the same rant that started Demanding Heavens Gate so maybe Ill go channel the energy after I postanyway, thanks for reading. And dont worry  the alone time is coming. Promise. *happy*

Realistic Dreamer: Had to also comment on your word about marriage – lemme just echo YonkerMe’s You rock! I totally agree that there comes a point when you have to let everyone know that your first loyalty is to your husband/wife. And your friends need to respect that. Considering the way the six of them have lived in and out of eachothers pockets though I thought it would take something major to break the cycle and force them to make the choice to really grow up. Don’t worry though, that break is coming. *happy*

narly21, roswellluver, Araxie HRH, mareli, Up in the blue sky, mitra, moonieADT, frenchkiss70, Unknown_Star, mpls muse, Tigereyes, Roswelllostcause, believer_evans, chinablueeyes, jeremiah, BLS40, skyiris, Alien614, Lizwell, Minanda, ConsultantTam, Brook, BehrObsession, RoswellLady, TeddyBehrJKT Hey all – wish I had more time but I did want to just say thanks. I appreciate all your fb. You guys are great. Also, for those missing Troy, he’ll be back soon. And as for some Evans’ family alone time – that’s coming up soon too. *happy* Thanks for sticking with this and hope you like the new parts. Ill see ya soon. Honestreally*big*


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 5-Dec-2002 1:11:48 AM ]
posted on 5-Dec-2002 12:10:40 AM by Pathos
1-1-5


*********Part 57*********

Steel reinforced concrete. Held together by a seventy five year old lock. At least there was one good thing about being confined to this corner of Leavanworth. William Bradford Corwin decided to be grateful for small favors. Of course, there were still one hundred long feet to travel from the cell door to this floor’s first guard station. And then there were three guards armed with semi automatic weapons and pepper spray. The pepper spray qualified as an annoyance, the live ammunition…that qualified as a problem. He took a deep breath and refused to allow himself the luxury of giving up. That’s what they wanted. They may have stolen his command but his will remained firmly under his own pervue. And he’d be damned if he gave them his surrender.

Hard, jade green eyes narrowed acrimoniously as, the former General Corwin continued to studiously ignore his presence. Who the fuck did this weak creature think he was? How dare he ignore him? Letting out an impatient sigh, he tried again. “I think you really ought to hear what I have to say.” He said quietly, waiting expectantly for some kind of response, some indication that the human being before him had heard his assertion. Nothing. He followed the other man’s gaze to the space on the wall opposite him which had been holding his attention for the last twenty minutes, half expecting a movie to be playing. Again, nothing. For all intents and purposes the old fool was concentrating on the whitewash that had long ago bleached the uncompromising walls. He blew out an exasperated breath. This was the man who was his best hope for finding and destroying Max Evans? He really hated this planet.

Brad Corwin continued his perusal of the wall rising starkly before him. Steel reinforced concrete. One of the three smooth walls that surrounded him, the wall with the door not withstanding. A room made to contain a threat. A room made to withstand any attempt to breach its security. A room he didn’t belong in. He turned briefly to his left, noting the smoothness of the wall before returning his gaze to face front. It didn’t matter really, in which direction he stared. His focus remained the same. He had to find a way to make the short sighted sons-a-bitches who’d incarecerated him for doing his duty, see reason. He needed to find a way to make them understand that he wasn’t crazy. He. Wasn’t. Fucking. Crazy. He was a patriot, goddamnit!

Behind Corwin’s eyes memory and animosity met with almost frightening results. His eyes narrowed and his hands fisted convulsively at his sides while he imagined what it would feel like to hold Max Evans’ throat firmly in his hands. One day, he vowed. Just as he’d vowed a million times before, though he’d only ever come close to fulfilling that vow once. One day out of the thousands that he’d lived through. One day to learn the true breadth of that monster’s otherworldly will. One day that he could never forget.

------------Fall, 2003 -----------

“Everybody out! MOVE!”

Michael Guerin’s order drifted through the stillness of the late afternoon, bringing the merest hint of satisfaction to the preceedings. Corwin could hear the desperation in the alien’s voice. The fear. He nodded. Good. Through the binoculars he watched as the small band of fugitives rushed from the now useless, VW bus. Guerin pushed the weaker members of their little pack ahead of him with almost robotic efficiency, shrugging away from his treacherous, human girlfriends grip while he thrust a gun into her hand. He shook his head at her grimly and then pushed her towards Kyle Valenti who was already armed and scanning the trail for any sign of a threat. But the threat was too well trained to allow itself to be found out by an untrained teenager. Corwin nodded to himself. Today was the day he showed these fools that their time to play at being soldiers was over. Today was the day reality taught them who was in charge on this planet.

Max Evans helped his sister from the van and then reached for his wife, his eyes scanning the horizon, searching out the unseen danger he must have sensed. He shielded his wife with his body for a second before attempting to shove her after the other members of their retreating group. But she refused to cooperate.

“I’m not leaving you!”

Corwin rolled his eyes, vaguely disgusted by the way Michael Guerin mimicked his action. He needed those two separated, damn it! He needed them both off balance and unfocused for this to work. He almost thanked Guerin when the kid shared a brief look with his leader and then took Liz’s arm in an uncompromising grip and handed her off to the tall blonde hovering uncertainly between the two groups of her friends and family.

The General released a relieved breath when Max Evans shook his head. “Liz, I’m right behind you. Go.” He ordered desperately, his entire body coming to attention when he heard the faint sound of engines heading up the trail. “Go!”

“Max…”

Isabel Evans seemed to lose patience with the updated version of Romeo and Juliet playing out before her. “Liz, c’mon!” The blonde nodded meaningfully at Valenti and Maria DeLuca as she tugged her smaller sister in law after her.

Through narrowed eyes Corwin watched as, with one last glance at Max, Liz complied, working to keep up with Isabel’s longer strides as their group headed up the trail, into the denser part of the forest. Leaving her husband and Guerin to take care of the contingent from the Special Unit which had been following them for the last hour. The General snorted his satisfaction. Following? Herding, Max, herding. It’s called gettimg you far enough away from innocent civilians to finally take care of business. You bastards think you’re so smart…you’ll see.

“Keep going…keeeep going.” Corwin whispered encouragingly as he watched Evans and Guerin head back down the trail, thoroughly exhausted, the groups last line of defense. That’s it…Right there…Good. He nodded his satisfaction over the target layout as he spoke into the com link. “Team one – acquire target, fire when ready.” Smiling over the scent of pure victory that seemed to linger in the air, Corwin focused the binoculas on Max Evans. “Welcome to Earth, you inhuman son of a bitch.” He muttered under his breath. After spending the better part of a year chasing these things he was finally going to show his superiors what they wanted to see. Proof positive was within his grasp.

And then Liz Evans stumbled, her head jerking up with all the urgency of a deer scenting danger on the wind. “MAX!”

“What the fuck…” Cowrin’s brows furrowed over his confused, angry eyes as Max Evans’ bright green shield sprang to life. Almost as if the kid had read his future in the few dimly twinkling stars dotting the late afternoon sky. He blinked angrily as that shield threatened his hard earned victory. Fuck that shit! “Team two – converge!” he ordered harshly, all pretense of stealth dismissed as the incomplete unit he’d cobbled together moved from their protective hiding places to do his bidding. He looked back and saw Evans and Guerin struggling to reach the other members of their group, becoming a frighteningly coherent team as that damn shield allowed Guerin perfect cover for his energy blasts even as the two of them remained out in the open. Corwin shook his head. He could still make this work…his eyes narrowed on Max Evans’ desperate rush to reach his wife. It was fairly common knowledge, for those studying this species, that if you separated those two the whole group’s coherence started to fall apart.“Team two…shoot to kill. Shoot to kill!” He ordered loudly, climbing to his feet to join the charge. He’d be damned if he let that alien bastard yank his victory. “I’ll separate you two for good…” he growled.

Brad Corwin was close enough now to see Max Evans’ eyes widen fearfully while at the same time his hand reached out for his wife. But he was too far away. By at least fifty feet. “LIZ!”

“That’s not possible…”

General Corwin heard his aide’s whisper. Heard and understood the awestruck quality of the observation, but there was no response he could make. The kid was right. All their surveillance said it wasn’t possible. Nevertheless, Evans’ shield had just grown to include the rest of the group, slipping easily between his wife and the bullet that would have taken her life. No. Corwin shook his head to clear it, but the picture didn’t change. The group came together, moving into a tight knit circle as they warily eyed the Special Unit surrounding them, from within the confines of the shield like animals in the zoo.

Corwin strode forward, standing face to face with Max Evans for the first time, though they’d been adversaries for months now. “You can’t hold it forever. And you’re surrounded. Don’t you think it’s in your best interest to come peacefully…”

“Peacefully?! Do you think we’re stupid?!”

General Corwin shook his head as his gaze shifted distastefully to Michael Guerin. He eyed the angry alien briefly before dismissing him out of hand. Loose, he was dangerous. Savage and rapacious. Corwin could see it in the anger boiling over in the kid’s expressive hazel eyes. But he was caught in a trap made by his own kind. Stupid animal. Didn’t even realize the vulnerability of his position. And then there was Max Evans. His eyes narrowed and his gaze took in the flushed, angry features of this pack’s leader. As dangerous as his friend. Cunning and amoral. They may look human but this pack was more wolf than man.

“It doesn’t have to be like this.”

Corwin snorted, genuinely amused by the tact Evans had chosen to take. “That’s what the defeated always say.It is like this.” He responded coldly.

The alien’s dark head nodded in mute understanding. And then he raised his eyes to meet Corwin’s own. “Remember you said that.” Evans paused to glance around at the unit surrounding him and his eyes hardened expressively. “And remember that this was your choice, not mine.”

The General took an involuntary step backward at the menace he saw in those hard, decisive eyes. He glanced uneasily at Guerin and was taken aback to find the kids surprised gaze trained upon his leader.

“We really gonna try…that?”

“That’s the plan.” There was a hint of challenge in Max Evans voice as he turned his attention to his friend.

But Guerin just nodded agreeably. “Works for me.” He said easily, raising his hand and aiming his energy at the unit from within the shield.

Corwin shook his head as his men took a half step back. “If energy can’t get in, it can’t get out.” He said, watching with an odd trepidation as his words were proven accurate. The shield gave slightly under the pressure, expanding around the people inside but none of the energy crackling along the surface made it past the barrier. His eyes narrowed as Evans called for his sister to add her power to the metaphysical witches brew. And then he called his wife forward. Corwin’s eyes widened as he suddenly became aware of the plan. And the danger.

The wheel of fortune had turned and right before his astonished eyes, the prey had just become the predator. His brain noted the more transparent color of the shield and the increased static crackling of the previously caged energy. He understood intuitively that the energy swirling dangerously against Liz Evans’ palm was the spark that was going to ignite…everything.

“TAKE COVER!”

The order was shouted an instant before Max Evans dropped his shield completely and allowed the fires of hell to reach out for anyone who hadn’t been swift enough in their fall to earth. Huddled against the ground, Corwin himself had felt the heat of the flames as they burned over his head, igniting anything that hadn’t made it to the safety of the two foot space from the ground, up, that the smug bastard had allowed for retreat. He could still hear his men screaming and smell the thick, metallic smoke that choked him when the flames found the vehicles hidden on the outskirts of their position and lit the gasoline, blowing them to kingdom come. He could still hear the disgust in his superior’s voices as they demanded explanations. And the whispers that had begun in the halls the day he’d returned. And never really stopped.


Taking a deep breath, Brad Corwin blinked owlishly and pulled himself back into the present. He was still sitting, surrounded by steel reinforced concrete…

“General Corwin!”

Corwin’s brows rose in surprise and he looked toward the sound of a vaguely annoyed voice. A tall, well built man was standing in the open doorway of his cell. “Haven’t you heard? I’m not a General anymore. Go bother someone else. I have things…” Corwin broke off as the man pushed himself fluidly away from the doorjamb and grabbed the front of his prison uniform, yanking him to his feet. Corwin glared up into the man’s dark green eyes. The guy was awfully young to be a General but the three stars on his shoulders would seem to disagree. Bastard.

Seething with impatience the General shook Corwin, forcing him to focus on what he was saying. “I don’t have time for your self indulgence.”

Corwin pulled out of the taller man’s grip, breathing heavily as he confronted the younger man. “I don’t know who the hell you think…”

“I’m the man who’s going to rid the world of Max Evans.” He nodded his satisfaction when Corwin shut up and finally – by the fates, human’s were all so dense! – finally, began to listen. “You can help. Or you can rot here.”


-------------------------------


“Come in.”

Lazrum let out a brief, put upon sigh as he opened the door. He couldn’t believe Nicholas had stuck him with this duty! Bastard. The thought flitted briefly through his mind that maybe Nicholas had found out about his dealing’s with the Royal Protector and had assigned this duty as a punishment. But common sense told him that if Nicholas had found out…he sure as hell wouldn’t be pondering his suck duty assignment. He walked into the General’s private quarters and searched out Robert Sinclair. He’d never worked with this guy before, but Nicholas evidently trusted him. “Did you convince him to help?” Lazrum asked, referring to Brad Corwin.

“Yes.”

Lazrum blinked at the clipped, precise answer and then shrugged it off. “Well, Nicholas will be pleased.”

“Yes.”

O-kay. “Do you have that report ready? I’m getting ready to send mine back to headquarters.”

“That won’t be necessary. You may give them to me.”

“Uh, no, no I can’t.” Lazrum shook his head at the insanity of that plan. Nicholas had an anal retentive micromanaging streak and he’d been known to react…in the extreme, when left out of the information loop. Even regarding something not particularly important. He held up the cd that contained his own encoded report. “Captain Control will pitch a fit if he isn’t kept up to date so hurry up with your report. I’ll be in the mess hall.” Lazrum finished, turning to head back out the door.

“Captain Control won’t be a problem.” Sinclair paused, his dark green eyes narrowing delightedly as he watched his prey. “For me.”

Lazrum halted before the closed door, feeling a shiver run through his entire being at the glacially sardonic reply. “He won’t?” he asked uncertainly, turning to face Sinclair and really studying his new partner for the first time.

“No. As long as I’m up to date...”

Lazrum’s jaw dropped. There was no way…well, one way but… He swallowed hard. “Nicholas?” he whispered hoarsely.

“Yes.”

“You…you got a new husk.”

“This old thing? How nice of you to notice.” Nicholas smiled, knowing full well the effect that would have. He loved this new husk. It suited him so much better than the last. He brushed a hand through his hair, stroking the spun gold strands into order and raising his brows expectantly when the peon in front of him remained silent.

Lazrum’s jaw worked spasmodically, no sound coming out as he tried to order his thoughts.

“Cat got your tongue?”

“No! I…uh, congratulations?”

Nicholas inclined his blonde head regally. “Nice recovery.” He said sarcastically.

Lazrum ignored that, his mind racing at the implications of this new twist. “So does that mean…”

“Yes.”

“So then you’re…”

Nicholas felt his smile widen into a feral grin. “Oh, yes.” He purred with soft menace.

Lazrum nodded, backing up toward the door as Nicholas’ cold smile widened, his eyes glittering dangerously in the soft light. “If there’s anything else you need me to do, Sire…”

Nicholas shrugged lightly. “Die.”

The word was said with such soft, gentle ease that for a moment Lazrum didn’t recognize the implication. “But…but…” Abandoning the conversation he whirled and reached quickly for the door, flinging it wide.

Nicholas shook his head. Fool. Raising his hand he slammed the door shut and then held Lazrum against it. He cocked his head to the side, dark green eyes studying his treacherous minion as he explained gently. “But first, you’re going to tell me everything that Kahl-ainghly has told you about Max Evans and the heir.” And then he smiled, feeling a delicious thrill of power when Lazrum’s struggles doubled. He held the world in the palm of his hand. All he had to do was tighten his fist.




posted on 5-Dec-2002 12:17:34 AM by Pathos
*************Part 58**************


Max bit his lip a little as he stared anxiously at the closed bathroom door. He couldn’t be certain, but he figured he’d looked at least as aghast as Xan had at the suggestion that the little boy might need help. Max hestitated for one more second before turning and shuffling slowly down the hall toward the kitchen. Apparently he’d been wrong in thinking that little kids needed help in the bathroom. His son ought to know, after all. Maybe it was only children who were younger than Xan who needed help? He sighed, feeling a little overwhelmed as he massaged the base of his skull helplessly. He’d missed so much of his son’s young life. How many other things didn’t he know?

Everything, really, he guessed.

Max sighed deeply, shaking his head in consternation. He knew Xan liked planes. And pizza. And Liz. He smiled a little at the thought of his wife, glad that she was still asleep. If she were awake Max knew she’d be actively working to get him to lighten up. To concentrate on everything that was right with the situation rather than everything that was…less than right. Prone to overanalyzation he might be, but he wasn’t stupid enough to believe that there was anything wrong with their family. Not after the way he’d awakened this morning. Cramped and uncomfortable. And happier than he’d ever been in his life.

Max didn’t even bother trying to fight the happy grin that forced its way past the moroseness of his earlier train of thought. It was the same grin that had appeared as soon as he opened his eyes that morning and found Liz and Xan taking up most of the bed. He never would have pegged his wife for a bed hog, especially considering that she was generally curled up next to him. But this morning had found her laying diagonally, her head resting on his pillow while one dainty foot hung off the edge of the bed. And Xan had found a way to drape himself over both of them, laying spread eagle in his back and using Liz’s right shoulder as a pillow. Max supposed it was a good thing his son didn’t kick in his sleep, considering where the Xan’s feet had come to rest. He shook his head, still amused at the way he’d awakened to find himself almost hanging off the bed. If he hadn’t woken up when Kyle left for work, he sure as hell would have when he hit the floor.

Opening and closing the kitchen cupboards Max tried to decide what Xan might like for breakfast. Cereal? Eggs? Oatmeal? He scrunched his nose involuntarily at that one, he had no idea how Liz ate that stuff. French toast sounded good…sighing Max tried to ignore the slight frustration of not knowing something as simple as what his son liked for breakfast and reached for the coffee Kyle had made before he’d left. Caffeine would help. And he’d just have to ask Xan what he wanted when he got out of the bathroom.


-----------------------


Xan wiped his hands carefully on the towel and then opened the bathroom door. He could see Max in the kitchen so he headed that way. He didn’t need to look in the bedroom to know that Liz was still asleep. He bit his lip a little as he tried to decide whether or not to wake her up. Max had said that she needed to sleep. And she really had seemed very tired last night. And she hadn’t even moved when he’d gotten out of bed this morning… Glancing uncertainly down the hall, Xan decided to head for the kitchen. Maybe Max would help him get breakfast. But when he passed the door of his new room the gleaming four winged plane resting high on the bookshelf, caught his eye. Putting breakfast aside for the moment Xan turned into the room and almost ran straight into the tail of his plane bed.

Xan smiled. No one had ever made him a plane bed before. This one had everything! He hadn’t had much of a chance to look at it last night but now he saw that the wings spanned the whole wall. And there were places underneath to put stuff, like toys or books.The cone shaped nose of the plane butted up against the wall but Xan could still see that his name was written on it, just like a real pilots name would be on a real plane. The tail rose up from the end of the bed and he figured he might be able to use it to make a pretty good tent. When the plane wasn’t flying, of course. No matter what Max had said he was pretty sure that it really could fly.

Xan’s smiled widened into a grin as he climbed up onto the mattress and sat on his knee’s, running his hands along the headboard which doubled as both a shelf and a control panel, complete with the handle that Troy told him controlled real planes. His brow furrowed slightly as he tried to remember the right name for the handle. Troy had called it the… “Thwottle.” He announced to the room at large, his brow smoothing in satisfaction as he reached out and wrapped both hands around it. He pulled on the throttle, blinking in happy surprise when it eased slowly back. “Jus like a weal one.” He whispered in awe. Checking the rest of the instrument panel he realized that he could move all the levers, turn all the knobs and push all the buttons. Forgetting all about breakfast, Xan happily settled in to play with his plane bed.

Fifteen minutes later, with the accompanying sound effect of engines powering down, Xan landed from his imaginary flight and lay back onto the mattress. He sighed happily as he studied the gentle clouds that rolled across the ceiling and dipped down as a backdrop for the border. The jets looked like they were actually flying and the blue of the walls themselves matched the blue of a summer sky perfectly. There was absolutely nothing dark about his room. No shadows at all. Instead sunlight seemed to filter through the puffy white clouds on the ceiling, lending a warmth and security to the room that Xan adored. His room. Max had said that he was happy to have him home. Xan was just as happy. He had Liz. And Max. And he didn’t ever want to leave.

But…Xan worried his lower lip between his teeth a little and wondered if Dr. Dave knew where he was. Would he try to come take him away?

We’re not ever going to let them do that to you again.

Xan took a deep breath, Max’s promise from the night before calming him slightly. Something about Max was safe. Liz felt safer now. She wasn’t as worried as she had been when they were driving. And he knew that was because of Max. Sighing, Xan turned his head and looked longingly across the hall to where Liz was still sleeping. He really didn’t want to be by himself anymore. But he guessed that Max was right. She needed sleep. Biting his lip a little he wondered if maybe Max would want to play with him.

Decision made, Xan slid from the far side of the bed to go join Max in the kitchen. As he headed toward the door he glanced once more at the bookshelf. And the plane with four wings. He cocked his head as he studied it curiously. Max had told him last night that it was an old war plane but he’d never seen anything like it. His brows furrowed as he considered the toybox resting right next to the bookshelf. They hadn’t unpacked all the toys they’d brought from Mr. Langley’s yet, but if he got that plane down then Max would have something to play with, just like he had his plane. Climbing onto the closed lid of the toybox he held onto the side of the bookshelf for balance and reached for the plane. It was probably a good thing that Liz was still asleep. She wouldn’t want him climbing. Sighing a little in frustration Xan stood on his tippy toes when he still couldn’t reach…


-----------------


Max couldn’t help the smile that was still plastered across his face at the way Xan had been playing with his plane bed. He’d been about to go check on his son when he heard him pretending to take off. He wondered vaguely what Liz would say when Xan actually levitated the thing one of these days. He shook his head a little, lifting his coffee mug to his lips with the intention of taking one last sip before heading in to get Xan for breakfast. He paused, his coffee hovering in midair as a vague feeling of vertigo shot through his body. What…the mug fell from nervless fingers when the loud thump of a little body hitting the floor seemed to echo right through him. The sudden pain in his head gave him pause and then…oh God. Xan!

Liz jerked awake, wondering at her sudden panic and the odd silence that seemed to permeate the apartment. Her brows drew together as her sleep fogged brain tried to figure out what had happened. And what was wrong. Her head hurt and it was hard to breathe but…she was fine.

Max rushed down the hall into Xan’s room, his breath catching in his chest when he found his son looking utterly shocked to find himself sprawled on the floor. Max felt his heart start beating again when Xan looked at him and tried to struggle to his feet.

"Xan? Are you ok?" Max whispered hoarsely, dropping down onto one knee to pull Xan into his arms before moving to sit on the toybox so that his unsteady legs didn’t give out and topple the two of them back to the floor. He cupped Xan’s face, watching as his son’s large eyes filled with tears that silently dripped down his face. “C’mon, pal, tell me where it hurts.” He requested gently. But he already knew. The odd tightness in his chest, wasn’t his. Placing his hand firmly against Xan’s ribs he eased the pressure in his lungs. “Got the wind knocked out of you, huh?” He asked. Swallowing hard Max checked for broken bones, though he was pretty certain that there weren’t any. And then a loud wail split the air. He blinked and stared at his son in surprise.

Xan took advantage of the ability to breathe normally and filled his lungs with air before announcing. "I hit my head. Is too high!" he finished on a sob.

"What’s too high, pal?" Max asked, trying to remain calm but becoming more panicked as Xan’s sobs reverberated loudly through the apartment.

"Da plane. I was getting’ it fowr you but is too high!” Xan paused for another gulp of air. “So I stood on da toybox." He cried, burying his head against Max’s shoulder. "I’m no’ dat big!" He finished, pushing angrily against Max’s chest to illustrate his displeasure before allowing himself to be comforted.

Max rubbed circles on Xan’s back as he knew Liz had been doing for the last few days. He was met with minimal success. While the wailing gradually stopped, Xan was still crying softly, hiccupping against his shoulder. And his sons tears were breaking his heart. He looked questioningly at his wife, wondering if maybe she should take Xan. He had known she was standing there in the doorway, had felt her awaken sharply as soon as Xan had fallen. And now he could feel her calming down as Xan did, and it became clear that he wasn’t seriously injured. "Sorry about that pal." Max glanced at the plane lying on the floor and then back at the bookshelf. Why the hell had he put it up so high to begin with? Shaking his head he promised “We’ll keep it on the low shelf from now on. Ok?” He felt Xan nod against his shoulder, his cries becoming softer and farther apart as he relaxed.

Liz took a deep breath and nodded encouragingly at Max, purposely ignoring his request for assistance. She knew how helpless he felt but what she saw was how easily he was holding Xan. How naturally he was rubbing his son’s back and soothing the tears away. She smiled softly at her husband, letting him know that he was doing great. And then concentrated on the fact that she’d felt Xan fall. And she could feel that his head still hurt.

Xan blinked back the last of his tears, hiccupping a little he raised his head to look at Max. "I wan’ Liz. She’s gotta kiss it bettewr." He explained softly.

"Could I try kissing it better?" Max asked. Xan looked at him skeptically but shrugged his permission. Leaning down, Max kissed the top of Xan’s head gently, at the same time healing the bump that had begun to form at the base of his skull. "Better?"

Xan tilted his head to the side as he thought about it. The ache from his fall was gone. "Yeah. Tanks." He replied, impressed. But he still wanted Liz. And he knew she was up now. Xan raised soft, pleading eyes to Max. “But…Liz….”

Liz was still smiling over the way Xan was rubbing his hand over the back of his head, not sure where the pain had gone, when she felt his sudden anxiety. Not wanting to upset him any further she stepped more fully into the room. "So, are you guys having a party in here without me?"

Xan turned quickly, sliding from Max’s lap as he caught sight of her. He reached up to be held as he explained "I fell down on my head." He looked at Liz expectantly. "You gonna kiss it?"

Max looked a little disgruntled. "I thought we took care of that."

“Uh-huh.” Xan said, nodding emphatically. He didn’t want to make Max feel bad. "Cuz maybe if she kisses it bettewr it’ll be mowre bettewr." He explained.

Max had to grin at Xan’s earnest expression. "I got it, pal. I always feel better when she kisses my booboos too." He dropped a kiss on his wife’s lips, his brows furrowing over the strange awe that was floating across their connection. But she shook her head. They’d talk about it later. Looking down at Xan he guessed that they’d be doing a lot of that from now on. Nodding his acceptance, he headed for the kitchen.

Liz shook her head as she followed Max into the kitchen. She kissed Xan’s head lightly. "Is that better sweetie?"

Xan nodded as he leaned comfortably against her shoulder. "Good. Why were you climbing on the toybox to begin with?" she asked setting Xan in his chair at the kitchen table.

"I was twyin’ to weach da plane. So I could play wit Max." He explained

Max stepped away from the refrigerator with a carton of eggs in his hand. "Why didn’t you ask for help?"
"
Liz was still ‘sleep." Xan explained as he watched Max.

Max stopped and turned back to Xan. "You remember last night when Liz said that we were a family now, that we take care of each other?" he asked gently as he squatted down in front of his son.

Xan nodded, somewhat unsure of the serious turn in the conversation. He looked at the floor shyly as Max continued

"That means that you can ask me for help too, pal." Max cupped Xan’s chin gently, tipping his son’s head up to meet his gaze. "I promise that I’ll always be there to help you, Xan."

Xan stared up at Max, mesmerized by the sincerity he saw in his eyes. "Like Liz?" he whispered uncertainly.

Max didn’t want to overwhelm his son but he couldn’t resist dropping a kiss on Xan’s forehead. "Just like Liz." He promised solemnly. Tweaking Xan’s nose and smiling at the way Xan’s whole face scrunched up he asked "Now what sounds better, French toast or scrambled eggs?"

"Fwensh Toast!" Xan said.

Liz smiled a little mistily as she watched Max show Xan how to make French Toast. She nodded encouragingly at Xan whenever he turned to make sure she was still in the room and he finally relaxed enough to let Max guide his hand while they stirred eggs and milk into the batter. She glanced over her shoulder at Michael and Maria. "You two can stop pretending to be asleep now." Liz said, nodding at Michael’s muttered ‘Thank God!’ She looked back at the two people making a mess of her kitchen. "Yeah."


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 5-Dec-2002 1:13:46 AM ]
posted on 27-Dec-2002 1:06:58 PM by Pathos
Hey all -

I hope everyone that celebrated had a wonderful holiday. *happy* This is just a quick fly by post to let you know that I haven't flown the coop or dropped off the face of the planet...try though I might. LOL

Anyhoo - I am working on the next few parts but with everything else going on it'll probably be around the first of the year that they get up. Planning for the worst and hoping for the best - might be this weekend. *wink*

Tiger anytime you want to come beat up the RL trolls (or knock me over the head *big*), be my guest.

Promise to be back soon and thanks yet again for all the patience and bumps. See ya soon.

Pathos

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 28-Dec-2002 2:15:31 AM ]
posted on 17-Jan-2003 11:16:57 AM by Pathos
Hey all -

*Pathos steps out from behind a tree with the handwritten version of the next part in front of her like a shield*

Ok, guys. It's written, it's even edited...it's just on paper and I need to type it out. So look for a new part sometime tomorrow, hopefully not too late. Thanks for all the bumps and encouragement.

Pathos


Max and Liz Believer: First of all, I can't even begin to tell you how touched I am by all your kind words. I'm so glad you found this story and are enjoying it so much. Promise not to stay away so long next time. *happy*

Tigereyes: Obviously you do need to keep a better eye on me, I get lost easily dontcha know? *big* Found my way back though so there'll be a new part for you on Monday...two if I can beat Langley into submission. LOL

YonkersMe: Hon, having you been taking lessons in guilt trips from my mother? LOL Just kidding. I appreciate all the bumps. It's like a shot in the creative arm when I read your stuff and it always puts a smile on my face. *wink* See ya tomorrow.


posted on 29-Jan-2003 4:27:46 PM by Pathos
Hi Guys - (she says, ducking from the rotten fruit heading her way)

I am SO, SO sorry about not updating when I said I would. I got the downtime I expected...and then promptly got the flu. *sad*

The promised part is almost completely typed now and I'm hoping to finish typing (can you tell I barely passed my typing class in school? LOL) and get the new part posted this weekend.

Thanks so much for all the bumps, they're totally appreciated. And don't worry, I'm not going anywhere - and we should be back to a normal schedule soon...(she says with her fingers crossed). *big*

See ya soon,
Pathos *wink*
posted on 10-Feb-2003 2:11:03 AM by Pathos
Hi all -

I'm ba-ack. And with an actual, honest to goodness, completely typed, ready to go, new part. (see below *big*) In my defense - I tried to post last weekend but since I couldn't get on weeelllll, I took it as a sign and re-edited the whole dang part. I know, I know. I need a 12 step program. LOL.

Anyhoo - I just had to say thanks for hanging in there. I really appreciate all the fb. And please know that it means SO much to me that people are still loving this story and little Xan. I'll be back to my usual intro next time (hoping to also be back into the swing of things and posting a new part at least every week to ten days - keep those fingers crossed! *wink*) but I just had to thank:

mareli, max and liz believer, BelevnDreamsToo, Gigo for all the kinds bumps and work to keep this story on the front burner over the last - God, I'm embarrassed at how long it's been.

RoswAlien_Lady Thanks, hon. You're just so sweet and I truly appreciate all your kind thoughts and encouragement.

YonkersMe Oh, no please! Not pun torture!! *happy*Sweetie, there's tough love and then there's tough love... LOL Oh, and about that typing offer - don't tempt me. If I thought there was a chance of you reading my practically illegible scrawl, I'd take you up on it. *big*

Tigereyes I came back to play - just hoping that this part is good enough after that wait to keep my butt from getting kicked out of the sandbox. LOL *wink*

This part is pretty much transition but, hope ya'll enjoy anyway *happy*

Pathos



And now..........without further ado................
posted on 10-Feb-2003 2:15:16 AM by Pathos
1-1-5

Incredible Banner courtesy of TeddyBehrJKT. Thanks, hon!




***********Part 59************


“Where do you want this stuff?” Michael grunted, droppinging first one, and then the other two boxes of toys he’d just lugged from the car next the couch. Shaking his head, he stared at the collection of boxes and suitcases littering the floor, before looking up at Xan and then back to the growing pile. Jesus Christ! How could one little kid possibly need so much stuff? Michael shook his head and looked at Liz. “Essentials?” He questioned sarcastically, not for the first time. He let out a put upon sigh after receiving the same challenging, brief nod of her dark head that he’d received after muttering the question while they were packing the car. “Right.” He relented. “So you want me to just…”

“Everything can go into Xan’s room.” Liz interrupted, gesturing vaguely down the hall.

Michael glared. “Of course it can.” He shook his head and bent down to pick up the boxes he’d just dropped. “There’s enough fu…” Glancing at Xan and catching Liz’s pointedly raised brows, Michael switched expletives. “Enough frickin’ stuff to open a store. He…ck I’ve only seen the kid play with a plane, anyway…”

Xan bit his lip, the last few bites of his French toast forgotten as he listened to Michael mutter all the way from the living room to his new bedroom. He glanced at Liz, wondering if she was worried about the big man’s sudden anger, but Liz seemed happy to ignore Michael and his grumblings.

“Don’t worry, sweetie. Michael’s not mad, he just likes to complain.” Liz said gently, reaching out to smooth Xan’s hair from his forehead. It was so new, this sudden connection to the little boy. Almost as if he had tapped into her connection with Max, and was now transmitting on the same frequency. But it was so far from being an intrusion, she mused wondrously, this introduction to their connection. So completely non-disruptive. As if it were just one more piece of a puzzle fitting easily into place. Shaking herself from her thoughts, Liz was happy to see Xan relax a little even as she felt his anxiety slowly ease. It was new, and even a little startling, but it already felt as natural as her connection to Max.

“He does?” Xan asked uncertainly, still looking down the hall after Michael.

“Oh, yeah.” Maria interjected easily from the sink, where she was finishing up the first round of breakfast dishes. “Ignore the glare, Xan. He complains like that all the time.” She glanced over her shoulder at Michael, who was heading back to the living room. “Don’t you?” she called.

“What?” Michael asked irritably. That was the last time he fell for the ‘do you want first dibs on breakfast’ question. He and Max had gotten stuck doing all the hard work while everyone else was sitting around chatting.

“Like to complain.”

Michael rolled his eyes. “Whatever.” He glanced over at the door as Max struggled through, carrying two suitcases and one more box. “Tell me that’s the last of it…”

“Yeah, finally.” Max dropped the two suitcases that were dangling precariously from his fingers next to the couch and then moved to dump the box on the seat, but Michael caught it easily and shoved it back into his arms. “What…”

Michael shook his head and hitched his thumb over his shoulder. “Put it in the rugrats room.” He advised.

Max rolled his eyes. “We can do...that...later.” He said, his voice grinding to a halt as he turned to look at Liz after she cleared her throat loudly. “Can’t we?”

“Don’t you think it would be better to get everything in there now?” Liz asked, nodding her head encouragingly. “Then we can start getting it all together after breakfast.”

Max sighed heavily, nodding slowly along with his wife. Sometimes he wished she was more of a procrastinator. “Of course I do.” He said. Around his armload, Max caught sight of Xan’s somewhat worried expression and offered a smile that he hoped was reassuring. It widened into a grin after Xan gave him a shy smile in return and then turned to hide his sticky face against Liz’s arm. Shaking his head, he turned down the hallway towards his son’s room.

Liz wrinkled her nose at the syrup/tabasco combination that was now decorating her upper arm. “Does this mean you’re done then, sweetheart?” she asked wryly.

Xan lifted his head and settled back into his chair. “Nuh-uh.” He said, gesturing with his fork at the last few bites left on his plate. “See?”

“I see.” Liz used a napkin to swipe ineffectually at the mess on her arm and then decided to ignore it. She sat back in her chair with a happy sigh and reached for her coffee. Today was a great day. Xan was safe, the military didn’t have any idea where they were and neither did the Skins. They were free. They were together and they were free. Even the weather was cooperating with her good mood. The bright sunlight filtering through the window was the perfect icing on the cake. Liz glanced at Max as he headed back into the living room and her eyes moved easily to the curve of his butt when he bent over to pick up two more suitcases from next to the couch. She bit back an embarrassed smile when he glanced at her over his shoulder, one brow raised at her obvious perusal.

“See anything you like?” Max teased lightly.

“Lots.” Liz replied, her head dipping lightly in his direction while she allowed her gaze to wander suggestively over his frame.

Xan looked from Liz to Max, his brow wrinkling in confusion. “Like wha’ Liz?” He asked. The only thing he saw were all the boxes Max and Michael had brought up from the car. “Da toys awrn’t even out yet.” He pointed out.

Max ducked his head and focused on the task at hand, vaguely embarrassed to have been caught flirting with his wife. He stood up and glared at Liz with mock severity when all she did was giggle at his discomfort.

Xan studied the interplay between Max and Liz with a worried frown. In the entire time he’d known her, Liz had never been anything less than completely attentive to him. But at the moment she was focused completely on Max. He bit his lip a little over her smile. “Was youwr frensch toas’ good?” Xan asked, bringing her attention back to himself.

Liz turned to Xan, her smile softening into gentle reassurance at his expression. She knew he was still feeling somewhat uncomfortable, particularly about where he fit in with Max, she just wasn’t sure how to completely reassure him of his place here. She supposed they’d just have to show him that he was safe. And home. “You and Max did a great job.” She replied, grateful that Xan’s brow smoothed and he began to relax as soon as her attention returned to him. “I think that was the best French toast I ever had.”

Xan smiled up at Liz, feeling his anxiety ease with the encouragement she offered. He could feel her, even though she wasn’t really touching him at the moment. This new ability to reach for her and feel her respond made him feel safe. Right, in a way that he’d never been in his life. As if he belonged. As if this ability were the most natural thing in the world. He’d only ever thought that maybe he could reach out like that to the guy from the stars. That was why he wanted to meet him, even though he knew deep down, that couldn’t happen. Because that guy had to let him go so he could be safe. But not Liz. He knew that Liz would never let him go. And now he could reach for her whenever he needed to. There was nothing more for him to think about. It simply made sense. It simply was. As if he were now holding the care and comfort she’d always shown him somewhere deep inside, so he never had to worry about losing it. “Mine’s good too.” Xan said happily

Liz grinned as Xan stuffed another piece of French toast laden with syrup and Tabasco into his mouth, spreading more of the sticky concoction on his face as he did so. “I can see that, Mr. Sticky Face. We’re gonna have to get you cleaned up after you’re all done.”

Xan’s eyes narrowed while he chewed thoughtfully. “Bu’no bat, wight? I don’ need a bat’ til amowwow. Cuz ‘membewr, I had one yestewrday.”

Liz nodded, her lips twitching in silent laughter at the expression on Xan’s face. “No bath until tomorrow.” Xan had never made a secret of his dislike for the bathtub. Even at the Base, as scared as he had been he’d had few qualms about protesting the indignity of having to take a bath. “But,” she warned “I am going to introduce the syrup all over your face to a warm washcloth.”

Xan considered that for a second before shrugging easily. “Kay.” Anything, as long as he didn’t have to take a bath.


Max watched Xan pull Liz’s attention back to himself and gave a silent sigh as he headed into his son’s room. He purposefully ignored Michael’s sharply curious gaze and Maria’s slightly narrowed one. He was hardly going to start complaining about the way Xan was clinging to Liz. First of all, it made perfect sense. He knew her and he trusted her to keep him safe. Liz had been there for Xan when no one else in the world had been, just as she was there for him now, offering all the patient reassurance Xan might need. Max could feel it echo through his own connection to Liz every time his little boy reached for her. And through the shadow of his son’s emotion as well as from his own experience, Max understood how much it meant to Xan that she had accepted their connection without a second thought, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. He couldn’t possibly wish for that to be any different and he wouldn’t change it, even if he could.

Stubbornly silencing the part of himself that was demanding a reason for why Xan could feel Liz, but not his own father, Max put the boxes he was carrying down next to the toy box. It was completely ridiculous to feel left out, he reminded himself. He knew that. And once he gave the matter any thought, Max figured that the reason for Xan's distance was probably fairly clear. Biological connection or not, Xan wasn’t reaching for him. His son probably didn’t even know that the connection was there. He, himself had been pretty damn surprised by it. Taking a quick, deep breath Max cleared his head. Patience, that’s what he needed. Xan would reach for him when he was ready. When he felt secure and at home. When he understood how much he was loved.

Max nodded, breathing a little more easily now that he’d thought the whole thing through. The important thing was that Xan was safe. Xan and Liz were both safe. And home with him. No pressure, he counseled himself sternly. The last thing Xan needed was someone else pressuring him. His son needed time and Max understood that. So he would be patient.

Nodding briefly at Michael as he sidled around his best friend and the box he was carrying, Max headed back out into the living room. He offered a small lopsided smile to his wife when he felt her give a gentle, though insistent, tug on their connection, clearly telling him to join her and Xan in the kitchen. “How long have you liked tabasco, Xan?” He asked nonchalantly, walking by the table to grab a bottle of water from the fridge. As opening lines went, it wasn’t the best. But at least Tabasco was something that they had in common.

Xan shrugged, his gaze shifting from Liz to Max. “I don’ know. Liz tought I woul’ like it…” He paused briefly and studied Max curiously. “She said cuz you liked it lots.”

Max nodded. “She’s right. I like it so much I put it on everything.” He said, taking a gulp of water. His brow furrowed in confusion when he felt Liz blush and then it dawned on him what she was thinking of.

Maria put the last of the dishes in the drainer and turned from the sink in time to catch Liz’s blush. “Care to share your tabasco adventures with the class, Lizzie?”

Liz glared, first at Maria and then at Max when he started laughing. “No.” She said primly. The last thing she was going to do was discuss last New Years Eve in front of Xan. Her eyes narrowed at the sudden, decidedly wolfish slant of Max’s smile. “Maybe later.” She amended, satisfied when Max’s smile faded and he began to look a little worried.

Xan looked from Liz to Maria and then finally back to Max. He was missing something again, he just didn’t know what it was. “But Liz doesn’ like it at all.” Xan pointed out, raising his puzzled gaze to Max and looking for an explanation since Liz and Maria were now giggling too much to give him one.

Max nodded, clearing his throat loudly at his wife and her best friend. “You’re absolutely right, pal. She doesn’t like it at all.” He agreed emphatically before lowering his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “She just doesn’t know what she’s missing.”

“Oh, yes she does!” Liz muttered loudly.

Xan looked at Liz for a second and then turned his attention back to Max. “She wouldn’ twy it even dough I tol’ hewr how good it was.” He told him, shaking his head over Liz’s lack of taste. “And den she made me twy bwoccoli.” He shuddered dramatically at the memory, offering a shy smile when Max chuckled at him.

“Broccoli? She really made you try broccoli? Yuck.” Max wrinkled his nose at Xan, then grinning when his son giggled at his exaggerated expression.

“Hey! I was worried that he wasn’t getting enough nutrients, the poor kid was wasting away right in front of me.” Liz defended weakly.

“I wasn’ wastin’ away.” Xan scoffed. “And it din’t taste good.” He told Max as he chased Tabasco and syrup with a piece of his French toast. “Even wit da tamasco.”

“Some things, pal, not even Tabasco can fix.” Max commiserated, taking the seat opposite his son. He studied his wife appraisingly for a second before leaning forward. “Did she ever tell you about the time she tried tabasco?” He asked in a stage whisper.

“Max!” Liz gasped, appalled. There was no way Max would tell him that story. Was there?

Xan shook his head, the last bite of his French toast forgotten as he leaned forward, eyes wide, to hear the story.

“I won’t tell him everything.” Max assured Liz, knowing full well that several details were not suited to young ears. “Just the good parts.” He stage whispered to Xan, hastening to reassure the little boy once he caught his disappointed expression.

Xan nodded expectantly. “Kay.”

“I think that depends on your definition of ‘good’.” Michael muttered, easily ducking the dishtowel Maria chucked at his head. “What?” He asked innocently.

Max ignored everyone else and focused on Xan. “Well, it was New Years Eve and we were having dinner while we waited for the ball to drop in Times Square. Now, Liz had already finished her dinner but she was still hungry so I, being the gentleman that I am, offered her some of mine.”

Liz snorted. “Don’t let him fool you, Xan. He’s not a gentleman.” She said fondly, a soft smile on her lips as the memories from that night played out behind her eyes. The way Max had kissed her at 10:30, whispering ‘Happy New Year’ in her ear. The way he simply shook his head at her when she pointed out that they had an hour and a half more to go, and his gentle reminder that he’d promised her that they wouldn’t leave all of their traditions behind. The suggestive smile on his face when he pointed out that, having observed old traditions, they ought to start making new ones…

“Uh, excuse me, Mrs. Evans but this is my story and I’m gonna tell it my way.” Max paused and caught his wife’s gaze meaningfully. “And I don’t remember hearing you complain.”

Liz ducked her head. No, she certainly hadn’t been complaining. Not even after the bottle of champagne they’d ended up sharing. Max was pretty damn lucky that alcohol didn’t effect him as physically as it did Michael. Particularly since, after the first accidental sip from her glass instead of his own sparkling cider, he’d pretty much thrown caution to the wind. There was definitely something to be said for an uninhibited Max Evans, she thought with a happy sigh, smiling up at her husband.

“Hey! So den wha’ happen’d?” Xan demanded, looking from Liz to Max.

Max cleared his throat again, the desire that had started to spark through his connection to Liz halted abruptly as if it had hit a brick wall. His four year old may as well have thrown a bucket of ice water over his head. Max smiled down at Xan ruefully and cleared his throat. “Sorry, pal. So then I told her that I’d share but I didn’t think she’d like it because of the Tabasco.”

“You said I couldn’t handle the Tabasco.” Liz corrected.

“Right. You couldn’t. But anyway, Xan, she insisted.” Max looked over at his wife before lowering his voice to a teasing stage whisper. “You’ve noticed that she has quite an appetite, right?”

Xan nodded without thinking and then bit his lip to hold in a giggle when he looked over at Liz.

“Hey!” Liz tried to sound indignant but she couldn’t help her smile at the way Xan ducked his head to hide his laughter. She shook her head, marveling happily over the way Xan and Max had forgotten their anxieties in favor of teasing her. “You’re both lucky you’re so cute.” She grumbled.

“I know.” Xan chirped unrepentantly.

Max shrugged, grinning at the happy expression on his wife’s face. “Me too.” He turned back to Xan. “So anyway, I warned her that there was a lot of Tabasco but she had to try it anyway.” He said, shaking his head sadly.

Xan sat up straight in his chair. “Den wha’?”

“Well, she takes this HUGE bite and at first, I thought she’d be ok but then…” Max paused for dramatic effect, grinning at the rapt expression on Xan’s face. “Then she sort of coughed a little, and I could have sworn that a little smoke came out of her mouth. And I know it came out of her ears…

Liz rolled her eyes. “Max, for pete’s sake…”

“My story.” Max reminded her before turning back to Xan. “And then her eyes started to water and then her face got all red, almost as red as the Tabasco sauce. And then do you know what happened?”

“Nuh-uh. What?” Xan asked, hiding a snicker behind his hand when Liz mock glared at the two of them. He knew she wasn’t really mad.

“Then she turned redder than the Tabasco sauce!”

“Nuh-uh!” Xan said, looking from the bottle of Tabasco sitting on the table back to Liz, who was shaking her head at him.

“Uh-huh.” Max averred “She was glowing like Rudolph’s nose on Christmas Eve.” He said, laughing along with his son. Liz’s first and last experimentation with Tabasco really hadn’t been all that bad, but it was worth the embellishment just to see Xan relax. To hear him laugh. “And that’s when we learned the sorry truth. Girls can’t hold their Tabasco.”

“Only guys?”

“Yep. Cause you’ve got to be pretty tough to like lots of Tabasco on your food.” Max finished.

Xan nodded seriously, mulling the thought over in his head. “So, is jus’ guys dat awre tough ‘nuff?”

Max nodded just as seriously. “Exactly. Girls can’t handle the kick.”

“Oh, please! He is gonna meet Isabel, you know that right?” Liz reminded her husband dryly.

Max shrugged. “Isabel’s more into the sugar thing.” He leaned farther across the table, turning his attention back to Xan. “Maria doesn’t even like to look at the stuff. And, well, you heard about Liz…”

Xan giggled. “Yeah. Weddewr den da sauce.”

“Exactly. And that proves it. Only tough guys really like tobasco.” Max finished triumphantly.

“I’ma tuff guy.” Xan piped up, his chest puffing out proudly.

“How drunk were you two?” Maria asked Liz under her breath.

Liz shrugged. “I wasn’t, but some of us, particularly those of us who are male chauvinists, can’t hold their champagne very well.” She said, allowing her voice to carry pointedly.

Max ignored her comment but he couldn’t hide his grin at Liz’s deep sigh and the way she was shaking her head at him. “Need I remind you…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, ‘I wasn’t complaining’.” Liz muttered, unable to hide her amusement. “And, fine. I’m not a ‘tough guy’, I admit it.” Liz said, gladly accepting the teasing for the simple pleasure of hearing Xan laugh with his father. She got up and grabbed a washcloth from the sink, motioning Xan to her side while she ran it under warm water. “Alright, tough guys, why don’t you two get started on Xan’s room while I go take a shower, hmmm?” She asked, nodding down the hallway and then leaning over to wipe Xan’s face. Shaking her head in exasperated amusement over the scowl that darkened his features, Liz wrinkled her nose at him. “Much better.” She said approvingly, once Xan’s easy smile was once again evident. “Hands.”

Xan sighed and held out his hands, suffering through Liz’s ministrations with as much grace as a four year old could muster. “Done?” He asked as Liz leaned back to inspect her work.

Liz dropped a kiss on Xan’s forehead and then stood up, nodding. “Done. Let’s get you and Max started in your room so I can jump in the shower.” She said, reaching for his hand. “You need to get dressed, right?”

Xan nodded, padding happily after Liz, his hand secure within her own. “Wight. An’ den...?”

“And then you and Max can put away all your new clothes. And then maybe start on those toys…”

Max’s brow wrinkled as he trailed after his wife. “Uh, Liz? How long are you planning to be in the shower?”




[ edited 5 time(s), last at 10-Feb-2003 7:58:15 PM ]