|posted on 29-Oct-2001 8:07:05 PM by gummibehrs|
|Title: In Love and War|
Disclaimer: I only own the idea. Characters appear curtesy of WB, UPN, Jason Katims, Melinda Metz, etc. You know the deal.
Category: AU, CC
Note: This is a repost since the crash of the old board. This fic kind of died along with my dreamer side, but I'm trying to resurrect it along with my others. I'm currently working on my post-dep fic, Breathe but hopefully I can continue to repost this and have a new part sometime within the next couple of weeks.
Dedicated to: SweetIvy420
In Love and War *Parts 1-5*
Liz Parker sighed as she flopped down on the couch, exhausted after a long day. Things had gotten so out of control over the past few weeks, she barely had any time to think about what was going on. Not that she wanted to. Ever since the baby had come, her life had been a crazy whirl of timers, bottles, diapers and cries. On top of that, she faced occasional pangs of fear, anxiety and more stress than she had ever imagined. Not to mention the aliens.
Tiredly she flipped on a lamp and reached for her science textbook. It was always easy to get lost in the world of molecules, atoms and ions. Her hopes
becoming a molecular biologist was still alive, but evidently on hold. After high school things had gone downhill and the opportunity of a college scholarship dropped as her grades started to slip. So, her scientist dreams were set aside until enough money was raised for the rest of her schooling. She sighed, knowing it wouldn’t be for awhile. Liz couldn’t let her current problems prevent her future any further, so she tried to study every day to ensure that she wouldn’t fall behind as soon as a new chance opened for a fresh life. She would snatch up anything she could get, even if it meant leaving Roswell. There had to be something better out there for her than Roswell, New Mexico.
As if on cue, Nathan stirred and started to scream from the cradle he had been placed in merely minutes before. Liz sighed again, stretching to stand and walked across the tiny cabin room to get to the baby.
The cabin she shared with Maria was small, with one bedroom and a living room with an attached kitchenette. It was tucked away in the woods for safety, but close enough to the military base incase something went wrong. Ever since Nathan came, the living quarters seemed especially tiny, crowded with toys, books and baby gates. Even though Nathan was only four months old, his arrival had been so anticipated the cabin had been swamped early with all future necessities.
“What’s wrong baby?” Liz cooed softly as she picked him up gently in her arms. She bounced him carefully in her arms and seized from a nearby table the bottle Nathan had refused earlier.
“Hungry?” Liz asked quietly, holding the bottle up.
Nathan struggled away from it and screamed further. Liz frowned, thoroughly confused. “What is it, Nate? What can I do for you?”
As the baby continued to cry, Liz paced around the room with him, rubbing his back comfortingly in hopes to calm him back to sleep. She started humming softly, easing Nathan’s cries to a quieter level. “..Not everything is gonna be the way you think it ought to be,” she whispered, the melody of her makeshift lullaby only slightly noticeable in her words. “It seems like every time I try to make it right it all comes down on me...please say honestly you won't give up on me, and I shall believe...” She stopped as her voice cracked, wiping a small tear away from her face with the back of her hand, but had to smile as Nathan’s head dropped against her shoulder sleepily.
Suddenly the door barged open and Liz jumped. Her movement shocked the baby awake and Nathan began shrieking once again. Liz held her breath as three men appeared in the doorway and advanced towards her. She tightened her hold on Nathan protectively and he squawked in protest as she flew from the kitchen into the bedroom. She heard them close behind her and swung open the back door, only to find more men behind it. Liz backed up and someone from behind seized her arm. She cried out and jerked away, but she was surrounded by all of them. Quickly she counted in her head and came up with seven of the invaders, all glaring menacingly towards her. Liz swallowed.
“Shut that dammed thing up,” one of them, the leader, growled furiously at her as Nathan continued to wail.
Without a moment of hesitation, the same man reached forward and wrestled the baby away from her grasp, holding him up by neck of his shirt.
“No!” she cried in frustration as two of the men restrained her as she struggled vigorously to escape their hold and get the baby back into her own arms.
The man smiled at her sinisterly as he swung Nathan backwards with such force the baby was sent flying and slammed into the wall. The crying stopped immediately.
Liz stood frozen. Then immediately she was kicking and screaming, finally able to tear herself away from their grasp. She pulled away, running forward and kneeled beside the lifeless form. She cried out as she turned the body over and saw the baby’s neck twisted in an awkward angle. The tears rushed down her face, her entire body wracking with terrible sobs.
She didn’t struggle as they pulled her away. She didn’t struggle as she felt the needle enter her arm. She didn’t struggle as they picked her up off the floor, and dragged her out of the cabin. On her last moment of consciousness, Liz realized where they were taking her and mentally cringed. She wasn’t afraid of anything, but the one name that entered her mind. The only name she could think of that shot a glint of alarm in the eyes of their “king.” The one name that had the power to send the military camp trembling under its syllables. The only name she knew that could intimidate anyone, belonging to either side of the war, under any condition. The only name that she knew of that carried a malicious legend of stories from the past behind it. The only name that shivered fear down her spine like a cold whisper. Max Evans.
Isabel Guerin normally would have been delighted to see Alex Whitman standing in her doorway, but the dull expression on his grim face told her this was not the time to be thrilled.
“Alex...what is it?” she ventured carefully, her gaze drifting steadily to the bundle he held in his arms.
“Meeting,” he replied firmly, his tone reflecting despair. The usual sparkle in his eyes from amusement and laughter was dead. “Now.”
“What’s happened?” she asked quickly, feeling panicked.
“Not yet,” was all he managed to respond as he swallowed. He turned on his heels to continue down the hallway. Isabel chased after him, following a few steps behind. Alex never kept anything from her. Something was terribly wrong.
Maria threw back her head and laughed. Micheal smiled at her happiness, overwhelming with joy that very soon Maria DeLuca would no longer be his fiancée, but his wife.
Someone pounded on the door and Maria jumped in surprise, wiping away a tear that had formed from her hysterical fits.
“Not now,” Micheal called back. “I’m busy.”
The door swung open anyway, despite Micheal’s orders.
“I said, not--” Micheal’s irritated command was cut short as he realized Alex was the messenger. He paused. Alex was aware that Maria was here with him, and knew better than to interrupt them in the few moments of privacy they were able to gain.
Maria stared blankly ahead, her unwavering eyes settling on the thing Alex held wrapped in his arms. That blue blanket. Nathan’s blanket. She grasped Micheals’ wrist before she fell over. He looked surprised at her movement and eyed her with concern. She was trembling so badly Micheal’s arm was shaking.
She didn’t hear Micheal whisper her name. Instead she unlatched her death grip on him and moved forward to take the bundle from Alex.
Gathering the still, cold form against her body she shifted the blanket away from Nathan’s face with her fingers. Maria let out a quiet moan of despair as her knees buckled and she collapsed to the floor cradling the dead infant. The tears trickled down her cheeks and spilled onto her baby’s closed eyelids as her body wracked with deep, terrible sobs that echoed loudly against the walls and eardrums of everyone present.
She felt Micheal’s hand on her shoulder as he knelt beside her. Maria gasped between her whimpers, ignoring the pains in her stomach the heavy crying was causing. It was nothing compared to the torn hole in her heart.
Micheal embraced her tightly, for once not afraid to show his emotions and grieve with her, clenching his fists in pain and anger behind her neck. She buried her face in his shoulder and wrapped an arm around him, continuing her lamentations until she had no tears left to shed and her wails turned into dry hiccups of desperation and sorrow.
Alex watched silently, trying to keep the tears from showing in his own eyes, and knowing that Isabel was doing the same beside him. He felt helpless doing nothing, but all he could manage was to watch Maria and Micheal, wrapped in each other’s arms, crying for their dead child that lay between them.
He waited unpatiently, painfully aware of the sounds of the clicking clock, drawing out every second into an antagonizing hour. The incessant ticks were going to drive him insane if this girl didn’t wake up soon. He had been watching her immobile body all night, which had dragged tediously into morning, in hopes to catch a glimpse of a twitch or quiver that signified her awake. He grumbled something incoherent to himself, running his fingers over his unshaven face and up into his rumpled dark hair.
What did he care about a human, anyway? What did it matter if he watching when she awoke or not? The answer to his many questions was nagging at him in the back of his mind, playing an annoying game of hide and seek.
There must be something significant about this human. Humans were thought of as insects to him, stupid creatures scurrying around this dreadful planet which made the far more superior alien mind even more impressive. But no, there was something different about this one.
This one was Maria DeLuca, his enemy’s fiancé. At first Max Evans had choked at the thought of an alien bonding with such a lowlife being. But now, sitting and staring at the mass of shimmering dark hair compiled with a rich, smooth complexion, he was starting to reconsider. Of course, it couldn’t be for anything more than the physical pleasure. The thought of an intense, loving relationship was sickening. Revolting. Vile. Disgusting.
But Micheal Guerin had managed to find it in this human. How was that possible? How could an alien even comprehend feeling something for a human? How could a human respond to that emotion? It was unthinkable, in the standards of both races. An alien loving a human. Micheal Guerin loving Maria DeLuca. It didn’t make sense, yet somehow it was slowly and confusingly changing his entire thought process.
He wracked his brain trying to figure out what could possibly be so special about the girl that lay at unconscious at his feet. Even he could feel it. Something so intriguing and compelling that he had sat here for hours on end in effort to find an answer.
Her body jerked as a cough erupted from her throat. He leaned forward excitedly, an unknown feeling fluttering in his stomach, synchronizing with the motion of her eyelids. Finally it dawned on him the reason of his silent watch. He was sitting here for the sole, simple purpose to find out what color her eyes were.
* * *
Liz Parker felt herself slowly being pulled from her unconsciousness. The slightest move or sound sent a shock through her weak body and a jolt through her groggy mind. She sensed herself being pushed into a sitting position by strong hands supporting her shoulders so she did not collapse onto the floor again. Memory returned to her, dreadful images of an intrusion and a dead baby overwhelming her mind and brimming her heart to tears. She stiffened, knowing immediately whose hands gripped her body so tightly. Liz could not bring herself to look up into the face of the man that had ordered the death of Maria’s baby. Nathan’s death had yet to completely register in her mind and it still might be only some dreaded nightmare. She would pinch herself awake out of this dream if only she could find the strength to move her arms to inflict the pain. As long as she did not look up, Nathan was still alive, back in the cabin in Frasier Woods with his mother.
One of the hands moved to jerk her chin up and suddenly she was staring in to deep brown pools. The realization hit her all at once, hard in her gut, with a wash of grief, pain and heartache.
Layered in the intensity of his eyes was a cruel, cold, dark entity of lies, deceit and guile.
The eyes of a murderer.
Buried behind the mask of a killer lay emotions of confusion, pain, solitude, sorrow and an intense glaze of loneliness.
The eyes of Max Evans.
* * *
Someone once said that eyes are the mirror to the soul.
If that is true, then Max Evan’s soul is hollow.
Someone once said that eyes are the mirror to the soul.
If that is true, then Liz Parker’s soul is beautiful.
Alex couldn’t think of how to bring up the fact that Nathan’s tragic death wasn’t the only thing they had to deal with right now. Already Micheal had pushed his misery behind his eyes, but had replaced the feeling with emptiness and a blank, vacant expression. Alex could only imagine the emotional turmoil churning inside. Maria had been spared from the affliction for a little while as the sobs dragged her into sleep, her head cradled in Micheal’s lap as he numbly stroked her hair. It would only be worse when she woke again to find that her nightmare was real and not a dream, that her baby was still latched - cold and stiff - in her arms, as she refused to let go. And selfishly, Alex did not want to be there when she opened her eyes again. Already Isabel had gone, the extent of Micheal and Maria’s distress too much to bear on top of her own.
He cleared his throat. “Micheal.”
Micheal lifted his eyes to meet Alex’s for a short moment, acknowledging the address, before dropping his gaze back to Maria’s angelic face in his lap.
“Liz is missing.”
Micheal flinched at his words, the realization beginning to sink in for the both of them. Liz could be dead too. Micheal nodded in understanding, yet, never spoke.
For the life of him Alex could not even grasp why they would choose to take Liz. She had been an outsider to this war, but a victim from day one. Was her pain convenient to them? Alex stepped out, into the hallway, knowing that once Micheal had time to think things through he’d take action. Micheal hardly ever took time to think about his plans, which was the one thing Maria constantly nagged him about, especially after the baby was born. They had braced themselves day and night for something awful to go wrong. They always feared something might happen, and now once they’d put their worries aside their worst fears had come true.
Alex sighed, an unexpected sob coming with it. He stopped himself immediately. He couldn’t do this right now, he couldn’t grieve yet. He had to stay strong for his girls. His girls, Liz and Maria, always. And now if Micheal was falling apart, and Liz was gone, if left him to be the one to hold them together. He wasn’t sure if he could do it, but he had to try. The six of them, Maria, Liz, Isabel, Micheal, himself and Kyle...
Where the hell was Kyle? The sudden anger at Kyle’s absence boiled inside of him. If Alex found out that Kyle was off, sneaking around behind Liz’s back he’d throttle him. It never came to be a problem for him to take down someone for hurting his girls. And now, even if it came to Max Evans himself, Alex would be ready.
Max could tell she was nervous. She couldn’t stand his touch, his gaze, his interest.
He reached up tentatively with one hand towards her face and she cringed in anticipation but he held her face steady, gripping her chin, locking her gaze.
A small scrape above her right eye glared at him and he found himself frowning. An imperfection. He skimmed the cut with his fingertips and she flinched again, this time from the shock they both felt at the touch.
A quick image flashed through his brain of burning flames. He could feel the heat radiate on his face, and a sharp scream rang filled his ears.
What was that?
Liz pulled away quickly, shying away to huddle in by his four post bed, wrapping the sweatshirt jacket she wore tighter around her body.
She hated the way he never took his eyes off her, never once blinked. Never once dared to close his eyes for fear she’d be gone when he opened them.
He snatched an apple from the table beside his chair and began wiping it on his shirt, inspecting her closely still. Liz heard her stomach grumble at the sight of food, realizing she hadn’t eaten since the other day.
He saw her interest in the apple he held in his hand. He took one small bite out of the center and watched as she turned away, pretending not to notice him. He leaned forward with the fruit in his outstretched hand, offering it out towards her as he wiping some juice of the corner of his mouth with his sleeve.
“Maria,” he called softly, drawing her attention towards him with a look of confused surprise on her face. She stared at him a few moments before stretching it out her arm to take it from him. As their fingers touched for one quick second, Max caught side of her hand, briefly wondering where her engagement ring was.
“Thank you,” she mumbled quietly and he leaned back into his chair, shrugging. It didn’t taste good without Tabasco sauce, anyway.
A sharp rap came on the door and Liz jumped, the sound sending jolts through her body and a ringing through her ears. Max eyed her cautiously, then glared at the door.
Finally he stood and opened it, stepping out and closing the door behind him.
Tess stood on the other side, the petite little blonde that occasionally he felt an attachment towards, but definitely not now.
“What?” Max asked gruffly.
“You’ve been in there all night,” she whined, a rather impatient pout painted on her face.
“So?” Max shrugged.
“So? Do you want the letter sent out or not?” She crossed her arms in front of her chest, expectantly waiting a response.
“Do whatever you want,” came the reply as he reopened the door and stepped back inside his bedroom, slamming the door in her face. He couldn’t help but smile. But since Max never smiled, it was more like a flat line across his face.
He rounded the corner of his bed and found that the girl had fallen asleep again, the drugs apparently not completely worn off. She was sprawled across the floor, one hand draped across her stomach and the other with the apple core clutched in her fingertips.
Slowly he bent and gathered her in his arms, suddenly in complete awe of how perfectly she seemed to fit curled against him. He tucked one loose strand of her dark hair behind her ear and unclenched her fingers to allow the core to fall to the ground with a thud, thinking how much she reminded of him of that earth fairy tale of sleeping beauty and the poisonous apple.
“So what’s wrong? You seem kind of stressed out today,” Liz commented as she began wiping down the kitchen counter in the back of her parents’ restaurant, the CrashDown Cafe.
Liz heard Maria’s sigh. “It’s Micheal,” she replied, the exasperation evident in her tone. It was the obvious answer. “Something happened at the military base and he’s royally pissed,” Maria explained.
“Oh,” Liz replied, nodding. The alien thing again. She wasn’t really into the alien loop, but since she was one of the selected few who actually knew of the existence, she was kept informed with the minor details. In truth, it really freaked her out, even if Micheal and Isabel were some of her closest friends. They didn’t bother her, it was the possibility other ones out there that did... “Well, what’s wrong?” Might as well be supportive.
“Well, Micheal’s all ticked off about some alien chick that turned up at the camp today. He said she reminded him of Dolly Parton or something. Hey, you sure your parents won’t mind that I’m baking cookies?”
Liz waved her hands. “It’s no problem.” The aroma of Maria’s baking was already wafting throughout the cafe and it smelled great. “You know they love you, and are just as excited about this baby as your mom.”
Maria rolled her eyes. “My mom practically disowned me when she found out, and I was pretty sure she was going to hunt down Micheal and murder him in his sleep. I’m glad she’s okay with it now, though,” she added, smiling as she ran her hand along the bulge in her abdomen. “She’s really warming up to the idea of being a grandmother.”
Liz nodded. “So this girl is really an alien?” she asked, her forehead creasing in confusion. “I thought it was just Micheal and Isabel.”
Maria shrugged. “That’s what that Nasedo guy said. Who knows. So anyway, this Dolly Parton - Tess - comes barging in and starts talking about this other alien - Mac or Max or something - and how he’s some great high and mighty king of planet Krypton.”
The ring from the oven sounded, signaling that Maria’s cookies were done.
“She really said that?”
Maria paused. “Well, no. Remember I’m translating through Micheal here.”
Liz nodded in understanding.
“So this Dolly -”
“Yeah. So Tess starts in on Micheal that since this Mac guy is king, he has control over that granilith thingy and Micheal needs to hand it over, and from now on follow all of the Czechoslovakian’s orders.”
“Wait...back up,” Liz said. “Granilith?”
“You know, that little do-hickey Isabel found behind the pod chambers out in the desert. Nasedo gave Micheal the name, but that’s about it. Some help he is. Well, you know how stubborn Micheal can is. He basically threw Ms. Parton out of the base himself, showing off his testosterone. If it had been the Mac guy Micheal would’ve kicked his ass for sure.”
“Does Tess even know what the granilith can do?”
Maria shrugged. “Micheal didn’t ask. I’m not even sure if Isabel knows about this. I’m pretty sure he decided this on his own, and when she finds out we’re going to have two pissed aliens on our hands. I’m not really looking forward to it.” Maria paused again. “But you know what? I really don’t know why he reacted like that.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, Micheal’s always wanted to know where his family came from, blah blah. And now, this huge opportunity pops up for him to find out, and he throws it out the door along with that Tess chick. Literally. And on top of that, he’s not being stupid and irrational like always. He never does that. For once I don’t have to knock some sense into that head of his. Whoever said aliens were superior?” She sighed. “I don’t understand him, and it’s scaring me.”
Liz smiled. “Don’t worry about it, Maria. I know exactly what he’s doing.”
Maria’s eyes widened. “What? Did he say something to you?”
Liz shook her head. “No, not at all. I just mean I understand his reasoning. For once he doesn’t have himself to worry about. He’s got you and the baby. He found his family already.”
Maria grinned, radiating a brilliant smile of happiness. “You really think so?”
Suddenly Maria’s face dropped as she tried to figure out what she was smelling. “Oh! I forgot about the cookies!” Quickly Maria raced to the oven and flung the door open, coughing and waving her hand to clear the air of smoke. She frowned, pulling out the tray with an oven mitt, critically analyzing the blackened dough. Maria wrinkled her nose and began attacking them with a spatula.
“I don’t think they’re edible,” she replied finally after struggling to pry the cookies from their permanent attachment to the tray, but with no luck. It was like trying to scrape three inches of ice off a driveway in the middle of January. She gave up after a few more minutes of wrestling with the spatula and tossed the tray aside and snatched up the leftover bowl of dough and a spoon.
Both Maria and Liz collapsed next to each other at the counter. “So what’s got you bummed these days lately, Liz?” Maria swallowed a spoonful of dough.
Liz sighed, grabbing a spoon of her own. “I’m worried about this scholarship thing,” she confessed, scooping up a glob from the bowl and examining it wearily.
“Oh come on, you know you’ll do fine.”
“No, Maria, I really don’t think I will,” she exclaimed. “If you haven’t noticed, my grades aren’t exactly wonderful lately.”
Maria shrugged. “So you’ve gotten a few B’s. No biggie. I know you. You’ll survive this.”
“Try a couple C’s,” Liz replied mournfully.
Maria’s eyes bulged. “What? When did this happen?”
Liz shrugged, twirling the spoonful of dough around her fingers. “My B- in science dropped to a C when I got a D on that last exam.”
“Yeah. I’m pretty sure that was the night before some alien thing came up. Maybe that granilith thingy.”
“Oh, Liz, hey, I’m really sorry about all that. But, babe, it’s science. You know all that stuff like that back of your hand!”
“Yeah, well, yesterday I discovered a scratch I didn’t know I had. I really don’t know what’s wrong with me.” Liz sighed once more, bringing the spoon to her mouth.
“Hey, Liz, I wouldn’t -” Maria tried to say, but it was too late.
Liz had swallowed, and a disgusted expression was now forming on her face. Quickly she snatched up her Cherry Coke and took a long swallow. “Maria, that was absolutely revolting! What the heck did you put in that?”
“Tabasco sauce,” Maria replied, a little sheepishly.
“Ugh! That is the most vile thing I have ever tasted in my life! I have no idea how you can stand that.”
Maria shrugged. “Hormonal imbalance.”
Liz buried her face in her hand and mumbled, “This just isn’t my day.”
The door burst open loudly and both girls jumped in surprise.
“Sorry I’m late,” Micheal announced.
She woke with a start, the memory of the dream overwhelming her mind. The nightmares were starting again, just as she thought she was finally ridding herself of them. She knew exactly what happened after that and had no intentions of reliving it through dreams. The first time was nightmare enough, but even then it left a small chance of hope that the whole disaster had been only fantasy, always a chance that she would wake up. But after the second, tenth and fiftieth times the miniscule possibility was diminishing into darkness. She couldn’t deal with it anymore.
A small, choked sob breached the surrounding shadows as it escaped from her throat but she stifled it quickly. Max Evans was lying in the bed beside her, less than two inches from her face. He didn’t seem so harmless, simply lying there asleep. But she knew what he was like when he was awake. She knew what he could do. She knew who he could kill.
She felt as her throat closed and her breaths shallowed into quick gasps as her lungs convulsed in suffocating spasms, creating an echoing rush of uncontrollable exhales in the silent room. She struggled desperately to grasp hold of her lungs and resume normal breathing, but it wasn’t so easy.
Liz swung her legs over the side of the bed, forcing through trembling limbs as her body caught the contagion of her lungs, sending her into quivers and shakes.
She took one tentative step with her right foot, slowly moving forward. She shifted quietly but her opposite ankle became entangled in the white sheets and she crashed to the floor. She lay there, sprawled on her back with her hands over her head, listening for rustling sounds in the bed above her to signalize the awake of the murderer. Hot tears sprung to her eyes and another whimper sputtered past her lips when she realized he wasn’t going to wake her up and put her out of her misery. The nightmares were just too much to bear, cluttered with memories of the past.
Rolling over on her side, Liz managed to drag herself to her hands and knees where she continued to crawl towards the corner, farthest away from the bed and her dreams as she could get.
Max woke to the sounds of soft sobs. He turned over, rustling the sheets as he moved. Normally he was a heavy sleeper, but somehow these cries seemed to invade his dreams and force his eyes open.
A moment of panic sliced through his chest once he realized the girl was no long beside him, but it diminished quickly once his eyes adjusted and he saw her form huddled and hidden in the shadows of the corner. He moved quietly, slowly so as not to frighten her when he approached. He knelt in front of her at eye level but she kept her head low, buried in her arms and refused to look at him. He frowned, feeling a sudden pang in his chest and wondering what it meant.
Why was she confusing him so much? His ignorance of emotions was laughable. He had felt so little in his lifetime it was difficult to decipher the new feelings, especially when it was this girl that brought them. She had been in his presence less than twenty-four hours and already she was making an impact on him. It was unreal. She was human, for god’s sake.
He laid a hand along the side of her face and she jerked her head up instantly. He pulled back slightly, in shock of the emotion he saw in her tear-stained face. Hate. He wasn’t sure if he’d ever seen it displayed so purely from somehow before, but it did now. And it was directed towards him. Pang.
With one sudden movement she shoved his hand off and was on her feet, sidestepping him to move away. Instantly he felt rage fill him inside and he reached out and snatched her arm, angry with her unspoken defiance. The jacket she wore slipped down her shoulder and she struggled out of his grasp, leaving the sweatshirt clutched in his fingers. He thrust it towards the floor and lunged at her again, this time seizing a patch of hair and yanking her back into the tight grip of her arms.
“Let go, you bastard!” she cried through clenched teeth as she thrashed about, fighting against the steady grasp he had on her shoulders. “Get your filthy hands off me!”
She was surprisingly tough for her size and was doing a pretty good job of fighting when she managed to free and arm and sent her right elbow slamming into his jaw.
It worsened his temper.
Fury pulsed through his mind and quickly he twisted her body around to face him and with one swift motion he drew his hand back and sent it down across her face. Her head snapped to the side from the harsh impact of the smack which had left a stinging red mark on her cheek. The clapping sound of skin-to-skin contact lingered momentarily in the room, but his anger had not yet subsided. Roughly he slammed her back against the wall, coiling his fingers around her throat. She winced visibly at his force but quickly regained her composure, staring him directly in the eye, daring him to squeeze.
He faltered. His fingers snapped unwillingly away from her neck as that now-familiar pang bolted through him again, but with an addition of a sudden overwhelming urge. Without even thinking her leaned in, crushing his mouth to hers, forcing her lips apart with his tongue, submerged in the desperate desire to make her apart of him. He felt something, an energy, flare up between them, something that seemed so out of place but completely comfortable at the same time. He thought for a second that if he could push the connection they shared he could reach out and touch her, her heart or soul, and know who she really was. For one moment he thought he felt her mouth moving with his - kissing him back with the same fierce need - but her body stiffened rigidly and she was struggling against him. Pang.
Reluctantly he broke the kiss but dared not to look into her eyes and see the disgust there. He didn’t want to know what she thought of him. Pang. Instead he rested his face alongside her neck, inhaling the scent of her hair, listening to her breathe and yearning for the her taste of her lips again until she mustered the strength to push him away, the back of her hand at her mouth. Pang.
“God, you’re not even human!” she cried angrily, but a hint of panic was hidden between her words.
Pang. Normally that phrase would have meant nothing to him, just a stupid sentence that marked his life, why he was “different” from everyone and something he shared with closely with only one other person that lately didn’t seem like hardly enough. Not human, yet not completely alien. But now, those syllables spat venomously past her lips with some much hate it seemed more like a curse.
She let out a small gasp suddenly as the meaning of her outburst registered in her mind, the horror that she had let her identity slip.
And he knew. He knew she wasn’t Maria.
Both shifted at the same time, with him charging forward and with her trying to make a move towards the door. It was no contest, and he had her caught once again, making a cautious way towards the door and kicking it open.
She didn’t bother trying to get away this time. If she did escape, she had no clue where to go and she would only end up right back here, being dragged down this hallway. She might as well have been on death’s row for all that it mattered, for she hadn’t a doubt in her mind that once they reached the end of the hall he was going to kill her.
Who the hell was she?
It was the one thought that raced through his mind over and over again as he dragged her relentlessly down the corridor. The only thing he knew was that he had to get her away from him, out of his prescience and out of his mind. His fury was subsiding, but that didn’t mean that it wouldn’t resurface. And he was afraid that next time it did he would kill her. He knew he would.
Liz tried desperately to match his pace as he pulled her through the hallways, taking one sharp turn after another. She needed to stop, catch her breath, but there wasn’t a chance in hell he was going to stop. But why bother with delaying the inevitable? She was going to die at the end of this trip, wasn’t she? And she wanted to get as far away from him as possible, as soon as possible, for more reasons than one.
He took another quick turn and Liz stumbled on her own feet as he pulled her into a room with tiny cells stretched across one long wall, each separated by brick dividers between. As he dragged her along to the farthest one, she couldn’t help but swallow upon notice that each and every one was empty. She could only guess why.
She heard the gate squeak as he yanked it open and roughly shoved her inside. She stumbled from the force and hit the ground. The gate slammed shut, but his footsteps didn’t retreat. She refused to open her eyes, but she knew he was still there. His eyes bored into every pore of her body and she squeezed her eyelids tighter together, concentrating on coldness of the cement floor against her cheek. Finally aware that she wasn’t going to look at him again, she heard him shuffle away.
Liz let out a long sigh and sat up, observing her new quarters, equipped with its very own cot covered in musty sheets and a rough blanket. She could feel the dirt sticking to her body, clinging to her clothes. Cobwebs cluttered in the corners and an old, moldy smell of stale air filled the room.
She clung to one of the metal bars of the gate and hauled herself to her feet, jiggling it once to make sure it was locked.
Of course it was. But she hadn’t seen a key. He must have locked it with his creepy alien abilities. Damn supernatural powers.
She sighed again, this time her expression echoing throughout the walls and down the corridor, through the other cells.
All she could do was wait, and wonder what was coming next.
Max stormed down the hallway, his boots stomping against the cement until her reached his bedroom again, slamming the door shut. He stopped, surveying the room. Oriental carpets, decorative vases and paintings, chests and bureaus filling his scene, all courtesy of alien manufacturing. With one swift motion he took his frustration out on one of the tables, turning it over and sending a vase and its contents of white roses spilling to the floor. He went about, trashing the place with more broken vases, upturned tables and tearing the pictures off the wall. He shredded the sheets off his bed, smashing his fist into one of the posts multiple times until it cracked and snapped in half.
He sighed, feeling only a little better, thinking that at least he was away from her. His eyes caught sight of a wad of material on his floor. He picked it up, running the fabric through his fingers. Maria’s jacket.
No, not Maria.
He brought the jacket to his face, inhaling the sweet scent, let it envelope his senses and calm him. He could feel the memory of her lips pounding against his mouth. He ran his tongue along his bottom lip and was surprised to find her taste still on his mouth.
Sweet and spicy, the perfect combination. He briefly wondered, as he savored the taste on his tongue, if it was just his imagination.
Max sighed again, collapsing onto his bed and shoving the jacket under his head like a pillow.
How could she have this effect on him? How could the sight of her want to make him grab her and kiss her? Run his fingers through her silky hair and just...hold her? He wanted to touch, explore every inch of her flesh...and at the same time all her wanted to do was snap her neck.
A soft knock on the door jolted him out of his thoughts. It opened slowly and without him ever acknowledging it, Tess climbed beside him, lying her head against his neck and drawing her finger down his chest.
“No,” he replied to her unspoken request.
“We haven’t in weeks,” she answered, a slight plead in her tone. “I missed you last night.”
He didn’t reply.
“What’s gotten into you lately?” she cried, angry as she sat up to lean over him. “You haven’t been yourself since we left New York. What is it about this miserable little town that bothers you so much?”
Max moved his head to face her, but had to answer to give.
“You should be happier here,” she preached. “There aren’t nearly as many humans as that despicable city, and now that they’ve all been wiped out for the most part there’s hardly any left. We’re so close, Max!” she cried. “As soon as we get the granilith we can go home, don’t you see? And now it’s only a matter of time until that traitor breaks and gives it to us, especially now that we have that little human of his.” She paused. “Doesn’t that make you happy?”
Max wasn’t really sure what happy was. How did he know if he was happy? Emotions were too confusing to understand.
“We don’t even know where home is,” he replied finally, frowning.
“Once we have the granilith we will,” she promised. “We’ll be able to communicate with them, they’ll take us back.”
“Tess, did it ever occur to you why we’re here?”
“Why would they stick us here if there wasn’t a reason?”
“It was an accident, Max. The crash,” she explained, the furrow in her brow increasing.
“Then why were we separated from the others? How did we end up in New York and the others stayed here?”
“We’re not supposed to be with them, Max. We’re together. We’re made for each other, you see? That’s all that matters.”
Max sighed as she left, closing the door softly behind her.
If that was the only thing that mattered, why did he have this fixed hole in his chest, one that not even he could heal?
How stupid could she be?
She kissed him. How had the even happened? How did she let it happen? Why did he even do it in the first place?
She was wracking her brain for answers to these mindless questions, but to no avail. All that she knew was that his lips were pressed against hers and she had allowed it to continue, reinforcing it, even, as she kissed him back for a few seconds. It was as if her mouth had a mind of its own.
And those images - those awful, haunting flashes - of death, darkness and blood. It was as if she had touched something deep inside him, and it was hollow.
Then she had pushed him away, uttered those condemning words, disgusted by his action but more by her response. Sickened, she just had to voice her feeling by stating he wasn’t even human.
Maria wouldn’t have said that.
Maria was engaged to someone that wasn’t human. She wouldn’t have blurted out that the idea of kissing one of them was repulsive.
So Liz had blown her cover, with a string of five words. Maria wasn’t protected anymore. She wasn’t protected anymore.
If Max Evans would resort to killing an innocent child, what would he do to her?
She shivered despite herself. The cold air inside the cell was becoming chilling and she wished she still had the sweatshirt jacket to wear over head tank top.
She heard footsteps approaching from down the row, coming closer. Liz looked up as they haled in front her gate.
Liz could only guess who this was.
[ edited 3 time(s), last at 5-Nov-2001 5:24:12 PM ]
|posted on 31-Oct-2001 8:14:57 PM by gummibehrs|
|In Love and War Parts 6-10|
Thanks to Alien614, Alex Balex, cglenn, Lizzie_Parker17, Chrissy, sweetivy420(you're a doll!), Burgundy and Minoan for the feedback! It's you guys that are encouraging me to finish this fic!!
Max stayed in his room a long time after Tess left, his head pillowed comfortably by the girl’s sweatshirt as he lay on his bed staring up at the ceiling.
Still he couldn’t get her out of his mind. What was it about her that made her so enthralling?
And human. Over and over again that thought pounded itself permanently into his brain. She completely disgusted by him, with every right to be. He was supposed to be disgusted by her.
A king. That’s what he was, or was supposed to be, according to Tess, so why would he be so attracted to a mere human? And she was on his enemy’s side, no less!
He sighed, irritated at himself.
He didn’t even know her name. That thought alone was ridiculous. He was in love with a human, and he didn’t even know who she was.
Wait, love? Where did that come from? He couldn’t be in love. It was laughable, really. God, what was he turning into? Did these things happen to normal aliens?
He was officially crazy, driving himself insane out of depression and loneliness in the middle of nowhere, making himself only think he had feelings for a human. He belonged with Tess. Simple. Logical. Reliable.
He was not in love.
Not a chance on earth.
Liz stood up, wiping her hands on the seat of her jeans and extending her hand out to whom she presumed to be the one that had so easily ticked Micheal off.
Tess gazed at the gesture with distaste written all over her face, as if she would actually touch one of them. Humans. They were revolting. And here she was, facing one of them, looking oddly out of place standing so refined in a dingy, dirty cell belonging to a prisoner of war.
Finally, after long consideration Tess accepted Liz’s hand and shook it lightly.
“Maria DeLuca,” she repeated.
“Tess Harding,” Liz replied, testing the name out on her tongue.
Tess seemed taken aback with surprise, surely shocked that a human had the intellectual capacity to remember such details as names. Liz gave a little smirk despite herself.
Tess regained her composure quickly. “Fine, just as well. I see I don’t need to introduce myself. Let’s just get straight to the point.”
Liz waited, strangely curious, eagerly wanting to know what was going to proceed, but keeping her face blank and straight, showing no emotion.
Tess drew a gold bracelet out her back pocket. “This,” she began, snapping it over Liz’s wrist, “is a surveillance device. It will allow you to move around our base, but as soon as you step out of our boundaries it will be activated. You won’t have gone two feet before one of the guards shoots you dead. Understand?”
Liz didn’t respond, examining the bracelet, tugging at it a little. The two ends Tess had used to clasp it on her arm had melted together, and the band was too small to fit over her wrist.
She had seen them before.
“Fine,” Tess responded to Liz’s silence. “One more thing. We’ve had a note sent, under Max’s orders, of course, for an exchange for your life. However, I’m not a patient person and I get bored easily. In attempt to speed up Mr. Guerin’s decision, I’m hoping to test out a few experiments.”
Liz’s eyes widened, only a little, but Tess seemed smug enough with the reaction.
“My specialty is mind games,” she explained. “I’ve never tried these on a human before. I’m looking forward to the results.”
Max sighed. This was getting him nowhere, this moping. The least he could do was find out her name.
No. He had to stay as far away from her as possible. That was the only way he could clear her from his mind.
The only way.
He let out another long sigh, settling back into his bed, the decision in his mind.
As soon as his body relaxed and he was drifting back into a much needed sleep, a scream so sharp echoed down the hallway to his room it jolted him out of his daze and sent chills down his neck. He bolted up right, knowing exactly who it belonged to.
It was hers.
Liz stumbled backwards as she felt a shock spring through her mind as she felt Tess’ touch on her forehead.
Nothing. The spark was gone, nothing coming afterwards.
“I’ll leave you alone with your thoughts now,” Tess sneered, obviously pleased with herself as she turned to go.
As soon as Liz heard Tess’ footsteps retreating, she felt a stinging in her mind, behind her eyes, drilling a massive headache into her skull. She squeezed her eyes shut as the ache in her head grew and when she opened them again she was surprised to find a piece of paper clutched in her hand. Under closer inspection, she found it to be one of her old science tests, a big red F marked on the top of the page. Angrily she crumpled it into her fist and tossed it to the wall, only to her horror to see the paper morph in midair into a baby, violently pitched through the air and smashing head first into the brick wall, sliding to the floor with a sickening, lifeless thud.
She heard a painful scream tear through the cell, startled to discover it was her own. She bend down, reached for the tangled body of the baby, only to see the form shift and transform to the figure of a young woman with long dark hair and smooth chocolate eyes. Liz pulled back instinctively, absorbing how the new body was torn open, the blood seeping out to the ground as the eyes of the corpse stared wide with fear. Suddenly the carcass reared its head, letting out a chilling moan of agony, turning towards Liz and snatching her wrist, a familiar gold bracelet encircling the bony arm of her captor, just as the body burst into flame. It engulfed the corpse into ashes within seconds, licking the brick wall and climbing to the ceiling as Liz stood trapped in its burning grasp and trying desperately to pull free.
She felt strong arms on her shoulders, jerking her back as the entire room began to crumble under the power of the fire, eating it to dust. Micheal, Alex and Kyle all held her, pinning her to the ground to keep her away from it, but she struggled against them in tears, crying to them that there were others still trapped inside. They continued to push her down and eventually she lost her energy and weakened, her battle lost.
She stared up at the ceiling, her eyes transfixed at the fire that continued to consume the room, knowing she was helpless against it.
Max shoved his way past Tess as he stormed his way into the cell. She was surprised to see him and followed him back to the gate, hot on his trail, just in time to catch him pulling the girl away from the wall she stood transfixed at.
Tess watched in confusion as Max fought her struggling, screaming form to the floor, pinning her there until she lost her urge to fight. Max lifted her body and slipped his hand under her neck, staring into the deep pools of her eyes that had taken his breath away as soon as he had first laid his own on them. Now they were filled with the highest levels of pain, panic and terror, shadowed with haunted torment, in a daze so unnerving he was forced to look in the other direction.
“What did you do to her?” Max demanded, the importance of his seriousness stressed in his tone.
He heard Tess’ sigh from behind. “It’s a mind warp, Max. All I did was take all her buried past memories and replant them in her head. Aren’t you impressed?” He sensed her own glee and pride in her voice.
He grunted in response, turning back over the girl’s right hand to reveal a sear, the shape of a sphere, burned in to her palm and frowned.
“Max.” Tess nudged his shoulder. “Don’t worry, she’ll be like that for at least an hour or two. It’s supposed to be much more affective on humans. The weak ones, anyway.”
When he didn’t answer she pulled him to his feet, the girl’s body thumping to the floor and she huddled into a curled position, her head tucked tightly between her knees and arms.
“Come on, baby,” Tess whispered in her seductive tone, “I’ve got things planned for us to do while we wait.”
Alex stared glumly down at the piece of pink paper, which was trembling slightly from the small shake of his hand. A simple note, the letters flowing together in a soft script that completely contradicted the message’s meaning. What kind of ransom note was written on pink paper? Why the hell did Max Evans have pink paper, anyway?
Alex shrugged the thoughts out of his mind. Now was not the time to think about such ridiculous things.
Before he was launched into this mess, being in Roswell, he used to think what it would be like if aliens really did exist. Now that was out of the foolish list and in reality, and he hated to say that it wasn’t at all what he had expected. If it was something that actually could be anticipated.
But, he had to admit, aliens did have their pluses. One being in the form of a tall, shapely, gorgeous blonde by the name of Isabel Guerin.
And now here he was. Alex had spent the majority of his life trying to get out of his father’s resolute vision of his son in the army. Hah. Just look at him now. Wouldn’t daddy be proud.
Of course, it wasn’t official. They didn’t have uniforms or hats - even though Alex had tried joking with Micheal about getting some once - and it was by no means like gripping a gun in his hands, waiting in the blazing heat of the sun while sweat dripped from his nose for a clean shot of the enemy while bombs exploded around him and the air was filled with the sounds of helicopters above.
But still, here he was, staring at that stupid piece of pink paper that sounded like it would come from some typical suspense movie. “Return the granilith to us, or you won’t see the human again.” Creative.
He crumpled the paper in his fist, wishing he could just toss it in the nearest wastebasket as if it really was just a part of a cheesy film. But he couldn’t, this was his life, stir in a little sci-fi and bake in eighty degree weather in a forsaken desert for nineteen years, or until slightly insane.
Whichever comes first.
He hurried out the door, forgetting the note for the time being. He had a funeral to attend. He only hoped their wouldn’t be another any time soon.
Max was lying awake long after Tess had fallen asleep, her head rested across his bare chest as he mechanically stroked her hair. He was thinking about her again. It hoped that maybe Tess would take his mind of her, but it hadn’t. Here he was, just thinking about her hair, and her eyes, and her mouth.'
Dammit, he thought, angry at himself as he slipped out of the sheets, throwing on his clothes and snuck out the door.
Liz took a deep breath, calming her mind and trying to ease her throbbing headache. The images had stopped a long time ago, but the headache only grew worse.
She sighed, leaning back against the wall and pulling her knees up to her chest, pressing her hands against her forehead.
She heard footsteps out in the hallway and prayed they would pass by this room, but she could tell the direction of the noises were moving in.
The gate of her cell squeaked open and she ran her fingers under her hair, pulling it over to see who had come to visit her now.
Max strode into the cell, and she stood, moving to the farthest corner and watched him steadily.
“Don’t come near me,” she spat venomously, hating the very sight of him. He froze in midstep. She was obviously not up to visitors of the third kind. A moment later he picked up his step and continued towards her.
She shrank back into the wall, trapping herself, but it was the farthest she could get from him. From his pocket, Max drew a ruby apple and held it out to her. It had been nearly twenty four hours since the last one he had given her, and he knew she must have been starving by now.
She stared at his offering with disdain, but her mouth was watering and her stomach was begging for the taste. Her own feet betrayed her as she stepped out warily to take it from his grasp, her fingers lingering over the fruit while her mind and stomach argued in a heated debate over her senses and her hunger. Finally hunger won, and she snatched the apple out of his hand.
He gazed at her for a long moment then turned to go.
With his back turned, Liz remembered who he was, what he’d done. Her stare flickered to the brick wall where hours before she had seen the image of Nathan’s broken body fall and crumple. Back to the apple her eyes flew and she gripped her fingers tightly around the fruit, hurling it at him with all her might.
He whirled quickly, throwing up his hand and blocking the attack with a glowing blue shield.
She met his gaze evenly. “Go to hell,” she seethed between clenched teeth.
Immediately he sent he apple flying back into the wall, and Liz watched as it smashed and splattered to the cement.
Just like Nathan, she thought.
She was jerked roughly from her flashback as he seized her right arm with his left, raising his hand again to bring it down across her face.
Max bubbled with fury, gripping her tightly while his threat literally lingered in the air. He was going to hit her, and would have, had he not seen that look of defeat in her eyes. It only lasted for a split second, but it was enough. Behind the exterior of her determined, defiant structure he saw through it to the pain and loneliness, the wish that if would all end, the hopelessness. Flashing back across her eyes came the hate and malevolence, but all he could remember was the hurt he had seen only moments before.
He wanted to make it go away.
Slowly he lowered his hand, running it through the locks of her long hair, cupping the side of her face.
Liz shivered at the coldness of the surroundings and feeling his icy touch. She pulled away, but he only grasped her tighter and dragged her in closer.
When she felt his lips on hers with a soft kiss, she was surprised at the warmth that seemed to shock through her body. It only lasted a moment, and suddenly she was chilled again, even colder than before.
She jerked her head away from his kiss, but he slipped his hand behind her neck and forced her mouth back to him.
Before she could react, she was hit with a jolt in her mind and an image, a vision, of a little boy stumbling along the city streets alone with nowhere to go.
She was jolted back to reality where she could feel a trail of hot kisses along her jaw, moving down to her throat.
She let out an angry cry and laid her palms flat on his chest to push him away but he quickly retaliated and tossed her carelessly onto the cot.
She struggled to sit, but he was on top her again before she could do anything, both of her wrists caught in his one hand, another pressed firmly on her shoulder, pinning her down. She thrashed out against him even more, but he only pushed harder.
His tongue darted out across her lips, and his mouth was on hers, working her lips so roughly they were sore within seconds. He forced her mouth open and as soon as his tongue entered she was jarred with another image, the same little boy walking hand in hand with a little blonde girl as they watched the crime and destruction before them in the dark of the night. They watched as a woman crossed the street, only to be struck by a truck speeding down the lane. The boy desperately wanted to help, but one look from the girl told him he would be killed if anyone found out. They watched her die.
The impact of the flash sent her head snapping back, cracking against the cool metal. The world swayed dizzily in the air around her, black dots spotting her vision. Panic quickly consumed her stomach as she felt him drag the strap of her top down her arm, taking a moment to kiss the bare spot on her skin. The other strap was moved, and she felt another stab of alarm seize her heart as he slid the bottom of her shirt up, exposing her bare stomach.
He kissed her again, hard, and she felt him fumbling with the button on her jeans, unfastening it and tugging at the zipper.
Liz gasped for air, her mind racing and screaming for him to stop, but nothing formed in her mouth. All she could feel was his heavy weight against her body, and the raw frost enveloping the atmosphere.
He slipped her jeans down past her hips, kissing her still, until finally he pulled away, drawing out her bottom lip between his teeth. He moved back to her neck, nuzzling the soft spot with his lips and running his hand down her figure, daring to slip beneath her top.
Liz sucked in a deep breath, choking out a ragged, frightened whisper. “Please stop.”
He froze. She squeezed her eyes shut as she felt his weight lift away. Quickly she stumbled dizzily to her feet and staggered shakily away from the cot, standing to the side with her back turned to where she knew he was standing.
Liz drew another breath, taking a moment to wipe her dry eyes before she snatched the straps of her tank top and drew them back up her shoulders, pulling the edge down over her stomach and tugging her jeans, refastening them on her hips.
Her mouth pounded, her lips raw and puffy. She ran the back of her hand over her mouth and it came away streaked with a tiny line of blood. Her shoulder was aching, and already she could see the beginnings of a bruise. She rubbed her wrists, massaging the redness out of them.
Liz jumped as the sound of the gate crashing closed echoed through the cell. She whirled just in time to see his form disappear.
Suddenly her knees were shaking so badly she couldn’t stand any longer. She slid down the wall, collapsing to the floor, hugging her knees to her chest and burying her head in her arms, shivering in the coldness of the room.
Max stalked down the hallway, fury enveloping the him, angry at himself.
He knew he was a monster. He had known all his life, yet always tried to hide it from others. What was it about this girl that dragged it out of him?
He had been close to rape just then. In truth, it scared him that he was becoming the thing that existed in the stereotype.
He shook all of his thoughts out of his head, running back to the place that made him seem to be at least a little bit normal. The place where he didn’t feel completely lost, or isolated, or alien. Back to where he wasn’t thought of as a beast, or horrid, evil and vile.
Back to Tess.
Micheal’s fist clenched, in his hand the slip of pink paper that demanded the granilith for Liz’s ransom. Finally he looked up, matching the gazes of the three others.
“There has to be another way,” he said finally, letting the paper flutter to the ground. “We can’t give this up,” he continued. “It’s too important to us.”
“Micheal!” Isabel cried, pleading to change his mind. “This is Liz’s life we are talking about! God knows what they’re doing to her, and you’re just saying let them? Let them kill her?”
“You don’t even know what that damned thing does!” Alex charged. “We all know that Liz has done more than enough for you and been through plenty on your behalf - how can you just ignore that?”
“Calm down,” Micheal ordered, trying to be sensible. “For
all we know the granilith could have the ability to blow this entire planet, and I’m not about to take a risk like that. All I’m saying for now is that there’s got to be another way. She may already be dead, we don’t know. We also don’t know if they’ll be true to their word. Who’s to say that once we hand it over, they don’t kill her anyway? We can’t trust them.”
“Please Micheal,” Maria whispered, falling into his embrace. “I can’t lose Liz too.”
He could only nod, stroking her hair and watching as Isabel and Alex turned to go.
Tess yawned, snuggling closer to Max under the sheets.
“I don’t know what’s gotten into you, baby, but I like it.”
She smiled. “I’m glad you’ve changed your mind. You’re so much better when you’re in a good mood.” She paused, shifting her gaze. “What are you thinking about?”
He didn’t answer, only continued to stare at the ceiling.
His eyes flickered to hers for a moment, and he said, “You.”
Tess sighed, leaning in to kiss his cheek. “You’re sweet.”
She placed a hand on his shoulder. “Oh, you seem tense. Sit up.”
He obliged, and immediately he felt her hands along his back, massaging his shoulders softly.
“Now what is it that’s gotten you so stiff?” she said. “It’s that girl, isn’t it? Don’t worry about that.” She stopped, wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing herself against his back, leaning her head on his shoulder. She gazed up at him with stealth in her eyes. “We’ll be home soon,” she assured him. “In fact, I’ve got a plan to move things along.” She pulled away, kissing his neck one last time and reaching for her clothes.
Max stopped her, clutching her hand. “Where are you going?”
She smiled. “If they’re going to be so slow, I intend to speed things up a bit. Come on, I’ll let you watch.”
“I want you to stay with me,” he hummed, pulling her close. She purred, leaning into his ear. He could feel the hot breath on his face.
“I’ll stay. I’ll be here for an eternity.”
Footsteps. Liz prayed they would pass by the room. She buried her face in her arms as she leaned against the cell wall, straining her ears to hear.
The gate squeaked open and lazily she lifted her head to see who had come to visit her now.
Her heart clenched in her throat when she saw the familiar face.
“Kyle,” she gasped, launching herself to her feet, stunned.
“Liz,” he replied, almost as if he were surprised to see her. She rubbed her hand self consciously across the bruise forming on her cheek and knew it must be because of her horrendous appearance.
Before another word was spoken, she hurled herself into his arms and clung to him for life.
“Oh god,” she breathed, hugging him with all her strength. “I didn’t think I was going to see any of you again.”
Moments later she felt Kyle’s return of the fierce embrace, holding her so tightly she thought he might squeeze the breath out of her, but she didn’t care.
“They think you’re Maria,” he muttered, more towards himself than to her. “As long as they don’t know who you are, you’ll be fine,” he assured her.
She nodded against him, never losing her hold. “I know. What are you doing here? How did you get in?”
“They let me in,” he replied. “They want the granilith in exchange for you. I had to come to see if you’re... still okay.”
He was going to say still alive, Liz thought, but still didn’t care. Her mind was swaying, almost dizzily, the new burst of hope that exploded in her head making her feel faint. The sight of Kyle was too much of a shock.
She held tighter, making sure he was real, not just some illusion her mind had warped out of despair and hunger.
Even the scent of him was refreshing, and she breathed in deeply, inhaling the scent thirstily of the desert and woods, places she may not see again, so invigorating from the cold, stale air of the cell.
He smelled like Earth.
“Liz,” he said softly, pulling away to face her and reluctantly she let go. “Are you okay?” He traced his thumb across her swollen lower lip and over the purple mark under her eye, the identical one above her shoulder. “Did he do this?”
Kyle’s heavy eyes were too much. She turned away, afraid if he looked into her eyes he might guess what had happened.
“I’m fine,” she stammered lightly. “Don’t... don’t tell the others about this, o-okay? It’s nothing.” She shook her head vigorously. “I don’t want them to worry.”
“We’re already worried, Liz,” he answered a little sadly.
She nodded slightly. “Um, how is Maria?”
Kyle sighed, pausing for thought, searching for the right words. “She’s doing... okay, I guess. She misses you. We all do.”
Liz threw her arms around him again, and she felt his hand on her back. She squeezed her eyes shut, wishing herself back to the cabin in Frasier Woods, but not wanting to open them, knowing it wasn’t going to come true.
Footsteps interrupted her thoughts.
“I have to go,” Kyle told her unwillingly.
Liz buried her face in his neck, forcing back the tears that threatened to leak through her eyelids and the
choking sob caught in her throat.
“I don’t want you do go,” she murmured sadly.
He tore himself away from her grasp, saw the pain in her face and averted his eyes. “I know.”
Already the warmth his hold had provided was fading into the thin air and the scent of home was drifting away.
He stopped outside the cell, as one of the guards came to slam it shut.
“I’ll see you later,” he promised.
She nodded, hoping he was right as she watched him go, lead down the hallway by the guard, the despair sinking her heart again.
As Liz studied their departure, her mind flashed as she recognized the guard. She had gone to high school with him. Suddenly her mind drifted back to the first night, when she was taken, and other times when she had caught glimpses of them. She knew most if them.
They were human.
Liz woke up groaning, spending yet another night on the cold, hard floor of the cell she had inhabited for the past five nights. She shifted her position painfully, leaning against the wall and shivering against the frost that pressed against her back. Her stomach growled almost immediately, a bitter reminder of her famished state, and her eyes drifted to the fragments of rotting apple, now crawling with ants, that had been splattered across the floor four long days ago.
She hadn’t heard from the others at all since Kyle’s short visit three days past. In fact, she hadn’t had a glimpse of anyone, human or non, since then, reasoning that they had just decided to keep her cooped up to decay like the fruit in the corner, later her spoiled corpse to be devoured by insects until someone finally noticed the stench and disposed of her once and for all.
She let out a raspy cough, her entire body quaking violently with the effort that sent her wishing for even the smallest drop of water as she shuddered for the second time against the dusty, chilled air.
Her dry lips passed a small moan as her fit subsided and she rested her head back on the wall and turned her attention back to the army of ants.
“That’s what you are, you know,” a voice snapped nastily, and Liz almost jumped with surprise. She rolled her head to the side, revealing her gaunt, pale cheeks, haggard expression and sunken eyes to her visitor.
Tess seemed unfazed by her emaciated appearance. “That’s what you are,” she repeated. “An insect. The entire human race is made up in swarms of disgusting little bugs that scurry about this awful planet, going about with little pitiful lives.” Her eyes narrowed. “You are one of the more annoying ones that I’ve come to squash.”
Liz blinked, too tired to try to sort out the meaning of Tess’ harsh words.
The gate squeaked open, and she closed her eyes, uncaring what was about to come. Powerful arms grabbed hers, hauling her to her feet, supporting her as she swayed dizzily.
“It’s sickening that he loves you,” Tess spat. “Absolutely disgusting.”
Liz was lightheaded, and again couldn’t make sense what Tess was telling her. Who loves me? she thought, unable to absorb anything.
“An alien in love with a human...” Tess visibly shuddered.
Aliens? Liz’s mind slurred.
“I am not just going to wait around anymore for your knight in shining armor to make the next move.”
Tess eyes the guards flanking Liz. Seconds later two of them tore at her tank top, lifting if over her head, crossing her arms over her chest, holding tightly to each wrist and forced her onto her knees, exerting heavy pressure on her shoulders.
Liz waited, her head hanging limply as she stared at the ground. The only sound in the room was her own ragged breathing.
“Look at me,” Tess commanded suddenly.
Liz tossed her head to the side, unable to lift even her eyes. Tess took it as an act of defiance rather than weakness, and one of the guards snatched a handful of her hair, jerking back so roughly Liz thought her neck might snap from the force.
“That’s better,” Tess said curtly.
After a beat, Liz heard the crack of a whip and felt the sharp stinging as it tore open flesh on her bare back. She gasped in shock at the unexpected pain that raced through her system like wild fire.
Tess eyed her critically, watching as she flinched. “Again.”
Another fiery stripe slashed across her body. Tess’ chin twitched, seemingly irritated that she would not scream, cry, or beg for mercy. Liz’s reactions were not fulfilling her sadistic pleasures.
“Again.” The strap crackled once more, another bloody mark cut through skin.
For what seemed like an eternity later, Liz was finally shoved back to the floor, seven bloody ribbons slashed through her shredded flesh like some twisted tattoo, an attempt to crush an already broken spirit.
Tess, exasperated by Liz’s unperturbed response to the pain, left with a huff after giving one last order for the gashes to be rinsed with salt water.
Liz felt herself falling to the ground but could not stop herself. She hit the cement hard with a thud, her head confused by the freezing cold that enveloped her entire body, save the burning, raw lacerations that seemed like they were engulfed in flames.
Slowly her eyes clouded, at the same time the fire spread, quenching the frost but heating her body until she was so hot she knew she must be ablaze, her skin charring and scorching, curling black at the edges.
She squeezed her eyes shut, allowing herself to slip into the oncoming blackness, first swimming, floating, in swelling red pools of blood and fire.
Alex knocked on the big oak door in front of him, waiting patiently for Isabel to invite him in.
“Hi,” he greeted a little somberly.
“Hey,” she replied, despite all their recent sorrow, a grin breaking out on her face at the sight of her boyfriend.
“I want you to do me a favor,” Alex began slowly, hating to ask such things.
“What?” Concern crept up into Isabel’s face, touched with slight fear and anxiety.
“I need you to dreamwalk Liz,” Alex whispered, bracing himself for her reaction.
Isabel blinked. “But Micheal said -”
“Screw Micheal,” Alex stated flatly, his voice coming out much harsher and angrier than intended. He sighed, sitting next to her on the bed. “Sorry,” he apologized. “I just... I have to know if she’s still okay. And if Micheal isn’t going to do anything to get her back, I’m not just going to sit around until he decides. I’ll find her myself - but I need your help first.”
“Alex, when Kyle managed to get in and see her, he said she was fine.”
“That was three days ago, Iz. I can’t take any chances.”
Isabel turned thoughtful. “Okay...” she finally relented. “I can do that.”
“Thank you,” Alex praised sincerely, pulling a worn photograph out of his pocket. He had looked at it a lot lately. With one last glance he handed it over to Isabel.
Isabel couldn’t help but crack another smile when she saw the picture. It must have been taken back in high school, she realized, as she gazed at the faces of Liz and Alex, the girl making a goofy grin as she pinned Alex in a wrestling move, while he was clearly begging for help from whoever had snapped the shot, presumably Maria.
Isabel stopped smiling abruptly when she saw the look on Liz’s face, unsure if she’d ever seen the other girl smile like that personally.
This was taken before Maria met Micheal, Isabel noted. Before Alex met me. Before they were all tossed into this mess. Before, when they were happy.
“Hey, are you okay?” Alex asked, running his hand across her shoulder.
“Yeah,” Isabel assured him, wiping away the beginnings of her tears before they could form, knowing that she was partly the cause of all the pain bestowed upon these three people, the greatest people she knew.
“Just stay with me while I do this, okay?” she pleaded.
Max paced around his room upon discovering Tess to be gone when he awoke, immediately his thoughts went out to the girl, knowing that’s where Tess must have gone, but refusing himself to follow her there. He had spent the last few days distracting her, keeping both their minds diverted from the prisoner of war caged down a few corridors, but now had obviously failed.
Tess burst into the room suddenly, brushing past him to his connecting bathroom where she proceeded to wash her hands.
“Good morning, baby,” she called cheerily. “I’ve got great news for you. I’ve just sent them a warning they can’t ignore this time.”
She smiled again and his gaze fell to Tess’ hands where he saw the red stained water pour down the drain as she scrubbed the sticky stuff off her hands.
“What did you do?”
A plastic bag, clearly marked with a bright pink slip of paper, filled to the brim with deep, scarlet red appeared surreptitiously on the front door of the cabin, hidden and tucked carefully away in the depths of Frasier Woods.
Maria DeLuca opened the front door of the cabin, stretching and yawning after her first restful sleep in days. She gulped in a drink of fresh air, sighing blissfully as she remember the perfect night last evening with Micheal. It was nice to have a break from their hard times. Still she worried over Liz, and still she mourned her and Micheal’s loss, but she seemed almost refreshed and had gained back a portion of the strength she needed to battle upcoming demons - or aliens. Maria sighed one last time, her eyes carrying her gaze to the front step, and she screamed.
They all sat in quiet shock as they stared at the little plastic bag sitting on Micheal’s desk, all except Micheal himself who was pacing mechanically around the tiny room like some sort of caged animal as he contemplated the situation. Maria was hysterical, inconsolable as Isabel tried uselessly to calm her down. Alex rested in silent resignation, a dazed glaze painted over his features, unsuccessfully hiding the mask of anger that was shining all through - all geared malevolently at Micheal. Isabel knew that if he didn’t say something soon, Alex was going to explode. Kyle withdrew from the rest of the group, leaning into the corner with his arms crossed. To him, the bag filled with blood seemed to be the only thing in his range of vision, the only thing that existed in the room. In his mind the same thought was passing through repeatedly, like everyone else.
“Isabel,” Micheal barked suddenly, jerking everyone from their own little worlds. “Isabel. Try dreamwalking Liz.”
Isabel glanced at Alex, who bowed his head at her look. “I tried... last night. It didn’t work, Micheal.”
“Oh god,” Maria squeaked from beside her. “She’s dead... she’s really dead.”
“No!” Micheal reprimanded quickly. “Isabel. Try again. She might have been awake. And if it doesn’t work, keep trying!”
“Micheal...” Isabel protested.
“Just do it!” he roared.
Alex leapt to his feet immediately. “Don’t you dare raise your voice at her! I am sick and tired over your ignorance for this situation! Something happens and you turn your back and look the other way!” he chastised angrily.
“What do you think I’m doing now?” Micheal retorted, equally as upset. “I am trying to take some control!”
Alex opened his mouth to shout another fiery reply, but the sound of the slamming door clamped his jaw shut and turned all their heads. Kyle who had not once said a word had disappeared, tromping down the hall behind the door.
“Where the hell does he think he’s going?” Micheal grumbled in irritation.
“Leave him alone,” Isabel snapped. “He’s upset. We all are. Besides, he’s never really been too keen on the whole ‘I-Know-an-Alien-Club.”
“Yeah. Neither was Liz,” Alex added softly. After a moment of pause, he corrected, “Neither is Liz.”
Isabel drew in a deep breath and stood up, leaving Maria’s side, which Micheal instantly recovered. “Alex, can I borrow that picture again?”
Isabel stared at the photo and her eyes drifted towards the bag as if it were taunting her.
“Do we know for sure that it’s hers?” she queried quietly.
“Why wouldn’t it be?” Micheal responded.
“To scare us.”
“They’ve already done that,” Alex reminded her. “And now they’re threatening. And we know they aren’t drawing the line at murder.” He grimaced, remembering Nathan’s tiny form, frowning as it brought a fresh batch of tears to Maria’s eyes.
“Still...” Isabel ignored everyone’s stares and slowly held out a shaky hand, her finger extended as her skin grazed the plastic surface of the bag and she could tell the contents were still warm. “I can’t -”
Instantly, as if a shock exploded from her finger to her brain, she was bombarded with a flood of images that promptly cut her off. Her head jerked back and she stumbled, collapsing into Alex’s arms. She cried out with the unexpected pain that accompanied the vision of Liz as she was whipped with a leather switch. She gasped in relief as the pain washed away and her eyes cleared, leaving her staring into Alex’s concerned face as she gasped for breath.
“It’s hers,” Isabel confirmed raggedly.
“I don’t know,” she replied, shaking her head tiredly as exhaustion overcame her and the open arms of sleep awaited.
“They killed her! They killed her!” Maria’s panicked screams were slowly fading out as Isabel drifted away. “They killed her! She’s dead! She’s -”
Dead. That’s how she looked, anyway. But Max was too far away to tell. He’d have to move closer to find out for sure. He was almost afraid to know. Part of him - his logical mind - wished her dead. But that feeling... the feeling screamed in his blood that she had to be alive.
Finally, after a long while of just watching the blood ooze from the cuts on her back and seeping to the floor, he stepped forward, bending by her crumpled form and set two fingers over a vein in her throat. It was still pulsing. Faintly, slowly, but it was still a good sign.
All he knew was that he had to stop the bleeding. He was not going to heal her. Last time, he’d seen the that flash - the fire and the scream. He was not going to heal her and see that again. He didn’t know what it meant, or why it happened and he had seen it, but he definitely didn’t like it.
He spied the girl’s shirt, tossed to the side on the floor, and quickly snatched it up, shoving it over her head before gathering her limp figure into his arms. It occurred to him immediately after holding her, cradling her head almost protectively against his chest, how incredibly hot her skin felt to his touch. Any warmer and it seemed like he could be scolded just by touching her. Max frowned. He didn’t know much about humans and their sicknesses, but this could not be healthy. She was burning up.
Out of the corner of his eye, Max spied the palm of right hand, hanging loosely by her side. With his thumb, he traced the outer rim of a circular scar that appeared to be burned into her flesh.
Before Max could think any further, the girl’s neck lurched back and a tiny moan escaped past her lips. Instantly, Max’s vision clouded as she was slammed forcefully with a dozen flashes.
The fire blazed before his eyes again and a piercing scream echoed in his ears, vibrating through the air around him. The flames grew, taller and taller, stretching to lick the ceiling as soon they loomed above his head, enclosing in a circle around him. A hand stretched out suddenly, clamping over a red-hot doorknob, but the searing pain was numb to his palm as the burn only fueled his determination, then was roughly jerked away.
Max gasped in surprise, staggering under the suddenly heavy weight of the girl in his tight grasp. He stumbled back and fell, hitting the wall and crashing to the floor as her body rumpled on top of him.
He took a deep breath, collecting his senses as he saw the girl’s right arm, stretched out with her palm open. The circular burn he had noticed before stood out even more prominently as the memory of the pain exploded in his mind. He was shocked to find that his hand still throbbed from the flash he had received from her.
Why was he able to see those things in her? Was her mind so open that he could access her thoughts without even trying? The connection between the two - both times - had been instant and unintentional, and it baffled him immensely that he had done nothing to provoke it.
The first time he had seen references to the fire was when he had healed the tiny scratch on her forehead. It surprised him then. A mark that small size hardly took any concentration at all, if anything he had only grazed the surface of her mind.
Max froze. If this incident with the fire was only a reflection of the outskirts of her memories, what kind of horrors did she have buried deep inside?
The usual pang thumped in his chest as a feeling of unfamiliar pity overwhelmed him at this idea. The scary thing, though, was that he felt fear he might have caused it. Did his life have a connecting effect on hers? She was a friend of his enemies - but was any of his actions what caused her previous pain?
Max shoved the thought away. Even if he did, he didn’t care. He refused to care.
Quickly he collected himself and the girl from the floor. It wouldn’t help his, or Tess’ cause any if she was dead.
Max grimaced as the stinging in his hand returned. He raised his fist to his face to inspect it, and his eyes widened, stunned, as he saw a circular scar, a burn, imprinted in his right palm.
[ edited 2 time(s), last at 31-Oct-2001 8:21:31 PM ]
|posted on 5-Nov-2001 5:22:04 PM by gummibehrs|
|Thanks to all my feedbackers: sarahdreamer, crazeesmilee, mitra, roswellluver, moonbeam, dreamypryncezz, AJK001, LegalAlien, Burgundy, rainqueen, midnight magi, Chrissy, Lizzie_Parker17(2) and angelbaby6977.|
In Love and War Parts 11-12
Isabel wandered around the dream plane, searching for the familiar sign of Liz’s presence and continuously worried when she could not find it. What if Maria was right? What if they were too late? What if she was already dead? Isabel shook her head, ignoring those thoughts. There was no way she’d be able to locate Liz if she was thinking such things. She sighed, squeezing her eyes shut and concentrating solely on her friend for a few moments and opened them again, smiling as she recognized the orb belonging to Liz. Without hesitation she laid her palm against the coolness of the object, feeling immediately the darkness of the dream. Isabel inhaled deeply, ignoring the bad vibes, and entered.
Isabel found herself standing in the farthest corner of the CrashDown Cafe where Liz and Maria were talking over what looked like a bowl of cookie dough. Liz swallowed a spoonful and instantly began choking back gags as Maria confessed she had laced the treat with Tabasco sauce. Isabel couldn’t help but smile a little as she noticed Maria’s protruding stomach beneath the confines of her loose overalls. She thought back, tying to remember how long ago this must have been. Five, maybe six months? The baby was born in June, after senior year, so obviously this was only a little before that time.
Isabel’s eyes widened and she froze as she suddenly realized what was going on. May 21st, one month prior to Nathan’s birth. Quickly Isabel thought back to the day. Today was November 21st. It marked Nathan’s five months and the six month anniversary of the CrashDown...
Oh god, Isabel groaned, finally it dawning on her just exactly what was about to happen.
She jumped, along with the two other girls, as Michael burst through the doors. “Sorry I’m late,” he announced.
“You should be,” Maria cried back instantly, but the smile beaming on her face contrasted completely with the sour tone of her voice. Michael wrapped her up in a secure hug, carefully avoiding her abdomen when he planted a small kiss on the side of her face. He bent down, rubbing her stomach and whispering baby coos, sending both Maria and Liz into fits of giggles. Isabel knew he would never have done such a thing if Alex and Kyle had been there.
As if on cue, the two waltzed in and Michael immediately straightened and turned around to face them. “Where’s Isabel?” he demanded.
“Not coming,” Kyle replied.
“Yeah,” Alex chimed in, a little sadly. “Big date.”
“She needs to get her priorities straightened out,” Michael grumbled and turned away.
“So what’s the big concern tonight?” Kyle asked, turning a chair backwards and sitting himself down.
Before Michael could respond, Liz cleared her throat and stood up. “I’m uh, going to head upstairs.” She tossed Michael the keys. “Stay as long as you want, just lock up afterward, okay?”
“What’s wrong Liz, don’t want to stay for the extraterrestrial events?” Alex asked.
She shook her head. “Not tonight.” She paused for a moment then continued, “Yeah, there’s this big physics test tomorrow, so I’m just going to go study for awhile and then go to sleep.”
“Aw, come on, Liz,” Kyle replied, sidling up next to her. “You know all that stuff.” He slung an arm around her shoulders. “You aren’t going to leave me here alone with these guys, are you?” He gave her his best puppy dog pout in attempt to make her stay.
Liz flashed him a half-hearted smile. “I’m just really tired tonight Kyle,” she told him, shrugging his arm off and giving him a small poke in the ribs. “I’ll feel a lot better tomorrow, and you can all catch me up, okay?”
“Well, all right,” he answered a little reluctantly. “At least let me walk you upstairs?”
She nodded in quiet acceptance, and Isabel turned to follow the two as they left the group and trudged up the stairs. Instantly the scene melted away, and Isabel found herself in Liz’s bedroom, watching her friend slump at her desk in her pajamas while Kyle perched on her bed.
“Are you feeling better now?”
Liz smiled. “Yeah. Thanks Kyle.”
He stood up, wrapping his arms around her shoulders. “You know I’ll be here first thing in the morning to check on you, right?”
“I’d be surprised if you weren’t,” Liz whispered, and tightened her own arms around him.
He gave her a light kiss on the cheek. “Goodnight, Liz.”
He squeezed her shoulders one last time, and turned to go, a sight on her desk catching the corner of his eye in surprise. Isabel moved closer, curious to as what he had seen, and spied Liz’s progress report from the middle of the semester, folded at an angle so that some of the letters were displayed. C’s, D’s and at least one F marked the page. Quickly, he rushed another goodbye, not wanting her suspicious of his new knowledge, and left.
Isabel turned back to Liz, noting how she yawned and then moved to her science book on her desk and started reading. The clock in her bedroom ran swiftly, until it was nearly midnight. Still, noises of laughter and amusement from her friends drifted up the stairs to her room. Liz slammed her book in irritation of herself, and closed her bedroom door. She gazed one last time at the text on her desk and the clock and gave up, sinking into the covers of her bed and resting into her pillow. She was asleep in seconds.
Isabel sucked in her breath and waited. She only had to watch the clock as the numbers ran too fast to two o’ clock. Soon she saw the dark, smoky mist creep under the door. She raced to the bed, trying desperately to shake Liz awake. If she couldn’t change real life, then maybe she could at least change the dream...
Max shifted the girl’s weight in his arms as he kicked the door closed with his foot, glad he hadn’t been spotted during his journey down the corridors. He arranged her carefully on his bed, his frown increasing as her condition did not seem to improve. He looked around, as if something in the room could jog an idea, but soon gave up when he found nothing. For compensation, he crouched on the bed beside her form, snatching up her right hand, the one with the matching burn like he now had, and studied it carefully. For the second time he traced the outer rim of the scar with his thumb in a constant motion. It helped him think, concentrate.
Instantaneously he was hit hard as a shock wave shot up his arm, surprising him to the point where he slipped off the bed and collapsed on the floor. Her body, linked from his fingers to hers, slid from the mattress and fell on him. For a long moment he stayed there, her hair spread over his shoulder and her face resting softly against his.
He finally pushed her away, the realization of what was going on sinking in to his head. Quickly he tossed her back on the bed, away from him, and pulled his hand back. It was covered in blood.
Isabel’s attempts were completely useless. Liz was going to stay asleep until she woke on her own. Isabel pleaded silently that Liz actually was going to wake up, and her nightmare wasn’t taking some other twisted turn like reality already had.
The smoke was getting thicker, darker. Isabel coughed violently into her fist as she began choking on the air. From across the room, Liz shot up from her bed, gasping as the air began clogging her nostrils and strangling her own breathing. She tried standing up, but her foot caught in her sheet and she fell hard to the floor. Isabel waited, expecting her to run for the fire escape, but instead she stumbled for the door and threw it open, exiting in the hall for her parents’ room. Outside was just as cloudy as her bedroom, and Liz was turned around in her direction. Instead, she reached the stairs, tripping as the unexpected descent came.
Isabel tried to follow and hurried down the stairs where Liz had fallen. Michael burst the back door of the cafe, wrapping his fingers around Liz’s arm and pulled her up.
“Come on,” he urged, half carrying and half dragging her through the cafe, past the raging flames and out to the front door. As soon as she was coherent enough to realize what he was doing, Liz fought him, screaming and struggling against his grip as she fought to free herself.
Michael ignored her efforts and cries, bursting the front doors open with his power, and hauled her past the threshold. Once outside, away from the noise of the fire, her shouts were understandable and the shaking of her body even more noticeable. He let her go, wiping the ash from his face, and she slumped to the pavement, sobbing deeply.
Max carried her into the bathroom, taking notice how her body was heating even more rapidly. She was bleeding again, too. He had thought the previous blood had dried enough that the gashes were beginning to close over again, but now they were reopening. Max shook his head. Humans didn’t heal as fast as he did.
He pulled up the back of her shirt, snatching a towel and began wiping at the red stuff. From the corner of his eye, he saw the shower and formed an idea.
Liz stood shakily to her feet and watched before her eyes as the CrashDown Cafe was devoured by hungry flames. She wiped a hand across her face, smearing tears and ash, and took off instantly back toward her family’s restaurant. Four people called out her name, but she ignored every single one and continued running, laying her hand flat on the doorknob, ignoring the pain.
Max cried out as the familiar ache of the burn on his hand returned, this time only much stronger. He ignored the searing pain, only using it to fuel his intentions as he moved himself and her to the corner of the bathroom.
Liz felt the pain of the scorching metal in her hand, but she refused to take her hand off the doorknob until she was inside the CrashDown again. Roughly, three pairs of arms jerked her away. She screamed curses at each and every one of them as she tried to tear herself away from their grips. “They’re still in there!” she cried repeatedly through sobs, but Michael, Alex and Kyle held her tightly, pulling her to where Maria stood in shock, and wrestled her flat on her back to the ground.
Slowly and carefully Max removed her clothes, setting them aside on the floor as he avoided the tender cuts on her back. He bundled her inside the shower, supporting her with an arm around her delicate waist and flipped on the faucet, sending down a cold array of water.
The rain poured down over her, smearing the black soot over her face and sticking her clothes to her body, but she hardly even noticed. With the three boys still pinning her to the ground, she gave up her fight and succumbed to her tears, doing the only thing she could do, and cried.
As the cold water sprayed over the both of them, Max felt the pain in his hand reduce to nothing, the same rate that her body was cooling. Finally satisfied, he turned the shower off and pulled her out. She was dried with a wave of his hand and quickly he picked her up again, burying her under the covers of his bed, doing the only thing he could do, and waited.
Liz tore herself awake and out of the nightmare. Instantly she felt the panic sink in her stomach upon realizing where she was. She bolted upright, more dread seizing her as she looked down and immediately drew the bedsheet up to her chest. She caught glimpse of his turned back from across the room.
She drew a deep breath. “Where are my clothes?” she demanded, a flash of courage overtaking her.
Despite the shaky, dry whisper that accompanied her tone, her voice seemed to startle him and she cringed at the sound of shattering glass. She stared down at the mess on the ground, the broken crystal pieces scattered on the floor while a puddle of water seeped into the carpet.
A light touch on her shoulder jerked her instantly away from the scene on the rug and she pulled back immediately, clutching the sheet even tighter at the base of her throat. She half expected him to drive one of the jagged shards into her flesh for causing the damage in the first place. Instead, he held out a tall glass of water, filled to the brim. Her mouth and aching stomach screamed for the taste, but her mind was wary as she started at both him and his offering with suspicion. Finally she snatched it from his grasp and took a tiny sip, savoring the coolness as it slid easily down her throat. Her senses begged for more, and figuring it probably wasn’t poisoned after all, she drained it greedily. It was refilled within moments and the second was gone almost as quickly as the first.
He removed the cup from her hand and exchanged it with a clean, fresh apple. The third one she had seen in days. He watched her carefully for another minute and then quickly spun on his heel, leaving her alone as he disappeared into the bathroom.
Liz gazed after him for a moment, but the grumbling her in stomach tore her attention back to the fruit in her grasp. She devoured it easily, satisfied for the time now that she had finally eaten something. Instantaneously the results of her meal churned with a sick nauseated feeling as she allowed her mind to acknowledge the numerous possible scenarios that could have endured while she was unconscious. All she could do was uneasily wrap the linen securely around her frame and pray that nothing had happened, despite the fact that she was completely unclothed in the bed of a murderer, with god only knows what other capabilities, and she was clueless as to what his next intentions were.
The thought scarcely had time to invade her mind when the door swung open and she was staring directly into the face of Tess. Liz watched as the other girl’s face contorted with confusion, shock and then finally recognition.
“You bitch!” Tess screamed, rounding the corner of the bed. “You’re a damned slut!” Fiercely Tess grasped Liz’s arm, flinging her deliberately to the floor.
She gasped, crying out lightly with pain as the sharp shock raced through her back upon impact. Her vision clouded for only a split second, and the enraged words brought her back into reality along with a swift kick to her side.
“Bitch! Dirty little whore!”
Liz ignored the pain that accompanied Tess’ strikes and blows, only feeling the anger flush inside her. She heard a light clang as her arm swept across the shards of broken glass on the floor. Immediately she snatched one up, oblivious as the edges slashed her fingers, and furiously jammed it with all her might into Tess’ leg. The painful howl echoed in her ears, and triumphantly she took the moment to raise her foot and send it harshly slamming into Tess’ stomach. She watched, pleased, as the other girl stumbled backward and collapsed in a heap next to one of the dressers.
“Damn alien,” she muttered with satisfaction.
Max paced warily around the bathroom, wondering when it would be good timing to come out. He had left only to give that girl a small sense of privacy and to ease his own nerves once seeing her awake again. He sighed, hating this effect she seemed to impose upon him.
He jumped, hearing a loud crash come from his bedroom. He raced to the door and hurriedly threw it open only for a string of curses to reach his ears and to see as the she stabbed Tess viciously with a piece of glass then send her flying to the floor. Immediately he roughly jerked the girl up from the ground, veering as he hurriedly tossed her into the bathroom and slammed the door. With the girl out of the way, he hastily moved toward Tess and knelt by her side.
Liz landed hard on the cold floor of the bathroom, quickly sitting up as she strained to hear what was going on outside. She reached out toward the door and placed her bloody hand on the knob, pulling it open a crack, just enough for one eye to peek through.
Liz spied the two sitting on his bed. He had taken Tess’ leg and propped it on his knee, slowly sliding the buried glass out of her flesh while she winced in pain and sucked in her breath. With the crystal removed, she watched as he carefully laid his palm over the wound and closed his eyes. For a long moment he continued to do so, concentrating as his breath came in even flows. When he finally removed his hand, Liz’s eyes widened upon seeing that there was not even the smallest scratch remaining to acknowledge that such a severing had ever existed. He opened his eyes, looking up and stared directly at her.
Immediately Liz swung the door closed, guiltily caught and sighed, leaning heavily against the door.
Max swallowed, and forced himself to brush the girl out of his mind as he turned back to Tess. “Are you okay?”
She didn’t respond, only promptly slapped him across the face. “You bastard!” she spat. “What the hell were you doing with that little wretch?”
Max shook his head vehemently. “It’s nothing like that,” he assured her. “She was sick.”
“Sick?” Tess cried angrily. “What kind of difference does that make? Why should you even care?”
The question caught him off guard. He shouldn’t care. He didn’t want to. “She’s not any use to us if she’s dead,” he reminded Tess firmly.
Tess paused, taking his response into careful consideration. He was right. She narrowed her eyes suspiciously at him. “You never cared about any of that.”
“You do,” Max replied.
She looked a little surprised. “You did this because of me?”
He nodded. “You know I love you.”
Tess smiled. “I know now.”
The door swung open and Liz scurried back, startled, as she scrambled to cover herself more effectively. He strode in, and Liz peered into the other room seeing no sign of Tess. She had gone.
Max knelt beside her, not dismissing the way she flinched away from his presence. Was that fear? He shrugged it away, knowing it didn’t matter, and snatched her hand into his grasp. He turned it over, leaving his face blank as he gazed down at the familiar circular burn, grateful his had finally faded away. Instead, he examined the cuts in her hand. After wiping the blood away, he could see that the damage was not as excessive as it appeared to be. There was only a small laceration across her palm and two or three tiny slashes on her fingertips.
Automatically he raised his hand over hers, covering it, and debated on whether or not to go through with the action. If he healed her, like he had Tess, he would have to forge a connection. His mind blatantly told him not to, to refuse any kind of contact with her at all. But that feeling... that feeling told him differently.
Finally Max dropped his hand to the side, never once taking his eyes off her palm. He was afraid what would happen if he actually looked at her. Instead he grasped the edge of the sheet in his hands, sensing her flinch again, and crudely tore a strip from it. Gently taking her palm up in his again, he carefully wrapped it, bandaging it as graciously as he could. He relaxed a little, possibly because the scar was now covered, but he allowed himself sneak a glance at her.
Mistake. His eyes locked with hers immediately and she stared into his with warm curiosity. He couldn’t help himself by looking, but now he couldn’t stop. She was pulling him in, dragging him with her. There was no escape. He was drowning.
Drowning. He leaned in, finally tearing his eyes away and he brushed her throat with his lips. Quick, soft. His gaze drifted to an ugly, purple bruise printed on her shoulder. He had given her that, he remember. He smoothed his fingers over it, feeling the excessive pumping of her blood beneath is touch. His other arm curled around her waist as he positioned another kiss to her neck, running his hand down the curve of her back.
She sucked in her breath and straightened.
“Why don’t you just kill me?”
He pulled away, puzzled and surprised.
“You know I’m not her,” she whispered raggedly. “I’m not who I’m supposed to be.”
Max couldn’t think. He knew she had been taken by mistake. They had wanted the other girl. This one wasn’t the fiancée. He knew. She knew. Tess didn’t.
“Why haven’t you killed me yet?” she hissed, and he could feel her breath against his ear.
He had the answer buried, tucked deep inside. He knew that destroying something so beautiful, so perfect, so enthralling, so exquisite and ethereal... it would be a tragedy. He just hadn’t realized it yet.
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 5-Nov-2001 5:33:07 PM ]