posted on 27-Jan-2002 11:20:20 AM by Red
Title: 33 Daughters of Eve – Prologue
Author: Red
Email: red⊕wdsection.com
Rating: PG-13 - R
Disclaimer: Roswell belongs to 20th Century Fox and UPN and not to me.
Category: M/L mostly.
Summary: Sequel to Hail Jing-Bang. You’ll want to read that one first. You can read it here. http://www.wdsection.com/redsplace/library/fiction_red_hjb.html
This story is about Liz discovering who she is and Max and Liz discovering their place in the order of things. It takes place during the summer before their senior year in High School, approximately four months after Hail Jing-Bang ends.
Spoilers: Could be anything before mid season 2.
Feedback: Yes please. I love feedback; it makes me so happy.
Archive: Hey, it’s all yours, just drop me a line telling me where so I can visit.

******

"Whoa. Did you see that?"

"God, he’s got a baby."

Michael laughed. "I know. The whole place is going up. Tequila’s the man!"

"Okay, so how’s the kid sleeping through this?"

"Liz, you are in danger of over analyzing the Hong Kong action genre. It defies all logic. Just go with it. Besides it’s not asleep."

"How many people has he killed in the last two minutes?" Liz asked, revulsion and fascination warring on her face.

"By my count? Let’s see. The two guys down on the main floor, one in the stairway. We won’t count the big explosion because that was incidental. Four guys on this floor. And three have come through the door at him."

"Okay, so now his only exit is piled high with dead guys and flames and the building’s going to explode at any second and he has a baby."

"Window."

"Of course. How silly of me." Liz rolled her eyes. "Let me guess, he’s gonna swing out the window get away just as the building explodes, hand the baby to its grateful and miraculously still alive parents and then he’s gonna smooch the chick?"

Michael smirked. "You forgot to roll credits."

They watched the final minutes of the movie, alternately chuckling and grimacing. At last the credits rolled and Liz stretched her arms above her head and yawned.

"Did I miss the white doves? I think I missed the white doves," she said.

"You were getting popcorn."

"Damn."

"I could go back to that scene."

Liz waived her hands quickly. "Oh, hey, not on my account. I want doves I’ll watch Mission: Impossible 2 again. And that was painful enough the first time."

"C’mon this has to be worth another view," Michael pleaded, still chuckling.

Liz shook her head and laughed with him. "I thought you didn’t like Chow Yun-Fat."

"Nah, he’s really cool when he’s got a gun and he’s mowing down the bad guys. That Jane Austen Kung-Fu crap was too much for me."

"I thought it was a beautiful movie."

"See?" Michael said triumphantly. "Chick flick."

Liz punched his shoulder. "Pig."

"Damn straight," he pronounced loudly. "So, ‘The Killer’?" He held the DVD box up enticingly.

Liz was temporarily saved from answering by the buzzing of her cell phone. She reached over the side of Michael’s couch and pulled it out of her bag.

"’Lo?"

"Liz?"

Liz’s face lit up with a smile. "Hey Max. What’s up?"

"Not much. I stopped by the Crash to see you but Maria said you were out for the evening. Where are you?" He asked.

Liz let out a breath and steeled herself for what was to come. "Michael’s."

"Again?"

"It’s movie night," she muttered defensively.

She could hear Max sigh heavily on the other end of the connection. "We’re leaving in less then three days, Liz. You can’t avoid your parents forever."

"Oh yes I can."

"Liz, you have to go home to at least say goodbye."

"No I don’t."

"Let me talk to Michael."

"What? You’re gonna order him to take me home? Um, no," Liz leaned her head back against the couch and sighed. "I’ll go home. I just needed to get away for a little while. My mom started in on me again."

"About me or the internship?"

Liz hesitated for a moment before replying. "Both."

"Gonna stay the night?"

"Maybe."

"Why don’t you go stay with Maria?"

"Because then I’ll get a lecture from Amy. Michael’s good and lecture free. Jealous?"

"Hardly," Max snorted. He was silent for a moment and when he spoke again his voice was resigned. "So what was on the list for movie night tonight?"

Liz laughed. "You’re so easy Max."

"Are you laughing at me?"

"No. Never. Okay, so movie night. We started with Die Hard 3, cause, you know, it’s a classic, then we went to two Jet Li movies then moved on to a Chow Yun-Fat movie."

"Um, wow."

"Yeah, Michael’s trying to get me to go for a second Chow Yun-Fat movie but I think if I watch one more of these flicks tonight I’m going to have a hard time resisting the urge to shoot anything that moves."

Max laughed. "I know the feeling."

They both fell silent after that.

"So . . ." Liz prompted.

"I just wanted to check up on you. I didn’t see you today."

"I missed you, too. You could come over here, you know."

Liz made a point of ignoring Michael’s groan of disgust but she couldn’t ignore him when he tried to pull the phone out of her hands.

"Maxwell," he shouted in the direction of the phone. "You can survive for a day without seeing your girlfriend."

Liz fended him off and covered the phone with her hand. "Back off Guerin or I’ll zap your DVD player."

Michael’s eyes widened at the threat, then his brow lowered as he thought about it. "Can you do that?" He shook his head in irritation. "Never mind. I don’t want to watch you two drool all over each other for the rest of the night. On my couch!"

"You’ll get over it. Besides you hate this couch."

"It’s purple," he grumbled.

"It’s plum."

"Whatever."

"So change the color."

Michael narrowed his eyes, glaring at her, then he stood up abruptly and left the room. Liz shook her head. Michael’s control over his powers had increased dramatically, but there were some areas he just didn’t have the touch and his sensitivity to any shortcoming was still extreme. He’d probably resent it if she changed the color for him but she swept her hand across the fabric anyway, changing it from plum to forest green. Some days it was very cool to have alien powers, she grinned to herself.

Liz brought her phone back up to her ear and addressed her patiently waiting lover again. "Are you going to come over?"

"No, it’s getting pretty late and mom wants to take me shopping tomorrow morning," he groaned.

"Poor baby. Is Isabel going with you?"

"No, thank god!"

"Are you sure you won’t come over? Even for a few minutes?" She asked softly.

Max took a deep breath. "Three days, Liz. Three days and then we’ve got six weeks together."

Liz let her eyes drift closed. "Three days."

"I’ve gotta go now. I’ll see you tomorrow?"

"Yeah. I love you."

"Love you, too. Bye."

Liz dropped her phone back into her bag and looked up to find Michael standing in the doorway between his kitchen and living room. He shifted his eyes deliberately from her to the couch and back again. Liz raised an eyebrow and waited for him to say something. Crossing the room silently, he handed her a bottle of Snapple and placed a fresh bowl of popcorn on his coffee table.

"Killer?" He asked.

"Oh god, please no more. I’m gonna have shell shock for a month." Liz gave Michael a small smile, apology offered, apology accepted.

"Max coming over?"

"No."

He threw himself down on the couch. "What do you want to watch?"

She got up to pick through his DVDs and videos for something slightly less violent. Grabbing a video, she held it up for his inspection. "Farscape?"

"Cool."

******

Author’s Note:
The movie Liz and Michael are watching is called Hard Boiled. Unlike, Michael I don’t do body counts. I did it once for the movie Die Hard 2 and lost count somewhere in the mid-200s. I quickly lost interest. It’s a good flick though. Hard Boiled, that is, not Die Hard 2. John Woo, Chow Yun-Fat. I’m definitely a fan of the genre, though I admit it tends to be beyond absurd. Oh, my point was, I don’t know if the body count’s accurate or not. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the flick. And if somebody out there knows, well, just make believe I’m right. It sounds good. *wink*


Red


[ edited 10time(s), last at 15-Jun-2002 11:25:51 PM ]
posted on 27-Jan-2002 11:21:32 AM by Red
CHAPTER ONE

******

"The whole world says, I’m Great;
Great, yet unlike everyone else.
But it’s precisely because I’m unlike everyone else, that
I’m therefore able to be Great.
Were I like everyone else, for a longtime now I’d have
Seemed insignificant and small."
-- Lao-tzu

******

Maria Deluca stepped out of the hot, dry, summer air and into the pleasantly air-conditioned oasis of the Crashdown Café, goosebumps breaking out across her arms while her body adjusted to the abrupt but welcome drop in temperature. She nodded cheerfully to some of the regulars and one of the waitresses but didn’t stop chat, making her way instead, to the back of the restaurant and then up the stairs to her best friend’s apartment.

Knocking once on the door she pushed it open without waiting for a response and strolled through.

"Hey there, Mr. P. How’s it going?"

Jeff Parker was working on his computer and glanced up with a distracted smile at Maria’s greeting. "Oh, hi, Maria. It’s going fine, thanks. Liz’s in her room. Hey are you still planning on going out to visit her this summer?"

"Yeah, I forgot to tell you, I’m definitely going but I don’t know exactly what my plans are right now though. I still have to clear everything with my mom. But, I’ll give you plenty of notice. Promise."

"Well, if you could just give me a week or so, that’ll be really great. UFO conspiracies are bigger then ever and what with that satellite crashing down in the desert back in February tourism’s been up like I’ve never seen. It’ll be a hectic summer."

"No problem, Mr. P." Maria gave him a small wave and continued on her way.

She slowed down when she approached her friend’s room, the sounds of chaos drifted out into the hallway, things being shuffled, muffled curses, and the sound of slamming drawers. Maria stuck her head cautiously through the doorway and blinked in surprise at the disaster area in front of her.

"Liz?" She called.

"What?" Came a short, irritable reply from the general direction of the bathroom.

"Are you okay?"

Liz stepped out of the bathroom and glared at her friend. "I’m fine." Then she disappeared again.

"Hello, lovely Maria."

Maria’s head jerked around at the soft voice coming from the patio. She leaned her head out the window and greeted the speaker, who was lying comfortably on the deck chair. "Hey Tobin. Isn’t it kind of hot out there?"

"I am looking at the stars."

"It’s daytime."

Tobin shrugged, unconcerned. "I am mostly blind."

"Good point. But, it’s pretty hot to be hanging around out there, dontcha think?"

"Yes," he said simply, continuing his deep contemplation of the sky.

Maria rolled her eyes and pulled her head back inside. "Okay dude, but I don’t want to hear about it if you get a sunburn."

"I will try to remember that," Tobin laughed.

"Maria?" Liz called from the bathroom. "Do me a huge favor, please?"

"Sure babe."

"Could you start folding the clothes that are on my bed?"

"Yeah, of course." Maria crossed to Liz’s bed and stared stunned at the piles of clothes strewn untidily across it and the two large, empty suitcases laying open next to it. She picked up a t-shirt and shook it out. "Liz, seriously, are you okay?"

"What? Why?"

"You’re leaving tomorrow."

"Yeah?"

"And you’re still not packed?" Maria asked in disbelief. "That is so not like you. You should have been packed days ago."

Liz stepped out of the bathroom again, her makeup kit in hand. "Look, this is the new and improved me. The new Liz has better things to do then worry about packing her bags a freaking month in advance."

Maria snorted. "What? Watching action movies with an alien general, or was it making out with an alien king?"

"Both," Liz laughed and tossed her kit on the bed.

A sharp rap on the door announced the arrival of Alex, the other best girlfriend. "Hey, hey, it’s my two favorite girls."

"Hey Alex," Maria greeted brightly.

Liz winced slightly as she watched him limp painfully into the room. "I wish you’d let us heal that, Alex."

He threw himself down onto a chair and shrugged. "Nah. It’s gotta look good for my parents. I mean, it would be kind of strange if one day I’m in the hospital and the next day I’m dancing a merry jig. It’s not too bad any more." He shook his leg out, showing off its improving flexibility. "So, you’re packing."

"Hey, Liz, look, it’s Captain States the Obvious," Maria laughed.

"Give a guy a break," Alex groaned. "My small talk skills have been taxed lately. My Dad keeps trotting out relatives I didn’t know I had in a bizarre sort of ‘hey Alex we’re all glad you’re not dead’ parade disguised as a family reunion. So yes, stating the obvious is at least real. So, you’re packing."

Liz grinned at Alex and gestured expansively around her room. "No, not packing. I’ve just decided that I need to actually see everything I own all at once. No more of that hiding crap in drawers stuff for me, no sir."

Alex threw up his hand to high-five Liz. "Right on, Liz. Buck that neat freak system. I always knew you were a rebel deep down inside."

Liz laughed again. "Yeah, yeah. So I’m saving it until the last minute." She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "God, I can’t wait to get out of here."

"You in that big a hurry to get rid of us?" He teased gently.

"No, of course not." She shook her head. "I just need to get away, you know?"

"Yeah, I get it," Alex told her seriously.

"Are you sure you won’t come out to Boston this summer?" Liz asked, almost pleading, but Alex shook his head.

"I don’t think so, Lizzy. My parents aren’t real big on letting me out of their sight right now. Besides, Is and I kind of want to be around for Kyle."

Maria gave up any pretense of folding clothes and sat down on the bed. "How’s he doing? I haven’t seen him at all since school got out."

Alex frowned slightly. "Some days are better then others. Being around aliens who can heal any wound makes you feel kind of invincible, even with all that insane danger around. They aren’t supposed to die. Not like that." He shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. "The royal guards around everywhere just rub salt in it. I think we could all use to get away from alien stuff this summer. Hopefully if it’s just Is and I hanging around we can avoid any big ET angst and maybe Kyle’ll deal better."

Liz nodded, understanding. When Tess had been killed and it looked like Alex wasn’t going to fare any better, Kyle and Isabel had spent a great deal of time camped out in Alex’s hospital room. The three had bonded together tightly during Alex’s recovery and she could easily understand their desire for a quiet summer. "Okay, but I’m really going to miss you this summer."

"It’s only six weeks. Besides once you and Max get away from here, the last things on your mind will be home and your best girlfriend Alex. Just promise me you’ll have fun," he ordered her.

Liz raised her hand solemnly. "I promise."

"Yeah, I know what kind of fun Liz and Max will be having all summer," Maria teased.

Liz arched her eyebrow dangerously. "You know that’s funny, ‘cause I thought I heard somewhere that Michael was coming out with you. I’m sure you two are going to have plenty of all kinds of fun."

Alex held up his hands in protest. "Please stop. You are going places my mind strongly resists visiting."

"Poor Alex," Liz chuckled.

"So anyway, on to this new and improved Liz," Maria said, returning to her clothes folding task. "What exactly does that entail?"

"My new and improvedness?"

"Yeah."

"Ah, well it’s a new philosophy I have," Liz began but was interrupted by the beeping of her alarm clock. "Hold on." She opened the window on to her patio and stuck her head out. "Tobin. Come in now."

"I am looking at the stars," he told her matter-of-factly.

"I don’t care. I told Sef I wouldn’t let you stay out there too long. In, now."

Tobin snorted in irritation. "Sef ruins all my fun."

"Tobin…"

He climbed reluctantly off the chair and with slow, plodding steps approached the window. "Yes, my queen."

"Give it up," Liz warned and stepped back to let him into her room.

"Alex!" He yelled, brightening suddenly. "My good friend." He pulled himself up onto Liz’s desk next to Alex and smiled at him companionably.

"How ya doing, Tobin?" Alex laughed.

"Very well, when I can have my fun."

"And when you can’t?"

"Very ill."

Maria shook her head at the two of them and started handing Liz her folded clothes to pack away. "What’s he doing here?"

Liz shrugged and started stuffing her clothes into her suitcase. "He hangs out sometimes."

"How do you explain him to your parents?"

"I don’t. I mean, how could I? He’s just Tobin. That says more then any explanation I could give."

Maria nodded. "So is this part of the new and improved Liz? You don’t talk to your parents at all?"

"I never said that," Liz said sharply then she took a deep breath and smiled apologetically at Maria. "I’m sorry. It’s just that sometimes it takes way too much effort to explain things to them."

"Okay, so I don’t get you in any more trouble, what exactly do your parents know about this summer trip of yours?"

Liz dropped the pair of shorts she was holding into the bag and then sat down. "They know I’ve got an internship with the Wayland Corporation and they know that the same is true with Max. They’ve talked to Errol and he gave them the whole low down on Wayland, minus the alien part or course."

"They know you’re going to be basically living with Max for six weeks? And they haven’t tried to lock you away somewhere?" Maria asked, surprised.

Liz answered slowly, quietly, "Well, not exactly. They know we are both going to be in Boston but we kind of let them assume that we would be in separate apartments on the Wayland campus."

"Ahh," Maria muttered sagely.

"So. What about your mom? Does she know you’re coming out with Michael?"

"Oh well, that’s a strange story all its own," Maria said rather ambiguously.

"Hey Liz," Alex interrupted suddenly. "Tobin and I are gonna go get some ice cream. You guys want anything?"

Liz glanced at Maria and then shook her head. "No. We’re good, thanks." Then she turned back to Maria expectantly. "So what’s that about your mom?"

"Okay, well, I don’t understand it and I don’t know how it happened and I wasn’t there to see it but somehow Michael and my mom have formed this weird truce. She trusts him completely. I mean totally and completely. I have no clue what he said to her and neither of them would tell me what happened. My mom is actually happy," Maria was up and pacing around the room. "Happy, that Michael is going with me to Boston. It’s creepy weird," she concluded.

Liz blinked and pursed her lips in surprise. "Wow. That’s pretty cool." Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. "You don’t think he told her, do you? I mean the alien thing?"

Maria shook her head vehemently. "No, no way, she’d be in a padded room right now if he had."

"I don’t know. I think you’re mom would actually take it pretty well," Liz murmured thoughtfully.

"Hmm, well let’s not test that theory just yet. So I’m a little freaked by it but I’m going to accept my good fortune and not question it right now," Maria told her decisively.

"Good plan," Liz told her with a laugh.

Maria stopped her frenetic movements around Liz’s room and watched her friend for a minute. The past four months had worked definite changes in Liz’s personality, while she was still the warm, friendly, intelligent Liz her friends loved and relied on, she’d acquired an edge to her that hadn’t been there before. It manifested itself in odd ways. Her sense of humor had taken a turn for the grim and she had less patience for obnoxious customers or questioning parents. Maria had decided that she liked the new edge in Liz, it wore away the air of naivete and lent her friend a more worldly maturity. She’d gone from a sweet science geek with hidden strength, to an obviously strong and confident woman. That’s not to say, however, that Maria wasn’t worried about some other effects of these new changes. The tension in the Parker family was readily apparent at all times with fights being the rule these days and Liz could turn moody and uncommunicative at the drop of a hat. She didn’t talk a lot about what happened that February but Maria knew there were aspects of that whole nightmare that were still eating at her friend.

"What?" Liz asked suddenly, not looking up from her packing.

"You know you can talk to me about anything, right?"

"Of course."

"Anything," Maria emphasized the word tightly, trying to make sure she had Liz’s attention.

"Maria," Liz said wearily.

"I’m not blind or stupid, Liz. Something’s bugging you and it’s not your parents. Do you at least talk to Max about it?"

Liz kept her head bent to her task but she nodded slightly. "Yeah. We talk a lot about it."

"Does it help?" Maria pressed.

"Yeah," she replied softly. "I’m sorry Maria. It’s just . . . just I’m not ready yet."

Maria waved her away. "No, don’t apologize. When you’re ready, you’re ready. Just so long as you can talk to somebody and if it can’t be me I’m glad it’s Max."

"Thanks babe," Liz smiled.

Maria smiled back and tossed one more shirt into an open suitcase. "Are we almost done here?"

"I think so. If I forget something I can always buy another. It’s not like I don’t have the money," she snorted wryly.

"Definite bonus to being royalty," Maria agreed. "And while we are on the subject I have to object to the fact that you changed the color of Michael’s couch. Isabel just about hit the roof when she saw it. She tried to change it again and I swear it took three of us to hold her back. She says the green doesn’t go with the décor. We had to hear about it all afternoon."

Liz was unsympathetic. "Why Michael let her talk him into letting her decorate his new place I will never understand. It’s his own fault he ended up with a purple couch."

"It was plum," Maria pointed out.

Liz made a face. "Whatever. He didn’t like so I changed it for him. End of story."

"You tell that to Isabel."

"Fine. I will." Liz put the last of her clothing into the suitcases and struggled for a moment to close them up. Maria finally jumped up and sat on first one and then the other, allowing Liz to zip them up more easily.

Maria looked on with amusement as Liz pulled the heavy bags off her bed and let them drop to the floor with twin resounding thuds. "I bet Chief Ross is just about busting a gut over the fact that he wasn’t able to pack your bags."

"It would generate way too many questions from my parents if a supposed Interpol agent was going through my lingerie drawer," Liz snickered. "Whatever, I’m making Max carry these down. Let’s go get something to eat, I am absolutely starving."

******

Later that evening, as the sun disappeared and the temperatures dropped to something much more comfortable, Liz spent her last night at home that summer on her patio enjoying the warm desert night and the clear sky dusted with stars. So much had changed in such a little time and she wondered idly why that always seemed to surprise her. From that moment two years ago when she found out aliens existed, her life had been in a constant state of change. She did find herself wishing from time to time for just a moment to catch her breath and an opportunity to really see where she’d been and how far she’d come. So far she hadn’t been granted that chance and the never ending drive for answers kept her moving forward when she otherwise might falter. It wasn’t that she was unhappy with the state her life was in at present, it was more a general feeling that she might not know where she should go if she couldn’t get a good look at where she was coming from. And there were definite forces at work within her, changing the very core and chemistry of who and what she was. From a scientific point of view she was fascinated, from a personal point of view some days she was almost overwhelmed.

A small smile tugged the frown from her lips when she felt the warm presence of the one person who kept her together when she felt she was flying apart in a million directions. Closing her eyes she inhaled deeply as the tingling warmth flowed through her, calming her, and a few seconds later she heard the sound of soft footfalls in the alley below. She kept her eyes closed but her grin widened as he came closer and closer to her. When she felt him lean over her and felt his warm breath on her face she couldn’t keep in the laugh that tickled at her throat any longer. She opened her eyes and staring into the burnished gold of his gaze leaned up to accept his greeting kiss.

Max sat next to her legs on her deck chair and brushed a long lock of hair off of her face. "All packed?"

"Yep. No thanks to you. Hogging Chief Ross like that," Liz chastised teasingly.

"I’m sorry, baby, he’s all yours next time," Max responded with a soft chuckle.

Liz leaned forward and looped her arms around his neck. "Of on our next adventure are we?"

"Yep," Max brushed his lips across her cheek and slipped his hands around her waist. "You ready for it?"

"Yeah, I really think I am. Four months without some sort of earth shaking emergency and I’m getting bored." Liz said wryly.

"Hmm, and here I am thinking I’m taking you away from it all, far away from all this stress. A nice romantic vacation . . ."

"To Boston?" Liz laughed.

"Hey," Max objected indignantly. "I understand New England can be very romantic. Charming little inns tucked away here and there. Be nice to me or you’ll never find out," he warned.

She leaned on his shoulder and nipped lightly at his neck. "I’m sorry, I’ll be good."

Max shivered at her touch, despite the relative warmth of the evening air. "Good girl. How are your parents dealing with this?"

Liz sighed and rubbed her forehead on his shoulder. "Way to kill the mood, Max."

"I’m sorry sweetheart but I just want to make sure there aren’t going to be any problems before we leave in the morning," he told her gently, rubbing his hands soothingly up and down her back.

"They aren’t very happy but I’m pretty sure they actually liked Errol and they won’t deny me the chance to have an internship at one of the top bio-tech companies in the world. Be warned though, they are coming out to Boston at least once to visit this summer."

"So are my parents. Maybe we could coordinate their visits so they show up together. That might take some pressure off. Or at the very least keep the number of days they are going to interrupt us to a minimum."

"Hmm, maybe," Liz murmured and returned her attention to his neck. "I don’t want to talk about my parents any more, Max."

Max ran his hands lovingly through her hair and pulled back a bit from her to cup her face in his hands then he kissed her deeply and languidly. When at length they broke apart, Max decided he was more then happy to let the subject of her parents drop and focus on more pleasurable pursuits.

******

Red
posted on 28-Jan-2002 10:11:48 PM by Red
Oh hey, in case anybody checks back before I get a new chapeter up -

I realize it's been a while since I mentioned the Wayland Corporation so here's the chapter where Isabel, Maria, and Alex meet Errol and the other Antarans.
http://www.geocities.com/redthemighty/library/fiction_red_hjb30.html

Ladylou - I am familiar with the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I was a great fan of the Chronicles of Narnia when I was a kid but it's been a long time since I've read them.
The title actually comes from a genetic study, and if you're at all interested or hideously bored, you can read about it in these articles. *big*
http://www.crystalinks.com/creationeve.html
http://www.time.com/time/europe/eu/printout/0,9869,107375,00.html

posted on 2-Feb-2002 8:59:01 AM by Red
Chapter Two A

"You have got to be kidding me," Liz murmured as she climbed out of the car and looked up.

Max stepped up besides her, his gaze travelling up and up as well. "That’s big."

Liz glanced over at him. "That’s an understatement."

"Please, tell me it’s been converted into an apartment building," Max pleaded quietly.

Liz ran her gaze over the huge brownstone rowhouse in front of them. It was five stories tall, with four large black shuttered windows on each floor, and its left side partially covered in lush green ivy. The first floor’s windows each had flower boxes hanging from them, dripping with colorful foliage, and just above, at the base of the tall second floor windows a beautifully intricate wrought iron railing crossed the face of the building. The front entrance was recessed and above the street level four steps, there were small planters filled with flowers on each side of the steps and the side walls were paneled in cream painted wood. The door itself was quite imposing, black and shiny with brass hardware it spoke loudly, proclaiming the inhabitants’ status as wealthy and powerful.

Liz sighed and wished the Antarans weren’t quite so ready and willing to spoil their royal family. But it seemed that everything that touched on them was to be the very best and if it couldn’t be the Antarans were deeply shamed. Liz cursed quietly and wondered how she was going to explain this to her parents. The looks of their faces when they were told that Liz and Max would be flying out to Boston directly from Roswell on a corporate jet told Liz they knew something was going on but that they couldn’t quite wrap their minds around whether it was something good or something bad. And now this house. No, Liz corrected herself silently, this mansion.

Max let out a loud sigh of breath next to her and she watched him turn back to the car and address the civilian garbed guard removing bags from the trunk. "Where are we?"

"Your house, your Majesty," the man replied respectfully.

"My house," Max repeated tonelessly.

The door to the building opened and Chief Steward Ciarán Ross stepped lightly down the steps. "Ma’am, sir, welcome to Boston."

Liz nodded cordially to him, happy to see something familiar. "Thanks, Ciarán, it’s good to finally be here."

The Chief had flown out to Boston the night before, ostensibly to make sure everything was ready for their arrival, but in reality he’d rushed out to make sure the others didn’t overdo the welcome and in their enthusiasm make things more trying for Max and Liz. In the months the Chief had been with them he had learned what was comfortable to them and what was too much. He’d managed to keep the welcoming party to a minimum and saw to it only a handful of guards met them at the airport. Had fanfares and a huge crowd met them they probably wouldn’t have gotten off the plane.

"You had a pleasant flight, I hope?" Chief Ross asked.

"Very smooth," Max told him. "Um, where are we?"

"Beacon Hill, sir," the Chief answered quickly, understanding Max’s question as the guard had not. "This is Louisbourg Square." He gestured to the strip of green across the street bordered by a wrought iron fence and beyond that to another block of brownstone row houses looking back at them.

Max nodded and took in the sight of the square. "Have you been here before?"

"No, sir. Last night was my first here." The Chief then glanced up at the ominously darkening sky. "We should go in, sir, it’s supposed to rain today and it looks like it means to start any minute now. Bad luck, that. Your first day here and all."

"You go ahead, Chief," Liz said quickly, grabbing Max’s hand. "I just want to walk down the block. You know, get a better look at the place."

The Chief frowned at the idea of his King and Queen getting caught in a downpour but he finally gave them a small half-bow and turned his attention to directing the guard carrying the bags.

Liz tugged on Max’s hand and they started walking slowly down the brick paved sidewalk.

"That is not an apartment."

"No," agreed Max. "It’s not even just a house."

"God, I can’t believe they did that." Liz shook her head. "I’m terrified to see the inside. I’m sure it’s gorgeous. I don’t know whether I’m annoyed and feeling guilty because I’m being a bitch or if . . ." she trailed off, searching for the words to describe her state of mind.

"Or, if you’re elated and you feel like you just stepped into some dream where you won a jillion dollars in the lotto and you’re feeling guilty ‘cause you don’t know what you did to deserve it," Max finished for her.

"Exactly."

They stopped at the end of the block and watched the traffic rush by on Mt. Vernon Street, before turning back around and taking in the sight of the picturesque square.

"On the other hand," Max said reasonably, picking up their earlier conversation. "It’s our house. Ours. Not our parents." He smiled at the thought.

"Very true." Liz graced Max with a small smiled and tucked her arm in his. "Well then, I guess, we’d better be getting back to our house and face up to the weirdness that is our lives."

They strolled slowly back down the block and caught the eye of some of their new neighbors. Liz and Max noticed the other couple immediately and slowed when the well-dressed pair approached them. Liz felt Max tense up next to her and she slid her arm around his waist comfortingly but she understood his caution completely and she only relaxed slightly when she noticed one of their guards step up onto the sidewalk behind the newcomers.

"Hi, I’m Alice and this is my husband Doug. You must be Max and Liz," Alice greeted cheerfully.

Liz blinked in surprise at the greeting and Max stammered for a moment before clearing his throat and trying again. "Yes, we are. It’s nice to meet you."

The two couples shook hands and sized each other up. Alice was a slim, attractive woman in her mid-forties, but the years were starting to tell on her and she had a rather brittle look around her eyes, as if she was afraid her youthful façade would break at any moment. Her husband, Doug, was also relatively attractive though he was starting to go a little soft around the middle and he hid an extra chin behind his salt-and-pepper beard.

"We saw you arrive and thought we’d pop out to say hi," Alice continued, oblivious to Max and Liz’s residual shock. Doug made a small effort to smile but it was evident that he was not part of the ‘we’ that wanted to ambush the newest arrivals.

"And how are you finding everything here?" Alice asked with a blinding smile. "You know when we saw the decorators in the Lloyd house we just knew something was up. Didn’t we Dougie? I must admit, I don’t like the thought of corporate owned property in the square but my sister Laine swore that Wayland was a good family owned company. Only the best stock you know. Dougie told me it was probably just some of the family wanting to move back to the city. Didn’t you, sugar?" Doug grunted something unintelligible. "And at the last square meeting that wonderfully charming gentleman Mr. Errol, he comes to the meetings from time to time, told us that my Dougie was right. It’s good to see the house still in the family. I like to see that. Old blood, you know. Good breeding. Not like some of these new money people. They get lucky in the stock market, get a little money and think they know everything there is to know about society and barge their way into our neighborhoods. Simply garish manners. But we got lucky, I told Laine. I was always afraid Wayland would do something dreadful to the property, turn it into apartments or something just as frightful. Not that the square would ever let that happen, of course, but such an ugly thing, all those court dealings, I can’t stand them. What a perfectly awful waste of a day."

Liz was silently counting to herself, wondering how long the woman could go without drawing a breath, but finally Alice stopped and looked more closely at her two captives. "But, oh, my, aren’t the pair of you just darling? If you weren’t so adorable together I’d want to snatch you up for my own kids. It’s so difficult these days. Richard off to college in Oregon of all places, he simply refused to stay here and he’s dating a girl whose father owns a chain of, what was it Dougie? Oh, that’s right, they sell carpet. Can you believe that? What kind of business is that I ask? And Tiffany, well, at least she’s got the sense her brother missed out on, she’s gone off to Princeton. However, I want to know what’s so wrong with Harvard? I went to Harvard, my Dougie went to Harvard and it’s just across the river. They could stay at home and they wouldn’t be tempted to be seen with the likes of the Linoleum Princess or whatever her name is. Well, at least they’re home for the summer and I can keep a proper eye on them. Where do you go to school, dears?"

Liz felt like she’d just been sucked up into a tornado and sat down suddenly, she got her bearings back before Max did however and braved conversation with Alice. "We go to school in New Mexico, right now. But, uh, it’s always been my dream to attend Harvard when I graduate."

Alice beamed at her and for a moment Liz wasn’t sure that she wasn’t still in danger of being ‘snatched up’ for the absent Richard. Though, maybe he wasn’t such a bad pick, he’d clearly been smart enough to flee to the other side of the country when he’d gotten old enough. "That is wonderful. Oh, I can get you an appointment and you can tour the school when you get a chance. How does that sound?"

"That’d be great. Thank you."

"Oh I’m absolutely thrilled to do it. Now, what are you interested in studying? I was a business major. Hard to believe isn’t it? But my father insisted."

Liz hesitated for a moment before answering, she couldn’t quite tell if Alice had stopped speaking or if she was just gathering her strength for another long-winded monologue. "Molecular biology. I’m, uh, fond of science."

Alice’s smile grew even bigger if that was possible; to the point that Liz was almost worried the woman’s face would actually crack. "My Dougie loves biology, don’t you Sweetie Pie?"

"I’m a doctor, Alice," Doug replied with the patient tone of the long suffering.

She ignored her husband and turned back to Max. "And how about you, Max? You’re awfully quiet. You remind me of my sister, Laine’s, son. James. I wonder about that boy sometimes. He says he wants to be a veterinarian."

Max shook himself out of his stunned state and managed a small smile. "I’m not sure yet. I don’t think I’ve decided."

"No idea at all?" Alice wheedled.

"Well, um, I thought about political science, or maybe law. My father’s a lawyer. Or medicine’s always a possibility."

"You sound like you have a great many interests, Max. Noble interests. So refreshing. That desire to learn and expand yourself." She looked him over predatorily. Clearly Max wasn’t safe from Alice’s matchmaking schemes for her children either. "But I hope you plan to take active participation in the family corporation, Max. There’s nothing I like seeing less then the younger generations not respecting and contributing to the hard work of the previous generations."

A threatening rumble of thunder saved Max from having to come up with an answer to that rather leading statement.

Alice tutted in irritation. "Well, I suppose that’s our cue to move along. We’re having a dinner party on Friday night, I’ll send around a proper invitation to you tomorrow but I wanted to catch you before you made any plans. Some of our other neighbors will be there and I know they’re all anxious to meet you. How jealous Cynthia will be when I tell her I ran into you two today," Alice fairly squealed in delight at her coup.

"We’d better let them get back to their house, Alice," Doug interrupted his wife. "I’d hate to have the next time I see them be when I’m treating them for pneumonia because you kept them out chatting in the rain."

"Oh really, Doug," she huffed. "They’re young and very healthy, they’ll hardly get pneumonia from a little rain, and I still have a number of questions for them."

"They’ve traveled a long way," Doug said tiredly and glanced up at the clouds. It was entirely possible that he didn’t care a jot about Max and Liz getting wet, but rather that he himself had no desire to stand outside in a thunderstorm. "I’m sure they’re tired and you know how the immune system gets when exhaustion sets in."

Another peal of thunder echoed menacingly around the square and Alice finally gave up her protests.

"I suppose you’re right. Max, Liz, it was wonderful to meet you," she grabbed their hands in a tight grip. "Remember to keep your Friday open."

"Of course," Max muttered quietly.

He and Liz stood still for a moment, watching Alice and Doug disappear into their house before yet another, louder clap of thunder shook them from their stupor.

"Saved by the act of god," Max sighed.

Liz chuckled softly. "That was scary. Tell me we have plans on Friday."

"I have no idea, but I really hope so."

"Hmm, if not we have three days to come down with pneumonia," Liz mused. "It’ll be tight but I think I can do it, how about you?"

Max rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "If you get pneumonia then of course I won’t be able to leave your bedside until you’re well. So, yeah, that should work."

"Oh sure, I’m the one to get sick," Liz griped.

Max grinned over his shoulder at her and pushed open the door to their house. He stopped just inside and Liz had to push him out of the way to get past him. Once by him she took a good look around the entry hall and simply shook her head in bemusement. It was, as she’d feared, absolutely gorgeous. Not gaudy or over done, but tastefully and richly done. She could have sworn she’d seen it in Architectural Digest or some similar publication.

She resigned herself to the bizarre sense of humor fate seemed to have at her expense and decided not to fight something that simply had no need to be fought. To some she was worthy of this house and she wouldn’t embarrass them or shame them by refusing. "Come on, Max. Let’s look at it as karmic repayment for all the terror we’ve been subjected to," Liz whispered in his ear with a laugh.

Max nodded his head slowly and let his gaze wander down the long hall, past the gleam of the dark wood floors, through the soft glow from the elegant lighting sconces mounted on the maroon painted walls trimmed beautifully in cream, over the expensive Empire furnishings and oriental rugs that decorated the passageway, to a bustle of activity in what appeared to be the kitchen.

"We deserve it?" He asked.

"We do," Liz confirmed.

"Good, ‘cause I’d hate to give it back before we got to try out the master bedroom," Max murmured with a wicked grin.

Liz blushed and rolled her eyes. "Men," she cursed.

Chief Ross clattered quickly down the wide carpeted stairs that rose off the right side of the entry hall. "Your Majesties," he cleared his throat, his own face flushing slightly at the smoldering looks being exchanged by the two young lovers. "I’ve set your things in your room, and I’ll see to getting them stowed away and I’m sure you’d like to rest and you’ll be wanting a tour of the house no doubt, but Errol says you’re to go into the office as soon as you can." The Chief frowned at that, clearly unhappy with the thought of making Max and Liz go out again just after they’d arrived. "You might want to grab a jacket and there’s an umbrella there by the door. The car’s being brought back around now. I do hate to push you off again so quick, though."

"It’s fine, Chief," Max assured him. "We’ve got a lot of questions for Errol, anyway."

posted on 2-Feb-2002 9:00:13 AM by Red
Chapter Two B

What should have been short car ride from Beacon Hill to Wayland Corporate offices downtown Boston was a nightmare of traffic and road construction. Both Liz and Max were grateful they didn’t have to drive the obstacle course and since they weren’t in a particular hurry of their own they took the opportunity to enjoy getting another glimpse of the city.

"I think we could have walked here faster," Liz whispered to Max when they finally arrived at the office building.

"You’re right. But if they want to chauffeur us around, I’m not going to complain," Max replied. "That is our new strategy isn’t it?"

"It is. But, geez, I don’t think I’ve ever been glad to be from a small city before. That traffic was insane. I could definitely skip that."

They walked into the large open lobby of the building and were greeted immediately by some familiar faces.

"Lizzie, lass, ‘tis wonderful tae see ya. An’ Max ma lad, yer lookin’ fain," Torquil’s jovial voice boomed across the stately opening.

He crossed to them quickly and wrapped his massive, trunk-like arms companionably around their shoulders, leading them further into the building and towards the others waiting to see them.

Errol was the next to greet them, with his white mane of hair as unruly as ever, though it seemed he’d gotten his long beard trimmed since last they saw each other. "Your majesties, I’m pleased to see you’ve arrived safely. How was your journey?"

"It was great, thanks Errol. That’s quite a plane you guys have got," Max observed.

Errol raised one bushy eyebrow at his young king, then broke into a smile. "A tad ostentatious perhaps? It does make good sense, financially, to own our own jets, though. With as much travel as some of our people do, it is more economical in the long run and if we’re going to lay out that much money for transportation why be uncomfortable?"

"Good point," Max allowed happily.

"Let’s take you up to your offices and see what you think," Errol told them.

Max bent over and whispered in Liz’s ear, "We have offices."

"Of course we do," Liz whispered back.

They were led to the elevator and some additional introductions were made on the way, officers of the company and some additional personnel who merited immediate meetings with the royal couple. The were ushered out at the twenty-second floor and led through a lush office area to a suite of rooms which included two large offices that were separated by and shared an informal sitting room between them, a front reception area and waiting room, and a large conference room.

"You may of course decorate the rooms as you wish but we’ve tried to make them as comfortable as possible," Errol told them as he gave them the tour.

"They’re very nice," Liz told him truthfully, and they were. Each office was beautifully appointed with comfortable furnishings, tasteful floor lamps, and exquisite art on the walls and on dramatically lit pedestals. One office was obviously more feminine then the other but again not over done. Just a bit brighter with a splash more color here and there.

"I love it," Liz assured Errol who was looking a tiny bit nervous. He grinned gratefully back at her and led them back into the sitting room.

"So, how are you finding Boston?" He asked as they all took seats on the couches placed around a low coffee table.

"We haven’t been here very long but so far it looks like a really interesting town," Max said judiciously.

"Some o’ ra company officials wanted tae put the twae o’ ye out in ra suburbs. Figured it’d be safer, they did." Torquil informed them.

"Why didn’t they?" Liz asked.

"Torquil, and Chief Ross I should add, thought you might enjoy your time out here better if you had a bit more freedom. Boston is a good city. Fairly easy to get around in, a walker’s town really, with any number of things for you to do in your free time," Errol said. "I must admit I was one of the ones who wanted you out of the city. It would be easier to keep a guard on you if you were on an estate. Townhouses can present a challenge."

"An’ Ah told ‘em ye twae could take care o’ yersels," Torquil said with a smirk. "Ah’d say what trouble could ye get intae in Boston but Ah’m afeert ye’d take tha’ as a challenge," he laughed.

Liz glared at Torquil for a minute but couldn’t keep it up and ended up chuckling with him. "Fine. I have to say, that’s a beautiful house. We didn’t get the full tour yet but judging from the entry hall it’s magnificent."

Errol nodded. "It’s been in the Lloyd family for four generations I believe. Victor had no children and he left it to the company when he passed away. It’s been mostly empty for the last few years, but I’d been looking for an excuse to have it refurbished. And if you must be in town then Beacon Hill will be a wonderful place for you. Not too far from Charles Street and all the shops and restaurants. There’s a T stop, the Boston subway, a few blocks away, and you’re only a couple of blocks from Boston Common, the Charles River Esplanade is just down the street too. You’re right in the heart of it, as they say."

"I can’t wait to get out and have a look around," Max told him.

"Take tomorrow. Get used to the neighborhood."

"We met some of our neighbors today."

"Oh really?" Errol asked, surprised.

"Yeah Alice and Doug. I don’t think they gave us their last names. And unless you can rescue us we’re having dinner with them on Friday."

Errol waved his hand. "Them. They live two houses down, correct?" Max nodded and Errol continued. "Alice is quite the neighborhood busy body. Don’t concern yourself too much with her. I managed to make her suitably impressed by you before you even arrived. She’s quite easy that way. She should know but if it does come up, I’ve let on that you’re Victor’s grandson and heir. And Liz is your fiancée. Stick close to the truth but remember it never hurts to be as vague as possible with it."

Liz and Max knew that lesson already but nodded their understanding anyway.

"So what are we going to be doing here?" Liz asked. "I mean, what does our internship entail?"

"Oh, well, a bit of this and a bit of that. Learning the business if you will," Errol told her nebulously. "We’ll have you spend a couple of weeks in the offices here and then, Liz, I’m sure you’d like to go out to our labs. They’re only about forty minutes from here. Then if time permits we’ll take you up to our facility in Bangor, Maine. All in all you should have plenty of opportunity to explore Boston and New England in general."

******

The storm that threatened the city all day hung over it into the evening hours as well. The air in the city seemed charged with electricity and everything was holding its breath, waiting for the storm to break. Max and Liz got their tour of the house; they were suitably awed by all the rooms. They were fed a sumptuous dinner, though they insisted on dining in the kitchen, Max murmuring something about not being able to see Liz at the other end of the table in the dining room. Then, nervously, they retired to their room.

Liz disappeared into the bathroom while Max sat fidgeting on the couch in the sitting area on one side of the room. He got up and paced around anxiously but finally forced himself to take a deep breath and sit back down. He grabbed up the remote control to the TV mounted on the wall and flipped aimlessly through the channels.

After was seemed like an eternity Liz came out of the bathroom and softly called to him. "It’s all yours, Max."

He clicked off the TV and jumped up just a little to eagerly. Giving Liz a sheepish smile he went into the bathroom and prepared for bed.

Liz was wearing a light t-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts and though it was still warm out she crossed her arms over her chest and rubbed at the goosebumps rising on her skin. Walking over to one of the large windows, she opened it up slightly and leaned against the casing and looked out into the night. The old-fashioned lamps were lit up and down the square but there was nobody out to illuminate. She looked past the trees in the green and up at the purple sky, heavy with the storm. Lightening flashed in the distance and the gentle breezed kicked up into a stronger gust. She could feel the cool, damp air on her skin and was amazed to realize that she could smell the ocean. She laughed softly at herself but enjoyed the novelty of the scent. Another flash of lightening and a crack of thunder shook the window.

Max stepped out of the bathroom, clad only in boxers, and saw Liz by the window, illuminated for an instant by the wild streak of lightening. He walked over to her quietly and slipped his arms around her waist.

"Why am I so nervous?" She asked him. "It’s not like we haven’t done this before."

He pressed a kiss to her cheek and bent his head down to rest it against hers. "It’s different now."

"How?"

"We’re going to be together for six weeks. This isn’t sneaking around, or taking advantage of a blizzard, or having one of us get up before dawn and go home. This is just us. No outside worries about being walked in on by one of our parents or Maria or something. This is our house, and our room, and our bed. It’s a big step." Max tightened his arms around her waist and pulled her back against him. "If you’re too uncomfortable, Liz, nothing will happen. I understand."

Another roar of thunder drowned out Liz’s answer and he turned her around to face him. "Liz?"

She smiled up at him shyly. "That’s a big comfy looking bed."

Max felt a slow burn start in his stomach and spread throughout his body and he gave her a mischievous grin. "Yes it is."

Liz ran her hand up slowly up Max’s chest around to the back of his neck and pulled his head down towards her. "Wanna try it out?"

"I’d love to," he murmured, his own hands starting to wander across her body, up and down her back, then slipping under her t-shirt.

Liz pressed her lips to his and wrapped both arms around his neck, pulling him closer to her, but after a brief moment broke the kiss and pulled back from him slightly. Her eyes traveled over his body and she seemed content to simply stare at him and run her hands lightly over his torso. Max couldn’t bear that torture for too long and he finally stepped up to her again and grabbed her face in both hands, kissing her hungrily. Liz broke away again and took a step back, laughing when Max growled at her.

"I thought you wanted to try out the comfy bed?" She purred.

"Are you teasing me?"

She smiled seductively. "Not yet."

Max stalked towards her, backing her up against the bed, he grabbed her around the waist and tossed her onto the bed and climbed up after her. Her hands started to wander across his body again, and she’d drag her nails across the most sensitive parts, drawing a hiss from him. Grabbing her hands, he pulled them up above her body and pinned her down with his weight. Liz took a deep breath and let her eyes flutter shut, enjoying peacefully for just a moment the heat and solidity of Max’s body on top of hers, but it didn’t last long before his mouth began to work its way from her mouth down her neck to her chest. Liz arched up against him and fought to bring her arms back down. When he moved one hand to push her shirt out of the way she was able to break free of his grasp and pull the offending garment off. As soon as her shirt came off it wasn’t but an instant later that they were both naked, arms and legs locked together, bodies twisting around each other.

They made love well into the night, neither one of them ever noticing when the storm finally broke and rain pounded against the windows, thunder crashed over the rooftops and lightening tore across the sky.


******

Red
posted on 12-Feb-2002 4:48:37 AM by Red
CHAPTER THREE

brief a/n: Michael and Maria will be a large part in this fic later on. Alex, Isabel and Kyle will also show up later but they don't have a particularly large role in this fic.

******

Max and Liz, with equal parts amusement and discomfort settled into their summer on Beacon Hill. For the most part they enjoyed their early days exploring Boston, but the storm that pounded the city on their first night, left a sticky blanket of humidity over everything. By mid-day the heat and humidity had them retreating to the air-conditioned havens of museums and shops. Liz, of course, was in paradise, surrounded as they were by history and academia and Max was more then happy to follow along, just glad to finally be out of Roswell for a time.

Friday came quickly, and at Errol’s strong recommendation, they accepted the invitation to the Alice and Doug dinner party. While they were hesitant about the whole scenario, they found they didn’t actually have to answer too many questions, Alice was more then willing to share their entire histories, as she knew them and with some favorable embellishment, with everybody who attended. Before they escaped for the evening, Alice invited them to a weekend party at their house on Nantucket, but Max and Liz begged off, claiming other obligations. Alice frowned, not pleased that her plans were thwarted, but she graciously assured them she understood they had other obligations and praised them for sacrificing their weekend so bravely. With relieved laughs Max and Liz strolled back to their house, happy and relaxed.

Lamentably, in the deepest hours of the night the bright pleasures of their days were shadowed by an old dread. Nightmares.

Liz’s eyes flew open and her lips parted with an almost silent gasp as she was torn viciously from sleep. Her heart was pounding frantically and with a shaking hand she lifted Max’s arm gently off of her stomach, not wanting to wake him, but it was all she could do not to fling his arm away and throw herself off the bed. When she was sure he was still sleeping she slid off the bed and away from it as quickly as if it were a nest of vipers poised to strike. Standing naked and panicked in the middle of the room was not an ideal way to spend the night but as she had for the past few nights, she could not make herself stay still in the dark. She pulled one of Max’s t-shirts off the bench at the foot of the bed and slipped it on, taking some small comfort from his scent, still lingering on the fabric.

She was learning to hate the night. Well, no, that wasn’t entirely true. It wasn’t the night filled with activity she despised. She loved the evening hours when she and Max would go out into the city and see some new sight, or lounge on the couch talking about anything and everything. It was the lonely night she dreaded, when she was the only soul stirring. The darkness seemed oppressive, smothering and when the dreams came, no power on Earth could keep her in bed. Not even Max’s solid presence at her side could hold her steady when she could do nothing but lie there and worry at her own thoughts and fears and half-remembered nightmares.

Walking over to the window she let her head rest against the cool pane and stared out into the dark. It was fast becoming a nighttime ritual. She would wake from some incomprehensible dream of whirling chaos and violence and slip soundlessly out of bed to keep watch on the night at her window. She cracked open the window slightly; letting the warm, humid air swirl into the cool air-conditioned room. The nights in Boston had been uncomfortably warm but Liz welcomed the heat now, letting it sooth her and wrap around her like a loving embrace. She relaxed against the windowsill, breathing in the night air and trying to fill her mind with distracting and trivial thoughts.

From across the room, noiseless in the dark, Max lay on his stomach, his head pillowed on his arm, watching her perched at the window. He’d woken at her strangled gasp but held himself still, waiting to see if she’d repeat her pattern of the previous three nights. The first night he’d tried to comfort her but at her stern rebuke he’d relented somewhat but he insisted on sitting up with her anyway, silently watching television, until sleep claimed her again. The second night had ended in an argument and Liz had gone downstairs to the library. Last night had been, by far, the worst; he lay in bed, sleepless, helpless and watched her stare out the window for hours. The bed was cold, empty and uncomfortable without her in it, and it was only with an iron will that he was able to keep himself in bed. Frustration was beginning to set in, though. They hadn’t even been in Boston a week and Liz had put up a wall he couldn’t seem to find his way around.

Max wasn’t able to stifle his sigh and he saw Liz’s back stiffen at the sound. He flipped himself onto his back and rubbed at his eyes tiredly. "We can’t keep doing this," he said softly.

Liz made no reply and a straightening of her shoulders was the only sign he had that she’d heard him. Max bit his lip and rolled off the bed. He padded softly over to her and stood, staring down at her.

After a long moment of tense silence Liz glanced up at him. "Giving the neighbors a show?"

Max snorted. "It’s two in the morning, we’re four stories up and it’s dark in here. Who’s gonna see?"

Liz shrugged her shoulders indifferently and turned her attention back out the window.

Max bit back on his irritation and lowered himself down to sit next to her. "Are you going to talk to me or are we going to do this every night?"

"Go back to bed, Max," Liz replied sharply. "I’m really not interested in arguing with you tonight."

"I don’t want to argue, either, but I do want to know what’s going on with you."

"I’m just not tired, okay?"

Max sighed and shifted around to sit with his back against the wall. "What are they about?"

Leaning in against the sill, Liz shook her head. "I don’t know," she whispered.

"You don’t know or you won’t tell me?" Max pressed.

"I don’t know," she snapped. "I don’t remember anything."

"Really?"

Liz scrambled up from the floor and tossed a fierce glare in his direction. "Go back to sleep."

She angrily tore through her drawers for a pair of shorts and once found she pulled them on and disappeared out the door. Max growled with exasperation and pulled himself up to follow her, only hesitating long enough to grab up a stray pair of boxers. Liz could hear Max behind her and she sprinted down the stairs, hoping that if she started down quickly enough Max would take the hint and let her be. Max, however, had every intention of pursuing her tonight. He wanted to deal with whatever this was and not leave it to taint the rest of their vacation together.

Liz made it to the second floor landing well ahead of Max and moved swiftly down the hall to the library. Max entered the room just a few seconds behind her and stopping to lean against the jam, he stood watching her again. What he saw tore at his heart. She was sitting, curled into one corner of a long couch, biting down fiercely on her lip, tears welling in her eyes, but steadfastly refusing to cry.

"Liz, baby," Max called softly, his voice breaking. "Please."

Liz stared resolutely at a bookshelf, trying very hard to keep her emotions in check, but her efforts were betrayed by a single tear spilling down her cheek. She brought her hand up to brush the mutinous tear from her face but as soon as her fingers touched the wet track more tears ran down and her shoulders began to shake with uncontrollable sobs. Max was at her side in an instant, scooping her up into his arms. She tried to push him off but he refused to loosen his grip and sat down on the couch, pulling her onto his lap and tightly up against his chest. Liz remained tense in his arms for a long minute but finally she couldn’t keep it up any longer and she relaxed into his comforting embrace.

Liz eventually regained control of herself, her sobs subsiding, and she slumped exhausted against Max. "I really don’t remember," Liz whispered. "It’s just . . . it’s just this feeling of being so scared. So terrified. And I don’t know what it is. I hate feeling like this."

Max shifted on the couch, drawing his legs up, he settled in for a long night, and ran his hands through her hair and down her back. "When did they start again? Just after we got here? You didn’t have them on Tuesday."

"No, no. The dreams started again back in Roswell," Liz admitted, somewhat reluctantly. "Before school got out. Not every night but a few times a week."

"Oh jeez, Liz, why did you tell me?" Max queried softly.

Liz started to draw into herself again at his question and tried to move off his lap, but Max wrapped his arms more securely around her and bent his head to brush his lips across her ear. "I didn’t mean it like that, Liz. I’m just worried about you."

"Well you don’t need to be," she muttered petulantly.

With a laugh Max tucked her securely back under his chin.

Liz pulled away again and peered at him suspiciously. "Why are you laughing?"

"You’re so stubborn." Liz snorted derisively at that comment and Max hurried to reassure her. "I’d be more worried about you if you weren’t being stubborn."

"Watch it, Max," she warned.

Max sighed and leaned back against the cushions. "Oh, baby, what are we going to do?"

Liz sniffed mournfully and snuggled closer to him. "I don’t know."

"We need to talk about this."

"We talk a lot."

Max smiled. "Communication is important."

Liz rolled her eyes and shook her head.

"You don’t agree with me?" Max asked, looking down at her dark head.

"Oh, I agree," she assured him dryly. She paused for a moment to collecting her thoughts but after a moment she just shrugged. "You start."

Since it was obvious she didn’t want to give up any more information then she had to, Max willingly took the lead in the conversation. If she was more comfortable answering his questions then bringing up issues that were bothering her on her own, he was happy to give her that cushion.

"You don’t remember anything about the dreams?"

"I already told you I didn’t," Liz retorted impatiently.

"Sweetheart, I am seriously worried about you. And don’t say I shouldn’t be," he told her firmly, cutting off any protests. "I’m worried you’re not dealing with stuff."

"Like?" she prompted, still refusing to give way.

"Like I know what happened in the Granolith chamber is still bothering you. Like I know you’re still freaked about your powers, however comfortable you are with them now. Like I know you hate not having any answers and it’s stressing you out and driving you crazy. Literally and figuratively."

"Gee thanks."

Max brushed his fingers through her hair. "I know you’re angry at your parents. Actually, I know you’re angry at a lot of things. I know you hate being so off balance because you think it makes you seem weak, even though you’re the strongest one of all of us."

Liz felt her cheeks heat at the compliment and quickly sought to deflect it. "And you’re not biased at all."

"I know you’re spending way too much time with Michael. You two have this whole personality merge thing going that’s creeping me out," Max teased gently.

For the first time that night Liz reached out to return Max’s embrace. Sliding her arm up around his neck, she hugged herself to him. "How many times have I almost lost you this year?"

"Liz…"

"We fought a war," she whispered into his chest. "We almost lost ourselves and the others half-a-dozen times over. We did lose Tess. You guys may have been prepared for this your whole alien-in-hiding lives but going to war was never on my list of things to do."

Surprised as he was by the bitterness in Liz’s voice, Max held himself still and silent.

"I killed a man . . . alien. It kind of scares me to realize that there isn’t even a tiny part of me that feels badly about that. He was going to kill you and so I killed him first. And I’d do it again, in an instant. Shouldn’t I feel some sort of remorse? But then I think ‘No, that was war. That’s what happens in war. They were the bad guys and they were going to kill everybody I love and turn my planet into a wasteland.’ I don’t have an answer for that. I don’t know where to even begin looking for an answer to that."

"I’m sorry, Liz, I wish I had it for you. I wish you’d never been put in that position."

"See and then we get to that. It’s okay for you to go out and have to go through all that? Why? ‘Cause you’re a guy? An alien? A king? I don’t think so. I’ve told you this before, Max, and I am serious, stop apologizing for our lives. It’s just life. Stupid, ugly things happen and look, like I just said, there aren’t any answers and it’s not your fault. God, I just can’t deal with your guilt either, okay?"

Max jerked back slightly, stung by her words.

Liz sighed, irritated with herself for her outburst. "I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I need answers Max. I need to know what I am. You’re right, I hate not having these answers."

"You know I understand. And I swear to you we’ll do everything we can to get you those answers."

"I know."

"But that other stuff, Liz," he said, directing the conversation back to what he felt were the most important points. "You’ve got to promise me you’ll talk to me when it gets too much. Just tell me what you feel."

"And you’ll do the same? Without fighting me on it?" Liz asked.

"Yes," he agreed quickly. "But I’m not the one who can’t sleep. I’m not the one with the nightmares. What can we do to get you to sleep through the night?"

"Help me find answers. If I’m doing something, if I feel like I’m not standing still, maybe I won’t be so . . . anxious. Nervous. Whatever. Then that other stuff . . ." she trailed off.

"Won’t be so overwhelming?" Max suggested.

"I hope so," she told him softly.

"We’ll start in the morning. I’ll get Errol over here and we’ll do whatever it takes," he promised her again. Liz nodded sleepily against Max’s chest.

Max cradled her against him, and stroked his hand gently up and down her back until she finally dozed off again. He waited a few minutes until he was sure she was sleeping soundly, then he carried her back up to bed, tucked her back in and pulled her snug against his side.

"Sweet dreams, baby," he whispered and kissed her temple lovingly before he too drifted back into sleep.

******

Red
posted on 23-Feb-2002 8:53:31 AM by Red
CHAPTER FOUR

AN: Hey everybody. My RL projects are just hounding me and taunting me but I will get paid someday, I will. So, as usual, sorry about the delay between parts. Thank you all so much for your comments, I really love know what you guys see in the story, too. Your perspective. It makes this a very entertaining pursuit for me as well as for you, I hope.
quick note: Rollergal, Liz and her parents have been on the outs for a while. When she and Max got back from their weekend in the blizzard, Liz's mom tried to keep her from seeing Max. Liz is still just a bit annoyed with them for that.
Okay, on to the chapter. Thank you all for reading.


<<<<>>>>

Max squinted up at the bright blue sky and wiped the beads of sweat off of his forehead. It was only a little after nine in the morning and already waves of heat rolled off the tarmac, shimmering and stifling. He forgot his discomfort as he watched the private jet taxi towards the hangar and the terminal he was standing in front of. A small smile tugged at his lips as it came to a stop and one of the crew opened the door and lowered the stairs.

"Hey good lookin'!"

The small smile turned into a grin. "You guys are late," he called back.

Maria stepped down from the plane and onto the blistering asphalt and heaved a dramatic sigh. "Traffic."

Max laughed and accepted a hug from her then looked past her and stuck his hand out to Michael.

Michael gave his friend's hand a quick shake, and then held his hand up to shade his eyes and looked around the airport. "Damn, you didn't tell me it was gonna be this hot here."

"Oh, so eloquent Michael," Maria rolled her eyes then slipped her arm around his waist, squeezing gently, silently telling him she was teasing.

Max just smiled, happy to see his friends, and led them into the cool sanctuary of the terminal. "Yeah, the weather guys swear Boston isn't usually this bad this time of year. Guess we just got lucky," he said wryly.

"Where's Liz," Michael asked curiously.

"Oh, she's got an appointment for a tour of Harvard. It was supposed to be yesterday but they had to reschedule it for some reason." Max shrugged slightly and looked at his watch. "She said she'd call when it was over and then we're going to meet her at our favorite deli for lunch. If that's okay with you guys."

"Only here a week and already a favorite restaurant. Boston's not going to ruin you for Roswell, is it?" Maria winked at him.

Max nodded his head eagerly. "It's just down the street from the office and, oh man, it's fantastic."

"You'd eat there every meal if Liz would let you, right?"

Max laughed. "Nah, but you guys will like it. It's a good place to hang."

Max led them through the airport to the car waiting in front for them. The driver stowed their bags quickly and held the doors open for them.

"We're going to go to the house first, Tim," Max told the driver as he climbed in.

"Yes, sir."

"Oh a car and driver, even," Maria sighed and ran her hand over the car's rich upholstery.

"Well I keep trying to get them to give me a car but the truth is I'm more then happy to let them drive me around Boston."

"Bad, huh?" Michael asked, glancing out the window.

"Just wait until we try to go someplace during rush hour," Max warned. "It's not too bad in the middle of the day and Boston's actually pretty easy to get around without a car. So, it's been cool."

Maria watched her friend closely then smiled at him again. "You sound happy, Max."

Max blushed, not used to such scrutiny but returned her smile after a moment. "Yeah, I guess. It's pretty nice to be away from things."

Maria nodded, understanding. "How's Liz?"

"Liz is good," Max said quickly.

"How is Liz?" Maria pressed.

Max frowned at her then darted a glance over at Michael.

Michael shook his head and looked back out the window. "Don't look at me, man, I don't know how she does it either."

"Max . . ."

"She was having nightmares for a while but she hasn't had one in a couple of days," he said quickly. "She's got a lot to deal with and not knowing what she is is getting to her, you know. But we've been talking about it and we've got the Wayland guys working on it, trying to find some information and trying to get together everything the Antarans can remember about the Granolith and stuff. She's doing better, honest. You can grill her at lunch," Max told her. "So, your turn. How's everybody in Roswell?"

"Jeez, Maxwell, can't even be away for a week?" Michael snorted softly.

Max shot a look at Michael but he knew his friend well enough to know the comment was made good-naturedly. "I've never been away before, Michael, and neither have you. See how you feel after a week away. So? Roswell? I talked to Isabel on Sunday but she was pissed at me about something. Any clues?"

"Yeah, probably the whole you're in Boston thing and she's being over mothered," Michael laughed.

Maria nudged him with her elbow. "Don't laugh too hard, pal, you were on the parental over-protect list, too."

Michael grinned at her. "Why do you think I'm laughing? I escaped."

"She could have come out," Max argued.

Maria nodded. "Yeah, well, your mom's not smothering her or anything, she's just like, well, everywhere. Anyway, Alex's parents aren't going to let him out of their sight any time soon and you know they don't want to leave Kyle alone."

"Have you seen Kyle? How is he?"

Maria shrugged. "We went out to dinner with Kyle, Jim and my mom on Friday. Kyle was just really quiet and pretty much limited his conversation to quoting Buddha and asking for the salt. But he looks a lot better," she quickly reassured Max when she saw the stricken look on his face.

"Oh, well that's good," Max replied quietly.

They fell silent for a moment and Max took the opportunity to point out a few landmarks as they passed.

"Do you like Boston?" Maria asked suddenly, trying to shake him out of his funk.

Max smiled. "Yeah. It's been fun, so far. Our neighbors are a trip and you'll probably get sucked into a god awful dinner party or two." Max stopped and laughed. "Wait 'till you see the house."

<<<<>>>>

Liz slowly walked across Harvard Yard, trying to take everything in. There were a few handfuls of students and scholars wandering through the yard with her, their focus was on their intense discussions, ignoring the maze of impressive structures surrounding them, as they headed on their way to important discoveries and dramatic debates. Liz smiled at the seriousness with which they carried themselves, so intent on their scholarly pursuits. It looked like fun.

"You’re such a geek, Parker," she muttered to herself, then laughed, filled with a sudden overwhelming excitement. She was at Harvard. Harvard University. She was walking through Harvard Yard. She'd dreamed of being here since she was small and now here she was unabashedly geeking out at everything she saw.

She shook herself out of her academia inspired bliss and looked down at the map in her hand. She was supposed to meet her student guide at the Widener Memorial Library and since there were roughly a billion buildings around she gave herself a mental pat on the back for having the foresight to bring a map. And looking at the map she realized that the Widener Library was the largest building on the Yard and she couldn't have missed it if she tried. She looked up and spotted it immediately and with another chuckled walked over to it.

Liz stopped at the bottom of the library's wide steps and looked around again. She wasn't sure who her guide would be, Apparently the person who was originally supposed to meet her had to have an emergency appendectomy the other night and they'd rushed to find another person to see her around. Normally the University gave free tours on weekdays to tourists and prospective students but overly friendly neighbor Alice had insisted that that it was unnecessary for Liz to have to hoof it with the tourists. Alice hadn't actually said 'hoof it', she'd said a great deal more but in the end it all came out the same. So with much arranging and calling in 'old friends', Liz had a tour guide all to herself and now she stood at the foot of a monstrous library waiting for … somebody.

There were enough people milling around that she wondered briefly how her guide would find her, then she rolled her eyes. "She just has to look for the girl staring around like some sort of lost hick."

"Well you don't look like a hick and since you found the library I'd say you weren't lost but you do look like you're waiting for somebody and if your name is Liz Parker then you're waiting for me."

A short, pretty girl, maybe a couple years older then Liz, walked over to her with an easy smile. Her hair was black, hanging just to her shoulders in a windblown style, and her eyes sparkled with green mischief. She was wearing a long, loose, patterned skirt, heavy black boots and a light blue t-shirt extolling the virtues of a band that had something to do with cartoon kittens doing kung-fu.

Liz flushed slightly that her not so silent conversation had been overheard and then flashed her guide a rueful smile. "Are you sure I don't look like a hick?"

Her guide smiled back and made a show of looking Liz over. "Not a hayseed in sight. You're clear."

Liz laughed then, deciding she liked this woman a lot. "Good. Then I am Liz Parker."

"Good to see you, Liz, I'm Serena Thibodeau and I'll be your tour guide today, keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times and please, don't feed the students."

Liz drew a deep breath in shock, when Serena said her name, and couldn't help but step backwards. "Serena?"

Serena gave her a puzzled frown. "You okay, Liz?"

Liz blinked her eyes a few times as though to clear them and then gave a weak smile. "Yeah, I'm fine. I, uh, I just had a friend named Serena once," Liz covered quickly. "It's a pretty name."

Serena accepted the explanation with a nod. "Yeah, my mom's a fan of Edmund Spenser, though why of all the names Serena, I have no clue. I guess she was hoping I'd grow up to be serene or something." Serena laughed at that notion then gestured up to the building they were standing by. "Okay, so time for the tour. This is the Widener Memorial Library, home to 3.5 million books. I haven't read them all but according to my mother for as much as she's paying for me to go to school here I'd better before I'm done."

Liz couldn't help but laugh. "What are you studying?"

"Astronomy and Astrophysics with a side of Anthropology."

"Really?"

"Yeah, well, what can I say? I was so excited to be accepted into Harvard I just couldn't make it past the A's in the course book. What about you? You're going to be a senior this year, right? What do you want to study?"

"Molecular biology," Liz replied quickly, confidently.

"Oh-ho, so I'll need to take you over to the science center."

"That'd be great."

"And I don't know who you know, but you've got a pass to get into most of the buildings." Serena handed Liz a small laminated ID card. "Usually they don't let tourists in and not even the prospective students can get into some of the libraries and buildings. Gotta keep it quiet for all of those studious students."

They spent several hours wandering through the grounds of Harvard. Serena pointed out historical landmarks, tidbits of interesting on the university's history and gave her the insider's tips into managing Harvard. Liz happily let Serena guide her on the 'non-standard' tour and laughed easily at her colorful commentary on the places and people of the school. The tour wrapped up back in the Yard next to the statue of John Harvard.

"Okay, now, rub his foot," Serena told Liz, gesturing towards the statue.

Liz eyed her suspiciously. "Rub his foot? Is this some sort of 'trick the gullible tourist' thing?"

Serena held up her hand, three fingers extended, "Girl Scout's honor. It's not a trick. You rub his shoe for good luck. C'mon, trust me." When Liz hesitated, Serena leaned closer to her and whispered conspiratorially in her ear. "You've got to do it. You'll never get into Harvard if you don't."

Liz still wasn't sure if she should trust the impish gleam in Serena's eyes but she tentatively stuck her hand out and rubbed the statue's shoe quickly.

"There. Now you're sure to get in. Excellent. I fully expect to see you next year."

"Well, I'll do everything I can to get here," Liz assured her with a grin.

"Good. Now, it's just about lunchtime, can I show you this awesome pizza place down by the river houses?"

Liz shook her head apologetically. "Actually some of my friends are coming into Boston today, I promised to meet them for lunch."

Serena smiled. "Sure, I totally understand."

"But, can I get a rain check? I mean, this is my first week in Boston and you've been here like a year and a half…"

"Oh, yeah, I can show you some good places to check out. Give me your number and I'll call you. Hey, I've got a couple friends who are in a band and they're playing a concert Friday night. They really don't suck too badly and the coffee dive they're playing at is an awesome place to hang. You and your friends should come."

Liz brightened at the thought. "Yeah, that'll be great. I'll ask them but I'm sure they'll want to go."

"Sweet."

Serena and Liz exchanged phone numbers and promises to call each other. Liz lingered in the Yard for a few minutes after Serena left, taking a last look and wondering yet again at the strange turns her life took.

<<<<>>>>

Maria glanced over her shoulder expectantly when Max's head came up suddenly, a smile crossing his face as he looked towards the entrance to the small Italian deli. When she didn't see anybody she turned back around and shook her head at him.

"You two," she muttered softly.

A second later the bell over the door rang and Liz came rushing into the restaurant.

Maria stood up. "Hey girlfriend."

"Maria, it's so good to see you." Liz threw her arms around her friend. After a moment, she stepped back and leaned over to pull Michael into an equally warm embrace. "It's good to see you too, Michael," she laughed when he patted her awkwardly on the back.

Max reached out and took her hand, tugging him into the booth next to him. "How was Harvard?"

Liz's eyes lit up, "Oh my god, you're not going to believe what I have to tell you. But first I'm hungry."

"I ordered your sandwich when you called. Should only be a minute," Max told her.

Liz smiled gratefully and took a sip of his drink. "Okay, so Harvard was really cool. Alice, bless her scheming little heart, got me a sort of all-access pass to everything. Even places you've got to jump through hoops to get in if you're a visiting professor or something. But, that wasn't the best part." Liz stopped when her lunch arrived and she took a hungry bite.

"What was the best part?" Maria asked impatiently.

Liz swallowed hurriedly. "My guide. She's awesome. A little strange but so funny and get this, I don't know if I'm freaked or not but her name is Serena."

Michael sat up from his slouched position in the booth and stared at her. "Serena, as in the chick future Max told you about?"

"Yeah. She's studying Astronomy, Astrophysics and Anthropology. I guess that part of the future is coming true." Liz's mood turned somber. "I hope that's the only part."

"Except for the marrying Max thing, huh?" Maria teased lightly, trying to lift the dark cloud that settled over the table.

"Well yeah. Okay I hope those are the only two things."

Max leaned forward, his elbows on the table, and turned his head, focusing completely on Liz. "Stuff's already changed, Liz. Just from what little he, I told you about the future. Right?"

"Yeah," she agreed.

"Then don't worry about it. We take each day as it comes. From what you've told me the future us knew even less about the Granolith then we do now. We're already one up on everything."

Liz frowned for a moment, seemingly puzzled. "You know what's funny? I'm not worried about it at all. I mean I was totally stunned when she told me her name but then it was just so natural and she was just so much fun to hang out with. I don't know what's going to happen now, with us and all that future crap but it just seems all open now. I guess it's sort of that there's some more confirmation of it but that we know we changed it, too. Weird as it seems I think I feel better."

"Well good," Maria said firmly. "'Bout damn time something good happened. When do we get to meet Serena?"

"Well she knows some guys in a band and they're playing on Friday night. Want to go?"

"Sweet. I'm very up on that. What kind of music?" Maria asked enthusiastically.

"I have no clue," Liz told her with a grin. "But she swears they don't suck too much."




posted on 6-Mar-2002 8:29:15 AM by Red
I broke this into two parts so don't miss the second half.

CHAPTER FIVE

<<<<>>>>

Max fought to keep from grounding his teeth and tossing the obsequious toad in front of him out the window. Obsequious toad was simply the bearer of irritating news; he was unaware of how close he was to needing to grow wings.

"Tell Errol, no. Just like last time. Just like every time before this and every time from now on. It's not going to happen until it happens," Max growled.

Obsequious toad bowed deeply and backed hurriedly from the room. Max let out a long breath and leaned forward, elbows on knees, and stared at the carpet.

"Was it the line of succession again?"

Max looked up to see Liz standing in the doorway of his office.

"Yeah," he replied quietly. "They want an heir."

Liz walked into the room and over to the windows. She crossed her arms and gazed out over the city. "It's not surprising. How many years have they been here looking for you? Looking for some sign of home? They want stability. A future."

"It's our future, too. We have to be allowed that."

Liz turned from the window and regarded him solemnly.

Max slumped back on the couch. "What?"

Liz shrugged. "I don't know." She turned her gaze back out the window again.

"Not until you're ready, Liz," he swore quietly.

"And what about you?"

"What about me?" He asked, puzzled.

Liz pushed away from the window and sat down across from him. "What do you want, Max?"

Max shrugged his shoulders uncomfortably. "I want . . . I want you to realize your dreams. I want you to finish school. I want you to be a molecular biologist if that's what you want, before we talk about an heir again."

Liz gave him a small smile. "That's not what I asked, Max. What about your dreams? I know you, if you could you'd give them an heir now, because you feel you have an obligation to do it. But what do you really want?"

"I have my dreams," he told her softly. "I wanted you to see me and you do. More then I ever hoped or dared to dream. I know who I am; I know where I belong. I found my soul." He smiled at her. "I'm alive, really alive. That's all I ever wanted, Liz."

"You never wanted anything else? You didn't want to be, I don't know, shortstop for the Dodgers? Or a fighter pilot?" Liz laughed. "What do little boys dream about?"

"You."

Liz felt the heat of his intense gaze, but she shook her head. "Come on, Max. Before I got shot, before all that stuff happened, what did you want? What did you daydream about?"

"I really didn't dream about much, Liz. I dreamed about you. But I never dreamed you'd know what I really was. I guess I just thought Michael, Isabel and I would stay together, find someplace quiet if we ever left Roswell. Get quiet jobs. Live quiet lives. Just try to survive. I didn't let myself dream of too much more. I didn't see the point."

Liz felt her chest constrict painfully. "Dream now, Max," she whispered, her voice harsh with emotion.

Max frowned. "About what?"

Liz moved to sit next to him. "About anything." She placed her small, warm hand on his chest. "What does your heart want?"

"I don't know."

She leaned over and kissed him tenderly on the cheek. "Think about it."

"I will," he assured her.

"I'm serious."

He smiled at her and brushed a strand of hair off of her face. "I know you are."

Liz kissed him one more time then stood up. "I've got to go. Maria and I are going shopping. Don't forget you and Michael are meeting us at that coffee shop in Cambridge tonight."

"I remember. I've even got the directions in my pocket right now. Wanna see?"

Liz laughed. "No. I trust you. I'll see you tonight."

He stood and watched Liz go and after a long minute he sighed and crossed the room to stand at the window, looking out as Liz had done earlier.

She was right, he admitted to himself. It was easy now to go along with what the other Antarans expected of him. Play the role of king. With all the changes going on in his life, it was just simpler not to fight it. However, that wasn't really living. Leave it to Liz to point out, gently and subtly, that he had his head up his ass. He'd done everything in his power to convince her that the future was open to them, but he'd never really thought about it for himself. He didn't even know how to begin to allow himself to dream.

"Yo, man, what's up?"

Max turned quickly, startled out of his thoughts. "Hey Michael. What you doing here?"

Michael shrugged and threw himself down on the couch, kicking up his feet on the coffee table. "Maria and Liz are going out, thought we could hang. Shoot some hoops maybe."

Max stared at his friend thoughtfully for a moment. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure."

"What do you dream about doing? You know," Max's face broke into a grin, "when you grow up."

"I dunno. I don’t think about it much."

"Did you ever?"

"Not really. Didn't see much point." Michael peered at Max curiously. "Why?"

"We can do pretty much anything we want now. We don't have to hide in Roswell if we don't want to. I mean obviously we don't want to draw too much attention to ourselves but still…"

"Huh," Michael grunted and furrowed his brow. "I hadn't thought about that. That's pretty cool, Maxwell."

"So?"

"So? Oh man, I don't know. It'd be cool to go to like, uh, art school or something. It'd be cool to travel." He gave another eloquent shrug. "Damn, I don't know what I want to do. Just kick it for a while, think about stuff, I guess."

"Kick it," Max murmured.

"Yeah. Speaking of, man, you could relax a little bit. I mean, check it out, you're on summer vacation and you're sitting in a freaking office. That's just so wrong."

Max thought about it for a second then nodded his head decisively. "You're right. Let's go." He turned and headed for the door, leaving a surprised Michael sitting on the couch.

"Now?"

"Yeah, come on. There's a gym on the twenty-somethingth floor. They've got a basketball court. Let's go find it."

Michael pushed himself up off the couch and jogged after Max. "Pretty sweet place."

They walked through the waiting area and down the hall to the elevators.

"Yeah, you been to your office yet?"

Michael gave him an incredulous look. "I don't have a damn office."

Max chuckled. "Yes you do. I'm surprised nobody's given you the tour yet."

"They tried," Michael said evenly.

Max cocked an eyebrow. "What did you do?"

"Nothing. I just said I was too tired to get dragged all over the damn place so I sat down and didn't move."

"I bet Maria loved that," Max laughed.

Michael grinned. "She sat down next to me."

"Right on."

The pair got on the elevator and Max pushed the button for the twenty-seventh floor.

"That the one?" Michael asked.

"No clue, but it's either that one or the twenty-eighth or the twenty-ninth. You in a hurry?"

"Nope."

"Can I ask you another question?"

"Damn, Maxwell, when the hell did you get so chatty?" He saw the expectant look on Max's face and sighed. "Fine. What?"

"Amy knows you and Maria are, you know, together, doesn't she?"

Michael shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah."

"You must have spun her a pretty good tale to get her to let Maria come out here with you."

"Suppose so."

Michael stepped quickly out of the elevator when it got to the twenty-seventh floor. Max easily kept pace with him and didn't let his friend's evasive posture throw him off.

"What did you tell her?" Max pestered.

"I told her I loved Maria and that I'd take care of her," he grumbled.

Michael stopped at an intersection of hallways and looked helplessly around. "Where the hell is it?"

"Straight ahead, I remember now," Max said easily. "You had to have told her something else. We all know Amy Deluca and she wouldn’t trust you any farther then she could throw you, no matter how much she liked you."

Michael stopped suddenly and spun to face Max. Max was surprised by the intensity he saw on Michael's face. Michael coughed and looked furtively up and down the hallway then stared back at his friend again.

"Everything," Michael said quietly.

Max frowned. "Everything what?"

"Everything, Maxwell. I told Amy everything." He didn't elaborate but instead watched Max's face, waiting to see what his reaction would be.

Max felt the breath go out of him suddenly and he leaned back against the wall. Part of him wanted to be angry with Michael for telling somebody without asking him but he couldn't quite manage to be that big a hypocrite today. "I guess she took it pretty well, huh?"

Michael gave him a relieved smile. "Not really. I, uh, I'm not real great with words so I just kind of straight out told her I wasn't totally human. She freaked."

"What'd you do to get her to chill?"

"I just started at the beginning. I mean from when I came out of the pod. My life with… Hank. Finding you guys. Liz getting shot. That FBI crap. The whole destiny thing. Everything. I told her she could check with the Sheriff if she thought I was just making it up or like smoking crack or something. The more I talked the calmer she got. I thought maybe she was just trying to figure out what to hit me with."

Max laughed. "You were out of arm's reach, I guess."

"Hey man, I'm not stupid. I told her about the Disciple and the whole reason I was gone and then, well, she got kinda pissed, actually. Putting Maria in danger and all that."

"That's not totally your fault," Max protested.

Michael shrugged. "Yeah, well, whatever. I told her I tried to get Maria to, you know, leave me alone but Maria's so damn stubborn she wouldn’t do it. Amy had to agree with me on that. She, uh, she thanked me for looking out for Maria and, um, told me if I ever hurt her I'd be looking for my alien, uh, heritage in a blender."

Max winced. "Ouch."

"So, there ya go. I told her everything. Told her I wanted to be with Maria and I wouldn't hurt her. All that kind of stuff."

Max nodded. "Well, cool. Liz said Amy'd be okay if we told her."

"Yep."

"But I still don't get why she let you come out here with Maria, all unchaperoned and stuff."

"Maria was coming out anyway and there was no way in hell I was gonna let her come out here alone. Not that you need to tell her I said that. She'll kick my ass or make me sleep on the couch or something. Besides, I needed to come make sure you weren't just gonna sit in some damn office all summer."

"That didn't answer my question, did it?"

"You're being a huge pain in the ass today, Max."

"You're being evasive."

Michael sighed. "She made me sign a contract that said I wouldn't get Maria pregnant until I married her."

Max couldn't stop the loud laugh that burst from his throat. He tried to take a deep breath but one look at the flush rising in Michael's face and he was sliding down to the floor, laughter shaking his body.

"You suck, Maxwell," Michael grumbled.

"Sorry, man," Max gasped between chuckles. He wasn't too sorry, though. He wished he could have been there to see that. Priceless.

"Tell Liz and I'll kick your ass."

Max grinned up at him. "I don't always have a choice in what Liz finds out, you know."

"Try," he growled.

<<<<>>>>

posted on 6-Mar-2002 8:29:54 AM by Red
<<<<>>>>

Liz put down her giant mug and relaxed back on the dilapidated sofa. She looked around the coffee shop, a grin tugging at her lips. It was, she decided, a very cool place to hang. The walls of the shop were papered with announcements, band flyers, bizarre art posters, and brightly colored party invites. The furniture was easily older then her parents were and probably hadn't been moved in at least twenty years. There were tables with chess sets along one wall, a small stage set up near the back wall, and a long, scarred wooden bar that ran almost all the way from the front of the shop to the back. Behind the bar were a truly mind boggling array of coffees and teas, and the busy wait staff scurried back and forth, tossing out jokes and sarcastic comments to the regulars. The fact that their coffee was also fantastic was just a bonus as far as Liz was concerned.

"Great place, huh?"

Liz grinned over at Serena. "Awesome."

"Pays to step out of the boonies every now-and-then," Serena laughed.

"What would you know about the boonies?" Liz rolled her eyes. "You're from New Orleans, that's just gotta be so cool."

"New Orleans is pretty great. Sometimes. But, I assure you I know a little something about boonies. I had to spend summers in Pine Grove, Louisiana. Do you know what's in Pine Grove, Louisiana? Nothing. Well, lots of bugs, but nothing else."

"And why were you exiled to Pine Grove, Louisiana every summer?" Maria asked with a laugh.

"My grandmother lives there and every summer my mom and I would go stay with her. Ha, but I was all clever this year and stayed in Boston to tutor," Serena voice trailed off and her eyes locked on the front door. "Oh my god. Two more reasons why I'm glad I'm in Boston this summer just walked through the door. Mercy that's some fine manliness."

Liz laughed but didn't turn around; she knew exactly who had just entered the shop. "Hands off, Serena."

"Oh no, girl, I saw them first," Serena claimed with a wicked smile.

Her grin faded, however, when the two young men stepped over to her companions. She groaned in disappointment when Max leaned down to place a kiss on Liz's lips. "Oh man. This blows. Do you realize how much this blows? Liz, Maria, you both suck.

Michael perched on the edge of the couch, his hand on Maria's back, while Max sat down next to Liz and pulled her onto his lap. She leaned back against him and grinned at Serena.

"Serena, meet Max and Michael," Liz said, somewhat smugly.

Serena easily forgot her earlier disappointment and greeted the two new arrivals cheerfully. "Nice to meet you guys. I mean it's really nice to meet you guys."

Michael grunted his greeting and Max looked at her curiously for a moment before smiling back. "Nice to meet you, too … Serena."

"What is the deal with you guys and my name? Liz and Maria both had some weird out saying it for the first time."

Liz cleared her throat, a little flustered. "I told you. I used to have a friend named Serena."

"And she died didn't she? Some horrible freaky way?"

"No," Liz said hurriedly. "It's just that, well, things change, you know? The fut- life's kind of weird that way."

"Huh," Serena huffed noncommittally. "So, she's what? A porn star now?"

Liz laughed. "No. I don't know. I … uh, I just don't know." She shrugged and glanced around the coffeehouse.

Serena let her gaze wander over the four teens. She was trying to figure out why each of them had been so weird about her when they first met. It didn't seem to last long, if Liz and Maria were any indication, but she just had a strange feeling about them.

She could sense, just in talking with Liz and Maria that there were entire libraries full of stories they were keeping back. Nobody's lives could be that boring, not even in Roswell, New Mexico. Especially considering how worldly and watchful they all were. It was a mystery. Serena loved mysteries. And she was becoming very fond of Liz; she was smart, witty, clever, and incredibly astute. She suspected they could get into huge amounts of trouble together. However, Serena also recognized the extreme wariness and decided that she wouldn't press. She knew if she did that, they would push her away and she'd never get an answer.

"Well, so long as she didn't change her name to Lola Bustier or something," Serena joked lightly.

The others laughed quietly and settled down to drinking coffee and talking about life in general. It was in the middle of Serena and Michael's argument over Froot Loops vs. Fruity Pebbles that Serena got yet another dose of weirdness from her short association with the four.

She was waxing eloquent on the merits of soggy cereal when a small figure rushed past her and flew onto the couch. Her first thought was that somebody had brought their kid and he'd gone nuts, but the newcomer turned out to be a small man and he had himself perched, rather precariously, on the back of the couch. She watched him curiously, a bewildered expression on her face and noticed with a start that a very tall, dark, rather severe looking woman in black had stepped up beside them as well.

"Lovely Maria. Friend Michael. Radiant Liz. Rex Max," he giggled when he greeted Max. "I told you they were here, Sef."

"I did not doubt you," replied the tall woman patiently.

It was some small comfort to Serena that Liz and the others looked just as startled by the pair's arrival as she was.

Liz cleared her throat quickly and gestured from Serena to Tobin and Sef. "Serena these are … friends of ours, Tobin and Sef. Um, guys, this is Serena."

Tobin climbed down off the couch and sat on the table facing Serena; he didn't take his eyes off of her. "Fair Serena."

"Tobin, huh?"

Tobin nodded happily. "You have an interesting life before you," he told her matter-of-factly. "Soon you will come to a crossroads. Mind where you tread and mind where you've trod. A low fog settles over the road and there will be no other hand to guide you to your choice."

"I'm sorry. What are you talking about?"

"Tomorrow, today, for one instant all time, all place, all now and then, will stand still, and hold their breath for you."

"Tobin," Michael barked suddenly. "Leave her alone."

Tobin stuck out his lower lip in a pout and shot a hurt look over his shoulder. "I am merely trying to be helpful."

"Tobin," Liz prompted. "Why are you here now?"

"Aren't you pleased to see me?" Tobin was in full pout-mode and not about it leave it anytime soon.

Liz stared at him evenly. "Of course I am, but I'm just wondering if there was a particular reason you were here or if you just came for the coffee."

"Not that he needs the caffeine," Maria observed dryly.

"Oh, yes," Tobin exclaimed suddenly. He got off the table and moved back to the couch, wedging himself in between Maria and Max. Then he tilted up his head and started talking in a stage whisper. "The Children of Love and War. Panic and Dread. Their moon is rising. Pluck from those twisted orbs a wealth of lore so ancient it's unlined by age. And on the shield of their father, War, are tenantless plains, waiting, always waiting. Standing patient, solemn, mournful, staid and empyreal. No music dances in the air, down dusty streets, nor poetry whispered from parched throats, echoing silently. Answers you need, answers are there. Search you must, where the world was born, for shadows. They will guide you, they will teach you, they will change you with their dark stare."

Serena stared at the small man, unsettled then she glanced up at her new friends and saw the lines of concentration and concern on their faces. This was all too bizarre, but she couldn't force herself away.

"Well that was even more obscure then usual," Max muttered.

"Panic and Dread?" Liz questioned softly.

"Panic and Dread. Answers are there," Tobin confirmed.

Something tickled at the base of Serena's brain, some half-remembered something. Love and War. Panic and Dread. What was it?

"You know, as far as prophecies go, Tobin," Maria said. "That one was a little creepy."

Tobin shrugged, unconcerned and looked up at Sef. "I want a soft pretzel. Can we go get some?"

"Of course. Are you done here?"

"Yes." Tobin hopped down off the couch and with a jaunty wave, led Sef out of the coffee shop.

Maria glanced over at Serena and watched the other woman chew thoughtfully on her lip. Liz caught Maria's look and shook her head.

"Aphrodite and Ares. Love and War," Serena mumbled. "That makes Panic and Dread, Phobos and Deimos," she said finally and triumphantly. She thought about it for a moment longer and frowned. "What the hell does that mean?"

"Phobos and Deimos?" Liz said, glancing at Max. "Mars?"

"I am so not going to Mars," Maria swore quietly.

<<<<>>>>

Red
posted on 3-Apr-2002 3:15:28 AM by Red
Author's Notes:
Sorry about the delay everybody. I haven't even quite finished chapter 6 yet but since it's been almost a month I decided to go ahead and give you a part of it. I hope to have the rest done in the next few days.

Wow look at all these responses, let me just take a few minutes to say some hello's then we'll get on to the chapter.

Demoira - Awww, golly, I love you too. *big* I love Michael/Max bonding, they're such a great combo, they drive each other nuts.

Tabasco Liz - Yep life's been pretty busy and by the end of chapter six it's going to get a whole lot busier. No worries, no Max jr's anytime soon.

BLS40 - Serena's going to have some very interesting choices she's going to have to make in the next few chapters. It should be interesting to see which way she goes.

Snowdove30 - Yes Mars. Will they actually be going to Mars? Well I can't say just now. *wink*

BubbleBlueSmurf - heh, nice name. I'm glad you're enjoying this. *big*

rollergal - sorry it took so long to get this part you. You're so patient and good to put up with me. *big*

Thaea - I'm glad you liked the 'obsequious toad' bit. I love the word obsequious, not only is it so descriptive it's also fun to say a whole lot of times in a row. Serena and Kyle? Hmmm, always a possibility. We'll see.

LaFemmeLurker - HOWDY! It's great to hear from you. I'm glad you're still enjoying this. Lurch and Cousin It? LOL.

roswellluver - well hey thanks. Thanks so much for reading. *big*

Realspacecadet - Tobin's prophecy is going to start coming to be very very soon.

sylvia - thanks. I love writing dialogue. It's the easiest bit for me, it's almost like I just hear the characters talking and I simply type up what they're saying.

astrisk - you bet *big*

buggaboo - I always strive to be coherent. And considering Tobin's lack of coherence I'll take that as a huge compliment. Thank you. *big*

jendansuer - I'm glad you're liking Serena, I'm really starting to have fun with her.

Rookie - Gosh, you're so good for my ego. Seriously. I think your take on Tobin and Sef has to be my favorite so far. Certainly the most interesting combo. *big* Some very intersting things are going to happen to Max and Liz, some interesting answers, in the rest of chapter six. I hope to have it up ASAP.

ColoradoGal - Hey, I'm a Colorado Gal. Well except the I've been in So Cal for six months part. Mercy I miss Colorado some days. Glad you love it. Here's part of a new part. *wink*

Okay, now to it. The rest of the chapter, coming soon. Honest. Enjoy.


Chapter Six

The heat wave that had ravaged Boston that June bled, unrelieved, into the next month and by the time the fourth of July came around the city had wilted under the blistering sun. The quartet from Roswell spent a mercifully uneventful holiday on a small boat in Boston Harbor, enjoying a barbecue on the water and the fireworks display afterwards. Now, well into their third week in the city they had settled into a kind of routine. Mornings were spent in the office, going over the meager information Wayland had on the Granolith and the planet Mars, and dealing with the myriad details ruling a planet in absentia could generate. They would escape for lunch and spend the rest of the day enjoying the city and New England in general.

The weekend was coming round again and Maria and Liz were spending a lazy Friday with Serena. The trio had occupied the same corner table at the grill for almost three hours; sitting, relaxing and watching the world go by. Maria and Serena were involved in a movie debate that had suddenly turned into a philosophical and theological discussion while Liz stared out at the busy street, lost in her own thoughts.

"You are not making me sit through a Michael Bay movie, I don’t care who’s in it." Serena’s loud snort of disgust drew quick glances and startled looks from nearby diners. "Hmm, good acoustics."

Maria considered her new friend closely and tried to come up with some enticement. "It’s Josh Hartnett, Serena. Come on."

"Yes, fine, he’s great eye candy. But hey there’s a newspaper shop across the street, I’m sure they’ve got a magazine with his mug on it in there somewhere, why not just run over and get one, then you can stare at him whenever you like. Wouldn’t that be cheaper, not to mention less painful, than having to endure that movie?"

"I can see you’re not going to give in on this," Maria noted reasonably.

Serena nodded firmly. "Gotta stick by my principles. The combination of Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay was sent straight from hell, I’m sure of it."

"Liz? Any input here, babe?" Maria asked, trying to pull her friend from wherever she’d lost herself now.

"I have to go with Serena on this one, Maria. I’m not in the mood for war today," Liz told her.

Maria nodded in understanding. The grimace on her friend’s face was enough to make her regret the suggestion in the first place. They’d gone through too much this past year to take even summer popcorn movies lightly. "Okay, Lizzy."

"Okay, Lizzy?" Serena asked in disbelief. "That’s it? I get an argument and she just gets an okay?"

"It wasn’t an argument," Maria protested with a grin. "It was a discussion."

Serena narrowed her eyes at Maria, then broke into a laugh. "Yeah, okay. Liz, you’re still going to have to teach me that trick."

"The get-Maria-off-your-back trick?" Liz asked innocently. Maria’s mouth opened and shut a few times at the indignity. "Hey, how about if we go over to that headshop across from the coffee dive, instead?" Liz smirked at Serena when Maria’s face transformed from a look of irritation to one of anticipation.

"Suh-weet."

"See, she’s easy," Liz chuckled.

"Okay, there’s only so much abuse I can take at any one sitting. I insist on a change of subject," Maria demanded. Serena and Liz both chuckled.

"So there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you guys," Serena said. Though the words were spoken with all demure innocence there was mischief lurking in her eyes.

"Yes?" Maria prompted.

"Seeing as you’re from Roswell and all," she said slowly, a grin tugging at her lips. "How many aliens do you know?"

Liz choked slightly on her Pepsi and turned her head from the table, wheezing and coughing. Maria covered her own surprised by reaching over and patting Liz on the back. "Liz?"

It took Liz a couple of long seconds to get her breath back. Turning back to the table, she cleared her throat and pushed strand of hair out of her face. "Sorry about that, wrong pipe. What was your question, again?"

"You ruined my timing, Liz," Serena complained with a mock pout. "I’m sure you guys hear it all the time. How many aliens have you met? Sorry, I try to be funny, really I do but sometimes, you know, the muse of great wit abandons me. Fickle bitch."

Liz pursed her lips and looked as though she was considering the question seriously. Having gotten over her initial shock, she decided it was safe enough to joke about the alien subject. "Let’s see. What is it now? How many do we know, Maria?"

Maria’s brow came together in puzzlement for the briefest moment before she caught on. "You know, I always lose count." She shrugged her shoulders regretfully.

"It’s hard to keep track. I’m gonna say-" Liz trailed off and seemed to be counting silently. "Geez must be almost a hundred at this point."

"And that’s not even counting the evil aliens," Maria observed dryly.

"God no, that’d put us over a thousand easy." Liz turned to Serena, and informed her solemnly, "There’s always more of the bad kind then the good kind. It’s one of those cruel tricks of fate. Sort of an unwritten law of alienness on Earth. It’s not fair. It’s really not. But, hey, what are you going to do?"

Serena raised her hands in surrender and laughed. "I’m sorry. I’m sorry. You win. But still, you’ve got to have heard a lot of interesting stories."

"You mean from the wing-nut half of the population?" Maria snorted in amusement. "Max would be your guy to ask for that. He actually worked at the UFO museum."

Serena’s eyes lit up. "No way. How cool is that? God I wish we’d had something as cool as that in Pine Grove. Oh hell, I’d have been happy with the Pine Grove Giant Bug museum. Oh wait, we had one of those, it was called ‘outside’."

"I thought you just spent your summers there?" Liz asked.

"Well yeah. Hello? Crappy way to spend summer when you’re a kid? Yes? The rest of the year I’m in school. Don’t have all those free days to roam around the city. I mean, I do okay but, you know, we’re out of town during the summer festivals and if you think my mom ever let me go to the big Mardi Gras parades you are so very mistaken. She’s pretty open about stuff but, well, she says as long as I was under the legal drinking age it was off limits. I couldn’t go this year because of a stupid research project but I definitely plan on being there next year. But enough about me. You. Alien stories. Got any good ones?"

"Why are you so interested?" Maria asked suspiciously.

"Are you kidding? I eat this stuff up. God I love modern mythology. Urban legends, and ghost stories and alien abduction stories and government conspiracies. These are just like the ancient myths. Stories of giant sea monsters and unicorns and dragons and stuff, you know? It’s people constantly trying to explain the unexplainable. Binds us all together, past and present. Love it. Just love it. And UFOs. Now that’s the good stuff. Techno-astro-mythology almost. But old too. Nazca. Stonehenge. The Pyramids. Atlantis. I swear I read Project: Bluebook a dozen times by the time I was ten. So?"

Liz laughed at the intensity Serena laced in her last speech. A true fascination showed through, but not on the wing-nut side, as Maria had so aptly labeled them. Serena looked at them from the point of view of somebody intrigued by human nature. Liz could understand that. She could relate to it even. Of course, she also held the questionably enviable position of knowing the truth. She started to wonder how Serena would react to that. Believing as she obviously did that it was all myth, would she still hold true to the curiosity she felt now, or would she panic, or be terrified? Or maybe she’d simply refuse to believe. That was an experiment in human nature Liz didn’t have the courage to conduct just then. Not without the approval of the group, and not with her own unique status so undefined, unexplained. Too many questions she didn’t have answers for.

"Sounds like you’re the expert to me," Liz told Serena. "We’ve all got this sort of knee-jerk reaction to alien stuff, I think. We, uh, kind of go out of our way to ignore it."

"Doesn’t stop us from messing with the tourists though," Maria snickered.

"God no, that’s the best part about working for an alien-themed restaurant," Liz chuckled evilly. "The tips just suck otherwise."


posted on 5-Apr-2002 12:28:12 AM by Red
there. that didn't take too long *wink*

the rest of Chapter Six

Max tried to swallow the un-kingly snicker that threatened to burst from his throat and used all of his considerable self-control to glare instead of grin at Michael. Michael merely stared back with that implacably blasé "Michael" expression, quirked an eyebrow and quickly sketched another figure on the paper in front of him. Max bit his lip and coughed to cover his laugh.

"Would you like some water, your Majesty?" A concerned assistant materialized at his elbow.

"No…" Max’s voice was choked and a bit higher then he would have liked. He flushed slightly, cleared his throat and tried again. "No, thank you. I’m fine." He threw his most vicious death glare at Michael and turned his attention back to the speaker at the foot of the table.

One of the first-wave of refuges to land on Earth decades ago, Warner was a full-blooded Antaran. He was a tall, reedy man, slightly stooped with age but no less an imposing presence for his weathered appearance. That his voice was a deep rumble only James Earl Jones could possibly match was certain to have something to do with the amount of attention he could command every time he spoke, as well. However, it was his vast knowledge and expertise that drew the respect of everyone at Wayland. It had been Warner who pressed for the formation of a military group within the Wayland organization nearly thirty years before. His argument being that it was needed as part of the preparation for the day they might be required to defend their royal family and for when the time came to take the offensive against their enemies. Max liked him. He was certainly more brusque then Errol, definitely rougher around the edges, but he was a willing teacher and not surprisingly he and Michael had hit it off to some degree. As much as Michael ever hit it off with anybody, that is.

"As you can see, Sire, we expect to have all the Disciple’s remaining forces and material completely under our control within the month. And that is a most conservative estimation. I would honestly say easily in the next twelve to fourteen days."

"That’s great," Max told him truthfully. "But what about the humans who helped them? They’re just going to disappear back into the government. They know about us, Warner. Isn’t that a fairly large threat?"

Warner gave him a sharp nod. "Yes, Sire. However, I don’t think it’s an overt threat. Meaning, they won’t come at us en masse. It’ll be a shadow war, your majesty. No less dangerous, but if you fear discovery this won’t be what gives you away. We have people in the government; they have people in the government. Nobody will trust anybody else and I’d say ninety-eight percent of the government workers and officials will have absolutely no clue this war is being fought in their midst."

"The media?"

Warner waved a hand dismissively. "Who’d believe it? No credible news agency would even consider touching the story without huge amounts of information, in depth access to personnel, and clearance to secure areas most military brass don’t even know about. And they’d be exposing themselves in the process. These people like the dark far too much to ever risk the media spotlight. It’s against their very nature. They could always go to the tabloids to start spreading rumors if they were really desperate, but again, who’d believe it? You might make it onto the list of UFO nuts or conspiracy theorists but I don’t think there’s a corporation of any size that isn’t. I’m sure a five minute search on the internet would turn up stories detailing ‘proof’ of our involvement in all manner of nefarious plots and schemes."

Max trusted Warner’s judgement so he allowed himself to relax. He cast a quick glance over at Michael, who had finally stopped sketching rude figures. Michael met his friend’s gaze, his dark eyes serious, and gave him a nod confirming his agreement with Warner. Max gave him a grateful smile and looked back at Warner.

"I know you usually try to get out early on Fridays, Warner, so I just wanted to thank you for staying so late after lunch to go over this with me. I was fairly certain you guys had this covered but I needed to know where we were at." Max shrugged, slightly uncomfortable.

"It was my pleasure, your Majesty. If there’s nothing else…?"

"Nope, that’s it, Warner. Thanks again."

Warner bowed his head quickly. "Have a good weekend, Sire."

Max waived his assistants out of the room after Warner and he and Michael silently waited until they were alone.

"Well?" Max asked.

"Warner’s right about the Disciple and those jackasses who helped him. Amal says there aren’t any left in New Mexico and the bases and labs are all abandoned."

"Good." Max nodded in satisfaction.

"You still keep waiting for the other shoe to drop."

"Well, yeah, don’t you?"

"Absolutely," Michael laughed. "But there’s not much we can do about it, you know, other then just be ready to go when and if it hits."

"Like we always have," Max said quietly.

"Like we always have," Michael confirmed. "So come on Maxwell, relax, it’s the weekend."

Max leaned back in his chair and stretched his arms above his head, trying to do as Michael suggested. "What time’s the baseball game?"

"Starts at six."

"Too bad it’s not hockey season?"

Michael shrugged. "Whatever, the Bruins suck anyway. Red Sox/Mariners should be good, though."

"It’ll be fun," Max agreed with a smile. "We should probably go track down our girlfriends though if we ever want to get there before the first pitch."

Michael followed Max into his office and watched him stack papers onto one corner of his desk and shove a handful of books and files into a backpack.

"Hey Max?"

Max looked up from what he was doing. "Yeah?"

"Your parents are coming out next week, right?"

"Yeah."

"Liz’s too?"

Max frowned slightly and shuffled some papers nervously. "Yeah. Liz’s eighteenth birthday is next Thursday, they want to be out here for it."

Michael nodded; Maria had mentioned Liz’s birthday the night before and she’d threatened to drag him shopping with her for a present. "That’s kind of going to put a crimp on any, uh, special plans you might have, huh?"

"No, it won’t," Max said firmly. "I talked to my mom the other night and we’re planning a family celebration, but I do have special plans for just Liz and I. I’ve been thinking about it since we got here and I want everything to be great for her."

"What are you going to tell her parents, Maxwell? I mean it’s pretty obvious you guys aren’t just interns here."

"I don’t know. Liz and I have talked about it, but she’s just so tense about what’s going on with her that she doesn’t want to tell her parents until she has some answers." Max smiled ruefully at Michael. "I don’t see us getting any by Wednesday so I have no clue what we’re going to tell them." Max zipped up his backpack and started out of the office. "Whatever we tell them, I don’t think they’ll take it too well."

"You ready for a showdown with the in-laws?"

Max opened his mouth to protest the use of the term ‘in-laws’ but realized that that’s essentially what they were. "Guess I have to be. Most likely it’ll be me trying to keep Liz and her mother from strangling each other." Max shook his head and sighed. "This is so totally not going to be fun. You and Maria might want to skip town for the week."

Michael chuckled. "And miss this? No way, Maxwell. Besides, Maria and I have your back."

"Thanks, man," Max told him sincerely.

"No problem."

<<<<>>>>

It was well after midnight before the car carrying the four teens pulled onto Louisbourg Square. The game had gone into extra innings and they’d stopped for a very late dinner afterwards.

Michael hopped out of the car the instant it stopped, not bothering to wait for a guard to open the door for him. He reached a hand in and helped Maria out. Max followed next, but as soon as he stepped onto the sidewalk he frowned. In spite of the warm muggy night, a chill rippled across his body. Some instinctive pull moved him to put himself in front of Liz as she climbed out of the car and wrap one of his large hands around her arm. Liz glanced up at him, concerned, but a split second later her eyes widened and she darted a look around the square.

"Can you tell what it is?" He hissed in her ear.

She shook her head. "No. I . . . I don’t understand it."

Max pulled her closer to him and glanced over at Michael. He fears were heightened when he saw how rigidly Michael was standing, Maria close at his side. In fact, it seemed Maria was the only one not affected by whatever was going on as she stared at Michael, confused.

"We need to get inside now, Maxwell," Michael told him quietly.

Max’s jaw clinched in tension and he started towards the front door. He was only peripherally aware of the guards and people around him, his senses were straining outwards, trying to find the source of his unease. Everything changed a second later when he got a good look at Chief Ross’ face. The Chief was standing in the doorway, a cheerless, forced smile on his face. He was blinking rapidly and beads of sweat were collecting on his forehead.

"Good evening, Sir, Ma’am, I trust you all had a pleasant evening?" His voice was tight and though he tried to inject his usual affability into it, the tone rang false.

Liz felt a sick swell of dread and moved as close to Max as she could. "It was very nice, Ciarán," she told him.

As they started to climb the steps to enter the house, the Chief very slowly shook his head back and forth, his gaze intense on them. Max hesitated on the bottom step, his senses suddenly focusing on things closer at hand. There were more guards on the street then usual. He hadn’t noticed before because they were all familiar to him. Faces he saw everyday, but now their numbers worried him. He looked back up at the Chief who seemed to be desperately trying to get some message across to him. Chief Ross’ eyes flickered slightly down to his right. Max followed his gaze and saw a black bag tucked behind a planter, barely visible in the shadows. He looked back at the Chief who nodded slightly and silently mouthed a message to him.

"Take the bag and run."

Max’s mind swam with confusion, he couldn’t seem to make any sense of what was going on and he knew intellectually that his bewilderment was dangerous but he didn’t honestly know what to do. The clatter of weapons being readied behind him and Michael’s voice hissing profanities snapped him out of his daze. All their lives Max and Michael had been prepared to run at a moment’s notice, and now, just when they’d thought they were finally safe, that time to run had come upon them. Max’s mind shifted into his automatic flight response and his hand darted out for the bag. Snagging it, he stepped back from the house, pulling Liz tightly in front of him.

The guards’ attention shifted to follow the King, their weapons trained on him, and the Chief took that moment to make a move that would hopefully allow them to escape. He pulled a pistol from under his shirt and took aim. The gun’s report was almost deafening in the confined space of the entryway, but the shot had its desired effect. The guard closest to Max went down with a howl and both Max and Michael reacted instantly. Max threw up his shield and Michael let out a blast of energy that took down two more of the guards.

"Michael, the car," Max yelled.

The sounds of a struggle could be heard behind them and Liz chanced a quick look back. Several more armed men and women in the tan of the Wayland forces came clattering down the steps towards the fray outside, but this time they seemed to be on the side of the Royals. It was too chaotic for her to make any sense of but she saw the Chief in the thick of things. He seemed to feel her looking at him and he met her eyes. "Run."

Max stood between the chaotic brawl in front of and Liz and Maria. Liz had her hand on Max’s shoulder, funneling some of her own power into Max, allowing him to take what he needed to defend them. Maria watched the entire scene with wide eyes, turning her head to follow Michael as he tried to take the car. Michael pulled the driver out, and after a brief scuffle he shouted over the hood. "Let’s go."

The trio moved as one to the vehicle. Maria climbed in the front next to Michael. His face was a stone mask of concentration, almost terrifying to look on, but he softened slightly when he saw her frightened eyes and he touched her face tenderly. Liz’s voice broke the moment. "Go, Michael."

Max kept an eye out the back, ready to put up his shield in an instant if necessary but they weren’t immediately pursued. He finally slumped back on the seat and looked over at Liz to make sure she was all right. She had her eyes closed and she was taking deep breaths, trying to calm herself down. Her face was pale and her hands were shaking slightly, but she seemed otherwise unharmed.

"I’m okay, Max," she told him quietly. "Scared, but okay."

He reached across the seat to take her hand, he didn’t know what to say to reassure her, he was scared too, so he settled for squeezing her hand gently. Then he leaned forward and tried to get a good look at the pair in front.

"Michael, Maria? Are you two okay?"

Maria turned slightly and looked back at Max, a weary smile on her face. "We’re fine, girlfriend. You sure know how to make a weekend exciting."

"Well, I’d hate for you to ever get bored."

"God forbid. You know you’re too good to me, Max."

"Anything for you, Maria."

Their banter was weak and slightly forced, but it was enough to reassure everybody that though terrified they had survived, unscathed, and they were hopefully strong enough to deal with whatever would happen next.

"Where to, Maxwell?" Michael voice was harsh and hard. He was still deep in his role of warrior and not at all prepared to engage in any sort of light-heartedness.

"I don’t know. We’ll probably need to ditch the car at some point. It’s way too easy to track."

"Max? What’s in the bag?" Liz asked softly.

In their mad scrambled to get in the car and out of the square Max had completely forgotten the black bag. He sat back and pulled it up off the floor into his lap. He unzipped it carefully and stared down at the contents. It was too dark in the car to see properly and he didn’t want to risk turning any lights on, so he turned the bag upside down and emptied it onto the seat next to him, shaking it a few times to make sure everything was out.

"What happened back there?" Maria wondered softly, her voice drifting, barely audible to the back. "Skins?"

"I don’t think so," Michael replied. "When the Chief shot that guy next to Max he looked pretty human when he went down."

"God, we knew those people, why’d they turn on us? Who the hell do we trust?"

"Ourselves, Maria, we can always trust ourselves."

"We don’t trust anybody at Wayland, right now," Liz told them. "Except Torquil."

"How do you know we can trust him?" Michael asked her, more then a hint of challenge in his voice.

"I just know, Michael. I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer for you but I just know."

"She’s right, Michael," Max spoke up suddenly. "This bag, it’s from Torquil."

"What’s in it?" Maria asked.

Max stared down at the collection of envelopes and the large, odd-looking phone. Max held the largest envelope in his hands, staring down at it, a stunned expression on his face. "Money. Enough to keep us good for a while. Car keys and a North End address. A satellite phone. A letter signed by Torquil, it’s too dark in her for me to read it but there’s a phone number at the bottom. And a bunch of files and computer disks."

"And we’re going to trust this?" Michael protested.

Max understood his uncertainty but he also trusted Liz and truly believed, despite this latest betrayal, that of anybody they really could count on Torquil. "Yeah, Michael. Torquil’s on our side. Why else leave the bag?"

"Isn’t it just a little convenient?"

"Torquil’s not stupid, Michael," Maria told him, surprising herself that she’d stick up for the burly Scot. "He may have known something was up and he had the bag ready just in case. It could have been at the house the whole time."

Michael grunted, acknowledging her point. "So what do we do?"

Max leaned forward and handed the note with the address up to Michael. "Think you can find this place?"

Michael took his eyes off the road long enough to turn on an overhead light and glance at the note. "Yeah, I recognize the street name. It’s a big street, easy to find." Michael punched the light off again and the car was plunged back into darkness. "Maria do you have your cell phone on you?"

"Yeah?"

"I need to use it."

Max looked up from Torquil’s letter. "Michael, they probably have a trace on Maria’s phone."

"So what? They know we know they’re out there. I need to make two calls. One to Amal, to tell him to neutralize any Wayland guards in Roswell. I think they should take over security there until we know who to trust."

"God idea," Max told him.

"The second one to Isabel telling her what’s going on. Then we can toss the phone in the harbor."

"You’re right." Max mentally kicked himself for not thinking of his sister earlier.

Liz ignored Max and Michael’s conversation leaning wearily back against her seat instead, now that the adrenaline had worn off she was completely wiped out. She fingered the envelopes next to her, wondering what was in the files and disks. Her hand moved over to the phone and she picked it up curiously. It was heavy and kind of reminded her of those old cell phones that looked more like bricks then phones. There was an antenna folded down on one side that was thicker around then her thumb and probably six or seven inches long.

"You should try and call, Torquil, Max," she told him softly.

"Yeah, I was just thinking that." He picked up the phone and held it gingerly, staring at the mind-boggling collection of buttons on its face. He took a deep breath and pushed the button most likely to be the power. It took him another few minutes to figure out how to dial but eventually he got it and now he sat waiting for Torquil, or somebody, to pick up.

"’Lo?"

"Torquil?"

There was a moment of silence and when Torquil spoke again his voice was almost a whisper. "Max, lad, are ye okay?"

"Yeah. We’re all fine. What’s going on, Torquil?"

"Treachery," he hissed angrily. "Wayland’s been compromised, by who Ah dae nae kin. Ye’re nae tae trust anybody in ra company. Nobody. Nae Errol, nae Warner, nae Joseph. Nae until Ah’ve answers. Ye understand?"

"I understand. But what happened? How’d you get this bag to us? How’d you even know to have it ready?"

A soft chuckle rumbled through the connection. "Och, well, occasionally there are benefits tae being paranoid. Ah’ve had tha’ bag wi’ ra Chief for months. In case something happened an’ ye had tae move quickly or were cut off from help. Something tae help ye disappear. An’ tha’s what ye’ve tae dae now. Disappear."

"We’re going to the address in the bag. What’s there?"

"There are twae others ye can trust an’ they’ll be waiting for ye at ra address along wi’ a new car. Ah reckon ra one ye’re drivin’ is a little conspicuous. But when ye get ra new car, change ra color wi’ yer alien powers, yeah? Jess tae be safe."

"Okay. What about this phone, can it be traced?"

"Nae as yer thinkin’. Nobody has any idea Ah have it so they’d nae kin tae trace it. But tae be safe dae nae use it unless ye’ve a real need. Ah’ll call ye once a week with an update."

"Are you sure?"

"Aye. If they track it best they can do is say what continent yer on. It’s got GPS but Ah’ve disabled it. Ra satellites ra signal is bounced off cover ra States, Canada, northern Mexico an’ a good-sized footprint in Europe. Ra signal micht be iffy in Poland."

Max couldn’t help but laugh. "I don’t think we’re going to Poland."

"Good. It also won’t work in South America, so ye cannae run tae far south an’ keep in touch wi’ me. But if ye maun run further then we expect, ye go where ye’ll be safe, worry about contactin’ me later. Ye understand?"

"I do. Torquil, thank you."

"Ye’re welcome, lad. Ah cannae tell ye how good it was tae hear yer voice here. If Ah’d had any idea tha’ this would happen . . ."

"You didn’t know, did you?"

"Nae a hint. Most are still loyal tae ye, Max, but there are enough bad ones tha’ Ah cannae trust anybody. Ah’ve a handful Ah kin well, like ra Chief an’ Ah kin they’re wi’ me, so we’ll go from there. Ye disappear an’ ye keep safe."

"We will. Oh one more thing. Michael called his men and told them to take over in Roswell."

"Good, good. Are there files in ra bag?"

"Yeah, and some computer disks."

"Good. Ah left them at ra house earlier this evening, before all this happened. There are some interesting things in them, maybe some answers as tae what just happened but Ah cannae say for sure. Anyway, we’ve been chattin’ long enough. Keep safe lad."

"You too, Torquil. Thanks again."

"Ah’ll call in a week."

Max disconnected the call and closed his eyes. "Torquil says there’s some kind of coup going on at Wayland. He doesn’t know who to trust either. We’re supposed to meet two people at that address and then disappear."

"I called Isabel," Maria told them. "Everybody’s okay there, and some of Michael’s guys were already in the area."

"Thanks Maria."

"Okay, Maxwell, this is the address. I don’t see anybody out front."

Michael drove slowly down the street and pulled over to the curb in front of the address. "Wait. There’s somebody in the doorway."

"I’ll get out, you guys stay in the car," Max told them.

"No way, Maxwell. I’ll get out; you stay in the car."

"We don’t have time for this Michael. I’ve got my shield, I’ll be fine, you keep the car ready in case we have to go quickly."

Michael growled. "Maxwell . . ."

Liz snorted softly. "If you two don’t work this out soon, I’m getting out."

Max ended the conversation by opening the door and not waiting for any other reply from Michael. He climbed out warily, his eyes darting up and down the street, then focusing on the shadowy figure waiting for him.

"Hello, Max."

"Sef?" Max supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised. But for some reason when Torquil had mentioned the two he could trust he hadn’t even considered Tobin and Sef.

The tall woman stepped out of the shadow of the building towards Max. "You are all well?"

"Yeah, we’re fine." Max frowned, the silence was a little too strange. "Is Tobin here?"

"Hello, my king," came Tobin’s voice out of the darkness, the tone more reserved and softer then Max had ever heard it.

"You’re both okay?"

"Yes," Sef said crisply. "But now we must move. You will trade that car for the black Suburban behind you. You have the keys?"

"Yes."

Max turned back to the car and motioned for his friends to get out. Liz collected the envelopes and phone and tossed the Suburban’s keys to Max. She stepped up next to him and couldn’t stop herself from pulling him into a tight hug. Max held her back just as tightly and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek. "We’ll be okay, doll face."

Liz smiled against his chest. "I know we will."

They pulled apart and walked to the dark SUV. Max held his hand out and touched the hood of the car. "What are you doing?" Liz asked.

"Torquil told me to change the color."

Liz nodded. "I’ll do it, you need to save your energy." She touched her fingers to the cool metal and concentrated. "Any requests."

Max smiled at her. "How about silver, that’s pretty common, not too obvious."

Liz quickly changed the color of the car and they settled themselves into the new vehicle. Sef and the still unnaturally quiet Tobin sat in the back, Max and Liz took the middle and once again Michael and Maria sat up front.

"If you need me to drive Michael, just let me know," Max told his friend as he handed over the keys.

"I’m good. So where do we go?"

"Um, we should probably stay off the big highways out of Boston. Can we take some of these surface streets to one of the suburbs and then pick up the interstates from there?"

"Yeah, I can do that. So pick a direction."

Max glanced over at Liz but she just shrugged. "How about south down the coast? We’ll stick to smaller highways once we get out a ways."

Michael nodded sharply and put the vehicle into gear and out onto the light midnight traffic. As soon as the SUV began to move the passengers fell silent, the four teens from Roswell each considering just how far this unexpected journey would take them and each of them wrestling with the dark fears that plagued them.


posted on 11-May-2002 5:49:18 AM by Red
AUTHOR'S NOTE

Good lord. I hadn't realized it had been so long. I am dreadfully, dreadfully, dreadfully sorry. I'll fall on my sword after the next part. Promise.

Ummm, chapter 7 has been started. MIJ2 has been put on the back burner *wink*. LOL. MIJ2 hates me so I'm hating it back. 33DoE does not hate me so I'll give it some lovin'.

New part, Sunday - Monday at the latest.

Thank you all so much for your patience and your kind, kind words and, ugh, I'm going to get back on that at least one part a week schedule. Maybe bump it up to two a week - no promises on that, though.
posted on 14-May-2002 12:57:46 AM by Red
I'm coming, I'm coming.
MIJwhat? No, I don't know what you're talking about.

Umm, it's still monday where I am. I have two hours. I can do. BRB.
posted on 14-May-2002 10:58:11 AM by Red
Author's Note-
Alright, alright, here I am. *big*
And a new part and a promise to update at least once a week. Thank you all for being so patient with me. Even Demoira *wink*
Okay, I won't fall on my sword. I reckon that would hurt anyway and I'm not good by the pain.
Jane - I write Farscape fan fic, too. MIJ2 is the second part of a, well, two part script. It's been fighting me for months. But, uh, I do have another Farscape story going, too, it's called UFO, just in case anybody was wondering. 'Cause you know I need more projects. *wink*
If you're interested in that you can find it in the Library at my website.
http://www.wdsection.com/redsplace/library

Okay one little note here. This chapter was originally going to be just some Max and Liz talking. Then some Maria and Max and Liz talking and some Michael grunting. But I figured I made you all wait too long for talking.
Enjoy.

CHAPTER SEVEN

Max closed the curtains tightly against the early afternoon sun and sat down heavily on the bed. He kicked his shoes off, stripped down to his boxers and collapsed back on the pillows with an exhausted groan. It had been a long couple of days. Had it really only been the night before that they’d gone to the baseball game? It felt like a week ago. They’d driven through the night, doubling back, taking side roads, and zigzagging as much as they could in an effort to throw off any pursuit. Fatigue had finally caught up with them and they stopped at a motel somewhere in Virginia.

Now all Max wanted to do was sleep for a month, but the shuffling of papers was drawing his attention from his quest for sleep. Propping himself up on his elbow he watched Liz spread out the papers Torquil had given them on the small table in the room’s corner.

"Liz?"

"Hmm?"

"You can save that till later, doll face. Come get some rest."

Liz pushed her hair back from her face and bent over the papers, not looking at Max. "I just want to look through these real quick. Don’t you want to know why?"

"God, of course I do but right now my brains are dripping out my ears. I need sleep and so do you."

"I need answers."

"How are you going to even know if you have answers when you’re too exhausted to recognize them?" Max climbed slowly off the bed and crossed to the table.

"I’m not too exhausted. I slept in the car," Liz told him stubbornly.

Max rolled his eyes and snatched some of the papers away, stuffing them back in their envelope. "That wasn’t sleep, Liz, that was unconsciousness."

"I wasn’t unconscious," she snorted.

"And it only lasted for an hour, at most," Max persisted loudly.

Liz sat back in the chair and looked up at Max. "I’m not going to be able to sleep just yet," she told him patiently. "So, you go lay down and I’m going to go through these papers for a little while."

"Liz," he groaned.

"Go to bed, Max, I’ll be there soon."

His shoulders slumped and Liz was about to smile in triumph. "No. I won’t be able to sleep then, either. I’m gonna take a shower," he said tiredly.

"Max . . ."

He shrugged and headed towards the bathroom. "No. If you’re sitting there shuffling papers and getting all tense." he stopped and pointed at her then back at himself. "This? It works both ways. If you’re getting all tense how am I going to sleep?"

She frowned and looked down guiltily. "I’m sorry."

"Don’t, Liz, don’t. It’s okay. I know how much you need these answers. So, do what you need to do and I’m going to take a shower. If you need me . . ." he trailed off and stepped into the bathroom.

Liz sat frozen at the table and stared blankly at the papers in front of her, a moment later she heard the shower start, the sound somehow released her from her immobility and she slumped back in the chair and sighed. He was right, of course, and that was just so irritating. It would take her hours to go through the papers in front of her and she was far too tired to be able to retain or analyze any of the information contained there. But she was also too wired to just go to sleep.

She glanced over at the TV but dismissed it with a grimace of distaste, but as she turned her head back to the table her ears focused on the sound of running water again. A slow, devilish smile curled at her lips as a way to burn off some of the excess energy came to mind, and she stood and made her way to the bathroom, stripping off her clothes as she went. By the time she got to the door she was completely nude. She bit her lip to keep back a chuckle and she slowly, quietly opened the door and slipped quickly inside, trying to keep from letting in any cold air into the steamy room.

Liz peeked behind the curtain and saw Max with his head under the water, leaning forward, hands braced against the wall, just letting the hot water flow over his body. She smiled tenderly. He carried so much upon those gorgeous shoulders, he could use forgetting for a time, and she knew she could love him to distraction. She climbed into the shower behind him and not wanting to startle him called his name softly before drawing her hand down his spine. His head dropped lower and he murmured her name. She moved up against his back and slid her hands around his waist, spreading her palms flat against his firm abdomen, then she pressed gentle kisses across his back, lapping water off his delectable skin and nipping lightly.

Max let out a breathless chuckle and brought one hand down from the wall to cover her hands on his stomach. "You do remember that the last time we tried this we both nearly ended up with concussions, don’t you?"

Liz pressed herself completely up against his back and Max bit out a groan at the heat of her body. "I’m not suggesting sex in here, just some, hmm, touching, fondling, caressing," she murmured as her hands slipped out from under his and slid lower down his body, back down across his hips and then even lower, touching ever so lightly along his inner thigh.

"Ah, god, Liz," he gasped and let his head fall against the tile.

Liz bit his shoulder, "Relax, Max," she whispered, all the while her hands were continuing on their mission to touch, fondle and caress.

"Not likely," he choked. He was able to finally take a deep, relieved breath when her hands made their way back up his body and rubbed gently along chest. That breath caught in his throat, though, when her fingers started to stroke and pinch his nipples. "Ah, baby," he sighed weakly.

"Does that feel good?" She asked seductively against his ear, blowing gently.

"So good," he moaned.

She smiled and her tongue darted out, grazing his ear. "Good." Her hands started to wander across his slick, hot skin again and his breathing was coming more and more raggedly.

Smiling, Liz pressed her cheek between his shoulder blades and let herself drown in the feeling of Max. She loved that Max trusted her so completely, that he would just stand there, the hot water beating down on both of them, heating them up further, and let her touch him. He gave himself so completely to her, letting go of that famous control of his and allowing her dominion over his body and soul. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, while she let her hands wander back down his body again, across his tight abdomen and down further to finally take him in her hands. She chuckled and bit at his shoulder again when he growled.

When he could no longer take anymore of her torturous teasing, he straightened, removed her hands from between his legs, and then he shut off the water. Turning around, he pulled her roughly to him. "Bed," he rumbled.

"Is that an order?" Liz asked coyly.

"Yes." He grabbed her up in his arms and shoved aside the shower curtain. Ignoring her giggled protests that they were dripping water everywhere, he carried her into the other room and dropped her in the middle of the bed.

"Max—" She started to sit up, but he had her pinned, his body completely covering hers, before she could even get to her elbows. The breath went out of her lungs in a whoosh and he crushed her lips with his. She pulled back, gasping for air, and his mouth wandered down for a new place to feast. He finally settled on her neck and laughed breathlessly at her nonverbal approval as her hands slipped into his hair, holding him there.

"You’ve got me pretty revved, baby," he murmured against her neck. "Hmm, are you ready for me?"

Liz arched against him. "I’m always ready," she groaned.

Max levered himself up on one elbow and slipped a hand down her body. "I think I’d better check." He smiled when he heard her shuddering breath as his fingers trailed down and slipped between her legs. "Mm, the sheets aren’t the only things that are wet."

Liz’s gasp of pleasure as he slipped his fingers into her, broke off into a surprised chuckle at his words and she pushed against his shoulder. "Max," she chided gently.

He looked up at her flushed, amused face and grinned innocently at her. "What?"

She smiled and shook her head. "Pretty shameless statement from my gentle, innocent lover," she teased, panting as he continued to do wicked things with his fingers.

Max blushed but didn’t stop what he was doing. "Not so innocent."

"No," Liz agreed with a deep, throaty groan. "Gentle?"

"If you want me to be," he whispered, his own body becoming painfully aroused at the sight and feel of her writhing under him.

"Not tonight," she pulled reached an arm around his neck and tugged him down towards her. Her mouth sought out his and she drove her tongue into his mouth with a happy sigh. "Definitely my lover."

"Only yours, baby," he confirmed and moved himself back on top of her. Liz spread her legs eagerly then wrapped them around his waist when he settled back down against her. He rocked his hips lightly and smiled at her answering moan. "Does that feel good?"

She laughed again and tightened her legs. "So good."

Max sank into her with a deeply satisfied sigh, and he lowered his mouth to hers in a hungry kiss. "God, so good."

Their lovemaking was passionate and intense, the walls echoed their cries and groans, and when at last their bodies were spent, they collapsed, limbs entwined, into a deep slumber.

Max woke sometime later, feeling slightly disoriented but also pleasantly relaxed. He felt the bed shift slightly next to him and heard the rustle of papers. Opening his eyes slowly, he saw Liz sitting up against the headboard, dressed in his t-shirt, going through Torquil’s files. He should have known that she wouldn’t stay away from them for too long.

"What time is it?" He asked, his voice still heavy with sleep.

Liz reached a hand out and threaded her fingers through his hair, massaging his scalp lightly. "Almost eight."

He rolled over on his side and put his head on her thigh. "How long have you been awake?"

Liz continued to stroke his head soothingly, leaving him drowsy and content. "Not that long. Maybe an hour."

He reached out and picked up one of the papers, he glanced at it, but didn’t really read it. "Have you found anything?"

"Um, yeah, actually."

At the sudden tension in her voice, Max turned his head to look up at her face. "What?"

She reached past him and pulled a folder out of the pile. "Well, remember when I had Wayland run all those tests on me?" Max nodded and she sighed. "They did a series of genetic scans and indexing."

"Yeah?" Max prompted when she hesitated.

"The human genome has specific, um, traits, patterns, that point back to a persons ancestry. The mitochondrial gene specifically is good at that. All humans seem to come from a genetic ancestor, mitochondrial Eve and the genetic material in that gene is passed down from mother to child and it remains more or less the same. But, uh, but that can be more specifically broken down into thirty-three tribes, thirty-three genetic trees. Or, uh, I guess you could call them thirty-three daughters of mitochondrial Eve. There’s . . . there’s a lab in England that if you send a sample of your DNA to them, they can tell you which of the thirty-three ancestral tribal mothers you come from."

"I appreciate the genetics lesson, Liz, but, tell me what’s going on with you," Max begged softly.

Liz took a deep breath and met Max’s gaze squarely. "According to this, my mitochondrial gene does not match any of those thirty-three tribes. In fact, uh, in fact the geneticist that did my sequencing seems to be of the opinion that that gene doesn’t even remotely resemble the thirty-three types. There are, uh, there are other things in my genome, too, that aren’t in the normal human genome. There are, uh, additions to my DNA, like things sort of tacked on and, um, things that the geneticist believes were altered, uh, changed."

Max sat up and turned to face her. "Did I . . . when I healed you did that . . .?"

"No, Max, no. This is stuff that was passed down genetically. I don’t know when the changes happened. I don’t know why other people don’t show them. I don’t know where they came from." Liz faltered there and stared back down at her papers with a puzzled frown.

Max took her hand in his and ran his fingers gently across her palm. He felt like a heel for immediately assuming it was something he did to her. That would only make her feel like she had to tend to his guilty conscience when she had herself she needed to concentrate on. This wasn’t about him; this was about Liz and the changes going on inside her.

"No answers, huh?" He asked softly. "Just more questions."

"Yeah."

"We’ll figure it out," he told her confidently. She gave him a wan smile. "We will," he persisted firmly.

"I know. I just . . . I just wasn’t expecting something like this. I thought, all these changes, they were, uh, because you healed me and then because I joined with the Granolith, but I don’t know, maybe it does kind of make sense. Tobin seems to think I was destined for the Granolith and his little prophecies kind of point to something else, huh?"

"The Magusi," Max whispered softly, remembering Tobin’s confrontation with the Disciple. It felt like a lifetime ago and it felt like an hour ago.

"The truth is truth, whatever you chose to believe. The Magusi walks among us now. The Granolith is where it is meant to be. The prophecy stands. Is it not wonderful that we have come to witness this?"

Madness and terror warred on the Disciple’s face and his entire body was wracked with tremors. "I will peel the skin from your body for this blasphemy."

Tobin sighed sadly, though he had expected the Disciple’s reaction. "You are a blind man and here beside you a new world blossoms. Revolutions of time come round to now and you will not stop the grinding wheel. No protestation of ideology can deny the rain or sun or tide or flood or day or night."


"Yeah. The Magusi. Maybe I was made, like the Granolith," Liz suggested hesitantly.

Max frowned slightly. "If you were made like that then so was I. Tobin said Earth and Antar were always meant to be bound. That’s what the Granolith was. You have the power of the Granolith and I’m the keeper of the Granolith."

Something about that seemed to relax Liz. As helpless as she felt knowing that maybe she was created, her family’s genetic history altered by some other intelligence to serve some unknown purpose, knowing that maybe Max was also destined for that purpose made her feel less like she was drowning. It was probably a selfish feeling, she feared, but it was a good feeling none the less.

"I . . . uh, does that bother you?"

Max had just picked up the folder and was looking through it but he dropped it immediately and took her face in his hands, staring intently into her eyes. "No, Liz, it doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve always known that on some level. It’s just part of who I am. You’re part of who I am. How could I ever be bothered by that?"

Liz smiled then, a grin that lit up her eyes for the first time in weeks. "You know this probably means that you’re really stuck with me now."

"Thank god," he muttered fervently then pulled her to him for a mind-bending kiss.


posted on 15-Jun-2002 11:24:49 PM by Red
New part coming soon.

I was stuck. Horribly, horribly, god awful stuck.

I'd written myself in a corner, to where the story went one way and I wanted to go another and I'd set things up to go that way, so I couldn't ignore that but the story went a completely different way. We were at an impasse. I think I've finally figured it out though.

So, I suck, but I'm still working on it. It will be finished, I won't drop it.