posted on 12-Feb-2002 3:59:28 PM by WR
To my loyal friends - Please Note - I have not given up on Consequences. The idea for this story leapt out and bit me, and I was unable to concentrate on anything until I worked it out of my system.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you all for such wonderful feednack on my Christmas story. Especially you, LivE! I was deeply honoured to read your response! Thank you.

Disclaimer: Characters and the Story are not mine. Belong to Melinda Metz, UPN, etc, etc.
Category: Predominately M&L - but the others are involved.
Spoilers: YES! This whole story is based on spoilers. !!Don't read if you have not seen up to Episode 13 of S3!!
Rating: PG
Author's note: Thank you so much Petra, for all of your kind words and your encouragement. Thank you Jen for the background information you have provided for me (both for this story, and for 'The Christmas Angel.') Thank you to anyone who has ever given me feedback. It lets me know that I'm not wasting my time.
Summary: CAUTION! This story is based on spoilers. If you are spoiler free, and wish to remain so, STOP NOW!!!
Okay - you were warned. Liz has fled to the Boarding school in Vermont, as she is terrified of what is happening to her, and she starts to realize what she has given up for Max's sake. It 'appears' that Max has hardly noticed, because he is caught up in a mystery that has left Michael's colleague, Monk, dead, and Jim Valenti shot before his very eyes. Meris Wheeler, the young wife of wealthy billionaire Clayton Wheeler has been searching for the being that healed the young waitress shot in the Crashdown Café in September 1999, and the kids in the Cancer Ward of the Hospital. She has the dress worn by the girl, complete with the bullet hole, purchased from a rogue FBI agent at great cost, two years ago. She wants Max to heal her husband's old age. Max is forced to make the attempt or else the woman with her two armed goons will shoot Jim, Michael and Isabel. Max made the attempt, at great personal cost.

Feedback: Good or bad, I love it! Please feel free to leave your comments.
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I wish I knew how, it would feel to be free
I wish I could break all the chains holding me
I wish I could say all the things that I should say
Say 'em loud
Say 'em clear
For the whole wide world to hear
I wish I could share all the love that's in my heart
Remove all the bars that keeps us apart
And I wish you could know how it feels to be me
Then you'd see and agree
That every man should be free

I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be if I found I could fly
Well I'd soar to the sun and look down at the sea
And I'd sing 'cause I'd know
How it feels to be free

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
I wish I could break all the chains holding me
And I wish I could say all the things that I wanna say
Say 'em loud
Say 'em clear
For the whole wide world to hear
Say 'em loud
Say 'em clear
For the whole wide world to hear
Say 'em loud
Say 'em clear
For the whole wide world to hear

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do
What you should
One life
With each other
Sisters
Brothers
One life
But we're not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other

Woah, woah, woah, woah

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
I wish I knew how it would feel to be free

( 'Free' - The Lighthouse Family )


ECHO

PART 1 - Death of a Friend.


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Chapter 1:

Roswell, New Mexico - Meta-Chem parking lot, Wednesday evening, 13th February.

Michael and Jim Valenti hurried through the darkened Meta-Chem car park, ashen faced and looking more scared than they had ever been in their lives. Between them, a gaunt looking Max Evans was suspended from their shoulders, his eyes were closed; his body was motionless, bouncing limply with the movement of his colleagues' actions. His leaden feet dragged across the asphalt, scuffing the toes of the stout shoes he wore. Ahead of them, Isabel had rushed to Max's convertible, parked at the far end of the near deserted parking lot. The doors were open and the engine was already running.
"Oh, God!" Isabel moaned. "Hurry, Michael. Please hurry." She climbed over into the back seat.
Michael kept glancing over his shoulder, half expecting that madwoman, Meris and her cronies to come chasing after them with their guns. He knew that old age would soon catch up with Clayton Wheeler again, and that they would once more want Max's services, but they would cross that particular bridge when they came to it. Right now, they had to get home. They needed to help Max. Right after he had healed the old man, Max had cried out in utter agony, a terrible, blood-curdling scream, and had collapsed unconscious to the floor. He had not moved since, and his breath was faint, emitting a terrible rattling and wheezing sound. But Max had succeeded in healing the old man. He had sprung from his chair, as though he were an eighteen year old, pulled the tubes and wires from his body and had practically raped his young wife in front of them. That was when they had grabbed the comatose Max and fled. After they had unceremoniously draped Max across the back seat with Isabel, Michael and Jim had leapt into the front seats and sped from the car park, their wheels spinning wildly, leaving two black trails of rubber behind them.

Safe, for now, back at Michael's apartment, they laid Max out on the sofa, and covered him with a blanket. They stood back and, standing motionless for some time, they simply watched Max's inert body. Feeling like he was intruding un a private moment, Jim had departed, promising to help in any way that he could.
"He look's bad, Michael," Isabel sniffed. Tears were still flooding from her eyes.
"Yeah," Michael nodded. His voice sounded low and emotional. "But this is Max we're talking about. He'll be fine by the morning. Remember the Christmas before last? When he healed all those kids? He was in a bad way then, too. He recovered pretty quickly."
"But this is worse, Michael," she remarked pointedly. "He didn't pass out then, did he? He wasn't unconscious, looking like... like... He looks so sick, Michael."
They pulled up two chairs, and sat by the side of the sofa, closely watching Max, hoping for some sign that he was recovering. If anything, he looked worse. His skin looked as though it was turning a pale gray pallor.
"I wish there was something we could do," Isabel sighed, not liking this feeling of helplessness."
"Well, I'm not very good at this," Michael shrugged," but I'll give it a go. I mean, every little helps, right?"
"What are you going to do?"
"I'll try healing him," Michael knelt down at Max's side. "I know that I can't do anything half as good as Max, but I have to at least try."
"Can you even heal?" Isabel asked, sounding worried. "I mean, what if you make things worse?"
"Yeah," Michael nodded. "I healed that Native American, you know, River Dog. I fixed his ankle up that night... in Frazier Woods. Remember?"
"This is a little more than a sprained ankle."
"I gotta do something!"
"Okay," she agreed, with much reluctance.
Michael reached over and pulled the top of Max's shirt open. He laid his hand over the exposed chest, and with a tight grimace, concentrated hard on trying to heal Max. The only thing he succeeded in doing was to exhaust himself. He leaned back in frustration and shook his head. Between the two of them, they tried everything that they could think of. Nothing was working; Max was looking no better.
"So what now?" Michael asked. "Do you think we should take him to hospital?"
"What?" Isabel shrieked. "Michael, get real. We can't take him there. They'd run tests and stuff. They would find out the truth."
"Yeah," Michael sighed. "It's just... we gotta do something."
"I guess we just sit it out then. But we don't leave him alone."
"I got school, and two jobs, Iz."
"Well, Jim said he'd help. I expect Kyle would, too."
"Yeah, they would both help," Michael agreed.
"Should we tell Liz, do you think?" Isabel asked, her voice a little tense.
"No," Michael shook his head. "She chose to run away from all this. From him. I think we should respect her wishes and leave her out."
"Do you remember how he used to moon over her?"
"Yeah," he smirked. "He'd sit in the corner and just stare at her. How sappy was that?"
"She went out on a limb for us on any number of occasions."
"For Max, you mean."
"Yeah," Isabel sighed. "For Max."
"You know," Michael stared off into space, "at first, I always thought... what a big mistake that was, you know, Max healing her. Then, as we got closer to them, the... humans, I started thinking how it wasn't so bad. You know? But with all this... crap that's happened... I would give anything to go back to how it was before. Just the three of us."
Isabel just nodded, keeping her tear filled eyes downcast.
Michael shook his head, sighed heavily in defeat and turned away to the television set.
"Michael!" Isabel demanded as he reached over and turned it on.
"There's nothing else we can do," he shrugged. The channel that the television had been set to came on with its late night news show. "News! I wonder if there's a hockey game on." He reached for the remote control unit.
"Michael, look!" gasped Isabel pointing to the picture.
Michael stepped back to see a photograph of Clayton Wheeler behind the anchor woman.

"Once again, tonight's main story is the reports that Clayton Wheeler, billionaire businessman has run amok in a truck stop on Highway 285, north of Roswell, New Mexico. Eye witnesses claim that the man, who was in remarkable health given that he is in his nineties, held the occupants hostage at gunpoint, claiming that he was the King of a distant planet, and demanded that his son be returned to him. He turned his gun on his younger wife, Meris Wheeler, and his two aides. An off duty police officer managed to fire his own gun, wounding Mr. Wheeler, who died of his injuries later in hospital. His wife and the two aides were pronounced dead on the scene. And we'll have more of this story in our midnight show. Brian."
"King of a distant planet, eh? I think he's seen one to many episodes of Star Trek. Tonight's weather..."


Oh my God! Michael!" Isabel gasped. "You don't think...?"
"No, no," Michael shook his head frantically. "No, I don't believe that somehow they changed bodies. No way! Not after the way he jumped his old lady like that. That was not Max. I mean, if it was Liz he jumped, yeah. But not her."
They both turned back to Max.
"Oh my God!" Isabel shrieked, repeating herself.
"Shit!" exclaimed Michael who just stared at Max. "This is bad. Oh this is bad."
Max was covered in thick white cobwebs.

***

"Are you sure you wanna do this?" Michael asked, his nerves stretched tight.
Isabel laid herself out on Michael's floor, next to Max, and closed her eyes. In her hands was her picture of Max, the same one she had used to dream walk him when he was in the white room with Agent Pierce. There was no resistance to her entering, Isabel found herself in Max's mind almost immediately. She was shocked, no, repulsed by what she saw. All around her were scenes reminiscent of a Batman comic book. Dark and moody, everything seemed to be in decay. The few plants that he saw were dead or dying. Save one. Isabel saw a white rose bush. The only sound that could be heard was a gentle weeping, which seemed to be coming from all around her. Seeing no sign of Max, she approached the bush. It held a single, perfect bloom. Isabel reached out to touch the one piece of purity in Max's mind. Beneath her fingers, the bloom started to turn brown, quickly dying, and decaying into dust before her. The plant died with it. There was an echoing sound of maniacal laughter all around her.
"Max?" she cried out. "Where are you? Show yourself, Max."
Behind her, there was a sound of something heavy falling. Isabel spun herself around. All she could see, through a swirling mist that had appeared from nowhere, was a large granite tombstone, covered in a layer of white webbing. She approached the slab, her body trembling in fear. Isabel wiped the webs away, revealing the carved letters beneath.

"Here lies Max Evans.
He died without living,
King over all he decayed.
Died - 19th September 1999.
Ceased to exist - 16th February 2002."


"Oh my God, Michael!" Isabel screamed, raising in a single movement from the floor. Her expression was becoming a mantra it seemed.
"What?" Michael was at her side instantly. "What did he say?"
"I couldn't find him, Michael," Isabel sobbed, collapsing onto Michael's chest. "But everything's dying in his mind. Everything is shutting down. Michael, I think... I think... I think Max has given up. Michael, I think he's dying!"
Michael gently tugged her shoulder to attract her attention, and raised his arm, pointing to the middle of his room. There, leaning against his coffee table, was the same tombstone that Isabel had seen during her dream walk.
"No Max!" she cried hysterically.

***

"Thanks for coming," Michael greeted Kyle and Jim Valenti at his door. "I'm sorry it's so late."
After they had watched Max for an hour, they had decided that they needed help. Only two people were available, and they came without asking a single question.
"No problem, Michael," Jim nodded as he entered the apartment, removing his hat. "What's the prob..." He spotted Max. "lem?"
"Holy shit!" Kyle exclaimed as he almost walked into the back of his father, who had stopped dead in his tracks.
"Is he all right," Jim asked Isabel who looked up from her vigil over her brother.
Isabel shook her head.
""Dammit!" Jim spat. "He should have just walked away. He should never have healed me. Look at him." He was wringing his hat in his hands. "Look at him. This is all my fault."
"Could someone explain what's been going on around here?"
"There's this old guy, rich," Michael started to explain after he exhaled a long deep breath. "His people knew there was an alien in Roswell. One who could heal. They had Liz's dress from the Crashdown that day."
"The one I gave to the FBI," Jim cursed himself. "The one I obtained illegally from Liz's book-bag."
"Anyway, to cut a long story short, they shot your Dad to make Max reveal himself. Max healed him. These guys, they wanted Max to heal this old man. A billionaire. They said they would shoot all of us if he didn't do it. Well, you know Max. He tried to heal him. Only he used too much energy. He collapsed like this, and hasn't moved since."
"So what's with the web stuff?" Kyle asked, placing a finger over the silken like strands of web.
"That happens when we lose our balance," Michael shrugged. "It happened to me after I went into a smoke tent with River Dog."
"What balance is that?"
"Not sure. Our natural balance, perhaps. Maybe it's the balance between human and alien. We just don't know."
"So how'd they cure you?" Kyle looked up at Michael. "When you had it, I mean."
Michael looked up sharply at Isabel. "We used the healing stones," he announced. "We can use the healing stones on him."
"Michael, the last time we used them, Nacedo turned to dust," she reminded him.
"But he was different, and he was already dead. Isabel, we have to try," he urged.

After removing the webbing from his body, they carried Max out to the car. Michael and Isabel drove Max while the Valentis followed. They soon left the lights of Roswell behind them and headed for the Mesaliko Reservation. The parked over to one side, to avoid disturbing the inhabitants, and following Isabel's artificially produced light, they made their way to the cave that River Dog had first met Max in.
"Whoa," Jim announced as he entered the cave.
Kyle released a low whistle as the two men looked at the symbols painted onto the wall.
"I never even knew this place existed," Jim spoke with a reverence. "Are these symbols something to do with where your from?"
"Yeah," Michael nodded. "But we don't know what they mean."
"Tess had stuff like this too," Kyle informed them. "A small book type thing."
"Yeah, it was the one she made Alex translate," Isabel informed him.
"Oh yeah," Kyle looked away to hide the pain in his eyes.
"Put Max in the middle," Michael urged the others.
They laid him in the center of the five-spoked wheel, and under Michael's instructions, each stood at the end of a spoke.
"You have to concentrate on Max," Michael told them as he handed them a stone, and bade them drink from the water bowl he held. "Think about Max and your friendship with him. That's what River Dog told us to do."
The four of them stood and stared alternately at Max, and at the stones that just sat in the palms of their hands.
"The stones are supposed to glow, Michael," Isabel hissed. "It's not working. Nothing's happening."
"Keep trying," he urged. "Concentrate!"
But it was no use. The stones did nothing, and Max did not move. They were achieving nothing.
"Maybe we should have had Liz with us," Kyle said softly.
"No," Isabel shook her head. "She couldn't do it for Michael, so I don't think she would have done it for Max. Not any more."
"So what now?" Jim asked, looking down at the comatose Max.
"I guess we just take him home, and try to go about our normal lives until Max decides to come back. You know, work, school, that sort of thing. But we shouldn't leave him alone. Someone should be with him all the time.
"It'll be hard, but we'll arrange something," Jim nodded. "What about your parents, Isabel? Do you want me to talk to them?"
"No!" Isabel was almost in a panic. "No, they'll make us take him to hospital. There's nothing they can do, except hand him over to some federal body. No, he's safest with us."
Jim and Kyle nodded, again looking down a Max, as more webbing had begun to appear on him.

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Vermont - Winnanman Academy, Wednesday evening, 13th February.

Liz sat in the common room amongst her new friends, reading her book on biology for the test coming up the following week. It would seem strange taking a test without Max, her normal lab partner, sitting by her side. But she had left Max, and his alien ancestry behind her. She was happy here. She was finally putting him behind her, and looked forward to a future, and perhaps one day, finding a guy who cared for her. Time is a healer, the saying went. Liz knew it was true because she was already over the death of her grandmother, sort of. The problem was, Liz decided, that she could not trust time. It was by breaking the laws of time that had helped put her in this mess in the first place.
"Look, look, look," cried one of the girls pointing at the television set in the corner.
Someone turned up the volume of the evening news.

"Clayton Wheeler, billionaire businessman has run amok in a truck stop on Highway 285, north of Roswell, New Mexico. Eye witnesses claim that the man, who was in remarkable health given that he is in his nineties, held the occupants hostage at gunpoint, claiming that he was the King of a distant planet, and demanded that his son be returned to him. He turned his gun on his younger wife, Meris Wheeler, and his two aides. An off duty police officer managed to fire his own gun, wounding Mr. Wheeler, who died of his injuries later in hospital. His wife and the two aides were pronounced dead on the scene. And we'll have more of this story in our midnight show. Brian."
"King of a distant planet, eh? I think he's seen one to many episodes of..."


Liz's mouth dropped open as she stared in wide-eyed horror at the screen. Those words! The words that Clayton Wheeler had said, that was Max. What was going on back there? His two aides? What if Max was one of them?
"King of a distant planet," laughed one of the girls, Liz thought her name was Rebecca. "Must have had one too many Viagra pills."
"Hey, Beth," called another. "You're from Roswell. Did you meet any aliens?"
"Yeah," Liz forced a sarcastic smile over her fearful thoughts. "I was going to marry one until he came back in time and told me not to. He was a king, too."
Her new friends roared with laughter.
"I'm uh... I'm kinda tired," Liz excused herself. "I think I'll have an early night. Goodnight."
"Yeah, goodnight, Beth," her friends all called back.
She hurried to her dorm room, collected her wash things and went to the common bathroom for her shower. After cleaning her teeth, she returned to dormitory, and after dressing in her pajamas, she retrieved the pendant Max had given her last spring. She curled up into her bed. The tears came soon after. Liz started to cry, gently at first, but becoming more and more hysterical as she felt more and more hopeless. 'Follow your heart,' her grandmother had said. But Liz could not do that. Her heart wanted to go places where she shouldn't be, places that proved to be more scary than exciting, more dangerous than alluring. Liz could see no happy endings where her heart wanted to go. There was time when she would have followed Max to the ends of the earth, or so she thought. Faced with it, she could not even follow him to the end of the world. When you follow your heart, you leave normal, you go into the unknown. She had seen the unknown. Liz wanted to go back to normal.

***

Liz's hysterical crying soon dissipated as her emotionally drained mind finally succumbed to sleep, clutching the pendant to her breast. Her dream started with a swirl of cloud and a rising mist. She felt his presence long before she could see him. When he arrived, he looked so calm, so peaceful. He carried a single long stemmed white rose.
"Hello, Liz," Max smiled at her, handing her the rose. He seemed tired, weary. His smile was so very sad.
"What are you doing here, Max?"
"I've come to apologize," he said in a quiet, tremulous tone. There was so much emotion to his voice; it was so... Max like. "And to thank you... for all that you have ever done... for me. You know if... I had my time to do over, I would have never let you... run down that... hill all those years ago. I would have... stopped you. Or I would have confronted you over that whole... Kyle thing until you told me the truth. I would have let nothing keep us apart Liz. Do you remember that day... in the van? Just after you helped rescue me from... Agent Pierce? Do remember that I said whether I die tomorrow or fifty years from now, that my destiny was you? In spite of everything, I know that was true. I just know that... somehow, I've been... manipulated. Used, Liz. I just wish I could have proved it to you so that you would always remember just what you meant to me. So that you would always remember me for the good things."
"Why are you doing this, Max?" she asked.
"Because I can see clearly now, Liz," he replied. "Unemotionally. I can see just what knowing me has cost you. I mean... here you are miles away from your family and friends, just so you can avoid... me. But you can come back now Liz, if you want to. You'll soon be completely free of me."
"Why? What are you saying, Max? That you will just leave me alone? That you will stay away from me?"
"I'm dying, Liz."

She sat upright, her whole body soaked in a cold sweat. Her pulse was beating wildly, she could feel the blood race through her veins as her heart pounded so loud, she feared she might wake her roommate.
"A dream," she convinced herself. "A stupid dream because that stupid jerk can't even stay out of the news." She laid the pendant in her bedside cabinet. "And this thing doesn't help."
She rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but it eluded her. What was that news all about? That Clayton Wheeler thing. Was it really just a dream, or had Max really come to say goodbye? She would be sleeping no more that night. On the floor, beside her bed, a single white, long stemmed rose turned brown, and started to die. By morning, it would be dust.

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[ edited 20time(s), last at 17-Apr-2002 3:45:19 PM ]
posted on 13-Feb-2002 3:45:36 PM by WR
Looking for my fics? Find them all at www.olde.worlde.btinternet.co.uk


Thank you for your feedback. Please remember that I live in the UK and don't see the episodes until a few weeks after you. Consequently, I wasn't aware (when I wrote this) that Liz had given Max the pendant back, or that Max and Michael had buried the stones. I saw the episode a few days after I wrote the first few chapters, and decided to let it slide. *wink* Artistic License. Also, when I heard the rumours for these spoilers, I was under the impression that Max and Liz's relationship was weaker than it had been of late. Hence Liz's attitude. (I have yet to see Tale of two Parties, Ch-Ch-Changes, and Panacea) Now that "Panacea" has been aired, is this still considered a Spoiler Fic?

BLS40 - Thank you *happy* I am sure you will like the direction I take this story. I hope the tears turn to smiles soon.

kayarra - Thank you. I plan to post pretty regularly.

clueless - Not too speechless to continue leaving feedback, I hope *wink*

tobasco sauce - I hope the middle and endings are satisfactory too! *wink*

AJK001 - *happy* I don't think that Liz would contact anyone. Too much like paranoia, perhaps. But then again, will she have to? *happy*

roswellluver - Thank you and You're welcome *happy*

Maxi - I havn't been hiding! I've been writing! I'm glad you like it. I hope you enjoy many more wuotes to come *wink*

frenchkiss70 - Thank you *happy*

RoswellButterfly - It made perfect sense to me *wink* As you see, I like dreams. I hope I can turn those tears to smiles. *happy* It will be a little sad a while longer, but if you have read my other stories, you will know my style by now *wink*

I hope that you will continue to enjoy the story while it gets a little dark. But remember who it is that is writing! I always come through, right? It will get better!

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Chapter 2

Roswell - Crashdown Café, Wednesday night, 13th February.

Jeff stood behind the counter of the Crashdown, whistling an old 'Eagles' number wiping the surface clean. It had been a while since he had worked like this. Since he lost his two star waitresses, Maria to a singing career in New York, and his daughter to a boarding school in Vermont, he had been forced to come out of his early retirement. There were a large group of high school kids in tonight. When they paid, he would ask if any of the girls wanted a job. He looked around at the kids. He had not seen Max in days. He was sure that he would have at least asked for her address, or phone number. Not that he would have given either to him. He just wanted to see his face when he told Max that Liz had forbade him to give them to him.
"I don't care how well you whistle that tune, Jeff," Jim Valenti laughed, placing his large thermos flask on the counter. "You'll never have the appeal that Liz and Maria had. I think it was their smiles."
"Yeah," Jeff laughed, as he filled the thermos with hot coffee. "Those two were something."
Jim started to nod, gave a half smile as he thought of something, but shook his head and looked away, sad.
"What's up?"
"Aw, you don't wanna hear this. I don't think it would please you right now."
"No, go ahead, Jim," Jeff urged, wondering what would make Jim both smile, and feel sad about.
"I was just remembering this one time I came in, and was talking to Liz. Suddenly she starts to smile like I've never seen before, and her eyes light up like one of those big Christmas trees in New York, or somewhere. I turn around, and there's..."
"Max," Jeff completed, sounding more than a little annoyed. "It's his fault that Liz isn't here any more."
"No, don't go blaming just Max for that. I know he's been kinda... distant lately, like he's..."
"On another planet?"
"Yeah, yeah," Jim nodded with a smile. "Sorta. But you know, those two had something special. I just wish they could have sorted it out. But remember this, Jeff. There is no one out there that would have taken better care of Liz than Max. How much do I owe for the coffee?"
"Just give me a dollar, Jim," Jeff nodded.
"Okay, here you go," Jim smiled, laying out some change on the counter. "Thanks, Jeff. Have a nice night."
"Yeah, you too."
"Are you Jeff Parker?" a dark suited businessman asked as Jim left the café.
"Uh huh," Jeff nodded. "What can I do for you?"
"My name is Mr. Smith," the man introduced himself. "I represent an antiquities collector from San Francisco."
"Uh huh," Jeff nodded again, as he resumed tidying the counter. "So what would an antiquities collector want from a themed restaurant proprietor? Everything in here is plastic and made in Taiwan."
"Well, actually," the man sat on one of the stools, and lifted his narrow briefcase up to the work-surface, "he's interested in your mother's research." He opened the case and pulled out a sheet of paper on which an agreement had been typed. A check had been clipped to the top of it. "I am authorized to offer you this in exchange for her papers, her research and her journals."
"Oh?" Jeff asked. "Well, I'm sorry to inform you that I can't accept it. They don't really belong to me."
"Our records show that she bequeathed them to you in her will."
"That's as may be," Jeff shrugged. "But I gave them to someone else. They belong to my daughter now, and I can tell you for a fact, she won't sell them."
"Well," the man put the letter back in his case, and produced another one. "Suppose we increase our offer to this."
"Sorry, no can do."
"Mr. Parker, please don't make a hasty decision that you might regret at a later date," the man warned. "You would be very wise to accept this offer."
"Mr. Smith, you would be very wise to leave, now."

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Roswell - Michael's Apartment, Thursday morning, 14th February.

Isabel had been allocated the day shift to allow Kyle and Michael to attend school. As they had discussed the schedule, they saw just how hard it was going to be to keep an eye on Max. At first, she had been so steadfast in her determination to keep her eye on him, but there was a kind of tediousness in watching someone you love just lie there. You could remove the cobwebbing only so many times before it became a chore. The day wore on as Isabel's boredom grew. She took to talking to Max, she had heard that this worked with people in a coma. She talked about everything, about the early days with the Evans', their school days and otherwise growing up as an alien in an alien world. Then she spoke of their past, and its effect on their present and their future. She spoke to him about her betrayal of him, as Vilondra, and how she had come so close to betraying him again, a few months ago with Kivar.
"What is it about you, Max?" she asked cocking her head to one side. "All three of the girls in your life have betrayed you. I betrayed you, Tess betrayed you... even Liz did too. But don't give up, Max." She was crying now. "Don't give up, Max. You have to give us a second chance. Liz and me. Please, Max."

***

Michael looked at his watch to check how much time he had before he would leave for his shift at the Crashdown. Now that Maria no longer worked there, it was not as much fun, he even missed Liz, but he needed the money.
"You know how I felt about this place, Max," Michael sighed as he talked with his friend. "How I could hardly wait till we found where we came from, and the opportunity to get home. I was terrified, Max, terrified when you... healed Liz, and exposed our... secret. I know I was on your case over that, and I know I never really got the chance to let you know... that I guess... I guess you were right."
He ran his hand through his hair and gave an awkward smile. He looked about the room to hide his nervousness.
"I wish I was more like you, Max," Michael admitted. "I wish I could have been the boyfriend Maria wanted me to be. She was always so envious of what you and Liz had. In a way, I was too. I'm sorry, man. That it didn't work out, I mean. You know, just like I bet you would love another chance with Liz, I'd give anything to try again with Maria. Face it bro, we blew it."

***

Kyle sat at Michael's table with his books spread in front of him. It was his turn to watch Max. He had to admit that it was far worse being in the same room with Max when he was in this current state than it was being with him when he was normal. Whatever normal was for Max. He had seen so many sides of him. He looked up from his books at the webs that were again forming over him. Michael had already cleared them of once, but Kyle refused to touch them. It was far too... creepy.
"I thought I had this big future ahead of me, Evans," he said as he placed his pen down before him. "You know, left field for the Houston Astros. Who knows? I might have been a big star on my own one day. I had a great girlfriend, loads of friends. I was somebody. But then you came along, and you showed me just how small and insignificant I really was. It was kind of like the thing in that book. You know, the ... um... oh yeah, the 'Total Perspective Vortex' in 'Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy'. And you know I'm no Zaphod Beeblebrox."
Kyle shook his head, and stared at nothing, his eyes going distant.
"Just once, I would like to have seen you make Liz smile like she used to, again."

***

"You know Max," Jim spoke as he walked around Michael's apartment in an obvious state of agitation. "I lost my wife, when Kyle was really young. She took off because I was more of a cop than I was a husband. Now I'm no expert on teen romances, especially when one half of the equation is a king from another planet and the other is this... wonderful... human being whose life he saved."
He looked over at Max and wondered if he had heard any of this.
"But I would have to say that your undoing was pretty much the same as mine. I guess you were too much the alien king and not enough the teenage boyfriend. You should have learned to let go, Max. I mean, with that... what did you call it? A Grainalisk? When Tess took off with that, you should have realized that there was absolutely nothing you could have done, and let it go.
He turned to look out of the window at the man passing by, walking his dog.
"I mean, I don't believe Tess would have let any actual harm come to your son, Max. Mother's tend to have this protective instinct. And talking about him in front of Liz like that? That's a no go, son."
He turned back into the room, and sat on one of the chairs. He reached over for his guitar and strummed a few chords before adjusting the tuning a little.
"I think that if Liz were still here, you wouldn't be in this mess right now. I guess I never realized how important you two were to each other. But you seemed to have pushed her away. Just like I pushed my wife away all those years ago. Seems we have more in common that you would have ever imagined."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Meta-Chem, Thursday night, 14th February.

The security room at Meta-Chem did not have the same atmosphere any more. Gone was the carefree attitude that Michael had introduced when he started working there last fall. Instead, Michael and his friends performed their duties with a silent air of competence. No one wanted to goof off any more; it seemed somehow... disrespectful to Monk. They all went about their tasks with a seriousness that surprised even them. Of course, having the new guy, Martin Osborne transferred from the day shift with them didn't help matters. He was pleasant enough, a bit of a chatterbox, but in a strange way, he made their shifts that little more bearable as he regaled them the stories and rumors he had heard from eavesdropping on the daytime workers. He and Michael were alone, watching the bank of security monitors as the other's patrolled their rounds, checking that all was as it should be. In one of those monitors Michael followed one of the scientists, A Professor Sharenkov as he walked from the coffee machines in the lobby to his lab, coincidentally enough, right next door to the Wheeler's lab.
"Someone's working late," Michael commented.
"You know," Osborne indicated Sharenkov, "rumor has it that this guy is trying to clone an alien."
"What?" Michael asked looking incredulous. "Like a three foot green slimy thing? Where did he get DNA for that?"
Osborne looked around the room, ensuring that no one was eavesdropping on them. "I heard him talking to that Wheeler woman. He was acting as a go-between for her and this FBI guy who was laid off when they closed down the Special Unit, you know, the alien hunters. Anyway, he stole this stuff. Evidence, he claimed, that there was an Alien living in Roswell, New Mexico. He had this dress with a bullet hole in it. But the girl who was wearing it never went to hospital. She seemed okay. What she wanted with a dress, I don't know. But Sharenkov, I was watching him one day. He normally switches off his camera, but I guess he forgot. That's why I watched him, it caught my attention. He looks like he's pulling fibers or something from the dress. Later, I heard him bragging that he found a hair on the dress, and that the DNA wasn't quite human."
"You watch too much science fiction," Michael smirked.
"No, straight up," Osborne grabbed Michael's arm. "Sharenkov's a leader in the cloning field. If he has alien DNA, trust me, he's cloning it."
Michael looked at the camera that pointed at Sharenkov's door.
"Listen, this was like... two years ago," Osborne whispered. "He was bragging a few weeks ago that it's complete. That he has this fully grown alien. But he was kind of disappointed."
"Why is that?" Michael asked. "ET didn't know his home phone number?"
"Nah," Osborne shrugged. "Apparently, it had no mind, no life force. It was just like a freaking statue. Ahh, who am I kidding. Now that I tell someone about it, it sounds far fetched, don't it?"
"Uh, yeah," Michael laughed.
Osborne laughed with him.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Vermont - Winnanman Academy, Thursday evening, 14th February.

Liz sat at the desk in her dorm room, doing her best to work on the report she was supposed to do for English. She was glad that she had already written this once at West Roswell High, because she was struggling to concentrate. All day, she had been unable to stop thinking about last night's stupid dream. It had been so real. If she had not known that Max could not dream walk, or that Max was not the kind of person to dream walk someone uninvited, she would have thought that he had really been there, that he had really spoken to her. The public telephone on the wall just outside her door started to ring. Liz shook her mind from the fog of the dream, and returned to her report.
"Liz?" she heard the girl who had answered the phone exclaim. "No, there's no Liz here."
Although the possibility that it was Max was slim - she had asked her parents and Maria not to let him have the number - Liz still approached the door with a little trepidation.
"Who is it?" Liz mouthed at the girl.
"Who's this calling?" she asked down the phone pulling a strange face at Liz.
"It's a guy named Kyle Valenti," she told Liz, holding her hand over the mouthpiece.
"I'll take it," Liz looked relieved. She waited till the girl, wondering why Beth would take a call for a 'Liz' retreated to her own dorm room. "Hey Kyle," she announced with a little surprise. "What's up?"
As the words left her mouth, a feeling of dread flooded through Liz. There was only one reason why Kyle would call her, he was not the 'let's stay in touch' type. Besides, he didn't have her phone number, he would have had to pull some strings for this.
"Liz," Kyle sounded frightened. "They didn't want me to tell you..."
"Tell me what, Kyle?" Liz asked, but she knew. Without a shadow of a doubt, she knew.
"But I had to tell you. I thought... you should know. In case... in case... you wanted to say goodbye."
"Are you going somewhere Kyle?" Her voice was strangled, hoping against hope that she was wrong. That the terrible feeling that she had experienced all day was merely another symptom of the strange things that were happening to her.
"Max is dying."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Meta-Chem, Early hours Friday morning, 15th February.

Michael slipped out of the cupboard he had hidden in while his friends finished their shifts. Osborne's words had intrigued him, and he wanted to check out Sharenkov's lab. He knew that the Professor had gone home, so he decided that he would wait till the shifts were changing. Michael took the opportunity to get to the lab before the new shift started their rounds. He would only be in trouble if he was actually caught in the lab. In the hallways, he could simply claim that he had spotted a potential security breach and was investigating. As he walked along the corridors with the caution of a spy, Michael disabled each of the cameras. He didn't want the guards to come to fix the cameras, so the fault he gave them was only temporary. They would start to function again in a few moments. His hand glowed red over the lock to the door to the lab that Osborne claimed the clone was in. Slipping inside, he made sure that the camera was disabled. Sharenkov was known for turning it off, but Michael could not take the chance that he had forgotten. With a wave of his hand, the lights flickered into life. In the center of the lab was a tall, wide glass cylinder, its shadowy contents hidden by a thick layer of condensation. Michael walked up to the container. What would he find inside, he wondered? Deep down, he knew. There was only one alien that would have had one of his hairs trapped in the weave of Liz's dress. Michael lifted his hand and placed it on the glass. It was cold, colder than the chill of the air-conditioned room. He wiped his hand across the layer of moisture allowing him to view the inside. Even with his deepest suspicion, Michael was not truly prepared for what he had seen. He leapt backwards, fully six feet. Staring at Michael through the cleared glass, or rather towards Michael for those eyes obviously saw nothing... was Max.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

posted on 14-Feb-2002 3:37:52 PM by WR
Hi everyone. Thanks for reading, and thanks for the feedback!

kayarra - I had to have Liz find out somehow *wink* Thanks.

AJK001 - I think Liz is fooling herself. We all know she cares.... right? [frown] *wink*

roswellluver - I bet I would be hung if I decided Liz didn't want to see Max 1 more time *wink*

tabasco sauce - Mean? Maybe. But perhaps they really believe Liz wants out and are respecting her wishes? ....... nah! *wink*

BLS40 - Normal, eh? *wink* Well, I think I heard what you heard. [frown] But I believe that you will still smile soon *wink*

Elemenopy - (Love the name!) I'm glad you are enjoying it. *happy*

Rollergal20 and Jules - Hi. Thank you. Yeah. She has the choice now. What do you think? Yes or no? LOL.

Scottie - *happy* Thank you. Glad you enjoy my work. Don't worry, I havn't given up on Consequences.

Lizzy Parker - Hi *happy* How did your exams go? Thanks again for the info, and sure, I will mail if I need more info. You find out my plans for that clone in the chapter *wink*


Chapter 3:

Vermont - Winnanman Academy, Friday morning, 15th February.

Liz walked across the school courtyard from the dormitory block towards the science labs for her first class of the day, Chemistry. Her face, although pale, was emotionless. As she reached the end of the courtyard, a small statue caught her eye. An angel, complete with wings, was looking heavenwards, her hands clasped in prayer. Liz shook her head. She could no longer believe, not when she had seen everything torn from her like that. Her only crime was to give her love, unconditionally, to an alien. Was that what she had been forsaken for? Were the aliens not of His making? She shook her head.
"Liz! Liz!" the cry came from across the courtyard.
Confused as to who should be calling her by a name she had left behind in Roswell, Liz turned to face her caller.
"Maria!" she called, and hurtled towards her friend. Oh God! Did Maria know?
Maria ran towards Liz, the two of them met in a huge hug in the center of the open space.
"What are you doing here, Maria?" Liz gasped. "How's New York?"
Liz seemed different somehow, sad, yes, but somehow... Maria just could not put her finger on it. Empty.
"I just wanted to see you, you know, before I go back," Maria smiled affectionately. "It's not really working out... the singing, I mean. They want me to be someone else. I gave it a shot, and now I know it's not for me. So I'm going home, and maybe see if Michael and I have a future."
"You're going home? Now?" Liz grabbed Maria's arms with an urgent ferocity.
"Yeah, just as soon as you and me have had a chance to talk."
"Take me with you, Maria. Have you booked a flight yet? I want... need to get back too."
"Sure, Liz," Maria frowned. Liz seemed so strange. It was almost as if she weren't really there. "What's up? More alien stuff affecting you?"
"Yeah," Liz nodded. "Sorta. Kyle phoned me last night. Max is in some kind of coma. He's dying, Maria."

"Oh, Liz," Maria's face dropped. Of course, Liz has shut down, she considered. Maria felt genuine grief. After all, Max was a friend, and in spite of his recent behavior, she still cared about him. "How? Why?"
"He tried to heal someone, an old man," Liz shrugged, looking unimpressed. "You know Max. He was probably showing off."
"It'll be okay, Liz," Maria hugged her.
"Well, as sorry as I am that he's dying, maybe it's for the best. I can finally move forward, like I want to."
Maria looked at Liz, her eyes calculating.
"Anyway," Liz continued. "Seeing as you're on your way home, I think I'll join you. For the weekend. I could do with collecting some stuff I forgot anyway."
"What about school, Liz? What about your parents?"
"I'll think of something."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Michael's apartment, Friday morning, 15th February

Michael yawned, stretched and released a heavy groan. He reached over and pressed the button to stop the alarm clock ringing. Another day of school. After a quick wash, and dressing in the clothes that lay strewn across his floor, Michael approached the white cocoon that was Max.
"Sorry, Max," Michael berated himself. "I couldn't help falling asleep, you know? What with two jobs, school, and now babysitting you. I mean, come on! Give a guy a break. Even I wasn't this bone headed."
Michael peeled back the web from Max's face. He looked worse this morning. His skin had turned an ugly gray color, and seemed to be drier, more parchment like. Michael was reminded of that Egyptian mummies he had seen once.
"One day left, Max," Michael shook his head, exhaling. "Why don't you stop this and come back to us? Like this, you're as useful as that clone." Michael looked up. His eyes went distant as he considered something. He shook his head, gave a soft chuckle, and crossed to his refrigerator to prepare some breakfast.

"How can you eat at a time like this?" Isabel demanded from the door.
Michael shrugged, ignoring both Isabel and the fact that she had entered his apartment without knocking.
"Has there been any change?" She asked.
"Not for the better," Michael spoke through a mouthful of Cornflakes.
She looked down at Max, her face was etched with pain and worry. She started to cry again.
"How am I going to tell Mom and Dad?" she whispered.
"What does Jesse think about all this?" Michael asked as he placed his half-empty bowl in the sink, with the other plates he had yet to wash up. He gave a wry smile as he remembered Max calling him a slob... was it just the other day?
"I think he regrets getting married," Isabel shrugged. "He's been acting all weird lately."
"Well, spending all your time over here must seem kinda suspicious to him, you know?"
"An affair, you mean?" Isabel looked shocked. "With you? Oh please!"
"Listen, Isabel," Michael brushed her caustic tone to one side. "I think... I think I have a plan."
"You?" Isabel laughed. Seeing that he was serious, she stopped her smirk, and gave him her full attention. She listened with skepticism at first, quickly turning into hopefulness as he explained how he had found out about, and seen, the clone of Max.
"I mean, it's probably how they created us in the first place, right?" he clarified. "They created our clones from the DNA structures they harvested, using the Garandium to somehow prevent the clone from having a mind of it's own. That's why our cells and stuff look different under a microscope. Then they transferred our alien essences to the cloned bodies."
"How do you know that's what the Garandium was used for?" Isabel asked. "And even if you're right, where would this Sharenkov have gotten the Garandium from?"
"I know about the Garandium in the same way I knew about the map that time. Like it's part of me. And Sharenkov wouldn't have needed any Garandium. He would have cloned from the body that had already been exposed to it. The guy said that he heard Sharenkov complain that the clone had no life force. That's because it's waiting for Max's."
"We could have done with Liz," Isabel leaned back and gave a deep sad sigh. "She would know if it could be done. She might even know how we would go about doing it."
"As if she would help us now," Michael spat.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - West Roswell High School, Friday morning, 15th February

Michael sat with Kyle in the bleachers above the football field, staring out at the Freshmen desperately trying to make the team and obtain the Blue and Gold jacket that would identify them as being somebody. Kyle laughed at their antics.
"Man, I fear for our future," he chuckled. He sharply inhaled cutting his laughter short as he realized what he had just said. "Sorry, Michael, I didn't..."
"That's okay," Michael ignored his comment, and just looked around. Nothing seemed to hold his interest for too long, not even the cheerleaders practicing in the far corner.
All morning, the two of them had been fielding questions about Max , who had appeared to have gone missing again. Speculation was rife that he had dropped out to follow Liz to Vermont. Even the principle had shown some concern over this recent disappearance. Michael had defended Max by claiming that Max was genuinely ill this time. The principle had amazed Michael by telling him to let Max know that he would be allowed to take a series of make-up tests, to try and improve his grade average.
"I'll tell him that," Michael had smiled. "Thanks."
"So," Kyle brought Michael out of his daydream. "You think that Max will die tomorrow, huh?"
"Yeah," Michael gave a slow nod. "It's what appeared on his tombstone. I think Max was letting us know, so we could prepare ourselves."
"The mind is a powerful device," Kyle looked out towards the horizon. "With it, we can move mountains. Do you think his spirit will hang around Roswell?"
"Like a ghost?"
"Yeah, cause I'm kind of hoping that he'll leave me alone."
"Knowing Max," Michael smirked, "he'll haunt the Crashdown."
Kyle nodded with a smile. They fell silent again, and watched as the two lines of football players crashed into each other yet again. The young teenager carrying the ball dropped it and everyone watched it bobble away. Kyle shook his head, and then glanced at his watch.
"Sorry, pal," he looked at Michael. "Gotta run."
"Later."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Aircraft - Somewhere over the midwest, Friday afternoon, 15th February

"You've been really quiet, babe," Maria looked at Liz who was sitting in a brooding silence, staring out of the airplane's small window.
Liz glanced away from the view of the clouds outside and looked at Maria. She gave a slow, careful nod of her head. Sure, she looked sad, but she did not look like she was losing someone who meant anything to her.
"Liz," Maria sighed. "I know you. I know that this... thing about Max... dying has affected you more than you're letting on. I know you're upset, I mean, I'm upset too."
"Of course I'm upset, Mara," Liz shrugged. "You know, whatever happened... between Max and I, that's over now. But he was... is... still my friend."
"Just a friend?"
"Uh-huh," Liz agreed. "There was a time when he was my whole universe, you know? The problem was, I wasn't his."
"You were," Maria stated. "Before Tess arrived. Even then he always loved you. Right up until you..." Maria looked away biting her bottom lip. Why on Earth had she said that?
The dark haired girl returned to look out of the window again, apparently not noticing Maria's accusation.
"Do you blame Max for Alex's death, Liz?" It was something neither of them had discussed.
"Yes," Liz answered, though she did not turn to face Maria.
Maria looked surprised, and waited for Liz to continue, to explain. She remained silent.
"I don't," Maria shook her head. "Not at all. It was all Tess."
"Max's bride," Liz sounded so sarcastic.
"No, Liz," Maria placed her hand on Liz's shoulder. "Zan's."
"Same difference," Liz shrugged.
Maria had no answer to that. She looked around the cabin, at the people who were sitting in the seats around them. What would they think if they knew what we were talking about, she wondered?
"It's not just all that, Maria," Liz turned to face her again. "It's something... more."
"What's that?" Maria felt only sympathy for her friend.
"I killed him," Liz confessed with a sob. "Max. This is my fault."
"No way, Liz!" Maria was shocked. "How could you have known what those people would have done to Max?"
"No, not then," Liz interrupted by grabbing Maria's arm to attract her attention. "Before."
"What are you talking about, Liz?"
"Alex too," she sobbed. "They would both be alive if I hadn't done what I... did and... changed the future."
"You don't know that!" Maria asserted, trying to comfort her friend. "I mean, that... Future Max said that their enemies took over. Michael and Isabel were already dead. Who knows who else they would have killed. Probably all of us. I bet Max would have been one of the first to go. No, you know what? They would have left him till last and made him watch as they killed the rest of us on by one. You saved us all."
"Did I, Maria?" Liz as tears spilled from her eyes. "Can you say that any of us are happy? You once asked me if I thought that being with them had spoilt it for anyone else. I think they have, Maria. And what if we all end up dying anyway? At least in that other... life, I had fourteen years of happiness. I would have sacrificed all that for nothing."
Maria carefully watched Liz as the turmoil of her emotions raged across her face. At least she is crying, she thought to herself. But what could she say to somehow comfort her after a comment like that? According to what Liz had told her that night she had confessed the truth about the Kyle situation to her, Liz had indeed been deliriously happy. It was a good thing that it was Max who had been King. Maria knew that she would never have been strong enough to carry the burden Liz had been asked to endure. Heck, even Michael wouldn't have been strong enough to give up what Max had given up.
"I think he dream walked me," Liz admitted. She had not planned on telling anyone that.
"What?" Maria asked in wide-eyed amazement. "When?"
"Two nights ago," she sighed. "Wednesday. I think that was the night it happened."
"Was he asking for help, do you think?"
No," Liz shook her head as a few more tears leaked from her eyes. "He apologized to me, and said that he wished he could prove that that he had been manipulated. He was saying good bye."
Again, Maria fell silent. What was there to say? Even at the last, Max's thoughts had been of Liz.
"It's for the best though," the darker girl wiped the tears from her eyes. She saw the look on Maria's face. "No, I mean it. He wasn't happy. You know, maybe I shouldn't have prevented him from leaving with Tess. Maybe he could have managed to... to sort things out up there. Anyway, now that he's gone, maybe I can get back to some kind of normal life, you know?"
"What's so great about normal, Liz?" Maria asked in a near whisper as she thought of her own relationship with Michael. She saw Liz opening her eyes wide. "What?"
"Max asked me that once," she sniffed as more tears appeared.
"Did you manage to answer him?"
"Not then, no. But I can answer him now. The thing about normal is... it's safe."

***

"Liz! Maria!" Kyle called as the two girls emerged from the airport building. "Over here!"
Maria glanced over and saw him. She tugged Liz's arm and they walked towards him.
"Hey Kyle," Maria greeted him with a hug.
"Kyle," Liz hugged him too.
"So how are you girls doing?" he asked as he loaded Maria's bags into the trunk. Liz only had a small carry bag.
"Yeah," Liz nodded. "I'm okay."
Maria shook her head at Kyle, who nodded in understanding.
"I'm pretty good too, thanks. How about yourself, Kyle?"
"Good," Kyle nodded as though he was trying to think if anything bad had happened to him. "Good."
They climbed into the car, Liz scurried into the back.
"She okay?" Kyle mouthed in silence over the top of the car to Maria.
"No," Maria shook her head. "Just get her home."

"Are we too late?" Liz asked when Kyle nosed his car out of the airport grounds and onto the highway. Her voice sounded strained, like she couldn't hold herself together for too much longer.
"No," Kyle shook his head, giving Liz a look of sympathy through the rear view mirror. "No, he's still hanging in there." He decided not to tell Liz about the tombstone. "Now you're back, perhaps he'll get better."
"Sure," Liz nodded, but everyone heard her defeated tone.
"I'll take you both home, and then..."
"No!" Liz ordered. "Take us to Michael's first. I want to see this."
There was something about the way Liz spoke that made Maria turn around, her eyes questioning.
"This isn't some twisted plot Evans came up with to get you back, Liz," Kyle assured her. He too seemed to have picked up her thoughts.
Maria shook her head. She had thought that Liz was upset. But that was not it. Liz was angry. She was starting to show anger at the thought of what Max had done to her. Maria could hardly bring herself to believe that Liz would consider Max pulling such a stunt as faking his own death. Perhaps Liz was right after all. She truly was over Max.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



posted on 15-Feb-2002 3:53:07 PM by WR
Thank you for your feedback.

BLS40, AJK001, kayarra, frenchkiss70, roswellluver.....
You all seem disappointed with Liz's response to Max's condition. Sorry. It gets worse before it gets better. But this is just Liz reacting to everything that is happening. It DOES get better.

Lizzy Parker - Glad the exams went well. Well done! *happy*

StaryEyedGypsy - Thank you so much *happy* I am glad that you enjoy them *happy*



Chapter 4:

Roswell - Michael's apartment, Friday afternoon, 15th February

Isabel sat on the chair with her knees drawn up to her chin, just staring at the motionless Max. Earlier, she had again cleared the webs from him, and had tried to move his body a little. It felt so strange touching him. His body felt so cold. The only evidence that he was still alive was the faint pulse she detected earlier. Hearing voices outside Michael's door, she looked up. She was quickly on her feet, ready to defend herself and Max. Her jaw dropped when Kyle opened the door and allowed Maria and Liz, who seemed a little hesitant, to enter the apartment. Isabel glared in anger at Kyle.
"She had a right to know," he defended himself.
Maria took one look at Max and her face fell with shock. Tears sprang to her eyes.
"Oh, Max!" she sobbed at the sight of her friend. "Oh, Isabel!" Maria fell into Isabel's arms. The two of them hugged as tears flooded from their eyes.
"He looks worse today," Kyle observed, noting the faint white tendrils of webs that were already beginning to form over him.
"I've already cleared one lot off," she told him.
"See, Liz," Maria pointed at Max. "I told you he wasn't faking it."
Isabel's eyes widened, and she glared at Liz, who simply shrugged.
"Yeah, so?" she asked, as though Max in this condition was nothing new.
"We take it in turns to keep an eye on him," Kyle stepped up to prevent something bad happening. "We just sit here and talk to him. Like they do for people in a coma. Isabel and my dad usually cover for when Michael and I are at school, or work."
Liz simply nodded, staring at Max. "Did you try the stones?"
"Of course we did," Isabel barked. "Me, Michael, Jim and Kyle."
Again, Liz simply nodded her head.
"Oh well," Liz turned away. "Kyle, can you run me home now?"
That was when she saw the tombstone?
"So you even know...?"
"Yeah," Isabel started to weep. "Tomorrow."
"I missed a day from school for this," Liz barked.
"No one forced you to come," Isabel spat.

***

"So that's it," Kyle whispered as he drove the two girls home. Liz was again in the back seat. "Even though we never got on, not really, I'm sorry that it has to end like this. I was kind of hoping that when Liz..."
"It's not going to happen, Kyle," Liz shook her head. "I don't have healing powers. We're not connected any more. I just came home to say goodbye. You know, for appearances sake"
"Uh-huh." Maria and Kyle exchanged glances. They would talk later.
"I surprised myself, though," Liz nodded with a tight smile.
"How's that, Chica?" Maria asked over her shoulder.
"I'm over him," she smiled. "I'm really over him."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Crashdown, Friday evening, 15th February

"Well, well, well," Michael called from the kitchen of the Crashdown when he saw Maria out front in the café. "The wandering minstrel returns."
Maria looked up and gave her patented phony smile. "Nice to see you too, Michael."
"So what are you doing here?" he asked her, while flipping a few burgers.
"I thought I might try eating," she rolled her eyes, "seeing as this is a café and all."
"No," he shrugged. "I meant here in Roswell."
"Oh," Maria seemed a little put out now. "Actually, we came back as soon..." she looked around to see if anyone was listening to her, "as we heard about Max."
"We?" he queried. "You and...?" Michael paused so Maria could answer.
"Me," Liz announced from the door to the kitchen.
"Oh great," Michael growled. "Just what he needs. Why did you even bother? You've made your feelings plain enough. Sneaking off without saying goodbye. Again."
"Like Max even noticed," Liz bit back, moving away from Michael. He still intimidated her somewhat. "Or even cared." Liz turned on her heel and stormed back upstairs.
"I see that you managed to keep all of your charm while I've been away," Maria groaned.
"So this bothers you because...?"
"You didn't have to be so rude, Michael!"
"Why? Does she even care that Max is dying?" he demanded. "Does she?"
"She might not show it, but yeah, she cares."
"Yeah, right," Michael sneered. "In the same way that you care for me, right? Excuse me. Some of us have work to do."
"It never bothered you before."
"Well, things are different now. Do I gotta get Mr. Parker to kick you out of here?"
"Mr. Parker?" Maria laughed. "Kick me out? Never gonna happen, Spaceboy."

***

Isabel knew that it was Kyle knocking at the door, even before he opened it and stepped in. Kyle's knock had an almost reverent quality about it, he acted as though he were intruding upon some private moment between her and Max.
"Hey Kyle," Isabel didn't even look over.
"Hey, Isabel," he replied. "Um... about this afternoon, Liz... Look, I'm sorry. But I really thought she'd want to know. Especially since..."
"It's not your fault, Kyle," Isabel interrupted. "Yeah, you're right. I guess she did have a right to know. But if she really couldn't care less, why even bother?"
"Because she does cares Isabel," Kyle informed her. "She might not show it, but she is as cut up about this as you are."
"She has a funny way of showing it."
"Liz has one or two other things on her mind, Isabel. Don't judge her till you know what she's going through."
"So she told you?"
"Yeah, we spoke about it a few weeks ago."
"I see. So your in the picture again?"
"It's not like that, Isabel. She needed to talk to someone in a similar position to her. She needed to talk to... a non..."
"Alien."
"Yeah," Kyle looked down and scratched his eyelid. "Uh, how's he doing? Any reaction to Liz turning up?"
"Well, he's a little worse, if that means anything."
"Oh."
Isabel gathered her things and turned to her brother. "See you later, Max," she called, and left for her own home.
Kyle sat down, and sighed. "The things I do for you, Evans."

***

The tentative knock on the door came half an hour later. Kyle was surprised to find Liz standing there.
"Hey, Liz. What's up?"
"I, uh... brought you this." She handed Kyle a cardboard mug of hot coffee, and a box with a large slice of blackberry pie. She looked as though she had no cares in the world.
"Oh-ho, Liz!" he smiled. "You are an angel!" Wait, was she flirting with him?
"Thanks," Liz gave him an awkward smile. "What happened, Kyle?" she asked him. "How did he get caught up with all this?"
While Kyle consumed the snack that Liz had brought for him, he explained how the Wheelers had shot Monk, thinking Michael was the healer, and then shot his father to see if Max was. He told her how he only attempted the healing because both Michael and Isabel had guns trained on them.
"Somehow," Kyle continued, "Max couldn't disconnect, I guess. He kept on pouring more and more energy into the old man's body until he had no more to give. Max just collapsed and has been going downhill ever since. I guess you caught the news about the Wheelers?"
Liz nodded. "So what is it? Is it that his body is dead, or has he given up?"
"Near as we can tell, well, Michael and Isabel, when he did the healing, it did something to his balance. His body is dead, Isabel says his dreams are all decay and stuff. We think his mind is still alive in there. But he knows his mind will just die as soon as his body does. So it's kind of half and half."
"Could you finish your pie out in your car?" she asked, her eyes pleading. "Could I have a moment alone with Max?"
"Yeah, sure," Kyle smiled.

***

She stepped over to Max, and pulled the webs from his face. His skin looked like a dirt road that had been soaked in a spring rain, and then baked dry by the desert heat. The surface was cracked, and looked like it was ready to come away. This was not the Max she remembered.
"Well, you're the center of attention again, I see," Liz commented when Kyle had left. "Did you have to think hard on how to make me come running back? I almost didn't come, you know. And I wouldn't have, if Maria hadn't come round. I'd have let you just die, and allow someone to call me up and say 'by the way, Max is dead'. And you know what? I'd have said 'Max who?' You didn't care about me, so why should I care about you?"
"Are you shocked that I'm speaking to you like this Max? That I'm speaking my mind? Well, I'm different now. I'm not good ol' Liz Parker any more. I'm Beth now. And I plan to live! I have already done things that Liz would never even dream about doing. I am going to do what I want to do, not because someone else wants me to. And now that you'll be gone, I'll be free of you at last. I can forget all about you, your son, and the whole damn alien crap that has... has... ruined my life.
"I'll be there for your funeral, Max. Out of courtesy, but you know what? When you're buried? I'll dance on your grave. Do you even know what you've done to me? I've learned to speak my mind now, Max. And you know what? Screw you!"
There was a tentative knock on the door, and Kyle stepped back into the room.
"All done?" he asked. "I could wait some more, if you want."
"Thanks, Kyle," she smiled. "I'm done. I feel better now."

Liz hurried home through the darkened streets. Somehow, the streets that she had walked so many times in the past seemed less friendly now, less safe. It felt as though she had lost her protection.
"So how was Kyle?" Jeff grinned at her when she arrived back home.
"Yeah, he was fine, thanks," Liz replied. Then she noticed his smile. "Dad, I'm not getting back with Kyle. He's just... a friend."
"Well," he smirked. "That's good."
"You know, since you've been gone, Max doesn't come by the café anymore. In fact, I haven't even seen him the past few days. You made a very brave, very grown up decision, Liz. I know you won't let us down."
"Yeah, thanks, Dad." Liz smiled. "Um, you know, I'm kind of tired. I think I'm going to bed now."
She climbed the stairs and went straight to her room. With her door safely closed, Liz collapsed onto her bed, and used her pillow to muffle the heart wrenching sobs that she finally let go. She knew now that she had truly lost Max. She would not even be able have him as just a friend.

***

Finally ready for bed, Liz pulled the covers over her and thought back on the day's events. Naturally, her parents had been both shocked and concerned when Liz had turned up out of the blue like that. She had explained her actions by claiming that she had been homesick, and as Maria was on her way home, she decided to accompany her. Of course, she had seen the look her father had given her mother. He had decided that her sickness had nothing to do with home, and everything to do with Max.
He was quite right, of course, but how could she tell him that? It had been her idea to go to the boarding school, to run away from Max. Again. But this time, it really was for the best, wasn't it? Max could no longer be the boyfriend he once was. Too much had happened; so much had changed. He had responsibilities now, he could not devote the care and time she wanted from him. Then there was the strange... illness that she had been suffering with, the hearing problems, the glowing hands. How had she coped with this in that other life, the one where she and Max were inseparable? A memory came to mind, one from the time she and Max had given in to their true feelings and that strange rash had appeared.

"You know, the... the mark went away because... because you touched it. Maybe... maybe it came because we were away for... too long. That sounds really crazy, but... it would be a complete disaster."

Was that it? In that other life, had she not experienced these symptoms because Max was on hand and attentive enough to help her through this? Max had not been paying her much attention lately. Maybe this never happened in her other life, because something was different. What was different this time around? She was still a virgin, for one thing. Could that have something to do with it? In need of comfort, Liz rose and crossed the room to her drawers. She pulled out a small teddy bear that her Grandmother had given her before she had died. Back in her bed, she pulled the cover over her, and clutched the animal to her breast. She was soon asleep.

***

"Honeybear?" her Grandma Claudia called, her voice filled with concern. "Honeybear? Why are you crying?"
"Grandma?" Liz called out in obvious shock. "Grandma? Is that really you?" She rushed into her Grandmother's arms and hugged her. "I've missed you so much! What are you doing here?"
"You called me," the elderly gray haired woman responded. "I could feel you needed me, so I came."
"Oh, Grandma," Liz wailed. "Max is dying."
"Ah, I see," she caressed Liz's hair in sympathy. "This is the young man you love? Possibly your soul mate?"
"I don't even know what love is anymore," Liz sniffed while shaking her head. "I thought I did, once. I though I loved Max, but I don't know how I feel anymore. Maybe I didn't really love him in the first place."
"I'm not sure that anyone can truly define love, Honeybear. There are so many different kinds of love. It can do strange things to people, it can affect different people in different ways."
"How do you mean?"
"Love can turn the strongest and bravest of men into quivering, nervous cowards. Or it can take the quietest, most timid person, and make him act like a lion. People can betray those closest to them, all in the name of love. In spite of its power, love can also be the greatest gift you can give, or receive."
Liz nodded. "But it can hurt so much. What do you do when that gift causes so much pain?"
"It's not the love that causes the pain, Liz. That's caused by the actions we do in the name of love."
"Max's actions have hurt me, Grandma."
"Oh Liz," she hugged her again. "I am so sorry."
They stood together for some time, while Liz continued to cry.
"Liz," her grandmother asked at length. "If you could go back to any day in your life, knowing everything that will happen to you, and having the power to change just one event, what would you do?"
Liz didn't even hesitate.
"I would go back to the day I was shot," she decided. "I would make sure that I wasn't shot that day. Then Max would not have to heal me, and he would have stayed safe."
"But what if that meant that you would never have got together?"
"At least it would spare me all this pain."
"No, it wouldn't. You see, you would remember all of this. You would see Max and while you would remember him, his secret, and what you once had, he would know nothing of your closeness."
"It's a moot point anyway, Grandma," Liz shrugged. "The only way we could do that would be to use the Granolith. And that's gone now."

***

The phone was ringing. Liz reached for it, and because it was still dark, she considered switching it off.
"This had better be good!" she barked.
"Liz? It's Michael."
"Michael?" she looked at the green glowing numbers of her clock and groaned. "Michael, it's three in the morning!"
"Maria will be there in ten minutes," he barked. "Be ready for her, Liz."
"What for?" she demanded. "Michael? What's going..." she heard the phone at the other end hang up. "...on?"
With sleep still heavy in her eyes, Liz pulled on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. She slipped on her trainers, and crept out through her bedroom window, across her balcony and down the fire escape. She hurried up the alley, and waited for Maria. It was not long before the familiar Jetta pulled up in front of her.
"I never thought I'd be doing this again," Liz commented. "Sneaking around on alien business."
She looked at Maria expecting one of her trademark quips. She noticed that Maria was crying.
"Liz, I think... I think..." Maria bumbled through her attempt at an explanation, but Liz needed no more words. She understood.
She looked for a moment at Maria, hoping that against all the odds, she might say that Max had woken up. With Maria's soft weeping, Liz's face dropped and tears rimmed her eyes. Max was dead. She turned away to look out the window. Tears flooded down her cheeks. She had wanted to apologize to him for her outburst, she had wanted to tell him that she still loved him, that she always would, before he went. Her last words to him were harsh. Of all the things that she wanted to remember Max for, she would always remember that on his deathbed, she was horrible to him. Liz started to cry.

When they arrived at Michael's apartment, they were all already there. Kyle sat off to one side, perhaps signifying how he never really felt comfortable with the alien trio. Michael and Isabel were sitting by Max. Maria crossed the room and embraced them both. Liz stood close to the door, not fully entering the room. She stared at Max in his cocoon.
"I think I know how to save Max," Michael announced to them all.
Liz lifted her head. Max wasn't dead yet? There was still time to say goodbye, to tell him how she felt about him. Wait, wait. Michael said he could save Max.
"How?" she demanded with an urgency that they had not seen before.
She did not see the looks exchanged between Kyle and Isabel.
"Liz," Michael took a deep breath. "You would probably know more about this than anybody else I know. If we had a clone of Max,"
"You can't clone a soul," Liz sounded so disappointed.
"What?"
"A soul is a pretty unique thing, Michael. It defines who we are. You can't clone it. It wouldn't be Max." Her voice fell to a whisper. "It would just look like him."
"If we had a clone of Max," Michael continued glaring at Liz. He was annoyed by her interruption. "Do you think we could transfer his mind, his spirit, his... soul... to the clone? Would that work?"
"I don't know, Michael," she shook her head.
"Liz, it's how we were created. Our bodies were created as clones, and then our essences were transferred in."
"How do you know that, Michael?" Maria asked.
"I just do. Would it work?"
"I couldn't say for humans," Liz was thinking hard. "But for you guys? I really don't know. I mean, you already did it once, kind if, so I don't see why you couldn't do it again."
"But how?" Isabel barked.
"I don't know," Liz shook her head. She was feeling so frustrated. "Maybe you would just need to put Max and the clone together, but how you make the transfer, I really don't know. But Michael? How can you clone Max? You need all kinds of specialist equipment for that. And even if you could create one, it would take ages for a new body to grow. Months. Years, maybe."
"But what if we already had a body?"
"Yeah," Maria smirked, "We can just pop down to the body shop, huh?"
"They already have a clone," Michael ignored the sarcasm. "At Meta-Chem. Some guy got hold of one of Max's hairs he left on Liz's uniform, from the day of the shooting. He's been working on it for two years. What if we took Max there, and did whatever we had to do to let his spirit... I mean, his soul pass over to the cloned body."
"One, we would never know if it worked," Liz countered. "Maybe the clone would never be Max. He would just be someone else. Two, I do not plan to enhance my criminal reputation by breaking into Meta-Chem, now of all times."
"You see this, Liz?" an angry Isabel snapped. She showed Liz the tombstone. "See what date appeared on it, the date that Max claims he died? Think about it, Liz. Don't you think it odd that Max considers the day he died is the day he saved your life? And in a way, it was. Dead man walking. That's what he's been. FBI manhunts, the white room, Nacedo and Tess, Nikolas and the Skins, you, Kyle, the whole... Destiny thing... all happened to Max because he was stupid enough to risk his very existence to save yours. I think you owe him."
"What do you mean, Max claims he died that day?" Liz demanded. "Didn't you create this?"
"No," Isabel shook her head. "Max did. I found it in his dream when I dream walked him. When I came out, this was in the room."
"Well, I still don't..."
"For what it's worth," Maria interrupted Liz, "I agree with Isabel."
"Maria!" Liz objected.
"But! If we do this, if we help you, regardless of the outcome, you guys leave me and Liz out of your lives from now on, okay?"
"Me too," shrugged Kyle.
"Okay, so you leave Liz me and Kyle alone. As far as we're all concerned, you don't know us and we don't know you. If you see us in the street, you ignore us. No awkward hello's, no clumsy how are you's. We're strangers, just like we were before this all started."
Michael looked at Isabel who slowly nodded her head. There was a pleading look in her eyes. What the heck, he thought, he and Maria had broken up anyway. Liz wants her own life now, and Kyle was never really a member of the group. It's not like they had anything to lose here.
"Deal," he nodded.

***

With a casual pass of Michael or Isabel's hands, they were all wearing black. They had gathered at the far end of the parking lot, having driven in with their lights off.
"Security tends to only glance at the screens with the parking lot cameras," Michael had said. "At night, it's only moving lights out there that attract attention."
Using a circuitous route, they carried Max up to the side entrance of the Meta-Chem building, through which they had fled only a few nights ago. Between them, Isabel and Michael cleared the way through to the Sharenkov's lab. Everyone gasped when Michael wiped the condensation clear of the glass cylinder to reveal Max's face. They laid Max, their Max, on a table, while Kyle pulled over another table on wheels. He placed this next to the cylinder. Isabel found the release, and they soon had the cloned Max laying on the wheeled table. Kyle had managed to spare everyone's blushes by wrapping a large cloth wrap around the clone's waist.
"Now what?" Michael asked.
Liz pushed the table next to the Max. "Pass me those cables," she called.
Kyle handed the cables that she had indicated to Michael, who handed them to Liz. Using some surgical tape, she taped one end of the cable to the clone, and the other to Max. They watched nothing happen. Liz lifted Max's hand and allowed it to drop onto the clone. Then she lifted the clones arm and dropped in onto Max. Again, nothing appeared to happen.
"Now what, Einstein?" Isabel snarled.
"Well, you know, Isabel," Liz snapped. "I haven't heard you come up with an idea. He's your brother."
"And he's your..."
"My what?" Liz demanded.
"This isn't really helping Max, you guys," Maria yelled at them. "If that was either of you on these tables, do you think Max would be arguing about who can come up with clever ideas."
Liz glared at Maria. She lifted Max's hand and then reached for the clone. As soon as her hand came into contact with the clone, it was as if she had completed an electrical circuit. She glowed blue as the current ran through her, there was a large bang, and Liz flew through the air. She lay on the floor, motionless.
"Is she all right?" Maria cried out as Kyle and Michael ran to her help.
"Yeah," Kyle called back. "She unconscious though."
"Did it work?" Michael looked over to Isabel. "Did he get across?"
"I... I don't know, Michael," Isabel groaned.
"You have to try to dream walk them, Iz," Michael rose, allowing Maria to take his place at Liz's side. "You need to get inside their heads and see where Max is."
Isabel nodded. She looked around to find a suitable space to make herself comfortable. She curled up in a chair against the wall. Through years of practice, Isabel managed to send herself into the half sleep, half-wakeful state that she needed to be in. She found herself in Max's mind. It was still decay, though much worse. It was like a swamp, where there was only death and disease. The bush that had held the white rose was a clump of rotted vegetation now. She could find no trace of Max. With a terrible shudder, she left the hell of Max's mind behind her. The clone's mind, if Isabel could call it that, was clean and unused, almost like a brand new doctor's surgery. Like the white room. Isabel felt her skin crawl. She could find no trace of Max here either.
"We've failed," she cried out as she woke up. There's nothing in either of them. I couldn't find Max."
"Look," groaned Kyle, pointing at Max.
Max's face had sunk. It was readily apparent that his body had died, it was rapidly breaking down. Isabel joined Maria, and hugging the unconscious Liz, they started to cry.
"Give me a hand, Kyle," Michael took over. "Take Max's clothes off, and dress the clone."
Together, they did just that.
"Why are we doing this, Michael?" Kyle asked as they carefully stood Max in the glass cylinder where the clone had stood.
"The Evan's will want to say goodbye to Max, Kyle," he nodded towards Isabel who was being consoled by Maria. "They'll want to give him a good burial service. They've been good to him. Let's give them a Max that they won't ask questions about that we can't answer."
With the cylinder closed, Michael and Kyle tidied up the lab so that it appeared as though no one had been here. Maria and Isabel, both still in tears, carried Liz from the lab, followed by Kyle who was struggling with the clone. Michael held his hand against the glass that was rapidly becoming covered with condensation again. He noticed that Max's body was deteriorating rapidly.
"Good bye, Max," Michael fought back the tears that blurred his vision. "My friend." And then Michael did a very strange thing. He stood formally in front of the cylinder and then bowed low before Max. "My King."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

[frown]

End of Part 1 - "Death of a Friend".
Part 2 - "Rennaisance Max" will follow.
posted on 18-Feb-2002 3:52:00 PM by WR
Thank you all for your continuing support. Thinks start to get bet from here on in. This first chapter is a kind of transition. It's setting everything up. I hope you enjoy reading these next few chapters as much as I enjoyed writing them.



PART 2 - Renaissance Max

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Chapter 1:

Roswell - Michael's apartment, Early Saturday morning, 16th February


"Did it work?" a hoarse Liz whispered when she started to wake up. She looked hopefully at the clone she saw lying on the sofa where Max had lain hours before.
"We're sorry, Liz," Isabel started to cry again, followed by Maria.
Liz started to cry. Max died while she was unconscious. She never had her chance to say goodbye. Her cry started out as a high pitched weeping, and became more and more filled with despair as the seconds passed. She was devastated. Maria rushed to her side, and crying herself, tried to give her best friend some comfort in her hour of need. Isabel joined them and soon, the three girls were hysterical. Michael and Kyle stood awkwardly to one side, both fighting back their own tears.
It was nearly an hour before Liz and Maria could stand. Liz pulled Maria up and scrubbed her face with her hands.
"We'd better..." she indicated the door.
"Yeah," Michael nodded. "It's getting light."
Liz, Maria and Kyle stood at the door, and looked back at Michael and Isabel who stood by the body of the clone.
"So that's it then," Maria took a last look around the apartment.
"Yeah," Michael scratched the back of his neck.
"It's all over," Kyle observed.
"Yeah, you're free now," Isabel whimpered. "All of you. You don't have to cover for us anymore. We're even."
"Right, right," Kyle nodded.
"Well, good luck, you know, with what you guys want to do," Michael shifted about uncomfortably.
"Oh yeah, and you too," Maria agreed, wiping tears from her eyes. "I hope you find... whatever it is you'll be looking for now that..."
"Will you guys come to the funeral?" Isabel asked in a low whisper.
"Oh, yeah, of course," Kyle gave a quick nod of his head. "My dad too."
"Absolutely," Maria agreed.
"Um," Isabel shifted with her feelings of awkwardness. "Can you guys not say anything until my mom and dad announce it? I think Michael and I will keep him here and grieve for a bit. Um, Kyle, can you ask your dad to come round? We need to know how we should say Max died, so that no one performs an autopsy. Then we'll tell my folks."
"Yeah, sure."
"Right," Michael sighed.
"Right," Maria sighed too.
Liz took a last look at Max. No, that was not Max. Max was left behind in the Meta-Chem plant. This was just a body that looked like him. Whimpering, she wiped away a fresh flood of tears, turned and left Michael's apartment, closely followed by Maria and Kyle.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Crashdown, Saturday morning, 16th February

When Liz finally decided to leave the safety of her bedroom, she looked terrible. Her parents spotted that she had been crying straight away.
"What did Max do this time?" her father demanded.
"Um, no," Liz mumbled. "No, you know, I haven't even spoken to Max. I don't think he even knows I'm home."
"Then why are you so upset?" Nancy asked, as she sat next to Liz and pulled her into a sympathetic hug.
Max is dead, she thought. He died while I was knocked out trying to save him. Maybe it was even me that killed him. But anyway, he's dead. You'll be pleased to know that I'm free of him. Isn't that what I wanted? Maybe, I don't know. Isn't that what you wanted? Anyway, I can find a new boyfriend now. Yeah, like that's gonna happen anytime soon.
"I've made a mistake," Liz finally admitted. "I'm not happy at the new school. I am so lonely. I want to come home."
"Give it a chance, Liz," her father urged. "You've only been there a week."
"I want to come home." She allowed the tears she felt for Max to flow. Her crying was genuine.
"We'll see," her father sighed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Crashdown, Sunday morning, 17th February

Liz sat at the counter of the Crashdown Café as a customer and not as a waitress for a change. Her face still showed the signs of her sorrow. A cup of tea sat before her, full and cold. Her father looked at her, his face filled with concern. Liz had not eaten her breakfast either. He felt his spirits raise when he saw Maria approaching the café. She would cheer Liz up, he had no doubt. Then he saw that Maria too looked so sad. What was going on with these kids?
"'Morning, Maria," he forced a smile to mask his concern. "Can I get you anything?"
"No thanks, Mr. Parker," she shook her head and took the stool next to Liz.
His daughter looked up and gave her friend a sad little smile. What was up with these two?
"Anything wrong, Maria?" he asked, trying to prevent his voice from sounding too concerned. "Why the long face?"
He noticed how Maria looked at Liz before she spoke. It seemed as though she was... checking for something. Confirmation?
"It's just... I'm back in town now... and Liz is... going back to Vermont. I'm going to miss... her."
He shook his head, and went to take someone's order.
"So..." Maria mumbled.
"So," Liz replied in a voice that was etched with pain.
"I'm so sorry, Liz," Maria fought to hold back the tears. "Are you going to be okay?"
"I guess I'll have to be," Liz stared up at the ceiling.
"I don't like it that you'll have no one to talk to, Liz," Maria wrapped her arm around Liz in sympathy. "No one who knows the truth. I wish you could stay."
Liz just nodded. "I asked my dad if I could. He said to give it a try."
"Well, you know my number. Call me anytime, day or night."
"Yeah," Liz hugged her friend. "I will. Thanks."
"Liz," Jeff called from the door. "Kyle's here."
Liz, Maria and Jeff and Nancy Parker walked out to Kyle's Mustang together. While Kyle placed Liz's bag in the trunk, Liz hugged Maria, her mother and her father.
"Give it time, honey," Jeff whispered in her ear as they hugged. "Things will get better. You'll see."
"Sure, dad," Liz wept in his arms. "I'm sorry."

Jeff stood with Nancy and Maria waving at Kyle's Mustang as it drove away along Main Street. He sighed as it turned towards the highway.
"She's really upset, huh?" he asked Maria.
"Yeah," Maria nodded. "I guess she just realized how much she loves... us."
"Mr. Parker," a voice called from behind him. He turned to see who it was.
"Sheriff Hanson, Deputy Owen," he acknowledged. "Can I help you?"
"Uh, yeah. Mr. Parker..."
"Call me Jeff."
"Jeff, we just got a call from the University of New Mexico," Hanson seemed nervous.
"Oh yeah?" Jeff was confused. What did the UNM have to do with him?
"There's been a break in over there..."
"Are you going to tell me that my daughter, or that Max Evans was involved?" he demanded angrily.
"No," Hanson shook his head. "No sir, there's no evidence to suggest such a thing. Besides, whoever it was... they broke into the room that they were storing your mother's things in."
Rather that try to store his mother's studies in the attic, or the basement, where they would just accumulate dust, Jeff had allowed the UNM to store all of her papers in their archives, where their students might be able to use them.
"Would you mind accompanying Deputy Owen here. Perhaps you could help the local police sort out what's missing."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Las Cruces - University of New Mexico, Sunday afternoon, 17th February


There were papers scattered everywhere. Folders had been opened and just tipped over the desks as the thieves rummaged through them. Some books bad been torn, and journals pulled apart. The storeroom was a mess. Jeff could not say whether or not the papers could ever be sorted into any kind of logical order at all now.
"Sorry, guys," he shook his head as he surveyed the devastated scene before him. "I would have no idea if anything is missing or not. I don't know if the University people ever got around to cataloguing it, but I never did."
"Well, we had to ask, one of the deputies shook his head.
"I'll tell you what though," Jeff remembered something. He pulled out his wallet, and removed a small white card. "This guy came to see me the other day. He wanted to buy my mother's things. I said no. Maybe they tried to steal them."
"But why break in and then leave it all behind?"
"Maybe they were looking for something, you know, specific," Jeff shrugged.
"I remember your mother," Deputy Owen commented. He was, of course, a Native American. "She used to come to the reservation when I was a young teenager. She had a map that she was deciphering. It used the old language. She believed that it had something to do with a legend of a hidden treasure. Perhaps they were after that map."
"Well, if it was here, I guess they have it now," the deputy observed. "What kind of treasure was it?"
"Well, as children, we learnt that the great sun god came to earth, and hid a treasure so valuable that its worth could not be measured by all the gold in all the world. The sun god told his people who protected this treasure, that it was worth all the worlds in all the heavens combined." Deputy Owen started to laugh. "Of course, the elders often told us that animals talked, too."
"It's probably nothing," the deputy replied, laughing at Deputy Owen's joke. "This was probably just kids, but we'll look into this." He lifted the card Jeff had given him. "Thanks. We'll keep you posted."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Meta-Chem, Monday night, 18th February

"Mr. Guerin!" Michael's boss called him as he was patrolling down one of the main corridors.
Michael looked up to see Mr. Sherman with one of the Scientists. He swallowed hard when he saw that the Scientist was Professor Sharenkov. "Yes, sir?" he answered.
"Mr. Guerrin, this is Professor Sharenkov," Mr. Sherman introduced the other man.
Michael held his hand out, which the professor merely stared at. Feeling foolish, Michael pulled his hand back.
"Okay," Michael mumbled. "What's up?"
"The professor here has a mess that needs cleaning up."
Max, wondered Michael? Kyle and I did a thorough job of cleaning up behind us. Were they trying to trick him?
"Call the cleaners then," Michael shrugged.
"This is a little delicate," Mr. Sherman shook his head. "The results of a failed experiment. We need to keep this matter from reaching outside ears. Especially after what happened to the Wheelers."
"This sounds dangerous," Michael looked at his boss with suspicion. "Or illegal. Or is it both?"
"No, no," Mr. Sherman pushed on. "I assure you. It's neither. I want you to go with the professor, and sweep up rather a lot of dust, and make sure you place it all in the incinerator. The dust is neither toxic nor illegal."
"Okay," Michael shrugged.
He followed the professor back into his lab and over to the cylinder. It was dry now, it had obviously been switched off. At the bottom was a deep layer of grey dust, identical to the dust that Nacedo had decomposed to.
"If you could remove this for me, please," the professor waved at the mess with an arrogant air of superiority.
"What was it?" Michael asked.
"Just remove it."
Fighting back a wave of sickness, Michael carefully scooped up the dust that was once Max, and dumped it into the bag. Perhaps, rather than the incinerator, he could smuggle it out, and take it to what was left of the pod chamber. As he watched the dust fall into the bag, he saw the small foreign object.
"What the...?" he squeaked as he carefully pulled the object from the dust.
"I beg your pardon?" Professor Sharenkov asked, walking towards Michael.
Michael didn't want the professor to see the object, he somehow guessed that this was alien related. He slipped the small transistor-like device into his open hand and clenched his thumb over the top of it.
"Excuse me?" he looked at the professor with a confused look.
"I thought you said something."
"Who, me? No. Not me. Not a word."
"Oh, quit your complaining," Sharenkov spat, "and get back to work."
The professor turned and marched out of his lab.
Michael opened his hand again to look at the small device that he had found. He gasped at what he saw. Already, the thing was half buried into his palm. There was no sign of blood and Michael could feel no pain. He tried to pull it free, but it seemed to resist him. Using the additional power of his mind, he tugged at it again. It still resisted, in fact, it seemed to have entered his hand even deeper. Michael hurried to the box on the wall where Michael knew Sharenkov kept some tools. Finding some pliers, he firmly gripped the end of the device, and gave a sharp tug. It came free, leaving no sign of an entry, or exit wound. Holding it in the pliers, Michael studied the device. It was about two centimeters in length, with long, impossibly thin spikes on both ends. The casing appeared to have been made of glass, or clear plastic, and the contents were glowing a silvery red color. Wrapping it in a small piece of cloth, Michael tucked it into his wallet. He and Isabel would examine this later. Right now, he had to finish clearing up.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Michael's apartment, Tuesday morning, 19th February

"What do you think it is?" Isabel asked the next morning. "Do you think it's what held our essence? Perhaps we all have one." She seemed excited. "Maybe we have to let it bury itself in the clone?"
"No," Michael shook his head. "If that's what it was, why did it try to bury itself in me? Something like that, surely it would know that the host already had one of these suckers. And as for that red color."
"It's yellow," Isabel informed him. "A rather sickly yellow, but no way is that red."
"What?" demanded Michael as he stormed over to where Isabel was examining the device. She was right. It was a sickly yellow color.
"That was red when I found it last night," he informed here. "This is weird."
"Why don't we put it in the clone and see what happens?" Isabel suggested. "I don't know, maybe this is why that thing's lifeless."
"I get this strange feeling that this is bad," Michael stared hard at it. "Really bad. I don't want this thing to touch that clone. Michael went out into the yard, and picked up a large piece of the ever present sandstone.
"Michael!" Isabel called out. "Michael, come here!"
Michael ran back into the room to see what the matter was.
"It turned red," she said, her eyes showing confusion. "But now it's yellow again. Go back outside."
Michael went out again.
"Yeah," Isabel called. "It's turned red again."
"That's curious," she pondered.
"You go out," Michael suggested.
As soon as Isabel left the apartment, the transistor was glowing red again. When Isabel returned, the color changed back to the sickly yellow.
Holding the sandstone and the transistor together in the same hand, Michael concentrated on the two items. His hand glowed red. When he opened his hand again, he had encased the small transistor in a bubble of clear glass. He fed a strip of leather through the small loop he had created at the end, and made a necklace of it.
"We'll see how it reacts when there are more people around," he shrugged at Isabel's questioning eyes.
"You have spent way too much time near Liz."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

posted on 19-Feb-2002 4:29:16 PM by WR
Thanks for your comments. I find it interesting the way some of you think, and sometimes you come up with ideas and connections I wish I'd thought of. You guys are great! *happy*

BLS40 - Things will start to look up for Liz.

kayarra - Happy parts approaching!

Lizzy Parker - Don't worry, Liz realizes. It Gets better from here on in.

AJK001 - I don;t think it's a case of 'finally' admitting. She never stopped loving him. Maybe this was the only way she could deal with his death.

rollergal20 - All will be revealed *wink*.... eventually.

queencyane - Thanks you *happy* I hope you continue to enjoy it.

roswellluver - Michael had to show he had on [a brain] sometime *wink*

Lelea - This part might answer your concerns about Liz's safety and the funeral.

Scottie - Nothing sinister about asking Michael. Just in the right (or wrong) place at the wight (or wrong) time.



Chapter 2:

I'm not looking for someone to talk to
I've got my friend, I'm more than O.K.
I've got more than a girl could wish for
I live my dreams but it's not all they say
Still I believe (I'm missing) I'm missing something real
I need someone who really sees me...

(Don't wanna wake...) Don't wanna wake up alone anymore
Still believing you'll walk through my door
All I need is to know it's for sure
Then I'll give... all the love in the world

I've often wondered if love's an illusion
Just to get you through the loneliest days
I can't criticize it
I have no hestitaion
My imagination just stole me away
(Still...) Still I believe
(I'm missing) I'm missing something real
I need someone who really sees me...

(Don't wanna wake...) Don't wanna wake up alone anymore
Still believing you'll walk through my door
All I need is to know it's for sure
Then I'll give... all the love in the world

Love's for a lifetime not for a moment
So how could I throw it away
Yeah I'm only human
And nights grow colder
With no-one to love me that way
Yeah I need someone who really sees me...

(Don't wanna wake...) And I won't wake up alone anymore
Still believing you'll walk through my door
You'll reach for me and I'll know it's for sure
Then I'll give all the love in the world
(Don't wanna wake up alone anymore...)

Roswell - Crashdown, Wednesday evening, 20th February

"Hey Kyle," Maria greeted him as he slid into a booth at the Crashdown. "What can I get you?"
"Hey Maria," Kyle looked up at her.
Neither seemed too happy.
"Have you heard from Liz yet?" he asked.
"Every day," Maria sighed. "Morning, noon and night."
"How's she doing?"
"Like you have to ask?" Maria gave a sad little smirk. "We just talk, you know? She never even mentions Max. She's not even asked if it's been announced yet."
"Well, apparently the clone hasn't died yet. It's starting to freak Michael out, it's just lying there, staring with those dead eyes."
"So how is it going to happen?" Maria looked around making sure no one could hear. "When he goes, I mean."
"Climbing accident," Kyle whispered in a conspiratorial manner. "Michael and Max are going to go climbing. Two inexperienced kids, one falls down a deep ravine. Open and shut case. Max's secret will be buried with him."
"It all seems so... final."
"Yeah," Kyle sighed. "Anyway, can I get the Heavenly Hash special, and a coke?"
"Hey, Kyle," Jeff called from the door as he entered the café. "How's your dad's band doing?"
"Oh, hey Mr. Parker," Kyle gave a polite nod. "Yeah, the Kit Shickers are doing okay. Of course, they're not making the big bucks yet, but it's early days."
"I was thinking of going along to see them one night," Jeff laughed. "Nancy and I could use a little down time."
"Sure, Mr. Parker," Kyle grinned. "He'd be pleased to see you."
"Excuse me," Jeff turned to the telephone that was ringing. "Hello? Crashdown Café, Jeff Parker speaking."
"Hello, Mr. Parker," the voice spoke in a steady, neutral tone. "This is Mr. Smith. We believe you have a manuscript of your Mother's. We would like it."
"You're nothing but a dirty crook!" Jeff spat down the phone. "You had all your going to get from us. Now leave us alone!"
He slammed the phone down onto its cradle.
"Satisfied customer?" Maria asked.
Jeff rolled his eyes when the phone began to ring almost immediately
"Crashdown Café," Jeff spoke in a tight voice. "Jeff Parker speaking."
"We seemed to have been cut off," Mr. Smith informed him. "As I was saying. We want that manuscript. And before you slam the phone down again, we happen to know that it's lovely in Vermont at this time of the year."
Jeff felt icy fingers of fear run up his spine.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"She's so far from home, and there's no one to look after her. The manuscript, Mr. Parker," Mr. Smith hissed. "We'll be in touch."
"Who was that, dear?" Nancy asked, bringing out some clean cutlery.
"I don't know," Jeff responded as his shaking fingers punched at the buttons in frightened desperation. His face was as white as a sheet.
"So who are you calling?" she demanded. "Jeff, you're scaring me."
"Hello?" Jeff barked urgently down the phone. "Hello? Is that the Winnanman Academy? Get me Dean Hackett!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Crashdown, Saturday afternoon, 23rd February

"Liz!" Maria cried as Liz climbed from her father's car.
"Maria!" Liz replied, as the two rushed towards each other.
They met in a huge hug.
"So how come you're back again, so soon?" Maria demanded. "I mean, I thought you wouldn't come back until..."
A shadow of pain drifted across Liz's face. She still looked full of sadness.
"Yeah," Liz nodded, fighting back her tears. "Last weekend, I asked dad if I could come home. I mean, now that... there's no reason for me to stay there now. At first he said no, but then last week, he called the Dean, and... here I am."
They hugged again.
"Still no news?" Liz asked.
"Nothing," Maria shook her head. "I've seen Michael and Isabel around, and they look like you do. Numb."
"I wish it would just die," Liz nodded. "Then I can let it go in public, you know? Like I have a reason to be sad."
"It?"
"That's not Max, Maria," Liz looked hard at Maria. "Max died the night we..."
Maria nodded. "Come on, let's get you inside. Your mom's waiting."
The phone was ringing when they all entered the café. Jeff looked worried when Nancy answered.
"Oh," she exclaimed with surprise. "Hello, Diane." She held her hand over the mouth piece and formed the silent words, 'Diane Evans.'
Liz and Maria exchanged sad looks, tears forming in their eyes.
"Oh my God!" Nancy exclaimed. "Diane! Is he okay? Oh no. Oh no. Diane, I am so sorry to hear that."
Liz started to move towards her mother. She was looking sick.
"Yeah, I'll tell her," Nancy continued. "Of course, Diane, I will. Yeah. If there's anything any of us can do, you know you only have to ask. Of course. Well... thanks for letting us know, Diane. You too. God bless."
"What was all that about?" Jeff asked looking at his wife in confusion.
"It ah..." Nancy turned to look at Liz. "It seems that Michael and Max went rock climbing. Out in the desert. There was an accident. Uh, Max... he fell... uh, he hit his head on the way down."
"What?" gasped Liz. At last, she could grieve. She could cry for a reason.
"He... he..."
"What? What?" Liz demanded. "Mom, what happened? Is Max all right?"
"They took him to hospital. I... I'm so sorry Liz," Nancy was crying herself now.
Maria started to cry too. Sensing something bad, Jeff went over towards Liz and Nancy.
"He hit his head pretty bad. Liz, he... he... Liz, he has amnesia."
"Amnesia?" Liz and Maria demanded together.
Max is alive, Liz cried in her mind. No, no. Max is dead. They were talking about his clone. Damn him, even in death he can't get their relationship right. The clone had obviously woken up, which was why Michael and Isabel made up the story about amnesia. To cover for the fact that he won't know anything about himself. Liz started to cry, a thin piercing wail.
"Oh, mom," she sobbed, and stumbled towards her mother's opened arms. Liz continued to cry her heart out.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Michael's apartment, Friday afternoon, 22nd February
(The previous day)


"There's still no change?" Isabel asked as she entered Michael's apartment. Now that he was no longer Max, neither Michael nor Isabel spent too much time worrying about the clone. They checked periodically to see if it had died yet. They had even turned the sofa around and pushed it up against the wall so that they would not have to look at it.
"No," Michael shook his head. "I really thought we'd see signs by now. I thought the damn thing would have been long dead by now."
"I don't know how much more of this I can take, Michael," Isabel sobbed. "Mom and Dad are getting worried about me and my moods. They think me and Jesse are having problems. And they haven't seen Max around either." She tugged at the glass pendant that Michael had made. "I want to cry so badly. I desperately need my mother to hug me."
They both fell silent.
"I wish I knew what to say," Michael said at last.
"How about you start by telling me just what the hell is going on here," an angry voice called from the doorway.
"Jesse!" Isabel exclaimed, tucking the pendant inside her shirt. "You scared us."
"Well?" Jesse demanded. "Are you going to explain, or do I just go ahead and file for divorce?"
"Jesse?" Isabel looked shocked.
"Why would you want to that?" Michael asked.
"Because the slut has clearly been sneaking round here and having an affair with you. I thought it was that other guy, Kyle. Imagine my surprise."
"What?" Michael sounded outraged. "You should watch what you say about Isabel. You know she wouldn't..."
"Wouldn't what?" Jesse demanded, squaring up to Michael.
"Stop it?" demanded Isabel. "Stop it the pair of you! Jesse, the reason I have been sneaking around is because of Max."
"Now we come to it," Jesse sneered. "I might have known that he was behind all this!"
Jesse notice the sofa pressed against the wall, he started to walk towards it.
"Nice one, Isabel," Michael growled.
Jesse peered over the top of the sofa and looked at Max.
"What's wrong with him?" he asked, reaching down to check for his pulse.
"We went climbing. He fell," Michael shrugged. "He hit his head. He'll be okay in an hour or two."
"You can't leave him here," he looked shocked. "Max needs medical attention. Help me get him to my car."
"Hey, what are you doing," Michael hurried over to stop Jesse from trying to pick Max up.
"We have to get him to hospital," Jesse urged. "Head injuries need to be looked at."
"He's fine where he is," growled Michael. "We're not taking him to a hospital."
"How long has he been like this?" he demanded loudly.
"Just today," Michael lied.
"Liar. Isabel's been sneaking here all week. He's in a coma, Michael. He needs urgent medical treatment."
"What's all the noise?" a groggy voice wheezed from the sofa. The body on the sofa sat up, looking around his environment in confusion. "Michael? Isabel? Where are we?"
"Max!" all three people exclaimed at once.
Isabel threw herself into an embrace with her brother; she could not speak for weeping. It had worked. He had recognized her. Max was back.
"Who are you?" he asked, looking puzzled at Jesse.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Crashdown Café, Sunday afternoon, 3rd March.

"So anyway," Liz explained to Maria as they busied themselves working in the café. Liz had been back a week now, had enrolled again at West Roswell High, and was working with Maria in the café. "Jesse forced Isabel and Michael to take Max to the hospital. I guess Michael must have done something, because they found bruising on Max's head. I'm guessing that between Michael and Isabel, they made sure there were no blood tests, or anything. The Doctor kept him in for observation, but they soon let him out."
"It's so cool that Max's mom phoned yours. I mean, we'd never have found out about all of this."
"Anyway, the last day that Max can remember is September 19th, 1999. Before the shooting."
"So he doesn't remember..."
"Nope," Liz shook her head. "It's like it never happened. No Tess, no white room..."
"No incredible kisses with you," Maria smirked. "Talking of which, he's staring at you again."
"God, this is just so déjà vu," Liz shook her head. "He's been doing that all this last week."
"Well, I think it's cute," Maria laughed.
"Maria? Remember that night... we went to... Meta-Chem?" Liz asked in a quiet voice.
"Are you going to ask me if I think that this is our Max?" Maria tilted her head and took a sneaky look at Max. He looked away with a suitable look of embarrassment at being caught watching Liz. She started to giggle. "Yup. That's our Max, all right."
"No, no, that's not what I was going to ask," Liz looked around her. "That night, before you came to collect me... when Max.... I had a dream."
"Oh yeah?" Maria laughed. "Was it hot?"
"No, no, Maria. You are so in the gutter. No, I dreamt about Grandma Claudia. She came to me, and asked me if I could go back to the day of the shooting knowing everything that happened, and change something, what would I do. Look Maria. It's happened."
"I guess," Maria smiled. "Except this time, you didn't get shot, so Max never revealed his secret to you and so... What am I saying? Of course you know all this."
"Yeah," Liz gave a sad smile. "And now he sits there and watches me, thinking I don't know."
"Well, like we agreed, Liz. We stay away, right? Michael and Isabel are already behaving like nothing happened, like they don't even know us."
"The doctor's letting Max go back to school tomorrow, Maria," Liz moaned. "He was kept home all last week. What if the teachers pair us up again? Like before."
"Just treat him like you used to, Liz," Maria was sympathetic. "I mean, you know it will probably turn out like before, right? His memory will come back, and you'll be right back where we started. He'll soon be on this quest to try to find his son again."
"Yeah, you're right," Liz nodded. "Oh, and have I told you that my father is really creeping me out? He drives me to school, he collects me and he demands to know where I'm going and who I'll be with all the time. It's so weird. It's like he doesn't trust me anymore. Like he resents what happened."
Kyle entered the café and moved over to join them.
"Hey Kyle."

***

Max sat in the booth that he used to share with Michael and Isabel, staring off into space. He had somehow lost two and a half years of his life, and was unable to reconcile the differences around him. What on earth had happened in those two years? Just last week, the three of them had seemed like frightened rabbits trying to avoid being caught in the glare of headlights. Now he finds out that not only has Isabel left school, she is married. To a young lawyer working for their dad. Why had she married him, he wondered? That seemed so un-Isabel like. Had Jesse somehow found out Isabel's secret, and forced her to marry him if she didn't want him to expose her? Or was she genuinely in love him? Like he was in love with... He glanced up at Liz again. Wonderful Liz. Did she even know how she affected...?
'Damn,' he cursed in his mind as he looked away and down at the table.
Maria had caught him looking at Liz again. He couldn't be sure, it was almost as if she knew his feelings and was watching to catch him out. He looked back up to see if perhaps they were laughing at him, but they seemed to be talking again. Instead, he looked over at Michael, flipping burgers in the kitchen. That had been a big surprise too. Michael, it seemed, had changed from a nervous, introverted, stonewall of an alien, into a caring, sharing human, well, a human anyway. Max had been glad to hear that Michael had gained his independence from Hank Guerin. He had been rather alarmed to discover that not only did Michael work two jobs, here at the Crashdown, and as a night security guard over at Meta-Chem, he had taken to hanging out with the guys he worked with. Their lives had moved forward, while his seemed have remained stuck in the alien rut. Too many years of protectiveness, he decided. Max was too set in his ways.

One good thing about Michael working at the Crashdown was that he now had the perfect excuse to spend time in the here, where he could watch her. Liz Parker. The object of his affections, totally unbeknownst to her, he knew. She too seemed changed. She was still as beautiful as ever, at least, to his eyes. But she seemed somehow, less... alive. What had happened to her over the last two years? Her eyes seemed less vibrant, her demeanor less confidant. She no longer seemed the girl whose overriding dream was to become a microbiologist at Harvard University. But he was still in love with her. He felt changed too. His body felt strange. It was as if it was new, unused. It felt like a new pair of shoes that had not yet molded to the shape and contours of his feet and the way he walked. His mind felt strange, too. It was almost as if a great cloud had been lifted from him. After he had explained this to Isabel, she had asked him to perform a series of mundane tasks using his abilities. She didn't say, but Max knew she had been worried that he had lost them. That was another thing. Michael and Isabel seemed far more powerful than he remembered. He did, too. What had happened to them? During the past week that the Psychiatrist, Dr. Friedman had made him stay home from school, Max had given the situation a lot of careful thought, but had completely failed to come up with any kind of solution.

And so, tomorrow, he would be back at school. He had two years to catch up. Max had no worries, no doubts that he would catch up. All he had to do was read the book, and he would remember it all, but the hard part was making sure that he attained grades that did not draw attention to him. It was just a matter of time. He had to ensure that his grade point average was good enough to get him into Harvard. He had never told the others that. Max really wanted to follow Liz. Perhaps in Boston, away from the alien references, he might find the courage to talk to Liz. To become her friend. Perhaps even, to ask her out on a date.
'Yeah, Evans," he sneered in his mind. 'Like she would ever look at you. She likes jocks, like Valenti. She'll probably end up dating the captain of the Harvard Rowing Club.'
Besides, one of the first things Michael and Isabel had spoken to him about was to remind him about the importance of staying away from Liz. He failed to see why. While he was glad, in a way, that they had been able to move on with their lives, Max wondered why it was that he should not be allowed that luxury. But he knew. Deep down inside, he knew that it was because the others relied on him.
Would he have any lessons with Liz, he wondered? He used to share several with her, even being her lab partner for biology. But they seldom talked, unless you count discussing the results of the latest experiment.
Dr. Friedman had assured him that most amnesiacs regained their memories eventually, it was just a question of time. Max shuddered. Why did the phrase 'a matter of time' do that to him? Michael and Isabel had refused point blank to fill in the missing gaps. But Max had noticed that there was a distance between himself and the others. Something big had happened to them all. Was it dangerous? Did it affect their safety? How could he protect them if they did not tell him what he needed to know?

The bell above the door chimed, and Kyle Valenti walked in. Even he looked changed. He seemed far less arrogant, far less... cocky. He noticed the way Liz smiled when he came in, and how she watched him as Kyle approached her and Maria. Max's spirits fell. His heart felt like a solid lump of lead, resting in the pit of his stomach. He seemed so excited to see her. Kyle was able to show Liz how he felt about her, while Max had to keep his feelings hidden. If she only knew... but he had to keep himself, and the others, safe. Max looked away while Kyle and Liz shared an intense hug. His body throbbed, wishing that he could trade places with Kyle. The two of them would have been together for three years now. Knowing Kyle, they would have become intimate long ago. He was actually glad that he could not remember that. Two and a half years of knowing that Liz was... Max left a ten-dollar bill on the table as he rose to leave. He couldn't take the thought of Liz giving herself to someone else. It made him feel so sick inside. Just the thought of seeing Liz kissing another guy was bad enough. He had to leave. He walked out of the café, not seeing the strange sad look that Liz gave his back as he left. Max climbed into the strange car that Michael had said was his, and headed for home. He wished he could look into the future, and see how Liz would react if she knew the truth about him. A little voice tried to assure him that she would be okay.

But then, what did little voices know?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



Would you like a teaser from Chapter 3? Yeah? Okay - here it is.....

"You guys are not going to believe this," he enthused. "I have a date."

Let me know if you want me to continue with my teasers. *wink*

posted on 20-Feb-2002 3:44:42 PM by WR
See? That was better, wasn't it? Things are looking up for our dream couple. *happy* Of course, we know that there will be obstacles, and then there's the matter of Max's memory. Will he get that back? How? Well, all will be answered, but for now, there are some other issues to deal with.

Now, I like to respond to your feedback. You take the time to write it, it's only polite, right? But things are really hectic for me right now. So I believe that you would rather read the story that my ramblings.

Hi SciFiNut *wink* I havn't forgotten! lol




Chapter 3:

Roswell - Crashdown Café, Sunday afternoon, 3rd March.

"So, Kyle?" Maria smiled seeing Kyle looking so happy. "What's the excitement all about?"
"You guys are not going to believe this," he enthused. "I have a date."
"What? A real date? With a girl?" Maria's jaw dropped.
Kyle glared at her.
"Oh, Kyle," Liz's eyes sparkled. She felt genuinely happy for her friend. "I am so pleased for you." She stepped up and threw her arms around him. They hugged with delight. "So when is it?"
"Next Friday," Kyle grinned, "This is going to be so cool."
From the corner of her eye, Liz saw Max starting to move. He left some money in the table and eased out from the booth. Not once did he glance in her direction, something that saddened her. The looks on Max's face, the hidden desires, the brooding passion, it was as if time had stood still. Was that the Max she had known, she wondered? Or was he just a... a caricature of the man who once held her heart? Liz sighed, hoping her friends would not notice. What did it matter if it really was Max? He was way too timid, too frightened to risk telling her, not unless her life was in danger. Liz was not planning on putting herself at risk, especially if it meant that this time, Max - if it was her Max - would remain safe. She wished that she could get to know him, rather, she wished he could get to know her. When she caught the hurt look in his eye, she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that her Max was living inside that new body. Her Max was back. But what could she do about it? And why did he look in such pain? She returned her attention to Kyle, who was now stepping out of the hug looking awkward. Of course, Liz gave a sad smile. Max thinks that Kyle and I are still together. Perhaps that was good. She had to stay away from Max.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - West Roswell High, Monday morning, 4th March.

Jeff Parker's car pulled up in front of the school. Inside, Liz sat motionless as she stared out of the front window.
"Off you go, Lizzie," her father laughed. "It can't be that bad."
"Are you doing this as some sort of punishment, Dad?" Liz asked. "You know, for not..."
"What?" her father exclaimed. "No, of course not. Can't a guy give his daughter a lift to school?"
"But why now, Dad?" Liz asked. "You never used to."
A shadow passed her father's face.
"Well, what with everything that's happened, I just... I just..."
"Are you doing this to stop me seeing Max?" Liz asked in a soft voice. "Cause if it is, you needn't bother, Dad. That's over with."
"Oh, right," her father nodded.
"See you later, Dad," Liz climbed out of the car, her face looked so sad.
"What? Don't I get a..." he called at her. Liz slammed the door shut. "...kiss?"
Liz clutched her book bag in both arms to her chest and looked around trying to find Maria, or Kyle. She could see neither. With a shrug, she made her way towards her homeroom.

"Liz," a voice called. "Liz Parker!"
Liz turned to see Mr. Seligman approaching her.
"Ah, Liz," he smiled at her. "Your presence is requested by the principle, Mr. MacFarlane in his office."
Liz nodded, and turned towards the main doors.
"It's good to see you back, by the way!" he called after her.
"Good morning, Liz," the school secretary greeted her. She lifted the flap to allow Liz access to the rooms behind her. "Go straight in, he's waiting."
Liz nodded, wondering what Mr. MacFarlane might want with her. She entered his room.
"You wanted to see me?" Liz was slightly hesitant.
"Ah, Liz," he looked up from his papers. "Yes. Good morning. Please, take a seat." He stood up and indicated one of the three chairs that were her side of his desk.
Liz nodded and sat down, while Mr. MacFarlane put away the papers he was looking at.
"Liz," he folded his hand together, interlocking his fingers and leant over the desk on his elbows. "I've found a way that will help push up your grades. It will earn you extra credits and look good on your application to Harvard."
"Um, Mr. MacFarlane..." How did Liz explain that after her unsuccessful jaunt to the Winannman Academy, she doubted that they could afford to send her to Harvard. Besides, somehow, Harvard did not seem so important. But she knew that everyone was expecting her to at least try. She gave a deep sigh of resignation. "How's that?"
"I want you to tutor Max Evans."
"What?" Liz looked up sharply. Did he really say that? "Um, I'm sorry. Did you say 'tutor? Max Evans?"
"Yeah," he nodded. "You know, he's lost 2 years of schooling, and this will help to make sure he graduates with the rest of his class. Dr. Friedman seems to think this is important. Now I'm..."
"Dr. Friedman?" Liz asked. Who was Dr. Friedman?
"He's um..." Mr. Macfarlane hesitated. How would she react to this? "He's Max's psychiatrist. He's helping the Evans... and Max... come to terms with his... recent disability."
Liz couldn't help worrying about Max. Would this doctor find out Max's secret? Would patient doctor confidentiality prevent him from revealing that secret if he should ever find out about it? Was Max more affected by the trauma than Michael and Isabel had let on?
"Dr. Friedman suggested that Max be tutored by someone he was close to. Naturally, given your recent closeness, we suggested you. Max was always bright, and his teachers are confident that between the two of you, he can catch up. I have faith in you both, Liz."
"Can't someone else do it?" Liz looked like a trapped animal.
"The only other person in this school that Max seems to trust is Michael Guerin," Mr. MacFarlane gave a wry smile. "And somehow, I can't see Max learning much from him."
Liz shook her head, but she wasn't smiling.
"Can you send them in now?" the principle spoke into the black box on the corner of his desk.
Liz heard the door open behind her. Oh God! Was Max on his way in? Did she look all right?
But it wasn't Max that came in, but his mother and an older man, one that looked like the stereotypical psychiatrist, straight from a Hollywood B-movie set.
"Oh Liz," Diane Evans embraced her. "Thank you so much for doing this for us. For Max. It means so much to me. It will mean so much to Max too."
"Um, oh, Hello, Mrs. Evans," she greeted Max's mom. "Yeah, I'm just happy to help."
"Hello, Ms. Parker," the psychiatrist, Dr. Friedman extended his hand.
Liz shook the man's hands, noticing that he was wearing a pair of disposable gloves. She frowned at him.
"Liz," Diane continued. "This is Dr. Friedman. He's Max's..." she looked embarrassed, "psychiatrist."
"He is all right, isn't he?" Liz asked. Her face was full of concern.
"Oh, yes," the doctor nodded. "He suffered a severe head trauma. His amnesia is the only apparent concern, it's just that I get the impression that he's hiding something, you know? Now listen carefully. I gather from Mrs. Evans that Max has been suffering with severe mood swings since the summer of 2000. Now, clearly, we would like to resolve the causes of these, hopefully before Max regains his memory. So as well as tutoring Max, I wonder if I might count on you to do something else to help."
Liz nodded slowly, not wanting to offend Max's mother who was watching her with a sense expectancy. Like she knew that Liz would not let Max down.
"Of course," Liz agreed, earning a huge smile from Mrs. Evans. "If I can."
"Max will ask questions. If you decide to answer, you must take care that you tell him only the truth."
"If I decide to answer?"
"Please don't feel that it is necessary to give Max answers if it does not suit you. Just don't tell him things that are incorrect."

***

Max was never more relieved than when the lunchtime bell rang. Every class that he shared with Liz, the teachers had put them together. It was clear that the faculty somehow seemed to believe that being under Liz's influence would help him to catch up with his studies. He had always dreamed of Liz and influences, but he had always hoped that it would be a mutual influence. Being with Liz for most of the morning had been both an extremely pleasant and a terribly tortuous experience. She was so sweet, as she always was, so kind and so nice. She treated Max as though he were a long lost friend, and once or twice he was sure that she was looking at him with affection in her eyes. No. That was probably pleasure that he was not as dumb as they thought. She probably just realized that working with him would not be the chore it appeared. He could feel his body respond to her, almost as though it was calling to her, that it somehow... recognized her. He wondered if she could hear his heart pounding in his chest. He was certain that the whole classroom could hear it. But he could not help remind himself how Michael, and Isabel would respond. Getting together with Liz would be bad. Besides, she has Kyle. And it was obvious that they were in love. Then, just last lesson, Max learned that Liz had agreed to tutor him, to help him catch up. He was tempted to let her know that he could manage, but he was far too selfish to give up any time with Liz, no matter how she made him feel. It was going to be a long year.

So with the coming of lunchtime, Max retreated to the school fields, sitting as far from the crowds as he could. The crowds, too had been an ordeal, one in which Liz had surprised him by helping him through it.
"Come on, guys," she barked as she led him to his next class. "Give him a break"
She chased away the morons who kept asking "Can you remember your name?" and gave steady icy glares at the imbeciles who claimed Max owed them money. She had even chased away two girls who claimed that Max had been their boyfriend. But she had hardly said two words to him that was not related to one of their lessons.
Leaning against the chain link with his knees drawn up, Max ate his lunch while looking out for faces he recognized. He had no idea where Michael was, which was no surprise. Some things never change. Isabel, of course, no longer attended High School, and was helping out at their dad's law practice. He spotted Liz, over in the quad, talking with her blond haired friend, Maria. He had remembered her with short hair. Naturally, he had seen her with Liz at the Crashdown. He knew they were best friends. Max wished he had a circle of friends that he could spend lunch with. People that he could trust with his secret. He wondered where their other friend was, the tall thin guy that the jocks used to tease because he never took part in sports, other than dodge ball. Alex. That was his name. Perhaps he had moved away.

***

"Look at him, Maria," Liz commented looking across the field to where Max sat alone, distanced from everyone. "He seems so... lonely."
"He's used to it," Maria shrugged. "It's how he was before. You know. So as far as he is concerned, it's no different."
"But Maria," Liz's face fell. She looked upset. "Don't you get it? It is different. Back then, he had Michael and Isabel. But Michael, he has this new life now. You know, the guys he hangs out with. Isabel, she's married now, and anyway, she doesn't even go to school anymore. Everyone has moved on except him. Max just sits out there, terrified that someone will find out who he is, and somehow threaten Michael and Isabel. All the while, he stares longingly at the girl he is in love with."
"Thinks he is in love with, you mean."
"No," Liz shook her head. "I remember how it was. He was in love with me then. I remember how lonely he felt, Maria. That night he connected with me. I felt his loneliness. I wish I could speak to him. You know, let him know that we know his secret and that we don't care. Then maybe he won't feel so... isolated."
"We can't, Liz. You can't." Maria shook her head. "We agreed."
"No, Maria," Liz huffed. "You agreed."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Crashdown Café, Friday evening, 8th March

The Crashdown was not as busy as normal, so Liz and Maria found time to fuss about Kyle who had come in to talk before he went out on his date.
"Woo hoo," Maria smirked. "Look at you, Kyle."
He was wearing his cowboy boots, a ten-gallon hat, and a shoestring tie with a large, silver eagle clasped at his throat.
"What? Is this too much?" Kyle looked worried now.
"No, Kyle," Liz laughed, smoothing his shoulders with her hands. "You look quite handsome. Any girl would be pleased to be seen with you."
"Any girl?" he laughed.
Liz looked away, as though she had been rebuked.
"Sorry Liz," Kyle shook his head. "I didn't mean..."
"No, no," Liz looked back up, the momentary pain gone from her eyes. "Really. You'll be fine."
"So who is the mystery woman, Kyle?" Maria asked.
"Louise Durgan," he smiled.
"Durgan the Dragon?" Maria's jaw dropped. "The weirdo hippy girl?"
"She's not a weirdo, and she's not a hippy," Kyle defended. "She just has different beliefs."
"She has weird beliefs."
"This from a girl who's had sex with an alien," Kyle winked.
Maria hit Kyle's shoulder.
"People only thinks she's weird because she knows so much about all these different religions."
"Are you sure she's not just dating you because of your interest in Bhuddaism?" Liz asked, her face filled with concern.
"You mean she might be using me?" Kyle's grin spread from one ear to the other. "Man, I hope so, Liz. But hey, I'm going on a real date!"
"Great," groaned Maria as a group of freshmen entered the café and sat at a table in her section. "Be right back."
"No Max tonight?" Kyle asked as Maria picked up a couple of menus and left towards the table.
"He's coming by later, so we can study in my break."
"I've seen the way you look at him, Liz," Kyle whispered. "You should talk to him. Let him know about the two of you."
"I can't, Kyle," Liz shook hear head. She looked so sad. "His problems all began when I started dating him. It's enough that were friends, you know, that we can study together.
"Not when you want more, it isn't," Kyle placed his hand on her arm. "You know, if Max had the choice. Life without you, or life with you, potential problems and all, which would he choose?"
Liz cast her eyes to the floor.
"Exactly," Kyle smiled.

***

"So, how are you doing?" Maria asked Michael as she leaned in to pick up her latest order.
"Do I know you?" Michael asked, staring hard at Maria as though he really didn't know her.
Maria's jaw dropped.
"You're such a... a guy!" she snapped as she took the order towards her customers.
"It's what you wanted!" countered Michael.
"Jeez, Michael," she continued on her return. "Look, we work together, okay? It's polite to... you know, say things every now and then."
"Like what?"
"Like, 'Hello, Maria,'" she informed him. "Or 'how are you Maria,' or 'so you decided that a musical career wasn't for you, huh?'"
"Hello, Maria," Michael mimicked. "How are you Maria. So you decided that a musical career wasn't for you, huh?"
"God!" she stared hard at Michael. "Could you like, be any more annoying?" She turned her back to him and leaned against the window, looking out into the café. Michael shrugged and returned to the cooking.
"Look at them," she nodded at Max and Liz in the end booth, with the books in front of them. Their heads were low as they studied the text in front of them, they were so close to each other. "He's so caught up in her, he doesn't hear a word she's saying. And she's so caught up in him, though she won't admit it, that she doesn't even notice. I tell you, that Tess has so much to answer for." Maria gave a huge sigh.
"I'd forgotten how sickening that was," he looked across at Max and Liz, shaking his head.
"Michael? Tell him," she spoke at last. "Or let Liz tell him. Before either one of them explode."
"Hey, we had a deal," Michael shook his head. "A deal which you made. All I did was agree to it. And as I recall, you made this deal to make sure you didn't get sucked back in."
She looked at Michael before shaking her head in sadness. Her shoulders dropped.
"Yeah," she sighed. "You're right."

***

Due to the fact that Max had allowed Michael to use his car so that he could get to his job at Meta-Chem, Max found himself walking home from his study date with Liz. No, not date. That would not be his idea of a date with Liz. But under the current circumstances, any time spent with her was a bonus. She was so kind to him. She careful explained everything so well, Max had even pretended not to understand something, just to listen to her voice talking passionately about something. He wished that she would one-day talk about him with such passion. He wanted so badly to be with her, to be the one who hugs her when she is sad and kisses her when she is happy. While they were working, he could smell her hair. It was such a warm smell. Max would die a happy man if that were the last thing he smelled. He wished he could tell her what he was. Somehow, Max just knew that she would accept him. He couldn't be like Iz, and keep his deepest secret from the one he loved, and when that secret was enough to scare any normal human being away... Max knew that Liz wasn't normal. She was... special. But Michael and Isabel had both told him that he was not, under any circumstances, to tell her.

When he crossed the vacant lot, he saw a familiar car up ahead, parked in the shadows of a large bush. It was Kyle's car. Max could see two people inside, making out. His heart started to pound. Oh, God, no. Please don't let me see Kyle and Liz making out. Please don't make me see how happy she is making him, how happy he is making her. He had to walk right past the car. He hurried his steps, and looked away.
"Evans!" Kyle exclaimed through the open window as Max walked past the car.
Max looked over, and saw Kyle's face. His lips were swollen from kissing and smeared with lipstick
"Hey, Kyle," Max mumbled. He stuffed his hands in his pocket, and looked at the floor. "Hey, L..."
"Max Evans?" a girl's voice called out. It was not Liz's voice.
Louise Durgan leaned over Kyle and looked out of his window. Her face too showed evidence of a heavy make-out session. Her unbuttoned blouse and the way her bra hung loosely gave evidence that Kyle was definitely on his way to a home run.
"...ouise" Max finished.
"You know Louis Durgan, right?" Kyle seemed suddenly embarrassed.
"Yeah," Max nodded. Kyle was probably afraid that Max would tell Liz. He wanted to pull the creep from the car and punch him for what he was doing to her. How could Liz not see what a rat this guy was?
"You didn't tell me you knew Max Evans," she smiled seductively up at Max.
"Gotta... go," he mumbled, and turned away. Walking as fast as he could, Max hurried home.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Chapter 4 Teaser -
She can't even bear my touch, he cried in his mind. She hates me.

posted on 21-Feb-2002 3:31:11 PM by WR
Hi everyone!

Listen. I have some disappointing news (but it's not BAD news). I have to fly out to Boston next week. Thursday, to be exact. I'll be gone for almost a week, and depending on how things go, it might be longer. That means I won't be able to post as from next Wednesday for a while. I am so sorry about this. As soon as I get back, though, I'll carry on posting the story, okay? In the meantime, enjoy tonight's episode.

roswellluver - Dr. Friedman? At Meta-Chem? Maybe *wink*

kayarra - Maybe MAx will NEVER learn about Alex, and NEVER find out about his past! *wink* Yeah right! Not in my fic! LOL

Lizzy Parker - Sorry for seemingly stealing that part. But it fits, you know? *wink*

AJK001 - Hmmm, Max revealing himself to Liz? Interesting .... *wink*

Realspacecadet - I agree. Wouldn't that be frightening? As for a rift forming - it depends how he finds out.

SciFiNut111 - Thanks. Things should quieten down after my trip. I say 'should' [would] Do you think I would leave Max alone for too long? *happy*

Okay - lets go....




Chapter 4:

Roswell - Crashdown Café, Saturday evening, 9th March.

On a Saturday night in Roswell, there was only one place to be, especially if you happened to be secretly in love with one of the waitresses there. Max had decided that a plate of Space Fries and Blood of Alien smoothie would make this particular Saturday night special. With his eyes on the floor so that no one would catch him looking for Liz, although that was precisely what he was doing, he slid into a booth that he knew she waited on.
"Hey, Max," Maria surprised him. Where was Liz? "What can I get you?"
"Oh, um," he made a big deal out of studying the menu.
Maria gave a little smile; she knew full well that Max had memorized the entire thing.
"I'll, uh..." he continued, "have a bowl of Space Fries, and a Blood of Alien Smoothie."
"Okay, is that all?" Maria asked as she scribbled his order on her pad.
"Uh, yeah," he nodded. Unless you can bring me Liz on a sesame seed bun.
It was when Maria turned away that he noticed Liz was not in the café. Perhaps she was on a break. Maria came back with his order, and placed his drink and his fries in front of him. She also placed a new bottle of tobasco sauce on the table.
"Uh, Maria?" Max called her. "There's already one here." He pointed to the half empty bottle.
"Oh..." she looked flustered. "Oh, yeah. Sorry, you know what? Wrong table."
She picked up the bottle, and went over to a nearby table, exchanging the tobasco bottles there.
Max ate his fries slowly, hoping that Liz would soon appear. He took sips of his drink, to make sure it would last.
"Where's that other waitress?" Max overheard someone ask Maria. "The dark haired one."
"She's at the library," Maria commented. "She's a little behind with her homework."
Max sighed. He had only come so that he could torture himself by watching someone he considered both perfect and unattainable.

"Hey," Michael slid into the booth across from Max.
"Aren't you..." Max started to ask.
"I'm entitled to a break too, you know," Michael snapped.
"Right," Max nodded with a faint smile.
The two fell silent, while Michael helped himself to a handful of fries.
"Cold," Michael curled his lip.
"Sorry," Max mumbled.
"Didn't you know? She's at the..."
"Library, yeah, I just heard."
Michael started to chuckle.
"What happened?" Max asked Michael as he stole some more fries.
"How do you mean?" Michael was cagey in his response. Was Max asking about his 'accident'? Or had he found something out about his... their past?
"You," Max responded. "I mean, two years ago, you would never have done this. You were always so... afraid of me being anywhere near Liz, and now you work for her."
"With, Maxwell," Michael emphasized. "I work 'with' Liz."
"Whatever. And the Meta-Chem job. You, hanging out with the guys. Don't get me wrong, Michael. I know you would... never use your powers... to show off." Max paused. "Would you?"
"Well," Michael laughed. "Let's just say that no one beats me at bowling, or at pool."
Michael..."
"Relax, Max," Michael assured him. "I'm careful, okay? Not like you."
"Excuse me?" Max was confused. Apart from when Isabel tested his abilities, Max had not used them since his accident. Unless his powers caused that accident?
"This thing with Liz," Michael glanced around the room. "Even that Maria chick has noticed something. She's seen how you look at Liz."
"Oh god!" Max groaned. "And if Maria knows..."
"Liz knows, right."
"I can't not look at her, Michael," Max sighed. "I've tried. It just doesn't work."
"Well, you'll just have to try harder, won't you."
"Why is it okay for you and Isabel to have other... friends, but not for me?" Max looked intently at Michael. "What happened, Michael?"
"Max," Michael growled. He could not meet Max's intense stare. He suspected that there was only one person on this planet strong enough to stare back without flinching. "Isabel doesn't want to tell Jesse, and I'm not going to tell the guys. You, on the other hand, you want to tell Liz."

***

"Nancy?" Jeff called. He seemed a little angry. "Have you seen Liz? I thought she was working tonight."
"Yeah," Nancy answered. "I told her she could take the night off. She wanted to catch up on her homework."
"Oh god," he hissed. "She's not failing again, is she?"
"She wasn't 'failing' in the first place," Nancy huffed. "Her grades were below average for her, that's all."
"That's all?" he demanded. "Nancy, she always got straight A's. So what's happening now? Why is she behind?"
"She's been asked to tutor Max, to help him catch up."
"Max Evans, again?" he growled "It seems as though he's always coming between Liz and her dreams."
"Maybe her dreams have changed Jeff," Nancy sighed.
"If you think I'm going to just stand by and let..."
"That's exactly what you'll do, Jeffery Parker. I'm keeping an eye on things. If this tutoring thing starts to get in the way of Liz's studies, then I'll talk to Diane, and see if we can work something out. As long as she wants to do this, we'll not stand in Liz's way."
"He'll be the death of her," he snapped. "As long as you realize that he'll never be welcome in my house."
"I'll let you tell that to Liz," she arched her eyebrows.
"So where is she?"
"She went to the Library, to study."
"Alone?" he gasped.
"It's usually the best way," Nancy laughed. "Now where are you going? Jeff? Jeff?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Out in the Streets, Saturday evening, 9th March.

After his frustrating conversation with Michael, Max could not bear to stay in the Crashdown. When Liz wasn't there, it was just another café. As he walked along the road, he found his gaze raising skywards. It was a beautiful clear night, Max could clearly see the stars laid out before him. He checked out the constellations, and looked for the planets that were visible tonight. Not for the first time, and definitely not for the last, Max wondered which of the many stars was the one from where he came. He felt so helpless with the waves of frustration that swept through his body. He had the strangest suspicion that Michael and Isabel were hiding something from him; that something major had happened to change their lives. He was also angry at the 'stay away from Liz' attitude that they had forced on him. They just didn't know her the way he did. Max just knew that she would be okay with their secret, that she wouldn't be afraid of them. Of him. But was he willing to risk it? Would he gamble with the suspicion that she would not be afraid and go running to the nearest authorities? No, he sighed. Not now that they were friends and spending so much time together. Still gazing at the bright stars, he did not see the person approach. They collided into one another, Max reached out and grabbed the two thin arms of the person. The person was so light, obviously female. He looked down at the young woman.
"Liz!" he gasped.

***

Liz released a deep sigh as she was walking home from the library. She had spent the evening running through most of the coursework for this year, so that she could run through it all with Max. She was quite surprised at how quick his mind was. No wait. Of course she knew all about his mind. He found the studies easy because he would remember everything he read. He needed a tutor like he needed a, needed a... another alien to come to him. It felt good helping Max. She had spent more time with Max in the past week than she had at any other time during their relationship. And she had loved every minute of it. She loved the gentle way he talked to her, the shy glances he gave her and the way he would never hold her gaze for too long. This, she guessed, was in case she would see what he really thought of her. But Liz didn't need to see his eyes for that. She knew exactly what Max thought of her, she had seen it once, when he had reversed their connection. It was as if it were only yesterday, which of course, for Max, it was. But this also served to remind her that the others were right. That she should keep her distance from Max. But it was so hard. She remembered the way Max made her feel. That was why she had her eyes glued to the ground. If she looked up at the stars, it would only remind her that somewhere out there, Max had a bride and... a son. She ran into someone. Some one big, and very strong. He reached out and caught her from falling. The way her body reacted, she knew without a doubt, that it could be only one person. She looked up into his eyes.
"Max!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Crashdown Cafe, Saturday evening, 9th March.

"He wants to tell her," Michael told Isabel when he phoned her from the back room of the Crashdown Café. "We were talking tonight, I just knew that he was trying to get around to the subject."
"Well, as much as I agree with this deal, Michael," Isabel told him, "it's not like she doesn't already know."
"I know, it's just..."
"Just what, Michael?" Isabel demanded. "Are you jealous of Max's relationship with Liz? The one he had, I mean. Before Tess came."
"What?" Michael spluttered. "Of course not. I mean, hey, I went the full distance with Maria."
"Or is it that you want Liz yourself?"
There was no reply from Michael.
"Oh my God!" Isabel shrieked. "That's it. You want Liz for yourself."
"Don't be so stupid," Michael barked. "Of course I don't. As if she'd even give me the time of day."
"So because of this, you want to stop them from getting together? Michael, you can't..."
"It's not like she throwing herself at him," he pointed out. "All she would have to do is tell him she knows his secret and that she loves him. Has she done that? No."
"Well, you have to remember that Liz is scared."
"Great basis for a relationship."
"I don't see what the problem is. Let him tell her. That is, if he can bring himself to do it. Remember, she had to get herself shot for him to finally do anything the last time.
"I'll tell you what the problem is. Ever since he let Liz in, that's when things went wrong for us. Just join up the dots and they lead back to Liz."
"I think you're being paranoid," Isabel sighed. "Oh, and Michael? Just because he lost his memory doesn't mean he lost any of his powers. He's stronger than ever."
"What's your point?"
"My point is this. You'd better hope that Max never knows of your feelings for Liz."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Out in the Streets, Saturday evening, 9th March.

"So," Max looked down at his feet. "I heard... you were at the..."
"Library," Liz nodded. "Yeah."
"I didn't know they opened late on a Saturday," Max shook his head.
"Um... no, they don't. But I... uh, know Miss Schuster, the Head Librarian. She told me she would let me in anytime."
"That's good," Max nodded.
"Yeah," Liz agreed.
"Um, you're not..." Max could hardly bear to ask, but he did not want Liz to fall behind in her own studies because of him. "You're not struggling... you know... with your own work, and helping... me too."
"Oh," Liz shook her head. She too did not know where to look, but she could not help returning to Max's earnest features. He had been so sweet like this. "No, no, it's okay. You know what? It's even helping me. I've had... I've had a few problems in my life recently."
"Oh," Max nodded. He wished he could hold her, to help make her problems vanish. "If you don't want to help..."
"It's okay, Max," she jumped in. She didn't want Max to even think it, let alone say it. "I, uh... I like helping you."
"Really?" he looked up quickly. "I'm not too... dumb for you?"
"You?" she looked surprised. "Max, you're one of the most intelligent people I know." Yes, she remembered this Max. Although she thought it was sweet, she had to profess a preference to a strong, confident Max.
"After you, maybe, Liz," Max blushed and looked down at his feet again. "Thank you... for helping me out like this. And I'm sorry... if my... accident causes you any... problems."
"No problems here, Max," Liz smiled.
They stood in an awkward silence for a few moments, both shifting their feet while trying to think of something to say.
"Well," Liz sighed. "I'd better get..."
"Home," Max agreed. "Yeah, of course. I'll uh... walk you."
"You don't have to do that, Max."
"I know," he shrugged. "But I want to. I mean... make sure you get home okay. Wouldn't want anything to happen to my tutor."
"Well," inside, Liz was dancing with joy. "If you're sure."
As they walked side by side, their hands occasionally brushing against each other, Max had an overpowering urge to hold her hand. When Liz looked up at him with a strange emotion in her eyes, he thought he would lose control of himself. He gave a silent groan.
Liz looked up at Max, and remembered how shy and reserved he had been in the early days of the their friendship. Friendship? The word was too weak. They were both head over heels in love with each other, but were afraid of moving forward with it. Well, Max was. She wished Max would just give in to his desires, pull her into his arms, and kiss her. No. No. That would be fatal, bringing all the bad things down on their heads again. She would never wish that on Max. She hoped that he never got his memory back. Then, he wouldn't hurt inside as much as she did.

There was a rustling in the bush ahead of them. Two men stepped out, each holding a gun, pointing at Max and Liz. Without even thinking, Max stepped in front of Liz, pulling her closely behind him, making a shield of himself. Liz knew that Max would protect her with his own life.
'No. no, no, no, no,' her mind screamed over and over. This couldn't be happening.
A van screeched to a stop beside them, but Max did not take his eyes off of the guns that were pointing at them. He was aware of someone climbing from the van.
"Get in!" one of the gun wielders ordered, waving the gun towards the Van. Max didn't move.
"Let the girl go," Max begged, a tense panic at the edge of his voice. "She's not part of this."
Liz was terrified. Somehow, someone had discovered Max's secret. Some evidence that the Wheelers had left behind, no doubt. She clung to Max, determined that he would not suffer the White Room alone this time. She suddenly cried out in pain as someone hit the back of her head with something. Max spun round to see what had happened to Liz when the gunman struck the back of Max's head with his gun. The world went black.

***

When he became conscious, Max took stock of his surroundings. He was in the back of what he assumed was the van. From the way he was being bounced around, he was sure that they were moving. His hands were secured to a ring suspended from the ceiling by a pair of handcuffs. His head was aching. In the gloom across from him, he could see that Liz was slumped in the corner, still unconscious. Here hands were behind her back; Max had no doubt that they too were secured. Her face had a dreadful pale pallor. Sitting in the van, watching them both, were the two gunmen, still with their guns trained on them. While these two watched them both, there was nothing Max could do about their situation. He concentrated on the pain in his head, found the internal damage, and repaired it.
"Max?" Liz's weak voice called from her corner. "Max, are you awake?"
"Yeah," Max replied. "Are you okay, Liz?" He ached to help her.
"No talking!" one of the guards barked.
As they sat in silence, Max watched Liz carefully. She did not look, or sound very well.
"My head hurts, Max," Liz whimpered as she twisted herself upright so she could see Max.
"I said no talking!" the guard roared. He swung his arm and hit Liz in her face with his gun. Max clearly heard the sound of something breaking. She screamed in agony, collapsing into a heap.
"Liz!" Max cried out. He turned on the two men, pulling against his bonds. He concentrated on the cuffs. He could easily free himself, and use his powers to free them both. It was Liz's groan that prevented him from revealing himself. The gunmen, perhaps sensing a threat from him, were watching him carefully. He would be no good to Liz dead... or worse.
"You bastards," he spat, tugging in futile frustration.
He earned himself his own pistol whipping. Fully expecting it, Max rolled with the collision. He would not need to use his powers to heal this. He would save his energy for Liz. Max had to keep a clear head. He could only help Liz when the gunmen were not looking. There might yet be a chance to get both he and Liz to safety.

The van stopped. Max could hear a voice outside, calling to the driver.
"You're late. I was expecting you earlier."
"We had a problem," he heard the man in the front of the van call back. "In the back."
The door opened, and a light came on. Liz's eyes sought Max's, and the sight did little to comfort him. He tried to make sure that she might derive some comfort from his calm exterior. One side of her face was an ugly mottled black and purple, while her eye was bright red, filled with blood. From the way she tilted her face, Max doubted she could see through it. He tried to give her a reassuring smile.
"Shit," the man who opened the door cursed. "Two of them? You were only supposed to bring one!"
"They were together," one of the gunmen shrugged. "It was easier. It don't matter none."
"Damn it! This complicates things. Get them inside."
'Inside' turned out to be some kind of abandoned factory. They dragged Max and Liz, who was crying with pain, into a small room whose wall had been made of iron panels. Both their hands were secured to an old heating pipe, Max could see that it was piece of rope that restrained Liz. A rusting iron barred door was locked to hold them in. One of the gunmen sat in a chair, watching them.
"Liz," Max was nearly overwhelmed with sorrow. "Are you all right? Where does it hurt?"
"My head hurts, Max," she was crying. "And my face. Max, I can't see you properly. My vision... it's all blurred. And the room keeps on spinning."
"I'm so sorry, Liz," Max gave a sob. "This is all my fault."
"No, Max," she tried to shake her head, but the blinding pain was too much to bear. "It's not..."
"Don't talk Liz," Max urged. "Save your strength. It'll be okay. You'll see."
Liz nodded, trying to look up at him. She couldn't raise her head.

Max had no idea how much time had passed. He had been watching his guard, hoping that he might fall asleep, but he remained steadfast in his duty.
"Max?" Isabel called him from inside his mind.
Max cried out in surprise, making the guard react by leaping up and aiming his gun at him.
"Max, where are you?"
"Isabel?" Max seemed incredulous. "Isabel? How are you doing this? What are you doing?"
"It's my dream walking, Max," Isabel shrugged. "It's something I learned to do. Max, Where are you?"
"I don't know, Iz," Max shook his head. "Someone grabbed me. Liz too. I was walking her home from the library, and some men with guns forced us into a van. I want you and Michael to go and hide, Iz. Go somewhere I don't know about, in case I can't get away. They'll probably use me to find you. Isabel, Liz is hurt. Can you dream walk her and see how bad it is?"
"Yeah, if I can Max," Isabel brushed his request away. "But listen. It's nothing to do with us. Liz was the target. Just sit tight, and don't do anything to reveal yourself."
"What are you talking about, Iz?"
"These guy's want something that belonged to Liz's Grandmother. A book or something. Jeff Parker's looking for it now. As soon as he finds it, he'll make the trade."
"I hope he hurries, Isabel. I don't know how long Liz can..."
"Max, you can't do it. Everyone will know."

Max felt strangely alone when Isabel disappeared from his mind. He had little chance to dwell on it, as he heard voices approaching. The guard looked up the corridor, listening to the conversation.
"As soon as he makes the drop, you can dispose of these two any way you see fit," Max overheard the voice he recognized as belonging to the man who had 'greeted' their arrival.
"Before we kill them, I gotta have me a piece of that chick. She looks so hot all tied up like that," Max felt his blood start to boil. "I bet she's a screamer."
Max saw Liz flinch and in the silence of his soul, promised her that he would not let that happen to her. She raised her head, pleading for him to help her. He focused his mind, through the handcuffs, and into the molecular structure of the iron pipe. He followed the pipe across the ceiling and out into the corridor where it joined a heavier, more rusted pipe. He managed to loosen some supports. The natural decomposition of things took over. The heavier pipe it had connected too broke free from it's rusted joints and fell crashing to the floor. Someone screamed. The guard leapt from his seat to help his comrade and Max leapt into action. Before Liz's eyes, his handcuffs vanished in a pool of liquid. He waved his hand over Liz's bonds, and he caught her weak body as it collapsed. Focusing his energy into a tight beam, he melted the rivets that held the back wall together. He pushed out with his mind, and they were free. He leapt out into the night, hearing the call of pursuit behind him. Not knowing where he was, Max ran into the night. How long he ran, he could not say. It was only when Liz's whimpering had changed into agonizing cries of pain that he stopped, in the shelter of a small copse. He laid her down on a bed of soft ferns. He had to heal her. Max reached for her damaged cheek, but a strange voice in his mind advised him to make the connection on a less obvious part of her body. He pulled her shirt up, exposing her stomach. With a frown of worried concern, he pressed his hand to her, surprised by how... natural this felt, almost as though he had done this before. He slipped his other hand to the base of her head, supporting her.
"Liz, you have to look at me," he urged her, sensing that she was slipping into unconsciousness. He was gazing at her closed eyes. Her face looked even worse now. "You have to look at me."
A terrible wave of pain swept over him when she half opened her eyes. One of them was nearly black, not the white and brown that he so loved to look at. He was in. Absorbing her pain, he fixed her eye first. He felt relief as the dark ugliness was replaced by the perfect whiteness that was there before. He then set about her face, fixing the chipped cheek bone and the damaged flesh and skin. Her face looked normal again. He found the damage at the back of her head, fixing that too. He passed his thoughts to her wrists, where he removed the damage caused by the ropes that had bound her. Her breathing was normal again; she was normal again. All the while, he sensed something, almost as though he had found a window once thought lost. It was as if that window was important, that he was nothing without that window.
"You're all right," he gasped, shaking off the pain he had absorbed from her. "You're all right now."
Liz stared up at Max, completely disoriented by what she had just experienced. He had saved her. The men had hurt her, badly and had planned to hurt her even more. But Max had come to her rescue. Again. She had felt Max again, his pain, his loneliness and his frustration. This time, however, it was worse that it had been that time he reversed the connection to show himself to her. He felt even more alone now, if that were possible. He was clearly frightened by the lost two and a half years. She found herself falling in love with Max, all over again. No, that wasn't true. She was already in love with him. Then she realized what had happened. Max had risked everything to reveal his secret to her. History had repeated itself after all. A wave of fear swept over her. What if someone comes looking for Max? What if more aliens come? No! This could not be happening. Shaking down her fear and anxiety, Liz knew one clear thing at that moment. She hated herself, and what she had done to Max's life.
"Max, what..." she started to speak.
"Not now," he urged. He knew she was going to ask about what he had just done, how he had freed them, how he had healed her. He could see fear in her eyes. Loathing. He felt his heart fall. "We have to move on. We have to get away."
He scooped Liz into his arms again. She struggled, trying to get free.
She can't even bear my touch, he cried in his mind. She hates me.
As they ran from the cover of the copse, Max was caught by the glare of some headlights. He was just about to turn back towards the copse of trees.
"Max!" a voice called out. "Max Evans!"
He recognized that voice. It was one that haunted him for years, but right now, was most welcome.
"Come on, Max," Jim Valenti's voice called, as the older man walked towards the two exhausted teenagers. "Let's get you home."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Chapter 5 Teaser
"Liz," Kyle asked. "If you could have one thing perfect in your life right now, what would you choose?"

posted on 22-Feb-2002 3:35:33 PM by WR
Okay - I have checked, and the part that I will post on Wednesday - (the day before I leave for the US), is a good part, and not too much of a cliff hanger. So it's just a matter of finding this thread when I get back, and continuing. Perhaps you could all space your feedback out so that the thread remains close to the first few pages *wink*

Thank you for your feedback. I really enjoy reading it. I really wish I had thought of Max living inside of Liz. What a cool idea! Well done those of you who had thought of it.

BLS40 - The only thing Polar in my stories will be if I move the setting to the Arctic and introduce a bear!

Crimson - Thank you. I don't like writing something without a reason *happy*

AJK001 - Max recieved no flashes from Liz. Just the feeling that a window had been found. (It's too easy to use flashes to let him discover what happened. *wink*)

kayarra - Poor Liz. What will she do?

SciFiNut111 - (12/27, huh? Don;t you like this story? *wink* Don't worry, I'll get there! *happy* Yeah - I think Michael knows his chances with Liz. All gets explained, eventually.

Lelea - Maybe Liz hasn't realized yet. And as for Michael, well, he has a surprise in store for him *wink* We havn't heard the last of Mr Parker yet, either.

roswellluver - Jeff thought he could protect Liz all by himself. Don't worry. Max goes to see Liz. Just remember the Title of this story. *wink*

cyanzee2 - I hope they were good tears. And believe me, Liz gets better and better *happy*

Scottie - Have no fears. No polar stuff here. But there is a reason. *wink* Yeah, Max woul do the same thing over and over again if it would keep Liz safe! *happy*

Lizzie Parker - Yeah, I've heard Boston is great, and I get the whole weekend free! Michael and Liz? Not in my fics! *wink* But keep reading!

LivE - Hi! *happy* This idea just jumped right out at me. I just had to write it. I'm glad that you all seem to like it. Anyway, as for Tess? Well, so many people have addressed this, I might not bother. Everyone has written one version or another, and I like to stay a little original. I'll see if I can think of something new. Just for you! *wink*





Chapter 5:

Roswell - Crashdown Café, Sunday evening, 10th March.

Max stared at the large glass of coke that sat on the table in front of him. He drew shapes in the condensation that had formed on its exterior surface. The shapes turned into a small man. The authorities had wanted to take both he and Liz to hospital, to get them checked over, but for some reason, Liz had been so violent in her refusal to go. Although secretly pleased, Max wondered if it had anything to do with the fact that she had tried to stay as far away from Max as possible. That one fact hurt Max more than anything the gunmen could have done to him.
Max had spent most of last night, and pretty much all of today, helping the sheriff as best as he could by answering their questions. They had managed to trace Max's path back to the factory they had been held in, though there was no sign of their abductors. He had just come back from there, at the invitation of Jeff Parker, who had served Max a free meal, what Jeff had described as a 'wholly inadequate repayment for what Max had done.' He was a minor celebrity and even the Mayor had appeared to have his picture taken with Max. Michael and Isabel had turned up, glaring at him with their silent accusations and even Kyle had come and complimented Max on a 'good job'. But not Liz. She had remained ensconced in her bedroom all day, accepting no visitors except for her parents and the sheriff. Max slipped out from the café, and went to the fire escape at the bottom of Liz's balcony. He knew that she liked to sit out there at night.

"Liz?" he called out in a hoarse whisper. "Liz, are you up there?"
She heard his voice, and knew who it was, straight away. It was what he had done last time, and somehow, she knew he would come again.
"What do you want, Max?" she asked, even though she knew.
"I have to talk to you."
Liz just nodded. The last time they did this, it was in the restaurant.
"C'mon up," she sighed,
He climbed over the ledge, and onto her roof. He glanced at her sitting down on her lawn chair, surrounded by candles, and fairy lights. Where should he start, he wondered. He took a deep breath.
"I can't imagine how you must feel," he seemed so worried. "I mean, I've thought about telling you a thousand times."
Liz couldn't stand it. He was so alone, and now he was trying to let her know that he would not hurt her; that he was the same Max that she had known all these years.
"I know, Max," Liz stated, looking away.
"Excuse me?" Max asked with confusion.
"About you," Liz pointed upwards. "Who you are, where you're from. I know."
Max stared at Liz in complete shock. She had known about him. He had been with her on a daily basis, worried about how she would react. All this time, she knew. And Michael and Isabel had told him to stay away from her. But Liz knew. She was as bad as they were. She knew!
"Was it some kind of joke?" he demanded. His shock had turned into anger. "Or did you all have bets on how long it would take for me to tell you?"
"No, Max," she shook her head. "That's not it."
"So it was all a game then. Let's mess with Max's head. If you knew my secret... then you know... how I feel..."
But he had seen the fear, the loathing in face. He knew that she was afraid of him, so why had she pretended to be his friend? In a blur of movement, he turned and climbed back down the ladder.
"Max," Liz called.
He reached the bottom the ladder.
"Max, wait," she called. "You don't understand."
He ran down the alleyway as fast as he could, into the night.
"Max!" he heard her wail behind him.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - West Roswell High, Monday, 11th March.

Max could scarcely move for people crowding him as he made his way from his car to his locker. Everyone wanted to see him, to touch him, to congratulate him. It was definitely intimidating; Max was frightened. The guys wanted to shake his hand, while the girls just wanted to get a close look at him, that and maybe the opportunity of a date. But he chose to ignore those blatant overtures. Everyone treated him like a conquering hero, even the members of the faculty. Everyone, that is, except Liz.
Between the two of them, it was as if a thick wall of ice had been erected. In the lessons they shared, where they had to work together, questions were short, and to the point. Answers were single worded. They both flinched from the slightest of touches. Liz made sure that she kept her hair loose, worn like a curtain between her and Max, shielding her features. The Soviet Union's 'Iron Curtain' could not have been a more imposing than the wall between Max and Liz. As soon as the lesson ended, Max was gone from his seat in an instant. Liz didn't even move. She just sat there, watching Max until he had gone, and then just stared until, with a heavy heart, she was the last to leave the room.

Lunchtime found Liz at one of the cement picnic tables, staring across the field at Max who was again sitting in a lonely vigil as far from other people as he could.
"Liz," she heard Maria call out as she approached the table. "We were kind of surprised to see you here today. How are you feeling?" The two girls shared an embrace.
"Oh... yeah, Maria," Liz started to speak, though her eyes were again fixed on Max. "You know, I've got so much work to catch up on. As you can see, I'm fine. Max saw to that."
"So, what's up, babe?" Maria caught the desperate tone in her voice.
"Max," Liz sighed, collapsing onto the seats. "He's pulling away from me."
Liz sat upright at her own comment. She had said that before. She shook her head.
"After he saved me that night," she spoke in a near whisper, "he healed me. The guys with the guns knocked us out. When I woke up, they hit me in the face. Right on my cheekbone. It felt like my head exploded. I couldn't even see out of one eye. Anyway, Max healed me, all of me."
"Okay, so this is not necessarily a bad thing," Maria admitted. "I mean, at least now he knows that you know. Right?"
"Yeah, except last night, he came to see me. Just like he did that time when I got shot. You know, to convince me that I didn't have to be afraid. I told him I already knew."
"Oh," was all Maria could say. "So how did he take it?"
"Badly," Liz groaned. "He thinks I'm playing games with his head, now. He hates me."
"Well, isn't this what you wanted?"
"I don't know, Maria," Liz cried. "I just don't know."
"Hey Liz," Kyle greeted his friends when he arrived. "Maria."
Both Liz and Maria said hello to him, but then fell silent. Kyle saw that Maria was carefully watching Liz. He looked to Liz and saw that she was staring across the field. He followed her gaze to see Max, sitting alone on the far side of the field.
"Your little adventure didn't bring you guys closer together this time?" he asked, putting two and two together.
Liz was quite shocked by Kyle's choice of words. Time. She realized that he was right. It was just like time was being replayed. That whatever happened to Max the first time around was happening to him again.
"So how did your date go, Kyle?" Maria asked, pulling Liz from her train of thought.
"It went well, actually," Kyle's smile was almost like a leer. "Until I found out she has a thing for Evans."
"What?" gasped Liz.
"You're kidding, right?" Maria demanded. "But then again, why am I not surprised. I mean, nearly every girl in the school has a thing for Max."
"Maria!" Liz scolded.
"If you don't believe me, Liz, just open your eyes," Maria smirked. "You'll see. Oh, there's Jenny Connors. I need to speak with her. Be right back."
"So how are you, really?" Kyle asked. "I mean, with the sickness thing too."
"Oh," Liz looked up. "You know, it hasn't happened for a while now, actually."
"Okay, that's good," Kyle nodded. "Now what about this Max thing."
"Things aren't going so good," Liz wanted to cry. "I even think he hates me now."
"Trust me, Liz," Kyle laughed. "Max could never hate you. Sure, he might say it. But he could never hate you."
"It's for the best." Was she trying to convince Kyle, or herself?
"Liz," Kyle asked. "If you could have one thing perfect in your life right now, what would you choose?"
"Max," Liz sighed, without the slightest hesitation.
"Then forget what Maria and the other's want. Go for it."
"I can't Kyle," Liz shook her head as rears pooled on her lids. "I just... can't"
Kyle swept Liz into a sympathetic hug. Across the field, Max looked up. His eyes grew dark and his mood grew sad when he saw Liz and Kyle's closeness.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Crashdown Café, Wednesday night, 13th March.

Michael sat on the sofa in the staff room at the back of the café, staring intently at the strange device that he had found in the remains of Max's body. It was still glowing a silvery red color.
"Hasn't your shift finished?" Maria asked as she entered the room with a cold soda.
Yeah," Michael grunted, his eyes fixed on the small item encased in glass. "I'm just taking a breather before I head on over to Meta-Chem."
She stared at Michael, looking closely at his face.
"What?" he asked, cleaerly irritated, looking up at her.
"Are you okay doing these two jobs, and school too?" Maria asked.
"Are you trying to get rid of me?"
"No, no," she shook her head, her eyes widening. "No, I meant, you know, are you... okay? I mean, can you cope with all this?"
"So what do you care?" he demanded.
"Well excuse me," Maria huffed. "Why do I even bother?"
"It was your idea, this 'we don't know you' stuff," Michael shrugged.
"Yeah, well," Maria sat down. "At the time, I thought it was for the best. But maybe... I was... um... wrong."
"Excuse me?" Michael jerked his head up. "Let me see if I have this straight. You, Maria DeLuca, admitting she was wrong?"
"I said 'might be," Maria snapped. "And I guess I was referring to the other's, cause why in hell anyone would want to know you beats me. What is that thing anyway?"
"I don't know," Michael shook his head. In a gesture of friendship, he handed it across to Maria. He wondered why it remained a steady red color, and not the sickly yellow it changed to when Isabel came near. "I found it in... the dust that Max's old body disintegrated into. It tried to bury itself in me, that's why I coated it in glass."
"It's a pretty color. What does it mean?"
"I don't know," Michael admitted. He rose from the sofa, and went towards the lockers to get his jacket.
"Oh," Maria sounded disappointed. "How do you turn it back on?"
"Huh?" Michael called, heading back towards Maria. "What was that?"
"I said, how do you turn it back...oh," Maria stared at the small device. "It went out a second ago. Now its back on."
"Went out?" Michael narrowed his eyes. "It didn't change color?"
"No," she shrugged. "It just went out, but then it came back on again."
"Keep watching it. Tell me when it changes," Michael urged. He started to walk away.
"Gone!" Maria called when Michael left the room. "It's back," she called as he re-entered the room."
"That is one stupid thing," Michael spat. "Do me a favor? Hang on to it for me? I don't want to take it to Meta-Chem with me."
"Sure, Michael," Maria called, looping the strip of leather Michael had it attached to over her neck.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell - Evans Residence, Wednesday night, 13th March.

"Liz!" Max exclaimed with surprise when he went to the window of his bedroom. He had heard knocking and assumed it to be Michael. "What... what are you doing here?"
"I came to see you, Max," she seemed nervous. "Can you come out... for a walk?"
"Sure," Max shrugged. Liz was pleased to hear that he had lost his anger. He even seemed... friendly again. She remembered Kyle's word. 'Max would never hate you.'
When Max climbed out through the window, they both started to walk towards the park. Liz resisted the urge to hold onto Max's hand.
"Did they... catch those... guys, Liz?" Max asked, giving a worried look around him.
"No," Liz shook her head. "That's why I have my shadow back there."
Max looked over his shoulder to see a deputy following them.
"But that's not why I called for you," Liz continued.
"I know," Max nodded with a sigh.
"What you said... the other night," Liz waved her hand. "It wasn't true, Max. I wasn't trying to... It was... I was..."
"I know, Liz," Max sighed. "It just... scared me. I mean...I've been so cautious... making sure no one... found out. But you. I've always wanted... to tell you. About me, I mean."
"I know, Max. You uh, told me all that before."
"How did you... find about me?"
"It was two and a half years ago, Max," Liz sat down on a bench. "Actually, you know what day you thought it was when you woke up the other week?"
"Uh, yeah. September 19th... right?"
"Yeah," Liz nodded. She twisted sideways so that she could look at Max, bringing her knees up and tucking one leg beneath her. "It was that day. Maria and I were working in the Crashdown, you and Michael were sitting in your usual booth." Her eyes went distant for a moment as a gentle smile played across her lips. "Anyway, there were these two guys. They started to fight. One of them pulled out a gun, and it went off. I was shot Max."
"What?" Max's eyes widened with terror.
"You healed me," Liz nodded. "In a room full of people, you risked everything and healed me. But you broke a ketchup bottle over me, to hide the blood. You asked me not to say anything, so I didn't. Later on, I cornered you at school and you admitted you were, you know." Liz pointed upwards. "I was scared then, Max. I mean, who wouldn't be? But not of you. Of what you said. It was only natural, right? But that night, you came to see me. You even said the exact same words you said to me on Sunday night. Only then, of course, I never stopped you. You made this reverse connection to me. I saw who you were, how you felt, and how you saw me." She blushed a little. "We started out as good friends, Max. But it was always more. So much more. You were always there for me. You were so good when my Grandma died."
"Oh, Liz," he reached over and touched her. "I'm so sorry."
Liz just nodded through the tears in her eyes.
"We went through some tough times. Like when Maria and I stopped you Michael and Isabel running away because we thought the sheriff was onto you. We helped to throw him off of your trail."
"So you knew... about...?"
"Michael and Isabel? Yeah. You told me. We had no secrets, Max."
"Wait. Maria knows?"
"Yeah," Liz smiled, remembering her friend's reaction. "But she's come through for us on any number of occasions. Anyway, Maria and Michael started a relationship... don't look like that, Max," she smiled at his reaction. "Yeah, they started dating. We tried too. You and I."
"We did?" Max looked stunned. He had formed a relationship with Liz? "Tried? You mean it didn't work out?"
"It did, Max," she smiled remembering. "It was everything I thought it would be and more. Every hug was electric. Every kiss was pure heaven. But then Michael got sick, and you took a step back."
"Oh," Max frowned.
"But we found our way together again. Eventually. I mean, there were always things in the way, like Michael filing for emancipation, and that. But eventually, we couldn't deny what there was between us, and we started seeing each other again. And it was magic, Max. Better than it was before. We saw things. We looked into each other's souls. Oh, you don't tolerate alcohol, so I should steer clear of that if I were you."
Max nodded. "So what... happened?" he asked in a sad voice.
"How do you mean?"
"I'm guessing from the way things have been between us since I woke up, that things... that it didn't... work out."
"Um, well," Liz paused. She didn't want to tell Max everything. "From then on, things got... bad, Max. Some things happened. We both did... things that we... regret." She looked up into Max's eyes. The light caught the tears that rimmed them. "You hurt me, Max."

Max emitted a choked sob.
"I'm so sorry, Liz," he whispered as tears trickled down he cheeks. "I must be... some kind of idiot to have hurt you, huh? You... you're the most... amazing... person I know, Liz. How did... someone like you... find herself attracted to a... a jerk... like me?"
She gave him a sad smile and just shook her head.
"Will you tell me what I did, Liz?" he asked in a tense whisper. "What went wrong? I... I need to know."
"I understand, Max," she sighed. "Really I do. And you deserve to know the truth. But I won't tell you. Because I... I feel about you in a certain way... too much to hurt you like that."
"Was I that bad?" he groaned.
"You have no idea, Max," Liz's smile was rueful. "And I'd like to keep it that way. I'm sorry."
"Don't be, Liz," Max groaned. "I... get the impression that during those two years, I was... not very nice.
"You had your moments, Max."

"So... where does that... leave us, Liz?" Max asked in earnest. "I mean... I've seen you with Kyle. Are you and him... together again?"
"No," she smiled with a gentle shake of her head. "Kyle's just a good friend. Incidentally, he knows too. So does Jim."
"What?" Max looked up, his face filled with concern.
"Yeah," Liz chuckled. "Jim has helped us out more than once. And then you also saved Kyle's life. He got shot too, and you healed him."
"Are they the only ones that know?" Max tried to absorb the information.
"Yeah," Liz shook her head. "Well, except for Alex. You remember Alex? We had to tell him, too. But he died last year."
"Oh Liz," he wiped away another tear, and then his head whipped up. "Was it something to do with me? What I am, I mean?"
"Who, Max, not what," Liz grabbed his arm. "It's 'who' you are," she insisted. "And yeah, it was related to you, kinda."
"So when they... asked you to... tutor me, why didn't you just say... no?"
"Because I was so glad to see you again," she admitted. "We thought we were going to... lose you."
"But why have the others... Michael and Isabel... Why have they been telling me... to stay away from you? I mean... if you already knew..."
"Maybe they're just scared, Max. Don't blame them, okay?" Liz pleaded. "I wouldn't want to be the reason you fell out with your... family."
"Liz, you don't have to... answer this, okay? I won't get... mad, or anything, but I... need to... know."
"Yeah?"
"Liz? Are you... still in... in love... with me?"

Liz couldn't speak. It seemed that her vocal chords had seized solid. Max had just asked her if she was still in love with him. What could she say to that? She could lie to him, and walk away, forever casting their hearts to the pits of despair, but both remaining safe. Or she could tell him the truth. That she had never stopped loving him. That in spite of the pain and the suffering he had caused her, she would always love him. To do that would be to risk more trouble coming their way. His eyes burned, but there was doubt in them too. He thought he knew her answer, but was so afraid that he would be wrong.
Liz just nodded.
"And... do you... want to get back... together with me?"
It was the same question, dummy, Liz screamed in her mind. How could she love Max and not want to be wrapped in his arms, to be kissed senseless? That was just what she wanted, but she knew only too well the consequences of their relationship.

Liz shook her head, looking down, away from Max. She didn't want to see the hurt that she knew would be reflected in his eyes. Neither did she want him to see that she was lying.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

End of Part 2 - Rennaisance Max.
Part 3 - Direction to follow.

Part 3 Chapter 1 Teaser:
"Hey!" she called. "What's the rush? Maybe we can go get a soda, or something."
"Can't," Max didn't even look at her. "I have... homework... to catch up on."


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 22-Feb-2002 3:38:43 PM ]
posted on 25-Feb-2002 4:44:43 PM by WR
Three more parts to post before my trip. As always, thanks for your feedback.

kayarra - Liz is keeping it from him only because she doesn't want to hurt him.

Lizzie Parker - Thanks. But as you saw - you get three more parts before I go.

BLS40 - You will not be disappointed. *wink* Thank you so much for your kind words of confidence.

AJK001 - Well, since Max healed Liz - that's when all the bad things started to happen. At least, she is concentrating on the bad, right now.

miji17 - Thanks you. You get a few more parts left. I will leave you all very happy! Trust me *wink*

RealSpaceCadet - I'll deal with the other two later *wink* But Max and Liz do belong together in my fics.

roswellluver - Could Max really stay angry at Liz? As for the rest - all in good time *happy*

SciFiNut111 - Yeah - we had this discussion in "Consequences", right? Was that another shameless nudge? *wink* In order for Liz to not reveal other things that occured, she had to validate her reason. "You hurt me." (which he did) was as good as any other. *happy*

JO - Hi. Nice to see you again. Thanks you.

LivE - So I succeeded? In making you like Max again? Wow. Praise indeed. Maybe some other posters on other sites should read this *wink*

frenchkiss70 - Thank you.

I always enjoy your comments, and always welcome them. Thank you for reading my stories, and I will do my best to maintain my standards that I have set for myself. *happy*



PART 3 - Direction

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Chapter 1:

West Roswell High, Thursday, 14th March.

Max threw his books into his locker, grabbed his lunch bag, and headed for the doors that would lead him out to the field... and solitude. As he slammed the door shut, and turned away, he ran straight into Maria.
"Hey, Max," she laughed, seeing the look of embarrassment on his face.
She knew about him, Max reminded himself. He looked away, not wanting to see what she thought of him. He couldn't bear that.
"Have you seen Liz?" she asked.
Max's embarrassment evaporated, to be replaced by a deep sadness. He shook his head.
"You know, Max," Maria placed her hand on his arm. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry for how everything turned out."
"It wasn't your fault, Maria," Max assured her, finally looking up at her. Why should she hate him, if she dated Michael? "I did this to myself, apparently."
"Well, you know, I am, whatever," Maria glanced around, unsure of what to say.
"Is that her over there?" Max pointed by the quad where he saw the back of a petite dark haired young girl talking to a large heavyset blonde guy that he had never seen before. He felt a stab of jealousy.
"Oh yeah," she smiled, following Max's arm. She turned back to him. "Thanks, Max. See you later."
As she turned to depart, Max caught sight of the strange device Michael had left with her, looped over her neck.
"Nice pendant, Maria," he smiled.
"Oh, it's only on loan," she replied, looking through the crowds.
"Nice color," he complimented. "I like that shade of purple."
"Purple?" Maria grabbed the pendant and held it up.
It was glowing a silvery purple color. She turned to speak to Max, but he was gone. She glanced down at the pendant to see that it had gone out again. Maria tucked it back under her shirt, and hurried over towards Liz.

"Liz!" Maria called as she ran up behind her dark haired friend. "Hey, Liz, I just spoke to..."
The girl turned around, but it was not Liz. She had the same build, the same long dark hair, but her face was more round, with more pronounced cheekbones. Her eyes were also blue, not brown.
"Oh," Maria jumped back. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I thought you were my friend, Liz."
"I'm not your friend, Liz, but I can be your friend, Lisa," the girl laughed. "I'm Lisa, Lisa Bowles."
The girl extended her hand, which Maria shook.
"I'm Maria," she smiled. "Maria DeLuca."
The tall blonde guy she was talking to was looking her up and down. Maria felt a little uncomfortable under such scrutiny, and fidgeted with the top button of her shirt.
"Easy, tiger," Lisa laughed, placing a hand on his chest. "Sorry about that Maria. This is my brother, Pete. We just moved in."
"Oh, well," she laughed. "Welcome to Roswell."
""Don't tell me any jokes about aliens," Lisa laughed, holding up her hand. "I had enough from the friends we just left."
"Okay, well. Look," Maria stammered, "I need to find a friend, okay? So I'll see you around, Lisa."

***

Max was so glad when the bell rang at the end of the day. Trying to ignore Liz all day had been difficult, just as it had been all week. He felt a little mean for behaving like this, but seeing her, knowing that she did not return his feelings was too hard. He wished that she had not come by to see him the other night. He slung his bag over his shoulder, and sauntered to his locker, where he collected the books he needed for that night's homework, and deposited the ones he didn't. Slamming the door shut, he made his way out through the main doors and across to the student parking lot.
"Liz," he exclaimed seeing her standing with her back towards him, by his car.
He felt both sad and elated at the same time.
She turned around, and Max saw right away that the girl was not Liz, just someone who looked like her.
"Sorry," Max mumbled. "I thought you were... someone else."
"Yeah," the girl smiled at him. "This Liz must be quite a popular person, judging from the number of people who have mistaken me for her. I guess she must go on a lot of dates, considering the number of guys that have come up to me."
"Oh," he grunted, climbing into his car. "Sorry."
"Hey!" she called. "What's the rush? Maybe we can go get a soda, or something."
"Can't," Max didn't even look at her. "I have... homework... to catch up on."
Max's car pulled out from the lot, leaving Lisa looking disappointed.
"You must be losing your touch," Pete chuckled as he walked up behind her. Better luck next time, Sis."
"Just shut up, and get us home," she barked.

***

"Who's Max talking to?" Liz asked as she looked over towards his car to see him talking to a dark haired girl.
"Oh," Maria nodded. "New girl. She and her brother just moved here. Her name's Lisa Bowles and she really looks like you, I mean really. Oh, and her brother is hot."
"Oh," was all the Liz could say. She sounded... disappointed.
"Well, it looks like Max has found a replacement," Maria teased with a laugh.
"That is so not funny, Maria!" Liz snapped. "And so shallow too. Just because someone looks like someone else doesn't make the person attracted to a person who was attracted to that someone else."
"Liz, I'm going to assume that you made sense with that sentence," Maria laughed. "But what are you talking about?"
"Max. He wouldn't be attracted to someone else just because she looks like me. In the same way that I wouldn't be attracted to Max if it wasn't really Max inside him. There is no way I would be attracted to him."
"Okay, okay, I was just teasing you Liz," Maria defended. The two of them climbed into Maria's Jetta. As they pulled out of the lot, one of the deputies pulled out to follow. "The sooner you get back with Max, the better."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Crashdown Café, Thursday evening, 14th March.

"Have I ever told you how much I hate Thursday nights?" Maria complained in the middle of the near deserted Crashdown.
"Yeah, you did," Liz confirmed as she busied herself with little tasks, trying to keep herself busy. "Last Thursday, the Thursday before that, in fact, every Thursday since we started working here."
"Doesn't it drive you insane?"
"You complaining about Thursdays?" Liz smiled. "Yeah, it does, actually."
"Ha ha!" Maria sneered. "No, Thursday night boredom."
"No," Liz shook her head and smiled. "I like it when it's quiet. I can do some thinking."
"Well, pardon me," Maria huffed. "I'll just let you get back to your Max daydreams."
Something caught Liz's eye.
"What's that?" she asked Maria, pointing at the leather strip that disappeared beneath her dress.
"Not sure," she shrugged. "It's Michael's. Something 'Czechoslovakian' he found when he tidied up... um... Max... that night."
"Oh," Liz's eyes dropped.
"Yeah, he can't figure out what it is, look."
Maria lifted the pendant out, and was surprised to see it glowing a rich silvery purple color.
"It did that before," she told Liz. "Normally, it just glows, like, a silvery red color when Michael is near. Maybe it glows purple for when Max is near."
The two girls looked around, expecting to see Max approaching the café. They could not see him anywhere.
"Oh well," Maria shrugged, tucking the pendant away. "So much for that theory."

***

Liz was wiping down the counter where a recent customer had spilled her coffee. She glanced up at the sound of the doorbell to see a dark haired girl, and a tall, very muscular blonde boy come in.
"That's her," Maria murmured through the side of her mouth. "New girl, Lisa, and her brother, Pete. Did I say he was hot?"
The newcomers sat at a table in her section, so Liz waited for them to look through the menu before she approached them.
"Hi," she smiled. "My name's Liz and I'll be your waitress tonight. Are you ready to order now?" She spoke in a manner that had become almost natural after years of repeating that phrase. Keep your hands off of Max, she added silently.
"I'll just have uh... a Will Smith burger, and a coke," the girl replied, folding her menu and replacing it in the holder.
"Me too," her brother added, copying her.
"So you're Liz," the girl smiled. "I'm Lisa, Lisa Bowles. I've heard, like, so much about you. People have been coming up to me all day, commenting on how much you look like me."
"Oh," Liz flashed a fake smile. "How nice."
"Yeah," her brother, Pete, added, flashing a too perfect smile with too perfect teeth. "You do look alike. I'd ask you out on a date except that it would be way too weird dating someone who could pass for my sister."
"Well, that's just as well then," Liz cast him only a cursory glance. "'Cause it wouldn't do you any good."
"Ah hah," Lisa laughed. "Too bad, Bro. Looks like Liz is taken. Who's the lucky guy, Liz?"
"Um," Liz ignored the question. "Is that everything?"
She turned to take their order to the kitchen, and then went and poured two cokes. She could feel both sets of eyes on her as she carried their drinks over, and as she returned to the counter where Maria joined her.
"I so do not trust her," Liz grunted as she rubbed the cloth into the counter top. "Or him."
"A little paranoid, Liz?" Maria asked.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Crashdown Café, Friday evening, 15th March.

Jeff was nervous as he stared at the phone, ringing in the Crashdown Café. He had heard nothing from the people interested in his mother's possessions since Liz's ordeal. Neither had the authorities found any trace of the culprits. He reached over, took a deep breath, and grabbed the receiver.
"Hello? Crashdown Café, Jeff Parker speaking."
"Hello, Jeff? Sheriff Hanson speaking. We're a bit under manned right now, and we have a rather large caseload. Listen, we have to pull the deputy assigned to watch your daughter, Liz."
"What?" Jeff demanded. He fought down a wave of fear. "You can't do that!"
"I'm sorry Jeff," the sheriff sighed. "We don't have a choice. I'm sure that if those guys were still around, they would have been in touch with you by now."
"What if they're just waiting? For something like this? What if they try and grab her again?"
"I really don't think that's going to happen. I believe that there is no threat to your daughter anymore."
"I'm not happy about this, Hanson!" Jeff barked. "I'll speak to your superiors about this."
"Yes sir, that's your prerogative. But in the meantime, you be sure to let us know if you see, or hear, any thing suspicious."
"You can count on that, Sheriff Hanson!" Jeff growled as he slammed the telephone handset in its cradle.

***

"Your dad seems to be in a bad mood, Liz," Maria commented in between serving the starving masses alien themed food.
"Yeah," she sighed. "I think he received some bad news today."
"Well, as long as he doesn't take it out on us," Maria shrugged.
"Don't they have a home to go to?" Liz demanded indicating Lisa and Pete sitting at one of the booths, eating their Venus Platters. "They're always in here. And have you noticed how they always sit in my section?"
"And how she seems to always be after Max?" Maria asked.
"Maria!" Liz chided.
"So," Maria smirked. "Talking of Max, how is he?"
"He doesn't meet me for our tutoring sessions anymore," Liz complained. "I think he's avoiding me."
"Does Max even need tutoring, Liz?"
"No," Liz shook her head. "But I miss him, you know? At least while I was tutoring him, we could be together, even though we couldn't 'be' together."
"Max will come round," Maria reassured her. "He did before, right?"
As though Maria's words were some kind of premonition, Max entered the café. Maria noticed Liz's face light up the second she saw him.
"Max!" Lisa called out. "Over here, join us."
Max glanced around the room, his eyes resting for a moment on Liz and then moved over to join Lisa as invited. Liz's smile faded.
Pete laughed as Max slid into the booth next to him.
"Three's a crowd," he smirked, and slid out of the seats the other side. "I'll see you later, Lisa."
He reached into his breast pocket, and pulled out some money as he approached Liz. He winked at her, handing over enough cash to cover his side of the check.
"You know," he smiled. "The more I look at you, the more I see that you two are not that much alike at all. I think I might be changing my mind. Perhaps I will ask you out."
"Oh," sighed Liz. "You know, I'm going to be kind of busy for a while."
"Uh huh," Pete smirked. "Until when?"
"Well," she looked towards the calendar. "In your case, till the end of this millennium."
She lifted her pad from her apron, and strode purposefully towards Max.
"Hey, Max," she greeted him in a cold, tight voice. "Can I get you anything?"
"Oh, hey, Liz," he smiled at her. "Could I get a Sigourney Weaver burger, and a Chocolate shake?"
"Yeah," Liz scribbled down Max's order.
"Uh, Liz?" he asked before she turned away. "Could I have that to go? I'm in, uh... kind of a hurry."
"Yeah, Max," she smiled again. She caught Max's hidden meaning. He didn't want to stay with Lisa. The sudden look of disappointment on Lisa's face was very rewarding. Max might be avoiding Liz, but he was avoiding the other girls as well. "I'll be as quick as I can."
Maria shook her head as Liz all but skipped to the kitchen with Max's order. She heard her beg Carlos to make this order his priority. What a roller coaster of a ride a relationship was with Max Evans.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Chapter 2 Teaser:
"Let it go, Michael," Isabel groaned. "She knows. He knows she knows. Face it, they're attracted to each other."

posted on 26-Feb-2002 3:25:44 PM by WR
Thnaks again for your comments. Overall, you will like this part, if o0nly for one thing. *wink*

BLS40 - Glad you liked it. Purple is indeed considered a regal color. *wink*

Lizzy Parker - I couldn't possibly comment. LOL

kayarra - Do you expect me to answer that? *wink*

AJK001 - Maybe Lisa and Pete are just my distractions? You know, red herrings?

JO - Thanks *happy*

RealSpaceCadet - Well, some answers for you tonight then. Not a complete answer, but answers. *wink*

roswelluver - They're getting closer!

Alien614 - Thank you *happy*

Lelea - More reasons to dislike Lisa tonight. And Liz...? and Max...? well, read and see

JBehrBabe - Everyone one a piece of Max! *wink* (except me, of course - lol)

Okay - something happens tonight you will all like. Really. You will. *bounce*

Wish You Were Here - Hmmmm.... Well, keep reading and you will find out. Welcome by the way, and thanks for your feedback.

Chapter 2:

Crashdown Café, Saturday lunchtime, 16th March.

The hardest thing that Max had to come to terms with, other than the idea of Liz knowing, and accepting his alien status, was his job at the UFO Center. How bizarre was that, he had wondered time and time again. After he had spent the morning dealing with the customers who came to act as voyeurs to the Roswell crash spectacle, he had escaped for his lunch. All common sense told him to eat elsewhere, but he could not bring himself to deny just one look at Liz. She was like a drug to him. With a heavy sigh, he crossed the street. As he entered the café, he gave a nervous glance around the room.
From the window in the door to the backroom, Liz saw his reluctance to enter. She decided that he was checking to see if she was on duty, trying to avoid her. She gave a sad shake of her head. Max walked up to the counter, to wait for someone to serve him. Liz marched straight through the door and up to Max with a casual deliberateness.
"Hey Max," she called to him. "Can I get you something?"
She saw the small smile play across his lips. Perhaps she was wrong. Perhaps he had been checking to see if Lisa was there. Maybe he was avoiding Lisa, and not her.
"Um... yeah," Max stammered. "Could I... uh, have the uh... Armageddon special? With a... cherry coke. To take out, please."
"Yeah, Max," she wrote down his order. "Sure." She paused, and looked up at him. "Max? Are you in some kind of rush?"
"Uh, no," Max shook his head. "Not especially."
"It's just that I was about to take my break," she explained. "I was wondering. Would you mind eating in? With me? You know, I've hardly seen you all week, and I'd... I'd kinda like to talk to you."
"Oh," Max nodded with a faint smile. "Okay, yeah."
"Good," Liz smiled. "You go sit down, I'll bring our drinks over."
Max walked over to an empty booth, and sat down. He watched Liz as she slid her order to the cook, no doubt asking to make this one up next and then went to pour their drinks. She had a fresh bottle of tobasco sauce with her when she returned.
"So, how are you doing, Max?" she asked.
"Fine," Max nodded. "Thanks. You?"
"I'm okay, Max," she looked around the room before returning her gaze to Max. "The thing is, Max," she continued, a little subdued. "It feels as if you're freezing me out. You know? Like you're deliberately avoiding me."
"I'm so afraid of hurting you again, Liz," Max sighed after a quiet moment or two. "So it's easier to hurt myself and stay away from you."
"I'm not made of porcelain, Max."
"I don't want to hurt you," he reiterated with a whisper, the pain etched in his face.
"Your absence hurts me," she admitted, looking down at the table.
The other waitress brought over their meals and silence descended upon the young pair as they ate. While Liz thought of the current situation, she made a decision.
"Max," she looked up, her eyes burning with determination. "Would you like to catch a movie tonight?"
"With you?" Max could not hide his surprise.
"Yeah," she smiled. "You and me."
"Uhm, yeah," Max grinned. "I'd love to."
"Great, Max," she grinned back. "What haven't you seen yet?"
"Pretty much everything is uh, new, to me, Liz."
"Oh, yeah," she blushed. "Sorry. Hey, I know. How about 'The Lord of the Rings'?"
"They finished that now?" Max widened his eyes. "I loved that book. Yeah, I would love to see it with you, Liz."
"Okay," she laughed. "How about you pick me up at seven?"

***

With a huge smile plastered on her face, Liz watched Max leave the Crashdown, with a backward glance over his shoulder as he left. She just knew that he was smiling as broadly as she was.
"Way to go, Liz," Maria approved, coming up behind her friend and placing her hand on her friend's shoulder. "At last, you're standing up for what you want."
The smile died on Liz's lips when she saw Lisa appear, attracting Max's attention.
"I don't know why, Maria, but seeing her with Max makes me feel really uncomfortable."
"That's easy, babe," Maria smirked. "You are so in love with him."
"So why doesn't it bother me when other girls talk to him?"
"I really can't answer that, but you know that Max isn't interested in her, right?"
"Oh, yeah," Liz nodded. "You can tell from his body language that he doesn't want to talk to her. He's just being... Max."
"Well, as she's heading this way, why don't you ask her why she makes you... nervous? Hey Lisa."
"So Max tells me you two are going out tonight," she glared at Liz.
"Uh, yeah," Liz nodded. "Max and I are old friends."
"Yeah," sneered Lisa. "I heard."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Liz demanded.
"Only that I've heard your history," Lisa gave a phony smile. "I heard how you took off for Florida out of the blue for the whole summer. I bet you were popular on the beach that year, huh? And then you come back and sleep with his friend? Nice touch. And then there's this latest little trip of yours. Know what I heard? I heard you had an abortion. Great relationship you have there, Liz. Why don't you just leave him alone?"

"What was all that about?" Maria asked when Liz returned with Lisa's order.
"She was just pointing out the mean things that I've done to Max," Liz sniffed. She had tears in her eyes.
"Oh come on, Liz," Maria affirmed. "Max already forgave you for those, and he would do again if he ever got his memory back."
"Do you think I'm good enough for Max?" Liz demanded of her best friend.
"Well," Maria answered after a moments thought. "Max wants to be with you. If you're who Max wants, then yeah. You're good enough. In fact, you are perfect for him."
"Thanks, Maria," Liz replied, giving her friend a hug. "Oh, and then she asked me where Max and I were going tonight."
"You never told her?" Maria stared at her. "You know she's going to turn up and cause trouble for you."
"Of course I told her, Maria," Liz confirmed with a straight face. "I told her that Max is taking me bowling."
"I thought I heard you mention 'Lord of the Rings.' They aren't showing that film at any bowling alley."
"Yeah," Liz's eyes sparkled with mischief. "I know that."
"Ooooo, Liz!" Maria laughed. "You are so sneaky!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

UFO Center, Saturday afternoon, 16th March.

Max found that dealing with the obnoxious customers and their never ending stream of inane questions was more than tolerable that afternoon. Suddenly, the question 'Did they really look like that?' wasn't irksome, and 'Did they give us the Stealth technology?' was not irritating. He answered each and every question with a big smile. But in spite of his good mood, or perhaps because of it, Max found it difficult to concentrate. Naturally, he was thinking about his date with Liz. Of course, it would be foolish of him to read too much into the fact that she asked him, but he still loved the idea of a date with his dream girl, Liz, even if he was no longer her dream guy. He hoped that he would have the strength to resist doing something stupid, like wrapping his arm around her. But seeing that the film was one he wanted to watch, he guessed that he might actually be engrossed in the film, rather than the company. A strange trickling sensation tingled up and down his spine. It was almost like... yes; someone was watching him. It was not the pleasant sensation he might get if he thought Liz was watching. This was more like someone unpleasant, someone Max would not want to deal with. The memory of the ordeal with Liz swept over him. Max looked around, but could see no obvious signs that someone had eyes only for the employee and not the exhibits.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Crashdown Café, Saturday afternoon, 16th March.

Maria and Liz were both surprised when they saw Isabel come into the Crashdown. They had not seen Max's sister, other than glimpses across the street since that night they had taken Max to Meta-Chem. She slid into the booth, looking little different to the days when she was the unmarried 'Ice-Princess.' The two young girls exchanged looks, especially since Isabel had chosen an empty booth in Liz's section. Moments later, Kyle came in. He nodded at both Maria and Liz and, after a moments hesitation, walked over to Isabel.
"Mind if I sit here?" he asked.
"Hey, Kyle," Isabel looked up from the menu smiling. "How are you? Was that Louise Durgan I saw you with the other night?"
"Yeah," Kyle blushed. "We got a thing going, you know."
"So tell me," her eyes twinkled with mischief. "Did any of the alien benefits rub off on you, so to speak?"
"Um," Kyle's blush rose deeper. He shook his head. "No, it seems to be only with an... alien that that particular... benefit occurs."
"Mmm, hmm," Isabel smirked.
"So how have you been?" Kyle asked shifting the topic away from him. "I haven't seen you in a while."
"I've been spending some time with Jesse," she smiled.
"That's good," Kyle nodded.
"Seeing as there's no emergency, you know, no FBI alien hunts, no homicidal aliens..."
Her voice trailed away as Michael entered the Café. He glared at Isabel for a moment and then joined them
"Hi, can I get you guys anything yet?" Liz interrupted.
She took their orders, exchanged a few pleasantries with Isabel and Kyle before going to get their drinks. Michael gave her one of his 'get out of here' stares.
"I see you're as rude as ever," Isabel pointed out to Michael.
"I have to work with her," he shrugged. "I can make nice later."
"She looks a lot happier," Kyle smiled, watching Liz as she almost danced around behind the counter.
"She should be," Maria winked as she walked past them with the empty plates from the next table. "It's because she's going out on a date tonight... with Max."
"What?" all three demanded, but only two of them smiled.
"What the hell are they playing at?" barked Michael.
"Let it go, Michael," Isabel groaned. "She knows. He knows she knows. Face it, they're attracted to each other."
"We'll see about this," Michael grumbled, starting to rise from his seat.
"If you do anything to sabotage Liz's happiness, Michael," Maria hissed in his ear as she placed her hand on his chest and pushed him back down. "I will tell Max everything that happened these past two and half years, including your ass hole behavior. Full glorious Technicolor detail."
"I have a few things to add, too," Isabel stared at Michael through narrowed eyes.
"What's that glow under your dress, Maria?" Kyle asked, pointing at a yellowish glow shining through her pale green dress. Maria pulled out Michael's pendant.
"I've never seen it that color before," she wrinkled her nose. "Eww."
They all looked at the sickly yellow colored glow emanating from the small device.
"It was that color when Isabel and I were looking at it," Michael commented.
"What is it?" Kyle asked, looking closely at it.
"We don't know," Michael admitted. "I found it in the dust that Max's body decomposed to. It glows either red or this sickly yellow color."
"Or its clear," added Maria. "No wait, the other day? It was purple."
"Purple?" both Isabel and Michael exclaimed.
"Yeah, first when Max was near. He saw it and said it was a nice color. Then later, it turned purple again, but we couldn't see Max."
"We?" Michael asked.
"Yeah, Liz and I. It's really weird, huh?"
"Yeah," Michael and Isabel exchanged a strange look.

***

"So when it's just Michael or Isabel, on their own, it glows this red color," Liz confirmed. "But when they're together, it's a yellow color. If you are with Michael, it's red, but when it's just you it's clear. Is that right?"
"Yeah," Maria nodded. "And when Max was with me, it was purple."
"And it was purple the other night when Max wasn't here."
"That's right."
"Well, we need to conduct an experiment," Liz considered. "We need to see what permutations arise."
"You and your plans," Maria grinned.
Liz shrugged.
Using the backroom to ensure privacy, Liz conducted a series of tests to see what color the small device glowed with which combinations of people. When the device was with Maria and Kyle, on their own, or with each other, the device was clear. With Isabel, or Michael on their own, or with Maria or Kyle, the device glowed a silvery red color. With Liz, whether alone or with Maria or Kyle, it glowed a rich purple. When Isabel and Michael were together, the color changed to a sickly yellow, and whenever Liz was with either of the aliens, or both, the color changed to a sickly puce color.
"I wonder why Liz made it glow the same color as Max?" Maria wondered out loud.
"Easy," Isabel replied. "He healed her. That would explain their connection."
"Maybe," Liz considered. "But then why doesn't Kyle make it turn purple?"
"I wonder if his dad has any effect," Maria added.
"We can ask him," Kyle pointed out. "Here he is now."
A repeat run of the experiment proved fruitless; Jim had the same effect as Maria and Kyle, no effect at all.
"Liz," Michael ordered. "Take the pendant on your date tonight, see what happens."
"No way, Michael," Liz shook her head. "It's a date, not a science experiment."
"This might be important," Michael growled. "You owe us..."
"I don't owe 'you' anything, Michael," Liz stood up to him. "Max will think I only asked him on this date to do this experiment. If you want this information, you ask him yourself. I won't do that to him. He's the one I owe."
She handed the pendant back to Michael.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Chapter 3 Teaser:
"I know I don't have to, Liz," Max murmured in a voice that turned her insides to jelly. "I want to."
posted on 26-Feb-2002 3:29:59 PM by WR
which you just missed *wink*

thanks for your comment. yeah - Lisa is bad news.
posted on 27-Feb-2002 3:20:53 PM by WR
LivE - I am so sorry! I forgot to respond to your feedback in the last chapter! Now I feel bad. [frown] To answer your question, yes, I am mimicking the way JB speaks (or rather spoke) as S1 Max. *wink* It's a conscious effort to make you think of him as he was then. (once again, I'm sorry.)

roswelluver - And such a good film too. *happy* Lots of symbolism.

Lizzy Parker - You're glad Max and Liz are going out, but you would rather she conduct an experiment than make out? *wink* Hmmmm....

BLS40 - Thank you, I think. *wink* I try to maintain the same size for all my parts. Sorry if they seem short.

kayarra - After tonight's chapter, do you still think I'm mean? LOL

cyanzee2 - Well - tonight should restore Liz's grace further. *happy*

AJK001 - Seems you all want to know Lisa more. *wink*

frenchkiss70 - closer and closer! *happy*

Lelea - I could give you the chapter that explains the pendant, or... I could give you thid chapter. Which would you have preferred? LOL

SciFiNut111 - I can see that I need to get more sneaky. *wink*

TabascoLiz - Hi. Glad to see you here. You like Lisa and her brother too, huh? *wink*

LivE - LOL (didn't forget you this time *happy* ) - Don't worry. I can't leave Max in the dark fo too long! *wink*

Alien614 - I think the movies will be truly revealing! *happy*



BTW-
I fly out tomorrow afternoon and return overnight, Wednesday 6th March. Jet lag permitting, I should post the next part Thursday 7th.

Thank you for your feedback again. Now, if you liked last night's chapter, you will love tonight's. I hope you enjoy the conversation.


Chapter 3:

Crashdown Café, Saturday night, 16th March.

"Hey, Max," Liz greeted him at the door to their apartment above the café.
"Hey, Liz," Max smiled.
He thought she looked good in her jeans, and a white sweatshirt. He pushed her hair back from her face, and gave her a look of affection. His face fell when he sensed that she was nervous.
"Are you okay with this, Liz?" he asked. He was worried that she was regretting asking him for this date. "If you want, we can just..."
"No, no, Max," Liz placed her hand on Max's chest. She realized what had happened, what he had sensed. "It's not that. It's just that the deputy that was assigned to look out for me, you know, in case those... just in case. The deputy has been taken off the case. I'm just a little..."
"Worried?"
"Yeah," she looked up at him. "Just a little."
"Liz," Max took her hand in his. "I promise you that nothing will happen to you while you're with me. I'll protect you with my life."
"You don't have to do that," she shook her head, never once losing eye contact.
"I know I don't have to, Liz," Max murmured in a voice that turned her insides to jelly. "I want to."
Liz's smile was electric.

***

Maria stood up from the table she was cleaning and stretched, holding her hands flat against the small of her back.
"Oh," she groaned, "Who volunteers to work Saturday night when they should be off? I need a life."
The bell above the door rang out drawing Maria's attention. Lisa and Pete entered, not looking terribly happy. They didn't sit in a booth, as they normally did, but approached Maria.
"Do you know where Liz is?" Lisa asked, trying to make it sound casual.
"Uh, yeah," Maria nodded. "She's on a date, with Max."
"Yeah," Lisa sneered. "I knew that. We'd arranged to meet them at the bowling alley, only they never showed up."
"Oh, well, you know Max and Liz," Maria smirked. "When they get together, no one else exists."
"That's not what I heard."
"Oh yeah?" Maria looked up. "What did you hear?"
"I heard that she'd hooked up with some ex-con, and that Max was all over some blonde."
"Well, I guess they just need to realize that they were wrong, that they did belong together."
So where did they go?"
"I don't know," Maria lied. "Maybe they went out to Buckley Point for a bit of privacy. They see fireworks when they make out.."
"No, we checked there."
"Well, I don't know where else to suggest."
"I guess we'll just hang out here till they come back."
"Okay," Maria sighed. "Can I get you anything?"
Having placed their orders with Maria, Lisa and Pete went to an empty booth at the back of the café.
"What was all that about?" Isabel asked, having just entered the Crashdown.
"Well, it seems that Lisa there, new girl, has an interest in Max, while her brother has the hots for Liz."
"Please," Isabel shook her hair. "Like either of them stand a chance. The only way that Lisa could get Max to give up on Liz is if she had Tess's warping abilities."
"You had to mention her, didn't you?" Maria shook her head with disgust, throwing her arms in the air. "Ugh"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell Cinema - Saturday night, 16th March


"That was great," Liz enthused as she left the movie theatre with Max. "Obviously they had to change things a little, but overall, I was so impressed."
"Yeah," Max agreed with a smile. "I really enjoyed it. It would have been fun to see what they would have done with the Old Forest and Tom Bombadil."
"I think that people who hadn't read the book would find that boring, Max," Liz laughed. "I mean, I found that part of the book slow, so I can't imagine how it would have worked in the film."
"Maybe," Max agreed. "I was also disappointed that they made Merry and Pippin accidental members of the fellowship, rather than the friends who had planned all along to follow Frodo, no matter where he went, out of loyalty and friendship."
"Max," Liz was quiet. "I'm sort of an accidental member of your fellowship. I mean, if I hadn't been shot..."
"No, Liz," Max hushed her. "Having you in my life was no accident. It was fate, Liz. You were meant to be part of my fellowship, by hook or by crook."
"Thank you, Max," Liz gave a bright smile. "You always seem to say... the right thing."
"Um," Max seemed a little embarrassed. "So what did you like about the film, the changes they made, I mean."
"I like how they made it so that it was Arwen who found them in the wilds," Liz's eyes sparkled with an intense passion. "Rather than having Glorfindle, you know? It emphasized Arwen's importance to the whole mythology, not only to the story, but to Aragorn too. I think if Tolkien knew how to write romance, that's how he would have written it."
"I know we're not together," Max mumbled, "like Aragorn and Arwen, but I believe that you are my 'Evenstar,' Liz. My Arwen Undomiel."
Liz stopped, and looked at Max, a fierce light burning in her eyes. She gave a soft laugh at his shy smile.
"So are you saying that you're Aragorn, then?" she asked with a mischievous smile.
"Well, in a way, I guess I am," he nodded.
"Yeah," she agreed. "You know? You're right. I mean, they both came from different worlds. She's an elf and he's human. She gave everything up for him."
Max started to tighten his muscles. He was feeling very awkward, uncomfortable.
"I don't want you to give up anything for me, Liz," he sighed. "I don't want..."
"But what if I want to?" she demanded. "Arwen had the choice. I'd like to have that choice too."
They both fell into an uncomfortable silence.
"So what role does Michael play?" Liz asked, breaking the awkwardness between them.
Max gave it some thought.
"Both Legolas and Gimli," Max laughed.
"Are you saying that Michael is schizophrenic?" she giggled.
"It's just that Michael has this stubborn, tough exterior. You know? He's seen as being hard and gruff, a battler, a warrior. But he has this whole other side that he's afraid to show."
Liz started to laugh.
"What?" he asked.
"Are you sure that that he isn't Smeagol and Gollum?"
Max's laughter mixed with Liz's.
"Yeah, Michael makes a good Gollum." He started to laugh harder. "Wait, wait," he tried to speak. "Would that make Maria his 'Precious?'"
Liz too started to laugh more. Together they started to make funny 'gollum' sounds at the back of their throats.
"Where's my precious," Max hissed, trying to do his best Gollum impersonation. "He's got our precious and we wants it."
They carried on walking, only their laughter breaking the silence.
"So who would your Gandalf be, Max?"
"I don't know," Max shook his head after a few moments thought. "I don't really have one. Unless you could have two roles. You are a good guide, Liz, and a great mentor. I really don't know where I'd be, what I'd do without you."
In the darkness, Liz flushed with pleasure.
"What role would Isabel play?" Liz asked at length.
"I'm not sure," Max answered in a near whisper.
For some reason, Max felt nervous.
"Well, one things for sure," Liz announced, trying to lighten the mood. "Kivar would definitely be Sauron."
"Who's Kivar, Liz?" Max asked looking at Liz with a confused look.
Liz bit her bottom lip, mentally cursing herself for her stupid slip.
"He's, uh, the reason why you're here, Max. He's your enemy."
"Enemy?" Max asked. "Liz..."
"Max, I am so sorry I let that slip out," Liz interrupted. "I didn't want to say anything about all this. I wanted to just have a fun date with you. Like we were an ordinary couple."
"You're right Liz," he nodded. "The date has been a good one, and I won't spoil it with my curiosity. You can tell me another time."

As they walked in silence, Max suddenly realized that he was holding Liz's hand. He thought back, trying to think at what point he had taken her hand in his. Realizing that Max had just made the discovery of a fact that she had been only too aware of for ages now, she looked up into his eyes and smiled. She gave his hand a reassuring squeeze to let him know that it was okay.
"Do you want to get a drink, Max?" she asked, bringing her free hand around so she held his in both of hers. "It was rather a long film, wasn't it?"
"Yeah," he grinned. Any extra time with Liz was good. "I'd like that."
"Not the Crashdown, though," Liz shook her head.
They walked over to one of the fast food joints.
"It doesn't have much of an atmosphere, Max," Liz apologized as they sat down with the drinks they had ordered from the counter.
"That's okay Liz," Max shrugged.
When they were together, Max and Liz created an atmosphere all of their own. The rest of the world might as well not exist.
"So you enjoyed the film?" Max asked,
"Yeah," Liz smiled. "Thank you."
"No, Liz, thank you," Max took her hands in his, gazing with affection into her eyes.
They ignored the whispered comments from the kids that they knew from school and the sniggers from those they didn't. It was just Max and Liz and it was just like old times.
"I'd better get you home," Max sighed, his reluctance obvious.
"Is that what you want to do?" her eyes sparkled.
"No," Max shook his head.
"So what do you want to do?"
"I want to keep you with me, all night. To talk to you... to look at you. But I know that if I don't... get you home... things are gonna... change."
"How's that, Max?" she asked, leaning dangerously close to him.
"I'm going to want to hold you tightly, run my fingers through your hair... and kiss you."
"Is that all?"
"For now," he growled. His stomach was rumbling. What was she doing to him? "It would be more than enough."
"So instead, you'd rather take me home?" her laughter was full of mischief.
"No," Max shook his head again. "If I... want your dad to let me... see you again... I'd better... keep on his... good side."
Liz started to laugh. "Right now, Max. You couldn't do a thing wrong."
"Wanna bet?" asked Max. "If I kept you out all night, I would be in the same category as... as... a cockroach."
Liz started to laugh uncontrollably.
"What? What's so funny?"
"I just had this image of you changing into a cockroach," she laughed. "Just like in 'Men in Black.'"

***

"Wouldn't the front door be better?" Max asked when he had escorted Liz to the ladder that led up to her balcony.
"Probably," Liz nodded. "But, you know, there's no need to let everyone know what time we got back. Besides, we can take our time saying goodnight."
"Would... you like to do... this... again?" Max started to flush, he hoped Liz couldn't see it on his face. "Go out, I mean... as friends."
For just a moment, her eyes misted over, but they then became clear as she came to a major decision.
"No, Max," she shook her head. "I don't think going out as friends would work."
"Oh," Max mumbled. He was so very disappointed. Max wanted to hurry away now, find somewhere quiet to let his heart cry. "Yeah, I understand."
"Not when I'd rather date you properly," she smiled. "As my boyfriend."
Max looked up sharply. A huge grin split his face.
"Really?" he asked, while his heart was flipping somersaults.
"Yeah," she held his arm. "But one condition."
"Anything," he had to remind himself to breathe. He couldn't believe that Liz wanted him for a boyfriend.
"We take it slowly, okay, Max?" she asked in a tentative voice. "Like we're an ordinary, normal couple."
Liz reached up to Max's face and gave him a gentle kiss on his lips. For a split second, Max looked surprised. But then his surprise was replaced by desire. He wanted to kiss Liz. He pulled her to him, wrapping one arm around her waist while his other drifted towards her head, his hand weaving into her shiny dark, hair. Their lips met, a mere gentle touch at first. They pressed together, their lips mashing against each other. Max opened his mouth, and trapped her lip. He caressed it, suckled at it. Liz gave a soft whimper, and started to retaliate, trying to capture Max's lips in hers. Their tongues darted forwards to meet each other. Max groaned, pulling Liz harder into his body. Liz sighed, feeling herself melt into Max. Her hands slipped underneath Max's shirt, caressing his back. Max reciprocated by sliding his open hand onto the smooth, warm skin of Liz's back.
"I thought..." Max gasped, still kissing Liz, "that you wanted it... slow. You know... ordinary... normal."
"I know..." Liz replied, still devouring Max. "What's so... great... about... normal?"
And then they were embraced in a single kiss. It was a kiss that burned them to their very souls, sending tingles of passion from the tips of their toes to the tops of their heads. It was as if their spirits had left their bodies, and were now watching them below, passionately making out. The images came at once. Images of them as children stealing shy peeks at each other, Liz surrounded by her friends, Max by his loneliness. Growing up, still watching each other, Max hating every moment that another boy spoke to Liz, Liz wondering why Max would never speak to her. Into high school, and Max's disappointment at her dating Kyle, Liz wishing every moment she spent with Kyle was with another dark haired young man. To the present, where Max was so unsure, so frightened that he had done too much to ever know what this moment would feel like, while Liz struggled to put the past behind her, and find herself in the only place she wanted to be, here in Max's arms. Then they shared a strange image. Someone was looking at the pods, four of them, each still containing the small being inside that would one day develop into Michael, Isabel, Tess and Max. The being held a hand up to the small Max, affectionately touched the pod, and then floated away from them. It didn't use the door; it seeped through the rocks and out into the dark night. There was a sense of flying as the desert passed beneath them. In the distance, they saw lights glowing in the night sky. An unfamiliar town came into view, the main road guarded by a giant statue of a cowboy, all lit up with neon tubes and his face painted over in a green alien face, complete with black almond shaped eyes. It welcomed them to 'Marlboro Country.' They followed a main road that looked vaguely familiar, through town and into the center. They hovered by a squat, square building with a green and white awning sticking out from the wall. They floated towards the awning, over the top of it and through an open upstairs window. Inside, they heard exhausted voices panting in the darkness.
"I love you," gasped one voice.
"I love you too," groaned the other.

"Max!" gasped Liz. "What... what was that?"
"You saw it too?" Max looked confused. He shook his head. "I... I don't know Liz. Does it bother you? Do you want to talk about it?"
"Later, Max," Liz smirked, and leaned up for another amazing kiss. There were no more strange sensations, no strange images, but it still felt good.
A loud voice just behind them shocked them both back to reality.
"And, CUT!" a man bellowed.
Max twisted so that Liz was behind him, and he was ready to... he knew he was about to put up an enegry shield, but where had he learned that?
A shorter man, bald and wearing a long, dark coat emerged from the darkness into a pale ring of light. He wore dark glasses, though how he could see through them at this time of the night was beyond Max.
"Who are you?" Max demanded, hoping that Liz would not feel his fear. Not for him, but for her.
"Why, Max?" the man sounded offended, hurt. He removed his glasses and folded them into an inside pocket on his coat. "You don't remember your old friend, Kal Langley?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Chapter 4 teaser:
Seeing that I will be gone for a week, I could have been nasty, *angel* but I decided against it. You are all far to nice! *happy* So instead, here is a hint of things to come:
"I know," he looked down at the ground. "A part of me doesn't ever want to know what I did to you, Liz." he told her. "But I have to know so I can protect you, protect us."

Thanks for reading, everyone. See you soon. Take care.
Wayne(WR)
*happy*
posted on 7-Mar-2002 3:42:20 PM by WR
Hi everyone! I'm safely back from my trip. I had a great time, Boston is a nice place. Now I can say "I went to Harvard!" *wink* Well, I hope that you are all ready to contine with my story.

Thank you for all your feedback. Please forgive me for not responding individually, but I am rather tired, having arrived home only this morning. I would guess that you would rather read the next chapter, than my responses, eh? *wink* BTW - How would you have felt if I left you with THIS part? *wink*


Chapter 4:

Crashdown Café, Saturday Night, 16th March.

"I'm sorry," Max didn't drop his defensive pose. "Do I know you?"
"Max, Max, Max," the man sounded so condescending. "And here I was thinking how you would be pleased to see me."
"Max," Liz hissed behind him. "He's a shapeshifter. He's one of you."
"A shapeshifter?" Max asked over his shoulder.
"Yeah, I'll explain later." She then called out to Langley. "Max had an accident, he's got amnesia. I'm sorry, Mr Langley, but he won't remember you."
"I see," he sneered. "But he remembers you."
"Not everything," Liz answered in an almost inaudible voice.
"Actually," Langley shrugged, "I know. I know all about it."
"Uh huh," Liz nodded. "How do you know, Mr. Langley?"
"Because of this," he held his hand up, and a bright yellow light blinded Max and Liz. When the light faded, it was no longer Kal Langley that stood before them, but...
"Dr. Friedman?" the two teenagers gasped.
"What was that?" Max asked, his eyes wide, his nostrils flaring. "What just happened here?"
"You wore gloves," Liz nodded in understanding. "To stop me seeing you."
"You'll have to tell him," Langley spoke to Liz.
"What?" she shook her head looking terrified.
"Tell him what happened," he urged. "From start to finish. Everything."
"No," her fear had changed to determination. "I can't hurt Max like that. I won't!"
"You have to, little girl," he urged. "If you want to lose Max, then fine. You keep him in the dark like that. There are other ways he can find out. Ways that will take him further away from you by bringing out his alien side. But if you want Max to stand up to his enemies, to be strong, yet remain human, he needs you to tell him what happened. He needs to know the truth. There is only one person that he would believe."
"And that's you, Liz," Max confirmed, turning to look at her. "I know that what I did hurt you. I know that it will hurt you again to tell me. But if this man is right, if this gives me a chance of staying with you... Liz, I'm willing to suffer any pain for you. Please?"
"It's not pretty, Max," Liz warned. Was she strong enough to tell him?
"I know," he looked down at the ground. "A part of me doesn't ever want to know what I did to you, Liz." he told her. "But I have to know so I can protect you, protect us."
She looked up at him, wiped her eyes, and nodded.
"Okay, Max," she whispered. She took a deep breath. She didn't want to do this, but they were right. What if one of Max's enemies told him what had happened, but gave a different slant on it? They could make it sound like it was she who was the villainess. "Remember I told you that when we got back together, that it was magic?"
"Yeah," Max nodded.
"Well, it was just after then that three people came to town. The first was Ms. Topolski. We thought she was just a substitute teacher, but we found out later that she was an FBI agent, sent to find evidence against you. But we exposed her, and she was pulled off the case. She came back later to warn us that the Alien Hunting unit was in Roswell."
Max shuddered.
"And then there was...Nacedo and... Tess..."

***

She told him everything. The fight with Michael when he had taken the orb they had found to meet with Topolski and about Jim Valenti making overtures of peace. She made him squirm over how she saw Max kissing Tess, and how they found out later that she was an alien, like him, and that Nacedo was a shapeshifting alien that had been killing people up and down the country since the crash. She let him know how Tess kept claiming that she was his destiny, but how Max had resisted. He was horrified by Nacedo's attempt to lure the Special Unit into a trap using Liz as bait, and he was visibly pale when she told him about his capture and imprisonment in the white room. From there it got worse. Destiny, he and Liz breaking up, Future Max and her apparent infidelity with Kyle. Copper Summit and the Skins, duplicate versions of the four aliens, a summit in New York, some alien presence that could have wiped out the world. Their heart breaking prom, Alex's death, and Max's final and ultimate betrayal of her. As if that wasn't bad enough, Tess had been actively seeking to betray him all along, and had fled back to Antar with his son; Max having remained behind only after Liz had discovered that Tess had killed Alex. Liz had shown remarkable strength and courage throughout those missing two and a half years, but none more so than when he started to seek a way to save his son, with her help. Finally, she told him of her strange illness and her flight to escape him, ending up with his attempt to heal the old man, Wheeler, and his original bodies death.

From the look on his face, it was obvious that Max had just been... destroyed. Liz wanted to hold him, but she knew that if she went to him right now, he would reject her. She knew Max well enough to know that he was at that moment deciding how far from Liz he should run to stay away from her, to make sure that he never caused her any pain again. Liz had seen so much emotion on Max's face in the past - the look on his face when he believed that she had just been intimate with Kyle came to mind - but she had never seen him like this before. Raw would be the only word to use. He stumbled backwards until his back hit the wall. Max slid to the ground, his knees folding up. He wrapped his arms across his knees, hid his face in them, and started to weep. Liz started to move to him now, unable to stand seeing him is such pain. Langley placed his hand on her shoulder. He simply shook his head when she looked up at him. They stood in silence, letting the wave of emotion wash over Max.
"So I'm... I'm... not... really Max?" he asked in a hoarse whisper. "I'm not the guy you fell in love with? Not the one who shared those magic moments with you?"
"You are, Max!" she assured him, but she could see from the look in his eyes that he didn't believe her. She ignored the restraining hand now, and flew to his side. "You're the same person, Max. You just have a new... body."
"I guess the one redeeming factor is that I'm also not the one who hurt you."
There was nothing that Liz could say to that. "There could only be one you," she whispered, her eyes downcast.
"She's right," Langley confirmed. "It's the same you, Max. When she made the connection to both of your bodies, she probably made a 'bridge' that your essence used to make the crossing. It would have had to have been Liz, because part of you is inside her."
"Excuse me?" Liz gasped.
Langley looked at the two youngsters, and released a sigh, as though he didn't really want to let them know something.
"For a long time now... Max has been out of balance," he told them. "Inside, he's been more alien than human."
"Why?" Liz demanded. "What happened that put him out of... balance?"
"When he healed you," he smirked. "He gave you a part of himself. Part of his human self."
"Why?" she asked. "I mean, why was Max so attracted to me? What made Max willing to risk everything for me? I'm just a..."
"The smallest of small town girls?" he chuckled.
"Yeah." She looked at him suspiciously.
"I can't answer that," Langley shrugged. "I just don't know. But I do know that he cared enough about you to take that risk. And I know that that was not Zan. Zan would never, never have done something so... selfless. Back on Antar, he was a self centred, arrogant, egotistical, selfish..."
"Don't hold back Kal," Max sneered with heavy sarcasm. "Tell me what you really thought of me."
"I'm sorry," Langley shrugged. "What can I say? It was what you were like."
"No!" Liz denied hotly. "Not you, Max. That was Zan."
"That would go some way to explain your recent behaviour," Langley smiled at her comment. "When you were away from Liz, your alien side became more dominant. It was only while you were with Liz that you are more balanced. More human."
Max and Liz exchanged a soft smile.
"So I wasn't a very good leader?" Max thought back on Langley's description of him.
"No," he shook his head. "You were at worst, a despot, at best, a tyrant. Think of Czar Nikolas II."
"Oh," Max looked at the ground. He thought back to his history lessons and the inhuman treatment of the peasants who starved while Nicholas threw lavish parties and balls. It was this that led to... a revolution. "So I guess Kivar's uprising, his, uh... rebellion, was a popular one?"
"That depends on how you look at it," Langley shrugged. "Think Joseph Stalin here."
"So if we were as bad as each other..." Max asked after careful consideration. "Did Rath have a large following? I mean, I just heard that he was loyal to me, that he wouldn't betray me. And what about Vilondra? What part did these two have to play in all this?"
"Oh, no," Langley shook his head. "Whoever told you that Rath was loyal was mistaken. I guess that he would have been your Rasputin. When he was approached by a more... middle of the road group, Rath was all too keen on usurping power. Incidentally, he was also keen on usurping Ava from you too. Like most people who met her, Rath had fallen in love with her. When this faction asked Rath to seize power from you, he initially refused. But he kept an open dialogue with them. He was plotting, waiting for the right moment. Had he not been slain at the same time as you, he would have doubtless made an attempt to take control then, of that I have no doubt. As for Vilondra, well, she was infatuated with Kivar. Actually, she was infatuated with any man she considered powerful. She was well known for her... uh, promiscuity. She had this hope that she might beguile someone into taking power from her brother, and use that someone as her puppet. Little did she realise that it was she who was, in fact, Kivar's puppet. But something went wrong, and the assassins that attacked Zan, took her life as well."
"So of all the people around me, I had no one to trust?" Max asked. "No one that truly cared for me?"
"Max," Langley looked towards Liz. He seemed uncomfortable. "I don't know how to tell you this. There was one person on Antar who you could consider loyal, who you could trust. One who loved you... unconditionally. That was... Ava, your wife."
Liz emitted a strangled sound.
"What?" demanded Max wide eyed with horror. He gave a violent shake of his head. "No, that's not possible!"

"What can I say?" he shook his head. "This is the truth, Max, I swear. You went swimming one day, to Dimaras Rock, that's a... one of the moons of Antar. The place was named after it. It was while you were just a Prince. You were in the water... with Larek. That was when you saw her, without a doubt, the most beautiful woman on the planet of Antar, Ava. You were too shy, for all your power, and you wouldn't speak to her. Larek introduced you later at a party."
There was a stunned silence from Max and Liz. Neither would look at the other.
"That's what Brody told you," Liz whispered, looking away from the two men. "That day he... he..."
"What Zan didn't know, what wasn't discovered until after the... assassination... was that Ava was Larek's cousin. He had stage managed the whole relationship."
"Why?" Max looked up at Langley.
"Because he hoped that you would become so infatuated with her, that he might gain control of you, through her, and thereby control of Antar."
"But you said she was loyal, that Ava truly loved Zan," Liz objected. It hurt her to say such a thing.
"It was a strange thing," he nodded. "For whatever reason, perhaps she saw the real Zan, the side that became Max, here. Whatever, she fell in love with him. She would not do Larek's bidding. Around Ava, Zan's demeanour changed. Only a few noticed it. The few closest to Zan, they saw that he was starting to change. That was Ava's influence. But they didn't marry until after Zan became king. By then, the damage had been done, and the rebellion started before Ava could change him completely. Perhaps, given time, he could have become the greatest leader in history of Antar, instead of one of its worst tyrants. You know the eventual outcome."
"If Ava... loved," Liz choked on the word, "Zan, why did she betray him this time?"
"I don't know," he shook his head.
"You said Larek was trying to control me," Max spoke softly. He sounded numb. "Yet when Liz told us about what happened in New York, she said that Larek seemed friendly. He apparently told me that I was trying to do too much, too soon. What was that about?"
"Maybe nothing," Langley shook his head. "Maybe you discussed your plans to make some reforms Ava had encouraged you to make. Max, amongst your advisors, your family, and even those you considered friends, Ava was like poison. They hated her with a vengeance because with the changes Zan had planned, they stood to lose their power. She was definitely changing you, for the better."
"So why did they send her with me?" he asked. "Why did they send the one person who was helping to change me?"
"Again, that's not a question I have the knowledge to answer. But it's good that you discussed all this. It's important for the two of you to come to terms with what you have learned tonight. I think... I think you needed to know all this."

"What about..." Liz could hardly speak, she was so full of emotion. "What about my... strange... illness?"
"I'm not sure," Langley looked sympathetic. "I've never heard of an Antaran making this kind of connection before. But I can hazard a guess. I think it's because of the part of Max in you. You need to balance it out. You need to give Max a part of you."
"How can I do that?" she looked confused.
Langley gave a dirty smirk.
"Oh," Liz blushed looking at the ground.

"Liz," Max spoke in a quiet whisper, afraid that Liz would pull away from him. "I don't care what he says Liz, and I know this is outside the bounds of our taking this relationship slowly. Zan may have found his true love, he may have loved Ava, but Max has found his. Max loves Liz. I love you."
She looked up into his eyes, seeing the pain, but also his love for her. She smiled, and blinked away her tears with a gentle nod. He reached out his hand to her, which she accepted. With a gentle tug, he pulled her to him.
"Please don't leave me, Liz," he begged. "I need you. We have to see this through, together."
"I'm not going anywhere, Max," she promised.
They fell into an embrace, sitting on the ground against the back wall of the Crashdown.
"Perhaps there is hope after all," Langley smiled.

"What was the deal with the others?" Max asked. "The ones in New York."
"They seemed so much like the originals you described," Liz confirmed. "Even Ava seemed so... nice. I can believe Zan being in love with her. But not Tess. And why didn't Rath make a move on Ava, if he wanted her back on Antar? And Ava told me that Zan seemed to be waiting for someone. Why wouldn't he be attracted to Ava?"
"I'm sorry," Langley shook his head. "I don't know the answers to those. Much of this was decided in closed sessions with Zan's mother and the senior advisors." He looked about the dark alley. "It's getting late, kids. I just thought you would want to know some background."
"Why are you doing this, Langley?" Max asked. "Everything I've heard suggests that you had little love for Zan."
"I didn't," he shook his head. "I was forced to come on this mission, and the first chance I got, I ran away. I saw only the pain you... he caused for me. Then, after our meeting in LA, I started to keep an eye on you. I saw the pain and misery around you. Perhaps if I had stayed, and let you all know the truth, I could have spared you all that. You, your parents, your friends... So many people have been hurt. Because of my selfishness. I was turning into a Zan."
"Will you come back again?" Max asked. "There's more to learn."
"There is," he agreed. "But that's for another time, perhaps. You need to come to terms with this."
"I could order you to tell us," Max looked at Langley.
"Zan would," he nodded. "But Max won't. At least, not Max with Liz at his side."
Langley turned to leave, but then stopped.
"By the way," he continued. "Those men who grabbed you the other week? You don't need to worry about them anymore."
"Did you..."
"No," Langley smiled. "They're alive. I took the shape of your father, Liz. I gave them what they thought was the book they wanted. It contained a map and some translations. It should keep them out of the way for at least a deacade. I hope they like Death Valley."
Max and Liz, still holding each other, watched as Langley disappeared into the alley.

"Even though Zan was such a... tyrant," she looked up at Max. "That's not who you are, Max." She reached out and stroked his cheek. "I've known that for the longest time. And I haven't heard anything so far to make me change my mind about you."
"Even after everything I have done to you?"
"Yeah," she smiled. "Even then. As long as you forgive me, for everything I've ever done to you."
"There's nothing to forgive, Liz. You did nothing that you didn't believe was for my benefit. You never did anything 'to' me, you did everything 'for' me. We have a lot to discuss, Liz, to work through. Maybe we should include the others, for some of it, anyway. They might want... no, need... to know the truth. But for tonight, let's just remember our date, and that we're trying to find our way back together again."
"That's an interesting observation, Max."
"What is?" He wasn't sure about the look in her eye.
"What's with this 'trying' word?" Liz closed in to continue the kiss that Langley had interrupted. "I thought we had already succeeded."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Max's bedroom, Sunday Morning, 17th March.

It was the tentative knocking at the window that woke Max. A quick glance at his clock revealed that it was only two a.m. He knew at once that it was not Michael. He knew exactly who it was. He threw back the covers, leapt to his feet and hurried to the window with a big smile on his face.
"Lisa," he exclaimed, his body reacting to her presence.
"Hi, Max," she smiled in the darkness. "I'm sorry it's so late. Can I come in?"
"Yeah," he grinned back at her. "Of course."
She climbed up onto the windowsill, sitting on the ledge before jumping down into Max's room.
"I tried to find you earlier," she breathed hotly. "But Liz, and Maria... they tried to keep us apart."
"Yeah," he shrugged. "Sorry about them."
"I thought I saw you watching me, Max," she told him. "I sensed something from you. Tell me I'm wrong and I'll leave."
"No," he sighed with a shake of his head. "No, you're not wrong."
"So. Where do we go from here?" she asked, stepping up to him.
"Um..."
Lisa wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him into an embrace. Their mouths opened instantly as they crushed themselves together. Their tongues entwined as her small hands worked their way down his naked torso and into his boxers. Max pushed her tee-shirt up her body and off over her head.
"What about Liz?" she asked in a low husky voice.
"Who?" he gasped as her hands worked their way towards his front.
"Exactly," Lisa smirked with satisfaction. "Make love to me, Max."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Chapter 5 Teaser:
"Max?" she asked in a strangled voice. "What did you do?"

posted on 8-Mar-2002 4:31:37 PM by WR
Thank you all very much for your comments. I'f like to comment individually, but I'm am rather tired still. I had a very busy day at working, reporting back, and implementing necessary changes etc. Real life, eh? Who needs it? LOL.

So you are kinda shocked by the ending of the last part, eh? I knew you would be, when I wrote it. *wink* Well, lets see what happens, shall we?


Chapter 5:

Max Evan's room, Sunday Morning, 17th March.

Max sat upright in his bed, his face a mask of terror as he pushed away the images that remained from his all too vivid dream. He was breathing as though he had just finished a sprint race. He leapt from his bed and was halfway through the window when he remembered that he was wearing only his boxers. He jumped back into his room and pulled on some jeans and some shoes. He grabbed a shirt before he was again climbing through the window. He pulled on his shirt while he ran through the darkened streets, heading for the Crashdown.

"Liz!" he gasped, breathless from his running. He rapped on Liz's bedroom window. "Liz! It's starting again!"
The light in Liz's room came on, and a tousled looking Liz, wearing just her pajama's appeared at the window. She looked as though she might tell Max off for waking her in the middle of the night, but that soon disappeared when she saw the state that Max was in. She became concerned.
"Max?" she asked as she slid open her window. "What's the matter?"
Max had twisted himself so that he now leant against the wall. Tears of despair welled in his eyes.
"It's started all over again, Liz," he sobbed. "I'm going to hurt you again."
"No, Max," she affirmed. "You're not. I won't let you."
She picked up her blanket, climbed out through the window and sat next to Max. Liz pulled the blanket around them so that they were warm.
"Why don't you tell me what happened?"
"It was so real, Liz," he groaned. "I was in bed. There was a knock at the window. Liz, it was Lisa."
"Lisa?" she gasped.
"Yeah," Max nodded. "And it seemed like... I was expecting her."
"Max?" she asked in a strangled voice. "What did you do?"
"No, no!" he shook his head. "It was only a dream. But it was so real."
"You'd better tell me all about it, Max," Liz held his arm in a vice like grip. She would not lose Max again.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Crashdown Café, Sunday, 17th March.

Liz stood by the soda dispenser and looked out into the near deserted Crashdown. They seldom had customers on a Sunday morning. There would be the lunchtime crowd, but even then, it would still be quiet. It was after lunch when the teenage gangs would get together and find a place to haunt the rest of the afternoon, eking their remaining cash by nursing cups of soda for as long as they could. But Liz was not thinking about that. Her mind was on Max, and his dream from last night. He had been so terrified that he was going to hurt Liz all over again, that he would lose her, he had not been willing to listen to reason. Liz was worried that Max would pull away before they could work it out.
"Penny for them?" Maria asked.
"Oh, Maria," Liz jumped. "I'm sorry, I was miles away."
"Obviously," Maria smirked. "Somewhere I know? Or should that be... someone I know?"
"Yeah," Liz smiled. "Max."
"So I take it that date didn't go so good?" Maria looked sympathetic. "I mean, you look so... distant."
"No, no," Liz shook her head, and allowed a brief smile to play across her lips. "The date went really well, actually. We both enjoyed the film, and we went for a walk and talk afterwards. Oh yeah, we kissed, and we saw things. Strange... things."
"Way to go, Liz," Maria looked impressed. "So why the long face?"
"Well, at first, we agreed to take this whole thing slowly, you know? But then we started kissing, and..."
"And before you knew it, it was 'passionesville' again."
"Yeah," Liz nodded. "He said that he thought I wanted to be a normal couple."
"Don't tell me," Maria giggled. "What's so great about normal?"
"Yeah," Liz laughed. "Have you notice how we seem to have to replay everything? I mean, everything that Max and I went through... It's like the tape looped around and it's all happening again."
"So we should be on the lookout for the FBI manhunt?"
"It's worse than that, Maria," Liz shook her head.
"What could be worse that an FBI White Room?" Maria shuddered, giving up a silent prayer that Max would never remember what happened to him in there."

The ringing of the bell attracted their attention. Lisa and Pete walked into the café.
"Don't they ever eat at home?" she whispered to Maria.
She felt nothing but coldness for the new girl, but then, how could she help being in Max's dreams?
"Hi," she greeted them at their booth. "Do you guys know what you want?"
"Just a couple of all day breakfasts," Pete shrugged. "And two coffees."
"Okay," Liz wrote down the order. "Anything else?"
"Yeah," Lisa added in a cold voice. "You could tell us what happened last night? I though we arranged to meet at the bowling ally."
Even Pete looked annoyed. Big deal, thought Liz.
"Um," she replied with a shrug. "You know, Lisa, we didn't. You asked where Max was taking me and I said bowling. But we changed our mind and caught a movie instead."
She turned and went to the counter to put their order in. She turned towards the coffee pots and almost walked into Pete, who had followed her up.
"I was looking forward to spending some time with you," he said. "Let you get to know me better."
"You're wasting your time," she smiled. "Even if I wasn't with Max, you're just not my type."
"I heard you were rather... close... to Kyle Valenti," he leered. "There's not much different between me and him."
"Kyle is a good friend," Liz backed away. "But dating him was a mistake."
Pete stepped towards Liz, pressing her against the soda dispenser. He gave a smirk of satisfaction.
"Is everything okay, Liz?" Maria asked arriving on the scene.
"Yeah," she replied, looking daggers at Pete. "Pete was just going to sit down, weren't you."
"Yeah," he grunted. "Better get back to Lisa."
He turned and walked around the counter, back towards their booth. Liz caught sight of Maria's pendant. It was glowing a sickly puce color.
"Oh my god!" Liz exclaimed as she stared at Pete.

***

At Liz's urgent invitation, they had all gathered at the Crashdown Café. All of them except Max. Although Liz knew that he should be involved, she doubted that he was ready to hear all of this just yet.
"Okay, first off," Liz told them, "Max knows everything now."
"What?" Michael barked angrily. He stood up, threatening her. "What gives you the right to make decisions like that?"
"Sit down, Michael," she snapped. "Or next time someone asks me to screw up my life to save your sorry ass, I'll tell them where to get off."
Isabel and Kyle's mouth fell open, while Maria giggled. Michael backed down, and sat in his seat.
"As I was saying, I told Max everything."
"Why," Isabel asked simply. "I know you were afraid of him finding out, so why did you tell him?"
"Because..." Liz wanted to keep Langley a secret for the moment. "I came to realize that if I didn't tell Max the truth as it was, someone would eventually tell him the truth as they saw fit. I don't know about you, but I want Max to know he can trust me."
"So this is the big deal that made you drag me out of bed?" Michael growled. "You told Max. Bid deal."
Liz and Maria rolled their eyes.
"No," Liz shook her head. "The 'Big Deal' is that Pete is an alien. Probably a skin."
"What?" all four of them gasped.
"How do you know?" Isabel asked.
"Because when he came near to me and Maria, we saw her pendant glowing the same color as when you or Michael comes near me."
"That puce color?"
"Yeah," Liz nodded. "Listen, I think I know why I make the thing glow."
"Why?" Maria asked.
"Because of when Max healed me."
"But Max healed me too," Kyle pointed out. "Nothing happens when I go near it."
"I think it's more to do with how Max healed me. I think he gave me part of himself. I think I have some 'alien essence' in me."
"That would explain a lot," Isabel nodded.
"You have to test Max with the amulet," Michael urged.
"I agree, Michael," Liz nodded. "But like I said. You'll have to do it. I want Max to trust me."
"Well, holding meetings without me won't help," Max announced from the door. He looked... upset.
"Oh god," Liz groaned. She bit her bottom lip.
Liz climbed from her seat and hurried to his side.
"I'm sorry, Max," she held his hand, relieved that he did not resist. "After last night, I was afraid that you would want to step back again."
"I know," he nodded.
"It will be okay, Max," she hugged him. "I won't let it happen to you again."
"I know it will," he whispered in her ear. "Be okay, I mean. Because I'm not going to do the things I did last time. I'm breaking the cycle."
He escorted Liz to the table, and sat with her.
"Last night," he closed his eyes, and fought to keep control of his emotions. "I had a dream. I dreamt that... Lisa... and I... we, uh... a..."
"He dreamt they were making out big time," Liz finished for him."
Max opened his eyes and gave her a look of gratitude.
"The thing is," he continued. "That happened to me before right? I had a vivid daydream. When that other alien turned up, Tess."
They all nodded.
"Since I... woke up, the other week," Max looked at them all, "I've been experiencing the same things I did before. It's almost like watching repeats, except for me, it's not a repeat. So we need to stop this cycle. We need to change just one thing. What happened after I had that dream with Tess?"
"You kissed her," Michael smirked. "In front of Liz."
Max looked sick. "Right," he nodded, remembering Liz telling him about that. "And then we had that whole episode at her house, right? With her father."
"Nacedo," Maria corrected.
"So you think that you're going to kiss Lisa?" Michael asked.
"No, I think someone is going to make me try to kiss Lisa."
"Maybe her brother can mind warp," Kyle added.
"What?" Max looked surprised.
"Pete," Liz informed him. "He's an alien."
"How do you know this?"
"Show him the amulet," Liz closed her eyes. Why was it always up to her?
Maria held up the strange amulet, which was glowing the same sickly puce color it had when Pete had been there. Liz explained where it had come from, and how they had tested it to see how it reacted to each other. She then told him how it had reacted when Pete came near them.
"And they... we... kind of want to... test it on you," Liz looked at the table, afraid of Max's reaction.
"Except you gotta know," Maria interrupted, "That Liz didn't want to test you in case you thought she was just using you."
Max smiled at Liz.
"There's no need to test me," Max put his arm around her. "It will react with me in the same way as you."
"Because of the..."
"Yeah," he nodded.
"Okay," Michael shrugged. "I'll buy that. But what about when it is just the two of you?"
"I guess there's only one way to find out," Max shrugged.
He stood up, and held his hand out to Liz. Taking his hand, Liz stood up and after taking the amulet from Maria, they walked into the back room.
"Black?" Liz looked surprised. At the color the two of them made it turn into.
"Can you feel it?" he asked. "I can feel waves of hatred and animosity coming from it. Almost as though it hates the thought of you and I..."
Max reached over and un-looped the leather strip from Liz's neck. He then took the glass-covered amulet in his fingers. There was a loud crack, and Max glowed a deep purple color before he flew backwards through the air, collapsing in a heap.
"Max!" Liz screamed as she hurried to his side.
A small movement caught her eye. She saw the small alien device, now free of it's glass cover rolling across the floor towards Max. She remembered how Michael had explained that it tried to bury itself into him. She would not let it touch Max. She grabbed a metal pot and threw it over the device, trapping it. She shook her head in disbelief when the pot started to move towards Max, being pushed by the trapped device. She held the pot, but was surprised to find the pressure was too much. It was still moving towards him, pulling her with it.
"Michael!" she screamed. "Isabel! Help"
Her friends stormed into the back room, and took in the scene at once.
"That thing," Liz cried. "It knocked him out, and now it's trying to get to him. It's under here."
"Get Max out," Michael ordered Kyle and Isabel.
Maria helped too, as the three of them half-dragged and half carried Max towards the café.
"No," cried Liz. "Upstairs." She didn't want Max anywhere that this thing could roll to.
Michael, meanwhile, helped Liz to hold onto the pot.
"Liz," Michael hissed. "At the count of three, I want you to lift the pot up, and roll out of the way. I'm going to blast it."
Liz nodded, hoping that Michael would control his beam of power.
"One... two... three..."
Liz lifted the pot and started to roll. Michael focused his power on the small device. A strange thing happened. It absorbed Michael's energy, and sent it back out in a fan. Michael easily deflected it, even though he was surprised by it. Liz equally surprised him. A strange green shield surrounded her, protecting her from the blast.
"What did you do?" he gaped, as he scooped the now motionless, puce colored device into the pot. He would sort it out later.
"N-nothing," Liz stammered. "It was M-Max. He knew I was in danger. He... he..."
"Son of a bitch!" Michael shook his head. "Go up to him. I'm going to get a glass to cover this thing.

***

"What is it?" the small curly haired blonde asked the young teenaged boy who had just handed her a small transistor like device with two thin spikes extending from it's ends. "What do I do with it?"
"Pretty much whatever you want," the young boy smirked. "It's an enhancer."
"Okay," the blond nodded. "What does it do?"
"All you need to do, is let it touch him. It will burrow inside him, but he won't even feel it. The frequency has been set to match yours and his. It will react differently to whoever is near him. Around those like you, it merely... enhances his natural side. He will be more like he was on Antar. Around you, he will be under your control. He will be putty in your hands. He will see, think or do pretty much anything you want."
"Excellent," the blond grinned. "What about the girl?"
"Well, thanks to what he did to her, that will be the best reaction of all. It will make him indifferent towards her. When in your presence also, that indifference will turn to hostility. All you need to do is set up a situation where his mind is on other things, and place it at the back of his neck."
"Does it have to be there?"
"That's where it needs to be," the youth shrugged. "The cerebral cortex. If you have to insert it anywhere else, it will make its way there, but it will take time."
"Okay. When we're back home, I'll wait a few months. We've been getting closer. I'll insert this in the spring, when the alignment is in our favor. Then, I'll just work on him. Have everything ready for our return around May."


***

"I know what it is," Max gasped as he finally came round from his state of unconsciousness.
"Max!" Liz gasped as she threw herself into his arms. "You're all right. I... we were worried."
"I'm okay, Liz," he murmured in her ear. "I had a flash."
"A flash?" she looked confused. "From me?"
"No," he shook his head. "From that... thing."
"You mean this?" Michael asked, holding up the device now encapsulated in glass again. It was black again.
"Yeah," Max shuddered. "When I touched it, and passed out, I saw what it was. There were two people. He was a kid, a teenager..."
"Nikolas," Isabel stated.
"And a small curly haired blonde," Max continued.
"Tess," Liz and Maria spat the word as though it were venom.
"What were they doing?" Michael asked.
"They were in this... I don't know... it looked kind of like... a disused sewer. Except there was a sofa, and a refrigerator... oh, and lights. It looked like someone lived there. There were these blue things stuck to the wall."
"Sounds like the duplicate's place," Liz mumbled. She saw that everyone was looking at her with confused looks. "What? Max told me about it, when we were friends, around Christmas."
"Makes sense," Kyle added. "Tess was there and so was Nikolas, right?"
Everyone nodded.
"Anyway," Max continued. "Nikolas gave that to Tess. He said it was set to hers and someone else's frequency. He called it an enhancer. He said that anytime it was near someone like her, it would enhance his natural side. He said that she could control someone through it, and that he would show animosity to a girl when the three of them were near."
"Max," Liz placed her hand over Max's chest. "They were talking about you. Tess has been using this to control your emotions."
"But you said that I still behaved oddly even after she left? And what about you and I? I never showed you animosity since she left, did I?"
"Well, the times you behaved the worst was when you were with... aliens, and without me. But then, we know that without me, you're out of balance anyway. Plus with that thing..."
"But what about after? When we started to try again."
"I don't know, Max," she shrugged. "Maybe our spirits found a way to rise above the conditioning. Maybe something inside us saw through it."
They shared a smile.
"Okay so what we have is that Pete is an alien," Michael tried to get every one to focus. "And with this... enhancer, Max was manipulated into doing all that crap. So what do we do now? Take him out?"
"No," Max shook his head. "We need to... trap him somewhere. Lisa too."
"Why Lisa?" Isabel asked. "Do you think she might be an alien too? Maybe we should check her with this enhancer."
"You could do," Max shrugged. "But it'll show her to be an alien. In fact, I'm willing to bet it will glow a color you haven't seen yet."
"Why is that, Max?" Liz asked.
"Because I think that Lisa... is Tess."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

*happy* - Isn't WR an *angel*? *tongue*

Part 4 Teaser:
"So now would be a good time to ask for your hand in marriage?"
posted on 12-Mar-2002 3:03:52 PM by WR
I am sorry that I didnlt post last night. I have my Father over from Canada visiting. This means my posting may be a little eratic. Sorry.

Thanks for your feedback. I am so glad that you continue to read my stories. I hope that you enjoy the revalations that emerge from this next part.



Part 4 - Credits

Chapter 1

Crashdown Café, Monday morning, 18th March

Max pulled up outside the Crashdown, and was stopped from climbing out of the car only by Liz emerging through the main doors towards him. She delighted Max with a huge smile on her face while she draped her book bag over one shoulder.
"Hey, Max," her face looked so bright. Like she was so thrilled to see him again.
"Hey, yourself," Max returned her smile. His heart sailed into the heavens. "Your chariot awaits."
She climbed into the car and reached over to kiss her boyfriend good morning.
"I'm glad your dad lets me drive you now," he chuckled. "I could get used to this."
"Me too," Liz murmured in his ear as she caressed her cheek against his. "But it's like I said, Max. You are so in his good books right now. You can do no wrong."
"So now would be a good time to ask for your hand in marriage?"
"Max!" Liz looked stunned as she pulled back from him. "I can't believe you just said that!"
"Kidding," Max smirked.
Liz slapped his shoulder, while Max started the ignition. She knew that one day, Max would indeed ask her father for her hand in marriage. She sat back in her seat and let the early spring sunshine warm her smiling face while Max's love warmed her soul. There were few better things in life than this.
"Liz?" he asked, breaking the comfortable silence. "Since we both know that I don't need a tutor, are we going to still pretend?"
"Of course, Max," Liz grinned. "Alone time with you is good, right? But I think I will tell Mr. MacFarlane that we need somewhere less distracting to study. Somewhere more... private. How does the eraser room sound?"
"Liz!" Max gasped, taking his eyes from the road for a moment.
"What's the matter, Max?" Liz asked in an innocent manner, fluttering her eyelashes. "Can't think of anything to study in private?"
"Lots of things, Liz," he smiled. "Some I might even get expelled for."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

West Roswell High, Monday morning, 18th March

"Hey, Michael," Maria called catching up to her one time boyfriend in the hallway. "How are things?"
He stopped and turned to face her. His scowl was as bleak as a thundercloud.
"I thought..." he started to growl.
"That we would stay away from each other?" she interrupted. "What? Don't you think things have changed now? I mean, come on. You've seen Max and Liz. Do they look like they're going to stay apart from each other?"
"I'll talk to him," Michael spat.
"Nuh-uh," she shook her head. "Not going to work. Not in this lifetime, or any other. I mean, just look at how many times something has happened to drive those two apart. Steps back, shifts in time, alien brides from hell and now this. They always gravitate back to each other. Look at them, Michael. They so belong together."
Michael glanced up the hall where Max had just said goodbye to Liz. She was standing at the door to her classroom, as he backed away, their eyes locked onto each other.
"I don't..." he began.
"It's fate, I tell you," Maria smirked. "Destiny. I just knew... uh oh, trouble."
Maria's face fell as Lisa stepped into Max's path. He collided with her, sending Lisa's books sprawling. Max, being who he is, immediately bent to help, offering his profuse apologies. As he scrambled to gather Lisa's fallen belongings, she seemed to move in slow motion. Her head approached his. The tip of her tongue ran along then, moistening them. Max's eyes were locked onto her lips. He felt the strongest desire to kiss her. Ignoring Liz's shocked look, Max started to lean into Lisa.
"Oh my god!" he heard a girl scream as Lisa was torn from his view. Max shook his head, clearing the fog that had been building there. At once, he realised what he had done. Horrified, he turned to find Liz. She was gone.
"I'm so sorry, Lisa," Maria squealed, as she helped up the girl she had knocked over.
Michael appeared at his side.
"Come on Max," he urged, pulling Max's arm. "Maria can help her. We're late for class."
Behind him, Lisa glared at Michael for taking Max away from her. Maria looked down at her and smirked.
"Gee, Lisa," she purred. "I'm so sorry. I didn't see you on the floor. I seem to be all fingers and thumbs today."
"Yeah," Lisa sounded dejected. "Don't worry about it."

***

"What was that all about, Maxwell?" Michael hissed into his ear as he pulled Max away from the commotion. "In front of Liz, and half the school. This story's going to be around the school in no time."
"Oh god!" Max groaned. "Liz! I hurt Liz again. Michael. I hurt Liz again."
"You're not good enough for her," Michael spat. "She really was better off without you. How could you do this to her?"
Max stopped, resisting Michael's attempt to pull him along the hallway. He shook his head, and his eyes seemed to flare with a burning light. Max pulled Michael with a force he was unable to resist, leading him out of the side entrance and towards the sports field. Pretty soon, Max and Michael found themselves alone at the top of the bleachers.
"You want to tell me what this is really about, Michael?"
"This is about you and your desire to keep following your energy source."
"No," Max shook his head. "It's not, is it? You were there yesterday. You know what's been going on. You know that Lisa is really Tess."
"Do I?" Michael glared at Max. "I only have your word for that. And how convenient is that? Sorry I kissed her Liz, but she's really my Destiny Bride and she warped me. Sorry I did her and got her pregnant again Liz, but she is my wife."
"I see," Max leant back. He gave his son a momentary thought, ashamed that he could not... remember. But then, he wasn't in any position to do anything about that... yet. One thing at a time. He would resolve the issue over his son later. "So your concern here is for Liz?"
"Of course."
"She doesn't really need a big brother, you know. She has her parents for this sort of thing."
Michael was disturbed by Max's lack of a reaction. He seemed far too... calm.
"Yeah, well maybe they're just too blinded by this caring image you portray."
"Sit down, Michael," Max said in a calm, steady voice.
"What?" Michael stared at Max. Did he really not care?
"I said, sit down."
The voice was firm, yet gentle. It was the kind of voice you listened to. One you obeyed. Without really understanding why, Michael sat down.
"Now what is this about, really?" Again, Max's voice was unruffled. "We've been almost brothers, you and I. Whatever it is, lets get this out in the open."
Michael stared at Max for a long time while his mind writhed in turmoil. He released a long, painful sigh.
"I think I... have feelings... for Liz."
"I see," Max furrowed his brow.
"Didn't you hear me, Maxwell? I said I had..."
"I heard you Michael."
"Doesn't that bother you?"
"Of course it bother's me," Max admitted. He noticed that Michael would not look at him. "What can I do about it? If I hit you, would that change things?"
"No," Michael admitted.
"So that's not the answer then, is it."
Michael shook his head.
"I admit that it's not the best of things to learn right now, but I have to say that I'm not totally surprised. I mean, Liz is..."
"Attractive?"
"Beautiful. Yeah. But that's not why it surprises me. We've been through this before."
"We have?" Michael looked up.
"Yeah," Max nodded. "On Antar. Apparently, you desired Ava."
"What?" Michael looked stunned. "No way!"
"Yes way," Max smiled. "But she only had eyes for me. Just like Liz."
"How do you know this?"
"What? That Liz only has eyes for..."
"No!" Michael growled. "About me... on Antar?"
"I know lots of things now, Michael," Max shrugged.
"So how come I never... felt any desire... for Tess? I mean, if I desired Ava, it would make sense for me to feel something about Tess? Wouldn't it? And wouldn't Rath have jumped Ava? I mean, with Zan out of the way, he could have. He was jumping Lonnie's bones."
"I don't know, Michael," Max sighed. "Maybe it's just a jealousy thing. Maybe the only reason you wanted Ava, why you want Liz... is because they... belong to me, figuratively speaking."
"So how come you're not mad?"
"Have you ever made a play for Liz?"
"What? No! Of course not!" Michael was adamant. "You know that Liz would never even look at me. Not just because she loves you, but because she's Maria's friend."
Max nodded.
"Are you and Maria...?" Max left the question hanging. He wasn't really sure about the state of their relationship.
"No," Michael shrugged. "We kind of broke up."
"She still has feelings for you, Michael," Max stated in a gentle voice. "Anyone can see that. And anyone can see that you care for her."
Michael looked at Max, and then away across the field.
"So why don't you ask her out?" Max continued. "Maybe we could double again?"
"We had this deal, you know?" Michael answered. "And if you think I'm going to give Maria another opportunity to compare me to you, you're mistaken."
"The deal is over," Max smirked. "I think it died when I kissed Liz. Ask Maria out."
"We'll see," Michael rose to leave. "Are you okay? I mean, you were pretty upset earlier. About this Lisa thing."
"Yeah. No, I'm fine," Max nodded. "This talk has helped me remember that Liz knows what's happening to me this time. She knows that Tess is trying to get to me again. But we're ready for her, Michael. All of us."
"Are you going to tell her?"
"What, that I nearly kissed Tess? She saw me, Michael. I'll apologise, naturally, but..."
"No. About me."
"Yeah," Max nodded. "She needs to know. And she needs to know that I know. That way, it can never be used as a weapon against us. But we won't tell Maria."
"Thanks."
Max shrugged. "It's what brothers are for."

***

"Oh, hey Liz," Lisa said as she entered the girl's bathroom. Liz was in front of the mirror applying a little make up. "I, uh... I hope you didn't see that scene in the hallway this morning."
"What scene was that, Lisa?" Liz asked, appearing as though she was not really paying attention.
"Oh, it's nothing," Lisa shrugged. "It's just that... No, forget it. I don't want to hurt you."
"Why would it hurt me?" Liz asked as touched up her lipstick with a brush.
"It's just... it's just that... Max..."
"What about Max?"
"Well, Max has been flirting with me. For some time now, actually. I'm sorry Liz. I know he's your... boyfriend and all, but he is hot, and if he's showing... attention to me, well..."
"So you think Max is flirting? With you?"
Lisa seemed quite surprised at Liz's calm attitude.
"You are together. You and Max. Aren't you?"
"Yeah," Liz smiled, not looking away from her task.
"And you're not upset?"
"Why should I be upset?" Liz started to put her makeup away.
"He... he tried to kiss me this morning, Liz. In the hallway. In front of everyone."
"But he didn't kiss you?"
"No, but he tried."
"Maybe he just thought you were me, Lisa," Liz smiled. Must be losing your touch, Tess, Liz smirked in her mind. "After all. You did day that everyone kept mistaking you for me."
Liz picked up her bag and left the bathroom, leaving a very flustered Lisa behind.

***

"Aha!" Maria called, "There you are!"
"Hey Maria," Liz looked over at her friend with a smile as she worked her way through the halls. "What's up?"
"So... that scene this morning?" Maria looked at her friend with concern. "It's just that you disappeared pretty quickly. And I thought..."
"Oh, that," Liz nodded, her eyes growing dark. "I really didn't want to watch Max kissing her."
"Kay," Maria looked at her sideways. "So why do you look so happy?"
"I already know that when Max is with her, he doesn't know what he's doing," Liz shrugged. "I mean, I know he's not really attracted to her, that she makes him do those things. But I just bumped into her. She tried to make an issue out of it, and said that Max only tried to kiss her. I guess Max must have stopped himself."
"Well, yeah," Maria nodded. "I bumped into them, you know... accidentally on purpose."
"Oh," Liz looked disappointed. She had hoped that he had found the strength to resist her. She shook the disappointment off.
"But I'll tell you what," Maria continued. "As soon as the spell was broken, Max was looking around for you. He was... upset thast you had gone. I think he wanted to kiss you."
"It's going to be hard, Maria," Liz admitted. "All those people saw Max. I told Lisa we could explain it by saying that Max though she was me."
"I bet she liked that."
"Yeah," Liz giggled. Then her face turned serious. "Maria? Do you think he's strong enough? I mean, what if we slip up, and Tess manages to kiss him? I know he'll beat himself up over it."
"Well, we will just keep an eye on him. All of the time.
"Yeah, but..."
"Maybe you can have the night shift. How would you like to sleep with him?"
"Maria!" Liz gasped, feeling scandalised. "Talking of which, how are thing with you and Michael?"
"Static," she shrugged. "So what lesson have you got now?"
"Ah," Liz broke into a huge smile. "I have permission to help Max study for a big make up test he's taking the day after tomorrow. Alone."
"We both know he'll pass that test with his eyes shut, Liz," Maria smirked.
"Yeah," Liz laughed. She raised her eyebrows. "But the teachers don't."
"So it's more like you two studying for a make-out test?"
"Right. See you later."
"Bye," Maria rolled her eyes.
She watched her friend head for one of the private study rooms. Almost immediately, Max joined her and they entered the room together, hand in hand. Maria released a heavy sigh.
"Like I said before," a voice spoke from behind her. "Just a couple of horn dogs."
"Uh-huh," Maria nodded. "But how long has it been since we've seen Liz that happy?"
Michael gave a soft snort, and turned towards the doors.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

posted on 14-Mar-2002 3:36:55 PM by WR
I may not be responding individualy, but I am reading your great comments. It's fun to see you trying to work out little twists I have put in. Okay, not only do our heros have Lisa and Pete (Tess and ??? *wink*) to contend with, there is now a threat from someone else!

Enjoy tonights part. My Dad is going on a short trip to visit other relatives next week, beofe he returns to see out the rest of the month with me, so I should be able to respond to your comments, as well as post more regularly while he's away.

*happy*


Chapter 2:

Crashdown Café, Monday afternoon, 18th March

"Hello, Sheriff Hanson? It's Jeff, Jeff Parker."
Jeff Parker had spent the whole morning worrying about Liz, Max and their abduction the other week. Whilst he wasn't enamoured of the fact that Max and Liz had appeared to be as close as ever, closer in some ways, he had been forced to admit that Max cared for Liz, and had risked his own life to ensure that she returned safe from her ordeal. Still, he couldn't help wondering how much of this apparent threat to his daughter's safety was the result of Max and the suspicious behaviour of the boy. Even his own father, Philip Evans had seen fit to question the boy's activities. Was this research of his mother's somehow connected to Philips suspicion's of Max's reasons to get into that storage room beneath the diner he held up? Perhaps it was time to find some answers for himself. Before he could answer those questions, though, he needed to know that his daughter was safe, and that Max was or was not involved somehow with the abductors. It was with this in mind that he had phoned the Sheriff.
"Hello, Jeff," the sheriff replied. "What can I do for you?"
"It's about Liz's abduction the other week," Jeff told him. "I was just wondering if you managed to get anywhere with the investigation?"
"We're no nearer to finding the men, if that's what you're asking. We checked out all the leads we had, but nothing's come up."
"What about that card I gave the deputy at the University?"
"The card was a fake, Jeff," Hanson replied. "There's no such company. The telephone number was leased to a non-existent company too. I don't know how they managed that, but they did. Forensics didn't turn up anything conclusive at the old warehouse where they held the kids. Except for the melted rivets. So we have no more leads to follow."
"The what?" Jeff asked.
"The room where they must have held the kids had iron walls. The rivets that held one of the panels in place had been melted. It must have been how the kids got out, because the door was still locked shut."
"How could kids melt some rivets? Did these goons leave a welding kit there for them, or something?"
"None that we could find. But I spoke to Jim Valenti, to see if the kids told him anything. He thinks that the rivets were probably melted earlier, maybe by some salvage company. He says that the rust could have held the panel in place and that Max must have kicked it and popped it free. It makes sense, don't it?""
"Yeah," Jeff shrugged. "Maybe."
"But we'll keep looking, Jeff. We haven't given up."
Jeff stared at the phone after he had hung up. There were some weird things going on here. Rivets that had already been melted? Did Max have the whole thing staged just to get him back into his and Liz's good books? There was only one person to turn to. He grabbed the phone, and punched in a number.
"Hello? Is that you Isabel? Can I speak to your father, please?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

West Roswell High, Monday afternoon, 18th March

"So tell me Kyle," Louise breathed in Kyle's ear as she groped her hand beneath his shirt. "Exactly why did you become a Bhuddist?"
They were making out in the Janitor's cupboard, mainly because someone else was busy in the eraser room. Kyle was strongly suspicious that it was Max and Liz. It felt strange to think that his relationship... no, not a relationship, his... friendship had been started by a kiss in this very closet.
"Let's just say that I had one of those life altering moments," he smiled as he continued to kiss her and copied her by sliding his own hands beneath her shirt.
"Well, I'm glad that you didn't become one of them monks," she chuckled as she pressed herself to him. "With those vows of celibacy and all."
A strangled noise came from Kyle mouth as her hands started to explore his body.
"And I like how you're such good friends with your ex-girlfriend, Liz... and her boyfriend. I mean, that shows that you don't treat the girls like dirt. That you care."
"That's me," Kyle groaned at what she was doing to him. "Mr. Caring."
"And it doesn't bother you that she's moved on? That she's so close to..."
"Max? No. Not at all," he panted. "Those two belong together. After Liz and I broke up, sure... I was hurt... mad. But then when Max and I got drunk one night, it was all made clear to me. She's his soul mate. He is hers. Together they are one."
"That sounds like such a good idea, Kyle," Louise panted as she fumbled with the catch on Kyle's Jeans. "Let's become one, too."
"Here?" he gasped. Then he shrugged. "Sure. Why not."

***

"So are we making progress?" Pete asked Lisa in the eraser room. "How far behind are we?"
"I don't understand it," Lisa's eyes were distant. "There's no way they should be this close. When I left them, I had damaged their relationship beyond repair. I mean, he had slept with another girl, made her pregnant. How can she take back someone who has done that to her?"
"I think that's part of the problem you find yourself in. You shouldn't have left him behind. You should have taken him back with you. All of them."
"It wasn't my fault the bitch found out about that Alex guy!" Lisa barked.
"So whose fault was it?" Pete asked. "Who is to blame for your failure?"
"Liz Parker!" she spat. "She turned up, and stopped Max from getting in the Granolith. Because he wouldn't leave, neither did Isabel."
"Yet you returned? You went back on your word."
"There was no way I could stay. That's why I had to come back like this. If they saw Tess back at school, their guard would be up straight away. You don't know what I had to go through to get in that first time. Even then, it was ages before Max finally accepted me."
"I don't understand it," Pete admitted. "You know these humans better than me. Why has it been so hard to get through to Zan? I thought he would be weaker. It was how he was designed. I thought you would have total control of him by now."
"For what it's worth," Lisa shrugged, "he was always stronger with Liz in his life. He even resisted the enhancer for so long. Nikolas said no one has ever resisted one before. It only started to really work when he gave up, when he finally believed that it was all over between them. That was when I made the breakthrough, when I was able to control him at last."
"So we need to get Max away from this Liz."
"There's more to it than that. The enhancer doesn't seem to be working on him. And this time, because he doesn't think of me as his destiny, my warps have less power on him. It took all I had to make him even consider kissing me this morning."
"Well," Pete considered. "So much for subterfuge. It's time for a more old fashioned method. I'll talk to the others."
"Do you want me to try Max again?" Lisa asked.
"It won't hurt," he shrugged, as he left the eraser room, leaving Lisa alone. "It won't help, either," he muttered as he made his way through the halls.

***

"So, Ms. Parker," Max smiled as he sat at the single desk in the study room. He had already placed a shiny red apple in front of her. "What are we studying today?"
"Max," Liz looked him straight in the eye. "This test is important. If you pass, your grade average is even closer to what it used to be. We can't take any chances."
"Uh, Liz?" he looked confused, worried. "I thought we agreed that I was already caught up? I could pass this test with one hundred percent if I wanted, you know that."
"Of course I do," she winked. "Just getting you back for thinking about kissing Lisa."
"Oh God," Max's face blanched. "She took me by surprise, Liz. I was thinking about you, and then I bumped into her. She was right there, and I felt it. Liz... it was horrible. Then when I snapped out of it, you were... gone. I was so afraid that I'd hurt you again."
"No, Max," she shook her head. "It's okay. It's okay. I know you didn't kiss her. She tried to make me mad at you in the bathroom. Max, she's not winning this time. We're ready for her. We have to make sure that we all know what's going on."
"Liz, will you promise me something?"
"Sure, Max," she nodded. "What?"
"If I... kiss... Lisa, will you... will you slap me? As hard as you can."
"Why?" she frowned. "Why would you want me to do that?"
"Well, If I hurt you, Liz, you should hurt me. It's only fair. Only I don't think I would survive if I had to watch you kiss another guy."
Liz smiled, and leaned against his chest.
"Before we start," he continued. "There's something else we need to discuss."
"What's that?"
"Remember how Langley told us that Rath desired Ava? That he wanted to take her from me as well as my throne?"
"Yeah," Liz's eyes narrowed. "You're not going to tell me that Michael has fallen for Lisa... that he fell for Tess?"
"No," Max shook his head. "It's worse than that. Liz, Michael admitted to me that he has feelings for... you."
"Me?" Liz looked shocked. "Max, you know I never did anything to encourage him."
"I know, Liz," he held her arms. "And why shouldn't other guys have feelings for you. You're beautiful, Liz. You have a beautiful soul."
Liz looked up into Max's eyes. She felt like she was melting.
"So how many pieces did you leave him in?" her eyes sparkled with amusement.
"Just one," Max laughed. "I let him off easy."
"Uh -huh," she smiled. "Why, Max?"
"Because he hasn't really done anything terrible. I mean, I can hardly go around..."
"No, Max," Liz rolled her eyes. "Not 'why did you leave him in one piece?' Why did he fall for me? Why me? I'm just..."
"No!" he barked. "Don't say it. Don't you realise yet, Liz? How special you are? You are not a small town girl. You never were, you never will be."
"Thank you, Max," she laughed. "But that wasn't what I was going to say. What I was going to say was, that I'm just a girl that you happened to fall in love with. Ava was your bride, the most beautiful woman on Antar. She was someone special... important.
"You're all of those thing too, Liz. To me. But why Michael fell for you and not Tess, I guess we'll never know. Just like why Rath never went after Ava in New York. Now, did we come here to study? Or are we hear to talk about people who don't exist anymore."
"That's interesting," Liz frowned.
"What is?" Max asked.
"I thought we came here to make out," her eyes twinkled as she pulled Max into a passionate kiss.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Crashdown Café, Monday afternoon, 18th March

"Are you coming by, tonight?" Liz asked when he pulled into a vacant parking space outside the Crashdown.
"Try and stop me," he smiled as he leaned in for a kiss. "I might need some help from my personal teacher."
"Uh huh," Liz laughed as they started a series of tender kisses. "What kind of help?"
"Personal help," Max groaned in a husky voice. "Biology. My weakest subject."
As Max left gentle kisses along Liz's jaw line and up the nape of her neck towards her ear, her insides were screaming out in passion.
"I don't know," she whimpered. "You're doing pretty good from where I'm sitting."
"You do know that all the occupants of the Crashdown are watching you," Isabel announced from the side of the car. "And that includes your dad, Liz."
"Isabel!" Liz squealed, shocked by her sudden appearance. She gave Max a shy smile. "Um, I'll see you later."
Max nodded, holding her hand as she climbed from the car.
"What's up?" Max asked his sister as she climbed next to him.
Even Liz noticed how tense she felt.
"Just drive," she hissed.
Max gave Liz an apologetic look, one that promised that they would speak later. As the car pulled away, Liz watched it go. She shrugged her shoulders, and turned towards the café. Although she couldn't see him through the glass and into the darker interior, Liz just knew that her father was watching her every move.
"Was that Max?" Her father asked when she entered the café.
"Uh, yeah, Dad. It was."
"So how come he isn't coming in?"
"He uh, has homework to do," Liz looked at him with suspicion. What was he up to now? "He said he'll drop by later."
"Oh," Jeff nodded. "Good."
It was then that she noticed her father looking through one of the old photograph albums.
"What are you up to, Dad?" she asked, grateful for the opportunity to change the subject.
"I was just looking at these," he indicated the pages of photographs. "These were all taken before you were born."
Liz groaned. Her father was on another of his nostalgic kicks. It was something he always did when things worried him. I guess, she considered, that with her abduction, he had every reason to worry. Liz walked up to her father's side, and looked at the pictures. They were mostly of her father, and her mother, when they were much younger. Liz didn't recognise any of the buildings in the background. Her father turned the page and started to study the photographs. Liz didn't bother to look at the pictures. There was only one worth seeing. One picture leapt out from the page, and made all the other's invisible. It was a picture of a squat, square building with green and white awnings sticking out from the wall over a dozen or so sets of tables and chairs. Liz gasped.
"Where's this?" Liz asked, pointing to the picture.
"That's the Crashdown, honey," Jeff told her. "That's what it looked like when we bought it. The year before you were born."

***

Maria leant against the window, watching Michael flipping the burgers.
"I need two Will Smith burgers, two orders of space fries, and extra onions on one," Liz called as she clipped an order to the wheel.
She spun away towards the drinks dispenser.
"Shouldn't you be out there taking orders?"
"If I had any customers, I would." Maria scowled.
"So how come Liz is rushed off her feet?"
"Oh, gee," Maria bounced her head from side to side. "I don't know. Maybe it's because Liz has a life and looks so happy right now, whereas I don't. Maybe people would rather be served by the happy, bubbly waitress?"
"Well... why don't you go help her out?"
"Look," Maria barked. "Just because Liz and Max are together and you don't like it, don't take this out on me, okay?"
"I'm not taking anything out on you. I can live with Max and Liz being together."
"Excuse me?" Maria looked hard at Michael. "Who are you? Are you the same guy that's been flapping his gums about how they should stay away from each other? I mean, do you know how many times I've heard...."
"We should go out."
Maria stopped in full flow, her mouth dropped open.
"Excuse me?"
"I said we should go out," Michael shrugged.
"That's it? Just 'we should go out'? That's all you have to say?"
"What?" Michael looked up. "What is your problem?"
"My problem is... I miss you, okay?"
"Do you want go out or not?"
"What? Like on a date?
"Yeah."
"I've been asked better."
"So is that a yes, or no?"

***

With a dazed look about her, Maria wandered back out into the cafe. Liz took one look at her friend and knew that things between her and Michael had been fixed. Well, fixed in that strange way that was their relationship. She smiled at Maria and gave her a hug.
"Feeling better?" Liz giggled.
"To be honest, Liz," Maria confessed. "I'm not sure how I feel."
"Numb?"
"Yeah, numb is a good word," Maria nodded. "But I just keep remembering the things we talked about. On the plane that time. You know, things can never be normal for us."
"Well, I guess Maria, that we have to be prepared... for anything."
"You said that once before, Liz."
"You're right. And you know what? We weren't. Ready I mean. Tess came and took us by surprise. But after everything I've been through, I'm ready. I'm ready for anything that comes my way, and this time, I'm going to fight for him."
"Go Liz!" Maria exclaimed, pulling her friend into an embrace. "I'm right behind you."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Roswell Main Street, Monday afternoon, 18th March

"So what's up, Iz?" Max asked as they pulled away from the Crashdown. "You look really worried. If this is about Liz and I..."
"No," Isabel cut him short. "No, this isn't about you being with Liz. I'm glad. That things are right between the two of you. I mean, I have Jesse, Michael has Maria... well, sort of. No, it's good that you have Liz in your life again."
Thank you, Iz," Max smiled. "So what's your problem?"
"It's Liz's father."
"Mr. Parker?" Max seemed surprised. "What's he been up to?"
"He phoned Dad earlier. Asked to speak to him."
"Do you know what it was about?"
Max had learnt from Liz how his father had investigated him, and that he had asked Jeff Parker some questions. He had hoped that since his accident, it had all died down.
"No," Isabel shook her head. "I tried to listen, but Jesse came in and started to talk to me. I have... no idea what it was about."
"But I haven't done anything that might arouse his suspicion. Isabel, you know how careful I am. I've never used my powers in the Crashdown. At least... since my accident."
"Maybe he remembered something?"
"I'll talk to Liz about it."
"Max?" Isabel was quiet, hesitant. "Maybe it's time to tell them the truth.
Max looked up the road, his mind in a whirl.
At least he didn't dismiss it out of hand, Isabel considered. This is a good thing, right?
"It's not just about us anymore, Iz," Max spoke with a soft tone. "It doesn't just affect us. Liz... Kyle... Jim... Maria. They're all involved now. This affects them too. We can't make any decision that would involve them."
"What? You mean you would take the majority view?"
"I didn't say that," Max shook his head. "I'll take their opinions into consideration. That's all."
"How is Maria involved? Has someone healed her?"
"No," Max grinned. "But Michael's been... sleeping... with her. Who knows how she's been affected?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


posted on 15-Mar-2002 3:49:01 PM by WR
Thanks for your feedback. I hope that you are still enjoying my story, despite my eratic posting. Tonghts episode gets a little ... hmmmm .... why don;t you just read it and see. I think you like it. *wink*


Chapter 3:

[I/]Crashdown Café, Monday evening, 18th March

In spite of the news that Isabel had given him, Max returned the Crashdown that evening with an extra spring in his step. Liz loved him. He loved Liz. She understood all his problems and was determined to stand by him regardless. Even though he had been such a... tyrant on Antar, he must have done something right. He had been rewarded with the love of Liz Parker. You were also rewarded with the love of Ava, that small voice reminded him. Max shook the voice away. He was feeling too good to be brought down by nagging worries.
"Hey, Max," Jeff nodded as he passed by Max in the doorway.
Being polite, Max had held the door open for him. Max watched him carefully as he walked towards his car.
"He's been acting strange all afternoon, Max," Liz informed him as she joined him at the door.
"Hey," he smiled, before he swept her into a warm and tender embrace.
"Have you eaten?" she asked with a giggle as she extricated herself from Max.
"Yeah," Max nodded, holding Liz's hand and following her inside. "Mom made some dinner. Something from her Martha Stewart collection."
"I can fix you some fries," Liz nodded with a wry smile. "Do you want something to drink?"
"Just a cherry coke, please," he grinned.
He watched Liz as she went about her tasks, serving the customers. Soon, she was able to sit with him.
"Max, look," she whispered, sliding the photo of the Crashdown as it appeared eighteen years ago.
"Liz..." Max gasped. "This was what we saw..."
"In that vision, yeah," she completed for him. "Max, this is the Crashdown, the year my parents bought it. The year before I was born."
"This is..."
"Incredible. Yeah," Liz agreed. "The thing is, Max? Why did we see that? Why did we see someone or something looking at the pods, at yours in particular, and then follow them... it... to visit the Crashdown?"
"Maybe it was a premonition, Liz."
"A premonition? Of what?"
"That it would be here that I meet my soul mate. Like it knew that Ava, no matter how much she loved me, wasn't the one. It was you, Liz."
Liz smiled at him, a shy, sensuous smile.
"Uh, Max?" she shook the pang of desire away. "I think my dad's acting weird on us. He was watching us earlier, and than asked me where you were. It's kind of..."
"Worrying?"
"Yeah," Liz nodded.
"I know, Liz," Max confessed. "He called my dad about something earlier. That's what Isabel wanted. She told me he called, but she couldn't hear what it was about."
"Maybe we should sneak in and check his board?" Liz considered.
"Ordinarily, I'd agree," Max shrugged. "But Dad called earlier. He said he was working late. Isabel says Jesse's working late too. And I'm pretty sure that your dad is on his way over there."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Philip Evan's office, Monday night, 18th March

"Hi Jeff," Philip met him at the door to his offices. "Jesse just arrived with pizza and coffee. Come on up."
"I could have had the girls cook us up some take outs," Jeff told Philip as he followed him through the reception. "It would have saved you some bucks."
"Next time, perhaps," Philip smiled.
"Philip, Jeff," Jessie nodded as the two men entered the room.
At the invitation of Philip, the three of them took some coffee, some pizza, and sat in the three chairs around the board that the various clues and questions had been arranged upon.
"Well, I guess it would be easiest if I talked through the clues here, and let you both know the things that I have found out, and the things that I already knew about. Then the two of you can make comments about anything weird that you might have noticed. Then we can discuss them. We have three fine minds, gentlemen. Max is just a seventeen-year-old kid. I seriously doubt that he would be able keep his secret with us working on it together."
Philip told them everything about Max. From the day they found him and Isabel in the desert, the incident with the bird, the fire, his missing weeks and weekends, and his undulating mood swings. He also gave them as much information as he could about the strange circumstances surrounding Sheriff Valenti's dismissal, and the Grant Sorenson case. He then brought them up to date with apparent hold up of the store and the real reason he was the there, the wrecked jeep, the disappearance of Tess and the latest incident with the melted rivets. Philip kept back the news of Tess's pregnancy. He believed that Jeff could do without worrying that Max would do the same to his daughter.
For his part, Jeff told them of the strange day at the Crashdown and the rumours that Liz had been shot and healed. Then he remembered the first time he had really noticed Max, when his mother had been in hospital with that stroke. The nursing staff had told him that Max had turned up only moments before she had died, and had later taken Liz home. He told Philip about the conversations with Max about protecting his daughter, how he felt about Max saving Liz, for standing by her in her hour of need, but how at the same time, he couldn't help but wonder if Max was responsible in some small way. He then told them the conversation with Hanson, and the melted rivets. Those rivets really bothered Jeff.
Jesse then surprised them by telling them the story of his honeymoon, how a strange man had taken an interest in Isabel, and how one morning, he awoke in the lawns and was sure he saw someone disappear into whole in the air. He explained how he believed that the man had drugged him, so his perception may have been awry, but he clearly remembered that he had seen Max and his friend, Michael there.
They discussed the facts individually, and collectively. Three times, they had sent out for some coffee from an all night diner at the other end of town, not wishing to alert Max or his friends as to their meeting.
"Do you think Max has some of those special powers?" Jeff asked. His mind was still on those rivets. "Like that eastern European guy that bends those forks with the power of his mind. I think his name is Uri Gellar."
"It could be," Philip nodded. "But that's a far cry from melting rivets. Or healing people."
"You know," Jesse pondered. "Max and the others, they act like someone is looking for them, like they are hiding from someone."
"The police?" Jeff asked. "The FBI?"
"Or maybe the Mob," Jesse whispered. "What if the Mob is after Max?"
"But what for?" Philip asked. "I mean, it's not like he would owe them money or anything, is it?"
"Maybe they want Max because they know he has these... gifts. What if he has the gift of healing? What if the Mob wants him because of how they could exploit him. And Max is searching for answers as to why he has these gifts. Gifts that he is afraid of because it draws people trouble to those he cares about."
"Still," Philip stared at the board. "Where does Tess fit into all of this. And where is she?"
"You don't think he killed her, do you?" Jesse asked.
"Maybe not in cold blood, no," Philip shook his head. "But maybe it was an accident. Maybe she found something out and they tried to keep her quiet."
"By they," Jeff's voice was cold and tight. "Are you suggesting that Liz had anything to do with... with... murder?"
"No," Philip shook his head. "Only that Tess was so much a part of my son's life that he ... and now she's missing."
"Oh god," Jeff clenched his fists. "What have you done, Liz?"
The three fell silent as they each contemplated what was going on with people they loved.
"But why would the FBI be so interested in him?" Jeff asked.
"Because the FBI want to use him," Jesse continued. "Like a super spy."
"What have these kids become involved in?" Jeff snapped. "I'm sorry, Phillip. I'm going to have to forbid Liz from ever seeing Max again.
"You could try to do that," Jesse advised. "I've seen these... 'kids'. I'm closer to their age than you are. I remember what it is to think you're in love with someone. Especially your first love. If they have stood together through thick and thin, you could never pry them apart. She's eighteen soon. She can make her own decisions then. It will only drive Liz further away from you."
"So we just sit around, discuss this situation, and do nothing?" Jeff seemed angry. "I don't think so."
"No," Philip shook his head. "We watch. We learn. We wait until one of them slips up, or asks us for help. We have to ask ourselves here, are we trying to drive these kids away? Or are we trying to protect them?"
"But what about the threat to Liz?"
"Well, if what we think is true, that Max has these... abilities. Can you think of anyone better looking after Liz?"
Jeff shook his head with a sigh.
"Don't worry, Jeff," Philip placed his hand on his shoulder. "Max cares for her... deeply. He won't let anything happen to her."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

West Roswell High, Wednesday, 20th March

"Don't worry, Max," Liz urged as they walked hand in hand into the school. "You'll do fine."
"It's not the test that worried me, Liz, Max admitted. "I know I'll ace that. It's everything else. Pete and Lisa, our fathers. It's all so..."
"Overwhelming?"
"Yeah," Max nodded. "I have to work out how to deal with everybody, keeping all of you... us safe. Maybe Isabel is right. Maybe we should tell our parents."
"Well, Max?" Liz sighed. "Ordinarily, I'd agree with you. But... my dad's involved now. What if he tried to separate us? You know, his only daughter dating an alien? It's not exactly commonplace, is it? I'm just so afraid he'd report you to the FBI or someone, just to keep you away from me."
"He wouldn't do that, would he?"
"It's a risk I don't want to have to take, Max," Liz urged.
"So I need to work out how to keep them off balance. Which brings us to our other problems."
"I don't suppose there's a chance that we can ignore them and they'll go away?" Liz sighed.
Max gave a rueful smile and raised on eyebrow.
"I didn't think so," she grumbled. "But we never saw her yesterday, did we?"
"No," Max admitted. "I've not seen her since Monday morning."
"It's too much to hope for that she'll give us some time to ourselves for a change. Max? Why is it we can never just be alone. You and I? Even if we are alone, we still have the others with us."
"It's called responsibility," Max sighed.
"Yeah," Liz nodded. "Talking of which, Max? Since your... accident, have you ever felt anything that might be... like... you son... trying to... contact you?"
"No," Max shook his head. "Nothing. I have to be honest Liz. It worries me. I mean, it's not his fault, is it? I don't really like talking about it in front of you, you know? But I'm worried, Liz. I hope he's okay."
"Max? When we have this situation resolved, maybe we can talk to Lisa... Tess about it. Maybe she can give you the answers you need."
"You never cease to amaze me, Liz," Max looked at her with awe.
Liz looked up at him, both losing themselves in each others eyes.
"I'd better..."
"Go, yeah," Liz nodded. "See you later." She reached up and kissed him on his lips. "Good luck, Max."

***

"Hey Max," Lisa called out when Liz had disappeared into her classroom.
Max groaned, and looked around the hallways for someone to help him. Kyle, Michael, Maria... anyone. He was alone.
"Hey... Lisa," Max replied as he tried to block his mind to her warping attempts. "Haven't seen you in a while."
"Uh huh?" she smirked. "Have you been looking out for me?"
Damn, Max cursed himself.
"Uh, yeah, I mean... no... I mean. No. I just noticed you weren't here yesterday. That's all."
"But I'm here today."
"Yeah," he nodded, waiting for the images to arrive.
"So, I hear you have a big test today?" Lisa inquired.
"Yeah," Max nodded as an image of he and Lisa making out over the desk while the exam was in progress came to mind. "Uh, Liz helped me study."
"Oh," Lisa's voice was cold.
Max noticed that the image started to break up as he thought of Liz.
"May we can go celebrate after. I mean, you're bound to pass."
An image of Lisa removing her black graduation gown appeared in his head. Max started to perspire as he tried to imagine the look of disappointment in Liz's face when she found out that he had not been strong enough to counter these warps. This time, however, it didn't help. In his mind, Lisa was naked, and reaching for his own black gown.
Max turned his mind to Liz. Perhaps if he concentrated on all the things he had hurt her with, he might be able to keep Lisa out of his mind. The thought that kissing Lisa would ease his pain started to form in his mind. It wasn't working. He was naked now, with Lisa. She was turning towards him. The desire to kiss her, to... take her, was overwhelming. It was so hard to resist. It seemed far easier to just give in and suffer the consequences.
'No!' his mind gasped.
Instead, he countered the desire to kiss Lisa with the true feelings of how it felt to kiss Liz. Her warm lips, her soft skin... Yes... yes... Liz was beautiful... so warm... so vibrant... so... Max wanted to do more than kiss Liz. His face flushed with the desire of what he wanted. He could feel how her skin would feel beneath his touch. He could sense Lisa trying to find a way into his mind. His desires for Liz were keeping her out. The hotter the better, it seemed. He thought about how he wanted to throw Liz onto his bed and ravage her senseless, how he wanted to take her in his arms and smother her warm, naked body with hot sensual kisses, while he explored her every inch, every nook and cranny. He imagined how her taut breasts would feel beneath his hands, how her nipples would harden beneath his fingers... his tongue. It was working. As his body reacted to his sexual fantasies with Liz, the image of Lisa retreated, banished. She couldn't compete with the lust-filled desires that burned through Max's blood.
"Earth to Max, earth to Max," in the real world, Lisa tried to break him from the daydream.
"Sorry," Max smiled. "What was that."
"I said, I'll see you later."
"Yeah," Max smiled. Not anymore, you won't. I know how to beat you now.

***

"Are you okay Liz?" the teacher asked her, her eyes narrowed with concern.
She was looking completely flushed, her pale complexion burning a crimson red. She was breathing heavily, and looked like she was in an intense state of... anxiety. Maria was looking at her completely stunned.
"No," she gasped. She held back the huge smile that threatened to reveal her true feelings and forced down the low throaty moan that would have given away what had just happened to her. One detention in her school life was enough, thank you very much. "Can I get a bathroom pass?" she panted.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

*bounce*

LOL. See?
posted on 19-Mar-2002 3:55:55 PM by WR
*wink* I thought you would like that. Sorry you had to wait for tonights part. Hope you continue to enjoy.


Chapter 4

Crashdown Cafe, Wednesday night, 20th March

They had gathered in the corner booth, away from prying eyes and curious ears. At first, they had discusses how they would handle the parent situation. Isabel was more than a little upset that Liz didn't want to risk her father finding out, but as it would likely have a direct impact on her relationship with Max, she kept her feelings... and her comments to herself. A fact for which Max thanked her with his expressive eyes.
Having dealt with the parents... and Jesse, they turned their minds to the other matter at hand, Lisa and Pete.
"I've found a way to beat her," Max informed them as they discussed their plans for making sure Max was never left alone.
"How?" Isabel asked.
"Um... Lets just say that I found something to think about when she tries to flood me with images of her and me. I've found some... better images to replace them with."
Next to him, Liz shifted uncomfortable and turned crimson as she realised what had happened to her today. It was Max's fantasies that had affected her, somehow, she had... experienced them.
"I'm guessing from the way Liz has just blushed her way through every shade of red imaginable, that these thoughts involve her?" Isabel was laughing.
Max looked away slightly embarrassed.
"Oh my god!" Maria squealed, holding her hand to her mouth. "Only Liz feels them too, doesn't she? In class! That's why she looked so... so..."
"Ravished?" suggested Michael.
"And the rest," Maria smirked at Liz who had buried her head in Max's chest. "Ravished is too weak a word. Think how I look when... Never mind."
Now it was Maria's turn to look away in embarrassment.
"Now that was a guffaw!" Michael smirked, dodging Maria's attempt to hit him.
"Can we move along?" Liz's muffled voice called out.
"The thing is," Max told them, that she knows I can block her now. She knows she can't compete with what I block her with. So they might try something else. Something that might hurt one of you... one of us."
"What?" Kyle asked. "You think she might, say, try and kidnap me, or Maria, or... Liz?"
"Actually, Kyle," Max nodded. "I think they might just target Liz. It's me they really want. Michael and Isabel are the icing, but it's me they're after."
"Well, we can start making sure that Liz is never alone," Kyle sat forward in his seat. "I may not have any superpowers, but I know how to take a Skin down."
"Thank you, Kyle," Max nodded. "But won't this affect your relationship with Louise? Will she be okay with you hanging around Liz so much?"
"The question is, Max," Isabel interrupted. "Will you?"
Michael snorted. Everyone turned to look at him. He returned everyone's stare, except for Max and Liz's.
"Oh, yeah," he nodded. "He knows that Liz would never... Yeah. He'll be okay. But wouldn't you prefer Isabel or... me... to look after her?"
"Everyone will help look after everyone, Michael," Max looked at each of his friends in turn. But it's time we finished this. I think it's time we took the fight to them. We need to get into the records office, to find their address. Michael, since you did so well last time, do you think you can handle it again?"
"Sure, Max," Michael nodded. "Now, is that all? My shift just started, and Mr. Parker is not looking too pleased just now.
"Oh yeah, ours too," Liz announced.
Holding Max's hand for as long as possible, Liz slowly followed Michael and Maria into the back room to get ready for their evening shift.
"I don't like this, Max," Isabel sighed.
"Neither do I, Iz," Max nodded. "But it's time we took our lives back."

***

He paused at her doorway and listened for any sounds that might indicate that she was not asleep. Hearing only silence, he crept to the top of the stairs, and sneaked down into the main part of the building. Wincing at the complaining shriek of the door, he entered the Café. His bare feet padded over the cold surface of the floor, still sticky from the cleaning solution residue. He reached the corner booth, and sat down in the darkness. His hand reached beneath the table, and found the square box taped beneath it. The tape peeling away seemed louder than it should have been. He pressed the rewind button, and watched the small tape spin backwards, rewinding to it's beginning. With only half the tape rewound, his patience was tested. He pressed the stop, followed by the play buttons.

"just say that I found something to think about when she tries to flood me with images of her and me. I've found some... better images to replace them with."
"I'm guessing from the way Liz has just blushed her way through every shade of red imaginable, that these thoughts involve her?"
"Oh my god! Only Liz feels them too, doesn't she? In class! That's why she looks so... so..."
"Ravished?"
"And the re..."

He pressed the stop button again. His face looked worried. Even though he did not really understand what was being said, he was clearly disturbed by it. Just what was Max Evans doing to his daughter? He carefully tucked the small recorder up on a shelf in the back room, behind a large heavy box. With his mind in a whirl, he climbed the steps up to the apartment.
A small shadow stepped out from the kitchen and lifted a cell phone. Small, nimble fingers pressed a speed dial button and lifted the phone to its shadowed face.
"Max?" a soft voice whispered. "It's Liz. I'm sorry to wake you, but listen. We have a problem."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Crashdown Café, Thursday morning, 21st March.

"Whoa!" Jeff cried out as he collided with Max when he hurried through the doors of the café on his way out. "Uh... sorry Max." Jeff could hardly meet his gaze."
"That's okay," Max held Jeff's arm and placed his hand to his chest to steady him. "You're in a hurry."
"Yeah, sorry," Jeff smiled. The smile seemed fake, too forced. "Um... Liz is almost ready."
Jeff patted his chest, as though he was making sure that something was still there, and hurried through the door towards his car. It had been difficult trying to deal with Max. All night long, he kept hearing the comment over and over. Max was doing something that made Liz look as though she had been involved in sexual activity. Part of him wanted to strangle the boy, but he knew that what he carried was important, and he needed to get it to Philip right away. There was little traffic at that time, and soon reached Philips office which was only a short drive away. He was a little surprised to find Isabel in the reception area. She was, after all, involved. Her voice was on that tape.
"Hi, Mr. Parker," she smiled at him.
Jeff was too nervous to do anything other than nod.
"Go right on in," she continued. "Jesse and my dad are expecting you."
"Jeff," Philip stood and clasped his hand when he came in. "Good to see you. Can I get you a coffee?"
"No," Jeff shook his head. "It's okay. It worked. I taped the recorder under the table just like you said, and it recorded everything. I played a little bit half way through, just to make sure we got it. It was clear as a bell."
"Excellent," Philip smiled, and he watched Jeff place the small tape recorder on the desk. "Maybe now we'll find out just what my son his hiding."
He leaned over and pressed the play button. The tapes started with a hiss through the small internal speaker, and continued to hiss. The three men watched, waiting for something rather than the hiss to play through the speaker. At last Jeff shook his head.
"I don't understand it," he confessed. "Last night, I played a few minutes of the tape. I heard voices. I even hid it away where they wouldn't find it."
"You're sure no one saw you?" Philip asked, his disappointment clear.
"Yeah," Jeff nodded. "I waited till early this morning, like two a.m. No one was awake, I checked. No one could have seen me collect it, or where I hid it."
"Somehow, they found out about it," Jesse frowned.
"I bumped into Max this morning. On his way to see... Liz. Maybe he..."
"So add tape erasing to his talents?" Jesse asked.
"But how did he find out about it?" Philip Evans asked. "I mean, if he knew that it was there, he would have erased it before Jeff found it. Maybe there was a magnet or something near where you hid it. Why don't we just try again?"
"Sure," Jeff shrugged.
"Can you remember what you heard?" Jesse asked. "Was it anything... useful?"
"To our investigation? No. To me as a father?" Jeff's face darkened. "Yes."
"Would you mind telling us what you heard, Jeff?" Philip asked.
Showing clear signs of discomfort, Jeff started to repeat what he heard.
"Max said something about finding a way to beat some images by using ones of his own. I have no idea what that means. Isabel then said the Liz was blushing, so she must be involved somehow. Then Maria said something about Liz feeling it, and looking like she had been... ravished."
There was a moment of silence.
"Um... Jeff?" Jesse spoke quietly. "I know what you're thinking, but I believe I can help. Isabel was joking about Max and Liz the other night. From what she was saying, I think it's safe to say that they haven't... become intimate yet."
"Yeah?" Jeff nodded. "That makes me feel better, I guess. Thanks Jesse. But it's only a matter of time, right?"
Jesse's slow nod was confirmation enough.
"Philip?" Jeff asked. "Can you assure me that Max would be responsible? That he won't get my Lizzie pregnant?"
"Of course," Philip lied to reassure Jeff as he remembered Isabel's confession that Max had gotten Tess pregnant.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Cliffs outside Roswell Thursday afternoon, 21st March

They had gathered at the cliffs outside of Roswell, overlooking the reservoir. It was the place they often came to when things were troubling them. They had taken careful precautions to ensure that they weren't followed. Precautions that had worried Isabel, Michael, Maria and Kyle.
"So, Maxwell," Michael growled in irritation. "Do you want to tell us what mess were in now? Why all the secrecy?"
"This morning," Liz began. " Really early in this morning, I was thirsty, so I got up to get a drink, and if you make a sarky comment, Michael, I'll stop right now and leave you to stew, wondering just what the problem is!"
"Way to go, Liz" Maria smirked, looked at Michael.
Michael just glowered at Liz, ignoring everyone's smiles.
"The fridge in the kitchen had no milk, so I had to go downstairs to the café. While I was by the fridge, my dad came down. He was sneaking around, as if he didn't want to be seen. I watched him walk over to the table we had all sat at last night, when we had that big talk. Anyway, he had a tape recorder under there. He played some of the tape. It was us talking. They taped our conversation."
There were suitable howls of indignation, and looks of panic, especially from Isabel.
"This is getting ridiculous Max. It getting so that we have to fear our own parents as much as we do the FBI."
"I know," Max nodded.
"No, no," Liz interrupted them. "You know what? Max and I dealt with it."
"Dealt with it?" Michael demanded. "How?"
"I erased the tape," Max shrugged.
"What about the part he listened to?" Kyle asked.
All eyes were now on Max.
"The only thing he heard is something that only Max and I need to worry about," Liz continued. "It's something I need to deal with. Nothing to do with you."
"Why only you?" Isabel asked, her eyes narrowed.
"Oh my god!" exclaimed Maria. "He heard the part about your in-class orgasm!"
"Maria!" Liz squealed, her embarrassment rising again.
"Like she said," Max replied in a tone that let the others understand that this point was not open for debate. "It's our concern, not yours. What is your concern though, is Lisa and Pete. Did you get a chance to look at their records?"
"Yeah," nodded Michael. He looked over at Maria. "Maria distracted the secretary while I sneaked into the records room. I pulled their files, and wrote down the address. We drove by there after school. Max, there is no way they live there. The house was empty."
"Wasn't Tess's house empty the first time we went through this?" Liz asked. "Didn't they move in the next day, or something?"
"I don't know," Michael shook his head. "I just have this feeling that they used a false address this time. But surely Tess knows we would check her out. She knows we're not stupid."
Max nodded, wile staring into space.
"Okay," he finally broke the silence. "Lets get back before we're missed. Let me sleep on this."
Maria gave a soft snort.
"I bet you'd rather sle..."
"Maria!" Liz scolded.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Crashdown Café, Friday afternoon, 22nd March

"Hey Max," Liz gave Max a big smile when he came into the Crashdown. She had come home with Maria after school, because Max had to go to collect his exam result. Liz had wanted to stay with him, but her shift started too early to allow that. Max had promised to go straight to the Crashdown once he had his graded paper. "Well?"
"It not as good as it should be," Max murmured flatly.
"Oh," Liz looked disappointed. She wiped her hands, and sat down in the seat next to him. "Show me."
He pulled a folded sheet of paper from his bag, and handed it to Liz. She looked up into his eyes for a moment, and then unfolded the paper. A large red 'A' was written in the corner.
"Max, this is great!" she enthused. "Of course, I got an 'A+' when I took mine last week. And I don't have super powers."
"Exactly," he smirked. "So you don't have to hide them."
"No, this is great Max," she smiled. "I mean, I knew you know all this stuff, but it's the grade that's important. Let me get you a drink. To celebrate."
She reached over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. His eyes followed her every move as she rose from the booth and went over to the soda fountain. He caught Mr. Parker watching him intently. A suspicious tingling at the back of his neck started to rise. With as much nonchalance as he could muster, Max reached under the table and started to feel around. As he had guessed, he found the recorder taped to the bottom of the tabletop. Probing with his fingers, he soon found the button he sought. He pressed it, and then looked for the rewind. While he waited for Liz to return, he allowed the tape to record silence. He idly wondered about saying a few words to throw his father of the track, but decided that silence would be better. When Liz came over with his drink, he stopped it again, and rewound it. This would make them think.

Michael and Maria entered the café. Max and Liz exchanged a quick look, and started to smile. Their friends were holding hands.
"Maria and I..." Michael started as they slid into the booth. "We're ah..."
"What my brain dead boyfriend is trying to say is that we are a couple again. Just like you and Liz."
"I see," Max smirked. "And he had trouble telling me because...?"
"Because he gave you such a hard time about starting to date Liz again, the he thought you'd get mad."
"Oh," Max chuckled. "Right. So can I take it that you know..."
"No!" Michael jumped in. His eyes were pleading with Max not to say anything of their conversation the other day.
"Know what?" Maria inquired.
"Never mind," Michael shook his head. "I'll tell you some other time."
"Uh huh," Maria looked unimpressed.
"Hey, guys," Liz arrived with more drinks, saving Michael, for the moment. "Congratulations."
"I couldn't let Maxwell have all the fun, now, could I?"
"So you two are finally together again?" Isabel asked as she walked over to them. She slid in next to Michael, knowing that Liz would want t sit next to Max when she had the chance. "About time."
"Hey, Isabel," Liz nodded. She had not missed the gesture of friendship by not sitting next to max, although she could have sat on the other side of him. "Can I get you a drink?"
"Hi Liz," Isabel nodded. "Yeah, could I get a coke?"
"Sure."
"It looks like everyone is where they should be," Kyle observed as he entered the Crashdown.
"Everyone except you and me, Kyle," Isabel observed. "Where's Louise?"
"What are you trying to say, Isabel?" Kyle smirked.
"I mean," Isabel rolled her eyes, "that I'm here without Jesse, and you are here without Louise. So not everyone is where they should be."
"Oh," Kyle shrugged, and then nodded his thanks as Liz handed him a coke. "I'm seeing her later. I didn't think it was a good idea to bring her in here. Somehow, I knew that you guys would be talking ... you know."
"Thanks," Max nodded. He still found it difficult to comprehend that Kyle knew all about them. That he was okay with Liz being his, and not Kyle's. "You know... if you'd rather... you don't have to..."
"It's okay, Evans," Kyle chuckled. "I'll help any way I can."
Max nodded at Kyle.
"Okay," Max looked around the group. "We suspect that Lisa and Pete have given a false address. Seeing that Lisa can make people see pretty much what she wants them to see, it would have been easy for her to register for school here. She probably had a mother and a father with her when she did. So we're going to have to rely on the old fashioned method."
"Which is?" Maria asked.
"Michael, Isabel and I will work together to follow one of them."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



posted on 21-Mar-2002 4:09:10 PM by WR
Hi everyone. I am sorry that things are still eratic with my posting. If it's not one thing, it's another. I'm afraid real life is crashing into me with a vengeance. :(

As always, thanks for your feedback. Well, all their problems come crashing into each other tonight *wink*

BTW- A real good Chapter 6 coming up! *happy*


Chapter 5

Crashdown Café, Friday afternoon, 22nd March

"Hello, Philip?" Jeff spoke in a quiet voice down the phone. "Listen, I think the kids are planning something."
"Is the recorder in place?" Philip asked.
"Yeah. It is," Jeff confirmed. "Listen. I think that whatever it is that's going on, it's going to happen tonight. There's a kind of tension in the air. Some of the kids, like Liz and Maria, don't look too happy. Philip, I'm afraid they are planning something... illegal. Max is still here. He's just sitting out front in his car with a determined look on his face. Michael and Isabel left already. They drove off in Maria's car. The look on their face..."
"Try and get that tape as soon as you can," Philip urged. "Jesse and I will come by the café and park out front. When Max leaves, we'll follow him."

***

Max sat in his car, for the first time since his accident, feeling glad that he was not driving the more conspicuous jeep. He was patiently waiting for the signal from Maria that would inform him that Lisa, Pete, or both of them were now leaving. Liz had already left with Kyle, an attempt to persuade Lisa that Max and Liz were not around because they were out on a date somewhere. At last, the lights of the ridiculous alien spaceship bolted to the wall of the Crashdown Café switched off and than back on. Just the once. The signal informed Max that only one of the evil-alien duo was leaving. The lights would have flickered twice if they had been leaving together. Max started the engine, and from his vantage-point down the street, watched the doorway to the café. He was pleased to see that it was Pete, and not Lisa who had emerged alone from the Crashdown. Max was still rather nervous of Lisa and her incredible ability to make people see thing that really weren't there. It terrified him. Besides that, Pete seemed a little less... competent than Lisa. He pressed the speed dial of the cell phone, and laid it on the seat beside him. He would shout directions while at the other end, where Isabel listened to her cell phone, she would direct Michael, trying to stay ahead Pete. As Pete's car pulled out into the traffic, Max followed, a suitable distance behind. He did not notice the larger, dark car that pulled out behind him.

***

It was laughably easy. Pete kept to the main road that went through town. Although the Friday evening traffic was heavy, Max had no problems following Pete's car. He knew that Michael was up ahead, keeping a safe distance in front, so Max dropped back a little, still managing to keep the car in sight. As they left the suburbs of Roswell, there were fewer vehicles to shield Max's car. He hung back as far as he dared, and so almost missed it when the car turned off from the main road, and onto an old dirt track. It was the plume of dust that revealed his quarry. Max called Isabel to turn back, while he waited at the turn off. Michael soon pulled up, parking on the other side of the road.
"Where did he go?" Michael called as he and Isabel crossed the road to him.
"Down there," Max pointed to some rock outcrops about a short distance away. "The dust cloud he was kicking up stopped just behind them."
"Maybe he picked up another road?" Michael stared hard at the rocks.
"There isn't one out there, Michael," Max shook his head. "It's just desert."
"So what are we waiting for?"
"We'll make our way along that ridge," Max pointed out a line that they could follow. "It should give us some cover. We'll come up on the main cluster over there."
"So let's go," Michael started to move towards the ridge that Max had indicated.
Max and Isabel followed, and the three of them were soon creeping along the chosen path.
"So where did he go?" Michael asked when they approached Pete's car, obviously empty.
"Over there," Max pointed. "Look."
They saw Pete, heading for a large set of rocks further away. There was plenty of cover, they noticed, but there was also some open spaces.
"Come on," Max shrugged. "Lets get this over with."
They continued to follow Pete, noticing that he was struggling with the heat. Before long, they were less than a hundred meters behind him. Clearly, he sensed something, because he kept turning around, and looking back along his trail.
"Why hasn't he seen us?" Michael asked after they once again dodged behind some cover. "I mean, a couple of times there, we were in the open."
"I'm shielding us," Max whispered. "I'm creating the illusion of rocks and shrubs."
"Like a mind warp?" Isabel asked in awe.
"No, not really," Max shook his head. "At least, not entirely. I can't hide us, I can only... persuade Pete that we are natural elements of the desert."
"Where did you learn to do that?" Michael asked, staring over the top of the rocks.
"I... I'm not sure," Max also looked up.
"All right," a voice called from behind them. Pete suddenly stopped, and turned to face the three of them, and the caller. "Show yourselves, or I'll hurt your human friends here."

***

"Where did they go?" Jeff asked. "One minute they were there, and the next..."
"I'm not sure," Philip asked. He glanced over at Jesse who was bent over examining the dirt. "But they're still following the same trail, right?"
"Yeah," Jesse nodded. "They're still following the same set of tracks. I don't understand it though. Although they are taking a zig zag course, they don't seem to hurry across the open spaces. It's almost as though they don't think that whoever they are following will spot them."
"How can they move so easily in this heat? And this terrain?" Jeff wondered out loud. "Where do you think they are going?"
"It looks like the guy they're following is heading for that butte over there," Jesse pointed.
"I want to know what they're doing," Philip stared into the gloom. "I hope they're not doing anything... illegal."
"I'd like to know why it is we can't see them," Jesse hissed. "I mean, I can see that other guy from time to time, way out there, look. But I can't see Max, Isabel or Michael."
"So where are they?" Jeff asked. "I mean, are we sure they are out there?"
"Yeah," Jesse nodded. "I'm not really sure how to explain this, but I have this feeling... that Isabel is only a short distance ahead."
"You feel it too?" Philip looked relieved. "I've been able to feel when Max and Isabel are close for so long now."
Jeff looked closely at the two of them.
"How is it that you have this... closeness with your kids, when they're only adopted? I mean, I don't share anything like that with Liz."
"I'm sure it has nothing to do with how much you love her, Jeff," Philip placed his hand on Jeff's shoulder in sympathy. "Maybe it something more to do with... this secret of Max's."
"You can get up now," a voice said from behind them.
The three men turned to see two men holding guns on them.
"We're not trespassing," Philip said. "We're not doing anything wrong here."
"All right," the man called out to the desert, ignoring Philips protests. "Show yourselves, or I'll hurt your human friends here."

***

As one, Max, Isabel and Michael rose and faced the voice that had called out. They just knew that it had been aimed at them, just like they knew that the voice didn't know where they were, only that they were out there. The bottom dropped out of Max's world when he connected the 'humans' that the voice spoke about to Liz, Maria and Kyle. Michael and Isabel shared similar bleak thoughts. Max thought about the 'masking' he had applied to the three of them, and wondered if he could reveal himself but keep the other two hidden. With a deep sigh of frustration, he dropped the images of desert rocks and bushes, realizing that he did not know how to control this new ability... yet. All three of them were surprised to discover that the 'humans' actually referred to in this case was Philip Evans, Jesse Ramirez and Jeff Parker. Not the three they had first thought, but important to them none-the-less.
"Thank you," one of the gunmen smiled at Philip. "We'd never have found them without your help. Hell, we'd never even have known they were there. We owe you a debt of gratitude."
One by one, Max looked at his father, Jesse and Mr. Parker, holding their confused gaze for a moment before they looked away. Not one of the three men could hold Max's stare for long. Max didn't try to hide the disappointment in his eyes.
In spite of the shame, they couldn't help wonder just what Max and the others had gotten themselves involved with.
Max approached them all, flanked by Michael and Isabel, his mind carefully weighing up the options. The fact that one of the gunmen was standing right next to Mr. Parker prevented Max from throwing up the shield of his to protect them while Michael and Isabel took the three 'enemies' on.
"Ah, Zan," the gunman who had called out smiled. "So glad that you could join us."
"You have me, now," Max growled. "Let the others go. They have nothing to do with this."
"Not a chance," the man sneered. "Do you think I would deprive these three men, men who are important to you, the opportunity to see you brought low? When they have done so much to get to this moment? First, we have your human father. The man raised you as his own yet even now leads a plot against you. Some things never change. He seeks to discover your well-guarded secrets, giving little care for how this might hurt you. Such loyalty you inspire. Next, we have one who would call himself your brother-in-law. A human who dares to replace Kivar in Vilondra's bed. One who calls himself Vilondra's husband. Kivar is most displeased with you, my Lady. Kivar has given me most explicit instructions as to Mr. Ramirez' fate. And last, but by no means least, we have the father of the poor human girl you chose over your pre-ordained bride. Here he is, seeking for a way to keep the two of you apart, even though he does not realize that he would not longer have her to worry about, had you not twice risked everything to save her."
The three older men shifted with their discomfort. Exchanging confused looks with one another. What exactly was that man talking about?
Philip considered the accusations leveled against him. Even when it had become clear that his son had become involved in something on a scale far larger than he could comprehend, he had persisted with his search. He had been giving little thought as to how he might help Max, not even considering that he might in some way be adding to the danger in his already complicated life. He had long ceased considering how to help Max, focussed only on the discovery of his secret.
Jesse pondered the words of the man. 'A human who dares to replace Kivar in Vilondra's bed.' Had Isabel been unfaithful? Had she been involved with another man before he had met her? Perhaps he was a mobster? Was that Max's secret? That he had, all this time, been trying to only help his sister? Just what did they have planned for him? What would they do with Isabel?
Jeff had too many random thoughts spinning in his mind to call himself coherent. Max chose Liz over a pre-ordained bride? What did that even mean? Pre-ordained as in an arranged marriage? But that's ridiculous. Jeff knew that there were some religions that still practiced the arrangement of marriages, and that Royal families used to work in that way. But Max had been adopted at a young age, had been raised by the Evan's, Surely, they would have been made aware of any previous arrangements. Surely the authorities had never found any relatives of the kid's. So how would anyone know about something that had been arranged? Of course, the man had been right.. All he wanted was a way to remove this mysterious young man from his daughter's life. Wait! What did he mean by 'he does not realize that he would no longer have her to worry about, had you not twice risked everything to save her'? Just how deeply involved with Max was Liz?
The same thoughts then struck the three men at the same time.
"Zan?" Philip looked at Max.
"Vilondra?" Jesse asked Isabel.
"Human?" all three men demanded, looking back at the first speaker.
"We'll take these to the chamber," the man in charge barked, ignoring the confused demands of the three hostages. He turned to Pete. "Go back to Roswell. Find Tess. We no longer need her. It's time she received her reward."
"What?" Pete looked up grinning. "Kill her?"
The man just nodded.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Crashdown Café, Friday evening, 22nd March

Maria stood behind the counter and looked around the empty café. Lisa, the last customer, had left a while ago. She gave out a deep groan. With nothing to do and no customers to serve, all she could do was to worry about Michael, Max and Isabel.
"Hi, Maria," Nancy smiled as she came into the café from the back room. "It's quiet tonight. Where is everyone?"
Staying the hell away from here, if they have any sense, Maria decided in her mind. "I think there might be a game or something, at school."
"Oh," Nancy nodded. "Is Max playing, or something?"
"No," Maria shook her head. "Why would you think that?"
"It's just that Liz isn't here either, so I thought..."
"Oh," Maria laughed. "Nah, they just went out for a... um, a date. Max aced his test, and he taking her out to thank her."
"They sure are... close," Nancy observed, a sense of worry creeping into her thoughts.
"Don't worry, Mrs. Parker," Maria shook her head. "Max would never intentionally hurt Liz."
"It's the unintentional that worries me, Maria."
There is that, Maria decided as Mrs. Parker retreated to their apartment upstairs. Max had caused Liz all kinds of unintentional pain. But then again, Liz had caused Max his own pain, quit deliberately.
The bell rang out, Maria glanced up to see Lisa returning.
'Why am I not surprised?' Maria smirked.
"So where is everyone?" Lisa demanded.
"By 'everyone', do you mean Max and Liz?" Maria asked in a voice laden with phony honey.
"Yeah," Lisa's response was cold. "Look, Maria. I don't think you realize what's at stake here. Why don't you tell me where they are?"
"Like I'm going to do that," Maria defied her, but her voice was not as brave as it had been.
Maria seemed frozen in place, as Lisa walked around the counter towards her. She held one of the sharp knives from the kitchen in her hand, which she held inches from Maria's face.
"Are you going to tell me where Max is?" Lisa growled. "Or do I have to remodel your looks?"
"I'll not tell you anything," Maria's tears flooded from her eyes.
"You don't owe him anything," Lisa barked. "Just tell me where he is."
"He's my friend," Maria snapped. "And the boyfriend of my best friend. But that's clearly a concept that you couldn't possibly understand."
Lisa dropped the knife to the floor and slumped against the counter. She clearly had no stomach to inflict any pain upon Maria.
"You've only made things worse for him," she sighed.
Before Maria could respond, the bell rang again. Both pairs of eyes turned to the door.
"Pete," Lisa exclaimed.
Pete raised his hand and a bolt of green light flew towards Lisa. She managed to deflect the blast, but she was knocked backwards, slamming against the wall. Maria hurried to her side, but by the time she got there, Pete had already encased her in coils of yellow energy.
"What... what do you want?" Maria gasped.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Kyle's car, Friday afternoon, 22nd March

"Are you okay, Liz?" Kyle asked as he eased his mustang through the quieter streets of Roswell. "You've been kinda quiet for a long time now."
"Nothing," Liz spat. "It's just..."
"Max?" he asked, looking sideways at her.
"Yeah," she sighed. "He so... he always has to do this. He always pushes me to one side, just when he needs everyone around him. You know, for support."
"I know," Kyle nodded in sympathy.
"You wouldn't do anything like that, would you Kyle?"
She was looking at him with a strange gleam in her eye. Kyle swallowed hard. He had a sudden panic that that Liz was looking for someway to hurt Max, to pay him back.
"Um, Liz?" he gulped. "If you're looking for someway to... you know... like the last time... I..."
"Oh stop thinking with your... Get your mind out of the gutter, Kyle," Liz snapped. "I'm not thinking of doing that to Max. Ever. I only want to talk. And who else is there?"
"Well, how about Maria?"
"You know," Liz continued. "I'm thinking that maybe we should go back and follow Lisa ourselves. Maybe we can..."
"Not a good idea, Liz," Kyle shook his head. "Look. You might as well get used to this. Max would never let you put yourself into a risky situation. It doesn't matter what you say or do, or how strong you are. He won't do it. You mean that much to him."
"I helped him escape the FBI," Liz pointed out.
"But they only had guns, and Max was kind of out of it, you know? Listen Liz, your relationship is new again, still fragile. In time, it will become as strong as cement. Then perhaps, you can help him. But let him care for you, let him keep you safe, until he realizes that while he is strong when you are together, he is stronger when you are side by side."
Liz considered his words as they drove around Roswell for another hour. At long last, Kyle pulled up in front of the Crashdown. Liz climbed out from his car.
"Park around the back, Kyle," she smiled at him. "Then come on back in. I'll treat you to a meal."
"Can't turn down free food," Kyle winked.
As Kyle pulled away, Liz walked into the café.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


posted on 27-Mar-2002 12:38:50 PM by WR
Hi everyone. I am so sorry for this delay. Ugh! I upgraded to IE6 the other night, and since then, I can't access anything! I think it's a cookies/security issue, as I have to have a firewall on my computer, due to the work I do. Anyway, I found another route in. Thanks for posting that note, Maxi!

Well, here is the much awaited part 6. I hope that the information I give you in this part makes up for the delay in posting.

Thanks for your kind words, and your patiance.

Wayne.

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

Chapter 6

Crashdown Café, Friday evening, 22nd March

"What do I want?" Pete repeated with a sneer. "I'll tell you, shall I? Firstly, what I want to do, is to kill Lisa. She is, after all, a slut not worthy of the love she thinks Kivar shows for her."
He started to laugh as he approached Lisa.
"What about me?" Maria whimpered.
"Oh, yes," Pete sneered. "Don't worry, I have plans for you. And that other bitch." The leer that he gave Maria did little to comfort her.
The bell rang out indicating that another customer had arrived. Maria's eyes widened with fear when she saw her best friend Liz enter the café.
"Run, Liz!" she cried out. "Get out of here!"
Liz glanced over to Maria, and took in the horrific situation at once. Her eyes widened, but she did not show any signs of following Maria's suggestion.
Pete turned to her, and instantly raised his hand. A yellow light caught her, and held her tight. Even if she wanted to, Liz could not flee. Instead, she stood up to him.
"What do you want?" she repeated Maria's question.
' "Like I was telling your friend here," he continued. "First I'll kill Lisa, and then... Then I'll see just what it is about human girls that makes Zan and Rath so weak at the knees."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Desert, Friday evening, 22nd March

"Tess is alive?" Philip asked, rather loudly, as their captives lead the six of them back to the vehicles. They had all been handcuffed. Philip could have sworn the men had been had not been carrying them.
"Yeah," the other man who had not spoken much confirmed. He broke into a huge smile. But not for much longer."
"What about her son?" Philip demanded. "Is he alive too?"
Son? Alarm bells rang in Jeff's mind. He knew that Max had been involved with that girl, Tess. Had he gotten her pregnant? And now he had his sights on Liz. To make matters worse, there were now these questions in his mind as to exactly what Max had become involved with, not to mention the strange words that that man had said earlier.
Their two captors started to laugh, while Max simply squirmed with his discomfort.
"You know," the leader announced. "We really found it hard to believe that the once might Zan was so weak, so... stupid. We were overjoyed to be selected to come and see for ourselves. To come back and collect this feeble minded... boy. It's always the girls who lead to your undoing, Zan." They continued to chuckle.
The other man, the quiet one, placed a collar around the necks of Max, Michael and Isabel. When they snapped shut, they lit up with a yellow color. The three older men stared in amazement and confusion, at the sight. They wondered why they had only been handcuffed. They felt scared too. They were all dumped into the back of an old pickup truck.
"Where are you taking us?" Max called out, showing a disturbing lack of concern.
"The old pod chamber," the man informed him.
"Why there?" asked Isabel. "It's been totaled. We saw the place break up."
"Let's just say that we did some remodeling."
"What's a pod chamber?" Philip called out.
The man turned and looked at Philip, shook his head, and climbed into the cab.
"Friggin human's," they heard him spit. "I hate them!"
As they sat in the back of the truck, Max watched as Isabel and Michael tried to vain to activate their innate powers. He had already tried earlier; realizing at once that the collar had somehow neutralized their abilities. A sudden thought struck him. Kal Langley had said that Max had given Liz a part of him. What if he was still able to access that part of him? He reached out with his mind. He tried to find that part of him in Liz's possession.
"Liz," he called, hoping against hope that she would hear him.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Crashdown Café, Friday evening, 22nd March

"So perhaps you would like to explain just why you are betraying Kivar?" Lisa called out. Having recovered from Pete's earlier attack, she had regained some of her bravado. "When he finds out about this, he..."
"I'm not betraying him," Pete laughed. "I'm following his orders. Did you really think that Kivar would be pleased that you failed in your simple task to bring Zan and Vilondra home? He's ordered your death."
"What about Michael?" Maria called out. "I mean... Rath."
Both of the aliens ignored her.
"Kivar would never do that," Lisa shook her head. "I was his favorite."
"Just what's going on?" Liz asked from the corner she had been placed in.
"Well," sneered Pete. "Seeing as you are so keen on the Tyrant of Antar, how about I fill you in with a little background detail? It all really started so many years ago, just after we managed to assassinate the tyrant, his new bride, and the ape of a second in command who sought to not only steal Zan's crown, but his bride too."
"You mean Michael... I mean... Rath, had the hots for... Tess?"
"He desired Ava for himself, yes," Pete laughed.
"Only it went wrong," Liz announced. "Didn't it? You wanted Zan, his bride and Rath out of the way. Zan, so that Kivar could rule, through Vilondra. Rath, so that his followers would not get in your way, and try to rule himself. And the bride, because you couldn't be sure that she was carrying the next King of Antar."
"Except Tess is... I mean, was... I mean, Max's son is probably in some pod now, right?" Maria babbled.
"But somehow, Vilondra got in the way," Liz continued. "The assassins killed her too, didn't they? So Kivar had to take the throne by force. So if he can get Zan and Vilondra back, now reborn as Max and Isabel, he can execute one and rule through the other, removing the opposition of the Royalist faction."
"Very good," Pete clapped his hands together in a slow steady, beat. "But it was what happened after their deaths that was the good bit...
"Zan's mother called a rather extraordinary meeting of her most senior and most trusted advisors and scientists. Between them, they decided to perpetuate a myth that Zan was still alive, and that the words of Kivar are false. They put this spin on the whole thing that claimed when Zan returned, he would be stronger, and a kinder king. That he would end all of the injustices that had been inflicted upon them, that all would be made whole again. They claimed that Zan would return and destroy Kivar and his evil minions.
"Of course, the advisors wanted to know how Zan would ever return if he was dead. Surely, his continued absence would be seen as verification of Kivar's words. That was when the scientists announced that they had taken some human DNA, and created two clones for each of the Royal four. They told the others that they would insert the essences of the dead Royals into the clones, and send them to the planet Earth, where they wold remain in hiding until the time was right to return them to Antar as the reborn Royals."
"But that's just... stupid," Liz pointed out. "I mean, one set, yes. I can understand that. But a second set? I mean, when they're both back on Antar, I can't really see them share the throne, can you?"
"One set of the clones was more Antaran like, while the other was more Human. The ones that retained their more natural qualities would be taught to maintain their aggressive attitudes, their selfish natures. The human like ones would be free to learn the very qualities we fear about your race. Your warlike abilities, your constant need to expand, to conquer. It is just these skills that Zan's mother needed. Plus the human brain, being more powerful, would be the source of greater power. When the two sets would have been retrieved from Earth, they would have had their essences combined into one being that would be more deadly, more powerful that Kivar could ever imagine.
"Some demanded to know why they would send Ava with the King, when it was obvious that she was the one who weakened Zan. Would she not hold too great an influence over him? They also wanted to know what would be done about Rath and Vilondra, and their own desire to rule.
"The scientists then announced that the Antaran clones would still retain that desire. They wanted that fire in their belly. But the human clones were programmed to be more subordinate to Zan. They will still feel the need to resist Zan, but it will be less hostile. When they are combined, they would have a happy medium. As for Ava, her fate was the worst of all. The scientists left her the same as she was. She would still retain her love for Zan and her gentle nature. However, they programmed an intolerance into Zan. He would not return that love. He would wait for the right bride that would be selected for him by his mother, one that would be more amenable to their requirements. This would be her punishment for going against them."
"How do you know all this?" Liz asked.
"Pete was one of Zan's mother's trusted advisors," Lisa shrugged.
"It figures," Liz gave a rueful smile, and nodded her head. "You know, it's not going to work."
"You're right, Liz," Pete nodded. "You see, Kivar will soon collect Zan, uh, Max... and Vilondra. He will return them to Antar, Zan for his public execution and Vilondra to her wedding where she will rule, in name only, at Kivar's side."
"That's not what I meant," Liz shook her head in defiance. "This... plan of yours. You see, you have made the assumption that Zan... Max is the same person that he was on Antar. He's not. This time, he has friends, he has people he trusts. People who love him, and won't betray him."
"People like you?" he sneered. "I heard about you and the other guy. If that isn't betrayal, then I don't know what is."
"You just don't understand, do you?" Liz looked up with understanding on her face. "You know nothing of loyalty, friendship, honor... love. To you it's just about power."
"What else is there?"
"I think that you are in for a rude awakening, then," Liz sighed.
"Yes?" Pete laughed. "When?"
"About now," Kyle cried from behind Pete. He swung the tire lever he was holding in his hand against the small of Pete's back. He exploded in a shower of gray flakes.
"You girls okay?" Kyle asked as he crossed over to Liz.
"Yeah," Liz nodded as she watched the shower of flakes floating to the floor. "Thanks, Kyle."
"I heard this bum talking when I came in," Kyle admitted when he freed Maria. The yellow coils around Lisa went out, and reverted back to simple length of twine. "I went back out and got my lever. When he started talking, I thought I'd just let him ramble. You know, in the best tradition of the movie villain, let him reveal the plot before the hero off's him."
"Well," Liz laughed, "you are definitely the hero.
"So what do we do about her," Maria asked, looking over at Lisa untangling herself from the twine.
"I don't think I can bring myself to kill her in cold blood," admitted Liz. "I don't care who she is, that's not who I am."
Kyle looked visibly relieved.
"You saved my life," Lisa looked at Kyle and Liz in awe as she crossed to join them. Maria moved to stand just behind her. "Thank you."
"It's what we do," Kyle shrugged. "We're like the friggin Justice League of America."
"So now you know," Lisa looked at the large gray flakes that still drifted in the air.
"Actually," Liz ignored the flakes and looked directly at the other girl. "We've known for some time, Tess."
Tess looked up sharply, her face showing complete surprise.
"You know?" she asked in a strangled voice. "Does... everyone know?"
"Yeah," Liz confirmed, knowing exactly who Tess meant. "Max knows."
"How did you..."
"That's not important," Liz shook her head. "And we wouldn't tell you in any case. You betrayed him, Tess. You betrayed us all."
"I... I'm sorry," Tess' shoulders slumped.
"Yeah, sure you are," Liz sneered. "But what is important though, is why you are here. What's going on? And why was Pete trying to kill you?"
"Because," Tess sighed, "as I just found out, I'm expendable."
"What?" demanded Kyle. "But I thought you were the Queen. You're the mother of Max's son, for crying out loud. The next King of your planet."
Tess looked at Liz and then at Kyle. Her eyes showed that she was clearly in a great deal of turmoil and pain.
"Buddha-boy?" she asked at length. "Could you and Maria give me a moment alone with Liz?"
"Not a chance, Tess," Kyle growled, giving a violent shake of his head. Behind Tess, Maria too was shaking her head wildly. "Do you even know what Max would do to me if you hurt Liz and he found out that I had voluntarily left the two of you alone?"
"Look!" she exploded. "I have some things that I need to tell Liz. Alone. Do you really think that you could stop me if I wanted to hurt you? Any of you?"
"It's okay, Kyle," Liz placed her hand on his arm, which he had crossed in front of him in a belligerent stance.
Kyle looked hard at Liz and shook his head at her pleading yet determined eyes. He shot a look of warning to Tess, nodded and left the room, followed by a complaining Maria.

***

"What is it about you, Liz?" Tess asked. "I mean, both Kyle and Max worship the ground you walk on. How do you do it?"
"Well, for what it's worth, Tess, I worship the ground Max walks on," Liz smiled. "And Kyle? He's like my big brother now. I guess we're related in ways you could never understand."
"Because Max healed you, you mean?"
"Perhaps," Liz shrugged.
"I envy you," Tess admitted with a slow shake of her head. "I don't think you realize just how much."
"Tess," Liz spoke with a strange pain in her voice. It was choked, and filled with a longing sadness. "You took something from Max. Something very special that I wanted. So don't talk to me about envy, okay? Now just what is so important that you needed to talk to me alone? What's this all about?"
It took a moment for Tess to compose herself.
"It's about me. Who I am. And you. Who you are." Tess shook her head. "It's about Max... and his... son."
"I guessed that much, Tess," Liz admitted. "Are you going to try to persuade me that I'm weakening him? That I'm holding him back? Like you did that time in the Jeep after we... rescued him? 'Cause if you are, I can tell you right now, it won't..."
"It's not," Tess stated with a shrug of her shoulder.
"Oh," Liz looked surprised.
"And if you hate me now," Tess looked down to the floor, "then I can only guess at how much more you'll hate me afterwards."
"So this is... what?"
"A history lesson," Tess released a heavy sigh.
"Another one?" Liz shook her head.
"Excuse me?" Tess looked up.
"Never mind. Go on, you were saying?"
"It all goes back to just after the crash. Nacedo was contacted by Nikolas, and agreed to... defect. He agreed to handing over the Royal four and the Granolith in exchange for an office in Kivar's government. Nikolas demanded to know the location of the pod chambers, but Nacedo wouldn't tell him. Neither really trusted the other, and who could blame them? Anyway, the years passed, and Nacedo kept checking up on the pods. He was never really sure when they would... hatch. It was in the late 60's that he noticed something wrong with one of the pods. It had been damaged, either in the crash, or when the humans had it in their possession.
"He thought that they had managed to fix it, but it was obvious that the pod would never open, that the occupant would soon die. He spent ages trying to create, or obtain a replacement, even going as far to try and extract the young fetus from a human woman. It didn't work. Nacedo was worried. After all, the deal had been for the two sets of Royal four. In the early 80's, the pod finally died. Not knowing what to do, Nacedo went to Nikolas with the news. At first, he suggested replacing the dead pod with the one from the second set, stored in New York. The ones in Roswell were the important ones, the 'base' beings, if you like. The essences of the ones in New York were to be added to the ones here. That was when Nacedo learned of the true depth of Zan's betrayal.
"Back on Antar, Max, Michael and Isabel weren't as close as they are here on Earth. They were more like... those duplicates we met."
"Yeah," Liz nodded. "I heard all about that, Tess."
"You did?" Tess was surprised. "How? Pete didn't tell you that much."
"That's not important, Tess," Liz shrugged. "Please, continue."
"Okay," she did as Liz asked. "Well, Zan's mother wanted to maintain the status quo on Antar. Only it was obvious that there were problems between the Royal Four. So, their essences were re-programmed to be how she felt they should be. With the second set, she left the same, arrogant, demanding... you know how they were. She also wanted to split Zan from Ava. She was too much an influence on him. She didn't like that. She gave both clones of Zan, her son, a longing for someone else, someone who just didn't exist, someone who wasn't Ava. When he returned, she planned to use that to marry him off to a girl she would choose for him, herself. She gave all of the clones an aversion to Ava, so that they would not treat her kindly. It worked exceptionally well on the second set.
"The true Royal four were created more human. Sure, they had the same programming, but it was hoped that they would learn the more human traits that had allowed the race to carve out such huge empires. They especially wanted them to learn the human lust for war.
"But Ava received no programming. She was left with the same feelings and emotions that she possessed on Antar. Can you imagine how painful that must be? To be totally ignored by those you shared a bond with? To be rebuffed by the one who holds your heart? The duplicate Ava, being more... alien was therefore stronger than... the other Ava. Her powers could have had Max eating from her hand, even with his programming. Nikolas didn't want that. You see, it was the human Ava's pod that died."
"So..." Liz's eyes widened with shock. "That makes you..."
"An imposter," Tess nodded, looking away from Liz.
"No, I was going to say a skin."
"Oh, yeah," Tess looked back at Liz. "That's why I was so hard on Courtney. I knew that she didn't know about me, but I couldn't take the risk that she would tell you too much about how to spot a husk. How to destroy one. I thought if she mistrusted one of us just a little, she'd say nothing to any of us, no matter how much she thought the sun shined from Michael's..."
"So who are you?"
"Back on Antar, I was one of Kivar's wives."
"What?" Liz was still numb from Tess's admission. She hadn't absorbed it all yet. "How many does he have?"
"Dozens," Tess shrugged. "I don't know. But I was offered this deal. If I came to Earth, masquerading as Ava, and helped to capture Zan, Vilondra and Rath, I would be raised to the position of the First Wife, exalted above all others."
"So you were..." The realization finally sunk in.
"Never Zan's bride," Tess finished. "Never Max's destiny. Right. I arrived by ship in Frazier woods, in January, in the year 2000. By this time, Nacedo had no idea where the three of them were. They had long since hatched and had left the pod chamber. We knew from reports and various strange occurrences that they were in or around Roswell. We had just about given up, and had planned on following an old lead from Marathon, Texas, when someone sent Nacedo a signal. Someone had deciphered the map, and set off a signal near the library in town."
"So it was Michael's fault," Liz shook her head.
"Typical, huh?" Tess nodded. "We decided that Max was Zan, he seemed to be in charge, so we spent weeks photographing him, I had to make sure I knew every little detail about him. The rest you know. Anyway, when I got back to Antar, alone, Kivar was furious. I managed to convince him to give me a second chance, that I could succeed this time. I thought that I had split the two of you up permanently. I though there was no way you would take him back after what he did to you. Kivar sent me back in the Granolith with three of his warriors. Actually, they are three of the assassins who had killed Zan and the other's in the first place. Tess was not exactly Miss Popularity anymore, so they gave me this new husk. Actually, I designed it myself. I figured that maybe Max might be attracted to someone who looked like you, if he couldn't have you. Of course, it was a shock to discover that the two of you still had feelings for each other. The three minders were most displeased with me. What made matters worse, though, was that the 'Enhancer' didn't seem to work any more."
"Enhancer," Liz spoke the word clearly.
"Yeah, it's this small device that's buried in Max. Anytime he's near..."
"We know," Liz smirked. She enjoyed having Tess on her back foot like this. "Is that how..." Her voice got tight again. The emotion as she spoke was all too clear. "Is that how you got him to... sleep... with you?"
"Yeah," Tess nodded, rather shame faced. "But that's all we did, Liz. Nothing happened. I tried, but he just... fell asleep. Anyway, we planted those memories in the same way I planted all the other ones. Well, that's not strictly true. Some memories really happened. I just made sure he believed they were with me, rather than the one he saw was Ava. But anyway, nothing happened, Liz."
"But his son? He connected with him. He's been feeling him."
"It was all us, Liz. We knew that Max would be too noble, too responsible to let any child of his die on this planet. We knew that he would return to Antar, to save it's life. So we made him think I was pregnant. I warped his connection to his son. It would have worked, if you hadn't..."
"Worked it all out."
"Yeah," Tess nodded. "Liz? For what it's worth? I'm really sorry about Alex. I would never have used him like that if I had known what it would do to him. I mean, I could have just warped him into faking the translation to say what I wanted it to. Somehow, I believed that the real translation would work better."
Liz said nothing, she just stared at Tess through tear rimmed eyes.
"Anyway," Tess looked nervous, for all her power. "You... you saved my life, even though I'll die down hear eventually. But you saved me, and for that, I thank you. That's why I'm telling you this. Ava... the real Ava is dead, Liz. There is nothing holding you back from Max now. He's all yours."
"Tess... um, Lisa.... Um, what's your real name?
"Lisa is as good as any," she shrugged. "And better than some, eh? 'Tess' holds some... painful memories."
"Okay. Lisa... listen..." Liz continued. "Is there still a threat? To Earth? Is Kivar about to invade the Earth, or anything?"
"How could you possibly know that?" Tess looked surprised.
"Is there?"
"Yeah. He has a large ship approaching as we speak. It won't return without Zan, dead or alive. Their technology is so advanced, Liz, the Earth's defences won't stand a chance. If Zan doesn't surrender himself, they'll take the planet apart until they find him, dead or alive. It should be arriving in about seven years or so. It's uh... slower than the small ship I originally arrived in."
"Oh God!" Liz cried. "The end of the world. I never stopped it. It's still going to happen!"

***

"Liz" she heard Max call out in her mind. "Liz, were in trouble. We need your help."
"Max?" she sounded shocked. "Max? How are you doing this? Can I do it to you?"
"Maybe, Liz." Max admitted, sending her feelings of love to her. "I don't know. I'm doing this through the part of me that's in you. Maybe when... Listen, Liz. That will have to wait. We've been captured. By two skins. Pete's friends. Pete's on his way over to you now."
"It's okay, Max," she confirmed. "We've dealt with Pete. What about you? Where are you?"
"The other two are holding us at the Pod Chamber."
"But I thought..."
"No, they fixed it. Liz, we need your help. It's not just us. Liz, they have my father, Jesse and... your dad too."
"What?"
"Yeah. And Liz? I think they've guessed something is... different about us. I think they're starting to realize that..."
"You're not from around here?"
"Yeah."
"Okay, Max. We're on our way."
"Liz?"
"I know, Max," she sighed. "I'll be careful."
"Yeah, thanks. But that's not what I was going to say."
"Oh," Liz was surprised. "What were you going to say then?"
"I love you, Liz."
"Me too, Max. I love you too."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


posted on 8-Apr-2002 3:03:40 PM by WR
I am so sorry for the delay. First of all, real life, and work just got in theway. Then, last week, I was involved in a rather serious car accident. I am okay, but my car is not. I was kind of lucky as I was pushed across the oncoming traffic, which I fortuneately missed and into a hedge hiding a rather solid tree trunk. Apart from aches and pains, I am fine. So anyway - here is part 7. I hope you like the information and the implications here.

Thanks again for your feedback, and a special thank you to the new ones. I wish I could respond in your native tongue [], but I lost the ability to speak French when I was 5, and moved to Ontario from Quebec. But I like to think of Maria and Michael as constantly sparring. To me, that is the basis of their relationship, quite different to Max and Liz (I hope that does not offend you Candy people, just my opinion.)

Chapter 7

Crashdown Café, Friday evening, 22nd March

While Tess was watching her with a strange, unreadable expression on her face, Liz walked over to the back room door.
"It's okay guys," she called. "You can come back in now."
"Liz," Maria exclaimed, gathering her friend into a hug. "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, Maria," Liz gave a huge grin as she remembered what Tess had told her. Max had not had sex with her. "I'm really great, actually. Except Max and the other's are in trouble, and they need our help."
"How do you know that?" Maria demanded. "Did he, like, phone, or something?"
"In a manner of speaking, yeah," Tess said from the side of the room. "How long have you been able to do that, Liz?"
"It was the first time, actually," she admitted. "But if it's why I think it is, he's probably been able to do it since the day he healed me."
"So what are we going to do?" Kyle asked. "Do we know who has them? Do we know where?"
"Yeah," Liz nodded. "Two more skins have them. At the Pod Chamber."
"That will be Lord Ruffla and Argid," Tess informed them.
"We're going to rescue them," Liz continued.
"We are?" Maria demanded. "How are we going to do that? These guys have powers, Liz."
"Yeah," Liz nodded. "But we have Te... I mean, Lisa."
"What?" Maria demanded. "You think they'll trade?"
"No," Liz shook her head. "I mean, we have Lisa and her powers to help us."
"Can we even trust her?" Maria asked.
"Yeah," Liz nodded, looking over at Lisa. "I think we can, now."
"As my so called friends want me dead, and my so called enemies saved my life," Lisa spoke up, "I have nothing to lose by helping you."
"Thank you, Lisa," Liz smiled.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Pod Chamber, Friday evening, 22nd March

"Just what is going on here, Max?" Philip Evans finally asked his son. "Who are these people? Why do they call you by such strange names? What... who... what..."
"I can't believe that you followed me, dad," Max accused. "I tried to keep you out of this. To keep you safe."
"What are you involved in Max?" he asked.
"And what about Liz?" Jeff demanded. "How involved is she?"
"How amusing," the leader, Lord Ruffla scoffed. "Tell me, Zan. Why is it that you have lived a lie for all of these years? Why is it that you have not told these people who raised you, who cared for you, the truth about yourself?"
"To keep them safe," Max barely blinked. "Safe from those such as you, who would have no qualms about hurting innocent people in the pursuit of their greed."
"Such as yourself?" Ruffla laughed.
"Not any more," Max shook his head.
"Your very presence makes it unsafe for them," he continued.
"So what is it you're not telling us, Max?" Philip asked. "Why would we be in danger just by having you near us?"
"Is Liz in some kind of danger too?" Jeff demanded.
"Ah yes," Ruffla sneered. "Liz. Of all those close to him, she is in the most danger. Through her, we could control Zan. We could have him do anything we want."
"You stay away from her!" Jeff barked with false bravado. "You too, Max. Just... stay away."
Max's eyes fell to the floor. It was first time he had shown any weakness. Ruffla gave a snort.
"Hmmmm," he sneered. "A pity for Zan that you didn't think to tell him that a few years ago. If you had, we would never have discovered his whereabouts. Of course, you would no longer have a daughter, but..."
"What are you talking about?" Jeff growled.
"Max saved her life," Isabel interjected.
"What?" Philip, Jesse and Jeff all exclaimed together.
"How?" Jeff demanded. "What are you saying?"
Isabel looked over at Max and then at Michael, silently asking for their permission to continue. Realizing that there was little to gain now from keeping the secret, Max gave a small nod, and then looked away. Michael to nodded with a shrug of resignation.
"Okay," she took a deep breath. "This is kind of hard to explain, so I can do without any negative comments. If you can't believe what I have to say, and the things you have seen and heard don't confirm it for you, then just... keep quiet, okay? I don't want to hear 'that's impossible' or 'don't be so ridiculous.'"
The three humans nodded, eagerly listening to Isabel, knowing that at last, their questions would be answered.
"Dad," she began. "Do you remember when you found Max and me? In the desert?"
"Sure, I do," he nodded. "You were both naked, just wandering along holding hands. We thought you were about six. We tried to find out who abandoned you like that, but..."
"Michael was with us too," she interrupted. "When we saw the car, he grew frightened, and ran away."
"Why didn't you say something?" Philip looked at Max who was still looking away, and then at Michael. "We would have looked for him."
"We couldn't speak, remember?" Isabel reminded him, tears were running down her cheek. "And the reason we couldn't speak was... was..."
After years of wanting to tell someone, she found that she could not do it.
"It was our first day on the planet, sort of," Max continued. "It was the day we were... born."
"What?" came the collective gasp.
"We had just... emerged... from these incubation pods," Max pointed to the pods with his face. "We had been in those since our protectors put them there, just after the crash in '47."
"Oh, come on," Jeff shouted. "Do you seriously expect us to believe that? Just who do you think you are?"
"It's not a question of who I think I am," Max looked a little more self assured now. "Back then, I didn't know. But I do now. You see, I am Zan, the King of the planet Antar. A planet a long, long way from here. But I'm also Max. A teenaged boy with the same problems of any other teenaged boy."
"Except your average teenaged boy doesn't have problems like this," Jesse observed dryly.
"No," agreed Max with a sardonic smile.
Jeff opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out.
"How is this possible?" Philip asked. "I mean, you're so... human. How can you be..."
"Alien?" Max laughed. "We all died, back on Antar, in a... coup. Our scientists created these bodies... clones used from human DNA they had... gathered. Then they loaded our essences, uh, our... souls... into the clones. That's how come we look human, but we have certain... modifications."
"You mean those powers?"
"Yeah."
"At first," Isabel took over, "we didn't know that we were... different. When we started to realize that we could do things that the other kids couldn't... instinct told us to keep quiet about it. We grew afraid. We agreed between us to do what we had to do, in order to keep our secret... safe. It was easy for me to become part of the 'perfect' set. You know, those false fronts and shallow friendships. I was part of the 'in' crowd without anyone ever actually knowing who I was. Because of Michael's situation, he found it easy to maintain the image of the wild and rebellious... loner. It was worse for Max. Right from the start, he felt responsible for us. So in spite of his own feelings, he never tried to mix. He never had any friends... except for Michael." Isabel paused and then turned to Jeff. "Right from the first day that he saw Liz, way back in second or third grade, Max has been in love with her."
"No way!" Jeff found his voice again. "What can you... people know about love? How can you possibly know what love is. You were eight years old. You're only eighteen now. You're not even... human, for crying out loud."
"I doubt that I could ever convince you," Max shrugged. "But I do. I love her. And I have every reason to believe that she returns that love."
"But don't worry," Ruffla sneered. "Soon, Zan and the others will be returning to Antar. Neither you nor your daughter will be troubled by him again."
Jeff, Philip and Jesse glanced from Ruffla to Max and the others.
"Why?" Jeff asked Max after the chamber had been silent for some time. "Why Liz, and not someone else?"
"And what does Tess have to do with this?" Philip added.
Max looked from his father back to Jeff.
"From the moment I saw her, I knew," Max sighed, remembering the bittersweet pain of worshipping Liz from afar. "There was something about her, something that drew me to her. If it hadn't been for that day she got shot..." Max gave an involuntary shudder.
"The rumors were true?" Jeff gasped.
"Yeah," Max nodded. "I couldn't let her die, so I healed her."
"And signed his own death warrant in the process," Michael added.
"As for Tess," Max went on. "Well... she was one of us. She was my... wife."
"What?" All three men were stunned.
"There were the four of us," Max closed his eyes and tipped his head skywards. "Isabel was my sister. Michael was my second in command, my councilor. Back on Antar, they were betrothed, although here on Earth, the only love between them is a brotherly and sisterly love." The last statement was aimed at Jesse. "I was the... king, as I said, and Tess... she was my... wife, my... Queen. She died too and was sent with us. We don't know why she didn't emerge from her pod at the same time as us. In the years that followed, I guess we just forgot about her. It was very... upsetting when she turned up again. For Liz as well as me."
"So you took full advantage of the situation," accused Jeff. "Because Liz was less willing to do what you wanted, you turned to this Tess and got her pregnant."
"It was... complicated," Max groaned.
"It also goes to show how incredibly... stupid you all are," Ruffla stated. "How unsuited your really are to rule."
"What are you talking about?" Michael called out. He had been uncomfortable during Max's speech. He had been so afraid that Max would say things that would show him to be a less than admirable friend. "We are not stupid!"
"No?" he laughed. "Tell me. What proof did any of you seek that Ava was who she claimed to be?"
"She could do things," Michael snapped.
"So could the skins," Max looked up at Ruffla. "So Tess was never Ava. Is that what you're saying?"
"Your Ava died," Ruffla shrugged. "In the crash, probably. The one you called Nacedo planted Tess among you. She was to make sure that you went home to Antar. A task with which she failed. But she managed to persuade Kivar to give her a second chance."
"Why does Kivar still want us?" Max asked. "He has my son. He could rule through him. He could transfer the power across any time he wants."
"As I said," Ruffla chuckled. "Stupid. Tess was never pregnant. In spite of her mind warping, and the Enhancer, she couldn't break you. She couldn't make you commit that final act of betrayal. She warped you into believing you had, though."
Isabel and Michael turned to look at Max. He had a smile on his lips, realizing that he had not betrayed Liz after all. There was no son.
The one called Ruffla picked up a cell phone, and crossed to his colleague.
"Keep on eye on them, Argid" he spoke in an authoritative tone. "I'll call Pete. It's time we took these three home."
"What about the ship?" Argid asked.
"I guess we no longer need it," Ruffla laughed, as he left the chamber.
"What ship?" Michael asked.
The skin peered at Michael before he shrugged. "Kivar's sent a Battlecruiser for you."
"A Battlecruiser?" Michael frowned.
"Big thing," Argid sneered. "Lots of guns and lots of men. Enough to take out this whole stinking planet, one country at a time, starting with the U.S. of A."
Everyone looked up then.
"The end of the world," Max groaned.

***

"Where are you, Liz?" Max called out through their special 'bond.' "I think they have the Granolith. They're getting ready to take us back to Antar."
"That's not going to happen, Max," she answered. There was no hint of doubt. "We're approaching the chamber now."
"Please be careful," he urged. "Ruffla, uhm... he's their leader, he's just outside the cave. He's phoning Pete."
"It's okay, Max," he sensed her smile. "We have it covered."
Ruffla stepped back into the chamber.
"No answer from his phone," he told Argid, "but his car has just pulled up. I'll go start the Granolith up."
After Argid nodded, Ruffla climbed through the narrow hatchway through to the other chamber. A few moments later, Pete entered the pod chamber.
"He's in there," Argid indicated the other opening. "We'll be ready to leave soon."
Pete walked into the room, but then just vanished. As if by magic, Kyle and Lisa were standing in his place, while Liz and Maria appeared, standing slightly behind them. From the look on Lisa's face, it was clear that she was surprised by the warp's break down. She recovered in time to deflect the sudden energy bolt from Argid. Kyle rushed headlong into Argid, as though he were a linebacker taking out the quarterback.
"Liz!" Jeff cried out. "Run Liz! Get out of here."
Instead, Liz and Maria started towards the captives, while Lisa hurried to Kyle's assistance with Argid. At that moment, Ruffla emerged from the opening, and at once took in the scene. A bolt of yellow light flew towards the two human girls. Without even thinking about it, Max threw up his shield around Liz and Maria through their connection. Thinking that Liz had created the shield, Ruffla looked shocked, which caused him to delay firing a second blast. As it was, his first forced the two girls back through the air, against the cave wall. Only Maria groaned and stood up. Jeff cried out in panic, while the others cried their dismay. A great surge welled through Max. A combination of fear, adrenaline, love and his own innate abilities, causing the power absorbing collar to break apart and fall to the floor. The handcuffs dissolved into a pool of liquid as Max rose, casting his shield as an impenetrable green barrier between his friends and Ruffla. At that moment, a shower of gray dust informed them all that Argid had been destroyed. Eager to get to Liz, but knowing that Kyle and Lisa would need help, Max freed Michael. Almost at once, he and Lisa started to shower Ruffla with bolts of their own, while the other skin tried his best to deflect them. Things had taken a turn for the worse. Philip and Jesse looked on with a mixture of fear and awe. Max was at Liz's side, even as the cry from Ruffla told him that he too was now dead.
"Is everyone all right?" Isabel asked as she helped to free the others. Kyle had freed her, thinking that Lisa and Michael might need her help.
Philip and Jesse nodded while they rubbed their wrists. Freed by Kyle, Jeff joined Max at Liz's side just as Max was making his connection to the unconscious girl. Jeff reached over to Max's hand, which was pressed against Liz's chest. Before he could grab it, Maria pulled his hand away.
"No," she shook her head at Jeff. "He won't hurt her, Mr. Parker. He could fix her up better than any damn hospital, and besides that, he loves her."

***

She found herself in a strange place. It was warm, and wet. There was a gentle humming emanating from all around her, while the steady pulse throbbed in the background. It was almost like a... heartbeat. She opened her eyes, and saw that she was floating inside a strange egg-like container that was glowing with a blue light. Although the environment felt safe, and warm, she sensed that something was wrong. She was dying. Not her mind, just her body. A sudden thought struck her. She knew that she could not allow herself to die. She knew that someone needed her. She just could not figure out who. As she felt the body approaching it's last moments, she felt herself 'stepping' out of the warm environment, and into a cold and hostile world. She appeared to be in a cave, which she recognized as the pod chamber. She turned around, and saw the small, curly haired blond girl in the egg shaped pod. She looked as though she were asleep. The pod next to her caught her eyes, and she turned towards it. Inside was a small, dark haired boy who looked to be the same age as the blonde girl next to him. A wave of love swept through her. She held her hand up to the pod, saddened that she had lost her love, her... soul mate.
"I'll be waiting for you," she heard her mind speaking to the mind of the young boy. "I'll find a way to return to you. The Gods themselves could not keep us apart."
She turned towards the far wall of the cave, and floated towards it. She seeped through the rock and out into the cold night air of the strange world. She saw the glow of the lights in the distance, and followed it. Soon, she saw the strange town with giant statue painted with a strange green face. She knew that she was seeking something, though she didn't know what. As she approached the squat, square building with the green and white striped awnings, she could feel a pull, a calling almost, as though something, or... someone were guiding her. She floated into the building through an upstairs window.
"I love you," she heard a male voice gasp.
"I love you, too," a female's voice responded. Both voices were gasping from exertion.
"Don't worry, Nancy," the man spoke with a tender voice. "Even though the doctors say that the chances are slim, I'll always love you."
"I know, Jeff", the woman's sad voice replied.
Answering the call, she felt herself entering the woman's body. There she found the egg, awaiting fertilization, and saw at once the reason why she would have been unable to conceive. She fixed the problem, and entered the egg.
"Everything will be okay, Mom, Dad," she whispered from her new cocoon. "And I 'will' find him again."


***

"Are you okay?" Max almost cried as Liz came to with a groan.
"Max," she whimpered. "Is it over? Are you safe?"
"For now, Liz," tears rimmed his eyes. "Thanks to you."
"What happened?"
"We beat them," he shrugged, pulling her into a warm embrace. Max was being his usual self, clearly protective of her. As she looked over his shoulder, relieved that he was safe and well, her eyes met the others. They were all there, all safe. There were awkward looks on Mr. Evans and Jesse's faces. She caught the worried, frightened frown on her father's face. Michael and Maria were holding each other, looking concerned for the others. Jesse stood by Isabel, though there was some distance between them. He looked afraid, while Isabel looked alone and vulnerable. Kyle was looking nervous, glancing over at Tess... no, Lisa. Lisa just looked uncertain, worried. Philip clearly looked bewildered. Beyond his wildest dreams, Liz doubted that he had ever imagined anything like this.

"Are you sure you're all right?" Max again asked.
"I am, now," she smiled.
She felt someone pulling at Max, and turned to see her father trying to separate them. Because he had been raised to show manners, Max acquiesced only with the greatest reluctance.
"So," Philip grabbed everyone's attention by clearing his throat. He looked at Max. "So that was your secret. I guess we can't deny it, can't pretend this is all some... joke. You're an alien."
"No!" Liz was adamant. She slid from her father's embrace and stepped to the middle of the group, and stared at Mr. Evans. "Max is human." She said that more for her father's sake. "His body was cloned from human DNA. Granted, he's been genetically modified, and his... soul was once an alien. But Max is more human than most people I know. They all are." This was aimed at Jesse. "They are just like us. They feel pain, loneliness..." She looked at Max with a shy smile. "Love.
"You have no idea what it's been like for them," Liz turned back to Max's father. "Does the chart on your wall tell you how afraid Max has been that someone might discover his secret? What they might do if they did? Does it tell you how in the spring two years ago, someone did find out, and kidnapped him? Does your chart tell you the pain and suffering he experienced while they experimented on him, before his friends freed him? Can your chart possibly tell you how worried he has been as a result of your search? Not just for himself, but for those he cares about." She turned to her father. "Dad, your tape recorder told you that Max has deep... sexual feelings for me. Did that tape recorder tell you that he saved my life? That day of the shooting? The reason they couldn't find a bullet was because it used to be in my stomach until Max dissolved it. I was dying, Dad. Max healed me. He saved my life." She turned to Jesse. "Jesse? Did your suspicions, your investigations tell you nothing of Isabel? Did you not see the frightened young woman who needs the love of her friends and her family? Look how loyal she is to Max. She's his sister. Of course she will love him, protect him. As he does her. And Michael. Maybe not by blood but related by ties that few of us can comprehend. Look at Michael and Maria. And Kyle. Why is it, do you think, that they too feel so loyal to him? To Isabel and Michael too. It's not out of fear. They might not have been born on this world in the traditional manner, but they are more human than you can imagine. And they have enemies. Powerful enemies. Max is a King. He rules a planet so far away, it takes years and years to get there. And his enemies are on their way. There is only one person who can stop them." Liz took a deep breath and looked at each man in turn. "Dad? Mr. Evans? Jesse? You're all involved now. There's no fence here. Either you are with us... or you are against us. But it is 'us'. Maria, Kyle, Jim Valenti and myself. We've made our choices. We are all on Max's side. And believe me, it's the right side, because if we don't beat Max's enemy, we are all doomed. It will be the... end of the world."
"Um, Liz?" Lisa spoke quietly from the side. "I've made my choice too. If you'll have me, that is. Will you let me help you?"
Liz looked at Max, who bore a shocked, but immensely proud expression. He shrugged his shoulders at her silent question, and nodded.
"If you trust her," he smiled, "I trust her."
"Sure Te... Lisa," Liz smiled, never once looking away from Max.

Tentatively, Jesse approached Isabel. He pulled her into a hug. Over his shoulder, Isabel smiled at Liz. Her eyes said 'thank you.'
"I don't know what to say," Philip Evans looked uneasy. "I can see how the people around you care for you. How you care for them back. And I don't want to be on the wrong side. I want to help you Max, any way I can. But..."
"But what Dad?" Max asked.
"Shouldn't we go to the authorities? I mean, they could help you..."
"No!" The shout came from all of them at once, even Lisa.
"No," Max smiled. "They have yet to prove their trustworthiness. All that I will say is that the authorities are more interested in what's in it for them than how it can help us."
Philip gave a slow nod of his head.
"Dad?" Liz asked as she looked up to her father.
He had a wild, frightened look on his face. There was little doubt that had there been some figure of authority nearby, Jeff would have run to the man, demanding he help save his daughter.
"I don't know how to protect you against all this, Liz!" he groaned. "Maybe if you left, went to Florida. Perhaps..."
"Have you been listening, Dad?" she shouted over the top of him. "I'm not going anywhere. I am standing by Max and the others. I'm in this with them. Were in this together. And if you try to stop me from seeing Max, it won't work. We're connected, Dad. In ways that you can never imagine."
Jeff looked like he wanted to argue. He glanced around the room, looking for support, but none was forthcoming. He gave an enormous sigh, and nodded his head.
"I'll look after her," Max promised. "I'll protect her with my life. We all will."
Everyone, even Jesse, nodded.
"What are we going to tell your mothers?" Philip asked.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

TBC


You like?
I had to be carefull here, not to mix up "The Importance of Being Elizabeth" (at www.olde.worlde.btinternet.co.uk/fanfic.html)with this story.
I know it's similar, yet it's different at the same time. :-)

Take care,
Wayne
posted on 17-Apr-2002 3:39:54 PM by WR
Once again, I find myself apologising for the delay in posting. I truly am sorry, it's just that I havn;t felt like posting much lately. I have been finding it hard to concentrate, but I seem to be over that now.

Thank you for your feedback. As always, I really enjoy it. As a writer, it's great to read how much people appreciate your work. Thanks again.



Chapter 8

Crashdown Café, Saturday evening, 23rd March

Liz sat on her garden lounger, placed in the middle of her balcony, surrounded by her collection of candles and small colored lights. A blanket covered her legs, protecting her from the chill of the desert night air. Her journal lay open across her lap; she was re-reading the events of her past with Max, marveling at how hard their enemies had worked to keep them apart and just how close those plans had come to succeeding. They had failed, however. Max was hers. In spirit, in mind and in... body. Well... soon, anyway, she smiled.
The faint scraping of the metal ladder rungs drew her attention away from her reading. She knew that Max was climbing up to see her. They had not had a chance to talk since the rescue from Ruffla and the others yesterday. Max had given Jeff time and space to come to terms with what he had discovered during his captivity. Max knew that Liz would help him through this, that Liz would make sure that he arrived at the correct conclusion. That no one would love Liz like he could and that in spite of their... genetic differences, he and Liz belonged together.

"Hey, Liz," Max's quiet voice called from the edge of her balcony.
The chills that only his voice could bring out in her ran up and down her spine. His voice bore the signs of their recent ordeal; he was more confident now, stronger. She remembered the shy, stammering but oh so sweet Max from just a week before. She really did prefer him when he was strong though. He brought out feelings from her that she had never felt before.
"Hey, Max," she answered with a huge, welcoming smile. She closed her journal, placed it on the garden lounger beside her and rose from her seated position to greet her boyfriend, no... her soul mate. Remembering her grandmother's words, Liz doubted that there could have been anything more complicated than what the two of them had been forced to face in order to prove their love. Helping him over the ledge, she at once pulled Max into a tight, warm embrace. Max brought his lips down to hers, brushing them with a tenderness that belied his passion. She returned the gesture, but pressed harder, her lips parting to trap his. It ignited his smoldering desire. His lips wrestled with hers as they each sought to hold the other captive. Their tongues joined in the fray as they tried to drive the other into submission. Max's hands found the edge of her shirt, sliding beneath the material and onto the warm, smooth skin of her back. Liz too allowed her hands to slip beneath Max's shirt, but she chose to assault the firm muscles of his stomach, and his chest. As the caressing hands of Max rose in a smooth sweep, finding the strap of her bra, Liz pulled Max backwards, towards her garden chair. Still combined by their teasing hands and their passionate kiss, they collapsed backwards into the lounger, which complained with a loud screech. Max had fallen between Liz's opened thighs, she could feel his arousal pressing against her.
"Max," she groaned into his mouth.
"Good evening, Max," Jeff Parker called from Liz's window.

***

Max and Liz sat side by side, pressed tightly together, while Jeff climbed out onto the balcony. It was an act to not only lend support to each other, but to show Mr. Parker that they were close, and would not tolerate any attempt to be separated.
"I never got the chance to thank you," he spoke after a careful and rather embarrassing examination of the young couple. "For saving Liz's life, I mean. Somehow, a simple 'thank you' seems so... inadequate."
Max didn't know what to say, so he just looked at Liz and gave her hand a squeeze.
"You don't have to..." Max began.
""So you say," Jeff sighed. "But I want to. You know, I can't say that this is easy to accept, your relationship. It's hard enough for a father to accept another man in the life of his only daughter. But when this other... man is... Well, you know. You see, Max, the thing is... Liz is special to me. To us. She's mine and Nancy's little miracle."
"How do you mean?" Max asked.
"We never thought we could have children," Jeff shook his head in a slow, sad movement.
Beside Max, Liz gasped.
"Father's have these expectations of their children," Jeff sighed. "Straight 'A' students, popular, loyal, loving... Liz is all of these and more."
Max nodded, giving a huge smile to Liz. He had known this for the longest time.
"And we always hope they'll choose the right boyfriends, that they'll marry someone worthy of them." Jeff shifted from one foot to the other, and sat on the balcony wall. "Ordinarily, I'd be thrilled with the thought that Liz was courting Royalty, you know? But when the Royal person comes from another planet, and is involved in a civil war to boot... You'll forgive me if I seemed a little... hostile. It's hardly the dream scenario, is it?"
"Of course," Max nodded, turning back at Jeff after he had looked at Liz. "It was understandable."
"You will look after her, won't you?" His voice was filled with emotion. "You'll treat her right, with respect?"
"Of course," Max nodded his head, and then glanced at Liz with deep love in his eyes. "Always."
"And you'll keep her safe? You'll... protect her?"
"With my life," Max nodded. "We all will. Anyone who is loyal to me will be loyal to Liz. You have my word."

***

"Max," Liz caught Max's attention after they had lost themselves in each other's eyes. Jeff had left them alone, having made his apologies, and given the pair his blessing, albeit somewhat reluctantly. "You know when I was unconscious? Yesterday, at the pod chamber."
"I do," Max nodded, shaking away the memory of his fear.
"Well, I had that... flash again."
"Which flash?" Max looked up.
"That one we shared. The one where we started in the chamber and ended up here at the Crashdown."
"Really?"
"Max? I think it was me. I saw more this time Max. It's me."
"I'm sorry Liz," Max looked confused. "What are you saying?"
"When it started, the flash, I was inside the Pod. Max, I was Ava. I felt my body die, and my... consciousness... stepped out from it. I paused by your Pod, placed my hand on it, and promised that I'd find a way to be with you again. I left the chamber and felt drawn to the Crashdown. Those people we heard, Max? It was Mom and Dad. They were sad because they couldn't have any kids. But I fixed it for them. I went inside my mom, and told her everything would be all right. Max! I think... I think I'm Ava. Your Ava."
"No," Max gave a gentle shake of his head to match his gentle smile. "That may have been who you were. But now, you're my Liz."
"But we belong together, Max," she beamed.
"I've known that for the longest time, Liz," he grinned back before pulling into a warm, tight hug. "I've always known it."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Crashdown Café, Sunday evening, 24th March

They had gathered in the pod chamber, Max and Liz, Michael and Maria, Isabel, Kyle and Lisa, as she now liked to be called. Once again, the dynamics of the group had changed, although they would have to have agreed that it was for the better. When Liz had explained her vision, and what she believed it had meant, there were looks of amazement all around. Only Lisa seemed to take it calmly. Nothing about Max and Liz would surprise her anymore, she had seen too much evidence of their connection first hand.
"You need to try the orbs again," she informed them.
"What do you mean?" Isabel asked, though she knew exactly what Lisa had meant. Isabel was just too frightened by what they might find out if they tried to use the orbs again.
"Well, I guess you all know I faked the whole thing. I made it say what I wanted you to hear. It wouldn't work with me holding it. But, if it detects Liz with Max, who knows what it will say."
Max looked at Liz, Michael and Isabel, to see if they wanted to try it. He would not force anyone to do this against their will, but knowing that there was still a threat out there, Max wanted to try it. Sensing this, Liz stepped up next to him, indicating that she would do as he wanted.
"What harm can it do?" Michael shrugged. "It can't be worse than the last time, can it?"
"That's what I'm afraid of," Isabel frowned. "I mean, we're all sorted now, right?"
"We don't have to do what they say, Iz," Max urged. "We have already decided that we make our own destiny. They can ask us, or guide us, but ultimately, the decision is ours."
With her eyes closed, Isabel nodded, and stepped up to join the other three. Lisa handed each couple, Max and Liz, Michael and Isabel, an orb.
"You know the drill," Max smiled and with the other's, concentrated on the orb.

Almost at once, exactly as it had that day so long ago, an image of a woman appeared. But this was not motherly, human looking woman, but a young woman with rather alien features. She appeared no older than they were. Neither did she appear to acknowledge them in anyway.
"Your Majesty," she bowed. "By now, I would hope that you know enough about yourselves that I don't need to go into details. Perhaps a detailed explanation of who you were would not be appreciated right now. There will be time later, but for now, understand that you are the King of the Planet Antar, and that you are our last hope for the redemption of our people. Having been assassinated, the four of you, King Zan, your beloved bride, Ava, your sister, Vilondra and your friend and advisor, Rath, were recreated as humans with enhanced capabilities, and sent to Earth where you might mature in peace. I hope that the four of you are together, as a unit in friendship, if not as mates, though somehow I doubt that the programming enforced upon you could stop Ava from working her way into you heart again. You will need each other, because your enemy, Kivar, will send a small army to find, and kill you, as soon as he has located you. But I knew this might happen, so to protect those I love, I too have sent an army to assist you. You will find them in a small community located in a place called California, close to the border with another country, next to the sea. You must go there, find your warriors, and prepare for the coming of Kivar's men.
"It would be foolish of me to expect you take this message on trust alone. You have many enemies, Your Majesty. So how can I persuade you that I am on your side, and am not leading you into a trap? Sadly, I can only hope that love and loyalty will have remained with you and that you will instinctively know who I am. I will join you just as soon as I can, but before Kivar's warriors arrive."
"Do we trust what we have just seen?" Kyle broke the stunned silence when the image of the young woman vanished.
Max and Liz exchanged a cautious look.
"Yes," she nodded. "I know exactly who that was, and I know that we can trust her."
"Who was she, Liz?" Michael asked. "I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not trusting anyone unless I know exactly who they are, and just why I should."
"Same here, Liz," Isabel agreed. "She could have been anyone. Te... Lisa might be on our side now, but she wasn't our only enemy."
"Tell them, Liz," Lisa urged.
"That was Ava's younger sister," Liz smiled. "Her name is Serena."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Road Trip, Spring Break

For their road trip to California, Mr. Evans had rented a large SUV. Naturally, he had insisted on coming with them, as had Mr. Parker and Jesse. With the three of them, Max, Liz, Isabel, Michael, Maria and Lisa, they only just managed to fit the nine of them and their luggage, although they had also placed a large carrier on the roof of the vehicle. With the men taking it in turns to drive, and making a few stops in quiet Motels along the way, they soon reached their destination. For two days, they took it in turns to drive around the smaller villages and towns, searching for evidence of a large body of warriors that were loyal to Max. They didn't really know what they should be looking for, but saw nothing obvious. They had even gone as far as to investigate the many strange religious communes that were proliferate in the area. With time running out, the group had gathered in one of their motel rooms to discuss where they should search the next day. Neither Max nor Liz wanted to give up the search, for they had both been affected by the thoughts of the end of the world. The discussion had grown quite heated, and remembering the pain that she went through, Liz had fled to her room she shared with Maria and Lisa. Needing to hear a friendly voice, other than Max's, she called Kyle.
"Hey, Liz," he greeted her. "How are things going down there?"
"Not very well, Kyle. We haven't been able to find anything. The others want to give up and try again another time. Max and I want to sort it out now."
"That's understandable," Kyle nodded.
"Who's that?" Louise asked.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Kyle," Liz sighed. "I didn't realize you had company."
"It's Liz," Kyle informed Louise. "Yeah, Louise is here with me," he spoke down the phone.
"How's their trip going?" Louise asked.
"Sounds like they're having fun," Kyle shrugged, before speaking to Liz again. "Well, they don't really understand, do they?"
"I guess not," Liz sighed. "But you think they'd listen to us. After all, it was us who went through it."
"Where did they go again?" Louise asked.
"Well, maybe they're right, Liz," Kyle answered. "Maybe it would be better to try again. Maybe when Serena gets here?" He then looked up at Louise. "Southern California, right down in the corner, by the sea and the Mexican border."
"Not you as well, Kyle?" Liz sighed, the tears were evident in her voice.
"Oh cool," Louise's eyes widened. "There are more religious cults down there than anywhere else in the world. They have this one cult down there who are really weird. They are waiting for the second coming of the king. Everyone else calls them crackpots because they don't call him 'Jesus.' They call him 'Than.' They're known as 'Thanists.'"
"What was that about?" Liz asked Kyle.
Kyle told her, much to Liz's amusement.
"At least it cheered you up," he grinned.
"Yeah," Liz smiled, wiping away the tears. "Thanks Kyle. I'll let you get back to... whatever it was you were doing."
"Okay, thanks Liz," Kyle laughed. "See you later."

Liz went back to the others.
"You okay?" Max asked Liz, the tenderness clear in his voice and his demeanor. This did not go unnoticed by Jeff Parker.
"Yeah," she nodded. "It's just... you know."
Max nodded, and hugged her. "We'll find them," he promised.
"So what are our plans?" Liz asked the assembled group.
"Well," Lisa spoke up, and pointed to the large map opened on the bed. "We haven't tried up here yet. Zamora."
"Zamora," Maria scoffed. "It's pronounced 'Thamora.' The Spanish pronounce a 'Z' like 'th'."
Liz looked up sharply, and started to jump up and down.
"Thanists!" she cried. "Zanists! Max, I know who they are! They're Thanists!"
Everyone looked at Liz, thinking she had flipped.
"Louise said there was a religious group down here, waiting for the second coming of the King. They call him 'Than', not 'Jesus'. Except that's Spanish. Max, they're Zanists and they're waiting for Zan. They're waiting for you."
"So where are they?" he asked, getting caught up in her excitement.
Liz grabbed the map, and started to study the map.
"There!" her finger stabbed a small dot next to the sea. "Rey de Antaras."

***

"What if were wrong?" Michael asked as the group in their SUV approached the small town. "How are we going to know if these... people are your warriors or not."
"I'm not sure, Michael," Max answered. He grasped Liz's hand and held it to him. "But were not wrong. I just know it."
Mr. Evans parked the car on the side of the road, a short distance from the town.
"There doesn't seem to be any vehicles in the town," he pointed out. "We might be less conspicuous if we walk from here."
The other's all nodded their agreement, and they started to climb from their car. By silent agreement, Max and Liz took the lead. Maria and Michael followed them, with Philip Evans, Jeff Parker and Liz behind them. Isabel and Jesse brought up the rear. Up at the front, Max and Liz confidently held hands, although the others did not share that confidence. The first thing they noticed was how quiet the town was.
"Less conspicuous?" Michael grumbled when they had entered the town.
Everyone they saw stopped and glared at them. They were all feeling awkward now, like they did not belong here. This was not a feeling held by Max and Liz. A large crowd of people started to follow them, looking less than impressed with their visitors.
"Notice how there are no other touristas around?" Maria hissed from the side other mouth."
"Who can blame them?" Michael growled. "Some welcoming committee."
"Max?" Philip called. "Maybe we should go back. Perhaps Liz got it wrong."
The young couple at the front ignored them, and kept on walking. Liz pointed down one of the side streets to the small church with the huge bell. Max nodded, and led his group in that direction. As they approached the building, a rather menacing looking man stepped out.
"You are not welcome here," he called to them. "Please return to your vehicle and leave us to our devotion."
Only Max did not stop. Although Liz stopped, she continued when Max gave a gentle tug of her hand. The others, however, had formed a tight group, with Michael, Isabel and Lisa on the outside.
"I have business here," Max spoke loudly so that everyone would hear him.
"You have no business here," the man barked. "No one has business here. Now leave us."
"But you have been waiting for me," Max called out, turning to face the gathered crowd. "I am your king."
"If you are our king," the man sneered to the accompaniment of jeers, "ring the bell."
Max turned to look at the bell. The rim of the large bell was at head height. He could see that not only did the bell have no clapper, it had been fixed so that it would not swing. The metal was so thick, Max doubted there was a hammer on the planet that could make it chime. He glanced at Liz, who nodded to him. He placed his hand over the cold metal, and concentrated on the molecular structure. Rather than changing it's composition, he merely started to 'shake' them. Lightly at first, almost inaudibly, the bell started to tingle. Max kept his hand on the bell as the vibrations grew and grew. Soon the bell was ringing out a single, uninterrupted, resonous tone. He removed his hand, and the note instantly stopped. He looked at the man, and then at the crowd. As one, they fell to their knees, and bowed low.
"Hail King Zan!" they all shouted.
"Your Majesty!" the man gasped. "How may we serve?"
"You can start by getting up, and helping us get ready to kick some alien butt!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

EPILOGUE

Rey de Antaras, Spring Break

As it had begun, there were just the three of them. Max stood on the roof of the tallest building, looking out over the town. Behind his left shoulder stood Isabel, while behind his right, stood Michael. In the square below, their friends were talking with the warriors, looking around the town. Liz looked up from her discussion with a group of women, smiled at her boyfriend and gave a small wave. Max waved back.
"Will we be ready, Max?" Isabel asked. "Can we do this?"
"We will make sure that we are ready," Max answered. "We have time on our side. I'll study politics at college. I want to be ready to be a great leader, even if all I do is hand over the reigns to someone else. An elected leader."
"What about us?" Michael asked.
"You're my second in command, Michael," Max spoke confidently. "I want you to learn everything you can about military tactics. Study the great generals of history, and their tactics. Hannibal, Alexander, Napoleon, Rommell... I want you to learn how to lead an army, how to plan a battle and... how to win. Isabel, I want you to help integrate these people with the world. I need them near Roswell. I don't want them to stand out like sore thumbs. Help them find jobs, and generally become humans. I want them to have a life, but don't let them forget why we are here. Michael will see that they maintain their training."
"What about Liz? And Lisa?" Isabel asked.
"They have a special task," Max turned to face them. "Liz is going to Harvard. I'll work two jobs if I have to, but that's where she'll study. She's going to become the greatest molecular biologist this planet has ever seen. And not only will she help with regenerating Lisa's husk, the two of them will work together to develop a weapon that can destroy a Skin's husk without us having to get up close. We're going to be ready for them, and this time, it will be the end of someone else's world."
"Do you think you will be able to stand Liz being all the way the other side of America?" Michael smirked. "All those college guys chasing after her?"
"It will be easy, Michael," Max laughed. "I'll be in Boston with her. Nothing... no one will ever separate us again. From here on in, we're following our hearts."

***

The End.


Now the Bad News. [frown]
I'm afraid that with the completion of "Echoes", I shall be taking a lengthy vacation from fanfic writing. I am SO sorry that I will not now be completeing "Consequences". The reason is simple. I have a window of opportunity to get a piece of my work published. Nothing might come of it, but I owe it to myself to try. With the help of a good friend, I am trying to get it 'edited so that an agent might take a look at it. I find that I have no time at all to do this, unless the writing stops. Once this is out of the way, and pending any discussions as to future work, I will return to "Consequences" just as soon as I can.

Thanks to EVERYONE who ever read my stories, and thanks to EVERYONE who ever left me some feedback.

Take care, everyone,
Your Friend,
Wayne. (WR) *happy*