posted on 16-Feb-2002 3:45:16 PM by majesty
Title: To Hell and Back
Author: Majesty
Email:majesty0000⊕hotmail.com
Rating: NC-17 eventually (but not in the foreseeable future)
Summary: Picks up after Panacea, but will not be spoilerish. Possible Future Fic. Calling Liz's roommate Eileen. I think that was her name? Somebody let me know if it wasn't. Damn, I remember a time when I remembered every nuance of every eppie.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. Don't sue.
Distribution: Just ask first.

Alrighty,

I got possessed yesterday and I wrote the prologue to this. Not really sure where it's going and not quite sure whether to continue it.

I won't promise regular updates, because I have two other fics going, but if I decide to continue it, I will try my best to keep at this one, like the others.

majesty

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

THE DESCENT

PROLOGUE

Liz Parker stared out the window distracted, waiting for the taxi to arrive that would take her to the airport.

Max is dead.

Max is dead.

Max is dead.


This mantra ran through her head incessantly for the past half-hour.

She felt it.

The absence of him.

The connection she had to him that she hadn't realized was really still there, because she'd thought she'd closed herself off to him.

There'd been no flashes between them since the night he'd kissed her in Whitaker's office, before she had changed history forever.

She'd had to close herself off to him. It was key to their survival. And she missed it, for awhile. Until Max started to grow closer to Tess, and then she hadn't wanted it anymore.

Even when Tess had gone, and Max had come to her asking her to go on a date, and in the months that followed, she'd not opened herself up to him. She couldn't. It would have been too hard to pretend that she had gotten past what had happened between Max and Tess, if she'd caught some random flash of the two of them having sex. It would have been too hard to delude herself into thinking that she wanted to help Max find his son.

But some remnant of a connection had been there all along, growing more powerful as she'd felt the changes happening in her body back in Roswell. As her heart no longer allowed her to lie to herself.

Since she'd been away from him, she'd realized that he was causing the strange energy in her body. He'd healed her that day in the Crashdown, and he'd changed her, forever.

She knew that something was different about her when she was able to connect with him in New York, saving his life. But no other ability had ever surfaced, and she'd not thought much of it since.

Until her face disappeared in the mirror in the Biology Lab at school.

Until she'd turned on a dead radio in the garage Kyle worked in, with a mere touch.

Until she'd set a book on fire on the bleachers at school.

Until she'd lost her hearing during the interview with the recruiter from Harvard.

Until she'd blown up the healing stones when Max tried to heal her.

And in that moment, everything came bubbling to the surface, all the things they'd only touched on, all the anger she'd been burying for months and months.

Max had hurt her, over and over.

And she'd yelled at him to stop. She'd yelled asking why he'd slept with Tess. Telling him that every time he mentioned his son, it reminded her of how he'd betrayed her.

She had been out of control, but she'd told the truth, and she couldn't take it back. Even now, her mind struggled with giving up herself, her own feelings to spare Max's. She had told him on the phone that she had been afraid to call, because of all the terrible things she'd said to him.

She was still out of control, trying to find herself, losing herself in the process. She'd desperately grabbed onto what Eileen had said to her. Once a cheater, always a cheater.

What had she been thinking' Drinking, sneaking around. She knew in her heart that it wasn't who she was. The hold-up in Utah was exciting because she was with Max. Because they were unified in his cause. Because she gave herself some purpose in his quest to find his son, a reason that he might still need her.

That last night she saw him before she left, he said that they had to talk about what she had said. That it wasn't going to go away.

But now, there would be no talking. Max was gone. He had ceased to exist, leaving behind an empty ache in her heart.

She had said to Eileen that things were complicated, and she hadn't been lying, and she wasn't talking about the fact that he was not human. She was talking about how their hearts spoke to each other.

Because she knew in her heart that Max had loved her. Even though he slept with Tess, she knew it. But it didn't diminish the betrayal she felt.

She also knew that he was obsessed with finding his son. Had he loved her enough? She didn't know. Even as she left Roswell, she wasn't completely sure that he understood the enormity of what had happened the spring before.

Some of it was her own fault, some of it was just circumstance.

She'd told him that they needed to let each other go. She'd told him that was ok with the progression of things between he and Tess. She told him she wanted to be his friend.

But they were never just friends, it was always so much more than that, from the very beginning, and she should have known. She should have known.

Yes, she'd lied to him about Kyle. But it had been about saving the lives of the people he loved.

Some small part of her heart had hoped that Max would wake up, would realize that everything was all a lie. Somehow she had trusted that he would know, that he would somehow find a way back to her, that he would find a way for them to be together.

But she couldn't have known how heinous Tess was. She had always disliked her, but after Alex?

Maybe if Max had slept with her and Alex was still alive, she could have lived with it. Maybe if Tess hadn't been pregnant, she could have lived with it. Maybe if Max had not let Tess leave, she could have lived with it.

But none of that happened. Tonight she'd come to the realization that too much had happened between them. Too many hurts, too many betrayals on both their parts. She didn't think it was possible to repair what was so badly broken.

It had been settled for them.

Max was gone. She didn't know how it happened, but she knew it.

Maria wanted to call home. Liz wouldn't allow it.

She knew she had to be back in Roswell, but she didn't want to talk to anyone until she was there.

So they sat, waiting for the taxi. Maria hadn't said anything else to her, just sitting beside her quietly, trusting that Liz above anyone would know for sure if something had happened to Max.

Liz heard the blare of the horn of the taxi, and stood up, picking up her things, her belongings that had barely been in the closet for a few days. She wouldn't be coming back. There was no longer any need.

"Are you ready?" Maria asked softly, putting her hand on Liz's shoulder.

Liz nodded, but the truth of it was that it didn't matter whether she was ready or not. There were so many things she'd had no choice in over the past few years, and this would be no different.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Meta-Chem

The lab still smoldered, though the fire had long since died.

The room had been closed off, to prevent the local police from investigating.

A pair of feet, clad in white environmentally-protected material, stepped carefully into the lab. For a moment, they were rooted to the spot, their owner surveying the room appraisingly.

Slowly, with purpose, they moved to the pile of dust lying on the floor. Funny, it almost looked like a reverse of the white tape they used to mark the positions of dead bodies.

Carefully, the visitor crouched down, armed with a portable high-tech vacuum, careful not to step in the dust. That wouldn't do.

The vacuum was turned on, and instantly the dust was sucked into it. For long moments the visitor worked, cleaning all of the evidence away, making sure he got every last speck.

Carefully, the visitor stepped backwards, turning the vacuum off. He didn't want to think about what possessed him to be here, he didn't dig deep enough to question it. His anger was still fresh. But he knew what he had to do. Above all he was bound to this. And he would finish this task and be free of it forever. His last directive. And then all bets were off.

TBC....




[ edited 37time(s), last at 3-Dec-2002 4:15:21 PM ]
posted on 16-Feb-2002 3:49:12 PM by majesty
PART ONE

It had only been almost two weeks she had been away from Roswell, but it felt like an eternity.

Everything looked strange, alien to her, now that Max was gone. It seemed as if the town had died with him in her mind.

Everything was colorless. Everything was stale.

As the cab stopped in front of Isabel’s apartment house, Maria squeezed her arm encouragingly.

Liz sat staring ahead, not knowing how to face them, not knowing what she was going to say to them.

Maria’s face dropped as she saw Michael’s motorcycle parked in front. Her heart fell at what he must be going through.

Maria paid the driver, and gently pulled Liz out of the taxi, taking their bags out. Liz lifted hers like a zombie, and Maria picked her own up before linking her arm through Liz’s.

She took a deep breath and shut her eyes.

Dimly she heard the taxi pull away, and she mustered up the strength to look at Liz.

“We have to go in,” she said.

“I know,” Liz answered.

Together they walked up to the apartment house, stopping at Isabel and Jessie’s door.

Maria knocked quietly, and a moment later, the door was answered by Isabel, her eyes swollen and red.

The minute Liz saw her, she lost her composure.

Her face crumpled as she stepped forward and threw her arms around Isabel.

“I’m so sorry Isabel,” Liz said, and Maria watched as tears ran down Isabel’s face.

“How did you know?” she asked, her voice catching. “We didn’t know how to reach you on the East Coast.”

“I knew the second it happened. I felt it,” she said.

“Come in,” Isabel said, pulling away and squeezing Maria’s hand.

The two followed her in, surprised to see Kyle and Jim Valenti in the living room, along with Michael and Jesse.

Jim had his head in his hands, and Kyle sat close to his father, not saying anything.

Maria took one glance at Michael’s face and ran to him, throwing her arms around him.

“I’m so sorry I wasn’t here,” she said. “I’m so sorry for everything.”

Michael’s face was dazed as she clung to him, and slowly his arms reached up to wrap around her.

Jim took his head out of his hands, seeing Liz standing in the middle of the room.

His eyes filled with tears, and he got up and walked into the kitchen.

Isabel motioned with her head to follow him, and Liz nodded.

Numbly, she walked into the kitchen area, sitting across from Valenti at the table.

“God Liz, I’m so sorry,” he said, his voice cracking.

“What happened?” she asked in a low voice.

He rubbed his eyes.

“Michael found out that they knew about them at Meta-Chem. His friend Monk was killed, shot the other night. When the people at Meta-Chem questioned him, he got suspicious, because they told him he didn’t have to talk to the police. Monk had told him that they were doing some kind of secret experiments in there. That it had something to do with aliens. When they didn’t want him to talk to the police, he came to me. I told him I’d help him out. I got an interview at Meta-Chem and got Monk’s job. It turns out that the person who shot Monk didn’t break in that night, it was an inside job. I got a photo of a footprint from Hansen, and Michael and I found a trail that led to the off-limits lab. When we got in there, we found out everything. They’d been watching all of you for awhile. They had your uniform from when you were shot, they had hair samples, all kinds of things.

Merris Wheeler, the wife of the owner, caught me. Michael, Max and Isabel came in after me. Max got me out, but I was shot, and he healed me. It turns out that they were looking for Max, not Michael all along. They shot Monk to test Michael, and when he couldn’t heal him, they knew they had the wrong alien. They caught Max and I. Merris Wheeler’s husband was old and ill, and she wanted Max to heal him,” he said.

“But Max can’t heal someone who is supposed to die. He tried with Grandma Claudia,” Liz said.

“I know, he tried to tell them that,” Valenti said, “but they wouldn’t listen. He tried to heal Wheeler, and something happened to him. It was like he aged overnight. And then the old man leapt out of the chair, and they left. Max…Max fell to the floor, and I tried to get to him, but there was a fire. And when I touched him, he just…disintegrated,” Valenti said.

“It’s all my fault. He healed me, and that’s the reason he’s dead,” he said, his voice growing thick.

Liz put her hand on his.

“Sheriff, there’s nothing else you could have done,” she said. “You couldn’t have stopped Max from healing you even if you had wanted to. That’s just who he was, you know that.”

He smiled through his tears.

“Yeah, I know,” he said shakily.

“What did Isabel tell Jesse?” she asked.

“He knew she’d sneaked out late that night, and he followed,” he said in a low voice.

“He was there when we got out. She told him that we all went to investigate Monk’s death, and the guards caught Max, and shot him, and that he was dead. She told him that there was something suspicious going on there. He knows that if he goes to the police, she’ll be arrested. I know it’s killing him not to go to them, but he knows it’s killing her more that Max is dead, and that she’ll probably go to prison if he does go to the authorities. I know they haven’t spoken too much about it yet. I am sure she’ll have some explaining to do later, but it’s ok for now,” he said.

“But its going to come down on her. You said Max’s body disintegrated, didn’t you? If there’s no body…” she said.

“It’s actually to our advantage. If there is no body, that means to him that Meta-Chem is hiding it,” he said.

“But how can he think that Isabel wouldn’t want to have Max’s body?” she said. “And what about his parents? What are they going to tell them?” she asked, her voice shaking.

“That he’s disappeared again,” he said. “I don’t think that would surprise them that much, after everything that’s happened this past year. It was actually Jesse’s suggestion,” Valenti said.

Liz shut her eyes.

“This is like a nightmare Sheriff,” she said.

“I know,” he said quietly.

“Why did this have to happen?” she asked no one in particular.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of the phone.

Isabel came into the kitchen and picked it up.

“Hello?” she said in a low voice.

“Hi Mom,” she said.

After a second her brows knit.

“What’s the matter Mom?” she asked.

“I…Mom, I can’t understand what you’re saying. Slow down,” she said.

There was silence for a few seconds.

“What? No that can’t be,” she said.

“Ok, ok…I’m coming right over Mom,” she said quickly.

She dropped the phone into the cradle.

Liz and Valenti looked at her questioningly as the others moved into the doorway.

“What happened Isabel?” Michael asked.

She shut her eyes.

“They found Max’s body,” she said.



posted on 16-Feb-2002 3:50:08 PM by majesty

PART TWO

They found Max’s body…

Isabel glanced at Jesse, who frowned.

“Isabel, can I talk to you for a minute in the other room?

She nodded, and glanced apprehensively at Michael before going into the bedroom.

“That’s impossible,” the Sheriff whispered, “I saw his body disintegrate.”

They were quiet for a moment as they heard an angry muffled voice come from the bedroom.

“Do you have any idea how crazy what you did last night was?” Jesse said.

“God, I know Max was your brother Isabel, but we have to think clearly right now. Can we trust everyone in that room? I could get disbarred and sent to prison for withholding information like this. Not to mention what your father will do to me,” he said.

They heard Isabel’s quiet sob.

“Do you love me Jesse?” they heard her say, and then the voices became too quiet for them to hear.

Michael held a panicked look on his face.

“You don’t think that she’s telling him about us? This is like the worst time she could do it!” he said in a quiet voice.

No one said anything. There was nothing to be done about it if she did. They prepared for the worst.

A moment later, Isabel walked out of the room, Jesse behind her.

Everyone noted the dazed look on his face, but no one said a word.

“Something’s up here,” Michael said. “Do you think its Wheeler that did this?”

“I don’t know,” Valenti said. “But we’d better get out of here and find out quick.”

“Isabel, you go to your parents house, and Kyle and I will go over and see Hanson to see what I can find out,” Valenti said.

“What about us?” Maria said, looking at Michael and Liz.

“You all should go home. I’ll call you when I know something,” Valenti said.

“I can’t just sit around and do nothing,” Michael said. “What about Wheeler?”

“Michael, they’re long gone. You can’t do anything about them right now,” he said.

Michael’s jaw tightened in anger.

“Michael, come on, Kyle and his Dad can drop Liz at the Crashdown and we’ll go back to your apartment,” Maria said, putting her arm around him.

“The Sheriff will find out what’s going on, and you’ll call us as soon as you do, *right* Sheriff?” she asked pointedly.

“Of course,” Valenti answered.

Michael made no further argument, and everyone gathered their things.

Liz followed Kyle and his Dad out of the apartment wordlessly, and got into the back of Kyle’s truck.

Kyle started it and pulled away.

He glanced at Liz in the rearview mirror and spoke softly.

“You ok Parker?” he asked.

Liz turned from the window and glanced at him in the mirror.

“I’ll be ok,” she said, looking away, but Kyle wasn’t so sure, seeing her pale countenance and the dark splotches under her eyes.

“Dad, when we get to the Crash, I’m going to go on with Liz. You can pick me up when you’re done with Hanson,” Kyle said, casting a worried glance back at Liz.

Valenti nodded in agreement.

“Kyle, I’ll be fine,” she said quietly.

“Liz, you’re going to have to tell you parents why you’re home. It will look better if I tell them I picked you up at the airport and that I was the one that called you,” Kyle said. “Let me help.”

Liz thought about it. She knew he was right. It would go over better with her parents if Kyle was there when she told them.

A moment later, they pulled up in front of the Crashdown, and Kyle got out of the driver’s seat, Valenti walking around to get in.

Kyle picked up Liz’s bag and she got out of the truck. She looked at him with haunted eyes, her jacket thrown over her clasped hands.

They glanced into the Crash to see the surprised looks of her parents through the pane glass window of the restaurant.

Liz stiffened, and Kyle put his arm around her.

“It’s going to be ok Liz. We’ll get through telling your parents together,” he said.

“God Kyle, I know what my Dad is going to say, she said, her eyes glistening with tears.

“He’s going to say that he was right, and that had I stayed here I might be dead too. That Max was bad news. That he was bad for me. I just can’t handle hearing it right now,” she said shakily.

“Liz, I’ll be there. Don’t worry, I’ll handle it,” he said, squeezing her close for a second.

Liz was glad he was there. For a long time, she knew that he was the only one who could relate to her, because he was also healed by Max. She was grateful that they’d remained friends, because she needed someone now, and Michael needed Maria more than she did.

“Come on,” he said in a low voice.

Together they walked into the restaurant as the bell tinkled over the door. Liz looked around. Suddenly it all seemed so small, so confining. She looked at the booth where Max used to sit to wait for her and her eyes threatened to spill the tears that had been gathering there. For a moment, her eyes tricked her, and there he was turning to look at her smiling, and then the image was gone.

“Lizzie, what are you doing here?” her father asked, confused.

Liz didn’t speak.

“Mr. Parker, something happened,” he said. “I called Liz and told her to come home. Last night…last night Max Evans…”

Kyle’s voice faded out completely as Liz felt the thundering rush of air in her ears. Suddenly everything was out of focus. Suddenly all she could hear was her own breathing and the thunder of her own heartbeat. Breathe in. Breathe out.

She felt a tingling in her hands, and she started to panic, her breathing becoming louder.

She saw Kyle speaking, his mouth was moving, but she couldn’t hear it. She saw the shock written on her parents’ face as he told them the news. But she was disconnected from it, trapped in the sounds of her own body.

And suddenly it was gone.

“They found his body,” Kyle said. “I don’t know the details of what happened yet.”

“Oh Liz, I’m so sorry,” her mother said, wrapping her arms around Liz.

Liz stood completely still as her mother embraced her, staring at the kitchen door.

“Mrs. P, Liz is kind of in shock. Can I take her upstairs so she can lie down for awhile?” Kyle asked.

Liz’s mother pulled away from her and looked at her concerned. Liz glanced over at her father and didn’t miss the look of almost relief on his face that he couldn’t quite hide. It angered her, but she said nothing.

“Yes, yes of course,” she said. “I’ll be up in a few minutes,” Nancy said.

“Mom,” Liz croaked, “I’d really like to be alone for awhile.”

Liz mother paused, looking at her hurt, but after a moment paused.

“Come down if you need anything Liz. If you need *me*,” her mother said.

“I will,” Liz answered, and Kyle gently pushed her toward the kitchen door.

She couldn’t look at her father again. Not now.

Together they walked up the stairs into the apartment, and Kyle followed her to her room.

He put Liz’s bag on the floor as she carefully climbed onto her bed, lying flat on her stomach, her hands underneath her chest, face turned toward the balcony.

“Thanks Kyle,” she said in a low voice.

He walked over to sit beside her on the bed, putting comforting hand on her back.

“You ok Liz,” he asked.

She nodded against her pillow without turning to him.

“No, I mean, are you *ok*?” he said. “You know, with what was happening to you before you left?”

“Yeah Kyle, I’m fine,” she said softly.

He sighed.

“I’m sorry Liz, for everything that’s happened. I know that in spite of what you said to Max, you still loved him,” he said.

“I don’t know how I felt Kyle,” she said, looking out at the balcony.

“I mean yeah, I do love, did love him. But so much happened between us. So much that neither of us could take back,” she said.

“That’s always the hard part about love Liz,” he said after a moment. “It’s easy to love someone when everything is going good. The hard part is loving someone when things go bad. That’s the true test,” he said.

Her head turned to him.

“Since when did you get so wise in the ways of love?” she asked, turning her head to him.

He shrugged. “Buddha,” he answered, as if the little chubby guy held the secrets to all the world’s problems.

She smiled wanly.

“Mind if I stay for awhile?” he asked.

She shook her head and mooched over on the bed.

He lied down next to her, staring at the ceiling.

“Damn, is this déjà vu?” he asked. “Oh no wait, we have our clothes on.”

She shot him a look, and he looked thoroughly chastised.

“Sorry,” he said.

“No, it’s all right,” Liz said finally.

“I think about that night a lot,” she said.

“Why?” he asked frowning.

“It’s the night that changed everything,” she said.

“You never told me why we did what we did to Evans,” he reminded her.

She sighed.

“There’s no use in telling you now Kyle. It isn’t going to change anything. It isn’t going to bring him back, or make anything better,” she said.

“It’s my secret. One that I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life. I don’t want you to have to do that too,” she said quietly.

“Ok…” he said.

They were silent for a long time, each in their own world.

“Kyle,” Liz said finally. “Do you ever think about what your life might have been like if Max hadn’t saved me that day? If we never found out what they were?”

“No,” he said vehemently. “Because you wouldn’t be here right now.”

“I think about it sometimes. I think that Alex would have been alive. Tess and Nasedo probably wouldn’t have found them. Pierce wouldn’t have found them. Hubble wouldn’t have found them. Or Khivar. And Max would be alive right now,” she said.

“You don’t know that any of that wouldn’t have happened anyway,” Kyle said. “We don’t know what could have happened. And…you never would have known Max’s love. Is that really something you would have wanted?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said. “It just hurts. It hurts a lot.”

“I know,” he said quietly.

She sighed and turned her head back toward the balcony.

A moment later, Kyle’s cell rang.

“Yeah,” he said, picking it up.

“Hey Dad,” he said.

He was silent for a moment listening. Liz couldn’t hear the conversation at the other end of the phone.

“Shit,” Kyle said in a low voice. “You’re kidding me?”

“Ok, ok, see you in a little while,” he said, and hung up the phone.

“What happened?” Liz asked dully, without turning around.

“Well they found Max, the Evans were right,” he said. “But they found him out on the side of 285.”

“And?” Liz prompted.

“And my Dad was freaking, because they’d already started preliminary blood tests,” he said.

“So they know,” Liz said, defeated.

“No, that’s the thing. The blood was completely normal. Cause of death was listed as a bullet to the chest.”

Liz turned her head to look at him.

“But that can’t be…”

TBC…


posted on 16-Feb-2002 6:31:29 PM by majesty
Guys,

I know I am posting this in short installments, but there is a point I want to get to before I move on to SOF. Bear with me, I know it's confusing, but it will become clear soon.

majesty

PART THREE

“Something’s definitely wrong with this Kyle,” Liz said.

He nodded, looking out the window.

“Yeah,” he said distracted.

“Max didn’t die of a bullet wound,” Liz said, laying her head back on the pillow.

Kyle looked at her.

“Liz, you aren’t thinking he’s still alive?” he asked, worriedly.

“No, I know he’s gone. I felt it Kyle,” she said quietly. “But there’s something else going on here.”

“Well, whatever it is, my Dad, Michael and Isabel are going to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

“Isabel…” she said. “Do you think she told Jesse?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so, otherwise I have a feeling he would have run screaming from the apartment. But she must have told him something,” he said.

Liz nodded. “I guess we’ll know soon enough.”

“Listen, I’d better get downstairs. My Dad is going to be here any minute. Are you going to be ok?” he asked.

She nodded silently.

“Yeah Kyle, I’m going to try to get some sleep,” she said.

“’K,” he said. “I’ll call and check on you later, and I’ll let you know what’s going on.”

She nodded.

He leaned over and placed a soft kiss on her forehead.

“Everything’s going to be ok Liz,” he said.

She didn’t answer, because she knew in her heart that nothing was going to be ok ever again.

He looked at her sympathetically once more before leaving, shutting the door behind him.

She shut her eyes, squeezing them shut, trying not to picture what had happened to Max. She was sure that wasn’t Max in the morgue. She’d believed what the Sheriff had said when he told her that Max had turned to dust. Just like Nasedo had done. It was the alien way, she thought.


We have to talk about this Liz…

We can’t just act like what you said in the desert never happened…

What are we going to do?

I love you…

Maybe you can come home…



In her mind’s eye she saw the tears that filled his eyes as he left that night.

She’d never thought it would be the last time she would ever see him again.


You have to trust me Liz. I think it’s working…

I can’t…



She turned her head to the balcony once more, for a moment her eyes deceiving her. She blinked and shook her head.

For a split second, she swore she saw Max sitting out there, to the side of the window, just like he had the last night she’d seen him alive.

But it was a figment of her imagination. Max was gone. They’d hurt each other more than she ever believed they could, and then he died.

She felt anger and hurt fill her body, and the tingling came again.

Pulling her hands out from under her chest, she looked at them. She’d been hiding them since last night.

Because she thought it would go away. She thought now that he was gone, whatever was happening to her would leave too.

But it hadn’t.

She looked down at the currents of energy sparking through her hands and she started to cry.

And once she started, she couldn’t stop.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Michael opened the door to his apartment, walking in, not waiting for Maria. She stood in the doorway for a long moment, unsure if he really even wanted her there after what she’d done to him over the past few weeks.

Being in New York, seeing Liz, seeing what had happened with Max, had made her realize that her dreams weren’t all they were cracked up to be. It made her see that maybe loving someone was more important than putting up with all of the craziness that comes with it. In those moments after Liz gasped that Max had died, she thought about how she would feel if it were her in Liz’s place. If Michael had died.

And it scared her. Because she left Roswell on bad terms with him. She’d effectively shut him out, told him she was tired of him, tired of what he was. And it was unimaginable to think that if what had happened to Max had happened to Michael, she would be forever haunted by the way things were left between them.

She knew Liz had to be thinking about that. How she’d left, not telling Max, just leaving a note. Talking about normal, telling him she needed it now.

And that was the last thing that Max would have remembered about Liz Parker.

And Maria didn’t want Michael to remember her that way.

She stepped into the apartment, shutting the door.

Michael stood staring out the window stoically. But Maria knew better than to think there wasn’t a storm brewing inside his head.

“Michael,” she said from where she stood.

“Maria, maybe you should go home. There isn’t any reason for you to be here. I’m going to be all right,” he said.

“You aren’t all right,” she answered, “and I don’t want to be home. I want to be here with you.”

“Why?” he asked flatly, not looking at her.

Because it’s where I’m supposed to be,” she said. “I kind of forgot that for a little while, but I know that now.”

He shook his head.

“Maria, just leave,” he said.

“No,” she said with quiet fierceness.

“Michael, you put me through hell for two years, and I stood by you. I made a *mistake*, one mistake, and you can’t forgive me for that?” she asked.

“Maria, I told you once before, I can’t just be friends. It didn’t work, the whole on again/off again casual-sex-friend thing. I can’t do it. And you were right we’ve hurt all of you. Alex is dead because of *us*. Liz is destroyed now, because of *us*. Valenti lost his job, and almost got killed last night, because of *us*. And you…you almost missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime, because of me,” he said, his lower lip quivering.

“Michael, do you want to know about my opportunity of a lifetime? They wanted me to sing somebody else’s music, and *disco* no less. They didn’t want me, they wanted to make me into their image of me. They didn’t care about my music,” she said.

“And you know what? Right now I don’t care about any of that. I want to be here with you, because you’ve lost two friends, Monk and your best friend…Max. Just let me be here with you,” she said, putting her hand on his forearm and resting her cheek against his shoulder.

“Please,” she whispered, tears coming to her eyes.

She felt his shoulder shake lightly and she looked up and saw that tears had started to fall on his cheeks.

He looked at her, and roughly pulled her to him.

“I’m sorry for everything, for everything that’s happened to all of you,” he said into her hair with a quiet sob.

Her hand slipped over his shoulder, rubbing his back softly, tears filling her own eyes.

“Michael, it’s not your fault,” she said.

“Yes it is,” he choked out. “Max is dead because of me.”

“What are you talking about Michael?” she said.

“Monk…if I’d have just let it go, Max wouldn’t have been there,” he said.

“Michael, didn’t you tell me that they had all kinds of things pointing to all of you?” she asked.

He didn’t answer.

“Michael, they would have gotten to all of you eventually. They were looking for Max. They would have found him eventually,” she said.

“I can’t believe he’s dead Maria,” he whispered.

“I know,” she said, her hand moving to stroke the long hair at the nape of his neck.

“What are we going to do?” he asked.

“We’ll get through it, together,” she said leaning up to kiss his cheek.

Looking at his face, she felt a strange sense of fear. She’d never seen Michael look so hopeless. It looked as if he’d given up.

“I love you Michael, if that still means anything,” she said looking up at him.

As she said it, his eyes fell to her face, searching it, and she knew it still did mean something.

She stood motionless, waiting for whatever might come, and gently took her hand, leading her to the bedroom.

*%*%*%%*%*%*

TWO HOURS LATER

Valenti pulled up in front of the morgue, turning off the truck, spotting Hanson waiting for him outside the door.

He turned to look at Kyle. They’d been sitting home when they’d gotten the call from Hanson that it was ok for them to come down.

“You want to stay here?” he asked his son. He knew Kyle didn’t want to go in. He just didn’t want to be alone in the house.

Kyle nodded wordlessly, looking out the window.

“I won’t be long,” Valenti said, getting out of the truck.

He was worried about Kyle. Contrary to what most people thought, he’d learned that his son was much more of a deep thinker than he would have guessed.

This was really bothering him. It was really bothering all of them. Because Max Evans had been the grounding force between all of them, drawing them together, uniting them.

He’d saved his life, and it had cost him his own.

And now he was going in with Hanson to look at his body.

“Hey Hanson,” he said solemnly.

“Jim,” he said, opening the door.

“Have his parents been here yet? To identify him?” Valenti asked.

“Yeah, they were pretty broken up about it,” Hanson said.

“I really appreciate you doing this for me,” Valenti said.

“Well, you said you’d become close with the kid. Though it doesn’t look like anything strange. He was shot, end of story,” Hanson said, not realizing the harshness of his words and Valenti flinched behind him.

“I just want to have a look for my own piece of mind. Evans had been doing some strange things in the beginning of the year,” Valenti said.

“Yeah, I remember. He was in that hold-up in Utah with the Parker girl. How’s she taking this?” Hanson asked conversationally, as he opened the door to the room housing the refrigerated cabinets.

“Not too good,” Valenti said, his heart racing. How was he going to do this?

“Hey Earle,” he said to the technician standing next to the metal table in the center of the room.

“Hanson,” he returned in greeting as he turned around.

“You remember Jim right?” he said.

“Yep, how’re doing these days Jim?” Earle said, looking at him.

“I’m getting by,” Valenti answered.

“That’s great,” Earle said. “Well enough of the pleasantries, you were here to see something, let’s just get down to it.”

Jim nodded, and Earle turned to the table.

Jim stepped up and saw the body covered in a sheet, and he felt sweat break out on his forehead.

Earle looked at him for approval, and Jim nodded.

He slowly pulled the sheet back, and Jim closed his eyes sighing.

He opened them again and looked at the corpse.

He noticed the dark hair first that he’d recently cropped short. His skin had taken on the gray pallor of the dead, his lips an ashen color. Eyes that had looked much too old for their years were half-opened, staring blankly at nothing. The vitality, the gentle strength that had exuded from Max Evans was gone.

The trademark “Y” of the autopsy stood out, red and angry on his chest, a small hole in the center, the only evidence of a bullet that had supposedly ended his life.

Valenti suddenly felt as if he were going to be ill. He turned away quickly, taking a deep breath.

“Jim, you ok?” Hanson asked.

“Yeah,” Valenti said, taking a deep breath. “I’ve seen all I need to, thanks Hanson.”

He walked quickly out of the room.

Had his mind played tricks on him? Had Max still been alive when he’d run from Meta-Chem?

He didn’t think so, but then he couldn’t be absolutely sure of anything these days.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

Liz stirred as she heard the sharp ringing of the phone.

Her head was pounding, and her eyes were practically swollen shut.

She moaned, begging for sleep to overtake her again, welcoming the oblivion it had brought.

But the phone persisted.

She reached out and put her hand on the phone, picking it up.

“Hello?” she croaked, her eyes slitting open, noting it was dark outside.

“Liz, it’s Kyle,” a gentle voice said.

“Hey Kyle,” she said in a low voice.

“Listen, I know this is going to be hard for you to hear…my Dad went down to the morgue. He…he saw the body. He says its Max,” he said.

Liz put her hand to her pounding head.

“Maybe…maybe it is him Kyle,” Liz said. “Maybe your Dad didn’t see what he thought he did.”

“Yeah Dad’s saying the same thing,” Kyle said. “But that’s not like him Liz. He was a cop for chrissakes.”

“Kyle, a lot went down that night. He was shot. He was healed by Max. Maybe he was just stressed or something, and he thought he saw something he didn’t,” she said.

“But that doesn’t explain the human blood,” Kyle pointed out.

Liz sighed. “I guess you have the Valenti Sheriff’s blood in you after all Kyle.”

“Maybe the people at Meta-Chem did something to his blood. I mean, they had the technology and the resources to find out about Max to begin with. It doesn’t matter Kyle. He’s dead. I know it. I felt it,” she said.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” he said. “Dad called the Evan’s. He said that they’re going to have a wake the day after next, and the funeral the following day.”

Liz’s breath hitched in her throat.

“You’re going to go right?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she said. “I have to say goodbye to him, if that’s possible.”

“Are you going to be ok Liz?” he asked.

“I don’t know…it’s just, how do I say goodbye to someone who’s been such a big part of my life? Someone who *became* my life?” she asked.

He was quiet for a minute.

“I don’t have the answer to that Liz,” he said.

“I know,” she said sadly.

“So you’ll come with me and Dad?” he asked.

“Yeah, thanks Kyle,” she said.

“Ok, well I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Call me if you need anything,” he said.

“I will. Thanks Kyle,” she said.

“Goodnight,” he said.

“Night,” she said, hanging up the phone.

She lay back on the pillow, sleep now an impossibility.

She thought of the day Max had returned to Roswell from LA. She’d wanted so much to hate him that day, but he was so hopeless, so…broken.


I failed. And my son... He's up there somewhere. I've just messed everything up. Langley's life. Yours. I'm so sorry, Liz. I'm so sorry.


She’d held him, every thought of breaking up with him flying from her mind the instant she saw him break down.

I'll never leave you, Liz…

She turned on her side, feeling the tears rising.

So many promises he’d made that he hadn’t kept.

TBC…



[ edited 3 time(s), last at 16-Feb-2002 6:44:15 PM ]
posted on 17-Feb-2002 1:27:35 AM by majesty
Well,

One or two more parts, and I will have the story at the point where you all won't be so confused. Hopefully I will have them up by tomorrow night.

majesty

PART FOUR

Yesterday seemed an eternity, Liz thought to herself.

She couldn’t help but think of a short story she’d read, where a grandfather tried to teach his grandson about time. He called time a pretty pony that ran at three different speeds, demonstrating how subjective it was by giving the child a stop-watch. He had the child time a minute while he counted to sixty, to see if he could match the watch. His count of sixty turned out to be only 35 seconds.

He said when you were little, you had the long time, when summers seemed to go on forever. Then you hit your teens, and you were in real time. But somewhere in middle age, you fell into short time.

But there were exceptions. When you hurt, the time you experienced made the long time of childhood seem like merely a few seconds.

She was in the gallows of hurt time. Every minute seemed to be an hour. Counting down to the minute that Kyle and his father came to pick her up to go to the funeral home.

She alternated between dread and sorrow. She didn’t want to say goodbye. She didn’t want to say goodbye in front of his family. In front of the town.

She didn’t want pity. She wanted to crawl away and hide.

But she would go. And she would comfort Isabel. She would give her condolences to the Evans’.

She slowly buttoned up her dark sweater. Any minute now. They’d be here any minute now.

She looked at her haggard appearance in the mirror. She herself looked like she’d aged in the past few days.

So much had happened.

She looked at her hands. The energy had dissipated, and she hadn’t had another incident. She wondered if it was finally over.

A soft knock at the door startled her.

He mother poked her head into her room.

“Honey, Kyle and the Sheriff are here,” she said.

“Ok Mom,” she answered quietly.

“Are you sure you don’t want Dad or I to go with you?” Nancy asked.

“Mom, I don’t think that would go over too well after what happened in September in Utah,” she said.

“You’re right,” her mother said. “I don’t want to upset the Evans’”.

Liz turned and walked over to the door, intending to pass her mother, when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

“I really am sorry about Max, honey,” she said quietly.

“I know you are Mom,” she said, looking at her.

“I have to go,” she said.

Her mother nodded and Liz walked slowly down the stairs, dreading seeing the Valenti’s, dreading the hours that were to come.

They were waiting with her father at the counter.

“Hey Liz,” Kyle said softly.

Liz just stood there.

“Well, we’d better get going,” Valenti said.

“Lizzie, call me if you need anything,” her father said, and she nodded.

Together they walked out to the truck, none of them saying a word.

The short drive to the funeral home was filled with the same silence.

Liz was surprised at the amount of cars that were in the parking lot.

Were the owners friends of the family?

She got out of the backseat, and Kyle put a reassuring arm around her.

The three walked to the doors, and Valenti held the door for her.

She didn’t want to be the first one in. She didn’t want anyone’s eyes on her.

But they were. Many of her classmates turned and stared as she walked in with Kyle and Jim behind her.

What were they doing here? They didn’t know anything about Max at all.

She stopped for a moment, unsure of what to do, and then Diane Evans spotted her.

“Liz,” she said tearfully, coming up and putting her arms around her.

“Hi Mrs. Evans,” she said quietly. “How are you holding up?”

Typical question, no easy answer for any of them.

“Not so good,” Diane admitted. “How about you?”

Liz looked down.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call, I just…” she started.

“Don’t worry about it dear,” Diane said quietly. “ I know how hard this is for you too. He…he loved you very much you know.”

It was easy for Diane to say that. What she saw were two normal teenagers in love. Two teenagers who had gotten in trouble together. That is all anyone saw. No one outside their circle knew the truth, the awful truth of everything.

Liz nodded.

“Isabel and the others are inside,” she said motioning to the open double doors down the hall on the right.

“Ok,” Liz said.

“Thank you Liz, for loving my son,” Diane said softly, and Liz looked at her shocked. “I know he had secrets, Philip and I both knew it. But when he was with you…” she stopped.

Liz hugged her impulsively.

“He loved the both of you too,” Liz said, and Diane smiled tearfully nodding.

Liz gave her hand a squeeze and started slowly down the hall as Diane spoke with Kyle and his father.

Everything was surreal. The stares, the quiet whispers as she got closer to the doors.

To the right of the doors was a small podium with a book on it, opened.

She looked at it and stopped.

The condolence book.

Picking up the pen with a shaky hand, she signed her name, trying to get her bearings, trying to get the courage to walk through the doors.

She shut her eyes for a moment, taking a deep breath, and then walked through them. Glancing around the room, at anything other than the focal point at the far end, she noticed Isabel sitting with Jesse and her father.

Michael sat in a seat a few rows back, Maria next to him with her head on his shoulder.

He stared and stared, and she knew what he was staring at, but she couldn’t turn her gaze on it, not yet.

Maria looked back and saw her, squeezing Michael’s hand before getting up and walking over to her.

“Chica,” she said shakily.

“Maria, I’m sorry I didn’t return your calls, I…I just wasn’t ready to talk,” Liz said, putting her arms around her friend.

“It’s ok, I was just worried,” she said.

“I know,” Liz answered. “How are Michael and Isabel?” she asked.

“Not good,” Maria said, sighing.

Liz nodded.

“I don’t know what to say to them,” Liz said. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to say in a situation like this.”

“Say what’s in your heart hon,” Maria answered.

“Yeah,” Liz said.

“Are you going to go up there?” Maria asked.

“I can’t not yet,” Liz said, looking at the floor.

“Come and sit with me and Michael,” Maria said, and Liz nodded.

Liz followed her and sat down.

Michael looked at her and then went back to his vigil, watching the casket.

Liz still could not bring her eyes to look upon it.

For an hour she sat, a smile not reaching her eyes as people from school passed on their way up to the front of the room to pay their respects.

Maria clutched her hand as Kyle sat beside her with his father. Soon Maria and Michael stood up, walking to the front of the room.

She knew her time was running short, that this was her last chance to say goodbye, but she couldn’t bring herself to get up.

A minister appeared, and everyone sat back down, Maria wiping her eyes, Michael stone-faced. Maria grabbed her hand again.

Liz didn’t hear a word the minister said.

If it brought his parents comfort than she was happy, but this man knew nothing of Max. Of what he was. Of the battles he’d fought. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Isabel wiping her eyes, and Jesse tightening his arm around her.

The minister finished. Time was almost up. People had started to file into the hall.

Kyle and his father got up as Isabel and Jesse passed them, and Isabel stopped and leaned into the row, her arm folding around Liz’s neck in an embrace.

“I’m sorry Isabel,” Liz said tearfully.

“Me too,” she whispered, moving away.

Looks were exchanged between Michael, Maria and the Valenti’s, and they all wordlessly left their seats, leaving Liz momentarily alone in the room.

And finally she raised her eyes and looked to the front of the room.

She slowly stood, letting out a ragged breath. She stepped out into the aisle, putting one foot in front of the other slowly.

Vibrant flowers surrounded the casket. Loving Son. Beloved Brother.

Isabel’s handiwork, she knew.

The casket was a rich mahogany, polished and adorned with brass fittings.

As she got closer, she saw the dark hair that framed the face of her soul-mate. His hands were crossed peacefully on his stomach. Hands that used to touch her face lovingly. Hands that used to soothe her, that made her feel that everything was going to be ok. The pinkish lights above the casket lent an almost healthy glow to his skin.

Long lashes, framed his eyes, closed in eternal sleep.

And he looked as if he was sleeping. How she used to love to watch him sleep.

He looked so peaceful, the lines that had worried his forehead of late smoothed out in repose.

Her eyes filled with tears as she looked at what was left of the person who had filled her life for the last three years. The boy who had suddenly become a King, a man, a father.

“Why did it have to come to this Max?” she whispered.

“Maybe I should have told you what happened that night you serenaded me. We would have had fourteen years. Look at us now. Look at what I’ve done,” she said. “Alex is gone, and now you. I did love you Max. More than life. I know you knew that. I just wish I’d told you that last night,” she said, wiping the tears from her face.

“Maybe you’re in a better place, where you don’t have to worry about being a King, or protecting any of us,” she said.

She shut her eyes for a moment, trying to get her composure.

“I don’t know how to say goodbye,” she said, her hand reaching to touch his cheek.

As soon as her fingers touched the skin, they started to glow.

A barrage of images assaulted her.

A parking lot, deserted and dark.

“You got the money?” a burly man said.

“No, no but I promise I’ll have it for you tomorrow,” an unfamiliar voice said, and Liz saw the face of it’s owner.

Blond, blue eyed, haunted. A young man.

“Tomorrow is too late Seton. You’re time is up,” the burly man growled as he pulled a gun out of his pocket with lightning speed.

It went off before Seton had time to move, and he went down on the pavement.

His vision grew fuzzy, as he saw the burly man lean over him.

The man leered at him as the last image Seton saw faded to black.


Liz gasped and pulled her hand away from the corpse, little charges of energy still running through her fingers.

“That isn’t Max,” she whispered.

Had she turned around, she would have seen Michael quietly backing out of the doorway.

TBC…

Note: The story about the Grandfather explaining time to his grandson is an actual short story by Stephen King, called "My Pretty Pony", from the book Nightmare and Dreamscapes, in case anyone was wondering :-)

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 17-Feb-2002 1:31:04 AM ]
posted on 17-Feb-2002 11:09:14 AM by majesty
Guys,

I am going to do some more writing on this, but it will be late tonight probably.

Can't answer the question about Michael yet, but I can tell you that it's probably not what you're thinking :-)

I can also say that Max isn't trapped in Clayton's body either. If you want my honest opinion I hated the Clayton/Merris part of Panacea, so you might see a quick view of them in here, but it isn't going to be much. In this story Max did actually heal Clayton, and he *was* the catalyst for Max's death, but that's it. You'll hear from them again, but it isn't going to be a big part of the story.

Hopefully I will have more of this up late tonight.

majesty

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 17-Feb-2002 11:15:34 AM ]
posted on 18-Feb-2002 1:35:46 AM by majesty
Hi Everyone,

I am leaving this note because the next couple of parts are going to call upon your faith in my writing as a reader. I know, believe me I know, that there are some storylines in the show that some people are uncomfortable with and don't like very much, and one of them is going to appear in this story.

Well, it will be a major part of the story.

I don't know if anyone noticed, but I have changed the header in the Prologue. It is called Descent. So it's going down for a bit, baby, into some not so nice things that have happened on the show. But again, remember that there will be an Ascent as well, and I think I managed to semi-squirm my way out of the mess that was made out of S2 in Senseless, and I am going to try to do it here as well. We'll see if it works.

Hope you decide to stick with me on this ride,

majesty

*%*%*%*%*%


PART FIVE

The skies of New Mexico seemed to cry on the day that Max Evans, or at least the corpse that everyone thought was Max Evans, was laid to rest.

But to Liz, even if it wasn’t really Max, instead some poor druggie, it was still a time of finality. Because Max was gone.

She’d said nothing the night before to anyone about the vision she’d had.

What would it prove? He was gone. She felt it with certainty in her heart.

Someone had provided a body, just like the skins had provided a body for Whitaker.

It didn’t matter why. Perhaps it was Meta-Chem, to prevent too many questions about Clayton Wheeler. It seemed the most likely explanation to Liz.

The Sheriff had tried to track Wheeler, with no luck. He and his wife Merris were long gone, probably from the country. He wasn’t going to give up, and Liz had no doubt in her mind that Valenti would find Wheeler, for all the good it would do.

What was she to do? Tell Michael and Isabel? Send them on some wild goose-chase to find out why a body had been provided? What would it get them? Only the increased chance of being discovered.

It wouldn’t bring Max back.

It would only divert them from feeling his loss for awhile.

She was keeping things from them yet again. But she was comfortable with it.

There was no way back to Antar. They were owed a semi-normal life after everything they’d been through. Maria deserved to have a life with Michael. Isabel deserved to have a life with Jesse.

And if the enemy eventually came looking for them, they’d be prepared. For as normal as their life might be, they would never stop looking over their shoulders. Max hadn’t.

She on the other hand, knew her life would never be the same again. Not without Max in it.

Liz had been haunted by strange dreams the night before.

Dreams of utter blackness, complete absence of light. Of a child crying. Of a ruined wasteland. Of the black hurt that hovered around her heart, a blanket of betrayal.
When she’d woken, she didn’t need to look at her hands to know that they were again glowing.

She shoved them under the blankets, willing the tingling to go away. To leave her alone. She wanted the hurt to leave her alone. Lying there, she felt as if someone had dropped a sandbag on her chest. It was hard to breathe. Hard to keep living with the questions that would now be unanswered forever. The questions she should have asked Max along time ago. The questions that would now linger in her mind, an enigma, for the rest of her days.

She stood here now, as a menacing wind blew through her hair, the sky darkening menacingly, as fat drops of rain fell against her face and body.

She shut her eyes and lifted her head to the sky, letting the splashes of rain mix with her tears, as the minister droned on. Kyle opened an umbrella and held it over her head, but she stepped out from under it. She wanted to feel every sensation of this, remember all of it.

His grave was only yards away from Alex’s. How appropriate.

She glanced over to see Michael looking at her furtively. As soon as her eyes met his, he looked away.

Maria stood quietly beside him, her eyes glued to the ground. Mrs. Evans and Isabel’s soft sniffles were barely audible over the sermon that was being performed.

He talked of comfort and peace and heaven. Was there a heaven for Max Evans? Even with all that had happened, she desperately hoped so. In so many ways, he’d been a victim of circumstance, of manipulation, of fate and destiny. Whatever he’d become over the past year, she’d had a part in it. Tess had a part in it. Khivar had a part in it.

He’d died to save someone he cared about. Valenti. Michael and Isabel roaming the halls of Meta-Chem. Maybe even for her.

The minister finished his eulogy, and people started to file up to the casket.

Liz hung back, reluctant to intrude on farewells.

She turned from the scene before her to get her bearings.

And she froze.

Standing quite a distance away, was a hulking man, his eyes hidden by sunglasses, though there was no sun. He wore a dark trench coat, dark shirt and dark pants. There was something wholly inhuman about his face, exacerbated by the baldness of his head.

His expression remained stoic as he stood there, apart from everyone.

Something inside her was telling her to think…think Liz, as she squinted her eyes looking at the man.

He took off his sunglasses arrogantly, staring at her for a long moment, before putting them back on and turning away and walking to his car.

Liz started after him. Some unknown voice was telling her to catch up to him.

She hurried in her heels across the wet ground, stumbling once before getting her balance and continuing on. She reached the road just as the black Lincoln Town Car sedan roared by. She couldn’t see inside the car. The windows were blacked out.

She stood staring after the car, her brow furrowed, deep in thought, and then she felt it. She looked down at her hands, fairly crackling with energy.

And then she felt a hand on her shoulder.

“Liz,” a voice said. “What are you doing?”

Liz quickly shoved her hands into her pockets and turned.

“Nothing Michael,” she said, looking up at him. “I…I guess I just got overwhelmed for a minute. I had to walk away.”

He studied her eyes for a minute, and then nodded.

“I know what you mean,” he said quietly. “But you’d better pay your respects now. In a minute it’s just going to be the family, and that might get a little weird for you.”

She nodded.

He slipped an arm around her shoulder, and they walked back to the site together.

There was no more stalling. She walked up to the casket, picked up a handful of wet dirt, and paused.

“I hope you’re resting in peace Max, wherever you are, she thought, looking up at the sky.

Because that is where she imagined he really was, up there, out among the stars, his soul finally gaining some peace.

I love you, but I have to find some way to live with all these questions I have. Questions that will never be answered now. I have to try to pick up the pieces of what’s left of my life. I have to find some way to put them together, so I can exist. Because I can’t even exist right now. Not like this.

Tears rose in her eyes, and she quietly swiped them away.

How could you leave like this Max? How could you do it, leaving me to wonder, leaving everything unfinished?

And suddenly, she was angry. Angry that he left her to deal with these alien changes in her body. He left her to deal with the aftermath of what happened last year alone. He’d avoided telling her the truth with cavalier comments and the hunt for his son.

Was he was trying to push her away that obsession, thinking she’d leave him, that she would give up, that he wouldn’t actually have to face what he’d done, that he wouldn’t have to look her in the eyes and explain why he’d betrayed her?

She’d never know, and that made her angry. She felt a rage rise in her heart, and dimly she smelled something burning.

Looking down, she saw the pockets of her sweater smoking lightly. With lightning speed, she took them out of the pockets crossing her arms across her middle, her hands hidden by her upper arms.

She turned away from the casket and his family before they saw.

Goodbye Max…

She walked away swiftly, with purpose.

Michael watched her go, his jaw tightening, not really hearing Maria next to him, giving words of comfort to the Evans’.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

She wanted nothing more than to be alone. She didn’t go back to the Evans’ house. She didn’t say anything to Kyle and his father other than asking them to take her home.

And they did, the silence in the truck broken only by the sound of the wipers swiping back and forth across the windshield.

She thanked them, getting out of the truck, telling them she would call, and then shut the door.

As she walked into the restaurant, she saw that Agnes was readying the catering order to be sent over to the Evans’. It was their small way of trying to reconcile the situation that had existed since Utah. She knew the Evans’ would be good about it, that they would accept it graciously, that it would be water under the bridge. That was just the way they were.

Death had a way of bringing people together, she thought morbidly.

She said hello to her parents, told them she was back, and said she wanted to lie down. She just needed to be alone.

She clumped up the stairs heavily, pushing the door open to the apartment. She made her way down the hall to her room.

As she opened the door, she noted the gloom that had shrouded it due to the rain. It looked much like her heart felt.

She crawled onto her bed, sinking into the mattress on her stomach. She pressed her cheek against her pillow, staring at the rain trickling down her window. She listened to its faint patter as it hit the side of the building and the roof. For awhile, she was just numb.

Random thoughts passed through her head. The man standing at the cemetery. The guilt that had been plastered all over Valenti’s face since that fateful night at Meta-Chem. The look of compassion on her mother’s face every time that she looked at her. That look that meant well, but was nevertheless clueless. The relief her father had tried so hard to hide, but that Liz noticed anyway.

Isabel’s mask of despair, her closest and dearest now gone from her. Michael’s stoic manner that she knew was masking a heartache just as deep as Isabel’s.

And Max. Max telling her that he wasn’t afraid that the two of them would turn out badly. That he was afraid it would turn out well. Because they weren't meant to be.

Kissing her for the first time that night on her balcony. And that night he told her that she was the one. The very same night she saw him kiss Tess. Max telling her that he loved her. That she was his destiny. Max serenading her from the alley below. The look on his face as he saw her in bed with Kyle. The night he left for New York, telling her that he couldn’t be friends with her. The prom. Telling her she looked beautiful. The same night she saw him kiss Tess again. Telling her that if she left Roswell, that their friendship was over. And the night before they were to leave, when he told her that he’d slept with Tess and that she was pregnant, and that they were going.

The very next day Tess was revealed as Alex’s murderer, and he’d said the one thing he’d done that wasn’t a mistake was to get her into his life, to love her. But things had changed irrevocably the night before, never to be the same again.

All random thoughts, memories. But they were all she had left.

Almost apathetically, she noticed her hands again. The energy was spreading up her arm.

She slid them under the pillow, closing her eyes.

Would this ever go away?

Was this going to be with her for the rest of her days?

Max was gone, but he’d left this with her as a parting gift.

She was tired, so tired, and she thought of the Robert Frost poem that had stuck with her since she’d read it in his room.

Miles to go before I sleep…

But she was afraid to sleep now. Afraid of the dreams she’d been having.

All day she lay there staring out the window, not moving, barely breathing.

The rain eventually stopped, and the sun came out for a brief appearance, to let the world know that it was still around before starting it’s descent.

Liz got up and went to her dresser, taking off the bracelet she’d put on.

She glanced into the mirror, noting the exhaustion on her face and noticed the sun’s setting rays streaming across the room. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted something and focused on it.

Her eyes widened. Standing just inside the window stood Max, looking at her reflection in the mirror.

She turned quickly to the window. There was no one there.

She turned back to the mirror slowly. He was gone.

Another figment of her exhausted mind.

She closed her eyes wearily.

When was this going to stop?

She knew she couldn’t fight this anymore. Both her mind and body were exhausted. She had to sleep, at least for a little while.

Slowly she took her clothes off, stripping down to her underwear. She left the clothes strewn carelessly on the floor.

Wearily, she walked over to her bed and pulled the covers down.

She climbed in and pulled them up over herself and closed her eyes, saying a silent prayer for uninterrupted sleep.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

The world seemed to be spinning for a moment, and she frantically tried to make it stop.

And just as suddenly, all was still.

Still…and dark.

But it wasn’t a frightening darkness. It was an embracing one.

It curled around her like a warm blanket.

She didn’t feel fear as she walked ahead, though she could not see where she was going.

Somehow she knew that the darkness would accommodate any path she chose to take.

She stopped.

Turned her eyes up to the endless abyss above her, and was sucked up into it.

Light swirled around her, seemingly guiding her body to some unknown destination.

She didn’t fight it.

Presently, it deposited her to the ground. Below her feet she felt a squishy substance.

Ahead of her were bright flashes, and she walked toward them.

There was an impatient presence here, she could feel it. She walked into the flashes, and for a moment they blinded her before dimming almost to the point of darkness.

Standing before her was Tess. Tess holding a toddler in her arms.

The look on Tess’s face taunted her, showing her that she had what Liz could never hope to experience.

The child squirmed in her arms, but she didn’t take her eyes off of Liz.

She didn’t say a word, but Liz felt the contempt, the menace that she felt for both her and for Max.

Meant to be…she said with a smile.

Liz looked down at her hands. They were glowing brightly, sharp flashes of light pulsing from them, more powerful than ever before.

She looked at them with horror, and then looked up again at Tess, who laughed malevolently. Her laughter became louder and louder, until Liz thought her ears were going to explode, until she thought she might go mad…


“NO!!” Liz gasped, sitting straight up in bed.

It wasn’t going to go away. None of it was going to go away, she realized, until she knew the truth.

And very clearly she realized there was only one thing she could do. She had to find Tess. She had to find Max’s son.

TBC…


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 18-Feb-2002 1:42:58 AM ]
posted on 18-Feb-2002 2:30:16 PM by majesty
Hi everyone.

Here is the next installment.

It's a little short. Here is my dilemma. Do I continue with this, or move on to SOF? I'm not sure. I am kind of caught up in this one now, but the next part of Skies of Fire is supposed to be next up. Let me know what you'd rather I work on.

majesty

PART SIX

It was to most just another day, the logical progression of time. To the small group in Roswell, it was the day after Max Evans was buried, the day they had to begin to try to find some logic in it, some way to pick up the pieces of their lives, some way to try to move on.

As the sun rose, the true reality of everything became a stark truth, the lull of the wake, those that gave their condolences, the gentle squeezes of comfort all gone.

Because it was the day *after* Max Evans was buried. It was expected that life would go on, that time would heal, that some day soon those who loved Max Evans would wake up and the hurt would be a little less, the loss a little less painful. But those people did not love Max Evans, for all his faults and merits. They had not come to depend on Max to guide them, to be fearless leader. They didn’t know what he was to the small group who knew him as no one else on the planet did.

*%*%*%*%*%%*%*

Isabel lay with her cheek resting on her arm, facing away from Jesse, who snored slightly next to her.

She wondered at the strange curveballs life continually seemed to throw at all of them.

Her brother was dead.

She was alone now.

She had Jesse, and she knew Michael wasn’t going anywhere, but still she was alone.

Because she and Max had been through everything together. Right from the beginning.

They’d walked hand in hand from the desert.

They’d gone to the orphanage together.

They’d been adopted together.

They’d lived with the Evans’ together.

They’d shared their fears together.

They’d shared the burden of not knowing what they were together.

Michael had come along, and they had all become close, but it was different with Michael.

Because even though she’d come to think of him like a brother, he wasn’t. He wasn’t her brother. Max was. And Max was gone.

She couldn’t share anything with him anymore.

There would be no betrayal, like Vilondra had betrayed Zan on Antar. She’d worried about that so much. It was always on her mind. But it wouldn’t happen now, because Max was gone.

Who was she without him? Who were any of them without him?

The answer was unthinkable.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Valenti woke to the persistent ring of his phone.

He reached over and picked up the receiver with one hand, rubbing his eyes with the other.

“Yeah?” he said in a muffled voice.

The hand that was rubbing his eyes froze and dropped to the covers as he listened.

“Are you sure? They spotted Wheeler in Mustique? Ok, ok, yeah. Thanks Frank. I owe you big,” he said, sitting up and hanging up the phone.

Kyle had left a few minutes before for his job at the garage. Valenti made a few phone calls to the airlines, and then quickly dressed.

He stopped and wrote a quick note for Kyle, explaining where he was going, why he had to go.

And he picked up the phone and made one last call.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Michael lay next to Maria, wide awake and staring at the ceiling. Maria’s soft breathing was the only sound audible in the apartment. Her warm body was pressed up against his and he instinctively pulled her closer into his embrace. She sighed and her head moved onto his chest.

He couldn’t stop thinking about Liz. That night in the funeral home. The way she’d looked standing watching that car leave. Who was in it? What did she know that he didn’t? She’d heard her whisper that the body wasn’t Max. He hadn’t touched it. Couldn’t bring himself to. But she had. And he’d seen what it had done to her. He’d seen that Max wasn’t quite done with her yet, though he was gone. That energy still existed in her. It hadn’t gone away, even though Max was no longer alive.

The phone rang shrilly, breaking the silence. He reached over and picked up the phone.

“What?” he barked. “It’s early, this better be good.”

He listened for a minute and then answered.

“I’ll be right there,” he said.

Leaning over, he kissed Maria gently, and then got up.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

Liz sat in the waiting area of the Albuquerque Airport, waiting. It seemed that had been all she’d been doing the past few days. Waiting. Stuck in a state of limbo.

It felt good to know that the waiting would be over soon. That soon, she could actually do something, and not sit around feeling helpless.

She took a sip of her coffee. Here she sat, in the middle of an airport, for all appearances looking like any normal teenager. She wore a sweater, a pair of jeans, and normal enough boots. Her hair was pulled through the back of a baseball cap. Completely normal right?

Appearances could be deceiving. She’d found that out a long time ago. She found that out the day she was shot in the Crashdown, when the world as she knew it changed forever, never to return to the blissful ignorance she had known all her life up until that point.

She’d left a note for her parents, telling them that she needed to get away, that she would call. She took all of the money she’d been saving and transferred it to her checking account at an ATM this morning. She’d paid for her airline ticket with her debit card.

She didn’t know how long she’d be gone. She knew that she was jeopardizing her future in making this decision. Who knew how long she’d be gone? She’d miss critical interviews with universities. She might not even graduate for all she knew.

But at this moment, it didn’t matter to her. Because she couldn’t live like this anymore. She couldn’t live with the dreams and the alien powers anymore.

Perhaps this energy was a curse from Max. Perhaps it wouldn’t go away until she finished his quest for him, to find his son. She didn’t know, but she had to try, because if she didn’t, she knew that she would go mad with these changes happening in her body.

Maybe at the end of the journey she would have closure. She really hoped so. She wanted to think that she would. Because the alternative was unthinkable.

The airport was starting to fill with business people commuting to other states for business meetings, sales pitches, stock deals.

Here she sat, a passive observer, waiting to begin the quest that might just be the most critical of her human life.

Seeing two figures walking down the corridor, she squinted.

It couldn’t be.

But it was.

She pulled her hat low over her eyes and slouched down in her seat, trying to become invisible.

Michael and Valenti walked hurriedly, as Valenti was close to missing his plane. They walked right past Liz, not even seeing her as Michael argued with Valenti.

“I should be going with you!” Michael said angrily.

Valenti stopped and turned to Michael.

“They’ll be looking for you Michael. You especially. You being there isn’t going to be any help. I am just going to see what I can find out, from a distance. I’m not going to do anything stupid,” he said.

“It’s too dangerous,” Michael said angrily, as they started to walk again.

“Michael,” Valenti said in a low voice. “I know what Max gave up when he healed me. Do you really think I have such little respect for it that I would go and get myself killed? Come on, you know me better than that. I wouldn’t disrespect what he did like that. It would mean that what he gave up was all for nothing,” Valenti said.

Michael knew he was right.

“I’ll be back in a few days, and I’ll call if I find out anything, anything at all. I just want some answers. We all do,” Valenti said.

They stopped at his gate.

Michael didn’t know what to say, so he said the only thing that could be said.

“Be careful,” Michael growled at Valenti, and he nodded.

“You know it,” Valenti said with a half-grin.

“You know Michael, for the first time in a year, I feel like I have a purpose. After I lost my job…” he trailed off.

“I know,” Michael said, not needing him to finish his sentence.

“Keep an eye on Kyle for me, will you?” he asked.

Michael nodded.

“I’ll see you soon,” Valenti said, with a salute.

Michael stood for a moment as Valenti got to the counter, just as they were about to close the door. He gave them his ticket and ran through the jet-way, the door closing behind him.

“Announcing Southwest Flight 486 to Los Angeles boarding at Gate 16,” a woman’s voice blared over the paging system.

Michael turned away and started to walk back toward the front of the airport.

He walked past a few gates, lost in thought, when he dropped his keys.

He leaned over and picked them up and froze halfway to a standing position.

As he stood, he saw Liz walking through the door to the jet-way quickly, pulling her cap lower over her face.

“What the hell?” he said angrily.

He strode up to the counter, pushing his way in front of an annoyed business-man.

“I need to speak to someone who just got on that plane,” he said to the attendant.

“I’m sorry sir, that isn’t possible,” the woman said, taking the ticket of the business-man behind him. “The flight is already behind schedule, and we’re trying to board everyone as quickly as possible,” she said.

“It’s an emergency,” he said.

“I’m sorry Sir,” she answered.

“Fine,” Michael growled, reaching into his pocket, and changing the pile of singles he had in his pocket into one hundred dollar bills.

He threw them on the counter.

“Give me a ticket,” he said.

“I’m sorry Sir, but this flight is overbooked already, you’ll have to catch the next flight out,” she said.

Michael slammed his hand against the counter in frustration.

“Sir, you’ll have to step away from the counter,” the woman said, looking at him angrily.

“There is another plane leaving in twenty minutes. Why don’t you go up to the counter and buy a ticket for that one?” she asked pointedly.

Michael gave her a glare and walked away, spotting a pay phone.

He threw some change in and dialed.

After a long pause, he spoke.

“Maria, pick up the phone!” he barked.

A moment later he heard her voice.

“Maria, I’m getting on a plane in a few minutes. I just saw Liz get on a plane, and I have a feeling she’s about to do something really stupid…”

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

A sharp agonized intake of breath, and awareness.

Absence of self. Identity.

Agonizing pain.

Too much pain.

Fear.

Cold.

Dark.

Unintelligible shriek.

Voice strange, even to him. Gravelly.

Strange snippets of sound.

“Are”… “pain?”

Another howl.

“Good…” a voice whispers.


TBC…


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 18-Feb-2002 2:33:55 PM ]
posted on 19-Feb-2002 2:17:16 PM by majesty
Thank you all again for the feedback!

Well, going by the votes that were posted here and at the Boardello, Flagellation was the one people most wanted updated, so a new part of that will be up tonight. It's 99 percent written already.

I might also get another small part of this up as well, if I am extremely productive, hehe. We'll see :-)

I guess next I'll work on SOF. That story usually takes me longer to update, so look for it later in the week.

Again, thank you all so much for the feedback. I know right now there are alot of questions with this one, but alot of them will be answered soon.....

majesty



[ edited 2 time(s), last at 19-Feb-2002 2:31:13 PM ]
posted on 20-Feb-2002 12:44:08 AM by majesty
Here is the nexxt part of this. I think all of the installments will wind up being short.

Hope you like,

majesty

PART SEVEN

Liz Parker stepped off the plane at LAX and for a moment, felt completely overwhelmed.

The milling people moved around her as if she were invisible.

She stood undecided for a moment, and then went to the baggage claim.

She watched bags milling around for a good twenty minutes before she saw her overnight bag appear on the conveyor belt.

She picked it up and slowly walked to the exit.

For the moment, she had no idea where to go. So she picked the only place she knew by name.

She hailed a taxi, getting into the backseat.

“Sunset Boulevard please,” she said quietly to the driver.

As the taxi pulled away, Michael Guerin stepped from behind the column he’d been hiding behind, and got into the taxi behind Liz’s.

“Just follow that cab,” he said gruffly.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

Liz looked out at the scenery as the cab drive up La Cienega. How different LA was from Roswell. She wondered idly what Max had thought of it, before she stopped herself.

The weather was perfect, as it usually is in LA. Not too hot, not too cold.

She watched people walking on the streets, going about their normal days. She tried to remember a time when her days were normal. It was too long ago to ponder. Many of her days with Max had been wonderful, but it had never been normal. She had to find her way back to normal now. It was the only way she’d survive.

Fifteen minutes later, the cab turned onto Sunset.

“Where on Sunset do you need to go?” the driver asked after a moment.

“Right here is fine,” Liz said, motioning to the curb.

The driver nodded and pulled over. Liz paid him and got out of the cab.

Ahead she saw the Ramada, and decided it was as good a place as any to stay.

Michael watched her go into the hotel. Finding a place against the adjacent building, he leaned against the wall, prepared to wait.

Liz went to the counter, paying in cash for a room, and took the key, getting into the elevator.

She found the room fairly easily, and dropped her bag on the floor.

Immediately, she went to the nightstand and took out a phone book, looking for the main number for Paramount Studios. It was the only place she knew where to begin.

She picked up the phone, and after a minute someone answered.

“I’d like Cal Langley’s office please,” she asked politely and was put on hold.

After a moment, an irritated female voice picked up the phone.

“Mr. Langley’s office,” she said.

“Yes, hello, I’d like to speak to Cal Langley please,” Liz said.

“May I ask who’s calling?” the female voice said impatiently.

“This is uh, Liz Parker,” Liz answered uncertainly.

“One minute,” she said, and Liz was put on hold again.

It turned into more than ten minutes of silence, and Liz was starting to think she’d been disconnected.

Finally the woman picked up the phone again.

“Mr. Langley’s in an important meeting right now, but he’d like to speak with you. He asked me to send a car. In about an hour?” the woman said.

Liz debated for a split second before answering.

“That would be fine. I’m staying at the Ramada on Sunset,” she answered.

“The car will be out front in an hour,” the woman said shortly.

“Thank…” the phone slammed down, “…you,” she said, putting the phone back on it’s cradle.

So it was true what they said about LA people, she thought wryly to herself.

She walked over picking up her bag and dropping it on the bed.

She put her things away, and pulled out a change of clothes.

Quickly changing into a pair of black pants and a white shirt, she ran a brush through her hair.

She was exhausted, but she knew her sleep would not be peaceful tonight. It wouldn’t be peaceful until she finished what she had to do.

Checking her watch, she sat down on the bed and turned on the television for a few minutes, not really paying attention to it.

She wasn’t exactly sure what would be gained by talking to Langley, but something was telling her she had to see him. It had been him standing a distance away from Max’s grave. She was almost sure of it.

Which made her wonder all the more. Max had said that Langley hated him for what he’d done to him. Why had he been there? She had a sneaking suspicion that it had been him that had provided the body to be buried. But why?

Checking her watch again, she looked out of her window at the street below and saw a dark sedan parked out front.

She picked up her key and her bag, and shut the door behind her.

The elevator ride only took a moment, and as soon as she stepped foot out of the hotel, a driver got out of the car.

“Ms. Parker?” he said politely, and she nodded.

He opened the door to the back seat of the car and she got in. The car pulled away as Michael walked out of a nearby store.

“Dammit!” he cursed as he saw the car pull away. Desperately, he looked for a taxi, but there were none in sight. He’d lost her.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

Liz looked at what she could see of the luxurious homes as the car drove through Beverly Hills.

Being a famous Hollywood producer had its perks, even if you were an alien, she surmised.

A moment later, the car paused in a driveway, it’s automatic gate swinging open, a camera trained on it.

The car pulled onto the sprawling driveway, Liz couldn’t help but look on in awe at the monstrous house before her. The car slowed and stopped in front, the door opened immediately by a butler.

“Ms. Parker, I presume?” he said, and she nodded wordlessly.

“Mr. Langley will see you out on the terrace,” he said. “Follow me.”


Liz paused and then followed the butler through the palatial entranceway through the house to the huge french doors that led out to the pool.

And then she got her second look at Cal Langley.

He sat idly at a table, dark sunglasses hiding his eyes. Wrapping his large body was a black silk robe.

The sun shone on the closely shaved dome of his head as he spoke on the phone.

“No, I don’t know when I’m coming back into the office. No, you take care of it,” he snapped. “That’s what I pay you for. Just send the contract to the house for me to read over.”

He glanced up and saw Liz.

“I gotta go,” he barked, snapping the lid shut on his phone.

He regarded her silently for a moment.

“So this is the great love of Zan’s life this time around,” he said humorlessly.

“So what brings you here, lovely Ms. Parker?” he asked, folding one arm over his chest, motioning for her to sit with his other hand.

She sat down slowly across from him.

“I was hoping you could tell me some things,” she said quietly.
“Like what?” he asked, already disinterested.

“Like why you put that body on the side of the road to be found,” she said, taking a chance.

“Hah!” he said. “You’re quick, much brighter than I anticipated. I was actually surprised you sought me out to begin with.”

He reached over and took a sip of lemonade.

“Charlie!” he yelled toward the kitchen, “bring Ms. Parker here something to drink. It’s hot out here!”

“Why?” she asked with quiet fierceness, ignoring his attempt to avoid the subject.

“Eh, pushy broad ain’t ya?” he said, chuckling.

“To answer your question, I did it for obvious reasons. So there would be no unwanted attention.”

“He’s dead Mr. Langley, what does attention matter?” she asked.

“Look girlie, I took care of my end of things. I cleaned up the mess. End of story. I don’t owe him anything else, and I sure as hell don’t owe you anything,” he said.

“Now,” he said, turning to her. “I ask again, what is it you want from me?”

“I want to find his son,” Liz said pointedly.

Cal laughed out loud as a drink was set in front of her before the butler walked away.

“You really are a glutton for punishment aren’t you?” he laughed.
“How do you expect to do that?”

“I was hoping you could help,” Liz said, willing every ounce of self- assurance she had into her voice.

“Sorry,” he said dismissively, “my job is done.”

Liz took another chance.

“Did you hate him that much?” she asked, and he froze. He turned to her with a grimace.

“Yes,” he said in a malicious tone. “He ruined my life twice. He was selfish, again. He didn’t care about anyone or anything in this life, or the one before. He wanted what he wanted, and damn the consequences. Yes, I hated him. What I don’t get is, why don’t you?”

She didn’t answer.

“Please,” she said. “You have your life back. I need mine back too. I need to know his son is safe, so I can close the book on this part of my life. You didn’t know him like I did Mr. Langley. You never saw the good parts of Max.”

He looked at her, shaking his head, and he sighed.

“The ship is beyond repair. Even if it wasn’t, there’s no way you’d survive Antar. Khivar would kill you as soon as look at you,” he said. Just do yourself a favor and go *home*. Get one with your life.”

Liz looked at him and rubbed her eyes tiredly.

“I’ve been having these strange episodes,” she said quietly.

“What kind of episodes?” he asked flatly.

“Things going wrong with my body. When Max healed me, he changed me. Things happened…well you know what happened. I tried to ignore what I was feeling, and it manifested itself whenever I talked to him, whenever he was near me. I have this theory, that my anger at him, my hurt is what’s causing this, because he’s dead, and it hasn’t gone away. Part of me thinks it’s also because he never finished what he needed to do. I need some resolution, some closure. I need some finality. I need to see his son. I need to lay my own eyes on him, because I need to see that it happened. Then maybe I can move on,” she said.

He sat motionless, and then finally nodded.

“Tell me what I have to do to find his son,” Liz asked again.

He shut his eyes.

“Are you sure you’re ready for that?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said with conviction.

He rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

I don’t think there’s anything I can do for you,” he said. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what he put you through, but I can’t help.”

Liz’s jaw tightened.

“Well then, thank you for your time Mr. Langley,” she said tightly. “I’ll show myself out.”

She got up from the table and walked into the house without looking back.

Cal sat staring out at the pool for a long moment.

“Tell me you don’t think she might be the one,” a female voice said behind him. “The moment I heard her on the phone, I knew.”

“Don’t pull this crap on me,” he said without turning around. “I don’t want anything else to do with this shit. I’ve had 50 years of it, and it’s enough. I don’t give a shit about it anymore, Antar, any of it.”

A hand rested gently on his shoulder.

“You can lie to yourself Cal, but I see right through you,” the voice said gently.

“Don’t tell me that even after everything, and I know he put you through a lot, that you don’t want to see this through, see it all restored. It’s what you were sent here for,” the voice said.

“It’s too late,” he argued irritably. “They’ve already begun the change. It’s only a matter of time.”

“You can stop it. You can help her stop it, and you know it. Don’t tell me you don’t think about the mistakes you made. You *abandoned* them, Cal. You abandoned them in New Mexico. You left them to the wolves,” the voice said.

“Don’t pull that shit on me Bunny!” he said, turning and removing his sunglasses, glaring at her.

“It’s a chance to wipe the slate clean Cal. Help her find him,” she said.

His face tightened.

“Fine, but I’m not going to make it easy,” he said. “If she is who you think she is, she’s going to have to prove it.”

“Now that’s what I like to hear,” the woman said, chuckling, as she walked away.

She paused, stopped and turned.

“Oh, and Cal? If you call me Bunny again, I swear I’ll turn you from a rooster to a chicken in one fell swoop. It’s Serena…don’t forget it,” she said, walking into the house.

He chuckled lightly, continuing to stare out at the pool.

TBC…


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 20-Feb-2002 2:26:18 PM ]
posted on 20-Feb-2002 2:29:09 PM by majesty
SciFiNut,

Oops, major typo there. Thanks for pointing that out!

It should have read "if she is who you think she is..."

I corrected it. Thanks so much! I have to change that at the Boardello when I get home LOL.

That's what I get for staying up too late to finish a chapter, hehe.

majesty
posted on 20-Feb-2002 6:12:55 PM by majesty
Here's the next part. There is one conversation that may seem a little confusing in this part, but it will become clear as we move further into the story.

Enjoy.

majesty

PART EIGHT

The car dropped an angry and despondent Liz outside her hotel.

She told herself that she didn’t know what else she should have expected. Why would Langley lift a finger to help her? He had hated Max. Max had said that himself. That he’d ruined Langley’s life, making him shape-shift after all those years, undoing everything that Cal had waited so long for.

She got into the elevator.

What was she to do now? She didn’t know where to start. She wasn’t sure there *was* a place to start now, and the thought of that was unimaginable. Living as she was now was unimaginable.

Leaning against the wall of the elevator, she shut her eyes waiting for the descent.

She once again thought of Max. They’d had a lot of good times together, despite the circumstances.

Where had it all gone wrong?

She knew her answer without thinking twice.

Tess and Nasedo.

Tess and Nasedo had been the beginning of the end for them.

Tess had manipulated him from the beginning, and Nasedo let her do it. The two of them had had a plan to destroy Max from the very beginning. How ironic was it that in the end, they had nothing to do with his death?

A moment later the bell went off and the elevator doors opened.

She got out and walked down the hall to her room.

Pushing the key-card into the lock, she pushed the door open.

Immediately, she sensed something was off.

It was dark, the curtains pulled, and she froze, surveying the room.

Near the window, she saw a dark figure slumped in the chair. She flipped the light switch, preparing for the worst, and she let out a heavy breath as she saw her intruder.

“Michael, what are you doing here?” she asked wearily, dropping her things on the bed.

“I could ask you the same question,” he said roughly.

“What, did you follow me?” she said, sitting heavily on the bed.

“I saw you in the airport getting on a plane to LA. What else would you think I would do?” he asked. “I know something’s up Liz. Tell me what’s going on.”

“Nothing’s going on Michael,” she said quietly.

He looked at her angrily.

“Liz, Monk died in that place, and the best friend I ever had in the world. I know you’re up to something, and I want in,” he said fiercely.

“Michael, go home,” she said. “You have a life back there. It’s what you chose when you decided to stay here last year instead of leaving with Max, Isabel and Tess. You have Maria. Be grateful for what you have by going home and *appreciating* it,” she said, looking at him.

“This is something I have to do on my own,” she said. “It isn’t going to bring Max back. It’s my own closure.”

“Maybe I need closure too,” he said. “Maybe I had some unfinished business with Max.”

“Michael,” she started.

“I’m serious Liz,” he interrupted.

“Why did he let Tess go?” he said.

“Because his son was dying,” Liz said.

“Do you really believe that? Did you ever really believe that?” he asked.

“Why did he try to heal the guy knowing that it wouldn’t work? Knowing that it would kill him?” he asked.

“I don’t know Michael, and we’ll never know,” Liz said closing her eyes wearily.

“You’re trying to find his son, aren’t you?” he asked.

She looked at him in silence.

“I want in,” he said.

“No,” Liz said with conviction.

“Liz, you aren’t doing this without me, and that’s it,” he countered.

“Michael this isn’t some alien mission,” she argued.

“Don’t’ tell me that. Don’t tell me all that weird shit isn’t still happening to you. I saw you the night of the funeral. I saw your hands,” he shot back.

She didn’t answer.

“We find his son, together,” he said.

“And then what Michael? Are you going to raise him? Are you ready to do whatever it takes, to Tess, to get him? Are you?” she said loudly.

“Yes,” he said.

Silence.

“You went to see Langley, didn’t you?” he asked.

She nodded.

“And…?” he prompted.

“And nothing, Michael. If he knows anything, he isn’t telling,” she said.

“Maybe I should…”

“No,” Liz said with finality. “He won’t see you, and if you try to do it by force, he’ll probably kill you Michael. He wants nothing to do with this, and he only had to answer to Max, not to you.”

Michael looked at her frustrated.

“So now what?” he asked.

Liz sighed.

“I don’t know,” she admitted.

*%*%*%*%%*%*

Eyes covered.

Eyes feel strange, dry.

No…see.

Cover lifted.

Blurry forms are in front of his eyes, but he can’t make out features.

He’d awoken from a nightmare, but he didn’t remember any of it. Any sense of the familiar lay out of his grasp.

Another wet cover is placed over his eyes.

No blink.

Why…not…blink?

Help me, he wants to say, but he can’t form words.

All he can hear coming from him are strange gurgles and unintelligible vocalizations.

Pain in his legs.

Flayed, burned, he doesn’t know what.

Air burns.

Pain in his heart.

But he can’t remember why.

Why?

********

“Damn, that’s a nasty sight, even for me,” a male voice said roughly.

“Soon enough, we can kill it again, this time for good,” another male voice said.

“Ugh, that’s disgusting!” the first male voice said again.

“You humans don’t have the stomach for anything, do you?” the second voice answered.

“Do you think he’s in pain?” the second voice said curiously, a little repulsed.

“I hope so,” the other said venomously.

“So when will the change happen?” the first voice said.

“You mean the transference,” the other corrected.

“Yeah, whatever. The bitch is getting impatient,” the first voice said. “She says being holed up for a year is long enough. She said she took care of her end of the bargain, granted with a little change of plans, and she wants to collect.”

“She can just wait,” the other voice answered. “She is a feisty one, I have to give her that.”

The first voice laughed.

“Well, look who she was raised by?” he said.

“True,” the other answered.

“And what of the little punk? Do we leave him in the gutter he’s hiding in?” the first voice asked.

“He did as he was asked, let him alone,” the other voice answered.

“You’re going to just let him go?” the first voice asked.

“He was loyal to me. He will be, even now. He asked for something I can’t give him. That I won’t give him. It’s too much work, and we don’t have the time for it,” the other answered. “I gave him an honorable discharge, so to speak.”

“I couldn’t have two of them. It’s enough keeping an eye on this one. He coded twice already. I don’t want to have to worry about two. Besides, there was nothing left of the one he wanted to even work with. He’ll make do chasing the other one around. Even he can see one is as good as the other, it’s just the thrill of the chase.”

“I hear ya,” the first voice said.

“So what now?” he continued.

“We wait. It should only be a few more days before he’s ready. Once it’s done, it will be easy enough to dispose of him,” the other said.

“Is that what I tell *her*?” the first voice asked.

“Just keep her in line. That’s your problem, not mine,” the other said.



*******

Liz and Michael were walking back from a nearby diner on Sunset. For a long while they’d waited in the room, hoping for a phone call from Cal, but it never came.

Liz called the airline and booked two tickets home early in the morning.

After wracking their brains for ideas, on how to proceed, they’d still come up blank.

“Michael, can I ask you something?” she asked, as a car horn blared next to them.

“Yeah?” he said, his hands in his pockets.

“What do you think you’ll remember most about Max like, ten years from now?” she said.

He looked thoughtful.

“I don’t know,” he said finally. “I guess that he was like a brother to me. And that he was controlling,” he added.

“Yeah he was, wasn’t he?” Liz said, kicking at a small rock on the sidewalk as they wove their way through the people milling on the sidewalk.

“Did you feel it…you know, when it happened?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he said.

“So did I,” she said. “It woke me right out of a sleep. It was like my head was filled with this darkness, this emptiness where Max used to be all the time, you know what I mean?” she said, looking at him.

He nodded.

“I know there are other people out there like us, I just never realized it. I didn’t realize it until he was gone. I can sense others out there. It’s kinda vague,” he said, scrunching up his nose and looking up at the sky.

“Maybe because the three of us became so close at a young age, their presence overpowered the other ones, and I just didn’t pay attention, I don’t know,” he said.

“I hate him sometimes Michael, but I miss him,” she said.

“Me too,” he answered.

“I don’t think it’s really hit me yet,” he said.

“That’s exactly why I wanted you to go home, Michael. Doing this with me can’t be an excuse to push everything to the side, not dealing with it,” she said, as they walked into the hotel.

“It’s more than that Liz,” he said as they got into the elevator.

“You know, I was mad at him too, for what he did with Tess. I still don’t get how he could have been that stupid! I mean, what was he thinking?” he said angrily.

“Hindsight is always easiest Michael,” she sighed. “Some of us may not have liked her, but how could we have known how bad she really was?”

The doors to the elevator opened and she went to step out, and he pulled on the sleeve of her shirt as he leaned on the jam so the doors wouldn’t close.

“Why do you want to find his son Liz?” he asked quietly.

She looked at the floor for a moment.

“I don’t know,” she said looking at him. “Maybe it’s because I don’t want these powers anymore. Maybe I feel like if I finish what he couldn’t, they’ll go away. And maybe I just need to see it with my own eyes, to know it was real, so that I can move on,” she said, her eyes filling with tears.

“Because I don’t want to love him anymore Michael,” she said with a sob. “It hurts too much!”

She stood there in the hall, with her head lowered, crying quietly, tears falling down her cheeks.

Michael was frozen for a moment, unsure of what to do.

Tentatively, he stepped forward and pulled her toward his chest stiffly.

She cried quietly into his shirt while he stood completely still, trying to get a handle on his own emotions.

Max had meant so much to all of them, more than he probably ever knew. Yes, he was controlling, and yes he was always on him for being impulsive. But who was going to stop him from being impulsive now?

Who was going to be fearless leader? Michael didn’t want it. As much as he bitched about some of the decisions Max had made, he didn’t envy his position.

Crying softly into his chest right here in this hall was the one person who loved him more than life itself. And Michael knew that Max had loved her just as much.

How could either one of them take that so lightly? Why did they start lying to each other?

Michael had known deep down that Liz had never slept with Kyle. He suspected they all knew it somehow, even as she told Max repeatedly that she did.

He’d never felt close enough to her to ask her why, and he was pretty sure that she wouldn’t tell him if he did ask. Max told him that she’d confessed the night before he was to leave with Tess that she didn’t sleep with Kyle.

That above all else was the downfall of Max, in his eyes. The guilt over what he’d done with Tess had changed him. That summer after Tess left, Max tried to repair the damage he’d done with Liz.

Things seemed to be going well until that one night he was seized with a vision of his son. And from that moment, everything changed.

Reality smacked him in the face once again. He thought Tess was gone, that his son was gone, and that there was nothing he could do about it. But when he felt him, it changed everything.

He thought that he and Liz could smooth it over, act like nothing happened. But they couldn’t.

Because somewhere along the line, Liz and Max had started lying to each other, Liz about her acceptance of what he’d done, of his son, and he because he couldn’t handle the reality of what had happened. That she had lied to him about sleeping with Kyle.

Common sense would lead most people to believe that she did it because she couldn’t handle the whole alien king deal. That she didn’t want to stand in the way of his destiny. But there was more to it than that. Max was perfectly clear in telling her that he wanted her, not Tess. And why did it matter if he was with Tess? He was a different person than he’d been on Antar.

Michael had held him back that day at the pod chamber, but over the summer, he’d come to realize that this was a different world, and they couldn’t be the same people they were on Antar, even if they had wanted to.

No, something else happened to Liz last fall. Of that he was sure. But whatever it was wouldn’t change anything now.

Maybe Liz didn’t realize it, but Michael knew. She was also on this quest because she’d lied to Max too. And this was her way of making things right.

“I’m sorry Michael,” she sniffed, pulling away and wiping her eyes.

“Ugh, I made a complete fool of myself,” she said, trying to get her composure.

“It’s ok and no you didn’t,” he said gruffly. “If Maria was here she’d tell you that.”

Liz chuckled despite herself.

“Oh so I get it, you’ve been promoted to girlfriend status by Maria in absentia,” she said, nodding her head slowly.

“When I called her from the airport, she told me to take care of you or she’d kick my ass,” he said.

“Typical Maria,” Liz said, shaking her head with a half smile.

“I have to pack my things,” she said, walking toward the room. “I don’t even want to hear what my parents are going to say to me when I get back,” she said.

“Liz?” he said, and she stopped and turned.

“You never told me what *you’ll* remember about Max ten years from now,” he said.

She stood there, chewing on her lip thoughtfully.

“I think…I think that I’ll remember that he saved me once. And that he loved me once. And that he was more human than he thought he was, in both good and bad ways,” she said. “And I think in some ways, I’ll probably still love him as much then as I do now. But it’s more complicated than just that. I can’t give this up Michael. I have to keep trying,” she said, walking down the hall.

Michael admired her tenacity. They had a lot more in common than he ever knew.

But he couldn’t say that he wasn’t happy to be going home, for now, if only to hold Maria again. He knew now more than ever that she would stand by him no matter what happened. Separately, he and Maria had always been a little envious of Max and Liz’s relationship, but the two had really had that all along as well, they just hadn’t opened their eyes to see it.

And they were still here, still together.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

The phone was ringing in the room as Liz stuck her key-card in the lock. She fumbled with the door and ran to the phone, picking it up.

“Hello?” she said breathlessly as Michael came in behind her, listening.

“She never left Earth,” a voice said flatly.

“What?” Liz said confused. “Mr. Langley?”

“She’s still here,” the voice said.

“I don’t understand,” she said.

The voice sighed in irritation.

“The hybrid girl never actually left Earth. The granolith was programmed to land somewhere else after Zan didn’t get in with her.”

“But I thought it couldn’t be changed once the course was set,” she said.

“Girlie, you above all people should know that anything is possible. It couldn’t be stopped, no, but it could be re-programmed. From the *inside*.”

“Where is she?” she asked.

“No one knows where,” he answered.

“How do I find…” she started.

“If you really want to do this, it’s your problem, not mine,” he said, and there was a distinct click as he hung up.

Liz set the phone down slowly.

“What?” Michael said from behind her.

“Tess is still here. On Earth…” Liz said slowly.

TBC...
posted on 21-Feb-2002 10:46:18 AM by majesty
Hi everyone,

I know this is confusing, but I can say that some of you are on the right track :-)

All will be revealed, I promise!

As for the conversation, there were two people, one human and one alien.

I will try to update this again tonight, but once again my creativity has flown right out the window at the moment. Another one of those stupid funks I've been getting into lately. I should really just stay away from reading what the cast has to say about the current situation of the show. It really ticks me off sometimes. But as Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I'm going to say about that."

I am going to make an attempt at the next part today, but can't promise anything. I really don't like writing when I am in these moods. It tends to taint what I am trying to convey.

We'll see how I feel on my lunch break.

majesty
posted on 22-Feb-2002 10:45:58 PM by majesty
Well,

This is lagging a bit for me, but I am going to press on since I have an outline.

Not one of my better fics, but it's a practice in writing anyway. I know that the whole Spot/Son whatever-you-want-to-call-it storyline is a sore point for people, but there was this single idea I had that to me was a different take, and the whole story was written around it. We'll see how it plays out.

Just a note, it may have been confusing for some in the earlier chapter where Liz had the dream about Tess and a toddler. I used confusing language, as I am not up on baby terms. The question was asked on another board, and I just wanted to clear it up. The baby in the dream is not a year old yet.

Here's the next part,

majesty


PART NINE

Michael slowed his motorcycle in front of his apartment.

Liz wearily climbed off the bike.

Neither of them had slept the night before, their minds racing with the possibility of Tess still lingering on Earth.

They’d tried, Michael settling into the chair and Liz lying on the bed staring at the ceiling, but both could sense that the other was awake.

Finally, they gave up the pretense.

“Michael what do we do now?” Liz asked.

“I don’t know. I was thinking of asking Isabel to dream-walk Tess. Maybe it will give us some clue as to where she is,” he said.

“Do you think she’ll do it?” Liz asked.

“To get Max’s son back? Hell yeah,” he said.

“I’m not going to be able to sleep Michael. Let’s just get out of here,” Liz said.

“Couldn’t be soon enough for me,” Michael said.

Liz packed up her bag, and at 3 am, they caught a shuttle back to the airport.

Their flight was at 6, so they sat and had coffee. Neither had much to say to the other.

Liz struggled to keep her eyes open on the flight back. She didn’t want a re-run of the disturbing dreams she’d been having.

Soon enough, they’d been back in Albuquerque, and on their way back to town.

Liz took her helmet off.

“Are you going home?” Michael asked.

“Not yet. If I have to leave again…if Isabel finds something, it will only make it harder to leave if my parents know I’m back,” she said.

He nodded, as the door to the building burst open and Maria came striding out.

She threw her arms around Michael.

“Why the hell didn’t you call? I was worried. Valenti’s been calling since the middle of the night,” she said.

“He called? What did he say? Did he find anything?” Michael said.

“I don’t know. He wouldn’t tell me. But he’s on his way back,” Maria said.

“He said he’d be in tonight. He was pretty pissed off that you and Liz took off to LA,” she said, moving away from Michael and hugging Liz tightly.

“What were you thinking, Chica?” she asked in a low voice.

“I didn’t think about it Maria. I just did it,” she said.

“I could have killed both of you!” she said angrily, stepping back and putting her hands on her hips. “I thought something happened to the two of you when I didn’t hear anything from you!” she said.

“I’m sorry Maria,” Liz said.

“There was a lot going down yesterday,” Michael said.

“Let’s go inside,” Maria said, putting her arm around Liz’s shoulder.

Together they all went inside.

Liz sat tiredly on the couch, Maria next to her, and Michael leaned against the counter near the kitchen.

“So what happened?” Maria said.

It was quiet for a moment, and then Michael answered.

“Liz went to see Langley,” Michael said.

“I knew that’s what you were going to do when Michael said you went to LA, but I didn’t think you’d find him, or that he’d see you. What happened?” Maria asked.

“He was pretty easy to find,” Liz said. “Surprisingly, he didn’t give up his day job. I went to see him, told him I needed his help to find Max’s son,” she said.

“You what?!? I thought you went to see if there was a way to bring Max back. Why would you want to find his son Liz, after everything?” Maria asked, confused.

“Because the stuff that was happening to me when I went to Vermont, it hasn’t gone away. Max is dead and it hasn’t gone away,” Liz said.

Maria glanced at Michael, and then back to Liz.

“And you think finding his son will make it go away?” Maria said incredulous that Liz was even considering the idea.

“It’s complicated Maria,” Liz said.

“Liz, what’s complicated is that Max’s son is on another planet. I don’t see how…”

“Maria, Tess is here on earth with the child,” Liz said.

“What? Wait a minute, you lost me here,” Maria said.

“I went to see Cal. He said that he couldn’t help me. But something changed his mind, because he called me at the hotel and told me that Tess never left Earth. That the Granolith had been reprogrammed,” she said.

“So where is she?” Maria asked.

“Nobody knows,” Michael said.

“Well then she might as well be on Antar with the kid. How the hell do you guys think you’re going to find her with no place to start?” Maria asked.

“Isabel,” Liz said quietly.

“You’re going to ask Isabel to dream-walk Tess?” Maria said. “Do you really think that’s a good idea? Have you seen her lately?” Maria asked.

Liz knew Isabel was not doing very well. She’d barely been holding it together at the cemetery.

“We have no other choice Maria,” Liz said.

Maria shook her head.

“When are you going to see her?” she asked.

“As soon as possible,” Michael said. “I’m going to call her now.”

Michael went into the bedroom.

“Liz are you sure this is what you want? What are you going to do when you find Tess? The baby?” she asked.

“Bring him back to Roswell,” Liz replied.

“And you think Tess is going to let you do that? That she’s just going to give her child up?” she asked.

“She won’t have a choice,” Liz said with quiet ferocity.

“Liz, you aren’t thinking of…doing something to her, are you?” Maria asked.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to bring that baby back here. To Isabel and Michael. She destroyed Max, Maria. I am not going to let an innocent baby suffer the same,” Liz said. “His father made mistakes. And sometimes I hate him for what he did. But I can’t hate a baby that didn’t ask for any of this,” Liz said.

“You’re a better person that me, Liz,” Maria said.

“It’s the only thing left of him Maria,” Liz said.

Maria nodded.

Michael came out of the room looking concerned.

“What is it?” Maria said.

“I just spoke to Jesse. Isabel wouldn’t come to the phone,” Michael said. “He says she’s in a bad way.”

Liz stood up. They were going to need Isabel’s help. She’d just have to make her see why this was important.

“I’m going over there,” she said.

“We’re coming with you,” Maria announced.

They walked the short distance to Jesse and Isabel’s apartment.

Liz knocked on the door and Jesse answered.

“Jesse, I need to see Isabel,” Liz said.

“Liz, now’s not a good time,” he started to say.

“It’s really important. I need to talk to her, about Max,” she said.

“What about Max?” Jesse said suspiciously.

“Look, I need to talk to someone who is going to understand Jesse. He was her brother. I know she’ll want to speak to me,” she said.

Jesse sighed and turned to the window.

“She’s in the bedroom. But I’m telling you, she isn’t going to talk to you,” he said. “She hasn’t eaten or slept, and I’m really getting worried about her.”

“Let me see her,” Liz answered, walking over to the door and opening it slowly.

She stepped inside and shut the door behind her. The shades were pulled and the curtains were drawn.

“Isabel?” she said softly, seeing the huddled form lying on the bed.

She moved slowly over to the bed and sat down next to her.

Liz could make out her swollen eyes, as she stared at nothing.

“I need your help Isabel,” Liz said.

For a moment she didn’t answer.

“With what?” Isabel said in a flat voice.

“I need you to dream-walk Tess,” Liz said.

“What?” Isabel said irritated. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“We are going to get Max’s son back,” Liz answered.

“She left the planet. How do you plan to do that?” Isabel asked.

“She didn’t leave,” Liz said.

Silence filled the room.

“How do you know?” Isabel asked.

“Langley,” Liz answered. “The Granolith was reprogrammed. She’s here somewhere.”

“Why are you doing this Liz?” Isabel asked wearily.

“I need to get on with my life, tie up loose ends. Max’s son is a loose end,” Liz said. “I want you and Michael to have him.”

“I loved my brother, but Liz, I don’t understand why you feel it’s your job to get his son back. After what he did…” she trailed off.

“I have to do this Isabel,” she said. “For me. For all of us.”

Isabel nodded slowly. She sat up.

“What am I supposed to be looking for?” she asked.

“Anything that might tell us where she is,” Liz said.

“Go over to my drawer,” she said pointing to the dresser. The prom photos are in there.”

Liz went and pulled the photo album out of the dresser and gave it to Isabel.

As she opened the book, Liz felt her heart twist as she saw Alex and Isabel smiling out of the first page.

Isabel smiled wanly, looking at the photo.

“So much has changed in a year, hasn’t it?” she said quietly.

Liz nodded.

Isabel flipped to the middle of the book, finding the photo of Kyle and Tess.

“Do you think you’ll be able to connect with her? What if she’s awake?” Liz asked.

“I’ll try,” she said with quiet assurance, placing her fingers over Tess, and closing her eyes.

Can I…can I do it with you?” Liz asked. “Like we did with Max when he was in New York?”

Isabel opened her eyes and looked at Liz.

“Are you sure you want to do that?” she asked.

“Yes,” Liz answered. “I might see something that you might miss.”

Isabel gave her a long look.

“Ok,” she said, taking Liz’s hand and closing her eyes again.

Everything was fuzzy for a moment.

Liz could hear heavy breaths. She felt Isabel with her, but neither had corporeal form.

This was not a normal dream-walk. They were not in a dream but inside Tess, seeing through her eyes.

Through her eyes they saw a run-down hotel room. It was trashed, with clothes and empty food cartons everywhere.

She is talking to strange man. He is sitting on the bed amongst the trash, looking at her amused.

He is not a bad-looking man, with dark hair and green eyes. He is wearing jeans and an expensive leather jacket.

“Is the baby all right?” she asked, non-committal.

“Yeah, he’s fine. Will be in perfect shape, don’t worry about it,” the man said.

“How much longer?” she asked, sighing.

“Not much now,” the man answered.

“It’s been almost a year,” Tess said testily.

“Things change,” the man said. “You should know that as well as anyone.”

“He promised this would be taken care of,” she complained.

“And he’ll deliver. Quit your bitchin’. You were the one who fucked this whole thing up if I remember correctly,” he reminded her.

“Well it got fixed didn’t it? Zan died. That’s what he wanted wasn’t it?” she asked testily.

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it,” the man said.

“I hate this place,” she complained.

“I always did. I can’t wait to get the hell off this planet. I hope I never see it again,” she said shuddering.

The man smiled, and grabbed her hair, placing a disgusting kiss on her mouth.

Liz and Isabel both cringed mentally at the contact.

“Soon enough sweets, soon enough,” he said.


And the contact is broken.

Liz hears Isabel’s sob.

“She knows he’s dead!” she said angrily. “She knows who wanted Max dead. That bitch!” she grated.

Liz put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“I didn’t see anything that told me where she was. Did you?” she asked gently.

Isabel shook her head, swiping angrily at her eyes.

“It’s a hotel, that’s all I know,” she said.

“Thank you Isabel. For helping me with this,” Liz said.

Isabel nodded quietly. She stared at the floor.

“Isabel, are you going to be all right?” Liz asked.

Isabel turned and stared out the window.

Liz was hesitant, but she had to know.

“Michael and I were afraid to ask, but did you tell Jesse about all of you?” she asked.

“No,” Isabel said.

“But that day, he looked so…”

“I’m pregnant Liz,” Isabel said. “He knows I’m pregnant.”

Liz was stunned momentarily into silence.

“Um…congratulations,” Liz said.

“Thanks,” Isabel said.

“You’re going to have to tell him, you know, about what you are,” Liz said gently.

“I know. Just…not now. I can’t even think about talking about it now,” she said.

Liz nodded.

“When you do, if he needs someone to talk to…” Liz trailed off.

“Thanks Liz,” she said.

She nods.

“I just think of this child, and it’s never going to know Max. I know he would have been angry with me at first, for being so careless, but I know he would have loved it,” she said.

“Yeah,” Liz said. “I think he would have too.”

She squeezed Isabel’s hand.

“Take care of yourself Isabel,” she said. “Please. He wouldn’t have wanted this. He was happy that you found Jesse. He really was.”

“I know,” Isabel said, her eyes tearing.

“What are you going to do now?” Isabel asked.

“I think I have an idea, but I have to talk to Michael about it,” Liz said.

Isabel nodded.

“I want to help, but I can’t do anything further to raise Jesse’s suspicions. Not until I can figure out how to tell him,” she said.

“We’ll handle it,” Liz said.

“Be careful Liz,” Isabel said sniffling.

“I know in my heart that Max loved you with all that he was, and if something happened to you…” she trailed off.

“Nothing is going to happen,” Liz said. “I promise.”

Isabel nodded.

“You’ll call when you know anything?” she said.

“Of course,” Liz said. “Isabel, are you prepared to take Max’s child if we bring him back here?”

“Yes!” Isabel said vehemently. “After all, that baby is all we have left of Max now, isn’t he.”

With a pang of hurt, Liz nodded. His only legacy was something she’d not been a part of.

“I have to go,” Liz choked. “I’ll call you soon.”

She rushed out of the room before Isabel could say anything further.

*%*%*%*%*%*%%*%*%*%

Incessant humming.

Strange energy all around him.

He couldn’t see, but he could sense it.

His body felt like it was crawling with…something.

Healing.

Hurting.

Pain.

Always pain.

Pain and forgetfulness.

Was he in hell?

Had he done something that vicious that he was sentenced to spend the rest of his days like this?


TBC…

posted on 22-Feb-2002 10:49:46 PM by majesty
argh double post, sorry *happy*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 23-Feb-2002 12:06:48 AM ]
posted on 23-Feb-2002 2:41:34 PM by majesty
Kimmie,

The guy at the funeral was Cal Langley, Max's protector, and the same guy Liz went to meet with in LA, but he is not the *human* guy that is with Tess. The human that is with Tess is the first voice in the mysterious conversation I posted in an earlier chapter, which is going to become alot more clear in the coming chapters :-)

majesty
posted on 23-Feb-2002 4:57:18 PM by majesty
Hi all,

Just a short part today. Don't have time to linger, gotta run!

majesty

PART TEN

Michael, Maria, and Liz were again at Michaels’ apartment, waiting for Jim Valenti.

Kyle had called and told them he was picking him up at the airport, but he didn’t know any more than Maria did about what Jim had found in Mustique.

“Michael, I think we need to find Ava,” Liz said quietly.

“Ava? For what?” he asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe she has some connection to Tess, being her dupe. Maybe she knows something, anything about what’s going on with Tess,” Liz said.

“It’s the only thing I can think of at this point. We aren’t going to get any more help from Langley. We know that. I think she went back to New York City. I can’t be sure, but it’s just a gut feeling. That she would go back to the familiar,” she said.

Michael was quiet for a minute.

“I don’t know what she’d know, but I guess you’re right. She’s the only lead we have,” he said.

“You know, from the moment I met Ava, I had this feeling that she was the one meant to be with you Isabel and Max. Not Tess. She was so different from Lonnie and Rath,” Liz said.

“Yeah, she was,” Michael said thoughtfully.

“When are you going?” Maria asked.

“As soon as possible,” Liz answered. “If my parents find out I’m back in town, I’ll never be able to leave.”

Maria sighed.

“What’s the matter Maria?” Liz asked.

“This guy that was with Dominique? In New York? He called yesterday. He said he admired my uh…cajones, for lack of a better word. He’s coming into town tomorrow to talk to me about my music. He’s based out of LA. Maybe I should just call him and tell him to forget it,” Maria said.

Liz and Michael looked at each other.

“No,” Michael said quietly. “You meet with him.”

“But I want to go with the two of you,” she argued.

“Maria, this is your dream,” Michael said.

“What we’re doing has nothing to do with your plans. You meet with him and take your chance,” he said.

“But I want to be there for you Michael,” Maria said, tears filling her eyes.

“Maria, the best thing you can do for me right now is to follow that dream. You have no idea how bad I felt when you said that you’d let it die because of our alien crap. I want this for you,” he said.

Maria was quiet for a minute.

“Besides, you can keep an eye on Isabel for us,” Liz reminded her. “She needs someone to be there for her, Maria. Someone who knows everything.”

Before Maria could say anything further, there was a knock at the door.

“Kyle,” Liz breathed, getting up to answer the door as Michael put his arms around Maria.

Liz opened the door to find Kyle and Valenti waiting in the hall.

“Hey,” she said, as Kyle smiled wryly at her.

“Nice,” he said, “taking off to LA without telling anyone.”

“Yeah I’m sorry about that Kyle,” Liz said, giving him a hug.

Kyle gave her a squeeze.

“I understand,” he said quietly.

Liz glanced up to see Valenti.

“Hi Sheriff,” she said.

“Hey Liz, how was your trip?” he asked with an exasperated look.

“Productive, kinda,” she said.

“Come in,” she said, stepping back.

Liz shut the door behind them.

“What about you? Did you find anything on Wheeler?” she asked.

“Oh I found plenty,” Valenti said. “Why don’t we have a seat? I’m dead tired.”

“Sure,” Liz said, as Michael looked at Valento questioningly.

Valenti settled down on the couch with a sigh.

“It’s good to be home,” he said wearily, closing his eyes for a second.

“Valenti, what did you find out?” Michael asked, cutting through any pleasantries that might have occurred.

Valenti smiled wryly.

“I see nothing’s changed around here,” he said, opening his eyes.

“I got into Wheelers residence,” he said.

“I thought you said that you weren’t going to risk your life?” Michael grated.

“Yeah, and I thought you’d be sticking around Roswell too, but you didn’t did you?” Valenti challenged, silencing Michael.

“I got in, and I managed to isolate both Wheeler and his wife in a room,” he said. “He’s perfectly healthy and spry as a fox,” he said bitterly.

“They weren’t very cooperative until I pointed a gun at them and threatened to expose them for Monk’s murder,” he said.

“Then they got chatty. It seems that they met with a go-between originally. This go-between had heard that Wheeler was searching for a miracle cure for his old age and infirmity. The truth is, up until a few weeks ago, Wheeler had no idea any of you existed,” Valenti said.

“But that can’t be, they had Liz’s uniform, they had all that evidence against us,” Michael said.

“It was given to them by the man that met them, as a cover,” Valenti said.

“A cover?” Michael said, confused.

“Yes, so that you wouldn’t know the real story. So that you would think that Wheeler was the reason that Max died, and that’s true, but not all of it,” Valenti said.

“What do you mean?” Michael asked.

“Wheeler met with Khivar. Khivar wanted Max dead, and Wheeler would be the cover, so that we would have never known Khivar had anything to do with it,” Valenti said. “Khivar told Wheeler that if he got Max to heal him, that Wheeler would have his youth and health restored. Wheeler jumped at the chance,” Valenti said.

“I still don’t understand Khivar getting Wheeler to do it,” Liz said.

“I don’t know either. Khivar didn’t tell Wheeler why. He just told him that he wanted Max dead, and he didn’t want to be tied to it,” Valenti said.

“But there’s something else strange, something that Wheeler was pretty ticked about,” Valenti said.

“What?” Michael asked.

“When Max healed Wheeler, his youth was supposed to be restored. It wasn’t. He’s healthy, but he’s still an old man,” Valenti said.

“So what does that mean?” Liz asked.

“Maybe nothing. Maybe Khivar lied to Wheeler, I don’t know. Khivar hasn’t been in touch with him since,” Valenti said. “He’s disappeared.”

“Wheeler and his wife aren’t staying in Mustique. They’re moving around. The guy’s become paranoid that Khivar is going to come after them, especially after I found them. I don’t think he knew exactly what he was getting involved with when he decided he was going to make Max heal him.”

“One of their guards broke into the room. I barely had enough time to escape. They were shooting at me. I went straight to the airport and got onto the first flight back. But I don’t know what to do now. How are we going to find Khivar?” he said.

“Sheriff, we’re going to New York,” Liz said in a low voice.

“New York? For what?” he asked.

“We need to find Ava. We think maybe Ava can help us to find Max’s son,” Liz said. “Tess is still on Earth, and she knows where Max’s son is.”

“She’s here?” Valenti said, sitting up straight. “How do you know?”

“It’s a long story,” Liz said, “and we don’t really have time to explain it. Something is going to happen to the child, soon. Isabel and I were able to dream-walk Tess. We have to find them before it’s too late.”

The Sheriff nodded.

“Do you need company?” he asked.

“No, I think the less people the better,” Michael said.

“When are you leaving?” the Sheriff asked.

“Tonight,” Liz said.

TBC…

posted on 24-Feb-2002 1:34:01 AM by majesty
Destinee,

Yes Serena is *that* Bunny LOL. I was discussing this on another board with someone, and I mentioned that it wasn't one of my finer moments in character placement hehe.

majesty
posted on 24-Feb-2002 5:50:32 PM by majesty
Hey everyone,

This is all going to start to make complete sense within the next three or four chapters, I promise. Oh yeah, and the last part might be a little disturbing, but it will get better, I promise.

This part is a little longer. Had more time to work on it last night and this morning.

Let me know if you have any questions, and if I can answer them without revealing future plot points, I will.

Enjoy

majesty

PART ELEVEN

Since you're gone the nights are getting strange
Since you're gone nothing's making sense
Since you're gone I stumble in the shade
Since you're gone everything's in perfect tense
I can't help it when you fall apart
I can't help it I guess you’d better start
that is forgetting about you
Since you're gone the nights are getting strange
Since you're gone I'm throwing it all away
I can't help it everything's a mess
I can't help it you're so treacherous
when it comes to tenderness
Since you're gone
Since you're gone I miss the peak sensation
Since you're gone I took the big vacation
Since you're gone I never feel sedate
Since you're gone the moonlight ain't so great

-The Cars-

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

The first thing she became aware of was the smell of flowers.

She was sitting in a room filled with flowers. They surrounded her, in every vibrant color she could have imagined.

She was sitting on the floor, among the blooms strewn so copiously, it was almost as if they’d formed a carpet around her.

The walls were a soft white. There were no windows, just the stark brightness of the surrounding walls and the beautiful array of colors strewn around her.

She breathed in deeply, relishing the scent.

She closed her eyes, absorbing the utter serenity of the silence.


“Whether I die tomorrow or 50 years from now, my destiny is the same. It’s you Liz. I want to be with you. I love you…”

Her eyes snapped open, searching desperately for the owner of that voice. Her breath hitched as she looked around her in panic.

The room was gone. The flowers were gone. In it’s place, a black nothingness.

She felt panic embrace her body, and she fought to keep her breathing even. The silence surrounding her was broken by her harsh breath.

The nightmare was back.

She heard a menacing whispering in the dark.

“We can’t fuck this up. It’s our last chance,” a voice said.

“Are you sure it’s going to work?” another voice answered, a familiar voice.

“It has to!” the first voice answered.

The voices were cut off.

For a moment, she felt dizzy.

She shut her eyes, trying to get her bearings.

When she opened them again, she gasped.

In front of her was a glass wall. The area behind it was backlit with harsh overhead lights.

Huddled on the floor was Max.

“Max!” Liz screamed, running to the glass and pounding on it.

Though she screamed and pounded, he didn’t hear her. He didn’t raise his head.

“Max! Look at me!” she said desperately.

But it was as if he was in another place. He didn’t respond, merely staring ahead sightlessly.

The lights dimmed and a strange blackness enveloped the room.

It seemed to be…alive.

It was alive and it was going to take Max.

“Max, please! Get up! You have to get up!” she yelled, helplessly pounding on the glass.

She watched in horror as the blackness enveloped Max, moving up his body.

“MAAAXXX!!!”


“Liz, wake up!” Michael said shaking her.

Her eyes snapped open, and she stifled a scream.

“Liz!” Michael whispered.

She looked at him uncomprehendingly for a moment, still momentarily caught in the dream. She was on an airplane. She remembered they were on their way to New York.

“Oh Michael, I just had this terrible dream about Max,” she said tearfully.

“Shh,” he said, putting an arm around her.

“He was there, but I couldn’t reach him, and something was coming for him,” she said.

“Liz, Max is gone,” Michael said gently.

“I know that Michael. If he were alive, I’d feel it, and I feel nothing. But the dream was so real,” she said, her voice hitching in a sob.

“Liz, you really haven’t dealt with Max dying yet. You rushed headlong into this. And I followed you, so I’m not one to talk. But sooner or later, you’re going to have to deal with it, or it’s going to eat you alive. We both have to,” he said.

Liz nodded mutely.

She leaned her head against Michael.

“What are we going to do when this is all over Michael?” she asked quietly.

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “We’ll take that step when we get there.”

“We’re landing in a few minutes,” he said.

“I hope I’m right, that Ava’s here,” Liz said.

“So do I,” Michael muttered.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*


Liz stood still, trying to take everything in.

Horns blared, and she could hear the audible sound of people’s footsteps on the pavement.

All hustle and bustle, everyone in a rush to get where they had to be.

When had the world become so frenetic? When had everything become such a rush to accomplish the unattainable?

People didn’t look happy here.

They looked frustrated, tired, testy.

Just like she felt.

She hadn’t realized it would be so big.

Thirty-one square miles had never seemed so big.

Everything was packed in tightly, buildings, shops, museums, tourist attractions.

She thought it would be manageable. She never counted on this.

She could only imagine what Max must have thought when he came here for the summit.

Their first stop was to an art supply store, where Michael picked up some charcoal and paper. Then they took a train uptown, finding a reasonable hotel on 72nd street.

They went to their room and sat at the table near the window.

Liz watched patiently as Michael drew a rendering of Ava. It would be the only description they had of her. They had no photos.

“Michael, are we grasping at straws here?” Liz asked finally.

“I don’t know what I expected, but I never expected it to be this big,” she said, sounding discouraged.

“It might be a lose cause, but we have to try,” Michael said, his brow furrowing as he concentrated on shading where the pink streak in Ava’s hair was.

Liz looked at the drawing closely.

“That’s really good Michael,” she said. “You remember her better than I do.”

“Our dupes sufficiently freaked me out. Enough so that they’re burned on my brain,” he said frankly, and Liz smiled.

“Did I ever tell you that Rath kissed me in halls at school?” she asked, choking back a giggle when he looked up sharply.

“You’re kidding me,” he said.

“Nope. What made it worse was that I thought it was you,” she said, unable to hold back the laughter.

“Oh nice,” Michael muttered.

“Oh come on, you have to admit, it’s funny,” she said. “I should have known though. I’ve never heard you say ‘Whaddaya say you give me a little somethin' somethin’',” she said in a deep voice.

“All right Liz, enough!” Michael said, his face turning red.

“Touchy,” she said, trying to hold back the smirk.

He put down the drawing and looked at her, shaking his head.

“Well at least you’re getting a laugh, even if it is at my expense,” he said. “I haven’t seen you smile like that since Max…” he trailed off.

Her smile faded.

“Sorry,” he mumbled.

“No, it’s ok,” Liz said. “It’s true.”

He stood up uncomfortably.

“So, what do you say? I think we should start checking shelters,” he said.

She nodded, and together they left the room, hoping for even a little bit of luck.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Hours later they were bone tired and had turned up nothing.

They’d checked every shelter uptown and had come up empty-handed.

As they walked into the last one, Liz sighed.

“This is crazy Michael,” she said. “We’ll never find her at this rate. We don’t even know if she’s still in the city.”

“I think she is,” Michael said. “Or someone is. I can feel it. It’s like a buzzing in my head.”

“It could be anyone,” Liz answered. “They had the summit here. One of the other beings might still be in the city.”

“I don’t know, but I don’t think so,” Michael said.

“Well it still doesn’t help,” Liz said.

A woman approached them questioningly.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“Yeah, we’re looking for our cousin,” Michael said, holding out the drawing. “She ran away from home, and we got word she might be here in New York City.”

“A drawing?” the woman asked suspiciously. “If she’s your cousin, why don’t you have a photo?”

“She’s a long lost cousin. We were separated when we were young. I don’t have any photos, and her parents aren’t being cooperative,” Michael answered.

“I just need to find her to make sure she’s ok,” he said.

The woman nodded slowly, looking at the drawing.

“I haven’t seen her, sorry,” she said, handing it back to him.

“Do you know of any way to find missing people in a city like this?” Liz asked. “I mean, going from shelter to shelter is going to take us forever.”

“Have you tried the police?” the woman asked.

“Yes,” Liz said quickly, lying with conviction. She knew there was no way the police would get a hold of Ava. She wouldn’t allow it.

The woman sighed.

“And you think she’s homeless?” the woman asked.

Liz nodded.

The woman looked at her speculatively for a moment.

“I know someone who might be able to help,” she said finally, “but it might take a few days to get in touch with him.”

“That would be great,” Liz said thankfully.

She took out a piece of paper and a pen.

“Here’s my cell number,” she said. “You can reach me on it at any time.”

“Ok then,” the woman said. “If I can get in touch with him, you’ll hear from me.”

“Thanks,” Michael said.

Together they walked out of the shelter. It had long since gotten dark.

“What do you say we call it a day?” he asked tiredly.

“Yeah, I’m beat,” Liz said.

They stopped at a take-out restaurant on the way back to the hotel, and went back to their room to eat.

For a long while there wasn’t much conversation between them, Michael absently flipping channels with the remote.

Finally he spoke.

“So you think she would still be hiding out in the tunnels?” he asked.

Liz thought about it for a minute, and shook her head.

“No, not alone. With Lonnie and Rath gone, I don’t think she’d chance it alone,” she said.

“Do you think they’re gone, really?” he asked. “I mean Tess lied about so much.”

“I don’t know,” she said. “It’s something we’ll have to ask Ava when we find her.”

She yawned.

“I’m going to turn in Michael,” she said, pulling herself back further onto one of the double beds.

“We have a long day tomorrow,” she said.

“I just hope that woman calls from the shelter,” Michael said.

Liz nodded, kicking off her shoes. She didn’t bother to change out of her jeans, instead just pulling the covers up over herself.

“Goodnight Michael,” she mumbled.

“’Night Liz,” he said, staring at the TV.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Liz stood on a busy street. Though it was late, this city never slept.

Turning around, she tried to get her bearings.

As she turned, a figure bumped her shoulder hard and kept walking at a fast pace.

Liz looked at the back of the figure and recognized her right away.

“Ava!” she called out, but the girl didn’t hear her. Liz started to run after her. She caught up to her, reaching for her shoulder, but where her hand should have touched skin, it just moved right through, as if she were mist.

“Ava,” she said again, and received no reply. She couldn’t see her.

Ava moved quickly, turning repeatedly, looking over her shoulder nervously.

Liz followed her, as she moved quickly through the people in Times Square.

Liz could practically smell the fear on her.

She turned to look behind, and saw no one that seemed to be following the girl.

Yet Ava picked up her pace even further, whimpering a little as she ran.

Liz wished desperately that she could speak to her, but the only thing she could do was to follow.

As she moved out of Times Square, Ava turned quickly down 38th Street.

Liz could hear the clacking of her shoes as she hurried down the street.

Suddenly, she ducked into a stairwell that led below ground. She moved into the shadows at the far end of the staircase. Liz stood alongside her, puzzled.

Ava tried to quiet her breathing, closing her eyes, looking as if she were saying a silent prayer.

A moment later, Liz heard footsteps on the sidewalk above.

Ava’s eyes snapped open wide in fear. She remained quiet, but Liz could see the rapid rise and fall of her chest as she listened.

The footsteps slowed and stopped above them for a moment.

An eerie silence settled in the stairwell, and then the footsteps moved on.

As they faded, Ava let out a shaky breath and allowed the tears to fall.


Liz’s eyes snapped open. The room was flashing with the electric blue light of the television bouncing off the walls. She barely registered Michael snoring softly beside her, because a brighter glow was near her face. She lifted her hands and they glowed brighter than ever. She closed her eyes slowly.

When was this going to stop?

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

“You could have helped her you know,” Serena said quietly, as she sat across the table from Cal, who was looking at contracts.

“Helped her to do what?” he asked, without looking up.

“You could have told her where the girl Ava is,” she said, getting up.

“And why would I do that?” Cal answered, irritated.

“Because sometimes people need a little head start,” she said.

“I owe her nothing,” Cal said flatly.

“And I didn’t owe you anything either did I?” she asked.

“I was the one who covered up your mess with Joey Ferrini. You almost killed me too that night,” she reminded him.

“I didn’t know it was you,” he said. “How was I supposed to know you were here?”

“You weren’t,” Serena said. “I was here to clean up your mess…again. You let Joey know too much. If it hadn’t been for me,” she started.

“If it hadn’t been for you, Max would have never come to LA!” he said angrily. “Talking to the police like that!”

“Oh and it would have looked better if they found a burn-hole in the shape of a body in that seat, without me acting like a lunatic telling them that a glowing guy walked away from the car afterwards? Telling the truth, especially when it involves otherworldly activities is the surest way for the whole incident to be discounted. You know that. Cal, let’s not get into semantics here,” she said. “It was time for Max to find you. You know it and I know it.”

He looked down at the table.

“You don’t know what it’s like here. You haven’t been here long enough. Why is it that not one Antarian that comes here can truly appreciate the wonders of this world?” he asked.

“Back on Antar, I was a nothing. My life was worth nothing, unless it was given in defense of the *King’s* life,” he said derisively.

“Here, *I* am a King. I live like a King! Or at least I did, until Max showed up here in LA. He ruined everything,” he said bitterly.

“Cal, you had 50 years of pretending he didn’t exist, pretending you didn’t take an oath to protect him with your last breath. It’s time to step up,” she said.

“Step up to what? Even you saw that he hadn’t gotten any smarter since coming here!” he said defensively. “Two weeks ago you were all ready to let Khivar have everything!” he said.

“We didn’t know about *her*,” Serena said. “Cal, you know why he was acting so rashly these past few years. Don’t tell me you don’t,” she said in a scalding tone.

Cal couldn’t argue.

“Maybe it seemed hopeless before, but there’s a chance now,” Serena said. “A chance to restore our world, if she finds the child in time.”

“I ain’t telling her where Ava is,” Cal grumbled. “If she finds her, then I’ll think about talking to her. Finding the girl will be the easiest part of this. If she can’t find the girl, then she ain’t worth my time.”

*%*%*%*%*%*%*

His body burned.

Every inch of it.

Did he dare try to move?

Gingerly he lifted his hand, feeling a stickiness as it peeled up off the plastic he was lying on. Tentatively, he let it hover over his chest, unsure of what he’d feel when it made contact.

He lowered it, and felt more stickiness, lumps, ridges.

A slight slime coated his fingers when he pulled them away.

He couldn’t see it, but he knew something was very wrong with his body.

With shaking fingers, he reached up to his cheek, and ran his finger across it. More bumpy ridges, no sensation. It didn’t feel like skin. It felt almost like…there *was* no skin.

And then he started to scream.


TBC…

posted on 25-Feb-2002 3:28:22 PM by majesty

Afternoon everyone.

I am sick, so I am going to make this short and then crash on the couch.

I know I told you all I am going away starting Saturday for a week, so after Friday there will be no more updates until probably at least the 14th of March. I had asked which story aside from this one should be updated before I go. So far, the winner again is Flagellation. I will try to start it tonight after I get some sleep.

If I have time I will do an update for SoF as well.

Hopefully this is starting to answer some questions. I think it will probably take two or three more chapters, and then everything will be clear.

I am off to feel sorry for myself with my sniffles *happy*

majesty


PART TWELVE

Liz awoke to the insistent ring of the hotel telephone.

Groggily, she reached over to pick up the phone. It felt like she had finally fallen asleep about five minutes before.

“Hello,” she mumbled as Michael stirred in the chair.

“Is this Liz Parker?” a woman’s voice asked.

“Yes, this is Liz Parker,” she said, trying to shake off her drowsiness but sitting up.

“This is Kathana Halloway, from the shelter,” she said.

“Oh, hi,” Liz said, sitting up straighter.

“The homeless man I was telling you about never came in last night, but I have an idea where you might be able to find him,” she said.

“Ok, let me get a pen,” Liz said, reaching into the drawer.

“If he is there, you won’t see him there until after nightfall,” she said.

“Ok…” Liz said.

“His name is Jerome Hanar,” Kathana said. “If he’s anywhere, he would be at “Ship of Fools”. The address is 1590 Second Avenue.”

“Um, what does he look like?” Liz asked.

“He won’t be dressed well, as I am sure you will imagine. But he’s a striking man, African American, very tall, and actually quite handsome. If he’s there, you won’t be able to miss him,” Kathana said.

“Thanks for your help,” Liz said.

“No problem honey,” she answered. “I hope you find your uh…cousin.”

“Yeah me too,” Liz said, noticing Michael looking at her questioningly.

She said goodbye and hung up.

“Who was it?” he said, rubbing the back of his stiff neck.

“The woman from the shelter, Kathana Halloway,” Liz said.

“Kathana?” he said, his eyes narrowing. “Why does that name sound familiar to me?” he asked.

“You know the name?” she asked.

“Yeah, but I don’t know where from,” he said.

“But you didn’t recognize the woman,” Liz commented.

“No,” Michael said.

“It’s kind of an unusual name, but you must have heard it somewhere, maybe TV or something?” Liz asked.

“I don’t know,” Michael admitted. “I’m so tired, I can’t think straight. What did she say?” he asked.

“She said the guy never showed up last night at the shelter, but that we might find him tonight at a place called Ship of Fools,” she said.
“His name is Jerome Hanar.”

Michael’s eyes widened.

“What?” Liz asked.

“The summit. Max mentioned those names from the summit,” he said. “They’re leaders of the other planets.”

“Do you think we’re walking into a trap Michael?” Liz asked.

“I don’t know. They were pretty pissed off that Max didn’t agree to their terms,” he said.

Liz nodded.

“We have no other choice Michael. We have to go see him. It may be our only link to Ava,” she said.

Michael shook his head wearily.

“If we go, we play stupid,” he said. “We don’t know who he is, or what he’s about.”

Liz agreed.

“We can’t do anything until tonight,” she said. “She said he only comes out at night.”

“Well, that gives us time to plan a strategy,” Michael said.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Night had long since fallen when Michael and Liz walked into Ship of Fools. The place wasn’t crowded. A few patrons sat at the bar, and the room was filled with smoke.

Liz approached the bar carefully, catching the bartender’s eye.

“Hi,” she said.

“You two have I.D.,” the bartender asked.

“We’re not here to drink,” Liz said.

“Then you’ll have to leave,” the bartender said. “No underagers allowed in here.”

“Please,” she said, sliding a twenty across the bar. “We’ll only be a few minutes. We’re looking for someone named Jerome Hanar.”

“Jerome?” the bartender smiled. “What the hell do you kids want with Jerome?”

“We were told he could help us find our cousin,” she said. “Please…”

The bartender looked at Liz and Michael for a moment, and then jerked his head to the right.

“Back room,” he said. “And make it quick.”

“We will. Thanks,” Liz said, looking at Michael.

Together they walked through the dim of the bar to the doorway to the back room.

Though his back was to them, Liz knew immediately that this was Jerome Hanar.

He was an imposing figure, very tall and broad in the shoulders. His clothes were tattered, but they did not hide the enormous physical strength they could see he possessed. His powerful shoulders bunched as he threw a dart at the dartboard.

“Mr. Hanar?” Liz said tentatively.

He turned and studied them silently. The moment Liz saw his face, she knew they had nothing to fear.

“Ms. Halloway from the shelter told us we might find you here. She said you might be able to help us find our cousin…Ava,” she said.

He shot a long look at her and turned back to the dartboard.

“Please, we need to find her. It’s important,” Liz said softly.

He turned and stared at her pointedly.

“Look, she ran away, and a good friend of hers is dead. We need to tell her,” Michael said.

“What’s the friends name?” Jerome asked.

“Max,” Michael said.

“Max?” he repeated, his eyes widening. “Shit, Kathana was right to send you here then.”

You know Ava then,” Liz said.

“She told you about him?” Liz asked.

He nodded.

“Said he was her boyfriend’s twin brother. But he wasn’t nothing like her boyfriend. Said the guy was important, real important,” Jerome said, his demeanor telling her all that he wasn’t saying. That he knew Max.

“Yeah he was,” Liz answered.

“She needs to know,” Michael said.

Jerome nodded.

“Gotta pen?” he asked.

Michael handed him the drawing of Ava and a pencil, and he took the drawing and turned it over, writing down an address.

“You gotta go to the desk first. Tell em Jerome sent ya to see Ava, otherwise he ain’t gonna let you through,” he said.

“Thank you,” Liz said.

“Too bad about that Max guy. She thought a lot of him. Said he was a keeper. If he weren’t already taken, she said she’da took em herself,” Jerome said.

“Her uh, sister? Ava said she was after Max. Wanted to git in his pants o’ something like that,” Jerome offered.

Liz nodded.

“Yeah, something like that,” Liz said.

“Ava’s sister’s new boyfriend? The K-Man? Well I know him pretty well, and he makes a lot of promises he don’t keep. Do you know what I mean? You need to get a handle on that sister of hers,” Jerome said.

“Now that Max is gone, we’re all in for a whole heap of trouble I suspect.”

“Yes, I know what you mean, and we fully intend to get a handle on her,” she said meaningfully.

“Good then,” Jerome said.

“You know that things were supposed to turn out differently tonight. You two were supposed to uh…disappear, if you know what I mean. But the odds have changed, and the stakes are higher. You the one ain’t you? The one Max brought back?” he asked.

Liz nodded.

“I got a feeling you tryin’ to make things right,” he said. “What we been tryin’ to do all along.”

“Yes,” Liz said. “Max’s son. We need to get him away from…The K-man and Ava’s sister,” she said.

“Din’t think no one was going to try to stop him, the K-man,” he said. “We can’t do it. We don’t have no powers here. We’re limited to human strength,” he said. “Like I said, things changed since we all had our meetin’ last year.”

“But I sense something coming offa you, and you,” he said motioning to Michael.

“You go see Ava,” he said. “She’ll help you if she can.”

Without another word, he turned back to his game without further acknowledgement.

Liz looked at Michael, and together they walked out of the back room.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%%*

Twenty minutes later, they stood in front of a seedy motel, double—checking the address Jerome gave them.

“This is it,” Michael said.

“Michael, why do you think Hanar has suddenly turned against Khivar?” Liz asked.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “But he did say Khivar makes promises he doesn’t keep. He was almost too helpful. It makes me a little nervous,” he admitted.

“Me too,” Liz said. “Although, I could sense that he didn’t mean us any harm. Did you?”

He shrugged. “Maybe he didn’t. But we need to be careful either way,” Michael said. “Come on, the night isn’t getting any younger.”

He looked distrustfully at the door to the hotel.

Together, they entered the hotel and went to the front desk, sandwiched behind a pane of bulletproof glass.

“What?” the man behind the glass barked impatiently.

“We’re here to see Ava,” Michael said. “Jerome Hanar sent us.”

The man nodded and motioned to the closed door at the end of the room.

“Room 220. Second floor. I’ll buzz you through,” he said.

They walked to the door and waited for the sound of the buzzer, and the door latch sprung open.

They walked through the door cautiously and climbed the stairway to the second floor.

Three doors down to their right was Room 220.

Liz knocked softly.

“Who is it?” a female voice said in a thickly accented voice.

“Ava, it’s me Liz Parker. I have Michael with me,” she said.

The door opened a crack, sliding open just far enough for them to see that the chain was still firmly latched in the lock.

“Jerome told us where you were,” Liz said.

A second later, an eye peered through the crack.

“Holy shit! I’ll be damned,” she said, and momentarily closed the door while she disengaged the locks.

Then the door was opened again, fully this time.

And there was Ava, her hand on her hip, smiling and shaking her head.

“Never thought I’d live to see the day where you two would cross my path again,” she said.

“Yeah, us either,” Michael said.

“Come in,” she said, stepping back.

They walked into the room, Liz glancing around to see that though the room was shabby, Ava kept it very neat.

“So what the hell brings you two cornballs to New York?” she asked, walking over to stand near the bed.

“Ava,” Liz said. “Max is dead.”

“Dead?” she said, sinking to the bed in shock.

“How?” she said dully.

“Khivar, indirectly,” Michael said.

“Shit,” she said, closing her eyes. “I’m sorry Liz.”

“He slept with Tess, and he has a son,” Liz said. “We need to find him.”

“I heard that. But I don’t understand,” she said distracted. “After he healed you…”

“After he healed me what?” Liz said.

“He loved you,” Ava said. “Why would he sleep with Tess?”

“I don’t know. We never talked about it. And now he’s gone, so we’ll never know,” Liz said.

“I don’t think you get it. He *loved* you,” Ava answered.

“Ava, things happened. Things happened that you don’t have any idea of,” she said.

“Like what?” Ava asked.

“It’s all pointless to talk about, it’s too late,” she said. “But we need to find his son. We *need* to find him.”

“No offense, but what does that have to do with me?” Ava asked.

“Do you have a connection to Tess, at all, being of the same DNA?” Michael asked.

“No,” Ava answered.

“Is there any way you can help us at all?” Liz asked.

“I don’t know what I can do. Last time I saw her, she was leaving Roswell. There’s only one way I know of…” she trailed off.

“What way?” Michael asked.

“Nicholas,” Ava answered.

Liz felt cold pierce her heart. Khivar’s minion.

“Where do we find him?” Liz asked.

She glanced at Michael.

“With him skulking around the city, if you hang around long enough, he’ll find you. Jerome took pity on me when I came back here, more because he’s seen that Khivar hasn’t kept his word about a lot of things. Jerome won’t tell me nothing specific, but he’s pissed at him. He found me this place. It’s safe. That guy down at the desk? He’s one of Jerome’s people. He protects me,” she said.

“If Nicholas is here, that might mean Khivar is here too,” Liz said.

“Don’t think so,” Ava answered. “Nicholas don’t work for Khivar no more, least not that I know of. He’s after me. He’s all pissy cause I’m the only one left. Tess offed Rath and Lonnie when she was here wit Max. He really had a thing for Lonnie, you know. Heard he woulda done anything to bring her back. Said she was sick like him.”

“But you think he might know where Khivar is?” Michael asked.

“Definitely,” she said, nodding her head.

“He don’t work for him no more, but that don’t mean he ain’t loyal to him,” she said.

“Ava,” Liz said suddenly. “Were you out in Times Square last night?”

Michael’s head snapped toward Liz.

“Yeah I was. How’d you know that?” she asked, cocking her head quizzically. “I never shoulda gone out. It’s dangerous. But I couldn’t stand bein’ cooped up any longer. It was a mistake. Nicholas almost caught me,” she said.

“Why’d you wanna know?” Ava asked.

“No reason,” Liz said, shaking her head.

She walked over to Ava, and put her arms around her.

“It was good to see you Ava, and thank you,” she said, as Ava stood stiffly enduring Liz’s embrace.

“You ain’t changed a bit,” she said softly. “Still a cornball.”

A half smile appeared on Michael’s face.

Liz pulled away and reached into her bag, pulling out a card with a number scribbled on the back.

“Here’s my number. Call me if anything happens,” she said.

Ava nodded.

“Keep in touch,” Liz said, as she and Michael went out the door.

“Yeah,” Ava said softly, tears brimming in her eyes.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*

“Jerome just called,” Serena said with satisfaction.

“And?” Cal said sighing.

“She found Ava. It seems they gave her the help that you wouldn’t,” she said.

“You didn’t tell him anything? About the transference?” he asked quickly.

“Of course not, do you think I’m stupid? I know what kind of panic that would cause,” she said. “As far as he knows, Khivar is just up to his normal tricks, not keeping his word, promising them things they’ll never get.”

Cal shut his eyes and let out a breath.

“So now what do you think?” she asked smugly.

“Don’t pull your crap on me Serena. You’re still my subordinate and technically you have to do what I say,” he reminded her.

“Why did you let it get this far Cal?” she asked.

“What exactly is it that I was supposed to do?” he yelled. “I can’t fight Khivar alone! Max couldn’t fight him either. His damned sister thought she got rid of him by sending him back in the wormhole! How stupid could they possibly be?”

“It was because you didn’t guide them Cal! You abandoned them! For your own selfish reasons!” she said.

“That’s not completely true,” he argued. “Yes I wanted to stay here. But they had no idea what they would have been going back to if they went back to Antar. You think I always hated him Serena? You think I thought that little of him? That I would take a solemn oath to protect him with my own life if I didn’t love him as my King? I guess you didn’t think much of me either then!” he said.

Serena backed down a bit.

“I’m sorry,” she said softly, putting her hand on his shoulder.

“When we got here, I realized how much better this world is with all of its faults. They could build a life here. *I* could build a life here,” he said.

“If they knew, they’d thank me. Why do you think I sent Joey to warn them away? He was following his destiny, and his destiny my dear would have been his downfall. And he would have died in a much more painful way than he did. Over *years*. You know it and I know it,” he said.

“Neither one of us knew about Khivar’s plan until it was too late. There’s nothing you or I could do about it,” he said. “Even now, I don’t know where Khivar is.”

“But things have changed,” she said.

“Yes, things have changed. Shit happened that I wasn’t aware of. And yes, I think the girl has a chance. If she can pull it off, I’ll help her in whatever way I can. But I’ve never seen anything like this. I never heard of anything like what happened to her, and I know a lot of Antarian history. I didn’t think it was possible,” he said.

“But that’s where you were wrong. You were thinking of Antarians, not humans. Humans add a whole other aspect to this equation,” she said.

“Maybe. Maybe she can change it. I don’t know. Serena, if she can, do you know what that will mean?” he asked.

“A second chance, for all of us,” she said.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Floating in and out of consciousness.

Moving along the brink of insanity. Flirting with it, and drawing back.

Always pain. But with pain, healing.

Healing and an ache for something, someone he could not remember.

He heard movements around him, but he could not see. Something was over his eyes, but he knew instinctively that they weren’t functioning. He thought he might never see again, and it was probably just as well, because he would go mad if he saw with his own eyes the horror that he had touched.

He knew himself to be an abomination, but a strange itching had started to surface.

Though it fairly drove him wild, he would not scratch. He couldn’t bear to feel that again, the muscle, the skinless muscle.

His voice was gone.

A heat had happened at his throat when he screamed and he could scream no more.

He wished to die. He wished to be taken out of the hell he had been thrown into.

Dispassionate voices talked around him, ignoring him.

As if he didn’t exist at all…


posted on 26-Feb-2002 8:36:07 AM by majesty
Morning Everyone.

Thanks for all of the *get well* wishes. I am not feeling much better today than I did yesterday, but I am using my sick time to go away, so I am at work :(

This part may start to put some of the pieces together for some of you. It will become completely clear in the next two chapters. I am going to post this part later at the Boardello, as I don't have access to that board here at work.

I am going to try to start another update to Flagellation on my lunch hour, since that was the fic everyone most wanted to be updated. If it isn't all that it should be when it's posted, just chalk it up to me feeling lousy.

Anyway, hope you all enjoy this part.

majesty

PART THIRTEEN

"What do we do now?" she asked.

We wait, and we make sure we're ready when he does show up," Michael said.


*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

But for days they waited, wandering the city. Nothing.

Liz had the strange sense that they would not find Nicholas by day, and so they roamed the streets at night, wary glances becoming a part of their routine.

A week to the day after they arrived, it happened.

They walked Hell's Kitchen, fearing not the humans there, but the strange sense of expectation that had come over both of them.

They didn't have long to wait. As the perused an alley, a figure appeared at the end of it.

"What? Come to mourn the dead King?" a cracking voice cackled.

"Where is she?" Michael asked, stepping forward boldly.

"Who?" Nicholas leered, as he came into the light.

Skin tattered, he painted a horrific picture.

"What do you care where she is now? Max is dead," Nicholas answered.

"Don't think we're stupid. We know Khivar has his son. We want him," Liz said fiercely.

Nicholas laughed outright.

"For what?" he giggled maliciously.

"We know Khivar didn't give you Lonnie back," Michael said. "He doesn't care what happens to you. Look at you, you're falling apart."

Nicholas's grin faded.

"Take my advice, go back to alien central and live your lives," he said in a menacing voice.

"Can't do that," Michael replied.

"You all are even dumber than I thought! You have an opportunity to live. Khivar is giving you that. And you don't take it?" he said incredulously.

"I'm dead as long as I have to live the way I am now, wondering about him, knowing that Tess still has him. She doesn't deserve him. She didn't love Max," Liz said.

"Love? Love! You humans truly are going to make me piss my pants!" he laughed.

"That's where you all make your mistake. Love should have no place in anyone's life," he said.

"What of love? What's love gotten you Liz? Nothing but heartache I'd wager," he said, pacing slowly in front of them.

"He fucked around on you and he got Tess pregnant. He was going to *leave* you here. Too bad he didn't, it would have saved us all a lot of trouble," Nicholas said.

"Vilondra and I, we messed around, but love had nothing to do with it. You're much better off with lust my friends. It's a hell of a lot more fun, and a whole lot less trouble," he said.

Michael was losing his patience.

"Where is she?" he grated.

"Fuck if I'm going to tell you," Nicholas laughed.

Michael put up his hand, to use his powers against Nicholas, but once more, appearances deceived. Nicholas looked a mess, but his powers were still intact. With one wave of the hand, he blew Liz and Michael up against the brick wall.

Liz was dazed, Michael rolling and moaning.

She lay stunned as Nicholas walked over at a leisurely pace.

He knelt next to Michael.

"Rath…" he laughed. "You were never any match for me."

"You know I don't need any information from you, but it's been so long since I've done a good mind-rape for the hell of it. I've almost forgotten what it felt like," he said.

He reached over and put his hand on Michael's head and Michael screamed.

Liz struggled to a sitting position, feeling as if she were going to pass out. For a moment, her thoughts were jumbled as she tried to reconcile what was happening to Michael.

And then it all became clear, and a rage filled her heart because this being had helped Tess, had been the bearer of all the heartache she'd felt for the past year.

Coherent thought ceased in an instant, and an animalistic howl roared out of her mouth.

Green strands of energy coursed through her fingers, needling their way up her chest, across her cheeks, into her eyes, until they glowed incandescently.

She strode quicker than she'd imagined humanly possible to the figure maliciously laughing as Michael screamed, and with a primitive cry, she clamped her hands on his head. A surprised yell of pain rose from his mouth as he let go of Michael's head. Electric currents flowed through his brain in unimaginable intensities as his screams echoed through the alley.

And still she did not let go, until he dropped to his knees, falling to the ground on his back.

For the first time, Liz saw fear in his eyes…and she liked it.

"Where is she?" She growled.

"Leave me alone!" He whimpered.

She put her hand on his chest, and shot another bolt of energy through his body, and she could smell his sizzling flesh.

"I always figured you were a coward. *Don't* make me ask again," she said menacingly.

He was breathing heavily now.

She raised her hand again.

"All right! All right! She's in El Paso. The Longhorn Motel," he said in a whimper.

She paced back and forth next to him, anger filling her heart as it never had before.

"What do we do with you now Nicholas? We can't let you go running back to Khivar, now can we?" she asked.

"You don't have the balls," Nicholas half-laughed, and half-gasped.

And suddenly, all of the anger dissipated. He was right. She didn't.

But something had to be done with him.

As she stood thinking, Nicholas saw his opportunity and took it.

He leaped from the ground, his hands out, with every intention to kill her.

But she was quicker.

And once she unleashed the power, she couldn't stop it

Green unearthly fire erupted from her hands, devouring his body. For long moments she held it, in a state of almost catatonia, until he fell to the ground dead.

She stood gasping, looking at what she'd done.

Michael struggled to get up, his hands on the ground, and he paused, looking at Liz with wide eyes, because standing before him was a girl he'd swear he'd never met.

The fierceness in her eyes was frightening as she stared down at the corpse.

Her eyes lifted to Michael's, becoming aware.

Seeing the astonishment on his face, her eyes filled with tears.

"Oh my God Michael," she said, and her eyes rolled into the back of her head as she slumped to the ground.

Getting to his feet slowly, he stumbled over to her, gently picking her slack body up off the cold pavement, and started the slow walk back to the hotel.

Not long after, the distant sound of sirens echoed in the streets.

*%*%*%*%*%%*%*

Serena was jolted out of the doze she'd been in.

Something.

Something had happened.

Something big.

She could feel it in the air, crackling in it's intensity, charged with possibility.

She smiled to herself.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Flashes of the whirlwind symbol pulsed before her. Max's seal, the seal of the Royal Antarian Family.

Max lay lifeless on the ground, as the seal pulsed above his head.

A baby, blond-haired, blue eyed, played nearby. He giggled as he changed the colors of the large blocks in front of him by merely touching them.

The baby seemed oblivious to Max lying nearby.

Liz could not move from her spot.

She could only watch as Max slowly turned to dust, the seal still pulsing above him, becoming dimmer and dimmer as the life ebbed out of him.

She struggled against the paralysis, needing to help him, but she couldn't move.

Tears streamed down her face as she watched his body crumble to nothingness.

The seal was almost completely snuffed, when suddenly it burned blindingly bright, moving with lightning speed, circling around the child before rocketing toward her.

She felt her whole body seize as the seal passed through her chest.

She felt on fire.

She couldn't breathe.


*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Liz's back arched off the bed in a massive gasp as her eyes snapped wide open.

"Liz!" Michael said dropping the phone and frantically shaking her, and her body relaxed into a slump on the bed, every cell gasping for air.

"Liz, are you awake?" he said, on the verge of panic.

She nodded, her eyes closing as she tried to catch her breath.

"Jesus Christ, you scared me," he breathed.

Liz could hear Maria yelling at the other end of the phone.

"What's going on? Michael Guerin YOU'D BETTER ANSWER ME!!!"

"All right, all right!" he snapped into the phone. "She's fine. She was just having a nightmare."

He was silent for a moment and then Liz saw him cringe.

He handed the phone to her.

"She wants to talk to you," he said.

Liz took the phone wearily.

"Hey Maria," she said.

"I'm fine," she said.

"I swear, I'm fine," she said.

"Green light shooting out of my eyes?" she said, shooting a look at Michael.

"I was worried," he mouthed shrugging his shoulders.

"I promise Maria, everything's ok. Yes, we're going to El Paso," she said.

"I promise we'll be careful," she said.

"Maria when have you ever known me to rush into anything without thinking it through?" she asked.

"Yeah, Max…you're right. Ok, point taken," she answered.

"I promise we'll call as soon as we know anything. Yeah. Yeah. We miss you too. Ok, I'm going to give the phone back to Michael now. You too. Bye," she said, throwing the phone back to Michael."

She turned over, facing away from Michael as she heard him murmuring softly into the phone.

She still had a tightness in her chest. That dream had been disturbing.

She knew it had something to do with her newly surfaced powers, but she couldn't place what it was. Surely she wasn't an alien now. She didn't feel it, and something told her she would.

But still, there was an answer there that was alluding her.

She heard Michael hang the phone up.

"Liz," he said softly.

"Are you sure you're ready to go to El Paso? I mean tonight, you…" he said.

"I'm as good as I'm going to get Michael," she said, looking at him.

"What happened in that alley Liz?" he asked. "I felt like you were someone I'd never seen before. It was like you were someone else."

Liz nodded.

"I felt like someone else for a few minutes," she said. "I don't know what happened, but it scared me Michael. I killed another being."

He ran a hand through his long hair.

"Yeah, it scared me too," he said sighing. "But he would have killed me Liz. And you too. You really didn't have much of a choice."

"But it was almost like it wasn't me Michael. I mean it was, but it was something else too. I don't know how to explain it," she said.

"But it's only going to get worse from here on out," Liz said. "We have to go to El Paso as soon as possible."

"I got two tickets while you were asleep," he said. "We leave in the morning."

She nodded and let her head fall back on her pillow.

"Liz, what if this thing that's happening to you doesn't go away?" he asked.

"Then I'll have to deal with it somehow," she said. "But I don't want to think about it now. What's important is getting Max's son back."

He nodded.

"We get him back, and then we concentrate on *you* Liz," he said.

She smiled wryly. She hoped that they would be successful. Then maybe she could get her own life back together.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

He felt patches being put on his skin. Cold fingers applying them.

"Are you sure he's ready?" a voice asked.

"As ready as he's going to be," the second voice answered.

"And you think it's going to work," the first voice asked.

"As sure as I am of anything," the second voice said.

"Let's get this show on the road then," the first voice said.

He heard a strange humming becoming progressively louder, deafening. Forgetting the feel of his skin the first time he touched it, he tried to raise his hands to his ears, to block out the roar. But his hands were bound to the plastic underneath him. He struggled vainly against it.

"Is everything in place?" the second voice asked.

"Yes, he's ready," the first voice answered.

"Insert the crystal," the second voice said.

A split second later, the hum was in his body, vibrating it, searing it from the inside as it searched his body with purpose. Had he a voice, he would have cried out in agony as it shot through every cell in his body, raping them in its mission.

The hum built to a cacophony as it continued its exploration. The pain was excruciating, unbearable, as it felt as if every atom of his body was being ripped apart.

As he was about to lose consciousness, the hum abruptly ceased. He felt his chest laboring, trying to catch precious air.

He heard a strange thrumming noise.

"Fuck! It didn't work!" the first voice said.

"Impossible!" the second voice said angrily.

A moment later he heard a growl of rage, and something heavy smashed against his chest.

"Maybe we did something wrong," the first voice offered. "We should try again."

"No, we can't, not now," the second voice said.

"His body needs time to recover. Another session will kill him, and we'll have nothing. I don't understand it. It should have worked," the second voice said angrily.

"Maybe he wasn't quite ready yet. Give it another day," the first voice said.

"We have no choice," the other answered.

"Tomorrow. We try again tomorrow night."


TBC…


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 26-Feb-2002 8:40:32 AM ]
posted on 27-Feb-2002 8:25:44 AM by majesty
Hey everyone.

I am posting two parts today.

Just a note, there is some cringe-worthy material in the second part of this (flashes), but just trust that I am going to try to explain it later in the story, at least if I do my job I will. I hope you hang in there with me, as there is still alot more story to tell, and alot more questions that will be answered.

So here it is,

majesty

PART FOURTEEN

"Where are they going now?" Cal asked.

"I checked with Kathana. She says Michael bought two tickets to El Paso. Nicholas is dead," she said.

"Dead?" he said amazed. "How?"

"Last night I felt something. It was an energy, strong energy. I haven't sensed anything like it since Max," she said.

"Hanar said he had a hell of a time convincing his man in the NYPD to close the area, to cover it up. He said that Nicholas had basically had his head fried. I think it was Liz," she said.

"So you think she got it out of Nicholas? Where Tess is?" he asked.

"I think that's why they're on their way to El Paso," she said. "It's time for you to step up Cal. She's going to need your help. She's going to need some answers."

"I ain't got the answers to give," he said wearily. "I don't know why it happened to her. I don't know how it happened."

"Well maybe together you can piece it out," she answered. "But you *have* to go, now," she said.

"Are you coming with me?" he asked.

"I thought you'd never ask," she smiled.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

The hot Texas sun beat on the roof of the rented car as they traveled along Puerto de Anapra.

Liz closed her eyes, already too weary. The lack of sleep and her confrontation with Nicholas had severely sapped her strength.

'It will all be over soon,' she kept repeating in her head. They were so close now. Soon they would have Max's son. Soon she could rest again, she hoped.

Her eyes opened slightly as she looked at Michael behind the wheel. He was concentrating on the road, but she could see that their mission was taking its toll on him too. Dark circles shadowed the hollows under his eyes, and he just looked…weary.

"Michael, how are you feeling?" she asked. "Any adverse side effects from what Nicholas did to you?"

"Other than a really bad headache, no," he said, keeping his eyes on the road.

"Tess has a human man with her. We're going to have to be careful," she said.

"I'll handle the human. He isn't what I'm worried about. Tess mind-warping one of us is what's making me nervous."

"We'll have to deal with it if it happens," she said.

"At least we know what she's capable of. That's a little advantage," she said.

"Why doesn't that make me feel any better?" he grumbled.

Ahead, they saw the towering sign of the Longhorn Motel.

"There it is," Liz said.

Michael nodded.

"Park at the end," Liz said. "We'll watch for awhile, see if we can figure out what room she's in."

Michael turned into the parking lot and parked in between two cars at the far end.

He left the car idling and the air-conditioning running.

For an hour they sat there, watching and waiting for any sign of Tess. There was none. Michael periodically turned the car off for a few moments to keep it from overheating.

Liz sipped the bottle of water she'd brought with her. The sun was starting to get to her. Her eyes burned, and every muscle in her body ached.

She pulled her hair up into a pony-tail to get it off her neck.

Michael was fanning himself with their map.

"Michael?" she said tentatively.

"Yeah," he said looking out the window.

"I want to thank you," she said.

"For what?" he asked, looking toward her.

"For not letting me do this alone. I don't think I could have done this without you," she said. "I know we were never close, but I just wanted to say thanks, and that I'm glad I got to know you a little better. I see now why Maria's so crazy about you," she said. "You've been a good friend to me, and I won't forget it," she said.

He ran his hand through his hair.

"I know we didn't get off on the right foot Liz. That's putting it mildly. But you saved our asses. More than once. You saved mine New Year's Eve. You watched over me, and I didn't forget that. You were good for Max. He fucked that up. It was his loss," he said.

Liz looked down.

"I made some mistakes too Michael. Mistakes I'm not proud of. But everything I did, I did because I want to protect him. I wanted to protect all of you," she said.

"What are you talking about?" Michael asked.

She thought about telling him about Future Max, and what she did to prevent the end of the world, but she realized it would serve no purpose. She didn't have the courage to face the fact that he might hate her for taking years off of Max's life, and Alex's, and driving Max toward Tess.

"Nothing," she mumbled, and he straightened up as a car pulled into the lot.

"That's her," Michael said as he spied Tess in the passenger seat of a Mustang.

Liz felt bile rise in her throat as anger filled her body. She didn't think she'd have such a reaction to seeing her again, but for a split second, rage clouded her mind.

She struggled to get it under control as she watched Tess lean over to kiss the man she'd seen when she'd dream-walked her with Isabel.

Liz watched Tess touch his cheek tenderly, and she wanted nothing more than to get out of the car to throw her across the parking lot.

How could she have been so stupid, pushing Max toward Tess? All the feelings she'd experienced last spring came rushing back. She'd hated Max all along. She wanted his child, and she wanted him dead. Now he was dead, and she was still here, obviously with feelings for this human.

It filled her heart with rage.

Michael glanced over at her and saw the tightening of her features.

"We'll get her Liz, don't worry," he muttered.

As they watched, she got out of the car and walked to the door of her room, pushing the key into the lock. The human man stayed until she went inside and then pulled away.

"Now what?" Liz said tightly.

"We go in I guess," Michael said.

Liz nodded.

They got out of the car and walked over to the walkway leading to the rooms.

Everything was so vivid to Liz. She could hear the hum of the air-conditioning units and the soda machines. She heard a paper rustle across the parking lot, driven by the hot breeze that blew around them. She felt errant strands of her hair tickle her face. She heard her own breathing. Michael's footsteps.

She smelled the dust that lay over everything, and the faint scent of fabric softener wafting off the sheets sitting on a nearby housekeeping cart. The sound of Michael's boots hitting the concrete rang in her ears. She felt her heart pounding in her chest.

Everything seemed to move in slow motion. Turning, she noted Michael's hair blown back lightly, and the determined look on his face.

"Let me go first," he whispered, as they approached the door.

He put his hand over the doorknob, closing his eyes as his hand glowed momentarily, and suddenly she heard the barely audible click as he unlocked the door.

He gave her one last look and slowly turned the knob, pushing the door open.

She never saw them coming. Her back was turned to them as they entered the room silently.

As she turned Michael put his hand up quickly, and Tess was thrown up against the wall violently.

Liz heard her head hit the wall as her body was pinned to it by the force of Michael's will.

She let out a small grunt as the wind was knocked out of her.

She stared at them for a moment, and then started to laugh breathlessly.

"You just made the biggest mistake," she said, choking lightly, a laugh coming from her mouth between coughs.

Liz walked forward to stand in front of her, moving her face close to Tess's.

"Where is the baby?" she asked.

"Not here," Tess said smiling.

"Then where?" Liz asked, in a grating tone.

Tess laughed again.

"Fools, you have no idea what you've gotten yourself into. I am going to have such a *good* time watching the two of you torn limb from limb," she said, with a menacing smile on her face.

"You couldn't leave well enough alone, could you?" she said, rolling her eyes.

"I hate to point this out to you, but we have the upper hand here Tess," Michael said angrily.

"*Do* you?" Tess said, and laughed again.

Liz heard a whoosh of air behind her, and suddenly Michael was lying on the floor beside her. She turned quickly to see who had caused it, and froze.

Standing before her was Khivar. She knew it. She could sense it. He was in a different body, not the poor soul Denny he had taken over. In his place was a tall, handsome and imposing figure with dark hair and ice blue eyes. Yes, it was a different body, but all the same, it was him.

"Well this is perfect timing," he said as Michael stumbled to his feet and Tess moved away from the wall to stand next to Max's nemesis.

"Tess, you didn't tell me you were expecting company," he said, putting an arm around her.

"I just hate uninvited guests," Tess said frowning as she turned to him. "Don't you?"

"Now now, they may have been unannounced, but there's no reason to be rude, is there? I was coming to pick you up for tonight's activities. Perhaps your friends might want to come along?" he asked.

She smiled. "Yes, I think you're right. They wouldn't want to miss it."

Michael and Liz glared at him.

"I won't take no for an answer," Khivar said, his smile fading.

"Don't even think about trying anything," he said.

"What I did to you before is only a warm-up," he said, looking at Michael.

Liz looked at Michael begging him with her eyes to withhold using his powers. Even if he succeeded in taking Khivar down, she knew that Tess would never lead them to the child. If they took Khivar down now, their chance would be lost forever. They had to go along with it, for now. He nodded slightly. He understood.

"This has suddenly gotten very interesting," Khivar said, folding his arms across his chest.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Khivar's guards led Liz and Michael down a long corridor toward a holding cell deep in the depths of a hidden desert compound.

Along the left side of the hallway, the upper half of the wall was glass. They passed room after room shrouded in darkness.

Toward the end of the hall, one of the rooms was lit.

Liz looked in and paused.

Sitting on the floor was the little baby from her dream. His blond hair and blue eyes were exactly the same. A nurse watched him from the corner as he clumsily grasped a ring of plastic keys, a baby toy.

Suddenly the baby's head rose up and looked straight at her.

He had Tess's eyes.
She was shoved forward by a guard.

"Did you see my son Liz?" Tess asked with a small grin.

Tess stood by as they were pushed in to a holding cell.

She stared at Liz. Liz moved up to the bars to look her in the face unwaveringly.

Finally Tess spoke through the bars.

"I never liked you Liz, not for one second," she said. "You caused me more problems than you were worth. I am really going to enjoy watching your face tonight," she said with satisfaction.

Liz's mouth tightened, and suddenly, she spit in Tess's face. Michael looked at her, shocked.

"News-flash Tess! I've always hated you too. I hated what you did to Max when he was around you. I can only take comfort in the fact that I know he loved *me*. He never loved you," she said.

Tess calmly wiped her face.

"It doesn't matter, does it?" she said smugly.

"I got the best part of him. *I* got to break him in. *I* have his child. What do *you* have Liz?" she asked, turning around and walking away.

She paused and looked back.

"I still have one more surprise in store for you Liz, and it's a big one. I am looking forward to the two of you seeing it, before they kill you," she said flatly, and walked down the hall out of sight.

Liz pounded her hand against the bar, and cried out as a shot of hot pain jolted up her arm.

She cradled her hand as tears gathered in her eyes.

Michael put an arm around her.

"Don't let her get to you," he said in a low voice.

"That's easier said than done," she grated. "But I still have one more card to play. Maybe these powers might come in handy after all."

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Hours seemed to drag by while they waited.

"What do you think they're planning?" Liz asked.

"I don't know, but whatever it is, it involves Max's son," Michael answered.

"What card exactly are you planning to play Liz?" he asked in a low voice.

"You saw what I did to Nicholas Michael," she said. "At this point I am ready to do anything to get Max's son back. I don't know if I can control it even if I wanted to. I felt this inhuman…rage when I was around her. I can't explain it," she said.

"Liz don't do anything rash," he warned.

"This coming from you?" she scoffed. "The King of impulsive actions?"

"This is different. We're out of our league here Liz. I don't know if we'll be able to stop whatever it is he's planning to do, but we have to hold out. We have to wait for our chance to escape. They're planning on killing us," he said.

She nodded.

"I know," she said. "But I'm not going down without a fight Michael. When I decided to do this, to take Max's son back, I told myself I'd do whatever it takes. That hasn't changed," she said.

"I know that Liz," Michael argued. "But I don't think Max would have wanted you to get killed over it either, and if you really think about it, I think you know that too."

She looked down at the floor.

"Michael, give me your hand," she said.

He looked at her questioningly, but she did not see it, as she was staring at the floor.

He held his hand out.

Liz went into her pocket and took out a penny, placing it in Michael's palm.

Then she lifted her own hand and held it in the air over his, merely an inch away from it.

Immediately, Michael felt the energy crackle in the air around him as Liz's and his own hand started to glow.

The penny rose from Michael's palm, and slowly started to twirl. It spun faster and faster, until all Michael could see was a blur of copper. His eyes widened. Liz kept her eyes averted.

Suddenly, the penny ground to a standstill, hovering in mid-air. The glow around it changed slightly and the penny started to distort, twisting and turning itself into a misshapen lump, before completely melting. Liquid copper lay suspended in mid-air for a moment, and then Liz spoke.

"Move your hand out of the way Michael," she said, and he complied quickly.

Liz's hand grew brighter and a moment later, the liquid blob was slammed to the floor, making an indent in the concrete, embedding itself in it.

Michael stared at her, his mouth agape.

"How long have you been able to do this?" he asked.

"Not until I stood in front of Tess before. Then I just knew I could," she said quietly.

"We can beat them Michael," she said. "You and I, together. But we have to find the right opportunity. I don't want to endanger the child."

Michael nodded.

"I don't know what Max did to you Liz, but it was something big," he said.

"Tess was wrong when she said that he left me with nothing. Nice parting gift, right? Something to remember him by?" she asked, with a touch of bitterness.

Michael shook his head.

They heard footsteps coming down the hall, and they both stood up.

Two guards, heavily armed stood outside the bars.

"You're to come with us," the one guard commanded.

posted on 27-Feb-2002 8:27:21 AM by majesty
PART FIFTEEN

Michael and Liz left the cell without a protest, walking down the hall, sandwiched between the two guards.

They were led to a double set of swinging doors, and were pushed through them.

Liz glanced around the room warily.

It reminded her of the room she'd seen in a flash from Max after they'd rescued him from Eagle Rock.

But what was in the center of the room caught her eye.

The Granolith.

Next to it was a curtained panel on wheels. It was obviously meant to conceal something.

"Glad you could join us," Khivar said clapping his hands together, as he came through the double doors with Tess and the male human she'd seen her with.

"So this is Zan's second in command?" the man said, looking Michael up and down.

"What a disappointment," he said woefully, shaking his head.


"Figures after everything you told Max not to do, that you would fall in love with a human after all," Michael said, glaring at Tess.

"Fuck you," she said, staring right back at him.

"Ah yes, you never met Dravin did you?" Khivar asked.

"Dravin is very special. He's Tess's intended. I told him he could have the honor of killing you both," Khivar said as Dravin glared at Liz and Michael.

"It will be more than a pleasure," Dravin responded.

"Well, why not get this show on the road. We have other places to be, other people to meet," Khivar said.

He came and stood in front of Liz, causing her to look up at him due to his imposing height.

She did so fearlessly.

"I'll bet you'll never guess what's behind Curtain Number Three," he said jovially.

"But don't worry," he said, walking over to the Granolith, "you'll find out soon enough."

"Strap them," he said to the guards, and they shoved them over to the wall. Once there, their hands were held up, and cuffs were placed on them, looped through a metal hoop mounted in the wall.

Khivar pulled out a small device, and immediately, the cuffs began to glow.

"Just a little precaution, in case you decide to get any stupid ideas. If you try anything, you'll be very *very* sorry," he said.

"If you try to use your powers," he said looking at Michael, :the cuffs will conduct them, sending them straight into your little friend Liz here."

Michael glanced over at Liz.

"Shit," he said, and closed his eyes in defeat.

"Tess, why don't you go get your son?" Khivar said.

"This is long overdue," he whispered.

Tess nodded and went out the doors, returning a moment later with the baby. He fidgeted in her arms pulling on her hair lightly, completely unaware of what was going on around him.

She gave the baby over to Khivar and glanced at Liz.

"How could you even think about harming your own son?" Liz asked.

"Harm him? We aren't going to harm him," she said, laughing.

Khivar held the child up to the Granolith while Dravin inserted the crystal.

The child gazed at the Granolith, enraptured, and when he reached out to touch it, Khivar didn't stop him.

A great flash lit the room causing Michael and Liz to look away. As they turned their head back, they saw that the baby was now inside the Granolith, with glorious patterns of light surrounding him, moving around him.

Liz heard the baby giggle.

As she looked at the Granolith, she saw a thick cable-like appendage coming from the side of it, trailing behind the curtained panel.

"What are you going to do to him?" Liz shouted frantically.

"Patience, patience my dear. All in good time," Khivar said.

"Dravin, is everything set?" Khivar asked.

"Yes, everything's a go," Dravin replied.

"Then insert the crystal," Khivar said, moving behind the curtain.

Dravin cast one last glance at Tess and smiled at her before he inserted the crystal.

"Michael, get ready to use your powers when I say," Liz said in a whisper without looking at him.

He glanced at her and looked straight ahead.

"Liz this is impossible. We'll wind up getting ourselves killed," he hissed back.

"We can do this…together. Trust me," she whispered back. "Just build it, don't use it, not until I say."

The Granolith's hum rose to a high pitched whine and the child looked up as the colors swirled around him faster and faster.

Liz could feel the tremendous energy that emanated from it. It hit her like a ton of bricks.

Dimly as she watched the child, she heard a loud thumping noise coming from behind the curtain.

The hum rose to an almost unbearable pitch and Michael cried out as his sensitive ears were tortured.

Liz shut her eyes and with every cell in her body, willed herself to gather every bit of strength she had left in her.

A moment later, the hum ceased.

Liz relaxed her tightly squinted eyes and opened them.

Khivar stepped from behind the curtain and touched the Granolith, reaching in for the child.

"Now Michael," Liz said quietly.

Khivar brought the child over to Dravin, who took a device out of his pocket.

"Check him," Khivar said, as Dravin waved the device behind the baby's head.

Liz could see Michael's power surging in his body, as hers did, latent, dangerous.

"Nothing," Dravin said, letting out an irritated hiss.

"What do you mean nothing?" Khivar raged. "That can't be! It's been to long already, it has to be there!"

"Well it's not!" Dravin grated. "There's nothing else to be done. He won't last another try. It's not there! We used all of the power we had available to us. If it was there, the child would have it now!"

"Let me see," Tess said, grabbing the child from Khivar and the device from Dravin.

Seeing Tess with the child was enough for Liz. She felt rage fill her body.

"Now Michael! Release it!" Liz shouted, and suddenly the flow of energy released between them exploded, the cuffs sending a painful bolt of energy through both of them, but their combined powers sent the cuffs flying across the room in a shower of sparks.

Michael took the guards down without effort.

Before Khivar could fully turn around, Michael held up his hand and blasted a huge rolling wave of energy at him.

For a moment, Khivar screamed, and then his body fell to the floor. Or rather, the body he was occupying. A bright flash appeared, swirling, and grew smaller, as if a vacuum were sucking the energy up. A moment later, it was gone.

Liz turned to Tess who was still holding the child.

"Put him down Tess," she said in a low, fierce voice.

Tess shook her head.

"Go to hell!" she grated.

Liz's teeth ground against each other as she felt the power surge up in her body.

Tess closed her eyes, prepared to mind-warp Liz. But a moment later, they opened in shock as she felt her own power diminish rapidly.

Her eyes snapped to Liz's which now glowed a bright vicious green.

"I said…put the baby down," Liz said again quietly, the volume doing nothing to diminish the fierceness in its tone.

Tess looked at her warily.

"You can't have him. He *my* son!" she yelled, backing away.

Liz lifted her hand, and Tess's eyes widened as she felt her airway being cut off. She started to choke.

"We can do this the easy way, or the hard way Tess," she said. "Now, for the last time, put the baby *down*!"

Tess lowered herself toward the ground shakily, putting the child on the floor.

The baby looked first from Tess, then to Liz.

"Michael, take the baby," Liz said over her shoulder, her eyes never leaving Tess.

Michael walked in between the two girls, picking the baby up. The child seemed unconcerned, cooing softly and playing with the material of Michael's shirt.

He walked over to Liz, intending to hand her the baby.

"NOOOOO!!!!" Tess yelled in rage and launched herself at Liz.

Purely on instinct, Liz raised her arm, green energy shooting from her fingertips, engulfing Tess. She was thrown back against the wall, and slumped to the floor.

Liz turned around pointedly.

"Michael, check to make sure Khivar is dead," she said, the curtained panel suddenly catching her attention.

As she walked toward it slowly, she heard the thump of Michael's boot against the body.

"He's gone," Michael said, but Liz barely registered it, her attention now fully focused on the curtain.

Suddenly a shriek erupted behind her and she felt fingernails dig into her back.

She turned with lightning speed, and her hands clamped on Tess's head.

She stared into the eyes of the girl she hated more than anyone on the planet, and her mind was filled with flashes.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

"It's not a fuse, the lights are out all over town, the streetlights and everything. Oh, this is for you," Tess said to Max.

"What is it?" Max asked suspiciously.

"You have to open it to find out," Tess said.

"What's the occasion?" he asked.

"Does there have to be an occasion, Max? It's just a gift. You know, I saw a black sweater on sale, v-neck, and I thought of you. If you don't want it I can just give it to Kyle," she said, starting to walk away from him.

"Tess... " Max said, and she turned.

"What?" she said.

"Sorry. Thank you. This was, uh, very thoughtful," he said.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

"Max? Max, what is it?" Tess cried.

"Well, when I healed Brody…I saw these -- these flashes, of Brody, of Larek, but also…" he paused.

"But also what?" she prompted.

"I remember you," he said.

She started to cry and Max wipes the tear off her cheek.

*%*%*%*%*%%*%

"I remembered something else. I don't know how to feel about it," Max said.

"What do you remember?" she said.

"Our first kiss. It was at a party... late at night. And you..."

"I, I leaned in... and whispered in your ear and then you touched my cheek..." Tess said, "and then we just..."

They kiss.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Max is at the observatory looking at the stars when Tess walks up.

"I thought I'd find you here," she said.

"My whole life I've wanted to be this person, this normal person. Human. My whole life I've been thinking that this alien side of me was this bad thing. This thing that made me a freak. This monster. I realize that I haven't just been hiding from the government and the law all this time. I've been hiding from myself. I don't know what's going on anymore. I thought I knew but I don't. I've lost everyone," he said.

"I'll be here for eternity," she whispered.

They kiss.

"I'm ready to wake up now," he said.


*%*%*%*%*%*%%

Liz caught flashes of the two of them making love, and she screamed in anguish as Tess laughed maliciously.

"You wanted to see it, didn't you?" she asked venomously.

That didn't last long.

Liz felt a new rush of power, and more images flashed through her mind as she started to go deeper into Tess' psyche.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*

"You look really great when you're pissed," Kyle said.

"Yeah, right," she said.

"No, I'm serious. I feel, like, all this energy coming from you right now. In order to trim the lamp of wisdom, we must attend to our bodily needs," he said.

"Let me tell you something, Buddha-boy...I got a lamp that needs some serious trimming," she said, walking up to him.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

Kyle is at Tess's door with flowers

"Is this a good time?" he asked.

"Yeah" Tess said.

"I heard about what's uh, what's going on and um, congratulations," he said.

"Thank you," Tess replied.

"Are you feeling okay?" he asked.

"Not so good, but I'll be all right," she said.

"Well I just, wanted to say that it's meant a lot to me..."

Kyle gets a flash of Alex in the mirror

"You okay?" Tess asked.

"Oh yeah, yeah. It's nothing. Anyway, I just, I don't usually talk about this but uh, my mom left when I was six, and with you being here it's, uh felt like family again. That's all, I don't want to get all weepy or anything," he said.

"Kyle... Kyle I feel the same way," she said,, hugging him.

"Okay, okay," he said.

Kyle gets another vision of Alex

"You are the royal four. You are created from the genetic materials of your alien predecessors and human subjects..." Alex said.

"Kyle!" she said loudly.

"You are given human forms so you can... ," Alex said.

"Kyle! You okay? Kyle," she said.

Kyle comes back to the present and looks at Tess

"He was here. Alex was here," Kyle said shakily, and Tess knew she should have taken off the brotherly mind-warp sooner.

"What are you talking about?" she said.

"Alex was in this room the day he died. I can't believe I didn't even remember it, I must have blocked it out," he said.

"Kyle, he wasn't," she argued.

"No he was, Alex was here. I have to tell my father," he said.

"Kyle come here!" she shouted.

"Dad!" Kyle yelled.

"Kyle!" she yelled again.

Tess mindwarps Kyle

"What were you saying?" she said.

"That I'm really gonna miss you..." he said.

"Yeah, actually, I was thinking about my lamp again," she said seductively. "It still needs trimming you know."

"But you're…you're, pregnant with Max's…" he started.
"No, unfortunately I'm not, but you'll do just fine," she purred, as she caught his gaze and his face fell slack.

"Yes, I think you'll do just perfectly…" she said, wrapping her arms around him.


*%*%*%*%*%%*

Liz felt the full horror and anger at what she'd done to Kyle, and she couldn't control the energy flowing through her hands.

Her whole body shook with it.

Tess started to sputter, and blood spurted out of her nose. A moment later, Liz watched as her eyes hemorrhaged, and she slumped away from Liz to the floor as the last of the life in her body drained out.

Liz stumbled and caught herself on the curtained panel, struggling to stay on her feet, gasping for breath with tears coming out of her eyes. She wanted to vomit. She wanted someone to take back everything she'd just seen.

"Michael," she gasped. "That isn't Max's son. The baby's Kyle's," she gasped.

"What?" Michael asked in disbelief, standing next to Khivar, where he'd been frozen with the baby in his arms, watching what transpired between Liz and Tess.

"Liz, that guy Dravin's gone," Michael said.

"We have to get out of here Michael," Liz said, gasping for air. She felt her legs give out and the curtained panel slid forward.

Her hands slapped on the floor, and her elbows jarred against the cement.

"Liz!" Michael yelled, "Liz, are you ok?"

"I'm ok Michael, just keep an eye out for the guards," she said, glancing up.

In front of her was a long tubular enclosed table. The sides were enclosed in a dark glass. The cable appendage from the Granolith disappeared into a hole in the side.

She stood up slowly, shakily, afraid to see what was inside.
But nothing could have prepared her for what she saw as she peered into the enclosure.

She stumbled back, her eyes wide, filling with tears.

"Oh my God…oh my God," she kept whispering, moving closer.

She lifted the cover of the enclosure.

With trembling hands she tentatively reached out, touching warm skin.

"Max," she whispered in a shaky voice.

"Liz what happened?" Michael said, pushing the curtained panel aside with one arm, the baby cradled in the other.

As he stepped closer, he let out a harsh breath.

"Maxwell…" he said softly, his eyes filling with tears.

TBC…

posted on 2-Mar-2002 12:49:15 AM by majesty
Guys,

As much as I wanted to get more of this and Flagellation written before I left, it wasn't meant to be.

I was swamped at work, and didn't get my lunch hour to write.

I will be away until next Sunday. I am bringing a laptop from work, as I have to work while I am on vacation unfortunately, so there is a slight chance I might get to do some writing while I am away, but I can't promise anything. I would write on the plane, but the battery on the laptop is practically shot, so that's out. I might hand write though, we'll see.

I guess expect an update on stories somewhere around the 14th.

Sorry about that. I tried my best,

majesty
posted on 14-Mar-2002 8:13:21 PM by majesty
Well,

I'm back, and this story is back. I am betting some people might not like the end of this part, but I felt it should be something Liz would have been feeling after Ch..changes. The story isn't over yet folks, so I hope you stick it out with me.

majesty

PART SIXTEEN

“Liz, is he…alive?” Michael said from behind her.

A thermal band covered his eyes. She could see the shallow rise and fall of his chest. Though his skin was warm, it was the color of ash. Whatever they had done to him had almost killed him.

“Yes,” she whispered, her breath hitching in a sob.

“Max,” she whispered. “Max, can you hear me?”

There was no response.

“We have to get him out of here Michael,” she said.

He nodded.

“You take the baby,” he said, handing the child gently over to her.

She wrapped her arms protectively around the child, cradling it’s head against her chest as she watched Michael use his powers to free Max from his bindings, then lifting him easily from the table.

“What about the Granolith Michael?” she asked, glancing at it.

“”I’ll take care of it,” a voice said from behind them, and Liz turned quickly.

Cal stood in the doorway with a strange woman.

“What are you doing here?” Liz asked, as Michael looked at Cal menacingly.

“I’ve disabled the guards, but not for long,” Cal said. “There’s a car out front. The engine’s running. Take it and get out of here,” Cal said.

“There’s a motel two hours north down the highway, called the Roadhouse. Check in and don’t leave the room until we get there,” he said.

“I don’t understand how...” Liz began.

“I know you have a lot of questions. I have a lot of questions too. We’ll talk about it later. Just get out of here!” Cal said.

Four men piled into the room, gathering around the Granolith.

Liz glanced at the woman Cal was with as she brushed past them on the way out of the door, Michael following with Max.

They hurried down the hall. At the end, behind metal doors they heard angry banging. The guards.

Turning right, they found the entranceway to the small compound.

She felt the warmth of the baby’s body against her chest as she glanced back at Max, limp in Michael’s arms, the thermal strap still covering his eyes.

All of it was almost too much to take. The flashes from Tess, the baby’s true father, Max being alive.

She felt as if her head was going to explode, and after the tremendous energy she used against Tess, she felt as if she were going to collapse.

She willed herself out the door, holding it with one hand for Michael, looking for the car.

A late model Ford Taurus sat idling outside the gates, next to a large box truck.

Michael carefully placed Max in the backseat, and Liz went around the other side getting in behind the driver’s seat.

She attached her seatbelt awkwardly and slumped back against the seat, the baby playing with her hair. She was nervous holding the child instead of having a car-seat, but there was nothing to be done about it.

She turned her head finally toward Max.

“Max?” she whispered. “Max, can you hear me?”

She reached out and pulled the thermal strap up off of his eyes.

They stared sightlessly ahead.

“Max?” she said again, putting her hand to his cheek gently.

“It’s going to be ok Max,” she said, tears filling her eyes.

“It’s over, I promise.”

Michael jumped into the driver’s seat and immediately put the car into drive, pulling quickly away from the compound.

“Is he ok Liz,” he asked, as he maneuvered the car onto the road.

“I don’t know,” Liz said troubled.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Words floated in and out of his mind, as he hovered between consciousness and oblivion.

“What are you…do…him?”

“How could you even…harming…son?”

“Michael…baby,”

“Max……”

“Liz……happened?”

“Maxwell…”

And clearer now…

“It’s going to be ok Max…”

“It’s over, I promise…”

He’d come close to dying. The power that had been forced through his body was a hundred times greater than the last time. He felt his heart strain under its pull.

But somehow he’d hung on, stayed alive, because he heard those voices, familiar to him, and yet not.

If he could see he might recognize their owners.

If he had a voice, he could ask them who they were.

But he had nothing. Nothing except what he could hear.

Everything hurt. He tried to move his fingers, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t move anything.

The pressure around the crown of his head was gone, the material covering his eyes, yet he still couldn’t see.

He felt the warmth of a body in the seat next to him, and heard the soft murmuring of a child.

Where was he?

What had happened?

He felt fear pass through his body.

What was to become of him now?


*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Max hadn’t moved the whole two-hour ride to the motel. Liz felt a growing apprehension that something was terribly wrong with him.

But that didn’t cease the wonder that he was alive, whatever shape he was in.

She couldn’t help but touch him. It re-affirmed that she wasn’t dreaming, that he was alive.

For now, she blocked out what she’d seen in Tess’ mind. For now, she was just grateful he was here.

She didn’t want to think about what had happened to him since that night at Meta-Chem.

They had to call Isabel and the others.

She had to talk to Kyle. She had no idea how she was going to tell him that he was a father, and she was even more afraid of how he was going to take it, after everything Tess had done to him already.

She looked down at the baby, now asleep in the cradle of her arm, his diapered rear resting in her lap. She saw it now. He had Tess’ eyes and coloring, but his nose and mouth were all Kyle.

She felt a genuine affection for the child in spite of herself already, and she only hoped that Kyle might find a place in his heart to care for the child too.

Michael hadn’t said much since they’d left the compound, but he repeatedly glanced back at Max.

She could only imagine what was going through his mind.

She hadn’t even realized they’d pulled into the parking lot of the motel until Michael stopped the car.

“Wait here,” he said, and he got out of the car and went into the lobby of the motel to get a room.

Silence filled the car.

Liz gently took Max’s hand.

“Max, can you hear me at all?” she asked, softly, not wanting to wake the baby.

Though his hand was warm, his face was blank, expressionless.

She needed answers about what had happened to him.

She had a feeling Cal knew, and it made her angry.

Michael came out of the lobby and pulled the car over to the parking spot in front of their room.

Liz got out of the car with the baby and took the key from Michael while he pulled Max out of the car.

She opened the door, and braced it open until Michael carried Max in.

Michael put Max down on one of the double beds and she carefully laid the sleeping baby on the other, boxing him in with pillows so he wouldn’t fall off of the bed.

Michael stood over Max worriedly.

“What do you think is wrong with him?” he asked.

“I don’t know Michael. I mean, they brought him back from the dead somehow,” she said.

“I can’t heal,” Michael said, running his hand through his hair frustrated.

“Maybe Cal can do something,” Liz said, sitting on the bed next to Max.

“We don’t even know what he’s going to do to us!” Michael said.

“We have to trust him for now. We have no choice,” Liz said, noting that Max had broken into a sweat.

She got up and went to the bathroom, holding a washcloth under cold water and squeezing it out.

She came back into the room and again sat down next to Max.

Gently, she wiped his forehead with it, before running it down his arms and across his chest gently.

“He’s really warm,” Liz said worried.

“I’m going outside to keep a lookout,” Michael said.

“Michael Cal said not to…” Liz started.

“I can’t just sit here doing nothing,” Michael said angrily. “I can’t do anything for Max, and in here we’re sitting ducks. I’m just going to sit in the car to keep an eye out.”

Liz nodded. She knew what was happening. Michael needed some time to take everything in. Some time alone.

“I’ll be right outside if you need me,” he said.

“Okay,” she said.

She glanced over at the baby, still fast asleep. They’d have to go out and get some baby food. She didn’t know anything at all about babies.

She couldn’t help but feel relieved that the child wasn’t Max’s.

Her gaze turned back to him, his eyes staring sightlessly at the ceiling. They blinked, but there was no awareness in them.

She waved her hand in front of his eyes and there was no reflex reaction.

It seemed as if he couldn’t see. There was no reflexive action as she moved her fingers close to his face.

“Max, can you hear me?” she asked in a low voice.

He continued to stare at nothing.

She took his hand and gently squeezed it.

“Max, if you can understand what I’m saying to you, just squeeze my hand,” she said.

Nothing.

What had they done to him?

Something was definitely off. Before she’d left for Vermont, every time she touched him, she’d been hit with bright bolts of physical pain, and smothering mental pain. Now, she felt no alien energy coursing through her body.

Sighing, she picked up her bag and took her cell phone out. No use in putting it off any longer. She’d have to call Maria.

She dialed and waited for her friend to answer.

“Liz!” Maria said worriedly when she heard her friend’s voice. “Is everything ok?”

“Maria, I think you and Kyle and Isabel should come out here,” Liz said, glancing over at Max and the baby.

“Did something happen to Michael?” Maria asked frantically.

“No Michael’s fine,” Liz said.

“I can tell something’s up,” Maria said. “You wouldn’t tell us to come out there unless something bad happened.”

“No Maria, it’s not like that. I just don’t want to explain it to you over the phone,” she said.

“Did you find him? Max’s son?” Maria asked in a low voice.

“It’s complicated,” Liz answered. “Maria, did Isabel tell Jesse about what she is?”

“I don’t think so, why?” Maria said.

“I think she’d better come alone then,” Liz said, glancing at Max. If Jesse didn’t know, he’d never be able to handle seeing Max reincarnated.

“Liz what’s going on?” Maria asked, concerned. “Where’s Michael?”

“He’s outside, keeping watch. Look, here are the directions. Just get here as soon as you can,” she said. She quickly relayed instructions.

“We’ll be there as soon as we can,” Maria said.

“Ok,” Liz said, and ended the call.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

A gentle hand had touched him. The gentle hand brought searing pain that rocketed through his head. If he had a voice, he would have screamed.

”Max, can…hear me?

Though he could not move, he could feel touch. Gentle touches that hurt.

“Max…understand…I’m saying…squeeze…hand…”

Again, a rush of pain. Were he able to move, he would have wrenched against it, begged it to stop.

The hand pulled away, and the voice faded, and he felt a moment of panic as all became quiet. Sound was the only thing that proved he was still alive and not trapped in hell.

Was he Max?

All he had known since he’d become aware was pain and fear.

He couldn’t remember anything else.

“Michael…fine…”

Who was Michael?

“…complicated…”

And the voice faded again.

He felt a helpless desolation that permeated his every thought.

Was this what he was doomed to?


More in a minute....

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 14-Mar-2002 8:16:21 PM ]
posted on 14-Mar-2002 8:18:32 PM by majesty
*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Liz was startled as the door to the hotel room opened an hour later, Michael coming in with Cal and the woman.

“I brought diapers and food,” the woman explained, motioning to the bag in her arms and looking at the slumbering baby.

Liz nodded, and the woman set the bag down carefully next to the bed.

“Who are you?” Liz asked, looking at her.

“My name is Serena,” the woman said, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Serena?” Liz gasped.

The woman frowned.

“It looks as if you know my name,” she said.

“I…I,” Liz stuttered, thinking of Max, who had come from the future, who had told her that Serena was a friend.

“How do you know my name?” Serena insisted.

Though Michael was as shocked at Liz’s revelation as Serena was, he wasn’t going to let her get the upper hand.

“We aren’t saying another word until you tell us why you’re here,” Michael said angrily. "What did you do with the Granolith?"

“The Granolith is hidden in a rented warehouse under guard. And we're here to help, to answer your question,” Cal said.

“Help?? Help!” Michael hissed quietly. “You were supposed to protect him! From the Skins! From Khivar! What is it you think you can do now when you haven’t lifted a damned finger to help before?”

“Things change,” Cal shrugged, looking at Serena.

“We don’t need your help,” Michael said.

“Don’t be so quick to burn your bridges Mr. Guerin,” Cal answered. “Do you see the way he is now? That is the way he is going to stay unless we can figure out what’s going on.”

“And you think you can do that?” Michael asked.

“Together, yes,” Cal said, unaffected. “But most of it will be up to Liz I think.”

“Me?” Liz said in disbelief. “What does this have to do with me?”

“I don’t know for sure yet,” Cal said, walking behind her, “but I think we’ll have our answer in a minute.”

“Stand still,” he commanded Liz.

“What are you going to do to her?” Michael asked, stepping forward to push him away.

“He’s not going to hurt her Michael,” Serena said, “I swear it. This is the only way we’ll know whether we can help Max.”

“It’s ok Michael,” Liz said, looking at Cal. “Let him.”

Michael clearly was not happy, but he stood still.

Cal raised his hand behind Liz’s head.

“This is going to feel a little strange,” Cal said. “Just stay still.”

Liz nodded, and Michael watched Cal concentrate on his hand.

A moment later, Liz’s back wrenched and the back of her head snapped back against Cal’s hand.

Her breath came in great gasps as a flash of light erupted in front of her. An image appeared before her eyes, of the V constellation, and then the whirlwind galaxy, which formed itself into a bright blue version of the symbol she’d seen on the orb in the desert.

Michael looked at her with wide eyes and then turned his gaze to Cal as Cal lowered his hand and the image faded.

“What does that mean?” Michael said. “Is she one of us?”

“Not exactly, at least I don’t think so,” Cal said.

“What do you mean you don’t think so? I think you owe us some answers!” Michael said.

“Look kid, I just told you I don’t have a clue how this happened. I can’t tell ya what I don’t know,” Cal said patiently.

“Liz…?” Michael said, and she didn’t answer.

“When I saw her at the cemetery, I suspected. I saw her hands. I saw the energy, but I couldn’t be sure. I mean, no one ever healed a human before. It could have just been residual energy stored in her body,” he said. “But when she came to LA, Serena knew it.”

“I don’t know how you came to have the Antarian seal, but somehow it’s got to get back to Max. It’s the only way to help him,” Serena said.

“But how?” Liz asked.

“Why don’t you tell us when you started feeling the energy?” Serena said. “We need to know everything before we can attempt this.”

“It was a few days before I left for Vermont,” she said.

“Can you think of anything that might have pulled them out of a latent state?” Serena asked.

Liz shook her head slowly.

“No wait. I was thinking about everything that happened over the past year. Tess, his son. It was like I couldn’t keep it buried anymore. It was like I couldn’t control it, the anger when I was around Max, because of what he did with her,” she said.

“Max tried to heal me with the healing stones, but it didn’t work,” she said.

“What?!” Cal said “He used the stones alone?”

“Yes,” Liz said, “but it didn’t work. He kept asking me to trust him, but I couldn’t, and the stones exploded.”

Cal looked at Serena and then closed his eyes, shaking his head.

“That’s it,” Serena said.

“What?” Michael asked.

“When Max healed you, he opened up a connection between the two of you. I only thought it possible between Antarian mates. How were we to know what would happen with a human?” Serena asked.

“So what does that mean?” Liz asked.

“You’ve been trying to suppress your anger. You didn’t trust him anymore. There was a disturbance in the balance between the two of you. It must have released the residual Antarian energy in your body that’s been there since Max healed you,” she said. “It’s why you were feeling pain, why you couldn’t control it.”

“But that doesn’t explain the seal. Max had it when he went to New York for the summit,” Michael said.

Cal nodded. “He probably possessed it right up until the healing stones were destroyed. When he tried to heal you with them, it drew on the energy of the seal, because you are his mate. It was in your body when he tried to heal you. But your distrust, your anger, it must have upset the equilibrium of the stones, destroying them, trapping the seal in your body.”

“But I’m not his mate,” Liz said quietly.

“Yes, you are. Max chose you. There would be no other for him,” Serena said.

“Don’t try to load this crap on me!” Liz said. “If I was his mate, and he chose me, then what about Tess? What about his destiny? If he loved me so much, then why did he sleep with her?”

“I can’t answer that,” Serena said quietly. “But you are the one. You can restore balance. You can restore the King. You were what he was waiting for.”

“What are you talking about?” Liz asked.

“On Antar, Zan was betrothed to Ava, but he was always longed for something more in the most secret places in his heart,” she said.

“How do you know that?” Liz asked.

“I am an empath,” Serena said.

“At the time, we thought it was foolishness, Zan’s selfishness. Ava was the perfect candidate for him. She was of good breeding, and she was beautiful. Her family brought useful alliances to the Antarian Royal Family. But he was restless,” she said.

“You’re trying to tell me that he was waiting for me in another life?” Liz said.

“No,” Serena said. “He was waiting for someone. He found *you*. I am not going to lie. Zan could be selfish and impulsive. He was unbalanced. The family kept trying to force him to be what he was meant to be,” Serena said, “but he fought against it.”

“That doesn’t sound anything like Max,” Liz said.

“No it doesn’t, does it?” Serena said. “But that is probably because of you Liz.”

“Me?” Liz said. “Why me?”

“Because, when I met Max in Los Angeles, I could sense his love for you. The love he had for you since he saw you as a child,” Serena said.

“Wait,” Liz said shaking her head. “You met Max in LA?”

Serena put her hand on her hip and smiled.

“Bunny…at your service,” she said.

“*You’re* Bunny?” Liz asked.

She nodded.

“Oh my God,” Liz moaned.

“I know what you were thinking when you were on the phone,” Serena said.

Liz rubbed her eyes.

“Zan was special Liz, an heir that only comes along once in a millennia. But he never fulfilled his potential. We didn’t realize what he needed. We know now. You see, Zan’s mother was a Warlain,” she said, “and Warlains had never married into the Royal Family before,” Serena said.

“So what does that mean?” Michael asked.

Serena sighed. “There are two races of people on Antar. There are Gralais, like Zan’s father Calem, and Warlains, like Zan’s mother. The Gralais were the race of the Royal Family for centuries. Zan’s father fell in love with Dorna, a Warlain. The Warlain mate for life. They need to have a mate to complete them. The Warlain are an enigma in our galaxy, because their mates do not have to be of the same species.”

“They are not a predominant species, because not all Warlain matings with other beings can produce offspring. The Royal Council was worried about the repercussions of a Warlain in the Royal family, but uniting the planet against the Skins was weighed and thought to be more important. So they were allowed to marry. Various tests were run when Dorna was with child, and it was thought that the Warlainian characteristics were minimal. But it turned out that this wasn’t the case. Zan couldn’t be whole, not without a true mate,” Serena said.

“But Ava was politically essential to the Royal Family, and Zan was basically told to marry her, promised anything he desired. But he soon realized that anything he was promised would never be enough without his true mate. He loved his mother, and knew it would kill her to know that the Warlainian traits were causing his unhappiness, and so he said nothing. But he became increasingly impulsive in the two years he was married to Ava, taking part in dangerous missions against Khivar, putting his people at risk…” she said pointedly looking at Cal. Cal looked down at the floor. “He became selfish, mounting attacks ruthlessly, without regard for those under him…”

“Because he was unbalanced,” Liz said quietly. “What about Isabel?”

“Vilondra maintained the dominant characteristics of the Gralais, but Zan was different. And now you are different. You carry his mark.”

“So I have this seal inside of me. What am I supposed to do now?” she asked.

“You have to return it to him,” Cal said. “Without it, this is the way he will stay.”

“How?” Liz asked.

“You have to connect with him, find a way to transfer it,” Cal said.

Liz blanched.

“I can’t,” she said. “I can’t do that.”

“Yes you can Liz,” Michael said. “Isabel can help…”

“No!” she said fiercely. “You don’t understand! I can’t…I won’t. When we are connected, I get flashes. I haven’t connected with him since before Tess. I don’t think I can bear to see…not from him,” she broke off, tears filling her eyes.

“You are the only one who can help him Liz,” Serena said softly.

Liz turned fiercely to her.

“I have ruined my life to help Max! To help all of them! I trusted him! I broke my own heart to save the people he loved most! My best friend *died* because I changed things, to save everyone!” Liz said angrily.

“Liz what are you talking about?” Michael asked suspiciously.

“Nothing. Nothing,” Liz said shaking her head.

“Can’t I give the seal to someone else, and then they could help Max?” she asked Cal.

He shook his head.

“It won’t work,” he said.

“Liz, are you saying that you won’t help Max?” Michael asked, staring at her.

“Yes…I think I am,” she said in a low voice.

“I would do almost anything to help him Michael, but not that. I can’t. I came out here to find his son for closure. I can’t do it Michael. You can’t ask me to. My heart can’t take anymore. The flashes I got from Tess were enough,” she finished.

“This isn’t you Liz,” Michael said incredulously.

“Yes Michael, maybe it is,” she said, her eyes filling with tears.

Suddenly she couldn’t bear to be in the room for another second. She rushed toward the door, blinded by tears, and fled, leaving a stunned Michael staring after her.

TBC…
posted on 19-Mar-2002 7:17:27 PM by majesty
Yes, you guys know me too well, and you will know what I mean regarding your feedback at the end of this part. I won't spoil it. This fic is flowing so easily so far, let's hope my luck holds out *happy*

majesty



PART SEVENTEEN

Waiting For A Sign

Mary Beth Maziarz

Lately I've been watching my life
play like it's a movie
And I'm feeling kind of lonely
but I've been burned before

And so I've earned this thoughtful type
I wish I were so strong and right
But sometimes I just think that I'm afraid

And waiting for a sign
always waiting for the right time
Hoping that I haven't wasted all this time...
waiting for a sign

How have all these centuries of people
grabbed their destinies
It seems that everybody else
is so much better than I am
at taking hold of things that matter,
dealing what happens after

But me,
I'm keeping guard,
just safe and sound

And waiting for a sign
always waiting for the right time
Hoping that I haven't wasted all this time...
waiting for a sign


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

Liz ran, because it was the only thing she could do. She ran until she couldn’t run anymore.

She reached a convenience stop on the side of the road, and gasping, she set herself down on the curb.

Everything reminded her of Max. Even this stupid store. Flashes of last September in Utah, where they’d faked a hold-up so Max could find his ship, so he could find his son.

But he had no son. It was all for nothing. Liz wished she hadn’t been so impulsive in killing Tess. Then she would know for sure that it was Tess’ mind-warp that made him think it was his son. Then she would know for sure if he’d really slept with her. But something deep inside her told her that he did. That this was the reason she’d had all of these strange things happening to her. Because they were unbalanced.

Holding her head she rested her elbows on her knees.

What was wrong with her? How could she even think about not helping Max? How could she even think about leaving him as he was?

But in her heart, she knew the answer. She knew that she wasn’t sure she could stand one more heartbreak, one more nightmare. She was afraid her anger was going to hurt him, too.

Since he’d healed her that day in the Crashdown, Max Evans had become the center of her world. Thoughts of him had controlled everything she did. Every move she made was in anticipation of how it would affect him. She brought on Alex’s death because he asked her to change the future. She had lied to her parents. She had lied to her friends, all because she had trusted in him, had believed in what was between them so strongly that lying was a small sacrifice to make.

She knew that the intention was to push Max toward Tess when she had made him think that she had slept with Kyle. But something…something told her he knew all along that she was lying. Though she pushed him away, it gave her comfort to know that. He’d been angry with her for lying to him. In her mind, she didn’t honestly believe that he would go to Tess. She thought that the two of them not being together would be enough. But in the end, it was not.

She fought back tears once again, gripping her hair between her fingers tightly, rocking slowly.

I've just messed everything up. Langley's life. Yours. I'm so sorry, Liz. I'm so sorry…

I’ll never leave you, Liz…


What was she to do?

Michael was shocked that she’d said no. But he hadn’t been through what she’d been through. Maria had not thrown her first time away on someone she didn’t love. She was not pregnant with someone else’s child.

No one had realized how hard that was on her. Because she hadn’t let them see. She buried it, thought she could get past it, because it was Max, her soulmate, the person she’d have willingly died for the year before.

But the flashes from Tess brought every painful thought back in glaring color, and she didn’t know if she could stand to see it coming from Max when she connected to him. Knowing how he felt touching Tess, hating Liz at that moment because she’d gone against his wishes, because she put the puzzle of Alex’s death before the group’s safety.

Part of her ached to help Max, to bring him back. But part of her was afraid of what it would cost both of them.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Maria stared silently out the window in the backseat of the Chevelle. Isabel and Kyle hadn’t spoken much. Maria didn’t know what Isabel had told Jesse, but she’d been very quiet the whole trip. Kyle passed worried glances in Isabel’s direction, but wisely decided not to push her in asking what had happened.

They were close to the Northern Border of Texas, and had been driving for almost six hours. They should be close.

She watched as building after building passed by, knowing in her heart that something was wrong. Michael hadn’t called her, and that spoke volumes.

Suddenly, she squinted as her eyes focused on a familiar figure.

“Stop the car!” she said loudly, and Kyle glanced back at her.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Just stop the car,” she said impatiently.

As Kyle slowed the Chevelle, Maria was already pushing at the back of his seat.

“Let me out,” she said.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Michael had decided it had been long enough to let Liz get her thoughts together. There was no way she was going to let her leave Max like this.

The baby was up by now, and Serena had given the boy his bottle. He was contentedly pulling on it in her arms.

Cal had gone out to make a few phone calls in privacy. Clearly, there were still things he was hiding, Michael knew. But his main concern now was Max.

“Are you sure you can’t feel anything from him? You said you were an empath,” Michael said.

She shook her head.

“I can feel your anger at Liz. When Liz was here, I could feel her fear. But Max…wherever he is, I can’t reach him. I can’t sense him. Believe me, I tried,” she said, looking forlornly down at the child.

“I’m going to find Liz,” he said to Serena, stopping his pacing.

She nodded.

“She’s the only one that can help him Michael,” Serena said. “If she doesn’t, he’s as good as gone.”

Michael nodded tightly, and went out the door.

*%*%*%*%*%%*%*

Maria walked up slowly to her friend sitting on the curb, sitting with her hair clenched in her hands, her head lowered.

“Liz?” she said softly, kneeling before her.

Liz’s head shot up, her tearstained face pulling at Maria’s heart.

“Oh Maria,” she said, throwing her arms around her friend, as Kyle and Isabel walked up behind her.

“What happened Chica?” Maria asked, concerned.

Liz just continued to sob quietly. Maria rubbed her back comfortingly.

Isabel looked at Kyle questioningly, but neither said a word, standing silently, waiting for Liz to speak.

A car pulled into the parking lot behind them, but they barely registered it.

Liz pulled away from Maria, wiping at her eyes.

“Talk to us Chica,” Maria prompted.

“I don’t even know where to begin,” Liz said, pushing her hair out of her eyes.

“How about telling them Max is alive and you won’t help him?” Michael said roughly, from behind Kyle and Isabel.

“What?” Isabel said, spinning around quickly. “Michael! Max…he’s alive?”

Michael nodded shortly.

“What do you mean Michael?” Kyle asked.

“Max is alive. Khivar and Tess used the Granolith to bring him back, but he’s almost catatonic. Liz is the only one who might be able to bring him out of it, and she won’t,” he said angrily.

“Oh my God, he’s alive?” Isabel cried.

Isabel turned an angry gaze to Liz.

“It is true?” she asked. “You can help him?”

“I can’t,” Liz whispered.

“I thought you loved him! How can you sit there knowing you can help him, and refuse?” Isabel said indignantly.

“Stop it!” Liz yelled, standing up. “None of you know what it’s like, what I’ve been through! You have *no* right to judge me!”

“I have every right when it comes to my brother!” Isabel retorted. “All this talk about how much you loved him, was it all a lie? He made a *mistake* Liz! And I think he paid for it, over and over again!”

A sob hitched in Liz’s throat, and she walked swiftly away.

“Liz!” Kyle called ready to go after her, but a look from Maria stopped him in his tracks.

She strode angrily to Isabel.

“Where do you get off? Do you think you guys are the only ones who made sacrifices? That it’s always about *you*? You have *no* idea what she gave up for Max! What she went through to save all of your asses!"” Maria seethed.

Isabel backed away from her slightly, a little shocked at Maria’s outburst.

“What are you talking about?” Isabel snapped.

Michael looked at Maria guardedly.

“She said something about changing everything to save us. What was she talking about?” Michael asked angrily.

Maria’s mouth snapped shut.

“It’s not my place to tell you,” she said.

“So you know,” Michael said angrily.

“Yes Michael! I know, ok? I promised I wouldn’t tell, and I am not going to break that confidence now. If she wants you to know, she’ll tell you. I’m not going to stand here talking to you when my friend needs me,” she said, turning and walking off toward Liz.

Kyle stood still for a moment, a thoughtful look on his face, something clicking in his head, just out of reach. He knew whatever Maria was talking about had to do with the night Liz asked him to make Max think they’d slept together. It had to be something momentous to cause Liz to drive Max away. He didn’t know why she did it, but he now knew he unwittingly played a part in it.

He became aware of Isabel staring at him, and wordlessly he walked off after Maria, leaving Michael and Isabel alone.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Liz leaned heavily against the stuccoed side wall of the convenience store, trying to get her emotions in check. She slid to the ground, embracing her knees, looking at the sky.

Maria approached quietly, sitting against the wall next to her. She didn’t say a word, waiting patiently until Liz was ready to talk.

Liz sniffed quietly.

“Do they really think that I am taking this that lightly Maria?” she asked in a low voice. “That I would just leave Max like that without a good reason? God, I want to help him! I’m just afraid it will kill me…kill both of us. I don’t have control over what’s going on with my body Maria. Before it was just these angry feelings, and I hurt when he was near me, when he tried to touch me. But I killed Nicholas Maria. I killed him with these powers, with my bare hands. I killed Tess. I saw them together in her head, and I killed her. What if I see that in Max? What if I can’t control it? What if I hurt him?” she asked miserably, as Kyle walked up and sat on the other side of her.

Maria was silent for a minute.

“Liz,” she said finally, “I can’t even imagine what it was like to get flashes of that. I thought I was going to go crazy with Courtney, and Michael only *kissed* her. I don’t know how I would react if he’d slept with her. I’m glad Tess is dead.”

“You’re not helping me here Maria,” Liz chided flatly.

Liz bit her lip lightly. The three sat in silence for long moments.

“Listen Liz, I’m not one to talk, or to tell you what to do,” Kyle said quietly, “and I don’t know exactly what you did to change things, but I know I was involved,” he said.

“I’m sorry, Kyle,” Liz said, turning to look at him. “I didn’t think I had any other choice…”

“No, I’m not saying this to you to get an apology. I know you wouldn’t have asked me unless you had a good reason. And in a way, I’m flattered you came to me for help. But everything you’ve done over the past two and a half years has been for everyone else. It’s time you made a choice that’s going to be good for you.”

“He’s right Liz,” Maria said, playing with an errant string on her jeans.

“If you’re going to help him, do it for you. Do it because it’s what *you* want. Because if it’s for anyone else…Max, the others, you’re going to regret it,” she said in a low voice. “If you’re going to do something that is going to endanger your own life, don’t have any regrets about it.”

She took Liz’s hand, and Kyle took her other hand, and she closed her eyes for a minute, trying to wrestle the demons in her mind.

She knew Max wouldn’t want to exist like this, and she couldn’t bear to see him as he was for much longer.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

When I saw Valenti taking you away like that...it just hit home for me, you know? How much knowing me has screwed up your life.

No, it's just the opposite.

Thank you for saying that.

It's the whole truth, Max.

I better go.

Why?

Cuz if I don't go right now, things are gonna change.

Change, how?

I'm gonna have to touch your hair...cuz it's so soft...and I'd have to tell you that...no matter what we go through, it's all worthwhile for me because we're together.

And then?

And then...I'd have to do this...

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max, you know when you said before that we couldn't be together? That we were different? I just sort of accepted it, you know? Because I thought that it was like physically impossible. That it...that it couldn't be. But when I saw Maria with Michael...the truth is that...I was hurt, Max. Why is it ok for them, but it's not ok for us?

Liz, I think that what I'm afraid of isn't that we try this and it works out really badly. What I'm afraid of is we try it and it works out really well. I'm afraid of feeling everything that I know I would feel. Because I know it's not meant to be. And somewhere down the line, we're gonna get hurt. I can live with that. I just couldn't bear to hurt you.

But that's not your decision, is it?

No, I guess not…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

My parents are away for the weekend. They're at a stargazing camp-out. Something about Venus being in the morning sky.

I thought she was right in front of me…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max, look...you know, I didn't...I didn't mean to have doubts. I didn't...I didn't mean to let you down in the cave.

I don't blame you. You had every right to feel that way, because what you felt is true. We don't belong together.

Don't say that.

The other night, you know, when we went out...and the whole day before...ever since we kissed...I've been off balance. You made me forget that anything else existed, but that's not real.

It is the only real thing that I've ever felt.

Sometimes you have to take a step back to see what's really going on. Maybe that's what we both really need to do right now...find our balance again.

You know, Max, I thought that...I thought that we'd found it.

You don't know how much I wish that could be true.

Max...how is it possible that I could be...I could be the happiest that I've ever been in my entire life...you know, and now the saddest all at...all at one time?

I think that's what being in love is.

Yeah, I think so, too…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Ok. Fine. If you know so much, then tell me, Max...what's my destiny?

I only know the part I'm hoping for.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

What's going on, Max?

I wanna talk.

About what?

Liz, about what Michael said before, about Tess, I just...I want you to know that I don't feel anything for her. I look at you, and I know you're the person I'm supposed to be with. I've always known it. What happened here that day, when you got shot, and how that brought us together...it's fate. Look at me. You're the one, Liz...the only one. I
could never be with anyone else.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I wish I could go back Liz. Back to when things were normal.

Me, too. I just wish that I could have stopped you from saving my life that day in the Crashdown.

Don't say that.

Max, the day that you saved my life, your life just ended.

No, that was the day my life began. Liz, when I was in that room, and they did what they did to me. You're what kept me alive. The thought of you. The way your eyes look into mine. Your smile. The touch of your skin. Your lips. Knowing you has made me human. Whether I die tomorrow or fifty years from now, my destiny is the same: it's you.

I want to be with you, Liz. I love you…

I love *you*…


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

All these memories. It what the sign she’d been waiting for.

When she allowed herself to think about it, all of the things she felt for Max, all of the feelings she’d experienced when she was near him, came flooding back. And it felt good, and it had been real, despite Tess. She knew it. She knew he’d want her to try. She knew he would try for her if it were the other way around, regardless of the risk.

And suddenly she knew what she had to do.

“I’ve got to help him Maria…” she said suddenly, getting up and walking around the corner purposefully, ready to face whatever consequences might come.

Maria smiled quietly and looked at Kyle.

“That’s my girl,” she said softly, smiling.

%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

“What the hell happened Michael?” Isabel asked, pacing before him.

“Where do I start?” he asked. “We found Tess, only Khivar found us. We knew he’d lead us to the baby. He took us to this compound, and he and Tess had this plan for us to see some surprise they had before they killed us. They brought us into this room, and they had the kid, and they put it into the Granolith and did something. But it didn’t work. We got Khivar, but just the body he was in. Liz killed Tess, ‘cause she was going to kill us. We were just about ready to take the kid out, and Liz found Max. Apparently, they were trying to transfer the Royal seal from Max to the kid. But Max didn’t have the seal. Liz does,” he said.

“What?” Isabel asked. “Why would the baby need the seal if it was Max’s son?”

That’s another long story,” he sighed, not ready to tell her of the father’s paternity, namely Kyle.

“The seal is the only thing that will heal Max. They brought him back to take it from him, but it’s the only thing that will restore him. Only Liz doesn’t want to connect with him to try,” he said. “She saw some visions of Tess and him together. She’s afraid if she connects with him, she’ll see the same.”

“But that’s not fair to Max!” Isabel said. “So she’s just going to let him die?”

“I don’t know,” he said quietly.

“No,” Liz said in a low but steady voice behind them. “He may die anyway. I might not be able to help it. I’ll try my best, but I have no control over these powers. I need you to realize that.”

Michael looked at Isabel.

“Anything is better than the way he is at this point,” he said.

“Then I’ll do it,” she said.

“Thank you Liz,” Michael said.

She nodded tightly.

“Liz,” he called as she started to walk away.

She turned to face him.

“I’m sorry, for what I said, and that I didn’t have faith in your decision,” he said quietly.

She sighed and closed her eyes.

“I understand Michael,” she said, as Maria and Kyle walked up behind her. “Max tends to bring out those emotions in all of us. I don’t know if I am going to do more harm than good, but I have to try, I know that now.”

Isabel bit back tears, almost not wanting to hope, but not being able to squelch it completely.

“If anyone can do it, you can Liz,” she said with quiet assurance.

“I hope you’re right,” Liz muttered.

TBC....

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 19-Mar-2002 7:44:54 PM ]
posted on 22-Mar-2002 12:20:22 AM by majesty
Well,

I went on a writing spree the past few days, so I am going to post three parts tonight, hope it isn't too much to take in. And don't be mad where I left it, you all know I'll be back :-)

These sections were the ones I was talking about, that I wasn't sure was going to be believable. You guys be the judge. Just don't hit me too hard, m'kay? I know some of it will be tough to work through, but stick with it and ye shall have the answers....

majesty

PART EIGHTEEN

“Liz, are you going to be ok?” Kyle asked from behind her, and she halted mid-step. She winced and turned toward him. She’d completely forgotten about the baby.

Michael shot her a look. He knew exactly what she was thinking.

“Michael, why don’t you take Isabel and Maria back to the hotel. I have to talk to Kyle…alone,” she said.

Isabel looked at her curiously, but Liz didn’t acknowledge it. She was still angry at her for her earlier outburst, though in a way she understood it.

“Yeah, ok,” Michael said, motioning to the two.

They followed him to the sedan they’d escaped the compound in.

“What’s going on Liz?” Kyle asked curiously.

Liz looked at Max’s Chevelle, the car they’d shared so many stolen moments in. The car they’d gotten arrested in.

“Let’s get in the car,” Liz said, looking at the setting sun.

Kyle nodded and walked around the front of the car. She was dreading this. Why did everything have to be so messed up? She didn’t know how he was going to feel about this. It was bad enough that he was still trying to come to terms with the fact that Tess had mind-warped him into helping her carry Alex’s body out of his own house. That he had trusted her. That she’d betrayed him. How was he going to handle this latest news? They couldn’t keep it from him. Even under these circumstances, he had to know the truth.

She sat heavily in the passenger seat as he started the car, letting the convertible top down.

“What’s up Liz?” he asked again, looking at her. “I know something’s going on, so spit it out.”

Liz looked out at the long road for a minute.

“Kyle, do you hate Tess?” she asked. “Do you still hate her for what she did?”

Kyle studied his fingers on the steering wheel for a long moment.

“Yeah,” he said. “I think I do. I never thought it would be possible for me to actually hate someone, but I do. I hate her. I hate what she did to Alex, what she did to me. Even with my enlightenment, I still can’t seem to get past it, even knowing that she’s dead.”

Liz dropped her head. In some small way, she’d hoped that he’d say he didn’t hate her. Because she wanted him to accept the child, his child.

“Liz, what’s all this about?” he asked.

“Kyle, there’s something I have to tell you, but I don’t know how…” she said.

“God, this is so hard!” she said.

“Just tell me,” he prompted.

“Kyle, we found the child, Tess’s child,” she said.

“Well that’s good right? It’s what Max was looking for, so when you bring him back…”

“It’s not Max’s, Kyle,” she said in a low voice.

“What do you mean it’s not Max’s? If it isn’t his, then who…” his voice suddenly trailed off.

“It’s not mine,” he whispered, trying to control his emotions.

“I’m sorry Kyle,” she said, putting a hand on his shoulder.

“No!” he said angrily, shrugging her off. “We never…”

“Kyle, it’s the truth. I…I saw it in her head. I saw what happened. It was the same night you…when you helped her with Alex,” she said, tears filling her eyes.

“Fuck!” he yelled angrily, slamming his hands against the steering wheel, before laying his head on them. And then he was silent for a moment, until his shoulder shook in silent sobs.

“How could she do it?” he asked, his voice muffled by his hands. “Did she hate me that much? Did I *do* something to her? We were nothing but nice to her. We took her in! We treated her like part of the family, and this is what she does? I thought of her like a sister!” he said angrily.
Liz again put her hand on his shoulder.

“Kyle, If it’s any consolation, I don’t think she hated you,” she said. “I just think…I think that she just did whatever she needed to do to get what she wanted. She was selfish. As much as I hate her for what she did to Alex, I don’t think she hated him. She didn’t know him well enough to hate him. She just didn’t care about him. He was expendable. We all were,” she said.

“So what am I supposed to do now?” he said. “I’m eighteen years old! I’m not ready to be a father. Hell, I don’t even get to remember what led up to it!” he said.

“I think you’ll remember eventually Kyle,” Liz said. “I mean, you remembered the part about Alex, didn’t you?”

“Bits and pieces. I don’t like to think about it too much. I know I didn’t have any control over it, but I still can’t believe she made me help…she made me take Alex…” he trailed off.

Liz pulled him into a hug.

“I know we didn’t talk about it too much,” Liz said, her chin resting on his shoulder, “but you know that no one blames you, right?”

He nodded, wiping at his eyes.

“But that doesn’t stop me from blaming myself,” he said, in a choked voice. “I feel like I should have remembered, that maybe I could have done something.”

“There was nothing you could do Kyle,” she said. “There was nothing any of us could have done. We let an enemy in. It was a mistake not to trust our instincts, for me not to trust *my* instincts.”

“Kyle, we all have our crosses to bear. I made some decisions that changed everything forever, and I am going to have to live with that too. But we can’t beat ourselves up forever, because it isn’t going to change anything now,” she said. “What happened to you was horrible, but something beautiful came out of it. A beautiful little boy,” she said. “A sweet, beautiful baby.”

“I can’t even get my head around that,” Kyle admitted, pulling away.

“You will when you see him, believe me,” Liz said.

“I’m afraid,” he said in a low voice. “Damn it, I can’t even take care of myself. How the hell am I going to take care of a baby?”

“Kyle, I’m behind you whatever you decide to do. But I think your misjudging yourself. Who’s been bringing in money this year since your Dad joined his band? Who’s been taking care of everything?” she asked.

He looked at his hands.

“Wait to see him, and then make your decision. You’ll know in your heart what you need to do,” she said, and he nodded.
“Guess we can’t sit here forever, can we?” he sighed.

“You have an alien king to save, and I have a son to meet,” he said wryly.

“Kyle, are you going to be ok?” Liz asked, concerned.

“I’m going to have to be, aren’t I?” he asked. “We’re all going to have to be.”

“I guess you’re right,” Liz answered sighing.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Isabel sat on the bed with the baby, silently stroking his hair as he played with a plastic block. She’d moved the baby over to Max’s bed after Serena asked to be excused to talk to Cal. Michael had told both she and Maria about Kyle. When he’d said it, Isabel had sunk to the bed in shock.

“God Michael, how could she?” she asked, in horror, looking at the baby boy playing innocently beside her, unaware of the chaos surrounding him.

“Do you really want to know the answer to that?” Michael asked, looking at Max, who lay completely catatonic.

“How is he going to take this?” Isabel asked. “Kyle I mean?”

Michael shrugged.

“Liz was going to talk to him about it. That’s why she asked me to take you and Maria back here,” he said.

“This is just *really* unfair!” Maria said angrily. “What the hell is Kyle going to do with a baby!”

“He’ll have to make that decision,” Michael said.

Isabel looked down again at the boy, who smiled at her.

She smiled slightly as he let out a little yell as he brought the block down on the mattress with a tiny hand. A flutter of nervousness passed through her body. Soon enough she would have a child of her own. She had no idea what to expect. She didn’t know how long it would be before it came. She knew nothing, and it scared her to death.

But she knew it was possible, looking at the child on the bed. It was possible, something she’d always wondered about, dreamed about.

She glanced over at Max, and her smile faded.

Her brother was so close and yet so far. They couldn’t reach him, and he wouldn’t respond. He was back from the dead, yet it was as if he was still gone.

At that moment, Kyle walked in with Liz, Cal and Serena trailing behind them.

As Kyle caught sight of the baby, he paused, a slight look of uncertainty on his face. All eyes in the room were on him as she sized up the child from a distance cautiously.

Slowly, he stepped toward the bed.

He knelt in front of the baby, studying him. The baby smiled at him, and he couldn’t help but smile himself.

“Gaaa…baah, baah!!!” the child said in baby-speak, and held it’s hands out to Kyle.

Kyle slowly put his hands out and picked the child up stiffly, holding him at arm’s length at eye level.

The room was completely silent as Kyle regarded the child warily.

The child let out a giggle suddenly.

The left side of Kyle’s mouth curled up.

“He does kind look like me, doesn’t he?” he said, looking at Liz.

“Kyle,” Liz said, walking up to him trying to hide a smile.

“He’s not going to bite you,” she said, unlocking his arms, allowing her to gently nudge the child closer to him.

“See, you can hold him like this,” she said, showing him how to hold the child.

He stared intently down at the child as the baby reached up and touched his face.

“Daaa…” the baby said softly.

“I can’t do this…” Kyle said suddenly, looking frantically for a place to put the baby down.

“Here,” Isabel said, taking the child from him.

“We can take the child,” Serena said quietly. “Cal and I have friends who will raise it. They’ll know what to expect.”

“I’ve got to get out of here for a minute,” he said, running his hand through his hair. He walked swiftly to the door and left, without looking back.

“Give him some time,” Liz said to Serena. “He needs to think about this.”

Serena nodded.

“He shouldn’t need time. This is *his* child, whether he likes it or not,” Isabel said, looking down at the little boy in her arms, thinking of her own child.

“Isabel, you don’t have a say in this,” Serena said. “Its Kyle’s decision, let him make it.”

“I just don’t understand how he could just walk away,” she said. “This is a baby, and the child didn’t ask for this…”

“Neither did Kyle,” Serena reminded her.

Serena and Isabel’s voices faded as Liz’s gaze focused on Max, his body just as still as it was earlier.

So still, so unlike the Max who’d been the center of her life before Tess had come to town.

She wondered if that Max still existed in there somewhere. Oh, she had no doubt that he was alive, locked in his body, but was it the Max she’d fallen in love with, at least in part?

Because the person who inhabited that body before it had been destroyed at Meta-Chem was someone she didn’t really know, because they’d closed themselves off from each other the spring before.

She made her way around the bed unnoticed, as all eyes were on Isabel and Serena.

She sat down gently next to Max and leaned close to his ear.

“I think it’s time we tried this, don’t you?” she whispered.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

“I think it’s time we tried this, don’t you…”

That voice again.

Who was it?

Somehow he knew it. But he couldn’t remember. Couldn’t remember.

The touch of gentle fingers brought blinding pain yet again, and he braced himself against it.

No, no…leave me be. Don’t touch me. It hurts…

Soothing voice and hands that brought pain.

There was something he wanted to trust in its inflection, but he couldn’t. It hurt too much. He felt as if he were being ripped apart.

In his mind, he heard himself cry out in anguish, but he knew no one else heard him.

How could they?

He was trapped in this oblivion, this prison of a body, without sight, without touch, without movement, just his own thoughts and the agonizing torture of forgetfulness, because he’d begun to question who he was, what he was. And he couldn’t remember.

He couldn’t remember…


*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

“I need a minute alone,” Liz said quietly. “I need a minute alone with him.”

She turned to the others, daring any of them to challenge her, but she was met with no resistance.

They left without protest, Cal telling her they’d be back in five minutes, as it was too dangerous for her to try alone.

She’d nodded, and now she sat alone with the one person who’d meant everything to her.

“Max, I don’t know if this is going to work,” she said. “I don’t know if either one of us is going to survive this, but I have to try. I know you would,” she said, her fingers running across his cheek.

“In spite of it all, I do love you. I want you to know that. I love you, even after everything. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry I left for Vermont. I’m sorry for everything. Maybe if I’d stayed this wouldn’t have happened. Maybe I could have changed things. But I was afraid Max. And I was angry. I’m not afraid anymore,” she whispered, tears springing up in her eyes.

“I’m not afraid because I realized that I can’t be without you. I want you back here with me. *I* want you back. And I need to do this, for me,” she said. “For you too, but mostly for me. Because this has to end. Even if we can’t work things out. Even if it all turns out to be too much for the two of us to bear. I need to make things right for me. Because you weren’t supposed to die now. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. It’s my fault, even though you told me to do it. I should have trusted my own heart, because it screamed at me that we were meant to be together, even when you were telling me that it would mean the end of the world. I should have told you. We could have beat it together. Maybe Alex would be alive now, I don’t know. All I know is that I have to try to make this right,” she said softly.

Five minutes had flown by, and Cal was back with the others.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

She nodded, seeing Isabel and Michael looking at her apprehensively.

“Kyle?” she asked.

“He took the car,” Michael said. “I don’t know where he went.”

Maria put a comforting hand on Michael’s arm, and Isabel set the baby back down on the other bed, stepping back to allow Serena to watch the child.

“I can help,” Isabel said, “like last time, with New York.”

“No,” Liz said with conviction. “I have to do this myself.”

Whatever happened from here on out was between she and Max, and no one else.

posted on 22-Mar-2002 12:21:18 AM by majesty
PART NINETEEN

Liz took a few deep breaths. The others stood at the periphery of the room, hoping for the best, half-expecting the worst.

She was going to connect to Max for the first time in over a year. She didn’t know what to expect, and it scared her. He’d changed so much since that night he’d kissed her in Whitaker’s office. They’d both changed.

With shaky hands, she reached out and gently placed her fingers on his temples, closing her eyes.

After a moment, she felt her hands grow warm, and without looking, she knew that they were glowing.

*static*

*flash*

She was inside him, and he was eerily empty. She felt warm darkness, but couldn’t really sense anything at first, but drive deeper into his subconscious.

“No no no no no…go away,” she heard a voice whisper.

The voice was like music to her ears.

“Max?” she said softly through their connection.

“It hurts. It hurts! Go away, leave me alone!” he said, in a frightened voice.

There was a block. She couldn’t go any further into his mind.

She was here, but at the same moment she felt her fingers tighten on his temples in the hotel room.

In the same instant, he cried out in pain.

“Stooooppp!” he shouted, an anguished cry in her head.

She was hurting him. By being inside, she was hurting him. She couldn’t do this.


Abruptly, she wrenched her hands from his face and stumbled back from him, away from the bed, sobbing.

“I can’t! I can’t do this! I’m hurting him!” she said, covering her face with her hands.

“He’s hurting because he’s lost his balance. You both have. You have to keep going Liz,” Serena said. “It’s the only way.”

“I *can’t*!” Liz said. “Don’t you see? I can’t! He doesn’t understand! He doesn’t know me. I felt it. He doesn’t know why we’re doing this! He just feels pain and he doesn’t understand…”

Isabel was looking from her to Max with tears in her eyes. She covered her mouth with a shaking hand.

“Girlie, if you don’t fix this now, this is the way he’s going to be stuck forever. Don’t you get it? And don’t think that Khivar isn’t going to come after you. He *will* figure out why the seal couldn’t be transferred, namely because it wasn’t there. He’ll come after you, and you don’t have the alien know-how that Max does to fight him. He’ll kill all of you without blinking an eye. This is your only chance,” Cal said.

Liz felt on the verge of hyperventilation. She didn’t know what to do. It ripped at her heart that she was hurting Max. But Cal was right, she had to go on. A few weeks ago, she might have even been ok with hurting Max, as much as he’d hurt her. But not now.

Sliding closer again to Max, she slowly stretched her hands out and touched his temples again. She felt nothing. There was no outward sign that he was in any pain. He lay completely still.

She again closed her eyes.

*static*

*flash*

She was spiraling into the darkness again, plummeting even quicker than before, as if once she’d broken through once, the going was much easier.

She heard gasping in the darkness.

“Show yourself Max,” she said gently, and she heard a small gasp of pain.

“Leave me alone,” his voice said miserably. “Please just leave me alone.”

“Max…” she said.

“I’m not Max! I don’t know who I am!” he said. “All I remember is this pain, someone in my head making pain. Please, just let me be…”

“I can’t do that Max. I love you,” she said.

“I don’t know you,” he said.

“But I know *you*. You’re not whole Max. I need you to help me. I need you to let me in. I need you to trust me,” she said.

“You’re hurting me,” he said, as Liz felt another pain rocket around his head through their connection.

“Max, I have to give you something, but in order for me to do that, you’re going to have to let me in further. You’re going to have to trust me,” she said.

“How?” he asked miserably, as pain invaded his body with her touch.

“Just let me in. If I can give you back what you need, this will all go away,” she said. “But you have to let me connect with you fully.”

Somehow he trusted that voice. He didn’t know why, because he didn’t remember it, but some part of him trusted it.

“What do I have to do?” he asked, between gasps of pain.

“Just let go,” she said.

It was silent for a moment, and she thought she’d lost, but with an anguished cry, Liz felt the block loosen around her, and she moved forward.

*flash*

“Call an ambulance!” he says, looking down at her.

He tears her dress open, and can see the growing blood stain.

“It's gonna be ok,” he says to her, trying to comfort her. He puts his hand over her stomach, knowing he’s taking a great risk, but also knowing that he couldn’t have stopped himself any more than he could have stopped breathing. It was Liz…

“Liz, LIZ!” he says frantically to her.

“You have to look at me. You have to look at me,” and he panics, because maybe this won’t work. He’s never done this to a person before. Her wound looked really bad, and she might not heal. She might die. He couldn’t think about that. He loved her. He’d barely ever spoken to her, but he loved her.

He sees her head start to move slowly back and forth, her eyes trying to focus, and they meet his groggily, and then he’s inside her, seeing her memories, her childhood, seeing Liz as she really was, on the inside. And she was even more beautiful than he’d imagined.

And the connection is broken, and she’s looking at him confused.

“You're all right now. You're all right…”

If he hadn’t been in love with her before, he was completely hopeless now.

He hadn’t known it, but Liz knew. That day he’d given her a piece of himself, opened a connection between them that would change their lives forever. Because he’d loved her for almost as long as he could remember. Because in that moment, it nothing else mattered but making sure she lived. He’d given her a piece of his soul, human mixed with alien, and had changed her. In that moment, her life, her body was changed, and things would never be the same. A balance was struck in him as his soul connected with hers, making him feel complete, something that he’d never experienced before.

*%*%*%*%*%*

“You're not an, an alien, I mean. Are you?”

“Well I prefer the term not of this earth. Sorry, it's not a good time to joke,” he said lamely.

He paused for a moment, not knowing what else to say. But then he realized there was only one thing that he *could* say.

“Yeah…I am,” he said, his voice hitching.

“Wow, it's weird to actually say it,” he said, with a nervous smile.

She started to leave.

“Liz,” he said, wanting to stop her, to explain, to take the complete look of shock off of her face.

“Um, Max, you know, I have, I'm gonna be late for my US Government class, so I'm just gonna-” she started.

He grabbed her arm and stopped her at the door.

“Liz, listen to me. You can't talk to anyone about this. Not your parents, not Maria. No one. You don't understand what'll happen if you do. Liz please? Now my life is in your hands,” he said meaningfully, and in the split second he’d caught her eyes, he knew he didn’t have to worry. She wouldn’t tell anyone. She would stay far away from him, but she wouldn’t tell anyone.

And that should have been good enough, only it wasn’t. He couldn’t bear her thinking of him as a freak.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*

They’d been angry with him, Isabel and Michael, because he’d risked everything to save her. He supposed he didn’t blame them in a way, because he’d acted rashly. But it was Liz, and he wouldn’t apologize.

But he needed to explain to her, needed her to know that in so many ways, he was just like her. So he went to her.

“I can't imagine how you must feel right now, I mean, I've thought about telling you a thousand times, he’d said.

“You have? Me…” she said in disbelief.

That night he’d shown her his true self through a connection, and from that moment on, things had never been the same between them again.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

“Max, who else knows this?” she’d asked him in the art room.

“No one,” he said shrugging.

“What about your parents?” she asked.

“We don't tell anyone. We sorta think our lives depend on it,” he said.

“So when you healed me you risked all of this getting out didn't you?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Why??” she’d asked in amazement.

“It was you,” he said looking at her.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

“Liz, it's not safe. I mean, for you and , and me to....it's not safe,” he finished. How he’d wished it could be. If he could have just one chance, but it could never be, because of what he was.

“I don't care,” she said looking into his eyes, and his heart leapt, and he couldn’t help a small smile breaking over his face at the thought that she had feelings for him. It was more than he ever could have hoped for.

“Liz I really, really wish that this could be something, you know, more. But it can't. We're just...” he trailed off.

“Different,” she sighed.

“Yeah,” he finished. There were so many things he would like to say to her, but none of them would have helped the situation any.

“I'll see you at school,” he said, turning to leave.

“Max??” she said suddenly, and he turned back toward her.

“I never got to thank you…for saving my life,” she said.

He felt his chest tighten. He knew that she wasn’t afraid of him. She knew that if things weren’t so dangerous, that maybe they could have had a chance. And in that moment that was enough, because she’d shown him that they didn’t need to be afraid of all humans. He’d put himself in danger to save her, and she’d done the same.

“Thank *you*,” he’d said meaningfully.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Liz could sense every feeling he’d ever had in that first year. His feelings had matched her own, and though he’d tried to convince himself and her more than once that they couldn’t be together, he knew that she there wouldn’t be anyone else for him, ever.

He felt her pain as his own when her grandmother had died. He would have done anything to take it away.

Their first kiss. He hadn’t dared to dream that she’d ever accept him, that she could love someone like him. But amazingly enough, she did. He’d tried to resist the feelings he’d had at first, but she’d made him see that it was pointless. She wanted it as much as he did.

Even with everything going on, Michael being angry because he’d withheld the drawings, nothing could take away from the pure completeness he’d felt with her on their first date.

He treasured every kiss, every touch between them, because he knew how precious they were. He was well aware of how unbelievably lucky he was that someone like her could care for him, and he wasn’t going to take a moment of it for granted.

But things were not always easy. He realized how just being what he was could hurt her, and he took a step back.

For the first time, Liz fully realized what it felt like to be Max. To have to lie to your parents, when everything inside you screamed to tell them, that they’d understand.

He couldn’t resist her for long. That day in the Crashdown he’d come to talk to her about being friends, but the moment he saw her, he knew it would never work. He wanted so much more. He wanted to touch her, he wanted her to touch him. Yes, it was lust, but it was so much more. It was their souls calling out to each other. That night in Michael’s apartment, things had almost changed irrevocably. His body had felt on fire as she’d touched him, and he told himself to remember every second of her touch, every sensation of touching her. Because it was magic.

And then Tess came to town and everything changed.

Liz felt her heart drop as she watched him kiss her outside the Crashdown in the rain, feeling this strange attraction, not knowing why.

She watched in horror as he sat in lab, a fantasy of taking Tess on the lab table in front of the whole class. In that moment, she wanted to pull away from him, to end the connection, but she knew she had to follow through with it.

When she’d been taken by Nasedo, he was filled with a paralyzing terror. She was in danger because of him. Because something was after him.
He allowed himself to be captured, so that she could get away.

Liz felt as if she couldn’t breathe as she witnessed the full intensity of Max’s terror, locked alone in the white room. They’d tortured him with needles and electricity, and drugs. They’d dumped him in ice water to wake him up. They’d threatened to kill the ones he loved. They’d cut him.

She felt the pure fear he felt as he looked at Pierce’s evil countenance.

She’d taken a chance and involved the Sheriff, instinctively knowing he’d help, even though the others were against it.

And they rescued him.

That night in the abandoned van, he’d realized that she blamed herself for everything. But how could he tell her that she was the one person who’d made his life complete for the past year? She had to know that she was the only one for him. It would always be only her.

For a split second after he’d told her he loved her, he thought she might run away.

But even though they were in the worst possible situation they could be in, he wouldn’t have changed it for a minute, because she’d said she loved him too.

But she still walked away.

That day in the pod chamber, their destiny was revealed, and he realized that Tess was really one of them, his bride in a former life. But she meant nothing to his heart now, because it belonged to Liz, and it had for most of his human life, though she never knew it.

Liz felt his heart break as she kissed him goodbye, telling him she couldn’t stand in the way of his destiny. He wanted to go after her, but Michael had held him back.

And she was gone. Gone for the summer, and he cursed himself for not going after her on the rocks, because she must have thought he was letting her go. And that was the last thing he wanted to do.

That summer was a dismal blur. Quick flashes of Max, holed up in his room, and occasional meetings with the others flickered across Liz’s consciousness, but they were hazy, intangible.

And then he saw her in front of Whitaker’s office, and she felt the thudding of his heart, the quickening of his breath as he saw how beautiful he thought she’d looked. He thought she’d grown more beautiful over the summer, if that was possible.

He made it his mission to get her back.

That is, until he saw her in bed with Kyle, and then everything changed.

He knew she was lying, he could feel it in his bones, yet how could he deny what his eyes saw?

As he sat miserable in the park alone, Tess was suddenly there. And she didn’t say much, but she was there for him. When she put her hand on his shoulder, he started to think that maybe she wasn’t as heinous as they all had thought.

He tried to get it out of her, the truth about why she was in bed with Kyle. But she had stonewalled him, which hurt him even more.

Liz felt her heart literally break as she experienced the heartbreak he went through in the months afterward.

He’d told her that they couldn’t be friends when he left for New York with Lonnie, Rath and Tess. For a short time, he believed that. New York was a blur of dark images, of his vision of the seal, of the summit, or Lonnie and Rath. But then she saved his life, and he realized that he needed her, in any way she chose to be there.

After this, things got muddy.

Las Vegas, his vision of their wedding that never happened.

He and Tess, working on his memories. He remembered Tess. Remembered what she was like on Antar.

The prom, when Liz herself told him that they had to let go. His heartache, and then strange numbness. He told Tess he remembered her, remembered kissing at a party. And then he kissed Tess.

Suddenly Alex died. He couldn’t save him. He tried but he couldn’t. He grasped onto Valenti’s theory of suicide. Grasped onto it with a vengeance.

He wondered how Liz could put them in such danger, carelessly investigating. She wouldn’t stop. She just wouldn’t stop. And it all came to a boiling point when Isabel said she wanted to leave. She couldn’t leave. They had to stay together. He ordered her to stay, and she told him he was ruining her life. Michael didn’t agree with him either. And then Liz was leaving for Sweden. He had to stop her. She wouldn’t back down, and he threatened her with their friendship, and she left anyway.

He was alone. All alone. Except for Tess. She came to him when he had no one, when he was at his lowest.

“I thought I'd find you here,” she said.

He turned to her.

“My whole life I've wanted to be this person, this normal person. Human. My whole life I've been thinking that this alien side of me was this bad thing. This thing that made me a freak. This monster. I realize that I haven't just been hiding from the government and the law all this time. I've been hiding from myself. I don't know what's going on anymore. I thought I knew but I don't. I've lost everyone,” he said.

“I'll be here for eternity,” she said.

They kissed.

“I'm ready to wake up now,” he said.

Flashes of Max and Tess together ran through Liz’s mind, much like they did when Tess connected with her.

Flashes of bare skin, tender kisses, reverent touches. She felt as if her body was going to explode.

She let an anguished cry rain out through their connection, just as she heard his howl of pain as her power surged through her body…


posted on 22-Mar-2002 12:22:27 AM by majesty
PART TWENTY

The others watched in horror as Liz screamed out, her head thrown back as her hands glowed with blinding brightness.

Max’s body wrenched off the bed and he put forth an agonized wail as the power surged through his body.

Isabel’s eyes widened and filled with tears. The door to the hotel room opened, and Kyle walked in.

“Stop it,” Isabel whispered, and Kyle looked over at Isabel.

“STOP IT!” she yelled and ran toward Liz, intent to knock Liz away from her brother with her power.

But Liz turned to her with a look of inhuman apathy, and took one hand off Max’s head, the green power surge flying from her hands, knocking Isabel back against the wall.

“This has to be finished,” Liz said in a monotonous voice before turning slowly back to Max.

Kyle put his arms around Isabel, holding her still, trusting that Liz knew what she was doing.

“Someone stop her,” Isabel cried out. “She’s going to kill him!”

But no one moved. This had to play out, one way or another.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

She’d broken another barrier. She’d reached his conscious mind.

“Liz?” a tentative voice said. “Liz, is that you?”

“Max,” she said in a tearful voice. “Yes, it’s me.”

He stepped out of the darkness, and she could see his weary face.

“Why did you do it? Why did you connect with me? I never wanted you to see that. I…that’s why I never, why I couldn’t open up to you. I’m so sorry. You should have just let me die,” he said sadly.

Liz felt the power still surging in her body.

“Max, can you feel it? The seal? Is it with you now?” she asked.

“No,” he said. “There’s something, some sort of power running through my body, but something’s wrong.”

She nodded, tears in her eyes, and she could see his heart breaking at her having had to see what she did.

“God Liz, I’m so sorry I hurt you. I wish I could take it all back. I wish it had never happened. Sometimes it all feels so unreal, like it didn’t. But I know it did,” he said, his eyes haunted.

She couldn’t talk about it now. Not now.

“The seal Max,” she said. “It’s not working.”

He shook his head.

“No,” he said quietly.

“You can’t move from here,” she said.

He shook his head.

“I’m trapped in this body,” he said.

“What am I supposed to do?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he said raggedly.

“So I failed then,” she said bitterly.

He stepped closer, and she stiffened.

“You never failed me Liz, not once. I failed *you*. How could I have been so stupid?” he asked putting his hand to her cheek.

“How could I have, even for one second forgotten what you are to me? I paid and paid for that Liz. Every day. It was the first thought on my mind when I woke up, and the last one before I went to bed at night, about how I failed you, failed my son, my family, everyone,” he faltered.

“Perhaps it’s best this way,” he said sadly.

“What are you saying Max?” Liz asked.

“I’m saying that I want you to let me go. I want you all to go on with your lives, because you deserve it,” he said.

“I can’t give up Max,” she said.

“Liz, you’re getting weak trying this. There won’t be a second chance. Somehow I know that. It isn’t working, and I won’t have you kill yourself for me. I have enough to pay for as it is,” he said, looking into her eyes.

“Why won’t it work Max?” she asked, frustrated.

“Because maybe things are too far gone for us. Maybe it’s just too late and too much has happened,” he said sadly.

Max was right. She was getting weaker.

“Max, please we have to try once more,” she said.

He shook his head slowly, looking deep into her eyes.

“Goodbye Liz,” he whispered, leaning toward her. “I love you…”

NOOOO!!!

Her mind cried, and she used every last ounce of strength she had to will the seal from her soul to Max’s.

And suddenly the last barrier was there, his subconscious mind, the reason the seal was still with her. There was an undeniable resistance, one that she never should have had the strength to break, an almost impenetrable barrier. But somehow she used every last vestige of strength she had as her lips crashed against his. His cry was muffled against her lips. He fell to his knees weakly, but she grabbed hold of him, never letting her lips leave his. And in a split second, she saw everything.



It was all Tess. It had always been Tess, from the moment she’d stepped foot into Roswell. Almost everything his conscious mind thought to be true, was not. And it was terrible to behold.

That night in the park. Tess was in his head. Hushed whispers of Liz’s betrayal at his most vulnerable point, that what he did not want to believe he saw was actually true. Liz never really loved him. And he didn’t want to believe it. Tess could read his thoughts, answer him as if it were his own sub-conscious.

That night in Copper Summit, when Liz had told him that it was true, that she’d slept with Kyle and that she and Max were over.

************************
Tess had come over that night they came back.

“Do you want to study Max?” she asked.

“Sure,” he said dully, showing her to his room.

She’d sat down on the bed, motioning to him to sit beside her. He sat listlessly next to her.

“So how are you holding up Max?” she asked, and he looked up at her. Her eyes drew him, drew his gaze.

He felt his brain go numb again.

“Wake up Max…she doesn’t want you. You’re a freak, a monstrosity. You put her life in danger…”

“Treat her like you treated me. She’s the one who deserves it. She betrayed you.”


“No,” he said. “I know she’s lying, I just don’t know why.”

“She’s not lying Max. She wanted to be rid of you and your problems. *I* would never want to be rid of you, but you won’t have me, at least not yet. Sooner or later, I am going to break your defenses Max, and you’ll be mine,” she said.

“No,” he said in a flat voice.

“Do as I say Max,” she said, as a faint blue light emanated from her eyes. “Once you’re separated from her, my life can begin. Once I hand you over, I’ll be Queen,” she said, with a smirk of satisfaction.

“You can’t hold out forever Max. I’ll wear you down, and it won’t be pretty. Give her up,” she said.


“No,” he grated, struggling even harder.

“Have it your way,” she said with a sigh. “I’ll make you do it.”

He wanted to resist her, but he couldn’t. Her alien powers were too developed, too strong.

Later he awoke, not remembering anything.

“I’m sorry, I must have dozed off,” he said weakly.

“No wonder, with what Liz has put you through,” she said sympathetically, putting her hand on his arm. He didn’t remember any of it.

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

From there, things went from bad to worse. He couldn’t stand to look at Liz anymore, and when the dupes came into town and he found out about Isabel’s secret, Vilondra, he was more than happy to say goodbye to Liz and Roswell.

New York City. A strange and wonderful city for most, but a dark time for him. He was completely under Tess’s control.

“You’re to be the scapegoat Max, the patsy,” she whispered to him. “You’ll do it, you’ll agree to their terms,” she said to him as she stared into his eyes.

At the summit, it took every ounce of strength he had to fight her will, to say he wouldn’t agree to the terms. But then she had complete control of his will again.

And Lonnie and Rath had had enough of him. Were ready to kill him, until Liz appeared in the street before him, causing him to step out from under the scaffolding.

He’d turned and she was gone, and Tess was gone as well. He remembered the panic in thinking something happened to her.

He’d ran to the dupes’ lair to find Tess, standing over the bodies of Rath and Lonnie.

“What…what happened?” he said frantically, as she looked up at him with narrowed eyes. “Nothing to worry your handsome little head about,” she said to him.

“Now,” she said, gazing into his eyes with the now familiar blue haze, “How about a little help here? This is a man’s work.”

She’d talked to him, muttering about their uselessness in doing anything right, as he’d buried the bodies deep in the tunnels, behind a wall, where no one would ever find them.

“Soon enough Max, I am going to break down all your resistance. You can’t fight me forever. You’re not strong enough. You’re not trained in your abilities as I am. Keep on fighting me if you must, but you’re getting weaker, and it’s easier for me to build up the memory block. You’ll never remember any of this, but in the end you *will* break Liz’s heart, I guarantee it,” she said.

“No!” he said through clenched teeth. His mind fought her every step of the way. “She loves me, and I love her!”

She laughed sadistically and his vision blurred out.

The next thing he remembered was her sitting alone in the room, almost catatonic, asking him to take her home, to Roswell.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

Moments of lucidity were all he lived for, and they were becoming fewer and farther between as time went on. He felt mechanical, unless he was in Liz’s presence. The very sight of her gave him the will to fight the internal battle in his subconscious, the one his waking mind never knew he waged.

He’d seen her after he came back to Roswell, asking if they could be friends. He’d seen the hopeful look in her eyes as he asked if they could start again. And his heart soared for a split second, until Tess’s mind work took over, beckoning him to ask.

And he did. Did she sleep with Kyle?

She nodded slowly, and his heart sunk yet again.

But Liz had helped him at Christmas, helped him to know to heal people, and also when to stop.

Soon his only real lucid moments around her. Otherwise his life was a mire.

Las Vegas. He didn’t want to go. Michael had convinced him to. It had turned into a nightmare until the very end. Until he’d had that vision of he and Liz as man and wife.

For a moment, he’d felt as if it had been real, as if it had happened, and when he walked back into the hotel, into that club and had seen her sitting at the table alone, so beautiful, he’d thought anything was possible.

************
“She doesn’t want you. She wants a normal life. You can never give her a normal life…”
*****************

He’d spent more time with Tess trying to remember a past he once wanted to forget. Those two weeks before prom were a blur, a haze of mixed images, of a home he’d never seen, of a life that had seemed so alien to him.

He’d let Liz walk away at the prom. He’d let Tess get her hooks into him. He was weak.

And then Alex. Alex was gone, and their world as they knew it was changed forever.

**********************
“She’ll never love you…never…” a voice whispered in his head.
**********************

He found he had control over his thoughts less and less during the days after Alex’s death. The emotional trauma he had inflicted on himself had severely weakened his will, and Tess had invaded his mind even further.

He found himself in the hallway at West Roswell, gripping Liz’s arm, hurting her, and he hadn’t realized he was doing it.

He was confused, so confused.

He’d found his temper slipping with everyone, Michael, Isabel…Liz.

Alex’s death was an accident. He had to believe that. When Valenti told him that all facts pointed to suicide, it seemed plausible, didn’t it?

***************
“You know it’s true, look at the facts, bad grades, listlessness…he killed himself…”

“No, his subconscious told him weakly, “Alex would never do that.”

But she was so persuasive. Her voice brought that numbness, that lack of feeling anything. He was almost used to it. He held on to his thoughts of Liz like a life-line.

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

Isabel wanted out. She wanted to leave to go to school in California.

***************
“Let her go,” his subconscious told him. “Let her try to have a normal life…”

“NO!” Tess’s voice raged. “She needs to be here! She needs to come with us.”

“Please, just let her go,” he pleaded.

“Do it Max! Tell her she can’t leave…”

“No…” he whispered, but she was too strong.

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


He’d heard that Liz was leaving for Sweden.

He’d gotten into the jeep in a rage he didn’t know he could possess, and he didn’t know why he was so angry.

They’d fought. He’d tried to stop her. She wouldn’t let him. He threatened their friendship.

***************
“No no no no no no noooooooo…”
***************

It was over. He’d lost her. She was gone. She’d walked away. Isabel was staying, but she wouldn’t speak to him. Michael was angry with him. He was alone, broken.

Without even knowing why, he’d headed out to the observatory. His whole body was numb. He was almost dead inside.

He’d thought he’d come here to be close to something, anything. Even if it was a world he’d never see. He had a last clear thought. He realized that though he was still angry with Liz, he still loved her. He hadn’t been himself lately, though he didn’t know why. What was wrong with him? How could he have grabbed her so roughly? How could he have told her that their friendship was over, when all he wanted was to have her in his arms again?

Maybe he shouldn’t be fighting his alien side. Maybe what he was could protect her, not harm her. Deep in his heart, he knew Alex’s death had something to do with what they were, and if it could happen to Alex, it could happen to Liz. And that scared him to death.

It was time to accept who he was, what he was, or else he’d have to let her go forever, if he hadn’t lost her already. For the first time in a long time, his thoughts were clear, unmuddled.

Suddenly, she was there, with a look of triumph on her face.

“I thought I'd find you here,” she said.

He turned to her, and caught her eyes that one final time.

Random thoughts flew through the deepest recesses of his mind, where his final battle was waged against her.

He looked at her, broken. He tried to make her understand what she was doing to him, that she would destroy him. Did she have any compassion?

“My whole life I've wanted to be this person, this normal person. Human. My whole life I've been thinking that this alien side of me was this bad thing. This thing that made me a freak. This monster. I realize that I haven't just been hiding from the government and the law all this time. I've been hiding from myself. I don't know what's going on anymore. I thought I knew but I don't. I've lost everyone,” he said.

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

“Yes, you have, finally,” she said smugly in his head.

“Finally, you’re mine…”


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

“I'll be here for eternity,” she said.

He put up a final struggle, even as his thoughts became more confused by the moment. How would he explain to Liz that he had to fully embrace his alien side if he was to ever have a chance at a life with her? He had to find Liz somehow. He had to win her back. He didn’t even know if it was possible, but he had to try, even if it meant facing that what he was had been instrumental in killing her best friend. It was time to wake up. He had to wake up from this coma he was in.

He felt the pull of her mind, controlling his movements, feeling his body move closer to her, even as his mind struggled against it.

He felt his lips touch hers, and the little part of him that still had fight recoiled against it. It was as if he were disconnected from his own movements, yet still could feel everything.

“I'm ready to wake up now,” he said.

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

“Please, someone help me wake up…” his mind cried pitifully.

“Liz…”

And it was there that a deep coldness penetrated everything, rendering him powerless, finally, though still conscious of everything happening. He’d lost.

“You never had a chance Max,” she said, as he raised his arms. She seductively pulled his shirt over his head, while inside his head, he let out an anguished cry.

“You lost before you ever knew what was happening,” she said.

“I played both of you all along. I hadn’t imagined you to be so strong, to be so connected with her. I couldn’t allow that, not with the promise I made to Khivar. It’s time you knew the truth…”


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

His body responded to hers, under her control.

Inside his head, he wanted to die, as he felt her lips touch his skin as she undressed him. In horror, unable to control any of it, he helped her undress and she was suddenly above him.

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

“Liz…no please, Liz,” he sobbed.

“Shut up!” she said ferociously in his mind, as her body joined with his.

“Do you want to know the truth Max? I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” she said laughing.

“Do you want to know what *really* happened?”


*flash*

*static*

He saw Liz, standing in front of a mirror, with lace over her head. Outside on the balcony, out of her view, Tess is scowling at the image.

She closes her eyes, concentrating…this would be the greatest test of her abilities yet, to mind-warp Liz, and control his mind below in the alley at the same time.

“I, Liz Parker, take Max Evans to be... ”

A bright flash of light is blinding in the mirror, and she turns to see a large pair of boots, and then his face…an older face, but his face in the window looking at her, framed with long hair.

“Max?”

“No, no, I don't...I don't know who you are, but you...you're not Max,” she’d said. How right she was.

“Liz, I know this is all hard to believe...” Tess’s version of him said.

“Wh-what? You expect me to believe that the...the granolith is like some sort of time machine?” she asked.

“It wasn't intended to be, but it does have an enormous amount of power, and we were able to modify it to artificially create a tear in time space,” he’d said.

“No! No! There is no such thing as time travel, ok...because it is against every rule of physics, of reality, of everything,” she protested.

“Look, I realize this is overwhelming,” he said.

“No, you're not Max, ok? You...you're like a shapeshifter. You are like some other kind of alien, with, like, the ability to look like Max with that beard and those...and those grey hairs,” she said.

“Do you really see grey?” he asked, touching his hair.

“This isn't funny, ok?” she said, irritated.

“Hold on,” he said.

“No! Let go of me!” she said, trying to wrestle out of his grasp.

“Liz...Liz, it's me,” he said.

Don’t believe him Liz,” his mind cried, but it was too late.

“Please, just let go of me,” she said.

“If I were a shapeshifter, there's no way I could tell the future. In approximately 10 seconds, I will show up outside your window and begin singing to you...accompanied by a mariachi band,” he said.

“A mariachi band,” Liz said in disbelief. “Max wouldn't do anything that cheesy.”

She was right. He wouldn’t have. At least she knew that.

“3...2...1…” he counted down.

It was almost a glitch in her plan, Tess thought. Almost…

“Well?” she said.

“I said approximately,” he answered.

Suddenly there is a faint music that started to get louder.

“I spent a week learning the lyrics from Mr. Delgado at the hardware store,” he said.

The real him started to sing in Spanish in the alley.

“Wow, that's really embarrassing,” she said with a half laugh.

“I know...but I had to do something to get your attention. You had shut me out,” he said.

From the alley he throws up a bouquet of red roses to her.

“As I threw the flowers up to you, I remembered you preferred white roses,” he said.

The roses changed from red to white as they are in the air. Liz caught them.

A nice touch, Tess thought to herself.

“Why are you here?” she asked, looking down at him in the alley.

“I can't tell you too much, Liz...only what you need to know...but 14 years from now, we are taken over by our enemies,” he said.

“Uh, who's taken over?” she asked.

“Everyone. Earth. I need you to help me keep that from happening. We need to change the future. What we do here has to be precise and surgical. No one can know I'm here, especially not me...that is, my younger self,” he said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“If you need Max to do something different, why don't you just go to Max directly?” she asked.

“It's complicated...but if a person encounters himself in another time period, there could be a...a reaction,” he said.

“A reaction...” she prompted.

“I don't entirely understand it myself, but Serena said...she's gonna be a friend of yours one day. It has something to do with quantum mechanics, but in essence, Max and I would both be destroyed if we actually came into contact,” he said.

Serena…

“Oh,” she said.

“Liz, what's about to happen over the next few days is critical to the history of this planet. Things between us are about to change...grow deeper. We become inseparable, and nothing comes between us ever again, until...”

“The...the end of the world?” she said in a low voice.

“That's right,” he answered.

“What happened?” she asked.

“The closer that you and I grew, the worse it got with Tess, and eventually she left Roswell,” he said.

“Because of me?” she asked.

“Because of me, and how I treated her. And it turned out Tess was critical to our survival. The four of us - Michael, Isabel, Tess, and I...we made a complete unit. We all had different gifts, and with one of us missing, we weren't as strong, and everything fell apart,” he said.

“So, um...you want me to help you and Tess get together?” she asked.

“Yes,” he answered.

“Why don't you just go to Tess?” she asked.

“It's you I trust. It's you I have faith in, and because it's not just about getting me close to Tess. I need you to help me fall out of love with you,” he said.

And she did. She helped Tess’s creation to push him away, to make it seem as if she’d betrayed him, and broke her own heart in the process.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

“Don’t worry Max, you won’t remember any of this in the morning, as much as I’d love it to haunt you for the rest of your days,” she spat in his head.

“I’m going to lock it away in your head for later, so that when we get back to Antar, you can relive it all over again, until they kill you,” she said angrily.


“No, Liz…” he cried out.

“Why?” his mind screamed as she moved up and down on his body.

“Why do you hate me *so* much?” his mind cried out.

“Because you never loved me!” she said hatefully. “You didn’t love me then, and you don’t love me now! I was like a second-class citizen! You looked at me like I was a piece of garbage! Well I am *not* garbage Zan! I am a Queen! And once you give me your heir, I will resume my rightful place, without you!”

The sensation of her hateful body on him and what she’d done to Liz was too much to bear, and his mind snapped and went blank.

For a split second, she was back in the darkness with Max, her lips still pressed against his, as he tore them away from her with a roar of rage and anguish.

“Noooo!” he said completely broken. “I didn’t know! I didn’t know!”


*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Instantly, she felt the break in the seal as it split in two, and she was back in the hotel room, a horrified sob bursting from her lips as she cupped his face.

Tess had raped him. Had raped him in every way possible. His mind. His body. His love. His memories.

She’d destroyed the both of them with her manipulations.

And though Liz tried to restore Max, she knew she’d failed. The seal was broken, as he lay broken before her, still catatonic, still paralyzed.

She frantically tried to connect to him again, but she was shut out. Completely.

“No!” she cried, stroking his cheeks.

“Max! Let me in! Please…let me in,” she sobbed.

But her plea was met with silence…

TBC...

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 22-Mar-2002 9:01:50 AM ]
posted on 22-Mar-2002 9:05:38 AM by majesty
Just to let you all know, I am going to try, the key word being *try*, to get another part of this out by the end of the weekend....

majesty
posted on 23-Mar-2002 9:39:38 AM by majesty
Ok J,

Let me see if I can clear the timeline up.

It runs pretty much with the way the eppies did.

Alex dies. Max wants to believe it's a suicide, or rather Tess is convincing him of that in his conscious mind.

He takes Liz's unacceptance of that theory out on her by being cruel, finally threatening to end their friendship if she goes to Sweden.

She leaves anyway, or so he thinks.

He goes to the observatory, and Tes finally defeats his will, making him have sex with her against his will. But no baby comes of the union.

She mind-warps Max into thinking that she's pregnant, and that the child cannot survive in the atmosphere. That last night she is on Earth, Kyle comes to say goodbye to her. He sees flashes of Alex's death. Tess senses something in him that I haven't revealed in the story, it will come later. She effectively mind-warps him into forgetting about the fact that he saw Alex die, and effectively mind-warps him into having sex with her at the same time, and this time *does* get pregnant (the reason will be revealed later in the story. Kyle will discover the answer).

Hope that helps :-)

majesty


posted on 24-Mar-2002 4:19:44 PM by majesty
Hi! Here's the next installment, hope you all like it *happy* I borrowed one thing from CDB, because I felt it fit. You'll see what I mean.

majesty


PART TWENTY ONE

“Liz, what happened?” Isabel asked frantically, but for long moments, Liz couldn’t speak, clinging to Max, trying to find some way back to him.

She whispered his name over and over, tears streaming down her face.

“Please…please, don’t leave it like this! I love you Max! I’m so sorry, so sorry. I should have known!” she said softly.

Cal slowly pulled Liz away from Max, but she couldn’t tear her eyes from him as her body shook with uncontrollable sobs.

He sat her down on the other bed next to Serena.

“Liz,” Serena said gently, “tell us what happened.”

“Tess…uh…oh my God, what she did to him…how, how could she do that to him?” she said, searching first Serena’s face and then her own.

“Tell us,” Serena said, rubbing her shoulder, as Maria sat next to her, pulling her head gently to her own shoulder. Kyle, Isabel and Michael stood close.

The baby in Serena’s lap cooed, and Serena absently rubbed his back gently, never taking her eyes from Liz.

Liz felt as if her mind were going to spontaneously combust.

“What did she do to him Liz? Why didn’t it work?” Michael asked in an angry voice.

“I can’t…I don’t know how to explain it,” Liz hiccuped. “It was so horrible, so cruel.”

She slammed her hand against the bed.

“I wish she was alive! I wish I hadn’t killed her so soon! Dammit, I want her to pay for what she did to him, to us! She destroyed the both of us!”

“Tell us Liz,” Serena said.

Liz put her hands over her face, and when she spoke, her voice was muffled beneath her palm.

“She was manipulating him from the beginning,” she said, taking her hands from her face.

“From the minute she came to town, she had her plan set. To make Max fulfill his *destiny*, so that she could bring him back to Antar, where he’d be killed,” she said.

“She thought the message in the pod chamber, and my walking away would be enough to turn him from me, but she was wrong, and he wasn’t letting me go,” she said.

She looked at Michael.

“Remember when I told you I’d done something, something to save you all?” she asked quietly.

He nodded.

“That fall after I came back from Florida, when Max was trying to convince me that his destiny didn’t matter, that he loved me…I wanted him back. I believed what he said, though I wouldn’t admit it to him. I was close to giving in. So close…” she paused.

“She knew it,” she said. “She knew that we wouldn’t be apart for long. One night, what I thought was Max from the future came to visit me, using the Granolith. He told me that you and Isabel were going to die, that Earth was going to be attacked, that the end of the world would happen fourteen years from then, because we were together, because Tess had left, and the four square had been broken,” she said quietly.

“How could I have been so stupid!” she cursed.

“But I would have sworn it was Max. An older version of Max, but still Max. But it was her all along. It was a mind-warp. She was mind-warping me, and controlling the real Max. And I helped her, I helped her to drive him away, to make him think that I didn’t want him, that I didn’t love him. I made him think I slept with Kyle,” she said, looking at her hands in her lap.

“Jesus Liz,” Kyle said. “I knew you thought you had a good reason, but I never dreamed…”

Liz sniffed.

“I pushed Max toward Tess, and she manipulated him. We all knew she could mind-warp, but I wouldn’t have considered that she could control someone to that extent,” she said.

“The funny thing was, she knew about you Serena. Her version of Max told me that you would be a good friend to me. How would she know something like that? And why would she reveal it?” she asked, her eyed locked on Serena.

Serena was quiet for a moment before answering her.

“I was her lady in-waiting of sorts, back on Antar, before she was murdered,” Serena said.

“You were her *what*?” Michael said angrily.

“My loyalty to her died with Ava, Michael,” Serena said. “I was raised for this sole purpose. My family have been servants to the royal family for thousands of years. I was assigned by Zan’s command to care for her needs.”

“I listened to her frustrations with Zan. That he didn’t love her. I felt sorry for both of them really,” she said. “Neither were happy with the situations they were in. When she died…” she trailed off.

“I had no idea how far gone she was here on Earth, not until it was too late. Nasedo corrupted her. I know she was unhappy on Antar, but Ava never would have resorted to something like this,” she said.

“When Nasedo helped her to remember, she must have remembered me,” she said sadly.

“I think I was the only person she could have thought of as a friend. Perhaps this is why she used my name when Future Max spoke. She’d have had to have thought about plausible excuse for the time travel using the Granolith. Perhaps she thought of my name when she needed to come up with a friend for you. I can’t say for sure, but I would like to think that somewhere in that body, some essence of the old Ava was in her, because the way she was acting in human form was not the way Antarian Ava would have behaved,” she said.

“She was more like Dupe Ava, from New York City,” Liz said shakily.

“Perhaps,” Serena said. “I wouldn’t know. I’d never met her.”

“She was more…timid, I guess. I don’t know how to explain it,” Liz said.

Serena nodded. “That sounds about right. Regardless, I did not feel the bond to Tess, the bond of servitude, so I knew something had changed, that Zan, Max, wasn’t attached to her in any way, emotionally or physically. Had he been, I would have had to have done her bidding, had she so asked. She knew it too, because she never summoned me. If she had been with Max, if he had remembered anything at all of her, I would have no choice but to do as she wished. Instead, I am bound to you.”

Liz looked at her with wide eyes.

“What do you mean, bound to me?” she asked.

“You hold Zan’s heart, Max’s heart, and as such, my allegiance, my loyalty now lies with you. As soon as I heard your voice on the phone, when you called Cal’s office, I knew, I knew you were the one,” she said softly.

“We’d almost given up. We thought Max was too far gone, that Tess had destroyed his mind. I sensed he was…muddled in LA. Confused. I didn’t know what she’d done to him, but I could sense something was very wrong, and most likely un-repairable. We didn’t have the power to stop Khivar from doing the transference, and in fact were resigned that it was going to happen when we got word that he had Max’s essence and the Granolith. But then, we saw that you had…abilities, and we barely dared to hope…” she trailed off.

Liz’s mind was reeling with the implications of this latest revelation.

“Tell us the rest Liz. We need to know,” Cal prompted.

Liz took a deep breath.

“After Max saw Kyle and I together, he no longer trusted me and he became close with Tess. She was playing the sympathetic ear while she planted memories in his head, of Antar, of what I had done. She made him think that I couldn’t love him. She was the one who convinced him that Alex’s death was a suicide. Valenti only provided some back-up with those files he had. She had planned to give him to Khivar from the beginning, and he fought it…he tried so hard to fight it, but she was too strong,” Liz said.

“She planned to give him to Khivar in New York. She tried to make him agree to the terms of the summit, but somehow, he fought her. She killed Lonnie and Rath. They were all working together,” she said.

“Why didn’t we see it? We knew he wasn’t acting himself. He never would have stopped Isabel from going to California if it was what she really wanted. It wouldn’t have made him happy, but he would have let her go. Maybe he and Michael would have gone with her, but he would have let her go. Tess made him order her to stay. She controlled him with me too, which was why he was so cruel to me after Alex died. She wanted his heir at that point, and that night at the observatory, she finally wore him down. I felt everything. I saw everything. He fought it, and she…she raped him,” she said.

“She thought having his child would secure her place on Antar, an added bonus on top of turning him over to Khivar. And it was a way to make Max leave Earth, a way to make him leave me. When she didn’t get pregnant, she turned to Kyle,” she said.

“Max was so confused,” she said sadly. “I think if he’d been all human, he would have been dead, like Alex.”

“She played upon his feelings for me, for all of us, and she alienated him from everyone, and then made her move. The things she made him believe…” she trailed off, her voice wavering.

“When I made the connection, he had to let me into his conscious mind. When I told you that he didn’t remember me, it was true, because his conscious memory was blocked. He let me in. But the transfer wasn’t working. He told me to let him go, but I couldn’t. Then I realized there was one more block, the one Tess must have put up, and I was able to break that one, and I saw everything…everything she’d done to him, everything that he didn’t remember. I think when he saw what she did, it broke him, and broke the seal,” she said in a low voice.

“The seal is…broken?” Cal asked in disbelief.

“When he saw everything…when he realized what she did to all of us, it snapped, and I couldn’t reach him anymore,” she said. “Tell me what I have to do to fix this Cal. Tell me what I have to do to make this right.”

She looked at him with pleading eyes, but as she looked at his expression, she felt any hope she had of reviving him fade.

“I don’t know,” he said in a low voice, turning away from her.

“There has to be something!” Liz said in a loud voice, standing up. “This can’t be the end of it!”

“Our powers,” Isabel said, looking at Michael, “maybe we can join the seal.”

Cal shook his head.

“The only one who could have done anything was Liz,” Cal said. “I’ve never heard of the seal being broken. I don’t know if it can be fixed.”

“If that’s true, what now?” Michael asked grimly. “Max is no good to Khivar. The seal is broken, so that means Isabel is next in line for the throne. He’s going to come after her, and if he finds out she’s pregnant…”

“Pregnant?” Cal asked, looking at her quickly.

She looked at the floor.

“Khivar wanted you anyway. He won’t stop now until he possesses the seal of the monarch,” he said.

“How much time do we have? Until he is able to come back here?” Michael asked.

“It could be weeks. Killing the human body he possessed will have knocked his energy to a low. He’ll have to regain it before he can find another human and take possession,” Cal said.

“Then we need to be prepared. We have to protect Isabel and her baby,” Maria said.

“Maria, I think it’s best if you guys are far away from this,” Michael said warningly.

“Oh no, you’re not going there,” Maria said, narrowing her eyes. “I am *not* leaving you.”

Michael looked at her fiercely for a moment, but said nothing.

“What about Max?” Liz asked quietly.

No one seemed to know the answer.

“I want him with me,” she said quietly.

“Liz, you can’t…” Michael said, and Isabel interrupted her.

“He’s my brother, I’ll take care of him,” she said.

“Isabel, what are you going to do? Tell Jesse that Max somehow was reborn, but he’s a vegetable? And what about your parents?” Liz said angrily.

She didn’t answer right away.

“I’ll work it out,” she said.

Everyone could feel the tension rising in the room, and the baby started to cry in Serena’s lap.

“Look, everyone’s tired,” Kyle said. Why don’t we just go and get a few more rooms, and we’ll figure this out later. Right now, there isn’t anything we can do.”

Liz sat next to Max, gently taking his limp hand in hers.

The baby continued to wail, and Serena tried to comfort him.

“We’ll try again when you’re strength is up,” Cal said. “In the meantime, you should rest.”

“I’ll take care of rooms for the night,” Michael said.

He left the room to go to the lobby to get three more rooms for the night. The baby continued to cry uncontrollably, as Isabel studied Kyle.

“Kyle, why don’t you take your son for a minute?” Isabel asked pointedly.

He shook his head.

“Serena’s doing ok with him,” he said uncomfortably.

“Maybe he’ll quiet down if you take him,” she pushed.

“I don’t think so,” Kyle said, looking away.

“Kyle, how can you ignore the fact that he’s *your* son?” she burst out angrily.

“Isabel, lay off!” he said angrily, and stalked to the door, walking outside.

Liz looked at Isabel and shook her head. She never knew when to stop.

Michael came back a minute later, looking confused.

“What’s with Kyle?” he asked. “He’s outside pacing the parking lot like he wants to wear a hole in it.

“Drop it Michael,” Maria said pointedly.

He sighed.

“Fine. I got three more rooms. Liz and Max obviously will be in this one. Cal and Serena in another. Maria and I in one…oh hey Isabel, you don’t mind staying with Kyle for one night do you? There’s two beds in the room,” he said.

Maria couldn’t help but let a little cackle slip at Isabel’s apparent discomfiture.

“I’ll just…” and she trailed off. Her first thought was to stay with Max, but as she glanced over at Liz, she knew that wasn’t going to be a very good idea.

“That’s fine,” she said in a low voice.

“Good,” Michael said. “You’re good with kids anyway. Besides it’ll be practice for when your own kid comes.”

Isabel winced, but didn’t say a word.

“I’d like to be alone with Max for awhile,” Liz said quietly, and no one had the heart to argue with her.

“We need to talk more later Serena,” Liz said, and Serena nodded.

Serena stood up with the baby, and handed the sobbing child over to Isabel.

“You sure you’ll be ok with him?” she asked, and Isabel nodded.

Michael gave Liz the new hotel room numbers in case anything happened, and they all left the room.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

Michael opened the door to the hotel room for Isabel, allowing her to step in with the sobbing baby.

Kyle followed, sullenly silent.

Michael dropped the bag of diapers and food onto the bed and gave them a salute.

“If you need anything…” he paused and Isabel nodded at him. Kyle wouldn’t look at any of them.

Impulsively, Maria leaned up and gave him a small kiss on the cheek.

“You know where I am if you need me,” she said, and he nodded.

“Thanks,” he said wryly.

“Don’t let her get to you,” Maria whispered in his ear, giving Isabel a pointed glare before walking about behind Michael, shutting the door.

Kyle stood in the same spot for a moment, not knowing what to do as he listened to the baby’s cries.

Finally, he grabbed the television remote off of the dresser, and turned the TV on.

Isabel looked at him in disapproval, and started to slowly walk back and forth across the room, talking in a whisper to the child, rocking him lightly.

“Shhhh…” she said softly. “It’s going to be ok. Everything’s going to be ok.”

For long moments, the child’s wails continued, until they evolved into sputtered sobs, and finally, little hiccups as his blue tear-filled eyes stared up at her.

Pulling the powdered formula out of the grocery bag, along with the bottle, she went into the bathroom and read the directions on how to prepare it. Awkwardly, she opened the bottle and then the container, measuring the correct amount of powder, before filling the rest of the bottle with water. She put the top back on the bottle and shook it vigorously with one hand, holding the child on her other arm.

He really was a beautiful little boy. How could anyone deny a child? Their own child?

She gave the bottle to the baby, who sucked on it, content finally.

Going back into the bedroom, she sat on the second bed, concentrating on the baby.

Intermittently she took the bottle from him patting and rubbing his back lightly.

She was caught up in what she was doing, and she didn’t notice Kyle watching her.

How funny was that? Isabel the ice queen, good with kids. Who would have thought it?

Again, he felt that urge to kiss her. The same one he’d felt on New Years Eve.

“Cut the crap Kyle,” he scolded himself. “She’s married.”

Besides, he knew he’d only be in for heartbreak. She’d dumped on Alex, and didn’t realize how she felt about him until it was too late. She was married, and that was it.

“You’re pretty good with him,” Kyle said in a tentative voice, and her head turned toward him.

“Where’d you learn that?” he asked.

“I volunteer with kids, remember?” she said, turning back to the baby.

He didn’t know what else to say to her. When had things become so strained again? For awhile, they were becoming pretty good friends. Now it was back to square one. And it was because of his baby.

“Kyle, I’m sorry about before,” she said, not looking at him. “I’m sorry if I was pushy. It’s just that I don’t understand…” she stopped herself.

“But it’s your decision. I don’t have anything to say about it,” she finished.

“What’s wrong Isabel?” he asked, prodding her. “You haven’t been right since we left Roswell.”

She shrugged. “I was worrying about what was going on here. Liz wouldn’t tell Maria anything…”

“That’s not it,” he said, moving to sit next to her.

“There’s something else going on. What’s up?”

“I can’t talk about it Kyle,” she said, her eyes filling with tears.

“If it’s a problem with Jesse…” he said.

“There is no problem with Jesse,” she snapped.

“Fine, look I was just going to say…”

“He left Kyle, ok!” she said loudly. “I told him about us, about what we are, and he freaked out, and he left!”

Kyle sat there stunned into silence for a long moment.

“He’ll be back Isabel,” he said gently, putting his arm around her and pulling her toward him.

“No, no he won’t,” she said, shaking her head. “He quit the law firm. He handed in his resignation this morning. He packed his bags before he left the apartment, and told my father he wouldn’t be back.”

“He told your parents about...”

“No,” she said. “That was the one thing he *didn’t* do.”

“What about your baby?” he asked.

She let out a derisive laugh that came out like a sob.

“He ran away from *us* Kyle, both the baby and I,” she said.

She sobbed quietly into his shirt, and he rubbed her back, the baby in between them.

Her head lay on his chest for a long time while she cried for her brother, Jesse, and the way her life had turned.

“It’s going to be ok you know,” he said matter of fact.

“You’re a survivor Isabel. You always have been, because you had to be. You’ll get through this,” he said.

“I’m so tired of fighting, of hiding Kyle,” she said, pulling away from him and wiping her eyes with one hand. “Maybe for once, just once I wanted to have something normal, something everyone else takes for granted.”

“I’m sorry for being pushy with you before. It’s just that I kept thinking of what Jesse did to me, to our baby, and I don’t want to see that happen to him,” she said, glancing down at the baby, who was playing with her button.

“He didn’t ask for this Kyle, and he isn’t a monster. He isn’t a freak of nature. He’s your son. And I know you hate Tess, and yes she’s a part of him, but you’re a part of him too,” she said, her eyes watering. She absently stroked the fine hair on the child’s head.

“Isabel, I know that you are thinking your situation is a lot like mine, but it isn’t,” Kyle said.

“You can’t project your disappointment with Jesse on me. I’m not Jesse, and I wasn’t married to Tess. Hell, I don’t even remember how any of this came about. She took advantage of me, and now I have to deal with this on my own terms. I don’t know if I’m ready to be a father. But when I make my decision, it will be *my* decision, one that I’ll make in both my own best interests and my son’s. You don’t have the right to judge me,” he said.

He took a deep breath.

“I’m going to say something you probably aren’t going to want to hear. You’re selfish Isabel,” he said.

“What?” she said, pulling away from him.

“I said you’re selfish,” he repeated quietly.

“How can you say that! I…”

“Isabel…first you tell Liz that she has to do something for Max to save him, and then you’re yelling at her that she’s hurting him,” he said.

“I was worried about Max!” she said.

“Exactly. It’s always about you guys. What about Liz? Did you even care that what she was doing was killing *her*? That her life might have been in danger too? I bet I’m right on the money,” he said.

She looked down at the baby in her arms. Though she couldn’t say it aloud, he was right.

“She put herself on the line *again* because she loves Max. She pushed him away to save all of your asses, and it’s almost like it’s to be expected. Expected from all of us, and that’s not fair,” he said.

“Isabel, if you ever hope to have any kind of relationships with people, you have to start thinking about them too once in a while,” he said, getting up.

He gingerly picked the little boy from Isabel’s arms. He had just bitched her out, and no way was he going to have it hanging over his head that he left her to care for the kid.

“I’m going to take a walk outside with the kid for awhile,” he said.

She nodded mutely.

“I’ll be back,” he said, going to the door.

“Kyle,” she said suddenly, and he turned toward her.

“I’m sorry,” she said quietly.

He nodded and wordlessly left the room.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

His eyes were closed now, as if in a deep sleep.

Liz crawled onto the bed and stretched her body alongside his.

Though he was warm, he didn’t move. Her fingers ran over the soft skin of his arm.

Her lips drew close to his ear.

“I hope you can hear me Max. I’m not giving up on you. I promise, I will never give up on you or doubt us ever again,” she said in a half-whisper, her voice trembling with emotion.

“Please…just help me find a way back to you. You can’t just leave me here alone Max. I need you. We all need you.”

“I’m…I’m so sorry for what she did to you, for what she did to us,” she said, her voice cracking.

“It was all a lie! All this wasted time, all the hurt,” she broke off. She wasn’t sure she would ever be able to get over what Tess had done to her. That she could be so cruel, so vengeful. Every waking moment of the past year and a half she’d felt the absence of Max. It was the first thought in her head when she woke up, and the last thing she thought of before she went to sleep.

Maybe together they could work through it, if only she could reach him. They’d been through their own personal hells, and nothing was ever going to take that away. Here alone, without the comfort of his husky voice to tell her that everything was going to be ok, the very idea of what they’d been through apart from each other literally made her heart sick.

“Don’t give up on us Max!” she said fiercely. “There has to be a way to fix this. There has to be,” she said, laying her head on his chest.

“You are my destiny Max,” she said. “I think you always were. I’m not going to let you go. I know that’s what you asked me to do, but I can’t. I need you too much.”

Feeling the need to be even closer, she drew herself flat over his body, heart pressed to heart, hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder. She could feel his heart pounding beneath hers, steady and strong, but received no other response.

She touched her forehead to his forehead, her nose brushing his, her arms aligning with his arms, threading her fingers through his.

“Max, I lied that night, when I said I wouldn’t die for you. I would die a thousand times if it meant you’d come back to me. I don’t want normal. I never did, not from the moment you healed me. I want you. I want you to put your arms around me. I want you to be the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning, and the last I see before I fall asleep. I want what she took away from us,” she said in a trembling voice.

She leaned toward his lips. A lone tear slid from her cheek and dropped onto his as her lips met his.

In that instant, she felt it. The connection. Her body felt melded to his for a moment, and she felt every conflicting emotion. Terror, fear, pain, sadness, loss…and love. Above all, love.

“I want that too…” an anguished voice whispered, and then was gone.

Her head raised slowly from his in wonder.

“Max?” she whispered.

He lay still as before, unmoving. But that didn’t stop her heart from soaring. He’d heard her.

TBC…


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Mar-2002 4:21:42 PM ]
posted on 25-Mar-2002 5:58:34 PM by majesty
This is just a short post, an interlude of sorts, while I write the next part. Hope to have that up tomorrow.

Welcome to my twisted world doublestuf,LOL. Acidwit, thank you for taking the time to leave feedback *happy* As a matter of fact, thank you all for leaving me words of encouragement, and keeping me on track. I really don't think the story would be half as fun to write without you all. Have a good evening!

majesty


INTERLUDE

Past lives, present planes
Bring me back to you again
I cannot breathe, I cannot sleep
In my heart a hope I keep

That you will come and that you’ll stay
And take this bitter ache away
My life has been to live for you
And through it all one thing stays true

A touch, a kiss, a smile you give
Has been the will for me to live
When I thought that they were truly gone
My soul cried out a bitter song

But when all seems lost and you’re alone
My heart will sing to call you home
Its tune was meant for only you
A beacon that will guide you through

The longest days and darkest nights
As long as it is in your sight
Never will you have to fear
I’m here forever, always near

Tell me now what I must do
On my journey back to you
Eternal hell I could withstand
If you are there to hold my hand

Find the strength to look for me
Our bond is our eternal key
It unlocks our hearts, yet binds our lives
And reminds us that we’re still alive

For though we’ve been to hell and back
Our love shines through these nights so black
I won’t give up, I can’t give in
For that would be my greatest sin

To let you go, to cease to be
For we were meant, the stars agree
I love you more than life itself
Your heart is mine, my greatest wealth

Come back to me my love, my friend
Hold me till we reach our end
But until that time should come to pass
You’ll know I’m yours, all yours at last.

And in the ever after we’ll meet
To love once again, my heart, my sweet
For our souls are bound forevermore
As if we’d loved some life before

Could it be true? I cannot say
But now I promise that I will stay
For nothing will keep us apart again,
My love, my soul mate, my life, my friend.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-Mar-2002 7:27:47 PM ]
posted on 26-Mar-2002 9:33:01 PM by majesty
Hi all,

I worked on this and then re-worked it, and I still am not satisfied with it, but I am at a loss at this point, so I am posting it.

Thank you all for the feedback on this story. I only hope that it turns out halfway decent. I know I've made Jesse out to be an ass, but he never really was that relevant of a character in my eyes. Possibly because I saw no real connection between he and Isabel on the show. I apologize in advance to any Jesse fans out there.

majesty

THE ASCENT

PART TWENTY TWO


She’d gone.

He’d just found her again, and she was gone.

He felt the seal break, and their connection with it, and he was again trapped in this darkness, only this time with the added injury of all of his memories, of everything Tess had done to them. His subconscious mind had flooded his waking thoughts with memories, impressions, forgotten pieces of time.

Anger rushed through his mind at what she’d done to Liz, and what she’d done to him. But mostly, for Liz, because she was punished for loving him. She’d loved him so much, and she gave up everything for him, for them, and it had broken her heart, just as it had broken his.

His body felt strange, different. More hollow somehow. He felt the lingering aura of the broken seal, floating in his mind, taunting him with what he would now never have. His last hope dashed, after all this time.

The fragment did not go away, but remained. But what good was it? It was broken. Probably beyond repair.

A beautiful image of Liz appeared in his mind. So strong, stronger than he’d ever imagined. Her diminutive appearance belied everything she was. She’d sacrificed everything for them. Even now, she’d risked herself to try to heal him, to try to bring him back.

He wasn’t sure why the seal had been broken. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be given back once taken away. Perhaps it was his rage that had broken it.

For he did feel rage, at Tess, at all that he and Liz had lost. Rage for Alex, for a life cut too short. And he had a son with Tess, didn’t he? Evidence of what she’d done to him. And he’d been searching for him, trying to make right what was unfixable.

But it wasn’t his fault. He knew that now, and felt a strange sense of joy that Liz now knew it too. Even if he never saw her again, even if he was stuck in this oblivion forever. She knew.

Now he was alone again. For that one moment, he’d felt her lips on his after he’d told her to let him go, and it was pure bliss. Her lips were the texture of velvet, something he’d dreamed about night after night, long before he’d healed her in the Crashdown that fateful day.

She’d tried to do the same for him today, and he would always love her for that. Even believing the worst, she’d put herself on the line to bring him back. What man, especially someone like him, deserved that kind of love? For awhile, he’d convinced himself not to question it, but at this very moment, the question was more profound than ever before, with all that they’d learned.

He loved her more than he thought it possible to love anyone. How could he have imagined what it would be like to be loved by Liz Parker before he’d healed her that day? He’d had fantasies of her eyes looking at him as if he were the most important person in the world, but nothing prepared him for the truly wonderful person she really was. She’d put herself in danger, time after time, because she loved him. Because he was *important* to her. Even now, it still sent shivers down his spine.

He wished he’d had more time with her. There were so many things that he wanted to say, wanted to tell her. But he supposed that he wanted her to know he loved her above all. That he’d never stopped. At least she knew that.

“Please…please, don’t leave it like this! I love you Max! I’m so sorry, so sorry. I should have known!”

He could hear her, even in here. At least he could hear her, even if he couldn't see, couldn’t touch her. He felt her fingers on his face, though he could not respond.

He caught snippets of conversation. About someone named Serena and Tess. But then his head was sent reeling again.

“She thought having his child would secure her place on Antar, an added bonus on top of turning him over to Khivar. And it was a way to make Max leave Earth, a way to make him leave me. When she didn’t get pregnant, she turned to Kyle,” she said.

His son wasn’t real. That was all a lie too. Everything was a lie.

“When he saw everything…when he realized what she did to all of us, it snapped, and I couldn’t reach him anymore,” she said. “Tell me what I have to do to fix this Cal. Tell me what I have to do to make this right.”

“I don’t know.”

“There has to be something! This can’t be the end of it!”

“Our powers,” Isabel said, “maybe we can join the seal.”

“The only one who could have done anything was Liz…I’ve never heard of the seal being broken. I don’t know if it can be fixed.”

“If that’s true, what now?”


Michael.

“Max is no good to Khivar. The seal is broken, so that means Isabel is next in line for the throne. He’s going to come after her, and if he finds out she’s pregnant…”

Isabel…she was pregnant??? His heart broke that he couldn’t tell her that he was happy for she and Jesse. There was so much he didn’t know.

He tried to clear his muddled thoughts, and when he finally became aware again, all had become quiet.

He hated the quiet. Sound was the only thing tangible to him, and when it went quiet like this, he wasn’t sure whether he was alive or dead.

But then he felt the gentle pressure of someone on the bed next to him, and a poignantly familiar body press up against his, bringing warmth. A comforting weight rested on his body, and he felt the tender slide of her fingers against his.

“I hope you can hear me Max. I’m not giving up on you. I promise, I will never give up on you or doubt us ever again…”

I never gave up on you either Liz, he thought softly.

“Please…just help me find a way back to you. You can’t just leave me here alone Max. I need you. We all need you.”

I don’t know how, he thought miserably.

“You are my destiny Max.”

“I think you always were. I’m not going to let you go. I know that’s what you asked me to do, but I can’t. I need you too much.”

Max felt the horrible ache of longing he’d held for so long, deep within his mind, locked behind a wall of forgetfulness implanted by Tess.

“Max, I lied that night, when I said I wouldn’t die for you. I would die a thousand times if it meant you’d come back to me.”

He felt the agony of that night she’d come to her room. For those moments, it had cut him like a knife, but as he spoke to Maria later, he realized that he didn’t believe her. She was pushing him away for some other reason. He knew her heart, and this was not what it spoke. But she would not admit the truth aloud. To hear her say this now, to actually voice it, was heartbreaking.

“I don’t want normal. I never did, not from the moment you healed me.”

How ironic, that for years all he’d ever wished for was normal. A normal life, a normal date with Liz. But everything they’d had, every kiss, every touch, every smile was a gift in their hectic dangerous lives. No, it was never normal, but now if he had the choice he wouldn’t have taken a second of it back. And he wanted it back now, more than anything he’d ever wanted in his life.

He wanted another chance. He felt the anger and frustration build around him, at his inability to express how he felt, by touch, by sight, by voice. And around him, a dim blue glow grew brighter, the broken emblem spinning, faster and faster.

“I want you. I want you to put your arms around me. I want you to be the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning, and the last I see before I fall asleep. I want what she took away from us.”

With every ounce of will, with every last bit of strength, he tried to reach out to her…and failed.

Until her forehead touched his, and her lips touched against his own.

“I want that too…” he cried, but it floated as a whisper upon their connection. For the briefest second he felt her presence, and saw the other half of the seal as it touched it’s other half behind him. And then it was gone. He’d failed again, he thought, his heart falling.

And then he heard it.

“Max?”

Barely a whisper, but she’d felt him too!

“Liz!” his mind screamed.


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

She’d felt him. For that one instant, she felt him again.

Impulsively, she captured his lips with hers, her fingers moving to brush his cheek as she closed her eyes, opening her mind and heart to him, hoping that he’d answer.

There were no more words from him, but she felt him once again, for a brief moment, he enveloped her, and then was gone. And before her, she saw the broken half of the seal spinning clumsily before her, while behind her, she felt the slight wind of the other half stirring the space around her.

Suddenly he appeared before her, a bittersweet smile on his face.

She didn’t speak. At that moment there was nothing to say, as she felt his arms slip around her, and their lips drew close. She felt the gentle trace of his lips, memorizing her once again, and then everything grew hazy as his mouth crashed against hers again, desperately.

Every emotion they’d felt over the past year crashed between them as the pieces of the seal drew closer, brighter, more powerful.

As they brushed together Liz opened her eyes. The pale blue light lit Max’s face for what seemed like an instant, and she thought to herself that he’d never looked more beautiful.

And in the next instant, the connection was again broken, the fragments of the seal spiraling away from each other again, and she was in the hotel room, looking down at Max’s face.

Not giving up, she kissed him again, hoping to restore the connection, but it was dead.

She felt her eyes fill with tears at her failure, and then his eyelids twitched slightly.

She gasped, putting her hand to her mouth as his eyes fluttered open, focusing for a moment, and then looking up at her.

They were not the eyes of a dead man. It was not the catatonic stare she’d seen earlier. He saw her. He *saw* her.

A tiny cry escaped her lips as she drew his upper body to hers.

She couldn’t stop the sob that flew from her lips as she hugged him tightly to her for long moments.

She pulled away to stroke his cheeks with both of her hands, hardly able to believe that he was with her.

“Max,” she said shakily with a trembling smile curving her lips, “I love you.”

And then she noticed the anguished look in his eyes, as he raised his hand with great effort to her face.

She looked in confusion at the way his fingers curled into his palm, frozen as they were. He shakily brushed his knuckles across her cheek before his hand fell to the bed again.

Tears filled his eyes as he looked at her.

“Say something Max,” she said, looking into his eyes, and he closed them slowly, his brow furrowing in torment.

“Max?” she said hesitantly, and he opened his eyes again.

And suddenly she knew.

“You can’t speak, can you?” she asked quietly.

He slowly shook his head with great effort, his face crumpling.

Something was wrong. Something was definitely wrong.

“It’s going to be ok Max,” she said quietly, pulling him toward her, her hand cradling the back of his head protectively.

And it was then she felt his shoulders start to shake, his body wracked with silent sobs, his hot tears dropping onto her neck.

“I’m here Max,” she said, her tears falling with his. “I’m not going anywhere…”

She tightened her embrace, molding her body to his, silently letting him mourn for all that had happened, all that they had lost.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Kyle paced the parking lot with the baby in his arms. He’d struggled with his jacket, awkwardly removing it one sleeve at a time while juggling the baby, before wrapping it around him. It was a little cold, and he didn’t want the kid to get sick.

He thought of Isabel and what he’d said to her. He supposed he should feel guilty, because he’d been harsh, but somehow he didn’t. Someone had to call her on the way she’d been acting.

He thought about what she’d said to him as well. Though she was wrong to associate him with Jesse, he couldn’t help but think of the promise he’d made to himself the day his own mother had left. That he would never do to his own child what his mother had done to him. But if he gave the baby up now to another family, the child would most likely not even remember him.

He couldn’t help thinking about Tess and what she’d done to him, but as he looked down at the baby, he couldn’t help but be amazed that he was part of him too.

Still, it was an enormous decision, one that would affect him for the rest of his life, if he chose to take care of him. He knew his father would support any decision he made. He was still reeling from what Tess had done to them, and he only knew the half of it.

He absently bounced the child as he made another circuit of the parking lot.

“Da,” the baby said, and Kyle looked down at him.

The child smiled at him.

“Ba,” the child said in its baby-speak, pointing at the button on Kyle’s shirt.

“Sorry kid, I don’t know what you’re trying to tell me,” he sighed.

“Baaa,” the child said again, his finger running up Kyle’s shirt. As Kyle looked down, he saw the light green glow that emanated from his finger, leaving shimmering paths of nonsense on his shirt.

He quickly grabbed the baby’s hands lightly with his fingers, looking to see if anyone might have been around to see what had just occurred.

“Hey kid, I don’t mind you doing the tricks when we’re inside, but you can’t do that where there might be other people around,” he said in a low voice.

He laughed to himself and let go of the child’s hands.

“Shit Valenti, you’ve really lost it, talking to a baby like the kid’s gonna understand you,” he snorted.

But the little boy looked at him properly chastised, and put his head on Kyle’s shoulder, his little hand falling to rest on his upper arm gently.

He couldn’t have understood…could he? Kyle thought to himself.

Within a few seconds, the child became dead weight in his arms as he slipped into sleep with a sigh.

Kyle continued to walk, trying to figure out what he had to do.

“Buddha, I know I’ve asked for a lot of guidance lately, but this is really important. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, what the right decision is. How am I supposed to know? Guide me to the right path,” he asked softly.

His query was met with silence.

*%*%*%*%*%%*%*%*%*%*%

Isabel sat still trying to get her mind around what Kyle had said to her.

Selfish? She was selfish? She was the one who wanted to tell Jesse, and Max and Michael forbade it.

Was she not supposed to care that her brother might be a vegetable for the rest of his life? Was she not supposed to react when he was screaming out in agony?

But then little doubts started to surface in her mind.

Maybe she had been mean to Liz. Maybe a little. But she thought Liz understood her. Max was her brother. She had to protect him at all costs, like he protected her and Michael.

But she hadn’t thought of Liz or her feelings. Kyle was right. And Liz had given up a lot for them, because she loved Max.

Maybe she was hard on Liz because she was jealous. She and Max had a connection. They knew so much about each other. She hadn’t been allowed to let Jesse in, and after awhile, she would have been too afraid to, afraid of the way he might react. And she’d waited too long, until she didn’t have a choice. She should have followed her heart and told Jesse before they were married. She should have followed her heart with Alex. By the time she’d realized what she had with him, he was dead, and she was left to pick up the pieces. She thought she was destined to be alone, and then she met Jesse, this handsome, mature, sweet man, and she fell in love with him, almost against her will. And now he was gone, and she was alone with child.

She thought about those last words they said to each other.

He had come in early, as she was packing a bag. She hadn’t expected him and didn’t notice him until she turned and saw him frozen in the bedroom doorway.

“What now?” he asked tersely.

“N...nothing,” she said. “Maria asked me to go to Houston with her. She’s up for another record deal and she doesn’t want to go alone.”

“Why isn’t Michael going with her?” Jesse asked suspiciously.

“He…he isn’t going to be in town. He has to take care of something for Mr. Parker, for the Crashdown,” she said nervously.

“Do you think I’m completely stupid Isabel? Why would Jeff Parker ask the cook to go out of town to take care of something for him?” he asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

“I don’t know. He didn’t tell me what it was, he just said he wasn’t going to be around,” she said.

“Isabel, you’re pregnant. I don’t want you to be travelling. You haven’t been in the best frame of mind since Max…” he trailed off, seeing her visibly pale.

“Look,” he said softly, “Let me call Jeff. Maybe I can explain, ask him to put off whatever he needs Michael to take care of…”

“No!” Isabel said quickly. “You can’t call Jeff. He…I’m sure he wouldn’t want you to interfere.”

“Isabel, what’s going on?” he asked harshly.

“Nothing. What do you mean?” she asked.

“Before Max died, you were sneaking out of the house at all hours of the night. I remember Max and Michael in La Jolla. Don’t try to convince me they weren’t there. I *know* they were. Your father knew Max was into something, and I thought you were just trying to cover for him. But he’s gone, and your still lying. I want the truth…now,” he said.

“I can’t tell you,” she said miserably.

“If you don’t tell me, I am going to walk out that door,” he said.

“Jesse please, don’t ask me to do this,” she said, looking at the floor with tear-filled eyes.

“Isabel, I need to know,” he said.

She sniffed and looked up to meet his eyes squarely. It was now or never.

“The rumors are true,” she said quietly.

“Rumors? What are you talking about?” he asked.

“About us…Max, Michael and me. We’re different,” she said.

“So what are you into then?” he asked, dully.

“We’re not *into* anything!” she said angrily, and then curbed her temper.

“We’re not from around here,” she said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked.

“It means we’re from somewhere else,” she said pointedly.

“Isabel, please…stop talking in riddles,” he said, irritated.

Isabel strode over to the wall and put her hand to it, changing the paint on it from white to dark green.

“We’re *not from around here*,” she said again.

Jesse paled visibly and stumbled backwards.

“Jesse…” she said, starting to walk toward him.

“Stay away from me,” he said, shaking his head. “What the hell are you?”

“I’m sorry, I wanted to tell you, I really did, but I promised,” she said desperately.

“Jesus Christ,” he said backing up further.

“Jesse please!” she said, pleading.

“Get away from me!” he said. “Just get away!”

She backed off and moved into the kitchen.

He went into the bedroom and grabbed some of his things, dumping her own bag out and throwing her things onto the bed. He shoved everything in and strode out of the room.

“I don’t know what the hell you are, but I don’t want you near me. I *knew* something was up when your father was looking into Max, but this…”

“Jesse, just stay and talk with me please. I can explain,” she said.

“No!” he said fiercely. “It’s bad enough you are…what you are, but you lied to me. What if something happens to me? I mean we…God we had sex. What if I get sick or something?” he said, running his hands through his hair nervously.

“We can do everything humans do. You’re not going to get sick,” she said.

“I knew there was something weird about it back in La Jolla. It wasn’t normal,” he muttered.

Her eyes filled with tears. He thought she was a monster, a freak.

“I’m leaving. Don’t follow me,” he said shakily.

“Are you coming back?” she asked in a low voice.

He didn’t answer, staring at the ceiling. Then he strode to the door and opened it.

“Jesse, what about the baby?” she cried, and the door slammed shut resoundingly.


She was sure he would tell her parents, but he didn’t. He simply gave his notice and left. She heard her father’s third frantic message as Kyle pulled up in front of the apartment complex. He was confused. What had happened?

She never answered the phone, walking out of the apartment, and out on the lie she’d created.

Kyle was right. She needed to start thinking about other people, and she had to start making her own decisions. For too long, she’d let Michael and Max make them for her.

It was time to stand on her own. She had a child to think about now, and that was what was most important. She had to take things in to her own hands if she wanted a chance at a life for her and her baby.

Just then the door to the room opened, and Kyle stood in the doorway, his sleeping son in his arms.

He regarded her warily from the doorway.

“I need help…,” he said shrugging, and she smiled at him.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

Max had long since stilled, but Liz continued to stroke his hair comfortingly.

She whispered almost incoherently to him words of comfort and love. She’d only seen Max cry once, when he’d come back from LA and everything had fallen apart, and it shook her to the core, causing her to forget why she’d even been mad at him in the first place.

But now, knowing everything, she had cried along with him.

She knew that though he was awake, he wasn’t whole.

When she loosened her grip on him, he slumped to the bed. She eased herself alongside of him, lying down next to him.

She looked at his hands, his fingers curled tightly into his palms. Tenderly, she slipped her fingers underneath his, stroking them with her thumb.

“I should probably tell the others you’re awake,” she said softly. “Maybe Cal can do something.”

His eyes widened slightly, and he pulled his hand from hers, shaking his head.

“You don’t want me to tell them?” she asked.

He shook his head.

She sighed, laying her head next to his, looking into his eyes.

“Ok Max,” she said. “We’ll wait for awhile.”

He nodded, closing his eyes.

“I missed you so much Max,” she whispered. “When I thought you were gone, I…” she broke off.

“I was going through all of this stuff with these powers, and I was so scared,” she said.

“All I wanted was for you to be there, to tell me everything was going to be ok,” she said.

His mouth moved, and though no sound came forth she understood perfectly.

“I’m sorry…”

She shook her head, tears welling in her eyes.

“You’re here now,” she said. “We’re here together. We’ll figure it all out.”

She tenderly touched his cheek and touched her lips to his, lingering for a long moment, trying not to think about the absence of their connection.

She pulled away and saw the troubled look that clouded his eyes, and she knew he was thinking the same.

“It will come Max. It has to. We’ll fix it. We just need some time,” she said.

She didn’t want to think that they wouldn’t have enough. Khivar was going to come back. Max was in no shape to defend himself against him.

She pulled him closer, and his arm slipped slowly around her waist. Her Max was back. He was broken and battered, but he was here. They’d heal together. Somehow, they’d find a way.

TBC...

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 26-Mar-2002 9:38:09 PM ]
posted on 27-Mar-2002 12:25:55 AM by majesty
SciFiNut,

I'm not sure I described correctly. Khivar wanted the seal transferred to Kyle's baby because whoever possesses the seal holds the key to the Antarian Kingdom. The seal, the full seal wouldn't necessarily allow anyone to control the bearer. In reality, the bearer has control over his protectors (iem Max and Cal's relationship) but it is safe to assume that the baby growing up under the tutelage of Tess and Khivar would be taught their ideals and plans and would follow through with them, because it would be the only thing he would have known, being raised by them from the time he was a baby.

For those who asked about the baby's name, Tess never told them the child's name. It will be up to either Kyle or the new family (and I am not saying whether he's going to give the baby up *happy* ) to name him.

majesty
posted on 27-Mar-2002 9:03:28 PM by majesty
Behrable D,

Yes, FM was a mindwarp, hence the future he told Liz about was not true. FL and FM were the only loose end that I had.

I had an explanation for that, but after discussing it with other feedbackers, the two or three parts it would take to explain that 5 second scene would not in the end have any real relevance to the story I am telling.

Originally I had a convoluted explanation, that even though Tess manipulated Liz and Max, there is the possibility that these events still could occur...if someone knew the future And if that knowledge was shared along the way somewhere in this story, well then the future can be changed. Then I settled on an easier explanation.

I was going to have a chapter from Tess, imagining the scene in her head in order to flesh out the details of her mind-warp of Liz. It would have been revealed by a character who was close to Tess later in the story, but I just didn't feel it was that relevant to spend that much time on, so I cut it out completely, because Liz never actually saw that scene. Only we the viewers did.

So yes, FM was a mind-warp as well as everything he told her.

Hope that helps,

majesty
posted on 6-Apr-2002 7:58:44 PM by majesty
High2Maintenance,

Max usually suffers in a physical way, but Liz suffers mentally. I noticed that pattern in my stories LOL.

Sorry about lack of updates on the stories. I haven't been feeling well this week...well, more precisely, I had some alien stomach virus that I swore was going to kill me *happy* Was working late as well, so I had absolutely no time to write. I just started an update to SOF, and then it will be onto this and Flagellation. Sorry for the delay guys, but I'll try my best to update them as quick as I can.

majesty
posted on 16-Apr-2002 9:23:21 AM by majesty
Sorry for the delay on this one guys. I hope to have the next part up either tonight or tomorrow, if all goes well *happy*


Thank you all so much for the feedback on this one!

majesty
posted on 16-Apr-2002 8:44:39 PM by majesty
This one was long overdue too guys.

Sorry for the delay. Life, or Sh*t or whatever happens, you know what I mean *happy* I know this part is sort of dreary, but you all know my drill by now. Hang in there....

majesty

PART TWENTY THREE

Liz lay completely still for hours, afraid to go to sleep, afraid that somehow this would be a dream and that Max was still gone. Even now, she was gripped with momentary terror that he’d gone to sleep and wouldn’t wake up, but the movements under his eyes convinced her otherwise and she let him continue to sleep, watching him, taking in the beloved face she’d loved for so long.

His face was troubled, his brow furrowed and he did not sleep the slumber of the peaceful. She wondered what he was dreaming about. She had so many questions for him, so many things that had gone unsaid.

She felt hate rise in her throat at Tess and Khivar for what they’d done to him. She sincerely hoped Tess was rotting in hell.

Max’s head twitched almost imperceptibly, his breathing becoming erratic.

Dreams. Hadn’t they all had dreams? Daydreams. Fantasies. Hopes. Things that had almost been taken away from them. She would not let anything take Max from her again. Ever.

Max’s agitation grew, though he didn’t open his eyes. Liz grew concerned.

“Max?” she said softly.

“Max…” she said touching his cheek, and he jerked violently, his eyes snapping open, frantically scanning the room.

“It’s ok,” Liz said touching his cheek. “Max, it’s ok. It was just a dream.”

His eyes flew to hers, and in them she saw the reflected pools of a tortured soul.

“You’re going to be ok Max,” she said quietly.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Her voice pulled him out of the hellish dream he’d been having. It had always been her that pulled him back, that kept him sane, that made him feel loved.

Visions of Tess leering at him, taunting him, torturing him, raping him, were replaced by the angelic face of the only girl he had ever loved.

For a moment, his mind did not believe it. He’d been tricked so often. Perhaps he was hearing her voice and it was only a mind-warp, and she would be ripped away by Tess, leaving him to languish in the black hole of his sub-conscious. But he felt her touch on his skin, and her voice still reassuring him, and he dared to hope that it was real. And it was.

He was ashamed that he’d allowed Tess to manipulate him. He was ashamed that he’d been too weak to resist the blackness of her mind. He remembered every torturous second of it, locked in the prison of his brain, far from his conscious mind, which was blissfully ignorant. He’d watched himself turn on everyone, pushing them away, saying unbelievably cruel unthinkable things to them, powerless to do anything about it. He’d listened to Tess’s lunatic ramblings, taking it all in, unable to tell anyone. He watched himself leave Liz again and again in favor of finding his ever-elusive son.

And now he was awake, brought back to life, a shell of the person he used to be. How he longed to tell Liz all the things he’d held in his heart for so long. But he was silenced, and their connection was gone. He felt it, as sure as if a part of him had died. He didn’t feel her. He *couldn’t* feel her.

Now she looked down at him lying helpless for all intents and purposes, and still he saw the love shining in her eyes. A love that she’d carried in her heart even through all the horrible things he’d done to her.

Her warm fingers soothed his battered soul, and for a moment, he felt peace. How could she still love him? How could she look beyond all that Tess had made him do?

With enormous effort, he reached up and laid his hand over her hand lying on his cheek and tried to will his eyes to convey what he was feeling. He felt tremors running through his limbs, and he knew that his body was not right, that he was…damaged somehow. How could she want him like this? How could she love someone who was so broken?

She’d be better off without him, he knew. But he was weak and right now he needed her strength.

“I’m going to call the others,” she said softly to him. “It’s getting light out.”

His eyes turned to the window, noting the dull light filtering through the blinds. Dawn. Lying in the compound, he’d have sworn he’d never see another one, and here he lay with the one person who’d meant everything to him, watching another sunrise being born.

Her lips pressed gently to his cheek, lingering for a moment before pulling away.

He heard her pick up the phone.

“Hey Kyle,” she said in a low voice. “I think you and Isabel should get over here. Get the others on your way.”

“Yeah, I’m ok,” she said.

“Ok, see you soon,” she said, hanging up the phone.

She turned back to him with a worried look on her face.

“Are you ready for this?” she asked, concern written all over her features.

He slowly closed his eyes and nodded his head.

“I’ll be here with you,” she said, gently squeezing his hand.

She’d always been there. She’d always given more of herself than she should have for him. He’d healed her that day in the Crashdown, but that could never compare to all that she’d given him since then.

He knew that he could never make what had happened up to her, and it broke his heart.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Kyle turned to Isabel, whose eyes were bleary with lack of sleep. Together, they’d taken turns in keeping an eye on the baby, until they’d finally lay down with the child between them. Neither could sleep, nervousness permeating both of their minds while the child slept peacefully in between the two.

Kyle rubbed his eyes.

“What is it?” Isabel asked wearily, searching his eyes.

“Nothing. Liz wants us to come to the room. She asked us to get the others,” he said.

“Do you think…” she trailed off, not daring to hope that there had been progress with Max.

“I don’t know. She sounded weird,” he said.

“Let’s get the baby up and we’ll get the others,” she said quickly, and he nodded.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

A short time later, there was a knock at the door, and Liz went to answer it. As she opened it, she was greeted with the worried countenance of Isabel. Liz sighed inwardly. She knew Isabel was going to freak when she found out that Max was aware. She hoped it wouldn’t be too much on him. Already he’d passed back into sleep, and she knew that he was very weak.

“What’s going on?” Isabel asked.

Liz stepped back and let her come in, with Kyle and the baby.

“Where are the others?” she asked.
“We knocked on their doors. They’ll be here in a minute,” Kyle said, and Liz nodded.

“Liz, tell us…” Isabel said, turning to her. “Is it Max?”

Liz nodded slowly.

“He came out of it last night,” she said.

“Last night?!?” Isabel said, her eyes widening. “Why didn’t you call us?”

“Because he didn’t want me to,” Liz said, “now please, lower your voice. He’s sleeping.”

“Liz, how could you?” Isabel said, looking at her incredulously. “How could you keep this from Michael and I?”

Liz felt irritation fill her. “Because I don’t *owe* you anything Isabel. Max was very weak. He can’t speak. It’s an effort for him to even move. He needed to rest,” she said, her eyes flashing.

Isabel realized how she’d sounded.

“I’m sorry Liz,” she said, glancing at Kyle, who looked at her in approval. “I know you were only doing what you thought was best for Max. But you could have told us.”

“And you would have stayed away?” Liz said pointedly.

Isabel said nothing, knowing that she was right.

Another knock interrupted their conversation.

Liz answered the door to Michael, Maria, Serena and Cal.

“What is all this” Michael asked.

“Max is awake,” Isabel said softly.

“What?” Michael said, his eyes widening.

“Michael, he’s very weak, and he can’t speak,” Liz said, and Cal caught her eyes. He looked worried.

“What?” she said to him.

“I can’t say that it isn’t good news that Max is aware, but what of the damage? He isn’t what he was,” Cal said.

“No he’s not,” Liz answered. “But he will be.”

“Are you sure of that? Did he tell you that?”

“No,” Liz said, looking at the floor. “Our connection is gone. But if he’s come this far, who is to say he won’t recover fully?”

“The seal is broken,” Cal said. “He’s vulnerable. He doesn’t have his powers. If Khivar comes back, he’ll take Isabel, and we won’t be able to stop them.”

“We’ll stop them,” Michael said in angry assurance.

“You don’t understand. Tess’s death has already weakened the four square. Max being incapacitated will make stopping Khivar impossible,” Cal said.

“We have to try,” Michael said. “We can’t just sit here and wait for Khivar to come back and finish us off!”

Cal shook his head.

“We’ll work with Max,” Liz said. “We’ll make it work.”

“It’s not that simple,” Serena said.

“Serena, right now I don’t give a damn about Khivar, or the rest of it,” Liz said angrily. “Max is back, and that is all I am concerned with at the moment. We’ll work on everything else later. We’ll figure something out.”

As Liz spoke, Isabel moved to stand next to the bed, kneeling beside Max.

“Max,” she said in a shaky voice.

His eyes opened slowly, and he looked at his sister for the first time in weeks.

“Max, you’re back with us,” she said, taking his hand, tears filling her eyes.

She saw his eyes grow moist.

“We’ll get you well Max, I promise,” she said, smiling at him. He looked at her, and then turned his head to Michael.

In the next moment, Max was thrown back by an overzealous Maria.

His eyes widened as she threw her arms around him.

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “I thought for sure…Max, we’re so glad you’re back.”

Her hold tightened on him, and his eyes widened as she held tightly to him.

“Don’t ever do that to us again, you hear?” she said, pulling away, and then Max saw Michael.

“Hey Maxwell,” he said gruffly, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Figures it would be you that could bring yourself back from the dead.”

Max turned his head to Kyle, who was holding his son.

“Hey Evans, glad you’re back,” he said, nodding at him.

Everyone in the room could see the emotions play across Max’s face as he took in the sight of his family and loved ones.

Liz moved to sit beside him.

He slowly rose to a sitting position, the very action making his face pale. He looked at Liz and she smiled at him encouragingly. He swung his legs over the side of the bed slowly and inched to the edge, putting his feet flat on the floor.

Liz saw in his eyes that he was clearly frustrated at not being able to speak.

She got up and went to the desk and pulled out a pen and notepad, coming back to sit beside him.

She held it out to him, and he took it slowly, looking at her gratefully.

He laid the notepad on his thigh and took the pen into his shaky hand.

Slowly he began to write while they all looked at him expectantly.

It seemed to take him forever to finish, writing with a shaky hand.

Finally, he held the pad out to Liz, and she took it from him.

She looked at the two words shakily written on the paper, and her heart went out to him. She knew what an effort it was to even write this small message, as she looked at his drained face.

MISSED ALL

“He says he missed you all,” she said quietly.

“We missed you too, Max,” Isabel said, putting a trembling hand to her mouth. He turned to his sister and looked at her, and then back to Liz, asking for the pad back.

Liz gave it back to him, and he continued to write again.

Then he handed it back to Liz.

She read it and looked at him surprised for a moment, and then she smiled, tears welling in her eyes.

IZ CONGRAT BABY

She turned to Isabel.

“He must have heard us talking last night. He knows about the baby. It says congratulations,” she said.

Liz saw a myriad of emotions flicker across Isabel’s face, and it seemed as if she wanted to say something.

“You’re going to be an Uncle,” Isabel said, looking at Kyle who gave her an encouraging nod.

Max could see that she was holding something back, and he looked at her questioningly, but she Isabel remained silent.

“Max, do you need anything?” Michael asked, concerned.

“I think he probably needs something to eat,” Liz said, and Max looked at her gratefully.

“I’ll go,” Michael offered, looking at Isabel and motioning to her. She started.

“I’ll go with you,” she said quickly, seeing that he wanted to talk.

“We’ll be back,” Michael said, and they left out the door.

“What now?” Maria said to no one in particular, as expectation hung heavy in the air.

“We need to do damage assessment,” Serena said, and Cal nodded.

“Not here,” Cal said. “We should get out of here as soon as possible. You all need to get back to Roswell. We don’t want to raise any suspicions. Khivar will have sentries posted there,” he said.

“We weren’t followed,” Kyle said. “I’ve become kind of used to looking for that.”

“Good,” Cal said. “The sooner you get back, the less there will be to be suspicious about.”

“What about Max?” Liz asked, concerned.

Cal shrugged. “He needs to stay out of sight.”

“I need to stay out of sight too,” Liz said dryly. “If my parents get wind that I’m back in town, my life is over.”

She turned and looked at Max for a long moment, and then turned back to Cal.

“I want to be with Max. I’m not leaving him,” she said.

She felt Max’s hand grip her arm, and she looked at him.

He was vehemently shaking his head.

“Don’t even argue with me,” she said to him softly. “You were taken away from me once. I’m not going to let it happen again.”

Max searched her eyes for a long moment and then turned them away. He knew that there was no use in arguing with her.

“So how do we do this?” Liz asked.

“We have to keep Max out of Roswell, but close,” Cal said. “It’d only complicate matters if anyone that he knows was to see him.”

“We’ll get a place in Hondo. You can stay there with him for the time being, until we get a handle on when Khivar might be back,” Serena said, and Cal nodded.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Isabel walked beside Michael, trying to keep up with his agitated pace heading toward the restaurant.

“Michael,” she said, and he showed no sign of slowing.

“Michael!” she said more forcefully this time, stopping in her tracks.

Michael stopped and turned slowly toward her.

“Talk to me,” she said softly.

He shook his head.

“What are we going to do?” he asked in a defeated voice.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“What are we going to do about Max?” he asked.

“Michael, I’m still trying to accept that we have him back. We’ll work it out,” she said.

He ran a hand through his hair and looked out over the parking lot.

“We all treated him like shit. He was going through hell. Tess was fucking with his mind, and we didn’t see it. Why didn’t we see it?” he said angrily.

“Michael, a lot happened. There was the summit, the gandarium thing, and Laurie, and then Alex died. Maybe we should have seen it, but it wasn’t like Max was the only one acting strangely. We were *all* going through our own things,” she said, wrapping her arms around herself.

“How could we have thought he would have gotten Tess pregnant, or that he would have even slept with her? I mean, he’s loved Liz for as long as we can remember. Why would we think he would just throw that away? What the hell were we thinking?” he said, kicking a stray rock violently.

“We were all trying to find ourselves Michael. Max went away to the summit, and he realized that he wasn’t just human. There was this whole other side to him, to us. I had found out about what I did to him on Antar. You were trying to deal with finding your human donor. And Liz…Liz was hanging around with Sean. Things happened, Michael. Maybe we should have seen it, but we didn’t. We’re here for him now. We all have to pick up the pieces of our lives,” she muttered.

“So what do we do now?” he asked.

“We just let him know that we’re here for him. We make sure that Khivar can’t do anything else to him. He’s been through enough,” Isabel said grimly.

“How?” Michael asked.

“I don’t know, but I am going to find a way, no matter what it takes,” she said. “He’s not going to win. Not this time. I have a child to think about now. Max and Liz need to heal. You and Maria have a future together. I will not allow him to take that from any of us,” she said with determination.

“We can do this…together,” she said, looking at him.

“I hope you’re right,” Michael said, putting his arm around her as they walked to the restaurant.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Liz watched Max with a worried frown as they all ate. It was unnaturally quiet in the room. Everyone was stealing furtive glances at Max, either to make sure they weren’t dreaming, or to make sure that he was ok.

Lame attempts at conversation failed, the sure danger that was to come in the following weeks on everyone’s minds.

When they were done, it was agreed that Liz would go to Hondo with Max while the others returned to Roswell. Cal and Serena were going to make sure that the Granolith was transported safely and hidden, and then they too would go to Hondo.

Cal and Serena left to pay the hotel bill.

Isabel wasn’t thrilled with the idea of not having Max with her, but she knew that Liz would take care of him. Despite everything, Isabel trusted Liz. She knew she would take care of Max while he recovered. And Isabel would be making daily trips to Hondo.

Michael gave Liz a change of clothes for Max.

“Where did you get these?” Liz asked, and he shrugged.

“I did some room shopping,” he said, and she shook her head.

Everyone said their goodbyes for the time being, and as Liz shut the door to the room, she and Max were once again alone. She leaned against the door, looking at him, drinking in the sight of him as he sat on the bed, returning her gaze.

Neither said a word, Max because he couldn’t, and Liz because she knew she didn’t have to. Their connection may have been gone, but she read the torment in Max’s eyes.

She shoved herself away from the door and walked to him slowly, her eyes never leaving his.

Standing before him, she knelt on the floor, taking his hands.

“Let’s get out of here Max,” she said, and he nodded.

He picked the t-shirt Michael had given him up off the bed, and slowly pulled it on. He moved with the demeanor of a tired old man, and this worried Liz.

Taking a glance at the thermal wrappings that still encased his lower body, he removed the clip that held them on both sides, letting the wraps loosen. He picked up the jeans and paused, looking at her, and she turned around.

A moment later, she heard the rustle of denim as he pulled them up. She waited facing away with her head down until she heard the slow shuffle of his feet and felt the warm touch of his fingers on her shoulder. She noted the tremors that still ran through them.

Slowly she turned around to face him, the one person who had the power to crush her heart or make it swell to the bursting point with love. He swayed precariously, and she saw that he was about to lose his tenuous grip on his balance, and she slipped her arm quickly around him, lending him support.

She saw the internal battle he was fighting on his face as his jaw tightened. He hated that he was so weak. She could see it written all over his face. He was used to be the one in control, the one who supported everyone else. The one who had the answers. And now he needed help, and he resented it on some level. That fact, paired with all of the new memories that had surfaced, painted a mask of torment, etched ever more sharply by the pallor of his skin.

“Max…” she said quietly, putting her free hand on his chest. He lowered his head and looked away.

She wanted so badly to talk to him about what she’d seen in his subconscious, how he was feeling, what he was going through, but without their connection, it was impossible. He had no voice, and writing was out of the question right now. A flash of anger passed through her at being closed off from him.

She bit her lip in frustration.

“Do you want to go?” she asked in a low voice, and he nodded without looking at her.

Together they walked to the door and Liz kept her arm around him as they stepped out into the bright sunlight.

Max squinted against the brightness, his eyes unused to it.

He winced as his bare feet hit the already hot pavement.

“We have to get you some shoes,” she said, making a note. Michael wasn’t able to find a pair with his sticky fingers.

She opened the passenger door and Max sat down heavily into the Taurus.

She walked around to the driver’s side, getting into the car and starting the engine.

Max’s face was turned away from her. She could feel him pulling away from her, and she wished she knew why.

Putting the car into drive, she pulled out of the parking lot, starting the long drive back to New Mexico.

For an hour, Liz concentrated on the road, glancing over at Max occasionally. He never turned his eyes from the landscape.

The sun beat unmercifully against the roof of the car, and Liz cranked the air-conditioning up a notch. She turned the radio on, hoping that it would distract them both a bit from the unavoidable silence that filled the car.

Two hours later she made a stop for food and something to drink. She asked Max what he wanted and he shrugged his shoulders listlessly. She felt this unknown tension building in the car, and she didn’t like it.

She got out of the car and went inside, ordering two burgers and two cherry cokes, spiking Max’s with hot sauce.

When she got back into the car, she handed Max his soda, her fingers lingering on his. A small sad smile played across his lips, and he gently pulled his away.

Liz had just bit into her burger when a horrible rash of choking noises filled the car.

Max doubled over, clutching his throat.

“Max! Max what’s wrong?” she said frantically rubbing his back.

With a shaky hand, he reached over for her soda and pulled the straw to his mouth, drawing deeply on it.

“Max, are you choking?” she asked. “Are you all right? Did you drink yours the wrong way or something?”

Max’s head thudded back against the head-rest, his breath coming in gasps.

“Max?” she said softly.

His eyes opened as he searched around the seat for something.

Finally he held up a small packet, and her eyes widened.

“The hot sauce? The hot sauce made you choke?” she asked.

He nodded.

“But you always liked…” she trailed off. There were more than a few things different about Max.

“I’m sorry,” she said quickly. “I didn’t know.”

He looked at her and she saw he didn’t know either.

She was starting to suspect that there was something very wrong.

“Max, do you think that because the seal is broken, that maybe you’re not…that maybe you’re just a lot more…human now?” she asked.

He stared straight ahead out at the road.

“Everything’s going to be ok,” she said, putting her hand in his. But she was starting to worry.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

As Liz drove, the lingering burning sensation in his throat reminded him of what he didn’t want to think about.

Was Liz right? Was he just human now?

The thought terrified him. A lot of things terrified him at the moment. The fact that he was still alive. The memories that flashed into his head of that night in the observatory. The fact that Khivar was going to come back, and he’d be powerless against him, powerless to stop him.

Liz fingers stroked his hand comfortingly. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the calming sensation.

He didn’t know who he was anymore. Being Max, alien King, the one who took charge, the one who took care of everyone, was who he was. Now he knew nothing. He couldn’t even move without someone helping him.

How was he going to protect everyone he loved, Liz, his friends, his sister, his unborn niece or nephew, if this was all he was now, all he’d ever be from here on out for all he knew?

Another flash of Tess above him, framed by the enormous telescope that suddenly seemed menacing, sent another wave of panic through him that he bitterly fought down. How could he have ever thought that he had a chance against his enemies, when he’d let one of them live amongst them, plotting, scheming, murdering?

For years, all he’d wished for was to be human. But now when he needed more than ever to be exactly what he’d always hated about himself, it was gone. Perhaps this was his punishment, for not being good enough, either in this life or the previous one. He had to do something. He couldn’t bear watching the people he loved made to pay because of who he was.

But what? What could he do? The seal was broken. He was broken.

He felt a wave of hopelessness wash over him. He was a failure…again.

He didn’t care what it cost, he was going to make sure that everyone had a chance at the lives they’d always dreamed of. Even if it meant his own life.

TBC…

posted on 22-Apr-2002 6:43:21 PM by majesty
Next installment, and I know some of you guys are gonna be pissed about this one, but where's the fun without a good antagonist? I do have a plausible explanation as to how this happened *happy*

majesty

PART TWENTY FOUR


Max felt something was building in his head. He could feel it. He didn’t know what it was, but it scared him.

Concentrate, he thought, focusing on the landscape outside the window of the car.

He could feel it, familiar, menacing, overpowering.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

Liz turned onto the main road of Hondo after what seemed like an eternity. The long drive had started to get to her. The past few weeks were catching up to her, and she was weary, in fact bone-tired.

She thought wistfully of all the times she’d come here with her dad to get supplies for the restaurant. So much had changed. She’d changed. She’d grown up. She was no longer naïve Liz Parker. She didn’t even know who that person was anymore. But the surprising thing was, she was happy.

She glanced over at Max, whose eyes hadn’t turned toward her again after they’d left the rest stop, focused on the landscape rushing by.

He’d been through so much, and yet here he was sitting beside her, back from the dead, haunted by things he had no control over. But he was her Max. The person she’d fallen in love with two years ago.

Up ahead she saw the sign she’d been looking for. She sighed gratefully when she saw the vacancy sign and turned into the efficiency apartment complex.

She parked in front of the main office and turned the car off, taking Maria’s cell phone out of her pocket and dialing Cal.

“We’re here,” she said when she heard him answer the phone. She gave him the address of the complex and hung up the phone without any further conversation.

She leaned back momentarily against the headrest, closing her eyes. Letting the lingering heat of the day seep into her bones as it radiated through the metal roof of the car.

She smiled slightly when she felt warm fingers lay on top of hers resting on the seat.

She opened her eyes and turned her head toward Max.

The sun caught the golden pools of his eyes, illuminating them, bringing them to life. She looked at them for a long moment, entranced. An added dimension of pain lay in them now, but they were still the most beautiful things she’d ever seen or would ever see again.

She lifted her fingers from his, grasping his hand, bringing it to her lips, gently kissing his palm, her lips lingering there as she looked at him.

Max broke their gaze, looking down for a moment, and she squeezed his hand gently.

“I’m going to go inside and get this over with,” she said, and he nodded.

She couldn’t resist leaning over, her hand sliding to the back of his neck, placing a tender kiss on his forehead.

“I’ll be right back,” she said, and he nodded.

Liz got out of the car, walking into the freezer that was the rental office. She paid cash in advance for two months, not knowing how long they were going to be here, and was handed the keys to a second floor apartment.

Walking outside after being in the artificial coolness was a welcome. She walked toward the car and stopped when she didn’t see Max in the passenger seat. She panicked for a moment, glancing around frantically until her eyes found his figure, facing away from her on the second floor staircase landing staring out at the landscape.

She walked to the stairs, wondering what kind of effort it had taken to get himself to the top of the landing. She slowly ascended, keeping her eye on him as she made her way to the top.

He hadn’t heard her, and she stood just watching him, the dying rays of the sun reflecting off his pale skin, turning it golden. A soft breeze blew, caressing his hair from his forehead.

She saw his hand tremble against the railing it rested upon and he swayed slightly for a moment.

She quietly walked up behind him, putting her hand on his arm, resting her head against his shoulder, taking in the scene he’d been looking at.

“You know, we grew up here, but I’m still in awe of the sunsets,” she said as she looked at the desert beyond lit as it could only be by the soft flood of the sunset.

He nodded and continued to stare beyond the lower adjacent buildings.

They stood there until dusk fell in quiet contemplation each lost in their own thoughts.

Finally as it grew dark Liz took his hand and led him gently away from the railing to the door that led inside the building. He followed without protest, allowing her to lead him slowly by the hand to the apartment that would be theirs for the duration. She was careful to match his slow gate.

Liz slipped the key into the lock turning it and opening the door before switching the light on.

The two looked over the room. It could have been better. It could have been worse.

It was clean, though the slightly musty smell of having been closed up too long lay in the air.

A small kitchenette lay to the right, the bathroom next to it. A sliding door led out to a small balcony with two chairs directly in front of them. The counter of the kitchenette faced the bed and a television sat in a small alcove carved into it. A closet sat directly next to the doorway they stood in.

Liz pulled Max gently into the room and led him to the bed reaching to his shoulders and pushing on them gently until he sat on the bed.

“I’m going to run down to the car and get our stuff,” she said, and he nodded, looking up at her.

She was still amazed that a mere look from Max could make her knees feel weak. His eyes seemed to burn right into her soul.

“I’ll…I’ll be right back,” she stammered, backing away from him.

She turned to the door and let herself out, letting out a long breath before continuing down the hallway to the door leading outside to the stairs.

She stopped on the landing, pulling out the phone again. She dialed Isabel quickly. The phone was answered on the first ring.

“Hello?” a voice said quickly.

“Isabel, its Liz. I just wanted to let you know that we’re in Hondo, and that we made it here all right,” she said.

“I was starting to get worried,” Isabel answered, sounding relieved.

“Yeah well…we’re fine,” Liz answered.

There was an uncomfortable moment of silence.

“Well, I guess I’d better go,” Liz said.

“Liz, wait,” Isabel said quickly.

Liz sat in silence, wondering what Isabel was going to blame on her.

“I’m sorry Liz,” Isabel said finally. “I’m sorry for the way I acted in Texas, and I’m sorry I was so hard on you. If it weren’t for you, Max would probably be dead right now. I just…I worry about him, and he was dead and seeing him alive again and thinking that I might lose him, I…”

“Isabel, its ok,” Liz interrupted. “I understand.”

“You might understand, but that doesn’t make it right,” she said. “There are other things going on with me, things that have nothing to do with you. Kyle kind of straightened me out the other night. He made me realize that I haven’t been thinking of anyone else but us, myself, Max and Michael I mean. And it’s not fair. We’ve been a group for a long time now, it’s just taken me a little longer to realize that than it should have. And I’m sorry,” she finished quietly.

Liz smiled faintly.

“Let’s just start over, all right?” Liz asked.

“That would be…great,” Isabel said.

“Ok then,” Liz said. “Are you coming by tomorrow?”

“If it’s ok,” Isabel said.

“I think it would be good for Max, and it will give me a chance to go out and get some things for us. Michael forgot to get Max shoes,” she laughed.

“Typical Michael,” Isabel said, with a touch of humor in her voice.

Liz gave Isabel the address, but she already knew where it was. She asked Isabel to tell Maria and Michael they were fine, and said goodbye.

She sighed as she put the phone back into her pocket and started down the stairs to the car.

It was getting cold, as nights in the desert were apt to be, and she shivered a little as she opened the door to the car and pulled out the small bag they’d taken with them, along with a paper bag filled with snacks.

It wasn’t dinner, but it was something. She didn’t want to leave Max alone to go and get something if she didn’t have to. She’d ask him when she went back upstairs.

A moment later she was letting herself back into the room.

Max was still in the same spot she’d left him, staring at seemingly nothing.

“Max?” she said, setting the bag down on the floor and closed the door, carrying the paper bag into the small kitchen.

His head turned toward her as if startled.

“Do you want something to eat?” she asked, dumping the contents onto the counter.

He shrugged and slowly stood, walking carefully to the counter, standing on the other side of it in front of her.

He watched her as she picked through the candy bars, small bags of chips and packets of crackers.

“Sorry,” she said regretfully, dropping a candy bar back on the counter, trying to find something that piqued her interest.

“There isn’t much of a variety here,” she said, her eyes focused on the pile in front of her. She stilled as she felt a warm hand cover hers and she looked up.

He looked at her as if he wanted to say something. She could see the frustration on his face as his mouth tightened, knowing he could not voice what he wanted to say.

“Wait,” she said, walking over to the bag on the floor and coming back with a notepad and a pen. She put them down on the counter in front of him and waited expectantly.

He picked up the pen with a trembling hand, something she was getting used to seeing now.

His brow furrowed in concentration as he painstakingly wrote out what he wanted to say

Thank you.

She looked up at him.

“For what Max?” she asked.

He looked down at the paper again and put the pen to it, each letter coming out shakily.

Saving my life. Not *even* anymore.”

“Max, this isn’t a contest,” she said, putting her hand to his cheek.

“I love you. You have no idea what it was like to think that you were gone. I thought such terrible things because I didn’t know the truth about what happened,” she said guiltily.

Don’t blame you.

“Things were really messed up, weren’t they Max?” she asked.

He looked down at the counter.

“I’m sorry I didn’t know. I should have seen what was going on. I should have known,” she said sadly, and his head shot up.

He shook his head vigorously.

Not your fault!!

“It’s not yours either,” she said meaningfully and he looked away.

She cupped his chin, turning his face back to her.

“It’s not your fault,” she said again.

He sighed, and looked down at the paper.

Feel helpless.

“Max you’re not helpless. Give it time. We’ll try the connection again after we rest,” she said.

He nodded.

She dangled a package of crackers in front of him and he took it. She chose one for herself, and took his hand, leading him to the sliding door, opening it.

They sat outside, eating quietly looking up at the night sky.

Liz laid her head back against the hard plastic of the chair and just beheld the night sky twinkling above her.

“Do you know how many times I’ve done this in the past two and a half years?” she asked.

“Sometimes I was happy, and sometimes my heart felt like it was broken into pieces, but it always reminded me of you. Even when we weren’t together, when I looked up at the stars, I somehow felt like I was close to you,” she said.

“When I thought you were going to leave with Tess, I sat for a long time looking at them, wondering exactly where out there your home was. I wanted to ask you that night, where to look, because it would be the only way I could feel like I was still close to you, still connected to you. But with everything, I just couldn’t…” she trailed off.

He took her hand and squeezed it gently.

“Anyway, I think the night sky will always remind me of you,” she said.

She turned her head to find him looking at her, his eyes shining with tears.

“Come on, let’s go inside,” she said, standing up. “You’re probably exhausted.”

He nodded, getting up out of the chair.

Liz walked over and turned the television on and turned to Max.

“I’m going to go in and get a shower,” she said, and he nodded.

She took a few things out of the bag on the floor and walked into the bathroom. A minute later he heard the water running.

He turned to the television, not really watching, but needing something to focus his eyes on. He found himself looking for things to focus on, like he had earlier on the landscape as it rushed by in the car, the desert spread out before him while standing on the landing, and the night sky while sitting outside with Liz. It made him feel grounded, as if proof that he was still here.

The moving pictures flashed before his eyes, but were merely fleeting images he let register before moving on to the next.

*flash*

“You’ll never be rid of me Max,” a voice whispered. “I’ll always be in your mind.”

“Shut up,’ he whispered in his head in a trembling voice.

A mirthless giggle whispered through his head.

“I had you Max. We’re connected now…forever.”

“Leave me alone,” he heard himself whisper angrily through his head, his voice taking on a hint of desperation.

“Never…”

“Max?”

He started at the voice next to him, his head turning quickly toward Liz.

Liz looked at him worriedly, a towel wrapped loosely around her body.

“Max, are you ok?” she asked, sitting down next to him.

He shook his head vigorously.

“Tired,” he mouthed.

“Are you sure?” she asked, unconvinced.

He nodded again.

She studied him for a moment, trying to decide whether she believed that he was really ok.

After a pause, she spoke.

“I’m finished in the bathroom if you want to take a shower,” she said, and Max looked at her, realizing for the first time that she was sitting next to him in nothing more than a towel, her hair trailing down her back in a wet cascade.

He swallowed hard, and nodded, looking away quickly.

He rose slowly, walking over to the bag on the floor, picking out a pair of sweats and a t-shirt with a shaky hand, wondering for the first time if this time it was due to the sight of Liz, and not his rebirth.

He avoided looking at her as he went into the bathroom and closed the door, leaning against it, closing his eyes.

She was so beautiful. From the very first moment he saw her he thought she was the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen. His eyes had always been drawn to her. He couldn’t stay away, spending endless hours in the Crashdown watching her work, knowing she had no idea that he thought about her. It was his secret, the one thing that he had for himself. Isabel and Michael had been disgusted with him, looking at him like he was a love-sick puppy, but he hadn’t cared. He could never ask Liz Parker out on a date, but no one could tell him he couldn’t have a burger in the Crashdown.

So much had changed since those days. He’d known love such as he’d never imagined, or could have hoped for.

He turned the hot water on and took his clothes off, stepping into the shower.

He let the hot water pelt his skin, leaning against the wall.

The voice in his head had scared him. Tess. She was dead. Liz said she was dead. So why was she still in his head?

“You’ll never be rid of me Max. I am tied to you forever. Don’t you remember?”

A soft laugh echoed through his mind, as an image flashed through his mind that made him retch.

He was lying on the floor of the observatory, looking up at her, horror filling every cell in his body as he felt her thighs pressed against his, her hands splayed flat against his chest.

“You’re dead,” his mind grated, and the image disappeared.

“Dead. Now that’s funny,” the voice laughed. Can’t get rid of my that easily Max. Don’t you know that the villain never dies the first time around? It’s the classic formula of any thriller.

I’m going to kill you Max,” her angry voice whispered in his head.

“But not before I make you watch Liz Parker die…slowly.”

“You can’t stop me Max. You’ve never been able to stop us. You’re weak. You’ll never win. Never.”

A piercing blare exploded in his head, and his face crumpled in agony.
His hands grasped his temples as he slid slowly down the wall of the shower stall, tears mixing in with the water streaming down his face.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Liz heard the water running in the shower, and picked up the nightclothes she’d dropped on the floor outside the bathroom when she’d opened the door to check on Max.

She’d seen that look on his face, as if he were a million miles away. As if he’d seen something terrible.

She’d called his name once, and he hadn’t answered. She’d walked out of the bathroom toward him, and it was as if he was looking right through the television.

She’d called his name again and he’d snapped out of it, turning toward her. But it scared her, because for a moment it seemed as if he were somewhere else, as if he weren’t there.

She pulled her underwear on and then her boxers, keeping her eyes and ears tuned to the bathroom.

She pulled her t-shirt over her head and sat down on the bed to wait for Max to come out.

Something was wrong with him before. She knew it. He was hiding something from her, probably to protect her, as usual.

She sighed as she listened to the water running for what seemed like forever, and then started to get nervous. The water had surely run cold by now.

She got up off of the bed and walked to the door, softly knocking on it.

“Max?” she said softly. “Is everything all right?”

She received no answer.

Tentatively, she opened the door.

The steam from the hot water had already begun to dissipate, confirming her suspicion that it had run out.

“Max?” she called from the door.

Her question was met with the constant ping of the water against the shower wall, but no fingers pulled the curtain open.

Liz felt her body stiffen in fear as she stared at the still curtain before her.

“Max?” she said nervously, feeling scared and at the same time embarrassed to be in here. But her fear over-rode her feeling uncomfortable when she still hadn’t received any signal that he was ok, and heard a dull thump.

She moved closer to the curtain, trying to hear anything behind it.

“Max?” she said, an edge of panic creeping into her voice hearing his breathing, erratic and harsh.

Then she heard a second thump and this pushed her into action.

She slowly opened the curtain at first seeing no one. Until she looked down.

He had pushed himself into a corner, and curled into a fetal position, his hands over his ears, shivering under the stream of cold water, his eyes closed tightly, his face crumpled in pain. His head hit the wall again, the source of thump she’d heard a moment earlier.

She shoved the curtain aside and dropped to her knees in the stall, oblivious to the water that was now soaking her.

Her hands flew to his face, cupping his jaw.

“Max?” she said frantically. “Max, what’s wrong?”

For a moment, he didn’t respond, and she continued to stroke his cheeks with her thumbs, her voice a soft plea begging for a response from him.

“Max, please…” she said, her voice cracking, and slowly his tightly closed eyes relaxed and he opened them slightly.

Shivers were wracking his body, his knees pulled up to his chest.

“Max, what’s going on with you?” she asked softly, her eyes pleading with his to let her in.

The haunted look he returned made her heart ache. He looked as if he’d seen some awful vision.

She reached over and turned off the water, as her hand slid to his arm.

“God you’re freezing,” she said, getting up and going back into the room, quickly dragging the comforter off the bed.

She dropped it on the floor grabbing a towel and putting it around his shoulders, rubbing vigorously trying to warm him up.

He looked at her with such a sense of desolation that her throat tightened.

What happened to him? She wondered worried.

“Max,” she said gently, taking his hand, “come out of there so I can get you warm.”

He half-crawled out of the stall, hunched over and sat heavily on the floor, shivering again pulling his knees to his chest, and Liz felt a jolt of fear. This reminded her too much of the night at the lake, after their first date, when Max had impulsively jumped in, teasing her to follow him.

Tess had mind-warped him that night, making him think that his son had contacted him. He was acting eerily similar to the way he did that night.

But it wasn’t Tess. It couldn’t be. She was dead. Did that mean it was Khivar? She felt a shiver run down her own spine at the thought that he had regrouped so quickly. No. It was impossible. He needed a body, and Cal said that would take time. But then, what was this? Some after-effect of Max’s reincarnation? Whatever it was, it scared her.

She pulled him into her arms, wrapping the blanket around him, oblivious to the fact that he was completely naked underneath.

“Max, you’ve got to tell me what’s going on,” she said softly, her eyes filling with tears.

“Write it, whatever…I don’t care, but I’m not going to let you go through whatever this is alone,” she said softly.

His wet hair was pressed against her already sopping wet shirt, and she sighed, running her fingers through his hair.

A moment later he laid his head in her lap, and she continued to stroke his hair, trying to comfort him. She leaned back against the sink, and let out a long breath.

Max lay there for a long time. Liz had long ago lost track of the minutes she had been sitting on the floor, more concerned with what had happened to put that look in his eyes.

Finally, she sat straight when her back began to ache, and put her hand on his shoulder.

“Come on Max, let’s go to bed,” she said, and he woodenly sat up while put her arm around him. Together they got up and she led him to the bed, where he laid down gingerly.

She climbed in beside him, wrapping her arm around him.

He was still shivering slightly, but for a moment neither of them noticed as their eyes locked.

She felt his hand on her shirt, and he got an apologetic look on his face realizing it was still very damp.

She gave him a small smile.

“It’s ok,” she said, more worried that he was going to lapse into another incident.

He shook his head and tugged on it.

She lay still for a moment, and slowly sat up, catching the hem of it in her hands and slowly pulled it off. Max kept his eyes averted, trying to be the gentleman.

She laid down next to him again and he pulled the blanket over her, and she moved closer to him, her arm making contact with his. His skin was cold, but soon the warmth of their combined body heat took the chill away.

They stared into each other’s eyes for a long time, Liz stroking his cheek.
“Whatever happened scared you, didn’t it?” she whispered, and Max looked away.

“Max, it’s ok to be scared, I’m scared too,” she said, moving closer, feeling the soft skin of his chest brush up against her nipples, causing her to shiver herself.

His eyes met hers again, his hand slowly rubbing her arm, trying to warm her.

“I’m not cold,” she whispered, and his hand froze as he caught her meaning.

“I want to kiss you Max,” she said, her thumb brushing across his lower lip, and she felt the change in his breathing in response to what she’d just said. She moved even closer, her leg tangling with his. She felt the hard peaks of her nipples pressing into his chest, and knew that it was affecting him as much as it was her. His quickly hardening erection against her boxers made her feel dizzy for a moment, and she pressed against him unconsciously.

Slowly his hand traced up her arm to her neck, then threading through her hair as he drew her closer, his tongue hesitantly tracing her lips, a small moan from her his reward. She opened her mouth to him, and his tongue tenderly explored her mouth before touching her own erotically before gently capturing her lower lip gently with his teeth, as his hand gently slid through her hair his fingers resting behind her ear.

The emotions raging inside Liz were drowning her, even without the connection. It had been so long since they’d done this with no secrets between them.

Her leg slid over his thigh, moving even closer, wanting to feel him against her, feeling him press against her aching core.

Never had the sensations been so intense, even when they’d been unable to keep their hands off each other that spring when they’d found the orb.

She could feel the soft down of his legs pressed against the inside of her thighs as her mouth met his, more insistent this time. She knew that things were moving too quickly, but she was helpless to stop it. She wanted him.

He rolled backward, and she was straddling him, leaning down over him, her hands on either side of his face while his tongue plundered her mouth. She could feel his erection pulsing beneath her as his hands grasped her hips.

Neither were expecting their connection to flare up so strongly, so suddenly.

*flash*

The two pieces of the seal spun frantically around them, and an image traveled through their connection, the same image of Tess Max had earlier, leaning above him, leering at him with satisfaction, and Liz felt Max’s horror as if it were her own.

And then it went black.

“You’re dead…”

“Dead. Now that’s funny…”

Then there is laughter.

Can’t get rid of my that easily Max. Don’t you know that the villain never dies the first time around? It’s the classic formula of any thriller…

I’m going to kill you Max…”

“But not before I make you watch Liz Parker die…slowly.”

“You can’t stop me Max. You’ve never been able to stop us. You’re weak. You’ll never win. Never…”


Max’ wrenched his lips away from her, pushing her away, rolling away from her onto his stomach.

“Oh God Max,” Liz said breathing harshly, “she’s alive. She’s out there somewhere, isn’t she?”

TBC…

**Come on, you all know the good villains don't die that easily!**
posted on 5-May-2002 12:07:46 AM by majesty
Hi everyone,

Here is the next installment.

I'd like to thank Angela for giving Kyle's baby his name *happy*

Hope you enjoy this,

majesty


PART TWENTY FIVE

Max couldn’t look at Liz, couldn’t face her knowing she would be thinking the worst, that he had withheld another secret from her, again. He’d wanted to believe that it was a figment of his imagination. He knew now that it was not, and that Liz was right.

Tess was out there somewhere, waiting to take her revenge, and right now he was powerless to stop her. She was in his head. But how could he have told Liz? How could he possibly write that on a piece of paper? It was bad enough that he couldn’t speak, couldn’t use his voice to tell her. But to write it out, to place the truth before her in black and white would have been too much for him to bear. It made it too real.

The flash of Tess above him had disgusted him, just as it had that night in the observatory. She had deliberately conjured that image in his mind. He knew that now. He’d felt her presence in his head the moment before it happened, as Liz was getting the flashes of what Tess had whispered in his head moments ago in the bathroom. Would this be what the rest of his life was like? Every time Liz touched him getting a flash of the person he hated most in the world? The thought was unbearable.

Liz had risen from the bed pulling her tank back on, and was pacing agitated back and forth, trying to gain control of her emotions.

As he turned his head to watch her, Max could see the barely contained rage coursing through her, and he winced, looking away.

He waited for an outburst, for her to tell him that she was done with him, that this would be his final secret he kept from her. He knew he deserved whatever she said to him, after everything.

But what came out of her mouth an instant later was the last thing he expected.

“Why won’t she leave you alone? Hasn’t she done enough damage already? I swear to God if she was right here I’d kill her all over again,” she grated.

“I’m so sorry Max,” she said.

He looked up at her in shock as she sat down next to him, her hand resting gently on his shoulder. Why was she apologizing? She had nothing to be sorry for. If anything he should be apologizing, over and over again for everything knowing him, loving him had put her through.

He shook his head sadly and touched her cheek, his thumb stroking her jaw.

He felt tears well in his eyes and he didn’t care. He didn’t bother to hide them. He didn’t want to hide anything anymore.

He drew her into his arms, and amazingly, she allowed him to. Her breath warmed his neck as he tenderly stroked her hair, his tears falling into her hair.

“I saw the seal Max, both halves of it,” she said quietly. “It hasn’t gone away, which makes me think it can be fixed. I just don’t know how to do that. But I do know that we’ll find a way.”

She pulled away from him to look up at him.

“Well we can look at it this way,” she said dryly, “at least we know exactly what we’re dealing with. Tess made a mistake in playing her hand. We know she’s out there now, probably with Khivar. That gives us a small advantage.”

“I swear Max, she’s going to pay for everything she’s done,” she said with determination, as his face grew tense with the anger that he’d held in for so long.

He nodded tersely.

Tess would pay one way or another. He would make sure of it.

His arms tightened protectively around the girl he’d loved for as long as he could remember.

Tess thought he was weak. And maybe at the moment he was. But one thing she’d always underestimated, and that was his love for Liz. It had gotten him through the hell of the past year and a half, and it would carry him through anything he had to deal with from here on out. This time things were going to be different. This time, he was going to win.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Kyle pulled his truck into a parking slot in front of Isabel’s apartment complex. Things had gone much better than expected when he told his father about Jamie. Yes, he’d secretly given his son a name, a name of the person he admired most in the world, his dad.

Though they didn’t always see eye to eye, there was no denying that his father was someone that Kyle admired and respected above all else. His dad was someone he looked up to and aspired to be like, now more than ever, for the sacrifices he’d made, the people he protected, the inherent kindness and sense of duty that he had always carried and had instilled in his own son.

Kyle had worried about his Dad’s reaction to the baby. He knew that his father had taken Tess’ betrayal and involvement in Alex’s death very hard. He was sure this latest revelation would only add insult to injury for him, but when he brought the child into the house, his father had remained surprisingly calm, taking the news in stride.

He looked at the baby, and Kyle handed the child to him tentatively, and though he looked worried, there was no denying that he was taken with the child, his grandson.

When he’d asked Kyle what he was going to do, Kyle had no easy answers. In his heart, he had already chosen his path, but it was still too soon to voice it. He needed time.

They all needed time, and that was a precious commodity that there just wasn’t enough of.

Kyle thought of Isabel. He knew she was going through her own personal hell, and his heart went out to her. They all had their own burdens to bear.

They’d talked quietly as Michael and Maria slept in the back seat on the way home to Roswell.

“Are you going to stay in that apartment?” Kyle asked her, glancing at her.

“I don’t know Kyle. I am not sure I can stay there alone. I’m not sure I want to. But I can’t go home to my parents. I just can’t. It would be admitting my failures. I made some mistakes, and I have to deal with them, and running home like a child isn’t the answer,” she’d said.

He nodded understanding that taking the easy way out was not always the best way.

Isabel would have to adjust to a life without Jesse, and the thought of raising a baby alone. In many ways they were so much alike.

For a moment around the New Year, he’d thought he might fall for Isabel, but he knew now that it would never work. There was too much water under the bridge, too much history with Alex and the group.

But he felt comfortable with her as he’d never felt comfortable with Michael or Max. Somewhere along the line, he’d come to think of Isabel as one of his best friends. He wondered how that had happened. It had crept up on him while he was unaware.

Maybe it was when they’d talked so much before her wedding. Maybe because for a small moment it seemed that their pairing was the only logical one with Alex gone now, until he realized that he could never be to Isabel what she needed, and she could never be what he wanted, not in a mate. But as a friend, she was just what he needed.

She was selfish and self-absorbed, but he’d learned to overlook that a long time ago, until recently, because he knew that she was also sensitive and loyal to a fault.

He didn’t really know what prompted him to drive over here until he’d parked and turned the engine off and allowed himself to think about what had been itching in the back of his mind.

Sighing, he got out of the truck, activating the alarm.

Walking up to her door, he paused before knocking.

Was he doing the right thing? He didn’t know, but there was no turning back now.

He rapped gently on the door, and a moment later Isabel opened the door, looking surprised, her eyes swollen from crying.

“Kyle, what are you doing here?” she asked in confusion, and he took a deep breath and smiled.

Well, it was now or never.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Liz called Cal to tell him of the latest development and Tess’s manipulation of Max while he sat quietly beside her listening, having donned his pair of sweatpants.

“I think she still has some hold over him,” She said to Cal.

“I should have known,” Cal said angrily. “She’s spent a lot of time with Khivar. It’s only natural that he would have shared the technology with her. Body possession is not exclusive to the Skins. She’d seen Larek and the others do it at the Summit. Of course she would have talked him into sharing it,” he said, disgusted.

“But she was occupying her own body, and it’s gone. I don’t understand,” Liz said.

“There are special preparations that have to be made to a being’s resident body in order for the body switching to occur. He probably just reversed the process on her, setting up a host body on Antar for her to occupy should her own body die. Right now she’s probably sitting on Antar laughing,” he said irritated.

“How can she retain such control over Max over that kind of distance?” she asked.

“That is where Antarians differ from the skins,” Cal said. “Tess is an extremely powerful being. She has a connection to Max now. A physical connection to his psyche,” he said, his distaste evident in his voice.

“Oh,” Liz said quietly, “so it’s because of what she did to him last year.”

“Yes,” Cal said, sighing. “Even if it was forced, their bodies joined. It created a connection between them, one that she can use to her advantage.”

“I see,” Liz said dully.

“Don’t worry, Liz. She slipped up once already. Even knowing that she’s alive at this point is an advantage,” he reminded her.

“I know,” she said, looking at Max. Any knowledge at this point was an advantage, since Max couldn’t speak, and writing only hindered everything.

“Look, just keep an eye on Max for tonight. Serena and I will stop there tomorrow to check on him,” Cal said.

“Isabel will be here tomorrow,” Liz said.

“That’s even better,” he said. “Maybe she’ll dream-walk him. There’s a possibility that she’ll see something that will help us.”

“Yeah,” Liz said, without enthusiasm.

As angry as she might have been at Isabel, she didn’t envy her having to possibly relive the treachery she’d already seen in Max’s memories.

“We’ll see you tomorrow,” Cal said.

“Goodnight,” Liz said, hanging up the phone with a sigh.

“Cal said it’s completely possible that Khivar reversed the possession process, preparing a body on Antar for Tess if anything happened to her. He says that she has this connection with you because of what happened last spring,” she said, and watched an anguished look pass across his face.

“Don’t torture yourself over this Max,” she said, taking his hand. “Maybe we can somehow turn this around to work to our advantage. We just have to think about it.”

He nodded, picking up the notepad and pen lying on the bed next to him.

I didn’t know. If I knew for sure, I would have told you.

“I know Max,” she said.

Sorry about earlier.

“Me too,” she said, leaning her head on his shoulder.

Wonder if things will ever be normal?

She smiled, looking at him.

“What’s so great about normal?” she said softly.

“I would give up an eternity of normal for an hour of extraordinary with you,” she said, her finger tracing a path on his wrist.

She closed her eyes for a minute, just absorbing his warmth.

“How did he take your voice away Max?” she asked, opening her eyes waiting for his response.

Not sure. His hand was on my throat, and it was gone. Maybe manipulated my larynx…?

She rubbed her temples tiredly.

“I just have this suspicion…that all of this is tied into the seal. That if we could restore that, then everything else would fall into place, even your powers,” she said.

He nodded, agreeing with her.

Liz noticed him try to stifle a yawn.

The day had been very trying for all of them, Max more than the others.

Liz turned and crawled onto the bed, holding a hand out to him to follow.

Together they settled under the blankets, Liz’s head tucked under Max’s chin as he wrapped his arms around her.

It felt so good to be in his arms again. Somehow it didn’t matter where they were or what kind of danger they were in, every time that Max pulled her into his reassuring and loving embrace, everything else seemed to disappear. She’d thought she’d lost that forever, but by some miracle, he’d been given back to her, and she wasn’t going to waste a spare moment of their time together.

Her fingers began to draw lazy patterns on the smooth skin of his waist, and she felt his silent sigh of contentment and momentary peace being here with her. It was the way things had always been in the beginning before Tess, this calming wave of love that bathed both of them whenever they were near each other.

Things had changed so much since then, and that innocence was gone. But in its place was a love even stronger than before, a love that had been tested, that had persevered through all of it.

When she stopped to think of the crazy turns her life had taken, it seemed overwhelming, yet if Max hadn’t come into her life, she’d be dead right now. Instead she was wrapped in the arms of the only person she’d ever loved, or would ever love again.

“Isabel is coming tomorrow,” she said softly, and she felt him nod against her head.

“Cal thinks she might be able to dream-walk you. That maybe she’ll see something that we missed,” she said.

She felt his fingers softly running through her hair.

“Maybe it will help,” she said, distracted by the feel of his fingers against her scalp.

Though he continued to stroke her hair, she felt his body tense next to hers. She knew he was torturing himself yet again, thinking that Isabel would see everything he’d been through, everything Liz herself had seen in the flashes.

“Don’t Max,” she said quietly, “don’t start blaming yourself again. It’s not going to change anything. You’re going to make everyone feel worse if there’s a chance they can help and you won’t let them because you’re afraid of what they’ll see. Let her help you if she can.”

She felt his arms tightened around her.

“I love you, but that control thing you’ve got going on always drove me crazy Max,” she said, looking up at him.

“Sometimes you just can’t control things, and sometimes you need to let people help, and to trust that their instincts are right. You knew yours were right when you confided in me after you healed me. Let Isabel decide if she wants to do it, and if she does, you should let her. She might be able to help you Max,” she said.

After a pause, he nodded, his jaw tightening.

“Don’t be stubborn. Not now,” she scolded, kissing his chin lightly.

She was rewarded with a soft, slightly sheepish smile from him.

She couldn’t help but smile back.

“It’s good to see you smile again,” she said, and his face grew solemn again as he ran his finger lightly down her cheek, his eyes searching hers.

For one wistful moment, she wished that she could hear his voice, that soft-spoken, slightly husky one that made her shiver when she heard it.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

“You can’t be serious,” Isabel laughed in disbelief as she sat across from Kyle.

“I’m serious as a heart attack,” he said looking at her without flinching.

“Kyle…I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I mean, it’s not that I’m not scared to death, because I have no idea what’s going to happen, but…” she said, trailing off.

“But what?” he asked.

She sighed, looking at the wall behind hum, unable to meet his gaze.

“What you said the other day was true. I am selfish. Right now you’re the only person who I know will be honest with me no matter what, and if I lose that, if I screw that up, I won’t be able to deal with it,” she said.

“What makes you think I won’t tell you where to shove it if you get out of line?” he asked.

She grinned at him indignantly.

“Look, I have this kid now. You’re gonna have a kid soon. I need someone to help me out with this. I can’t do it alone. Jesse isn’t here. And I think it’s time that I did things away from Dad. I love him, but he needs to make his own decisions and to be responsible for himself now. Maybe if I’m not there to pick up the pieces, he’ll be forced to do it,” he said.

“Kyle, I can’t ask you to do this,” she said.

“You’d be doing me a favor. And you won’t have to ask your parents for rent money, because you aren’t going to be able to work at some point. I bring home enough to make the rent on this place at the garage. You can help me out by watching Jamie while I’m at work. It’s a mutually beneficial situation,” he shrugged.

“Jamie?” Isabel questioned, her eyebrows raised.

“Hey, the kid needed a name, and we never got it from Tess,” he protested. “I had to give him one. He’ll get a complex or something. Besides, I thought naming him after Dad might soften the blow of me leaving.”

Isabel snorted.

“You’re too much,” she said, shaking her head.

For a moment, there was an uncomfortable silence between them.

“So…?” he asked.

She looked at him for a long moment.

“Okay,” she finally sighed, running her hands through her hair. “Okay.”

“Great,” he said, breathing a sigh of relief.

“And listen, don’t worry about any romantic stuff going on. I mean, I’m not going to hit on you or anything, and if I have a date, I’ll take it elsewhere, ‘cause, you know it’s not good for the kid to see,” he said hurriedly, and Isabel burst out laughing.

“Kyle, calm down,” she said, “I get it. Room-mates. We’ll be like room-mates.”

“Yeah, room-mates,” he said.

“Thank you Kyle,” she said. “I know what you’re doing here, and I appreciate it. You’ve been a really good friend. I know I haven’t told you that often enough.”

“See? Now what’s up with that? I’m trying to get myself into a situation that will help me out, and you’re trying to make it like I’m doing you a favor,” he said, putting his feet up cockily on the coffee-table.

Isabel shook her head. “Ok Kyle, if that’s the way you want to play it.”

“So, how do you think your parents are going to take it?” he asked.

“They don’t have any say in it,” she said, shrugging. “I mean, it’s not like we’ve been too close lately. We were all caught up in our own things with Max’s death, and now they’re none too thrilled with either me or Jesse at the moment. I had a lot of angry messages on my machine when I got back,” she said.

“I tried to talk to them, but the conversation quickly went nowhere. This isn’t going to drop their opinion of me any further than it’s already gone, with me disappearing for days and all. Anyway, you and I are just friends. I am getting myself a room-mate. Case closed. What about your Dad?” she asked.

He shrugged.

“He knows you a lot better than your parents know me. I know he won’t be happy with me leaving, but I guess he’ll rest easier knowing I’ll be here,” he said.

“So you don’t mind watching Jamie during the day?” he asked.

She shook her head, absently putting her hand on her stomach.

“It will give me practice for when this one makes an appearance,” she said.

“Are you scared?” he asked quietly.

“Yeah,” she said sighing shakily.

“Me too,” he said, leaning back. “But we’ll both be going through the same thing right? You know, Buddha says…”

“Kyle,” she said, putting her hand up to silence him.

“Fine,” he grumbled good-natured. “But someday you might need the enlightenment of the great master.”

“Uh Kyle, I’ve had enough enlightenment in the past weeks to last me a lifetime,” she said dryly.

“Unless he can tell us how to fix Max and defeat Kivar, I’d appreciate it if he would just keep quiet for awhile,” she said.

“Yeah, speaking of Kivar, what are you all gonna do when he comes back? I mean he is coming back, right?” he asked.

“I would put money on it,” she said grimly. “He wants to finish what he started with Max. He couldn’t get the seal from him, so now he just wants him dead.”

“How are you all going to fight him, with Max being the way he is?” he asked.

“Any way we can,” she said with determination.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Liz had long since fallen asleep on the bed, but the bliss of slumber eluded Max, as tired as he was.

Too many things were racing through his head.

For a long while, he sat there listening to Liz’s quiet breathing, deep regular breaths that calmed him, as he gently stroked her back.

He said a silent prayer of thanks once again that he’d been given the courage to save her life that day in the Crashdown. Many nights while trapped in his own mind, he’d done this. He’d repeated this quiet mantra to keep himself sane, to give him hope that someday, some way, he’d be free of the prison Tess had trapped him in, free to love Liz Parker as she should be loved, as she deserved to be loved.

Through every nightmare they’d been through over the past two years, she’d managed to stay the person he’d fallen in love with so long ago. She had an optimism, a determination about her that never ceased to amaze him.

Even now, when things seemed so hopeless, so scary and so dangerous, she had this faith, this faith in him that he didn’t have in himself. It was a faith that gave him hope. A faith that made him believe that together they would prevail, that they would all prevail in the end.

Tenderly kissing her forehead, he smoothed the hair away from her face, and her mouth quirked upward in a small smile in sleep, and she sighed contentedly. His Liz.

He remembered the two nights they’d spent together before all of this happened, one in the desert after finding the orb, and the other in the abandoned van. When she was in his arms, he felt at peace, like nothing could touch them. Like nothing could taint what was between them. Those nights were the best nights of sleep he’d had, not feeling alone. Not feeling like he’d had to hide anything. Feeling as if all was right with the world, even when the world was falling apart around them. He’d meant every word of what he’d said in the van that night.

She made him human. She was his destiny. He loved her with an intensity that knew no bounds. That love had gotten him through some of the most harrowing times in his life. To love Liz was like nothing he’d ever known. For the first time in his life, he’d felt complete.

Restless, he slowly disentangled himself from her embrace and slowly stood, walking carefully over to the window to peer out at the dark night enveloping everything.

Looking up at the stars, he quietly asked for guidance.

A little giggle erupted in his head.

”Who do you think is going to help you Max?” that all-familiar voice asked him.

“Leave me alone,” he answered her silently.

“Poor Max,” Tess said in a voice dripping with sarcasm, “you’re a sitting duck, you know that don’t you?”

“You’ve always underestimated me Tess,” he grated. “Before you had the advantage, because you didn’t fight fair. You don’t have that advantage now. I will win this time. Count on it.”

She laughed incredulously.

“We’re quite spunky tonight aren’t we?” she asked.

“I just realized what is most important to me. My family, my friends. My soul mate, he said pointedly, “and if you get in the way of my protecting them, you’re going to wish you’d stayed dead.”

“Ooh, is that a threat?” she asked. “You shouldn’t make threats that you can’t follow through with.”

“I plan on following through with every word, no matter what the cost. Count on it,” he said fiercely.

“Oh I am counting on it,” she said with malice.

With that comment, Max felt a small surge of energy in his mind, fueled by his own anger as he concentrated with everything he had. Suddenly, felt a block he created on his own spring up in his head. She was still in his head, but he no longer felt the forced insidious intrusion into his innermost thoughts.

It was just one small victory in the battle. Now he’d blocked her from at least the innermost parts of his mind. She could not read his deepest thoughts.

He felt her rage for a short moment, and then it was gone.

“Sleep well Max Evans,” she said. “Soon enough, you’ll be sleeping forever.”

“Drop dead Tess,” he said dryly, with satisfaction, and she was gone, losing interest in the conversation.


Maybe there was hope for him yet he thought, as he climbed back into bed with Liz, wrapping his arms around her as she snuggled against him in sleep. She sighed contentedly, and he closed his eyes, suddenly tired, suddenly at peace.

Tomorrow the battle would begin, the battle to be ready for Khivar and Tess when they came for them. But tonight he had Liz in his arms, in a warm room, embraced in her love, and tonight, that was more than he could have asked for.

TBC...
posted on 5-May-2002 1:51:31 AM by majesty
I just wanted to thank everyone for bumping this story and also for the feedback *happy*

This is late in coming, but Tim, in particular I'd like to thank you for yours. Physical detail is one area where I know I am weak concerning my stories. It is one of the things I most admire about other writer's stories, such as RosDeidre, and Dira though their writing styles are very different. RosDeidre painted this wonderful world in Antarian Sky that made you feel as if you were right there with Max and Liz. Dira's style is much different, but the descriptives she chooses paint her world are just as vividly in a very different way. It's something that I really have to work on in my own fics. I thank you for that quote, and I am definitely going to try to be more aware of the physical descriptives. Sometimes when I am writing, I am picturing the scene in my head, forgetting that the person reading it may not be getting that same little movie that's playing in my brain *happy*

Taffy, yes it is a one-bedroom apartment, hehe. I planned on going a little on the lighter side, maybe some funny moments in figuring out the logistics of how that is going to work out for them *happy* Though the K/I interaction will not be the main focus of this story, there will be an eventual solution. Right now he can sleep on the sofa, but with the eventuality of two kids, the arrangement will definitely become impossible sooner or later....

majesty

posted on 17-May-2002 10:21:23 AM by majesty
I just wanted to write you all a quick note.

I am sorry for the delay in posting parts to all of the stories I am working on. I started an update to SOF last week, but Thursday I received some information regarding something Roswell/Charity related (not the FanFic Auction, which is amazing, and I applaud all those people who put it together) that I am involved with, and it temporarily soured me on writing anything remotely connected to Roswell.

Some of you may already know what it is I am talking about, and I am not going to air any dirty laundry about it.

I will just leave it by saying that it left me very discouraged, and not very interested in writing. I don't want to write just to write. If I am going to put new parts out, I want them to be something that I truly put my all into, and I couldn't honestly do that over the past week.

I am going to try to pick it back up again maybe later tonight. These stories are all really personal to me in a way, and I want to tell them to the best of my ability. I know that everyone needs their Roswell fix now more than ever with the airing of the final ep this week. I feel the same way, believe me. I still feel I have stories to tell, and I want to do that. Please just bear with me while I work through letting go of the situation I mentioned above. I promise you, the stories will be much better for it. I will try my best to get the new parts out as soon as possible.

Thank you all for being so supportive and wonderful in your feedback on these little tales I have running around in my head. Writing for all of you has opened up a whole new world for me, and it's something that I can honestly say I get great enjoyment out of.

majesty
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:31:09 PM by majesty
Enjoy, and thanks everyone for being so patient with me *happy*

majesty

PART 26

A knocking on the door drove Liz from her spot at the window.

She’d been thinking of Max.

Waking in his arms was an experience she’d thought she’d never have again. She’d felt consciousness creep up on her slowly, relishing the warm silkiness of the underside of his forearm pressed warmly against hers. His fingers had been entangled with her own, and she was loathe to open her eyes, because then the gentle huff of his breath on the back of her neck might turn out to just be a dream. His nose had been nuzzled into her hair, and sometime during the night, his leg has crossed over her own.

Was it a dream? Some wishful fantasy she’d created in her mind? She’d pondered this for a terrifying second until he shifted slightly behind her, his arm tightening ever so slightly, protective in sleep.

And so she’d dared to open her eyes, to face whatever truth lay in the stark morning light. And when she did, she’d felt her heart leap as she saw that the long tapered fingers tangled with hers were very real. She’d smiled softly to herself.

She’d carefully extricated her fingers from his and turned carefully to face him.

His face was relaxed in sleep, apparently untroubled by the dreams that had plagued him at the hotel. She’d quietly watched him as he slept, content to just bask in the fact that he was here, really here. She wasn’t sure she’d ever get used to the idea of it, after everything that had happened. She knew what it was like to lose him, and she never wanted to feel like that again.

Her mouth had curved into a smile as she’d studied his sleeping form. One hand had curled under his pillow, and his hair had dried wildly during the night in sleep, and this only made him look more endearing.

Tentatively, she’d reached out and traced his cheek with her finger, letting it run down the slight stubble that had grown on his jaw to his neck, where a pulse beat strongly, vibrantly.

He’d stirred and his eyes flickered open, focusing on her face, and then he’d smiled at her. It seemed to her in that moment that the whole room had lit up, as his honey-tinged eyes searched her face.

“Good morning,” she’d whispered, touching her lips to his. She’d held them there a long moment, and when she pulled back, he’d closed his eyes again, immersing himself in the sensation of just being with her. She hadn’t needed the connection between them to know that. It was as it had been in the beginning for the both of them, where every touch, every nuance was memorized and cherished.

“Did you sleep well?” she’d asked, her fingers tracing his jaw.

He’d nodded, reaching out and wrapping a strand of her hair around his fingers.
They’d lain quiet for a long while. Liz hadn’t wanted to get up to face the day. She’d wished that they could just be, just for a little while. But that was never the way it was before, and until they’d dealt with Khivar and Tess, they would never have a chance of that.

She’d sighed finally, raising herself up onto her elbow, leaning over to kiss his forehead.

“As much as I don’t want to get up, today is going to be busy,” she’d said regretfully, and he’d nodded, reaching up to cup her cheek.

“I’m going to shower,” she’d said. “Try to rest some more, and I’ll get us some coffee when I get out.”

He’d again nodded, and she’d smiled before getting out of the bed, pulling the sheet with her to cover her going into the bathroom.

She’d showered quickly, not wanting to leave him alone for too long. When she’d gotten out of the shower, she’d opened the door to find the bed empty. For a moment she’d panicked, running to the window, and breathed a sigh of relief when she’d seen him standing in the parking lot in sweats and a t-shirt at what her father disdainfully called “the roach coach”. He must have heard the horn the drivers usually blasted to signal their arrival.

Behind him, she saw the workers who must have come from the small machine shop on the corner. She’d smiled to herself as she saw him hand the driver a piece of paper and some money he must have grabbed off the counter, and then played a balancing act with two cups of coffee and two items wrapped in paper.

He was moving much better this morning. His coordination had greatly improved, much to her amazement. It had to be the Granolith. It held more power than any of them could have ever dreamed.

Her eyes had widened a bit as he paused below her, barefoot on the blacktop to look up at the window, as if he’d known she were there. He’d smiled at her, and she’d unconsciously raised her hand to touch her hair.

For a short second their eyes met, and then he’d disappeared from her view onto the staircase.

A moment later, she’d turned as she’d heard the door open, and he’d stepped in, walking over to the counter, putting their breakfast on it.

“I would have done that Max,” she’d said in a chiding voice, and he’d just smiled at her. It had done wonders for her heart to see the lift in his spirits with the new day.

“You seem to be moving around better,” she’d mused as she stepped to the counter, and he nodded, giving her one of the cups.

“Do you feel stronger?” she’d asked.

He’d glanced around quickly for the pad and pen, and scribbled quickly, pushing it toward her when he was finished.

I feel better today. It’s easier for me to write, to walk, everything.

She’d lifted her eyes and smiled at him.

“Maybe we can try connecting again later?” she’d asked hopefully.

Again he’d nodded.

They’d taken the muffins and coffee he’d bought and went out to the terrace to eat.

There was a silence, but somehow for Liz it was a comfortable silence. Just being in his presence was calming. It was strange how the space of a few days could change her perspective on everything.

When she was finished, she’d closed her eyes and let the sun warm her body, again clad in her boxers and t-shirt. She’d thought to herself that she’d need to get more clothes today, for both of them.

Without opening her eyes she’d known he was getting up by the scrape of the chair against the cement. A moment later, she’d felt his hand curl around her neck, and his lips press to her forehead.

She’d let out a contented sigh, and his fingers slid across her cheek and were gone.

A short time later, she’d heard the bathroom door click shut, and the dull flurry of the water.

Shed dressed quickly, and moved to stand at the window, and had been daydreaming of all the new possibilities that lay before them when she’d heard the knock at the door.

Now she stood before it, almost unwilling to let reality intrude on what had started out as a very good morning. But she knew that there were things that had to be done, and opened the door.

Cal and Serena stood outside.

“Top ‘O the morning,” Cal said, and Serena smacked his arm.

“Ouch,” he muttered, rubbing it, as Liz scowled and moved away from the door.

“What, not happy to see us?” he said, as they stepped in.

“Forgive me if you’re a reminder of all that’s wrong with Max’s life at the moment,” Liz said, grumpily.

“Now girlie, don’t be like that. If Max wasn’t what he was, you wouldn’t be standing here would you?” he said.

“Shut up Cal,” Serena said as she moved and put an arm around Liz.

“How is he doing this morning?” she asked.

“A lot better,” Liz answered. “Last night, and that whole thing with Tess…it was pretty bad.”

“Any more intrusions from the evil within?” Cal asked.

“I don’t think so,” Liz said. “He’s in the shower. Isabel should be here any minute. But I don’t know that Max will be able to go to sleep.”

“That’s what these are for,” he said, pulling a small container of pills out of his pocket and shaking it.

“You’re going to drug him?” Liz asked, exasperated.

Cal nodded, lighting up a cigarette.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Liz said.

“Look girlie, there may be things he’s intentionally hiding because he thinks he’s protecting everyone. Or there could be something else that Tess has hidden in his head that we don’t know about. It’s best we do it this way, so there are no complications,” he said.

“No, that’s not the way this is going to work,” Liz said angrily. “I won’t let you do it unless he knows. He’s been through enough, and too many things have been out of his control for too long. He’s not hiding anything Cal. I trust him. He needs to know what you plan to do.”

Serena turned to Cal.

“I told you this morning that I thought it was a bad idea. I think he should know too,” Serena said.

Cal blew a cloud of smoke out of his mouth sighing in exasperation.

“Fine, we’ll tell him,” he said, irritated.

“Do you think Isabel will find anything?” Liz asked, sitting on the bed. “You know, if she dream-walks him?”

“Who knows?” he shrugged. “Can’t hurt.”

“We hope,” Liz said, muttering under her breath, and Serena looked at her intently.

“Liz, a dream-walk is harmless. Nothing will happen to Max,” she said, trying to reassure her.

“What if Tess did leave some sort of trap in his head, something that could be triggered by this?” Liz asked.

“I am going to be here. I can connect with Isabel. Between the two of us, we should be able to avoid any complications,” Serena said.

“I hope you’re right,” Liz said, rubbing her eyes. This day was quickly turning to hell.

The bathroom door opened and they fell silent. Max looked at them questioningly, noticing the sudden cease of conversation.

“Cal has something to ask of you Max,” Liz said, looking pointedly at Cal.

Cal shook his head, irritated.

Max looked between the two, a frown creasing his handsome features.

“Fine,” Liz said, “I’ll tell him.”

She turned to Max and walked over to him, taking his hand.

“Max, Cal wants to give you something to help you fall asleep. It will make it easier for Isabel to dream-walk you,” she said.

Max tore his eyes from hers to look at Cal. Cal just rolled his eyes.

“He wasn’t going to tell you, but I thought you should know,” Liz said. “Are you ok with that?”

Max stared at Cal a moment and walked over to the counter, picking up the pen and scribbling on the pad. Liz joined him, looking over his shoulder.

“He wants to know why you weren’t going to tell him,” she said, looking at Cal.

Cal crossed his arms over his chest.

“Because we thought you might be hiding something,” Cal said.

Liz felt Max’s body tense, and as she glanced at his face, she saw his jaw tighten.

Angrily he continued writing.

“He wants to know what else you weren’t going to tell him,” Liz said.

“Oh get over it kid!” Cal said angrily. “It was for your own good. You don’t exactly have a good track record in handling things.”

Liz could feel the anger radiating off of Max.

He continued to write, angrily punctuating each word, and Liz put a comforting hand on his arm.

For a moment, it was silent in the room, and then finally, he pushed the pad away when he was finished.

Liz picked it up and read what he’d written.

“He said it wasn’t his fault. If he’d been able to hold Tess off, he would have. He says you have no right to make decisions for him without his consent. He is thinking for himself now, and you are supposed to obey him being his protector, not making decisions about what is going to affect him without his knowledge,” Liz said, smiling a soft smile at Max. She saw a new fire in his demeanor, and it made her heart swell.

“Listen kid, technically I don’t have to do anything for you anymore. The seal is broken, and I’m no longer bound to you. I am here because I want to be, not because I have to be. Let’s get that straight,” Cal said, and Serena cringed.

Max brought his fist down on the counter hard, looking at Liz in frustration.

Liz’s mouth tightened.

“Cal, you’re here out of some misplaced guilt you’ve lived with all these years. It never had anything to do with any loyalty to Max. You stayed away from him all of his life. You never allowed him to know of you, because then you’d be bound to his will. You cheated him of the answers to his existence for years. You left them to muddle through figuring out why they were different, why they were here. You owe him,” she said angrily, and Max looked at her gratefully for voicing all he had been unable to say.

Cal shifted uncomfortably.

“Fine,” he muttered, “we do nothing without his consent.”

“Good,” Liz said, and felt Max’s hand at her back. She knew he was willing her to feel how much her support meant to him.

A knock at the door interrupted the tenseness that had invaded the room, and Liz moved to open the door.

She stepped back to see Kyle and Isabel standing outside.

“Hey Liz,” Isabel said quietly, not sure how to react around her after what had transpired between them.

“Hey Isabel,” she smiled. “Kyle. Come in.”

She stepped in and they followed her, Isabel’s eyes immediately going to Max.

“Hey brother,” she said with a smile, and he walked over and gave her a quick squeeze before stepping back.

“Feeling better today?” she asked, and he nodded, his eyes moving to Kyle with sympathy.

“Don’t look at me like that Evans,” Kyle said dryly. “You were mind-fucked as much as I was. We’ll all deal in our own way.”

Max looked down at the floor, and Liz automatically moved to place a comforting hand at his back.

“Kyle, I’m going to go to the store while Isabel tries to dream-walk Max. Want to come with?” she asked.

Kyle glanced at Isabel.

“Do you need me here?” he asked.

She shook her head. “No, I’ll be fine.”

“Yeah, sure then,” he said to Liz.

“Great,” she smiled, seeing that Kyle could use a break from all things alien at the moment.

“Max, you’d better take these,” Cal said, holding up the bottle of pills.

Isabel frowned.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“Something to help Max sleep,” Serena answered. “It will make the dream-walk easier.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Isabel asked, looking at Liz.

“He’ll be ok,” Liz said, and Max nodded in agreement. “It will just make it easier for you to get in.”

Isabel wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea, but she wasn’t going to argue with Max.

Max walked over and took the bottle from Cal, shaking out two pills. He went to the sink and washed them down with water.

“Max, I’m going to go,” Liz said, and he turned toward her, walking back to stand in front of her.

He looked at the others, and held a finger up, before gently pulling her to the door and outside, shutting it.

His eyes met hers with an intensity she’d come to miss in the lonely months since Future Max had visited her. She smiled at him.

“If you want, I can stay,” she said, and he shook his head. She could see that he understood why she had to leave.

He tenderly reached out a finger and traced her cheek.

Liz’s eyes turned up to his and for a moment she basked in the love she saw swirling in their amber depths.

“I love you,” he mouthed silently, and she smiled.

“I love you too, Max,” she whispered. “Always.”

He drew her chin upward and she raised herself up on her toes to meet his lips in a tender caress. Liz’s arm slid around his waist, moving closer to him, wanting him to know that she meant every word she said.

Their lips held in a gently embrace for a long moment, then Max pulled gently away, laying his cheek on the silky hair at the tope of her head. His fingers threaded through the shiny strands at the nape of her neck, holding her close, making her feel as if she were the most cherished person on earth.

She sighed contentedly, not wanting to break the moment, but knowing she had to. Soon the drug would start kicking in.

“You need to go in and relax Max,” she said, her hands resting on his chest. “The sooner you do, the sooner this will all be over. I’ll be here when you wake up.”

He smiled, gave her a quick peck on the lips and stepped away, opening the door, and pausing for a moment in the doorway, just drinking in her beauty.

“Go,” she whispered, and he turned away, walking into the apartment.

A moment later, Kyle stepped out.

“Are you ready?” he said.

“As ready as I’m going to be,” she sighed, and together they walked to the stairway.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

A short time later, Isabel sat down next to Max, who had stretched out on the bed. She could see that he was getting drowsy and that the drug they’d given him was kicking in.

Cal and Serena had gone for a cup of coffee, figuring it would be easier for Max to fall asleep without having a crowd in the room.

Isabel agreed that she would not dream-walk Max until they returned, as they thought that someone should be present, just in case.

Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Max blink slowly, watching her as she played with the hem of her shirt. She had so much to tell him, and she didn’t know where to begin, and now wasn’t the time.

He put a hand on her arm, and she looked at him with a smile.

“I’m so glad your back,” she said, tears filling her eyes. “We were all so lost without you. Liz especially…”

A gentle smile appeared on his face when she mentioned his love’s name, and for a moment she felt a pang of sadness for what she’d never had with Jesse.

“You’re lucky Max,” she said quietly. “You’re lucky to have someone like Liz. I know I’ve been hard on her in the past, but I know that she loves you with all that she is.”

The smile remained on his face as he lost the struggle to keep his eyes opened, and his face relaxed, his breathing becoming even.

“I’m going to help if I can Max. I promise you I won’t let you down this time,” she whispered resolutely.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Liz and Kyle wandered around the department store picking up a stray item Liz thought they might need here and there, throwing them into the cart.

“How’s Jamie?” Liz asked, turning to him.

“Good,” Kyle answered, nodding. “He’s with Dad today. Dad’s having a ball with him. He couldn’t wait to shove me out the door. He took this whole thing better than I did.”

“Well, at least you know you have a built in babysitter at home,” Liz said, with a giggle.

“Yeah uh…well, I have something to tell you Liz,” Kyle said, stopping the cart.

“What is it?” Liz asked, glancing at him as she pulled a bottle of soda off the shelf.

“I’m moving in with Isabel?” he said.

“What?” Liz said, desperately grabbing at the bottle she’d almost dropped in her surprise.

“I don’t understand. Jesse…” she started.

“Jesse’s gone,” Kyle said quietly.

“Gone?” Liz asked, alarmed.

“He left Roswell. He left Isabel, for good,” he said.

“Oh my God,” Liz said softly, realizing now why Isabel had been acting the way she had. She’d felt as if she was losing everyone.

“Yeah, well…we’re sort of in similar situations, and she doesn’t want to move back home, and I want to get out of my house, so it works out well,” Kyle said pushing the cart further down the aisle.

Liz was a silent for a minute, not sure what to say.

“Kyle, you and Isabel aren’t…” she said hesitantly.

“God no!” he said vehemently. “It’s not like that. We’re just friends, and that’s all it will be, a room-mate situation. She’ll watch Jamie during the day, and I’ll catch the rent. She won’t be able to work for awhile sooner or later anyway,” he said.

“That’s really sweet of you Kyle,” Liz said with a smile.

“Hey, some of the reasons I am doing this are completely selfish. She’s better equipped to handle any “alien” stuff he might decide to do,” he said.

“Yeah but you don’t know if he’ll have any powers,” Liz said, glancing at him.

“No I already know. He does. He did this weird green glowey thing with his hand in the parking lot of the hotel the other night,” he said.

“Oh,” Liz said, unsure of what to say.

“No, it’s cool,” Kyle said. “Actually it’s kind of awesome when you think about it. Think of the things I can teach him to do,” he chuckled. “Change money, clean the house for me, move furniture.”

“Kyle!” Liz said, smacking his arm.

“I’m just kidding!” he said, exasperated, and looked at her as he saw her smile fade.

“He’s gonna be ok Liz. Isabel will find something, if there’s anything to be found inside that head of his,” Kyle said.

“That’s what I’m worried about,” Liz said in a small voice, and Kyle put his arm around her.

“Come on, I feel a need for some junk food,” he said, and she sighed, smiling at him.

Neither noticed the figure steathily trailing them through the store.

*%*%*%*%*%*

“Are you ready to begin?” Serena asked Isabel, who had lain beside Max on the bed, taking his hand.

“As ready as I’m ever going to be,” Isabel answered, shutting her eyes.

She made a final silent plea that she would find what needed to be found, and drifted off.

TBC…
posted on 6-Jun-2002 8:17:50 AM by majesty
Tim,

It's funny you said that about the flashback. I was thinking the same thing, that it was awkward, and I posted as much over on the Boardello, LOL. I am going to try to re-write that part this weekend to make it flow better.

majesty
posted on 21-Jun-2002 7:00:17 PM by majesty
Guys,

Sorry for the delay on this and Skies of Fire. Things have come up in other areas of the internet over the past few days that required my full attention, so everything has been set back a bit.

I will do my best to update this as soon as I possibly can.
Thanks for the support and bumps.

majesty

posted on 6-Jul-2002 3:16:39 PM by majesty
Thanks for the bumps guys. Hoping to get to a new part of this next week. I am still working on the first ending of SOF. I'll try to fit this one and Flagellation in between working on that *happy*

majesty
posted on 28-Jul-2002 7:42:10 PM by majesty
Hi everyone,

Thanks for bearing with me through all of this. I don't know if I am satisfied with these parts, but I am trying to trudge on. Writing has been really hard for me as of late.

But I am going to keep at it, hoping that it will get better. I hope you'll all bear with me while I try to get things back on track.

I am going to *try* to get a part out of Flagellation before I go to LA, but I have been re-tooling it for awhile and I am just not satisfied with it.

Skies of Fire is in the middle of an ending re-vamp, and I am trying to work on that as well.

Thanks for all of the support,

majesty


PART 27

Previously…

“Are you ready to begin?” Serena asked Isabel, who had lain beside Max on the bed, taking his hand.

“As ready as I’m ever going to be,” Isabel answered, shutting her eyes.

She made a final silent plea that she would find what needed to be found, and drifted off.

*%*%*%*%*%*%

Everything seemed to be off-kilter for a moment, and Isabel felt a panic eerily reminiscent of that which she felt when she’d dream-walked Max in the White Room. It was only the drugs, she reminded herself, and squinted, trying to get her bearings in the fuzzy cloud-like area she seemed to be in. She stumbled as a bout of dizziness gripped her, and she closed her eyes for a moment.

She opened them again, her eyes focusing on scenes played out before her like mini-plays.

She saw Max and the Sheriff, that night at the Crash Festival. She could see the fear in Max’s face as Valenti shoved him up against the trailer, threatening him.

At the same time, she saw Max walking outside the Crashdown after saying goodnight to Liz, a small smile on his face. He walked past a few burly looking guys, and they started to follow him. He didn’t fight when they knocked him to the ground and beat on him.

Turning, she saw Max, pounding against a white wall before sliding to the floor, his knees pulled to his chest. Max was strapped into a chair. She could see the rise and fall of his chest as he tried to control his fear with Pierce pacing back and forth. Pierce put a pair of strange goggles over his face. She couldn’t see what it was showing him, but a moment later, he cried out Liz’s name in anguish. The scene faded from that to a scene she remembered, where he was being cut by faceless surgeons. His body lurched wrenched from the table, roaring in agony.

She couldn’t stand to watch anymore, her body becoming mobile as she rushed toward the table, crying his name. But it disappeared and she was again surrounded by mist.

“Max?” she whispered. “Max, can you hear me?”

“Yes,” she heard him answer. She smiled. His voice! He could speak in this realm.

“Where are you?” she asked.

“Here,” he said, appearing as if out of a mist. She grabbed his arm, trying to steady herself.

“The drugs,” she said in way of explanation, and he nodded in agreement, the pupils of his eyes dilated, his gaze equally fuzzy.

“It’s so good to hear you,” she said, squeezing his arm.

“Khivar took away my voice when I’m awake, but he can’t take it from me here,” he said. Isabel heard the bitter tone in his voice, and she felt the anger reoccur at all he’d been through. But now wasn’t the time to reflect on that. She didn’t know how much time she’d have here.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to be looking for,” she said to him.

His eyes narrowed, as if sensing something, and he turned his head and looked behind him. The mist cleared and a large door appeared before them.

“What’s going on, Max?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he said, his voice cracking as he looked at it, trying to focus his eyes on the heavy metal sheets that composed the door.

“I don’t know where it came from,” he said, his face registering his uneasiness.

Together they walked toward it slowly, each leaning on the other, the drugs still affecting their perception.

“I’m not so sure it was a good idea for Cal to give you those drugs,” Isabel said.

“It’s too late now,” Max said, looking at the door.

“What do we do?” Isabel asked, studying it.

“I don’t know,” he said frustrated, shaking his head.

“It may be our only chance at getting some answers,” Isabel answered, turning to look at him.

Max stared at the door a moment longer and nodded.

He took a deep breath and grabbed the heavy iron ring and pulled the door.

He stumbled back as the door swung open to reveal an enormous chamber, its walls lined with jagged rock.

Isabel peered through the entrance, about to walk through when Max grabbed her arm.

“I don’t like this,” he said when she turned to look at him. He swayed a little on his feet and she steadied him with a hand on his arm.

“It’s the only way Max,” she said.

“Come on, I’ll go first,” she said, turning back to the doorway. Taking a deep breath, she stepped through.

Her eyes widened as she looked around and saw that the rock seemed to sparkle, as if there were metal shards embedded within it’s hard craggy surface. They seemed to glow, catching light from some unseen light source.

“Max, it’s ok,” she said, turning to reassure him, but he was not behind her.

“Max?” she said in a panicked voice, as the chamber suddenly seemed to sway and spin around her, and then fell dark.

She took a few stumbling steps toward the doorway and the only light she was able to see, the view of the entrance seeming to shimmer. Her thoughts became muddled.


It looks like heat rising off pavement, she thought to herself blearily.

“Max!” she called out again.

“Isabel,” he said from behind her. “I’m here.”

She started, whirling around to face him, his body the only thing illuminated in the chamber.

“Don’t scare me like that!” she snapped.

“Sorry,” he said, his face averted, walking over to the wall, and the light in the chamber grew to a dim level.

“What is this place Max?” she asked, nervous.

“I don’t know,” he said, his voice oddly flat, avoiding her gaze.

A sudden rumbling shook the floor, and Isabel almost lost her balance. A loud crack permeated the air as huge shards of rock broke away from the ceiling and crashed to the floor.

She screamed and turned to the doorway again to see if it was clear.

Beyond the shimmering air, she saw Max.

“Max?” she yelled, confused, as another tremendous rumble shook the room, and she heard a cry.

She turned just in time to see a sizeable patch of stone tumble from the craggy wall, bouncing off of Max’s shoulder, and he crumpled to the floor.


What is going on?

She turned back toward the entrance. It was empty.

She rushed over to Max. His palms were flat on the stone floor, trying to raise himself from it.

“Max, are you all right?” she asked as another tremor shook the room.

“Get me out of here Isabel,” he said, his head lowered, his voice pained.

She took his arm and dragged him to his feet. Pulling his arm around her shoulder, she started to guide him toward the doorway, and froze.

Standing beyond it again was Max, his hands waving at her, shouting. She couldn’t hear what he was trying to say.

A groan shot out near her ear, and she turned to him, wide-eyed. His head was hanging as he stumbled along beside her. How could there be two?

“Please Isabel, this place is going to come down. Get me out of here,” he said in a shaky voice.

“There’s some kind of force field at the door,” she said, glancing at it, and seeing her brother staring out from the other side, his face a mask of terror. Again he shouted, but she couldn’t hear him.


What is he saying?

He slammed his hands against the shield in vain, but can’t gain entrance. And as she looks at him, she understands as his eyes plead with hers. She turns her head toward the man who she is helping to the door.

“It’s you,” she said in horror. He raised his head and she saw the cold smile, and looked into his eyes, the color of winter ice.

“No!” she whispers and wrenches his arm from her shoulder, starting to run toward her brother on the other side of the shield.

A hand grabbed her wrist, nails digging into her skin. She tried to wrestle it free turning to face her captor, the girl she hadn’t seen in almost a year.

“You’re getting me out of here,” Tess hissed, her blond hair whipping about her face as she fought to hold on to Isabel’s wrist.

“Over my dead body,” Isabel spat at her, and gritted her teeth as she yanked against Tess’s grip. Her strength lagged with the effects of the drugs Max had taken. Her arms felt like rubber.

“That can be arranged,” Tess said, her voice laced with venom, as her eyes narrowed in concentration.

Isabel recoiled as a barrage of images assaulted her mind from Tess. They didn’t want Max anymore. They knew the seal was gone. They wanted her baby. An image of Tess ripping her child from her womb flashed through her head and she cried out in horror.

“No!” she screamed.

Drawing on all the power she had in her body, she sent crackling energy bolting through her arm to Tess’s hand.

Tess cried out in pain and her grip lessened for an instant. That was all Isabel needed. She wrenched her wrist free and ran for the doorway, toward Max.

Praying that she would be able to pass through it, but not stopping, she felt a hand claw at her shirt, and then it lost purchase. She closed her eyes and aimed her body at the shield, and an instant later, she felt arms catching her as she stumbled through it. A loud thump resounded behind her and her eyes snapped open to see Tess hit the shield, pounding her hands against it in fury.

Pure venom poured from her eyes as she stared at the both of them.

“You can’t keep me in here forever Max, you’re too weak, too stupid,” she hissed.

Her head lowered a bit, and she peered up at him with eyes filled with vicious intent.

“We’re coming for you Max,” she panted in fury.

Her gaze turned to Isabel.

“All of you,” she said staring at Isabel.

Isabel felt Max’s arm tighten around her as panic overtook her, thinking of the horrible images Tess had sent her.

“No,” Isabel said, shaking her head.

Tess paced in front of the doorway.

“We will finish what we set out to do,” she said, “and there’s nothing you can do to stop us.”

She stopped to face them.

“I’ve waited too long for what is rightfully mine. I will have it. None of you can stop us,” she said.

“I let you get to me once, it won’t happen again,” Max said angrily, his voice a bit slurred.

A short barking laugh burst from Tess’s mouth.

“Who is going to stop us? You? You’re too caught up in protecting that little bitch,” she said.

“Or do you mean that pathetic protector? He’s going to abandon you. He did it once and he’ll do it again. He’ll leave you alone to die, because he doesn’t want to give up what he has here. None of you are strong enough to defeat Khivar, not without me,” she said.


Not without me…

Isabel felt herself wrenched from Max’s grip and thrown away from him, hurtling through empty space. She was thrown into complete blackness for a moment, and then she was hurled roughly against a hard floor.

She lifted her head to see another scene playing out before her, something deep within Max’s subconscious.

She saw herself standing a short distance away from Max and Liz. A Royal seal hung above her head, bright and strong. She saw herself look down, putting her hand protectively over her swollen stomach, a soft glow emanating from it as her palm sat on her heavily pregnant abdomen. She moved her hand slightly away from it, and a small seal appeared to glow through her shirt.


Help us Max. Don’t let them take my baby…

Max stood a few steps away from Liz, close enough to touch her, but he didn’t attempt it. Above each of their heads, the two halves of the seal whirled, throwing off a beautiful light.

Liz put her hand out, her eyes pleading with Max to take it. Sadness etched his features. The longing in his eyes made Isabel’s eyes grow misty. She felt like an intruder on this private moment.

“Max please, take my hand,” Liz said.

For an instant, Isabel thought he was going to reach out, but instead he took a step back away from Liz.

Isabel saw a lone tear slip down Liz’s cheek.

“Don’t do this,” Liz said.

“I have to,” Max whispered in a broken voice.

“Max…” Liz said, and then she was gone.

He turned to his pregnant sister and lowered his head, and she too disappeared.

“Max, what are you doing?” she said from her place on the floor, but he didn’t see her, he didn’t hear her.

“Forgive me,” he whispered, and in a sudden burst she felt everything he was thinking.

Everything made sense, the broken seal, the loss of his powers, everything.

He thought he’d failed Liz. He thought he’d failed all of them. He wasn’t strong enough to fight Tess before, and he couldn’t be completely sure that he could fight her now. He didn’t trust himself.

The seal was broken because he loved Liz, and he’d lost faith in himself. He was determined to protect her, protect all of them from his weakness. He was afraid that if he gave his heart over to Liz, melding the seal, that she too would suffer whatever fate Tess might have planned for him, because by melding the seal, it bound he and Liz together forever. He couldn’t ask that of her.

He would protect her with his life if need be, but he wouldn’t make her chain herself to a failed King for eternity, sentenced to suffer whatever fate would fall on him. He’d already put her through hell when he had been unable to resist Tess’s mind-warps. Tess had made her believe that the world would come to an end if she stayed with him. And adding insult to injury, she’d made Liz believe that it was it was a future version of himself that told her to do it. Her best friend was dead. All of the human’s lives were changed forever, because she loved him, because he’d been selfish.

This was what was holding him back. This is why he resisted Liz when she tried to bring him out of his catatonic state after they’d rescued him from the compound. This was why the seal had been broken. Here in the deepest recesses of his mind, he longer had faith in himself, or in strength in the power of the love that he and Liz shared.

“Oh Max,” she whispered, her heart breaking for him as she looked at the broken vision of her brother as he sank to the floor, his hands covering his eyes…

******

“Isabel,” Max said, as he shook her shoulder, and her head snapped toward him.

Though his gaze was muddy, his eyes squinting to focus on her, she could see the worry crossing his features.

She glanced around her, and realized she was no longer looking at his deepest fears. But they were no longer near Tess either. The door Max had opened earlier was firmly closed and sealed.

“What happened? Where are we?” Isabel asked him.

“I had to get us away from her,” Max said, his hand rubbing his eyes. “I…thought of the door sealing itself, and then it was. You seemed like you were somewhere else for a minute. Are you ok?” he asked.

She couldn’t talk to him about what she’d seen, not here, not now.

“I’m fine,” she said, shaking her head, trying to get control of her emotions.

She could see he wasn’t convinced.

“She showed you something didn’t she?” Max asked.

Her eyes closed as her mouth tightened and she lowered her head. What Tess had shown her was only part of it, and that wasn’t half as frightening as the revelations she’d discovered in seeing the thoughts living in the deepest recesses of Max’s subconscious. It was his doubt in himself that put fear in her heart for her child, for all of them. She couldn’t lose her brother again, but unless someone was able to get to him, they were bound to fail. It had to be Liz. It was always Liz that could get through to him when no one else could.

“Isabel, what did you see?” he asked.

She didn’t answer, looking away.

“Isabel, tell me what you saw,” he said, his expression hardening.

“Nothing Max!” she snapped. “Let it go!”

His jaw tightened and he took a step toward her, grasping her arm.

“What was the point of being here if you aren’t going to tell me what happened? If what she showed you will put any of us in danger, I need to know,” he yelled, shaking her.

“Max, stop it!” she cried…


*%*%*%*%*%*%

“Isabel, wake up!” a voice called.

Her eyes snapped open and met Serena’s, who was leaning over her with a sympathetic look.

Isabel turned her head to look at Max, who was still asleep next to her.

“How long was I out?” she asked in a low voice.

“About half an hour,” Serena said, moving back as Isabel sat up and put her hand to her temple. Her head ached.

“I should try to wake Max,” Serena said.

“No don’t,” Isabel insisted, dropping her hand from her face.

Serena looked at her, her expression questioning.

“I have to talk to Liz first,” Isabel said, looking at Max.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Kyle pulled into the parking lot of the apartment complex, turning off the engine.

He glanced over at Liz, who had been quiet all through lunch and the drive back. She stared out the window of the Chevelle, her face pensive.

“Parker, you ok?” he asked, concerned.

She turned to him and flashed a wistful smile.
“Yeah,” she said. “You?”

He nodded.

“I’ve just been thinking a lot about what’s happened to all of us over the past few years. You know, with Alex, Tess, and Jamie. Now Isabel’s pregnant, Jessie left her. Max is like, broken. Michael is well…Michael. I don’t know. If we told anyone this stuff, we’d be committed,” he said, shaking his head.

“I know,” Liz answered. “But if it weren’t for them, for Max, I’d be dead. I can’t regret any of this. Not anymore. I have Max back, and even after everything, I love him Kyle. I think I love him even more than I ever thought I could love anyone.”

“I’m still trying to get my head around what Tess did to him. I can’t believe she’d be that cruel,” he said, his words tinged with bitterness.

“She was cruel to you too Kyle,” Liz reminded him.

“Yeah, but think about it Liz. What she did totally fucked with Max’s head. I mean, Max wasn’t Max for almost two years. He was trapped inside his own head while Tess made him do all those shitty things to everyone. I can’t even imagine how he must feel,” he said.

“He knows we don’t blame him Kyle,” Liz said.

Kyle paused to look out the window.

“Liz we can all tell him that we don’t blame him, but I know if it was me, I’d be blaming myself. Shit I still blame myself for helping Tess take Alex out of the house, even though she mind-warped me into doing it,” he said.

“Kyle, it…” she started.

“Wasn’t my fault, I know. But it still weighs on my mind,” he said. “This whole thing has to be weighing on Max’s,” he said.

“We’ll all get through this together,” Liz said in a firm voice. “Right now we have to concentrate on being prepared for when Tess and Khivar come for us,” she said, getting out of the car.

“I don’t think anything is going to prepare us for that,” he muttered.

Kyle got out and shut his door, moving to the trunk to grab the dry groceries out of the trunk, while Liz took the bag of clothes and perishables.

Together, they walked up the stairs to the second floor, moving down the hallway to the door.

They stopped at the door and knocked.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

A stealthy figure moved behind a car in the parking lot, watching from a distance.

posted on 28-Jul-2002 7:43:26 PM by majesty
PART 28

As soon as Isabel opened the door, Liz knew something was wrong. It was written all over Isabel’s face.

“What happened? Is Max ok?” Liz asked, pushing past Isabel, her eyes moving to the bed in panic. Max lay still, his eyes closed.

“He’s ok, just still asleep,” Isabel said in a low voice, as Kyle caught her gaze, his eyes full of questions. Isabel shook her head.

Liz went over to Max, brushing her knuckles against his cheek, and reassuring herself that he was ok.

She straightened and looked at Cal and Serena, who were both looking at her with worried expressions. She turned to Isabel.

“What is it? What did you see?” she asked, trying to quell the fear that had risen in her heart.

“Let’s go outside for a few minutes,” Isabel said, evading the question.

“Fine,” Liz said, irritation creeping into her voice. Why didn’t she just tell her?

Isabel opened the door, and Liz followed her out and down the landing to the stairs, where Isabel sat down on the top step, waiting for Liz to follow suit.

Liz sat down next to her. Isabel stared out over the desert landscape.

“Are you going to tell me what this is about?” Liz said.

“They’re coming after my baby,” Isabel said.

“What do you mean? How do you…”

“Tess. She’s still in his head. He’s trapped her, but she’s still in there. She tried to mind-warp me into thinking she was Max, and I almost fell for it. Almost,” she said in a bitter tone.

“And she told you she’s coming after your child?” Liz asked, confused.

“She didn’t exactly tell me,” Isabel said. “She touched me and I got a flash of what they had planned. She wanted me to see it. She wanted me to see my brother get murdered, everyone I love killed. And then they took my baby from me,” she said, her eyes welling with tears.

“Isabel they can’t,” Liz said. “Your baby can’t survive…”

“They have equipment. Alien equipment, some sort of incubation pod. I saw…I felt when they took my baby,” she said, her voice hitching into a sob.

“They were right you know. The seal is broken. My child…my son is next in line for the throne,” she said.

“Son?” Liz asked in wonder.

Isabel nodded with a sad smile. “I can sense it.”

“Max and I will try to reconnect,” Liz said. “We were going to try again anyway. It’s going to be ok Isabel. We’ll fix the seal.”

“It won’t work, Liz,” Isabel said.

“It has to. Max is strong enough. I know we can…”

“It won’t work!” Isabel said angrily. “It won’t, because Max won’t let it work!”

“What do you mean?” Liz said. “Isabel, he wants more than anything to protect all of us!”

“Which is exactly why he won’t allow it to happen,” she said.

“He loves you too much Liz. If the seal is healed, you will be bonded to him forever. He knew you were the only one he’d ever love from the moment he saw you. He was drawn to you Liz, even as a child. His heart has belonged to you for as long as he can remember. He shared everything with you and opened his soul to you when he healed you. He formed that first connection, and it remained open. That’s why when you…brought him back, the two of you were open to each other. The seal should have melded then, but he wouldn’t let it, because he was afraid,” she said.

“Afraid of what?” Liz asked in a hurt tone.

“He’s afraid that they’ll come after you, like they came after him, because if the seal was repaired, they can get to you through him. He doesn’t trust himself, and he’s afraid that if Tess gets a foothold in his head again that you’ll get hurt. He wants to protect you, and he’d die for you Liz, for all of us. But he doesn’t believe in himself. All he is thinking of right now is protecting us and making things right. But somewhere deep inside of himself, he thinks he’ll fail,” she said.

Liz felt her heart tighten as she remembered what he’d said when she’d tried to heal the seal.

“You never failed me Liz, not once. I failed *you*. How could I have been so stupid?” he asked putting his hand to her cheek.

“How could I have, even for one second forgotten what you are to me? I paid and paid for that Liz. Every day. It was the first thought on my mind when I woke up, and the last one before I went to bed at night, about how I failed you, failed my son, my family, everyone,” he faltered.

“Perhaps it’s best this way,” he said.

“What are you saying Max?” Liz asked.

“I’m saying that I want you to let me go. I want you all to go on with your lives, because you deserve it,” he said.

“I can’t give up Max,” she said.

“Liz, you’re getting weak trying this. There won’t be a second chance. Somehow I know that. It isn’t working, and I won’t have you kill yourself for me. I have enough to pay for as it is,” he said, looking into her eyes.

“Why won’t it work Max?” she asked, frustrated.

“Because maybe things are too far gone for us. Maybe it’s just too late and too much has happened,” he said.


“Oh my god,” she whispered, seeing the truth that had been staring her in the face.

“Do you still love him?” Isabel asked.

“More than ever,” Liz said, tears forming in her eyes.

“Then you have to talk to him. You have to make him believe that you’re better together than apart. He thinks that the two of you being bonded by the seal will trap you into a life of danger with him. He doesn’t want that for you,” Isabel said.

“But I do. I realize that now more than ever. When he was gone…when I thought he was dead, I felt like I was dead too. I can’t do that again,” Liz answered.

“Liz, the powers you have are tied to the seal. I think if the seal is healed and without Tess messing with him, the both of you will be more powerful together. Tell him. You have to convince him that you’re better together.” Isabel said in a low voice. “I think it may be the only chance for all of us.”

Liz nodded, turning to look at the girl who had suddenly seemed to mature overnight.

“Thank you Isabel,” she said. “I know we haven’t always gotten along, but we both care about Max. We’ll protect you and your son. I promise you.”

A sad smile appeared on Isabel’s face.

“Just…make him happy, Liz. Tell him how much you love him, how much we all love him. He’s been through so much. He deserves to feel that kind of love, for however short a time it might be,” she said.

Liz smiled, and on impulse, she reached over and embraced Isabel. For a moment, she stiffened, and then Liz felt her relax, hugging her back.

Liz pulled away, and Isabel stood up.

“He’s going to be angry with me when he wakes up,” Isabel said. “He knew something was up, but I couldn’t tell him. I wanted to talk to you first.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Liz said, rising. “He’ll get over it.”

“I hope so,” Isabel sighed. “Come on, we should get back in. You’ll need to be there when he wakes up.”

Liz nodded and they headed back toward the room.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Below in the parking lot, the stranger pulled a communicator out of his pocket.

“Are you there?” he said in a low voice.

“I hope you have something,” a female voice answered.

“The girl and Max Evans are holed up in some efficiency complex in Hondo. They’re all here now, the protector, the woman, his sister, and the Sheriff’s son. I don’t expect them all to stay. When will you be here?” he asked.

“Tomorrow morning. Make sure the others are diverted tomorrow, at least until we have Max and the girl,” the woman said.

“That was quick,” he answered. “Your wish is my command.”

“Now I know why I like you so much, Dravin,” the voice answered.

He smiled, and closed the communicator. Now it was only a matter of waiting.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

Isabel listened as Cal told her about the latent seals each member of the Royal Family carried within them, genetically numbered and programmed into their DNA before birth. Unlike other Antarians, Isabel and Max’s powers hinged totally on the seal, because of the human DNA mixed in with their Antarian nuclei. It was an inherent part who they were now. When the direct heir to the throne died, the seal of the next family member in line for the throne was activated. In this case, Max’s seal was broken, and Isabel’s had activated itself.

Cal stood her in front of the mirror and held his hand behind her head, allowing the seal to appear.

Her baby’s seal was not active now, but were she to die, it would show itself. If Tess and Khivar were to take her baby, they would be killing two birds with one stone, getting rid of her, and acquiring the heir to the throne at the same time.

But if Max’s seal were to reactivate itself, then all bets were off, and Isabel’s seal would again become latent.

After two hours of waiting, Max awakened. Liz glanced at Serena and Cal and they got up without a word, seeing that he had come out of his sleep fine, and stood. Isabel and Liz had filled them in on everything, and they’d decided that once Max woke, it would be better if they all left.

Liz went with them to the door, and let them out.

Max sat up, glaring at Isabel, none too happy. She sat in a chair next to Kyle near the door to the balcony. She looked away.

Max wasted no time getting out of the bed, stumbling a bit as the effects of the drug wore off, coming to stand before her, his breathing heavy as his expression demanded an answer.

Kyle stood.

“Back off Evans,” he said in a warning tone.

“Max,” Liz said in a gentle voice, putting a calming hand on his arm.

“I know you’re angry, but I’m going to tell you everything,” she said, looking up at him.

He glanced at her and his gaze softened momentarily, and then he turned back to Isabel.

“Don’t be angry with her. You’ll see why she didn’t tell you what she saw when we talk,” Liz said.

Isabel rose, keeping her eyes averted from Max.

“Kyle, we should go,” she said, and Kyle nodded, putting a reassuring hand at her back.

“We’ll call tomorrow morning,” Isabel said, looking at Liz. “If you need anything…”

“Thanks,” Liz said.

Isabel and Kyle went to the door, and Isabel paused to look back at her brother.

“I’m sorry Max,” she said in a soft voice. “I did what I thought was best.”

He looked away from her, and she sighed and followed Kyle out of the room.

Liz walked over and locked the door behind them, and then turned back to face Max.

“Don’t you think you were a little harsh with her?” she asked.

Max lowered his head, his jaw tightening.

She went to the counter and picked up the notepad and a pen and then moved to take his hand, leading him over to sit on the bed.

“We need to talk, Max,” she said, and he turned toward her.

She sat in silence for a moment, unsure of where to begin.

Finally she spoke.

“You and I both know that Tess is going to come back with Khivar. But they aren’t coming for you anymore, Max. They want Isabel…and her son,” she said. “She carries a seal now, and if she dies her child’s seal will activate itself, because yours is broken. They want you dead, but that’s secondary to getting the child now. Isabel got a flash of what they are going to do.”

Max picked up the pad and pen and wrote. A moment later he showed it to her.

Why would Tess be so stupid? Why would she give away her plans?

“Because she’s confident that there isn’t much we can do about it, and right now, she’s right,” Liz said.

Max wrote again.

I’ll protect her. I’ll protect all of you. We’ll mend the seal.

“You can’t Max, not like this. You may think that we can do it, but somewhere inside of your mind, you’re holding back. You’re preventing it. We don’t even have a connection anymore. I…can’t feel you. I used to sense you on some level, all the time, even when though we hadn’t connected since you and Tess...,” she paused.

“I haven’t been able to feel you since the night you died,” she said.

He shook his head, his countenance angry.

“Max, Isabel saw it. It’s what she didn’t tell you. On some level you’re trying to protect me, protect us, and that is what’s keeping the seal from mending,” she said.

“We can’t heal the seal unless you let it happen Max,” she said. “You didn’t let it happen when I brought you back. When I said we’d try to connect again to heal the seal, somehow inside you knew it wouldn’t work. It won’t work because you won’t allow it.”

He looked away from her.

“Max…I know that you somehow think that all of this is your fault, that you think I’d be better off without you, but you’re wrong. I love you. If you hadn’t loved me so much, I’d be dead right now,” she said.

He shook his head.

“I’m not leaving Max. I don’t care whether the seal is mended or not. I’m not going anywhere. So if something happens to you, it’s going to happen to me too. I’ve been without you, and I can’t do it again. Not ever. I’ve known for a long time that you are the only person I will ever love like this, and I am not going to let that go. So if you think that keeping the seal from being healed is going to make me free, you’re wrong. It’s not going to make a bit of a difference, because with or without the seal, you own my heart. It will never belong to anyone else,” she said.

“I can’t bear to be apart from you. I’m not backing down, you are. I want to heal the seal. I want that tie that is going to bind us together for the rest of our lives. I want to know that you are only mine. I want us to go through whatever we are going to go through together,” she whispered.

“Do you love me?” she asked. He nodded slowly, his hand reaching to cup her cheek.

“Then let me in Max, please,” she whispered. “Take me there, where Isabel was.”

He closed his eyes for a moment, and pulled her closer, his cheek resting against hers. His breath was warm on her neck, and she placed her palm against his chest, feeling his strong heartbeat.

Her cheek slid along his and her lips grazed his neck, and she felt him tremble. His hand moved to thread his fingers through her hair.

She pulled away a bit to look into his eyes, and a gentle smile flitted across her face.

His lips moved toward hers, slow and questioning. He paused for a moment, looking into her eyes, doubt still lingering in his.

“I love you,” she whispered, and then his velvet lips were on hers, caressing them.

A quiet sigh fell from her lips, her body tingling as it always did at the sensations his kiss elicited from every cell of her body. She felt herself pulled into his mind.

*%*%*%*%*%

A soft breeze blew through her hair, and her arms were crossed over her chest. In that moment, she looked more beautiful to him than she ever had.

She was here, here in the place that had become a sanctuary and a prison when Tess had imprisoned him in his own head. It had always been dark, yet familiar. Now that she was here, she gave it color, light, substance.

His small victory over Tess last night had briefly given him hope, but the reality of everything had soon enough come crashing back when she’d come so close to taking control of him again with her manipulations. Her near escape from behind that door was merely symbolic, but would have been disastrous.

She did have the advantage, because she cared for no one. Emotions did not hinder her as they did him, and he knew this even at a subconscious level. Liz was right. He had stopped them both from mending the seal. Deep down, he knew what it could mean for Liz, what new dangers it might present. When she’d called him on it, he’d resisted it, but now he realized she was right. He had prevented it.

He would give his life for Liz, and for those that he loved. He would protect them with his last breath. But he couldn’t bring Liz any further into this than she already was. He loved her too much.

Watching her, he knew she sensed his presence, and yet she did not turn. He moved to stand behind her, laying his fingers on the intoxicating softness of her skin at her shoulder, bare where the straps of her tank did not cover it. Longs strands of her hair teased his fingers as the air whispered through it.

“Max,” she said in a low voice.

He reached to tuck her hair behind her ear, exposing the vulnerable softness of her neck to his fingers.

“Do you have any idea what it’s like not to be able to talk to you outside of this place?” he asked.

“We can change that,” she reminded him. “For real. You just have to accept that I love you.”

“You don’t understand. I
how much you love me. You’ve put yourself in danger so many times for me. It’s not you, Liz. I can’t tie you to this for the rest of your life. It’s not fair to you. I’m so afraid that Tess or Khivar will be able to hurt you through any connection we make with the seal. I couldn’t bear it. Not after all you’ve been through because of me, because of what I am. I can’t…I can’t do what you’re asking. I can’t risk something happening to you,” he said, pulling her up against his chest. She broke away from him and turned to face him.

“No Max,” she interrupted. “Tell me that me loving you means as much to you, as yours does to me.”

“Of course it does,” he said, hurt that she would even speak those words. Did she not know how amazing it was to know that someone like her could love him?

“Then why, why won’t you do what you know we both want?” she asked.

“Liz, it’s not that simple. I can’t do it because I do know how much you love me,” he said.

“Do you know how much I gave up to love you? I lied to my best friends, my family. I lost Alex. I almost wound up in jail,” she said.

“Liz, I…”

“No!” she said. “No you don’t know. Because if you did, you’d know that in spite of everything, if I had to do it all over, I would. I would go through every hurt, would shed every tear all over again if it meant that I would know your heart, that I would now what it was like to be loved by you.”

“Liz, I know you would,” he said. “I know you would do it without even questioning it, and I would too. But I love you too much to risk the chance that a bonding is going to cause you any more harm.”

She turned to face him, indignant.

“It’s not just your decision Max. You can’t control
everything . Let us help you. We need to help you. Don’t you think that we all aren’t feeling responsible for what Tess did to you in the first place? We didn’t see it, any of it, and we should have,” she said, and he heard the tremor in her voice.

“There was a lot going on,” he said in a gentle voice. “She made you believe that an older me needed you to help him make me fall out of love with you. Alex had died. Everyone was in a bad place,” he reminded her.

“We should have seen it Max,” she insisted, “but we didn’t. We have to live with that, just like you are living with your demons. But we’ve all become like a family now. I am closer to all of you than I’ve ever been to any other people in my life. We all need each other Max, don’t you realize that?”

He pulled her into his arms.

He knew that they needed each other. After being brought back from the dead he knew more than anyone could about the importance of the ties to those that you loved. But this would always be his life. He would always be hunted. They all would. Unless he did something about it.

How had they wound up here in this moment? That day in the Crashdown when he had infused life into her waning body had set a new course that none of them could have imagined. That one moment of courage, that one impulsive action had changed his life forever, and had opened him up to experiences he would have never dared to dream of, dangers they couldn’t have begun to comprehend.

Through it all, she’d stood by him, even when he’d shunned her, told her that what had remained of their friendship was over. Even when she’d believed he’d willingly slept with Tess. Even in his death, she looked for answers. Tess had pulled them apart for awhile, but they’d found their way back to each other.

Couldn’t she understand that he needed to protect her, protect all of them from what could happen? A plan had already been forming in his head of a way to make them safe. He would give himself over to Khivar and Tess. He would allow them to take him back to Antar. He would tell them that he would publicly renounce all rights his family had to the throne. It would give them time to hide, to get away.

“What are you thinking, Max?” she asked. “Are you going to get yourself killed for us? You can’t fight them, not like this,” she said, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

She saw his face tighten.

“I can divert them while you all move somewhere safe,” he said. “I’ll give myself up. I’ll talk to Cal. He has to protect Isabel, all of you, if I tell him to.”

“And what’s that going to accomplish?” she cried. “So we run for the rest of our lives? I don’t want that, and I don’t want to do it without you. It’s time we all stood together. It’s time we fight back Max. For all the time I’ve known what you are, we’ve been hiding, keeping ourselves alive. We haven’t taken a stand. It’s like we’re just waiting for the next bad guy…the FBI, the Skins, Tess, Khivar. Who is going to come for us after them? Max, they keep coming after you because you’re hiding. You haven’t let them know how powerful you are. We only fight when we’re cornered. It’s time we take them head on,” she said.

He shook his head.

“She’s won then,” Liz said, shaking her head, defeated.

“You make it seem like you know that I’ll fail,” he said.

“You can’t fight her like this!” she said, and paused, shaking her head before continuing in a lower voice.

“You say you know what I’ve given up and that’s why you won’t do this. You say you love me too much. But it isn’t just
your decision. It’s mine too. If you refuse to do this, you’re telling me that everything I’ve done, everything I’ve given up isn’t worth anything,” she said.

“That’s not true, you know I don’t feel that way!” he cried.

“Then prove it. Prove that you love me. Prove that I am just as important to you as you are to me. Let me help you fix the seal. Show me that you believe that we can do anything, as long as we’re together,” she said.

“Why can’t you believe in me, in us? I believe in you, Max,” she whispered. “I’ve always believed in you. I love you, and nothing is ever going to change that. Why can’t you see that?” she asked, her voice trembling.

He sighed and reached out to touch her cheek, his thumb caressing it.

“I do believe in you Liz,” he said. “I’ve always believed in you. You’ve always been honest and good…and I never dreamed someone like you could love someone like me,” he said.

“But you don’t believe in
us ,” she answered, sadness tingeing her voice.

“I can’t trust myself not to do the wrong thing, to make a mistake,” he said. “It’s happened too many times and the consequences…look what happened to Alex? I can’t take that chance, not with you,” he said, his eyes pleading with her to understand.

“It wasn’t your fault,” she said. “How could you be prepared for what Tess did? How could any of us have known? What she did to you…I wish that I could have known somehow, that I could have done something, she said. “I hated her before I knew what she did to you. Now…”

“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice muffled in her hair.

“You aren’t the one that should be sorry,” she said, her voice hardening. “You were still finding out who you were. Things are different now, and you know what to expect. I have these…abilities that you gave me. I killed her once. I think we can get rid of her, once and for all,” she said.

“We don’t know that,” he insisted. “With the DNA transferring they’re doing, she may never die. The only way she is going to leave all of you alone is if she gets what she wants,” Max said, his arms tightening around her.

Liz knew there was an internal battle he was fighting in his head. She had to convince him that this was the only way.

“There has to be a way Max, and we’ll find it. But we need to do this, we need to mend the seal. I killed her once, and my powers aren’t anywhere near as strong as yours are. Who knows what we’ll be able to do once the seal is whole?” she asked.

“We’ll all work together, you, me, Michael and Isabel. We’ve all decided that whatever happens, we’re all in. It’s only you holding this back,” she said.

“I want this. I want it more than I’ve ever wanted anything. I need you to believe that. I need you to know that without you, I’m nothing. Without
us …together, they’ll take Isabel’s baby. It’s not just about you anymore Max. It’s about her now too. I know what you were thinking. You thought you’d give your life to protect all of us if you had to. But it’s not about your life anymore, is it? It’s about this baby’s. You can take that power back, and your own destiny,” she said, lifting his chin to look into his eyes.

He pulled her into his arms, resting his chin on the top of her head.

She sighed and touched his cheek.

His breath dragged into his lungs sharply as a rush of memories ingrained in the broken seal were released, answers to the mystery of what he felt for Liz Parker.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 28-Jul-2002 11:17:26 PM ]
posted on 28-Jul-2002 7:44:53 PM by majesty
He’d opened his soul to her. In that moment he’d healed her in the Crashdown, he’d poured every ounce of love he’d felt for her all of his human life into mending her skin, repairing ruptured vessels, making shattered bone whole. He had opened a connection between them, a tentative tie that hummed deep in their mind, a sense of each other’s presence, the first tentative step common in Warlainian courtship, the custom his mother knew so well.

He remembered her telling him as a boy. After the connection was opened, it was up to the prospective mate to accept or reject the connection. Even in that moment, where Liz lay dying before him, without either being conscious of it, her soul accepted that connection, welcomed it.

And so it remained that way, each sensing the other always, every moment of the day, subtle and reassuring. Even when their minds no longer made the strong connection they’d always had when they’d kissed, that awareness had remained. Liz’s resentment slowly built over the summer over the infidelity she’d perceived he’d committed with Tess, but her soul recognized his true self trapped in his mind, and so the awareness remained.

The anger in her waking thoughts had upset the delicate balance he’d established between them, and it was this that had caused her powers to emerge. She was drawing on his power in her anger with him, and he’d used the stones to try to heal her, drawing on the power of the seal to do it. His effort had been so great that he had pushed the seal into her body without knowing he had done it, trying to right what was wrong. The stones had shattered with the force of her anger, and the seal had been trapped inside of her.

When he used his powers after that, he drew on the seal from the connection they shared, because despite the anger, her soul still loved him. That awareness remained until he died at Meta-Chem.

God, he wanted her to be only his for eternity. Every cell in his body cried out for it. It was the very reason for the yearning, the loneliness and isolation he’d felt trapped in his own mind. He recognized it for what it was. That which had been missing his entire life. That bond that had been calling to him from the moment that he’d seen her.

Through her touch, he felt the loss she’d experienced when their connection winked out, leaving her empty and alone. He felt her anger, her pain, her sadness. He felt the loss as if it were his own, powerful enough to drive her almost mad until she’d finally shut her emotions completely off to survive. Then came her resolution to find out what had happened to him, who had killed him. That task kept her from dwelling on the fact that he’d been gone. It gave her something else to focus on. She couldn’t dwell on what would happen once she found out. The thought of having nothing to do but think of the fact that she’d never see him again terrified her.

How could he not have realized how awful it had been for her?

He stared into her eyes, seeing the love and the confidence that shown in them, and his heart quickened. She loved him. She trusted him with her life, with all of their lives, and that had to count for something, didn’t it?

His heart wanted to believe what she was saying, that together they would win. But his mind was telling him that he would be taking the selfish path, completing the bond that would bind their hearts forever.

“Max?” Liz said looking up at him, her voice tentative, her eyes willing him to know that their love knew no bounds, that it was powerful and timeless. The faith she had in him glistened in their depths.

Faith. After everything.

If she could have faith in him after all that had happened, then maybe she was right. Maybe they could do this, working together, all of them. Maybe if the seal were healed, then they would be more powerful.

Did he dare to chance it?

He broke away from her gaze, looking down.

“We all have a lot to lose. You could lose me. I could lose you. Isabel could lose her baby. Maria could lose Michael. We all know what
could happen, but we’re willing to take that chance. It’s the only chance we have. All we have now are each other Max. I’m closer to you all than any other people in my life. We’re a family, and families stick together. Families make decisions together,” she said.

“I want this. I want it more than I’ve ever wanted anything. I need you to believe that. I need you to know that without you, I’m nothing. Without
us …together, they’ll take Isabel’s baby. It’s not just about you anymore. It’s about her now too. I know what you were thinking. You thought you’d give your life to protect all of us if you had to. But it’s not about your life anymore, is it? It’s about this baby’s. You can take that power back, and your own destiny,” she said, lifting his chin to look into his eyes.

You can take that power back, and your own destiny.

She was right. He could make his own destiny, the one that he wanted. That destiny was to be with her, to love her and to cherish her for the rest of his life. And mending the seal was the only chance he might have at that life. She was willing to take the risk, and he no longer had the will or the desire to resist it.

He lowered his head and captured her lips in a gentle motion, slow and lingering.

Pulling back, he looked into her eyes, stroking her cheek.

“Ok,” he whispered.

For a moment, she looked as if she was hearing things, and then a smile broke across her face.

“Ok?” she asked again, seeming to need to hear it confirmed again.

“Ok,” he whispered again.

Time froze for an instant, and then her lips crashed against his.

The landscape surrounding them blurred and disappeared until they were once more in darkness, his arms wrapped around her waist, her body crushed against his.

A low humming began, growing louder, powerful, and they broke their kiss to look above their heads, where the two pieces of the seal hung suspended, spinning, growing brighter, more powerful, louder.

On instinct he put his hand up, and the piece above him slowed, pulsing with a breathtaking blue light. He spread his fingers, palm up underneath it, and lowered his hand slowly. The broken piece moved lower, following his hand, until it hovered above his fingers, just above his waist. He looked up to see Liz watching in wonder. He smiled at her and nodded, and she looked up, raising her hand, mimicking his actions until her piece lay above her hand, level with the his.

“What do we do now Max?” she asked, enthralled with the pulsing pieces of the seal. She caught his eyes, and he felt his heart race seeing what was written on her face.

There he saw wonder and love, and the joy that they would be bonded. Every last doubt flew from his mind as he saw this. Neither of them had been whole since the moment Tess had mind-warped her into believing in a future version of him. She’d changed a path that had already been destined, leading them astray, but they had found each other again, and now he knew he could never let her go again, even if it meant they would fail. He knew now that one could not be without the other. Without their connection and the love between them, there was nothing but emptiness. She’d felt it when he died, merely existing without him, as he had felt it trapped inside of his own mind, watching his body and mind betray her at Tess’s whim.

“Take my hand,” he said, moving his own hand under his half of the seal toward hers. Her eyes locked on his, never leaving them as her fingers moved toward his. As their hands drew closer, the pulsing light grew brighter.

Her fingertips touched his.

As her skin grazed his own, he heard her gasp.

All of the love he felt for her, had felt for her for as long as he could remember rushed from his body into her own.

“Oh Max,” she said, tears forming in her eyes.

He smiled at her.

Her lip trembled and she bit down on it gently.

“I’m feeling what you feel,” she said, a lone tear slipping down her cheek. “It’s…beautiful.”

He smiled at her, and then his breath hitched when he felt the reciprocating current of her own love passing through his body.

Was this what she had felt from him? This wondrous sensation of drowning in emotion, in a fiery and consuming wave of desire, trust and love? It was alternately beautiful, exciting and humbling to experience how she felt about him through her own heart.

His mouth opened and air exhaled from his lungs slowly, as he stared at her wide-eyed.

“I have…no words,” he whispered.

He saw that she did not need them, because she saw his reaction written all over his face.

“Do you believe me now?” she asked.

“Yes,” he whispered, his eyes filling with tears.

And his fingers clasped hers.

A blinding blue beacon burst from their hands as the seal rose, fusing itself above their heads, binding their hearts, minds and souls for eternity.

Max watched as Liz’s head fell back, her mouth opening in a rapturous smile, and he grabbed her other hand, sinking to his knees as he felt her, truly felt her within him.

He was she. She was he. They were one. His mate, his love now a part of him in a way he never could have dreamed.

He felt her slump against him, ready to fall, and he reached for her waist to catch her.

The beacon grew brighter, intense, fading everything around them as he head fell forward to look at him kneeling before her and she slid down toward him as the light above completely blinded him.


*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%

He felt her body crash against him, and he lost his balance, falling backward, expecting to hit a hard floor, but instead his back hit something soft and bounced.

They were in the room in Hondo, and he had fallen back onto the bed.

And there she was above him, her hair cascading around his face as he looked up at her, and she was changed, different.

Serenity lit her features, and her eyes shone with the love she felt for him. There was no more doubt, no insecurity, because there were no more secrets, nothing held back.

With a trembling hand, she touched his jaw.

He smiled at her as he blinked back the tears that had formed in his eyes.

Knowing she was his now, forever made his heart leap.

He took a breath and did what he had been longing to do since she’d brought him back. To let her name fall from his lips.

“Liz…”

*%*%*%*%*%*%

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 28-Jul-2002 7:46:52 PM ]
posted on 19-Sep-2002 9:41:49 AM by majesty
Guys,

Sorry for being MIA. I just finished a new part of Flagellation, one that I'm not that happy with, but I am starting on this one today.

SOF will be next.

majesty
posted on 26-Sep-2002 10:21:33 PM by majesty
Everyone,

Thanks for bumping your support, and a special thanks to clueless *happy* You are the first reader I think about when I sit down to write, because you've been so great about bumping.

All I can say is that I am working on this one at this very moment, and having a hard time with it. I'll have it up as soon as possible. Thanks for bearing with me.

majesty
posted on 3-Dec-2002 3:58:15 PM by majesty
First off, I am sorry for the 4 month delay on this. I have really had a hard time with any inspiration at all. But I promised I will finish all of my stories, I just can't promise when. I hope that it won't be so long between updates next time.

Thank you all for the bumps and the emails. I hope this isn't too disappointing. It wasn't for the lack of trying. This will be NC-17 eventually, just not sure when, LOL.

PART 29

Liz...

His voice was like music to her ears. That one word rang with every hope of promise and love she'd wished for.

She was poised over his body, her eyes travelling his face hungrily.

When Max had healed her that day in the Crashdown, she knew he'd changed her, but that couldn't even compare to what she'd just experienced.

The seal was complete, bound to Max once again, but she didn't feel its absence. Instead, she felt Max in every particle of her being. Her body fairly hummed with the sense of completeness she now felt, as if their hearts had merged and become one.

When she looked into his golden-flecked eyes, she saw everything she was feeling, mingled with the powerful love that he held in his heart for only her.

When he spoke her name, it made their new commitment real. It was proof that their love for each other could heal anything.

In that moment, she loved him more than even she thought possible. When he'd healed her and revealed himself to her, she'd fallen for the boy that had saved her life and then believed in her enough to tell her his darkest secret. Naively, she had imagined him to be this perfect person, handsome, smart, gentle and protective. So what he wasn't from Earth?

He was all of those things, but his heritage and so-called destiny had taken them places they couldn't have known. He'd been manipulated by Tess, imprisoned in his own mind, and had been returned to her a broken reflection of who he'd once been. It had been her love that had restored him, and it was the knowledge of that which made her realize that though they were both flawed and had made mistakes, that if they believed in each other, they could face anything.

When he looked at her, she no longer saw doubt. It had been replaced by hope, fueled by the strength he took from her love.

She her fingers caressed his face as she lowered her head and touched her lips to his in a tender motion. His hands caught her hair that fell around him in a cascade, fingers pushing it back behind her ears as his palms rested on her cheeks.

She pulled away to look into his eyes, tracing his chiseled jaw with the tips of her fingers, then reaching up to smooth the hair at his temples.

This was her Max. Lying beneath her was the boy she'd loved with her whole heart, restored by the power of the love that they shared.

That boy was now a man, eyes wise beyond his years, witness to horrors no one should ever know. Gone was the cautious, gentle innocence that had once made her heart race. Remembered pain added new depth to his gaze, making him inexplicably more beautiful to her.

His heart was beating against her chest in a strong cadence, sending a thrill down her spine. His chest rose and fell, pushing against her own and the heat of his skin seeped into her being, warming her to the core.

"Max, I..."

"I know," he said, his voice like gravel, a smile touching his lips his eyes brimming with unshed tears. And he did know everything she was feeling in that moment, because their souls were now joined, two becoming one.

She choked back a strangled sob, her fingers moving over his cheeks, his jaw his lips.

"I love you," he whispered, his voice hitching

"I love you," Liz answered, raining light kisses over his cheek.

"I've been waiting so long to say that to you again," he said.

"I've been waiting forever to hear it," she choked, her tears dropping unnoticed to his neck. "You don't know how much I needed to hear it."

"Yes...I do," he whispered, capturing her lips with his.

Liz could feel him in every cell of her body. When he took a breath, it was as if it were her own. She was filled with his love, the love that had been muted by the prison Tess had created in his mind.

Whenever he'd kissed her that first year they were together, she'd felt it, but it was tempered, dammed by the incomplete bonding between them. Now there was nothing to dim it, and it filled her heart until she thought it might burst. Nothing was hidden between them any longer.

She felt the completion he now felt, as if he'd come home, as if after years of searching and loneliness, he finally found his home with her. It filled him with wonder and hope, something he hadn't felt since the moment she had said she loved him in that dilapidated old van in the junkyard.

All of this echoed through her heart, now joined with his in an eternal bond of love.

She looked into his eyes and saw a reflection of herself, both in heart and mind.

"Say something," she said touching his face.

Max looked at her, a thousand emotions reflected in his eyes.

"Say anything," she prompted. "It doesn't matter what it is, I just want to hear your voice again."

He a smile crossed his lips almost shy in its sweetness, and she caught a glimpse of that boy he used to be, and her heart soared. He was everything he had once been, and more.

He leaned to caress her cheek with his lips, before pulling back again.

"Now I can tell you how beautiful you are," he said in a raspy whisper.

"You always were the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen," he said, stroking her cheek with his thumb.

Liz felt a blush creeping across her cheeks.

"Max, that's not what I meant when I asked you..."

"I know," he whispered, kissing her forehead.

"Does it hurt you to talk?" she asked, chiding herself for not thinking about it before asking him to speak.

He shook his head.

"It just feels a little strange," he said in a low voice.

"Maybe you shouldn't," she said, concerned.

"No, I need to. There are so many things I've wanted to tell you, things that I need to say," he said, his eyes devouring hers.

Liz felt a lump rise in her throat at the myriad of emotions reflected in them.

"We have time for that," she said, moving to lie next to him.

"No," he whispered. "I need to tell you. I don't want to think that something might happen, but it's a real possibility. Tess and Khivar are going to come back. We can't stop that."

"We'll beat them Max. All of us, together," she said.

"I want to believe that," Max said entwining her fingers with his own.

"We will," she insisted in a quiet voice. "You've healed yourself."

"We did it together," he said, pulling her close. She felt his energy building with each passing second, becoming more powerful. She wasn't sure if she could feel it because of their bonding, but the air around her seemed to pulse with it.

"Your powers are growing stronger. I can feel it. Do you feel different?" she asked.

He nodded.

"It's because of you," he said with reverence his hands sliding to her waist and under her shirt, caressing the warm skin of her back.

"Everything good that's happened in my life since that day in the Crashdown has been because of you," he said, pulling her closer, nuzzling his face in her hair.

Liz sighed feeling the painful constriction in her throat when she thought about the past.

"That's not exactly true," she said.

"If we hadn't acted on those impulses that night in the desert, we might never have activated the orb. Tess and Nasedo might have never found you. You wouldn't have been captured by the FBI. You would have been safe," she said, her voice tinged with sadness.

"I don?t know what might have happened, and yes, Imight have been safe, but I wouldn't have lived," Max said, pulling away to look in her eyes.

"Liz, I need you to know that before I knew you...really knew you, I wasn't living. I was existing, hiding," he paused.

"We all were. We spent most of our lives trying to hide what we are. We were afraid to let anyone in. But you changed all of that. You accepted me, everything about me, and you didn't run away. That meant more to me that I could ever begin to tell you. The idea that you could feel the way you do about me, that you could love me was the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me. Whatever happened...I wouldn't take any of it back. I wouldn't have taken knowing you back. I wouldn't change a minute of it," he said.

"But the things Tess did to you..." she whispered.

"Not just me," he said, his voice laced with the unspoken. Liz knew he was talking about Alex and Kyle, and the creation of the future version of himself.

"I wish that I could change all of that, but I can't. I think that's why I've been so torn, why the seal wouldn't mend itself," he said, lowering his eyes.

"I know that you've paid a high price to know me, to know what I am, and maybe I just wasn't sure that someday you might regret it, or that something could happen to you because of that," he finished hoarsely.

Liz could hear the pain etched in every word he spoke.

Liz touched her forehead to his.

"Max, I said something to that person I thought was a future version of you. I want you to hear it. He said to me that maybe you and I being apart was for the best, that maybe I would find someone else. I asked him, didn't he know what he was to me? What you are to me? I told him that you are the love of my life. There will never be another you. That hasn't changed. That version of you may have been a figment of Tess's sadistic imagination, but in my mind it was you. I will always love you Max, and nothing anyone can do is going to change that," she said.

He tilted his head up to kiss her forehead in a tender gesture.

"I know you do. That was the one thing that kept me going, the thought of coming back to you," he whispered. "That maybe someday it would be just us."

"When I...died, I had so many regrets. I wasn't strong enough to defeat Tess. Some of the things she made me do I'll never forgive myself for," he said.

"It wasn't your fault Max," Liz said, hating Tess more in that moment then she thought possible.

"She tried everything she could to tear us apart. I'll never understand how any one could be so cruel," she muttered.

"I underestimated her. We all did. My son never existed, but she let me believe that he did, to drive a wedge between us," he said bitterly.

"I can't even explain what it's like to be trapped like that. I'm still trying to straighten it all out. There was this conscious part of me that believed I had a son. But the truth was locked away in my own head. It's almost like there were two of me. I was a passive observer to my own life. It was being lived by another part of me," he said.

"She had me trapped in my own head, but there was no way for her to get the seal, because my heart...all that I am belonged to you. I've been thinking a lot about that. The one thing that saved us was that she didn't know you carried the seal. When I think about what she would have done to you if she'd known..." he trailed off.

"She didn't Max," Liz said, laying her head on his chest.

He was quiet for a moment, and she sensed the turmoil he felt.

"That night in Meta-Chem, I knew I was going to die," he said. "I almost welcomed it."

Liz felt her heart tighten at his confession.

"I was trapped for so long, I'd lost all hope that I'd ever be free. I didn't know what Tess was up to, that she planned the whole thing. I believed Wheeler was the root of it. Isabel and Michael were still in the building, and Valenti was with me. I knew what it would do to me if I healed him, and I didn't care. You were gone, and I thought that I'd lost you for good. When you'd hung up when I called you in Vermont, I just felt it. You were afraid..." he said.

"I didn't understand what was happening to me," she said. "I was so angry. I should have known you wouldn't have willingly done those things with Tess."

"You had every right to be angry. You couldn't have known," Max said.

"Just like my conscious mind didn't know that Tess mind-warped you into thinking I came back from the future. It was like we were two different people. It was me, but it wasn't. I know that doesn't make sense," he said.

Liz's arms tightened around his waist.

"Everything that we kept from each other drove us apart and made us weak. I didn't know that, that night. All I could think of was ending the running, the danger I caused all of you. I should have known it wouldn't be that easy. I didn't know that the seal would be transferred to Isabel. If I had known that..." he said, pausing.

"I thought that if I was gone, that Michael and Isabel might have a chance at a normal life. They would have had to leave Roswell, but they could have had a chance. I knew that when I passed on Valenti would make a break for it," he said.

"I tried to do the right thing, but I didn't see the big picture. Cal told me that Tess and Khivar planned it all, thinking that if they reanimated me, I would be weak, and they could take the seal from me," he said.

"But you...you held the key to everything, and it was you that set me free. You believed in me, even after everything, even though you were angry with me," he said.

"I couldn't be angry with you anymore," Liz said. "I was just so grateful you were alive. I don't ever want to be without you again, Max."

A lone tear slid down her cheek and he brushed it away with his fingers.

"When I thought there was no hope, in those last few seconds before I died, you were the person I thought of, both in my subconscious and conscious thoughts. My waking mind had no idea of what was happening to me, of what Tess had done, but you were still what I was thinking of with my last breath. I need you to know that," he said.

She took his hand and ran her fingers over, them, tracing his long fingers.

"You know, I felt it when it happened...in Vermont. Maria was with me, and I was sleeping and....I felt it the second you were gone. You were always with me Max, and I didn't even know until it was too late. Maria didn't believe me at first. But then...I just knew I had to get home, and she knew," she said in a whisper.

Max sighed and pulled her close.

"What was it like?" Liz asked in a quiet voice. "Dying?"

Max was quiet for a moment.

"I don't know how to explain it. I know I was somewhere else. I don't know where. I can't remember it. I remember that last moment, that last breath, and then nothing, until I had this feeling of being pulled back together. I didn't remember any of it. At first, I just remember sensations...pain. And other things..." he said, not wanting to relive discovering he hadn't any skin.

"There was a lot of pain," he admitted, and Liz saw that he was trying to brush over what must have been a horrifying nightmare. She could see the traces of fear that lingered in his eyes, and she could only imagine what he wasn't telling her.

"I didn't know who I was. I couldn't see anything because they had the thermal band over my eyes. But I could hear. I heard male voices, and Tess's voice. I didn't know it was her. I didn't know anything," he said. "I thought maybe I was in hell."

"Maybe you were," Liz said, her arms tightening around him.

"I was afraid, and they must have tried to use the Granolith on me to get the seal at some point. It was like it was me, but it wasn't. There was more pain, and I screamed. I couldn't stop. I didn't understand what was happening. Then they made sure I couldn't scream anymore," he said, his jaw clenching.

"I don't know how much time passed after that, but then you were there, and you called out to me, and I heard you. There was some part of me that knew you on an elemental level, because my conscious mind didn't know who you were, yet I sensed I could trust you," he said.

He propped himself up on his elbow and ran his thumb over her lips.

"You set me free Liz," he said. "You were the only one who could. You believed enough for the both of us, and you made me believe. You healed me."

Liz lowered her eyes, silent for a few seconds. Max lifted her chin.

"What are you thinking about?" he asked.

She raised her eyes to meet his.

"We came so close to really losing each other without ever knowing the truth," she said in a quiet voice. "If we hadn't gone to New York City, we would have never found you and Tess would have probably killed you again without any of us ever knowing."

"Max, when Alex died and everything was happening, I didn't believe in you, Max. I trusted what my eyes told me instead of listening to my heart," she said, tears welling in her eyes.

"And you always believed in me, and somewhere inside you, you loved me, through everything," she said, her voice hitching.

"When you told me you'd slept with her, and that she was pregnant with your child, I...I hated you for what I thought you did. I loved you and hated you all at once. And when you said you were leaving..." she broke off, unable to finish, ashamed for not trusting her heart.

She looked into his eyes and saw the pain that etched his features. His fingers brushed her cheek, and she felt his heart crying out to her as if it were a tangible scream, willing her to know that she wasn't to blame.

"I believed in you because I saw the whole truth. Liz, I knew that you hadn't betrayed me. I knew all of it. You couldn't have known any of it. It isn't your fault either," he said, bringing his face closer to hers, his cheek brushing hers. He wanted to take it all away, all the guilt and pain she'd felt. She felt it as clearly as if he had spoken it aloud.

"I ignored my heart," she said. "I saw with my eyes and ignored my heart, and it was screaming at me that it wasn't you. You wouldn't have betrayed me like that. I know that now. I know nothing will ever keep us apart again," she said.

"You believed in me when it counted. You brought me back, and you believed enough for the both of us. You convinced me that this bonding was meant to be, and you were right," he said.

"I don't care whether we have fifty years or fifteen minutes to be together. I want every last second to count, and I want you to feel how much I love you for each one of them. I love you Liz Parker," he said.

"I love you, so much," she answered as he turned her to lie on her back, his body resting against hers, the weight of his upper body on his elbows.

"Tess will never come between us again, no matter what happens from here on out," he said as his lips trailed across her throat, before he pulled away with a mischievous grin.

"And since I can feel what you're feeling and you can feel me, I don't think there'll be any more misunderstandings," he chuckled.

"I kind of like it," she whispered.

"So do I," he said, placing light kisses around her lips.

Liz giggled despite herself, before dragging in a ragged breath as she felt his desire spike, his body coming into contact with hers, feeding off her own desire.

"I can feel you Max," she whispered, her eyes, letting it envelop her. "I missed feeling you with me."

"I can feel you too," he said, feathering kisses across her brow. "I'm not whole without you. I never was."

His nose rubbed against hers in a tender movement before his lips descended on hers. She could sense his desperation, needing her to know how much he loved her, how much he'd always loved her, and it filled her heart from the moment his lips touched hers.

And once again she was lost in all that was Max Evans.

*%*%*%*%*%*%*

Streams of blue and green light shimmered and bounced off the metallic walls of the chamber, casting an eerie glow on its occupants.

In the center of the room a tempest swirled, a wormhole that seemed to suck the energy rays in like a drain.

"Are you ready for this?" the dark-haired female said, leaning against the wall, looking at her counterpart.

"I've been waiting for this for fifty years. We underestimated them...I underestimated them twice, but it won't happen again. It won't be long now," The striking male said, looking at the worm-hole.

Tess looked at him in approval.

Such a strong vital being he was. It didn't matter what form he took, he just exuded his power. She felt herself getting aroused just looking at him, and the body that had been chosen for him this time. It was beautiful. Lean and muscular, his skin bronzed and his hair falling rakishly across his forehead. He reminded her a little of Max. But Max could never compare to him, in any lifetime or any incarnation. Max couldn't even compare to her human pet, Dravin. But she had great plans for Dravin. He was her plaything, something that she toyed with when she was bored, who she finished training to protect her at all costs. She knew he talked with Khivar when she wasn't around. He had underestimated her too, thinking that he was the one who would be in control of her in the end. How little he knew. She still had a few secrets left up her sleeve, and she couldn't wait to see Liz and the others' face when she revealed it.

She turned away from him to look at herself in the reflective walls of the chamber.

"Not bad," she said with a smile that didn't reach her eyes, touching the long, glossy dark hair that framed her face. "I like it better than the blond hair."

"It suits you," Khivar said, meeting her eyes in the reflection.

"Do you like this body better than Vilondra's?" she asked petulantly.

"Are you jealous, my pet?" he asked in a teasing tone.

"No!" she said, her haughtiness betraying her true insecurity.

He chuckled.

"The only think I want of Vilondra now is what she has in her womb," he said, running a tanned finger down her cheek.

She closed her eyes and sighed.

"You'll get what you want, and I'll get what I want, and this will all be over finally," she whispered, turning her heard and catching his finger between her perfect teeth in an erotic gesture.

A low growl escaped his lips as he pulled her roughly to his chest.

"Perhaps we have just a little time before we go," he said, his eyes burning into hers.

A seductive smile appeared on her face as her palm raked down his chest to squeeze the growing bulge in his pants.

"I see they spared no expense," she purred, feeling him grow even larger beneath her hand. Her eyes dilated with lust and she lowered her lids, her eyes smoldering with pure animal need.

Her cry of surprise and pleasure filled the chamber as their bodies fell to the floor with a dull thud.

For a moment, she her thoughts wandered to all of the nasty things she would soon do to the others, but those thoughts were quickly drowned out as her body arched from the floor, her clothes ripped from her body in passionate haste.

Then for a while, there was nothing but bodily pleasure.

TBC...