posted on 22-Feb-2002 4:20:04 PM by Transparent Clear
Title: "Dial-Up: Connection"
Author: Jenan/Jenn/Clear, take your pick
Rating/Couple: Pg, m/l
Disclaimer: I own nothing, except a massive fear of commitment, a lot of apathy, and a really cute pair of Sketchers... please don't take them!
AN: I wrote this forever ago, but just decided to post it this morning. I wrote it after MITC when Liz lied to Max, and I started thinking about when she could tell him the truth. And it occurred to me that I always had an easier time telling the truth when I could just write it... so here we go! I also wrote it right after I started going to chat rooms for the first times, and there really are chat rooms like the one I use here... I hope this comes out okay, formatting wise... and thanks in advance for reading! Let me know what you think?

********

Liz sat down and turned on her computer. She could not believe what she was about to do. She was going to go into one of those relationship advice on-line chats. When had her life gotten so pathetic? She logged into www.relatetome.com as Daydreamer, and started reading the screen.

20 minutes later, in a house across town, Max Evans turned on his computer and went to www.relatetome.com. He’d heard one of the guys in his English class making fun of it. He said it was all about breakups and dissecting them. Well, Max didn’t know anyone whose breakup needed to be dissected more than his and Liz’s. He logged in as Outlander and joined in the chat.


*Betrayed: I just can’t get past this, guys. It’s been months, and I’m still hurt by the fact that he betrayed me so completely. And why did he have to choose her? She was my best friend. How could she betray me like that too?

*DancingW/Self : I’m sorry, B. Just remember that you are too good for him. And she was probably never your friend if she could do that to you.

*Daydreamer: has joined the conversation.**

*Vance: And that he will regret it. Have you even talked to her since all this happened?

*Kindred : Hi, Daydreamer. Join in, okay?

*Viola: Welcome, Daydreamer.

*Clear_bead : Hi, Daydreamer. New here?

*Daydreamer: : Thanks. I am new here, and I’m sorry to hear about your relationship, B.

*Betrayed: Thanks, D. No, Vance, I haven’t talked to my friend. She essentially betrayed me, too. But I really don’t want to think about this anymore. Can we change the subject please?

*Kindred : Sure. Thanks for sharing. Anyone else wanna talk? Cb, you wanna talk about the scum you just broke it off with?

*Clear_bead : No, thanks. I’m feeling much better about it today. It might have something to do with the fact that I just happened to play with his email today. *happy*

*Viola: Clear! Lol. Just don’t do anything illegal.

*Daydreamer: : I can talk about my last relationship, if you wouldn’t mind hearing about it.

*Viola: Please, tell us! We live for this kind of stuff; it makes us forget our problems.

*Daydreamer: : The thing to know first off is that I still love him.

**New user Outlander joins discussion **

*Kindred :
Hi, Outlander.

*Vance : Hey, Out.

*Outlander : Hi, all. Please Daydreamer, keep talking.

*Daydreamer: : I really still love my ex. And it hurts to even call him my ex because I feel like he will always be an important part to my life.

*Vance : Did he break up with you?

*Daydreamer: : No, that’s the worst part. I essentially broke up with him; I broke his heart.

*Kindred : I hate to do this, but I have to leave. Class starts soon. Bye! *happy*

*Daydreamer: : I hurt him so much that I know there can’t be a bit of even compassion for me left in him, and now he’s trying so desperately to be my friend. He is just so incredible; I don’t know what to do.

**DancingW/Self has left the conversation**

*Betrayed:
If you loved him so much, can we assume he loved you back?

*Daydreamer: : He loved me so much. He isn’t the same now that I’ve broken his heart. It’s like I killed what I loved the most about him. I feel so guilty even looking at him now.

*Viola: Ouch. I hope you had really good reasons for breaking it off with him.

*Outlander : Are there any reasons good enough for breaking someone’s heart?

*Daydreamer: : I didn’t break up with him because I wanted to. I had to for our future and for our friends. I did something totally reprehensible, and it served its purpose, but I still cry myself to sleep every night. Because every time I close my eyes, I see Max’s eyes when I betrayed him.

*******
Max couldn’t breath for a moment. Daydreamer was Liz! She was talking about their breakup or whatever had happened in their relationship. This was incredible! Finally he could find out what had been going on in her head all these weeks! He decided not to mention who he was or anything, though. He needed to hear her honesty.
*******

*Clear_bead : His name is Max?

*Daydreamer: : Yeah. He’s the love of my life.

*Outlander : Than why did you break up with him? You never told us your reasons.

*Daydreamer: : I found out some things about the future of our relationship. I couldn’t let them happen, and the only way to prevent them was to break it off with Max.

*Vance : Does he know what those things are?

*Daydreamer: : No, and he can’t. It would destroy him to find them out. I made a lot of decisions in the past few months, and I have to live up to them now. It’s just that they’re so hard to live with.

*Viola: I have to go, too. The kids are crying. Good luck, Day.

**Viola has left the conversation.**

*Outlander : It just seems to me like you took all the control in that relationship. Shouldn’t this Max-guy have had a say?


*Daydreamer: : The thing is I know what he would have said. He wouldn’t care about what I told him. He would have wanted us to be together no matter what, and that would have destroyed everything in his life. I can’t be responsible for that.

*Clear_bead : Day, your relationship sounds extremely complicated. I don’t want to judge, but….

*Betrayed: It sounds like you don’t give anyone else the chance. Max should have had the opportunity to understand and accept or refuse your reasons for your decisions.

*Outlander: I wouldn’t say that. I really think that there’s something you’re not telling us, Day.

**Vance has left the conversation.**

*Daydreamer: : There’s a lot I’m not telling you; a lot I can’t tell you.. But I do need some perspective on this so I’ll try to tell you as much as I can.

*Clear_bead : I hate to go, but it’s late here, and I have to work in the morning. Good luck, Day.

*Daydreamer: : Thanks, Clear. Good night.

**Clear_bead has left the conversation.**

*Betrayed:
Keep going, Day. *happy*

*Daydreamer: : See, it took us so long for us to finally get together. He fought it more than I did. I knew I loved him from the moment he first looked into my eyes, like he worshipped me. And when we finally got together, despite what our friends thought and everything, it was so perfect. Even holding hands with him was special. But then we found out stuff that changed our relationship. I tried to pull away from it right then and there, but I couldn’t cut the final connection that made us practically one person.

*Outlander : Why not?

*Daydreamer: : I loved him. I didn’t want to live without him in my life. So I was very selfish and stayed attached to him, even though I knew it wasn’t right for his future.

*Betrayed: It sounds like you’re hurting yourself more than you’re hurting him. You had to live with knowing that you couldn’t be together no matter how badly you wanted to. It doesn’t seem fair to either of you.

*Daydreamer: : You’re assuming that our relationship was fair. He always gave so much more than me. I forced him into it at first, and then his giving just became like a habit, I think.

*Outlander : I don’t think he would have given more than he wanted to.

*Daydreamer: : That’s what everyone keeps telling me.

*Betrayed: So what did you do to break that connection?

*Daydreamer: : I don’t know if the connection is really broken, but… I basically allowed him to believe I committed the ultimate betrayal to him. I let him believe I slept with my former boyfriend.

*Outlander : But you didn’t?

*Daydreamer: : No. I couldn’t. I never loved him like I love Max.

*******
Max couldn’t believe his eyes! She hadn’t slept with Kyle! She hadn’t betrayed him like that. But why did she continue to pretend she had? Why would she subject herself to that kind of torture? Why did she allow him to look at her like she was the biggest enemy in the world? Why did she continue to lie to him about it when he gave her the opportunity to tell the truth?
*******

*Betrayed: Please tell me there was a really good reason that you continue to allow him to think you slept with someone else.

*Daydreamer: : Yes, there is. I found out that if we were together, his life would be ruined. Everyone he loved would be dead and his whole future would be destroyed. And I found out that I was the cause of that. I couldn’t be the reason that everything important to Max fell away. I just couldn’t. So I did what I had to do to make him stop loving me.

*Betrayed: You’re talking like you know the future, Day. And no one knows that.

*Outlander : And it doesn’t sound like he’s stopped loving you.

*Daydreamer: : I know that no one knows the future, B. I just know what’s going to happen. And MM, it kills me to know that he still loves me in some way. I’ve destroyed him, and he still looks at me like I’m important to him.

*Betrayed: It sounds like you want him to hate you, Day.

*Daydreamer: : I do. This way he would avoid me so that I wouldn’t have to see him. But at the same time I dread the day when I don’t see his beautiful eyes or small, shy smile that he only saves for a few people.

*Outlander : What do you really want, Daydreamer?

*******
Max prayed that she would say what he needed to hear. If she said it, things would work out. He knew it.
*******

*Daydreamer: : I just want to be able to go into the past and change what happened. I want to tell the future to go to hell and just be with Max forever, like we always talked about. I wanted to deny whatever his destiny was supposed to be and make our own, like he always said we would.

*Betrayed: You want what you forced the 2 of you to deny?

*Daydreamer: : Yes.

*Outlander : Why don’t you go get it? Why don’t you talk to Max and tell him the truth?

*Daydreamer: : I can’t. Every time I look at him and think about it, I imagine how much pain his eyes would hold if the future I know about came true. I don’t want that to happen.

*Betrayed: So you’re going to just let him believe that you don’t love him anymore? That is so wrong! You have something that no one else who enters this chat room has: a chance to get back with who you love and to make him a part of your life again. And you’re just letting it go? You have no write to complain about this relationship, Daydreamer. You need to do what your heart tells you to do, this so-called future you’re so afraid of, be damned.

*Daydreamer: : I know that, B. But you don’t see the people that that future would affect every day, and you don’t imagine them gone because you were an impulsive, selfish girl.

*Betrayed: Please, don’t feel like I’m attacking you, Day. I just want you to see that you need to think about yourself, too. You love this guy, and that is just as important as any future he might have. You say he loves you; let him choose if he wants to risk the future.

*Betrayed: And with that, I must go. It was interesting talking to you both. I hope things work out well for you, Daydreamer. Take a chance on him, though. You both deserve it.

**Betrayed has left the conversation.**

*Outlander : I think B. was right, Day. You love him, and he loves you. Don’t make your future miserable to protect some future that might not even happen.


*Daydreamer: : It’s just so scary, Outlander. I want to go to Max more than anything and tell him the truth, but… I’m so afraid. Not just of the future, but what if he doesn’t believe me? What if he thinks I’m just trying to get back into his life by lying? What if he tells me that he really doesn’t love me anymore? Sometimes I think that I just want to live imagining that he loves me.

*******
Max felt his heart clench. How could she ever think any of those things? He loved her! He always would, and she knew it, she should know it, anyway. If she would just make the first move toward him, he would respond with so much love, she’d forget the past few months had even happened. But he needed her to make the first move…
*******

*Outlander : I don’t think that you can ever make him not love you. If you two were as close as you claim, somewhere deep down, there is a part of him that will always love you, no matter what he says or does to deny it. Maybe he’s just afraid that you really don’t love him anymore. Maybe he’s waiting for you to make the first move.

*Daydreamer: : I don’t know what to do. I want to be with Max more than my next breath, but I am so afraid that something will happen to him.

*Outlander : Day, have you thought about it this way? Right now, you’re feeling an incredible amount of guilt about this. If you tell Max the truth and then give him the choice, you won’t be guilty of anything anymore. You’ll be handing over part of the control.

*Daydreamer: : That is an interesting idea. I don’t know what to do, though….

*Outlander : Just think about what I’ve said. Please.

*Daydreamer: : I will. Thank you.

*Outlander : You’re welcome. I have to leave here. It’s late and I have a long day in the morning.

*Daydreamer: : What do you do?

*Outlander : I’m a divorce attorney.

*Daydreamer: : LOL. Thank you again and good night.


*******

Liz logged out of the chat room and looked at herself in the mirror. She hadn’t realized that she’d started to cry as she’d typed. This was all unreal to her. She didn’t feel like she had any more answers now than when she had logged in, but talking to those people had given her a few ideas.

What if she did tell Max the truth and then just let him decide what to do? Maybe he would know what was best. If he wanted to get back together, she was more than willing. And if he told her they had to protect the future, than at least it would be a conscious effort from the 2 of them to be apart.

Liz laid down on her bed and tried to fall asleep. She stared at her eyelids for 3 hours before sitting up and looking at her computer again. She logged into her email.

To : max⊕outofthisworld.com
From : lizparker⊕earthbound.com
Subject: Honesty….

Max, hi. I’m not sure that I should really be writing this, but I can’t sleep with all these thoughts in my mind. I need to get them out, and as they’re about you, you’re the only one I can tell these things. This is probably going to be quite disjointed, so I warn you now.

First of all, do you remember that day when you found out your destiny? I’m sure you do. I remember it more as the day my heart started breaking. Hearing your mother tell us that you were meant to be with Tess has haunted me ever since. I don’t know why I accepted it, but something inside me made me think that maybe it was the truth. So I looked at you and said goodbye, and I ran away. Did Maria tell you that I spent the next month crying every day because I had done that? My parents didn’t understand what was wrong with me, but I couldn’t explain to them that my heart was breaking. So I ran away to Florida, hoping it would make my heartbreak less sharp. It didn’t. I still missed you every second, and Maria’s updates were never what I wanted. I wanted to hear your voice, to look into your eyes and know that you still loved me.

I was thrilled when I got back to Roswell, and you kept chasing me. It meant that you still cared about me. I forced myself to say no because I thought you needed your destiny, but I had so many dreams of what it would be like to say yes, Max. I imagined your eyes and your smile…. It helped me through it.

And we were getting so close again. I was so happy. I could barely breathe the day you told me that you were coming for me in the Crashdown. It meant that we were heading back towards our relationship. I wanted that more than I have ever wanted in my entire life.

But then everything changed.

It was the night that Alex, Maria, and I went to the psychic and the night that you sang to me with that mariachi band in the streets. I was so happy because the psychic had told me that we would be together forever. That we’d have the destiny I’d only dreamed of. Later that night, I was in my room pretending I was a bride in my grandmother’s veil. And I heard a noise on the balcony. I thought it might have been you. I hoped it was. But I was not prepared for the face that looked into my window.

And it was you, from 14 years in the future. You had come back to change the future, I guess is what you’d call it. I know how inconceivable this sounds, but please know I’m telling you the complete truth. In his future, we were defeated in the war against the Skins. Everything we knew was gone. Our friends had all died, even Michael and Isabel. And all of it could be traced back to the 2 of us. See, if you and Tess had gotten together like you were supposed to, you would have been able to defeat the Skins. The 4 of you needed to be together to have enough power to do it, but that was the only way you could do it. In his past, Tess had left Roswell because the 2 of us got together permanently. The night you wanted to go to Gomez was the night that sealed her leaving and our relationship; we made love. After that, we were constantly together, and Tess couldn’t handle seeing it. So she left Roswell and never came back. You, Michael, and Isabel couldn’t beat the Skins on your own. The world was taken over. Because of us. Future You told me that hours before he came back in time, he had held Michael in his arms as he died. You couldn’t save him, Max. We were all that was left. And it was pretty much guaranteed that we would end up dead, too.

At some point, we had learned about some of the powers the granolith had and had adapted it to work as a time machine. And you used it to come back to me now to get me to stop what was nearly inevitable. The future versions of ourselves had figured out that the only way to stop it was to make you fall out of love with me. That’s why I set you up with Tess. I thought it might work if I coached Tess on how to be with you. But you saw me and the future version of you hiding, watching, in Whitaker’s office and came over to me. Did I ever admit that I had the most incredible flash when you kissed me? It made what I was doing to you hurt like hell. I told the future you that I wanted out, that I couldn’t do this to you. He told me how all our friends had died. That’s when I came to your house and told you complete lies. I would die for you a million times a day, Max. I don’t want a normal life; being with you is better. I don’t want to be safe. I just want you; I always will.

Future You and I thought it had worked. He nearly disappeared. But something must have changed inside you, because he didn’t. You still loved me. Maria and Michael were having some troubles, as usual. So I took a cue from what Maria thought was Michael’s ultimate betrayal and went to Kyle.

I convinced him that you needed to believe I slept with him to go about your destiny. I think he did it as a favor to me. Future You stood feet away from you when you looked in my window. I died knowing that right than, we were supposed to be making love, but instead, I was killing you.

Kyle left right away, and I went out on to the balcony with Future You. I sobbed because I couldn’t believe I had just destroyed what was most precious to me. You/He told me everything would be okay. That the future was no longer set, and that he didn’t know what was going to happen anymore. I cried harder. But then I made him dance with me.

See, in his future, we had eloped when we were 19 to Las Vegas. Everyone met us and we had the best time, singing and dancing. And at last we danced to “I Shall Believe”, all by ourselves. The others were too tired to join in. It was our song.

So I asked Future You to have my wedding dance with me because I knew I was never going to get to have it. He said that maybe I would fall in love with someone else, someone human. I laughed at that. How can you fall in love with someone who isn’t your soulmate once you’ve known your soulmate? So he danced with me. I felt so free and happy and alive. I closed my eyes and when I opened them, you were gone. I haven’t felt alive since.

The hardest thing I ever did was lying to you that night when you asked me if I had really slept with Kyle. I had to force myself to nod. I felt that I had to protect whatever future I had already set into motion. But now I can’t handle it anymore. I’m tired of lying to you. I’m tired of pretending to just be your friend when I want so much more.

So I’m telling you the truth now. You can decide what you want to do. If you think that we need to keep going on like this to protect the future, I completely understand. All I ask is that we stop torturing ourselves like we have been. We need to stop looking at each other and remembering everything. I don’t know how we can do that. Just looking at your hand as it writes in class makes me remember things that make me want to make more memories. Maybe I’ll transfer schools or graduate early. Who knows? The point is, I’m giving you this decision now. I’m tired of making it. I’m tired of feeling like I have no one. I’m tired of feeling like no one understands my decision. I’m tired of feeling like everyone judges me because of that decision. I’m just tired of all this.

I love you, Max. That will never change. I think you already know that, though.

Liz


*******

Max woke up the minute he got her email. It wasn’t the ding of his computer that woke him; it was like he could feel her presence in the room again. And this time it was much stronger than their usual connection. She was going to trust him! Finally! He couldn’t believe it.

He opened her letter and read it quickly first. He couldn’t believe some of what she said. Reading it a second time, he couldn’t believe what she’d gone through. It must have been such hell. Not only to know what she had to do, but to have to go through it seeing the pain in his eyes every time he looked at her; it must have been torture.

He didn’t know what to do first: reply to her email or run to her house and wrap her in his arms. God, after all this time it had come down to such a trivial choice. He decided to take the second option.

He quickly put on his jeans and a shirt and left through his window. He drove to her house as quickly as he could and climbed the ladder to her balcony. He stared at her through the window. She was lying in bed, but he didn’t believe that she was asleep. He felt her presence too much.

He knocked gently on the window.

Liz had known the moment he walked onto her balcony. She’d been able to feel him coming closer to her ever since she’d sent the email. She turned over and looked at him through the window.

He could see that she’d been crying. Oh God, he’d made her cry. He never wanted to do that to her again in his life! He opened the window with his powers and walked into her room.

“Max,” her voice sounded almost scared.

“No, Liz, please, let me talk. I am so sorry. I can’t believe I didn’t believe in you. I should have known better than to ever think that it might be true. I love you, now and forever, and nothing matters but that. I don’t care about the future because if I don’t have you in my life, my future isn’t worth living.”

She was crying harder. “Max, I—“

“And I’m sorry for the way I’ve treated you the past couple months. I should have known better. I should have believed in you.”

“Max, I made it look like I had betrayed everything important to us. I pretended that I slept with someone I didn’t even love, to hurt you. I am so sorry.”

“Liz, you were just trying to protect me, Michael, and Isabel. We owe you everything.”

She wiped her eyes and looked him in the eye. “All I want is you.”

“You’ve got me.” He sank on to the bed beside her and hugged her. “And you always will. I love you.” And then for the first time in too many months, he kissed her.
She felt complete again. “I love you, too.”

They were quiet for a few moments. “I’d better go home.”

“No, don’t. Stay here. Just for tonight, Max. I want to fall asleep in your arms again, like that night in the desert.” That was one of the last times things had been simple between them. “Please?”

“I can’t resist that. I’ve missed holding on to you for too long.” He laid down next to her and kissed her neck. “Good night, Liz.”

“Night, Max.”

She smiled. “You know, we don’t necessarily have to go to sleep yet, Max.”

“Yes, we do, Liz. Because tomorrow morning when we wake up together, it is going to be a whole new day. It starts our whole new destiny together.” He whispered. “And tomorrow night will be special.”

“Promise?” Liz couldn’t believe he was saying what she had dreamt about hearing for so long.

“Absolutely.” He smiled. “And tomorrow we get to tell everyone that we’re back together and let them see how happy we are. And we’ll tell them about the future that we won’t allow to happen.”

“Max, what if--?”

“No. No what ifs tonight. Things will work out, Liz. They have to. Just believe in us.”

“I do,” Liz whispered and kissed his cheek. “Good night, Max.”

“Good night, Liz.”


*******


Liz kept her eyes closed tightly, even though she was awake. She had to be dreaming that Max was holding her. There was no way this was reality. It was too much what she wanted. It was what she had been dreaming of every night for months.

Max opened his eyes happily. It was true. He was here, holding Liz as she slept. They were really together. He had never felt better. He could sense that Liz was awake, but she was refusing to open her eyes. It was unfair. He wanted her to look at him with those beautiful brown eyes. He wanted to hold her and tell her how much he loved her. He wanted to kiss her.
He kissed her neck. “Open your eyes, sleepy-head.”

“No. You’re not real,” she whispered.

“I swear I am, Liz. I will never leave you again. Our parents will probably catch us sneaking into each other’s windows every night.” He teased. “And we will end up spending more time in the eraser room than Michael and Maria. And Isabel and Alex will tease us mercilessly.”

She opened his eyes and looked at him. “I can’t wait.” She kissed him.

“Me, either.”

Her mother yelled from the hallway, “Elizabeth, are you awake? You have school in an hour!”

“Oh, God, lock the door!” She whispered. Max used his powers and protected them from being discovered.

“You’d better go. Your parents will freak out if you aren’t home when they come looking for you.”

“I know. Can I drive you to school?”

“I’d love it.”

“I’ll be back in 35 minutes.”

“35 minutes?”

“I thought we could steal some eraser room time this morning,” he smiled.

“I’ll be ready.” She promised. She kissed him as he climbed out the window. “Bye.”

Liz quickly jumped into the shower and started getting ready with more enthusiasm than she’d put into it in months. She was going to see Max today. They were together again. That was all that mattered.

The phone rang 5 minutes before Max was supposed to pick her up. She was almost afraid to answer it. What if it was something she didn’t want to hear? What is she was waking up now? “Hello?”

“Liz.”

She smiled. “Maria?”

“I am running so unbelievably late. A certain SpaceBoy needs a ride today, too. So be out front waiting?”

“Actually, I don’t need a ride today, Maria. I forgot to call you.”

“And how are you getting to school, chica?”

“A friend.”

“You will elaborate on this later, yes?”

“Yes.”

“Than I’ll see you at school. Bye!”

“Bye!” She hung up and finished brushing her hair.

“I could stand here all day and watch you do that,” Max said from the window.

Liz turned and smiled. “Hi.”

“You are so beautiful.”

She walked to the window with a tell-tale blush across her cheeks. “Thank you.” She kissed him.

“We’d better go to school.” Max said quickly.

“You just got here, Max. We’ve got plenty of time.”

“Liz, if we don’t leave now, we aren’t going to leave your room.”

She laughed. “Promises, promises,” she teased. “I’ll meet you downstairs.” She kissed him.

She walked out of her room and ran right into her father.

“Liz, were you talking to someone last night?”

“No.”

“I could have sworn I heard voices last night.”

“I had the radio on while I was trying to fall asleep last night,” she smiled innocently. She hadn’t even thought that her parents would be able to hear her and Max talking.

“You couldn’t sleep?”

“No. I just kept tossing and turning.”

“Has it been happening a lot, sweetie? We can go to the doctor if you’d like. He could probably help you.”

“No, I’m okay. I don’t think I’ll be experiencing anymore insomnia.” She smiled. “I’ve got to go. My ride is waiting.”

“Tell Maria I said hi and that she’s closing tonight.”

“I will, but Maria isn’t driving me today. Max is.” Liz ran downstairs and out of the restaurant before her father could say anything.

She jumped into Max’s Jeep in the alley. She kissed him. “Did I say good morning earlier?”

“No.”

They kissed again. “Good morning.”

He drove them to school as quickly as he could. Parking in the middle of the already crowded lot, he helped her out of the car. He took her hand in his and they walked toward the front door. They could feel people staring at them, curious about what was going on.

She laughed. “Everyone must think they’re in a flashback, Max.”

“What?”

“A year ago, we did this same thing. But lately, we haven’t even really talked to each other in public. And now all of a sudden, we show up at school together, holding hands, looking like nothing’s changed.”

He smiled. “I guess so, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. These past few months have shown us how terrible our lives are apart. It’s taught us that we can make it through anything together. And it’s taught us that we will always be tied to each other, Liz.” He kissed her before they reached the door. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She grinned wickedly. “So is it time for some of that eraser room action we talked about earlier?”

“Absolutely.” He pulled her to the 2nd floor eraser room. He hadn’t been here for this purpose since they had found out their destinies. For some reason, Michael and Isabel thought it was a great place to meet in school, though, and every time they met in there, he could feel everything that had ever happened between him and Liz in here. He needed to make some more memories.

Kissing Max again, in the eraser room, was not something Liz had ever truly expected to happen again. She hadn’t been in here since last year when they were together, and she could almost feel how happy they had been than. The thing was, she felt just as happy, if not more so now. It was incredible.

Max threaded his hand into the hair at the back of her neck, pulling her closer. She just allowed her arms to go where they belonged: around him. It felt like home, being in his arms like this again. They’d been through so much in the past year, and it had finally returned them to where they belonged. It didn’t matter what anyone said or what destinies they were supposed to follow, they kept coming back to one thing. Max and Liz belonged together, and nothing could tear them apart.

*******

[ edited 50time(s), last at 18-Feb-2003 11:22:47 AM ]
posted on 8-Mar-2002 9:48:20 AM by Transparent Clear
Wow! Oh my God, I need to thank you all so much for all your feedback. It totally overwhelmed me and had me singing like an idiot for days. *happy* (there's a long story behind that, and because I tend to be chatty, I'll tell you) See, I posted this on the night before my birthday and I was feeling really old, (at 22!), but I posted this and whew! Suddenly I wasn't feeling so old anymore. Reading all this happy feedback has also gotten me through failed chemistry quiz, 3 midterms, and endless hours of hypocrisy at work! Thank you all. *happy*

I've been working on part 2 for a while, and I'm sorry about the wait. I wasn't even sure if I was going to do a part 2 but talking to some friends (who know who they are!) kind of convinced me that I wasn't really done with their story. I'm just like really nervous about it, because I don't want to disappoint all those dreamers who like me, need something to hold on to. So I'm going to post the new part in a minute, and please read it, but if you don't like it, think of this as a happy one-parter and *happy* . If you do like, please let me know and I'll get more typed/posted/written. *happy* you all have made the last couple weeks so much happier for me, and I just want to thank you.

Jenn/Clear/Jenan
(can everyone tell I'm insecure about my writing and babble when I'm nervous? Just checking!)
posted on 8-Mar-2002 9:52:07 AM by Transparent Clear
**For all disclaimer info, look to part 1**

Previously,

Kissing Max again, in the eraser room, was not something Liz had ever truly expected to happen again. She hadn’t been in here since last year when they were together, and she could almost feel how happy they had been than. The thing was, she felt just as happy, if not more so now. It was incredible.

Max threaded his hand into the hair at the back of her neck, pulling her closer. She just allowed her arms to go where they belonged: around him. It felt like home, being in his arms like this again. They’d been through so much in the past year, and it had finally returned them to where they belonged. It didn’t matter what anyone said or what destinies they were supposed to follow, they kept coming back to one thing. Max and Liz belonged together, and nothing could tear them apart.

And now, Part 2

She knew that; she kept thinking it. But Liz wasn’t completely sure. What if Tess couldn’t accept them? What if Tess left and then the end of the world really did come? She couldn’t let Isabel and Michael die…

“Max?” She broke off the kiss.

He already knew what she was worried about. “We won’t let Tess leave, Liz.”

“How can we stop her? Max, I couldn’t bare to be responsible for Michael and Isabel dying. I can’t do that to them for my own happiness.”

“What about for my happiness?” He whispered. “Liz, we already know that if you and I are apart, we are both miserable. Who says I’ll even be able to lead this so-called war without your strength?”

“But I don’t have anything to give you. I don’t have any powers or anything.”

“Liz, shhh—“ he put his finger over her mouth. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t have powers. You’re there for me. I need that. Growing up, the only thing I ever wanted was to be normal, but I always knew I would never be because of what I was. You make me forget that, Liz. You make me feel normal.”

“But is that a good thing? I mean, Max, you’re not normal! And I mean that in the best way. You can heal people; you healed me! And you have the power to save an entire planet full of people. That’s not normal; that’s unbelievable! And it is a part of the reason I love you, Max. I love you for your altruism and your spirit. And I also love you just because you are the normal guy who plays basketball with your best friend and gets overprotective of your sister even though you know her boyfriend and who befriends his girlfriend’s best friend because he knows how important that is to her.” She smiled. “And I love you because you risked your dignity to sing to me with a mariachi band.”

Max laughed. “So you did like that?”

“Max, I loved it.”

He smiled. “Good to know.”

“But my original point was, is it a good thing that I make you forget that you’re an alien? Maybe that was the original problem in that other time line… I made you forget your responsibilities and what you were supposed to be doing. What you were sent here to do.”

“Liz, please, don’t think like that. I don’t know what happened in that other time line, and neither do you. All you know is what this future version of me told you. A man who had just left the love of his life, his wife, in another time and came back to help break his heart. I don’t think he was really thinking straight anyway, if he thought that would really work. I think we need to realize that this future version of me was too emotional to know anything, really. I can only imagine what I’d be feeling after I watched my sister and Michael die. I wouldn’t be rational. I’d grab onto whatever silly hope was handed to me.”

“Even Tess?”

“Maybe.” He whispered. “I guess that sounds kind of bad. Here I am trying to convince you to trust our love and I mention the one person who wants to end it the most, but—“

“No, I understand, Max. I really do. Maybe in the future, we spent a lot of time prophesizing on what would have happened if Tess had stayed… maybe we were convinced ourselves that everything would be okay if Tess had stayed because we didn’t want to admit that--“

“That we weren’t strong enough,” Max finished. He looked down at the floor as if he were a little boy ashamed of something.

Liz hugged Max tightly. “I’m sorry, Max. I don’t want us to have to question every single thing we’ve ever done in terms of how it affects the future. I love you. I want to be with you, and maybe that’s all that should matter.”

He smiled a little. “Maybe.”

“So we’ll tell everyone today? And we’ll be sure to tell Isabel and Michael that we don’t want to hurt them, but we can’t be apart anymore.”

“They might not understand at first, but they will, Liz, I promise.”

She smiled. “Don’t make those kind of promises, Max. You can’t control how they’ll feel. Just promise me you’ll still love me.”

“Always.” He kissed her.

The 5 minute bell rang. “I guess we have to go to class,” Liz smiled.

“I think that’s probably a good idea.” Max grinned.

“Meet here 6th period?”

“You know it.” They kissed one more time and left the eraser room to go to their first classes.

~*~
(author hides in a corner) I know it's short... but what do you think?
posted on 10-Mar-2002 3:25:01 PM by Transparent Clear
Thank you all for all your feedback! *happy* It's really helping to chase the insecurities away. I hope you enjoy the new part! And hopefully there will be more tonight, I'm feeling inspired.~~j

Part 3

Liz just hoped she could make it till 6th period without making the truth plainly obvious to everyone, especially Maria. She could never lie to Maria, and it was sometimes like the girl was in her head. She knew everything about Liz. And she didn’t really want to lie to her. Maria was the only person who knew the absolute truth, and she’d helped her through this so much. She’d be so excited. But Liz wanted to wait and tell all her friends together with Max. She kind of hoped that Maria’s enthusiasm would take the sting off Michael and Isabel’s reactions, not to mention Tess’.

4th period, Liz and Maria were together in art, an extracurricular that never failed to annoy Liz. She just couldn’t stand that she had no artistic ability and was forced to show this to everyone. The class was working on a still life this week so they set up their easels next to each other and started studying the bowl of fruit. Well, Liz did; Maria stared across the room ‘studying’ Michael.

“You know I can’t explain why I can’t resist that Czechoslovakian,” Maria smiled. “It’s like he’s put a force on me or something.”

Liz smiled, remembering her journal entry. “I can understand that.”

“So who drove you to school, chica?” She tried to paint nonchalantly. She was really dying to know what was going on.

“Maria—“

“I’m just curious, you know?” She smiled. “I mean, I’m your best friend I deserve to know who’s driving my girl to school.”

“Maria, I promise you that I will tell you, just not now, okay?”

“Why do we need to wait, Liz? Just tell me now.”

“Not now.” She tried to sound firm and decisive.

“Why not?”

“Because I like keeping you in suspense,” she laughed. She wondered if she could somehow cause a distraction. Nothing too big, just enough to take Maria’s attention off her and onto anything else.

“But, Liz, I don’t want to wait!”

“God, Liz, just tell her before she breaks into Paula Cole songs. Don’t make us all suffer,” Michael came over and borrowed Maria’s green paint.

Liz smiled. Distraction guaranteed!

Maria hit Michael’s chest. “So it’s torture to hear me sing?”

“Ria—” He backed away.

“No, I want to know the truth,” she started to walk after Michael, but turned to look at Liz, “And don’t think you’re out of the hot seat, Babe. I will be back.”

Liz smiled weakly. She watched them argue for a few seconds and knew it would be the end of class before Michael learned to just shut up and take whatever Maria threw at him. They’d been together for a while now; you’d think he’d learn that silence was easiest. Stubborn man! She turned back to the fruit bowl and tried her hardest to make what she saw appear on the canvas. As the bell rang and she quickly put away her supplies, she couldn’t help but notice that even her somewhat awkwardly shaped pear seemed happy. She smiled wondering if happiness was contagious. If it was, maybe telling everyone wouldn’t be so bad. After all, didn’t everyone want their friends to be happy?

Liz laughed, reminding herself that this was definitely an unusual circumstance for most friends to be in. She opened her locker and pulled out the appropriate books for her next class. She started to close the door, but then she saw the flowers on the bottom shelf.
She picked them up, white roses, of course, and smiled at the perfect scent. And then in a second, the flowers changed to a small card.

I love you, Liz, no matter what a so-called destiny or possible future says. I don’t care if we’re together for one day, 14 years, or forever; it’ll all be worth it for me. Max.”

Liz smiled and slid the card into her back pocket. Then she headed to geometry, a class she shared with Isabel who had lately begun sitting as far away from her as possible. She wondered if that would change soon.

Surprisingly, Isabel slid into the seat next to her and looked at her for a second. “Okay. I can’t believe what I’m about to ask you. I mean, the very idea is somewhat disgusting for me to even be thinking about.”

“Isabel—“

“No, I need to say this.” She paused. “God, I hope you’re involved because if it’s the only other person I know it possibly could be, I really think I might get sick. And since I know it wasn’t Michael; it could only be one of the two of you—“

“Isabel,” Liz smiled, “what are you trying to ask?” She figured she already knew though.

“My brother—he left the house at like 2 o’clock last night, and he didn’t come home till like 7 o’clock this morning. So there are pretty much 3 options I can think of where he could be. 1—with Michael, but I’ve already talked to him and he doesn’t know where Max was. Now 2—and even the thought of this is kind of making me ill—he was with Tess. Or 3—he was with you. Now I’m not entirely sure how comfortable I am with that idea, although I can honestly say that I like it more than him being with Tess, which is very hard to admit seeing as how the whole destiny thing looms over us.”

“Isabel—“

“And I guess I shouldn’t even be asking you this because if he wasn’t with you and he was with Tess, this could probably be really painful for you to even hear.” She sat straight up. “You know what? Just forget what I said.” She turned to look straight ahead at the board as the bell rang and the teacher started to speak.

“Today, we will review the isosceles—“

Liz looked at Isabel for a second in shock. She felt like she had just seen the ice princess break down or something. She wanted to ask her why she didn’t want Max with Tess and if she would be okay with Max with anyone. “Isabel—“

She ignored her.

“Isabel.”

Ignored.

“Isabel?”

Mr. Overstreet stopped them. “Ms. Parker, do you have something you wish to share?”

“No, Mr. Overstreet,” she said quietly.

Isabel turned to her once their teacher turned back to the board. “Liz, just drop it.”

She nodded. “Okay.” She was a little more optimistic about telling everyone for some reason now. Maybe Isabel would be okay with them together, and she could help convince Michael. But who would convince Tess?

****

That afternoon, their entire group, except for Alex who’d disappeared to a foreign exchange program, sat around what had become their booth in the back of the Crashdown. Maria, Michael, and Tess sat across from Kyle, Isabel, and Max. Liz sat in a chair at the end of the booth in full Crashdown uniform. She was on the schedule for the dinner rush, but she thought she’d have plenty of time to explain all this before she had to work. And if not, dinner was at the Crashdown, which was becoming a familiar routine for this group.

She’d brought them all drinks, fries, and an extra bottle of Tabasco to get through the talk. She kept looking at Max, partly anxious to tell their friends everything and partly terrified of their reactions. Max looked so calm, though. She hoped that was a good sign.

“And then you insult my singing!” Maria exclaimed. “After I pick you up this morning, causing me to force my best friend to find a different ride to school! I shafted my best friend, the girl I drive to school every day, for you! And then you insult my singing!” She pushed at his chest bumping him into Tess. She slid off the seat and into Liz’s lap.

“Oh my God, Tess, I’m so sorry!” Maria gasped.

“Are you okay?” Liz reached over and grabbed her hand to help her.

And the most incredible thing happened. Liz got flashes.

TBC

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Mar-2002 3:35:13 PM ]
posted on 14-Mar-2002 2:45:30 AM by Transparent Clear
AN: Sorry this took so long! I hate it when I have to work on Spring Break! I hope you all enjoy because I'm really not sure of this chapter. Thank you again for all the feedback! It is truly a gauranteed *bounce*. Let me know what you think! *happy* jenn


Previously....

“And then you insult my singing!” Maria exclaimed. “After I pick you up this morning, causing me to force my best friend to find a different ride to school! I shafted my best friend, the girl I drive to school every day, for you! And then you insult my singing!” She pushed at his chest bumping him into Tess. She slid off the seat and into Liz’s lap.

“Oh my God, Tess, I’m so sorry!” Maria gasped.

“Are you okay?” Liz reached over and grabbed her hand to help her.

And the most incredible thing happened. Liz got flashes.

And now... ~*~Part 4~*~

The flashes were different than what she shared with Max, less controlled, darker. It was like Tess wasn’t aware she was projecting them and therefore couldn’t edit or direct them. Liz fought to hold on to them and see what they were. She felt like it was very important that she understand what these flashes were saying. Not just to her and Max, either, but to all of them, and their future.

***

If you are seeing me now, it means that you are alive and well, and I thank the gods for that. I take this form because it will be familiar to you, and it will help you to understand what I am about to say. You have lived before. You perished in the conflict that destroyed our planet but your essence was duplicated, cloned, and mixed with human genetic materials so that you might be recreated into human beings, to live again. My son, Zan, you were the beloved leader of our people. I have sent with you your young bride, Asha. My daughter, Vilandra, the man you were betrothed to, and your brother's second-in-command, Rath. As you have undoubtedly learned by now, you have skills inherited from your Antarian side. We gave you these, hoping that they would help you in your mission.

Unfortunately, our enemies have followed you to Earth. You will know them only by the evil within. You must learn use these skills, your knowledge, your leadership, and your humanity to combat the enemy so that we might be reunited and that I may once again hold you both in my arms, on our new planet. I live for that moment. I love you.


***

“The mission will be completed as planned?”

“Yes, I will bring the Royals back to Antar, for public execution.”

“And then we will rule, my dear sister.”

“Finally, brother!”

***

Tess emerged from her pod. She looked to be about 10 years old and already had the curly blond hair. She looked straight at Nasedo. Then she looked around her surroundings. The birthing chamber on this ship was otherwise empty. There was no one else. Things were exactly as they should be.

“Are the plans set in motion?”

“They are.”

“Do they know?”

“Nothing.”


***

Nasedo placed his palm on the reader and the door to the cave slid open. “Welcome to your birthplace, Tess.”

“This is where the Royals were born?” She looked disappointed in the chamber. “You would think that their mother would have provided some place a little more plush, wouldn’t you? I mean, she does still consider them royalty.”

Despite his deceptions and betrayal, he still cringed when she insulted the Queen of Antar; it was an unconscious behavior. “Well, the purpose was safety, not comfort, Tess.”

She muttered something that sounded like Antarians. “So what did you do to the girl?” She refused to call her the Queen or use her name.

“I erased her memories. And took her to the home of a local family, implanting new memories of their entire life together,” Nasedo said quietly. He knew it wasn’t the way the plans had gone exactly, but he couldn’t kill her. He just couldn’t.

“She’s alive?” Tess seemed appalled.

“I couldn’t kill an innocent child, Tess.”

“Why not? And she’s not innocent! She’s the former Queen of Antar. If Zan were to find her, she could destroy everything!”

“Neither she nor Zan knows her true heritage. She believes herself to be a human. Neither of them have any memories from the past. I deleted all of the Royal 3’s memories before they were born as well. Until you come, they will know they are aliens and that’s it.”

“What if Zan sees her, Nasedo? I am sure I’m not the only one who remembers his immediate attraction to her? You think he wouldn’t be attracted to the same thing?”

“It doesn’t matter, Tess. They won’t be the King and Queen anymore; it will be you.”

“I better be, Nasedo, or there will be serious trouble once we reach the homeworld.” She taunted. “Which pod was Zan’s?”

***

It was Tess’ first day at Roswell High, and she couldn’t stop staring at the familiar people around her. There was Vilandra, or Isabel as she was now called, chatting with a tall lanky boy. She seemed happy to be even around this human. She idly wondered if she would be as easy to manipulate this time around. Tess smiled; she could make her do whatever was necessary to accomplish her mission. She saw Rath, or Michael. He looked like such the wanna-be rebel with his spiky hair and tough exterior. She knew he would do anything for his King, and that could definitely come in handy for her. She watched him argue with this small blond girl. It looked like he was enjoying it.

And then she saw Zan. She couldn’t stand this human name of Max that had been imposed on him. He was Zan, King of Antar; Max made him sound human. He was standing with his arms wrapped around a girl with long brown hair. He seemed so content, like he didn’t care that he was an alien and that he had a destiny out there waiting for him. Tess smiled remembering what that destiny was.

All she had to do was separate Zan from this human and everything would be perfect. This would be so easy. As soon as Zan learned his destiny, he would drop the girl like a bad habit and come to her. This mission was going to be a cake walk.

The girl turned and took Zan’s hand as they walked toward their next class, whispering and laughing about something. Tess got her first good look at her and nearly fell over from the shock. This girl, this human that Zan was attached to, was Asha, the other queen. Zan had fallen in love with the girl he’d once married…and now it was up to Tess to make sure they were apart. Even though neither knew that they had a past, they’d somehow managed to find each other again. This was unreal! She was going to kill Nasedo! If he had only finished the job the first time, everything would be perfect now. But no, he had to develop this whole appreciation of life thing. He had no problem killing a human, but ask him to get rid of the one thing that stood in the way of their plan and he got all weak.
Tess watched them slip into a classroom together and decided she would do whatever it took to get Zan and get back to her planet.

***

Tess watched as Liz broke down in Michael’s arms and everyone else tried to comfort her. The poor queen had lost her king. When would she realize that she was only hurting Zan’s future? Maybe now everyone would appreciate her a little more because she was the only one with enough training to really get Zan out of where he was being held. Maybe now she would be able to get close enough to Zan without Liz’s influence tearing him away.

***

Tess hated that Liz was in the podchamber with them. What if she remembered something? What if being here brought back memories of her ‘birth’ and her history? Why couldn’t Nasedo have forced her to leave before they activated the orbs? She had to focus. She had to change what they were about to hear. They couldn’t know the truth—that their people were living on another planet waiting for word that they could come to Earth. They had to believe they had to go back to their planet. It was the only way to accomplish her goals. She knew what the message would say; Nasedo had been there when it was recorded, and now she just changed it.

If you are seeing me now, it means that you are alive and well. I take this form because it will be familiar to you, and it will help you to understand what I am about to say. You have lived before. You perished in the conflict that enslaves our planet but your essence was duplicated, cloned, and mixed with human genetic materials so that you might be recreated into human beings. My son, you were the beloved leader of our people. I have sent with you your young bride. My daughter, the man you were betrothed to, and your brother's second-in-command. Our enemies have come to the Earth. You will know them only by the evil within. Learn enough to use your skills, your knowledge, your leadership to combat the enemy so that you can come back and free us. And that I may once again hold you both in my arms. I live for that moment. Help us. I love you.

That would help to convince them of their destiny. If there was anything these 3 wanted, it was a home and family. And here she was laying it out as to how they could get to it. Now if they could just get past their human attachments…

Tess rejoiced when she walked out of the cave with Isabel and saw Liz running away. Finally, Zan would be hers. She came to him and touched his shoulder. All she felt was cold emptiness. It was like he was detached from everything all of a sudden. She didn’t want to think about any possible reason for this other than that he had finally accepted his destiny. He knew what he had to do now. He knew who he was supposed to be with.

***

Tess fumed when she saw Liz walk into the Crashdown. She knew immediately that Zan would be staring at her and sure enough when she looked at him, his eyes were on her and every move she made. She didn’t even look toward him, but he couldn’t keep his eyes off her. She wanted to throw her drink or something. All the progress she had made this summer, they were almost close and then little Lizzie Parker had to come back. Damn her! Even though Liz was resisting him, he was addicted.

She watched him walk over to her and whisper something. She could sense his determination with Liz, and she saw the reaction Liz had to it. She looked happy about it even as she walked out of the room. This had to end!

***

Tess couldn’t believe it! She had just been kidnapped and Zan was going back to the Crashdown to check on Liz? Granted, she had faked the kidnapping but he should have at least been worried! Sure he had healed her injuries after making sure Isabel was all right, but the only feelings she had gotten from him was concern about Liz and the other humans. There was nothing for her! There never was when Liz was around.
At least one good thing came from this disaster; Isabel was starting to doubt herself. That would make it so much easier to get her to do what was soon going to be necessary.

She wondered if threatening to leave again would work. Now that they all thought Nasedo was dead, thanks to some wonderful mindwarping by her, she was their only real link to their planet and their past. Maybe they ought to learn to appreciate that. But deep down, she knew that they would just let her leave, no questions asked. And she had a mission to accomplish before she could leave this little town and this entire planet behind.

***

“Have you found the granolith yet?”

“No. I know they sent it down with the Royal 4, but I don’t know where.”

“I suggest you start looking more. This war continues.”

“I know.”

“I must have the granolith and the king if I am to finally defeat these people!”

“I’ll find it. I promise.”

“I trust you, sister.”

***

Tess looked at Kyle as he opened the door. He might not be an alien king, but he would do for now, she decided. If Zan didn’t want her, she didn’t need him! She’d just show him what he was missing.

“Well, you here for a reason, or you just rushed right over 'cause you sensed I might be experiencing some actual joy?” She heard Kyle ask whoever was at the door. It completely shocked her when she heard Liz’s voice say,

“Oh, uh, actually, I need to talk to Tess.”

What in the world could Liz Parker have to talk to her about? Tess laughed inside thinking that Liz wanted to fight over Zan, her Max. She could do things to her that no fist ever could.

Over the next half hour, Tess was amazed as Liz seemingly told her every way to get Max to be attracted to her and to get him to see her. She offered her help, but she wouldn’t explain why she’d do it. She just said it wasn’t important. But Tess knew better; it had to be very important for Liz to be willing to give up Max Evans. She thought about doing a little mind-walking to find out, but decided that it wasn’t important. All that mattered was that Liz Parker knew that Zan was hers.

Of course when they put her little plan into action, it didn’t work. If anything, it drove Zan to Liz as he walked into the Congresswoman’s office and kissed her. Tess walked home alone and went into her/Kyle’s room. She took out the book; the answers to how to get home. She needed this translated in order to do that, and the only way to translate it would be for Max, for Zan, to remember his past enough to read it. She had to find another way. She needed someone who could figure out this language.

She thought back to class a few days before when Alex had shared with Isabel that he was planning a trip to Las Cruces to look at the new supercomputer. He said they were using it to decode messages. She wondered if it could decode entire languages?

2 nights later, Tess walked home from Alex’s feeling triumphant. According to him, it would be possible for that computer to decode any language. Of course, she hadn’t asked him if it could decode the book. She’s asked if that was one of its uses and he’d said it was. All she needed now was to get someone to Las Cruces to use that computer to decode the book. She’d get Zan no matter what she had to do and they’d be on their way home!

She was halfway through the park when she saw him sitting on a bench, completely still. Emotions of complete loss and betrayal bounced off him. She didn’t know what had happened to him, but whatever it was, it had destroyed him. And here she was, ready to help rebuild him.

“Are you okay?”

“No.”

“Can I sit down?” Please say yes! Don’t make me mindwarp you to say yes.

“Sure.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“No.”

“Do you want me to leave?” She didn’t want to mindwarp him to be a part of his life, even if it meant the mission would be completed quicker. She wanted him to want her, too. She wanted him to feel what it was like to be her, tossed away for a prettier face.

“No.”

Tess smiled. For the first time since she’d emerged from the pod, she felt hope. She and Zan would be together for real. Maybe she wouldn’t have to mindwarp him into it after all.

***

Zan was taking her to New York with him! He chose to take her! Not Liz, her! Tess could feel success in her future.

But first, she had to start working on the way back home. She needed to get that book translated and there was only one person she knew who could do it. Alex.

She made her plans carefully. She filled out paperwork to enroll “Ray” at the University of New Mexico-Las Cruces. She arranged a dorm room and a class schedule. She provided a bank account and everything he could possibly need for as long as it took for him to decode that book.

Then she mindwarped Alex. He and his family thought he was going to Sweden on a foreign exchange program. Liz and Maria even threw him an impromptu private going away party between just the 3 of them. And then just as she left with Zan, she sent Alex off to Las Cruces.

Her life was finally going according to plan.

And then Liz had to mess it up again. How was she able to just project herself to New York? Why? It was like someone was out to destroy her plans! It was probably Ava, the dupe version of herself that the New York protector had placed in the pods after killing their version of Asha. She didn’t want to be queen; she just wanted to be normal for whatever that was worth. Especially now that her Zan was dead; she didn’t even want to use her powers. Odd girl, she thought. Something had definitely happened to her when she was in the pods.

And now Tess had lost Zan once again. Because she knew that the minute they were back in Roswell, his first reaction was going to be to go to Liz, and never let her go. She had to do something… She just didn’t know what.

***


Tess pulled her hand away quickly. “Yeah, I’m fine. Thank you, Liz.”

“No problem,” she said. Her voice was shaking. It felt like her entire body was one giant nerve, constantly in motion. She stood up and fought the wave of dizziness that hit her. “I’ll be right back. I think I left something in the break room.” She rushed to the break room’s couch before her knees could fail on her.

“I’m going to go check on Liz,” Max stood up. “She looked really pale.”

“Max, she’ll be back in a second,” Tess said quickly. “I’m sure she just forgot her homework in there or something.”

Max was unaffected by Tess' words. He had to get to Liz; he had to make sure she was all right. He knew she was nervous about telling everyone, and he figured she just needed some reassurance. “I’ll be right back.” He walked through the doors to the break room. He hurried over to Liz when he saw her shaking on the couch. “Liz, baby, are you okay?”

She looked at him. “I-I—“ She couldn’t say what she’d just seen and felt. It was too much to even think.

Max hugged her close to him and ran his hand along her hair. “Liz, don’t be nervous. This will be fine. Everyone will understand.”

“No, they won’t,” she said. “I know they won’t.”

She sounded so serious that Max pulled away a little and looked her in the eye. “What are you talking about? Did someone say something to you today?”

“No, it’s not that. It’s Tess. When I touched her just then, I saw things, Max. And I know that she is not going to take our news well at all.”

He looked shocked. Liz had never gotten flashes before except from him. How was she getting flashes suddenly from Tess? “What do you mean? How is that possible? You were barely holding her hand! What did you see? Did she know you were getting flashes?”

“Let’s not talk about it now. We can’t tell her our news, Max. I want to tell Maria and Michael and Isabel, but not Kyle or Tess, definitely not Tess.”

“Okay. We’ll tell them later. And I’ll make up something about needing to get prepared for a battle in case Lonnie and Rath come looking for us.”

“Thank you, Max.”

He kissed her. “Anything for you, you know that.”

She smiled. “Yes, I do.”

“The 5 of us will talk about this later, okay? Everything. We’re going to need to discuss the flashes and what they mean. Will you be okay with that?”

“Yeah. The 5 of us are all I trust in right now.”

Max wrapped his arms around her. “It’s going to be okay, Liz,” he tried to comfort her. “I promise.”

“I love you, Max.”

“I love you, too.”

She closed her eyes feeling a little safer in Max’s arms, but she still felt like the world had just turned on its axis and she doubted it would get back to the way it was supposed to be without secrets being exposed and a lot of fear. But under all these swirling emotions, she knew that as long as she had Max, they would make it through all right. She just knew it.

posted on 17-Mar-2002 11:33:02 PM by Transparent Clear
Once again, you guys have overwhelmed me with feedback. I cannot begin to thank you enough for all that it means to me. *happy* This latest part was so much fun to write; it just flowed (you so do not want to hear me talk about the joys of "flow"). I hope you enjoy it! And *happy* (I feel quite cheesy saying this but) please keep the feedback coming. *happy* jenn


~*~Part 5~*~

“Is Liz okay?” Maria asked when Max came back to the table alone. “Does she need anything?”

“She’s fine. She’s just feeling a little tired so she’s going to get some rest before her shift tonight. She doesn’t really need to be here anyway.”

Michael grumbled. “I believe when you told us all to cancel our plans for this afternoon you said this meeting was important? But now people can get out of it.”

“Not people, Michael. Liz.” Tess said with pure venom in her voice.

Max turned to her for a second when he heard that tone. He’d never heard her talk like that. He wondered how many other things about Tess he had never noticed. “Liz doesn’t really need to be here. She’s been distancing herself from us all year, and I think it might be time to let her go.” He didn’t know where those words came from. He never thought he’d be able to lie so easily.

Maria looked completely shocked. “Max—“

“Maria,” he started—

“Maria, this is not the time to play matchmaker for someone who does not want or need to be matched. I think we all need to grow up here,” Tess said curtly. “And that means accepting certain truths.” She glared pointedly at Maria.

Maria started to say something, but Max cut her off, changing the subject. “We need to talk about Lonnie and Rath, and what we’ll do if they come back to find us.” He looked at Tess. “You’re sure you don’t know where they went to?”

“I don’t know, Max. I mean, one minute they were trying to get in my head, and I fought back against them. And then you were there. I don’t know where they went,” Tess explained. “Why would they come here?”

“They still want the granolith, Tess.”

“But they can’t use it. Not without you, Max,” she added quickly. “I mean, isn’t that why they came to Roswell in the first place to get you?”

Michael looked at Tess suspiciously before turning back to Max. “We do need to figure out what to do. I mean, we don’t know the full extent of their powers, but they are more trained than we are—“

“Then some of us are,” Tess said pointedly. “If you would just train with me instead of—“

“Tess, we enjoy our lives,” Isabel said. “We agreed to train with you, but not all the time. This isn’t the only thing in our lives—“

“You treat it like it’s not even part of your life, Isabel. Sure the powers are great when they give you new accessories and perfect hair, but when you actually have to fight for the reason you have these powers, you just don’t take it at all seriously.” The words were out before she had time to even think about what she said, but it was the truth, and maybe it would jolt her into realizing what was important.

Max looked between the two girls. Isabel looked ready to slap her. “Tess, we know you don’t like our idea of training, but you have to accept that we have obligations to live up to; Is and I have our parents and Michael has a job. We can’t toss those aside because we may or may not be getting attacked by aliens.” After everything that had recently happened between him and his sister, Max felt he had to stand up for her. She was his family, and he could never just let someone talk about her like that. Call him human, but he was human.

“Anyway, Max, what are you thinking we should do about Rath and Lonnie, should they show up?”

“We do need to start working on our powers. Isabel, I think you need to start dream-walking again. But this time, try doing things that aren’t necessarily that person’s idea. Like try to get the person to do something you want, go into a room or chose something.”

Isabel nodded. “Okay. I’ll start tonight, but do you really think I’ll be able to get Rath and Lonnie to do what I want?”

Max grinned. “For now focus on getting Alex to do what you want?” He laughed.

Isabel blushed a little remembering what it was like to dream-walk Alex. She hadn’t dream-walked him in a while; she didn’t want to intrude on him. She wondered if he still dreamt about her; they hadn’t really had the chance to just talk and be there for each other in a while. She sighed internally. She’d been treating him horribly. First with the whole Grant thing and then he’d tried to be there for her after she found out the truth about herself, but she’d just pushed him away afraid of how he’d react to her now that there was so many bad things about her past self. She missed him, and now he was in Sweden and she couldn’t tell him. Maybe she’d dream-walk him tonight! She made a mental note to find out the time difference to Sweden. Maybe she could figure out some way to make him know she was there, and then they could talk in their dreams. She smiled at that idea.

“Alex?” Tess exclaimed; her voice became a little too loud. “Why would you dream-walk him?”

Isabel looked at her. She sounded scared of her dream-walking Alex. “I always dream-walk him, Tess,” she said.

Max changed the subject. “Michael, you and I ought to get together some nights and work on your powers. I think if you start working on it, those blasts will be easier for you and more centralized.”

Michael nodded. “I’ll let you know when I’m free—“

Maria laughed. “No, I’ll let you know when he’s free, Max.” She wrapped her arm around Michael’s neck.

Isabel couldn’t hide her smile. Max met her eyes and smiled, too.

“What about you, Max?” Tess asked. She needed to get closer to him before Liz could firmly implant her hooks. “You need to train, too. And we both know if you train with me, I can help you increase your abilities. I can help you remember everything. That would be help you get all your powers back. You could remember how to use the Granolith and what it’s for. Maybe you could use it to fight Lonnie and Rath.”

Max looked at her and wondered what was up with her. She seemed very anxious all of a sudden. Liz had gotten freaked out after touching Tess. He wondered what that was about. Was Tess trying to hurt Liz? He’d have to keep his eye on her. “I’ll have to work my training in between helping Michael and work. I’ll let you know.” He forced himself to smile.

Her face broke out in a smile as if she were victorious in something. “Okay, Max. Anytime you need me is fine with me, though!”

“Great.”

Kyle spoke up for the first time. He’d spent most of this meeting enjoying one of the plates of fries that Liz had brought them. “Max, I can understand why you needed this meeting between the 4 of you, but why are Maria and I here? I mean, there’s realistically nothing we can do to help you fight Lonnie or Rath, except maybe distract them with rather loud screams.”

Max smiled at the comic relief. “While that may be true, they know that you two are important to us. And if they are really desperate to get the Granolith, they might be willing to use you to get it.”

Maria moved closer to Michael. “So what are we supposed to do about that, Max?”

Michael tightened his arm around her. “We’ll be okay, Ria,” he whispered. “I promise.”

“I really don’t know, Maria. I just don’t want this group to keep secrets anymore. We all need to be telling each other the truth. Because honestly, we are all each other has.” Max looked at each of them, starting with Isabel and ending with Tess. “We protect each other from now on. I know that we’ve all had our differences, but we have to get past them right now.”

Maria couldn’t help herself. “Shouldn’t you be having this conversation with someone else, Max?”

“Maria—“

“She is just as much at risk as any of us at this table, Max, and you know that that’s the truth. No matter what has or hasn’t happened between the two of you, you need to let her know that she might be in danger.”
Just the way she said that, he suddenly knew that Maria knew the truth. He looked at her for a minute, pretending to think. “I’ll talk to her tonight.”

Maria nodded with a smile. “Good.” She hoped they would get back together. She had a feeling that was what this meeting was really supposed to be about.

“But, Max, you said it yourself. Liz doesn’t want anything to do with us aliens any more. She’s probably just going to get upset when she finds out she’s in danger yet again because of what we are.”

“That doesn’t mean we don’t tell her the truth, Tess,” Isabel said. “And she is in danger. She needs to know that.”

Max looked at Isabel. He was kind of shocked that she stood up for Liz like that; they had never really been close. “Anyway, we all know what we’re supposed to be doing, right?” He wanted to end this meeting and go talk to Liz before her shift started. “Do we need to talk about anything else?”

No one said anything and they all stood up to leave.

“Max, I do need to talk to you privately,” Isabel said.

“Is, can this wait. I need to go—“

“Now, please, Max.”

The way she said it made Max agree. They were still somewhat on shaky terms after the whole Vilandra thing, and he wanted to make sure that she knew he would always be there for her. “Okay. Do you want to just stay here and grab some dinner instead of going home?”

“Hmmm, Mom’s latest Martha Stewart inspiration or a good old dish of Saturn Rings? I don’t think there’s really a choice there.” They sat back down in the booth, facing across from each other and placed their order with Agnes. Max wished Liz was there, just so he could see her, even if he had to act like nothing was going on between them.

“What’s up, Is? I mean, nothing’s happened, right?”

“Everything is fine. I’ve been feeling much better since our talk the other night, Max. I’m beginning to see that I’m really not that woman. You and I may be genetically similar to them, but we are not our former selves, Max.”
Max stared at her for a minute. Why was she bringing this up now?

“So I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Trust me, when I saw a lot. Mom thought I was depressed about you being gone on Thanksgiving, and I was missing you. But I was sitting there trying to figure out if I am this hideous monster that was described to me.”

He had to interrupt her to negate those thoughts. He needed her to know that no matter what, he would never believe those things about her. “Isabel, no! You are nothing like she was! And we don’t really even know the whole truth about what happened back there. But I do know that you are not a traitor and you would never hurt me.”

“Oh no?” She challenged.

“What does that tone mean, Is?”

“You honestly think I’d never hurt you?”

“Isabel, you’re my sister. I love you and you love me, and all that stuff. I don’t think you’d ever hurt me.”
“Maybe not intentionally, but I have hurt you, Max.”

He didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. “Isabel—“

She waited to speak again until their food came and then she looked at him earnestly. “Just let me say this, okay, Max? Last year, I saw how happy you were. I mean, you had the one thing you’d always wanted: Liz Parker and she loved you just as much as you loved her. I saw you together. I was so jealous that you had found someone who could accept you so easily! You had what we all wanted, Max. Even Michael wanted that. I mean, look at him with Maria now; it’s obvious. But back then, when it was just you and Liz and nothing else seemed to matter to the 2 of you, we were jealous. And I hurt you, Max. I know it hurt that we never really supported your relationship with Liz and that we tried everything to make you end it. I know you wanted to share that with us and we didn’t give you the opportunity because of our own petty problems. I’m sorry, Max.”

“Isabel, it’s okay. Everything has changed now--”

She chose to ignore that last part. “I just can’t help but think that I somehow could have helped you. When Liz walked away that day, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look so broken, Max. I should have gone after her and told her how important she was to us. I should have backed you up that destiny meant nothing instead of standing there staring at the place where our mother had appeared. She would have listened to me! Maybe if 2 of us had said no to destiny, she would have stayed and you would be happy instead of whatever you are.”

“Isabel, you can’t know that for sure.”

“But I could have stood up for you, and instead I just sat there, accepting this message. But I don’t think I really accepted it, Max, not for me. I left you to accept it while I pretty much told Michael there would be no destiny for us, not that he wanted it either. But we never gave you the option to say no. I don’t know that we really expected you to go through with it. After seeing you with Liz Parker, how could we? But we never told you we’d support you if you told Tess to go to hell.” She paused “Max, I want you to tell destiny to go to hell. I saw you with Liz last year and I see you pretty much without her now, and I care more about you than I care about some planet that may need our help. I want you to be happy again. Tell Tess she either accepts you and Liz or she leaves. I don’t care either way. Just be happy.”

Max smiled. “I am happy, Isabel. I promise.”

“Even without Liz?” She asked. “I know all about these rumors that were going around school before Thanksgiving. And I also know they can’t be true. You cannot believe them, Max. I will dream-walk Liz right now if it will prove that they aren’t. You belong with her, Max. I honestly believe that.”

He tried to change the subject. “Who do you belong with then, Isabel?”

“Don’t even go there, Max. We’re talking about you today. We can figure me out later,” she smiled. “I just think you ought to go talk to Liz, tell her the truth, and make something work.”

“Isabel, there are some things you don’t know right now.”

She smiled. “I do know one thing.”

“Really?”

“I know you slipped out of the house obscenely late last night. Now I know you weren’t with Michael, so that leaves like 2 places in the world that you would go.”

“Is—“

“One, here, to Liz’s. Two, to Tess’. Now I can tell you which I would prefer to hear but I just want to remind you to be careful. I mean, we can’t let Mom and Dad know anything is going on with us, right? And that means you cannot get caught sneaking out.”

“I won’t get caught, I promise.”

“So you will be sneaking out more?” Her eyes twinkled.

“Maybe.”

“Ok. Now I realize that with the whole rumor situation going on and seeing as how you just got back from New York with her, it would seem like the world is pushing you towards Tess, but I promise you, we aren’t. In fact—“

“Isabel, do you want to know where I was?”

“I don’t know. Will I have nightmares?”

He smiled. “I was here, with Liz.”

“Really?” She whispered happily.

“Really. We talked—“

“But how? I mean, you two were just barely agreeing to be friends and then—“

He smiled. “I can’t believe I can honestly say this about my life, but we kind of found each other in a chat room—“

“On the computer?” She exclaimed.

He looked around trying to figure out if anyone had heard her. “You don’t have to scream it, Is, and yes, on the computer. She was in a chat room I went into—“

“Since when do you go into chat rooms, Max? I thought only scary freaky lonely people hung out there.” She paused and smiled. “So anyway, you were in a chat room?”

“Ha ha, Is. And she was in the same room, talking about why she’d broken up with me.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me?”

“No. And I used my anonymity to kind of suggest some things and the next thing you know, she’s emailed me this incredible email that explains everything that’s happened to us for the last year, Is. And I had to see her; I couldn’t stay away.”

“So you snuck over to her house?”

“Yeah.” He smiled.

“I’ve missed seeing you this happy, Max.”

“I’ve missed this feeling, Isabel.” He grinned and stole an onion ring off her plate.

“That’s originally why you called this meeting today, wasn’t it? You were going to tell everyone that you’re back together?” He nodded. “Then why didn’t you? What happened to Liz?”

“I don’t know, Isabel. She touched Tess and then—she just had to leave. I was going to talk to her but her shift’s about to start. I guess I’ll talk to her later.” He looked around the café wondering where she was.

“Yeah, in the chatroom!” Isabel laughed.

Max took enough money to cover the bill out of his wallet and stood up. “Let’s get out of here, Is. And you’ve really got to promise me to never mention the chat room thing. Liz doesn’t even know I was in it.“

“So basically, you realized that your dreamgirl was in the chat room trying to figure out her feelings for you and you sat there and directed them right back to you?”

“Pretty much.”

She laughed. “I never thought you’d have it in you, Max. You always were so afraid to just take a risk like that. I’m impressed.”

“It was Liz, Is. I had to.”

“You know I seem to remember hearing that the last time you took a huge life-changing risk,” she grinned.

“You really think I don’t take risks?” He looked at her already knowing the answer.

“Max, come on! You stared at Liz for like 8 years before you even had a real conversation! What do you think?” She held his hand like they used to when they were little. They’d never go anywhere without holding hands. It was the only way they felt safe.

Max looked down at their hands and squeezed hers. “You’re one to talk, Isabel. I seem to remember a girl who really liked a guy—and she did absolutely nothing about it!”

“Max, remember? Today is yours; tomorrow we can discuss my problems,” she laughed. “Well, tomorrow and the day after and then maybe the day after that.”

Max and Isabel left the Crashdown laughing. He smiled because for the first time in too long, it felt like they were the tight brother and sister they had always been growing up. He’d missed that, and he swore right then and there that nothing would separate them again.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-May-2002 2:50:37 PM ]
posted on 22-Mar-2002 9:09:32 AM by Transparent Clear
AN: Sorry it took so long to get this one out, guys. But you'll be happy to know that in a fit of creativity last night, I think I have at least 2 more parts written (well, there's still some things that I want to write so...) Anyway, in case you couldn't tell, I'm a big fan of the first year's friendships, and I just can't let them go. So here we have, girl talk. Also, thank you all for the feedback; I never believed that it really helped a writer to write, but I can now see that it can definitely motivate. And if you have any to share after reading this next part, it would be appreciated. (I wrote this instead of studying for a chem quiz which I will now go fail.) I'm going to need a smile by the end of the day!
Jenn


Part 6


Liz walked into the Crashdown at the beginning of her shift. She looked around, hoping Max would still be there. She needed to talk to him.

“He’s not here, chica,” Maria said from a counter seat.

“Hey, Maria,” she leaned against the counter next to her trying to act normal. But for the first time in her life, she didn’t know what normal was supposed to be. If what she’d seen in those flashes were true, she was so very much not normal.

“You can stop looking for Max. He and Isabel just left—“

“I wasn’t looking for Max to be here, Maria,” she said quickly. “I was making sure he wasn’t here.”

“I thought you two were friends again. Why wouldn’t you want him here?” Maria asked. She could just applaud her intelligence and intuition. She knew Max and Liz were meant to be together, and it felt so good to be right. Now all she had to do was get Liz to tell her the whole story. And maybe get Michael to acknowledge her brilliance, but that was another matter.

“We are. It just feels different now, Maria.”

“Right.” Maria looked around the café. It didn’t look too busy. Agnes was here; she could handle it. “So you do realize that it is now officially later, right?”

“What are you talking about?” Liz asked confused.

“Earlier today you promised to tell me who drove you to school later. Well, it’s now later.”

“Maria—“ Liz wished she could tell her the truth. She needed to hear someone who would be happy that she and Max were back together. She wanted someone to understand how important being together was to them. And she knew Maria would be the one person who understood.

“Look, it’s not busy here. We can talk right over here in our normal booth, and if it gets busy you can work. But you definitely need to talk.”

Liz nodded and followed her best friend to the booth. She could almost feel Max when she sat on the side of the booth he’d been on.

“So I’ll ask one last time for the day. Who drove you to school today, Liz?”

She smiled. “Max.”

Maria let out something that sounded like a squeal. “I knew it! I knew you two would get back together! How? You have to tell me everything! I mean, did he just show up at your balcony? Or did you finally get it together and go talk to him about it? What did he say? He refused to have anything to do with Tess, didn’t he? He said you had to tell the future to go to hell! Why didn’t you tell everyone today in the meeting? It would have been the perfect time. Oh my God, Liz, I am so happy for you! You get your future! Just like the psychic said!” Maria raised her eyebrows suggestively at that. “Or have you already found everything the psychic said to be true?”

“Maria!” Liz turned an interesting shade of pink.

She giggled “I had to ask, you realize that. Come on, Liz, I need to know everything. God, we need ice cream!” She paused to yell to Agnes who was standing against the counter. “Aggie, 2 double scoops of Vanilla please! And just bring us the chocolate sauce!”

Liz couldn’t help herself from laughing at her friend. “Maria, it’s complicated.”

“That’s why we’re getting double scoops, Liz. Complication takes time.”

“No, it’s really complicated, especially now.”

Maria stared at her best friend. Didn’t she know she realized how complicated things were? Things were always complicated with Max and Liz. “Liz, don’t make me start quoting grandma Claudia, okay?”

Liz smiled as Agnes brought them 2 overflowing bowls of ice cream and a warm bottle of chocolate. “Thanks, Agnes.” The waitress just walked away.

Maria doused her ice cream in chocolate and looked at Liz expectantly. “You know I have no patience and I will bug you until you speak, right?”

She smiled. “That’s one of the many things I love about you, DeLuca.”

“So just tell me everything. How did you two get back together?”

“It’s kind of embarrassing,” she sighed. “Have you heard about this new website they’re talking about at school? www.relatetome.com?

“Yeah, I think Pam Troy said something about it. She said it’s where she’s been finding all kinds of beauty tricks on it.”

“Well, there are more parts to it than that, but yeah. There are also specific chat rooms for people—“

“Oh my God, Liz, you’re going into chat rooms now?”

“Just shut up about that, okay? Anyway, I was in this chat where people were talking about bad break ups, and they needed a topic so I offered up mine.”

“You told people about—“

“Just about the break up. I didn’t tell them about the alien thing or future Max thing, but I just told them about how I had to break his heart and everything.”

“What’d they say?”

“A lot that made me think,” she sighed. “And then there was this one guy, Outlander.”

“You didn’t meet him or something, did you? God, Liz, that is so dangerous?”

“Maria, no! I did this last night! I don’t even know if Outlander’s a guy!”

“So you just talked to him?”

“Exactly.”

“What did he say?”

“A lot of things. Mostly that I had to give Max some options in this relationship. That if I truly believed the future would be bad if Max and I were together, I had to give him the option to make the future better.”

“And you listened to him? I have been trying to tell you that since I found out about this, Liz!”

“I guess I just listened to him because he wasn’t personally invested in this. I mean, Maria, you want me to be happy and you know that Max makes me happy. You’re biased.”

“Thanks,…I think.”

“So I basically took some of Outlander’s advice. I wrote everything I was trying to decide to do with Max and put it in an e-mail and then I sent it to him. Then I laid down for a sleepless night while I waited for Max to wake up and read it. And then suddenly, I could just feel his presence getting close to me. And then he was on the balcony and then in my room. And we just talked.”

“So he knows everything now?”

“Yes. He knows everything, and I’ll never keep anything from him again.”

“So what did you decide?”

Liz smiled. “Do I really have to spell it out for you? I thought you knew already anyway.”

“Liz, I just want to hear you say it.” Maria waved her ice cream covered spoon at her.

“Okay,” she smiled. “Max and I decided that we didn’t want to be apart and so we’re not going to be. No matter what destiny claims or what we believe we might know of the future.”

Maria squealed. “I knew it!”

“Maria, I cannot believe you just squealed like that in the middle of the CrashDown,” Liz laughed.

“Excitement makes us do stupid things, Liz.”

“Obviously.”

“So what happened after you told Max the truth? Did he just go home?” She raised her eyebrows.

“Maria, nothing happened—“

“But he stayed?” She squealed again.

“Yes.”

“Oh my God!”

“We woke up when my mother started yelling down the hall to get me up for school Max left and came back a little while later to pick me up for school. I was so worried when you called; I thought I’d been in this little happy place and now it was dissolving or something. I thought Max was calling back and he was going to tell me to forget everything or something like that.”

“Max could never do that, Liz. He loves you, remember that.”

“I know, and I love him so much. It’s just hard to believe that no matter what we really are going to be together.”

Maria let out a happy squeal but kept the volume down this time. “Oh, Liz, I’m so happy for you!”

“Thanks, Maria.” She sighed. “I’m happy someone’s happy for us.”

“You were going to tell all of us at this little meeting this afternoon, weren’t you?” She nodded. “But then what changed? Why didn’t you tell us? I would have enjoyed hearing that infinitely more than hearing about getting prepared in case Lonnie and Rath came back.”

“Something happened, Maria. It was weird and I knew we couldn’t tell everyone.”

“What happened? Was this when you like got all quiet after you touched Tess?”

“Yeah. I don’t know how to describe what happened, Maria, but I saw things.”

“Like what?” she asked quietly.

“They were flashes, but they were different than the ones I’ve gotten from Max—“

“Of course they were. Max loves you; Tess is pure evil. The things inside her head are probably reflective of that.”

“Maria—“

“Do you want to tell me about them?”

“Actually, I’d rather wait till I can tell Max and maybe the two of us can figure this out.”

“Okay, but just remember I’m here for you, babe.”

“I know.” Liz scooped up another bit of ice cream. “So how was the ride to school with Michael?”

Maria sighed. “I told you before. I cannot resist him. I just can’t.”

Liz laughed. “Trust me, I completely understand.”



[ edited 2 time(s), last at 1-May-2002 2:51:14 PM ]
posted on 28-Mar-2002 2:50:14 AM by Transparent Clear
AN: Thank you all for all your feedback! It has made the past week much much easier! Here's the latest part; I'm not too sure about it, but I've been messing with it for 3 days...It's time to give it up. Editing can save it no more. *happy* Let me know what ya think and *happy* Have a wonderful Thursday!
*happy* Jenn

Part 7


Max listened to the message one more time before he hit the delete button.

Max, it’s me. Listen, can you meet me tonight? I really need to talk to you. I’ll talk to you soon, right? Bye.

Liz had called while he and Isabel had run a couple errands they’d promised to do for their mother. It figured that he would miss her call, just like he’d missed seeing her before her shift. He wondered if she had called to leave that message to give him an excuse to come over. Like he needed one. He’d gone hours without getting to talk to Liz, and he didn’t plan on going all night.

He reluctantly deleted the message and then looked at the pile of homework he’d just taken from his backpack. It would take hours, he knew that. Maybe if he worked quickly, he could take their biology homework over to Liz’s house and they could do it together. That thought helped him to attack his English essay over important moments in history as seen through the eyes of one Max Evans.

He was just writing about the moonwalk when he thought he heard something outside his window. At first he brushed it off thinking it was probably just his neighbor’s dog, but then he started to think that it might be Liz. She wanted to talk to him so maybe she came over to his house. He saved the document in front of him and then moved over to the window. He opened it expecting to see Liz; he couldn’t help but smile just thinking of her. The smile fell from his lips when he saw Tess was standing there looking at him happily.

“Tess?” What was she doing here? And since when did she start using the window?

“Max, I hadn’t even knocked.” She smiled as invitingly as she could.

“I-uh-I heard something out here. What’s going on? Why are you here?”

“I thought we needed to talk. I mean, a lot has happened lately and I thought maybe we could make some sense of it.”

“Tess—“

“I just think it’s important that we figure out ways to fight back against Lonnie and Rath and any of our other enemies.” She needed to somehow convince Max that they were meant to be. That was her mission, and she was not prepared to fail. Especially not to a little girl like Liz. She’d just have to make him forget about her, and tonight would be the start of that.

Max saw the look in her eye. It was the same look she’d had early that day when they were all at the CrashDown, when she’d insulted Liz. He paused before answering her. “You’re right, Tess. We do.” He wondered what she was up to, and the only real way to find out would be to play along.

She smiled. “Good! Should I come in or—“

“No!” He exclaimed. What if Liz were to call or come over? There was no way that Tess could find out that he and Liz were back together. “I mean, my parents are home. Let me grab a coat and I’ll meet you at the Jeep.”

“All right,” Tess smiled. “I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

Max grabbed his coat off his bed and slipped down the hallway to Isabel’s room. “Is?”

“What’s going on, Max?” She noticed his coat and smiled. “Going to see Liz?” She sighed dramatically. “Yes, I will cover for you with Mom and Dad.”

“I wish.” He spoke quickly. “Tess just came to my window. She wants to start working on ways to stop Lonnie and Rath. I have to go with her; I can’t explain it—“

“She’s not like mindwarping you or anything?”

“No, it’s not like that. It’s just the tone of her voice this afternoon and the look in her eyes right now. I can tell something is going on with her, and I need to know what it is.”

Isabel was immediately concerned. It didn’t matter that Tess was another alien; her family was more important than just some genetic similarities. “Do you want me to come with you? Or follow you?”

“No. I think I need to do this alone.”

“Max—“

He smiled. “It’s okay, Is. I promise. I’ll be back before I head to Liz’s.”

“Take care of yourself.” She hugged him.

He nodded and headed out to the Jeep.

“What took so long?”

“Isabel saw me and wanted to know where I was going. She wanted to come with us—“ Max saw the wild emotion that filled Tess’ eyes at that, “but I told her I doubted she could help us.”

Tess smiled. Perfect, Max was already separating himself from the others. He’d wanted to work alone with her, not with the others. “I really think she needs some time to get past the fact that her double betrayed you, Max, here and on Antar. I mean, that has to rock her faith in who she is.”

“No, Tess, Isabel knows who she is. She’s my sister, and I trust her. Nothing can change that.”

She started to speak quickly. What had she implied? “Of course you should, Max. I was just thinking that it has to be hard on Isabel to know that her former self was a traitor. I mean, it’s got to hurt.”

“That doesn’t matter now, Tess. None of us are who we were on that planet. The people we used to be do not rule our lives here.” He waited to see her reaction to that.

He was so resistant to the idea that he had a destiny; that there were things out there that were more important than whether or not Liz Parker loved him or whether his family found out the truth about hwat he is. “Well, maybe we’ve changed in some ways, but not in the most important ways, Max. We all still have the same destiny: to free our people back home. They’re waiting for us.”

Max nodded thoughtfully, wondering how many times he’d have to hear the destiny message repeated tonight. He knew what it said; he just didn’t really want to believe in any of what it said. The more he thought about it; the more there seemed to be something missing from that message. He just needed to figure out what it was.

Max drove them to the park. He figured it was a good place to talk, especially since it was just after dark. No one would be there.

“Why are we at the park, Max? Why don’t we go out to the podchamber?”

“I just thought this would be a nice change in scenery.” He said and then realized how pathetic that sounded, “And the Jeep doesn’t have that much gas in it and I’m broke.”

Tess smiled. She’d heard that excuse before. Of course, then it was with silly boys who thought they were going to get lucky. “Okay, no problem. I love the park.” She paused. She had to remind him of Liz’s ultimate betrayal. “I haven’t been here since that night, though. Oh, gosh, Max, are you sure you’re okay with being here? We can go back to Nasedo’s house. I’m sure no one will see us there.”

Max knew what Tess was doing. He was trying to remind him of the night Liz and Kyle supposedly slept together. He wouldn’t let her win this point. “I’ll be fine, Tess. I think we’ve all gotten past that.”

“Really, Max? You’ve finally moved on past that. I can’t understand how you could. I mean, she basically betrayed everything you—“

“Tess, it’s in the past. Let’s leave it there. That won’t affect my life anymore. Liz is my friend and I will not allow one night to kick her out of my life.”

Tess smiled. “I guess you really are turning into the mature King I remember. And someday soon, you’ll be back on your throne.”

“Tess, I don’t think we should really think that far ahead. We don’t even know how to get back to that planet, and even if we could, who’s to say that the situation there hasn’t changed? They might not even be a monarchy anymore. Or maybe someone better suited for the job has taken it.”

“No one will take that crown from you, Max. You are the King, and even if you don’t remember it, those people do and they respect it.”

Max looked at Tess, afraid to admit that she made a good point. There were people out there, waiting for him to be the King they wanted and needed. But did that mean that he had to turn his back on everything he wanted? He would never think of Tess as anything more than a friend, and he wouldn’t give up Liz. She was the most important person in the world to him; more important than anyone waiting for him on a planet millions of miles away.

He decided to change the topic. “So what do you think we should be doing to prepare for Lonnie and Rath?”

“What?” She looked at him like he’d asked a stupid question.

“What do you want to do about them? That’s why you came to my window tonight, right?” He hoped he sounded innocent. The flare in her eyes told him that talking about Lonnie and Rath was the last thing she had on her mind when she came to that window.

She cursed herself for mentioning them. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time, but how was she supposed to get him to ‘remember’ his feelings for her if he was focused on defense plans and the like? “I think the best way would be to work on your powers, Max. I know they could be so much stronger if you’d just take the time to work on them. I can show you how to use your powers to construct a shield around this entire park if you’d practice with me.”

“Tess, we talked about this earlier. I only have so much time in my day, and I have obligations that I have to keep. I can’t just cancel everything to practice my alien powers. I do not think that would go over well.”

“But the problem is, Max, you don’t seem to ever want to practice. You make excuses. All of you do. I know I was raised different, and it’s not something any of you would understand. But Nasedo did the right thing raising me. He taught me our destiny and how to use my powers, and I am ready to fight anything right now. You saw me defeat the Skins when they came to Roswell. Do you think you could have done that?”

“No. Does that mean you remember how you did it?” He watched her response carefully. Something was going on with her.

“What?” Tess was confused. Of course she remembered how she did it. It wasn’t that hard to do.

“After it first happened, you said you didn’t know how you did it. Do you remember what you did now? Can you maybe teach Isabel how to use her mind like that?” He asked smoothly.

“I-I don’t know. I don’t think she’d want to. I think for her to use the kind of power that took, it might be too much for her.”

“But not if she trained, right? I mean, if she trained to strengthen her powers, she could do it?” He now appreciated being a lawyer’s son. Summers spent playing intern with him had taught Max how to use words to get to the truth, and right now, he was using Tess’ words against her.

“I don’t know. Probably.” Tess didn’t know what was happening in their conversation. “But she won’t practice enough to strengthen her powers, Max. She’s too concerned with being normal and occasionally dream-walking people to find out what they think of her to really work on any powers that will really help us in this situation.”

Max bristled. He wouldn’t let Tess talk like this about his sister. “Tess, Isabel can handle more than you could possibly imagine. And don’t talk about her like that. She’s my sister, and I’m not comfortable hearing you talk about her like she’s a brainless twit.”

She knew she’d screwed up the minute the words were out of her mouth. “Max, I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant—“

Max stood up. “I know. It’s getting kind of late, Tess, and I have a lot of homework tonight. Can we finish this later?”

“Of course,” she looked a little dejected. “Do you need any help on your homework?”

“Naah, I just have to finish an essay for English” he lied. He suddenly felt the need to get away from her. He needed to get to Liz. He needed to talk all these weird feelings he’d been having all night with her. She was the only one he’d really feel comfortable talking this through with, and sometimes, he thought she was the only one who really tried to understand.

He drove Tess back to his house where her car was parked. They both got out of the cars, and Max tried to get to his door without talking to her again, but her voice stopped him. It was getting closer.

“So we’ll work on your powers tomorrow?”

“I don’t know. I have to work after school, and then I told Michael we could work on his focus.”

“Max, you need work too. Not just Michael and Isabel.” She was standing less than 2 feet away from him. She reached out and touched his arm.

“I will. I’ll let you know about tomorrow,” he tried to back away from her. “Good night, Tess.”

She moved closer and stood on her tiptoes. “Good night, Max,” she kissed his cheek and tried to turn a little to kiss his lips. He backed away quickly.

“Bye.” He walked as normally as possible into his house, locking the door behind him.

Tess watched him disappear into the house. She wondered if studying was really all he was going to do. Something had told her earlier today that there was something going on with Max and Liz had a lot to do with it. She had to know if they were together or something.

Isabel was waiting in the living room, watching an old TV movie. “What happened?” She turned the TV off the minute he walked in the room and pulled the blanket she’d been relaxing under up to her neck.

“She said she wanted to work on my powers.”

“Right. But?” She’d heard the inevitable catch in his voice.

“She kept talking about the past and how we were destined to go back to Antar and save all these people. And for the first time, maybe, I really told her that I didn’t see that. And she just kept trying. We were in the park, and she kept trying to get me to think about this place as where I had found out of Liz’s betrayal and she had rescued me. It was weird.”

“Liz’s betrayal?” Isabel asked.

“The rumors were true, Is. I did see Liz and Kyle in bed together one night in October—“

“What? Liz and Kyle in bed together? Max, that doesn’t make sense! Oh my God, did she really—“

“It was all a set up, Isabel. One I promise I’ll explain later, but right now, I would really just like to go see Liz.”

“Just tell me—“ Isabel couldn’t finish the sentence. It was too odd to even think let alone speak.

“She didn’t sleep with Kyle, Is. I promise.”

“Okay. Go, and have fun.”

“Actually, I need you to do me a favor. Go and make sure Tess isn’t still out there. I just feel really weird about her.”

“Only for you, Max,” Isabel smiled and got to her feet. She walked out and looked up and down the street. Tess was sitting there in her car about 4 houses down. Isabel quickly made her way to the Jeep and took something out of the back, pretending not to notice Tess. Carrying the book back inside, she looked at Max. “Bad news. She’s sitting outside watching the house.”

“You’re kidding?” He had hoped he was just feeling paranoid.

“Nope. It looks like you’re taking the long way.” She smiled.

He nodded. “Why don’t you get some sleep, Is? The past couple weeks have been pretty long on all of us.”

“I’m heading there. I think I might try to dream-walk Alex. I mean, I know he’s in Sweden, but maybe he’s taking a nap?” She smiled hopefully. “I really miss him, Max.”

“I know you do, Is, and when he gets back, you should definitely tell him that.”

“I will.” She promised. “No more Ice Princess Isabel, not anymore. I know what’s important in life, and I will not lose it.”

Max kissed her forehead. “I won’t let you. Good night, Is.”

“Night, Max. Tell Liz I said hi.”

“Will do.” Max slipped out of the house through the back door and walked to Liz’s the long way: through neighbor’s back yards and cutting across streets, making sure Tess wasn’t behind him, watching. He’d never had to sneak away like this from someone he was actually friends with. He’d never thought that he’d have to. In his mind, his enemies were always nameless, faceless beings who he would never understand. But it was looking more and more like his enemy was right in front of him. Max had always felt unable to really face his enemies, but he knew he wouldn’t let them hurt what was important. He’d learn to use these powers that were supposedly so strong, and he’d never let anyone come between him and his true family again.

*~*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-May-2002 2:51:57 PM ]
posted on 2-Apr-2002 2:08:10 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: I've been bumped. Wow, you have no idea how great that makes me feel. This next part is Isabel-perspective stuff, which I love to write for some reason, but I promise that the next part (which I am currently working out in my head) is all Max and Liz. *happy* thank you all for your feedback; I truly appreciate it. Love, Jenn

~*~Part 8~*~


Isabel looked at herself in the mirror. She had unconsciously dressed in the red silk pajamas she’d worn the first time she’d dream-walked Alex. She had always loved these pajamas the most anyway. The sheets glided under her as she climbed into bed and pulled up the blankets. She propped herself on the pillows and started thinking about Alex. She’d gotten past needing the picture to connect to him. She knew Alex too well for that.

She fell asleep immediately and started searching for his dreams. She hadn’t honestly expected him to be asleep, and she’d never tried to dream-walk someone further than a few miles away. But somehow despite the time differences and the distance, she found him easily. Maybe that was a sign.

In his dreams, Alex was lying on a bed in what looked to be a dorm room, a painfully empty untouched dorm room. He was wearing these baggy jeans that looked super-big on him, like he’d lost a lot of weight recently and with them he was wearing a West Roswell High t-shirt. But there was something about him that just didn’t feel right and Isabel couldn’t explain it. She looked around the empty dorm room for a clue. The only sign that anyone even lived here was a made bed and 3 computers set up on the desk. Isabel walked over to the set up and looked at them. On each of the screens was a screensaver of Alex with Maria, then Liz, and then Isabel.

There was a knock on the door. Alex walked over to answer it and Isabel sat on the bed to watch. She wondered who was waiting for her.

A tall man with greasy dark hair stood in the hallway. He had a backpack hooked over his shoulder. Was he a student in the exchange program? He looked older, at least college aged.

“Hey, Ray,” he said, like he’d known him for a while, “I was just heading over to the caf. You hungry?”

Why had this man called Alex Ray? And why was he going to a cafeteria? Weren’t you supposed to live in a house with a family when you were a foreign exchange student? Something weird was going on with Alex, and Isabel decided she wanted to know what it was.

“Thanks for the offer, but I’m not hungry. I’m actually on my way to the computer center.”

“Dude, you gotta eat.”

“I’ll order in some Thai when I’m hungry. Don’t worry about me, Jimmy. You’re not my Mom; you don’t have to take care of me.”

Jimmy laughed. “Someone has to look out for you kid. If you had it your way, you’d spend all your time in the computer center.” He shook his head. “The guys and I are beginning to think that you made those pictures of the girls to make yourself look cool.”

Alex shook his head but he didn’t smile. He barely showed any emotion. “Trust me, Jimmy. Those girls are the realest things in the world to me.” He sounded so sad that Isabel’s heart was breaking for him. He turned from the door to look at the screens.

Jimmy waited a moment to look at the screens with Alex. “Come on, dude. I’ll walk with you to the computer center.”

“Okay.” He grabbed his backpack from behind his door and walked outside with his friend. Isabel followed quickly.

“So dude, what are you always working on in that computer center? The rest of us talk about our programming feats like they’re gold medal performances or something. You just keep working.”

“Maybe I’m not done yet.”

“When will you be done?”

Alex looked at his friend and smiled, “Jimmy, I have got miles to go before I sleep.” He looked up at a building. “This is my stop.” He walked into the building. Jimmy watched him go with the most confused expression on his face. Isabel knew she was probably wearing the same face. She looked up at the building. It looked familiar to her somehow. She spun around and looked at all the buildings around her. This campus was familiar, and she knew it definitely wasn’t in Sweden.

She saw the door shut behind Alex and hurried to follow him to wherever he was going. She needed to see what he was doing. He walked down hall after hall, passing people occasionally. They walked all the way to the middle of the building before standing outside a door with a scan-key pass. Alex took his ID out and slid it through the scanner. Isabel stared at it; it read Ray Parks. What the hell was going on here?

She followed him into the room and watched him log on to some small computers. He looked through the glass into another room, filled with a supercomputer.

Supercomputer? Isabel remembered hearing Alex talk about this earlier in the year, back when they had all been sitting around the table at the CrashDown. He’d toured it on a visit to UNM-LV. He’d said it could translate any code written down. Isabel turned to look at the screen in front of Alex; it was running line after line of meaningless symbols. Alex stared at them all, trying to figure it out where the computer couldn’t.

What could Alex be decoding? And why would he be doing it in Las Cruces when he’d told everyone that he was going to Sweden? Isabel turned to watch Alex.

He stared at the computer screen for a few more minutes. Then he reached into his backpack and pulled out a frame. It was a picture of him and Isabel, from the year before when they’d just been sitting in the CrashDown talking. He touched her face slowly before reaching back into his bag again.

This time he pulled out a book. Isabel felt her heart stop and all the breath leave her body. She would recognize that book anywhere. He was trying to decode the one book that might forever change all of their lives. Alex was trying to decode the destiny book!

Why would he be doing that? Especially without telling them? Alex had never kept secrets from her before! Why was he now?

The destiny book. Tess was supposed to have it. She was so protective of that damn book that no one could even look at it without her being there. And now she had just given the book to Alex for him to translate. Something was definitely wrong with this picture. Why would Tess have given Alex the destiny book? She never really even talked to him. Did she even know he had it? What if Alex had been taken over by some horrible evil alien who wanted to know where the granolith was? What if—

Isabel watched as Alex pulled one more thing out of his backpack. He started writing eagerly on the notebook.

Isabel, I don’t know where I am or what I’m doing most of the time anymore, but please know that I love you. I can’t explain the time lapses I’ve been experiencing, I can’t explain what I’m even doing at this computer, but all I can do is hope for moments of clarity when I can remember you and think of getting back to you. I don’t know if I will be able to though. I feel so muddled, like my thoughts and actions aren’t my own and they never will be again. I feel like I haven’t rested in years, and that it will be years before I can truly rest again. I love you.

Isabel wished she could reach out and touch Alex, but there was no way. Someone was hurting her best friend and she had to do something. She watched him for a few more minutes. She felt like she was missing something important; something she ought to notice. She kept getting distracted by the way Alex’s fingers kept tapping against the desk. He wasn’t typing; he was just strumming his fingers along the desk.

It suddenly all clicked in Isabel’s head and she woke up in a panic. Alex was in danger and she had to save him! She’d never forgive herself if she didn’t. She needed to tell someone what she thought was going on. She needed to tell Max; he would help her. She ran down to his room, not caring that she was probably waking her parents up in the process with her heavy footfalls. She threw his door open, not even worried about what she might see. He’d probably heard her coming.

But Max wasn’t in his room. She knew he was over at Liz Parker’s house; he probably wouldn’t come home all night. Isabel ran back to her room and threw a sweatshirt on over her pajamas. She had to talk to Max; he had to help her. They had to find Alex.

She took the Jeep and drove to Liz’s. And for the first time in her life, she climbed the ladder her brother had practically worn in up to the balcony. She didn’t care what she interrupted; she had to see Max.



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-May-2002 2:52:38 PM ]
posted on 9-Apr-2002 11:27:27 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Thank you all so much for your feedback and bumps. I am soo sorry this took sooo long, but school kept getting in the way. (I have talked to them and explained that my fiction comes before education... they just haven't listened yet) I'd like to really dedicate this part to David, who's helped me quite a lot on this part and Lori who's reminded me to write down what I want to happen. *happy* Thank you both and here we go....


~*~Part 9~*~


2 hours earlier…

Max climbed up the familiar ladder to Liz’s balcony. It was just after 10 and he knew she’d be there, writing in her journal, waiting for him. He sometimes thought he knew Liz better than he knew himself. She smiled when she saw him come up over the balcony.

“Hi,” she closed her journal.

“Hi.” He sat down on the bottom of her lawn chair. “I’m sorry it took so long to get over here.”

“It’s okay. I’m just glad you’re here,” she hugged him. She’d missed him this afternoon. She’d had so many thoughts and images and feelings running through her as she’d tried to sort all this out. She felt like she was just completely off. She took a long smell of him, trying to regain her bearings with his scent. Her nose crinkled and she pulled away. “Why do you smell like Tess?”

He looked at her. He definitely hadn’t been expecting to hear that tonight. “You think I smell like Tess?”

“Yes. You normally smell like you, a mix of Cool Water and spicy. But now you smell like Tess, like Tommy Girl. What is going on?”

He sighed. “I didn’t want to tell you like this, but Tess came to my window tonight.”

“Why?” Her eyes immediately got hard, like they were trying to hide worry and tears.

“I don’t know what the real reason was. She said she wanted to figure out some strategies against Rath and Lonnie. But there was something else. We went to the park to talk, and she was different, Liz. I can’t explain it. She kept trying to remind me of everything that has happened recently. I mean, she brought up the fact that the park was where she found me the night you ’betrayed’ me with Kyle. And she even brought up the whole Vilandra issue from our previous life, like I should judge Isabel now because of it.”

“She said that?”

“In a round about way. And Liz, it just felt like she was working on something every time she opened her mouth. Like I think she slipped and told me the truth that she does remember how she got rid of the Skins in the school that day. I think she’s just afraid to tell me.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I think there’s more to her powers than we know. More than she wants us to. It’s just like I can feel that she’s not being honest with us at all.” He realized what he had said. Honesty. It was so important that he and Liz have nothing but the truth between them. He’d seen how much it could screw everything up if they weren’t; look at the way he’d treated her after the Kyle fiasco. He didn’t want that to happen ever again. He needed to tell her the truth about that chat room. “Liz, I—“

“Max—“ Her voice was filled with so much emotion, but the one he caught on the most was fear. She was afraid of what was going on with Tess, and he knew he had to make her feel better any way he could.

He wrapped his arms around her. “It’s okay, Liz. Nothing will come between us, I promise. I won’t let Tess hurt us ever again.”

“Max, I don’t know if we can stop her really,” she whispered.

“Whoa, baby, what does that mean?”

“This afternoon, when I left the meeting, I saw flashes of Tess—“

“You told me.”

“It was like I was seeing the past years through Tess’ eyes and feeling her emotions, Max. You’re right; she is so not what we think.”

“Liz, what did you see?” Max looked into her eyes. There was fear in them, and he wanted to know what these flashes held.

“Let’s go inside. I want to get comfortable.” She led him through the window and they sat on her bed, holding hands, looking at each other.

“Baby, you know you can tell me this, right. I’ll always be here for you.”

“I know, Max. I know. And when you hear some of this, it is so going to rock our world, I think.”

“Well, tell me then. I think maybe our world needs to be rocked.”

Liz smiled. “You know I’ll always tell you the truth from now on, right? I mean, even though I did lie about Kyle—“

“You thought you were protecting me, Liz. I understand. I know you’re honest with me.”

She smiled. “Just like I know you’ll always be honest with me, no matter how you feel you have to protect me.”

Max nodded, thinking of the chat room. He had to tell her the truth and soon. But first he had to hear about these flashes. She would forgive him for not telling her immediately, but she couldn’t do that if she wasn’t safe, and he had to keep her safe. “What happened in those flashes, Liz? What did you see?”

“Max, it wasn’t what I saw that was really scary. It was what I felt. I could feel everything Tess was feeling and that is scarier than anything I could have seen.”

“Tell me.”

Liz started thinking about how much she wanted to tell him right now. There was so much, especially if everything she had seen was true. That meant that--. Liz didn’t want to think about that. She had to tell Max how evil Tess was; the rest could wait. It could take the rest of their lives to figure out the rest. “I could feel what she was feeling the first time she saw you, Max. I can feel it still. She saw you as this piece of meat, this prize she wanted. And when she saw Isabel and Michael, she felt… God, it was evil. She wondered if it would be as easy to manipulate Isabel as it had been with Vilandra. She plotted how to use Michael’s nature against him, how to use his friendship with you against the 2 of you. All she thought about was this destiny she was convinced you were meant to have, and how easy it would be to get you to follow her plans.” She could feel tears on her cheeks; she hadn’t realized she’d been crying.

Max reached up and wiped the tears away with his fingers. “Liz, it’s okay. I’m right here.” He whispered.

“And then the first time she saw me, Max. I’ve never felt such hatred. Her only thoughts were of how to get rid of me.”

“She won’t hurt you, baby. I promise.”

“I know.” She tried to sound as positive as she could. “I felt what she felt during everything; when you were taken to the white room. She was happy that I was falling apart for a moment there. She wanted everyone to have to depend on her so that you would think she was better for you than me. She thought it would reinforce your destiny, but when it didn’t, she did what she had to do to make you think the destiny was real. Max, she twisted everything!” She started getting upset. Tess had done so many horrible things to get things her way.

“Liz, I don’t understand—“

“Max, your destiny isn’t what Tess told you.”

“You know what the real destiny is supposed to be?” He looked so hopeful.

“Max—“ She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to tell him all this right now. There were more important things to think about right now, like Alex. Tess was using him, doing God only knows what kind of damage to him at this very minute, to decode that stupid book. They needed to help him, then they could think about their other problems.

Max looked in Liz’s eyes; there was something she was trying to debate in there. He wished he could help her, but…

“I really don’t know how to say it, Max. Can we form some kind of a connection instead?” She suggested.

Max looked at her and smiled. Liz wanted to connect with him? He’d never say no to that. “Okay.”

“It might take me a minute to really be able to show you what I want you to see. I’ve never directed this before.”

“Just think what you want me to know, Liz. The connection will do the rest,” he smiled.

Liz grinned. She tried to think about what he needed to know. God, how could she throw these images at him without a hint of preparation? This was incredible, what they’d both wanted for so long. She just wanted to help him through hearing all of the rest. She leaned up and kissed him.

Max tried to focus only on the kiss and receiving images from Liz, but he couldn’t help thinking that he needed to be completely honest with Liz, and soon. When she found out that it was really him in the chat room, she’d probably think he’d tried to trick her. He couldn’t live with himself if she did. He would never trick her like that intentionally. But the trick did do some good.

He started to feel Liz in their connection. He could feel her love and how scared she was that she might lose him again. He could feel her fear and anger at Tess. He saw a flash of Tess sitting in a booth at the CrashDown touching Max in some way. He could feel Liz’s jealousy and anger. He saw future Max dancing with Liz on her balcony. And then he saw Tess talking to Alex, but there was something off about Alex—something was missing. Something was wrong with Alex.

Isabel slipped over the balcony ledge and walked to the window. She saw Max and Liz kissing on her bed. She almost hated to interrupt, knowing that Max needed this with Liz to make him half the man he would need to be soon. But Alex was more important. She knocked on the window, quietly enough that she wouldn’t wake Liz’s parents but loud enough to get their attention.

Max jumped at the noise and their connection immediately broke. He looked at Liz for a quick second, and then his eyes immediately focused on the balcony. Had Tess followed him here? Had she come to make sure he wasn’t here?

“Is it Tess?” Liz closed her eyes for a moment to hang on to all the flashes she’d gotten from Max. She’d felt so much love from him, but there was also something bothering him; something about the way they’d gotten back together.

“I don’t know; I can’t tell.” He started walking to the window. Liz immediately followed.

She reached over and turned on the Christmas lights that she kept out there, expecting to see Tess with a deer-frozen-in-the-headlights look on her face. “Isabel!” She followed Max through the window to his sister.

“Is, what’s going on?” Max hugged her tightly. She looked so broken; she had tears streaming down her face, and her eyes had this terrified look in them that he’d never seen before. She was shaking and she held on to him tightly. “Is, what is it?” He sat her down on Liz’s chair.

“It’s Alex,” Isabel cried. “Something is wrong with Alex.”

Max looked up at Liz. She’d paled completely. He realized that everything he saw in her flashes had been true; there was something wrong with Alex and now they had to get to the bottom of what it was. Or worse, who it was.

That last thought struck a chilling chord in Max as he looked back and forth between Liz and Isabel.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-May-2002 2:53:59 PM ]
posted on 16-Apr-2002 4:54:29 PM by Transparent Clear
Hey, guys, I just wanted to take this now empty post to thank you all for the awesome feedback. I am going through a pretty tough semester right now, and your kind words are one of my gauranteed happy makers. (well, it's you and the El Presidente Strawberry margarita from Chili's.... yummy!) Thank you all so much for that, and for giving me a lot of confidence in my writing that sadly is often not there. (thanks to several very special people who will kick my butt for even saying that)

Thanks again! And keep the feedback coming! (finals are in 3 weeks... I need happy happy joy joys for those!)
Jenn

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Apr-2002 9:16:32 PM ]
posted on 16-Apr-2002 7:24:34 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Nothing like posting after a long day of skipping classes, writing, and procrastinating, huh? I'm sorry this took so long to post; every time I tried to stop writing, something else came to me and I know I left at least one more hanging thing that I really had intended on fixing up, but I decided I wanted to post more. Also, this is for Yonkers who gets another late birthday treat! *happy* and without further ado...

~*~Part 10~*~


Max immediately wrapped his arms around his sister. He needed to calm her down; she needed to be able to hear what was going to have to be said. Oh my God, how could he explain what he had seen in those flashes from Liz? How had she been able to bear seeing all that thrown at her in a single minute of connection? And how had Liz connected to Tess?

He looked over at Liz and met her eyes. He suddenly understood the fear and anxiety she’d been living in for the past few hours. She knew that Alex was in danger, and she knew the cause. The only thing she didn’t know was how to stop it or how to tell everyone about it. Max silently cursed himself; smelling Tess on him must have driven her crazy.

Liz looked at him and knew he understood. She felt like this great weight had been lifted off her shoulders suddenly and that everything would be okay. She smiled a little, hoping to encourage Max.

Isabel looked between them. They looked so happy together again. But Alex was in danger! “Guys, I know you just got back together, and believe me I am happy for you. Honestly, I am, you deserve each other. But right now Alex is in danger and we have to help him. We have to figure out who has him and how we can get him back—“

“We know who has him, Isabel,” Liz said quietly.

It was Isabel’s turn to pale. “What?”

“Is—“

“You know who has him? We have to go rescue him. Now! Come on, let’s get going!” She’d heard that and there was no passing go. They needed to go rescue Alex, no ifs ands or buts. And they needed to go as soon as possible. He was in danger, and they needed to change that.

“Is—“

“Max, you didn’t see Alex. He’s in danger! We have to help him now!”

“You’re right, Isabel. Max didn’t see Alex, but I did. I know he’s in danger, but we need to think this through right now and there are things that we all need to talk about.”

Isabel stared at Liz. “You saw Alex?”

“This afternoon when I touched Tess.”

“Tess?” Her voice started shaking. “Was she trying to help him? Is that why you saw Tess and Alex together?”

Liz just shook her head. “She wasn’t helping.” Isabel started crying and Liz immediately wrapped her arms around Isabel. “It’s going to be okay, Isabel. We’re going to save Alex. We will, I promise.”

“I-I thought that it was someone… an enemy, but it—it…it’s one of us.” She sobbed.

Max wrapped his arm around Isabel. “Is, we’re going to go rescue him, and everything will be okay. I promise.”

“Max—“ She looked at her brother with so many fears and questions in her eyes that she didn’t think she’d ever be able to express them all.

“I know.” He whispered. He just wanted to help her; she was his sister and for her to have to realize this was not something she needed to go through alone. No one should.

Liz interrupted them. “Listen, I think we need to get Michael and Maria over here. We’re all going to need to work together if we’re going to really help Alex.”

“Good idea, Liz,” Max said. “I’ll take Isabel downstairs. Why don’t you call them and get them over here?”

“Okay.” Liz nodded. She headed immediately to her phone and hoped her parents wouldn’t wake up. She called Maria first, hoping she would volunteer to call Michael. She did not want to deal with him when he’d just been woken up.

“Hullo?” Maria’s voice sounded muffled by her pillow. “This had better be good. It’s after 1 a..m.”

“Maria, it’s me.”

“Liz, what’s going on?” She whined. “You know how tired I am—“

“Ria, I need you to come over here now.”

“Why? It’s after 1 and I have the breakfast shift in the morning.”

“I know, and you know I wouldn’t call unless it was urgent.”

“What’s going on?”

“Ria—“

“Is it alien related?”

“Yes.”

Maria sighed. “Liz, babe, I don’t know what you think I can do. I mean, Michael and I are—well, I don’t even know what we are right now. And what can I do to help them? I don’t have super powers or anything. And I mean, I’m happy that you’re back with Max and all, but really—“

“Maria, it’s about Alex.”

Her voice was instantly clear and awake. “I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”

“Run by and pick up Michael?”

“Okay.”

Liz called Michael. She knew she wouldn’t be able to tell him the truth over the phone and that he also wouldn’t be able to stop himself from asking so she remained cryptic telling him to be ready in 15 minutes because Maria would be picking him up.

“What’s going on, Liz?”

“We’ll explain when you get here, Michael. Don’t call anyone. Everyone’s on their way here.” Everyone who mattered was, anyway.

She walked down to the Café to find Max and Isabel eating out of a tub of ice cream. “Got room for another spoon?” She smiled.

“Sorry,” Isabel sighed. “I needed something to calm down—“

“It’s okay, Is. I understand.”

Isabel looked at her across the booth. “I don’t remember you ever really calling me Is before.”

“Yeah—“

“I like it.” She smiled.

Liz nodded. “Me, too.”

Maria and Michael walked in 15 minutes later in a flurry of voices.

“I told you, Michael, Liz only told me it was about Alex.”

“What about him? He’s in Sweden!”

“I don’t know, Michael—“

“Are you sure this is alien related and not relationship related?”

“Are you implying that I would have Liz call this little meeting to repair what is left of our relationship?” She exclaimed.

“I’m just saying I wouldn’t put it past you—“

“SpaceBoy, you had better just be happy that I do not want to clean what’s left of you off this floor this morning or you would be sooo dead for that comment!”

“I’m really scared, Blondie—“

“You’d better be!”

“Any time you want to try, you know where I am.”

“I think the question there is really who you’re with!”

“Maria!”

“Michael!”

Liz hurried over to them hoping to shut them up before her parents heard them, woke up, and interrupted their little meeting. “Guys, please, my parents will kill us.”

Maria smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, Liz, this SpaceBoy just annoys the hell out of me.”

“Yeah, well, when someone calls me at 1:30 in the morning and wakes me up without giving me any answers, I tend to get a bit irate.”

“Michael, I’m sorry about that. I just didn’t want to answer any questions on the phone,” Liz said. “Let’s all sit down and we can maybe all answer each other’s questions.”

Michael looked at who was there. “Where’s Tess and Kyle? I assume this is of an alien nature so shouldn’t Tess be here?”

“No,” Isabel snapped out. “She shouldn’t.”

“Whoa, what’s going on?” Maria was taken aback by Isabel’s response. Her voice sounded so harsh. “I thought this was about Alex.”

“It is. It’s about Alex and Tess.”

“Please do not ever put those two together like that, Max.” Isabel whispered.

He squeezed her hand. “Something is wrong with Alex.”

“What can be wrong with him? He’s in Sweden. He’s probably having the time of his life with some blonde knockout.” Michael said.

Isabel looked at him. “He’s not in Sweden. And he’s not with a blonde knockout, I can tell you that.”

“What’s going on? Someone just tell the story, please!” Maria said. All she knew was that there was something wrong with Alex and that it was probably alien related. She needed to know what they were going to do to rescue him.

Isabel spoke first. “I decided today that I wanted to dream-walk Alex. I didn’t know if it would actually even work, considering the fact that I’m not even sure what the time difference is or what he’s doing or even if dream-walking is possible over that length, but I thought maybe… So I searched for Alex, and to my surprise I found him. And I saw some parts of his life, I don’t know how to really describe it. It was as if he was dreaming about his normal life or something. It wasn’t a dream. I know that what I saw was real. He’s not in Sweden. He’s in Las Cruces working with the supercomputer there.”

“Las Cruces?”

“Supercomputer?”

“What’s he doing in Las Cruces? He said the exchange program would take him to Sweden.”

“Why does he need a supercomputer?”

“Because he’s decoding the destiny book,” Isabel said.

“What?” Michael roared. “You gave him that book to decode? What if someone finds out about us because they see the code, Isabel? How could you have been so stupid?” He started pacing the floor around the booth.

Isabel started to answer that low-blow, but Max interrupted her. “Isabel didn’t give him the book Michael. Isabel doesn’t even have the book to give.”

Michael looked at him as he stopped pacing as he realized that was true. “That’s right. Tess has it—“

“Tess?” Maria exclaimed. “What does Alex have to do with Tess?”

It was Liz’s turn to speak. She had to be the one to tell them. “The only thing Tess has to do with Alex is the way she’s using him. Tess knew how incredible Alex was with computers; we all talked about that. And when she overheard Alex talk about what the supercomputer could do, she started putting some things together. She mindwarped Alex into going to Las Cruces to decode the destiny book. He doesn’t even really know what he’s doing. She’s using him to get herself and the rest of you back to your original planet.”

“Liz, how do you know that?” Maria stared at her.

“I felt it.” She said simply and Max sat down next to her again, holding her hand in his to help her get through this.

“What?” Michael exclaimed. “You felt what?”

“I felt Tess, everything about her. When I touched her this afternoon in the CrashDown, it was like we’d somehow formed this connection and I could not only see but feel her past. I knew everything about her, and that’s how I found out about Alex.”

“I don’t understand. Is she helping him? I mean, who sent him there? Is it Khivar and Nicholas? What are we going to do?” Maria asked. She knew she was missing something and she did not like feeling dumb at this moment. Something was wrong with her best friend, and she wanted to help him.

Michael wrapped his arms around Maria, already putting the pieces together and knowing that what was about to be said was going to hurt like hell for Maria.

“Ria, Tess isn’t helping him. She’s the one who sent him to Las Cruces.”

“No!” Maria immediately pushed away from Michael and stood by herself in the middle of the dining room. She could feel that it was the truth, a truth she’d tried to deny. “See, that can’t be! We’re her friends; we’ve helped her in every way we can. Alex has been helping all of you since before he even found out this damn secret! He’s risked his life so many times I can’t count anymore. And now you’re using him like this so you can just leave us all behind and go back to whatever planet you’re from?”

“Maria!” Liz gasped. She’d hoped that Maria would understand that Tess was not like the others.

She was crying. “God, we all would have been so much better if we’d never learned this secret of yours!”

Michael’s eyes clouded over. Liz could see that he was closing off again. “Maria, if we didn’t know their secret, I’d be dead.”

Max spoke up. “We’re not the ones hurting Alex, Maria. We hate this just as much as you do. It’s Tess.”

“She’s one of you,” Maria said. She was already beginning to regret her outburst. She could see Michael shutting down.

“No, she’s not,” Liz whispered but no one heard her.

“Maria, if you want to argue that, Topolsky and Pierce were just like you, and we still trust you,” Isabel said. “I know this is hard, and I honestly want to go over to the Valenti’s and pull every hair out of Tess’ head until she tells me why she’s hurting Alex, but that won’t help anyone. We all need to just work together so we can rescue Alex.”

Maria nodded and sat down. “I’m sorry.” She knew the words weren’t going to mean anything to the one person she was sorriest to. “You all know I overreact. I just can’t lose Alex.” She sighed. “I don’t want to lose any of you.”

Liz squeezed her hand. “I honestly believe that if we work together, no one in this room is going to lose anyone they love. I know we can do this, guys.”

Max nodded. “Liz is right. We just have to work together. And that means we be completely honest with each other, and we support each other. I know that it was hard to hear Maria talk like that, but we need to understand that she’s just under a lot of stress hearing this and we can help her through it.” His words were directed at Michael, and he just hoped that he would listen. “So we need to all talk about some stuff. And I want to tell you guys something before we begin.” He smiled at Liz. “Liz and I are back together.”

The only one in the room who looked surprised was Michael. “You are?”

“Yeah. We had a long talk and we’ve worked everything from this past year out. I know that there are things that should be affecting this, but we’re not letting them. I don’t really want a destiny that doesn’t involve Liz, and I won’t live one.”

Isabel smiled. “As long as you’re happy, Max, that’s all that matters.”

“What about Tess? Is that why she’s doing this to Alex?” Maria asked.

“No. Tess doesn’t know that we’re back together, and she’s been planning this for a long long time. We were going to tell everyone this afternoon but then Liz got the flashes so we decided to wait.”

“What else did you see in the flashes, Liz?” Michael asked.

“Just stuff. I really think we need to get Alex back before we start working on any of the other flashes.” She tried to avoid the conversation she knew she was going to have to have. She just wanted to talk about some of these things with Max first; they were so personal and between the 2 of them.

“Is that how we’re going to start out things honestly?” Michael prodded and gave her a small grin when he saw the look on her face. “Liz, I know you want to protect us from some of it, probably, but from now on, we don’t assume that some of us can’t handle what’s going on.”

Max looked at Michael. He was finally behaving like part of the team. Their eyes met and there was a maturity in Michael’s eyes that hadn’t been there an hour ago. Max nodded understand that this group was now the only people they could trust.

Liz sighed. She really didn’t want to go into all of this not now, not without talking to Max first, but Michael was right. She had to tell them the truth. “Okay. Here’s what I know. Tess was not the original fourth in your four-square thing.” She heard Isabel’s gasp. “She and Nasedo changed a lot of things that if you didn’t know to look, you’d never know were changed.”

“Like?”

“Well, let’s just say that your destiny is not your destiny. She warped that message when you heard it and then mindwarped all of us into believing it.” Another gasp, this time from Max.

“What did it originally say? Do you know?”

Liz took a deep breath. Did she know? She could recite it word for word. “The original message was from your mother too, but it was different. It said, ‘If you are seeing me now, it means that you are alive and well, and I thank the gods for that. I take this form because it will be familiar to you, and it will help you to understand what I am about to say. You have lived before. You perished in the conflict that destroyed our planet but your essence was duplicated, cloned, and mixed with human genetic materials so that you might be recreated into human beings, to live again. My son, Zan, you were the beloved leader of our people. I have sent with you your young bride, Asha. My daughter, Vilandra, the man you were betrothed to, and your brother's second-in-command, Rath. As you have undoubtedly learned by now, you have skills inherited from your Antarian side. We gave you these, hoping that they would help you in your mission.
Unfortunately, our enemies have followed you to Earth. You will know them only by the evil within. You must learn use these skills, your knowledge, your leadership, and your humanity to combat the enemy so that we might be reunited and that I may once again hold you both in my arms, on our new planet. I live for that moment. I love you.’


Max, Isabel and Michael were silent just trying to take it all in. Liz hoped no one would pick up on the Asha reference. She didn’t want to try to explain that.

Maria never did stick to Liz’s plans. “Great! So what is Tess Asha? Or is this Asha person someone completely different, another alien ho just searching for her supposed husband, and trying to break my best friend’s heart in the process?”

Max looked up immediately. “There is no one for me but Liz, Maria. I promise.” He turned to Liz with those last words. “Whoever this Asha person is, she will never take the place of you, Liz. I promise.”

She smiled, completely secure. “I know.”

“If Tess knew that was our real destiny, why is she trying to decode the book to get back to that other planet?”

“Because Tess isn’t working on behalf of your destiny, Michael. She’s not Asha. She’s a plant, sent by her brother Khivar to destroy you and bring you back to your planet. “

“Brother?” Isabel choked on the words, looking at her own brother.

“That little bitch!” Maria started pacing and muttering to herself about interesting ways to hide the body. “Everyone’s seen Fried Green Tomatoes. No one would honestly think we’d hide a body in the Will Smith….”

Liz ignored the comments. “Nasedo was working for Khivar. He still is. He’s not dead, that was a husk. Nasedo and Tess are still working together to destroy the royal family of Antar.”

“But—I don’t understand. How could she get into the podchamber? How could she know so much about us?”

“She was podded like the rest of you but sent in a ship to be born here after you were. Nasedo got her into the podchamber because he really was your protector. He just didn’t seem to care about that.”

“Obviously.”

“What else was there, Liz?”

“A lot of the rest of it was just feelings in different situations. Like the way she felt the first time she saw all of you. Or the way she felt when we needed her for something. The most important thing to realize is that she has been plotting against you since the day she came to this town.”

“And I made it so easy for her,” Isabel whispered. “I wanted another girl who understood what it was like to be an alien. I wanted that friendship that I saw human girls had. I accepted her so quickly, never thinking that she might be the danger we’d been hiding from our entire lives.”

“Isabel—“ Max started.

Liz interrupted. “Is, do not blame yourself. She has been manipulating all of us since day one. She’s trying to fracture what we have here to suit her purposes. She knew you’d want a friend, so she became that. She knew Michael wanted to go home, so she offered that. She knew Max would suffer from a sense of responsibility, especially after hearing that so-called destiny message she concocted, so she appealed to that. She made it seem like she was trying to help the group, but she was really looking out for her own plans here. Don’t forget that, Is.”

“And tonight when I met with her, she did the same thing. She tried to separate all of us again. She kept reminding me about the so-called Vilandra betrayal. She wanted me to associate that with you, Is. But I can’t. You are my sister and I know you wouldn’t do that.”

Isabel whispered, “But I did on that other world.”

“No, you didn’t.” Liz assured her. “Isabel, Tess manipulated you. You thought you were helping your family; Tess warped the information into something that hurt them instead. It was not your betrayal.”

Isabel sighed. “Really?” There was so much hope in her eyes.

“Really.” Liz smiled.

“Why did you meet with Tess tonight, Max?” Michael asked.

“She came to my window. I thought it was Liz, but it was Tess saying she thought we needed to talk about the situation with Lonnie and Rath.”

“That we didn’t talk about at the meeting?”

“Well, she said she wanted to talk about it and my powers and ways to fight them and any other enemies we might cross.”

Maria laughed. “What did she really want? Because I’m betting it wasn’t your powers.”

Max shook his head. “We went to the park. I couldn’t talk to her in the house, there were too many chances for mom and dad to interrupt or for her to try something—“

“Something completely disgusting—“

“There. So we went to the park. Tess was at first disappointed; I think she wanted to go out to the podchamber for more privacy, but I wasn’t going that far out of town with her. Then she realized that the park was good because she used it to remind me of Liz’s so-called betrayal—“

“Betrayal?” Michael asked.

Liz sighed. “About a month and a half ago, I made it look like I had slept with Kyle.”

“What? Why!?”

Liz didn’t really want to go into this story. “Okay, this is the cheap and dirty version. A month and a half ago, I was in my room when this person appeared on my balcony. It was Max, but it was a version of Max who came from 14 years in the future. He told me if I didn’t break up with Max completely and push him toward Tess, the world would end in 14 years with all of us dying. I tried a couple ways to make Max back off-“

“But they didn’t work,” Max smiled.

“And then Maria told me about a betrayal she thought you had made with Courtney, Michael. So I went to Kyle and told him that I needed his help and he didn’t ask any questions. Nothing happened, but Max saw us together. And he made the assumption I’d hoped he would.”

“That explains why you two have been so tragic around each other lately,” Michael said. “But what happened to this future version of Max?”

“He disappeared. We’d changed the future so he no longer existed.”

“But Tess isn’t the person we need to stay in Roswell. She’s not the fourth.” Michael said.

“No, she’s not. But that was something that version of Max didn’t know because he had never discovered that Tess was really trying to hurt you.”

“So we have to find this Asha person?”

“I don’t know. I mean, I don’t’ know if she wants to be found or if you really need her. You’re not going back to that planet, so—“

“So it might be better to just let this Asha live her life, like we want to live ours,” Max said.

“Okay, before we start debating whether or not we need to find this Asha person, I think we need to just refocus on why we’re here. Is there anything else you need to tell us, Liz?” Maria asked.

“Nothing else I need to say.”

“Then I suggest we start figuring out a way to rescue Alex.”

Max spoke up. “In the morning, Isabel, Liz and I head to Las Cruces.”

“How are you going to break him out of this mindwarp thing?” Maria asked.

“We’ll figure out some way. Maybe seeing Isabel is all it will take for him. I know when Tess mindwarped me into kissing her, seeing Liz really just broke it all.”

“Or maybe I can dream-walk him somehow that will break the mindwarp. I don’t really know or care, all I know is that it has to be done,” Isabel said.

“Max, I need to go. What if Tess or Nasedo finds out what we’re doing. I can help!”

“Michael, you can’t go. I need you to stay here with Maria and watch out for Tess. I’m betting that if she knows what is going on with us, she’s going to have Nasedo interrupt it. She’ll stay here to keep up pretenses. You need to watch out for yourself, Maria, Valenti, and Kyle against her. We don’t know what she’s really capable of.”

Michael was quiet for a moment, as if trying to find something to fight that idea with. But in the end, he couldn’t. He nodded.

Liz smiled. “Besides, you can keep Maria here company tomorrow while she pulls a double to take my shift.”

Maria just laughed at Liz’s way of asking her to take the shift. “You know I’ll do it.”

“Thanks.” She smiled.

“So why don’t we all get some sleep and meet here at 7?” Max suggested.

Everyone nodded. “Liz, you realize I’m coming up and sharing that bed with you, right?” Maria laughed. “So you better say good night to Max here.”

They all laughed. Isabel and Michael went out to wait in the Jeep and Maria headed up to Liz’s room. Max and Liz stood in the back of the Crashdown.

“I love you, Liz, you know that, right?” He whispered. “I don’t care at all about this Asha person, you are who I’m supposed to be with.”

Liz smiled. “I know, Max. And we will be together. Let’s deal with the Asha situation once we get Alex home, okay?”

He nodded and kissed her good night. “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Max. I’ll see you in the morning.” Liz watched him leave the Crashdown and locked up behind him. As she watched the car pull away, she couldn’t help but feel like she wasn’t being completely honest with him. She knew who Asha was, and she knew he needed to know. But she just wanted to tell him when they were alone so they could really talk through what all that meant. She didn’t want to share that with everyone. That was something for just the two of them.

***


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-May-2002 2:54:47 PM ]
posted on 26-Apr-2002 2:26:34 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Ok. Thank you all so much for your bumps and feedback and *happy* I really really appreciate it. It's made this week soooo much easier to be able to come here and read good happy things.. (as opposed to negative comments by profs). But it's over! My thesis has been turned in and I am through with it! *happy* YAY!!! So here's a new part. I was in a writer's block from stress for most of the last week and a half and Tuesday night, this just flowed out (well, some of it... then others came last night) and I think it might just be a reaction to seeing how far apart all our characters have fallen on the show. anyway, thank you again... and expect some more soon! Love, Jenn

~*~Part 11~*~


The minute Max got into the Jeep, Michael and Isabel both started talking.

“Max, how can Liz get flashes from Tess?”

“What does it mean that Liz got flashes from Tess?”

They looked at each other and smiled. Isabel spoke for them. “None of us have ever gotten any flashes from Tess, although none of us have really tried touching her for that long either.”

“You think that’s the trick to getting the flashes off her?” Michael said.

“Well, there has to be some reason.”

“But think about all the times that she has held on to me for no good reason. I never got any flashes from her. And Liz isn’t an alien--”

“No, but she was brought back to life by an alien. Ava said that Liz had been changed, Max. You changed her. Maybe she’s going to develop powers or something now,” Isabel said.

“But Liz has never shown any inclination that she has powers. The only thing she ever really did was—“

“She saved my life in New York, Michael.”

“Yes, but she needed Isabel’s help to do it. She’s never had the power to do anything by herself. At least not that she’s told us.” Michael looked at Max waiting to see if there were any incidents that they should all know about. Max didn’t have any information to offer. “So how did she get flashes off of Tess. That implies some sort of a connection being made. We know Tess didn’t want that connection. That means Liz did it—“

“But she doesn’t even know how to do that. I had to lead her through a connection we made tonight so she could show me what was going on with Tess.”

“Maybe it came naturally?” Isabel suggested. “I mean, maybe that’s what her powers will be. To form connections.”

“But Tess would resist that. I mean, she wouldn’t want anyone to know what she’s doing.”

“How could she resist what she didn’t know would happen?”

“You don’t think she had defenses up around those plans?”

“Maybe since she’s using all this power to mindwarp Alex and probably half of us, her defenses have been weakened a bit. Maybe she can’t help what people get from her now,” Isabel hypothesized.

“Maybe,” Max conceded.

“And since Liz apparently has some powers now, she could see the truth behind Tess,” Michael said.

“I guess,” Max agreed. “It just seems too simple for that to be true. I mean, Tess and I touched tonight and I don’t think either one of us got flashes. And as for Liz, she doesn’t know she has these powers. How could she try to make the connection? She said she didn’t, anyway. It just seems like we’re missing something.”

“Max, whatever it is, we’ll figure it out once we get Alex back,” Isabel said.

Michael went back to the plan to get him back. “I still don’t know that I like this plan, Max. What if she figures out that the 3 of you are gone to help Alex?”

“She won’t.” Max said quickly.

“How do you know, Max?” Michael insisted. “I know you don’t want to think about this, but what if she hurts Alex more because she knows you’re going to rescue him?”

Isabel paled. “She can’t do that.”

“Why? Because her morals won’t let her? I think we’ve pretty much decided that she has no morals here.”

“Max, do you really think that what she’s doing can hurt Alex permanently?”

“I don’t know, Is. I know almost nothing about what her powers are.”

“But—“

Max parked the Jeep in front of Michael’s apartment. “Listen, we could go crazy trying to double-think Tess. I personally don’t want to put myself into her frame of mind. I think we need to go ahead with our plan tomorrow and get Alex out of there, no matter what. If you see Tess doing anything strange, Michael, you can just call us on the cell.” He paused, waiting to see if Michael objected. But there were no interruptions. “Alex is in Las Cruces, not really knowing what’s going on, doing God only knows what, and he’s doing it all because he got involved with us. He’s done nothing but help us from day one, and simply by being who we are, we’re hurting him—“

Michael interrupted. “Max, we are not hurting him. Tess is! Not us!” He was not going to allow Max to start looping them into the same category as Tess.

“Something alien is hurting him, and if we don’t help him, it might as well be us hurting him.” He said softly. “I will not let someone who has never asked anything of us other than friendship be hurt because of an alien subplot.” He looked between Michael and Isabel. “You know for so long it was just the 3 of us, alone, with no one to trust. I think tonight we’ve realized who we can trust. And I don’t want to lose that. The thing that bothered me the most about the whole destiny message—“

“Aside from being with Tess?” Isabel smiled.

Max nodded. “Was that it separated us. It tried to make me a leader and not listen to you. We can’t work like that, none of us can. It’s not just the 3 of us now; it’s the 6 of us. And from now on, we need to act like it.”

Isabel nodded, looking at Michael. Ever since they had heard that stupid message, there had been tension between Max and Michael. They had to get past that now, if they were going to make it through whatever was to come.

Michael looked at Isabel and then Max. “Agreed.” He looked at the clock in the Jeep and knew it was getting late. If Max and Is were going to get any rest before they left, they needed to get home. “Listen, be careful tomorrow. Take care of Alex, and I’ll keep my eye on Tess.” He smiled. “In fact, I might have the perfect way to do that.”

Max knew better than to ask what Michael was planning. “Okay. We’ll all meet tomorrow night when we get back at your apartment, Michael. I think we might need to hide Alex there for a few days or something. Especially if Tess realizes he’s gone.”

*****


“Liz, how could I say that?” Maria moaned into the pillow as she turned to face Liz in her bed.

“Maria, it’s going to be all right.”

“No, it’s not. I basically just blamed every problem I’ve had in the past 2 years on Michael coming into my life, Liz. He will never forgive me for that. He’s going to pull away, again. And just when I thought that maybe the psychic could just go to hell with her predictions because Michael and I were going to be together. And then I go and blow it with my big mouth.”

“Maria, I am sure he will understand that you were just saying it in the heat of the moment and that you’re just worried about Alex.”

“Liz, this is Michael we’re talking about! He won’t think of that. He’s going to hear that I think everything in the past couple years is bad because of him and what he is and he’s going to pull away. To protect me or because he can’t stand to look at me anymore. Either way, I’ve lost my SpaceBoy!” She was crying.

Liz reached over and hugged her. “It’s going to be okay, Maria. You forget that you are going to be spending the entire day with him tomorrow. You can talk to him then.”

“Yeah, if he’ll even talk to me.”

“Who are you? And what have you done with my best friend? The Maria DeLuca I know would never just let him not talk to you! You go and get in his face and make him talk to you, babe. I don’t care if you have to tell him the truth over and over again until you lose your voice. You make him listen.”

She laughed. “I am good at that, aren’t I?”

“The best.”

“Thanks, Liz.”

“It’s nothing. I love you, Ria, and I just want you to be happy.”

“I know. And you know what the weird thing is? Ever since we got wrapped up in this whole alien conspiracy, I have honestly never been happier in my life. I mean, sure, it’s a little scary to run from the FBI and to be hunted by evil aliens, but I wouldn’t trade it. I mean, I got Michael out of it, and you got Max,” she smiled. “And who knows? It looks like Alex is getting Isabel, after all.”

Liz laughed. “All it took was putting him in great peril.”

“But you know what? I’m not even worried about that, well, not really. I know that you and Isabel and Max will rescue him. I know that.” She said confidently and her confidence made Liz smile. “You know 2 years ago, I could count on my hand the number of family members I have. That number has doubled now, thanks to them. Even Isabel.”

Liz laughed a little more, knowing how Isabel used to freak her out. “If it makes you feel good, you should know that I think they think the same about us. We’re not the three-somes we were 2 years ago, and I think that’s a good thing, Maria.”

“If you start going on about how it was good that you were shot—“ Maria teased.

Liz smiled. “Well, it did bring all of us together.”

“Liz!” She hit her with the pillow.

Liz looked at her clock. It was nearing 2:30. “You know, as much as I like a pillow fight, I think we should definitely get some sleep. We have to wake up in 3 hours.”

“Yeah, and you get to go see Moondoggie and rescue Alex. I have to sit here, with customers all day.” Maria turned serious for a few moments. “Are you sure that Tess won’t find out?”

“No. But I’m sure that Michael will keep us as safe as he can, Ria. I just know he will.”

Maria smiled. “You know what? Me, too.”

“And besides, you’ll be here all day to help him out, right? We have to start thinking like a team again, Maria. Remember what we were like back before Tess came to town, when we were all helping each other? We saved Michael’s life together. And then even when we were all helping each other out after Max was taken? We worked together and that made us stronger. We have to go back to that or we won’t be able to make it through what’s to come—“

“Whoa, there, chica. You sound awfully sure that something is coming. Care to share?”

“I can’t describe it, Ria. I just know that soon something will happen, and we all have to be prepared to do it.”

“Liz, this isn’t about that whole Asha person, is it? I mean, she’s not going to come here and ruin our lives. We won’t let her.”

Liz smiled. “It’s not about Asha. Let’s not worry about it.” She pulled the blanket up closer to her chin. “Let’s just go to sleep, okay, Ria?”

“Promise me everything is going to be okay, Liz.”

“I promise.”

“All right. Let’s go to sleep.” Maria reached out and squeezed her friend’s hand. “Night, Liz.”

*****


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 1-May-2002 2:55:36 PM ]
posted on 30-Apr-2002 6:27:37 PM by Transparent Clear
Well, this took longer than I expected to get out. *happy* But hey, I finally did! *happy* One more week. At exactly 5:30 next Thursday I am officially done with this semester and ::sigh:: Yay! if there's any glaring errors, please let me know? and thank you for all your feedback. *happy* It helps sooo much.
P.S. I'd like to dedicate this part to my trusty Stage Hand, David. *happy* Thank you so much! You've been the best!
Jenn

Part 12


The next morning at 6 a.m. 5 teenagers sat in the Crashdown Café drinking coffee.

“You promise you’ll be careful?” Maria asked as she finished pouring another cup for Max. She reached for Michael’s cup at the same time. He hadn’t said a word to her yet and all she wanted to do was apologize and make him see that she hadn’t felt anything she’d said.

Michael stared at Maria as she filled his cup. How was he going to spend the entire day with her without really asking her how she felt. He wouldn’t ruin her life just because of what he was. She needed to know that. He would do anything to protect her. And besides after hearing what an alien was doing to another human being, he wasn’t so sure he wanted to be an alien anymore. “Thanks, Maria.”

Maria’s head lifted up and her eyes met his. And for the first time that morning, she really smiled. Michael had never said thank you before to her in his life; this had to mean something. She returned the coffee pot to it’s dispenser with a bounce in her step.

Max, Liz, and Isabel looked at one another and smiled when they saw that interaction.

“We promise.” Max laughed. “But if you don’t stop filling me up with caffeine, I might never be able to sit still long enough to get us to Las Cruces.”

Maria smiled. “I just wanted to make sure you guys were awake.”

“Trust me. We are,” Isabel said finishing off her cup.

“And what are we going to do if Tess does come looking for you?” Maria said. “I mean, I know I’m a great actress, but that girl freaks me out. I can’t think around her.”

“Just leave that to me. I have an idea.”

“Would you care to elaborate on that, SpaceBoy?”

“Not right now.” Michael looked at them. “You guys had better get going.”

Max and Michael shared a look. “We’ll meet tonight at your apartment.”

“Just please be careful!” Maria said one more time.

“We will be, Ria.” Liz hugged Maria and they left.

The minute Isabel, Liz and Max were in the car, Max looked at the girls and asked, “How long do you think before Maria and Michael are kissing?”

Isabel laughed. “I would really rather not think about that.” She leaned back into the backseat of the Jeep. “I think I’m going to go back to sleep. Maybe see if I can’t find Alex’s dreams again.”

“Good luck, Is,” Max smiled. He knew she was worried about Alex’s safety; they all were. But this was the only way she could really be sure about him. He and Liz were quiet while they watched her fall asleep. Then he turned to her, “Liz—“ He didn’t know how to say what he wanted to tell her. He wanted her to know about the talk the 3 of them had had the night before. She needed to know they were all in this together.

“Max, what is it?” She put her hand on top of his hand on the gear shift.

“Last night, after we left the CrashDown, Michael, Is, and I talked. And we all decided something that I want you to know.” He said trying to focus on the road instead of her. “You know 2 years ago, we were all separate. Aliens hiding in plain view, trying not to draw any attention to ourselves. And you, hiding just the same, trying to appear normal when really you’re anything but normal—“ He smiled a little.

Liz stared at him. Did he know? Had he guessed the truth?

“Liz, I hate to say this. But I’m glad you got shot. No matter what anyone ever says, I will always be glad I saved your life. It doesn’t matter if I’ve ruined some preconceived version of my life or alerted anyone to the presence of aliens on Earth. The minute I touched you that day, the minute I got to see into your soul was the best minute of my life. It was the first time I ever really felt alive, and that feeling hasn’t gone away since. You brought me to life, Liz—“

“Max—“ Liz couldn’t help the tears that formed in her eyes when she saw his eyes; they were so bright and honest. She took a deep breath before she could continue speaking. “I love you so much.”

“I love you, too, Liz.” He squeezed her hand.

She opened her mouth to start to tell him the truth. It didn’t matter that Isabel was in the car with them; she needed to tell him the truth.

“But that’s not what I was going to say really,” he smiled. “I just can’t seem to focus when I’m with you.” He rushed to contradict himself for fear that she might think that she was distracting him from his future. “And that’s a good thing, Liz! I promise. I just know there are so many other things we could be doing, rather than focusing on something we should never have to think about.”

Liz smiled. She knew what he meant. “So what were you really going to say?”

“You know, 2 years ago, we were all separate. I mean, I had Michael and Is, and you had Alex and Maria, but I just think we all knew there was something missing. And Michael, Is and I just kind of wrote that off to missing other aliens and this so-called home of ours in a galaxy far far away. But I think that what we were missing was each other. I mean, in the past year and a half since these incredible circumstances threw us all together, no matter what it may look like, things in my world have definitely changed for the better. I found you; and no matter what anyone says, you are my destiny, Liz. You are the only one I can ever see myself with. And Michael may not like to admit it, but for the first time, he’s found someone he can trust who he wasn’t born with. He does trust you, Liz, whether he shows it or not. And he will never admit it willingly, but he has Maria. She’s the only person I’ve ever seen who can make him get all riled up. He needed that.” He looked in the rearview window at his sister. “And look at Isabel. A year ago, she was a scared little girl playing Ice Princess. I don’t think she had one true friend, outside me and Michael. Now she has you and Maria. And I really think she’s ready to open up to Alex. I mean, she’s finally realizing that she can need him.”

“And you’re saying all this happened because I got shot?” Liz smiled.

“Basically.”

“Wow. I’m glad I got shot.” She teased. “I’ll definitely have to start jumping in front of more bullets; imagine the ways it can bring us all together.”

Max shook his head at her. “No, thank you. I think from now on, if we want to bring this group together, we should do it the old fashioned way.”

“Talking?”

“Naah, too risky. Way too many ways to interpret what is said. I think we should all just make connections from now on.” He teased, knowing there was no way for them to really do that.

“Hmmm,” Liz smiled lazily.

He looked at her earnestly. “Making that connection with you that day, Liz, it allowed a lot of things to happen for all of us. And I can’t help but think how lucky we all are to have each other. So basically what I’m trying to say is that we are no longer just these separate groups, held together by us or our relationship or even our secret. We’re a team, Liz. Stronger than whatever they had planned for the royal 4 and I think better.”

Liz started thinking about their connection. It was always so true and beautiful and loving. It was all about the two of them wanting to be together and belonging together. It was because of their honesty. That’s why these 2 groups had combined, really. It was all because of honesty. And here, Liz sat, being completely dishonest by not telling Max the truth she knew that would probably relieve him more than anything else could. He needed to know the truth.

“Liz, are you okay?” Max asked staring at her. “You’ve kind of zoned out on me.”

Liz turned to face Max. “Max, I have to tell you something.”

“What?” He tried to keep the worry out of his voice. What else had she seen in those visions?

“It’s about Asha,” Liz didn’t know how to say this. How do you tell your soulmate that you were destined for one another after being sent from your former planet to live again. She was telling Max she was an alien! She was in the same position Tess had been when she arrived in Roswell, albeit that she was telling the truth, but she didn’t want to sound like Tess. Like they were together only because of that destiny. Their relationship transcended that.

Max read Liz’s hesistation as her worry over what would happen should Asha ever just show up. “Liz, don’t worry about Asha. We don’t even know where she is. And she will never take your place. I promise. I don’t care what some supposed destiny says; you are it.”

She smiled. “That’s kind of what I’m trying to tell you.”

Max turned to look at her for several seconds. “Liz?”

She couldn’t stop smiling. She squeezed his hand. “I’m Asha.”

“What?” He stared at her like she was crazy. “Liz, Asha is an alien. You’re human. I know you’re this life’s equivalent of Asha for me, but—“

“No, Max. I am Asha.” She said it so calmly. “I was sent here with you, to be your bride.”

“Liz, that can’t be! I would remember seeing you in the podchamber. I would remember everything, if it were you. It was Tess.”

“No, it wasn’t.”

“And you’re human! I know that. I felt it when I healed you.”

“Max—“

“Liz, I would know if you were Asha. I mean, I would have felt it from the very moment I saw you. I couldn’t have denied that kind of connection, no matter what.” He didn’t realize that he had denied that kind of connection with Tess.

“Max, please let me explain!” Liz said. “Please?”

He tightened his fingers around hers, probably figuring this was some way for her to feel better about the new situation. But he’d listen to her because she was Liz and he needed to know what she thought. He nodded.

“When I touched Tess, I got more flashes than just what I told you about. But they didn’t directly pertain to anyone other than me and you and so I wanted to tell you these on my own.” She took a deep breath. “I saw a vision of the first time Tess was ever in the podchamber, Max. I saw her birth.” She needed to word this right. “When I got those flashes, the first one was of what the destiny message really said. And then I got this flash of voices only. It was Tess and someone else talking about how she’d bring the royal 4 back to Antar for public execution, Max.” He turned to look at her for a minute with shock in his eyes before focusing on the road ahead of him again. “Tess was not born in the podchamber, Max. She was born on some kind of a ship or something. She looked to be 10 or so, and Nasedo was waiting for her. They talked about plans of some kind and whether you knew about them.” Liz paused. “He took her to the podchamber later and said, ‘Welcome to your birthplace, Tess’.”

“You’re sure that it wasn’t the same pochamber?”

“Trust me, Max. I will always know what the real podchamber looks like.” She’d been haunted by it for months…ever since she first heard the destiny message. “She looked at the pods and asked Nasedo what he did with the girl; what he did with the Queen. Nasedo told her that he erased all her memories and gave her to a family in town to raise as their own. God, she was so mad. She talked about how the girl was a threat because if Zan ever found her again, it would ruin their plans. Because you’d know the truth. That Tess was not your destiny. I think the original plan included Nasedo killing Asha so that there would be no possibility of you finding each other again, but he couldn’t. He can easily kill a helpless human but killing the former Queen of his people was another thing.” She tried to remember everything she wanted to say. “Oh! And I know why you don’t have any memories of Antar. Nasedo locked them away or something so the only way any could be retrieved would be with Tess. But she would manipulate them so that they worked for her. God, Max, you can remember everything about Antar, given the right circumstances.” She paused, not sure how to go on.

Max took her pause for the end of the story. “I will admit, Liz, that that does sound possible. I mean, it does sound like something Tess would do. But what makes you think you’re Asha? I mean, you remember everything about your life with your parents.”

“They deleted my memories, too, Max.” She knew that wasn’t enough to explain the truth to him. “The real way I know I’m Asha is because I felt Tess’ reaction the first time she saw me, Max. I told you that she saw you as a prize to be won or something, right? Well, with me, she saw me immediately as a threat, and not just because we were dating. She recognized me as Asha. I can still feel her thinking that you’d fallen in love with me on an entirely different planet. I can feel how determined she was to get you away from me. That’s why she was so happy that I fell apart when you were taken. That’s why she was so happy that I made you hurt with the whole Kyle thing. She saw it as ways I was moving away from you and leaving you to her.”

Max didn’t know what to say. He took a good look at Liz, and knew she was telling the truth. He immediately pulled to the side of the road.

“Max?” There were tears of relief in her eyes to have told him the truth.

He didn’t say a word. He got out of the Jeep and walked over to Liz’s door. He held out his hand and helped her out. And the next thing Liz knew, she was in his arms. He held her so tightly; she could feel how happy he was.

“Liz, I love you so much. It doesn’t matter to me that you’re Asha, I’d love you anyway. But knowing that we came to this planet together and even after we were separated, we found each other. God, this is incredible.”

“I know.”

He kissed her and her arms immediately went around his neck lifting herself up a little. Max pulled her closer and wrapped his arms around her waist.

“I love you, Max.” She smiled.

“I love you, too, Liz.” He whispered and twirled her around over and over again. “I just can’t believe that we were destined to be together. This is like having all of my dreams come true.”

“Mine, too.” Liz kissed him again. She wanted to say something about if Max ever wanted out, destiny wasn’t going to hold him to her, but she couldn’t. She and Max belonged together. They had for at least 2 lifetimes, and she wouldn’t give him up. She was going to be selfish for the first time in her life, and demand her future with Max.

A few minutes later, they got back in the Jeep and started towards Las Cruces again.

Max couldn’t believe it was true. Liz was Asha; she was his destiny. He needed to see those flashes from Tess for himself to really believe that he wasn’t just dreaming this. But no matter what, Liz was his forever. He was so glad she’d told him the truth about that. It made him feel stronger, like he could face whatever was going to happen in the future. He looked at her for a moment; she’d told him the entire truth. He owed her the same.

“Liz, I have to tell you something, too. And I’m not sure how you’re going to react to it, I mean, it might seem pretty low, and I don’t know if you’ll be able to look at me for a while, knowing what I did.”

“Max, just tell me. I’m sure it’s going to be fine.” She smiled. She couldn’t help but love it when he got shy and flustered.

“Well, you know the other night when we finally admitted the truth to each other, when you told me about Future Max and everything?”

Liz just nodded. She could feel that he needed to say whatever was on his mind to her.

“Well, I kind of already knew the truth.”

“What?” That didn’t make sense. He couldn’t have known before that email. He’d been so distant with her before that.

“The other day at school some of the guys were making fun of this chat room. They were talking about how ridiculous the people who went there were, and for some reason, I went to it.” He turned to her. He could do this. He could tell her the truth. Their relationship didn’t mean anything if they weren’t honest with one another. “I logged in, using this word that I used to think described me. Liz, I’m Outlander.” There he’d said it. Now he just had to wait for her reaction and pray that they still had a relationship.

Liz sat there quietly. Max was Outlander? The person who’d convinced her to tell him the truth?

Max could only sit in her silence for so long before he had to start talking, explaining himself. “I swear I didn’t know it was you until you mentioned me by name. And by that point, I couldn’t help it. I had to knw what was going on with you, Liz. You’d cut me out of your life. I couldn’t handle it. I had to know you were all right. I’m so sorry. It’s been tearing me up knowing that the only reason you agreed to even tell me the truth was because I bullied you into it—“

“Max, you didn’t bully me into telling you.”

“No, but someone you thought you could like trust, who didn’t know everything, did. You went to that chat room for noninvolved responses, and instead I—“

“Max, I went to that chat room to clear out my head. I’d wanted to tell you for so long. I just thought I had to lie to you.” She whispered. “God, telling you that I had slept with Kyle that night you got back from New York was the hardest thing I’d ever done. All I wanted to do was tell you the truth and forget everything about destiny or the future.” She blushed. “I wanted to have our night of Gomez—“

Max turned to her quickly at that. God, why did she have to say that? “Liz—“

“Let me finish? I’m glad you were in that chat room, Max. You gave me the courage to tell you. Looking back on it, you argued your own case for me to tell the truth, and I will not regret doing that. Look at what it’s got us. You’re my destiny, Max. No one can change that. We know what Tess is trying to do to us. We’re on our way to save Alex from God only knows what could happen. Maybe this is how it’s supposed to be. Maybe we’re supposed to go through this to save us all.”

“Liz, I am sorry.” He said seriously.

Liz took his hand. “It’s okay, Max. Just don’t do it again.” She grinned.

“I won’t.” He kissed her hand. “I promise.”

Liz smiled. “So I guess it’s almost like we hooked up in a chat room.” She crinkled her nose. “That’s a little too Maury Povich for me, Max.”

He laughed. “You can handle being an alien and fighting evil aliens, but chat room relationships freak you out?”

“I am a modern girl, you know.” She teased. She rested her head against his shoulder. “I might get used to it.”

2 hours later, Max parked the car on the campus of the university. Liz turned around in her seat and gently shook Isabel until she woke up.

“Where are we?” She whispered groggily.

“We’re here. At the university.”

“Already?”

“Yeah. Did you see Alex’s dreams?”

“It felt like I was only in them for a moment. Liz, he’s so scared.”

“Well, we’re here now, and we’re going to help him, Isabel. I promise.”

“I know, Liz. We have to.” She said so seriously. She needed Alex in her life; she had finally realized that, and she would not lose him. She just had to keep reminding herself of that.

“Do you know which dorm he was living in?” Max asked. “I mean, were either of your dreams or flashes specific in any way?”

Isabel spoke up. “If I can just look around and see something specific, I should be able to get us there.” She started walking away from the Jeep.

Max took Liz’s hand and they followed. They were all getting anxious and the closer they were to Alex, the more they wondered how they would help him.

Isabel stared at a building in the middle of the quad. “Okay. That’s the computer building Alex went to in my dream. That means that we need to go that way to find his dorm.” She started walking with determination.

They passed 3 identical looking dorms before Isabel stopped at the 4th. She stared at the door.

“This is it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive. He’s in room 127.”

Liz took her hand from Max’s and walked to the door. “Let’s go.”

They walked into the building, oblivious of the looks their way from the students in the hall. They stopped right outside Alex’s door. Whereas other doors in the hall were covered with message boards and posters and notes, Alex’s was completely bare. Isabel reached out and touched it slowly. She knew Alex was right behind that door, sleeping. All it would take is one knock and he would be safe.

Isabel looked nervously at Max and Liz. “I’m scared. What if something is wrong with him?”

“Than we take care of him. Knock, Is.” Max said, taking Liz’s hand in his again.

Isabel reached out and knocked.

A minute later the door opened to reveal a very groggy Alex in sweats and a t-shirt. He looked at her for a moment. Then he turned to look at his computer screen. Then he turned back to her. “Can I help you?” He asked slowly.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-May-2002 2:56:15 PM ]
posted on 1-May-2002 2:59:43 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Hi, all. *happy* First off, I really just want to thank you for reading my story here. *happy* Looking at all your feedback is just incredible and *happy* (but I think I've said that before..) Anyway, this was mostly just to expalin that I am a little dense and forgot to count correctly, so suddenly there are 12 parts instead of 11... *happy* (he he.. did you know that 4 only comes once?)

anyway, I absolutely loved last night's episode so more of this or Xan should be out soon. (hopefully! I really want to write and seeing as how I have a paper to procrastinate, now seems like the best time)

Thanks for reading and bumping and giving me wonderful ideas
jenn
posted on 6-May-2002 4:30:22 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: WEll, when I sat down to write this part, I honestly didn't anticipate writing this part. I had all these plans for it in my head, and this part came out and ruined all those plans. (oh, well) This part flowed and reminded me of back in my early days of reading fanfic when I was a total candygirl.... (how times have changed...) Anyway, I hope you enjoy this, and I hope this makes my stage hand's day a little better! *happy*
Jenn

~*~Part 13~*~


Meanwhile, back in Roswell,

Maria rushed around the café unable to sit down. There were no customers; she was just so nervous about her friends. God, she just wanted things to go back to how they were before Tess had ever shown up. She wanted them to be the team they used to be again. She looked at Michael through the window into the kitchen. She wanted what they used to have back.

She couldn’t help but wonder how much she’d messed up with him this time. She knew she’d promised Liz that she would just talk to him, make him listen, but this was her SpaceBoy they were talking about. He wasn’t known for listening. But then again, he had smiled at her this morning, one of those real smiles that she loved so much but rarely saw. Maybe that was a sign.

Michael came out from the kitchen and placed 2 plates on a table in the middle of the restaurant.

“Michael—“ She might as well start talking his head off now… maybe he’d listen by midnight.

“Breakfast?” He said at the same time. “Come on, I made your favorite.” He smiled again.

Maria looked at the plates and smiled. Scrambled eggs with cheese mixed in and hash browns, her favorite. She didn’t even know he knew her favorite breakfast foods. “Thanks.” She sat down and reached for the ketchup as Michael reached for the tobasco. When she couldn’t get the ketchup out, she wordlessly handed it to Michael and let him smother her hashbrowns with it. She smiled. “Thank you.”

Michael didn’t reply to that. He never knew how to reply to someone when they thanked him. It obviously wasn’t something he minded to do since he did it, so why should someone thank him for it?

Maria started eating, trying to work up the courage to speak to him. She sighed after the first few bites. “Michael, this is heavenly.”

“Thank you.”

“I guess working here has helped you with some things, huh?” She was desperate to start a conversation with him. She just needed to start talking so that she could stop thinking about it and just say what she needed to.

“Yeah, it’s been good for a couple things.” He smiled again.

Maria didn’t know what she was doing to earn all these smiles, but she vowed to keep doing it. “Michael, I need to apologize to you. All those things I said last night, you’ve got to know that I didn’t mean them.”

“Maria, you already apologized for that.”

“But I need to know that you accept that apology. I didn’t mean it, Michael. I just am so afraid to lose anyone again. I’ve never been good with loss. For an entire month after my father left us, I didn’t leave my mother’s side, at all. I mean, what if she left me too? And after that, Liz and Alex were my family too. I mean, they’re my best friends. And if I lose one of them—I don’t know that I could make it again. I mean, Liz went away for a summer and I nearly lost it. I turned to Max at that point because he was the closest thing to Liz. We went to a psychic once and I was terrified that she’d see the death of someone I love in my future. I can’t handle that. And then to hear that someone I thought I could trust, albeit because of their relationship to people I could trust, is manipulating my friend. I had to react to that somehow. And I’m sorry that you were in the way. I wasn’t yelling at you last night, Michael. I was screaming at Tess.”

“I know, Maria. I understand that. Well, I didn’t understand at that moment, but I thought about it, and I understand. I promise you won’t lose Alex. We won’t let that happen.” He didn’t know which we he was referring to. Max, Isabel, and Liz or him? “None of us will ever lose anyone again.” He paused. “But you’re wrong. You are so strong, Maria. You can survive anything.”

“No, Michael. I’m not. I pretend to be strong so no one can know how much it hurts inside. It hurts me to the bone every time I hear someone talk about me and my Mom like we’re trash. Or when Tess came trying to convince everyone that you didn’t belong with me just because we’re not exactly from the same galaxy. And when I thought you believed that too. But what hurts me most is knowing that I hurt you, Michael. I have a very simple philosophy in life. Don’t hurt the people you love. And look at what I did. I broke it without thinking.”

Michael looked over at her for a minute. “Hey, I’ve hurt you lots of times, Maria. Because I was scared, too. I’ve denied what we have for so long because I was afraid that I might lose you in the future. But we talked last night, Max, Isabel and I. And we decided something. No matter what the future brings, we’re a team. And Maria, I need you…on this team. Please—“

Maria was nearly crying. Who was making all these beautiful words come out of the mouth of her SpaceBoy? She had to thank him someday. She leaned over the table close to Michael. “I love you, SpaceBoy.”

“I love you, too, Maria.” He whispered.

She pulled away from him and looked at him with an all new joy in her eyes. “Okay. Who are you and what have you done with my Michael Guerin?”

“Ria—“

“The man I know and love would never speak to me like this. He would deny the truth that I know, that we belong together and instead chose to run from this, making me chase him halfway around Roswell.”

“Well, maybe I’m through running, Maria. Last night’s meeting showed me one thing. I have 5 people in this world I can trust. I’ve spent too long afraid of that. It’s time I learn to enjoy it.”

Maria stood up and walked to his side of the table. He pushed his chair back a little, preparing to stand too, when she straddled his lap. “I love you.” She kissed him.

Michael wrapped his arms around her with one hand finding its way into her hair. He smiled a little against her lips. “Geez, if I had only known that being honest would lead to this—“

Maria laughed. “What can I say, SpaceBoy? You’re a slow learner.”

“Not anymore.” He teased and kissed her again.

Maria rested her head against his shoulder. “Do you think they’re okay?”

“Yes.” He whispered.

They parted a few minutes later when people started coming into the café for breakfast and they actually had to start working. Michael couldn’t help but watch her as she worked, moving around the café with a happy bounce in her step, chatting with customers, throwing him quick smiles whenever she came to put in an order. He loved knowing that he had made her happy. He swore to himself that he would continue doing that. He was tired of hurting the people around him who he cared about. Michael Guerin had turned over a new leaf, no matter what anyone said.

At 8:30, Mr. Parker made his first appearance into the café. When either Maria or Liz were opening, he generally took some time for himself, knowing the café was in good hands.

“Hey, Mr. Parker,” Michael said as he cracked another egg onto the griddle.

“Hi, Michael.” He looked out through the window. “Lizzie isn’t out there, is she?”

“No. It’s just Maria till 9.”

“Oh.”

Maria walked into the back. “Hey, Mr. P. What’s up?”

“Nothing, Maria. Do you know where Liz is? She was already gone when Nancy and I woke up.”

Maria looked at Maria out of the corner of her eye. She was a bad liar when put under extreme parental pressure, he knew that.

“Wasn’t today the day she drove to Las Cruces to take an early ACT?” Michael asked. “I know that Max and Isabel were talking about it earlier this week.”

Mr. Parker looked at them. “Hmmm… she didn’t mention anything to me about it. But then again, I’ve barely seen her this week.”

Maria took up part of the lie. “She has been studying an awful lot. Something about needing to review her vocabulary because it wasn’t test worthy?”

He smiled. “That sounds like my Lizzie. Will she be gone all day?”

“Yeah. I’m taking her shift this afternoon because no one else would.”

“Thanks for helping her out, Maria.”

“No problem, Mr. P. I want my Lizzie to get into Harvard just as much as you.” She smiled. “Why don’t you take Mrs. P out for the day? Michael and I can handle it here and Agnes comes in at 9. We’ll be great.”

“Well, we were hoping for a trip to Hondo soon. We’re thinking of buying another car. One just doesn’t seem to work when you have a teenager.” He smiled.

“Awesome! Liz will be so excited.”

“Don’t say a word to Liz, Maria. This is a surprise.”

“Gotcha. Just go today. We’ll cover this place.”

“Thanks, Maria. It’s good to know my daughter has reliable friends.”

She smiled as he left the café to go back upstairs to his wife.

“That will keep the Parkers out of the way if something should happen,” Maria said. “I mean, maybe they’ll have to bring Alex here or something.” She whispered.

“He’s fine, Maria. He will be fine when he gets here.”

She nodded and grabbed some extra creamer for the coffee out of the fridge. She looked through the window into the dining room to see if anyone needed anything.

“Ohmygod.”

“What?” Michael didn’t look up from the griddle where he was making the perfect sunny-side-up egg.

“Tess just walked in with Kyle.”

Michael looked up immediately and watched them sit down in the gang’s normal booth.

“Michael, I can’t do this. I can’t go out there and talk to her like nothing’s wrong, like I don’t know that she’s an evil alien trying to hurt my friends.”

“Maria, you have to. Max, Isabel and Liz are going to save Alex. This is our part of the plan.”

“How are we going to keep her from knowing something’s going on?”

“Remember that quote, Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer?” He smiled a little. “Well, that’s what we’re going to do.”

“How?” Maria started to resign herself to a day spent with Tess.

“Well, I think the café is starting to get really busy, and Agnes isn’t coming.”

“What?”

“I called and told her not to. We’re going to appeal to Tess’ need to keep us all fooled.”

“So I have to work with her?”

“Maria, think about Alex. We need to keep her somewhat distracted so that she won’t start wondering what’s going on.”

She sighed. “All right. I can do this.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out the bottle of cedar oil.

“You can do this, Maria.”

“I can do this.” She repeated and walked out to the table. “Hey, guys.”

“Hi, Maria.” Kyle smiled.

“Hi.” Tess said, pretending to focus on the menu while really looking around the café.

“What can I get ya?”

“Isn’t there usually a little talk before that, Maria?” Kyle teased.

“Well, there would be, but I’ve been bailed upon. Agnes isn’t coming in so I have to handle this place all day, on a double shift, by myself.”

“Where’s Liz?” Tess tried to sound uninterested.

“Taking the ACT.”

“What?” Tess asked.

“Max, Isabel, and Liz had to go take the ACT today. Remember? Mr. Brandt was all gung-ho because he wanted the people with the highest GPAs to take it as early as possible. They left at like 6 this morning to get there on time.” Maria noticed the knife on the table. She had a brief violent moment of sticking it in her head and giving her a whole new definition of mindrape. “Anyway—“

Kyle interrupted Maria. “I don’t remember anything about the ACT.”

“Obviously, Kyle. Our GPAs are not that shining, you know?” She smiled. “So here I am all alone, with Michael, and I can’t even enjoy that.” She hoped she sounded natural.

“Sorry,” Tess said.

Maria kept her rolling eyes to herself. “So what can I get ya?” She took their orders, delivered their drinks and then headed into the back to give Michael the order. “Okay. I’ve done all I can. I cannot ask her to stay here. You’re gonna have to do it, Michael. I’m sorry.”

Michael kissed her forehead. “It’s okay, babe. You did what you could. I’ll be right back. Watch the food.”

“I can do that.” She smiled.

“No stabbing those eggs because you want to hurt Tess, got it? They are perfect.” He grinned.

“I promise.”

Michael walked out to the booth and pulled a chair up to the corner of it. “Hey, guys.”

“I thought you were busy, Michael.” Tess barely looked at him.

“Well, I need to ask a favor.” He said, wondering how he could have ever been fooled by her. Was his obsession to find his family so blinding that he couldn’t see the truth right in front of him? He looked back toward the window to Maria. He answered his own question with a resounding yes.

“From?” Kyle asked. “And will it involve us getting our breakfasts any quicker?”

“Tess and yes.” He paused. “Listen, Maria and I cannot handle this place all alone today. We’ve tried to call everyone in that works here and no one can come in earlier than 2. We need you to help us out, Tess. Please work here today.”

“Work? Here?” Tess shook her head. “No, no, no.”

Maria watched all this from the back. That little bitch was acting like it was beneath her to work here. At least when Isabel had, she had been nice about it. She consciously moved the fork away from the eggs and focused on the sausage instead.

“Tess, please. We could really use your help today.”

“Michael, I have never waited tables in my life and I don’t really plan to start today.”

“Tess—“

“You would be saving their asses, Tess. I mean, that’s what any good friend would do.” Kyle said slowly, thinking about what she would look like in that uniform. He’d always thought that Liz had looked fantastic in hers; he could only imagine what Tess would look like.

Tess turned to glare at him. He just wanted to see her in that damn skimpy uniform. “Kyle—I can’t. I have plans—“

“To help me clean out my room. I can do it on my own, I’m sure.”

“Tess, please?” Michael couldn’t believe he was practically begging her to help her so-called friends out.

She sighed. “Fine.”

“Thank you.” Michael stood up. “Just come on in the back; there’s an extra uniform back there.”

Tess grumbled as she stood up and followed. She could not believe she was going to be spending her entire Saturday working in a greasy diner, helping these imbeciles. She only hoped that this got back to Max… and that he appreciated her for it. Maybe he’d see that she was devoted to helping their friends… She smiled. Maybe she could turn this around into something wonderful. She almost laughed, thinking that maybe Max just had a fetish for the uniform.

Michael met Maria in the kitchen while Tess changed.

“Well?”

“She’s going to help.” He kept his eye on the door.

“Okay.” She whispered. “I can do this, right?”

“Yes.” He kissed her forehead again. “Now you ought to go work.”

Maria smiled. “I can do this.” It was her new mantra. She brought plates to table 5. “I can do this.” She refilled coffee to the old men at the counter. “I can do this.” She picked up a child’s toy from the floor for his mother. “I can do this.”

She looked up as the door swung open and Tess came out onto the floor in the uniform.

“I can’t do this.”

Tess walked over to her. “So what should I do?”

Deep breaths, Maria, deep breaths, she coached. “Okay. Why don’t you just take the orders and fill drinks, and I’ll take care of delivery?”

“Whatever.” She sounded bored by it.

Maria wanted to scream at her, but she controlled herself. She had to do this. She had to do what she could to keep Alex safe. And she would. “I can do this.” She whispered.

“What?” Tess turned to her.

“Nothing.” She walked to the drink machine to refill a drink for one of their usual customers. She just hoped her friends knew what she was doing for them. And more importantly, what she wasn’t doing to Tess. Her control issues would never be questioned again!

posted on 13-May-2002 2:51:16 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: I am so sorry that this took this long. Finals were last week, and for some reason, I decided to study. Did it help? I don't know...I'm afraid to check my grades... (he he he) silly me. Anyway, here we go! We're helping Alex here... I hope it's good. this part was really freaking me out. Thank you all for your feedback and friendly bumps. *happy* There will be more soon! I promise. In fact, I'm already writing.... *happy* love to all, jenn

~*~Part 14~*~


“Alex?” Isabel whispered.

He didn’t even respond to the name. He just looked so confused.

Isabel nearly started crying. He didn’t know himself? He didn’t know her? What had Tess done to him? How could she make it so that he didn’t even recognize his best friends?

“Alex?” Liz said quickly. She had drawn the same conclusions as Isabel.

“Why are you calling me that? My name is Ray.”

“No, your name is Alex. Alex Whitman.” Isabel said forcefully.

Max knew there was going to be a scene in a moment. Isabel couldn’t handle hearing this. “Listen, can we just come in? Maybe we can explain ourselves?”

“You want me to just welcome 3 people I don’t know into my room? How do I know you aren’t here to hurt me or something?”

Liz spoke quickly. “Alex, you have been my best friend since I knew the meaning of that word. I could never hurt you.”

“Look at those screens!” Isabel exclaimed. “One of them is a picture of me and the other has her! You think you just have random strangers’ pictures on your computer?”

Alex looked at them and faltered for a minute.

“Please just let us in.”

He backed away from the door and sat on the perfectly made bed. Max, Isabel, and Liz sat on the other across from him.

“So who exactly are you? And why do you say that you know me? You don’t even know my name.”

“That’s just it! We do know you. And we know your name; the problem is you don’t.”

“What? So you’re saying I have some kind of amnesia?”

Max answered before Isabel could get anything out of her mouth. “Something like that. But we think we can help you.”

“Dude, I don’t think so. I remember my life. I remember everything about who I am. I’m from Albuquerque. My parents still live there. I came to school here to study computers. My girlfriend Leanna is back home waiting for me. I could go on, if you’d like.”

Isabel tried to turn the pain she felt over Alex not recognizing her or remembering himself into anger at what had caused that. “No, your name is Alex Whitman. You are 17 years old and a junior at West Roswell High. Your best friends are Liz Parker and Maria DeLuca.” She pointed at the other 2 screens. “Them! You’re a musician. You love hanging out and making your friends laugh. You have to remember that.”

He just looked weirded out by that. “I do not have to remember anything.” He said coldly. “I think you have the wrong guy. And I do not have to sit here in my dorm room listening to you talk about my past and looking all hurt that I don’t remember it.” He started to stand.

Isabel stood up next to him and met his eyes. “That’s just it. You have to remember.” She tried to stop her tears but couldn’t. She reached into her back pocket and pulled out a picture. “Look at that! That is the 2 of us, Alex. Sitting at the CrashDown. Look, you can’t deny that that’s you.”

He stared at it for a moment. “I just don’t remember that. I’ve never seen that place in my life, and I think I would definitely remember going out there with you.” He looked at her. “I’m sorry that I don’t remember. You obviously care for this guy a lot, but I am not him—“

Liz turned to Max and whispered, “What are we going to do? How can we remind him of who he is?” She couldn’t handle watching him deny every truth in his life. She needed him to be the best friend she had always known.

“We have to distract him some way so that I can do a quick scan to see what Tess has done to him and fix him.”

Liz nodded. She stood up next to Alex and pushed Isabel down to talk to Max. “Listen, Alex,” she saw the look on his face, “Ray, whoever you think you are. Just explain to me why you have computers with a picture of me on it? If you’ve never seen me, where did you get that?” She heard Max explain the need for a distraction to Isabel.

“I don’t know. Where does anyone get their backgrounds? Internet? Those pictures could come programmed into the computer or something—“

“And then the models appear at your dorm room? I don’t think so.”

Alex looked exasperated by her, but he couldn’t deny the truth in her logic. “So who is the other girl? Why isn’t she here?”

“Her name is Maria. She’s working back at the CrashDown Café, which my parents own. She’s waiting for you to come home with us.” She smiled. “And if you don’t, you do not want to see what she will do to any of us.”

“Listen, I’m sorry. You’ve obviously lost a friend who looks like me, but he is not like me. I am not Alex; I don’t know—“

Isabel stood up and interrupted his little talk. “Screw this.” She leaned into Alex and kissed him, her arms wrapping themselves around his neck. At first he didn’t respond but then his arms came up around her, with one hand gliding into her hair.

Max immediately came up behind them and waved his hand over the back of Alex’s head. He closed his eyes and started searching to see whatever damages Tess had done, Liz held her breath as she watched. She was so nervous about what Max would find. What if it was permanent? She watched Max’s eyes twitch beneath their lids as she hoped he was fixing him. Max started to pale as he worked, and for some unknown reason, Liz went over to him and wrapped both her hands around his free hand. She just held on to him, hoping to give him some of her strength.

Minutes later, Alex pulled away from Isabel’s kiss and Max fell back on the bed.

“Max!” Liz sat down next to him, to check on him.

Alex looked at Isabel for a moment. “Isabel?” He whispered.

Isabel jumped into his arms, holding him tightly. “God, Alex, you’re all right.”

“What’s going on?” He whispered. “What’s wrong with Max?”

“You’re fine, baby. Everything’s fine,” Isabel whispered, stroking his hair over and over. She couldn’t stop the tears flowing down her face, and for the first time in her life, she didn’t want to. She moved closer to his ear, “I love you, Alex, so much. I can’t lose you.”

He smiled. “How could you ever lose me, Isabel?”

Liz gently shook Max’s face. He’d passed out and she was trying to revive him. “Max,” she whispered. “Come on, baby. Wake up.”

Alex looked at Max, lying on the bed. “Liz, what’s wrong with Max? What happened to him?”

“He passed out—after he healed you.”

“Healed me? Max healed me? Why would I need healing?”

Isabel wrapped her arm around his shoulder. “Alex, that’s a really long story and I really think we ought to just wait till Max wakes up to tell it. He’s the one who can really explain some of the more important stuff.”

Alex nodded. “Okay.” He looked back and forth between Liz and Isabel. “God, it’s good to see the 2 of you. It feels like it’s been forever since we’ve been together.”

Liz pulled herself away from Max to hug Alex. “You have no idea, Alex.”

Max woke up about 5 minutes later. He rubbed at his head for a second before trying to sit up. He almost immediately fell back. “Whoa—“

“Max, are you okay?” Liz moved close to him and helped him sit up.

“Yeah, I’m just kind of wiped. That really took a lot out of me.”

“Max, what was it?” Isabel asked. Her voice sounded so cold and emotionless, but she was holding onto Alex tightly.

“What was what? I need to know what’s going on, guys. I’m a little freaked out here. Why do I feel like all these cryptic words and sad looks are about me?”

Isabel led him to sit on the bed again and she sat beside him, holding his hand. Liz and Max sat across from them. They all looked at one another for a moment and then Liz started talking.

“I guess all of this starts with the fact that Max and I are back together.” She smiled.

“Finally! I still can’t understand whatever happened between you.”

“Well, now you don’t need to worry about it. That will never come between us again.” Liz squeezed Max’s hand and smiled. “Anyway, yesterday afternoon, we were going to get everyone together at the CrashDown to tell them that we were back together. Maria and Michael were arguing and Tess wound up falling into my lap. And when I gave her my hand to help her up, I got flashes.”

“From Tess? I thought you only got flashes during..um,…extremely happy experiences,” he stumbled over his words.

“Well, trust me, it wasn’t a happy experience to get flashes off Tess.” She paused and Max ran his hand up her back for support. “I saw a lot of different things in Tess’ head, but the most important one for you to know about was that I saw her hurting you.”

“What? Tess has never hurt me.”

“Not that you remember, Alex,” Isabel whispered.

“What did she do?”

“Do you remember how you got here?”

“Here?”

“We’re at the University in Las Cruces, Alex. You’ve been living here for weeks.”

“Las Cruces? What the hell am I doing here? And what about my parents? And school? What do they think I’m doing?”

“Everyone thinks you’re in Sweden on a foreign exchange trip. Tess sent you here to decode the destiny book.”

“Decode the book—“ He looked at them. “Using the supercomputer here? My God, how the hell did she do this to me? How could I not have known?”

Max took that question. “She did something to you, Alex. It’s hard to explain. She put some kind of a barrier into your memory so you wouldn’t remember your real past. She created some cover story of your past and gave you this assignment. I don’t really understand how she did it; I would never have even thought it was possible to do this to a person.”

“But she did…” Alex said quietly. “Why?”

“Why you?” Liz asked. “Because you’re the only one of us who would know how to do something like this.”

“Not why me; why in general. Why is she so anxious to translate the destiny book? What does she want to do with it? I thought she already knew your destiny.”

“Well, that’s part of the rest of the flashes. She’s not exactly Max’s destiny but she wants to be. And we have to make sure that never happens.” Isabel said looking over at Max and Liz.

“So I’ve been here, decoding some alien language on the supercomputer? For weeks?”

“Yes.” Max said.

“And Tess did something to me to make me do it?”

“Yes.” Liz said. She knew Alex was about to blow up and while it didn’t happen often, it was definitely not something pretty to see.

“God, what a bitch! I cannot believe that she would do something like this to me, a guy who’s done nothing but been nice to her from the very moment she showed up in our little town. I cannot believe she would just use me so easily. What if she had hurt me? What if she had done the wrong thing? I could be dead right now!” He started pacing. “Is that what she intended? Use me and then kill me?” He looked back and forth from Isabel to Liz to Max. Both girls were crying. He knew he had just spoken their biggest fear aloud, just by the look on their faces. He watched as Max hugged Liz, and then he followed suit, taking Isabel into his arms.

She whispered through her tears, “Please don’t say that, Alex. I can’t bear to hear it.”

“It won’t happen, Is. I won’t let it. It took me much too long to get it through your beautiful skull that we belong together for me to just give in to her now.” He ran his hand down her smooth hair. He looked over at Max to try to break the mood. “You know, Evans, I hate to say this but your destiny is a bitch.”

Max smiled.

Liz looked over at Alex and grinned. “You’d better be careful what you say about me, Whitman.”

Alex looked at her puzzled for a moment and was about to ask what she meant by that last sentence when one of his computers beeped. They all turned to look at it.

“What was that?” Isabel asked.

“I don’t know. An e-mail, maybe. I don’t know about you but I’m interested to see what kind of e-mails I’ve been getting lately.” He walked over to it slowly and touched the mouse. It came to a screen asking for a password.

Max, Isabel, and Liz all looked at one another. How were they going to figure out this password? Who knows what Tess could have set it as? Alex sat down in the chair and set his fingers on the keyboard. A second later, he started typing. The screen changed to a forming e-mail.

“Alex, how did you do that?” Max asked. “I thought you didn’t remember.”

“I don’t, actually. But I guess there might be something for sensory memory. I just let my fingers do what they would.”

“Change that password, okay? To something you do remember.” Liz suggested.

He smiled. “Now let’s see what kind of emails I’m getting.”

A second later, the screen filled with code that rapidly changed into text.

“Ray, your program has finished running. None of us can make sense of this code. Come on over asap and figure it out. ~Jake”

“Program?”

“I must have left the translator just running off the supercomputer. It must have finished.”

“So we have a translation?” Max asked.

“I guess so.”

“But why can’t the people there read it?” Isabel asked.

“I can’t imagine that I would have left an alien prophesy just out there with no protection. Maybe I set it up in another language or something. I don’t know. I just think we ought to get over there and check this out.” Alex suggested.

They started to leave the dorm room. Alex grabbed onto Liz’s arm as they walked out. “And don’t think I’ve forgotten that last comment of yours, Liz. I think there’s a lot more of this that I need to know.”

“More than you could imagine, Alex. And I promise we’ll talk about it later.”

“You’d better believe it.”

Liz hugged him again. “It’s so good to have you back, Alex. I love you, you know that.”

“I know. And I love you, too. Now I don’t understand how or why Isabel came to realize that she loves me, but I am not going to miss out on it.”

“No, you’re not.” Liz smiled.


Meanwhile, back at the CrashDown…

“Welcome to the CrashDown. I’m Tess; can I take your order?” She said in the most monotone voice she could manage. She’d been taking orders at this place for 2 hours and she was ready to scream. She knew she’d always been right; humans were a subspecies. Just look at the way they behaved in a restaurant.

A tall, balding man sitting beside a small little girl spoke for the entire family. “I need 2 waters and 2 milks. And can we just get the SpaceFries with cheese appetizer please for now?”

“Of course.”

The little wifey decided to speak. “Oh, and extra napkins. You know how messy children can be.”

“Coming right up.” Tess smiled fakely and walked away.

She turned the order in to Michael and then went to get the drinks. Maria was standing against the bar, chatting with several customers.

Walking past her, Tess couldn’t help herself from muttering. “I love that I work while she socializes.”

Maria laughed even harder at that than at the joke the customer was telling her. She watched Tess as she walked over to the Walker’s table. She knew that family well. The parents were in complete denial over how evil their children were. And that little boy sitting on the outside of the booth had a mean right-handed toss. She couldn’t help watching, waiting to see what would happen.

“Here you go.” She placed the drinks in front of the right people. “Maria will be over with your fries as soon as they’re ready.” She promised.

The little boy on the edge of the table started yelling. “I want my fries now!”

The mother smiled, as if this happened all the time. “They’ll be here as soon as the girl can get them, sweetie.”

“I want them now!”

“Jonathan, they’ll be here when they’re ready.” The father said.

“Now!” He waved his arms around, running right into the full cup of milk on the table. It flew off the table and directly onto Tess.

Maria had to run into the backroom to hold in her laughter at the sight of Tess covered in milk, all up and down her uniform. Finally the bitch was getting what she deserved, maybe this day wouldn’t be so bad after all.

posted on 25-May-2002 12:27:46 AM by Transparent Clear
An: Well, there's usually a cutesy little AN right here w/ me apologizing for the lameness in my delay. Unfortunately tonight I have to go to bed,... since I promised someone I would. *happy* Look for more soon(er than this came I promise!) Jenn

P.s. Thank you all for all your feedback and this is totally dedicated to my favorite Pennsylvanian.... g'night.


Part 15


Max and Liz led Isabel and Alex to the computer building and prayed that Alex would be able to get through whatever security they had going on here. But as it should be in any place that should be guarded, there was no security around the rooms containing the supercomputer and its access terminals. Isabel led them to one set off kind of separately.

“This is where I saw you working.”

“You saw me here?” He turned to look at her. Was she getting flashes from people now too?

She nodded. “I was dream-walking you. That’s how I found out all this stuff, even before I found out about Tess. I was just hoping you hadn’t found anyone new while you were in Sweden.” She smiled shyly.

“Never, Is,” he squeezed her hand. He sat down on the chair in front of the computer. “Let’s see if I can’t figure this out.”

They watched as his hands just flew across the keyboard, changing the screen with every touch. First there were just lines and dashes and then code and then the language from the destiny book until finally it changed into English. Liz moved closer to the screen, determined to read it before it changed again. She leaned over and held onto the table. She gasped as she was hit with another flash.

“Why haven’t you decoded this book yet? I’ve been gone 2 weeks. Answer me, Ray!”

“It takes time, Dr. Ulrich. Even the computer needs time to work through it.”

“Time is one thing we do not have, Ray. I need this translation, and I need it now.”

“You’re going to have to wait. I’m sorry, but it’s not ready yet.”

“Are you sure you’re doing everything you can to get this book decoded as quickly as possible, Ray?”

“I’ve barely been out of this center for 2 weeks, Dr. Ulrich. I haven’t done anything but work on this. It’s just going to take time.”

She sighed. “I will be back. And you had better have better news for me then.”



“Liz, are you okay?” Max was next to her, trying to pull her into his arms.

“Tess was here.”

The 4 of them were completely silent as that news sunk into them. They jumped when a tall man with a long blonde ponytail walked into the room.

“Ray, you know you aren’t supposed to have people in here. This place contains a lot of very sensitive information.”

“I know,” Alex said quietly. “I just needed their help on this last part of the decoding.”

“So you finally got through Dr. Ulrich’s book, did you?” He walked over. Liz tried to hide the screen as Alex jumped up to meet the man.

“Yeah, but as it turns out, it was just a big joke. What she thought was the most important book in the world wound up to be a fairy tale.” He smiled amiably.

The man laughed. “A fairy tale? God, she will be so pissed!”

“Who’s Dr. Ulrich?” Isabel asked.

“Dr. Ulrich teaches at UNLV. She was using the supercomputer here because she wanted our help translating a book she says she found on an archeological dig in Peru or something. I don’t know; I didn’t really pay attention to her. There was just something about her voice that made me want to not pay attention, I guess. She has been calling here every day for a month, making sure we were making progress with the book. I kept telling her she’d make more progress if she’d just let all of us work on it, but she kept insisting that Ray here was the only one to touch it.”

“What did she look like?”

“A total knock out. I mean, she barely looked old enough for college, let alone being a professor. But you know, weirder things have happened.” The man grinned. He kept staring back and forth between Liz and Isabel.

“Where did she think the book was from?” Max asked, not enjoying where this man was paying his attention.

He laughed. “An expedition in Peru but I always got the impression that she thought the book had extra-terrestrial components to it. I mean, she’s a professor of astronomy and she’s never hidden her belief that there are aliens on other planets.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, about 3 years ago, I read her dissertation. She made a good argument for the possibility of life on other planets.” He shook his head. “That’s why she’s teaching at UNLV and not Harvard.” He looked at the 4 kids again. “Listen, you aren’t supposed to be here, but because I’m happy that Ray here has finally found some friends, I’m not going to say a word. Just be careful, please.”

“We will.”

They watched the man walk out of the room before any one spoke.

“So Tess is impersonating this professor from UNLV to get access to the supercomputer,” Max said.

“Figure she would go about ruining yet another innocent person’s reputation,” Isabel shrugged. “What does the translation say?”

“Let’s just get this on disk, delete the files, and get out of here, okay?” Alex suggested. “I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, and I don’t think any of us want to read this here.”

“Good idea, Alex.”

“Besides, I’d really like to go home soon. I kind of miss everything about Roswell right now.”

They worked together quickly, putting the translation on 2 different disks, just in case. Then Alex went to work and wiped the computer of anything relating to aliens or Ray. Then they all went back to the dorm room and packed up everything, including the computers. They didn’t know what was on them and they wanted to find out anything Tess was up to.

They loaded everything into the jeep and headed back to Roswell.

“Alex,” Max spoke up as they got on the interstate, “you aren’t going to be able to go home or around town for the time being. I know this is going to suck, but we can’t risk Tess seeing you.”

Alex nodded. “I understand. I’ll get to see Maria, though, right?” He could only imagine how she was freaking out right now.

“Absolutely. I wouldn’t be surprised if she were waiting for us once we get there,” Liz laughed. “I swear the minute she found out what Tess did—“

“What did Tess exactly do? I mean, I know what she did to me, but there’s something else that you’re not telling me.”

Liz smiled and looked at Max and Isabel as if to say ‘This is my story’. “Well, Alex, you’re right. There is something very important that we haven’t told you yet. And I personally love it.”

“Tess is an evil manipulative bitch and you’re really Max’s destiny?” He laughed for a second before he realized no one else was laughing.

“You guessed!” Liz pretended to pout.

He looked at them for a minute. “I was right?”

“Yup.”

“But that doesn’t make sense. See, wouldn’t your destiny have to come from another planet, Max? Liz is human. And Tess was sent here with you. I mean, that’s not exactly setting her up to be enemy number one when she is one of you.”

“She is nothing like us,” Isabel said. “Alex, there’s so much you don’t know.”

He looked at them as if to say, ‘Then tell me!’

Liz started. “Well, we told you I got flashes from Tess and that’s what led us to finding you. But there were more flashes, too, that she definitely didn’t want me to see and she doesn’t know I saw them.” Max reached out and took her hand for support as he drove. “The first flash I got was of the destiny message from the podchamber last year. Except it was different. The destiny it spoke of was not of Tess and Max; it was Zan and Asha. And the purpose wasn’t to get them to find a way back to the home planet; it was to find a way to get rid of their enemies who had followed them so that all their people could be reunited here, on Earth.”

“But you said you heard that they were destined to find a way home? And that Max was destined to be with Tess…”

“I repeated what Tess wanted us to hear, Alex. She manipulated that message to what would get her a trip back to the home planet where her brother was waiting for her.”

“Brother?”

“Khivar. I got a flash of the 2 of them talking, I think. I don’t really understand it, but he asked if the plan would be carried out. She said the mission would go as they had planned.” She realized Isabel hadn’t heard this part yet.

“The Mission?” Isabel asked.

“To bring the Royal family home for public execution.” Liz said without thinking. “They needed to kill you to show the people of Antar that they were in control now. And then they would rule.” Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Alex automatically comforting Isabel.

Liz continued. “You know the story of how Max, Is, and Michael were born. They were in the cave and emerged from their pods. I saw Tess being born, but she wasn’t emerging from a pod in the cave. The pod she came from was different. It was in something like a hospital room, sterile, clean. And Nasedo was there, waiting for her. Like he was supposed to be for you,” she looked at Isabel. “Tess asked if the plans were in motion and if you knew what was going on. Nasedo took Tess to the podchamber after that. He called it her birthplace, and she looked down on it, talking of how it wasn’t fit for Royalty. And then Tess asked Nasedo what she had done with the girl, with the young Queen. And it was odd. I’ve never seen Nasedo look or act so human. He hated the way she spoke of the Queen back on Antar and the queen here on earth. Nasedo told Tess that he’d erased her memories and took her to a local home. Tess was upset because that wasn’t the plan. He was supposed to kill Asha, but he couldn’t. And Tess got very mad saying that if Zan recognized her, they could fall in love all over again and that would ruin everything.” Max smiled as he watched her tell the story. “And I guess she was right there.”

“So the Parkers aren’t your real parents? You have memories of everything, though.”

“I know. Nasedo created them for all of us involved. I don’t understand what he did, but he made it so that they remembered me from day one not from when I really came to be with them when I was 6.” Liz looked to see if he had any other questions. “The next flash I clearly got was the day Tess came to Roswell High for the first time. I saw and felt her reactions as she saw all of us for the first time, Alex. First, it was Isabel. She wondered if you’d be as easy to manipulate as Vilandra had been. She didn’t understand why you were happy talking to Alex, a human. Then she saw Michael and recognized his loyalty to Max. She began plotting on how to use that against him. Then she saw Max and he was with me, and she began thinking how easy it would be to separate us with words like destiny and alien. She started thinking her mission would be easy and that she’d be back on Antar in no time at all.” She smiled. “But then she saw me and recognized me not as Liz but as Asha. And she hated it. And she started to become desperate to separate us. No matter what, she was going to succeed at her mission.”

Max smiled. “She just didn’t recognize that the mission would fail compared to my destiny.”

Liz laid her head on his shoulder and looked back at Isabel and Alex. “The next few flashes were mostly just emotion. Like she loved that I broke down when Max was in the white room; she thought it made her seem stronger. She just couldn’t understand what it was like to lose someone you loved more than yourself. And I saw her change the destiny message and warp us all into hearing what she wanted. She loved it when I walked away, thinking I had to give in to destiny. And she hated it when Max wouldn’t leave me alone when I came back from Florida. And when I tried to get her and Max together during the whole future Max fiasco, she loved it. She thought I was finally giving up. It was right after she thought I’d finally betrayed Max so much he could never forgive me that she started hurting you, Alex. She started planning your trip to Las Cruces then. She sent you when she and Max left for New York for the summit, and she thought she was succeeding, until I projected myself with Isabel’s help to save Max from Lonnie and Rath. She thought you were beginning to accept your alienness at that point, but she was wrong. And she started plotting again to see what she could do to get Max away from me again.” Liz said.

“Future Max?” Alex looked at them.

Isabel smiled. “I’ll explain.”

“Thanks, Isabel.” Liz leaned her head on Max shoulder again and kept it there. He kind of rested his chin on top of hers for a few moments as he drove.

“I love you, Liz,” he whispered.

“I love you, too, Max. We won’t let her win.”

“Never.”

A few minutes later, Alex had another question. “What about Ava, the dupe? I mean, we all saw her and she looked exactly like Tess. Was she evil too?”

Liz didn’t know what to say. She had no idea about Ava. “I don’t know. In all the time I spent with Ava, she never felt evil. I liked her. But I don’t know how she came out of the pod in New York when it was supposed to be me.”

“Well, Nasedo was our protector. What if he somehow got to the pods in New York, too?” Isabel suggested. “I don’t know what the technology was like, but what if he just manipulated her genetic makeup or something so that she looks like Tess.”

“Why didn’t they do that to me?” Liz asked. “Why did they have to replace me?”

“Well, maybe with Tess, they needed her to remember everything. From the home planet, I mean. What if it was important for her to remember and since they obviously can’t insure that with the pods they had to send her down like they did.”

“The dupes remember more than we do, and they were in the pods.”

“But you’re the royals,” Alex pointed out. “Maybe the results of the pods aren’t guaranteed.”

“You know, Ava told me that the others sometimes treated her different because there had been something wrong with her pod. Something had happened when they were put in the New York sewers. She said that her pod had been cracked and was dripping before she’d been born. Maybe Nasedo cracked her pod to change her appearance.” Liz paused. “Or maybe I’m really supposed to look like that and they changed my appearance so I’d at least look a little like my parents.”

Alex burst out laughing.

“What is so funny, Alex?”

“I was just trying to imagine being best friends with a girl who looked like Tess.” He smiled. “You definitely got the better end of the deal there, babe.”

Liz smiled.

“I have to agree,” Max smiled.

“How much longer till Roswell?”

“A couple hours,” Max said. “Why don’t the 2 of you in the back get some rest. You know Maria is not going to stop until she is completely satisfied when we get home.”

“Good point.” Alex was just happy to have a reason to wrap his arm around Isabel and they cuddled closer to fall asleep.

Max looked at Liz. “You ought to get some sleep, too. You were up late last night.”

“We all were, Max. I’d rather just stay up and keep you company.” She grinned.

“I can’t argue with that.” He smiled.



Meanwhile, back at the Crashdown…

“When does this shift end?” Tess gave Michael an order and leaned against the wall just looking at all the customers in the café.

“As soon as someone else comes in.”

“And when will that be?” She asked tartly.

“Just until 2,” Michael reminded her. “You know, Maria will have a hard time admitting that she couldn’t handle all this by herself but I want to thank you, Tess. You’ve really helped us out today.” He smiled, realizing that he had somewhere along the line learned how to lie and be fake very well. Thank you, Tess, for being a lying manipulative bitch who doesn’t deserve to even look at Maria let alone be around someone as good as she is.

Tess sighed. “Yeah, well, you know, we are all in this together. If we can work together now, we can definitely work to bring down those who’d try to hurt us.” She smiled fakely.

“Exactly.” He nodded. “That’s why I asked you to help us out today.” He looked across the diner and saw Maria mopping something over by table 4.

A few minutes later Maria walked over to them. “Tess, your customers on table 4 need something.”

“You couldn’t help them?” She asked.

“And deny you the pleasure of working, never.” She said with a smile on her face.

Tess pushed herself off the wall. “Fine! I have to do everything.” She huffed over towards the table.

“Maria—“ Michael figured out what she was up to.

“Shh, Michael, let me enjoy this.” She kept her eyes focused on Tess, just waiting for her to reach table 4.

Maria couldn’t help the smile that lit up her face when she saw Tess step onto the spot she had just mopped. She watched with baited breath as her leg flew up and she landed on the floor. Maria felt a little more vindicated.

She turned to Michael. “Yes?”

“Remind me to never turn into an evil alien manipulator, okay?” He smiled.

“Absolutely, SpaceBoy. Can I have my orders? The kids at table 17 are getting kind of restless.”

posted on 7-Jun-2002 11:43:21 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Ok... I know that it has been forever since I posted and I am sooo sorry... But I have most of the next part written adn stuff... and for the first time I have the next couple parts all thought out... (yay me! organization) Anyway, so here I was thinking I would have all day and all night to write and post the new part... and then! life struck me and I spent 3 hours at a school I'm not even enrolled in this semester and then whoa! my entire family is in my living room...and my sister's insisting I go out for Japanese food with her. and now when I would normally write and post, my parents are snoring at me from my bed just about 2 inches from me.... in my bed!!! with my pillows!!! and my fluffy sheets! ::sigh::

So I promise there will be a new part tomorrow.. come hell, high water, intrusive parents, or sisters who make me try on yellow brides maid's dresses... (oh god, I look bad in yellow)

Thank you all for the feedback adn the bumps and *happy* I truly appreciate it.
Talk to you all tomorrow!
Jenn

posted on 10-Jun-2002 12:31:43 AM by Transparent Clear
AN: Finally! I am so sorry, but if you'll notice on the previous AN it doesn't mention killer migraines, and let me say that is what killed me yesterday. (first time in a long time that I a) turned down an Outback margarita and b) went to bed at 8:30 p.m.) Anyway, here's the new part. Thank you all for holding on for this story and leaving such incredible feedback. *happy* Love ya! Jenn

P.S. David, consider this part of your graduation present?



~*~Part 16~*~


Max drove the Jeep back into Roswell at 5 o’clock that afternoon. He carefully drove through town with all of them keeping an eye out in case Tess were to see them before they reached Michael’s apartment. They’d called Maria at about 3 when they were halfway back to Roswell and knew that she should be at home with Kyle, but they were still nervous that she might find out that they had Alex.

“Do you think Tess can feel that she’s no longer manipulating Alex?” Isabel asked.

“I don’t know. I think we’d be foolish to think that the only time she kept in touch with him was when she called. She had to have kept checking on him to make sure he didn’t break out of the mindwarps.” Liz said as Max parked behind Michael’s apartment building.

“But Alex did break out of the mindwarps.” Isabel said.

“What?”

“I’ll show you inside. I saw it when I dreamwalked him. He broke free of her control every once in a while.”

They walked into Michael’s building and Max led them into Michael’s apartment with a wave of his hand. Once they were all in, he relocked the door the same way with a little added alien strength for security.

Isabel picked up Alex’s backpack and pulled out the notebook she’d seen him writing in when she’d dreamwalked him. “I saw Alex writing in this notebook while he sat at the computer. But it was like he knew he was writing it to me, and when we got there, he had no clue who we were.” She flipped through the pages and pages of notes to her to the last one. She recognized it word for word. “He wrote this last night while I dreamwalked him.”

“This means that you weren’t dream-walking him, Is. You saw his real life.”

“But I dream-walked him at midnight and I saw some guy asking him out to lunch.”

“Maybe I was just dreaming about my day?” Alex suggested.

Isabel just shrugged. “I don’t know. I won’t pretend to completely understand everything about dream-walking and what it might mean. All I do know is that this journal is proof that Alex did break out of the mindwarps occasionally. He had moments of clarity where he knew who he was.”

“And Tess had to realize that. She had to have known when he broke free and she’d re-mindwarp him to do what she wanted which means that she could realize at any minute that Alex isn’t doing what she wanted and know what was going on. Even if she didn’t know where he was, she’d still try to re-mindwarp him,”

“So at any moment I could just suddenly be on a quest to translate the destiny book?”

“I don’t think so,” Max said. “When I healed you, it was like there was a connection that I severed. I think it was the connection she had with you.”

“Then won’t she feel that the connection has been severed?” Isabel asked.

“What if she’s already felt it? What if she’s already tried to connect with Alex again to make sure he’s doing what she wants? What—“

“Listen, we can’t think like that, okay? I mean, I know how tempting it is to try to second guess everything but we have to focus on what we know, not what we think,” Max said firmly.

“Let’s get Maria and Michael over here. We can see if they noticed anything about Tess today; Maria said she’d spent the entire morning with her,” Liz said. “And I’m sure that Maria will kill us if we don’t let her see Alex soon.” She smiled.

“And once they’re all here, we can figure this out. We can make plans or something,” Alex said confidently.

Liz pulled out her cell phone and called Maria’s.

Isabel hugged Alex. “We’re going to be okay, Alex. We won’t let us be anything else.”

“I know, Isabel.” He whispered just loving the feel of her holding on to him.

She took a deep breath and moved them to sit on the couch. “I need to apologize to you, Alex. I’ve been so horrible to you this year, and I took complete advantage of you. I knew you’d always be there for me, and just knowing that allowed me to take you being there for granted, even during that stupid Grant thing. It took you not being there for me to realize that I can’t lose you, Alex. I don’t want to lose you. I love you.”

“I love you, too,” He squeezed her hand and pulled her into another hug. “I guess this isn’t the best time to ask you to Prom—“

“Yes.” She smiled. “But let’s start with a movie first? Maybe Star Wars at my house?”

Alex smiled. “It’s definitely good to be home.”

Liz hung up the phone. “Maria should be here any moment. She and Michael were just driving around waiting for our call.”

Isabel grinned. “You might want to brace yourself, Alex. You know how excited Maria can get.”

“I can’t wait.” He smiled. “It feels like I’ve been away forever.”

“It’s only been a couple weeks,” Max whispered. “I can’t believe we didn’t notice what she was doing. God, Alex, I’m sorry. You could have died or something all because we were too busy giving Tess the better of the doubt. I just can’t believe she would do something like that—” His voice was so filled with guilt.

“Max—” Alex started to stand up to walk over to him, but Liz beat him to it.

“Max, you cannot start blaming yourself. You couldn’t have known that Tess would do anything so evil. All you knew was that she was from your home planet and she had answers to questions that you’ve been asking yourselves your whole life. You can’t be blamed for wanting to believe in someone who you thought was just like you.”

“God, I don’t want to be anything like her—” Isabel shuddered.

“And you’re not,” Alex said. “Max, Isabel, you and Michael are nothing like Tess. And neither are you, Liz. She is evil, and now that we know it, we can take care of ourselves. She lied to all of us and we all believed her. Look at what Liz did because she believed in what Tess said. She tried to give you up, Max, all because Tess changed the truth of your destinies! Tess tried to separate this group in ways that none of us could ever fathom because we would never think to question it. But look at us. We’re stronger than ever. She can’t beat us.” He said firmly. He sounded truly confident for maybe the first time in his life. He looked Max in the eye. “And hey, look at the good that’s come out of this. You and Liz are back together, and for the first time, I’m seeing some definite possible action.” He tried to lighten the mood and then wrapped his arm around Isabel’s shoulders.

“So that’s what I am now, huh? Action?” Isabel laughed as she teasingly pushed him away from her as the door opened.

Maria came barreling into the room. “Alex!” She exclaimed and threw her arms around him so tightly he had a hard time breathing.

Michael followed her a minute later, nodding at Max. “Good lock. It took some power to break it.” He shut the door again and waited a moment as he double locked it again.

“Oh, Alex, I am so sorry that I didn’t realize Tess was being an evil alien bitch with you. I would have done something—I mean, I don’t have powers but I can make that bitch regret ever touching my friends! And did you hear what she and her little father figure did to Liz and Max? She tried to separate the 2 of them, not caring how they felt. And let’s not even mention the way she treated Max and her fragrant misuse of the word destiny. But don’t worry! I spent the day getting even with her in the Crashdown. She fell twice and got 4 different types of drinks thrown at her. The last time I saw her she was cleaning an Alien Blast out of her hair, and we all know that that takes several shampoos; I don’t care what kind of alien powers you have. And I took all her tips. Bitch didn’t deserve them!” Maria rambled.

Alex smiled and loosened Maria’s arms. “I’m okay, Maria. I promise. Max fixed me up just as good as he did Liz—“

“Did they tell you what that bitch was planning on taking Max, Isabel, and Michael back to Antar?”

“Yes, and I know we will not let her win.”

“Damn right!” Maria hugged him tightly again. “I’m so glad you’re all right, Alex. I can’t imagine losing you.”

“You’ll never lose me, Ria. I promise.” He squeezed her one last time and then let her go.

“Whoa,” Liz finally caught a few words from Maria’s soliloquy. “Did I hear you say that she was working at the CrashDown today?”

“Well, it was the only way we could think to keep her from wondering where you guys were too badly. Coincidentally, you were all taking the ACT today.” Michael explained. “And besides, it gave Maria something to torture Tess with. Every bad customer went to her.”

Maria smiled. “She deserved it. She messed with my family.”

“She’ll get what she deserves, Maria,” Max said.

“She’d better.” Maria said slowly. “But now that you’re home and I can see with my own two eyes that you’re okay, did you figure anything out while you were in Las Cruces decoding that damn book? Does it tell us how to get rid of evil alien bitches?” The hostility she felt toward Tess was plain in Maria’s voice, and Michael thought that maybe it was a good idea to stay on Maria’s good side…let her win some fights, maybe take her out once in a while. He decided to actually remember that for a change.

“We haven’t looked yet,” Max admitted. “I kind of thought it was something we should all be together to look at. I feel like it’s going to cause a lot of changes among us.”

“But they’ll be for the better, Max. I know that,” Liz said confidently. “We’re going to find out why we’re here. And what we can do to accomplish whatever goals we were sent with.” Without thinking, Liz had included herself in the group of aliens. She smiled when she realized that.

Max caught that, too, and smiled as he took a long glance at her. He moved closer to her and whispered, “I know why I’m here, Liz.”

She turned pink as she read his meaning. “I love you,” she whispered.

“I love you, too.” He kissed her.

As usual, Maria interrupted. “So will we be checking out whatever Alex decoded tonight?”

“Well, we’ll need a computer. I’m a little worried about using one of the ones that I had in Las Cruces, in case Tess was smart enough to get me to put a tracker into it. Liz, do you think there’s any way that you can go get my laptop from my house? My parents would let you borrow it with no questions asked.”

“I’ll go now.” She nodded. “I’ll be back in half an hour.”

Maria tossed her keys to her. “Take the Jetta and be back in 15.” She smiled.

Max walked Liz to the door and kissed her again. “Be careful, okay? You never can tell what might happen.” He unlocked the door.

“I’m careful. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” She smiled and walked out of the apartment.

Maria hugged Alex again. “I have missed you so much, Alex—“

Michael, Max, and Isabel moved over to the corner. “There’s something you need to know, Michael, that Liz didn’t tell us before. And I know that some of it might be weird but—“

Maria looked over at them. “Whoa, what are you 3 talking about? No more secrets, remember. We all work together.” She stared at them pointedly.

They were completely silent for a minute, and then Max moved back to the chair. “Okay. There’s some stuff that Liz didn’t tell us this morning that I think you all should know. Alex, you already know this, but Michael and Maria, some of it might sound kind of shocking.” He took a deep breath. “First of all, you two need to know that I have found my alien destiny—“

Maria interrupted before Max could finish that sentence. “Max, I thought you were all about the whole ‘no destiny but what you make’ lifestyle! You finally have Liz! And now you’re talking about your alien destiny! I cannot believe—“

Michael caught the look in Max’s eyes and wrapped his arm around Maria. “Maria, let’s just listen to what Max has to say.”

“Michael—“ she started to protest but saw the look in his eyes. “Max, this had better be good.”

“It is. Liz is Asha. She’s the real fourth alien that was sent with us. Nasedo made it look like she was human and implanted memories into her family that would make them remember everything about her life, even though she really came to be with them only when she was 6, right before she met you, Maria.” Max watched her reaction.

They were expecting her to blow up at the news, but her reaction was as calm as could be. “So Liz is an alien?” Maria said quietly.

“Yes.”

“And Nasedo took away all her memories of who she was and who she was supposed to be with?”

“Yes.”

“But she found you anyway, Max…Or you found her, I suppose, but either way, everything turned out as it’s supposed to be?”

“Yes.” Max was amazed at how calmly she took all this news. He’d expected her to start freaking out when she found out her best friend was an alien. She just sat there quietly taking it all in.

Michael took a quick look at his girlfriend, as amazed as anyone at how calmly she was taking all this. He’d been expecting fireworks. “I’m guessing that there was something else you need to tell us other than that the love of your life is your alien destiny,” Michael said. “What else?”

“Liz told me what Tess’ original plan was, still is. The reason she wants to get the 3 of us and take us back to Antar is for a very public execution that will signal that she and Khivar are the rightful keepers of the throne.” Max said, wondering what the reaction would be to that.

Michael sat there for a second in complete silence. For the first time, everything he was feeling was showing on Michael’s face as he tried to process what he had just heard. Someone planned to try to take him away from everything he had ever known and everyone he had ever cared about so that they could use his death to prove a political point to a world that didn’t even know who he really was? For the first time, Michael really looked at what this all meant. He knew he was an alien, and ever since he had been “born” he’d been looking for a way home, to the people he was like, to the society he belonged in. And now he found out that this society wanted to kill him? He looked at Maria who was sitting 2 feet away from him, and he felt like something inside him had changed. He reached over and took her hand.

Maria unconsciously squeezed his hand as hard as she could. Tess and Nasedo and Khivar wanted to take away Michael and Isabel and Max? To kill them to make a point to a planet full of people who didn’t even know who they were and what their deaths would really mean to the people who loved them? She looked at Michael. What would she do if Michael were dead? She’d already told him earlier that she couldn’t lose someone she loved. She wouldn’t survive it. And now she found out that that was exactly what Tess and Nasedo had been planning from Day One. And what if Liz were included in that little party now? Oh my God, no, she couldn’t lose Liz, too. She was her best friend. She needed her.

Maria jumped up. “No! We will not let that happen! I will not lose you guys to them… and what if they take Liz too? We can’t let this happen!”

Michael wrapped his arms around her to calm her down. “We won’t let it, Maria. Now that we know what Tess wants to do, we won’t let that happen. I promised you, remember? I won’t break my promise.” He kissed her forehead.

Maria nodded. “I know.” She turned to look at Max, Isabel and Alex. “We cannot let Tess get away with this, guys. She will not ruin everything I hold dear in life. I can’t let her. We can’t let her. She’s stolen too much from us already. She made Max and Liz lose all these years when they were apart because they didn’t know who they were. And then she came to this town and ruined the relationship we all shared, just because she had all these goals that included killing you. And look at what she’s done now. She mind-raped Alex into doing things that had she asked, he probably would have done in an effort to help all of you. And then she separated Max and Liz again, possibly forever, because she had to force your fake destiny with a story of the future—“

“Maria, we don’t know that Tess was involved in the future Max visit. It is possible that there really was a future—“

Maria sighed, “Please. That trick smells of Tess! She had to know that Liz would put you and your future ahead of anything she felt, because that’s what real love is.” She started muttering to herself, “Not that that evil alien bitch has a clue what love is! She’s too alien to ever understand what love is!”

Isabel turned to Max. “Do you think she’s right, Max? Could this whole future you thing have been an a mindwarp from Tess?”

Max didn’t know what to say. “I—I don’t know, Isabel. I mean, it is possible, but... I can’t—I don’t want to think about that.”

“How would we ever find out if it were a mindwarp?” Alex asked.

“I don’t know,” Max said honestly.

“Well, the last time Liz touched Tess, she got those flashes. Maybe if she touched her again, she’d get more—“

“But what if Tess gets flashes too?” Isabel asked. “Are we sure that she didn’t?”

“She didn’t act like she had. She acted like everything was perfectly normal at the Crashdown and then again when she came to visit me later.”

“And Tess has never hidden anything from us before,” Maria said pointedly.

Michael said, “I think we need to ask Liz to try to get close enough to Tess to touch her and get more flashes. Maybe we can learn more. Like when she’s supposed to bring us back to the home planet and how.”

“I don’t think she knows,” Alex said. “Otherwise, why did she need me to translate the destiny book? I’m thinking she might need to use the granolith to get you guys back home… and she doesn’t know how to use it.”

“So you think that that translation is going to tell us how to use the granolith?”

“I guess,” Alex said. “I don’t really know. It might be a cookbook on how to make your favorite foods, for all I know. But it might tell us how to use the granolith, too. It could be everything she needs to get home.”

“God, she could have set up that entire meeting in New York all to get the granolith?”

“Why would she have had to? She knows where it is…she has been able to get to it anytime. What did she think that that meeting would have accomplished? You still wouldn’t know how to use the granolith.” Isabel pointed out.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“I know we want to know everything she’s been up to,” Alex said, “but we do have to be somewhat rational. And we can’t second-guess every little aspect of our lives for the last 2 years either. If we find out more, that’s a good thing. But right now, we know more than I think any of us were ever meant to find out. And we have to take advantage of that.”

Max nodded. “You’re right, Alex. And we will.” He looked at his watch. “Liz has been gone for more than half an hour. Where is she?”

Maria looked at her watch, too. “Maybe she just started talking with your parents, Alex. I mean, she’ll be back here soon.” She tried to sound confident, but she took a quick glance at her watch.



Meanwhile,

“Thank you so much, Mrs. Whitman. I really appreciate you letting me borrow Alex’s computer tonight. I cannot believe that mine just crashed like that.” Liz hugged Alex’s mother.

“No problem, Liz. Alex will have to come home soon so he can fix it, won’t he?” She smiled.

“You’d better believe it. If he calls, tell him I miss him.”

“I will.”

Liz gave her one more smile and then walked off the porch and to Maria’s car. She put the laptop in on the passenger side and then walked over to the driver’s door.

“Liz, is that you?”

She heard the voice before she managed to get herself into the car. Liz took a deep breath and turned around. “Tess, hi.” She hoped her fake smile looked real. “What’s up?”

***

posted on 19-Jun-2002 12:35:30 AM by Transparent Clear
AN: Finally, I know... for some reason, today, (on a day when I had a thousand things to do) I found my muse and told all my responsibilities to suck it for one more day. So here we go, new part of Dial Up... and I really hope it's good. It felt sooooo good to write. *happy* Thank you for all the feedback and bumps and I hope that there will be more out soon, (even if I have to turn off my IM and hide from the world again.)
Jenn

p.s. more flashes in here; look for italics... *happy*



Previously,

Meanwhile,

“Thank you so much, Mrs. Whitman. I really appreciate you letting me borrow Alex’s computer tonight. I cannot believe that mine just crashed like that.” Liz hugged Alex’s mother.

“No problem, Liz. Alex will have to come home soon so he can fix it, won’t he?” She smiled.

Liz felt horrible lying to Mrs. Whitman, a woman who had practically raised her from the time they’d all become friends, but she couldn’t risk anyone finding out the truth. “You’d better believe it. If he calls, tell him I miss him.”

“I will.”

Liz gave her one more smile and then walked off the porch and to Maria’s car. She put the laptop in on the passenger side and then walked over to the driver’s door.

“Liz, is that you?”

She heard the voice before she managed to get herself into the car. Liz took a deep breath and turned around. “Tess, hi.” She hoped her fake smile looked real. “What’s up?”


And now part 17,


Liz heard her own voice and wondered how good she was at lying. She’d lied to Max, but that was because she was convinced the world depended on her lies. Could she just lie to Tess? Liz looked the girl over from the bottom of her feet to the perfectness of her curls. She sure as hell could. This girl was trying to destroy everything she had ever loved; she would not allow that.

“Not much. What are you doing here?” She looked up at the Whitman’s door.

Liz smiled and shook her head. “I somehow managed to crash my computer last night. I mean, one minute I was on the internet, and the next I can’t even get the damn thing to respond.”

“What happened?” She tried to sound interested. Like she cared about computers? Why was Liz all of a sudden at the Whitman’s?

“I don’t know,” she thought for a second. “Maybe I just fried something downloading some software. I’m not sure. Alex is my computer wizard. He’ll have to fix it when he comes home.”

Tess nodded slowly. “So why were you at the Whitman’s?” She asked again.

Liz smiled, wondering how far Tess would dig in on her. “Oh! I have a huge paper due in AP Bio this week, and I really need to get it finished. So I figured that since Alex was in Sweden, he wouldn’t be using his laptop, and I knew his parents would let me borrow it, so I came over here.”

Tess smiled. Of course perfect little Liz Parker would be doing her homework on a Saturday night. She no longer had a social life since she’d broken Max’s heart like that. She had to smile a little brighter just knowing that she was there to pick up the pieces of poor Max’s heart. Then she noticed that Liz was standing beside Maria’s car and not her parents’. “In Maria’s car?”

Liz smiled, resolving herself not to fall apart around Tess. She thought quickly. “Okay, I’ll tell you the truth, Tess. But you have to promise not to tell anyone.”

The truth? What truth could Liz be hiding? Tess nodded. “Of course I’ll keep it a secret. Now what are you doing?”

Liz thought as quickly as she could. She had to take this computer and go back to Michael’s. There was no two ways about it, but she couldn’t have Tess follow her there. “Okay, well, you know that Isabel and Alex had been having some troubles—“

“You make them sound like they’re in a relationship, Liz. They’re not. Isabel is dating that Grant guy.”

“Well, yeah, but before he entered the picture, Is and Alex were getting really close. And I’ve always thought that they would be kind of perfect together.” She might as well be as honest as she could in this lie. “Anyway, Maria agreed with me on that, of course,” she grinned.

Tess shared a fake smile. Why was Liz chattering on about this as if she should care?

“And we convinced Michael to help us, of course, he really can’t help us all that much. But still, we are using his place—“

“For what?” Tess interrupted. She was tired of this babbling story. God, Liz spent way too much time with Maria.

She smiled. She knew she was annoying Tess with her lengthy story that had nothing to do with her. “We’re setting up a chat room so that Isabel can talk to Alex.” She hurried on with her explanation. “Of course, neither of them know anything about it, so please don’t tell Isabel. We’re going to surprise her one day with a conversation with Alex. As soon as we get in touch with Alex, of course, to find a time when they can both be on. I mean, he might have to stay up all night or something, but it must be done.” She slowed down. “I think we all know what’s happened to my relationship with an alien, but that doesn’t mean that Alex can’t have his.” Liz was proud of herself. She never realized how quickly she could think on her feet.

“So you’re playing internet matchmaker?” Tess smiled. She couldn’t believe how pathetic Liz was. Hooking people up over the internet was so Jerry Springer.

“Something like that.” She grinned, thinking of her own internet matchmaking. She looked at her watch. “Anyway, I need to get this computer over to Michael’s—“

“Michael’s?”

“Yeah. That’s his contribution to this scheme. We’re using his place to build the chat room.” She smiled.

“Oh…well, have fun.”

Liz smiled and nodded. “I think we will. It’s been a long time since Maria and I really had a project like this to sink our teeth into. It’ll probably turn into one of our nights where we end up chatting about everything.” Liz added, making sure that Tess wouldn’t want to show up suddenly.

Inwardly, Tess shuddered at the idea of a ‘girl’s night’. Poor Michael. “Well, have fun.”

Liz nodded. “Thanks for keeping this a secret. I really appreciate it.” Liz thought about what she would do had she not known that Tess was an evil kidnapping alien. She knew that if she had just trusted someone enough to tell the truth to, she would have probably hugged her. Of course the idea of hugging Tess was a little scary and weird, but then Liz thought about the flashes. Maybe she’d see more of what Tess was up to. Maybe she’d be able to see how she was planning on getting Max, Michael, and Isabel back to Antar or what she was going to do to Alex once she had the destiny book. She reached out, trying to act impulsively and hugged her.

Flash!

“Nasedo, are you sure this will work?” Tess asked. They stood in the alley right behind the Crashdown, below Liz’s balcony.

“Positive. I’ve been in her head before, remember that, Tess. I know what will make Liz Parker give up on the love of her life. And now all we have to do is make it seem like there is no way for her to be with him and for everyone else to live.”

“Do you really think she’ll believe it? I mean, come on. She loves the guy. She’s loved him for 2 lifetimes—“

“Which neither of them remember,” Nasedo said pointedly. “She will believe me because we will give her proof. You’re sure that Zan will be out here singing at 10?”

“Positive. I heard him talking about it with the mariachi band he’s been practicing with.” She sighed. “God, it has been so pathetic listening to him all week, trying to learn the words. The things he will do to get Liz to love him.”

Nasedo nodded. “Reminds me of what Zan did for Asha—“

“We are not discussing her. She does not exist anymore, Nasedo, and that’s the end of that. Max loves Liz, he does not remember Asha and she does not remember who she was. She shouldn’t exist right now, and damn it, she doesn’t.” Tess changed the subject. “What if this affects the other stuff you’ve implanted in her brain? I mean, what if she starts to remember those memories you blocked?”

“This is completely different, Tess. When I blocked those memories I had to physically get in her head with a connection. Now all she needs to do is believe what I say because of who I am to her. She will believe what I say and change her behavior because she thinks I’m Max and she needs to rescue him. She’s always been like that,” he couldn’t help adding remembering the way she would do anything for him on Antar. Asha and Zan had been perfect together. Nasedo didn’t say that to Tess, though. “Okay. I hear Liz in her room. I need you to make it look like a flash of lightning has appeared and then I’ll be on her balcony.”

“All right.” Tess nodded and set to work.

Flash!

Tess saw Max sitting on the bench in the park. God, he looked so depressed. Like he’d just lost everything he had ever had in the world to hold on to. She smiled a little. Maybe she could help him through that. After all, what else was his ‘true’ destiny supposed to do? She walked over to the bench. “Are you ok?”

Max looked at her with eyes that showed absolutely no emotion in them. “No.”

“Can I sit down?” She waited for him to say yes. He had to say yes. If he didn’t say yes, she would make him.

“Sure.”

Tess sat down happily, waiting for him to say more, but he didn’t. He just sat there, fighting the tears that were inevitable. “Do you wanna talk about it?” She offered. She wanted him to talk about this, about Liz’s betrayal. She had to be the one to comfort him and get him through this. This was her ticket home!

“No.” He said quietly.

Time to change her tactics. She needed to just be there for him. He would talk when he was ready to. “Do you want me to leave?”

“Yes. Tess, I just really need to be alone. I need to figure out what’s going on.”

Tess looked at him. Nope, that would not work. She thought for a minute and then asked the question again, “Do you want me to leave?”

She mindwarped him to make herself look like Liz in his eyes. Max stared at her for a minute. “No.” There was so much desparation and need in his eyes.

Tess reached out and touched his hand. She just smiled.

Flash!

“So what will you do, Tess, once you convince them of your destiny?” Nasedo’s voice asked. “How will you convince them to go back to Antar?”

“The easiest way ever,” she grinned evilly. “Just like we did with Liz, I’ll appeal to his sense of guilt and responsibility. It’s not enough for him to think there’s an entire planet waiting for him on Antar to save them. He needs personal connections. I’m going to make Max Evans think he got me pregnant and that that child won’t survive on Earth so we have to go back to Antar.”

“You are going to mindwarp Max into thinking you’ve had sex?”

“Either that or maybe really have sex with him; it won’t be too terribly horrid,” she laughed. “I’ll tell him I’m pregnant and that our child won’t survive on Earth, and voila! He’ll be desperate to go back to Antar, and won’t it be convenient when I know how to use the granolith if that boy ever finishes the translation.”

“How much longer will that take him?”

“I don’t know. Every time I check on him he swears he’s working as fast as he can. I’m sure it will be soon.”

Nasedo grinned. “The sooner the better. Playing human has gotten old, quickly.”

“Soon, Nasedo, this charade will end and we can go home.”

Flash!


Tess pulled away quickly. Why was this girl suddenly hugging her? Why was she always so affectionate?

Liz took a second to speak. She couldn’t believe what she had just seen. “Um, I’m sorry, Tess. You know how it is, though,” she said quickly. “Girls sharing secrets…” She smiled. “Anyway, I’d better get to Michael’s before Maria has a conniption.”

Tess smiled. “You really want to avoid that.”

“Yeah. Oh! Thank you for working at the CrashDown today. Maria said you were a great help to her.” She wished that she could have seen her as Maria put her through waitress hell. She wondered if the Walkers had come in. Their kids looked cute, but they were really little devils with a tendency to throw drinks.

“What are friends for?” Tess smiled fakely.

“Right.” Liz smiled. “I’ll talk to you later.” She started to get in the Jetta.

“Oh, Liz!”

“Yeah?” She looked back at her.

“Do you know where Isabel and Max are tonight? I was hoping to work on our powers, you know, in case something happens with Rath and Lonnie.”

Liz smiled. “You know, I’m actually not sure where they are. They were fighting the entire way back from the test so they might be trying to work that out.”

“Fighting? Isabel and Max never fight.”

Liz nodded. “Yeah, well, they were discussing something about going along with destiny. I don’t really know. I slept through most of that. Isabel wasn’t happy though.”

“Where would they go to work things out?” Tess pried. She needed to know if Max was finally accepting his destiny.

“I don’t really know,” Liz said. “A lot has changed, you know. But I know when they were younger and got into fights, they’d walk around where they were found. Max once told me it made them feel closer to remember that they were all they had had once upon a time.” Liz lied.

“Right,” Tess took notes on everything Liz had said. “I guess I’ll find them later.”

“Okay.” Liz got in the car. “Bye.” She drove back to Michael’s apartment as quickly as she could before she broke down. Those flashes she had just gotten from Tess… My God, if they were true… And Liz knew they were true. There was no other way to rationalize them but to accept them as true. Tess and Nasedo were still working together to destroy everything that had ever mattered to Max and Liz. She had to tell Max; they would need to figure out where Nasedo was and how to defeat him.

She parked in front of Michael’s apartment building, grabbed the laptop, and went in. She knocked impatiently on the door until Michael opened it. He took one look at her, took the computer out of her arms, and asked,

“God, Liz, are you all right?”

Max immediately came from the other room to pull her close to him. “Liz, what happened? What took you so long?”

“I ran into Tess.”

“Are you okay?” He whispered.

“No,” she whispered back holding on to him even tighter. “Max—“

“What did she do to you?” Maria asked, barely containing her anger. “I swear to God—“

“Maria, calm down. Liz will tell us when she’s ready.”

Liz looked up from Max’s chest. “Can I talk to Max about this first, guys? Please? I know no more secrets, but—“ She didn’t know how to explain that she didn’t think she could face all of their questions right now. Not when she finally knew for sure that she had nearly thrown away everything she had ever wanted in life based on a lie. How could she explain that?

“It’s fine,” Isabel stopped her. “Why don’t you use Michael’s bedroom and we’ll get the laptop set up out here?”

“Thanks,” Max led Liz into Michael’s room and shut the door behind them. “What happened?” He set her down on the corner of the bed.

“She saw me leaving the Whitman’s house. She immediately came over and started asking me why I was there, so I first told her I had to do homework and that my computer had crashed, but I knew I was going to have to get back here and if she saw Maria’s car here, she might start to get suspicious. So I told her Maria and I were setting up a chatroom for Isabel and Alex so that we could get them hooked up,” she paused. She looked up at him and started thinking ahead of herself, “We need to tell Isabel about that, by the way, just in case.” Max nodded and rubbed her back. “And I can’t explain it. I started to wonder what I would get flashes of if I touched her again or if the whole flash thing was just a fluke. I don’t know what I was thinking. So I reached out and hugged her.” She shuddered just remembering the feelings she’d gotten from Tess. She’d never experienced such evilness or cruelty, and now that it was in her memories, she wondered if she could ever get rid of them.

“And you got flashes.” He said definitely.

“Yes.”

Max held her tightly, letting her cry against his shoulder. “Baby, can you talk about them?”

“It’s not a matter of if I can talk about it, Max. I have to tell you. I just can’t believe the evilness she possesses. I feel like I might never forget that feeling and that scares me. I don’t want to have a constant reminder of her in my head. What if someday I fall into those feelings again? What if I can’t escape them?”

He ran his hand down her hair. “Liz, that won’t happen. You could never fall into the emotions that Tess lives in. You’re nothing like her, and that matters. You are a loving, honest, open person. You can’t hide things like she does or plot like that. I won’t let you.” He tried to get her to smile, but she was so wrapped up in her fears that she couldn’t. “What did you see?”

“Max, I’m so sorry.” She couldn’t stop the tears that ran down her face.

“What for? Liz, you’re worrying me.”

“I almost threw away everything we have ever wanted, Max. I almost gave us up for no reason—“

“Liz—“

“No. I made the decision to try to separate us and to push you away from me towards Tess. I was the one who gave up on us, in some way. And I am so sorry for that. I should never have believed. I should have believed in us. I should have—“

Max reached out with his thumbs and wiped the tears from Liz’s cheeks. He hated to see her like this, so vulnerable and nearly broken, and to hear what she was saying was killing him. She was feeling so much guilt and pain and he had to make it stop like she could always make his own guilt and fear subside. “Liz, what are you talking about? There were reasons for all of that. I understand that. We’ve talked about the whole future me thing. It’s all right. We aren’t going to lose each other, no matter what the future might hold. And the future has to be wrong, if it depends on Tess.” Max was ready to fight the words from Liz that he didn’t quite understand with anything he had but Liz interrupted him.

“Exactly.” She said. “I was so stupid to believe that the future could depend on Tess. I can’t believe I listened to him.”

“To future me? What did you see, Liz?”

“There was no future you, Max. Not that night.” She followed his shocked eyes. “Everything that happened those nights, every conversation I had with future you, it was all a fake. That was Nasedo pretending to be you. He and Tess worked it out, figuring that if you couldn’t give me up, they could make me give you up. And it nearly worked, Max. I nearly gave you up. I nearly gave them what they wanted because I was too naïve and stupid and believed them.”

Max hugged her tightly. “Oh, Liz, I am so sorry. I cannot believe they would do that to you. They hurt you so much, baby.”

“Max, you have nothing to apologize for—“

“And neither do you. You couldn’t have realized that Nasedo and Tess were working together at that point. We all thought Nasedo was dead! And I saw what happened, he provided too many answers to questions for you to even think about doubting him. I am just so relieved that we didn’t let that end us, baby. We outsmarted them.” He kissed her forehead. “We always will.”

Liz just let herself lean against Max’s chest for a moment trying to stop her tears. She felt so ridiculous crying like this. She was with Max and nothing could stop that. She was his real destiny, and it was one that they both wanted. Nothing Tess or Nasedo did could hurt them when they were together.

“What else did you see?”

Liz took a deep breath. “I saw how Tess was going to get you back to Antar.”

“Using Alex’s translation?”

“She figured that wouldn’t be incentive enough to get you to the home planet. She was going to trap you into going.”

“How?”

“By making you think she was pregnant with your child and that that child wouldn’t survive on Earth.”

Max’s face was of complete shock. “She was—“ He couldn’t say it. “I can’t believe anyone would be so evil as to try to bring a child into the world and use it like that. I cannot believe that she would be so—“

“And I’ve been feeling those emotions in my head for half an hour now Max… I can’t live with these forever,” she whispered.

He kissed her. “We will not let her win, Liz.” He tried to lighten things up. “And we will figure out some way to get those feelings out of your head, even if I have to stay connected to you for 24 hours of unconditional love.”

Liz smiled a little. “I might need it.” She looked at the door. “We need to tell the others everything. No more secrets. I shouldn’t have pulled you in here alone, but I just didn’t know if I could face them with all these feelings and I knew I couldn’t get through telling it the first time without crying. I—“

“It’s all right, Liz. They’ll understand. And we’ll tell them everything. Do you want me to tell them everything?”

Liz nodded. She was tired of being the bearer of bad news for this group.


Meanwhile on the other side of the door,

“Do you think Liz is all right?” Maria asked for the 5th time.

“Yes.” Alex said. “And if she isn’t, Max is the only one who can make her better.”

“I just feel so powerless,” Maria leaned closer to Michael on the couch.

“Why didn’t we think to send someone else with Liz when she went to get the computer? I mean, we should have known she could run into Tess.”

There was no answer for that.

“God, if that alien bitch hurts my friend any more than she already has—“

Michael spoke up for the first time, “We won’t let that happen, Maria. You know that.” He changed the subject. “Is anyone else hungry? I know that we haven’t eaten since before we left the CrashDown this afternoon. Do you think we should order something in?”

Alex was always one to think of his stomach. “Sure. As long as it’s not Thai. I don’t think I ever want to eat Thai food again.” He reached over to get a phone book out of the end table’s drawer.

The door to Michael’s bedroom opened and Max and Liz walked out.

“Babe, are you okay?”

“Liz got some more flashes from Tess that really shook her up,” Max answered for her. He led them over to a comfy chair and sat down with her on his lap.

“What did you see?” Isabel asked.

“I’ll give you the short versions. First of all, there was no future Max incident. Nasedo and Tess played on Liz’s feelings and devotions to us to break us up so I would go along with the version of destiny they want to happen. And Liz saw Tess’ plan for how to get us to go back to Antar.” He looked back and forth between Michael and Isabel. “She was going to get pregnant with my child and convince us that it couldn’t survive on Earth.”

Isabel gasped and reached for Alex’s hand.

Maria looked appalled. “So not only did she put my friend into a situation where she gave up everything she ever wanted because of the stories of a psychopathic murder but she was what? Going to rape you or something? Was she just going to make you think she’d slept with you or was she going to—“

Liz interrupted Maria before she could get very passionate about what she was saying. “She was either going to do it the old-fashioned way or mindwarp him into believing it.”

“That bitch!”

Liz turned to Max. “She mindwarped you. The night you saw me with Kyle. When she found you on the benches, she asked if you wanted her to leave, and you said yes. She mindwarped you to think it was me asking the question and you said no.”

“I knew that I couldn’t explain why I wanted to stay there. I wanted to be alone and home, listening to the Counting Crows or something, but I just sat on that bench of hours, saying absolutely nothing.” He tightened his arms around her. “God, I cannot stand that she has played with our minds and our hearts!”

“We’ll stop her, Max.” Isabel promised. “I know we will.” She looked at Alex, “Can we see that translation now?”

“Absolutely. It’s all set up.” He opened the laptop on top of the coffee table in the middle of the 6 of them. He put a disk into the drive and hit some buttons. “We’re ready.”

***



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 19-Jun-2002 12:37:31 AM ]
posted on 26-Jun-2002 8:43:26 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Okay, so this took a little while, didn't it? I'm sorry... I'm just really paranoid about this chapter, and even now I know there are probably better things to do with it, but I am literally blocked on it, and I'm so busy this week that I know if I don't post it now, I might never get the chance to. So I give you the new chapter. I hope it doesn't suck, and if it does, be nice to me anyway... If only because you are being nice to the girl with the pink hair... *happy* (which by the way is sooo much fun until you have to wear purple which I have to wear tomorrow.... oh, well, matching is overrated!) Have a wonderful weekend, and hopefully, I'll be back soon. *happy* Jenn

~*~Part 18~*~


“It looks like this file is in several parts, which is pretty incredible if I might say—“ Alex started.

“Alex, I am already confused,” Maria said. “Please, no more.”

He smiled sheepishly and hit a few buttons. “Liz, do you want to?” He offered the screen to her.

She looked over at Max for a moment, nearly afraid to do this alone. This was going to tell them all everything they had ever wanted to know about their past. And did she have the right to read this first? She’d only been waiting for a few days to know; Max, Isabel, and Michael had been waiting their entire lives to find out the truth. Max nodded, letting her know it was okay that she be the one to read first. She looked at Isabel and Michael. Isabel was holding on to Alex, not really looking at the computer. It was like she was afraid to find out the truth that might be in that file. Michael was sitting on the counter with Maria in between his legs. He looked nearly calm. Liz sat at the table and looked at the screen. Max stood a few feet behind her. She read for a few seconds and then reached back and pulled Max closer to her. “Oh my God, Max!”

“What? What does it say?” Maria exclaimed. She was as excited as if she had been waiting her entire life to find out the history this letter could contain.

Max squeezed Liz’s shoulder. “Read it.”

“It’s like a letter to us, about us, I guess. It starts with the destiny message, and I think we have all heard that enough. But then the letter starts.

How do you write a letter to people you have never met? Especially when you know and love them? You are my children, yet I’ve never seen you or spoken to you or held you, and my heart weeps for that. I take solace in knowing that you’re safe and well and in the hope that one day we will all be together again. But as I send you away for your protection and ours, I realize that there are so many things you need to know about who you are, things I need to tell you, before I can send you to this new planet.

Zan, you and your sister, Vilandra, are the next in line to the throne of Antar. You were beloved leaders and just rulers, but before all that you are my children, and I have never been anything but proud of you. Your lives have always been filled with work and rules and discipline, but that has led to success which I hope you will be able to continue experiencing in this new life. To prepare you, there are things you deserve to know, things that might help you remember who you are and the circumstances that have led us to the drastic measure of sending you to a planet so far away to start over.

Zan, you are the oldest, older by a whole 17 minutes. 17 minutes are usually not really considered to be important in a lifetime, but in the case of royalty, those 17 minutes were crucial in making you who you are. As the oldest, you were saddled immediately with rules and expectations and tradition and most of all responsibility. It seems you missed out on all the joys of youth due to that responsibility, and I often wonder if you ever condemned us for your missing childhood. At the age you should have been playing sports, you were learning political policy and negotiation techniques. Some days, I was just waiting for an eruption from you, to scream that you wouldn’t live in this manner anymore, but it never happened. You took your responsibility to your people very seriously and did everything you could to protect them right up to the end. I often wonder if you were ever thanked for the things you saw as your duty.

Vilandra, my beautiful daughter. I often wonder if you regret the title placed on you at birth. Not only were you Princess but you were to be Zan’s chief advisor. I’m sure you enjoyed some of the more convenient privileges as a young girl, having a palace full of servants at your beck and call was always something you liked, but I can’t help but think your title denied you the one thing you wanted in your life. Do you remember the countless hours you spend playing ‘Family’ with your dolls as a child? The scenarios were always the same: a simple family—mother, father, son, daughter. I wonder if you were acting out your dreams. When you married Rath, I hoped there would be time for you to live out those dreams. I will always remember the day you somehow convinced Zan to join you in your game! You and he were always there for each other, I’ve never seen more devoted siblings. There was always a level of trust between you that no one could break and few could understand. Luckily, your spouses understood it and I think they even enriched your relationship.

Which brings me around to them….

Rath—you were my son’s most trusted friend. It felt only right for you to marry my daughter. I don’t think I ever had the opportunity to thank you for all that you did for her, and the noble ways you tried to make her dreams come true. I don’t know how much you’ll remember of this life, but you would have made as wonderful a father as you were a husband. I don’t know the roles you will assume on this new planet, but you will always be my son.

My dear Asha, so much like a daughter to me. From the very first day you entered the castle, you made us all love you without even trying for your love for Zan was so palpable we could not deny it or you. You made my son so happy. I think you were the only one to ever really bring him a sense of peace and contentment. Did we ever thank you for allowing Zan to experience that? Any joy Zan missed in his youth, you brought him during your betrothal and marriage. You came to us with a great sense of compassion and loyalty and fairness, and you brought these values into practice in our ruling. You managed to bring great joy to your new role in serving the people of Antar and that fueled us all, I think. We wanted to be the rulers they needed more and more thanks to your and Zan’s influence on us.

I’ll never forget the day of your betrothal. Zan was so nervous, afraid of what you’d be like. I think he always shad this hidden dream image of what his Queen would be like, and you completely fulfilled those expectations and more. I doubt any of us knew how strong you were until it was too late, except Zan, of course. With all the events since your betrothal and marriage, a more fragile woman would have collapsed under the pressure. You held your head high and served both your people and your King. I thank you.

After this letter begins something you might remember, Asha. We found this journal among your things. I am sending it along, hoping it will trigger more memories for you or at least give you all a sense of who you were.

Before that though, I must explain to you the current political strife on Antar so that you might understand why we sent you to Earth. Antar is the main planet in a system that is home to hundreds of different people living on 5 planets. The most dominant people are the Antarian, of course. There are many other populations of people on Antar, but the Antarians rule it peacefully. The rulers of Antar also rule the council that governs the 5 planets collectively. The second largest group, and rulers of their home planet, are the Natiand. Asha was born on Nati and is the daughter of their ruling family. The 5 planets generally lived peacefully under the rule of the council and lived in symbiotic relationship for the most part. Until Khivar took control of the 3rd planet in the system, Thrivia. He started a campaign to take control of the council, claiming to be looking for more equal rights for all the planets as a cover for his own thirst for power.

When it came time to start thinking about Vilandra’s marriage, Khivar proposed himself to your father. Fortunately, Vilandra overheard the proposal and begged her father to let her be with someone she loved. No one could refuse Vilandra and he relented, refusing Khivar’s offer.

Khivar then suggested his young sister Avanka for Zan, but your betrothal had been planned since birth and was not easily changed. One meeting with Avanka confirmed for me that she would never match with Zan. There was a ruthlessness about her that always left me ill at ease. Your father, under my guidance, refused this offer as well. I know that none of us ever regretted that decision.

Khivar became very vengeful and shortly after, rumors of unrest involving his people on all 5 planets followed. We somehow managed to convince ourselves that everything would be okay and carried on with your weddings and betrothals. I wonder if that was perhaps our gravest mistake. Perhaps if we had taken him more seriously then, we would not be in this predicament now. But we’ll never know, and always wondering what if would just lead to more regrets. I hope you can understand that and not condemn any of us, including yourselves, for the decisions we’ve made.

After your wedding, Zan, Khivar started taking risks. He started attacking easy targets and turning his quest for power into something similar to a cry for individual rights. As we learned, never underestimate the people around you. We did. We were comfortable in our society and tried to live in denial of what was coming.

Sadly I don’t think we took Khivar’s threat seriously until the day he killed Vilandra. You were on an outing with Rath, celebrating for you had just found out your were pregnant. Khivar attacked you. Rath would never tell us exactly what happened, but he came home wounded and broken carrying her broken body. Seeing his twin dead changed something within Zan. He would no longer take the ‘distanced, objective, fair’ course of action. Khivar had attacked one of the few things in life he held dear; his family, and he was not going to let him get away with it. The day we’d planned to celebrate turned into a day we mourned and strategized. Zan vowed not to let Khivar win.

Sadly, in the end, none of our planning helped. Khivar’s lies brought him new followers every day on all the planets. He corrupted people we thought we could trust and it cost us.

He or his followers killed Rath as he stood guard one night. I don’t think that’s really true though. He killed Rath the day he killed Vilandra, and this was just finishing off the physical reminders of him. And then he killed Zan and Asha, in the most sacred room in the palace, the granolith chamber, before the one relic that represented the history and power of Antar. I will never forget the image of Zan and Asha holding hands on the floor…I will never be able to put it behind me until we are together again.

This brings me to the next thing you must know. As my first message indicated, my dearest hope is to be reunited with all of you on Earth. We realized too late that Khivar will not stop until he takes control of all 5 planets and the council that rules them. A group of us, mostly Antarian and Natiand have decided that we refuse to live under Khivar’s tyranny any longer. Even now, the fighting is drawing to an end, and Khivar has won.

My last goal was to send you to Earth. After I know you are safe, I’m leaving this palace I have called home for so long and going to the labs. You were regenerated and sent in incubation pods. The rest of us will be sent in cryogenic chambers just waiting for your signal from the granolith to awaken us. We do not know what will happen after Khivar takes over in this system. For the people we leave behind, I hope he finds some sense of purpose as a King and puts their interests before his personal vendettas. Sadly, I somehow doubt it.

My children, I hope the lives you have led thus far have been full and happy. I pray that you have found families that love and support you and more importantly, I pray that you are together. The difficulties of this life should not be repeated in the next, and I hope for your joy and happiness. Maybe you will finally get the childhood you deserve and were denied.

The next part of this message is Asha’s journal, which I thought all of you would like to see. It says more than I can about your relationships. After that is the key to saving us: the uses of the granolith.

I love you, my children. No matter what occurs, I hope you will remember that.


Max had wrapped his arms around Liz by this point, and Isabel was trying to hide her sniffles in Alex’s shoulders. Michael was still loosely holding on to Maria, but for the first time, the tear tracks down his cheeks were plainly visible and he did nothing to hide them. They all looked at one another in complete silence. Max reached out to Isabel, and she held his hand with a strong grip. Max’s gaze met Michael’s and they stood for a minute, feeling the trust and loyalty and love from a previous life filter over them. For the first time, they had all the answers they could ever need, and they didn’t know what to say or do with them.

After a few minutes, Alex moved to the computer. He hit a few more keys. “Are we ready for more?”

***

posted on 4-Jul-2002 12:00:38 PM by Transparent Clear
Hello, all, and happy 4th! So before all the picnics and fireworks, I just thought I'd post this. and say thank you to all of you who have left feedback for this story. It is so much fun to hear what you guys have to say. I hope you all like this, and there will be a part B w/ the rest of the journal soon... (I'll work on it when I'm working tonight instead of watchign fireworks and enjoying charcoal grilled burgers... ::sigh:*happy* Have a wonderful and safe day! Oh, yeah, and thank you Lori for helping me here!
Jenn


~*~Part 19a~*~


Liz looked at Max for a second. They were about to read all about their past together. She wondered if this would change anything between them? What if they found out that their marriage was strained and they only projected the image of happiness for others? What if she read about people she couldn’t understand? What if she found out something about herself that she didn’t like?

Max hugged Liz and whispered, “It’s okay, Liz. This journal is about people who no longer exist—“

“No, Max, this journal is about who we used to be. What if we still are those people? I mean, we have something of them within us—“

“I’ll always love you, Liz. Even if this journal says we’re horrible people. But I really highly doubt that my mother would send something like that to us now.” He rubbed her back for a second before letting her go. “We’re ready, Alex.”

He hit some more keys and then the screen filled up with random symbols that changed quickly to English text. Liz sat down at the computer again. “Should I read this out loud?”

Maria spoke up, “If you’re comfortable with that, than yes.”

Liz smiled a little at her friend for giving her the easy way out, but she knew she had to read it. There could be no more secrets between this group ever again.


“When I was little, younger than I am now, my Grandma Callia used to tell me about soulmates. She always said that soulmates were the people you felt connected to before you even knew them, that there was a click in your heart and soul in the first few moment upon meeting your soulmate. I wondered if I would ever meet my soulmate, given the circumstances I live within. Grandma said that soulmates could be best friends or siblings or even husbands. I think I met mine tonight. And that sounds silly because how many people can say they’ve met their soulmate at age 10? How many people even know about soulmates then? But I do, and I feel like I’ve met mine.

Tonight was the last night of the Bretanal Celebration in Natia City. I begged my parents to let me go, but of course, they said no, repeating their earlier stories of my bedtime and the fact that they were entertaining important guests from other planets. They told me that I had to stay in the castle, but that my best friend Jadecyn could stay with me. So of course, I had to sneak out, and I forced Jadecyn to come with me. I’d only heard tales of what the final night of the Bretanal Celebration was like, and I wanted to experience it for myself. And I knew this would be the last time I’d really get to experience it on my own. Starting next year I’ll be in boarding school during the Celebration and after that I will be married. I want to enjoy it alone, with friends. Jadecyn, of course, had to officially note her disapproval of going out. She felt we ought to listen to my parents, but how would I ever experience anything if I listened to my parents? So we went.

We were of course careful to avoid both my parents and any palace guards because we knew the punishment if we were caught, and spending the entire day cleaning the floors in the castle was not something either of us wanted to experience again. Three times was really too many to not have learned our lesson. We were dancing in a whole group of children whose parents had given them permission to come and have fun when I bumped into someone. I immediately turned to apologize to him, for manners were as well bred into me as anyone, and when I looked at him, I felt that click that my grandmother had told me about. I couldn’t look away.

Somehow he and I started dancing. I will never forget that. I was only 10 but I felt so grown up as we danced. He was a few inches taller than me and had the most beautiful green eyes I had ever seen. I just wanted to know so much about him. Jadecyn kept trying to get me to leave his side, but I couldn’t. We were talking, and there was such a sense of ease between us that I felt like he’d known me forever. The two of us snuck to a little clearing in the woods that my nanny had taken me to for picnics when I was younger and sat on the big rock there. We just stared up at the night sky, in awe of the stars and beauty of the moons. I was trying to remember everything perfectly so that someday a long time from now I would be able to look back on the one night in my life when I felt completely free. I looked at him at one point and almost asked him the one thing I wanted to know but hadn’t asked yet: his name. I didn’t know how to approach the fact that I felt so connected to him and yet I didn’t know his name… But at the same time he looked at me and kissed me. It was so incredible, so much better than Jadecyn and I had imagined. He was so soft and gentle and I could feel the little cracks in his lips that told he’d spent too much time out in the sun. We’d just pulled apart in kind of shock at what we’d just done. I never thought I’d kiss someone other than this man I was supposed to marry, but now…

Jadecyn came to the clearing a few minutes later and pulled me away, warning that my parents were on their way home. I said goodbye to this boy I felt so close to. I didn’t say that I’d see him again because I couldn’t guarantee that. I just kind of thanked him for being with me that night and then followed Jadecyn to the castle’s hidden entrance.

I wanted to spend that night just reliving every single minute of my time with him, but Jadecyn wouldn’t let me. She kept reminding me of my duty and what my future held. I never wanted to deny that more than that night. Because in 8 years, after my education is complete and I am deemed ‘grown’, I will be marrying a man I have never met. A man I won’t know till the night our betrothal is announced, and even though every one assures me that he comes from a wonderful family, that doesn’t calm my heart. I can’t help but realize that I have met my soulmate and I fear I will never meet him again.

I’m going to go hide this journal in the one place I feel like I have a little privacy and then head to bed. My parents say they have a big day planned for me tomorrow. I can only imagine what it is.


***


I write this as I prepare for my betrothal party. I can’t believe it’s been 8 years since my last entry, but when Grandma Callia gave me this journal, she told me it was to write about my most important events and thoughts in. I’ve been trapped in an all-girls boarding school for the past 8 years; nothing exciting has happened. And my thoughts often seem to revolve solely over the other entry in this journal. I have not forgotten that night or that boy and as I’ve grown I can’t help but wonder about what happened to the boy and what kind of man he’s become. Last night as Jadecyn was packing my things for my journey to Antar, I entertained the idea of sneaking out and trying to find him. Of course, I knew I couldn’t. I mean, that was 8 years ago; he probably doesn’t even remember me anymore, but I was still tempted.

As I think of the man I will meet tonight, my husband-to-be, I can’t help but wonder how he’ll compare to the memory of that boy. Will he have similar eyes that hold so much compassion and emotion? Will he dance as well as him? Will he listen to me? I hate that I don’t know who he is. I don’t know how he thinks or what he believes or what he feels! And no one’s assurances of the man he is will make me feel better, not until I know him for myself. I need to know if he likes just sneaking onto deserted patios in the middle of parties to look up at the stars. I need to know if he likes to find a book and just lose himself in it in the middle of the night. I need to know if he dreams of leaving the castle and living amongst everyone else. I need to know if he snuck out of the palace when he was young to play without rules or guards following him. I need to know if he likes to sleep late on weekends and then having breakfast in bed with nothing more than some music playing in the background. I need to know if he has a friend like I have Jadecyn who sometimes knows him better than he knows himself. Is that what he wants in a wife? Does he even want a wife? Has he been dreading this day as much as I? Does he love someone else? I need to know if he sees ruling a planet as a privilege or a job. I need to know if he believes in justice and compassion. I need to know if he sees his role as a leader or as a representative.

I need to know all these things and more before I would even want to consider becoming his wife, but that decision has been stripped from me. I remember in school, I was always jealous of all the other girls who got to go out on dates and “try out different varieties” to see who they wanted to marry or if they even wanted to marry. I have been told I would indeed marry and whom I would marry from the day I was old enough to understand the words.

And I have spent the last 18 years of my life dreading what would happen tonight. Dreading the man I will meet tonight. Dreading what will happen if this man and I are not even compatible. Because I can see what my life will be like, and I refuse to live like that. I would sooner run away from everything I know and love than live in a life without joy or happiness or friendship. And I fear that this is what my life will be with this prince I’m to marry.

I can hear Jadecyn’s anxious feet coming to my room to help me finish getting ready. At least one of us is excited about this night.

***


After the Betrothal Party

8 years ago, I wrote the first entry in this journal, talking all about how I thought I’d met my soulmate and how I was sure I’d never see him again. I was wrong, and I have never been so happy to be wrong.

Tonight, as per tradition, I was dancing with my father, and the man I was to marry cut in on us and continued the dance. He whispered his hellos but I couldn’t bring my eyes to meet his, for I was afraid of what I’d see. We danced, and I mostly focused on the fact that he was a wonderful dancer, leading me beautifully. I couldn’t help myself from smiling for a minute and taking the risk and meeting his eyes for just a second. And in that second, I knew. It was incredible. I would never forget those eyes. And as he looked into my eyes, I knew he was remembering me the same way.

After the dance, tradition held that we were to go to the front of the room to be formally introduced to the room, but his hands and feet led me away from the front of the ballroom and into another side room that was completely empty. The doors immediately shut, thanks to the guards in front of them, I suppose.

“It’s you.” I whispered and smiled.

“I never thought I’d see you again,” he said. “I have spent the last 8 years wishing and hoping for someone like you—“

“I can’t believe this. If I had only asked your name that night—”

He grinned. “I’m Zan.”

“Asha.”

He ran his palm down my cheek to the base of my neck. “This is incredible.”

I leaned into his touch. “I know. And yet, for the first time, this whole betrothal thing feels very right.”

“Have you been dreading this night as much as I have?”

“More.” I laughed.

It just felt so natural to be with Zan. We talked for a few more minutes before we reemerged to a waiting ballroom to be formally introduced. We danced all night long and stayed as close to each other as possible during the endless reception line of congratulations and best wishes.

And at the end of the night, when he walked me to my new rooms across from his where I would live until our marriage ceremony, he held my hand, just like all those couples I’d seen at school do. It was so nice to just feel connected to someone.

“Asha, I know that tonight was a real surprise and all, in some ways I feel like I know you already just from that one night. But I really do want to get to know you. I don’t want a wife I don’t understand, and I don’t think you want a husband you can’t work with.” He whispered, aware of the guards at the end of the hall.

“Me, either, Zan. I want to know you as more than just my husband.”

He smiled. “So you know, one thing has haunted me more than anything else about that night.”

I could see the intentions in his eyes. “Oh, really?”

“Yeah. I can’t believe that as a 10 year old, I had the guts to kiss you. I kind of wonder—if 18 year old me has the same—“

I stood up on my tiptoes and smiled. “I do.” I kissed him slowly, innocently, this was only my second kiss ever.

He wrapped his arms around me and deepened the kiss. I found my arms somehow around his waist and enjoyed feeling the warmth coming off Zan. I felt like I might never be cold again when I was beside Zan. He broke the kiss slowly. “Join me for breakfast?”

“Of course, Zan.” I sounded breathless to my own ears.

“Good night, Asha.”

“Night.” I slid into my room and shut the door behind me.

And I know I should be in bed right now, sleeping, waiting for the morning, but I am entirely too anxious about tomorrow to do that. For I will get to spend the whole day with Zan, getting to know more about him. And I can’t wait.

Looking back on tonight, I went into it dreading it. I wanted to run away and hide from this marriage. But now as the night is over, I am completely beyond a shadow of a doubt happy. I was so welcomed into this palace, not only by Zan, but by his parents who hugged me and insisted I call them Wills and Katarina. His mother embraced me like a long lost daughter and spoke of how much she couldn’t wait to get to know me. And his sister! Oh, Vilandra embraced me like the sister she’d never had. I can tell we will be friends. I felt so at ease with her.

In fact the only time I fell ill at ease tonight was in the reception line when Lord Khivar from Thrivia and his sister Avanka were being introduced. They were anxious, hiding something; they wouldn’t even meet my eyes. I must remember to speak to Zan about that.

But other than the 2 of them, tonight was the second best night of my life. And I can’t wait for tomorrow.


***





[ edited 2 time(s), last at 4-Jul-2002 12:05:03 PM ]
posted on 12-Jul-2002 12:48:00 AM by Transparent Clear
Just a quick AN here....

First of all, thank you guys for your feedback and your bumps.... *happy* they've made my day. And I really really wish I were posting a new part for ya right now... but unfortunately, the evil thing called work and responsibility have crawled upon me and bit me in the ass.... so I have like 2 paragraphs written...

I'm leaving tomorrow for a quick overnight in Atlanta to go to a concert..(yes, I'm seeing Cowboy Mouth again... I have an addiction and damn it, I enjoy it!) and then the plan is to hang out part of the day in Atlanta on Sat. but hopefully Sat. nite or Sunday I'll have a new part for you.

To thank you for your patience, is there anything from their past lives that you would really like to see? Let me know and I'll try to write it... *happy* (that would be cool! writing based on what other people want to see.... )

ok.. I still need to figure out clothes and pack...and clean my room and organize stuff... ::sigh:: I'm going to bed.

jenn

posted on 18-Jul-2002 6:23:55 PM by Transparent Clear
Oh, how I wish I could be posting right now... I honestly do.... and I've got at least 2 new journal entries to post too... unfortunately, they are at home on my computer whose internet connection has decided to falter due to something that has to do with signals and connections and I don't know... I was on the phone w/ tech support for 2 hours and only thing that I got out of it was some serious flirting w/ a guy in Arizona or something....

So hopefully, I should be back online tomorrow....I hope, I pray...I'm going through some serious withdrawal here....and now I'm off to write more, I promise!

happy thursday!
Jenn


p.s. new parts include that first day spent together and some Vilandra/Asha friendship. *happy* (just a little tiny not even real teaser.)
posted on 23-Jul-2002 5:18:12 PM by Transparent Clear
bump--for new part. *happy*... well, the new part is further down. *happy* I just had to bump this so I could see where the thread had gone. *happy* (he he he)

thank you all for leaving feedback! It gives me the "specials".

Jenn


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 23-Jul-2002 6:00:10 PM ]
~*~Part 19b~*~


I have just spent 18 straight hours in the presence of Zan, and I can’t help but wish I could still be with him. But even as I write this, my eyes are drooping and I know I would just fall asleep on him… but that sounds so blissful when it involves Zan being there.

We spent the entire day, just getting to know each other. Zan knocked on my door at exactly 7:30 for breakfast. I’d been awake since 5:30, so excited to be spending the day with him that sleep was futile. The servants who’d arrived at 7 seemed deeply shocked that I had dressed and prepared myself for the day. Maybe they’d never seen a girl who could fix her own hair, but I’d spent 6 years in boarding school with 200 other girls; I knew a lot of tricks.

Zan took me to the family dining room for breakfast; it was much smaller than the formal dining room used during official meals and it seemed so cozy. No one else joined us as we ate, and Zan explained that his father never ate breakfast with the family, preferring to sleep late, and his mother always took breakfast in her room. His sister and her husband also chose to have breakfast together in their rooms because often it was the only time they got to see each other during the day, as Rath was very busy with his duties in the military. I immediately loved the idea that we would share this one meal alone; it seemed like such an intimate thing.

After breakfast, Zan took me on a tour of the castle and its grounds. There were so many gardens that I was certain I would never be able to distinguish where I was on the grounds, but Zan assured me that I would soon get the hang of it. He told me of how he and his sister used to play in the gardens during their rare moments of free time as children. It suddenly seemed so sad to me that Zan had grown up a Prince, destined to fulfill a role no matter what he wished. But knowing that were he not a prince I would never be here almost made me feel happy that he had lived this role. I couldn’t imagine anyone else filling his shoes.

We ate lunch together in the gardens, enjoying a picnic lunch that seemed to appear out of nowhere. And then Zan and I mounted a pair of beautiful horses and he took me for a ride through the grounds around the palace. It was so beautiful. The village was boisterous and happy and busy with lots of children running around. Everyone seemed to know Zan and they greeted him in turn, calling out for him to come visit. I loved that he seemed so at ease amongst his people; he knew them and they knew him. He introduced me to everyone as his betrothed and I could hear the inflections his voice took every time he said it. I felt so honored to be the reason for the tones in his voice.

That night we had dinner with his entire family, and I couldn’t help but find myself in awe of the ease in which they interacted. You could tell that these people genuinely enjoyed working together for the better of their planet, as the majority of the dinner conversations were about interplanetary relations and the best way to help out with the upcoming harvest. It had been so different on my home planet. My father never involved my mother or I in any planetary concerns, often treating us as ornaments and dinners were always filled with guests so as to ignore the fact that half of the family didn’t interact with the rest.
As I didn’t have very much to add to this conversation, I spent the majority of the meal watching the interactions around the table. I was enthralled in the connection between Vilandra and her husband. They were always turning to one another in support. And often, they seemed to be reaching for each other under the table, as if just by touching they could forget all that was being said. They looked so happy, and if I had ever imagined a face for being in love, they seemed to possess it at all times. I wondered if Zan and I would ever behave similarly. I hoped so. I watched the way Katarina and Wills seemed to enjoy playing devil’s advocate against each other to fully understand each topic they discussed. I watched the respect in Wills eyes’ as he listened to everything Katarina said with such interest. It was like he was waiting for her to say something that would just jump start an idea in him. I realized that he respected her opinion as much as anyone else’s. I wondered if Zan and I would have a similar marriage. Would he value my opinions and beliefs toward how we should behave and what our people should be asked to do? I hope so. I don’t want to be a figurehead queen… I want to help these people on this planet I already consider my new home.

After dinner, Zan took me out onto the balcony off his bedroom. There were a couple of comfortable chairs there and it looked like Zan used the balcony quite a bit based on the number of books and notebooks strewn around the small table.

“I love this place more than any other place in the palace. I used to come out here when I was younger and I couldn’t sleep, and I’d stare up at the stars and wonder what would happen to me, who I’d marry and what I’d do to help all the people on Antar who trust me to do what is best for them.” He sat down in one of the chairs and I sank into the other. I curled my legs up underneath myself and leaned back a little as I listened to him. “I loved just looking at the stars. Even before I was able to study astronomy and learn of all the incredible things out there, I was obsessed with them. Before I knew the names of the constellations, I’d name them things that mattered to me.”

“Like what?”

He blushed a little. “I don’t know. Things like ’17 minutes’ or ‘V’s hairbrush’. Just whatever the patters reminded me of.” He looked up at them. “When I was in school, I begged my tutors to teach me astronomy or give me the books to learn from. I just wanted to know what was really out there. My parents even supported me in it. They sent probes to other galaxies so I could see the different planets and stars that were out there. It was incredible for me to realize when I was like 8 that Antar was not the center of the universe and that there were other planets out there with problems similar to ours. I always wished that someday I’d get to go to one of those other galaxies and find out who I really was.”

“Maybe you will,” I encouraged.

“I doubt it now, Asha. But for the first time, I’m okay with that. I think there might be something better right here on my own planet for me.”

I blushed. “Maybe.”

We laughed. We sat there talking for hours, just watching the stars and randomly asking each other odd questions that gave us just a little more information than before. Finally he escorted me back through his room to my room across the hall. I opened the door but didn’t really move to enter the room. How could I when I hoped this night would never end?

Zan leaned down to me and smiled. “You know, I think I have the guts tonight.” And he kissed me slowly and almost innocently. My arm wrapped around his waist and I moved a little closer to him. And when we finally broke apart, it was to catch our breaths as he rested his forehead against mine. “Thank you for spending today with me, Asha. I can’t remember a day I have enjoyed more.” He whispered.

“Me either.” I placed a quick kiss on his lips. “Will we have breakfast tomorrow?”

He nodded. “But I think one of us has to say good night first.”

I smiled. “Can you?”

“Can you?”

We grinned. “On the count of 3?”

“1”

“2”

“3”

We looked at one another and smiled. I reached up and kissed him once more. “Good night, Zan.” I moved into my room
.
“Sweet dreams, Asha.” He shut the door and I heard his feet walk away from the door.

I have never felt so incredibly special as I did tonight. I just want this to go on forever. I never want to not appreciate this incredible chemistry or the ease between Zan and I. I never want to forget to kiss him good night. I never want us to lose this specialness to our relationship. But at the same time, I can’t wait until we’re at that point where we can’t remember not being together or where we can’t remember having to part at the door to our separate rooms. I am so torn between wanting this newness to live on and wanting to be with Zan forever.

***

75 days.

It feels so hard to believe I’ve only known Zan for 75 days. He feels like the best friend I’ve never had. I feel so at ease talking to him and listening to him. We’ve spent the past 2 months getting to know each other. He has involved me in so many things, in every aspect of his life. And I am so grateful for him, for his willingness to let me into his life. It makes the idea of becoming his wife in 10 months so much easier.
Our days always start with eating breakfast together; I can’t remember a single day in the past 2 months that didn’t start with Zan knocking on my door to take me to the dining room. It’s always just the 2 of us, still, and I like to think of it as ‘our’ time. It’s like the rest of the world doesn’t exist when we sit at that table together, sometimes talking, sometimes in silence, preparing for our days.

Zan has tried to involve me in everything, taking me to as many meetings as he can and showing me anything I ask for. But when I can’t go with him, I often find myself spending the days with Vilandra and Katarina. They are both so incredible. They have welcomed me so openly and happily. Katarina took the first initiative, inviting me to a ladies only lunch with her daughter Vilandra during my first few days in the castle. Zan was so sweet, afraid I wouldn’t be comfortable, but I was more than comfortable. I felt like I had always belonged there. Katarina and Vilandra just added me to their lives so quickly. V, as she asked me to call her, was so much fun, sharing stories of when she and Zan were young, telling me about his overprotective nature towards her, how he had reluctantly agreed that Rath could court her. I could tell right away that Zan was V’s best friend and that nothing could break the bond they’d shared since birth. At first I felt a little jealous, for I wanted to be Zan’s best friend. Then I thought of it from V’s perspective. Would she think I was trying to intrude on their relationship?

But as we walked out together, V looked at me for a second and then hugged me. “You’re good for my brother, Asha. Welcome to Antar.”

I nearly cried. I was so taken aback with her honesty and the words she chose.

“Don’t cry, Asha. I have decided that we will be the best of friends, all of us, me, you, Zan, and Rath.” She said it like saying it made it so. She lowered her voice a little. “You know, growing up in Zan’s position wasn’t easy. He has so many responsibilities. I think you will help him forget some of them.”

“I want to.” I smiled.

“Than we will—especially with all the nastiness surrounding Lord Khivar—“ She stopped herself, as if she realized she wasn’t supposed to be sharing that information. “Never mind.”

“No, Vilandra, what were you going to say? What is going on with Khivar?” I didn’t want to be in the dark on any aspect of my new planet. This was important information for how the future would go.
I saw the hesitancy in V’s eyes as she started to tell me what was going on with Khivar and his sister and the roles they wanted to have in the interplanetary council. “I thank the gods everyday for allowing me to marry Rath instead. The idea of that man touching me disgusts me beyond words. And I am so happy that you are marrying Zan, Asha. Avanka was so wrong for him in so many ways that I fear what would have happened to him had he been forced to marry her.”

“But what about the possibility of Khivar—“

“Nothing will happen with that, Asha. Zan and Rath will never allow him to do anything that would threaten us or our people.”

I let those words calm me.

“Don’t tell Zan I told you. He doesn’t want you to worry about them.”

“I’m not some little child, V. I can handle knowing that information. I could help Zan if he would—“

“Welcome to Zan’s heart, Asha. Once you’re in it, he gets so very overprotective. If it weren’t from love, it would get damn constricting really quickly. But knowing Zan’s motivators, you can’t help but smile and tolerate the way he tries to protect us.” She smiled.

“But, V, I don’t want to be protected. I want to be the person who protects him,” I sighed. “I guess that might not make sense—“

“It makes perfect sense, Ash. That’s the essence of a marriage. I understand it well because if I could, I would be on the military field with Rath every second of the day. But as much as he would like for me to be with him, he would never allow it. Sometimes the need to take care of each other overwhelms what we might like.”

I thought about that for a moment. “I’d still like for him to know that I am here for him, that this drama with Khivar and Avanka will not shake me. I am stronger than that.”

“Than tell him that you know, and don’t let him hide it from you.” She grinned. “Force him to share everything with you if you must—“

“Force? How would I do—“ I noticed the devilish hint in her eyes. “Vilandra!” I laughed.

“It’s a good idea, Asha. And it works. Trust me.”

“You have experience?”

“You’d better believe I do.” She laughed. “Not every military wife can tell you every single battle position of the military, but you’d better believe I can.”

***

Zan and I took a walk today and he described the entire situation with Khivar, Avanka and the Thrivian population for me. I know he tried to downplay certain things, but I can’t help but wonder if we should pay more attention to this potential danger. He insists that giving Khivar any attention is just giving him what he wants, but I can’t help but wonder what he will do while we are ignoring him. And I wonder about Avanka’s goals if she had become Zan’s betrothed. What would she do to the man I am so anxious to wed? What would Khivar have done to Vilandra? And why would they want to do it? Is the lure of power that intoxicating that they could destroy a family? A planet? A way of life?

I expressed my worry over what Khivar and Avanka could do to Zan, and he assured me everything would be all right. I’m ashamed to say that I can’t help but wonder what would happen if Zan is wrong. What if we should be paying him more attention by figuring out a way to get rid of the problem he presents now? I feel horrible even writing that idea, but if there is a choice, I chose Zan and our future over anything that Khivar can offer.

***

Zan and I are on my home planet…back on Nati. It doesn’t feel like home anymore. I feel so much more at ease on Antar than I ever have here. I wonder how it will be to be on this planet with Zan; our traditions are so different and while it is easy to adapt to the Antarian ways, I wonder how he will deal with the ways of the Natiand people, particularly my parents. Zan and I are going to attend the Bretanal festival this week while we’re there; I think it’s kind of like us celebrating an anniversary or something. 8 years ago this week, I first met Zan. I’m hoping that maybe we might get a reinactment of our very first meeting. I’m sure I can convince Zan somehow.

It’s getting harder and harder to leave him each night; we find ourselves sometimes just sitting in the hallway between our doors, talking to one another until we are so close to sleep that all I can do is crawl into my room and fall asleep fully clothed. The past couple nights, I haven’t even been able to do that.
We’ll sit out on Zan’s balcony, just talking, and before you know it, we’re lying together on one of his chairs. We fell asleep like that the other night and neither of us woke until the sun was rising and I had to run across the hall lest anyone find out where I had slept. Neither of us has really mentioned it, but I have never felt as refreshed and awake as I did waking up in Zan’s arms. I can’t wait to do that again, even though I know it will be more than 5 months before we are officially married. I can’t wait to fall asleep in Zan’s arms and not have to rush around, trying to hide ourselves from everyone else, although I’m sure Katarina and Vilandra won’t mind.

***

Tonight was possibly one of the most unusual nights I’ve ever experienced. Zan and I, of course, were having dinner with my parents which they, of course, turned into a huge gala. There were so many people there, trying to get a few moments with Zan and completely overlooking me. And as I looked around the room, I noticed that most of the women were being treated in the same way. I think Zan must have noticed because his hold on my hand tightened, as if he were determined to keep me close to him. At one point, my father come over to us and didn’t even greet me as he turned to look at Zan. “I think we ought to discuss—“ It was then that he noticed me. “Daughter, I think you need to leave us as we have important matters to discuss. Your mother is around somewhere, go—“

“Asha will go nowhere. Anything you have to say to me you can say to her,” Zan said firmly as his thumb stroked the back of my hand..

“Zan, my daughter does not belong in this conversation. I’d like to talk to you about the future relationship between our planets, not about dinner plans.”

“Asha will stay, sir. Please, she will soon be my Queen; she deserves some respect.”

I could not believe the way Zan spoke to my father. It was incredible. He just took it upon himself to stand up for me, no matter who or what was in the way. I smiled and moved a bit closer to Zan.

My father looked completely shocked by Zan’s words and he took a small step back. I couldn’t believe it. “Very well. We need to discuss trade regulations for the next few months with the upcoming harvest—“

I have never felt more important in my life as I did when Zan stood up to my father and treated me as his equal, not just his betrothed. I felt myself falling in love with him even more.

***

Tonight was the last night of the Bretanal festival, and Zan and I went. My parents tried to keep a close eye on us, treating us like trophies they were proud to display, but we needed to disappear for a little while. I had told him my dream of revisiting some of our first meeting and he agreed. It seems his own romantic nature is quite healthy.

We separated from the Royal Box my parents occupied and slipped away to dance with other people our age. I wondered if they were the same children I’d danced with all those years ago, and when the moon was high in the sky, we slid over to the same clearing as before and sat on the same boulder, just talking again. I decided to tel l him one of my longest running daydreams about this place.

I smiled. “I always imagine myself getting bonded here, Zan.”

“What?”

I blushed a little and continued, knowing he would not rest until I did. “I always imagine myself getting bonded here. Growing up, especially after I met you here, I dreamed about it.”

“Bonded?”

“I know; it’s an old tradition. But my Grandma Callia used to tell me about her bonding to her first husband. She said the wedding was for everyone else; but the bonding was for just her and her husband. She said she never forgot it, even after he’d been killed in some battle and she was forced to marry my grandfather. No one else knew that they’d been bonded; they never would have understood had she tried to tell them. Not even my mother, but she told me about it and how it made everything so much deeper between the two of them. She said there was a connection between them after they’d been bonded that no one would ever take away.” I smiled a little. “She said that she knew she’d find him in her next life because through the bond, she would always recognize him.”

“Do you really want to be bonded? To me?” He whispered as if he didn’t believe it was possible.

I nodded. “More than anything.” I kissed him. “I can’t imagine bonding to anyone but you, just like I could never imagine marrying anyone but you.”

“I just can’t believe you’d want to do something so permanent, Asha. Bonding is forever. Our souls would belong to each other…” He said quietly.

“Don’t they already?” I smiled. “Zan, you’re my soulmate; I’ve told you that before. I feel like our relationship will be forever, even through the future lives when we might be separated…I want the connection with you so that in the future I will always know that I belong with you and you are mine.”
It was like Zan didn’t know what to say but when he leaned over to kiss me, that kiss said it all. I could almost feel how much he wanted to be bonded to me, how much he wanted to share my soul and heart. “I love you, Asha.”

“And I love you, Zan.”

He grinned. “So when do you want to be bonded?”

“I don’t care when. I just think that this should be the place, you know. It’s the first place I realized that there was someone out there whose soul matched mine.” I smiled.

Zan nodded. “Than we’ll be bonded here….as soon as it can be arranged. But no one else can know, Asha. At least not until we’re married. Bonding is not a binding contract between us legally. We have to be married before all them.”

“I know, but think about how great it will be to be married while we are sharing a bond that will not break. I think it means a whole lot more than the words the priest will say.”

“I’ll arrange it for tomorrow.”

I looked at him with wide eyes. He was willing to do this? And so quickly? “Are you sure? So soon?” I couldn’t believe this dream was actually going to come true.

“Of course I’m sure, Asha. Being bonded to you has always twirled around in the back of my head, but now that it’s possible, knowing that you want it too, I have to have it.”

“Me, too.”

“You know, Vilandra will probably kill me for not inviting her to this,” he smiled.

“She’ll understand. Tomorrow will just be for us, no one else will ever need to know.”

“I’d like to tell V…”

“Of course!” I knew she’d be happy; she was thrilled about anything that made Zan happy. “She’ll be thrilled. But she’ll understand that tomorrow isn’t a day for family or others; it will be the 2 of us giving everything we have to each other. The priest will only be there for the first few moments, as he instructs us in the connection. It will be you and me forming the bond we will have for the rest of our lives.”

Zan kissed me. “I can’t wait.”

***

Our bonding ceremony was quite possibly the most beautiful experience of my life. Zan and I snuck out of my parents’ house and met the priest in our clearing just after daybreak. He instructed us on the basics of making the connection and blessed our union, saying how happy he was that young people were holding onto the old ways. He wished us luck and left 20 minutes after he appeared.

Zan kissed me once. “I love you, Asha.”

“I love you, too.”

We joined hands like the priest had shown us and we locked eyes. I could see nothing but the amber irises of Zan’s eyes and I found so much comfort and love in them that I couldn’t have looked away had I wanted to. Our breathing steadied and joined together in unison. Slowly, I could feel myself losing all thought but of Zan. I don’t know how long we remained like that, but suddenly the world just seemed to shift.

I could feel Zan. There’s no better way to explain it. I could feel everything about Zan. It was like he was in me or maybe I was in him. I understood his feelings and his thoughts. I could sense everything. And I knew that Zan could feel me. There were no more secrets between us, there never would be again. I drowned in the shared feelings of amazement that we were doing this and in knowing that this was permanent.

And then everything changed again. I started seeing images behind my eyes of Zan. I watched him grow, with Vilandra, with his sense of responsibility, with his dreams of someone out there waiting for him to discover. I saw Zan’s dreams and I could see him sitting on his balcony, staring at the stars, thinking about…me. I wondered what his visions of me were, but I didn’t have to wonder long because I just suddenly knew that he was seeing me growing up and at the boarding school and at the Bretanal festival, wondering about him.

I don’t know how long that initial bonding took. I know that when we parted, finally, it was dark out and there were so many stars in the sky. My hands were still in his and our eyes were still trained on each other.

“I can’t believe—“ I could feel everything Zan was feeling. I was connected to him and I knew that that connection would never be broken.

I knew Zan was feeling the same way as he said, “You are so beautiful, Asha. Inside and out, I never thought that anyone could be so beautiful.”

“I love you, Zan.” I kissed him.

Our hands separated and our arms wrapped around each other as he pulled me closer to him.

“Thank you so much for bonding with me, Zan. We will never be separated ever again.”

He smiled at that vocalization of what we both knew to be true. “We won’t. This connection won’t let us, baby. I promise.” He kissed me and we sank to the ground of the clearing.

***

It was so hard to not tell everyone what had happened between us while we were on Nati when we returned to Antar. I think that anyone who really looked at us could see the new levels of intimacy that Zan and I shared, just in our casual touches and innocent looks that were filled with not-so-innocent innuendo as we both knew what the other was thinking. Starting with the night of our bonding on Nati, we had been sleeping in the same bed together, merely sleeping for fear of being discovered by my parents or anyone else, really. We both knew the ‘inspection’ that would be awaiting us the morning after our marriage and neither of us were prepared to explain to anyone why the tell-tale signs of our first time were missing. But I know we were both so tempted to just forget tradition and rules and give into the one thing we both wanted. Being bonded with Zan meant there was a spiritual or mental part of him within me at all times, and sometimes, I dreamed of the day there would be the physical manifestation of our bond… And Zan suffered through those dreams right alongside me. I sometimes felt bad that he had to see my dreams until I saw some of his fantasies that made me turn pink throughout tea with his mother and sister and decided that no holds were barred between us.

We finally broke down and told Vilandra yesterday, after both of us felt serious guilt over not telling her. She of course told Rath, but it was okay that they both knew; it felt right. And being able to tell someone about our bond made it seem even more real somehow. And I loved it. I couldn’t wait till Zan and I could share our union with everyone.

***


AN: I promise there will be more to this journal--like the wedding and after--as soon as I get back from Florida... I am currently pissing off a lab full of angry mechanical engineers by printing this story out and I'll take it w/ me! *happy* I promise-more by next Wed. and hopefully, I can even post it from home!
thank you all so much for reading and I appreciate all your feedback and kind words!
Jenn

posted on 23-Jul-2002 5:58:56 PM by Transparent Clear
posted on 29-Jul-2002 8:36:48 PM by Transparent Clear
Hi, Everyone! I'm back from FL with a great tan and a feeling of actual relaxation in me. And let me just say, it's been a long time since I've felt this good. *happy*

As promised, I have written some while I was in FL...(ok... so maybe it was on the trip back but I wrote!) and I should have something out tomorrow. *happy* Because not only did I get a week (pretty much) away from work and stress, but when I got home, my internet was working like the good little modem it is!

I'll be back soon, I hope! and thank you all for reading and leaving feedback! It's making me even happier than I already disgustingly was. *happy*

Love,
Jenn

posted on 3-Aug-2002 3:48:46 AM by Transparent Clear
Hi, all! First off, thanks for your bumps and feedback. There will be a new part tomorrow I promise. I am just in no shape to spell check right now and I don't think anyone wants to see the patheticness of my late night typing skills. if you don't believe me, IM me sometime and see the scariness of my typing. *happy*

see ya tomorrow!
Jenn
posted on 3-Aug-2002 4:36:33 PM by Transparent Clear
~*~Part 19C~*~


Today I am getting married.

I am going to marry my soulmate, the only person in the world I could see myself loving.

I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with him.
I never thought I’d be so anxious about my wedding day; I always thought I’d dread it. But now knowing that in 6 hours I will be Zan’s wife…I can hardly wait. V keeps asking me why I am so anxious because the bond we have tells me that I will always be in Zan’s life, will always be his wife in any way that matters, but I just can’t wait for the rest of the world to know. I want everyone, even Khivar and Avanka to look at me and know that I am Zan’s and he is mine and there is nothing they can do to break that union or the two of us apart.

I am still worried about Khivar and Avanka. And I’ve told Zan as much, both in words and in the way my blood ran cold when I saw that they had RSVP’d to the invitation we had been forced to send. He assured me that they wouldn’t disturb our marriage…but I just can’t help but wonder why they would want to come. V said it was so they would look dignified to the leaders of the other planets and the other members of the Council, but I can’t help but second guess their motives even beyond that.

I will not let them ruin my day. Zan and I are marrying and that is final.

***

As I write this, Zan and I have been married for 3 weeks. I am just now able to sit down and actually write this. Things have been so busy that there hasn’t been time for the reflecting on my life that I normally do in this journal. I’ve been wondering why I bother to do this at all now. I started writing this partly as a place to just be myself and get all my feelings out, about Zan and anything else that really mattered in my life. I have Zan for that now. He hears all my thoughts—both ridiculous and brilliant. I can talk everything out with him in conversations where we are so honest. He already knows the truth about me and being able to look him in the eye and see the truth about him is sometimes so much more rewarding than sitting and writing down everything.

But the other reason I started this journal was for the memories. When I was 15, Grandma Callia handed me a book a lot like the one I write in now and allowed me to read all about her life. I got to know who she was for more than just my grandmother, and someday I’d like my own granddaughter to be able to do that. So I will write in here, for prosperity’s sake.

***

**Wedding Day**

My wedding day.

I kept saying that over and over in my head with a feeling of profound joy. I could feel Zan laughing at me and then he corrected me:

Our wedding day.

My mother, Zan’s mother, V, and about 5 maids came to help me dress. V was the only one I really wanted there. My mother puttered around, looking at my room, touching the knick-knacks I’d acquired. Every once in a while, she’d grab my hand and say something about ‘my baby is getting married’. I felt so jaded about that. My mother had always been so distant from me that it didn’t feel right for her to refer to me like a huge part of her life was ending now. It implied that there should be worries or regrets and I refused to have any of those when I thought about marrying Zan.

Zan’s mother kept trying to calm my mother down. One look in my eyes told her I needed that. She kept interrupting that noble goal to explain to the overzealous maids that I was a ‘classic beauty’ and that they just needed to accent that.

The maids were pulling me around, anxious to mold me into the perfection they knew they were capable of creating. It took 7 tries to get them to understand I did not need frilly hair because I preferred simplicity. At one point, one shocked maid said that I should think of what my husband would want. V had to take the girl aside and explain, and all the while in my head, I heard Zan saying that all he cared about was that I was there.

And through it all, the fights over nail color with the maids and jewelry selection with my mother (who believed I should wear some while I preferred to wear none), V was there for me. She held my hand, fixed what the maids and my mother did to me, and reminded m that at the end of all this, Zan and I would be married. V was the only person I allowed to help me into ‘the dress’. I just needed some time when I saw the reality of the bride I was.

My dress was gorgeous. It was long and simple. It had long sleeves and skimmed the ground elegantly. It had a collar that fell just off the shoulders. And along the collar, the cuffs, and the hem of the dress was a fine border in platinum gold that perfectly accented the snow white of the dress.

“Ash—“ V just stared at me and covered her mouth.

I was staring at myself, too. I couldn’t believe I looked so beautiful. I never thought I could look like this. I tried to stop myself from crying as I turned to share the silliest thought with V. “You know, when I was little—my grandma used to read me these fairytales about princesses and princes, and I always wondered how they felt. Today, I know. I feel like such a Princess right now, V.”

She laughed. “Give it an hour, and you’ll officially be one.”

I smiled and hugged her.

“Okay, now, Zan asked me to give you something, kind of as a good luck present.” I looked at her expectantly, wondering what Zan could have possibly given me. She took a blue jewelry box out of the bag she’d brought into the room with her.

I lifted the lid slowly and as soon as I saw what it was, I let out a long breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding. On a bed of blue velvet was a platinum pendant with my name on it. I lifted it up by the chair and the pendant turned to reveal Zan’s name on the other side that would rest over my heart. I didn’t know what to say; Zan was incredible. “Will you help me put it on, V?”

She did and then stepped back and looked at me. “You look gorgeous, Ash. I’d tease and say that Zan doesn’t deserve someone so beautiful, but I think you deserve each other.”

“Me, too.”

Katarina stuck her head in. “Asha, you look beautiful.” She whispered and came in fully to hug me. “Are you ready?”

I’d always heard of women being nervous on their wedding day. I wasn’t; I was anxious and ready for the ceremony to be over so I could officially have the one title I wanted more than anything. As per tradition, my father walked me down the aisle, but I focused on Zan. I could feel everything he felt and hear his thoughts as he saw me for the first time. He thought he’d never seen anyone so beautiful in the world. That gave me all the confidence I needed to walk down the aisle and stand with Zan before a room filled with people just waiting for something to happen.

At the end of the aisle, my father kissed my cheek and put my hand in Zan’s. We both felt the familiar jolt of recognition running through us as we touched. The ceremony itself was kind of bland. We repeated the same vows that crown princes of Antar had repeated for generations, promising to work for the people of Antar beyond anything or anyone else. As the priest explained what those vows meant, Zan and I used our bond to share the vows we wanted to make to each other. We both knew that our marriage was not just political, and even if we had to do it in private, we wanted to share what this day truly meant to us.

I started mine with the first thing I wanted to say to him every day for the rest of our lives. “Zan, I love you. And because of that love, it makes it so hard for me to ever remember a day when you weren’t in my life, but at the same time, I can perfectly remember the first and second times I met you with such clarity. They were the most incredible days of my life. Today, I marry you, not for your planet or your people and not for the good of the system. I’m marrying you because I don’t want to go through a lifetime without the only person I have ever truly loved. I want to be here for you through every success and every failure, through every joy and hardship. I want to be the first person you see every morning and the pillow you hold onto all night. I want to give you as much strength as you give me and share with you the incredible amount of love you’ve inspired in me that I never imagined I was capable of holding. I want to be your wife, Zan, but I also want to be so much more. I want to be your advisor and your counselor when you need one and your best friend when you feel like the rest of the world has turned its back on you. I will spend the rest of my life with you, trying to make you even half as happy as you make me. I love you, Zan, and nothing will ever change that for me.“

Zan looked at me with tears in his eyes and I could feel that it took him a few tries to start speaking through the bond. “Asha, you are the most incredible person I’ve ever known. You are my most trusted advisor, my best friend, my soulmate, and the only person I want to spend my life with. I want to be there for you through all the joys our future brings and I want to be the first person you go to when something’s wrong. You know, I don’t consider myself a poet or even at all good with words so I hope my actions can be my vows. I promise to be there for you every morning when you wake. I promise to hold on to you when the rest of the world feels like it’s going crazy. I promise to talk to you and listen to you. And I promise to make you smile and sing you to sleep and bring you breakfast in bed and make you the happiest you’ve ever been. I love you, Asha, more than a planet full of people could understand and more than words can express. And I just want to thank you for making me happier than I ever dreamed I could be.”

It took everything in me not to cry as Zan spoke such beautiful words. Our eyes focused only on each other and I could see the love in his eyes. I hoped he could see the same in mine.

The priest cleared his throat, “By the power granted me by the Interplanetary Council and Antar, I now pronounce you husband and wife.” I couldn’t help the breath that escaped me as I heard the words I’d waited a year to hear, “Ladies and gentlemen, I present you the Prince and Princess of Antar.”

The applause was deafening and looking around, I knew there were so many people waiting to congratulate us, but the only thing I wanted was to kiss my husband and I made sure Zan knew it through our connection.

He looked at me with a helpless look in his eyes as we followed his parents, V and Rath to the ballroom where the reception would be held. V stopped abruptly and pushed Zan and I into a small room off the main ballroom and shut the door behind us.

I was in Zan’s arms before either of us could say a word. His lips were as eager as mine for when they finally met, our kiss lasted until the need to breathe became too much.

“I love you, Asha,” he whispered between kisses.

“And I love you, husband.”

He smiled. “Wife.”

“Now that is a beautiful word.” I kissed him again. We were still locked tightly together when V started knocking on the door. I didn’t care that the world was waiting for us at the reception. I wanted to stay right here with my husband.

He kissed the curve of my neck. “I guess we have to face them.”

“Let’s just run to our rooms and hide from them,” I offered. “We could say we were trying to produce the royal heir.”

Zan laughed. “Later.”

“Promise?” I arched my eyebrow.

He kissed me again and squeezed my waist. He loved it when I shocked him by saying things he never thought he’d hear from me, and we both knew it. That’s why I did it.

He opened the door and we walked to the main ballroom entrance.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Prince Zan and Princess Asha of Antar.”

The room erupted in applause again, and Zan and I were led to the center of the empty dance floor for the traditional first dance. I can’t remember the song or how long it lasted, but I will always remember how incredible it felt to be in Zan’s arms. I couldn’t get enough of touching him.

He smiled at my thoughts. “Good.” I laughed. “And the feeling is definitely mutual.”

I teased. “You know I’m thinking that we might have to break some of the attitudes held in this palace about the stereotypical way a prince and princess should behave together, because I am a princess who loves her prince more than she can say, and I will not stop myself from expressing it.”

His eyes flared and turned a dark brown for a second before he controlled it.

After our dance, we sat at the head table and a line immediately formed full of well-wishers. My parents were first followed by Zan’s. Then Rath and V. Both V and I cried as we hugged.”

“Welcome to the family, Princess,” V whispered.

“Thank you, V. I love you, sister,” I whispered back loud enough for our little group to hear.

Zan had to hug her next to stop her tears.

After they left, all the faces started blurring together in the crowd. Until Lord Khivar and Avanka reached us. Khivar kissed my hand and my blood ran cold instantly. Zan could feel it too.

“Congratulations. May this union lead Antar to continued peace.” He sounded so rehearsed.

Avanka shook my hand next. “Congratulations.” I could feel the anger coursing through her that I was Zan’s wife. I could feel her desire for Zan’s power and position. I watched her look him over.

I pulled my hand away. “Thank you.”

After they’d left, Zan reached over and took my hand. “Asha, are you okay?”

“Zan, the 2 of them--we must not underestimate them.” I whispered watching them return to a table full of other members of the Interplanetary Council.

“We won’t.”

The rest of the reception flew by in a series of people and dances and toasts. It seemed like no time at all before Zan and I were on our way to our bedroom, well, his old bedroom that we decided we liked better than any other suite in the castle.

***


Maria couldn’t help herself. She had to stop this for a moment. The room was charged with so much emotion that if they didn’t take a break from it, even for a minute, it was going to overwhelm them all. So she did what she did best; she bounced. “OhmiGod!” Her bubbliness interrupted Isabel who’d taken over the reading just before the wedding when Liz had started crying too hard to read. She and Max had retreated to the chair in the corner to hear about the wedding together.

“What’s wrong, Maria?” Isabel wiped at her eyes.

“We’re about to hear all the romantic gory details of Max and Liz’s wedding night!” She exclaimed. “Ohmigod…this is so wrong for us to be hearing! And she was going to give this to her granddaughter? Talk about scarring a child for life!”

“Maria—“ Alex said quietly waiting to get her attention before finishing his thought,. “Shut up.” He looked over and Max and Liz and then immediately felt guilty for intruding on their moment.

Max was sitting on the chair, and Liz was sitting on his lap with her head resting on his shoulder close to his neck. His arms were wrapped around her and his hands kept running the length of her back until his fingers curled in her hair. She was crying, completely unable to believe what she was hearing. She and Max—Zan and Asha—it was so beautiful. They’d gotten married; they’d had all the things Liz dreamed about—all the things she’d almost given up. She held tighter to Max, swearing that she would never give up on that future again.

“Liz, are you okay?” Max whispered. He was in awe of what he was hearing. He and Liz—Zan and Asha—they had the one thing he dreamed about. He made a promise to himself and Liz that they would have that day and the future Zan and Asha had been denied no matter what obstacles or who they had to face.

“I’m fine,” she whispered below his ear. He could still feel her tears on his neck. “I love you, Max.”

“I love you, too, Liz.” He hugged her even tighter to him. “Do you want to continue with this? We could stop for the night—“

“No, we need to hear the rest of this.” She said looking at the rest of the group for agreement.

Michael nodded and Alex met her eyes. He wrapped his arm around Isabel and brought her into his body for a full hug. “Maria, why don’t you read next?” He had a feeling that whatever came next wasn’t going to be easy for Isabel to hear, and he wanted to be there for her.

“Okay.” She picked up the laptop and sat on the couch next to Michael to read.


***

So I bet you thought the next journal entry was going to be all about the wedding night. I can’t write about that here! I want my granddaughter to be able to read this and still look me in the eye afterward. All I can say is that that night was the most magical night of my life. Zan was so tender and loving and I have never felt closer to another person in my entire life.

And our bond seemed to cement that night. It was no longer a matter of thinking to one another; we just knew what the other was thinking and feeling. And we noticed that the beat of our hearts had even synchronized. It was incredible to realize that you were so connected to a person…I loved knowing that Zan and I were no longer individuals. We were parts to a whole and would never be complete without the other.

***


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 3-Aug-2002 4:38:13 PM ]
posted on 12-Aug-2002 10:05:55 PM by Transparent Clear
Quick AN


Hi, guys! I am so sorry that I have to post a note like this! I soooo wanted a new part before all hell broke loose in my life, but unfortunately, hell broke loose a little earlier than expected. I do have some of the new part written... for instance, I wrote a lot of it today in my retreat when I was "taking notes" on racial discrimination... *happy* So hopefully WEdnesday, because Thursday hell opens it's door a little wider... *happy*

ok... off to be sunny and smiley and helpful... god, I think I might need a drink tomorrow....(if you want to take me.. please do!)

Jenn
posted on 17-Aug-2002 6:46:59 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Finally! I feel like I have been working on this part forever! And I'm sooo sorry it's taken so long. A few of you have heard about the hellish days of my life...and thank you for understanding. *happy* Especially, my favorite person to vent to. *happy* You're awesome.
New parts in my head include a m/l scene to make up for my least favorite part of End of the World...and killing Tess. *happy* (I'm trying to keep you guys reading, can't you tell?)
thanks for sticking with this story and all the bumps and incredible feedback. I feel so loved!
Now I'm off to pick my incredibly lucky friends up at the airport after which I will turn green w/ envy over their week at the beach...::sigh::
Jenn




~*~Part 19D~*~


Today we heard what could only be described as an attack on the plains of the second largest continent of Antar. The man directly responsible for destroying all the crops within a 5000 acre area was captured immediately, but we know there was someone else behind it. With every fiber of our beings, Zan and I know that Khivar is behind this. Just like we know, it was him who sabotaged our last probe sent toward the Milky Way Galaxy to explode near the transport of school children, and who destroyed the Antarian consulate’s home on Thrivia, and who has been threatening all of our dignitaries in official votes of the Council. The problem is there is no physical proof that Khivar is behind anything. And without proof, we can’t go before the Council to accuse him.

So instead we seem to live in a state of limbo wondering when and where Khivar will attack next. And there is no way to predict them. They are always random, but with the same intention: to show the interplanetary council and the people they govern that Antar is incapable and shouldn’t be in charge.

Zan is so tense about all this. He wants to do something to show Khivar that his behavior will not be tolerated, but there is nothing he can legally do without the proof that Khivar is responsible. And if he does do something now Khivar can turn it around and make it seem like Antar is behaving unjustly. We are stuck, and there seems to be no right answers.

Our days seem to get longer and longer now as early meetings with Rath seem to start our days instead of the leisurely breakfasts we always swore would be there. And each night, Rath, V, Zan and I spend more time together, plotting what to do to save our people. But our answers never seem to be enough. There is a line we refuse to cross when it comes to our people. We can’t sacrifice someone for the safety of another.; Zan and I agree that the value of life is more important.

***

For the first time since I came to this castle, we are having a family breakfast. Vilandra asked all of us to attend but she refused to tell us why. She just kept insisting that we would not regret the early morning meal together.

So Zan and I started our day as we had when we were first getting to know each other: walking down to breakfast. Of course, it was a little different now what with Zan helping me dress and my undeniable desire to just reach out and touch him at random times. We were teasing and playful, and it was like for one morning we were not going to let Khivar ruin anything.

In the family dining room, there were seats set for the 6 of us; V and Rath were waiting already. Zan and I sat in our normal seats.

I looked at V for a second. She looked so happy. “What’s going on?”

“Wait a minute until Mom and Dad get here.” V grinned.

I looked at Rath. For the first time since I’d known him, he looked like he didn’t have a care in the world. IT was refreshing. I turned to Zan, but before I could say anything, the door opened again and Katarina swept in with Willes shortly behind him. I was convinced he’d never seen that time of day before or at least not in a very long time.

Breakfast plates were brought in for all of us, but no one touched theirs as we all turned to look at V and Rath. They didn’t say a word. I looked at Zan, Katarina, Willes, then back to Zan.

“V, what is going on?” I couldn’t help myself from blurting it out.

V laughed and looked at Rath. They were holding hands under the table, I could tell. There was an energy surrounding them. I took a deep breath as I realized why we were all here.

“Rath and I have an announcement to make.” She paused dramatically. “We’re having a baby!”

I’d never heard Katarina raise her voice before but the only words to describe the noise that came from her mouth was a shriek of absolute joy. “Oh, Vilandra, are you sure?” She immediately hugged V.

“We’re positive.”

Zan and I were next in line. Zan looked truly amazed to think that his twin sister was having a child.
“V, congratulations. I know how long you’ve wanted this,” he tried to sound so calm and mature about it. I could feel the emotions building up in him thinking about this. He was automatically worried about her safety and the future of her child.

“Thank you, Zan.”

His voice broke as he whispered, “You’ll be an incredible mother.”

She started crying. “Thank you.”

I nearly cried at their exchange myself. They would always have a bond that I couldn’t understand. I silently prayed that any children we would have would have the same bond. I smiled over to Rath. “Congratulations, Daddy.”

He smiled even bigger at that. “Wow. Hearing V say that was unreal, but I think I could get used to it.”

“You’d better.”

We all agreed that today was a day of celebration, and for the first time in 2 months, we planned no meetings to worry about Khivar. Vilandra and Rath would spend the day together, celebrating and planning. Then we would have a family dinner together. Selfishly, I loved the idea because it meant a whole day with Zan alone which I’d been praying for for weeks.

We went back to our room after breakfast and immediately went out onto the balcony, which was arguably our favorite place in the castle.

“Zan-“ I started because he’d been awfully quiet through breakfast and the walk back to the room.

“I can’t believe that V is going to have a baby.” He looked at me and then sank into the cushioned lounge chair.

I sat on the lounge chair, on top of his legs, and smiled. “Congratulations, Uncle.”

“Asha, this is just incredible… I mean, for some reason, I never really thought about this happening…not with V and definitely not with us.” He looked at me with this incredible look of wonder in his eyes. “Ash, we could have a baby one day. I mean, one day, we will have children.” He reached out and put his hand over my flat stomach

I smiled and placed my hand on top of his. “Yes, we will.” I loved him even more in that second for suddenly realizing that someday we would have children. It was so like a man to not realize the future until it was before them. “And you will be the best father, and I of course will be an incredible mother. And they’ll grow up here in the castle with V and Rath’s babies.”

“Asha, this can’t go on. I mean, I couldn’t even contemplate having a baby now, there is just so much danger. I want that to end before we have children. And at the same time, I want us to have a baby so much right now that I don’t know what to do.”

“Well, then I guess we just have to end all this danger rather quickly.” I said simplistically, knowing that the way things were now could continue for a long time.

“Absolutely.” He kissed me.

“How are we going to do that?” I wondered. I knew the dangers better than most thanks to my connection with Zan.

He smiled and then kissed me again. “I thought today was a day to not think about that.”

I recognized the light in his eyes and could feel the energy running through him. I laughed a little. “Why what else could we do?”

“I’m sure I can think of something.” He pulled me closer to him and then rolled us so he was on top.

“If you can’t, I’m sure I certainly can.” I pulled his lips down to mine.

***
Zan and I were lying in bed when there was a knock on the door. At first we were going to ignore it, letting nothing interrupt our day together. And then through the connection, it was like I could feel a sense of dread run through Zan as he slowly got out of the bed and put on his robe. I quickly rose and repeated his actions. My only thought was that I needed to be with him through whatever was about to happen. Zan opened the door and there was a man, a soldier, looking at the floor.

It was like Zan couldn’t talk as he stared at the man. “Yes?” I whispered.

The soldier looked up at us, and there was complete shock and sadness and even some anger in his eyes. He opened his mouth to speak, but I don’t remember hearing him. I think I was in complete denial about what they’d said. I mean, that was too hard to believe. 5 hours before, we’d all been together…celebrating, planning and now….

But I knew that at the moment they’d told us, I’d never felt colder in my entire life. And it wasn’t physically because I was wrapped up in Zan’s arms and I could feel the warmth from his body. But I knew that the ice was coming directly from Zan’s soul and invading the 2 of us.

“Zan,” I whispered. I could feel a piece of his soul and heart breaking down and falling away from him. Physically , he was holding on to me, but he was pulling away inside. I could feel him trying to pull away; I could feel the wall he was putting up around himself, and I could feel that he was pushing me away, but I couldn’t let him go. I wouldn’t be able to go on with out him. “Zan, please don’t do this.” I sent him all my love.

“Asha,” his voice cracked.

I wrapped my arms around him tightly, not letting go for an instant.

“Asha, she—she’s my sister. I—I can’t do this. I can’t lose her like this.”

“Oh, baby, I know.” I whispered. I could feel his tears dripping onto my neck and I wished with everything in me and everything I had that I could take Zan back in time 5 hours to stop this. I wish I could do something to help him get through this.

The soldier backed out of the room and disappeared behind the door. I pulled Zan back to our room.

Automatically almost, we both dressed and prepared to go see Katarina and Willes. I wasn’t sure how they would handle this. Today had held so much promise.
Through the connection I shared with Zan, I felt a new sense of determination in his soul.

Zan looked at me with a fierceness in his eyes. “This has to end, Asha. I’ve lost V---“ He paused and looked at me for a second, with a wave of guilt flashing behind his eyes. “I can’t—I can’t lose you. I won’t survive that, Asha.”

I wanted to be able to look him in the eyes and promise him that he would never lose me like he had lost V; that I would never go anywhere without him, but I knew that I couldn’t. Because we weren’t in charge of any of this anymore. Khivar was out there, trying to destroy our family and we would never be safe because of it. And I could sense that Zan was not going to sit aside while Khivar hunted us. No matter what the Council said, things were going to change.

“What are we going to do, Zan?”

He looked at me and through the connection, I could feel him find some strength again. “I’ll tell you later, Ash. Right now, we have to go take care of my parents and Rath.”

“Zan, just don’t forget. I’m here for you, too. You don’t have to be all strong with me—“

“I know, Asha. I’m counting on it.” He took my hand and kissed the back of it before we walked down the hall to Katarina’s quarters.

***

We buried Rath’s body today.

But I think that’s pretty inconsequential since he lost his life the day Vilandra was killed 5 months ago.

I was the first person to talk to Rath after his return with V. He’d just sat in their room, holding her lifeless body to his chest and rocking back and forth trying to hold his tears back, trying not to accept the reality of what had happened. While Zan tried to comfort his parents, I slid into the room and walked to Rath’s side. He’d looked at me and in the most devastated voice I’d ever heard he said,

“I failed her and the baby. They died and I couldn’t do anything. I was supposed to protect them and in the one moment they needed me most—I failed.”

I don’t think anything any of us said convinced him that he couldn’t have saved V. He blamed himself more and more with each passing moment.

He put up a good fight with the strategy we devised to defeat Khivar. He did as much as we could ask of him and more, taking on the suicide missions that we deemed necessary. I think he regretted coming back from them, but he would never give up. Not when that would mean that his planet would fall to the man who’d taken his wife. But 2 days ago, there was a surprise attack. Rath stood guard outside the castle and he was one of the first men hit. He fought with the rest but I think he welcomed death when it came. I think he saw V there waiting for him.

So today we give him back to her. I only hope that whatever afterlife is in store for them brings them the love and family they dreamed of.

I don’t know how to say what I fear is happening. I feel like even writing it would be a betrayal against the very people I love the most, but I need to express it somewhere and hiding it from Zan, especially through our connection has become so hard. I fear that we are going to lose this war against Khivar. I don’t see how there is anyway to change that. Maybe if we had battled months before, when Khivar first started to attack, but we were hindered by our innocence and naïve ideals of peace and justice and fairness. And I don’t regret our belief in those principles. They are who we are. I know that V would rather have lived believing in justice than believing in revenge and power. And Rath preferred to fight for justice and honor than anger and intolerace. I think that none of us really understood the realities of war until after Khivar had attacked the very things we held most sacred, and sadly, by then I fear it was too late.

Khivar has been coming closer and closer to the castle with each attack. In the attack that killed Rath, he was just outside the doors to the actual palace. I only wonder when he will reach the doors and search the hallways until he finds the little balcony that Zan and I adore.

If I’ve learned anything from this entire situation, it’s that you must value each and every minute of your life. I stay with Zan constantly now and our connection is always open between one another. We share every emotion and thought like we did in the first few days after the connection was formed. And through that connection, I know that neither of us can bear to be apart from each other for very long. He wants to protect me and feels the only way I will be truly safe will be to be with him. And I don’t want to leave his side anyway. If we are to be killed by Khivar, I want us to be together. It’s only right that we be joined in death too.

I wonder what will happen to the people of this planet if Khivar wins. Will he be the leader they need? Will he continue to rule as Zan and Willes have, with compassion and reason? Will he care about them and their trials and hardships? Will he even rule? I pray that whatever happens brings our people safety again. They did not deserve to suffer from this grudge that Khivar holds against the Royal Family.

Zan and I are going to the Granolith Chamber soon. I’ve only been there a few times, always with Zan. It’s a religious place full of all the wisdom of our ancestors. Its powers are truly incredible and we hope that they are capable in helping us find ways to defeat Khivar.
I hope that someday I can hand this journal to my granddaughter and allow her to read about all the trials her grandfather and I overcame and how much we loved each other through it. I don’t want the relationship of Zan and Asha to be hidden behind the relationship of Khivar and Antar. Call me self-centered, but I think we are more important than him.

***

Maria finished the last words and looked around the room. Alex was whispering in Isabel’s ear as he held her shaking form. Max and Liz were wrapped up in each other as always. And Michael sat alone, just a few inches from her on the couch. He had this look of complete shock on his face. Maria moved so she was beside him and wrapped her arms around him.

“Michael—“ she started but her voice cracked and she had to start over. “Are you okay?”

His arms tightening around her was his only answer.

“I love you, Michael.” She whispered.

She felt the tears on her neck and that was all the answer she needed.

Across the room, Alex was doing his best to calm Isabel. She’d been crying since the entry about the pregnancy, and she now just clung to him. All Alex could do was whisper his love and promise her that everything would be okay. He just hoped he wasn’t lying, and he vowed to make sure he wasn’t.

Max ran his thumbs under Liz’s eyes to dry her tears. “I love you, Liz.”

“I love you, too.” She whispered. “I just can’t believe that—“

“I know.” Max looked around the room for a second and saw the utter shock on everyone’s faces. He spoke up for all of them to hear. “That’s it.”

“Is that all of the message?” Isabel asked looking at her brother with tear stained cheeks.

“No,” Alex answered for him. “There’s still another part explaining the granolith.”

“We can do that later. That’s it for tonight. I don’t think any of us could handle hearing anything else tonight.”

No one said a word. They didn’t want to admit how true that was but they were happy to have an excuse to take a break.

“Let’s just meet here tomorrow afternoon and we’ll learn about the granolith. Then we can start figuring out what we’re going to do to Tess.” Max took on the leadership role this time willingly.

Everyone listened.

Alex and Isabel stood up. He spoke for them. “We’re going to go get a bite to eat.”

Isabel went over to Max and hugged him, whispering something in his ear. Then she turned to Michael and hugged him too. “I love you, Michael,” she whispered. “No matter what happened in our past, you are my brother.”

He hugged her back and nodded.

Then Isabel and Alex left.

Max and Liz stood next and Liz immediately hugged Michael. She didn’t know what to say but she just wanted him to know that they were in this together. Michael hugged her back and she figured that was enough. Liz moved on to hug Maria and Michael faced Max.

“Max-“ he didn’t know how to continue.

“Michael.” Max looked at him in understanding. “Liz and I are going to go. We’ll see you here tomorrow.”

Maria moved back to Michael’s side and wrapped her arms around him. “I really don’t want to be alone tonight, Michael,” she whispered. “Not after all we’ve heard.” She didn’t know how to go about actually inviting herself over here.

Michael stopped her by simply taking her hand in his and leading the way into the bedroom. They climbed in to bed together and he found himself wrapping his arm around her waist as he moved as close to her as he could. “Thank you, Maria.” He whispered as he kissed her neck once.




posted on 24-Aug-2002 12:31:12 AM by Transparent Clear
~*~Part 20~*~



Max and Liz left the Jeep hidden in the back parking lot at Michael’s so that Tess wouldn’t find it and walked to the Crashdown in pretty much silence except for the occasional time to stop, look at one another, and just know what was going through each’s mind. As they crossed the street toward the Crashdown, Liz couldn’t help herself.

“I just can’t believe that this is true, Max. I mean, us, we’ve been together forever—2 lifetimes now.”

“I know.” He smiled. “I always knew there was something special about you, back from the first time I saw you.” He teased. “All this time, I thought it was just how cute you looked in the cupcake dress.”

She tried to ignore the comment about the dress. “I just can’t explain it. I mean, this is impossible to believe, but it’s like I don’t have to believe it. I know it. We are meant to be together, Max.”

“I know.”

“It’s just like I have to repeat it as often as possible. I want to tell everyone, but at the same time, the only people who matter already know.” They walked around to the back alley.

Liz waited while Max unlocked the backdoor of the CrashDown with his powers and then led him towards the stairs to the apartment. He looked up at them slowly.

“Liz—“

“My parents aren’t home, Max. Please come up with me, just for a little while.”

He couldn’t say no to that so he took her hand and followed her up the stairs. She looked at him expectantly at the door.

“You don’t expect me to find my keys now, do you?” She smiled.

“You know I’m not the only alien in this relationship anymore—I’m not sure if I want to be treated like this.“

Liz laughed. “You know you like it.” She thought for a second. “Do you really think I might have powers too?”

“It would make sense, Liz. I mean, you’re one of us; you should have the perks too.” He unlocked the door and they walked in.

Liz took his hand again and they walked quietly through the house to her room where they shut the door behind them. Liz looked at him quickly and they went out onto the balcony. She started to sit on the lounge chair, but Max kept her standing. He pulled her over close to the balcony.

“Right here.” He whispered.

“What?” She smiled.

“Right here. We stood right here the first time I kissed you.” She blushed a little. He reached out and touched her hair. “I was right. Your hair is so soft.” He smiled. “And you know it’s true. No matter what has happened, it’s all been worth it because we’ve been together.”

“I love you, Max.”

“I love you, too.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and reached up to kiss him. He pulled her close to him and was annoyed at the multiple layers of clothing that kept him from really being able to touch her skin. He needed that extra sense of connection right now.

“Let’s go inside. It’s too cold out here.” Liz whispered.

Max smiled. Maybe that connection still had lingering effects.

Once inside her room, Liz took off her sweater and sat down on her bed. Max sat next to her, a little awkwardly. This was the first time in a long time that they were actually alone, with no one to interrupt them. He wasn’t sure what to do all of a sudden. It’d been so long…

Liz took matters into her own hands and moved closer to Max. She just reached out for him and before either could explain it, she was beneath him on the bed kissing him like there was nothing that could make her stop. Liz slid her fingers in to the curls on the top of Max’s neck.

Flash!

The first time they ever saw one another.
The day he saved her life in the CrashDown.
Their first date.
Their first kiss on the balcony.
The last kiss they’d had before Liz had pretended to sleep with Kyle.
She could feel the pain from Max as she told him she wouldn’t die for him.

Flash!


Liz pulled away. “Max,” she reached out and touched his cheek, “I lied.”

He looked at her for a second confused. “What?”

“I lied. I would die for you a million times a day. I die without you.”

“Liz—“

“No, I have to say this. I hurt you so much that day with words and now I want words to heal that.”

“You’ve already healed any hurt, Liz. You’re here with me, that’s all that matters.”

She looked up at him. “Please.”

He smiled.

“You know, saying those words killed me too. I had to look up at you, the one person who had ever made me feel alive and tell you that I wouldn’t be there for you, that I didn’t want the one thing I’ve ever truly wanted in my life. As I was saying it, I heard a voice in my head talking, saying the things I really wanted to say.” Max reached over and wiped the few tears off her cheeks. “You know, it’s true that since you healed me, I have been in a lot of dangerous situations. But Max, if you weren’t in my life, I wouldn’t even be alive. I would have died that day on the floor of the CrashDown and I never would have known what it’s like to experience anything like love or even what it’s really like to live. Before that day, I was just this shadow of who I am now, and no matter what happens or what I’ve said in the past, I will never regret you saving me that day. And I will never be afraid of the dangerous situations we’re in because I know that we will make it through them. We have to. And when I said I wanted to be in love with normal boys…Max, I can’t even imagine love without you. It’s just impossible now. And I do want a wedding day and children, but I want that with you. I want you to be waiting for me at the end of an aisle somewhere. And I want you to be there, holding my hand when a little boy who looks just like you is born. And no matter what, our children will be safe because we won’t let them be anything else.”

Max wiped at his eyes for a second. “You know, hearing those words that night, when you came to my room, I felt something inside of me dying a little. You were taking everything I wanted to give you: my heart, soul, future, and throwing it back at me, refusing to accept it. It was like you were saying it wasn’t good enough, that my dreams weren’t worth reality. But hearing you now, Liz, that made everything inside me just feel better. I promise you that someday we will get married, in front of Elvis or a priest or anyone you want. And I want to have kids with you, too. I used to dream about that: me and you living the average American dream with a white picket fence and 3 beautiful kids who look just like you.” It was Liz’s turn to cry. He reached out to wipe her tears again. “Baby, don’t cry.”

“I just want that so much, Max. You know, I’ve always been told that I’m going to go to Harvard and become the head of the Molecular Biology department and stuff, but I don’t care about all that. All I really want is to have a future with you.”

“Well, you’ll have it. Because I can’t see any way you can get rid of me.” He smiled.

“Promise?”

“Absolutely.” He kissed her.

She cuddled closer to him so she was half on top of him. “Max?” She whispered.

“Yeah, Liz?” He looked down at the top of her head.

“Stay with me tonight? I just don’t want to stay alone. Not after everything we learned tonight.”

Max wrapped his arms tighter around her. “Of course.” He couldn’t leave her if he tried. Some people (Michael) might say he was a little whipped, and at this moment in time, Max couldn’t even find the barest of arguments to make against it. But when he was around Liz, he couldn’t resist her.

“Do you need to call your parents or anything?”

“Naah, Michael will cover for me in the morning.” Max smiled. “Let’s just go to sleep, Liz.”

She reached up and kissed his cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

She turned onto her side and Max immediately spooned up behind her and pulled a blanket up over them. Falling asleep, they both had the same thought: they had never felt so at home ever as they did in each other’s arms.

posted on 1-Sep-2002 1:31:30 PM by Transparent Clear
~*~Part 21~*~


The rising sun woke Alex up. He blinked a few times, trying to remember where he was. And then he felt the weight of a head and long hair on his arm, and he instantly knew what was going on. He turned his head to watch as Isabel used his arm and one of her own as a pillow. He felt an unfamiliar weight around his waist and had to catch his breath as he realized Isabel had wrapped her arm around him, as if she wouldn’t let him go ever again. He smiled, knowing he wouldn’t let her. He watched the sky turning from gray to blue through the sunroof in Isabel’s mother’s SUV.

He and Isabel had never gone for dinner the night before. Even though he knew he needed to be careful of Tess seeing him, it seemed Isabel had plans for them and he couldn’t refuse her. This was one of the ways she admitted that she needed him without saying anything. So they’d walked around town for a little while before making their way to the Evans’ empty home. After making sure that her parents were definitely out, Isabel led Alex through the house, took the keys to her mother’s SUV and grabbed a couple blankets from her room. Then she drove them to Frazier Woods, stopping in nearly the same spot where they’d first stargazed together. She’d even surprised him at that point by climbing up on top of the Jeep and looking at him expectantly. Once he’d joined her, she’d wrapped a blanket around the 2 of them.

“Well, I know this isn’t exactly Star Wars but I was hoping you’d think it was just as good,” she smiled.

Alex blushed a little. “This is better, Isabel.” He’d wrapped his arm around her.

They’d stared up at the stars for a few minutes in silence. Alex was kind of amazed that he felt so comfortable in silence with Isabel. Normally, he felt like he had to say something or crack some joke, but he knew now that that wasn’t necessary. He kept sneaking peaks over at Isabel. She looked so calm and he could see the wonder in her eyes at the occasional shooting star. Even though he was enjoying the peace they were finally allowed to enjoy, he couldn’t help but wonder at what was going through her mind now.

“Is, are you okay?” He whispered not wanting to break the mood. “I mean, everything that we heard tonight was completely overwhelming—“

She nodded. “It was hard to hear, Alex. I mean, hearing about your own death, even in a past life, is weird and scary. But I’m okay. I know now that Vilandra wasn’t a horrible person. I know that she didn’t—“ She stopped herself. “I’m okay.”

But Alex had heard what she’d said and he wasn’t going to let her just try to brush that off. “What? Who said Vilandra was a horrible person?”

“Alex—“

“Isabel, I feel so out of it right now. I mean, first I’ve been gone for like weeks to do something I can’t even remember. And now, something is going on with you that I can’t understand…”

“Alex, I haven’t told anyone about this. Don’t feel left out.”

“But Is, you can tell me now. I want to be here for you, and I want you to be able to tell me anything. You used to be able to.” He reminded her of the many conversations they’d had in the past year where she would just talk to him about anything.

She smiled. “I know I can talk to you, Alex. I guess, I’m having trouble seeing the point. I mean, it’s all in the past now, and it isn’t true—“

“But you’re still thinking about it.”

She sighed.

“Just try to talk about it?” He offered.

She nodded. “It all started at my birthday party, the night when I should have been happiest, I guess. Tess was captured and I went to help her; it only seemed natural that I help someone like me who was captured because of that similarity.” She paused. “If I knew then—I would have left her there.. but I didn’t. So I went to help her. And that’s where I met Whitaker. I was the one to kill her, you know.”

He nodded. He knew that was going to haunt her for a while still.

“And she told me things about Vilandra in the other lifetime. She said that she’d betrayed her brother and everyone that mattered to her for Khivar because she loved him. She wanted me to do the same now, to give them the granolith so the Skins would live and conquer again. She wanted me to betray Max and Michael and everyone…She said history always repeats itself.” She started to cry.

Alex hugged her. “No, it doesn’t, Isabel. History can change the future. And nothing will happen like that again. You didn’t betray Max—Zan—back there. Vilandra was loyal and good and honest. That entire story that Whitaker told you was just a story to make you doubt yourself and your abilities, probably made up by Tess. You are not a traitor, Is, and neither was Vilandra.” He kissed her forehead. “Just like you’re not that Vilandra anymore, either. You’re not marrying Michael. And you won’t be killed by Khivar—“

“How do you know that?”

“I won’t let that happen, Isabel,” he smiled. “You’re going to be able to chose your future now. Not between the option of which would I prefer, but between everything. You’re going to have the future you’ve always wanted, with a husband who worships the ground you walk on and kids and a job you love if you want that. And you will be happy, Isabel. I promise you that.”

She smiled a little. “I just want this to all be over with, Alex. I don’t want to have to worry about what Tess is doing anymore. When we found out that she was working with Khivar, I felt relieved at first because that meant that I wasn’t the weak one. But I also felt this incredible hatred that I have never really felt before. I want her out of our lives; I don’t want her to be able to hurt any of us anymore. I don’t want to have to worry about her making me see things in my head that aren’t there or making me do things I don’t want to do. And when we get her out of our lives, I want to have some role in that. I want to teach her and Khivar and Nasedo and everyone else, that they can’t just hurt people like they do. I want to show them that they’ll never win. I just don’t ever want to feel powerless again, Alex. I—“

“You’re not powerless, Isabel—“

“I am, or I have been. I should have known that you would never go to Sweden. I mean, come on! It’s so far away, and you’d never just leave like that. I should have done something. Instead, for all this time, Tess has hurt you and used you—“

“And you rescued me from that. You dream-walked me and found out what was wrong—“

“Liz knew first. She just didn’t tell me.”

“But you searched for me, Isabel. You wanted to find out what was going on with me. Liz was just taking whatever she got from Tess.” He squeezed her shoulder.

Isabel looked up at Alex for a minute. “Thank you, Alex.”

“It’s nothing. I just can’t stand to see you beating yourself up, Isabel. And I hate to see you hiding behind this persona that just isn’t you. You try to act all icy and perfect, but Isabel, you’re not. And I know you use that to hide from everyone, but you don’t have to hide from me. Just because I know you’re an alien doesn’t mean I can’t see all the incredibly human ways you are special.”

Isabel hugged Alex tightly. “Thank you, Alex.”

They’d sat on the roof for hours, just watching the stars and occasionally reaching out to hold on to each other. And when it seemed like they couldn’t keep their eyes open anymore, they’d climbed into the SUV and laid the backseat down so that they could be more comfortable. And Isabel curled herself up around Alex before looking up into his eyes.

“Good night, Alex. I love you.”

“I love you, too, Isabel.” He’d kissed her forehead again and then they both dozed off.

And now he watched her as she slowly woke up. She turned her head a little and looked up into his eyes. And she smiled.

“Morning,” she whispered.

“Morning.” He smiled.

She looked up at the sky through the sunroof. “What time is it?”

He pointed at the arm she was using for a pillow. She turned her head and looked at her watch. “It’s only 7.”

“I’d suggest we go to the CrashDown for breakfast, but I’m afraid of who might be there.” He sighed.

“There will be other breakfasts at the CrashDown, Alex.”

“I know.” He kissed her.

“What time are we supposed to meet back at Michael’s?”

“Certainly not 7,” he smiled.

“I know. I’m just wondering if we had enough time to head over to the Shoney’s in Hondo. I’m starving.”

He laughed. “I think we can make the time. But what about your parents? Won’t they realize you never came home?”

“Probably. Max will cover for me, though, I’m sure.” She smiled. “If he made it home, of course.”

***


AN: Next up: the granolith...Thank you all for reading this and leaving such awesome feedback. *happy* It's my favorite motivator to even go to class. for instance, I'll sit in the lounge and be "I'm going to read my feedback and then I'll go to class" No one else has a clue what this means, but it makes me smile as I walk to class so it's all good. *happy*

thanks again!
Jenn
p.s. Happy Labor Day! (and yay! I don't have to work!)

posted on 11-Sep-2002 12:38:54 AM by Transparent Clear
~*~Part 22~*~


Everyone met up at Michael’s apartment around 10-ish. They all looked rested, despite all they’d heard the night before. And just looking around the room, it was obvious where they each got their strength. Maria was sitting as close to Michael as she could and her hands kept running up and down his back, in an almost soothing manner. Isabel and Alex were sitting on the floor with Isabel in between his legs; their hands were joined on Alex’s leg. And Max and Liz were sitting together on a chair.

“Is everyone okay?” Max asked looking around the room. He couldn’t help but notice that he’d never seen them all so comfortable with one another.

They all nodded. Isabel smiled and said, “Max, I need to talk to you later,” at the same time Max said, “Is, I need to talk to you later.”

They all laughed, guessing what the siblings needed to talk about.

“Did anyone see either Tess or Kyle last night?” Michael asked.

No one spoke up.

“I wonder where she was.”

“Well, when I saw her before we read all this,” Liz started, “she was looking for Max and Isabel. I told her I thought you guys were out on the road where you were found, fighting. I thought she might have been headed out there.”

“But she had to realize that we weren’t there. She had to have done something after that.”

Maria spoke up. “I really don’t want to imagine that bitch’s social calendar.” Michael laughed and squeezed her hand. “But I do understand we need to know where she is.”

“Maybe she went out to the podchamber?”

“Can she even get in there? I mean, she’s a fake. She wasn’t even supposed to be in there. Would she be able to get in?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never really noticed. I mean, usually I do open the door, but that’s just because I’m always in the lead, I guess,” Max shrugged.

“We should find out if she can get in,” Michael said. “It might give us a definite place to hide Alex if she can’t.”

Isabel moved closer to Alex as she remembered that he’d have to hide soon. She vowed he wouldn’t have to hide for long. Alex wrapped his arm around her a little tighter, as if he understood where her thoughts were.

“I guess we just need to open the file and find out what the deal with the granolith is,” Liz said.

“I can’t lie and say I’m not interested in finding out why the granolith is so important. I mean, there has to be a reason Khivar wants it so badly,” Michael said.

Alex reached for the laptop and started to open the file.

“I just think we need to do something about Tess right now,” Maria said. “What if she just shows up in the middle of this or something? What will we do?”

At that exact moment, there was a knock on the door. They all looked at one another in absolute silence.

“It’s Tess,” Isabel said slowly, absolutely positive of this.

“Is—“ Michael started to ask how she knew.

“She’s the only one who really ever comes over here who’s not here now.” She pointed out. “Alex, Maria, Liz, go hide in Michael’s room. And take that laptop with you.” She said quietly.

They all moved quickly. Michael kissed Maria and then walked over toward the door. Alex kissed Isabel and dashed into Michael’s room. And Liz and Max just looked at one another before she wrapped her arms around him tightly one more time before going into the bedroom and shutting the door behind them.

Max and Isabel rearranged themselves on the couch in front of the TV and tried to look like they were just hanging out. Max nodded to Michael who opened the door.

“Tess,” he tried to sound surprised. “What are you doing here?”

“Hi, Michael.” She invited herself in and Michael shut the door behind her. She looked around the room. “Hi, Isabel, Max.”

“Hi, Tess,” they said in unison. Isabel barely looked away from the TV. Never before had she been so engrossed in re-runs of Saved by the Bell.

“What are you guys doing here?”

“Just hanging out,” Isabel said.

“Oh.” Tess sat down across from them in Michael’s favorite chair. She looked around the room. “So where were you guys last night? I mean, I figured that after taking that test yesterday, you’d want to hang out and relax last night, but you were no where to be found.”

“Well,” Max remembered what Liz had told her the night before, “Is and I had some stuff we needed to work out, about the future and stuff, so we dealt with it for most of the night. I think we got back in town at like 4:30 this morning. We decided we didn’t want to go home and answer to that, so we just hung out, you know. Brother-sister stuff.”

Isabel smiled a little. “Bonding.”

Tess nodded. “Yeah, I saw Liz last night. She said something was going on between you two. Are you all right?”

Isabel looked over at her. “We worked it out last night. We’re fine.”

“Well, that’s good. I mean, we don’t want anything to come between the 4 square, do we?”

Isabel walked into the kitchen and pulled out a can of Cherry Coke. “Anyone else want anything?”

“I’d love one,” Tess said.

“Max? Michael?”

“No, thanks.” They said quickly. They were both focusing on the door to that bedroom, wondering what was going on back there and what would happen if Tess were to find out who was back there.

“So what was the test like?”

Isabel looked at her for a moment. “Worried about taking it, Tess?”

She laughed. “Hardly. I doubt that I’ll have to worry about college entrance tests when we’ll be going home soon.”

Isabel couldn’t help herself. She had to rebel against what Tess was saying. She had to. “Tess, we are home,” she said adamantly. “Worrying about college entrance tests and what our parents will think of us being out all night are important concerns for us.”

Tess opened her mouth to undoubtedly start in on the destiny message/mission again. Max noticed this and interrupted her. “Is, it’s okay,” he said sympathetically, hoping she would just play along with him. “You’ll be able to talk to him again soon enough.”

“What? Who? Isabel, are you all right?” Tess moved to the edge of her seat.

“She’s fine,” Max answered for her. “She just—“

“I can speak for myself, Max.” Isabel looked at him pointedly and then she turned to look at Tess. “It’s just—I told you that I dream-walk Alex, right? I tried last night; I mean, I had to talk to him. All this stuff—the test and knowing what our so-called destiny is and everything, fighting with Max—it all just ganged up on me. And I needed someone to put it in perspective. For Michael, no matter what he’d like to believe, that person is Maria. Obviously for Max, it’s Liz. And for me, that person is Alex.” She paused dramatically. “And last night when I tried to dream-walk him, I couldn’t reach him. I mean, there was not even a consciousness out there that I would call him. And I don’t know what to do about it. I mean, what if that means he’s really forgotten me or something horrible has happened to him?” She looked up at Tess. “Do you think that maybe working on our powers together could help me contact him, Tess? I mean, Nasedo taught you more about all of our powers than any of us had the opportunity to really get from him. Can you help me increase my capability so I can reach Alex?” She paused. “We could try tonight—“

“Isabel, maybe it’s not your powers that are effecting your inability to dream-walk Alex. I mean, he’s in Finland—“

“Sweden,” she corrected. That bitch was abusing Alex and she couldn’t even keep her cover stories in line?

“Whatever. Maybe he’s just not sleeping at the same time you are. Or maybe he’s just been busy when you’ve tried to reach out to him.”

“So increasing my powers won’t help me reach him?”

Tess caught herself. “I didn’t say that. I just think you need to realize that maybe Alex has changed or moved on or something. Maybe he won’t come back here the same Alex we know. Maybe he’ll have some experiences in Sweden that will make him unlike we expect.”

Isabel looked at her with a look of pure anger on her face. “So you’re saying he might come back and be completely different? That he won’t love me anymore—“ She even managed to cry a little at that thought.

“Isabel, I didn’t say that!” Tess corrected quickly. “Maybe he’s just changed.”

Max interrupted the conversation and looked pointedly at Tess as if to say “shut up”. “Is, calm down. Everything will be fine. You’ll see Alex soon. He’ll be home soon.” He said reassuringly.

And behind the door, Maria, Alex, and Liz were trying to listen, wondering what was happening on the other side of an apparently thick door.

Maria flopped back on Michael’s bed. She smiled when she realized how much it smelt like him. “I cannot believe that evil she-bitch would just show up here!”

“Maria—“

“I mean, doesn’t she ever think that maybe people don’t want to be around her?”

“She can’t allow herself to understand that, Ria,” Alex said. “If she did, she would realize how impossible her plan is.”

“So instead she keeps trying to force a completely irrelevant and implausible destiny on the feet of all of us?” Maria said dramatically.

Liz smiled and sat down next to Maria. “Ria, she’s just being Tess, as pushy as she’s always been.”

“But now we know more. I mean, now we know how completely ridiculous she is.” Alex smiled. “And we’ll figure out some way to get past her, to defeat her.”

“It’s just so stressful. We have to do so much to get past her, don’t we? We have to figure out everything—where Nasedo is, how to attack them, what to do to save all the people waiting for us—“ Liz started making her list.

“What about all those people?” Maria caught onto the last thing Liz said. “I mean, where are they? How do we rescue them? And what do they want from you and Max? Are you like their leaders or something? Are you supposed to take care of all those people? Cuz no offense, Liz, but you are so not ready to be the mother figure to a planet full of aliens.”

Liz looked at Alex and they both burst out laughing.

“Hey! Don’t laugh at me! I’m curious, you know. I mean, we find out that my best friend and her boyfriend are the rightful King and Queen of an entire planet! Of a planet full of people heading towards Earth or something. And you’re laughing at me because I want to know what’s going to happen to you? What if these people want you to go back to Antar and rule there? What happens then? I can’t lose my best friend because some planet full of people wants a King and Queen—“

Alex interrupted while he figured he could still stop her from going crazy. “Ria, calm down. Max and Liz are not going to any planet. We learned that yesterday. Their planet is completely ruled by Khivar now. The people who are there are happy or content under his rule, apparently. Or at least they didn’t fight to keep Zan and Asha on the throne. The only people coming to us or whatever are the people who were loyal to them in that life. They’re the only ones any of us are responsible to.”

“What about the other people back there?” Liz said. “I mean, in Asha’s journal, she said she would always wonder what would happen to the other people? What if Max and I are supposed to go back and rescue them? What if that part of the destiny message was right?”

“Liz, those people weren’t loyal to you,” Alex repeated himself. “Asha’s journal and Zan’s mother’s letter both said that. You can’t be held accountable for people who made a choice.”

“Even when the choice isn’t an informed one?”

“Even then.” Alex said. “And when you talk about this with Max, he will say the same thing, Liz. You and he—Zan and Asha—have been given a second chance here, on Earth, to live the lives you were meant to have. You can’t be expected to fulfill an old destiny.”

“Then why are we in charge of the granolith? Why are those people coming here?”

“Maybe they get a second chance, too. And no matter what this message reveals about the granolith, do you really want to imagine what the world would be like if something powerful were in the hands of anyone related to Tess?” Alex smiled.

Maria reached up and pulled on both Liz and Alex’s hands till they sat next to her on the bed. “Let’s just not think about this right now, okay? We have an evil psycho-bitch on the other side of that door who could do great harm to all of us just by thinking about it. Let’s try to find the positive.” She sniffed in some more of the bedsheets. Michael could always calm her down.

Liz and Alex looked at Maria who was so prone to over-reacting. Where was she finding all this calmness all of a sudden?

“Anyway, Alex, what did Isabel need to talk to Max about? Did someone not spend the night at her house?”

Alex blushed a little. “We just went out to stargaze.”

“Oh, that’s perfect! Did you have fun? Did anything happen?”

“Ria—“ he was turning a peculiar shade of pink.

“Maria, don’t embarrass Alex.”

“Fine. Then let’s talk about why Max needed to talk to Isabel.”

It was Liz’s turn to become pink. “I think we can all figure that out.”

“Ooooh! You must tell me everything that happened!”

Alex groaned a little. “I don’t think we really need to hear everything—“

Liz giggled. “Nothing like that happened. We talked about some stuff that really needed to be said. And when he started to leave, I just didn’t want to be alone, so he stayed.” She smiled. “It felt so good to just be in his arms all night.” She leaned back on the bed until she felt a zipper sticking into her neck. She lifted her head, hoping she wasn’t about to see anything she didn’t want to see and threw whatever it was off the bed. Then she looked at it. It looked to be a purple hooded sweatshirt, exactly like the one Maria had been wearing yesterday. “Ria?”

“What?”

“Why was your hoody in Michael’s bed?”

Maria turned bright red. “Ummm—“

“So the questioner has now turned into the questionee,” Alex teased. “Anything you’d like to share, Ria?”

“So it’s okay for you two to spend the night with your significant others but not for me?” She laughed.

“So what happened, Maria?” Liz asked.

“Again, I don’t know if it would be emotionally healthy for me to hear all this about my sisters.”

“I just couldn’t go home last night, not after everything we’d heard. I mean, I didn’t know if Tess was out there waiting….and I really didn’t know if Michael would be all right. I can’t imagine hearing about a past life where for some reason I was powerless. So I just looked at Michael and he took my hand and we came in here.”

Liz smiled. “I’m glad for you.”

“Me, too. Hell, I’m glad for all of us. I mean, finally, things seem to be right again.” Maria looked at Alex. “Alex is with us. We’ve all got the person we want in our lives. And we know the truth now.”

They laid there in silence for a moment, just thinking about how true all that was. And then, in a move that hadn’t been seen since their last sleepover 2 years before, Alex reached over and grabbed a pillow and attacked Maria. She started laughing.

Liz looked up at the door and wondered how much noise it blocked. “Guys, we need to be quiet. I mean, what if Tess hears us?”

Alex nodded and stopped his attack. Unfortunately, Maria was not able to stop herself from the momentum of flying towards Alex with her own pillow and she slid to the floor with a thump. They all stopped and looked around, wondering if that noise had been heard on the other side of the door.

On the other side of the door, Max, Michael, and Isabel all jumped off their seats at the sound from the bedroom. Then they all tried to act like they hadn’t heard it. Tess looked at them. “What was that?”

“What?” Michael asked.

“That noise from your bedroom.”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe something fell off my bed.”

“Shouldn’t you go check?”

He shrugged again. “I guess.” He stood up and walked to the door.

Maria was listening on the other side. “Guys, hide! I’ll take care of this.”

Liz and Alex dashed into the closet. Maria made sure that door was closed and then opened the door to the bedroom.

“Maria!” Michael exclaimed.

“Hi,” she said slowly. “I’m sorry for that noise, guys. I rolled off the bed.”

“You spent the night here?” Tess said slowly.

“Yes,” Maria said. “I was here anyway last night with Liz—and I just decided—“

“Maria,” Michael interrupted and looked at her meaningfully. “Tess, the real reason Max and Isabel are here is that I needed to talk to them about Maria. She did spend the night last night, and they deserved to know it. I’m not going through with this whole destiny thing. I mean, I know how important you say the past was, but I can’t live with it. I love Isabel, but she is a sister to me, and that’s it. I can’t form a relationship with her based on the past. It’s not fair to her or me or Maria.” He wrapped his arm around her.

“So you’re just choosing to deny your destiny?” Tess asked incredulously.

“I chose that the day we heard that message, Tess. I never went after Isabel because of what some image of her mother said. In fact, we both denied it and refused to even consider the option. The only ones who really listened to it were you, of course, and Max because Liz ran away from him and we forced him to.”

“What are you saying, Michael?” She said icily.

“I don’t believe in the destiny message, Tess. And I don’t think we should live our lives around it.” Michael said boldly. He watched as Max and Isabel’s heads snapped up to look at him. “Like I said, it’s not fair to any of us. We should be free to be with whomever we chose.”

“I cannot believe you are saying that, Michael! We have a planet full of people waiting for us back on Antar. They need our help to even survive. They are under the tyrannical ruling of Khivar, the man who killed all of us! How can we just abandon them because you want to have a good time?”

“Tess, as much as you say we can’t abandon them, they sure as hell abandoned us. They sent us to a planet millions of light years away for all we know, and they didn’t even send anyone to take care of us—“

“They sent Nasedo!”

“Who wasn’t there for 3 of us. We grew up together and with humans who exposed us to what they believe and what they value, and, of course we acculturated. And maybe this is our destiny. To find happiness with humans, to make new lives for ourselves here.”

“Then why would they send that message? You were there, Michael. You heard it just as well as I did. We have a destiny. And no matter what you might want, we have to fulfill it, all of us.” She looked around pointedly.

Maria looked at Tess. “You know, that’s really easy for you to say. All you’ve ever wanted from the moment you hatched or whatever was Max. You’re so obsessed with this past because it gives you what you want most. You don’t stop to think about anyone else’s feelings—“

Max decided he ought to interrupt, for show at least. “Maria—“

“No, Max. I’m going to say this because she needs to hear it.” She turned her attentions back to Tess. “You know, before you just showed up here, we all had a pretty good little thing going. Isabel was finally opening herself up to Alex; she was really letting someone see the beauty she has within. And I was working on Michael, you know. He was finally accepting that he didn’t have to be alone all the time. He accepted that we could all help each other, that I could help him. And Max and Liz had each other. I don’t know if this would have been different if you had seen them back when they first got together. It was magical. I would just watch them watching each other and wish I had someone in my life who cared about me that much, who could ever love me that much. And they took it so slow, afraid of what might happen between them due to certain interplanetary differences. But when it finally all started to work for them, no one, not even Michael and Isabel who were terrified of someone finding out about themselves, could deny that they were meant for each other. It was a beautiful thing. And then you showed up. And you threw everything into a loop from minute one. You didn’t even try to get to know us and see what we were like together or see what mattered to us. You just came in and declared yourself Max’s destiny and that was that. No questions asked, you were all Max had to look forward to in his life. And you hurt him and my best friend because you were completely unable to deal with the fact that you’re wrong. Max and Liz belong together—“

“Liz doesn’t even want to be with him! She came to me a couple months ago to get Max to leave her alone!”

“You don’t even know the entire truth around that, Tess. She did it only to push him toward the destiny she heard because Liz would never allow herself to be so selfish as to chose herself over all those people. But no matter what she did, Liz will always love Max. She might say she wants him to leave her alone, but she will never let him go.” Maria looked at Isabel. “And you will never convince any of us that Michael and Isabel belong together, not in this lifetime. And no destiny message will ever convince any of us of that. You can’t force them into a marriage now for the lives they led on another planet. That’s not fair.”

“Maria, none of this is fair. Do you think it’s fair that I was separated from Max, Michael, and Isabel all these years? That I had to grow up with Nasedo as my parent figure? That I learned from him? That’s not fair. And then I come to the one place where I expect people will love me and want me, and instead I find people angry that I’m destroying their perfect little lives full of lies. I have been treated with nothing but anger and contempt since the day I arrived here—“

“Why didn’t you take the hint?” Maria bit at her.

Tess stared at her. “I am not going to stand here and be treated like this. I have better things to do than try to explain something that is clearly beyond the capacities of a human such as yourself.”

“Tess—“Michael said quietly. “Don’t talk about Maria like that.”

“I’m out of here. When you realize the truth, I’ll be around.” She turned around and stormed out of the apartment.

Michael hugged Maria and Max and Isabel immediately went to get Liz and Alex out of the closet.

They all stood in silence for a moment.

“Well,” Maria looked at them, “I feel a lot better.”

They all laughed to the point that Maria and Liz were crying.

“Come on, guys. Back to business.” Max sat down and pulled Liz onto his lap. “It’s time to find out about the granolith.”

***



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 11-Sep-2002 12:40:03 AM ]
posted on 20-Sep-2002 2:44:13 PM by Transparent Clear
~*~Part 23~*~



Max looked up from the screen as the file loaded up. “Are we ready?” He squeezed Liz’s hand.

“As we’ll ever be,” Isabel nodded. “Just read.”

Max looked at the screen for a second and then started reading.


After reading that journal, I hope all of you have a better understanding of who you were. I was very hesitant about sending that journal to you now because I was afraid you might put the people you used to be up on pedestals as perfect or as living better lives than you are now. I hope you understand the difference between these 2 lives are important and should be encouraged. Maybe in this new life, Vilandra and Rath are merely friends or have been raised as siblings. I can’t imagine a life where Zan and Asha aren’t together, but if you aren’t and can’t conceive of yourselves ever finding your way to one another, that is fine, too. All it means is that we will have to redefine the roles we expected you to fill, and we will change our attitudes enough to do so. Nothing is more important than our future and happiness, not even the expectations we live within.

But I digress…

Now that you know about your past, I can tell you about the key to our future, the granolith.

The granolith has been on Antar for centuries—longer than written history can tell. It works for and with our people as an extension of the ruling family. For the only people who could accurately use the granolith, the only people it will respond to, are the heirs to the throne of Antar—and their mates. That’s why Khivar wanted Vilandra and Avanka wanted Zan; they needed the granolith to truly take over Antar—assuming they wanted to do it with negligible violence and destruction. Obviously upon your betrothals and weddings, their plans changed.

When they realized they wouldn’t get the granolith from us, they set out to prove to the people of Antar that the granolith had lots its effectiveness in serving them. That’s why they attacked us as they did, knowing we would be bound to the rules of the council rather than take the actions the granolith endorsed. Khivar played on this, making us look weak to our people—like we were unable or didn’t want to protect them from the attacks.

And that perceived weakness kept people from supporting us. Instead, they supported the person causing all of the pain on Antar. I think that’s what hurt the most: watching people my family had spent their lives working for—to help and protect them—turn their backs on us. They mourned Vilandra’s death but turned a blind eye to the other atrocities we were facing. And in the end, when Khivar killed Zan and Asha in front of the granolith, the majority of our people didn’t mourn for the 2 people they’d once cheered and who’d given their lives for their planet. Instead, they quickly moved to put Khivar on the throne.

That was when this whole crazy plan we’ve been living out ever since was put into action. It had already been decided that the royal family and those loyal to us needed to leave Antar; there was no place for us in Khivar’s tyranny. The top scientists from our planet had been working on 2 different techniques of preserving people for the long voyage to another planet. One was cryogenics, where people would be frozen in time, it seemed, and kept that way through the transport to whatever planet we might head to. The other was the one you are familiar with. We put your essences and human DNA into pods and sent you towards the planet most compatible with our own ecosystem: Earth.

As the grieving, defeated Queen and Mother, I was allowed to have some time alone with you in the granolith chamber before Khivar “prepared your bodies”. One of the head scientists in our mission, a woman named Serena, taught me how to extract your essences and that’s what I did, in that time when I was supposed to say goodbye to you. I ensured that I wouldn’t have to, not yet. First I activated the granolith so as to get it to leave the chamber it was held in; we couldn’t leave anything that valuable so close to Khivar. Then I took your essences back to Serena’s laboratory, where she already had both Vilandra and Rath’s. And she finished the final processes necessary for your future birth. I was smuggled out of the castle that night and never returned again, for fear that Khivar might trap me there as a trophy of his victory.

The ship carrying the 4 of you, the Royal 4 of Antar, and the granolith was launched the next day and sent with 2 protectors towards Earth. (I am sending all my information here to you via a device Serena perfected that allowed us to communicate with the granolith at great distance.) I found out afterwards that they made 2 sets of you. One set was given all of the morals and emotions that you’d already possessed, making you a replica almost of my children. The other was sent with similar essences but none of the personality that made you who you were. They were sent for your protection, hoping that any future threats against Antar would be directed at them. I can’t help but question our morals in this. We created children to pose as targets, essentially. I don’t know how to accept that fact, and so some might say I am in denial about it, choosing only to focus on you, the children who embody all the values I hoped to teach you. Your duplicates are just that, duplications of you, similar to the way we used to dress bodyguards up like you to ensure you had a few moments of freedom. Maybe that’s just the rambling of an old woman afraid of what might happen to innocents she is sending halfway across the galaxy…

Back to the granolith, it’s so hard to describe it to people, it’s such an instinctual being. I call it a being because it is certainly not just an inanimate object or weapon. It learns from the people who use it, and over the past centuries, it has become a source of wisdom and history for the Antarian people. Each King who uses it gains a sense of understanding about Antar and the people he works for. That’s why it is so valuable to the ruler of Antar. I don’t think Khivar ever fully understood that, and for that reason, I don’t think it would have ever worked for him, even if he had rightfully gotten it.

When used properly, the granolith serves as an advisor to the King by allowing him to see the past and potential results of any action. Thats’ why the granolith was insistent that we attack back at Khivar, despite the Council’s decision not to. It could see the outcome of what Khivar was doing, long before any person wanted to admit it.

This advisement, while needed and useful, is not the only role of the granolith. It does have abilities that Khivar would have liked access to. The most important one right now is that only by using the granolith will all the people who are loyal to our family make it to Earth. We are just waiting for signal from the granolith that you are waiting for us.



“Max,” Isabel gasped. “That means they must be close. All we have to do is go to the granolith—and she’ll be here.” This moment was the culmination of Isabel’s longest running dream: to meet her birth mother. She loved Diane Evans and accepted her as one of the most incredible parents in the world, but a small part of her, what she usually called her alien side, always wanted for the one woman who had given birth to her and who understood her past better than Isabel could ever hope to. And now she’d just heard from her own brother’s mouth that it would be possible for her to meet her soon. The entirety of this moment was blowing her away.

“Is—“ Max started. They couldn’t just leave now; there was still too much information for them to learn. They didn’t even know how to operate the machine.

“I know we can’t go now, but, Max, she’s so close. I’ve always wanted to meet our birth mother, but it always felt so impossible because she was God only knows how far away. But now—she’s so close. It’s just incredible and beyond words.”

Alex tightened his hold on Isabel. “You can read on, Max.”


The granolith can also serve for nearly anything we could ask. Through the years on Anta, the granolith’s technology helped bring about new ways to produce food during times of drought. It has brought about complete revolutions in transportation and education. And when necessary, it brought about changes in warfare. During Khivar’s attacks, the granolith advised retaliation that we should have listened to.

I realize that this description of the granolith is shoddy and not very descriptive, but it’s hard to explain something that has such an impact on your entire world to people who don’t know its impact. The granolith is seen as a religious entity for its advisement and the sheer impact of the lore that the Antarian people have placed upon it. There are some among the group loyal to the Royal family who feel we should give up all decision making to the granolith and just be figureheads or translators of their decision. But at the same time, anyone who has ever used the granolith and experienced its powers understands that the granolith reacts to us and can only give advice based on what it has learned from us. The granolith is also a being that serves the people of Antar in whatever way it needs, whether it be protection or education or technology.

The granolith is simply a being that provides the future of our culture and that’s why it was so essential that the granolith be sent with you. For you are the simplest future of our culture.

I realize as I end this letter that I have forgotten to mention one very important thing: our family itself. I know it must be a little confusing to receive all this information from me without a word about your father. He was Khivar’s last victim before we left. He made sure I was out of the castle and safely with you in the laboratories before he confronted Khivar. The granolith told me when he died, killed just in front of the throne he’d ruled from for the past 25 years. I’m not sure whether I will always regret not being there with him in his final moments, but I know he would want me to go on and ensure your safety and the future of the Antarian way of life. That’s why we come to Earth now. Our future is there, and hopefully, it will be a new start for all of us.

To wrap this up, I feel like I ought to give you some piece of wisdom about this whole process but I can’t really think of anything I want to say more than that I love you and I will be with you soon. Nothing can stop that. Take care of one another.

Katarina



The 6 of them looked at one another absorbing all that she’d said. Max and Isabel felt a loss for this father they’d never known, but they were both thankful that soon they would at least get to meet their mother.

“Does anyone else see what this letter has not told us?” Michael asked. “She talks about using the granolith, but she never told us how to actually access it. I mean, what are we supposed to do? Go to the granolith chamber and just start telling it what we want? Or think about what we want? Try to form a connection to it?”

“She said it’s an instinctual being. Maybe all that requires to use it is instinctual to you,” Liz said. “Maybe we’ll just go out there and know what to do.”

“I cannot believe I heard something that unscientific come from the girl who plans for everything. I mean, shouldn’t there be some form of a scientific method to this? Do you not want to plan for it or chart it?” Michael teased.

Liz smiled. “Well, I’m beginning to think that maybe science isn’t the answer for everything.” She laughed and looked at everyone sitting in silence. “Have I shocked you all into silence?”

Max squeezed her waist and kissed her neck.

Isabel brought them back to business. “I think we just need to figure out what to do. I want nothing more than to go to the granolith chamber and bring our mother and our people here and live that dream life that we all want, but I don’t think we can do that. I mean, there are still too many factors playing on all this. Like, what do we do about Tess? And Nasedo? And Khivar? Tess obviously wants the granolith now which to me implies—“

“That maybe the people back on Antar are not that happy under the rule of Khivar,” Alex finished. “And he wants the granolith to prove to the people there that he is the true ruler.”

“Right. So we have to protect the granolith from Tess and figure out how to trap her and Nasedo. I think that especially after today we might have a problem with that. Tess might be really upset about what Maria said, or at least she’ll act that way. We have to take care of her and soon.”

“But how can we? She has so many more powers than you. She was raised by Nasedo, and he trained her to be a machine almost,” Maria pointed out. She wondered for the first time if her little rant might have done more bad than good. She had such a hard time remembering that what felt right was not always right, especially in the face of someone who’d hurt people she loved.

“Maybe she’s been right this entire time. Maybe it does take the power of the 4-Square to defeat our enemies,” Max looked at Liz for a moment before turning to face them all.

“But, Max, Nasedo erased all my memories. I can’t access my powers or anything.”

“Not by yourself, but I think there might be a way to do that. I think we need to make a trip to the granolith chamber, tonight. And we’ll try to access it. We’ll try to get it to give you back your memories and your powers.”

“And we can set up the podchamber so Alex can stay there at night now. I mean, I hate to think about it, but it’s a reality that we have to deal with. Tess cannot see Alex.” Michael said.

“Can she get into the podchamber? We never really figured that out.” Maria asked. “Either way you can just do some of that alien mumbo-jumbo and make it so that she can’t, right? I want Alex to be safe from her.”

“That’s what we all want. And we’ll have to do something to the locks no matter what. None of us know if she can access the chamber by herself, but it might not matter because if she has Nasedo with her, he can access it no matter what.”

“What are we going to do about Tess?” Isabel asked.

They all looked to Max for the answer.

“I don’t really know what we’ll do right now. I think the only thing we can do is first try to get all our powers as extensive as we can using the granolith and watch Tess of course. Then we’ll have to make a decision.”

They all looked at one another knowing what that decision would be.


posted on 30-Sep-2002 11:00:43 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Thank you all for reading and leaving such lovely feedback. It truly helped me get through the GRE. And this part is dedicated to my favorite person to talk this part through with .... you know who you are. Enjoy!


~*~Part 24~*~



Several hours later, they were still all sitting around in Michael’s apartment. They’d spent the day planning how to carry out the evening trip to the granolith chamber. They would take both the Jeep and Maria’s car. Each car would head to the chamber a different way and carry a cellular phone to call in case there were any troubles, namely Tess. Once there, they were unsure how long it would take them to actually figure out how to use the granolith and even more unsure as to how long it would take for Liz to get her powers or her memories, if this even worked. If it was later than 10 o’clock at night, Isabel and Maria would call their respective parents asking for a sleepover and letting Mrs. Evans know that Max was out camping with Michael. If it took longer than one night, Isabel and Maria would go to school the next day, making all the appropriate excuses for both Liz and Max and keeping their eyes on Tess to see how she was reacting.

It wasn’t the best plan they’d ever had, but it would work.

Michael was pacing the perimeter of the room for the 10th time that night. “I’m still worried about this plan.”

“Michael, this is all we could come up with. There is nothing else we can do. We have to go to the granolith chamber. It’s the only way to find the answers to all these questions we have…I would think you’d be most interested in going. Finally, we’re getting answers!”

“I know that, Is, and I want to go. I know we need to. I just think that we need to do something about Tess. What if she follows us someway or suspects something? We need to make sure she’s distracted.”

“Liz, call Kyle. Ask him to take her out or something,” Maria held a phone out to her.

Liz didn’t take the phone and started to object. She didn’t want to use Kyle like that, putting him in a dangerous situation, but at the same time, she knew they needed to go to the granolith chamber. They needed to see what it could tell her. She nodded and took the phone.

“Will he do this for you?” Max asked.

“Yes.” She knew he would. He’d already proven he would do anything for her. She dialed Kyle’s house, praying he answered the phone.

“Hello?”

Someone out there liked her. “Kyle, it’s Liz.”

“Hey, Parker. What’s up?”

“I need a favor.”

“Do I need to remind you that the last time I heard those words your boyfriend—or whatever we’re calling Max Evans this week—came within 5 seconds of using his alien powers on me? I am not in the mood to fight tonight because I would have to fight back this time. And I don’t think you want me to bruise his pretty alien face.”

“Please, Kyle, just listen.” She took his silence as a sign he was willing to listen. “I need you to distract Tess tonight.”

“What? Why?”

“I’m going to tell Max the truth tonight—about that night. I need to. But I don’t want any interruptions. It’s going to be hard enough to tell him this without someone trying to stop it. And you know Tess would intrude—“

“Liz—“

“You know that she would, Kyle. She refuses to let Max and I be around each other alone. I mean, she’s so determined to have him—“

“And a couple weeks ago, you were encouraging her to go to him. You were willing to help her attract him.”

“Things change—“

“Because you can’t stay away from him.” The anger was evident in his voice. “I wish I could understand what kind of power that alien is using on you, Parker. It’s pretty damn powerful. He could make millions if he could sell that.”

“Kyle, please. For the past weeks, I have been so confused: whether to live with the effects of what I caused or to tell Max the truth—“

“Which you didn’t even bother to tell me!”

“I know. I can’t tell you before I tell Max, Kyle. Please try to understand. I was desperate that night. I thought I had to do what we pretended to do. I mean, I was so confused…I thought my life was going to be about one thing and then someone tells me it has to be about something else. I didn’t know what to do.”

“So you came to me.”

“Yes. And I’m sorry for that. But please just this one last time and then you can tell me to go away and never talk to you again. Please distract Tess tonight.”

He sighed. “You’re just lucky we were already planning on going to the movies tonight.”

“Thank you, Kyle. You will never understand how much I appreciate this.”

“I expect the truth, and soon, Parker.”

“I promise you I will tell you the truth as soon as I understand it all,” she vowed. “Thank you.”

“Bye, Liz.”

Liz hung up the phone. “He’ll help us, but at some point, we need to tell him the truth. I don’t want to leave him with Tess, not knowing what the truth about her is. It’s not fair, after all he’s done to help me.”

Max nodded. “We’ll tell him the truth soon. And definitely as soon as we find out how to stop Tess. Kyle and the Sheriff have been good to us.”

“He said he and Tess were planning on going to the movies anyway tonight so they’ll be in the dark for at least 2 hours. That will give us plenty of time to get out there and maybe even start to figure things out,” Liz said optimistically.

They waited until they knew that Kyle and Tess would be in the movie theatre before heading out to the granolith. They pretty much disregarded their original plan and Maria’s Jetta followed Max, Liz, Isabel, and Alex to the granolith chamber in the most direct way. The drive was mostly silent. Each car just filled with suspense, but no one more excited than Liz. She was so close to discovering a past she’d never imagined she had. She could hardly wait.

They climbed up the hill to the chamber as quickly as they dared with Isabel and Max going ahead of Alex and Liz. Michael and Maria were several feet behind them.

“So are you ready for this, Liz?” Alex asked. “We’ve always known you were special, but you’re about to find out how not even human you are.”

She smiled. “I think I am ready for this. I mean, I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined that I’d be coming up here to find out something about myself. But I’m glad for this, Alex. It means so much to me now.”

He teased. “If you’re about to break into song because it means that you are meant to be with Max, let’s skip it, okay? I already know the chorus by heart.”

Liz punched his arm. “Cute Whitman.”

“I thought so.” He laughed.

The two of them reached the door where Max and Isabel were waiting for them. “What are we waiting for?” Liz asked.

“Michael and Maria. I want to test something about this door.” Michael and Maria reached them.

“And we’re waiting for?” Maria looked around.

“Michael, try to open the door.” He reached his hand out to where the panel to open the door was. A second later, the door swung open. Max waved his hand over the panel and shut the door. Then he waved his hand again before turning to look at Michael. “Try again.”

He sighed. “Max—“

“Please.”

Michael reached his hand out again, but this time nothing happened. “What’d you do?”

“I guess we can lock this door after all,” he smiled a little. “I locked it.”

“Let me try!” Isabel tried to unlock the door with no success.

“I set it so that the door would only respond to me. No one else can get in.” He waved his palm over the door and it opened. They all walked in and then Max turned around and locked the door behind them.

Liz immediately walked toward the pods. This was really the first time she’d ever wanted to look at them. Before they had always represented that one thing that she was most afraid of: Max had an entire part of his life that didn’t involve her. But now…this was part of her life. She was part of this. There was nothing between them anymore. She reached out to touch the top pod.

Max came up behind her. “That was mine,” he whispered and then pointed to the other 2 pods. “That was Michael’s and Isabel’s.”

Liz reached out to touch the one right beneath Max’s. “So this was mine.” She ran her fingers over it. It was so smooth and soft. It felt so safe to her. She turned her head to meet Max’s. He could see the wonder and amazement in her eyes when she said, “Max.”

He hugged her. “I know.”

She nodded. “Let’s go to the granolith.” Her anxiousness to discover everything the granolith had to offer came up again.

They all crawled through the entrance to the granolith chamber. Liz looked up at it with a look of awe on her face. This machine—this being—could tell her everything about herself. She couldn’t wait to find out what it would share. She wondered if she would only find her powers or if she would really remember everything that had happened back on Antar. And if she did that, would Max, Isabel, and Michael be able to do the same thing? And what would that mean for all of their relationships? Would she and Max remember that connection and it would just spring to life again?

Maria broke the silence. “Liz, I think the ball is definitely in your court here.”

She looked to Max. “What do I do? I mean, how do I activate it?”

He shook his head. “We’re all kind of lost on that one, Liz. And despite Tess’ best efforts, the destiny message doesn’t tell us anything. I guess it’s just trial and error.

Liz looked at the granolith as she walked around it. She stopped in front of a panel with no distinguishing features. She looked at it for a moment. “Or maybe it’s instinctive.” She reached out and put her hand on the panel. She closed her eyes.


She felt like she was floating. There was no other description for this. There was no sense of gravity or inertia or friction. It was all just movement. She could feel each and every breath inside her and the movement of the air around her. She had never been more aware of anything in her entire life. No matter what the granolith revealed to her, this one moment was enough to completely change her outlook on life. She felt clear and open and real.

Slowly, she started to feel things, like sensory memories, like her flesh understood what her mind could not, like it could remember what she couldn’t. And slowly, she started to see things to go along with these feelings.

She could remember waking up in the pod. She could feel herself pulling free of the goop inside it and coming out confused, wondering where her friends were. She knew she was supposed to be with her friends. They were meant to be together. Where were they? She saw a tall man coming close to her. He spoke to her in their native tongue, whispering promises of safety and the future. He kept calling her Princess. She didn’t trust him; he felt different. She wanted her friends. She needed to be with him. She felt a power within her, but she wasn’t sure what it meant or how to yield it against this man. She knew she was powerful. She knew she could do something, but she just didn’t know how.

She could remember that man taking her from the chamber, in rough scratchy clothes. She didn’t want to go. She wanted to stay right where she was; certain that he would come back for her. There was no other option for her. This man was taking her away from her destiny. She couldn’t allow that! But he was taller and stronger and he knew things about where they were and what they would have to do. She couldn’t escape him. He took her to a balcony. It was so pretty there; the stars seemed so close on this little roof. She loved this; she felt so close to home here. But then she saw this man’s hands. They were glowing, like he was going to do something. She immediately got scared; what would he do? He whispered to her, promising her a happy future and that no one would ever hurt her, and then his hands came up on either side of her head.

She could remember that first night in the bed at the Parker home. She felt empty and alone and like everything that had ever mattered to her had been stolen. She knew that when she woke up, she wouldn’t remember any of this and she tried her hardest not to go to sleep, but she couldn’t fight it too much. She’d been through so much that day; she was tired. She sent a prayer to whatever gods this planet had that someday she would find him again. Someday, she would find her destiny.

She woke up the next day as 7-year-old Liz Parker, anxious to just go play with her best friends Maria and Alex.

She felt like she was floating again. She could feel energy around her, kind of like in an electrical storm where you could feel the dangerousness of it all. But this time the energy seemed to transcend the physical. It started to move into her. She could feel the power growing in her. She felt like every part of her body was glowing as she felt the warmth of the power rising through her legs and running down her arms into her fingers. She could even feel it running through her brain, awakening parts of her that hadn’t been used in a lifetime.

There was a moment of completeness that Liz had never felt in her own skin before. She felt like without a doubt everything was just as it was meant to be. Like she was just who she was supposed to be. Just whom she’d always wished she were. Just whom she’d always been.



Meanwhile, everyone in the chamber was watching Liz. At first, when she’d touched the granolith, it was like she went into a trance. She didn’t reply to any of their voices. She just had the most peaceful look on her face.

Michael kept pacing around the chamber over and over, keeping his eyes focused on the colors in the cone of the granolith. Did they mean something? Were they supposed to be changing so rapidly? What was Liz going through? Would she step away from that machine—being—and suddenly know everything about them? Would he ever know the same? Would she be okay?

Max had his eyes on Liz the entire time. He thought she was safe, connected to the granolith, but he couldn’t be sure, and he refused to take any risks with her life. He couldn’t do that. Not now—not when they’d just finally found one another again. At the same time, he couldn’t wait to find out what the granolith told her about their past. He couldn’t wait to see if it gave her her powers back and what those powers were.

They were all pretty much quiet, just watching Liz’s connection. Isabel was silently wishing that she could connect and wondering if she ever would. She wanted to know about her past, too. She didn’t want to be with Michael in any way, but she couldn’t help but wonder what she had been like, what they all had been like. And she wished she could understand her powers better. She wanted to be the one to protect Alex from Tess. She wanted some control over that. She didn’t like that she had to turn everything over to her brother and their friends, even though she understood that they all worked best together. She wanted to protect the people she loved.

“Oh my God…” Maria’s words broke them all out of their concentration.

Michael stopped to look at her. “What?”

She stood up and pointed towards Liz. “She’s glowing.”

Max stared at her for a second and realized that while he had been staring at her so intently, he’d completely missed the slow growth of a definite glow to Liz’s skin.

“Max, what’s going on?” Alex asked.

“I—I don’t know. I—“ He walked closer to her. Was she safe? Was the granolith hurting her? How did he stop it?

“Max, we have to stop this. It can’t be healthy for Liz to be glowing like that,” Maria said. “Do something!” She didn’t really know how healthy any of this was for her. Did the glow mean that something was hurting her best friend? Or was something wonderful happening to her? Would she be all right if they pulled her away from it? Could they? She didn’t know any of the answers to that. All she knew was that if something was happening to Liz and it was bad, she had to do something to protect her. She was her best friend; they did that for each other.

Max just reached out to Liz. He didn’t know what to do but he knew that he had to disconnect her from the granolith if she was going to stop glowing. He reached out to her hand and pulled it away from the granolith. She fell back into his arms, gasping for air.


posted on 7-Oct-2002 6:45:41 PM by Transparent Clear
AN

Hi, guys. First of all, as always, thank you so much for your feedback and attention to this little story. And I know I promised you an update...soon. And I have it all typed up at home. So you're thinking, great! a new part tonight. Well, that would happen if I could get my computer to run word. unfortunately, I cannot. grrrrrr

I'm working on fixing that, and I promise that asap there will be a new part.

Thanks again!
Jenn

posted on 15-Oct-2002 8:59:41 PM by Transparent Clear
Finally! I'm back! I'm sorry this has taken so long. Between school and work and 'outings', time for writing has been lacking. I know, I know. How dare I put things like school in front of what's important? I'll try to post again soon. (like this week, hopefully) Love you all for the feedback and bumps! Jenn

~*~Part 25~*~


“Liz,” Maria immediately came to her side. “Liz, are you all right?”

She kept taking large gasps of air, as if the oxygen wasn’t making it all the way to her lungs. Her eyes were shut, and they couldn’t tell if she was even conscious enough to hear their words.

Max sat down next to the granolith and cradled Liz against his body. He kept pushing her hair off her face and rubbing his fingers down her neck. The others stood back, watching, knowing that if anything would pull Liz out of this, it would be Max.

“Liz, baby, are you okay? You need to open your eyes for me. Please, Liz, I need to know you’re okay. Just open your eyes.”

She took 3 more great gasps of air before her breathing calmed to an even pattern.

“Liz—“

Her eyelids started to flicker.

Max started thanking every deity he’d never believed in, taking this as a sign that she was going to be okay. “Liz.”

She looked up at him slowly with wide eyes. “Max.”

He turned her toward his chest and hugged her tightly. “Liz, I’m so glad that you’re okay.”

“Max, it was incredible. Absolutely inspiring beyond words. I can’t even explain—“ She started to look around. “It wasn’t done—why did you pull me away?”

“Liz, you were glowing. We were afraid something was wrong.”

“I was glowing?”

“As bright as that hickey did last year.” Maria interjected.

“What happened, Liz? Do you remember anything?” Isabel asked.

“It—it was like I was floating or something, but I’d never felt so safe in my life. I was so aware of myself; I’ve never felt that before either. I could sense each breath as it entered and left my body. I could feel my skin and the lightest touch of my hair on my back. Then it was like my body—my skin—was remembering—all sorts of things. I remember coming out of the pods. Nasedo was waiting for me. I remember him taking my memories from me. I remember thinking about the 3 of you—wondering where you had gone and how I would ever find you again.”

“So you remember everything about the past now?” Michael couldn’t help himself from asking. He tried to push back the disappointment he was feeling in that he had been waiting for answers for 17 years; Liz had been waiting 17 hours and she suddenly got to know the answers.

Liz paused as she tried to figure out how to answer him.

Max worried at her silence. “Liz, are you all right?”

“I’m fine, Max. I promise. I just don’t know how to describe it. I feel like that scene in Contact when Jodie Foster says that they should have sent a poet or a writer—not a scientist. I don’t think I have that good a grasp on the English language to explain this.” She looked at Michael. “I don’t know everything about our past, not yet. I feel like the granolith gave me the sensory memory stuff, like I have the physical feelings of the past but not the visual. Does that make sense? I can tell you in great detail exactly how Zan’s hand felt in mine—in Asha’s—but I can’t see any experiences of actually holding his hand.” She shook her head. “I’m sorry. I’m not explaining this very well. I just don’t—“

Michael stopped her. “No, you did fine, Liz. I understand.”

“So I was really glowing?”

“It totally freaked me out, chica. I was prepared for a friend with alien memories. No one mentioned she’d glow brighter than a Timex.”

“Do you know why I was glowing?” She turned to Max.

“I didn’t really take the time to analyze it. I just felt like I had to get you away from there. You could have been in danger. We didn’t know what was going on.”

“I wasn’t in danger.” She paused. “It felt like energy. I never thought—“

“Energy?”

“After I saw the flashes, it was like there was all this energy around me—waiting. I could feel it…coming into me...changing me—“

“Changing you?” Max interrupted again. “What—“

“Not in a bad way, Max,” she smiled. “I t was like I could feel powers within me and they were—“

“Your powers were presenting themselves?” Isabel asked excitedly.

“I guess.”

“What were they?”

They all waited, anxious to hear Liz’s answer. This was information that could change everything for them.

“I’m not sure. They’re there, but I don’t know how to access them or even what they are.” She looked disappointed.

“That’s okay, Liz,” Liz sat down next to her. “It took all of us some time to figure out what our powers were.’

Max nodded. “We’ll figure these out, Liz.”

She squeezed his hand. ‘I know.” She turned and looked at the granolith again. “I need to connect to it again.”

“Liz—“

“And this time, no matter if I glow or turn purple or anything—I don’t care—you cannot pull me away from it.”

“Liz—“

“Promise me, Max.”

“I can’t promise you that. You could be in danger. I won’t risk that.”

“I’m not in danger, Max, not with the granolith. It will protect me. I know that, Max, I believe it. I just have to know everything that the granolith can show me. I have to—we have to. If we’re ever going to defeat Tess, we need every resource we can get—“

“Liz—“ He couldn’t argue with her reasoning. He knew it was true that they needed advantages over Tess and the granolith might be their only true one, but how could he just allow Liz to connect heedlessly to a machine that might kill her. How could he put Liz’s life in danger without a second thought? He needed her in his life, and trusting the granolith could make him lose her. In the end, though, he knew she wouldn’t listen to his logical worry. All he could do was try to make her stop with his emotions. He hated to manipulate her, but if that’s what it took to keep her safe, he’d do it. “You can’t ask me to just put your life in the hands of a machine. You can’t expect me to just trust something we completely do not understand? Not with you. You know I’ve never been good with faith, Liz, but you’re the one thing I believe in. I can’t lose you.”

She leaned up and kissed him. “You won’t lose me, Max. I promise you that. But you have to let me stay connected until the granolith has shown me what I need to see.” She looked over Max’s shoulder into Michael’s eyes. He would be the only one who could really stop Max from pulling her away. “Please, just let me stay connected.”

Michael nodded. He knew how important it was for them to find out everything, and he trusted Liz that the granolith wouldn’t hurt her. Now he only had to keep Max from killing him to get to her.

Liz moved closer to the granolith and placed her hand back on the cool surface.


The floating sensation was completely open again, and she felt so at ease in it. She felt the ebb and flow of the energy moving around her and in her. It was still incredible to experience it. There was a new tingling in her skin, like it was alive and aware of what was happening, like it was its own new being.

Even though physically, her eyes were closed, Liz felt like they were open, like for the first time in her life, she could see everything without bias or conceptions. She could see more than just actions, though. She could see emotions and thoughts. She was aware of everything.

He eyes closed again, but she could still see. And this time, she could see everything about the past.

Whirling past her eyes was the entire life of a small raven-haired girl. She saw her birth and her parents. She saw her loneliness. And then she saw a small girl in a long blue dress in the middle of a crowd dancing with a boy with bright green eyes. She had never felt so safe as she did in his arms. She could feel the difference when she was pulled away.

She watched years of emptiness pass before her eyes and then there was another crowd in a beautiful ballroom. And the raven-haired girl danced into the arms of a green-eyed man. And the blur of images stopped. And there was peace and pure, simple love. It felt like her soul had found its mate once again.

She saw 2 people kneeling towards each other in a clearing. Their hands were joined as were their gazes. She could understand their thoughts and she thought she might cry at the intense desire to just be one between the 2. She felt the connection being made and growing in strength. She felt the bond between Zan and Asha—and herself…. She had never experienced anything as significant and she was humbled to know the feelings they shared.

She felt/saw experiences of stress and strain. She saw Khivar and Ava. She felt the pain of Vilandra’s death. She saw the final look of relief on Rath’s face. And she saw herself holding Zan’s hand in front of the granolith during those last few moments.

And through it all, there was the underlying, overwhelming sense of love and connectedness that never stopped. It stayed between the 2 of them right till the end.

She started hearing words being chanted over and over. They were obviously in Antarian, but she understood them perfectly. It was a rush of whispers between a husband and his soulmate who knew they were about to lose their lives to something that tried to defy their truth.

“I love you, Asha. From this life to the next. Nothing—not distance or people or war—will keep me from finding you.”

“I will love you, Zan, for more lives than we can imagine. We will never be apart.”

She was consumed with the same sense of energy filling her that she had experienced through the first connection. It was like she could feel the energy searching out certain parts of her brain and body, as if awakening them. She grasped at the sensations, trying to understand what they meant. She looked down at her palm and could see it glowing a calming yellow. The colors changed when a small sign appeared in the center of the palm of her hand. It was a small “V” made up of 5 stars, glowing in a pulsing blue in time with her heartbeat.

She opened her eyes.<\center>



“Liz, are you all right?” Max took her in his arms quickly.

“I’m fine, Max.”

He ran his hands over her body, making sure there was nothing wrong with her.

“Max, I promise I’m fine. The granolith didn’t hurt me, I promise.” She smiled.

“Let him have his moment, Liz,” Michael said. “We had to promise him he could scan you like that in order for him to leave you alone while you glowed.”

“I glowed again?” She knew that already, though. She didn’t know why she asked.

“This time it was more focused, I think. I mean, your entire body was bright, but there was a center of it—“ Maria started babbling.

“My hand.”

“How did you know that, Liz?” Alex asked.

“The last thing I saw in the granolith was my palm pulsing a light blue color.”

“What does that mean?” Maria asked.

“I’m not entirely sure.” She sighed.

“Did you see anything else in the granolith?” Isabel asked.

Liz nodded. “I saw everything. I don’t know if I’ve really digested it all. There was so much—“ She sat down on the floor, leaning against the wall. “I saw our past lives. I saw my entire life or what you might call my life. It was so different…like there were 2 completely different sections to it—before and after—“

“Liz, babe, you aren’t making much sense here.”

She sighed again. “I know. I just don’t know what to say. I want you all to understand this, I mean, it’s so important to me. I think it’s going to be important to all of us. And I’m so frustrated that I can’t explain it.” She looked at Isabel. “You can experience, I think. You just have to connect to the granolith. That should show you everything you need to know.”

“Liz, we’ve never been able to form a connection to the granolith before,” Michael said.

“That’s because we didn’t know the truth before. Isabel was terrified that she was a traitor and that the granolith would show her her betrayals. Michael, you thought you were always alone, no matter what that destiny said, and you were sure that the granolith would show you that. You didn’t think you were good enough for that past or the present. And Max, you were denying that destiny because how could you go through with something that meant you were meant for Tess? You have to be willing to make the connection to find out the truth for the connection to actually work.”

Isabel looked at Liz like she had just read her mind. “How do you know that, Liz?”

“I’m not sure. I just do.” She looked at Max. “Maybe the granolith showed me or—“

“Maybe it’s your powers kicking in.”

“You think that I can read minds?” Liz asked. Was she a mind reader now? Would she ever have a moment’s silence in her brain?

“Maybe. I mean, both Isabel and Tess have powers that deal with the mind. Maybe that’s where women’s powers focus.”

“No, that doesn’t seem right,” Liz said. “I mean, why would they separate our powers or send us down here unable to protect ourselves? Isabel and I would be helpless until we learned how to really control our powers.”

“So would Max and I—“

“Not really. I mean, the instinct to protect yourself would have kicked in. It’s in the flight-or-fight tendency, especially for you, Michael. You would have been in danger and your powers would have just flowed, like adrenaline.”

“Well, we were sent together. Maybe it’s like Tess has said all this time, we’re supposed to work together.”

“No. I think it’s just that we haven’t had the practice at each other’s powers. Or maybe Nasedo did something when he erased all our memories. Maybe he shut certain openings or abilities off. Maybe he made it so that you—we—would be dependent upon Tess when she came for everything. She would be the one to start bringing out all your powers so you would feel like she was the strongest. I bet she isn’t nearly as strong as we all will be once we have all connected to the granolith.” Liz theorized. She was pacing the granolith chamber by then, going around and around.

Maria reached out to stop her. “Liz, you’ve got to stop walking in circles. You’re starting to make me dizzy, chica.” She held on to Liz’s arm.

When Maria’s arm touched Liz’s, she was hit by the strongest wave of emotions. She knew they weren’t from within her and she could hardly believe what she was feeling. Maria was worried about Michael. She was afraid he’d connect to the granolith and find out that he didn’t like the person he was on Antar. Or worse that he did, that he would find the memories of him being in love with Isabel and that he’d want her more than he did Maria. Maria was terrified of losing Michael, now that he had finally opened up to her.

Liz hugged her friend. “Maria, you won’t lose him,” she whispered.

“Liz—“ Maria looked her in the eye.

She whispered for Maria’s ears only again. “You won’t lose him. No matter what Michael finds out from the granolith, he has chosen you. He won’t change that.”

“Liz, how did you know what I was thinking?” Maria asked loud enough for everyone else to hear.

“I think we might have just discovered Liz’s main power,” Isabel said slowly.

Liz looked over to where Isabel, Max, and Michael were all standing together. What did this mean?

***


posted on 27-Oct-2002 11:19:05 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Hi, all! I know I have made you wait an ungodly amount of time for the next part, and I'm sorry. Life is just sooo busy.

And as much as I wish I could be posting a new part, I just do not seem to have the time this week. I leave for Salt Lake City this Wednesday, and I've yet to pack, do the laundry to pack, or contemplate what to wear. (bad idea)

I do however have a 6 hour long flight to and from SLC to think about what I want to write and stuff. *happy*

so I promise a new part when I get back!

and think positive thoughts for me, I've never flown and I am not allowed to drink to ease my pains...

thanks for all your feedback!
Love,
jenn
posted on 29-Oct-2002 3:49:13 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Ok... one more quick, happy for you note. I've decided that every time I want to smack the people I'm travellign with I will instead start writing. Considering we've not even left Cookeville yet and I'm already sort of pissed at them, I see many many pages in your future. *happy* Just thought I'd give you that news.... *happy*

off to finish packing
Jenn
posted on 8-Nov-2002 2:24:25 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Finally! I have found the time to sit down and write what I've wanted to do for so long. I hope you all enjoy it. ;)

special thanks to everyone for their feedback and doubly special thanks to those of you who have listened to me gripe today. *happy*

love, jenn

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 8-Nov-2002 4:10:58 PM ]
posted on 8-Nov-2002 4:08:11 PM by Transparent Clear
~*~part 26~*~



“What does this mean?” Liz asked. “Am I always going to be sensing others’ emotions?”

Max, Isabel, and Michael all looked at each other. They didn’t know what this new power meant.

“Liz,” Max reached for her hand. “We’ll figure this out.”

Maria couldn’t let that rest. She needed to know what was happening to her best friend and waiting for some random time for them to figure it out was not going to sate her. “What does all this mean? I mean, how can Liz’s new ability help us to defeat Tess? I can understand how Michael’s defense can help and Max’s shield, but how will being able to tell what that bitch is feeling help us?”

Liz looked at all of them. “Maria has a good point, Max. What could being able to see others emotions do for us?”

No one had an answer.

“We will figure this out,” Max said in his best kingly voice. “What we need is to get all of us to work on our powers together. If we can do that, maybe we will see how each of our powers will help us defeat Tess and Nasedo.”

“I think we should wait till each of us has connected to the granolith,” Isabel said. “That will have to help us understand our powers more, don’t you think?”

Liz nodded supportively.

“Should we all just connect tonight?” Michael said plainly trying to keep the excitement out of his voice.

Before Max could speak, Maria spoke up. “What about Tess? I mean, we have no idea where she is or what she’s doing. We need to be safe and careful about this. I think we ought to go back to Roswell for tonight. We can do this tomorrow.”

“What time is it?” Alex asked.

“10:30.”

“Wow. It’s only been 2 hours,” Liz said quietly. Something that was so profound and life changing for her had only taken 2 hours? How was this possible?

“That movie has to be out by now. We don’t’ know what Tess will do. We need to go back to Roswell and make sure she isn’t getting suspicious,” Alex said.

“Alex, you can’t go back,” Isabel said quickly. “I mean, if Tess is suspicious and sees you---“

“I know. But I still think you guys ought to go back.”

“How are we going to make sure Alex is safe though?” Isabel asked. “Can Tess or Nasedo still get in? Since Max did his little locking thing?”

“We don’t really know. I don’t think anyone should be able to break that lock, but Nasedo might have access over us because of the whole protector role he was supposed to play,” Max admitted.

“Is there some way we can lock it so no one can enter?” Isabel asked.

Michael had been pacing around the chamber for a few minutes at this point, obviously thinking about something. “Maybe. They don’t know that we know how to lock that door now. It is something we will be able to do consistently now, right, Max?”

“We should be able to.” He was already following Michael’s train of thought.

“ They know that we all can get in here, but they don’t know about—“

“Liz.” Isabel’s face brightened.

“All we have to do is set the door so that only Liz can get in, and we should be fine.” Michael finished up.

“Brilliant plan, Spaceboy!” Maria hugged him.

“But what do we do about tonight?” Isabel asked. “I don’t want to leave Alex out here alone, but I have to go home. Mom and Dad would kill me if I didn’t at least ask their permission before going to spend the night at Liz’s,” she smiled, knowing Liz would cover for her.

“I can stay out here with Alex while you go check in at home,” Michael volunteered, automatically thinking about how it would give him time to connect to the granolith. “Then I’ll just drive the Jeep home.”

“Sounds like a plan for tonight,” Max agreed. “But tomorrow we lock the door so only Liz can get in. It will keep us all safer.”

“And once we all connect to the granolith, we can use this place to work on our powers together. Tess can never see us working together.”

“Which means that she can’t know that we’re together,” Liz looked at Max. “We have to hide from her.” Ever since she’d first heard that Tess was their enemy, she’d known that she would have to hide her feelings for Max, but now, knowing the full extent of their connection, that was going to be the hardest thing she’d ever had to do. Even now, without consciously thinking about it, she’d reached out and grabbed his hand, as a form of support or reassurance. How was she ever going to be able to adjust to not being “allowed” to do that again?

Max rubbed the back of her hand and pulled her into his arms. “We’ll make it through this, Liz,” he whispered. “I think it’s important that we all connect to the granolith as soon as possible. Obviously, we all have school in the morning so we can’t do that, but after school, we must.”

They all agreed.

“Where do Alex and I fit into this?” Maria asked. “I mean, how can we help you with Tess? Well, mostly, it’s how can I help you with Tess, seeing as how Alex is trapped in here till we defeat her or whatever.”

“Maria, I need you to stay with Liz as much as possible tomorrow,” Max started.

“Max, I do not need a bodyguard—“

“Liz, please. Tess knows that you and Isabel aren’t close right now, especially since you—betrayed me. Maria and Michael are the only ones who can be around you that she won’t be suspicious about. And I know you don’t want a bodyguard, but you might need one. If Tess even becomes the smallest bit suspicious that you know who you are or that we know the truth, I don’t want to know what she would try to do to you.”

“And she has Nasedo somewhere around us, undoubtedly. We have no idea what kind of things he could do to us.”

Isabel could understand Liz’s intolerance for this “special” treatment. “We all need to be careful, basically. No matter what, we cannot allow anyone to know that anything is different with us. Max and Liz have to stay apart in public. I have to act like I still like Tess. We all have to just behave like we did before this weekend, which of course means that Maria would hang around you, Liz. And Michael will typically follow either Maria or Max. And that leaves me with Tess for the most part.”

They all just kind of accepted Isabel’s words in silence, knowing that what she said was true.

“I guess you guys should head back to Roswell then,” Michael said.

Isabel nodded. “I’ll be back in an hour.” She was going to spend the night out here with Alex, no matter what anyone said. She’d lost too much time with him already.

Michael nodded. He had an hour to connect to the granolith. He doubted she would disconnect him or anything, anyway, if he connected for more than an hour. He didn’t know why he was keeping his plan such a secret. They all knew that they would each connect to the granolith. But for some reason, he just had to do this on his own. He didn’t want to be like Liz, being pulled away from the one thing he had always wanted to know. And he didn’t want to have to talk it out with people when he just wasn’t ready to put words to it. This might be the one defining moment of his life, he wanted to savor it.

Everyone cleared out of the chamber leaving Michael alone with Alex for the first time ever really. He needed to figure out some way to be on his own now.

“Alex—“

He spoke up quickly. “I’m going to go sit in the outer chamber for a while. I need to think. Be careful, Michael.” Alex knew what Michael wanted to do, and he wasn’t going to even try to stop him. He also knew that he would want some privacy for this.

“Thanks, Alex,” he said as he crawled through the opening.

“No problem.” He smiled.

Michael stared at the granolith for a moment and then walked around it, as if he were trying to figure out where to stand. Finally, he just gave into the words Liz had said earlier. He just approached it on instinct and touched his hand to the machine.

Immediately, he felt a pulsing in his body stronger than he’d ever felt before. It felt unreal for a moment until it became the only real thing he’d ever truly known. He suddenly felt a warmth that went all the way to his bones settling into his body and for the first time since he’d broken out of his pod, he knew what it was to feel completely safe. Despite himself, Michael felt all his walls breaking down until there was nothing but complete vulnerability and acceptance and wanting. And that’s when Michael Guerin met the man he once was.

He saw everything: his birth, playing in a field with his cousin when they were both young, going to school with Zan, prince of Antar, simply because his father was a general in the King’s army. He saw getting to know Zan and understanding what it was like to be a prince in a noble world. And then he saw the moment he’d first seen Vilandra. He thought she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. And he knew that he would always want her.

He saw himself on the battle field, fighting valiantly for that which he felt was right, for the Antarian way. And he saw Khivar and Avanka, the first time they visited Antar after he had just moved into the castle, as trusted advisor and rising general in the army. He knew instinctively that they were not the people they were pretending to be. And he wondered what he would have to do to protect the values and people he cherished from them.

He saw his family. His mother was so proud of him, and he looked exactly like his father. As first-born son (and only child), he was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps, and he did. He rose through the ranks in the army quickly, prompting people to say it was because he was a friend of Zan’s. But it was because of his skill and passion for what he did. He had definitely inherited his father’s love of Antar and willingness to fight for it.

And then he saw the day he met Vilandra in a garden. She was wearing a snow white dress and was trying her hardest to look interested in all the military gallantry that was going on around her. She just didn’t understand the point in all this military ritual. He walked over to her and they just started speaking. It was as if she were an open book willing to let anyone see who she was. And he became even more entranced by her than he had the first day he’d seen her. She was smart and funny, but there was an underlying innocence about her that he just wanted to protect. Their friendship had grown easily and naturally from there.

He was the first person she’d come to when she’d found out that Khivar wanted her hand in marriage. And he did the only thing he could ever imagine himself doing as he couldn’t imagine Vilandra being forced into a marriage with that brute. He offered her himself, out of love for her and love for Antar. She deserved better and he wanted her. It was the perfect arrangement.

He remembered feeling complete relief when her father, the King, Willes, agreed to let him marry her. And he knew he would never forget how happy she was on their wedding day. They were so sure that nothing would stop them.

He saw himself essentially falling in love with his wife, willing to do anything to make her life a little easier, and wanting to be there for every moment. He saw their fights when Vilandra thought he was protecting her too much, and he saw their making up.

He saw Zan falling in love with his betrothed at their announcement party. It was incredible to see his old friend finding the same fulfillment he’d found.

And he saw himself the night Vilandra surprised him with the news of their pregnancy. He’d just gotten back from a long day of training with the military and Zan. They were determined to be prepared for whatever Khivar was planning. And she was waiting up for him with a dinner table elegantly covered with his favorite foods. And they ate together, talking about their days. And then she walked around the table and sat on his lap. And then she told him their news. He felt love spinning through his entire body and was in complete awe that he would be a father. He and Vilandra would have someone in their lives who were entirely dependent upon them. They would be parents!

He saw them telling her family. And the picnic he and Vilandra went on afterwards.

And then all the warmth that was in his body disappeared as he watched Vilandra being killed. He felt the fists that beat him until he wished he could join Vilandra and their child in death. He saw himself carrying his wife’s body to the castle she had grown up in and told her family of what had happened.

After that, everything became a blur. He saw himself going out on suicide missions, hoping to kill Khivar for the way he had killed him. For he was dead, as surely as he was just mimicking the day to day of life. He was just waiting for his death to be with the people who mattered to him.

And he saw his death, in front of the castle he’d worked so hard to protect. In front of the last remaining thing that linked him physically to Vilandra. He welcomed it.



As Michael started to feel the effects of the granolith slipping away, he was suddenly aware of everything within him. He knew how he would go about doing certain things, like how to control his powers and how to effectively plan military action. For the first time, he felt like the second-in-command that he was supposed to be. He felt himself pulling away from the granolith and accepted that he could not have that level of connection with his past for long periods of time.

For the first time, Michael felt at peace. He knew the truth about his past. He’d been an honorable, important man who had been loved by his family and friends. He was not some extra, forgotten person. He would never have to believe that again. And for the first time he knew he could trust himself. He didn’t have to be skittish with his own feelings and beliefs anymore. He didn’t have to hide himself behind a wall, constantly afraid of rejection. He knew who he was, and no one had the power to reject that.

He walked out of the granolith chamber a new man. He would never be the same Michael Guerin who pushed others away again, and he only hoped he’d have the opportunity to show the people he wanted to be closest to him the new truth about himself. His mind immediately turned to Maria.

He knew exactly where he was going as soon as Isabel made it back to the podchamber.



Meanwhile,

It only took Isabel a few minutes to get her mother’s permission for her to go to Maria’s house for the night. On the ride back to Roswell, they’d decided that it wouldn’t do for Isabel to spend the night at Liz’s and then be hostile to her the next day. So she was spending the night at Maria’s, where they would work on an English assignment together. She quickly packed a backpack with a change of clothes for school tomorrow (this would be the first time she’d ever just go to school in jeans and a t-shirt) and a couple blankets to keep at the podchamber for future sleepovers.

“Be careful,” Max whispered as he walked her out to the Jeep.

“I am, Max. You should be the careful one, if you intend to sneak over to Liz’s tonight. After all, her parents are home now and Mom and Dad might hear you.”

Max smiled. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Max, I—“ She didn’t know how to tell him that she intended to connect to the granolith tonight before she went to bed. She had to know the truth. Well, she already knew the truth really, but she needed to feel it. She needed to know the person Vilandra had been inside and out.

“I know. Just be careful and have Alex keep an eye on you.”

“Do you think he’s keeping an eye on Michael?”

He didn’t say anything. “Just be careful, Is, and call me if you need anything.”

“I’ll be fine.” She smiled. “I’ve got Alex to look out for me.”

“And you’ll always have me.” He promised.

“I know, Max,” she hugged him. “You’ve been my brother for 2 lifetimes now. I don’t think we can get rid of each other very easily.”

“I hope not.” He smiled. “Now get out of here before Mom comes out with a video camera.”

“See ya tomorrow morning, Max. You and Liz are going to come and lock the chamber right?”

“6:30 a.m., sharp.”

“Great.”

Isabel drove out to the podchamber listening to popular music on the radio. She felt so great. She was finally figuring things out about her life. She’d never really admitted to herself how much she wanted to know the truth about her past. She’d just wanted to know her mother, her family. But now it was so close, everything was so close. She’d know who she had been and she’d finally be able to meet her mother, and even though that might bring about more problems than answers, it would be so worth it.

She climbed up the hill to the entrance to the chamber and couldn’t help but think about how things would change once they’d taken care of Tess and Nasedo. She knew her entire image would change. She would no longer be the Ice Princess that everyone took her for. She’d be Isabel, Alex’s girlfriend, and that was all she really wanted. She didn’t want to be princess of some distant planet. She just wanted to be normal, and for the first time, she could actually see that happening.

Alex was waiting in the outer chamber when she walked in. He was kind of leaning against the wall closest to her pod.

“Where’s Michael?” She already knew the answer.

“Connecting to the granolith,” he said.

“Has everything gone okay?”

“As far as I know. I think he needs to do this on his own.”

She nodded. “Alex, I want to—“

“I know.”

“Will you stay in there with me? Just to be there—“

“I wouldn’t think of leaving, Isabel.”

“Thank you.” She hugged him.

He held her tightly. “So what does Max say about you connecting without him present?”

“I think he’s okay with it. I mean, he understands how I feel.”

“It must be killing him to not be able to connect right now so he can see everything about he and Asha.”

“I’m sure he’ll make it till tomorrow afternoon. I’m actually more worried about what might happen once he does connect and remembers everything about back then. We’ll never be able to keep he and Liz—“

She was interrupted by Michael emerging from the granolith chamber.

“Michael!” She ran over to him. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Better than fine, actually.” He reached out and hugged her. Isabel was a little surprised. For the first time, he was reaching out to someone easily and nearly unconsciously.

“Did you connect?”

“Isabel, it was the most incredible thing. I remember everything from back then. I know the truth about everything.” He hugged her again. “It’s so incredible. I remember feelings and thoughts and ideas. I saw my family and Zan and you.” He paused and pulled away. “I can remember everything I felt for you back then, Isabel. I can remember Rath’s love for Vilandra. I –“ He looked back and forth between Isabel and Alex. “But it’s different now. I love you, Isabel. But you’re like a sister to me. I have wasted so much time in my life, just trying to ignore the things that are staring me in the face.” He looked towards the door—towards Roswell. “I have to go.”

Isabel hugged him once again. “I love you, too, Michael. The keys are in the Jeep. And tell Maria I’ll see her at school in the morning.”

Michael smiled and left.

Alex watched after him. “Wow. That was a change. The granolith must be pretty powerful to do that to Stonewall Guerin.”

“I wonder what it will do to me.” She whispered.

“Nothing you don’t want to happen,” Max whispered.

“I love you, Alex.”’

“I know, and I love you, too.”

She took his hand and they went into the granolith chamber. She held on to him as she walked around the granolith once, continuously amazed by its entire being. Then she let go of his hand and looked him in the eye.

“I’ll be right here, Is. You’ll be fine.”

She smiled. “Thank you.”

She walked closer to the granolith and reached her hand out to it. As her palm connected with the cool material that felt like glass but was so much stronger than that, her eyes closed.

She was overcome by the most amazing feelings of love. It was like there was nothing to her but pure emotion and the only emotion she was capable of accepting or understanding was love. She felt like she was flying for a second as she got used to this overwhelming emotional experience and when she felt acclimated to it, the images started. She saw her birth. She saw the look of love and adoration in the eyes of both of her parents and then she was laid down on a bed beside her brother, beside the one person who would always be with her. And she met her brother’s eyes…but there was more. There was a connection between the 2 of them. She knew and understood that they would always be important to each other, no matter what.

She saw herself growing up, playing games with her brother, before he was taken off to learn how to be a good prince. She saw herself alone, following in the footsteps of her mother, trying to be the perfect princess. She was so confused by all the obligations around her. Why couldn’t she just be normal and complete? She was so envious of all the people who lived such simple, happy lives. She wondered if Zan felt the same way.

She watched the way her brother was motivated, both internally and externally, to be the best person he could. She sometimes wondered when he would just be himself. She vowed to always be the one person he could be himself with. But she knew he would need someone other than her someday. She only hoped it would be someone who would be able to understand her brother as well as he would like to understand her.

She watched the suitors trying for her hand and relived the hours of mindless pratter while watching the military training. She heard other girls of the court talk about how cute random boys were but she found she didn’t care or agree with any of them. The only one who caught her eye was her brother’s friend Rath, but she was sure he’d never see her as anything more than Zan’s sister. But then one boring day when she would rather be sitting in her rooms, reading a new book, Rath walked up to her and they started talking. She was so excited! She’d never dreamed he would really come talk to her!

She found herself talking to Rath like he was a friend, an old friend who she knew she could trust and by the end of their conversation, she felt she could trust him. There was a look in his eyes that said he was worthy of that and so much more. She saw them meeting for many more conversations.

She saw the day her father told her Khivar had asked for her hand in marriage. She felt the absolute dread that trickled through her body at the thought of being married to that man. She saw herself running to Rath, to tell him her news. And then she saw Rath’s response and his beyond sweet proposal. And then there was so much joy and happiness. It was like she was getting to finally enjoy the simple life she’d always wanted but still living in the splendor of the role she was born into.

She saw the betrothal party for Zan and Asha. She remembered dancing with Rath, and feeling so safe in his arms. She was so happy just watching her brother fall in love with Asha in front of her eyes.

She saw conversations with Asha, just getting to know her for the unique and wonderful person she was. She saw the wedding and calming Asha with a present from Zan.

And then she saw the night she told Rath they were pregnant. It was so magical. There was so much love between them. They were so happy. They were in such awe of the very possibility of another life.

And then there was the picnic. She felt so safe with Rath. It was like they were both denying the potential danger that Khivar still posed, like they wouldn’t let anything ruin this one day of happiness. It all moved in slow motion. One minute, she and Rath were laughing and eating lunch and whispering baby names between kisses…and the next, there was nothing. It was like her entire body was frozen, or dying. She realized that this must be what it’s like to die. Her only thoughts were of her family, of Rath, her parents, Asha, and Zan. What would become of them now?

She turned to Rath and spoke one final thought that seemed to encompass so much of her life. “I love you.”

And then there was nothing.



Isabel felt herself pulling away from the granolith. But she was filled with the most incredible sense of just knowing who she was. She’d been genuinely loved by so many people for just being herself. There was no need for her to try to live in terms of specialty. She was special simply because of who she was; she didn’t need to exclude herself from experiencing everything no matter how simple it seemed. She could just experience. The Ice Princess routine would no longer help her, and she would no longer be victim to its downfalls. She also understood her powers, completely. There was a purpose for her to walk through dreams and consciences and she would use it as it was meant to be. It wasn’t a toy; it was a tool. For the first time, Isabel Evans felt truly free.

She pulled her hand away from the granolith without a trace of regret. She reached out to Alex and just let herself slide into his arms.

“Are you okay?” He whispered and ran his hands through her hair.

“I’ve never been better,” she said honestly.

***



posted on 24-Nov-2002 10:45:28 PM by Transparent Clear
Ok... Finally! a new part! I am so sorry... I've been sooo busy. *happy* but I finally sat down and this all flowed tonight. (I love it when 8 pages just fly... *happy* ) I hope you all enjoy. next post will be after thanksgiving... which will be fun... 14 hour drive to PA w/ a father who's pissed w/ me and a 3 year old... Thank god I'm 22!

ok... on to the story. thank you all for being so great to me! (and thanks david.)
Jenn


~*~Part 27~*~


It was a changed group that walked into the high school the next morning. Even though they entered through several different entrances and did their best not to pretend to be looking for each other, the 6 of them held a secret strength now that nothing could tear apart. In the space of one weekend, they had all found an inner sense of unity that they knew they could trust and hold on to. It was incredibly overpowering. Michael could hold on to the fact that he finally knew his past. Liz understood more about herself than she had ever imagined there would be to know. Isabel had a newfound strength inside her—that just insisted to shine through. She was walking taller and more confidently then she ever had and she was doing it all without the ice princess persona. Even Maria had a different attitude. It might have something to do with the late night visit Michael had made at her house. But they were now more unified as a group than they had ever been, even before Tess had appeared in Roswell and disrupted their original grouping. Nothing could break them apart.

“So how was Alex this morning?” Maria asked as she and Liz walked into school together.

“Fine. We brought him some food and stuff to do while we’re in here.”

“But he’s okay?” Maria asked.

“He’s fine, Maria. Max won’t let anything hurt him.”

“I just can’t help but wonder what was wrong with all of us that we didn’t realize the idea of Alex just suddenly leaving the country to go on some exchange program he had never mentioned before was wrong. We are his best friends, Liz, and we didn’t even think it was strange. We should have questioned that.”

“Maria, it was a really hectic time. I mean, we’d just gotten past the skins and then the dupes were here. We were –“

“Too distracted to even think about our best friend.”

“Maria!”

“That’s what it boils down to Liz, you know it as well as I do. We were really bad friends to him.”

“But we won’t be anymore. We all know how lucky we are now. And none of us will take each other for granted again. I know that.”

Maria shrugged. “I hope so.”

Liz decided it was definitely time to change the subject. “So did Michael come see you last night?” She knew he’d connected to the granolith. There was no way he’d stayed out there for so long and resisted the temptation of it all. She wondered what he saw and how it had affected him.

Maria turned a bright shade of pink.

Liz noticed, of course. “Maria!”

“Liz—“

“What happened?”

“Liz, nothing happened…. Really. I mean, yes, he did come over. He’d just connected to the granolith and he wanted to talk to me about it. He chose to talk to me about it!” She giggled. “Anyway, he showed up at my window and he just looked so strong. I mean, he seemed complete somehow. And he came in and he talked to me, like an equal who would understand everything he said. It was awesome, Liz.”

“So what happened?”

Maria blushed. “Nothing.”

“How much of nothing?” Liz teased.

“Liz, I can’t believe you just asked that!” Maria laughed, knowing it was something she would have asked.

***


Across the hall, Michael had just met up with Isabel. She was doing her best to not go across the hall and join in on Liz and Maria’s conversation. Now that she knew they were the closest people in her life, girls she could trust completely for the first time ever, she just wanted to take advantage of that. She wanted to tease Liz about Max and to help Liz referee Maria and Michael’s fights. She wanted to participate in their girl’s nights. She wanted to giggle about the latest silly thing Alex had done to show her how much he loved her with them. She wanted to have best friends who weren’t hatched with her!

“So how was Alex this morning?” Michael asked.

“Fine. Max and Liz brought him some school stuff so he can try to catch up while he sits out there all day.” She bit her lip for a second before stopping herself. “I’m just so—I mean, what if something happens? What if Nasedo goes out there and can get in? What if we can’t protect him?”

“Isabel—“

“No, I’m not going to think like that. None of that will happen.” She said firmly, leaving herself not very much room to doubt.

“Is, it’s okay to worry about him. I mean, you love him. You’re supposed to worry. I think it’s part of the job.”

Isabel smiled and hugged him. “When did you get so wise?”

He laughed. “I guess when I connected to the granolith.”

She laughed. “Yeah, that’s a pretty interesting experience, isn’t it?”

“How did it go for you, Is?”

“Okay. I learned a lot.”

“Me, too.” He paused. “Did you remember everything about—us?”

“Yeah, and Michael, I know that Vilandra loved Rath. I mean, I can still feel that. But we’re not them. I think we both know it. And I do love you. It’s just your like my brother now. And that will never change.”

“I know, Is. I feel the same way.” He grinned.

“No destiny for us?” She teased.

“Nope. I’m afraid of what Maria would do to me if I even said that word.” He smiled.

Isabel loved seeing the change in him. He was so much more confident now. “She’s good for you, Michael.”

“I know.” He grinned.

“Just checking.”

The first bell rang.

“I guess we’d better get to class?” Michael said.

“Well, be still my heart! Michael Guerin just suggested that we go to class! The world is ending this afternoon, isn’t it?” She teased.

“Shut up, Is.” He wrapped his arm around her waist and led her toward her first class.

***


Liz had never been so happy that her first class was calculus. It was the only class she shared exclusively with Max and she could not wait to see him. They’d spent the night together on her balcony and then snuck out early to go to the podchamber to pick up Isabel and to lock up Alex. But then he’d dropped her back at he house in enough time for her to get a ride from Maria to school, just in case anyone cared enough to watch. And she knew there was someone who did care.

She doodled casually in her notebook, glancing up at every sound in the doorway, just waiting for him to come to class. He would take a chance, she knew, and sit next to her, no matter what anyone would say. And maybe he’d look at her with those incredible eyes a time or two just to let her know that he loved her. Or maybe he’d write a few words in the edges of his notes for her to see. Or if he was really daring, maybe he would look over at her and speak to her.

No matter what he did, she knew how he felt and that was all that mattered. She knew he loved her and he knew that she would always love him. She couldn’t wait for him to connect to the granolith. She wondered if their past life connection would carry over to this one once they both knew the truth. Or maybe they could form a new connection? That would be so incredible! They could all go together, kind of like what Future Max had told her about their wedding. And they’d connect. And then they would just celebrate all night long, dancing with their friends…

“Liz?”

She looked up and found Max standing right next to her.

“Max, hi!” She smiled.

He looked around, acknowledging that they couldn’t really talk here. It was much too public and anything could get back to Tess. He looked at her promisingly for a moment. “I’m going to sit here, is that all right?”

“That’s fine.” She nodded.

He pulled out his book and notebook. And she was right! All through class, in the margins of his notes, he wrote little messages to her. “I love you” or “Can we meet in the eraser room during 6th period?”. Liz just smiled, writing notes of her own back. “I love you, too.´ and “Absolutely.

***


Isabel sat through her first 2 classes sitting beside Tess. It took all the power she could muster to not haul off and hit her after the 5th version of “maybe once we get back to our planet—“. She wanted to just scream at her that she would never go back to a place Khivar ruled. She would not be his pawn. But she chanted Alex over and over in her head to stay calm.

“So did you really want to get together and work on your powers, Is? I mean, I’ve been so focused on getting Max to remember his past and me, of course, that I’ve overlooked how far behind me you and Michael are. We really ought to work on that, too.”

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Isabel turned to her and hissed, “First of all, would you mind not saying words like powers and other planets in public? I don’t really think it’s all that safe for an entire class full of gossipy adolescents to hear that they are sitting beside 2 freaking aliens. Secondly, the only people who are allowed to call me Is are Michael and Max. Please, it’s their silly pet name for me—“

“Michael has a pet name for you?” Tess exclaimed. “Are you and he finally accepting your destiny?”

“Tess, we don’t have a destiny. I think of Michael as a brother. I can’t marry him.”

“Not even for the good of Antar?” Tess said coldly.

Isabel took a couple deep breaths. “Nothing will make me marry a man I don’t love, Tess. Nothing.” She paused. “And thirdly, I’m not sure I want to work on my powers anymore. I mean, I’m pretty happy with how they are. Dream-walking has always helped me, even without practicing or whatever.”

“Didn’t you want to reach out to Alex? How will you do that if you don’t enhance your powers?”

“Well, there are these great new things, called phones. I’ve already called Alex’s mom to get a number for him in Sweden. I think it will help him to hear my voice. I’m sure he’s homesick or something.” Tess’ face paled. Isabel gave herself an internal pat on the back. “And maybe we’re not supposed to remember our past’s. Tess. I mean, maybe this was a second chance for us to have real lives or something. Why should we obsess over the past life?”

“Isabel, we are here with the purpose to go home and make things better for our people there. I can’t believe you would even suggest such a thing!” She hissed back.

“I’m just thinking that maybe there is a different reason we’re here. Our past lives were obviously not very successful if we had to be recreated and sent here. Why should we repeat that?”

Tess turned around, took a deep breath, and then turned back to Isabel. “I don’t know what’s going on with you, Isabel. I mean, you are just obviously confused. Maybe we all need to connect or something… anything so that you can all see the truth of our past… so you can see that there is a life waiting for us back there. So you can see the truth of our relationships back then.”

“Do you remember me and Michael?” She couldn’t help herself from asking.

“Of course. You two were so fiery together. It was love at first sight and all that fairy tale stuff. You insisted on getting married weeks after you met. You said you loved him and knew it would work. Of course, it was Vilandra’s nature to be fiery…” she trailed off. “In everything you did.”

Isabel knew she was referring to the “affair” with Khivar. She couldn’t believe it.

“Miss Evans, Miss Harding, may I ask what is so engrossing that you have completely missed the bell?” Their teacher Mr. Warner walked back to their desks.

Isabel stood up. “I’m sorry, Mr. Warner. I was just trying to explain geometry to Tess. She’s having some problems with seeing what’s right in front of her face.” She grabbed her books and walked out of the class, leaving a dumb-founded Tess behind.

***


Liz leaned back against the wall and wrapped her arms tighter around Max’s neck. She wanted him closer….she’d had to go without any contact from him for over 5 hours now. And that wasn’t as easy to do now that they were both completely honest with each other as it had been when they were lying to each other about so many things. She kissed him again. “I thought 6th period would never get here, Max.”

“I know, baby. Me, too.” He tangled his hand in her hair and sighed at how silky it felt.

“Have you seen Tess at all?”

“At lunch, of course. Isabel was just telling me and Michael about something Tess had done in one of their classes and then she showed up, so we had to tone down the conversation. Tess was pissed at Is though. Both Michael and I noticed.”

Liz teased. “And that’s definitely saying something.”

“Hey!”

She kissed him. “That was too easy to pass up, Max.”

He changed the subject. “I want to go to the granolith after school, Liz. I need to connect. I need to know our past, too.”

“I know,” Liz said. “Do you want me to come with you?”

Max smiled. “I wouldn’t do this alone.”

She grinned. “I love you, Max.”

“I know, Liz. And I love you, too.”

“I know.” She smiled and leaned in closer to kiss him.

The bell rang.

“Do you think the fates are against us just making out?” Max groaned.

“Sometimes, I do think so.” Liz laughed. “I’m leaving first. My class is further away then yours.”

“Yeah, but I have to see Tess.” He sighed.

“You’ll survive. Isabel is in there with you.” She smiled. “I’ll be hiding in the back of the Jeep after school. I’ll see ya then.” She kissed him one more time and then snuck out of the eraser room. The single knock on the door as she left was the signal that it was all clear.

***


Max and Liz sped down the deserted roads to the podchamber. Max could not wait to get all the answers he’d been waiting for. It was so hard to believe that just a few days ago, the idea of finding out about his past life and wife and destiny had left him feeling empty and depressed. Now he accepted all these things as easily as he had always accepted the fact that he and Liz Parker belonged together.

At the podchamber, Liz presented her hand to the scanner and they walked in slowly, just in case. Alex was sitting in the middle of the floor reading a book. He looked up as they entered.

“Hi, guys.”

“Hey, Alex. How was your day?” Liz asked.

“Well, I’m probably all caught up in US History,” he smiled weakly. “Is Isabel with you?”

“Not yet. She’s planning on coming out around dinner time. She figured she needed to put in an appearance with our parents before she asks if she can sleep out again tonight.”

“She’s not going to get in trouble for this, is she? I mean—“

“She wouldn’t stay away anyway,” Max ended the discussion.

“So I’m guessing you guys didn’t come out here only to check on me?” He looked toward the entrance to the granolith.

“You’d be right,” Liz smiled.

“Just pretend I’m not here. I’ll hide over here; you two go rediscover your past lives.” He smiled.

Liz hugged him. “Thanks, Alex. I love you.” She could hear Maria’s words from earlier ringing in her ears. She would never let another friend not know how she felt about them.

“I love you, too, Liz,” Alex whispered. “Now go help your soulmate find his past.”

She smiled. “Yes, sir!” She followed Max into the granolith chamber.

“So you said it was just instinctual?” He looked at her for a minute.

“Yeah. It knows us, Max. It’s just waiting for us to be willing to know it.” She smiled.

“God, my scientist suddenly sounds like a mystic.” He grinned.

“Well, maybe there’s mysticism in science,” she smiled. “Just be willing to learn all it has to show you, Max, and you won’t regret it. I promise.”

He looked at her. “I never regret anything with you, Liz.”

She kissed him. “Now connect. I’m tired of being the only one who remembers everything about our connection!”

He smiled and reached out to the granolith. He’d barely put his hand on the glass when he was swept away in the most incredible wave of emotions.

It was complete peace. This was the most calm he had ever felt in his entire life, but at the same time, he was filled with the most profound sense of completeness. He didn’t need to search for anything else; he had everything he needed right here, within himself. It was an incredible thing to realize.

He was overwhelmed with a running movie of flashes. They showed him his entire life.
He saw before his birth! He felt the connection he and Isabel had even within their mother. They were a team, and they would be together through everything…. Then he saw their birth. The first time his eyes met Vilandra’s, he felt their connection form. He sensed it growing strong through all their growing up years.

He saw himself and Vilandra growing up, always together. They were each other’s only playmates until they started a special school with other high-ranking children. But there was always the feeling that Zan and Vilandra were different, that they had to be better than other “normal” children. Zan knew Vilandra only wanted to be normal, and though he’d never admit it, for fear of letting his family down, he wanted that too sometimes. He wanted to be a normal kid who could play outside without a guard watching at every direction. He wanted to eat a meal with his parents without having a taste-tester make sure the food was okay to be eaten. He wanted to run through the village like a normal kid, playing games and getting into trouble. But he knew he should be grateful that he had been born to his parents who gave him so many advantages and opportunities to do so many good things for all the people he’d never get to be equals with. He sometimes just wished for someone who didn’t look at him as a prince.

He saw himself meeting Rath for the first time in school. He treated him like a normal kid, even if his father did work for him. They became fast friends, getting into all kinds of trouble around the castle. Zan got many lectures from his mother on maturity, but when he was with Rath, it was so easy to forget all that. He tried to involve Vilandra in their games, but she was so concerned with being a “good” girl that it was hard to get her to join in.

He saw the night on the Bretanol Festival when he first met Asha. He was just strolling about, happy to have lost his security agent, and he saw her. He knew he had to dance with her; he didn’t care if she was a commoner or if she held a place in society; he just wanted to dance with her. And after they danced, they made their way to that clearing…. And they’d kissed. Zan thought there was nothing sweeter in the world than that.

And then he saw all the lonely years without her. Watching Vilandra and Rath fall in love was interesting and he was happy for them, but it left him wanting someone of his own. And then his parents announced his betrothal to a girl from Nati. He dreamed it would be the girl he’d danced with all those years before, but he doubted it would be. He figured it would be a political union, the kind Khivar wanted for himself and Vilandra and for Zan and Avanka… He was so glad he wasn’t marrying her. She was overbearing and controlling. There was something about her that he did not trust.

The night of the betrothal was incredible to Zan. The minute he saw her dancing with her father, he knew it was her. He would never forget the shade of her hair and by the first glance of her eyes, he knew it was her. He swept her into the side room and just stared at her, unable to believe his luck. “I can’t believe it’s you.”
He saw the nights they spent in the hallway, unwilling to part. He saw the bonding ceremony. He could hear each word in his soul and knew that that bond would last forever. He saw their marriage and the happy times after that.

And then he saw Khivar. And Avanka. And all the destruction they wrought.

And then he saw Vilandra’s death. He had never felt colder then when he realized that his sister was gone. And he felt Asha’s warm arms circling him, whispering promises of love and peace, pulling him back from the despair.

He saw Rath’s death. His best friend had died doing what he believed in. That was what was important. He kept reminding himself that, trying to stop the emotions that threatened to overwhelm him.
And then he was in the granolith chamber with Asha. They were calling on its wisdom and power. And Khivar attacked them.

His last memory was Asha’s death. He watched her fall and then look up at him with those wide trusting eyes, as if she couldn’t believe that this was happening to them. He felt her last breath leave and her last thoughts were of her love for him.



As Max felt the connection dwindling, he felt his own powers strengthening and cementing inside him a sense of power and control. He knew what he was in charge of and he knew what he could do. And in some ways, he knew what he had to do.

He looked over at Liz who was sitting on the floor staring up at him. She had the same eyes. He opened his mouth, and the only thing that came out was , “Asha”.

She flew into his arms. “I love you so much, Zan.”

“I love you, too.” He put his hand on her temple and formed their connection.

***


Maria leaned back as far as she could in the stiff chair she was being forced to sit in. Just because she and Michael had gotten caught making out under the bleachers, they had been given detention. It could all be blamed on Max and Liz, if they hadn’t been occupying the eraser room, no one would have caught them. But how could she be expected to spend an entire day apart from the guy who had given her his soul just a few hours earlier? That was inhumane!

So here she sat in detention. It would have been made bearable if Michael had been in here with her, but no, Mr. Seligman had to be all devious and give them detention on separate days, so that they wouldn’t be ‘distracted’.

She looked around the room, wondering if there was anyone in here who might have a nail file that she could borrow. Well, there was Nikki Jensen, but Maria had a healthy fear of any girl who actually wore black all the time. It wasn’t healthy. There was Liza Turner…no, she’d given up all things girly when Kyle had dumped her for being too ‘feminine’. Maria turned to look behind her.

Whoa, what was Tess doing in here?

She leaned back some more and turned around. “Tess, what are you doing here?”

She rolled her eyes and sighed. “If you must know, I was late to school 3 times last week. They give detention for that.”

“Oh.” Maria tried her hardest not to laugh at that. “Well, anyway, do you have a nail file I could borrow? I really need one.” She held up her ragged pointer finger.

“I don’t really need those,” Tess said sharply. “Alien powers, remember?”

Maria sighed. “Oh, right.” She turned around and laid her head on the table. She nearly fell asleep.

She awoke to the sound of Tess whispering to someone.

“I know how important it is that we get this done. Don’t you think I want to go home too?” Pause. “Yes, I’m sure Alex is still decoding that damn book. I checked on him last night; he’s still made no change.” Pause. “No, they are not.” Pause. “I will do whatever it takes, Nasedo. You know that.” Pause. “I’m worried about Vilandra. She’s getting very rebellious. She declared she wants nothing to do wither alien past today. We need to control her.” Pause. “Fine. I need you to come back here… I have a plan.”

The teacher walked in the door to the detention hall. “Detention’s over!”

Maria watched Tess walk casually out of the room. Then she dashed out. She had to talk to Michael…and Max and Liz. They needed to know this. The she-bitch had a plan and whatever it was, it was not going to be good for them.

***


posted on 16-Dec-2002 8:53:12 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: I am soooo sorry this took so long guys, but life has been hectic between thanksgiving in PA and finals and procrastinating... and I swore to myself I would not write till everything was done. and now everythign is done and I'm good to go. so here's a long part..and I'm working on the next one. and if you read XAN, that will be updated soon as well. *happy* thank you all for sticking with me, and I totally appreciate all the feedback and bumps. *happy* you are awesome.
love,jenn



~*~Part 28~*~


Maria went to Michael first. She knew he had a shift at the CrashDown that afternoon. He would know what to do. She just needed to tell him what she’d heard and they would all figure this out. She kept repeating that as she drove the streets of Roswell a bit too quickly. So quickly in fact that Sheriff Valenti felt the need to pull her over.

“Maria, what’s going on? Why were you doing 50 in front of the elementary school?” He asked, leaning into the window of her car. “Is there something wrong?”

Maria looked up at the Sheriff she’d trusted her life to a time or two. Could she tell him the truth? But then her mind started to play the what-if game and she knew that no matter how long she’d known him or how much she wanted to trust him, there were only 5 other people in the world she could trust right now. What if Tess had replaced him with Nasedo? What if the real Sheriff Valenti was hurt somewhere? “No, nothing’s wrong, Sheriff,” she lied. “I’m just late for work. I had detention, and—“

“Detention?” He asked.

“Yeah, just a silly little misunderstanding between me and a teacher who thought I needed to be on time for class.” She tried to smile. “Apparently, Tess had the same disagreement. She was in there with me.”

“Oh, really? She told me she was going shopping this afternoon.”

Maria nodded. “Yup, she was in there.” She paused and looked at the clock. “Sheriff, I’m sorry I was speeding, but I am still late for work. And I know the Parkers are understanding, but I’m doubting they’ll really be that understanding, you know?”

“Of course, Maria. I’ll probably see you later. You know my aversion to cooking.” He smiled.

“And I do know Kyle’s interest in eating,” she smiled. “Bye.”

“Bye.”

Maria managed to keep at the speed limit the rest of the way to the CrashDown and ran in through the back door. The break room was empty and the front didn’t look too busy. She went over to Michael, who was idly cleaning the grill.

“Michael, I need to talk to you,” she said urgently.

He started to make a smart ass comment but then noticed the look in her eyes. He scanned the dining room and gave Agnes the signal that said he was taking a break. She barely responded. They went into the break room. “What’s going on? Did someone in detention scare you or something?”

“Michael, I wish that were true. But this is a problem bigger than Nikki Jensen checking me out.”

Michael started to lose focus upon the thought of another girl checking Maria out, but he quickly forced himself to gain some control over his mind. “What happened?”

“Tess was in detention with me.”

“What? Why would she be in detention?”

“She said it was because she’d been tardy too many times in the past few weeks, I think. I’m not sure.”

“That doesn’t make sense. She’d normally just hide her absences, mindwarp the teachers or something.” He knew she’d done it many times before. And while he couldn’t entirely agree with the ethics involved, he did understand it. He often wished he had the ability to do that himself.

“Well, she didn’t this time because she was sitting right behind me.”

“Maria, I know how hard it is to deal with her, after what she did to Alex, but we have to deal with her until we can really deal with her. I mean, we all agreed to this, remember?” He started to wonder exactly what had happened in detention. Had Maria allowed herself to lose her temper again? Oh, God, what had she said? “Ria—“

She ignored the patronizing tone he had adopted. “I know that, Michael. And I could deal with her. I even tried to be nice. She wasn’t having any of it, of course, but I tried. And it wasn’t just being around her that freaked me out.”

“What happened?”

“I must have fallen asleep or something, I’m not sure. I just know that I woke up and she was on a cell phone—“

“When did Tess get a cell phone?” Michael asked.

“Completely not relevant here, Michael. I don’t know. What was important was what she said on that cell phone.”

“Who was she talking to?”

“I think she was talking to Nasedo.” It was the first time Maria had really admitted that out loud. It freaked her out to realize that it was the truth. The man who had started all this misery for her and her friends was alive and he was going to bring about more misery, if they couldn’t stop him.

“What?”

“I think she was. They were planning something.” She looked up at him, hoping he would understand that she was telling the truth and that something was going on that they had to be ready for.

Michael didn’t know what to say. Why would Tess start planning something in front of Maria and on a cell phone? That didn’t make sense. She would be smarter than that. She had to be. This was some kind of trap or something. “Maria—“

She wouldn’t allow herself to be interrupted. “I woke up and I heard her behind me. I started to turn around to remind her that cell phones weren’t allowed in school, but something made me wait. And I’m glad I did. I heard her say something about knowing how important this was and asking if he wanted to go home too. And then she talked about Alex. She still thinks he’s doing the translation. I don’t understand why she can’t tell that he’s not. She said she checked on him last night and that she was sure he’s still decoding the book. She said she’d do what it takes…That’s when she called the other person Nasedo!”

“Maria—“

“And then she started talking about Isabel, but she called her Vilandra. She said she was worried about her rebellion and that she needs to be controlled.” Maria finished. “Michael, Tess is planning something and we’re going to be at her mercy if we’re not careful.”

Michael knew he couldn’t just dismiss this. He had to treat this—Maria—with some respect. But he also knew he had to give her some perspective. “Ria, I know you’re worried about this, but why would Tess be planning something that is going to hurt us in front of you?”

“She thought I was asleep!”

“She would know that you could still wake up, baby. She’s not that naïve. She’s been planning what she wants to do to us for years probably. She wouldn’t be that arrogant as to let us know. Not now when she thinks she’s so close to getting what she wants.”

“So you think she was just playing me?” Maria didn’t know which she wanted to be true. In some ways, she wanted to be able to help them in some ways. She wanted to be important in this plan. But in others, she was happy that what she heard wasn’t necessarily true. She didn’t want to think about being privy to the pain of her friends before it happened. She just wanted Tess to be gone and all their lives to be normal again.

“I think so.”

Maria nodded but her mind was racing. Her mother hadn’t raised a girl who didn’t see conspiracy in situations like this. “What if she anticipated this, too? What if she knew we would discredit it because we’re already suspicious of her? What if she’s testing us?”

“Maria—“

“We need to all talk about this. I think we need to get Max and Liz and Isabel here. Or maybe we should all go out to the podchamber. I mean, then Alex can give some input, too.”

“Maria—“

“Please Michael? I just don’t want us to treat this as nothing when it might be something.” She said quietly. She wanted to believe that it was nothing, but she could never live with herself if this turned out to be something and she’d ignored it.

“Okay, baby. When Max and Liz get back, we’ll all talk about this.”

“Thank you.” She hugged him. “I just want to help us, Michael.”

“I know, and you are.” He whispered.

“Michael!” They heard Agnes yell from the dining room. “Your break is over. I need a cigarette!”

He smiled and kissed Maria. “You hanging out here?”

“I guess I will.” She smiled.

“Good,” he grinned and walked towards the kitchen door.

“I’m just going to call Isabel first and at least give her a heads up.”

He nodded and a moment later Agnes came rushing through the break room on her way to the alley.

Maria picked up the CrashDown phone and called Isabel’s cell phone. No matter where she was, she would have that.

“Hello?” Isabel asked. She was busy throwing some clothes into a backpack. Never could tell what she might want to wear to school tomorrow. Her parents had of course given her permission to spend the night at Maria’s again. They understood how insensitive Michael could be and were proud of Isabel for being there for a friend. Somewhere deep down, it hurt Isabel to lie to her parents like this, but she knew that if she had to choose between spending the night out with Alex or spending the night at home alone, she’d definitely choose Alex.

“Is, it’s Maria.”

“Hey, Maria, what’s up? By the way, tonight I’m spending the night at your house because Michael is an idiot.” The doorbell rang and she started walking downstairs to get it.

Maria laughed. “Okay. I’ll have to remember that.”

“Thanks.” She looked at her reflection in the mirror in the foyer and smiled. Not a stitch of make up and yet she thought she looked awesome.

“Listen, if you see Tess, just be careful, okay? I think she might be planning something.”

“What? Why?”

“I’ll tell you later if you come to the Crash before you head to the podchamber,” Maria promised. “We all need to talk about it.”

“What happened?” Isabel insisted.

The doorbell rang again. Isabel ignored it as she listened to Maria.

“I just overheard something. I might be overreacting; Michael thinks I am. But if I’m not—“

The doorbell rang again.

Isabel glared at the door for a minute, silently damning whoever was on the other side. Didn’t they know that people didn’t always have the time or inclination to answer the door? “Hang on a sec, Maria. I’m going to answer the door.” She secured the phone between her shoulder and her neck and reached out to open the door.

“Isabel, hi! I thought we could work on your powers now. I mean, I know what you said at school, but I figured you were just joking or hiding from everyone else, right?” Tess said perkily, walking right on into the house. “Do you want to work in the living room or would your bedroom be better? I mean, what if your parents come home? That would be a horrible way to break it to them that you’re an alien, don’t you think?” She laughed a little. Isabel thought she sounded unnatural.

Isabel shut the door and turned around to see Tess making herself comfortable in her living room.

“Is, what’s going on?” Maria yelled.

She lifted the phone from her shoulder. “Maria, I’ll have to talk to you later. Tess just came over. She wants to work on our powers.”

“What? Do you want me to come over? I can be there in 7 minutes, if you need me, Isabel.”

“No, I don’t think that’s necessary. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Isabel, please promise me that you’ll be careful. I know how much we’d all like to just haul off and hit her but you know we can’t. We have to play in her game for a little while longer. Can you do that?” Maria could not believe that all of a sudden she was having to be the rational one. Everyone knew she was completely irrational when it came to the people she loved.

“I can, Maria. Trust me, I won’t do anything stupid.” She whispered. “Thanks for calling and I’ll talk to you later.”

“Good luck. Come to the Crash whenever you can.”

Isabel smiled at the support her friend was willing to lend her, but she knew she needed to warn Max. He couldn’t bring Liz back here if Tess were here. That would be disastrous. “Listen, can you call Max for me? Just let him know I’m okay.”

Maria knew what Isabel was talking about. “Sure. I’ll warn them.”

“Bye, Maria.”

“Bye, Is. Take care.” Maria hung up and rushed towards the kitchen. “Michael!”

Isabel hung up her phone and set it down on the foyer’s table. Then she turned to Tess.

“Who were you talking to?”

“Maria called.”

“Why did you need her to call Max? What happened?” She asked.

“Were you listening to my conversation?” Isabel asked incredulously.

“Well, it’s not like I really had anything else to listen to,” Tess said. “Besides, we don’t have secrets, do we?”

“It’s just that sometimes things are private, Tess. Maria called—“

Tess interrupted her. “Why would she call you anyway? Since when are you and she big buddies?”

Isabel smiled. She might as well play with Tess’ head for a little bit. She deserved some joy, didn’t she? “She needed my help with a plan she has for Max and Liz—“

“A plan? For what?”

“To get them back together,” she smiled. “You know, Maria, she believes they are meant to be. And once you put something in her head, you just can’t get it out.” She laughed.

“And she wanted you to help?”

“Well, as I am the closest person to Max, and he usually does listen to what I want him to do, she figured I could use my influence.” Isabel would have felt guilty for taking such joy in Tess’ unbelievably funny reactions, if Tess were someone she associated feelings with.

“Are you going to?”

“I don’t tell my brother what to do with his love life; the very idea of it is somewhat traumatizing to me. Besides, he knows what he wants; my opinion doesn’t count much there.” She said smugly. If only Tess knew the truth about all of them now.

“What does he want, Isabel?” Tess tried to get some insight into Max’s head. She needed to know how to get herself into it.

“It’s not my place to tell you that, Tess.” She said mysteriously. “Anyway, why did you come over again?”

“To work on your powers.”

“Tess, I was serious today. I don’t want to work on them right now. I’m happy with how they are.”

“But Isabel, you could be doing so much more with them.”

She wanted to laugh because she was confident that she now knew more about her powers than Tess would ever know about hers. She was curious about what Tess thought she could do, though. “Like?”

“Mindwarping, getting people to do what you need them to, more intense forms of manipulation. There are all kinds of things your mind can do, Isabel.”

Oh, those were just the beginning, Isabel recognized. “But I don’t like the sound of any of those, Tess. They all sound like they use people, and I don’t want to do that. I’m happy just being able to see people in their natural roles, you know. I like seeing their subconscious that they would never admit. It kind of shows me their souls, their humanity. That’s all I need.”

“That’s not going to help us get home, Isabel. And it certainly won’t help us when we get there.”

“Tess—“

Tess decided to approach this in a different way. “Isabel, we have to accept certain things about ourselves, okay? We know who we are here, but you don’t know who you were back there.”

“What does that mean?”

She sighed dramatically. “Isabel, Zan was prince and I was his bride. And Rath was his first in command—“

“And I was Zan’s sister and Michael’s wife, I know that part, okay? I’m pretty sure my mother told me that months ago.”

“But she didn’t know the real you, either, Isabel. Very few people did.”

“What?” Isabel couldn’t wait to hear what Tess was going to tell her.

“Yes, you were Rath’s wife and Zan’s sister, but there was a whole other side to you that only a few people knew.”

“Jesus, Tess, just tell me what the hell you are talking about. I’m not enjoying this dramatic drawing out tendency here.”

“Fine, you want it bluntly? Here it is. You betrayed us, all of us. You and Khivar were lovers. I don’t think you really understood that he was playing you like he did, but you gave him the information that killed us.”

“What?” She managed to sound shocked by that.

“Khivar was your lover. You gave him whatever information he wanted. You told him all about our military and our defense systems. You told him how to get into the palace and where we were least guarded. You told him your family’s weaknesses. And when he came in, he killed you just as quickly as he killed the rest of us.”

“No! You’re wrong!”

“I’m not wrong, Isabel. I remember everything from back then, remember? I caught you one night when you were going to him. You denied it, of course, but I could see the lie in your eyes. I warned you about him. I told you he was no good that he was just out to use you, but you wouldn’t listen. You were so sure that he loved you that you would finally experience the true love you had always dreamed about. And in the end, you effectively helped to kill your family as well as yourself.”

“Tess, I can’t believe—“ Isabel’s voice was shaking. God, she had believed all that about herself for so long. And now even though she knew the truth, it was still painful to hear. If she believed that, she would be hopeless, in total despair to know what she had done to her family back then. She had to force herself to think about the memories she had now to remind herself that she was not what Tess said.

“I just thought you should know the truth.”

“What good does telling me do?”

“I just wanted to remind you of what could happen, Isabel, if we don’t all work together.”

“So you think I’m going to sell you out? Is that it?” She didn’t have to fake the anger in her voice.

“Well, with the attitude you’ve been displaying lately, Isabel, what else am I to think?” Tess said calmly. “But it doesn’t have to be like that. I mean, I know you as Isabel now, too. And I know you’re very different from Vilandra. Your love for Max is so different than hers was for Zan. I’m sure it is, anyway. I barely knew you before you got involved with Khivar—“

Isabel stood up with very real indignation on her face. Tess was trying to separate her from her brothers; she was trying to split them up. All this talk about Vilandra being an evil woman was to make Isabel feel guilty and more likely to help Tess, more likely to feel different from Max and Michael. Tess was going to try to tear them apart from within. “Tess, you need to leave.”

“Isabel, I was just being honest—“

“And now you need to go. I’m sorry but I can’t deal with this right now. My parents will be home any minute and—I just can’t deal with this.”

Tess got up and walked to the door. “Don’t worry, Isabel. I won’t tell Max or Michael about this. It will just be our little secret.” She smiled sweetly. “Tell Max I said hello though. I barely saw him at all in school today.”

“Goodbye, Tess.” Isabel shut the door behind her.

She waited a good 10 minutes until she was sure that Tess had left the neighborhood and then she headed over to the CrashDown. Tess was not going to win at these games she was playing. No matter what she had to do to stop her.

***

posted on 24-Dec-2002 12:36:02 PM by Transparent Clear
AN:

Merry Christmas!


I had hoped to be posting today but I am unfortunately running late to work (I have to work on Christmas Eve... how mean!) So hopefully, tomorrow afternoon, whenever I actually make it to my house, I'll update

I hope you all have a merry and safe Christmas!

love,
Jenn
posted on 31-Dec-2002 10:24:10 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Ok. So it's transitional and I'm not really happy with it, but I think (after weeks of writers block) I've finally had a breakthrough on this story. So hopefully, there will be more (better stuff) up soon.

Happy New Year's Everyone!
Jenn

~*~Part 29*~*


Max and Liz parked at the CrashDown right before dinnertime. They’d been at the granolith chamber since school, and it had been the most rewarding afternoon of their lives—so far. Max had connected to the granolith and he knew the truth; they knew the truth. And most importantly, they had rekindled their bond. They didn’t really need to speak anymore, their bond made everything so mental. Alex had teased them that if the longing gazes they’d shared when they were first dating were any indicator, the rest of their lives might be filled with soulful glances that embarrassed everyone around them. They’d left, promising Alex that they would send Isabel with a couple burgers from the CrashDown for him.

The entire ride back to the CrashDown was silent, as Max and Liz just enjoyed their bond again. It was like they weren’t even speaking in words; it was all just instinct instead. They knew each other’s thoughts so well. It was hard for him not to think of themselves as Zan and Asha again. It seemed like there wasn’t that much separating the two lifetimes, other than the planet they lived on. Every time he thought about her, he thought the name Asha.

‘I’ll always be your Asha, Zan. Just like you’ll always be my Max, too. Names are just conventions that we must use for everyone else.’ She told him through their bond.

‘It feels good to hear you call me Zan again. Whenever Tess said that name, it was like there was something missing—’

‘There was. Love.’

Max had to smile at that. ‘I wonder what she has been up to while we’ve been gone.’

‘I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.’

‘You know we will defeat her, Asha. This time, we will not let her and Khivar destroy our union.’

‘I know. And I will always be there to support you on this, Zan. I just don’t want anyone else to be hurt because of her.’

‘We won’t let that happen.’
Max vowed.

She smiled and squeezed his hand as they parked in the back alley of the CrashDown.

Liz looked up at her balcony. ‘I can’t believe I’m going to have to go to sleep up there tonight—without you. I mean, now that we both remember the bond and our past—‘

‘That is going to be unbearable.’
Max got out of the Jeep and then helped Liz out. He pulled her close to him.

She looked up at him playfully. ‘Do you remember everything, Max? Even that night, right before we were married—‘ She smiled thinking of how they had ‘slept’ in the hall all wrapped up in each other.

He groaned. ‘I remember. I couldn’t believe the things you did to me that night,” he smiled. “And then when we heard the footsteps down the hall—‘

She laughed. ‘You were so sexy—‘

They heard a noise in the back of the alley and jumped apart to see Jose slamming the door on his way out of the CrashDown. He was muttering intelligibly about work and hating teenagers. Liz looked up at Max and laughed.

‘I guess we have to start speaking again, huh?’

‘Yeah. I really don’t want to hear Maria’s reaction to the idea that we can communicate telepathically.’
Max laughed.

‘She will freak.’ Liz laughed, too.

They walked into the CrashDown and were greeted by the sight of Michael, Maria, and Isabel sitting in a booth together while the rest of the restaurant was empty.

“What’s going on?” Max asked.

“Max, Liz, thank God you are here!” Maria exclaimed.

“Ria, what’s wrong?”

“Tess is planning something,” Isabel said. “And whatever it is, it’s not good.”

Max and Liz sat down with them and were quickly briefed on the whole situation, from the minute Maria saw Tess in detention until Isabel kicked her out of their home.

“I wasn’t sure that we should trust what Maria overheard. I mean, Tess is smarter than that. She wouldn’t just give herself away like that. She had to have realized that Maria could have ‘woken up’ at any time.” Michael explained.

“But I thought she was just taking advantage of my sleeping. I bet she thought I was out. Or maybe she’s too anxious to be careful right now. She wants to get back to Antar and she knows that she’s closer now than she ever has been. She just needs to keep waiting on Alex—which reminds me, why does she still think he’s doing her work?—and as soon as she has that translation, she’ll be home free. All she’ll have to do after that is work her alien mojo on you and make you think she’s pregnant with your kid and voila! She’s got a one-way ticket back to Antar with the head of the Royal Family, at least, in her pocket.” Maria started babbling.

“I just don’t know what to make of her going to Isabel like that,” Michael admitted. “I mean, she had to know that Isabel wouldn’t respond well to that.”

“She was trying to guilt trip me, Michael. I never told you, but when I killed Congresswoman Whitaker, she did the same thing. She told me about what I was like on Antar, I think she was trying to get me to stop from attacking her. Trying to make me think if I was capable of betraying you once, I could and would do it again. Tess heard that. She probably helped to come up with that story. Of course, she would try to pull that on me now. She wants me guilty, feeling like I don’t deserve what I’ve got so that I will cling to it, and go along with whatever she wants. She’s trying to play me into working for her.”

“But surely she would know that that wouldn’t work. I mean, you would never betray me and Max. We know that.”

“Michael, when I believed what Whitaker said, when I thought I had betrayed you and Max on that other planet, I was miserable. I felt like I had betrayed you, and it was killing me. I would do whatever anyone told me if it weren’t true. I was so afraid that that was true… it was causing me to pull away from you so that I wouldn’t really have the power to hurt you. That’s some of the reaction Tess is hoping me to have. I mean, if I believe that’s true, I either want to prove myself—by becoming the best little alien there is—or I want to get away from it—by putting distance between us and becoming less important in this family. Either way, Tess would get what she wants from it.”

“And that just cannot happen—“

“It won’t,” Max and Liz said in unison.

Maria looked at them and smiled. “Whoa, what happened between you two?”

Isabel looked back and forth between them. “Did you connect to the granolith, Max?”

“I did.” He smiled. “I remembered everything.”

“So you and Liz?” Maria asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Maria,” Liz had a slight blush on her cheek.

“You guys bonded!” She exclaimed. “You remembered your bond and you brought it back!”

They didn’t have to deny or agree. Everyone just knew they had.

“Wow.” Michael said. “I guess this is a time for congratulations.”

“It is, but let’s save them for a time when we can all celebrate, together.” Max said, but there was a smile on his face. He was so relieved that Michael was good with this. He didn’t know what he would have done had Michael given him flack about this.

Liz grinned. ‘He wouldn’t have given us flack, Max. He remembers us now. He remembers what we were like and how we supported each other.’

‘Still—‘


“Okay, while these two just smile, I think we need to do something about Tess,” Maria said. “And we need to do it fast.”

Max nodded. “What do you think we should do, Maria?”

She looked a little surprised that he would want to hear her opinion on this, but at the same time, it just reinforced the strength of this group and how well they worked together. “Irrationally, I want you to go to her and just zap her into a thousand pieces, but I know we can’t do that. We have to do this the right way, draw out Nasedo,, and then kill them both,” she said.

“That brings up something I’ve been wondering about,” Isabel said. “Where is Nasedo hiding? And if he’s lasted this long, hiding without us even thinking he might be alive, how do we find him? Tess won’t sell him out. We know that. We have to find him ourselves.”

“Okay. Then we start today, right now. Have there been any new people in Roswell in the past couple months? Has Tess been making repeated contact with anyone? We need to bring Alex into town one day and let him do some stuff with the electronics end. Maybe he can find out who she’s been calling or where the other phone is.”

Isabel nodded. “He can do that. We all know he can.” She smiled a little.

“And starting tomorrow, we have to start working on our powers. We’ve all connected to the granolith, we know what we can do. It’s time we start doing it.”

Michael, Liz, and Isabel nodded.

“Maria, we’re going to depend on you, too. We may seem ungrateful and like you’re not appreciated, but know that we will always be in your debt for joining this group.”

She blushed a little. “Geez, Max, if you need me to cover Liz and SpaceBoy’s shifts while you train, you’ve got it. I guess I see why my best friend fell for you in 2 lifetimes. If he,” she pointed at Michael, “had eyes like yours and lips like those, well,” she smiled, “I think we’d both be a whole lot happier.”

Michael stared at her for a minute before realizing she was joking. He wrapped his arm around her possessively. She grinned at Liz.

“Guys, just remember, we’re going to get through this. And when we accomplish everything we were sent here to accomplish, we are going to have the biggest party ever,” Max promised. “And nothing will ever hurt us after that.”

Liz looked at Max. She loved the way he talked about the future. And she couldn’t wait to have the happily ever after they’d been working for for 2 lifetimes.

‘We’ll have it, Asha, I promise.’

‘I know, Zan. I just want it now.’

‘Patience, love.’
He promised.

‘I don’t think I’ve ever, in either lifetime, been accused of being patient,’ she smiled.

Max leaned over and kissed her.

posted on 8-Jan-2003 10:57:14 PM by Transparent Clear
Hi, guys. I really really really wish I were updating this fic right now. But instead I have had to come to a friend's house to let you all know that my computer is apparently dead and until my computer savvy friends can fix it, I'm non-communicado from home, which really isn't a big deal (other than the fact that I live via my online convos w/ people and stuff...and that I hate being apart from my IM for more than like an hour...) What's really tragic is that all my writings (including all parts of Xan and Dial-Up) are only on that computer. There are no back-ups, well, at least not recent ones.... I will try to rewrite what I already have written and update from school as soon as I can, but I just wanted to let you know I am so sorry!

I hope to talk to you all soon and update sooner!
Jenn

ps if you know why a hard-drive would start sounding like a ticking clock (my theory is it's the taliban), let me know!
posted on 14-Jan-2003 11:36:06 AM by Transparent Clear
AN: Just a quickie before I go to work. This is pretty short, but I just wanted to post something. Thank you all so much for your feedback and all your concerns for my computer. It is still down, and I'm enjoying the wonders of my university computer labs right now.

Hopefully, there will be more soon! I've been in teh oddest mood to write. *happy*

Jenn



~*~Part 30A~*~

Isabel was quiet the entire way to the podchamber. She just sat in the front seat, holding a bag of CrashDown burgers and fries. Max kept glancing at her, knowing she was in pain. He wanted to help her so much; he just didn’t know what to say. He knew she was beating herself up, doubting herself in so many ways, and he also knew that he needed to reassure her. He just didn’t know if he was the one who she wanted the reassurance from. He met Liz’s eyes in the rearview mirror.

“Talk to her, Max.”

He nodded a little. “I just don’t know what to say.”

“Just be honest with her. We all know she never betrayed us. We know who she really is.”

“Isabel.”

Max’s word broke the silence in the car for the first time since they’d left the CrashDown and nearly pulled Isabel from her thoughts. Why had Tess attacked her? Was she the weakest of them all? She hated that she was thinking like this. She knew the truth about her past life. She wasn’t a traitor. She hadn’t betrayed anyone. But why would Tess go after her then?

“Isabel.”

She looked at her brother. She wondered if he could see the tears that were ready to fall.

“Is, do not allow Tess to do this to you.”

“Max.”

“We know the truth now, Is. We know what happened in that other life. We know who we were. We cannot forget that.”

“Max—“

“Because thanks to what we know now, we can beat her—“

“Max—“

“Isabel, you have to know that.”

“I do. I just don’t understand why she did this. Why did she come after me?”

“Isabel, she’s just attacking our weaknesses.”

“My weaknesses?” She said quietly. Was Alex her weakness? Is that why Tess used him like she did for all those months? Had she put him in this position?

“She attacked me through Liz because even though she’s my biggest strength—“

‘Thank you, love,’

“She is my biggest weakness.”

“Is that why she went after Alex? Is he my biggest weakness?”

“No!” Liz interjected. “She went after Alex because he had something she needed. She needed that book decoded and Alex is the only one of us who could do it.”

“She came after you with the line about betraying your family because Tess knows how much you value your family—in this life. And she knows how shaken you were by the lie that you’d betrayed us back on Antar. She’s just trying to you,” Max said. “But you’re stronger than that. Please tell me you know that.”

“I know I’m stronger now, Max. I remember everything about Antar. I remember all my powers and I know that with a little practice, I can do anything. I just don’t—“

Max stopped the car at the podchamber.

“I just need some time to think about this, okay? I promise we’ll talk later, but right now, let me just think.”

Before Max could say anything, Liz said, “That’s fine, Isabel. Just remember that we are here for you.”

“I know. Thank you,” she smiled. “It feels weird to not call you Asha.”

Liz smiled. “Well, V, I can definitely say the same.”

They walked up the hill to the podchamber and Liz let them in. Alex was sitting in the corner, reading and he jumped up when he saw them walk in.

“Hey, guys! I’m glad you’re finally here. I was starving.” He noticed the big bag in Isabel’s hand.

Liz looked back and forth between the two. “We’ll be back in the morning, guys. Call if you need anything, okay?” She took Max’s hand and led them out of the chamber, locking the door on their way out.

“Wh—“

“Didn’t you see, Max? Isabel didn’t need to talk to us. She needs Alex.” She said simply. “Now let’s go home. My father will be working the grill till like 9 tonight; we can have some privacy in my room.”

Not surprisingly, Max didn’t object.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 14-Jan-2003 11:38:38 AM ]
posted on 16-Jan-2003 8:57:09 PM by Transparent Clear
~*~Part 30b~*~


Isabel tried to smile and sat down on the blanket they’d slept on the night before. She smiled melancholically. Things seemed so much easier just 24 hours ago. “Well, Liz packed this up so I’m sure there are a couple of your favorites.” She reached in to start setting the food out.

“Is, what’s going on?”

She didn’t know how to answer that. She didn’t want to fall apart on him. She wanted to have him enjoy their time together. She wanted to make up for all the time they’d lost.

“Isabel, please talk to me.”

Isabel looked up at him and couldn’t help the tears in her eyes. She knew she was going to tell him the truth. He made her feel like she could tell him anything without feeling weak, like her vulnerability was okay. Did that make him her weakness? He always made her feel strong.

“A couple things happened today, Alex.”

“What? Is, I can feel that something is wrong.”

“Well, it has to do with Tess—“

“I can hear about her without being hurt, Isabel. She has no control over us.”

“In some ways, I’m afraid she does, and she always will as long as she’s here.”

Alex wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly. “God, Is, what did she do? How did she hurt you?”

“First, she went to Maria in detention—“

“Why was Maria in detention?”

She smiled a little. “She and Michael got caught beneath the bleachers again.”

He smiled. “Good to know they’re on an on-week.”

Isabel shrugged a little. “I think this on-week will last a while.”

“You’re not going to distract me, Is. Why was Tess in detention? Doesn’t she usually get out of it with her alien mumbo-jumbo?”

“Yeah, well, for some reason, she went to detention today and when Maria woke up from her nap—“ Alex laughed—“she heard Tess talking on the phone. We think she was talking to Nasedo.”

“In front of Maria? That doesn’t make sense. She’s smarter than that. She would know that Maria might hear her.”

“We thought about that, too. We think she’s getting cocky.”

“What did she say?”

“She’s worried about controlling me—because I’ve been getting pretty rebellious lately. She says she’s going to do whatever it takes. They’re getting pretty desperate, I think, to go back to whatever.”

“What did she do?” He just knew it had to have been Tess to do this to Isabel. Not much else could shake her like this.

“She came to my house after school, after detention. And she started talking to me. She told me the story that Whitaker told me about me betraying Max and Michael back on Antar. She told me the same story I believed for so long—“

“But, Baby, you know the truth now.”

“I know, but it still hurts. I think what really shook me more was just the way she confronted me about it. I couldn’t believe that she had the balls to do that.” Alex raised his eyebrows a little. He had never heard her talk like that. “I mean, she came to me and did her best to manipulate me—“

“But she didn’t.”

“I feel like she did, though. I mean, I’ve been sitting, silently judging myself and my loyalty to my family. I know that I am and always have been loyal to them, and I still sit here and critique myself on that. I’ve allowed her to make me doubt my strength and weaknesses. I’ve allowed her to make me feel like I’m not strong enough to live as I want to. And I hate that!”

“Isabel, you can’t do that to yourself. You don’t deserve that. You’re letting Tess make you doubt yourself, and that’s not going to happen while I’m here. You are the most beautiful woman, inside and out, and there has never been a day when you have had anything to worry about. You are not a betrayer, and you most definitely are not weak.”

Isabel looked at him with tears in her eyes. He hated to see her crying. It hurt him to just know she had reason to. “Then why did she come after me? Why did she confront me?”

“Because she had background to confront you. She thinks you still believe that you betrayed everyone on Antar for Khivar. She knows you would be ashamed of that and she thinks she can play on your guilt to get you to help her with her plans. But we know the truth, Isabel. And that truth is what makes us strong.” He paused. “And that’s why she’s going after you. You’ve found the strength to stand up to her and say ‘NO’. You’ve found the ability to just not care what she thinks anymore. And that is what she is most afraid of. She needs to have influence on you. That’s what she’s trying to get. But we will not give her that influence. We are too strong.”

She smiled. She loved the way he said ‘we’ when referring to them. They really were connected in this. “Thank you, Alex.”

“You don’t need to thank me, Isabel. Reminding you of how special you are is a gift for me.” He smiled.

She hugged him tightly. “Thank you, anyway.” She pulled away after a moment and smiled. “So are you in the mood for burgers or fries?”


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Jan-2003 9:01:45 PM ]
posted on 22-Jan-2003 9:04:46 PM by Transparent Clear
~*~Part 31~*~


When Max and Liz got back to the CrashDown, the parking lot was full and they could see people were everywhere inside.

“Do you think Tess is in there?” Liz asked, not really wanting to admit the possibility that she might be.

“I don’t know. No one has really seen her since she showed up at my house earlier. She could be anywhere.” He looked around, searching the parking lot for either her or Kyle’s cars. “Do you think I ought to just go home? I mean, we can postpone—“

“Nothing!” Liz said quickly. “All this means is that we have to be careful, Max. We are not letting her make us postpone anything!” She paused, looking for his agreement. “So you hide the Jeep and climb up the ladder to my room. I’ll meet you on my balcony in a few minutes.”

He smiled and mock-saluted. “Yes, ma’am.”

She leaned over and kissed him. “I love you, Zan.” She got out of the Jeep and walked into the CrashDown before he could verbally say it back. But she knew he was thinking it. She made it through the dining area without a sound. The place was packed with kids from school and their regular customers who apparently looked forward to a daily dose of fried foods with cheesy-alien names to fill them up. She didn’t see Tess in the restaurant but she vowed not to worry about it. For one afternoon, she was going to not worry about her alien enemies and instead enjoy her time with the man she had only just rediscovered underneath the man she had always wanted.

“Lizzie! There you are! Your mother and I have been looking for you everywhere. We are so busy right now, and Agnes called in. We really need your help, sweetie.”

Liz sighed. Maybe the world was out to get her. She couldn’t work and that was final. She was sorry to let her father down but sometimes things were more important. “Dad, I’ve been in the library all afternoon. I have a huge history paper due tomorrow that is going to take me all night to work on. I’m sorry but I have to do this. I can’t afford to lose points on this. I’ve been looking at my college applications again and—“

Jeff Parker silenced his daughter with the compassion in his eyes. “Of course, sweetie. I understand. I guess I’ll just take a turn as a server as well as behind the grill today. Do your homework. No one will bother you tonight.”

“Thank you, Daddy.” She smiled and walked away. She had a momentary pang of regret at lying but sometimes excuses had to be made. She walked up to her room and locked the door behind her and went to the window, knowing Max would be waiting outside.

“Max—“ She climbed out.

“Chica, it’s time to put a hold on any romantic thoughts with Romeo here. We need to talk.” Maria and Michael were sharing the chaise lounge.

“Maria—“

“Things have to change. Now. We can’t wait any longer.”

Liz sat next to Max on the balcony. He held her hand.

“What are we going to do?”

Maria looked at Michael and he spoke. “Well, I think it’s time for some of us to take a little college trip.”

“What?”

“We know we need to train together—the 4 of us. It’s the only way we’re going to accomplish anything. But if we keep waiting for the time to accommodate us, we might be waiting a very long while. So I think it’s time the 4 of us take control.” He grinned. “We’re almost at the end of our junior year; it’s a natural time to tour colleges.”

“The 4 of you get permission from the school and your parents to go tour college campuses. And instead, you rent a cabin and train,” Maria finished. “You learn what you need to know to defeat the evil she-bitch. Our world goes back to normal.”

“That’s a great plan—“

“But my parents will never go for it. Come on, Maria, you know how overprotective they are. They’d never let me go without some form of adult supervision.”

“And Tess would definitely get suspicious.”

Maria smiled at Michael. “We thought of that.”

“When we rescued you from Pierce, Max, Nasedo taught me how to change my physical appearance. Instead of changing me, though, we’re going to change Alex.”

“What?” Both Max and Liz exclaimed in unison.

“We’ll bring him into school as a college recruiter. Any school would want you, Liz, and Isabel. Your GPAs are scary. He’ll invite the 3 of you to spend a week on his campus, under his supervision. He can even meet with your parents if that’s what’s necessary.” He smiled.

“And how are you getting out of Roswell, Michael?” Liz asked.

“Well, let’s be honest. My attendance record has never been exemplary. And I’ve just discovered an alien artifact in Texas that I want to go see. In fact, I think I’ll leave before you guys. It will make it look more real.”

“And how do we stop—“

“Tess can’t follow us because the Sheriff will ground both her and Kyle.”

“Will that work? What if she just mindwarps them?”

Maria thought for a minute. “I’ll make a sacrifice here, again, for you guys. Instead of having her grounded, let’s get her to work in the CrashDown with me every day. It’ll be a punishment for her, of course, but even better, I can keep an eye on her. And she won’t be able to mindwarp me into thinking she’s doing work…the things I do for my friends,” she trailed off with.

“Thank you, Maria,” Liz smiled.

“Sounds good?” Michael looked at Max. His response to this was so important. It would mean more than merely a good plan. It would mean respect.

“Sounds good.” He paused. “Michael, I am really impressed. You’ve come up with a great plan.”

There was a new light in Michael’s eyes. He wrapped his arm around Maria. “Well, Blondie here did help me with some.”

Maria smiled. “So when do we do this?”

“As soon as possible,” Max said. “I’m sick and tired of feeling like Tess has any part of control over our worlds, guys. I’m tired of Isabel feeling guilty. And I’m frustrated that I can’t even kiss my—“ He looked at Liz and smiled, knowing there would never be enough words for her, “Liz without worrying who might see. I want everyone to see!” He smiled at Michael and Maria. “Even when you don’t want to see.”

Liz leaned her chin against his shoulder. “We’ll be rid of her soon enough, Max.” She whispered, “And then just try to keep me away from you.”

He hugged her tightly. “So we all go to the podchamber in the morning and explain our plan to Isabel and Alex, and then we put it in action.”

posted on 1-Feb-2003 2:31:14 PM by Transparent Clear
AN: Ok.. if I were a good little writer, like I ought to be, the next part of Dial Up would be out tonight...sadly, I am not a good little person and will instead be spending another night ensconced in my parent's hot tub.... *happy* so check back tomorrow night, and hopefully there will be something new!

*happy* Jenn

**sorry, but if you knew how good those jets felt on my back...you'd understand!*big*
posted on 3-Feb-2003 2:15:57 PM by Transparent Clear
Ok... I was only planning on posting part of this chapter so this was only supposed to be a few pages; 3 at the most. But then I got inspired and finished the part rather than posting half....(and it helped me to procrastinate soooo much work.) I hope you all enjoy it. *happy* Thank you for your awesome feedback.

and I'd just like to dedicate this to the man I will always think of as deputy doug for making sure I wasn't being coerced into anything on friday night...


~*~Part 32~*~


Isabel and Alex took the plan as well as they had expected. Isabel was, of course, concerned for Alex’s safety. What if Tess recognized him or saw through whatever they were doing? But despite those risks, Alex was all for their plan. He couldn’t wait to get out of this cave and be back in the real world. And then when they left Roswell, so be it. He’d hang out in the cabin with them. He had no problem with that. It’d be like a vacation, better than those he usually had to take with his parents and with the added bonus of having Isabel around.

“Isabel, we need to use your powers, though. We need you to put up a mindwarp to convince the school that Alex is really a recruiter from a college. They won’t know he’s Alex, but they might need some proof that he’s from college.” Michael said. “I know you’ve never really carried on a mindwarp before, but do you think you can? I mean, knowing what you know from the past—“

“I can do it.” Isabel said firmly.

Alex squeezed her hand. “When do we start this little action?”

“As soon as possible,” Liz said. “The sooner we all train together, the sooner all this can end.”

Isabel nodded. “Okay. Then we’ll do it today.”

“Alex, are you ready to be changed?” Max teased. “I’m sure Michael can make you look wonderful.”

Michael smiled. “I’ll try to keep my mind on the latest GQ cover for ya, man.”

Alex shook his head. “You know, knowing about the existence of aliens and even being taken and abused by one hasn’t really hurt me. But this could put me in therapy for years.”

Max grinned. “Ready, Michael?”

Michael took a couple deep breaths. “I think so.” He moved closer to Alex and put his palm over his head. He closed his eyes and focused for a few moments.

Then there was the eeriest blue light coming from his hand. It floated all the way down Alex’s body. Then Michael’s hand followed the light down. For a moment, all any of them could see was the blue light. And then the light dissipated. And they were faced with Michael and…Alex.

Everyone stared in disbelief.

Standing next to Michael was a tall dark-haired man with a face right off the cover of GQ or any other men’s magazine. Gone was the wiry, gangly young man who they knew so well. Alex was filled out from his face, which held the hint of a five o’clock shadow to his legs which looked like he spent his weekends rock-climbing. He looked like a man with experience in the weight room. It was incredible to see the difference in his stance and his attitude. There was an aura of confidence coming from him that none of them had ever really seen before from Alex. It was hard to believe how much change a body could have upon a person.

“Oh my God,” Isabel said. She loved Alex, no matter what, but she could never have imagined him looking like this

“Alex?” Maria couldn’t believe this. Her SpaceBoy had done this? When was he going to help her out?

Alex opened his mouth to speak and his voice cracked for a second before becoming a rich bass tone. He hadn’t realized Michael would have to change his voice, too. He suddenly felt so different. “How do I look?” He looked back and forth between the 3 women who meant the most to him. He couldn’t tell if the shock on their faces was a good thing or not.

Liz smiled for a moment amazed at the sight of her best friend since childhood looking so handsome and then reached into her backpack to pull out a compact. “Have a look.”

He stared for a second, looked around, and then looked back in the mirror. Michael had really turned him into a male model. That was all there was to it. He looked like he did in his dreams from when he was younger and just dreaming about sweeping Isabel off her feet. He said the only thing he could really think of, “Wow.” He grinned at Michael. “You do good work, my friend. I think we might have just found your future career.”

Michael smiled for the first time. “This is okay?” He was surprised by how relieved he was that Alex and everyone else seemed to approve. He hated to admit it but somewhere in the back of his mind, he had almost been sure that this wouldn’t work, that he wouldn’t be able to do it. But looking at the changed Alex he had created, it looked like he was able to do something good, positive with his powers.

“You did a perfect job, Michael,” Isabel smiled.

“It’s great, Michael,” Max parroted. Michael met his eyes and for the first time in too long with Max, he knew they were equals again.

“So I guess we’re ready?” Alex said, anxious to get out of this cave.

“No college recruiter is going to show up in jeans and a t-shirt,” Isabel moved closer to him. “You need a suit.” She ran her hand over his clothes to reveal a suit from the jeans. “Perfect.” He looked like a recruiter now.

They left the podchamber in 2 groups. Michael and Maria went first, making sure there was no one around. Then Alex, Isabel, Liz and Max made their way to the Jeep. The ride back to Roswell was made quickly and without stops. They firmed up the final few details about the plan, like which university he was from and how he should speak to the principal and their parents. At the same time, everyone kept their eyes open to see if there was anyone following them or waiting for them. They were all somehow waiting for Tess to make a move or a mistake. And they were all afraid they would make that mistake first.

Max dropped Liz and Alex off at the Crashdown. “We can start with the actual recruiting here,” he said. “Alex, you can meet her parents and talk to them about how you’d like Liz to come visit the microbiology program and stuff.”

He nodded. “Good idea, Max. This should be easiest for me. I know what the Parkers want for Liz.” He smiled. He hadn’t been her best friend for so long without learning anything about her family.

“Sounds like a good idea,” Liz agreed. “But how will we get to school?”

“Well, that’s a little trickier,” Max said. “Just go together, like you’re taking your recruiter to school to arrange for the week off. Grab a cab or something.”

Alex nodded. “That might be a little weird, but we’ll work it.” He and Liz climbed out of the Jeep. She walked around to the back to sneak back up to her room. He walked in through the front door of the CrashDown, happier to do that today than he had been in as long as he could remember. He took a seat at the counter and picked up the menu, even though he knew what he’d like for breakfast. He’d practically kill for a plate full of scrambled eggs with cheese and hash browns with ketchup and bacon.

Agnes walked over to him. “Can I help you?”

In an oddly sentimental way, he’d even missed old Agnes rough exterior and breath that smelled like cigarettes. He took a breath and prepared his mature voice. “Yes, thank you. I’d like the Klingon Platter and an orange juice, please.” She walked away and about 5 minutes later brought back a glass of orange juice filled three-quarters of the way. As she started to walk away, he stopped her with an, “Excuse me, is Jeff Parker here this morning?”

“Yeah, why?” She asked suspiciously. She looked him over.

“I would like to speak to him, please.” Alex maintained a smooth, calm voice.

“Of course.” She walked away into the back.

A few moments later, Jeff Parker walked into the Crashdown and made his way behind the counter to Alex. “I heard you were asking for me,” he said amiably.

Alex looked up at a man he’d known his entire life. Sometimes, Jeff Parker was more a father to him than his own was. He’d certainly been around enough to feel like Liz’s brother. And now he was going to lie to him, which he hated to do, but he knew it was for the best interest of everyone involved, probably even the Parkers. He stood up. “You must be Mr. Parker?” He held his hand out.

“I am.” Jeff said cautiously as he shook his head.

“My name is Ryan Schaffner. I’m a recruiter from Covington University.” Liz had reassured them all that Covington was the school to choose. Her father had been leaving pamphlets for that school in her room for the past few weeks. He saw it as a closer version of Harvard for her.

Jeff’s face lit up. “Covington? That’s one of the most prestigious universities in the Southwest.”

“We like to think so.” He smiled. “As you may have guessed, I’m here about your daughter, Elizabeth.”

“Lizzie?”

“I know this is slightly unconventional, what with her being just a junior in school, but surely you’re aware of the fierce competitive nature in college and graduate schools now?”

He nodded slowly. “Of course. We’ve been talking about college applications recently, actually.”

“I hope you considered Covington?”

“Mr. Schaffner—“

“Actually, it’s Dr. Schaffner. When I’m not recruiting, I’m a professor of microbiology.” He smiled as he saw Jeff’s eyes light up even more. “Now about Elizabeth—“

“Dr., there’s no way we could ever afford to send Liz to such a prestigious university—“

“I was under the impression that her dream school is Harvard? Surely you know that Covington is less expensive than that.”

“Well, we’re hoping for scholarships—“

“Covington also offers scholarships, Mr. Parker—“

“Call me Jeff,” he said absently. “You really offer full scholarships?”

“Of course. Especially to a student with as much promise as Elizabeth. After all, based on her preliminary scores from the PSAT, she is highly likely to be named a National Merit Scholar Finalist, which will increase her chances of all types of scholarships to pretty much any school she wishes to go to. Covington wants to be her first choice.”

Jeff’s eyes were huge as he looked at ‘Dr. Schaffner’ with newfound respect. “So why did you come all the way out here from Covington, Dr. Schaffner?”

“Covington is sponsoring a new recruitment program. Typically, this is directed at high school seniors, but with Elizabeth’s excellent grades and interest in my field, which as you know, is quite competitive itself, we’re extending the invitation to her this year.”

“Invitation?”

“Yes. We’re inviting her to come to our university for a week, where she would get to know the campus and the programs she can become involved in. For instance, our honors program is ranked #2 in the nation and is focused on providing motivated students like Elizabeth with a learning environment that encourages them to explore new ways of thinking and problem solving skills that aren’t generally imagined. Of course, the microbiology department cannot wait to show her all the toys we have in our labs. We’ll even allow her to participate in some of our classes as a full student, if she wishes.”

“That sounds incredible—“

“It is generally a very rewarding opportunity for the students involved and for our school as so many of the students who have experienced this week choose Covington as their number one college choice.”

“What about Lizzie’s school? Will they agree to this?”

“Of course! I’ve already spoken to Principal Fuller. He’s very excited for Liz to have this opportunity.” Alex noticed it was easier to lie using his ‘mature’ voice.

“Will anyone else from her school be going?”

Alex weighed the question and answer slowly. He didn’t figure any father would want to hear that his daughter was going away with her so-called ex-boyfriend. “As of right now, the invitation has only been extended to Elizabeth. She is, after all, most likely to be valedictorian and has been the most active in looking at colleges—“

“Really? Lately, it feels like she’s been putting it off for later,” Jeff said idly.

“Well, the research I’ve received says she’s been hounding her guidance counselor every other week for more information on programs that might suit her.” Alex knew Liz would pay him back for that lie later.

Jeff nodded. “Well—“

“Can I put her on the attendance list?”

“Absolutely.” He smiled. “When is this recruitment weekend?”

“Well, that’s the problem. There are 3 different weeks, but I would prefer for her to come to the first one which starts on Friday. I can guarantee that I will be at the university for her to ask questions to and to show her around my department those days. I will probably be at conferences during the last 2.”

Jeff thought for a moment. “I suppose it would be all right for her to come to the first one.”

“Shouldn’t we ask her?” Alex asked.

“Well, Lizzie usually agrees with me on this kind of thing, but I suppose you’re right. If you’ll just excuse me for one minute?”

“Of course.” Agnes brought his plate to him. “I’ll just have my breakfast.”

“Lizzie and I will be back in a moment.” Jeff left the dining room and hurried upstairs.

Alex was just enjoying the hash browns—no one could make them like Jose when he saw Jeff and a fakely surprised Liz walk into the café. Jeff brought her over to the counter.

“Liz, this is Dr. Ryan Schaffner. He’s a professor of Microbiology at Covington.”

Liz held out her hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Dr. Schaffner.”

“You, too, Elizabeth.” He wanted to laugh at how formal he felt calling his best friend by her full name.

“Oh, please, call me Liz.” She had that look in her eyes like she knew she was joking around and having a good time with it.

“Thank you, Liz.” He sat down. “I take it your father has told you about the invitation to come to Covington with me this weekend?”

She nodded. “He has. I am kind of surprised. I mean, I haven’t even really—“

He interrupted. “I know. You have your heart set on Harvard.”

“It’s just that I’ve always assumed I’d go there. Ever since I was 8. It’s always been my dream.”

“Well, Liz, don’t dreams change sometimes?” Alex wanted to laugh at that. He knew she couldn’t say no to that. “We’re not asking you to commit fully to Covington based on this week. We just want to give you the opportunity to see what Covington could give you. And maybe, in the long run, what we can give you is more valuable to you than what Harvard can.”

“Lizzie,” Jeff said quietly, “this would be an excellent experience for you.”

She nodded. “My father said I’d be able to go into the labs you have? And maybe even participate?”

“If you wish.” He smiled, like he knew he had her.

She smiled. “I guess I’ll be going to Covington on Friday.”

Jeff smiled. “Wonderful!”

Liz looked at her watch. “I’d better go. I have school in a few minutes.” She looked at her father. “Can I borrow the car? I’m running kind of late now.”

“Sure, Lizzie.”

Alex stood up. “Liz, can I follow you to your school? I need to confirm a few things with your principal.”

She nodded and kissed her father’s cheek. “I’ll be right down.”

Alex shook Jeff’s hand. “Thank you, Mr. Parker. I think you convinced her more than I did.”

“Well, Liz is just a young girl. Sometimes she needs some guidance. I’m sure her only hesitation was in missing her friends.”

“That’s perfectly understandable. And if I could offer this invitation to them, if only to sweeten the deal for her, I would. Unfortunately, spaces are limited.”

“Of course.” Jeff nodded. “Besides, I think she needs a break from them right now.”

Alex nodded. Liz came back down into the café. “Ready, Dr. Schaffner?”

“I am, just as soon as I pay for my breakfast—“

“No need, Dr.. It’s on the house.”

“Thank you again, Mr. Parker. I’m sure I’ll see you in a few days.” He followed Liz out of the café into the alley to get into her father’s truck.

“Yes!” Liz exclaimed. “That was too easy.”

“Let’s just hope everything else today goes as easily.” He smiled.

Liz smiled. “It will, Alex. It has to.”

“And the princess won’t accept it any other way?” He teased.

“You’d better believe it.” She drove them towards school and the inevitability of their success.

***

posted on 18-Feb-2003 11:20:01 AM by Transparent Clear
AN: Wow, I am so sorry it took so long to get this part out. Between school, work, and my social-life that sometimes feels like I'm a character on Days of our Lives, writing time has been hard to find. I guess I really ought to thank all these professors who make me sit through ridiculous lectures, huh? I hope you enjoy. *happy*



~*~Part 33~*~


Of course, sometimes to reach the inevitability of success, challenges had to be overcome. And for Alex and Liz, their biggest challenge was, of course, Tess. She was still in the parking lot when Liz pulled in, and she waited right by her car to see Liz and Alex/Dr. Schaffner get out of hers.

Liz nearly groaned when she saw her and tried not to think of all the things she’d like to do if she only could… “I can handle talking to her, right, Alex?” She tried not to look over at the blond girl who was trying to steal her life, her destiny. Liz shook her head, knowing she would give up the title or crown or whatever, if that was all Tess wanted. But she wanted the one person who gave Liz’s life meaning and purpose. And Liz would not give him up.

“Yes, you can, Liz. You’re stronger than her, remember that.” He whispered as Tess walked closer to them.

She stopped in front of them. “Liz?” She said in her friendliest voice. “Who do you have with you today?”

Liz put on her fake smile. She knew it didn’t matter that she looked something like the Joker without make-up. Tess knew what Liz thought of her. The fake smile and conversation was just to go along with the game they played of being friends. “Hi, Tess. This is Dr. Schaffner. He’s from Covington University—“

Tess heard the word university and allowed all her dreams of getting Liz Parker out of the way to come to the surface. “Are they encouraging you to go to college early? I’ve heard that’s being done a lot more lately. I, of course, think it’s a wonderful idea for you! I mean, you need to take as many advantages as you can if you’re going to be a molecular biologist before you’re 30, right?” She smiled as they started walking towards the building. If only this dream came true, her future with Max Evans would be as easy as…mindwarping a human. She smiled internally at that little pun.

Liz saw through Tess’ questions easily. She was seeing a life with Max, no doubt, just running through her head. “Well, I don’t know about graduating early,” Liz said, “I mean, I’d miss out on all the fun stuff in high school, you know. Prom, skip days—“ killing you, she thought.

“Oh, I guess I do need to start planning for prom, shouldn’t I? I mean, I’ll need to choose a dress so Max can find a matching tux.” She smiled. “It’ll just be like---“ she looked at Alex, knowing that even thought his would be a wonderful time to remind Liz of the destiny she and Max shared, she needed to edit her words—“old times.”

“Right,” Liz said and started walking quicker. She was not going to let this---girl hurt her. She was stronger. She was stronger. She was stronger.

“Elizabeth, I don’t believe you’ve introduced me to your friend. Perhaps—“ Alex decided to play with Tess’ emotions for a while.

Liz looked at Alex, wondering what he was going to do. “I’m sorry. Dr. Ryan Schaffner, this is Tess Harding. She’s a junior here, too.”

He nodded. “Harding?” He acted like he might have heard the voice before. “That name is not pulling any strings with me. I thought I’d memorized the names of all the honors students here.” He looked down at her. He dismissed her just as quickly. “Oh, well, Elizabeth, perhaps we should continue—“

“What are you here for, Dr. Schaffner?” Tess looked him over. He wasn’t actually that bad to look at. She just didn’t like the way he barely paid any attention to her. Couldn’t he recognize who she was?

“Oh, I’m on a recruitment trip.” He put his arm around Liz’s waist, like he was guiding her.

“You’re recruiting Liz?” Tess tried to keep the joy out of her voice.

“Yes, of course. Have you seen her grades? Her letters of recommendation? She’s destined for something special, don’t you think? I mean, some people are just meant to have boring lives, but I think that Liz is destined for something that no one has ever imagined before.”

Liz smiled a little. Trust Alex to throw barbs in such an eloquent way. She doubted Tess would have caught that.

“Well—“

Alex checked his watch. “Elizabeth, we’d better get to the principal’s office. He’s waiting for us.”

“Wait! Who else are you recruiting?” Tess asked.

“I’m sorry, Miss. I can’t reveal that.” He allowed Liz to lead him through the familiar halls towards the principal’s office. He whispered to Liz, “I never thought I’d miss this place.”

“You’ll be back soon, Alex,” she whispered. “And things will be so much better.”

He smiled. “I know.”

They stopped right outside the principal’s office door. Liz casually looked across the hall to where Isabel was standing at her locker and then reached out and touched Alex on the arm. Isabel would start the mindwarp now. They waited another second and then walked into the office.

Mrs. Wilkinson, the secretary, looked up in surprise. “Why, Liz, what are you doing here?”

She smiled, hoping this was working. “We have an appointment, Mrs. Wilkinson. This is—“

“Dr. Schaffner from Covington University!” Mrs. Wilkinson jumped up. “Of course!” Liz and Alex smiled at each other. They’d never seen the secretary move so quickly! “We’ve been waiting for your arrival. I’ll just get Principal Fuller.”

“Thank you.” Alex leaned back against the counter a bit, as he always wanted to when he was a student there. Of course, as a mere student, he didn’t dare. Mrs. Wilkinson was known to be a bit of a nazi against slouching on her ‘spotless’ counters.

Mrs. Wilkinson was only gone a few moments before she came back. “He’ll see you in his office now.”

Liz and Alex walked into the principal’s office. He was standing beside his desk in a full 3-piece suit. Liz was nearly impressed. She’d never seen Mr. Fuller in a full suit, usually his jacket and tie were off, outside of graduations. But he couldn’t have known when he dressed this morning that he would be meeting someone from a prestigious university. Did he just have this kind of clothing hanging in his closet, waiting for days like this? She wondered for a second if she would find out if she touched him…

“Dr. Schaffner, I’m Steven Fuller. We spoke on the phone.”

“Of course. Thank you for welcoming me to your campus.”

“Of course! You’re bringing about some very exciting opportunities for our brightest students,” he smiled at Liz, “like Miss Parker.”

Liz smiled. “Thank you, Mr. Fuller.”

“Now you mentioned you’d like to invite Miss Parker—“

“Yes. I’ve already spoken to her parents, and they have agreed.”

“Wonderful.” He wrote a few things down on his yellow legal notebook. “Do you have any ideas on who else you’d like to invite?”

Alex nodded. “I do, but perhaps it would be wiser to send Elizabeth to class.”

“I agree,” Mr. Fuller looked at Liz. “Just ask Mrs. Wilkinson for a pass, Liz.”

“Of course.” Liz stood up, smiled at Alex, and walked out.

Isabel was still waiting in the hall. “How’d it go?”

“Alex is doing incredibly, Is! He needs to think about a career as an actor!” She smiled. “Tess saw us on our way in.”

“What’d she say?”

“Well, she’s interested in who is being recruited.”

Isabel smiled. “I bet.”

“Can you tell if she’s tried anything?” Liz worried.

“She doesn’t know what’s going on, Liz. I don’t feel any other mindwarps or anything alien going on right now.”

“How much longer are you going to hold the mindwarp? They believe that that is Dr. Schaffner from Covington. Mr. Fuller is signing up students to go with him now.”

“I know. Just a few more minutes, just in case.” She smiled a little. “I think I’m allowed to be paranoid right now, don’t you think?”

“Sure,” she smiled. “Well, I’m going to calculus. This is the only one Max and I are alone in today. I want to have the opportunity to make a few googly eyes at him before we have to deal with Tess.”

Isabel smiled. “Don’t embarrass yourselves! Or my good family name, please!”

Liz laughed. “I wouldn’t think of it.”

Isabel turned back to facing the office. She wondered how it was going.

***


Alex had never felt so powerful in the principal’s office before. Mr. Fuller was going out of his way to make Alex so…welcome. Usually a visit to this office meant problems and there was definitely no offer of coffee or water.

“We are just so honored that Covington is interested in some of our students.”

“Well, it appears that West Roswell High is a fine school, interested in increasing its student’s potential and future.” He had to wonder where all this B.S. was coming from. When had he learned to speak so smoothly? Maybe the deep voice brought it out in him.

“We certainly are.” Mr. Fuller sat down behind his desk. “You mentioned you had already chosen several students?”

“Yes. I—we, the recruitment committee at Covington, are interested in several students, all in the junior class.” He pulled a leather notebook case from his briefcase.

The principal picked up a pen, ready to add names to his notes.

“First, of course, was Elizabeth Parker. I cannot wait to introduce her to my colleagues and our labs. I’m confident that she will love it.”

“Well, Miss Parker certainly is devoted to her studies,” Mr. Fuller said. “Who are the other students?”

Alex made the act out of scanning his papers. “Second is Maxwell Evans. His paperwork hints at a real interest in history and politics.”

Mr. Fuller nodded. “Mr. Evans is a fine student. The only thing you should probably know is that Max and Liz have recently suffered a nasty, public break-up.”

Alex raised his eyebrows. “Really? Do you think that will stop him from wanting to participate? I mean, if he simply knew that Elizabeth was already committed, would he reject the idea of attending the recruitment week?”

“Perhaps.”

“Maybe I should talk to Mr. and Mrs. Evans about this. Surely they want what is best for their children.”

“Of course, they do. Why Diane Evans—children? Did you say children?”

“Yes. Isabel Evans is my final choice.”

“Isabel?”

“Yes. Her grades are magnificent. Not as high as her brother’s or Miss Parker’s, but wonderful, nonetheless. It seems like the only reason they might not be as high is simply her involvement in so many extracurricular activities.”

“Yes, Isabel’s definitely a real go-getter.” Mr. fuller picked up a file off his desk. “I’m actually very excited that you brought her up. I would have, had you not. Her grades are good, yes, but she also has the opportunity to graduate at the end of this year, a full year early.”

Alex tried not to look or sound surprised. “Really?” Isabel was leaving him? She would graduate early? What about all the time they were supposed to have together? What about all the things they were supposed to do as seniors? What if she went to college and found some big guy—who looked like Dr. Schaffner—and decided she wanted him more than a skinny high school boy? His mind filled with so many what-ifs…

“Yes. Her guidance counselor and I talked to her about it several weeks ago. She still hasn’t decided whether or not she will graduate early, but we certainly are hopeful. It will give her quite an advantage.”

Alex nodded and resumed his role. “This might be just the opportunity she needs. Perhaps seeing how a college environment differs from high school will encourage her to make her decision quickly. And hopefully, Covington will welcome her in the fall.”

Mr. Fuller smiled. “We’ll certainly hope so.”

“Would there be any way to bring the Evans into the school today so we can discuss their children? I’m sure they’d be interested in this. I mean, I’ve not met a parent yet who isn’t interested in possibilities for scholarships and top notch education.”

“I’m certain the Evans would like this idea. They are both very active in their children’s lives.” He picked up Isabel’s file again. “I’ll just call them.”

Alex nodded. The plan was going perfectly.

***


Isabel looked at Max from across the lunch table. “Did you see Dad’s car in the front parking lot during 3rd period?”

“It looks like everything is going our way,” Max smiled, wishing Liz could be sitting next to him rather than trying to avoid the near occasion of Tess.

“Finally,” Michael said, taking a bite of his taco. He looked around the quad wondering where Maria was. She’d said she’d have lunch with him today.

“Don’t you get a little paranoid about this? I mean, it’s just been so long since I truly felt—“ Isabel found she didn’t have the words to explain the feelings she’d been having all day.

“Yeah, it can inspire paranoia, Is, but I just know things are going to be okay.”

Max and Isabel were both speechless to hear those words coming from Michael’s mouth. When had he become an optimist?

“I know it sounds odd coming from me, but, for the first time in my life, I just know—nothing will hurt us this time. We’re too strong for anyone to hurt us.”

Maria slid into the long bench beside Michael. He immediately wrapped his arm around her. “So what’s going on, guys?”

Max and Isabel looked between each other, instantly knowing the true source of Michael’s optimism and smiled. “Nothing, Maria. How’ve you been?”

“Ah, you know, classes do not always mean fun.” She grinned and took a french fry of Michael’s lunch tray. “Has this been Tabasco-ized?” She looked at it intently before putting it in her mouth and smiling.

“Where’s Liz?” Max asked quietly.

“She taking her lunch in the eraser room,” Maria smiled. “I’d suggest you go on there, Max. You don’t want lunch to get----cold.”

Max smiled and stood up. “Thanks, guys.” He turned around and found Tess standing directly behind him, waiting, it seemed. He tried to sound natural. “Tess, hi.”

“Hi, Max. Where are you going?” She set her tray down.

Max felt his chances of a good lunch being destroyed. “I needed a drink.” He said quietly.

“Well, I’ll save your seat till you get back.” She sat down next to where he was sitting.

‘Love?’

‘Why aren’t you here yet?” her impatient voice filled his mind and he immediately felt at ease, just feeling her through their connection.

‘We’ve got a glitch in the system.’

His voice told her everything. ‘Named Tess.’

‘Yes.’

‘You know, the first thing I do when she’s finally out of our lives forever—‘

Max smiled, knowing where her mind was going with that thought. ‘Not if I can do it first.’

‘I love you, Zan.’

‘I love you, too, Asha.’


Max walked back to the table carrying a can of cherry coke and forced himself to sit down next to Tess. He saw the immediate sympathy in Isabel’s eyes that was quickly hidden when she dropped her eyes toward her lunch tray.

“So Max, how has your day been?” Tess looked at him, wondering if he knew Liz was going to Covington for a week. How could she present that in a way that made it look like she was betraying him by leaving?

“Pretty good. Yours?”

Before she could answer, Maria and Michael escalated a whispered conversation they were having to a full voice interaction. They spoke in impossible to understand monosyllables, until Maria turned to Tess.

“Tess, we—I need a favor.”

Tess was shocked by that one. She certainly hadn’t been expecting Maria to ever say that to her. “What?” Why was Maria asking her for favorites? What was going on?

“It’s just that Liz is going away for a week—“

As if on cue, Max’s face fell. “A week? Where is she going? Who with?” He instinctively knew this was going to be how they got Tess to be too busy to try to find the rest of them.

“Don’t worry about it, Max. Liz is a big girl. She can take care of herself,” Michael forced himself to sound jaded. He silently pondered if he’d always sounded like such an asshole when he had nothing to care for.

“Anyway, with her gone for a week, the Crashdown is going to be in serious trouble. She has lots of shifts that no one knows about. So we’re going to need extra help or the Parkers are never going to let her go anywhere again. I mean, when they realistically see how much they overuse their daughter, they’ll realize how much they need her.” Maria knew her babbling would annoy Tess to no end. “Anyway, since you were so kind and willing to donate your time the other day, becoming this total lifesaver, by the way, I was wondering if you’d be willing to help me out again and take Liz’s shifts next week?” Maria finished her long-winded babble.

“You want me to waitress again?” Tess said disdainfully.

“You were so good that day. I mean, you dealt with the hardest customers and just handled it like a pro. It would mean so much to me.” Inside her head, Maria kept chanting, This is for the good of my friends over and over. She could handle a week of seeing Tess daily if it meant that soon her friends would be able to get rid of her for good. She was doing this so Alex could come home looking like himself and so Max and Liz could be all adorable together…and she was doing this so SpaceBoy could find his family—whoever that may be.

Tess didn’t look convinced.

Max decided to help her out. “Wow, Maria, that was really big of you to ask Tess. I know you guys aren’t completely close, but by asking her, it shows a lot about the way you respect people. And how willing you are to ask for help.” He smiled. That sounded like the right psychobabble he’d heard the last time he’d seen Dr. Phil on Oprah.

Tess looked at Maria and Max. She knew she was stuck. There was no way she could say no without looking like a complete bitch, and it wouldn’t do for Max to have that image of her in his head. “Sure, Maria. I’ll help out.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Maria did her best happy squeal, even though she was dreading a week of working with her.

“What are friends for?” Tess said slowly. She couldn’t believe it. Another week spent waitressing. If Khivar could see her now…

The lunch bell rang and everyone headed to class. Maria walked with Tess telling her the basic shifts she would have and promising to have a uniform for her. Max hung back around Michael and Isabel for a moment.

“Is, this afternoon, you need to get in touch with Valenti. Let him know some of what’s going on, not everything, but just why Tess needs to work this week. He’ll make sure she doesn’t skip any shifts.”

Michael broke out in a smile only Maria had ever seen. “Guys, this is going to work. I know it will.”

And when a person who was once as negative as Michael Guerin suddenly finds faith in optimism, it’s hard to disagree with him.

***


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 18-Feb-2003 11:22:10 AM ]